Jun 11, 2020
Joe Biden Philadelphia Roundtable Meeting on Safely Opening U.S. Economy
Joe Biden held a roundtable meeting in Philadelphia on how to safely reopen the U.S. economy amid coronavirus or COVID-19. Read the full transcript of the roundtable here.
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Speaker 1: (00:00)
Congressman Evans: (00:00)
How are you doing, vice president?
Joe Biden: (00:00)
Speaker 1: (04:51)
Thank you all for being here. Before we begin, as a reminder, this event today has been set up to adhere to the social distancing guidelines as provided by the health experts. Due to those six feet social distancing restrictions, the vice president will not take individual photos today, but at the conclusion of the event, we will provide instructions for a group photo. Thank you again for being here.
Joe Biden: (05:07)
That’s assuming you’d want one.
Congressman Evans: (05:13)
Thank you, vice president, for coming here in the third congressional district in one of the most fantastic places in the city and in the state. I think that basically you will see today and hear from all these fantastic people some great stories. They’re residents of West Philadelphia. That’s where you are, in this area. And they just have, I was just talking to them in the back, and they have some fantastic things to talk about. I think this is a great opportunity you have to hear. And Tiffany, who I told her don’t be bashful. The vice president doesn’t bite you. I told her, don’t be bashful. You just speak your mind. So Tiffany, you want to start? Tell him what you was telling me in the back room when you was saying the vice president.
Tiffany Easley: (06:00)
Hi, how are you?
Joe Biden: (06:03)
Hi Tiffany. How are you?
Tiffany Easley: (06:05)
I am wonderful. So as Congressman Evans said, my name is Tiffany Easley. I am the owner of [inaudible 00:06:11] Eyewear, which is a full service optical store in West Philadelphia. As well as having my business in West Philadelphia. I’m also a resident of West Philadelphia. We’ve been in operation now for about three and a half years.
Joe Biden: (06:23)
So are my grand daughters.
Tiffany Easley: (06:24)
Yeah. Okay. Okay. We’ve been in operations for about three and a half years now, and I have a lot of ideas of what should happen in West Philadelphia, as far as small businesses.
Joe Biden: (06:37)
I’d like to hear them. Looking forward to hearing them.
Congressman Evans: (06:43)
Tamika, [inaudible 00:06:49]. Tamika also is on the front line. I would deem her as the essential worker in what she does. And she’s in a very proud union that does a lot for this city and this country. And I’ve had the opportunity just listening to Tamika’s story and the things. So why don’t you, Tamika, tell the vice president some of your thoughts?
Joe Biden: (07:11)
Tamika Anderson: (07:12)
My name is Tamika Anderson. I’m an essential worker. I work downtown at 15th street, the One Liberty Place Cleaning. I also live in West Philly. So basically, I’m here just to find out what can be done different so things won’t happen the way that they’re happening now.
Congressman Evans: (07:39)
Vice president, here’s someone who’s not a stranger. We have known each other for, I won’t say how many years, but we’ve known each other a lot. I would like for her, in addition to talking about the enterprise center, is give you a little history of this location, so the vice president has a little feel of you, Della.
Joe Biden: (08:01)
I could never dance well, Della.
Della Clark: (08:02)
Well, Congressman Evans, he’s probably too young to know anything about American bandstand.
Joe Biden: (08:08)
Thank you. I love you. I know everything except I couldn’t dance.
Della Clark: (08:14)
You are sitting in the birthplace of American bandstand. This was the first building built in our country as a television station from the ground up by Walter Annenberg. And at that time, he owned the Philadelphia Inquiry, and he owned the letters, WFIL, which is now at Six City Avenue. And Dick Clark used to stand right in front of that mural, and this is where the bleachers used to be. And this literally was the dance floor. And my last name happened to be Clark. So I took a picture around this building and said that Dick was my first husband and it was before integration.
Della Clark: (08:52)
And I ended up with the building. And I am pleased to tell you we’ve been in this building 23 years. And when we moved in 23 years ago, we opened up our doors without any debt, because I was able to convince the business, the federal government and state and city that we couldn’t afford to open up our doors with debt because we knew we could not be financially induced by our pressure that we couldn’t help minority entrepreneurs. And the organization is 30 years old and I’ve been here 28 years of the 30 years.
Joe Biden: (09:23)
And you’ve done a heck of a job.
Della Clark: (09:26)
Well, I knew, vice president, that when I walked into the enterprise center, that it was God’s assignment in my life, and I’m staying here until my job is done.
Joe Biden: (09:35)
Wow. If I have nothing to do with it, your job’s going to be made easier, not harder.
Della Clark: (09:40)
I hope so. I’ll give you some orders before I leave.
Joe Biden: (09:47)
I don’t have any doubt about that. I don’t have any doubt about that.
Congressman Evans: (09:48)
So vice president, you want to talk about the Biden plan?
Joe Biden: (09:57)
What I’d like to do is, first of all, thank you all. And do we have copies of what I’m, you’ve gotten it. Okay. Look, the National Bureau of Labor Statistics points out there’s 3.3 million business owners have shut their doors since February, 3.3 million. And God willing, a lot will open up again, but 41% of African American businesses have shut their doors, 32% of Latino businesses and 19% of white businesses. And Trump may have forgotten about coronavirus, but it hasn’t forgotten about us. And we have 20 million unemployed. You all know that. And the failure to respond to the pandemic, I think the federal government has abdicated any effective leadership role, the white house at least has abdicated that role. The rapidly rising with… I don’t know, his just inability to focus on any federal responsibility, him saying, I take no responsibility. It’s not my problem. I don’t have this responsibility.
Joe Biden: (11:17)
But what I’ve laid out here for you is the outlines of a major, a much larger initiative that I hope, if elected and before elected, if that occurs, that we’re going to be able to do. And so we have to give guidance, it seems to me, better guidance than we’ve been able to give. And so what I talk about here is Trump has basically had a one point plan. Open businesses, just open. But it does nothing to keep workers safe and keep businesses able to stay open. And secondly, it has done very little to generate consumer confidence. A lot of businesses that are ready to open also find themselves positioned that the customers aren’t coming. They don’t have the confidence that they’re ready and safe. And so I lay out here, and I don’t want to get too wonky here, but how I think we should approach it and what responsibility I think the federal government has to begin to deal with us getting out of this dark hole we’re in.
Joe Biden: (12:35)
And the first one is to, which we’ve been saying for a long time, Dwight’s been saying it as well. And that is you got to guarantee testing, and you got to guarantee the availability of personal protective equipment, and for anybody called back on the job, period. And it has component parts. Direct the federal government to provide regular and reliable COVID-19 tests for every worker called back to work. They should be able to be tested and paid for by the federal government. The federal government pay for all of the testing, and make it available that they have rapid results. And for the duration of this crisis, be able to continue to do that. Secondly, you got to ensure that all workers and all communities have access to effective personal protective equipment. We already now know we don’t have it. If there’s another bounce back here, we don’t have the equipment ready for this next occurrence if it bumps up.
Joe Biden: (13:40)
And you see the states now that are showing an increase in hospitalizations. And so you have to make sure we may have access to effective personal protective equipment across the board. And no workers should be forced to give up benefits and return to work in unsafe conditions unless they’re able to have the protective gear available to them. And third part of that guarantee in testing and personal protective equipment is we have to ensure workers and unions have a voice in reopening plans. These decisions by tribal governments as well. I’ve laid out a detailed plan, which we won’t go into now, but we have to be able to deal… I think we should establish, and I will establish what we call a pandemic testing board, not unlike what Roosevelt did in a different circumstance, a national testing board during the depression, to surge testing nationwide and ramp up the production and fair distribution of the PPE. Federal government still isn’t taking responsibility for where that equipment goes, how it gets there.
Joe Biden: (14:48)
We should have, from the beginning, I think Dwight joined me, or I joined Dwayne three months ago saying we shouldn’t have essentially a commander. Just like all military equipment, there’s a supply officer who knows where it has to get, who needs it, where it goes. We need the same kind of supply officer nationally to know where the need is and what equipment is needed and how to get it to people that need that equipment. And parenthetically, I think we should be doing right now is were I in office, I would be taking $25 billion, putting essentially a vaccine czar in charge. When, God willing, we get this vaccine, how will it be distributed? Where will it go? How will it get there? How will we guarantee that it will be able to be distributed in a way that all Americans, all Americans have equal access to it? Because the same thing is going to happen.
Joe Biden: (15:45)
God willing, we get a vaccine, maybe one, if God was great, maybe even in the fall. I doubt it, but I hope it, but probably beginning of next year. Where does it go? We’re going to be faced with the same kind of dilemma, Dwight. How’s it get to whom? And how does it not get the way in which all the work you guys did in the Congress? All this legislation you passed, most of the help went to the very wealthy, went to the corporations, went to the people who are hanging out at Mar-a-Lago. They didn’t get to where it was designed to get. 40% of all the money for small businesses, only 40% of it got there. And then it didn’t get there in a way that I’m sure you can talk to, Tiffany and others can. So, that’s the first part of this.
Joe Biden: (16:34)
The second piece of this is I think we have to guarantee paid leave, federal paid leave for anyone who gets sick. And they shouldn’t have to choose between their paycheck and their health. And so what I would do, and I have it laid out here, is that I would ensure paid leave for all workers that get sick from COVID, and the paid leave would be paid for by the federal government and for as long as they need to recover and have a complete quarantine. And I’d also guarantee federally funded paid leave for workers caring for family members who have COVID, who are back home. They should be able to be off and not have to work. Now, I would also ensure, the third thing I would do, I’d ensure worker protection and accountability.
Joe Biden: (17:28)
Look, right now, some of you, I know anybody involved with labor knows about OSHA, and the Occupational Safety And Health Administration. And they have to set down and they should be setting down rigorous standards for the context in which it’s safe to reopen and how you reopen, in terms of not just social distancing, but in, for example, meat packing plants, slowing down the line so that people don’t have to rush and be closer together, making sure there’s plastic dividers, a whole range of them. But that’s the job of occupational health and safety. And they should doing it across the board to give advice to small businesses on how they can and should open. And so right now, we have to be in a position where there’s rigorous temporary standards protections for all the workers who go back, and we have to protect workers not fully covered by OSHA.
Joe Biden: (18:31)
We don’t cover some. For example, we don’t cover a lot of public employees directing other agencies and forces. Everyone should be covered by this who weren’t ordinarily covered during the period of this crisis. And we got to pursue tough fines for those larger businesses that don’t abide by the standards, or recklessly expose their workers to this. I’m beginning to get bored by my own talk here. But why don’t I, instead of going through all of this, why don’t we talk about, give me your sense of what you worry most about in going to work, opening and having to close, why you close and open your business, and what you think small businesses need the most help in? I’ll speak later to building a national contact tracing workforce. And we can do it quickly. Protecting older Americans and people with disabilities who have special needs, there’s things we can do. Providing technical assistance to small businesses from accounting capability, lawyers, the things that need to be able to get access to what is needed out there.
Joe Biden: (19:46)
We should have, for example, a safer shopper program. If in fact, a business abides by all the rules that are set out to enhance the probability that someone can walk in safely and everything is being met, they should be able to get a certificate, a safer shopper plastered on the window of the business that you can walk in. Because they’ve taken it all precautions that are rational and necessary in order to protect the safety of the customer. But there’s a lot of other things we can do, but why don’t you talk to me a little bit about what’s on your mind, what worries you most about your business? What worries you most about what’s happening to SCIU workers? And thank you for your national endorsement.
Joe Biden: (20:33)
I mean, you in fact are really up against it, so many folks. We should be, for example, having a circumstance where if we have the whole idea of the thing that the congressman did in terms of the CARES Act was to keep people employed. And so I proposed that we have not just an unemployment system, but an employment system insurance. So that, for example, if you have 25 workers and you only have enough work for 12, you keep them on the roll, all 25 on, you pay them half pay, and the federal go makes up the rest of the pay. So you’re able to keep the workforce in place throughout the time. And the whole idea is once you’re fired, once you’re laid off, once you leave, the longer you’re out, the harder it is to get reemployed later on, especially if in fact you’re a minority, if you’re black or brown.
Joe Biden: (21:32)
And so there’s a whole range of things we can be doing, but rather than me go through everything that I think we should be doing because I’ve been talking about this a lot, tell me what, if I had a magic wand, what’s the thing you would want me most to be able to do to help deal with your business, your safety and what you think we should be doing to help promote and maintain access, from anything to capital to employment for a small business, particularly minority businesses?
Congressman Evans: (22:01)
Tamika, you heard that-
Joe Biden: (22:02)
Congressman Evans: (22:02)
Tamika, you heard what the vice president said to you when we was standing in the back room. This is your chance.
Joe Biden: (22:11)
Really. I’m anxious to hear it.
Congressman Evans: (22:13)
You want to?
Tiffany Easley: (22:14)
She took her mask… Oh, go ahead.
Congressman Evans: (22:15)
Tiffany Easley: (22:18)
Sure. You said that magic wand, and just regards to the pandemic and being a small business and having to open because the longer we stay closed I don’t make any money. I didn’t get a large funds for the PPP. I got what they told me that I could get, even though I was eligible for more. I am most afraid for my staff coming back. Most of my staff had newborn babies during this pandemic. So they’re more afraid to come back and contract the virus and take it back to their newborn babies. So what do I do when I don’t have any more PPP? I’ve dipped into my savings already. I have to open, so I can’t really open my store at 100% capacity because, me by myself, I can’t service everyone fairly and give them the service that they deserve. I can’t fire my employees because that’s my team. I appreciate them and I understand what’s going on, but what do I do when they have to stay home but I still have to open and I don’t have any more funds to be able to pay them to stay out, and I can’t work at full capacity to be able to have income come in to run my business the way that it should.
Tiffany Easley: (23:33)
So I think if you had a magic wand and if it was up to you and you were in place to do so, to make it a little bit easier for small businesses like mine, not small businesses like, and maybe I shouldn’t say names, but like the larger corporations that are considered small businesses, but to really make it easier for small businesses that have anywhere between 20 and less employees to have access to capital, to have access to some government funds to help you to continue to pay your employees, to help you to continue to stay open.
Joe Biden: (24:10)
Let me ask you a question. How many employees do you have?
Tiffany Easley: (24:20)
Originally, it was sis.
Joe Biden: (24:20)
Six. But how many at the… You’ve closed. You have three outlets and you closed two?
Tiffany Easley: (24:25)
I have two and I had to close one.
Joe Biden: (24:26)
Close one. And how many were at that outlet?
Tiffany Easley: (24:29)
The one that I had to close, it was three employees.
Joe Biden: (24:31)
Right. Now, what is the overhead beyond salary, in terms of rent? You don’t have to give me a number, but did you have enough money for rent, for improvements you needed to make to be able to cope with the COVID, to be able-
Tiffany Easley: (24:46)
Joe Biden: (24:47)
Right. And did you seek any help in getting grants to be able to do that?
Tiffany Easley: (24:52)
Joe Biden: (24:53)
And what happened there?
Tiffany Easley: (24:54)
I was able to get a grant and I was able to get a loan. I was able to get a loan from The Enterprise Center and I was able to get a grant from The Merchant Fund. They were small grants. And I know that it had to be spread around. I was blessed enough to be able to get those grants, but they were gone within a day because my bills exceed what I got.
Joe Biden: (25:16)
Yeah. Well, one of the things that Congress has been talking about and this new act they’ve passed and the Senate Republicans are holding out, is whether or not you are able to get, not just a loan for overhead, but a grant, that if you’re keeping people employed, then you get significantly more money to be able to deal with overhead cost. And that is everything from electricity to heating, air conditioning, open the doors, whatever. And that is not a loan. That would be a grant.
Joe Biden: (25:52)
One of the things that I propose here is that we don’t have very much information from a medical standpoint on what the impact of COVID is from a parent to a child or a newborn. And so, I propose we spend a fair amount of money in research focusing now, providing research now where NIH focuses on, zeroing in on what is the impact, what are the impacts on infants, on young children of parents who may be exposed to COVID at their work? Because they are scared to death, as you said, that, my Lord, last thing I want to do is go to work, I could be someone who is not showing any signs of having COVID and have it. And that’s why the testing is so important for those people coming back to work as well, being able to be tested. But with regard to the whole notion of whether or not you’re going to be able to restart a small business, one of the things that, as I indicated before, is that too much of the money in these programs has gone to big business. Most people don’t think 500 employees is a small business.
Tiffany Easley: (27:10)
Joe Biden: (27:14)
And the mainstream businesses like yours that have fewer than 50 employees, fewer than 20 employees, some as few as 10 employees, they’re the ones that are getting crushed right now. And so, I think we have to have also technical assistance to be able to provide small businesses like yours with the ability to have access to accountants and lawyers and others to how you apply for, how you qualify for, how you in fact can take full advantage of what is out there that’s not being taken advantage now. And so, I really think that one of the things that we have to think about is this testing and tracing. That also is going to take a lot of pressure off of employees who are coming back to work to know when they go home they are going to not be taking it home to their family or they’re taking care of an elderly mom or they have a six month old baby.
Joe Biden: (28:24)
It requires also to have all the protective gear and the safety circumstances required for your particular business. Every business is slightly different. And so, tell me about your business. Tell me about dealing with the eyewear. Do you do testing?
Tiffany Easley: (28:44)
We do. We’re a full-service. I have optometrists that come in, and it was hard trying to get them to come back. We did follow the CDC guidelines for optometrists. And because they work closely with the patient and then when the patient comes out, as an optician we work closely with the patient. So we have to be in close proximity to the person that we’re working with. So we do try to take temperatures. We do require everyone to wear a mask. We do have the hand sanitizers. Those things are running out, and it’s very hard to get. When I need the supplies of hand sanitizer, now I’m going to the store and a eight ounce bottle is $15. When I need to buy 10 bottles of that to last me throughout the month, because not only do I have to supply it for my employees, I also need to supply for my patients or my customers that also come in.
Joe Biden: (29:33)
Right. I think that should be covered by the Federal Government.
Tiffany Easley: (29:40)
I think they should be covered, too.
Joe Biden: (29:42)
I think it should be covered. But I’m serious. And under the way the law was written, it was intended that it be able to be covered. But what happens is people don’t know enough to know-
Congressman Evans: (29:54)
Joe Biden: (29:55)
… what it is they could qualify for and what they can get. Tell me, Della, when people are coming in to the center and their businesses are in trouble, what do you tell them? What’s the most frequent thing that you get asked for help for?
Della Clark: (30:15)
Joe Biden: (30:16)
Della Clark: (30:17)
Yep. Well, before we leave Tiffany’s story, I want to make one point.
Joe Biden: (30:20)
I thought it was tied to it. I wasn’t trying to leave it.
Della Clark: (30:22)
Yeah. She’s one of our clients.
Joe Biden: (30:24)
Della Clark: (30:25)
Okay, is that Tiffany is a good example of an entrepreneur that was working in what I would call pre-pandemic, the old economy. We’re now facing a economic reset and there’s going to be a new economy. And so an entrepreneur like Tiffany who required a place-based strategy of a client coming in her door to get glasses, and we had this conversation as we were waiting on you, is that she now needs to pivot to build a technology infrastructure for a e-commerce so that whether I go to her optometrist or not, I could send her my prescription, I can look online at her eyeglasses, and she can still generate revenue while we continue to figure out this COVID-19 pandemic and PPE, because she still needs to get business. But she doesn’t have the dollars now to invest in that technology platform that she needs in order to be ready for this new economy.
Della Clark: (31:25)
Going back to your question and my response around capital, right, is that as you were driving to this building here and to this center, you entered into a distressed community. And so, one of my first orders, because I’m bossy, is that as you look at these distressed communities I’d like for you to change your lenses and look at them from a standpoint, how do I use my influence to convert them from distressed to prosperous? And how do we lay those strategically to accomplish that? And one of the biggest things in this distressed community is under supply of capital. Right? I would like to see Tiffany become multi-millionaire.
Tiffany Easley: (32:12)
Della Clark: (32:12)
Okay? Do acquisition. But we don’t have the capital as a service provider to invest in her. And we don’t want to be just debt lenders, we want to be also equity investors. So we need blended capital, right? Because right now, when Tiffany comes to us, all we can do is make her a loan. And what we’re doing, Vice President, is stacking on more debt, stacking on more debt. She’ll never be able to grow with debt. It puts her in a position of where she is a risk manager versus a growth manager.
Joe Biden: (32:44)
I got that. And that’s why this is not the totality of what I’ve done. As you probably know, I double the amount of money for this SBA and small business loans and I cut their interest rates on it. And you know all this stuff about that.
Della Clark: (32:56)
I got another wand, too.
Joe Biden: (32:57)
Yeah. Well, I tell you what, well the other wand is that… But what I was trying to get at is the immediate concern this moment. Look, I see this in two phases. The first phase of this is how do we deal with the stimuli to keep the economy from completely crashing? And the second thing is, how do we then rebuild the economy? How do we reinvest in the things that are going to be the future? How are we going to bring people to a different place? And they require significant investment.
Della Clark: (33:34)
Joe Biden: (33:34)
For example, I call for over a trillion dollars in increased spending by the Federal Government on infrastructure, including dealing everything from housing to a whole range of things. And in addition where we should be moving in a direction that… Look, I’m the guy that managed the $830 billion handed out in our Administration and Recovery Act. And if you remember, you got a lot of it, and less than 2/10 of 1% was waste and fraud. But it requires a national plan, it requires a national coordination, and it requires to have a, the fancy word is used in Congress is that there should be someone who is able to look into all of this. In other words, somebody follows this every single day that’s independent of the president, independent of the Congress, says, “This isn’t being spent well.” Inspectors general.
Joe Biden: (34:33)
Well, guess what? This president’s fired every inspector general. First thing I’m going to do as President of the United States if I end up being President of the United States is hire an inspector general to go back and look at the entire two trillion dollars you guys appropriated and spend the time with a fine toothed comb going through who got it, who cheated, who in fact didn’t deserve it, and get it paid back and/or go after them for violations of the law if they violated.
Joe Biden: (35:02)
That includes a whole range and we got to build a new economy. For example, one of the things that is going to be necessary is for you to be in a position to be able to just, right now, if you just had the ability of consuming more telemarketing than what you have right now. I don’t know whether you have that capacity now. But what I’m talking about today is the immediate need to keep bread on the table, to keep people employed so that when the economy does begin to come back and we do all these larger things, which I’ll send you a 60 page copy of what I’m proposing, is that people are still alive, people are still running… We haven’t broken up more families. We haven’t put people in a position where they’re in debt for so long they can never get out. We haven’t put people in a position where they in fact have given up and become very depressed.
Joe Biden: (35:58)
For example, one of the big things we’re going to have to do, and I know you know it, is significantly increase access to mental health. Significantly increased access to mental health. Not just for African Americans, across the board. And so, there’s a whole range of those things. But in the meantime, for example, what we should be able to do is make sure that everybody, for example, has access to housing. For example, we got to learn how to allow people to accumulate wealth. How do they accumulate wealth? They accumulate wealth, the vast majority of people, through investments in their home, they build equity in their homes.
Joe Biden: (36:35)
If, for example, the homes of African Americans were valued at the same number that a white home, the same exact home was valued at, because of the prejudice that exists, it’s not, it would be $154 billion more wealth among African American communities just by the valuation of homes. So there’s a whole range of those things. But what I’m trying to figure out is how we keep people from drowning at the moment, at this moment. And for example, if we’re going to go back to work, how do we go… For example, there are no standards how we send kids back to school or daycare. None at all.
Tiffany Easley: (37:15)
Joe Biden: (37:16)
What are we going to do? We got to lay that out now, because how many… For example, I think every single solitary person out there who has a child should have childcare. I think every single paid for by the Federal Government if they don’t have the income.
We were just discussing that with a friend of mine, is that, even my job, they are calling people back, but they are calling them on a Friday and say, “Report to work Monday.” What are they going to do with their kids now? Who’s going to watch their kids? Who can afford to pay childcare at this moment if they had someone to watch the kids?
Joe Biden: (37:54)
They’re the things I think that we have to put in place now to get us to survive through this, to get people so they all aren’t drowning, so we don’t end up in such despair and loss. But most of all, what we’re going to have spent probably by January, close to three trillion dollars to try to save people from total bankruptcy or save people from absolutely having nothing to be able to provide for themselves or their families. And how do we get that done? How do we get that done? Because we have to then… Then we’re going to come in with real genuine, what we call rebuilding, the changing for the 21st century.
Joe Biden: (38:41)
For example, schooling. I’m sure people come in to you right now. We’re finding out that, what we knew, I’ve been trying to get a $200 billion passed to be able to provide for high speed internet for the entire country. Well guess what? A lot of people don’t have it. A significant number, particularly in rural areas, even more than in urban areas. But even in urban areas, at-home schooling, how does that work if you don’t have a computer?
Della Clark: (39:10)
Not working good.
Tiffany Easley: (39:11)
Not at all.
Della Clark: (39:11)
Joe Biden: (39:12)
What are we going to do about that? Because what’s happening is we are going to find people further and further and further behind. And so, from my standpoint, the way I look at this is kind of in two phases. How do we keep people from falling off the cliff completely, keep them on dry land up there, number one, and have them be able to move forward? And then, how do we move them into a completely different circumstance than they were before? We have a chance to make significant institutional changes to exist out there.
Joe Biden: (39:42)
Like I said, we’re one of the only civilized countries, industrialized countries in the world. I misspoke. Industrialized countries in the world that does not have childcare, that does not have paid leave, that does not have all these things that affect their daily, daily lives. And so, there’s a lot of institutional changes that we can and will make, and we lay them out. For example, the proposal I put forward. I’m not going to bore you with it because it doesn’t affect your day-to-day operation right now. But the proposal I put forward, every expert who looked at it, is going to create at least 10 million new jobs, 10 million new and high paying jobs. Not six bucks an hour, eight bucks an hour, not even 15 bucks an hour, but 48 or 50 bucks an hour.
Joe Biden: (40:33)
For example, we’re going to install in the first year that I’m president over 550,000 charging stations on every new highway. We’re going to own the electric vehicle market. Why should that not be us? But that’s not going to affect your eyeglass business today, this moment. And so there’s a whole range of things that… So what I’m trying to find out today is how do we build? For example, everybody’s been saying, all the experts have been saying from the beginning that you have to test and trace. You see what’s happened when you don’t trace, you see how the coronavirus is escalating in the states now. Okay? Not all states, but at least 12 of them, escalating. And probably, going into the winner, it’s going to probably get worse. So, what are we doing? Well, there a lot of people that are unemployed now, particularly young people.
Joe Biden: (41:29)
What I’m proposing that we do is we have a nationwide data-driven disease surveillance system. We need to hire 100,000 people now, now, as tracers from communities. Pay them a decent wage to be the ones who go out and trace when they find a new COVID case. That’s their thing. Only thing we know what’s going to [inaudible 00:41:55] maybe for vaccine that’s going to make a difference. It’s going to keep things down. But we can do that. But permanently, I think we need an entire new Public Health Corps out there. We need to be able to provide for significantly greater care across the board in terms of public health and that can create millions of jobs across the country.
Joe Biden: (42:22)
My point is that what do you do right now to ensure that there’s worker protection, there’s accountability, and as we reopen, we reopen responsibly and put you in a position where you’re safe when you show up to work, and it’s guaranteed you’re going to be safe, where you’re tested, tracing going on, and the circumstances, the protective gear, and the protective circumstances that you work in exist. And how are you going to be in a position now to be able to reopen and be able to do what needs be done to provide for what you do in terms of giving people… For example, we’re finding out that a lot of optometrists are in trouble right now because people don’t want to go in and put their eye up against that glass and have someone else look in that close to them. And they’re worried. Well, what can you do about that?
Joe Biden: (43:21)
There are things that can be done to increase the many significantly, the likelihood that you are going to be spreading the disease. Because even if everything worked and you had everything available, for example, what’s your instinct is how many customers who come in right now if tomorrow you were able to say that you had no financial problems, you could have everybody back to work? Are you going to have the same traffic you had before?
Tiffany Easley: (43:48)
No, definitely not.
Joe Biden: (43:50)
No. That’s my point. So, this is why I wanted to talk just bread and butter about immediate things that can be done. Even if she had no debt overhang, even if none of her…
Joe Biden: (44:02)
… debt overhang. Even if none of her employees had children back at home or were worried about spreading anything, people aren’t going to come in. So what enables them? Not anybody, but they’re not going to come in. What you can do and you’re right about near term. You can begin to be able to get help in terms of how you have a business where you can go online and say, “Send me your prescription. I can have it filled. This is how we’ll do it. And tell me the doctor gave you the prescription and we will fill the prescription. We will in fact be able to do that.” Or “I need a new prescription. My doctor tells me, and this is …” So you can do a lot of telemedicine that way.
Joe Biden: (44:47)
But the first thing we have to do is like, for example the idea you get called back on a Friday, there’s no one available on a Saturday, Sunday or Monday or a Tuesday or a Wednesday or Thursday or Friday the next week take care of the child. How do you get that done? Well, that’s why I lay out here and I propose a significant childcare capacity that we have to build, that we should build now and the government should be paying for as long as this crisis exists.
Joe Biden: (45:17)
And think of all the people that don’t ask for testing. They’re afraid to get tests, even if it’s available to them because of the cost. They think it’s going to cost them something. And if they get sick and they have to acknowledge their sick and quarantined for the days that they’re sick or while they’re sick, or cost of hospitalization. Right now, the President United States is trying to do away with the only healthcare policies out there.
Joe Biden: (45:44)
And you have millions of businesses, major businesses have gone out of business, where you, in fact, you lose your ability. They’ve gone out of business, big ones, where they provide health insurance, they’ve gone out of business and what do you have? You’ve been paying in half for that program? Well, I think under the existing law now we have, I think the federal government should pay the other half as long as this exists so you can maintain your privately held insurance.
Joe Biden: (46:11)
But the generic point I’m trying to make here is and there’s so much out there is one, how do we enable you with surety to be able to go back to work and feel safe yourself? Number one. Be able to ensure that your employees are physically safe and thirdly, have a sign on the door of the customer say, “I can go into that business and I know I’m going to be protected” because they’ve done everything that has been said that needs to be done in order to enhance the prospect that I will not, whatever I get in that store, whatever I get in that facility, I am going to get in a way that is not totally dissimilar, that like it was before the COVID hit. We need to be able to guarantee that we federally fund paid leave for workers that are caring for their families. We need to ensure that all workers that get sick from COVID for as long as they need that their costs are going to be paid for by the federal government. We need all the things that needs to be done to make sure that you are safe and your employees are safe and your customers are safe, is in the meantime, paid for by the federal government. You shouldn’t have to borrow that money. This is a crisis. This is a national, international health crisis.
Joe Biden: (47:43)
And so if we don’t do that, it’s going to cost the government a lot more down the road because we can’t keep these businesses open. What happens?
Della Clark: (47:53)
I got an idea.
Joe Biden: (47:54)
Della Clark: (47:56)
One of the largest industry clusters for minority businesses is in janitorial. And so as we think about getting people back to work, many buildings like this are accustomed to regular cleaning. But now you have to do a higher level, which is called sanitizing. And so here in Pennsylvania, a group of minority and business and civic leaders have come together and formed a PA COVID task force. And we’ve been looking at janitorial firms and thinking about how we help them get their certifications and licensing for this higher level of cleaning.
Della Clark: (48:33)
And so vice president, it’s a way we could get people to work right now because every restaurant, every business could put an [inaudible 00:48:40] this building was cleaned and sanitized.
Joe Biden: (48:44)
And that should be paid for by the federal government.
Della Clark: (48:46)
I agree with that.
Joe Biden: (48:47)
Well, that’s part of my proposal.
Della Clark: (48:48)
Okay. All right.
Joe Biden: (48:49)
That’s part of my proposal. The whole idea is how do you change the circumstance? Where when the press and all of us leave here, we would feel confident to walk into a building. Look, we talk about essential workers. How we give them such credit, we clap for them. We bang pans together. We do the rest. Well, I don’t want to clap for them. I want to pay them. Pay them a living wage to do what they do, because a lot of them are losing their lives. You’re going in and you’re sanitizing that operating room afterwards, it exposes you. The fact that you don’t have all the protective equipment, these janitorial services don’t have, they should be able to get that because they’re doing a public service. In addition to being able to get paid.
Joe Biden: (49:44)
And again, they just go, “Well, there goes up big spending Democrat again. Spend all that money.” If we don’t do this, we’re going to be in deep, deep and deeper trouble economically. Why are we, when we learned about the coronavirus, the same time that countries like Germany and South Korea and others found out? Why are we in terms of on a percentage basis? Why is our unemployment so much higher? Why is our death rate so much higher? Why do we have so many cases that have been diagnosed so far? Compared as a percent of population significantly higher.
Joe Biden: (50:26)
Obviously, we have a larger population, but it’s significantly higher percent of people in the United States who’ve contracted COVID. Significantly higher percentage based on the population have died. Why? Because the federal government, this administration not federal, this administration did nothing. They did nothing. The Columbia study at Columbia University points out that if the president acted just two weeks earlier, 54,000 more people would be alive today. Alive today, today.
Joe Biden: (51:02)
And so that’s why we can’t waste any more time. Imagine the impact on the economy. Just think of it in terms of numbers. If those 54,000 people were still alive. I think we have to create this public health jobs corps.
Mr. Vice President, I think it was the Wall Street Journal said that “80% of Americans think that the country is out of control.” So when you say about the soul of America and you’re in the district and West Philadelphia, where I said these are fantastic people, they are very passionate and they feel like somewhat who’s talking to them? So can you talk a little bit connected because at least me, I think when you talk about the soul of America, talk a little bit about that in context of what you’re saying.
Joe Biden: (52:01)
Well, look, I know West Philly a little bit, not a lot. The only reason I know a little bit is I have all granddaughters and grandkids that went to school here and lived up in 59th Street. Anyway, I don’t know it well, I don’t mean to imply I don’t. Okay. But I do know the east side of Wilmington, Delaware really, really well. I do know my state has the 8th largest African American population in United States of America. Okay. My city’s well over 50% African American, that’s what I come out of. I know it.
Joe Biden: (52:43)
Here’s the point about the soul of America. This president from the very beginning, from the moment he came down that escalator and his golden building, what did he start off saying? “I’m going to see to it, that we get rid of all those Mexican rapists.” That’s the first thing he talked about. Secondly, what did he do? He decided that he was going to pit us against one another based on race. When you saw those people in Charlottesville coming out of the fields, carrying those torches, their veins, they’re bulgy and screeching that anti-Semitic hate and bile using the same phrases used in Germany, in the 30s, in the early 30s in Nazi Germany accompanied by the KU Klux Klan. The Grand Wizard said, “This is why we elected him.” Okay. Of the KU Klux Klan.
Joe Biden: (53:46)
And then a young woman gets killed and he gets asked, he gets asked to comment. And he said, “There were very fine people on both sides.” No president of the history of the United States of America has ever said anything remotely like that. And so what I learned coming out of the movement, much, much earlier as a kid is you think you can defeat hate. You can only make it hide. And when you give it oxygen, when a president speaks, no matter how good or bad he is, people listen. And when he speaks and gives credibility to these racist, I’ll watch my language, folks out there, he breathes oxygen, they come out from under the rocks and you’re seeing it. You’re seeing it all across the country.
Joe Biden: (54:33)
As a consequence of that, what happens? We then tile on top of that a triple whammy. Then we end up with COVID and remember, I’m the guy that asked for the CDC to keep detailed reports on exactly who contracts it. Exactly who based on ethnicity, race, national origin, et cetera. And how many die? Because a friend of mine, the Mayor of Detroit told me what was really happening in Detroit, which I was responsible for in our administration where people who in fact are people of color. Well, guess what? Why is that happening? Because lack of access.
Joe Biden: (55:18)
And so, this is something that I think and then on top of it, the Floyd family. George gets brutally murdered for the whole world to see it. You’ve never seen and I come out, I was a kid when Dr. King … I came back from law school when Dr. King was assassinated. And when I came back, my city is the only city in America occupied by the National Guard since Reconstruction, because a significant portion was burned to the ground. I came back, I had a job with a good law firm and I quit and became a public defender.
Joe Biden: (55:56)
But even Dr. King’s assassination did not have the worldwide impact that George Floyd’s death did. Because just like television changed the Civil Rights Movement for the better when they saw Bull Connor and his dogs ripping the clothes off of elderly black women going to church and fire hoses ripping the skin off of young kids. All those folks around the country who didn’t have any black populations heard about this, but didn’t believe it but they saw it. It was impossible to close their eyes. Well, with George Floyd, what happened to George Floyd, now you got how many people around the country? Millions of cellphones. It’s changed the way everybody’s looking at this. Look at the millions of people marching around the world, the world. So my point is that I think people are really realizing that this is a battle for the soul of America. Who are we? What do we want to be? How do we see ourselves? What do we think we should be? Character is on the ballot here. That’s what this is about.
Joe Biden: (57:09)
And so, that’s why I’m convinced that with rational proposals that costs a lot of money. The American public is ready to step up. They understand the need to make these systemic changes, dealing from racism to structures that our economy has just stacked the deck against anybody who doesn’t have any money. So for me, I think it’s important that we lay out what isn’t happening, who its negatively affecting and why it is a continuation of this systemic problem we have?
Joe Biden: (57:51)
By the way, the unemployment rate among Latinos is higher than among blacks. They’re both ridiculously high, but what do we talk about? Well, we got to take the blinders need to be taken off the American people. And they’re looking at it and they’re saying, “We got to do something. This is not who we are. It’s not the world I want my kid growing up.” Even if they are upper middle class folks, this is not the world I want my kids growing up in.
Joe Biden: (58:19)
So we have a chance, but I think it’s important to lay out ahead of time what are the things that will most affect your collective ability to be around, have jobs and have the capacity to grow when we get this under control? And that takes you to the thought about wealth. That’s why every single first-time home buyer I provide for a $15,000 down payment period, period. That’s why I make sure that we double the amount of money that goes from the federal government to small business operations in every state, from a trillion and a half bucks to two and a half to three trillion.
Joe Biden: (59:06)
I mean, it should be three billion taking off the sidelines about $60 billion. That’s what it will do. That’s all about people that are able to get the kind of loans and/or guarantees that they need to be able to move. We have to start educating people that the evidence is that black entrepreneurs are equally successful as any other group of entrepreneurs. Their success rate is as high or as good. But we’ve got to provide the mechanisms. And I guess, as I said, maybe this is just too wonky as we say. Too much detail about how to get there, but we have to do, in my view, we have to create a testing and personal protective gear right off the bat for businesses that they don’t have to pay for so they can in fact, move forward. Secondly, we got to go out there and we got to make sure we’re in a situation where we guaranteed paid leave for anybody who cannot show up because they have somebody suffering from the disease and/or they have to be quarantined.
Joe Biden: (01:00:18)
Thirdly, it seems me, we have to go out there and make sure that we’re in a position where we ensure workers have the protection and there’s accountability from those companies, those bigger companies that don’t provide that protection. And that’s where you get in the whole idea of what are the standards that are going to be set up by OSHA and how are we going to make sure they’ve kept? I think we have to build a national contact tracing workforce that has the benefit of putting a 100,000 people to work now to get paid in excess of $15 an hour just to do the tracking by the federal government.
Joe Biden: (01:00:53)
That’s the thing that is going to pull things under control. And I think we also have to protect older Americans or those with disabilities and require big employers to tailor work requirements to their needs. And we have to create this, I think this safer shopper program, because no matter how good you do, unless people are confident they can walk in and be okay, they’re not going to walk in your door. And then we have to restart small businesses. We’ve got to do it in a big way. And that deals with everything from allowing you to be able to get grants for fixed costs.In addition to keeping people employed.
Joe Biden: (01:01:33)
We have to make sure we grant businesses the cost of restarting in this challenging environment. And we have to reopen our schools and our childcare programs, but there’s no guidance. There’s no guidance out there for how you do that. No guidance. And I think this is a reflection. If we don’t do this, Dwight it does reflect a lack of us all. Because so many people, so many people are in trouble right now. And we’re getting virtually no guidance from the White House. Just going to open up.
Joe Biden: (01:02:13)
He’s going down to Texas on Juneteenth, right? The first major massacre, literally speaking of the Black Wall Street, right? Years ago. He’s going to have a rally, going to have a rally. And he doesn’t wear a mask. I mean, come on. In the meantime, this is not your problem, but it’s going to be your consequence. He’s also doing an enormous damage to us internationally. You walk away from any cooperation with the World Health Organization, we walk away from any cooperation on vaccines. What worries me the most, I see nothing that is being done to prepare for what the experts and scientists are telling us is likely to be a bounce back.
Joe Biden: (01:03:07)
You already have a CDC say, “They do not have enough protective gear, stockpile now for what’s happening.” You got 12 States. I’m praying that this is an aberration, but I don’t think so. I meet with almost four days a week, I have an hour to an hour and a half briefing with Vivek Murphy and the former head of the FDA and the health staff. They’re worried, but they’re worried about it’s coming back. And again, what we said from the beginning and I’ll stop. You got to have testing and tracing. You got to have all the protective gear necessary and you’ve got to have it stockpiled now, just as a bare minimum to start.
Joe Biden: (01:04:08)
But I also think that what we should be doing is giving you and other businesses, the ability to say, “This is a circumstance in which you can reopen safely. These are the things that have to be done in order to do that.” We will pay you to help you do that because it’s in the national interest to do that. You will be able not only to be able to have money to keep people employed, but to provide for overhead and infrastructure that you need in order to be able to get. Because I think what you said, Tiffany is you’ve been completely honest with me. Even if tomorrow, you had no restrictions on, you open up completely. Who’s going to show up?
Joe Biden: (01:04:53)
And you’re right, Ms. Clark. We’ve got to prepare the way, begin to prepare the way for the 21st century here. We’re well into it. We got to prepare the way of we’re going to come back to the future. How we’re going to come back and make sure that we are able to deal with what is not just the pandemic, God willing we’ll have a vaccine. But what happens is how can we better impact on your bottom line and the number of people you have employed by, for example, having the equivalent of telemedicine for you being able to be online. You having the ability and you getting the technical expertise available to tell you how you get and how you do that. And that should be a federal government responsibility as well.
Joe Biden: (01:05:50)
Because again, it’s all about having business to be able to be open and employ people to generate economic growth. And I haven’t even gotten into the things which are …
Joe Biden: (01:06:03)
… with growth. And I haven’t even gotten into the things which are even larger. Access to housing, access to healthcare, access to so many other things that are just basic human necessities. But I’ve talked too much. Why don’t I yield to you guys for anything you want to summarize and/or ask me or want me to do some research on?
Speaker 3: (01:06:28)
You actually touched a lot of things that was going through my mind as far as how we go back to work in a safe environment. What is the plan for some of the people in my community that won’t be able to go back to work, that once the unemployment runs out, then what?
Joe Biden: (01:06:45)
It’s not going to. We cannot let… As long as this crisis exists, we have to make sure that unemployment is paid. And the unemployment that these guys put together is the most generous unemployment program in American history. $600 on top of whatever your expected unemployment would be. But look at the states that have been so slow in getting it out. States like Florida and others that have been terrible. Your state’s been better because it’s required. They even put money in, half billion dollars in there to make sure that you can pull people from other parts of government and quickly train them on how to deal with an unemployment claim. Because the number of claims is overwhelming, more than any time in American history. But you’re going to be able to get unemployment. We’re going to be able to have unemployment for anyone as long as this crisis continues.
Joe Biden: (01:07:42)
And for businesses that are larger than yours but smaller than the big businesses, but even those, we should have basically employment insurance. If you had 20 employees, you only needed 10, you keep all 20 on the payroll. They all work half time and the federal government makes up the rest. So they get their full salary. You have all the workforce you need. And people aren’t left out and sitting home and then end up in a circumstance where they’re collecting unemployment.
Joe Biden: (01:08:14)
And you know as well as I do, you know extremely well, that if you have someone who has the same exact background and record as the other person. One person has been unemployed three weeks, another person been unemployed six months, and they both apply for the job, what happens? The person who’s been unemployed six months, they just take off the table. Don’t even look at them. Implication is they must be not as good as the other or they would have been hired already.
Joe Biden: (01:08:41)
So there’s a real concern about providing people with some dignity. Just some dignity. My dad used to have an 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. It’s about being able to look your kid in the eye and say, ‘Honey, it’s going to be okay. It’s going to be okay,’ and mean it.”
Joe Biden: (01:09:02)
We moved from Pennsylvania. When coal died, I was in grade school. My dad didn’t have a job. I remember him walking up the stairs and saying, “Honey, you’re going to have to go live with grandpa. It’ll be about a year.” The longest walk any parent makes, and a lot of black and white and Hispanic parents have made that walk. He said, “I’ll come home every weekend,” only 157 miles down to Claymont, Delaware. And I thought, God, that’s like going to the moon. I was in grade school. Well, I then moved down to Claymont, Delaware. You know Claymont. Okay. Well, Claymont was a real working class town, a steel mill town. Get up in the morning when there was frost in the window and drive you to school, turn on the windshield wiper, and there’d be an oil slick, not joking, an oil slick on because of there’s more refineries and markets up in that area than anywhere else. Pennsylvania didn’t do much about it because the prevailing wind is south and east.
Joe Biden: (01:09:57)
So, I think people are going through the devil, but at least my dad, he thought that he meant it. We’re going to be okay. He thought there was kind of an even shot out there. And if you work like hell, it took two years to be able to get enough money, to three years to be able to put a down payment on a house. We had four kids, three bedrooms and a grandpop in a split level home. We didn’t think anything was wrong with that. It was a safe neighborhood.
Joe Biden: (01:10:28)
But my point is he had a shot. Look at all the people that don’t get a shot now, even to get there. This is not only about dealing with, in my view, it’s not only about restoring the dignity and soul of this country, it’s about this time when we have a chance to rebuild a middle class, bring everybody along. Everybody. Black, Hispanic, disabled. Bring everybody along. And we can do this because the public is now seeing what happens when you’re left out. You’re left aside. More of your folks have died, providing services. The grocery store workers stacking the shelves have died. All of a sudden people are realizing that people can shelter in place like you all have been able to do and me. Who’s been carrying this on their back? Essential workers. Anyway.
I think we want to take a picture of us like this.
Joe Biden: (01:11:34)
Does anybody want to say anything? Because what I need is your phone numbers too. I want to be able to call you, too. For real.
Della Clark: (01:11:42)
One of my big concerns, Vice President is time. If you look at three months and we’ve had approximately 41% of minority businesses shutter their doors in another three months, because we’re living with uncertainty about opening up doors and whether it be PPE equipment or whatever we need, the clock is ticking, right? And every month I go by that these small businesses are not able to generate revenue, not able to bring back or keep employees. Just putting us further and further behind. And so my concern is what are we going to do right now from a timestamp point? And how do we get, Tiffany as an example, I recognize she’s in eyewear but maybe it’s an investment to her to start this sanitizing business as an example. And so I going around to other eyeglass places and sanitizing their business, we have to be able to help businesses pivot right now.
Joe Biden: (01:12:39)
Well, I think what you have to do is right now, there are a number of programs available where you can be closed and still in fact, make money. Where the federal government makes sure your employees and you are taken care of, as providing for the programs that have already been passed that have not been made available to small businesses. The money is there. It’s sitting there now.
Della Clark: (01:13:04)
I like it now, yeah.
Joe Biden: (01:13:05)
I guarantee you, it is. I guarantee you it is. $2 trillion, but you have now a significant portion of is going to the wrong people, because either you don’t have the capacity to know how to apply for it, or you have the capacity. For example, one of the things that happened when we started and I’ll end with this. One of the things when we started, when this program first passed, the first CARES Act. What I would propose the President do is I would have him use the Defense Production Act, which is a thing that allows him to designate an operation.
Joe Biden: (01:13:46)
You’re going to shift from making pajamas, to making gowns for people in operating rooms. I said, we should have someone oversee the large banks. And where they’re going to lend because they never lend to small businesses. So you go to a big bank and I’m not going to mention any of them right now, but I can. And their loan is guaranteed, they’re guaranteed. We bailed them out. They’re guaranteed. Okay. And so they’re supposed to be the conduit. What do they say to you? Do you have an account here? Do you have account? Do you have a credit card with us? How long you been doing business with us, et cetera? Well, what the hell? And I knew they don’t like lending to small businesses. It’s too tedious for them. It takes too much time.
Joe Biden: (01:14:36)
So they’d much rather have somebody come in, a major real estate developer or of a Trump friend who come in and lend them $58 million giving them $58 million out of the program is easy to do. It’s easy to do. And that’s when Dwight and others went back and said, we’re going to get community banks then involved. If you work in a community in West Philly, then you got to be able to lend in West Philly. Well, that’s helped some, but the idea the money’s not getting there and it was designed to get there. How many Dwight, I can’t remember how maybe my staff remembers, but how much money is in the downtown small business fund? I forget the exact name of it. I think it’s, I forget how many billion dollars it is as of last week not a penny of it was loaned yet. Not a penny of it was put out there. There’s a lot of money there now. And what we did, what we’re pushing to do is make sure that it’s not only covers the employees you keep employed. If you’re trying to keep someone on the payroll, you get paid to keep them on the payroll, number one. And number two, your overhead gets paid. Your overhead gets paid, whether or not you have a customer coming in. That was the intent of the program. So that while we built back, the ability to show up and open up, then in fact, you still had employees who were getting paid. And you were able to make it so you didn’t lose your business. How many people are losing their business, because they’re basically going bankrupt? They’re going bankrupt. Think of all the people right now in West Philly who have a home who can’t pay their mortgage now. Well, they should be guaranteed while this is going on their mortgage gets paid.
Joe Biden: (01:16:32)
How about rent? Look at all the people now. Sitting there and saying, “Okay, so I get a loan. But what happens when, in fact, six months from now, now I have a rent bill that I have, that is a, I don’t know, 6,000 bucks or larger? Where do I get the money for that?” And so that’s what these programs were designed to do to help. And if you notice you don’t have any, it’s going to sound self serving. But when I was asked to take care of the Recovery Act in the Obama Biden administration, it was over $80 billion. We got out in less than 18 months. I was on the phone every single day. I spoke with over 156 mayors, every governor, but one, the woman from Alaska who could see Russia from her front porch.
Joe Biden: (01:17:36)
I tried, but she was not interested. All kidding aside. And they’d say, “We need this much money.” I said, “Okay.” And this is what we’re going to do to increase employment. One guy said, “We’re going to build a polar bear park.” I said, “No.” He said, “Under the law, I can do that.” I said, “Yeah, you can, but it’s going to make the program look silly. Here’s the deal. If you build it, I’m going to come out and hold a press conference and say you’re wasting money.” “You wouldn’t do that.” “Try me, try me.” It takes moment to moment to moment care. But guess what? The money got to where it had to go kept all those teachers employed because the states couldn’t pay for them. Kept all those firefighters on the job because they couldn’t be paid for. Those first responders on the job as you couldn’t be paid for. That’s where it came from. Look, what’s happening now. Dwight’s been trying to get money for state and local assistance. Because they all have balanced budgets.
Joe Biden: (01:18:33)
And what’s happened. They’re all going into gigantic debt. They can’t borrow the money. It’s not happening. So there are answers. There are answers and their answers that are available right now. But you know, this idea of somehow separating the COVID crisis from the jobless crisis is a fool’s errand. They’re tied together. Unless you deal with the COVID crisis, you’re not going to be able to openly deal with the job crisis and they’re simultaneous. But like I said, even now I’ll give you a few little points. Texas has reported the highest number of hospitalizations since the pandemic. Meanwhile, the white house taskforce on the pandemic has not even met since May the 28th. Okay, hadn’t even met. And the testing czar, the guy’s supposed to be the czar to set up testing is resigning.
Joe Biden: (01:19:47)
What is this? What in God’s name are we talking about? So, we got to be able the old saying goes, walk and chew gum at the same time here. Because there’s no reason why a woman who’s as capable as you running a business should be in a position as a consequence of the failure of the President of the administration, to be able to deal with this crisis, essentially going out of business and have nothing over your head. No reason, none. This money wasn’t supposed to go to the fortune 500 companies. I’m not making, they don’t need it, but look at what’s happening. So anyway, what I’m going to do is I’m going to send you a memo that lays out the specific things that I think we could do to promote small businesses, particularly minority owned businesses.
Joe Biden: (01:20:51)
And make sure how we do it. So you know what I’m talking about and what we do in the real recovery. When we have to re-invest money to create significantly new jobs. I’ll send to you what we’re doing relative to all the issues relating to health and safety of SEIU workers. I mean, you represent everyone from nurses all the way down to sanitation workers and what we do. And I’ll send you Tiffany, a layout of what I think. And I will get one of my experts on the phone with you to see how we can actually personally try to figure out how we can guide you to get to the programs that are available to you.
And just send me the I want to win.
Joe Biden: (01:21:40)
Well, you know, if I win, it’s in no small part because you came out earlier and said I should win. Well, look, I don’t have to state the obvious all the answers. But the one thing I promise you I’ll do, I’ll take responsibility. No President that I’ve ever witnessed as a student of history was smart enough to handle all the problems. When I make a mistake, I’ll say it, I’ll acknowledge it and fix it. And I think we just have to just take more responsibility in government. And the idea, like I said, the words of a President matter. No matter who the President is. The words of a President, no matter how competent or incompetent they are, can send a nation to war, they can bring peace. They can make the stock market rise or fall. Look what’s happening now. Only thing he’s been concerned about is the stock market. And there is very little correlation between the health of the stock market and the quality of life for the vast majority of the middle class and working class and poor folks. It’s just almost totally disconnected. Doesn’t mean it’s not a good thing to have the stock market boom, but it does mean it’s not a good thing when there’s no way in which that wealth is able to be shared. And imagine if we had that $2 trillion tax cut that he promoted and got passed for the wealthy, even places like the Heritage Foundation said that didn’t grow the economy. $2 trillion. Imagine if we had it right now, to focus on the things that can build a new economy, invest in everything from teleconference, into providing for the kind of health.
Della Clark: (01:23:40)
Vice President, I would love for you to wave your hand at Jeff [Wicklam 01:23:43] back there. He’s got that blue shirt, Jeff, stand up.
Joe Biden: (01:23:46)
Hey Jeff, how are you?
Della Clark: (01:23:48)
Jeff has been with the Enterprise Center over 20 years and he manages our real estate and facility and he helped to make this event successful today. And I just want you to recognize him.
Joe Biden: (01:24:01)
Well, Jeff, thank you very much, pal. I really mean it. Thank you. Thank you.
Speaker 5: (01:24:07)
So we’re going to take a group photo, if you just look at Adam in he blue blazer with his hand raised.
Joe Biden: (01:24:12)
Think about questions you haven’t asked me, you want to ask. I’ll make sure you have phone numbers you can get we so we can follow up on the things I said. Okay?
Speaker 3: (01:24:19)
Yes. I’m smiling, I forgot I had a mask.
Della Clark: (01:24:29)
I do that all the time.
Joe Biden: (01:24:32)
Well, I’ll tell you what with all the heat I got for wearing a mask. Trump not wearing a mask. Tell you what, science matters.
Joe Biden: (01:24:50)
Dwight, thank you, pal.
Any time. Any time, Vice President.
Della Clark: (01:24:55)
I got my card.
Joe Biden: (01:24:56)
And make sure staff took all those notes. And I’ll follow up on it.
Della Clark: (01:24:58)
I got my card, Vice President.
Joe Biden: (01:25:01)
All right, there you go. Thank you. I think we have Tiffany’s number I think I’m not certain.
Speaker 5: (01:25:09)
Yes, we have all of their numbers, and I took notes to follow up.
Joe Biden: (01:25:14)
Okay. Dwight, thanks, pal.
Any time, Vice President.
Joe Biden: (01:25:16)
Thanks for the passport into your district. I appreciate it.
You were here a week ago at City Hall. That’s in there. So if you want to get a place, let us know.
Joe Biden: (01:25:29)
Well, I tell you what, all I know is that my son who passed away, went to Penn and he had to borrow the money. We had to borrow to get there. And he’s never missed a payment. And so I’m still hanging out paying the last thing of that loan. That was the best thing to happen for him. Philly’s a great city.
Speaker 3: (01:25:55)
Thank you for having us. Thank you.
Joe Biden: (01:26:00)
Thank you, all. Appreciate it. Every time I walked out of my grandpa’s house in Scranton, he’d yell, “Keep the faith.” We can do this, guys. We can change this country for the better.
Speaker 3: (01:26:13)
Joe Biden: (01:26:14)
The nest thing about America is every significant crisis we’d had, we’re the only country to turn it around. We can do this. [crosstalk 01:26:24].
Speaker 3: (01:26:26)
[inaudible 01:26:39] Tiffany, passion, fired up.
Tiffany Easley: (01:26:45)
I felt like I was just sitting here.
You didn’t use it. Get into it.
Tiffany Easley: (01:26:49)
I was trying.