Former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, held a virtual roundtable with U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-LaCrosse, on May 20 that focused on rural issues.
Former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, held a virtual roundtable with U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-LaCrosse, on May 20 that focused on rural issues.(Screenshot)

Presumptive Democratic nominee says farmers and taxpayers deserve better than the President’s trade wars and Foxconn support

Former Vice President Joe Biden, in two virtual appearances on Wednesday, advocated for government purchasing of surplus goods from struggling Wisconsin farms and slammed the Foxconn deal, painting it as a corporate bailout that should have gone to small Wisconsin businesses. 

Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, spoke from his home in Delaware as confirmed coronavirus cases in Wisconsin surpassed 13,000 and deaths neared 500. He emphasized President Trump’s failure to take coronavirus seriously, and said the current number of cases and deaths, and amount of economic turmoil throughout the country, were avoidable by earlier, decisive action.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, speaks from his home during a "virtual campaign rally" aimed at a Milwaukee area audience.
Former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, speaks from his home during a “virtual campaign rally” aimed at a Milwaukee area audience.

The mishandling of the early days of the coronavirus was yet another example of Trump’s mismanagement, Biden argued. He referenced the $4 billion Foxconn subsidy deal, which has floundered since Trump and ex-Gov. Scott Walker helped bring the company to Racine County to build a factory.

“Instead of handing over the keys to the store to help Scott Walker bring Foxconn to town — trading away billions in exchange for 13,000 jobs that never materialized — imagine if we invested that in small businesses like City.Net Jazz Cafe,” Biden said, referencing a downtown Milwaukee business.

Trump once proclaimed the Foxconn project the “Eighth Wonder of the World.” He has since stopped even mentioning the deal; it was for a time a mainstay at his rallies, especially in Wisconsin. The project is now deeply unpopular in Wisconsin, with just 35 percent of Marquette Law School Poll respondents saying the historic subsidy package was worth it.

Biden also paid attention to small struggling farms. Wisconsin, known for its rich agricultural heritage, now leads the nation in farm bankruptcies. 

Facing a lack of federal help amid the coronavirus pandemic, Wisconsin farmers have been forced to dump milk and toss out surplus product. All of this comes as food banks are facing shortages and one in 10 Wisconsinites faces food scarcity as the pandemic continues to devastate the state.

“Today, in the richest country in the history of the world, tens of millions of people don’t have enough to eat today,” Biden said. “…At the same time, farmers are left with no option but to dump millions of gallons of milk on the ground that they’ve worked so hard to produce, plowing over produce they used to sell in restaurants and schools and stadiums, and wondering how they’re going to stay afloat during the year.”

To try to solve both issues, Biden said he would set aside federal funds to buy surplus food directly from farmers and deliver it straight to local food banks and needy individuals.

“We don’t have a food shortage problem,” he said. “We have a leadership problem.”

While within the margin of error, Biden led Trump in Wisconsin, 46 to 43 percent, in the latest Marquette Law School poll.