Sep 23, 2020
Joe Biden Racial Equity Discussion Transcript September 23
Joe Biden made a campaign visit to Charlotte, NC on September 23 where he participated in a racial equity discussion with Chris Paul. Read the transcript of the event here.
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Mayor Vi Lyles: (01:25)
Good afternoon. Or good morning. It’s still good morning, I believe. I want to say thank you for coming out on this fabulous Charlotte fall day to have a very important conversation with a very important person that we will hope to see in January, on a stage, being inaugurated as the next president of the United States. I think that’s why we’re here.
Mayor Vi Lyles: (01:51)
But before I talk about the seriousness of this conversation, what I’d like to do is make sure that everyone recognizes where we are. We are in Camp North End, but more importantly, we’re in a place where creativity flourishes. The artists that have worked on the art that you’re going to see today, we have to recognize them. They’re people that give so much, and they don’t get paid enough. And that’s the kind of thing that we’re beginning to see.
Mayor Vi Lyles: (02:20)
In a pandemic, we ought to be rewarding people that are doing the work that makes us better people, and that’s what artists do. So I want to recognize Dammit Wesley. Is Dammit around? Okay. Gianna [Gianna McCantz 00:02:37]. Where’s Gianna? Gianna? Carla Aaron-Lopez, [Garrison Gis 00:02:46], Marcus Kaiser, [McKayla Benter 00:02:51], Frank [Zambi 00:02:53], and John Harrison. They have done the mural that says, “Camp North in Charlotte, North Carolina: Build Back Better.” And we all know whose plan that is. So thank you very much for being here this morning.
Mayor Vi Lyles: (03:09)
I am going to say that I would like to introduce someone that you’re all familiar with, someone that you probably don’t know that is a big professional bowling fan, that likes Minor League Baseball, but I’ll let you figure out what you really know him for. So thank you, let’s welcome our next guest.
Speaker 1: (03:44)
Chris Paul: (03:59)
How y’all doing? How y’all doing?
Speaker 3: (04:01)
How are you?
Chris Paul: (04:03)
Mayor Lyles, thank you so much. Vice President Biden, welcome to Charlotte, North Carolina. It feels so good to be home. You guys know I was in a bubble for a while recently. Man, this is important. This is extremely important, and that’s why I’m glad to be a part of this conversation. Being born and raised in North Carolina, this is home for me. Always will be home for me. And so to be a part of this conversation and to just have real conversations, we had a conversation in the back and I just thought about how grateful and privileged I am to be a part of these tough, difficult conversations, especially during this time.
Chris Paul: (04:38)
Being a parent, have an 11 year old son, a eight year old daughter, these times are very crucial and very important. I can’t explain enough how much it means to talk about the things that have to be discussed. And you guys being here, everything is about respect. Everything is about respect. So teaching my kids about respecting the office, having these conversations, and that’s why this election is important. A lot of times people say, “My vote doesn’t count.” I come from humble beginnings where a lot of people where you live and stuff say, “It doesn’t matter. As Black people, it doesn’t matter. You know, if I vote, what’s going to really change? We still got the same restaurants on the corners. We don’t have the benefits of having places to eat. You know, our homes, that’s not going to change, right?”
Chris Paul: (05:26)
So the only way that we can really enforce our power is by voting. Voting. So this conversation is unbelievably important. So glad you guys are here so that we can ask some real questions. So without further ado, I would like to introduce the next president of the United States, Joe Biden.
Speaker 1: (05:42)
Joe Biden: (06:12)
Hello, hello, hello, hello. My name is Joe Biden. I’m trying to get a job with Chris. He is Mr. President. He’s president of the union. Mr. President, I was kidding him. You know, the hardest thing, only thing harder than being president of a union is being the mayor of a beautiful city.
Joe Biden: (06:34)
Folks, thanks for taking the time to be here today. I really appreciate it. And we even have an astronaut in our house and I tell you what, that’s pretty cool. Look, first of all, I want to thank Chris and the mayor for being here, and all of you for being here. You know, these are tough times. Over 200,000 Americans have passed away. Over 200,000, and the number is still rising. The impact on communities is bad across the board, but particularly bad for African-American communities. Almost four times as likely, three times as likely to catch the disease, COVID, and when it’s caught, twice as likely to die as white Americans. It’s sort of emblematic of the inequality that exists and the circumstances that exist.
Joe Biden: (07:33)
One of the things that really matters to me, is we could do … It didn’t have to be this bad. You have 30 million people on unemployment, you have 20 million people figuring whether or not they can pay their mortgage payment this month, and what they’re going to be able to do or not do as the consequence of that, and you’ve got millions of people who are worried that they’re going to be thrown out in the street because they can’t pay their rent. Although they’ve been given a reprieve for three months, but they have to pay double the next three months when it comes around.
Joe Biden: (08:05)
How people going to do that? And the way, in fact, the Democratic House and the Senate passed, stepped up and passed a significant amount of money to help people get through the process, including keeping businesses open and the like. Well, guess what? They insisted there being a thing called an inspector general, somebody watching where every dollar went. The first thing the president of the United States did is fire that inspector general. There is no inspector. He’s fired. Fired. And so you got 40% of, only 40% of the money intended for small businesses going to small businesses. Only 40% of it. 60% has gone to the Mar-a-Lago crowd.
Joe Biden: (08:43)
In addition to that, we find ourselves in a circumstance where the idea that we’re going to continue to provide for unemployment insurance for people is very much in doubt, although the House just passed a package today. My generic point is, that the University of Columbia pointed out, that if in fact the president had acted, even though we know now he knew exactly how bad the pandemic was back in February, he’s on tape with Bob Woodward saying he knew how bad it was, and he didn’t say a thing. He didn’t say a thing.
Joe Biden: (09:17)
If he had spoken, as I said, they said at Columbia, one week earlier, 37,000 more people be alive today. We’re going to have another influx of cases, just between now and January, it’s expected that we’re going to have somewhere between, depending on which estimate you take, between 138 and 178,000 more deaths. And if people just do what we’re doing here, and when you’re at a social distance, as I am, you can take a mask off, but wear a mask. They estimate that would save about close to 89, 90,000 people. And so it’s about being responsible. It’s about being responsible. And we’re not being very responsible.
Joe Biden: (09:58)
But what I want to talk to you about today is that we have to break a cycle. The cycle that exist is that the African-American community by and large finds itself at the bottom of the economic heap, businesses and others, when things are good. When things get bad, they’re the first ones in the hole. And when things get better, they’re the last ones out. In addition to that, we have a criminal justice system that needs significant repair. And we’re just only beginning, slightly, to make some progress now.
Joe Biden: (10:28)
And thirdly, if you’re a business person, let me put it this way. Every person out there wants an opportunity to make it for their family. My dad used to have an expression, “Everybody’s entitled to be treated with dignity.” And then he said, “Joey, a job is 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 hold your head up. It’s about being able to look your kid in the eye and say, ‘Honey, everything’s going to be okay.'”
Joe Biden: (10:54)
For too many people, particularly in the African-American community, they can’t say that. That’s not able to be done. So one of the things that I want to talk with you about today, is how do we build wealth? Because ultimately, ultimately the African-American community only is going to have its place equal to everyone else when they’re in a position to be able to build wealth, be able to build wealth. And that goes for everything from access to being able to purchase a home, access to jobs, access to just being able to have an even shot. And that’s what I hope we’re going to talk a little about today.
Joe Biden: (11:25)
It goes to education, as well as access to education, access beyond. Everything from a lot of poor whites and African-Americans, poor African-Americans and Hispanic live in Title I districts, meaning that they live in school districts that have very low tax base. And right now we spent $15 billion a year to compensate for that low tax base. I increased that to $45 billion. What it does, it keeps teachers in schools because we’re short teachers significantly. 125,000 teachers short right now. Be over half a million by 2023. In addition to that, we find ourselves in a circumstance where we used to have in our schools, in the old days, used to have one … Right now we don’t have any, we virtually have no school psychologists in our schools. And so teachers come in to school and they’re expected to solve every problem. Well, there’s one school psychologist for every 1,507 kids in school. It should be closer to one to 500. We can do that by increasing the money I just talked about from 15 to 45. And send every single child that’s three years old, four years old, and five years old, not to daycare, but to school. All the studies of the great universities in this state and every other have pointed out in the last eight years, that’ll increase by 58% their chances of going all the way through school, no matter what the ZIP code they come from, no matter where they are, and be able to do it without getting themselves in trouble.
Joe Biden: (12:49)
And then we’re going to talk about, I think a big issue here is access to apprenticeships and access to community colleges and college, and the student debt requirements that are there. Hope we can talk about that. But I want to talk about basically one-
Joe Biden: (13:03)
Hope we can talk about that, but I want to talk about basically one big important thing. How do we change the dynamic? This is a gigantic opportunity. As bad as things have gotten, the blinders have sort of been taken off the American people now. They look out there, and we have the pandemic, unemployment. We have race relations that are just been drawn into focus and everything from police brutality to lack of access. But the American people have all of a sudden, average people have gone, “My Lord. Holy mackerel. I didn’t know it was this bad.” A lot of them didn’t know. A lot did. But a lot didn’t know it was this bad. And talking to … Well, I won’t go into it. I’m talking too much now in my opening statement, but here’s the point.
Joe Biden: (13:47)
The point is, I believe we have a gigantic opportunity, a gigantic opportunity to fundamentally change the systemic racism and the systemic problems that exist in our system. And I think we have to do it, but only one way to do it. We’ve got to show up and vote. But I believe the American people are not going to be turned off. I believe no matter what the administration does to try to make it hard to vote for everyone, not just people of color, but everyone, no matter what, I think they’re going to vote. You see what’s happened in Virginia, early voting. They have four hour lines in the first day, and we’re over 40 days out. People are going to show up and vote. They will not be dissuaded.
Joe Biden: (14:25)
And so that’s why I’m optimistic. I was asked by one of the foreign leaders when I was overseas, when I was the vice president, they said, “Can you define America for me?” I said, “Yes, I can, in one word. Possibilities. Possibilities.” We’re the only country that believes anything’s possible. But it’s about time we make it possible for everybody? That’s what this is all about. I think we got a gigantic opportunity in the year 2020 to make these changes. And with that, as my mother would say, I’m going to hush up and take any questions you all have. And I’ve got to get out of the way here.
Mayor Vi Lyles: (14:57)
The first question we’re going to ask, our hometown star, [inaudible 00:02:03].
Chris Paul: (15:04)
Far from a star, but appreciate it. My first question, you sort of spoke about education. And for me, I’m the only person in my family to go to an HBCU. And you, right down the street from Johnson C. Smith, North Carolina is known for having a lot of HBCUs. My question would be, there’s a lot that’s not properly funding, sort of going under, so what would you sort of like to see, or what could you do for the historically black colleges and universities?
Joe Biden: (15:32)
I was kidding Chris inside. I was saying as long as I can say what the best HBCU is in America, Delaware State University. But that’s another issue. That’s a joke, but it’s not a joke. They’re great. That’s how I got my start, by the way. I went to University of Delaware. But the reason I got involved in politics in the first place is because of what was going on in my state in terms of segregation and in terms of Dr. King being assassinated. Part of the, major part of our city was burned to the ground. That’s how I got engaged. And a lot of my support came out of that HBCU.
Joe Biden: (16:05)
Look, right now, one thing all the data shows is that, given an opportunity, an equal opportunity, there’s not a single thing that an African-American can’t do that a white American can do, that a Hispanic American, an Asian American … I mean, not a single thing. And so what’s happened? It’s about access to opportunity and access to good jobs. Now, an awful lot of universities like, great university like UNC or Wake Forest, a lot of schools, they have endowments, and the endowment allows them to provide for the circumstance to bid for these major federal initiatives that allow them to bring into the school a technology or a program that is able to bring in outside sponsors, as well as government sponsors, and then have students work in those areas.
Joe Biden: (16:59)
For example, cybersecurity. Cybersecurity is a big deal, but you have to … And as a future, there’s going to be millions of, over time, good paying jobs in the area of cybersecurity. But because the HBCUs, for example, most of them don’t have the economic … They don’t have the endowment to be able to build the facilities that can attract the environment, the government funding, as well as private endowment. They don’t get to set these up.
Joe Biden: (17:28)
For example, when I was vice president, we went down to Roanoke and we provided funding for an HBCU to have a cybersecurity proposal. They did it. They got the contract. And now what they’re doing are training young women and men who’ll get out and good starting jobs, jobs where you can end up being paid more than a hundred grand a year. And they’re fully, totally, thoroughly capable.
Joe Biden: (17:48)
What I’ve done is I’ve proposed, and we’ll get this done … I proposed a 10-year program for $70 billion for HBCUs, $70 billion. And that $70 billion will be available through the HBCUs based on their competition to get access to it, but everyone will qualify, every HBCU. And they’ll be able to do the kinds of things that other universities do.
Joe Biden: (18:13)
For example, Delaware State University is a great university. The president of the university is a young man who used to work for me in my Senate office. Now, brilliant guy. He’s a doctorate. The end result of it is though when the University of Delaware makes an application for dealing with solar energy, because it has a significant base, it gets this significant injection of technological capability, or, for example, light metals. They took over an old facility, it used to be a Ford facility long, long time ago. They took over a facility used to be a Chrysler facility and got shut down. And now what do they have at that facility? They have people in that facility who are now doing metallurgy that relate to making lightweight aluminum and metal decks for aircraft carriers. Well, it’s a multi-million dollar and will end up being a billion-dollar project. And so the people who get to work on that, the very students in that university get to work on it, they’re the ones that are going to go out and get these great jobs. So that’s the first thing I’m going to do for HBCUs.
Joe Biden: (19:20)
Secondly, we have to look at, and we have been looking at, the idea that we have to bring in HBCUs to engage in more of what we are doing in terms of our national dialogue. And for example, I kid … Two of the guys that are on my co-sponsors of my campaign, African-Americans, they’ve talked about themselves as Morgan men. I’m a Morgan man. Well, there’s a lot of great universities including right here, but we have an opportunity to provide for, you’re able to get to those universities. How can you do it? Well, I’m going to see to it that any family, anyone who comes from a family that makes a total income of less than $125,000 a year gets free college education. They don’t get in. If they get in and qualify, they pay nothing to go to college.
Joe Biden: (20:18)
Secondly, there are also programs that exist now that if you provide for the work, that you will volunteer to do something in the public interest, and you do it for five years or more, you can deduct $10, 000 a year up to $50,000 off of that debt you have. And you have an awful lot of young African-Americans that have graduated. The average debt is about $19,000 a year. Well, it’s hard as hell to get started. Hard to get started when you have that debt hanging over your head. The average debt is even higher. It’s up to $28,000 a year, someone graduating from a four year school.
Joe Biden: (20:52)
And that’s why the economists had predicted prior to, and I’ll end with this, I’m telling you too much, but because I’m pretty passionate about this. What happens is that if, it was pointed out before the COVID crisis, that we’re going to have an economic slowdown because the entire generation, this from 9/11 generation through to the generation now, and coming out of this, this god-awful circumstance we’re in, they, in fact, are not going to have the wherewithal because of student debt to be able to borrow the money to buy a home, buy a new vehicle, buy an apartment, and spend the money and capital, where a significant portion of our economy is driven by consumption, by consumption.
Joe Biden: (21:38)
And this generation, this whole new generation from 9/11 on, that in fact is, they’re not in a position to be able to do it. So there’s a whole lot of reasons that economically this will benefit. This isn’t just draining money. And by the way, I pay for every one of these things by the way, I deal with the tax structure. But that’s another story. So that’s a piece of what I think we can and should be doing with HBCUs. And secondly, I will, in my administration, elevate, elevate the standing of HBCUs by the people in my administration as well.
Mayor Vi Lyles: (22:13)
Thank you, Mr. Vice President. The vice president would like to hear from you, so I’d like to recognize someone that might have a question for this forum. Yes.
Hannah Bonaparte: (22:34)
Joe Biden: (22:34)
There’s a microphone right there.
Mayor Vi Lyles: (22:34)
There’s a microphone right there, and there’s one on this side as well.
Hannah Bonaparte: (22:37)
Hi, I’m Hannah Bonaparte. I just was like wondering what are you going to do about minimum wage?
Joe Biden: (22:44)
We’re going to raise it to $15 an hour nationally. I’ve been deeply involved in raising it as I’ve gone around the country working with cities and counties that in fact have raised it, including New York City and out on the West Coast, as well. Here’s the deal. If you make less than $15 an hour working 40 hours a week, you’re making a wage under the poverty level. No one in America should be working for a 40-hour week job and still be living in poverty. It should not exist. Number one.
Joe Biden: (23:19)
Number two, it also demonstrates that if we pay people $15 an hour as a minimum wage, you grow the economy. The idea that this somehow puts people out of business, there’s no evidence of that. What happens is you have people, if you’re making 15 bucks an hour instead of $7 an hour, you’re able to buy more things. You’re able to pay more bills. You’re able to do more that ends up increasing the GDP, the growth of the whole economy. So it’s not only a good thing for the person who is going to be making a decent wage from the beginning, but going to be good for the economy as a whole.
Mayor Vi Lyles: (23:56)
Next question. Yes, please.
Andrea Brown: (24:01)
Hi, I’m Andrea Brown. I’m a second grade teacher. Nice to meet you.
Joe Biden: (24:06)
My mother would say, “God love you, dear.”
Andrea Brown: (24:08)
It’s been difficult, but thank you. Thank you, Chris, for bringing up education and the HBCUs, but as far as K through 12 education, how do you plan to push access to educational equity?
Joe Biden: (24:21)
Well, as a simple proposition for me, I don’t exaggerate as a second grade teacher, why you’re so important. If I had only $1 to spend in education and I could spend it post-graduation or pre-kindergarten, I’d spend it pre-kindergarten. Not a joke. Because you know as well as I do based on your educational background, that 60% of a child’s brain is already developed by the time they’re three, four, five years old.
Andrea Brown: (24:49)
Joe Biden: (24:49)
And so what happens is, people start off based on their ZIP code and their family background. They may start off way behind the curve. You know you have a lot of students who they come into school, if they come from a very poor background in a community raised by a single mom or a single dad, through no fault of their own, they will have probably heard 1 million fewer words spoken by the time they get to first grade. That by itself is an impediment. Nobody’s forced that on anybody, but we’ve got to change it. And so the way to change it is threefold.
Joe Biden: (25:22)
Number one, as I said, provide for early education, starting at three years of age, and it’s not … This is you think, “Oh my Lord, why we have a three-year-old go to school?” They learn as rapidly as a six-year-old, a 12-year-old, a 14-year-old. And they just suck it all up. They just suck it all up. Number one. Number two, to make sure that we pay teachers enough money to stay in the business of teaching. My wife’s a full-time teacher. My wife has never stopped. As first lady, as the second lady, I should say, she taught 15 credits every semester at a community college. Before that, she taught juniors and-
Joe Biden: (26:03)
At a community college. Before that, she taught juniors and seniors in high school for 25 years. I think it was 25. My point is a long time. Although, I’m not allowed to tell the exact number because my wife is 30 years younger than I am. I started off not quite that much. There’s no woman in the entire Biden family as old as any man, but that’s another issue. All kidding aside, the fact is that it is the lifeblood of… Look, people… They say, “Well, these two children.” They’re all our children. They are the kite strings that lift our national ambitions aloft.
Speaker 4: (26:35)
Joe Biden: (26:36)
It’s bizarre, crazy for us. In every single empirical study done, the more money you spend, the better you educate a child throughout the process, the better the community as a whole is.
Speaker 4: (26:50)
Joe Biden: (26:50)
Everybody, across the board. That’s why we also have to make sure that we provide for more direct funding for specific programs in schools. As you know, better than most will know, the bulk of all the funding, if your school uses local funding-
Speaker 4: (27:09)
Joe Biden: (27:10)
Speaker 4: (27:11)
Joe Biden: (27:11)
It’s not national funding. It’s not federal funding. Federal funding can focus on particular needs within schools. One of those needs is to deal with access to equal education in the early grades and not be determined by your zip code. That requires us to spend more money on schools that in fact, and teachers… Look, I’m not going to ask you what you make. Teachers… One of the other things that all the studies have shown is that when you’re in a student body where there’s students of color, it makes a gigantic difference if there are teachers of color, particularly male teachers of color.
Speaker 4: (27:50)
Joe Biden: (27:51)
A gigantic difference. It’s just a factual predicate. We have to encourage schools of education to attract more people of color to get in and teach. The only way to do that is to raise the salaries.
Speaker 4: (28:07)
Joe Biden: (28:07)
Raise the salaries.
Speaker 4: (28:09)
Joe Biden: (28:09)
I mean, idea that a teacher is out there after several years making $40,000… You have, probably, a student debt larger than that. Enough, for real. That’s why the last piece of the student debt… Anybody who has a student debt who teaches, that counts as working for the national interest. You get to deduct $ 10,000 of that student debt per year for five years, and up to $50,000 if you’re teaching.
Speaker 4: (28:37)
Joe Biden: (28:39)
We can afford this, by the way. This is not something that we have… Just give you a little idea here. I carry this card with me because everybody says, “Well, Biden’s going to raise all taxes, and everybody’s going to be in trouble, and what we’re going to do here.” Let’s see if I can find it, if I have it here. Anyway, I have a list of how I will fund every single thing that I’m talking about. For example, if we just made corporations not pay 21%, and 91 of the Fortune 500 companies pay no tax, zero, zero, okay, none… If we just made them pay 28, it used to be 38, make 28%, raise it to 28%, and everybody had to pay it, that would raise a total of $ 1,370 billion. I’m not trying to punish anybody. It’s time for everybody to start paying their fair share.
Speaker 4: (29:38)
Joe Biden: (29:40)
President has a new proposal. Some of you may like it. I don’t know anybody in my neighborhood know it works very well, and that is another $30 billion tax cut for billionaires. You think I’m making it like billionaire. I sound like Bernie Sanders, “Billionaires are bad.” That’s not the problem. Problem is in reducing the capital gains tax… If you make your money off investments as opposed to sweating your brow or walking up and getting a paycheck, right, he thinks you should only have to pay 15% of your income. You’ll pay more as a school teacher than somebody making $20 million bucks. It’s all coming from investments. It’s not right. Don’t want to punish anybody. Just about time everybody pays their fair share. The way I do that is I raise the tax back for millionaires and billionaires to 39.4%. They’re talking about 90%. That’s not true. It was 39.4% when Bush was president. You just raise that tax rate back up to 39.4%. That raises 6%. That raises $90 billion. Just give you an example.
Joe Biden: (30:47)
There’s much more I could talk, but my point is it will not… By the way, I went to undergraduate and graduate school. I was very flattered that, I think it’s 14 Nobel Laureates in economics, just endorsed me, and said my plans make sense. All this stuff about Biden’s going to bankrupt the country and Biden is going to spend $400 billion, and you’re going to raise your taxes… not true. We can do it all by just somebody just starting to pay your fair share. That’s all. That’s all. Give people who need a break, a break.
Speaker 4: (31:22)
Joe Biden: (31:23)
Mayor Vi Lyles: (31:24)
We have time for one more question. Well, I think we’re going to have time for two more questions, if that’s okay, Mr. Vice-president.
Joe Biden: (31:32)
Maybe three. I know I’m in trouble.
Mayor Vi Lyles: (31:33)
Joe Biden: (31:34)
I know I’m late, but I apologize.
Mayor Vi Lyles: (31:35)
Having some difficulty. Sorry. Hello. Nice to meet you. My name is Subrina Collier. My husband and I, Chef Greg Collier, own restaurants here in Charlotte: one, Uptown Yolk, and one here in Camp North End, Leah and Louise. As you know, the restaurants have been hit severely hard the past… Would it be seven months now? A lot of us, which are small business owners and small minority business owners, didn’t receive as much relief, nationally. The city of Charlotte has been amazing with offering grants and things that we can float us over and still pay our employees, but we still had to cut staff. We still had to cut hours. What would be the relief for a small business owner, specifically restaurants? Is there a plan to give us some type of relief? I don’t know, a tax cut, anything.
Joe Biden: (32:30)
Yes. There was a big plan to do it. There’s a modal plan. First of all, the Cares Act, which passed out of the House and Senate, which was a total of $2 trillion overall, twice, was supposed to provide what they called the Main Street Lending Program. For four months, it didn’t lend a penny. None of the money went out, number one, because you got 20 Republicans in the Senate who said they don’t want to depend anything on anything, for real. The president who has, as I said, fired the Inspector General, so you don’t know where the money’s going for certain. Secondly, on the early program for small businesses… The small business is defined of fewer than 50 employees. Now, most small businesses that are neighborhood small businesses are 10 or fewer employees.
Joe Biden: (33:23)
What I propose is we focus on making sure that the money goes directly to those businesses that in fact provide for being able to keep their employees on the payroll for the 10 or fewer employees. That’s a priority, and then 50 and under. Here’s what’s happened. What’s happened is that not only has that not occurred, a lot of the money has gone to very big businesses that didn’t need the… I mean, they may need it, but they didn’t need it to stay alive. Even when they got it, what did they do?
Joe Biden: (33:57)
The commitment that I proposed, and we thought we had done, is that right now, if you get a government bailout, quote, unquote, “loan to stay alive,” what you cannot do is take that money and either buy back your own stock and, or increase your salaries with that money. It’s to keep people employed, keep them on a payroll. That’s what a lot of the businesses have done. They buy back their own stock, increasing the net worth of the people who own the stock, and in fact, pay their salaries based on stock then. They should not be allowed to do that, number one, with government money, bailing people out.
Joe Biden: (34:41)
Secondly, a lot of you don’t know the circumstance. Now there’s no national standards as to how to open. How do you open safely? President says, “Just put up a sign, Come on in.” Well, you know your employee. Beyond your employees, your customers are going to go, “I don’t know. I mean, does everybody have to have the mask? Do they have dividers in the restaurant? Tell me how the sanitary conditions are working.” Well, you need money to pay for all that stuff. That’s why we proposed to have a multi-billion dollar program where businesses are able to get the money, not borrow the money, get the money to be able to open in the middle of this pandemic, including fixing the testing fiasco.
Joe Biden: (35:21)
You should be in a situation where your employees can, in 24 hours, get a test to determine whether or not they’re positive or negative. You need to do that for your own protection, and the public likes to know that is protection that there are protection against anything that happens within your restaurant. The bottom line is the money is already there. The president is just not releasing it. Department is not releasing the money. It’s all done in order to be able to keep the economy moving.
Joe Biden: (35:55)
Right now, we have over 30 million people on unemployment, over 30 million in unemployment. How in God’s name are we going to generate economic growth unless we can figure out how to keep these people back and help you get back in business? It’s the same way with schools. How many schools are not opening because there are no national standards set? No national standards set. For example, there’s a outfit… Am I telling you too much? You want me to stop?
Mayor Vi Lyles: (36:21)
Joe Biden: (36:21)
Okay. I’m really good at this. This drives me crazy. Right now, we’re in a situation where if you take a look, there is no national standard for how to open schools, how to open them safely, because the president says, “I have no responsibility. That’s not my response.” I mean, literally, that’s his phrase. “It’s not my responsibility. I’m not the blame for any of this. Let the governors or the mayors take care of it,” and then without the financial help that’s needed to be able to take care of it. I’ve laid out in detail back in July, what we’d have to do to open safely and includes providing the protective PPE, the mask, and other things that are needed, gloves, et cetera, for the schools, the school teachers, and for the children coming to school.
Joe Biden: (37:19)
Secondly, you have to reduce the number of students in one room. You have to have modules that are smaller. For that, you need more teachers, not fewer teachers. You got to pay more teachers. Number three, you’ve got to be able to sanitize the schools, whether it’s everything from the water fountain to the lavatory, or just the surfaces that are touched, and what is breathed on by people. That costs a lot of money to do that, like it would for a restaurant as well for you to have to do that.
Joe Biden: (37:49)
The money is there, available, to do that, but the president refuses. What he says is just open up and make sure that… School should just open up. It also relates to how far down you’ve got the reinfection rate. If it’s down below one, then it’s rational. You can, with those protections, go ahead and open a school, but watch it very closely. It requires testing and tracing to make sure you’re still on course there.
Joe Biden: (38:18)
Look, the other thing is that if you think about it, the FEMA, the Federal Emergency… They had agreed that they were going to provide masks for schools. They started to hand them out to schools. Well, guess what? The president didn’t like that, or somebody didn’t like that. The ruling was made, “Opening schools safely is not a national emergency,” so they stopped it. Refusing to even provide masks for schools because it’s not a national emergency. Well, if this isn’t a national emergency, I don’t know what the hell is. The way we’re doing this is the way… I’ll end with this.
Joe Biden: (39:01)
… way and I’ll end with this. The president was in Ohio, I guess a couple of days ago at a rally. I don’t want to misquote him. And he said at the rally and I wrote this down, he said that “We virtually turned the corner. Nobody is really dying.” He said, “Yeah, elderly people are dying and they’re dying because they have heart conditions or other, but quote unquote, “virtually, they’re virtually nobodies. They’re the only ones dying.”
Joe Biden: (39:47)
So you go home and your mom is gone, your dad’s gone. He’s a virtual nobody? The idea, the way we’re talking about people, and this is all within our power to do something. The virus wasn’t his fault, but the way he’s handled it has been close to criminal. And so many people breaking their necks and by the way, my deceased wife, when I first got married, I married a beautiful woman from Syracuse, New York, Skaneateles, New York. And I got elected and I was 29-years-old. I come from a very modest family. Not bragging about it, but I was listed as the poorest man in Congress for 36 years. Because I didn’t think you were supposed to earn any money while you’re there other than your salary.
Joe Biden: (40:32)
And then when I got elected vice president, one of the press outlets said, “It’s probable no man has ever been assuming the office of vice president with fewer assets than Joe Biden.” I hope they weren’t talking intellectual assets. When I got elected when I was 29, I was in Washington before I was sworn in and I got a phone call from my fire department saying my wife and daughter have just been killed. And my two boys were not likely to make it. A tractor trailer broadsided them while they were Christmas shopping. And at the time, my wife’s father, my father-in-law, he came home from World War II and he had owned a restaurant. He was a cook in World War II in the Navy and he ended up opening up a restaurant in a place called Auburn, New York, a town about 20,000 people, just south of Syracuse.
Joe Biden: (41:23)
And it became the meeting place for everybody. It’s a place that doctors would start off the morning getting their coffee and the lawyers would have their lunch and kids after graduations would come to this called the Hunter Dinerant and then he opened up other restaurants. And in order to try to convince me to stay, I don’t blame him. I do the same with my daughter. Try to convince after he graduated to take a job in Upstate New York, rather than go back to Delaware. He offered me his prize diner. And he was making at that time, I would have made five times what I made as a lawyer. A starting lawyer salary is six grand and it was 30,000 bucks a year.
Joe Biden: (42:04)
But the problem was for three years, I had five years I watched how hard he worked. I don’t know how you do it. You got to love it. Even in good times they think you’re crazy. It’s 24 hours a day, but you deserve a break and your employees deserve a break. And the fact that you’re fighting so hard to keep them on a job is a testament to the kind of people you are. But I promise you, I guarantee you if I’m elected, you’ll get both the PPE. You’ll get also the money to be able to open and the additional money, not only to maintain your employees, but to maintain an open place that you in fact can.
Joe Biden: (42:39)
I’ve met with a lot of restaurateurs up and around the country so they can open up and do everything from having plastic shields in front of the cashiers, to a lot of things you can do to make it safe, make it safe, and you’ll get the help.
Speaker 5: (42:55)
Thank you so much.
Joe Biden: (42:56)
Thank you. I can really do yes or no if you ask me the easy questions.
Mayor Vi Lyles: (42:59)
All right, so we have one more easy question.
Joe Biden: (43:01)
[inaudible 00:43:01] whatever you want to ask.
Mayor Vi Lyles: (43:01)
An easy question. This is one of my colleagues he serves on the Charlotte City Council, Malcolm Graham with me.
Joe Biden: (43:10)
I used to be a city council when I ran for the Senate because it was too hard. They know where you live.
Malcolm Graham: (43:16)
Exactly. First, I want to thank you. You honored me and my family by sending a video tribute for my sister, Cynthia Graham Hurd-
Joe Biden: (43:25)
Oh my Lord, I apologize. I didn’t know. I’m sorry.
Malcolm Graham: (43:29)
No, no, no, no, no. As you know, killed at the Emanuel AME Church shooting in Charleston. And so my question is how do you reimagine the Justice Department and specifically the Civil Rights Division after four years of Trump?
Joe Biden: (43:43)
Well, first of all, and I guess I’ll just say it. This has been the most corrupt administration in modern American history. The Justice Department has turned into the president’s private law firm. He actually has them representing him on women who accused him of rape. Where does that come from? And the Justice Department under my administration will be totally independent of me.
Joe Biden: (44:14)
I will not direct them who to prosecute, how to prosecute, what to prosecute. And I will not be injecting. I will not enter their decisions based upon the judgments they make about what cases they bring and they don’t bring. With regard to the Civil Rights Division, I would significantly increase two things. One, civil rights presence in the Justice Department elevated so it has access to and transparency to all police departments’ activities across the country. Just so they are aware that it’s transparent what’s going on.
Joe Biden: (44:50)
I would also make sure that I elevate the Justice Department, excuse me, the Civil Rights Division to have a direct office with inside the White House. When, for example, I’m the guy that wrote the Violence Against Women Act. When the president asked me what I wanted as vice president, I said, “I want to have jurisdiction over that act inside the White House.” Because it elevates the standing of whatever that office that comes inside the White House.
Joe Biden: (45:18)
So I would make sure there’s a combination of the Civil Rights Division having more direct authority inside the Justice Department and being able to investigate than in fact it has now. But most of all, most of all, I would have an attorney general who understood his oath of office. It’s not a joke. The attorney general has the oath of office that in fact could do and move on what the professionals in the department thought had to be pursued without my interfering to say, “No, they’re my friends” or “I know them” or “Go after this person. Go after Hillary.” You know what I mean? This kind of stuff.
Joe Biden: (45:58)
I get asked the question all the time by the press that travels with me, although I’m not sure the same ones that are traveling today have asked it, but I get asked the following question. “If in fact you get elected, would you prosecute Trump? Would you pursue prosecuting Trump?” And the answer is I’m not going to pursue prosecuting anybody. I’m going to do what the Justice Department says should be done, should be done and not politicize it. It’s the most dangerous thing that’s happened so far is the politicization of the Department of Justice. It’s become the Department of Trump and that’s wrong.
Mayor Vi Lyles: (46:39)
Thank you Mr. Vice president for the very, very heartfelt feelings, but more importantly for having policies that really follow who you are as a person. So on behalf of all of the people that are here today, thank you for giving us your time, but more importantly, giving us the changes that you see for our country. We really appreciate that.
Joe Biden: (47:01)
Who’s the fellow who runs 26 organizations for housing? Public? I know we didn’t get a chance to talk. Because I think what you’re doing is incredibly consequential. And I like to give you a paper on the way out of what I think we can and should do. It’s very detailed and I’d love your feedback. I’ll put a phone number on it, okay? Because it is a gigantic, gigantic, gigantic undertaking. And unless we can get people into housing, unless we can provide for housing, unless we can stop the gentrification where people are left out, then we’re going to be in real trouble.
Joe Biden: (47:42)
And what you’re doing is really … I’m not trying to boost him. I’ve never met the gentleman, but I did read your bio and what you’re working on. And I’d really like your input and may able to call you if I could after you get what I’m proposing in detail and see what we can work out. And part of the reason I do this and what I miss about being able to do larger engagements is this is where I learn. I’m a tactical guy. I mean, I’d rather be shaking your hand and looking you in the eye and you telling me what needs to be done.
Joe Biden: (48:18)
And don’t be reluctant at all to criticized my plan if you think it doesn’t make sense. I think it’s pretty good. I’ve worked on it really, really hard. It goes from Section 8 housing all the way to first-time home buyers, to the whole notion of these… Anyway, I’m going to give it to you before I leave, okay? You’re very polite to sit here all this time. Thank you. Thank you everybody. I really appreciate it.
Mayor Vi Lyles: (48:40)
Thank you very much. Well, Mr. Vice President, I understand we’re going to have a group photo, so everybody has their mask on and I’m going to follow the instructions of the photographer on top of the ladder. So does everyone turn and Mr. Vice President, Chris.
Joe Biden: (48:53)