Joe Biden

Remarks by Vice President Joe Biden in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania

October 24, 2020

[As prepared for delivery]

Hello, Dallas, Pennsylvania!

It's great to be in Luzerne County. Bill, thank you for the introduction, and for everything you do in the classroom.

And it's good to be with so many friends. Bob Casey — one of the finest people you'll ever know.

Matt Cartwright — a good man, we need to send him back to Congress, representing the 8th District.

We also need to elect Gary Wegman for the folks next door in the 9th District, and Lee Griffin for the 12th district. And Lee by the way went to high school here, so welcome back.

All the local and state elected officials here today. Many who have been with us since the very start of this campaign. Thank you all.

Jon Bon Jovi — thank you. You're a national treasure. You've always captured the heart and soul of America, and folks, that's what's at stake in this election.

10 days left. It's Go-Time. It may come down to Pennsylvania and I believe in you.

Home is where your character is etched, where your values are set, where your view of the world and your place in it begins to form.

For me, it was 2446 North Washington Avenue in Scranton, about 30 miles away.

Around my Grandfather Ambrose Finnegan's kitchen table where I learned that money does not determine your worth, that no one is more worthy than you, that everyone is your equal. Lessons shaped by our Catholic faith. Lessons from my Dad, who would say, "Joey, a job is about a lot more than a paycheck. It's about dignity. Respect. Your place in the community. It's about being able to look your kid in the eye and say that everything will be ok."

I've never forgotten it.

But how many of you today can look your kids in the eye and say "everything's going to be okay," and mean it?

Times are hard. Unemployment is way up.

You're worried about making the next rent or mortgage payment. Whether your health care will be ripped away in the middle of a pandemic. Worried about sending your kids to school, worried about not sending your kids to school.

You see folks at the top doing better than ever, while you're left to wonder: "who's looking out for me?"

That's Donald Trump's presidency.

More than 220,000 dead Americans because of COVID-19.

Yesterday was the highest number of new cases — 85,000 cases in one day since the pandemic began.

That was yesterday — the worst day we've ever had.

Yet at the debate on Thursday night, Donald Trump was still saying, "we're rounding the corner... it's going away ... we're learning to live with it."

But as I told him, we're not learning to live with it. We're learning to die with it, and there is a dark winter ahead.

Experts say we'll lose nearly another 200,000 lives nationwide in the next few months because he cares more about the stock market than he does about you, because he refuses to follow science.

It's estimated that if we just wore masks, over the next few months we'd save over 100,000 lives.

And you know what's really sad about all this? The President knew back in February how deadly this virus was, and he hid it from the country.

But here's what he did according to the New York Times: his Administration gave Wall Street investors a heads up. He didn't tell us, just his Wall Street friends.

That's why they made so much money, by quote, ‘selling short.' They knew what was coming.

But what happened to the rest of us? He tried to claim he didn't want to panic the American people. But the American people don't panic. He panicked.

And he still has no plan.

All he can do is double down on his Park Avenue way of looking at the world.

Before the pandemic he handed out a $1.5 trillion tax giveaway for large corporations and the wealthy, and now, even with 30 million Americans with lost jobs or lost hours, he thinks the way to get America's economy back on track is to give another gigantic multi-billion dollar tax cut to those corporations and the very wealthy.

Since the start of this pandemic, the billionaires in this country have seen their wealth increase by more than $700 Billion.

But Donald Trump can't get his own Republican Party to deliver real economic relief to working families and small businesses.

He thinks that $15 an hour minimum wage is too much for America's essential workers.

He thinks your unions don't matter. He stopped overtime pay for you and millions of America's workers.

Four years in, he still hasn't gotten legislation passed to protect the pensions of working people, like so many of you in multiemployer pensions across Pennsylvania.

He has proposed a plan with a policy that the Social Security Actuary says will bankrupt Social Security by 2023.

He's been weak and chaotic with China on trade. All he has ended up doing is opening doors for big banks to make money in China and helped contribute to a surge of farm bankruptcies in America.

I'll do what he's unable to do: lead an effective strategy to mobilize a true international effort to pressure, isolate, and punish China to actually strengthen manufacturing jobs in Pennsylvania and across the country.

And if President Trump and the Republicans don't have time to deliver real economic relief to working families and small business, then why in the middle of this pandemic, do they have the time to vote to confirm a Justice to the Supreme Court instead of addressing the significant economic needs of local communities?

I'll tell you why — it's Trump's dream of wiping Obamacare off the books.

Because his nominee has said in the past the law should be struck down.

If they get their way, more than 20 million Americans could lose their coverage, including nearly 1 million Pennsylvanians.

100 million Americans will lose protections for preexisting conditions — including more than 5.3 million Pennsylvanians.

Complications from COVID-19 will become the next preexisting conditions, allowing insurers to jack up your premiums or deny you coverage, and women will again be charged more for their health care just because they're women.

Donald Trump thinks health care is a privilege. I think it is your right.

But nothing is more offensive than the way he has spoken about those who've served this nation in uniform.

"Losers" and "suckers."

My son Beau served for a year in Iraq. He came home a decorated Iraq War veteran. He wasn't a "loser" or a "sucker." He was a patriot.

Just like your sons and daughters. Your parents and grandparents.

Frankly, I've dealt with guys like Trump my whole life. So have you.

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

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

Guys who stiff the electricians and the plumbers and the contractors working on their hotels, casinos, and golf courses.

Guys who avoid paying what they owe in taxes, because they figure the rest of us, the "little people," we can pick up the tab for the country.

Now we find out Trump has a secret bank account in China — where he paid 50 times more in China in taxes than he did federal income taxes in America.

That he's hundreds of millions of dollars in debt — that's coming due in the next few years. Give me a break.

You know, I got a chip on my shoulder when I read something about how if I'm elected president I'll be the first president who didn't go to an Ivy League school in a long time.

Like somehow that meant I didn't belong. My guess is a lot of you have felt the same way in your own lives. I say it's about time a state school president sat in the Oval Office.

Because you know what? If I'm sitting there, you will be too.

You and I know who really built this country. Working people did. The middle class did. Unions did, like the folks here today and across Pennsylvania.

And we know we are so much better than this.

It starts with my plan to deal with this pandemic responsibly: bringing the country together around testing, tracing, and masking.

Not politicizing the race for a vaccine but planning for its safe and equitable distribution.

Providing the funding for PPE and national standards for schools and businesses to reopen safely. Bringing together Republicans and Democrats to deliver economic relief to working families, schools, and businesses.

As I said before, I will shutdown the virus, not the economy.

We can walk and chew gum at the same time — and build back better than before.

An independent analysis put out by Moody's — a Wall Street firm, projects that my plan will create 18.6 million jobs. That's 7 million more jobs than the President's plan, and $1 trillion more in economic growth than the President's plan.

Here's how my plan works: I'm not going to raise taxes on anyone who makes less than $400,000 a year. But, I'll ask big corporations and the wealthy to pay their fair share.

It's time working people and the middle class get tax relief — to help you buy your first home or to pay for health care premiums or for child care or for caring for an aging loved one.

We'll do more than just praise our essential workers. We'll pay them. We'll raise the federal minimum to $15 an hour.

We'll make health care affordable for every American.

I will build on the Affordable Care Act so you can keep your private insurance or choose a Medicare-like public option. We'll increase subsidies to lower your premiums, deductibles, and out-of-pocket spending. We'll lower prescription drug costs in this country by 60%. And we'll make sure we keep the protections for pre-existing conditions. I'll protect your Social Security and Medicare. And we'll create millions of union jobs modernizing our infrastructure.

Jobs at prevailing wages. And rebuilding American manufacturing by enforcing a real Buy American plan.

One that requires the $600 billion in purchasing power that the federal government has every year to be used on American companies with American workers building American products and using American supply chains.

That means American steel and aluminum for our infrastructure. For clean vehicles as we replace the cars in the federal fleet. For 1.5 million new affordable homes and housing units.

And let me be clear. I will not ban fracking in Pennsylvania. I will protect Pennsylvania jobs. Period. No matter how many times Donald Trump lies.

Unlike Donald Trump, I don't think the big oil companies need a handout from the federal government. I'll get rid of $40 billion in fossil fuel subsidies, and invest that money in clean energy.

I have a plan to create millions of clean energy jobs in wind, solar, and carbon capture. Donald Trump never delivered on his promise for a big infrastructure plan.

He's done nothing, and our roads and bridges are crumbling just as climate change is accelerating more frequent extreme weather events. Not just with wildfires in California or hurricanes along the Gulf Coast. But here in Luzerne County with flooding along the Susquehanna River.

We can do something about it. But we've got to come together. Which gets to the choice and stakes in this election.

Barack and I worked hard to earn and win your vote in 2008 and 2012 here in Pennsylvania.

And I tell you what, wasn't it's great to see him out there again?

But I understand why some of you voted for Donald Trump in 2016. Believed you weren't being seen or respected or heard. And Trump ran saying he would represent the forgotten men and women of this country, folks here in this county.

I get it.

But the truth is, once he got in office, he forgot you.

Remember what Donald Trump said, when the COVID-19 death count approached 200,000 in America — he said if you take out the blue states with Democratic Governors and just look at the red states with Republican Governors — we're doing quite well.

First of all, that's not true.

Second, he's saying if you live in a state like Pennsylvania — or in Michigan, or in Wisconsin, states with Democratic Governors — you're not his problem. He's not responsible for you, your family, your well-being.

Folks, I don't see the presidency that way. I don't see America that way.

This has to change. And it will change with me. You will be seen and heard and respected by me.

My campaign is a broad coalition that welcomes Democrats, Republicans, and Independents.

If elected President, there will be no red or blue states. Only the United States.

I was reminded of that earlier this month, when I went to sacred ground at Gettysburg. Abraham Lincoln told us a house divided cannot stand.

Folks, today trust is ebbing. Hope seems elusive. Instead of healing, we're being ripped apart.

I refuse to let that happen. I'm running as a proud Democrat, but I will govern as an American president. And I will work as hard for those who don't support me as for those who do.

That's the job of a president. It's a duty to care for everyone.

And you, too, have a sacred duty — to vote. It matters. Pennsylvania matters.

So please vote. Help get out the vote.


Return your ballot as soon as possible — make sure everyone you know does the same.

I'll never forget what President Kennedy said when he promised to send us to the moon.

He said he "refused to postpone."

I refuse to postpone the work America must do. There's nothing beyond our capacity. There's no limit to America's future.

The only thing that can tear America apart is America itself.

Everybody knows who Donald Trump is. Let's show them who we are. We choose hope over fear. Unity over division. Science over fiction. And yes, truth over lies.

So it's time to stand up and take back our democracy.

May God bless you. May God protect our troops.

Joseph R. Biden, Remarks by Vice President Joe Biden in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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