Joe Biden promotes economic policies, signs executive order in Maine visit
President Joe Biden brought his economic message to Maine on Friday as his administration touts federal investment in manufacturing. The swing through Maine — Biden’s first since becoming president 2½ years ago — is part of a national tour to change voters’ minds about the state of the American economy.
It's been dubbed by the White House as "Bidenomics" — the philosophy that, as the president puts it, the best way to rebuild and strengthen the national economy is to grow from the middle out and the bottom up. It's a word and a message that the president and his administration are using over and over again as they try to convince a skeptical public that the economy is growing, especially for middle-class and blue collar Americans.
"Folks, that's Bidenomics,” Biden told roughly 150 people gathered inside an cavernous industrial space. “It's about growing the economy and strengthening the middle class. Making things in America again. Under trickle-down economics, it didn't matter where companies made things as long as it helped their bottom line."
Biden chose Auburn Manufacturing Inc. as the site to deliver that message. Standing in front of giant spools of fire-resistant fabric, Biden pointed to the roughly 40-year-old company as proof that manufacturing is not dead in the United States but coming back, with federal help.
“They weathered decades of economic storms,” Biden said. “Now with the help of the American Rescue Plan, they are having their biggest export year ever. The company is growing and their products are made in America. Made in America.”
Auburn Manufacturing employs more than 50 people today, producing advanced textiles that are used by workers in extreme-heat conditions, from oil rigs to shipyards and aerospace manufacturing. The company received more than $600,000 through state-administered grants that were funded by the American Rescue Plan, a roughly $2 billion economic stimulus package passed by Congress two years ago during the COVID pandemic.
Kathie Leonard, Auburn Manufacturing's founder and president, said they are poised to grow their small workforce by about another 30%. Leonard said the stimulus package helped keep small businesses like hers afloat during the pandemic. She also credits Biden's focus on American manufacturing with helping increase demand for U.S.-made products.
"We're now back,” Leonard said. “We are growing our workforce again. We are entering new markets. And we're upgrading our plants and equipment."
Polls suggest that Biden has his work cut out for him convincing the American public that his economic agenda is working as his reelection campaign gears up.
A survey released last month by The Associated Press and NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that just 34% of respondents approved of his handling of the economy. Polls consistently show his overall approving rating around 40%. And Republicans such as former President Donald Trump, who is currently the 2024 GOP frontrunner, are likely to continue seizing on that sense of economic insecurity.
Instead, Republicans are portraying Bidenomics as the primary contributor to rising costs that have eaten into Americans’ wallets in recent years.
"Bidenomics has failed, China is eating his lunch, and Joe Biden should be embarrassed coming to Maine after the assault on our lobstermen,” Maine Republican Party Chairman Joel Stetkis said in a statement, referring to opposition to offshore wind among some in the lobster industry. “If he had any shame, the taxpayer cost of this campaign trip would have been donated to helping Maine seniors afford the Biden price hike on their heating oil this winter."
But U.S. Rep. Jared Golden, a moderate Democrat who has won three terms in Maine's increasingly conservative 2nd Congressional District, was among those who said that Bidenomics is working for rural America.
"It's no secret that I don't always agree with or vote with President Biden's agenda,” Golden said. “But when I look at the accomplishments and long-term economic goals of the first two years of his presidency, what I see is the beginnings of a challenge to the dismantling of our national economy that left American workers exposed to foreign competition and allowed American manufacturing power to drift overseas in pursuit of globalization."
Biden said his administration has created more than 13 million jobs, including 800,000 manufacturing jobs. And he closed out Friday's event in Auburn by signing an executive order that aims to encourage inventors to manufacture their products in the U.S. by streamlining regulations and eliminating red tape.
"Let me close with this: I'm not here to declare victory on the economy,” Biden said. “We have more work to do. We have a plan for turning things around. Bidenomics is just another way of saying restoring the American dream."
Biden flew in and out of Brunswick Executive Airport on Air Force One.