Sep 21, 2020
Joe Biden Campaign Speech Transcript Manitowoc, Wisconsin September 21
Joe Biden spoke during a campaign visit to Manitowoc, Wisconsin on September 21. Biden focused on Donald Trump’s coronavirus response, saying the virus was “too big” for Trump. Transcript of his remarks here.
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Joe Biden: (00:02)
Thank you very, very much. And is the [inaudible 00:00:05] family here? Anyone from… as they say in part of my city, your family done good. Long, long time. Isn’t it? God love you. Well, thank you. Thank you for taking the time to be here. I really do appreciate it. Today, unfortunately, America is going to, have to speak to this quickly, going to reach a tragic milestone. 200,000 deaths recorded as of today because of the coronavirus. 200,000 deaths all across this nation. And it means there are empty chairs and dining room tables and kitchen tables that weeks and months ago were filled with a loved one, a mom, a dad, a brother, a sister. And in many cases, the pain was made a lot worse because… and I’ve had people tell me this and close friends of the family tell me, because they were unable to visit their elderly parent or grandparent in a nursing home just before they passed away.
Joe Biden: (01:17)
Don’t know how many stories I’ve heard about from the nurses saying they held up a cell phone to the patient on a ventilator in the bed about to pass, Mr. Mayor, and that’s all they could speak to. And so the fact that people weren’t able to hold funeral services where family and friends could pray together, remember the loved ones they lost and place them as they place them in the hands of God. And so many of the rituals we have come to help us cope with pain and loss, to help us honor the lives of those we’ve loved, to help us come to closure, just aren’t available in the middle of this pandemic. What worries me now is we’ve been living with this pandemic for so long, we’re risking becoming numb to the toll it has taken on us and our country and communities like this. We can’t let that happen.
Joe Biden: (02:17)
We can’t lose the ability to feel the sorrow and the loss and the anger for so many lives lost. We can’t let the numbers become statistics, a background noise, just a blur that we see on the nightly news. 200 moms, dads, sons, daughters, grandparents, uncles, aunts, friends, coworkers, who are no longer with us. And so many of them didn’t have to lose their lives to this virus, quite frankly, if only the president has acted sooner. Back in May, Columbia University released a study that said that if the president of that acted just one week sooner, we would have saved 36,000 lives. Today, the leading model being used to track the virus, one which the White House and many the others rely on, that model says between now and the end of this year, while we’re waiting for a vaccine, between now and the end of the year, we’re going to lose up to 200,000 additional lives.
Joe Biden: (03:21)
It ranged from 178,000 to 200,000. And it points out as well that if we act by doing what you’re doing here in Wisconsin, wearing masks and making minimum requirements to meet this, we could save over 115,000 of those lives. So I hope to God we’ll not learn the same lesson, we might have to learn the same bad lesson we learned in the first nine months. Due to Donald Trump’s lies and incompetence in the past six months have seen one of the greatest losses of American life in history, in history. But sadly, it’s not over. As awful as the past 180 days have been, the next 90 days could be twice as bad. Just pause and think about it. We could be looking at, as I said, between 178 and 200,000 lives lost. And all the president does is deliberately change the subject, which is especially infuriating. Once again, we’re being told that we can save lives. This time as many, as I said, 110,000 lives if we just take the simple steps.
Joe Biden: (04:30)
Chief among them wearing masks and still the president refuses. In fact, we just watched him hold an indoor rally with thousands of people, many of whom weren’t wearing masks despite the clear evidence that we’re putting everyone of those people’s lives at risk. The president knew of these dangers back in February and he hid it from the American people. You can actually hear his own voice recorded by Bob Woodward’s interview with him saying that he understood how bad it was. We hear him privately saying, “This is a deadly virus. Far more deadly than any flu.” But that’s not what he was saying to us publicly. Publicly he told us that it was just like the flu and it would disappear in the warm weather like a miracle.
Joe Biden: (05:22)
It was all a lie. He knew it. What’s his explanation? He said he didn’t want to see the American people panic. He didn’t want to panic them. Trump panicked. The virus was too big for him. All his life, Donald Trump has been bailed out of any problem he faced. And with this crisis, a real crisis, the crisis that required serious presidential leadership, he just wasn’t up to it. He froze. He failed to act. He panicked and America has paid the worst price of nation in the world. Still, I support and understand what Donald Trump was saying. And by the way, the American people don’t panic. We don’t panic. I understand what he was saying because it crystallizes his whole worldview. When Donald Trump said he didn’t want to create a panic, he wasn’t just talking about a health panic, he was focused on the stock market. Trump was worried that if he told the public the truth, there would be a panic on the financial markets and that would hurt his chances of being reelected.
Joe Biden: (06:33)
That’s how Donald Trump views the world. He sees the world from Park Avenue. I see it from where I grew up in a town like this from Scranton, Pennsylvania. Hard scrapple, hard working town, just like this and so many more across Wisconsin. When you look at the world from Park Avenue, basically all you can see is Wall Street. And you think Wall Street built this country? Well, let me tell you. You think that Donald Trump as Donald Trump does, that handing out a $1.5 trillion tax giveaway primarily for large corporations and wealthy qualifiers is an economic plan? You think like Trump, that $15 an hour is too much for America’s essential workers. You eliminate overtime pay for millions of American workers. You try to take away healthcare from 20 million Americans in the middle of this pandemic.
Joe Biden: (07:34)
He’s in court today, trying to get that done. You trying to take away protections for preexisting conditions for 130 million Americans. You propose a plan that in order to make it look good, you’re going to get a little bump in your pay because you’re not going to take out withholding for your social security. But guess what? The actuary at social security says if he does that social security will be bankrupt by the middle of 2023. You might get that out of your paycheck, a little more in your paycheck, but guess what? Go home and tell your mom and dad, say goodbye to social security they worked for their whole lives. You think being tough with China is a trade deal that opens the door to big banks to make money in China. That’s basically all we got out of it. A lot of dairy farmers and farmers and manufacturing went under.
Joe Biden: (08:35)
But guess what? It started a trade war that [inaudible 00:08:38] farm banker fees and America throws the American manufacturing into a recession. But you know what happened? I didn’t know this at first. I couldn’t understand why he was so excited about it. America’s bank, Citibank, they got to open up in Beijing. They weren’t able to before. He scuttled a deal to lower prescription drug prices. He probably had a deal, but he wanted the pharmaceutical companies before they lowered the prices to do something that they thought was unethical. He asked them to send out $100 checks with his name on it to the elderly saying that, that’s the down payment. They said, “We’re not going to do that.” They weren’t going to do it so the deal fell apart. And now some 30 million Americans are on unemployment.
Joe Biden: (09:35)
You think the way to get American economy back on track is to give another gigantic multimillion dollar tax cut to the very wealthy. And here’s what they’re doing. The tax rate all of you pay in here is going to be higher than billionaires who make their money on investments. This is not exaggeration. He wants to lower, again, costing $30 billion to the Treasury, lower the capital gains tax to 15%. So while someone who makes their money is off the market is paying the 15% rate, you’re paying at a 24, 26, 28, depending on your tax bracket rate. It’s not right. Workers here pay close to twice that amount. Close to 30%. Trump’s tax cut for the wealthy is going to cost billions of dollars a year and who’s hide does it come out? It comes out of your hide. The simple truth is that Donald Trump ran for office saying he would represent the forgotten man and women in this country.
Joe Biden: (10:41)
And then once he got in office, he forgot us. Not only did he forget them, the truth is that he never really respected us very much. Oh, he loves his rallies but the next time he holds one look closely. Trump keeps his distance from anyone in the rally. The folks who come are packed in tight as they can be risking disease, mostly without mask, but not Trump. He safely he keeps his distance. They showed a couple of days ago, a reporter trying to come up or someone come through, he said, “No, no. You got to keep your distance. I don’t get close to these people.” He’s willing to let everybody else in the crowd risk their life, but not him. And now we know what he really thinks of the people who come to his rallies from someone who saw it up close and wrote about it up close in the White House. The former employee said he calls his own supporters, “Disgusting.” He said one of the benefits of this pandemic, cause he doesn’t have to shake their hands.
Joe Biden: (11:53)
He doesn’t have to shake their hand. That’s a good thing about the pandemic. For Trump these rallies are about entertainment, adoration and not respect. But you don’t kid yourself, this is a one way street. And all the things that Trump has said and done, nothing is more offensive than the way he’s spoken about many of you and the brave women and men who served the nation in uniform. Those have given their lives in service to this nation. It’s been confirmed by every outlet that he referred to them as losers and suckers. That’s what Trump calls those who served and They’re made the ultimate sacrifice. Let me tell you something, my son Beau served and volunteered to go to Iraq for a year. Won the Bronze Star, came home decorated, came home with stage 4 glioblastoma and died of cancer. He wasn’t a loser. He wasn’t a sucker. He was a patriot.
Joe Biden: (12:54)
And all those people with whom he served, volunteered, were patriots as well. Just like your sons and daughters and many of you, your moms and dads. Frankly, I’ve dealt with guys like Trump my whole life. Some neighbor where I come who would look down on us because we didn’t have a lot of money or your parents didn’t go to college. Guys who think they’re better than you. Guys who inherit everything they’ve ever gotten in their life and squander it. Guys who stretch and squeeze and stiff electricians and plumbers and contractors working on their hotels and casinos and golf courses just to put a few more bucks in their pocket. Guys who do everything they can to avoid paying their taxes they owe because they figure the rest of us, the little people, we can pick up the tab for the country. Do you have any doubt that the reason we haven’t seen Trump’s tax returns is because they didn’t want to know what he paid?
Joe Biden: (13:54)
They’ve only seen four Trump tax returns in the last 45 years. And I don’t think there’s been any ever since he’s been running for president. He had to turn some of them over to start a casino in New Jersey. He had to show his taxes. And they showed that he paid zero. He talked about the billion dollars that… he paid zero, nothing. That’s a fact. And when he was asked about it, you know what he said? This why I really don’t like guys like this in my neighborhood. He said, “It makes me smart.” Or in another way, “I’m not a sucker. Why should I pay when I can figure my way out?” Zero. Wall Street’s a long way from Scranton, Pennsylvania, and here, but you get to see the world a little more clearly there. I grew up understanding as I believe all of you did that Wall Street didn’t build this country, hardworking people, given half a chance, the middle class built this country and unions built the middle class.
Joe Biden: (15:01)
Unions. Union labor like the folks in this room. I’ve learned a few simple lessons from my parents that I’ve never forgotten. One is from my mother. She used to say, and this the God’s truth, “Joey, remember nobody’s better than you, but everyone’s your equal. Nobody’s better, but everyone’s your equal.” It’s pretty simple. We’re all equal the way I was raised and we should be treated that way. I have to admit, I got my back up a little bit recently about something I saw and was on national television about the race. Some of the national… I don’t think they meant anything by it, but I don’t think they know how insulting it is. It was, Joe Biden, if elected, will be only the first president who didn’t go to an Ivy League school in a long time. Somehow that meant I didn’t belong.
Joe Biden: (16:00)
How could a guy who went to a state school be president? My reaction was the same it has been my whole life and I have to admit it and I’m not proud of it, but you close the door on me because you think I’m not good enough, guess what? Like all you guys, I’m going to bust down that door. My guess is a lot of you feel the same way about a lot of slights you’ve had because of our standing, quote, unquote. I say it’s about time that a state school president sat in the Oval Office because you know what? If I’m sitting there, you’re going to be sitting there too. Another lesson I learned from my dad and my family heard this all the time. My dad lost a job when coal died up in Scranton. We had to move. He had to go to my grandpa, his father-in-law and say, “Can Gen…” My mom. “Can Gen and the kids stay with you about a year? I’ll make it up to you. I got to move to Delaware where there’s a job. I’m going to come home every weekend.”
Joe Biden: (17:08)
Talk about pride. Well, he used to say, “Joey, remember a job’s about a lot more than your paycheck. It’s about your dignity. It’s about respect. It’s about your place in the community. It’s about being able to look your kids in the eye and say, honey, it’s going to be all right.” The dignity of work, what you do matters. You matter. That’s why I want to change the tax code. Instead of rewarding just wealth, and I don’t want to punish anybody, but instead of just rewarding wealth in this country, it’s about time we start to reward work. Under my plan nobody making less than 400,000 bucks and I don’t make it and you don’t make it. I don’t think. In this country will see their taxes go up. But if you make more than 400,000 bucks, you’re going to start to pay more. I’m not looking to punish anyone. I just think it’s about time the wealthiest and the biggest corporations, most profitable companies began to pay their fair share. You got all 90 of them paying zero. Making billions of dollars. They pay no tax at all. Zero.
Joe Biden: (18:21)
How can that be fair? The president talks all the time about how great the economy is. Well, I don’t know what y’all think, but where I come from and a lot of places in this state, it’s not so great. In the middle of this pandemic, now, the billionaires in this country have seen their wealth increase by $800 billion. Let me explain that again. All the billionaires in America during the pandemic, their net worth combined according to studies have increased by $800 billion. And the rest of us, well, 30 million people are unemployed. 20 million Americans are at risk of losing their home because they can’t find the rent payment. Seven plus million Americans are working part time who want to work full time. Evictions are on the rise. And for a lot of families, the kids are at home, not in school. I believe it’s the working people of this country that need a tax break.
Joe Biden: (19:23)
And under my plan, they’re going to get one. Whether you’re buying your first home, paying for health care premium or childcare or caring for an aging parent, you’re going to be able to afford it. I’ve said it many times, during this pandemic, we need to do more than just praise our essential workers, we need to pay them. We need to make healthcare affordable for every American. My plan will lower prescription drug costs by 60%. I’m going to make sure we keep protections for preexisting conditions that Obama and I put in place and make it a lot more affordable to have that healthcare. We need to empower labor unions in this country. Fair Labor Standards Act didn’t say back in the ’30s, you can’t have labor unions. It said we should promote labor unions. That’s what it said. And I will.
Joe Biden: (20:12)
And one more thing. Under my Build Back Better plan, we’re not only going to build infrastructure we need in this country with union workers and prevailing wage, we’re going to do something else. We’re going to rebuild manufacturing in this country and we’ll do it by enforcing a real buy American plan. Look, the federal government has spent $600 billion a year in purchasing power that the federal government has every year from tax dollars and determines how it’s used. When I’m president of United States, God willing, American companies with American workers, building American products using American supply chains are going to be the only ones who get the contracts. That means American aluminum for infrastructure, for developing more wind and solar and hydroelectric power, electric vehicles will replace cars in the federal fleet. We have one of the largest fleets in the world, the federal government. They’re going to shift them all to electric vehicles and guess what?
Joe Biden: (21:13)
That means you’re going to be providing much more lighter frames, more aluminum for automobiles that already if they are aluminum built, they could reduce by 15%, even with a combustion engine. 1.5 million new affordable homes and housing. We’re going to build and this is going to require a lot of work and increased work at home. We’re going to make sure that we transfer 40 million buildings around America to make them weather resistant so that they are… you change the windows, the doors, the walls, the whole range. Building Back Better means firing up our shuttered foundries and forging ahead towards future that’s truly made in America. I want to spend just a few moments talking about those who voted for Donald Trump last time. When I went was out here in the [inaudible 00:22:06] administration, you voted for us and then an awful lot of people in this county changed and they voted for Trump last time.
Joe Biden: (22:13)
I know many of you were frustrated. You were angry. You believed you weren’t being seen, represented or heard. I get it. It has to change. And I promise you this, it will change with me. You will be seen, heard and respected by me. This campaign isn’t about just winning votes, it’s about restoring the basic dignity in this country that every worker deserves. Basic dignity that we all have without winning back the hearts and yes, the soul of America, we’re not going to make it. Just a few days ago when I was asked about the death count approaching 200,000, the president said, and I quote, he said, I won’t quote him. The president said, “If you take out the blue states run by Democratic governors and just look at the red states, Republican governors are doing quite well.”
Joe Biden: (23:06)
Now, of course, it’s a simple, factual matter, it’s just not true. If you just count all the deaths in the red states, we are number two in the world in death just behind Brazil. But more fundamentally, reflects on the part of Donald Trump that he has a deeply flawed and divisive view of the United States, this nation and the job he holds. Think about what he’s saying. He’s saying, if you live in a state like Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, states with Democratic governors, you’re not his problem. He has no obligation to you. He’s not responsible for you as president, your family or your wellbeing. I don’t see the presidency that way. I don’t pledge allegiance to red states of America or blue states of America, I pledge allegiance to the United States of America. One nation, indivisible under God. For real. I’m running as a proud Democrat, but I’m not going to govern as a Democratic president, I’m going to govern as president.
Joe Biden: (24:11)
I get criticized for saying that sometimes with some in my party, but that’s not what I’m going to do. I’m going to fight as hard for those who supported me as those who did not support me. This is not a partisan moment for God’s sake. This has to be an American moment. In the next few weeks, we have a chance to put anger and division and the darkness that overtaken this country behind us. We’ve got to put it behind us. I know I’ve been criticized since I entered the primaries about, I say, I want to unite the country. We have to unite the country. This is not who we are and we can. We’ve done it so many times in our history. We’ve begun to a new. If we get control of this virus, we can. We can reward work. We can fix the healthcare system.
Joe Biden: (25:04)
We can be a safe and just nation. We can deal with the existential threat of climate change which aluminum is going to be a gigantic part of. We can be what we are at our best, one nation. One nation, one people, one America. You just have to remember who in God’s name we are. This is the United States of America. In our long history, there’s been nothing we’ve been unable to do, nothing we’ve been able to overcome when we’ve done it together. And I’m confident going all over this nation, we can do it together. The American people are hungry. We have to bring the nation together. That’s going to be my primary job. Ans I want to thank you all. God bless you for what you’re doing. May you all stay safe and may God protect our troops. Thank you so much, Mr. Mayor. Thank you. And thank you ma’am. Appreciate it.