Photo of Joe Biden

Remarks by Vice President Joe Biden in Johnstown, Pennsylvania

September 30, 2020

As prepared for delivery.

Good evening, Johnstown!

This has been an incredible day.

We started this morning in Cleveland, Ohio where last night I had the truly unique experience of debating President Trump.

And from there we've been in communities across Ohio and Western Pennsylvania, to finish the day right here in Johnstown.

I want to thank Lieutenant Governor Fetterman and all the local elected leaders for joining us today.

And Brian, thank you for the years of service both you and your wife gave to our country in the Navy and for sharing your story with us.

And I want to thank the good people at Amtrak who have been keeping us moving today and my whole career.

I started taking the train home from Washington back to Wilmington every night.

Almost 2 hours each way. Nearly 250 miles every day. So I could be there to eat breakfast with my boys, and later my daughter Ashley in the morning, and to tuck them in at night.

The train brought me back to my home base every single night. To my family.

It kept me grounded. It kept me connected. It meant I always remembered what — and who — really mattered in life.

And riding the train all those miles every week, I'd look out the window and think about all the families in their houses we passed along the way.

I'd think about their struggles. Their worries.

I'd think about their hopes. Their dreams.

I'd talk to the other passengers on the train, and I got to be pretty friendly with some of the conductors. I learned about their lives and families.

It was a constant reminder that every single person has their own unique story. Their own journey.

And, in my experience, everyone was just looking for the chance to work hard and get ahead. Just a fair shot and an equal opportunity to pursue their dreams.

And that's what I've seen today at every single stop, and from the folks who joined me on this trip.

I spent time with a dedicated elementary school teacher from Lordstown, Ohio, who spoke about how the GM plant closing last year devastated her community. About how her own husband had to accept a transfer to a plant 8-hours away to maintain his healthcare and pension. He now drives 16 hours every weekend to see her and their two kids.

I listened to an incredible young woman — mother of four, a home health aide, and a nursing student — talk about how worried she is that no one is looking out for the caregivers in this country. Especially during a pandemic.

I saw Steelworkers and Iron Workers whose union brothers and sisters built Pittsburgh's famous bridges and proud Operating Engineers who keep the engines of our economy pumping.

I heard from union members who have gotten a raw deal too many times.

And so many more.

At every stop, I met hard working Americans just like you.

Folks who have played by the rules and paid their fair share their whole lives.

Folks who have never asked for a single thing to be given to them that they didn't earn.

It couldn't be more of a stark difference from what I saw last night on the debate stage.

A self-entitled, self-serving President who thinks everything is about him.

He thinks if he justs yells louder and louder and throws out lie after lie after lie he'll get his way.

He thinks we'll forget that he knew in February, how deadly COVID-19 was – but didn't say a word. He told us it'd be gone by Easter. It'd be gone by the warm weather. The warm weather would eliminate. He told us it would just go away like a miracle.

He thinks we'll forget about how badly he mismanaged this pandemic that has cost us more than 200,000 American lives – and counting.

And almost 30 million people on unemployment insurance.

He thinks we'll forget that the reason our businesses and our schools are closed is because he failed to do his job.

He didn't get people the PPE and the resources they need to be able to reopen safely.

He didn't speak to you or the concerns of the American people – even once, last night – because he has no plan.

It's not only the trail of broken promises and lies he told communities just like Johnstown

all across the industrial Midwest.

It's more than that.

As his staff reported him saying – the truth is he never respected us, not really – behind closed doors, it's been reported he calls his own supporters disgusting. He looks down his nose at working families just trying to do the right thing.

And it's been confirmed by multiple sources that he thinks that those of you who sign up to put their lives on the line for our country — our veterans and service members — are just a bunch of "suckers" and "losers."

It's despicable. And I'll tell you right now, it's not how I was raised. And I bet it's not how any of you were raised either.

Donald Trump can only see the world from Park Avenue.

He only cares what the super-rich and connected think.

He only sees value in stock portfolios. His only metric for how the economy is doing is the Dow Jones.

He doesn't care if communities like Johnstown are still hurting.

He doesn't have a plan to help you get back on your feet or deliver relief to the people who most need the help.

He's too busy planning his next big tax give away to the 100 richest folks in the country. At a time when nearly 30 million Americans are on unemployment.

He's too busy trying to destroy the entire Affordable Care Act and strip 20 million people of their health coverage in the middle of a pandemic. So he can take us back to a time when women could be charged more for their coverage — and more than 100 million Americans could lose protection for their pre-existing conditions. He's too busy trying to trying to salvage his floundering re-election campaign to understand that people don't want a superficial, temporary tax cut that will bankrupt the Social Security they've paid into their whole lives in 2023.

Look, I've dealt with guys like Trump my whole life.

Guys who look down on you because they've got a lot of money.

Guys who think they're better than you.

Guys who might let you park their car at the country club. But would never let you in.

Guys who inherited everything they ever got in life. And then squandered it.

I see the world from where I grew up — in Scranton, Pennsylvania.

It's not that different from Johnstown, or any of the towns we stopped by today.

Its filled with good people, who are busting their neck every day to do right by their families.

They aren't worried about the stock market.

They are worried about putting food on the table every night. About making rent or paying their mortgage come the first of the month.

My mom always used to say to me, "Joey, nobody's better than you, but everyone is your equal."

My dad would say to me, "Joey, a job is about a lot more than a paycheck. It's about dignity. It's about respect. It's about your place in the community."

Those are the values that have shaped my whole life.

And when it gets right down to it — I think this whole campaign boils down to Park Avenue versus Scranton.

Donald Trump may think there ought to be a different set of rules for him and his rich buddies. Rules that let him get out of his taxes. Get out of his responsibilities. Get out of the consequences for every one of his mistakes.

I don't.

I think it's about time we start rewarding work in this country, not wealth.

I think it's time working families get a break and the super wealthy and big corporations pay their fair share.

They're still going to be doing just fine.

Because here's what I know that Donald Trump will never understand.

Wall Street didn't build this country. The middle class built this country — and unions built the middle class.

That's why my plans are about helping communities like Johnstown not just rebuild — but Build Back Better.

And I'm here today to say to you that I will do as President what Donald Trump hasn't — I'll fight for you.

Not the corporations. You. Your jobs. Your families.

My Build Back Better plan is all about injecting life and capital back into places like Johnstown.

It starts with a simple proposition: Buy American. The federal government spends $600 billion a year of taxpayer dollars on everything from military equipment to steel to cars and trucks for the federal fleet.

When I'm president, we're going to make sure those products are Made in America.

We're going to end the Trump incentives for sending jobs overseas.

Any company that offshores jobs will pay a 10 percent penalty. But any company that brings jobs back, or reopens a closed factory like those around Johnstown, will get a 10 percent credit.

We're going to direct billions of dollars in revitalization funds and competitive grants to help places like Johnstown compete for new business startups.

We're going to make four-years of public colleges and universities tuition-free for families making less than $125,000 a year.

We're going to lower health care costs – increasing subsidies so your premiums are lower, and slashing the cost of prescription drugs by as much as 60 percent — and take on the opioid crisis with real, effective treatment for substance use disorders.

And we're going to do it all without asking anyone who makes less than $400,000 a year to pay a penny more in taxes.

Maybe you didn't believe me that we could do it without raising taxes on the middle class — but I bet that was before you found out Donald Trump paid just $750 in income tax.

If Donald Trump and his Park Avenue pals start paying their fair share — we'll have more than enough to finally build an economy that works for everyone.

So, I promise you this: I see you. I hear you. I respect you.

The families of the more than 200,000 Americans who have died during this pandemic will be heard and respected by me.

I'll work like crazy to get this pandemic under control, so we can get our economy working again for everyone and get back to our lives.

We are a nation in incredible pain right now. So many empty chairs around dinner tables. So many small businesses closing their doors forever. So many proud people on unemployment for the first time in their lives.

This is not a partisan moment. This is an American moment.

We can't afford to go on being this divided.

We can't afford to have a leader who does nothing but throw more gasoline on the anger and the hatred that's burning across the country.

We have to come together.

And I promise all of you — I am running as a proud Democrat. But I will be an American president.

I will fight as hard for those who support me as I will for those who don't.

I will fight for you. That's what we need now. A president who will try to bring us together.

Who speaks to what is best in all of us, rather than trying to divide us and pit us against each other.

We are one people, one nation, one America.

We just need to remember who we are. We are the United States of America.

And in our long history, there has been nothing we've been unable to do – nothing – when we've done it together.

Thank you. May God bless you. And may God protect our troops.

Joseph Biden, Remarks by Vice President Joe Biden in Johnstown, Pennsylvania Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/345128

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