Oct 2, 2020
Joe Biden Grand Rapids, Michigan Speech Transcript October 2
Joe Biden spoke during a campaign visit to Grand Rapids, Michigan on October 2 after testing negative for coronavirus. He said he hopes the President and First Lady have a “quick and full recovery” and urged everyone to wear masks and practice social distancing. Read the transcript of his campaign speech here.
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Speaker 1: (01:16)
Everyone please welcome our first speaker and essential worker at a grocery store and a UFCW local 876 member, Matt Hoffman.
Matt Hoffman: (01:36)
Thank you, Mr. Vice President for the opportunity to speak about what essential grocery workers, including countless UFCW members like myself are dealing with. My name is Matt Hoffman and I’m a grocery store worker in Imlay City, Michigan, and I have been on the front lines of the pandemics since day one. Working around the clock to help make sure families in my community have the food they need during this crisis. I live in a small town and our community has been devastated by COVID-19 and the damage it has done to our economy. Over these many months, there is not a day that goes by where workers like me are not putting our lives on the line. In the beginning, we had no protective equipment and we were even told we would be sent home without pay if we wore masks or gloves on the job. The health risks we face are real. We interact with the public every day. We are vital to the food supply, but we cannot do our job if we are not protected. Essential workers like us deserve essential precautions like hazard pay.
Matt Hoffman: (02:49)
I am here today because we need to build a better America than one we see. We need to create good jobs. We need to make sure employers do the right and pay us for the risks we face. We can’t afford to listen to companies that make billions in profit and then cut hazard pay. We need a leader who puts hardworking men and women and their families first. This is why I’m supporting Joe Biden. Lastly, I would like to urge all my friends and family, regardless of their party to vote for Vice President Biden so we can have a president who prioritizes us in our jobs. From everything I’ve heard you say and the way you clearly care for others, I know you are the leader we need. Thank you again for listening to Michigan workers and welcome Mr. Vice President.
Joe Biden: (03:43)
Hey folks. Good afternoon. Before I start, let me explain the delay. We wanted to make sure that we’re doing everything by the numbers. And so I got two COVID tests this morning, one in Delaware, and one by the former White House doc who came up and everything’s cleared. We want to make sure everything was clear before I came. We were supposed to have an event after this at a headquarters, but based on the crowd size and an indoor, it was concluded by the docs that best not to do it. But I want to thank all of you. I want to thank Matt. And Matt, you’re dead right. You were putting yourself on the line and a lot of other people did all across this country in your union. And I want to thank David way, Secretary-Treasurer of local 951, for having me here today.
Joe Biden: (04:51)
Look, I’d like to start by acknowledging which I sure all of you do as well. Sending my prayers for the health and safety of the first lady and president of the United States after they tested positive for COVID-19. My wife, Jill and I pray that they’ll make a quick and full recovery. This is not a matter of politics. It’s a bracing reminder to all of us that we have to take this virus seriously. It’s not going away automatically. We have to do our part to be responsible. It means following the science, listening to the experts, washing our hands, social distancing. It means wearing a mask in public and means encouraging others to do so as well. It means having masking mandates nationwide. The director of the CDC, Center for Disease Control, Dr. Red field said, and I quote, and he held up a mask. He said, “These face masks are the most important, powerful public health tool we have.”
Joe Biden: (05:56)
Then he held the mask up again and said, “This face mask is more guaranteed to protect me against COVID than a vaccine.” Leading scientist from the University of Washington tell us that we can save more than 100,000 American lives in the next 100 days alone if everyone wore a mask in public. So let me repeat that because it’s so important. We can save 100,000 lives in the next 100 days, according to the head of the CDC, if everyone wears a mask in public. So be patriotic. It’s not about being a tough guy. It’s about doing your part. Wearing a mask is not only going to protect you, but it also protects those around you. Your mom, your dad, your brother, your sister, husband, wife, neighbor, coworker. Don’t just do it for yourself, do it for the people you love, the people you work with. The seriousness of this virus also underscores that we need regular testing with results turned around rapidly and that’s available to everyone.
Joe Biden: (07:08)
It’s not just the folks in the White House or who travel with me that deserved regular testing, it’s folks in the meatpacking and food processing plants, grocery store workers. Every single American deserves safety and peace of mind. And it means we need transparency. Those who test positive need to participate in contact tracing so that everyone who they may have exposed can get tested themselves. That’s how you stop transmission for any epidemic. Is basic. We need to take the science of fighting this disease seriously if we’re going to save lives. And above all the news is a reminder that we, as a nation, need to do better in dealing with this pandemic. Taking these steps is how we’ll protect ourselves. And just as important is how we will protect one another. Hope that all those who are fighting this virus, including the first family and so many Americans today recover and recover soon. My prayers are with the families of the more than 200. I think it’s seven now. 207,000 Americans who’ve died from this virus.
Joe Biden: (08:29)
Many haven’t got up this morning. The breakfast table with an the empty chair of someone they lost and they loved. We understand. And there’s more than 7 million Americans who are have been infected. That includes folks here in Grand Rapids and all across Michigan, especially all of you or that you have with UFCW who are on the front lines of this pandemic and on the front lines of this economic crisis. UFCW workers who have always been on the front lines of fighting for dignity and respect you deserve. I know it’s been tough. This morning, September jobs report came out. The last one before election day. I’m grateful for all those who were able to get their jobs back to work again, but it was fewer jobs than we had hoped for. Millions of families, millions are still wondering when it will be their turn to come back from the brink. And the signs according to national press are not encouraging. Once again, the pace of job gains is slowing down. Once again, we’re seeing temporary layoffs turn permanent.
Joe Biden: (09:44)
This month marked the largest single month increase in long-term unemployment since we started keeping records in 1948. There are now an additional 781,000 Americans who have been trying to find work for at least six months. They’ve been looking for work for at least six months and haven’t found it. And in the past, that’s a sign for permanency for them. We’re still down 647,000 manufacturing jobs nationwide since the crisis started. All told, we are now 30 million workers who have either lost hours, lost paychecks or lost their jobs entirely. Participating in labor force participation fell last month and remains sharply down since this crisis began, especially for women. There’s another roughly 700,000 people who have dropped out of the labor force. Stopped looking for a job. The vast majority were women demonstrating once again how this economic crisis has been especially tough on women and families in This country. This will be the first presidency in modern history to leave office with fewer jobs than when it came into office.
Joe Biden: (11:06)
Michigan has lost more than then 361,000 jobs since the beginning of 2017. In fact, factories were already closing before COVID like the Knoll plant here in Grand Rapids. They announced back in January, they were shutting down and cutting 210 local jobs. Manufacturing has already slipped into recession last year. The net loss of auto manufacturing jobs you saw here in Michigan. And that economic pain was only amplified by the pandemic. Your schools and local businesses are closed like all places around America. More than 26 million unemployment claims were filed by Americans last month. 46 million Americans have exhausted their emergency savings and essential workers here in Grand Rapids won’t forget how the UFCW members saw their jobs turned suddenly into a life and death task. Folks, today’s report reinforces another painful trend. A continuing of what economists call a K-shaped recovery. And K means that letter going up. That’s those who on the top, it keeps going up while everyone else in the middle is going down and below. We’re seeing things get worse.
Joe Biden: (12:43)
It means essential workers, UFCW workers who sacrificed to keep us going through the pandemic and continuing are being left behind by the most unequal recovery in modern history. Because while workers are struggling, this is a fact, the top 100 billionaires in America have done pretty well. Just the top 100 of them. They’ve made up more than $30 billion this year in the last nine months. And everyone else, though you keep hoping, you get the bottom of that K-shaped recovery. You get the downward slide. You’re left to figure out how you’re going to pay the bills and put food on the table. How to balance doing your job with being a teacher to your kids because their school has gotten remote. You’re asked to risk your neck because you can’t work from home when the risks for COVID are kept outside because you work at a meat packing plant or an assembly line or the checkout counter. I do understand this is a scary time, an uncertain time.
Joe Biden: (14:01)
I understand it and I see you because I see the world from where I grew up in Scranton, Pennsylvania. A lot like Grand Rapids. It’s filled with an awful lot of good people busting their neck every day, do the right thing for their families. In Scranton my mom used to have an expression. She said not just in Scranton, but from the time we left there. She said, “Joey, nobody’s better than you Joey, but everybody’s your equal.” My dad’s constant refrain after he lost a job in Scranton when there were no more work and he had to move to Delaware. He moved away for a little over a year and come back every weekend to see us. The time we finally, a couple years down the road in Delaware, got to finally be able to buy a home. My dad used to use this expression. He said, “Joey, a job’s about a lot more than a paycheck. It’s about your dignity. It’s about respect. It’s about your place in the community.” These are the values that shaped my growing up and I suspect most you.
Joe Biden: (15:03)
It shaped my whole life. So I know and understood from the very beginning of consciousness about this, that Wall Street and CEOs didn’t build this country, the middle-class built this country and unions built the middle class. That’s why I’ve laid out a comprehensive agenda, not just to rebuild our communities, but to make bold investments so we can build back and bill back better. And independent analysis actually from Wall Street, Moody’s, projected that my plan will create 18.6 million jobs. 7 million more than the administration’s economic plan and $1 trillion more in economics growth than the president’s plan. That’s not coming from a liberal think tank, that’s coming from Moody’s. Here’s how my plan works. I’m going to raise taxes on people only making over 400. Anyone making less than $400,000 a year won’t pay a penny more. But I’m going to ask the very big corporations, the Fortune 500 and the wealthy to pay their fair share for a change. That means raising the corporate tax rate, which was in the mid 30s and now is 21% back to 28%.
Joe Biden: (16:24)
That means making sure that no big company gets away with paying zero taxes as 91 Fortune 500 companies do today making billions of dollars. Zero taxes. How many of you pay zero taxes? Means making sure the wealthiest Americans don’t get to pay at a lower tax rate because they’re making money on their investments, but they pay at the same rate that they pay for their salary. These changes in the tax code will raise the money, it’ll allow me to invest in working people and growing the middle class. Which is when I announced I was running, I said, that’s the reason. To rebuild the backbone of this country. Hardworking folks in the middle class, we’re going to invest in creating millions of good paying jobs, union jobs. By the way, my plan has been thoroughly analyzed by a whole bunch of folks. Take infrastructure, building roads, bridges, highways, ports, airports will put millions of people to work in good paying union jobs and create the foundation for growth in this country.
Joe Biden: (17:33)
Clean energy. Just upgrading 4 million buildings and weatherizing 2 million homes will create at least 1 million good paying jobs. Leading in the world on electric vehicles and building 500,000 electric charging stations on our highways will create 1 million new auto jobs here in this state. The manufacturing and technology in those areas, making sure the future is made in America, made in Michigan with good union jobs. The federal government spends $600 billion a year of your tax dollars. 600 billion a year to purchase everything from military equipment to steel, to cars, to trucks, to federal fleets at $600 billion. When I’m president, we’re going to make sure we finally make good on a commitment made a long time ago that these products, all these contracts, that the president of United States and the federal government can award, make sure those products are made by Americans in America. Making sure that, that’s done.
Joe Biden: (18:53)
It’s estimated that we’ll create 5 million new manufacturing jobs and technology jobs. For small businesses, we’re going to make sure small businesses come out on the other side of this terrible circumstance with access to capital and the ability to deal with the debts that have been accumulated during this pandemic. And we’ll make investments to increase incomes as well. $15 minimum wage. No one should be in a position to have to work two jobs just to get above the poverty line. We’re going to bring back jobs from overseas to America and direct billions of dollars in revitalization funds and competitive grants to help communities like those in Western Michigan compete for new business startups. For our essential workers, we’re not just going to praise you, we’re going to pay you a good wage to ensure you have a strong benefits.
Joe Biden: (19:54)
We’re going to ease the burden of the major cost in your life. Healthcare. We’ll build on the Affordable Care Act through a new health insurance option, a not-for-profit public option which will give private insurers a real competitor. We’ll increase subsidies for your premiums so they’re lower. So you can afford the plans with lower deductions and lower out-of-pocket expenses. That plan alone will cost over $700 billion over 10 years, but it’s paid for by eliminating those tax cuts. For a 40 year old making $50,000 a year, your monthly premium will go down by a third. We’ll take on the pharmaceutical companies with a plan that slashes the cost of prescription drugs for up to 60%. Medicare will be able to negotiate prices for drugs fundamentally lowering those prices. And childcare. A lot of you’re dealing with that now. How do you go to work if you have work and take care of your kids or an aging relative that’s in trouble?
Joe Biden: (21:05)
We’re going to make high quality childcare affordable and accessible. Every three and four year old will have access to free quality preschool. We’re going to make sure that low and middle-income families will never have to pay more than 7% of their income for caring for a young child. In education beyond high school. We’re going to make sure that four year college tuition of a state university is tuition free for any family making less than $125,000. Community college would be free and programs and training will be free as well. If you buying your first home, you’ll have a $15,000 help to get there. These are all things that people have been talking about for a while. We’re going to protect social security, increase the benefits for millions of seniors.
Joe Biden: (22:00)
The president’s talking about eliminating the withholding tax. Well, that’s wonderful except for one thing, the actuary of social security said if that plan goes through social security will be bankrupt by 2023. Folks, I promise you, we can do this. Let me close by saying this. I know a lot of people around here are tired of feeling overlooked and disrespected. I get that. The people I met this week taking a train through Northeastern, Ohio and Western Pennsylvania. People like the dedicated elementary school teacher from Lordstown, Ohio, whose husband, when Lordstown shut down accepted a transfer to Kentucky eight hours away each direction in order to be able to keep his healthcare and his pension after the GM plant closed. Folks who worry about healthcare. Will the Affordable Care Act still be there for them? Why? Why they ask. Will I be among the 100 million Americans who could lose the protections for pre-existing conditions like asthma and diabetes?
Joe Biden: (23:15)
Where once again, women will be able to charge a higher premium just simply because they’re a woman. Where insurers no longer have to allow you to be able to keep your kids on a healthcare plan until age 26. What will happen to your Medicare benefits, your social security? Will they still be there when you retire? I’m asked many times in recent years, how do we get to the place where people who stock our shelves, pack our food, teach our kids like my family, take care of my wife, take care of our sick, who race into burning buildings and pick up the garbage off our streets. Who did. How do we get to the place where you all don’t think we see you anymore or hear them and most importantly, respect them? That has to change. I know it can. I come from those neighborhoods. We can get this pandemic under control so we can get our economy working again for everyone. But this cannot be a partisan moment, it must be an American moment.
Joe Biden: (24:27)
We have to come together as a nation. I’m running as a Democrat, but I will run and govern as an American president. Whether you voted for me or against me, I will represent you. And those who see each other as fellow Americans who just don’t live in red states or blue states, but who live in and love the United States of America. That’s who we are. And there’s never been a single solitary thing America’s been unable to do. Think of this. Not once. Not a single thing we’ve not been able to overcome when we’ve done it together. So let’s get the heck up. Remember who in God’s name we are. This is the United States of America. There’s nothing beyond our capacity. I want to say, God bless you and God protect the first family and every family who’s dealing with this virus and may God protect our troops. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.