Apr 28, 2020
Joe Biden & Hillary Clinton Virtual Town Hall Transcript on Women’s Issues
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden held a virtual town hall with Hillary Clinton, where they talked about women’s issues. Read the full transcript of their video conference event here.
Transcribe Your Own Content
Try Rev for free and save time transcribing, captioning, and subtitling.
Joe Biden: (04:48)
Women are on the front lines as healthcare workers, doctors, nurses, sanitation workers, childcare workers, grocery store clerks, workers, and more and more are carrying on their backs the rest of the nation. Domestic violence survivors are at a heightened risk, forced to shelter in place with their abusers. Women’s access to reproductive healthcare is increasingly in jeopardy. The coronavirus can hit anyone, anywhere regardless of race, gender, economic status, or level of power.
Joe Biden: (05:20)
It doesn’t impact every community equally. It hits hard as those who are most vulnerable and who have the fewest resources, including women of color and low income women. This pandemic is pulling back the curtain on so many inequities in our society. The lack of paid sick leave for workers, the need for livable minimum wage. The need for stronger unemployment insurance. We’re going to dig into all of these issues and more in today’s discussion and I’m really thrilled to have my friend, the former Senator and former Secretary of State and the woman who should be president United States right now, Hillary Clinton. Welcome Hillary. It’s great to have you here.
Hillary Clinton: (06:00)
Thank you so much, Joe. It’s a real pleasure to be here with you and to be part of this very important discussion. And I am thrilled to be part of your campaign to not only endorse you, but to help highlight a lot of the issues that are at stake in this presidential election. As you just so rightly said, this terrible pandemic that we’re all going through hits a lot of Americans much harder than others.
Hillary Clinton: (06:33)
We’ve seen it firsthand in hospitalizations and in unfortunately fatalities. But we’ve also seen it when we look at the pictures of those people on the front lines. Do you know 80% of all healthcare workers in America are women? And one out of three jobs held by women in our country has been classified as essential. So this is an issue that affects all of us, young and old, every kind of background from every walk of life.
Hillary Clinton: (07:09)
But it is having a disproportionate impact on the front lines on women working, on women caring for others. On women holding down the home as we go through this together. So I want to add my voice to the many who have endorsed you to be our president. Just think of what a difference it would make right now if we had a president who not only listened to the science, put facts over fiction, but brought us together.
Hillary Clinton: (07:44)
Showed the kind of compassion and caring that we need from our president and which Joe Biden has been exemplifying throughout his entire life. Think of what it would mean if we had a real president, not just somebody who plays one on TV. But somebody who gets up every morning worried about the people that he’s responsible for leading during this crisis. Well, I know what a difference it would make because I’ve been there.
Hillary Clinton: (08:16)
I’ve seen firsthand what presidents can and should do and I like so many Americans really wish that we had that kind of leadership now. Joe Biden has been preparing for this moment his entire life. I’ve been privileged to work with him over the last 25+ years as first lady. Then for eight years in the Senate where I watched him build coalitions and work to bring people together to solve problems.
Hillary Clinton: (08:50)
Then during the Obama administration when I was privileged to be Secretary of State. I’ve been in the situation room with Joe as we debated and you know where we didn’t say what we thought people wanted to hear, we said what we believed. And we had a president then with President Obama who encouraged that. Think of it, who wanted to hear from each and every one of us. I’ve been in the lobby of the Senate, I’ve been in the cloak room and I’ve watched Joe bring people together. So for me, this is a moment that we need a leader, a president like Joe Biden.
Hillary Clinton: (09:29)
I also know a lot about Joe the person. I’ve seen him up close and personal now for many years. We have a lot of the same values in common, the same work ethic, the same belief in America, the same focus on family. And we share a common experience and a love of Scranton, Pennsylvania. When my great grandparents came from England and Wales, they ended up in Scranton and my grandfather and then my father grew up in a house on Diamond Avenue and while the randoms were living on Diamond Avenue, the Bidens were over on North Washington Street.
Hillary Clinton: (10:14)
And I’ve had a lot of time to visit Scranton, talk about Scranton with Joe and one memorable occasion we were there together and he said, “Hey, let’s go see the house that I lived in when I was a little boy.” And if you know Joe Biden, you know the words were out of his mouth and we were racing to get there. And of course we got there and he talked his way in. It wasn’t hard because the woman who was at home immediately recognized him and knew him.
Hillary Clinton: (10:47)
And then we went through the house with Joe regaling me with these great stories about his dad, Joe Sr. And his mom Gene and the neighborhood. He was pointing out the window telling me who lived where when he was growing up. He told me one story that I loved. He said he was getting ready to go to a junior high school dance and he didn’t have any cufflinks. And so his very creative mother Gene got him a nut and bolt, and made a pair of cufflinks for him. But I think he said he was mortified by that.
Hillary Clinton: (11:22)
And he’s told her that and she just looked at him and she said, “Joey, if somebody says something to you about your cufflinks, you just say, what? You don’t have a pair like that.” It was that kind of love of family, that unconditional support that led Joe to be the extraordinary family member and father that he’s been through all the tragedy that so many of us have followed from afar, but know how deeply he connects with people who have similarly suffered a tragedy.
Hillary Clinton: (11:56)
When I was Secretary of State and Joe was Vice President, we had a standing date for breakfast on every Tuesday and I go over to the vice president’s house and we’d sit down, and we kind of talk about the world. We’d talk about what was going on, what the challenges facing us were, what was coming up in the white house, what the next meeting in the situation room was going to be.
Hillary Clinton: (12:21)
But we also talked about our families and we talked about his love of trains and his love of ice cream, which you know, knows no bounds as far as I can tell. So I’ve been not only a colleague of Joe Biden’s, I’ve been a friend. And I can tell you that I wish you were president right now, but I can’t wait until he is if all of us do our part to support the kind of person that we want back in the White House. To end the kind of disregard of not only American values, but American institutions, the rule of law and so much else that is at stake because of the current occupant.
Hillary Clinton: (13:07)
So I’m thrilled to be here with Joe from my home and his home during the very crazy, scary times that we find ourselves in to support his candidacy. And to talk about this really significant issue about women during this time of COVID-19 and how we need to learn from what is happening.
Hillary Clinton: (13:32)
This crisis has stripped bare for everybody to see the inequities in our healthcare system and our economic system. And we have to pull together to be prepared to make the changes that will fix what is wrong in America, so that we truly can live up to be the best versions of ourselves. And I think Joe Biden can lead us there. Thanks Joe.
Joe Biden: (13:56)
Oh, Hillary, thank you. We are friends. Gosh and we both have that famous quote by Jason “When I die, Dublin will be written on my heart.” I think will we die, Scranton will be written on our hearts. I really appreciate your friendship. And just a wonderful personal endorsement.
Joe Biden: (14:22)
Look, women, as you know better than I do, are facing the same issues we’re all are facing during this pandemic. But as I said at the beginning, they’re often facing them more acutely. As you point out, 80% of the healthcare workers are women, a lot of doctors, but a lot more nurses. Millions of women who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own, even more have had their hours slashed.
Joe Biden: (14:47)
And many women who are parents have to worry about more than losing their job. They aren’t just overwhelming numbers or aggregate statistics, everyone has a life thrown into uncertainty and a family unable to make ends meet. Congress gave President Trump the tool …
Joe Biden: (15:03)
We’ll make ends meet. Congress gave president Trump the tools, people on payroll, and the Cares Act, how they could help. But he hasn’t fully used them. President Trump, in my view, should be expanding short term compensation programs for workers rather than laying off people. Businesses should be reducing their hours and government will make up the difference in the pay. That will keep worker’s paychecks whole and ensure that distressed businesses don’t lose money. And we also have to do more to help the most vulnerable families who are struggling. And I think we should immediately freeze rent for qualifying individuals, hault foreclosures and evictions, as people get back on their feet, increase the SNAP program. This guy wanted to keep cutting SNAP. We should increase it by 15% during this deepening recession. And temporarily provide low income families with about a hundred dollars per month extra in nutritional support.
Joe Biden: (15:58)
So, my question to you is, Hillary, what other things should we be talking about, thinking about to support the millions of women who have lost their jobs as a result of this crisis. What else? I mean, you’ve been way ahead on these issues for a long time. What else do you think we should be talking about?
Hillary Clinton: (16:16)
Well, first, Joe, I endorse everything you said. And it really does trouble me that the president has not been willing to do everything you just listed. And, in fact, his administration was poised to take action that would make life harder. One of the problems that I am incredibly worried about is our food supply and getting enough nutritious food to people. We already have a problem in our country, even before this pandemic, of making sure that people in every area, in parts of our cities where there are food deserts, in rural areas where there’s not a steady supply of nutritious food. The schools having to close down, meaning that there was not going to be a school lunch and school breakfast program. So, I really applaud everybody who has been working on that and has been filling in the gaps.
Hillary Clinton: (17:16)
But our country as a whole has to make a real commitment to ensuring that, in this time period with the incredible economic pressures people are facing, plus the problems that exist in making sure every part of the country has adequate food supply, that we’re going to be there. We’re going to be there for everybody, for every mom worries about what she’s going to feed her kids, for every grandmother who is trying to take care of a sick or elderly spouse and needs good nutrition, for everybody who is out there on the front lines, either at home or outside. So, food has to be at the top of the list.
Hillary Clinton: (17:56)
Secondly, as you rightly point out, we know that, once again, big surprise, too much of the money that was in these recovery acts have gone to the wrong people. They’ve ended up in the hands of public corporations or other well off entities and individuals. That is just shameful. And so, whatever happens going forward, we need to fix that. Money needs to get to those small businesses and into the hands of employees.
Hillary Clinton: (18:24)
And I share your belief that we should have tried to keep people employed. Making sure that, rather than being laid off or furloughed, that they could keep being paid and be on that payroll so that, when time does come to reopen in different parts of the country on a rolling basis, they’d be ready to go. But that’s not what we did. And now, we know that even this latest traunch of money, the SBA is failing at getting it into the hands of the people who need it. And a lot of state unemployment systems are woefully behind the time. They don’t have the technology. They don’t have the manpower to be able to get people answers as soon as possible. And too many people are being left out of even that program.
Hillary Clinton: (19:13)
So, we need to fill in the blanks. We need to streamline the process. We need to get money into people’s hands. We need to make sure that nutritional needs are met. For goodness sakes, don’t cut back the SNAP program, which for those watching and may not know, it used to be called food stamps. But it is supplemental nutrition assistance for people. And right now we need that. And we need to make sure that everybody who needs a good, nutritious meal can get it.
Hillary Clinton: (19:40)
And again, I want to do a big shout out to all of the charities, all of the localities that are trying to fill that gap. But it should be helped and supported by the federal government. And I want to say one other thing too, which is, as you’ve been pointing out in your podcasts, and your town halls, and other technological encounters with voters, which I know must be killing you, Joe Biden, one of the best retail politicians there is, that you’re sitting in your house doing this. But that’s what we’ve got to do. We still don’t understand what the federal government is going to do to help states and localities be able to do the testing that they need, the tracking that they need, and the isolating that they need to be able to safely open up in the days and weeks ahead.
Hillary Clinton: (20:33)
So, we’ve got economic problems facing us that are being, in my view, inadequately addressed by this administration. And then, we have the incoherent, really impossibly indifferent, insensitive approach that we’ve seen every day on our TVs from the administration when it comes to getting us back healthy so that we can actually get the economy open and get back to work again.
Joe Biden: (20:59)
You know, Hillary, it’s amazing. When we used to have those breakfast once a week and we talked about a lot of things. And one of the things we did talk about is, beyond foreign policy, within family, and all the things we talked about was about how government mattered. And there had to be oversight. There had to be transparency. And so, the interesting thing that really bothers me with this president, when they passed the Cares Act, there’s a lot of good things in it, he essentially eliminated the inspector general. There’s virtually no transparency. We should know exactly where every single dollar went. Even some of the big corporations who got money said, whoa, wait a minute. I didn’t know. I wasn’t supposed to get it. Some have given it back, ten, 15 million dollars there giving them. And they are billion dollar corporations. And so, you see that happening. But the idea of not having transparency, knowing exactly where the money went so people can judge whether it’s consistent with what the Congress passed is a big deal.
Joe Biden: (22:10)
The second thing is, you saw that Chuck and Nancy, the minority leader and the speaker on the Democratic side tried very hard to get money in for state and local governments. Remember how we did that during the Recovery Act? Because, what was happening? It saved the jobs of thousands and thousands of teachers, police officers, firefighters, sanitation workers, all of those folks. Because, as you know better than anybody, the states have to have balanced budgets. The cities have to have balanced budgets. They can’t go into deficit spending. And they weren’t able to get that done.
Joe Biden: (22:44)
And so, I completely agree with you. While we needed to do all we can to help women and families get through this crisis, when we get to the other side, it seems to me, and you referenced this when you first spoke, we can’t just build back to where we were before. We have to build a much more inclusive, much more equitable, middle-class and an economy that everybody gets a fair shot at. And we have to increase the minimum wage.
Joe Biden: (23:12)
This crisis further heightened the critical work of low income workers. I mean, one job should be enough to raise a family on. And we have to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, which you’ve worked for, and I’ve worked for for a long time. And this is something we worked together for for many years. But it’s way past time to have equal pay for equal work, which has been one of your strongest, strongest pursuits in your career. Our administration, we signed the first law, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.
Hillary Clinton: (23:45)
Joe Biden: (23:45)
We thought that was a big start. And it was. But I think we have to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act. We need to have paid sick leave available for every worker. We’ve got to make sure it’s not just a temporary thing. So, if you get sick, you’re not forgoing a paycheck to stay home. And we need to provide 12 weeks of paid family medical and medical leave so you can take care of your loved one, if they need you. And these are basic, basic protections that we should be providing to workers. And we’ve tried for a while. So much more needs to be done.
Joe Biden: (24:17)
Here’s my point. I think, as you applied, I think the blinders have sort of been taken off. Not that people were bad, they didn’t not want to help. They just didn’t fully understand the disadvantage so many people who make their lives function for them what they were going through, I don’t think they had any idea what they were going through.
Joe Biden: (24:39)
So, my next question for you is, it seems to me we’re going to face a monumental task of rebuilding our economy and the middle class. And how do you think, I think we’re in the same page, but I want the folks to hear. How do you think, how would you recommend we start to take advantage of… I always say, and my staff is tired of hearing me say it, that we’re one of the few nations that, when we’re faced with a gigantic crisis, we embrace it. We fix it. A lot of people hurt. All those lost lives are never going to come back. And there’s going to be a hole in the hearts of millions of families out there. But we always come back and we come back stronger. We come back stronger and we end up in a better place than before it all happened. So, what do you think we should be focusing on? And are you as optimistic as I am that we can do this?
Hillary Clinton: (25:34)
I am. And I agree with you, Joe, that I think out of this terrible tragedy of the pandemic, and the loss of life, and loss of income, and everything we’re suffering through, this is a moment of reckoning that really we are challenged.
Joe Biden: (25:52)
Good way to put it.
Hillary Clinton: (25:52)
Are we going to build back stronger? Are we going to build on our foundation the kind of America that you and I would like to see for our children and our grandchildren? And that’s really what’s going to be on the ballot in this election. When it all is stripped away, what kind of America are people going to be voting for? And just to echo what you pointed out, number one on transparency, one of the things that I tried to do in the State Department was to create a visualization of where foreign aid went.
Joe Biden: (26:27)
Hillary Clinton: (26:27)
Because so many people thought we were giving foreign aid in huge amounts to all kinds of weird stuff. And indeed, we could justify where it went. For example, going after the AIDS crisis in Africa. Not only the right thing to do, but a smart thing because trying to control a different kind of pandemic was good for the United States and the rest of the world.
Hillary Clinton: (26:49)
So, I think that part of the remedy here has to be almost radical transparency about where the money goes. Because right now you’re right. There were good things in the two pieces of legislation that were signed into law, but there’s a lot of weird stuff in there that people need to see. And they need to understand where is the money going? Let’s follow the money.
Hillary Clinton: (27:17)
And I think one of the hallmarks of your presidency can be a commitment to the kind of transparency that will hopefully begin to rebuild trust, because trust is the glue that holds a democracy together. And right now, we are in an age of deliberate disinflation. And the reason for that is to destroy trust. If you can’t believe what your leaders say, if you can’t believe or you’re told not to believe what the press says, if you can’t believe what anybody says, then you can’t trust each other enough to solve the problems that we jointly face. So, I am hugely supportive of increasing both transparency and accountability.
Hillary Clinton: (28:02)
And then, on all of the various issues that you addressed, hopefully the time is now. We’ve been working for equal pay for equal work, the Paycheck Fairness Act, which I sponsored, you sponsored, voted for whenever we got a chance, but always ran into a brick wall of opposition. Well, now all of a sudden, those essential jobs that people are doing, we used to just walk by that woman stocking that grocery shelf, we didn’t pay attention to the sanitation worker that was picking up our garbage, well, all of a sudden, you know what? Those jobs are what’s keeping us going. And the Paycheck Fairness Act should be enacted.
Hillary Clinton: (28:44)
Also, paid leave. We are way overdue. We are so far beyond the rest of the world. And it’s shameful. The idea that a lot of people, before this pandemic got really full-blown, were worried that they couldn’t take time off, even if they were feeling sick or somebody in their house was sick, because they would lose their job.
Joe Biden: (29:06)
Hillary Clinton: (29:07)
That is not only disgraceful, it is so outdated. It is anachronistic. And that has got to be fixed. There’s a lot of things that will give more support, more security to working families. And we need to join the rest of the developed world to make sure that we actually deliver on that.
Hillary Clinton: (29:28)
And the final point, which you also were alluding to is we got to make government work in visible ways for people. Because right now, I’m thrilled to see that, frankly, governors of both parties who have grabbed hold of this pandemic made the tough decisions, shut down their economies, have been listening to the scientists. They’re actually getting really high marks from across the political spectrum because they are leaders who are problem solvers. They are humble.
Hillary Clinton: (30:03)
They are leaders who are problem solvers. They are humble enough to know they don’t possibly have all the answers, but they want to listen to the people who can help them try to find them. So, that kind of leadership may be back in vogue. We’ve gone through a period where I think some people might’ve forgotten that it really does matter who your mayor is, who your governor is, and yes, who your president is. So, rebuilding that belief in governing as a way of delivering for people and making their lives a little easier, a little better, a little safer, a little healthier, all of that, I think now we have a chance to have many more people paying attention and listening than we did before. And that’s why I think you are exactly the right person at the right time with your background and your values and your compassion to be able to make that case.
Joe Biden: (30:57)
Well, you’re very generous but look, there’s so many things that I’d like to continue to talk to you about. We’re supposed to take questions from the audience but as usual, it’s like one of our breakfasts. But look, one of the things that I keep saying and I really mean it, I think this crisis has allowed decent people who haven’t focused before to realize that when the store clerk is making enough money to take care of their family, the wealthy guy down the street’s better off. Everybody’s better off. When you have a system where the people who you rely on the most are in a position to be able to do their job and do it and live a decent life, that raises your standard. This notion is outmoded that somehow if people who are struggling get helped, it’s going to drain the resources from others.
Hillary Clinton: (32:06)
Joe Biden: (32:08)
The opposite happens. When you raise salaries, all salaries go up, everybody does better. And by the way, corporate America is doing fine without having to worry about what’s going to happen here. These guys and women, we’ve gotten out of whack the way we measure things, but everybody does better when we treat people and economically fairly and give them opportunities. Look, I know I’m tempted to ask you another question, but look, we have to take a few questions and Michelle Kwan is going to read some questions to us that were submitted and Michelle, welcome and thank you for all your involvement throughout this effort for both Hillary and before and me. So, Michelle, fire away.
Michelle Kwan: (32:57)
All right, thank you so much, vice president Biden. Our first question comes from Tiffany in Connecticut. She asked, “There are a lot of women who are in abusive relationships and are now stuck at home with their abusers. What are ways how women being abused can get help and know that they have a safe place to go?”
Joe Biden: (33:18)
Well, thanks Michelle, and I’m so glad Tiffany is asking that question. Violence against women is a huge problem and especially right now and Hillary and I’ve worked very hard on trying to end violence against women, wrote that legislation and it’s been one of the leading causes of my life. I’ve met thousands of domestic violence victims for real, trying to get the law passed and finally getting it passed and working beyond that. And it’s heartbreaking to know the suffering they have experienced and are experiencing, but I also know how much courage they have. Our support for victims has to match the courage they show every day. First, I want victims to know they are not alone. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is there for them. It might be hard to make that call when you are essentially trapped in a home because of the stay at home order that exists, but you can text and you can chat online.
Joe Biden: (34:18)
So, please reach out for help. The hotline can connect you to an emergency shelter. They can help you find a safe place to go. They can provide you to get out of the house safely and federal and state governments need to do everything they can to help survivors at this moment in time. That means one, providing survivors a place to live where they can stay safe and healthy. We have violence women’s shelters and homes, but we have to move beyond that in this crisis. We should empower FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Organization, to work with every state so they immediately increased shelter options, including contracting with hotels and motels to provide shelter modifications like sleeping and just have the idea that we deal with trailers that are available for people as well.
Joe Biden: (35:10)
We have to also provide immediate economic relief to survivors. No one should be forced to stay with their abuser because they don’t have the resources to leave. Particularly, the vast majority of kids in the street are there because their moms are victims of violence. We need to provide survivors and a way we provide for survivors is we include cash assistance, unemployment insurance, flexible to their needs and paid safe days and safe leave. We have to make sure all survivors, survivors of color, immigrants, Native American survivors, older survivors, those with disabilities, the LGBTQ community survivors, they all need support. And we have to make sure survivors and services can be connected. I’ve worked very to make that hotline as the state of the art telecommunications. When you call, they can tell where you are, they can get there in a hurry with real police protection if you need it.
Joe Biden: (36:13)
Now is time to push again. We have to equip our hotlines and vital service providers and service providers with the tools that they need to take care of the person who’s calling. There’s a lot more to be said about this topic and today I’ve released a proposal on how I’d address the scourge of violence against women during this public health crisis. Go to joebiden.com and I hope you’ll look them over because there’s ways out. The worst thing in the world is being a prisoner in your own home, and so many people are right now. Hillary-
Hillary Clinton: (36:49)
Well, Joe, yeah. Look, I looked at the policy that you’re releasing. It is state-of-the-art. I hope everybody watching goes to your website and starts looking and reading your policies. You’ve got an incredibly progressive, detailed set of policies already on your website. But there’s a relation to a point you made earlier and that is this is an issue, violence against women, domestic violence, that is one of the many issues that depend upon state and local resources. Because as you said, you call that hotline, very often the hotline will refer you to a shelter or if necessary police or EMT workers to your door. Well, those are local resources and people who think we don’t need to reimburse and help state and local governments are just again missing the forest for the trees. If you believe in police protection, fire protection, EMT services, hotline shelters for domestic violence survivors and everything else, you’ve got to know that the budgets of our state and local governments during this crisis have been drained.
Hillary Clinton: (38:14)
And we’ve got to get them some relief to be able to provide the services that not only individuals like domestic violence survivors need, but every one of us. We don’t know when we need police or fire or EMT or anything that we might in the future require. We know we need sanitation and public health and all the rest of it, all of which needs to be funded adequately. So, I think the work you’ve done, as long as I’ve known you, on behalf of domestic violence, the violence against women legislation that you wrote and you led, I remember when we set up the office and the justice department in the Clinton administration. That was part of your legislation. So, this issue deserves to be focused on, and we need to encourage people call that hotline. Don’t suffer in silence. Either you or your children, seek help even now during this pandemic crisis, and then let’s all resolve that we’re going to do even better following the outline of the policy that you’ve put out to make sure that everyone in every home in America can be as safe as they deserve to be.
Michelle Kwan: (39:32)
Thank you so much, secretary Clinton. Our next question comes from Hannah in Indianapolis. As the United States continues to endure the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, what would you do to make sure women, especially poor and marginalized women, have access to all women’s healthcare services?
Joe Biden: (39:51)
Well, Michelle, the first thing I’d do, and I thank the question for that important question is that I would do for all workers is make sure that COVID-19 treatment, not just testing, is cost free. Even when we had the test, which we don’t sufficiently, people who have access are worried to go get the test because they’re going to be charged. They believe that, so it has to be cost free and the treatment cost fee. No one should have to pay a dollar out of pocket for that. Now, I’ve called for that on March the 12th and it should be part of the next congressional package, I hope. The next thing I would do is help laid off workers to ensure they could keep their health insurance through COBRA. Meaning that if their health insurance is provided by their company, which they pay into, it’s really expensive for most families to make up the difference. There’s a thing called COBRA, you can keep that insurance. If the company can no longer pay their share, you make up the difference.
Joe Biden: (40:48)
Well, there have been multiple times more than the existing premium that you should have to pay because your employer is no longer making contributions toward that premium. And so, I think the government should make up that difference for people now. And this is a crisis and Trump and the Congress should pick up the full cost of the COBRA premiums that have to be made up right now in my view. And if you don’t have employer sponsored insurance, we should immediately reopen what’s called the open enrollment so they can sign up for coverage and create an affordable public option that we can do through the Affordable Care Act, which the president is still trying to eliminate right as we speak. And finally, we need to ensure that women have access to all health services during this crisis. Abortion is an essential health healthcare service. It’s being used as a political wedge right now and it shouldn’t be. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Medical Association agree that it shouldn’t be categorized as a procedure that can be delayed. It can’t. And in this case, healthcare delayed means healthcare denied. States should not be using public health crises to infringe on a women’s constitutional rights. There’s more to say, but I know I’m going too long in these answers. Hillary, floor’s yours.
Hillary Clinton: (42:08)
Well, look, I think you’re going right down the path that people need to follow you on because as you rightly point out, this is another opportunity I hope for the American people to see why those of us who support universal health care have been doing so for so many years. There should not be any question at any time, but particularly at the height of a pandemic, that people will have the healthcare that they deserve because of cost or availability. So I’m hoping, Joe, that as you have proposed, we try to fill all those gaps, a public option going as far as we possibly can, lowering the age of Medicare, going as far as we possibly can. Making sure that everybody has access to quality, affordable healthcare, and now we know why. You can’t hide from a virus.
Hillary Clinton: (43:12)
We can try to stay inside and hope that we don’t come in contact with anyone who’s carrying it. Although, with so many people being asymptomatic, it’s a little hard to know even in your daily life going to the store or the pharmacy, whether you might encounter somebody, which is why we should keep wearing masks and washing our hands and everything else we’re told to do. But why add to that existing anxiety, the panic, the fear that if you get sick you won’t be able to afford healthcare. That is wrong. It is fundamentally wrong. It is against our moral values. Every religious value that I’m aware of, and yet you’re 100% right that this administration, this white house, as we speak are still trying to strip the Affordable Care Act.
Hillary Clinton: (44:04)
Now, and let’s remember one other thing, and I don’t think this has gotten enough attention. President Trump is on the record from his trip to Davos in the Swiss Alps of saying that it was time to go after social security and Medicare. So, this is a high stakes time because of the pandemic, but this is also a really high stakes election, and every form of healthcare should continue to be available, including reproductive healthcare for every woman in this country. And then, it needs to be part of a much larger system that eventually, and quickly I hope, gets us to universal healthcare. So, I can only say amen to everything you’re saying, but also to, again, enlist people that this would be a terrible crisis to waste, as the old saying goes-
Hillary Clinton: (45:03)
That this would be a terrible crisis to waste as the old saying goes. We’ve learned a lot about what our absolute frailties are in our country when it comes to health justice and economic justice so let’s be resolved that we’re going to solve those once you’re elected president.
Joe Biden: (45:19)
I promise you that’s going to be my objective.
Michelle Kwan: (45:23)
Thank you so much. Secretary Clinton and Vice President Biden. Our last question comes from Asha a pharmacist from New Jersey. Asha is an essential worker during this crisis and wonders what you would do as president to ensure she can do her job safely.
Joe Biden: (45:39)
Asha you’re one of the people we’ve been talking about the whole time here an essential worker. What you’re doing is important all the time but particularly right now to provide one essential workers with all they need for personal protective equipment that you need to do your job safely. I urged the president to use the full authority of what they call the Defense Production Act well over a month ago not only to surge production of critical protective gear and test and more but also ensure that they’re distributed swiftly and in full so that everybody has it and that means you. I have also urged the president to appoint what Hillary would have long ago done, a supply commander, someone who like in the military, has control of all the supplies in the middle of a war, knows where they have to go, controls them and with broad authority and deep logistical experience to step up and actually command our national supply chain for the critical equipment that you need but others need working with governors to get all frontline workers the lifesaving protection, the equipment they need.
Joe Biden: (46:46)
And also all workers like yourself who are putting their lives on the line should receive in my view premium pay. Now premium pay is no substitute for personal protective equipment it’s not, and it’s not a substitute for worker safety but we have to do as much as we can to support the millions of brave workers like you who have stayed on the job keeping the country running. I support what’s called and that the Democrats are pushing in the Congress pandemic premium pay, increase essential frontline workers that both the Senate and the House have proposed that in fact gives you more income.
Joe Biden: (47:23)
We need to make sure that if you God forbid get sick you get paid time off as well. We need to make paid sick leave available every worker and make sure it’s not just a temporary thing, if you get sick you’re not foregoing to paycheck to stay home. Now look, if you get sick you shouldn’t have to go to work because you’re worried about a paycheck. Especially now when we’re worried about the spread of this dangerous disease it’s critical that essential workers can stay home when they get sick and don’t spread the disease. And we need to provide 12 weeks of paid family medical and medical leave so you can take care of your loved ones.
Joe Biden: (48:03)
And look folks the whole idea here that’s become clear in my view if you excuse the addendum here when the president went to Davos and talked about, and I remember when I was making this case as vice president saying that the Republicans are going to try to cut Medicare and Social Security he said, “No, they’re not going to do that,” that’s been their objective. God love Paul Ryan he set out to do that and the president hadn’t given up on that cause and the cause is what we should be doing right now is a lot of our senior workers who are very old need an additional, an additional amount of social security now during this crisis.
Joe Biden: (48:49)
We should be increasing their social security payment while this crisis moves forward while we reform the whole social security system to provide for the ability of people who have had their pay cut, their social security payment cut because their spouse has passed, because for a whole lot of reasons this happens. We should make sure that they in fact are able to get more not less and we can do that by changing the way we fund social security. I won’t go into the whole deal but in the meantime right away we should be giving help right now an extra $1,000 to people who in fact are on social security that in fact are struggling on the limited amount they’re getting if they’re at the low end of that scale.
Joe Biden: (49:29)
But any rate, there’s a lot more to talk about I’m sorry. As I said, this is one of our breakfast either Hillary’s person will be coming in and saying, “Madam secretary” or my guy will be coming in and saying, “Now, Mr. Vice president, the president’s is waiting.” And usually when we’d walk in late we’d walked in late to a national security meeting with the president and he looked at both of us like, “Where the hell have you been?” At any rate, but thanks for everything I really appreciate it and I really anyway I know you’re going to answer that question as well but thank you.
Hillary Clinton: (50:05)
Oh listen a lot of good memories. You’re absolutely right and when you mentioned social security I have long advocated and I know you agree that we need to fix the disadvantage that women unfortunately bear under social security because when you take time out to care for children or an ailing spouse or ailing parents you’re out of the workforce and you don’t get the credit that you need to be able to have a more secure retirement when that becomes possible. So, the social security system, Medicare, they should not be in the bullseye target of this president and all of his plutocratic allies they need to be helped, to be strengthened and improved so that they actually do provide the quality of care that they should be and the amount of income that they should be offering.
Hillary Clinton: (51:09)
And on a final note Joe, I would just say to Asha who is on the front lines and thank you so much because clearly we can’t get through this without you and the millions of others who are doing what you’re doing this election really is a referendum on what kind of future we want for you and for all of the people in our country but particularly those frontline workers, those folks who have been really put under enormous economic pressure, the many millions that are now applying for unemployment. We’ve got to fix our systems friends. I mean we’ve just moved along on top of them trying to protect what we had against the concerted relentless effort by too many on the other side to rip away what we did have. But now if we get people to pay attention and to really look at what’s at stake for them, for their families, then I think we can have an election that really will matter about how we put us on a stronger foundation for the future and I’m thrilled to be here with Joe today.
Hillary Clinton: (52:26)
It is a little bit as you got a front view into our breakfast at the vice president’s house those years ago every Tuesday morning. But more than that what Joe is trying to do, what his candidacy is about, what his campaign stands for is a much better, safer, healthier, stronger future for every single American today and those who come after us. So Joe thank you, thank you for your leadership, thank you for your friendship and this was a lot of fun. I appreciate the chance to join you virtually in your basement to talk about issues that really matter to us and to millions and millions of other Americans.
Joe Biden: (53:11)
Well, I have to tell you something completely, honestly straightforward. I wish this were us doing this and my supporting your re-election for present of the United States. You won the majority of the vote. I think the way in which some of the states acted was just, anyway we would not, we’d have problems, we’d have the pandemic but you would have already been prepared for it, it still would have been hard but you would have done a lot to keep us from getting so in such a dire strait.
Hillary Clinton: (53:45)
Well, I’ll tell you one thing I would have done Joe which you know so well I would have read my daily intelligence briefings that were sounding the alarm January but apparently this president doesn’t do what we used to do.
Joe Biden: (54:00)
I did the foreign policy brief this morning which I do every morning with people who you know really well, former Secretary Blinken, Tony Blinken and a whole bunch of folks, Tom Donnelly and a whole range of people who were. And they were reading to me and we were talking about what happened, that article in the Washington Post yesterday and how many times, how many times the president was explicitly by his national security team warned of this pandemic, warned about it saying what had to be done. I think it was close to eight or nine specific times resulting in some of those folks in the intelligence community either being fired or just going underground I mean not being paid attention to it at all. I mean, you and I have had in you even more than me as the secretary of state I sat every single day with the president and got a national security briefing. And when you weren’t traveling the world you were at every one of those.
Joe Biden: (55:13)
And the idea that we would have been warned more than a half a dozen times explicitly by the intelligence committee of what was coming, what had happened, what China wasn’t doing, et cetera, and then be out there complimenting what a great job China was doing. I mean it’s just beyond and I assume, I shouldn’t assume anything but my guess is you would have read, that’s what you’re talking about. The question is did he just not read his, what we used to call the PDB or did he read it and not care? I presume to give him the more generous view that he just didn’t read it which is a totally ungenerous view I mean but I can’t fathom it. And look what it’s done to the intelligence community and its sense of whether or not it brings bad news to a president. Anyway, that’s a whole other subject maybe we should talk about one day but look I want to thank you everybody. I want to thank Hillary for joining us in this conversation today.
Joe Biden: (56:11)
And Hillary, I’m going to keep calling and asking for your advice. The Corona virus is shining a bright light on the inequities in our country and there’s so much work to do but I have no doubt we can meet these challenges brought on by this virus if we work together. The American people have never, not a joke I know you’re tired of hearing me say this, have never, ever, ever, ever let the country down given half a chance. They’re tough, there’s no quit in America. They’re prepared but we’ve got to do it together and it’s great being together with you Hillary. Thank you. And Michelle, thank you so very much I appreciate it. Thank you everyone for being in and listening.