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Biden, Harris center pandemic response, tax plan, healthcare in Pennsylvania stops

By
Don Jacobson & Daniel Uria
Supporters of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris celebrate on Saturday before a rally at Florida International University in Miami, Fla. Photo by Gary I Rothstein/UPI
Supporters of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris celebrate on Saturday before a rally at Florida International University in Miami, Fla. Photo by Gary I Rothstein/UPI | License Photo

Nov. 2 (UPI) -- Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden again criticized his opponent's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, saying voting President Donald Trump out of office would accelerate containment of the virus.

As Biden and his running mate, California Sen. Kamla Harris, barnstormed through Pennsylvania on Monday, placing last-minute focus on a state that's expected to factor heavily into the election outcome, they placed particular focus on how they would combat the pandemic, Biden's tax plan and expanding the Affordable Care Act.

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Biden, speaking at a drive-in rally in Pittsburgh, reminded the crowd of Trump's interview with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Bob Woodward in which he said he played down the severity of the virus. The former vice president also said the administration has "raised the white flag" after White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said late last month that the United States is "not going to control" the virus.

"The first step to beating the virus is defeating Donald Trump," Biden said.

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The former vice president described Trump's recent claim that doctors have falsely inflated COVID-19 deaths for financial gain as "a flat disgrace."

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"The people of this nation have suffered and sacrificed for nine months, none more so than our doctors and our frontline healthcare workers, and it's the president questioning their character and integrity. Their commitment to his fellow Americans," Biden said.

He also responded to Trump's suggestion that he might oust Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute for Allergies and Infectious diseases, after a crowd in Florida began chanting "Fire Fauci" on Sunday.

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"Let's fire Trump and I'll hire Fauci," Biden said.

Early in the day in a get-out-the-vote rally in Bethlehem, Pa., Harris avoided bringing up Trump's name, instead often referring to him as "you know who" or "the other guy."

"I'm kind of done talking about the guy in the White House. If y'all don't mind I'm just going to talk about Joe," she said.

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Speaking during a drive-in rally in the evening that featured superstar musicians Lady Gaga and John Legend, Harris said she and Biden will look to "get this virus under control" if elected to the White House.

"We will listen to the scientists and public health experts, we will provide free testing and treatment and -- when it is available -- a free vaccine for all," Harris said. "We will provide schools with guidance and resources they need to reopen safely and we will build back an economy that actually works for working people."

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Harris pledged that she and Biden will not increase taxes for Americans making less than $400,000 a year but will "ask the super-wealthy and biggest corporations to pay their fair share."

Biden questioned why the average American should pay more taxes than Trump, referencing a report by The New York Times in September that said Trump paid only $750 in federal taxes in each year of 2016 and 2017, while paying no income taxes in 10 of the last 15 years before becoming president.

"He said the reason he only paid that is because he was smart, he knew how to game the system," Biden said. "Well, I'm sick of the wealthy guys gaming the system!"

He said the taxes from the wealthy will allow him to expand the Affordable Care Act by allowing Americans to keep their private insurance or select a "Medicare-like option" and increase subsidies to lower premiums and deductibles.

"How are you going to do that? Because Trump and his buddies are going to pay more taxes so you don't have to do more," said Biden.

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