Dec 2, 2020
Joe Biden Roundtable on Economic Impact of COVID-19 Transcript December 2
President-elect Joe Biden held a virtual roundtable with workers and small business owners to address the economic impact of COVID-19 on December 2. Read the transcript of the event here.
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Joe Biden: (01:02)
Cecilia Munoz: (01:03)
Good afternoon, sir.
Joe Biden: (01:09)
Cecilia Munoz: (01:09)
Good afternoon, everybody. My name is Cecilia [crosstalk 00:01:12]
Lorie Alexander: (01:11)
Cecilia Munoz: (01:13)
I lead the Biden-Harris transition team’s team on domestic and economic policy. And we’re here to talk today about the economic crisis, which is something that we hear about through statistics on the news, we hear about it in debates in Congress. But it shows up for real in the lives of Americans all around the country, and that’s what we’re here to talk about today.
Cecilia Munoz: (01:35)
Today we have four individuals as guests, people from around the country who are here to share their stories with President-Elect Joe Biden. So Mr. President-Elect, thank you, and over to you to get us started, sir.
Joe Biden: (01:46)
Well thank you all, all four of you for being part of this. One of the things about COVID that’s changed is that usually I’d be out in the community, looking you in the eye and trying to figure out what was on your mind, I’d be going to your restaurants, your unions, making sure that I had a clear understanding of what you were facing, because it’s all personal. Every one of you is dealing with something that is very personal and affects all of you differently, although in one sense everybody is affected the same way.
Joe Biden: (02:20)
I want to thank you for joining me today, and for sharing with me what you and your families are going through, and I know times are both tough, but I believe that with the right policies we can fundamentally change things. And my hope is that we’ll be able to help in a short order. But that depends a lot on our friends in Congress on the other side who are prepared to take the action that has to be taken.
Joe Biden: (02:45)
When I think about the economy, I don’t think about the gross domestic product or the state of the stock market, I think about families like yours, families like mine, families like I grew up in, where my dad, when he lost his job when I was a kid in Scranton, Pennsylvania, when coal died, he was not a coal miner, but he worked there, and when the economy collapsed we moved down to a little steel town called … About … [inaudible 00:03:16]
Joe Biden: (03:17)
My dad [inaudible 00:03:19] Me and my siblings, I was the oldest, I probably the only one that really fully understood it early on, was 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 kids, your family, your friends in the eye and say, ‘I think everything’s going to be okay.'” And he also used to say, “Joey, I don’t expect the government to solve my problems, but I at least expect them to understand my problems, so they understand what it is so I know they have a way of at least they’re working on what I’m concerned about.”
Joe Biden: (03:52)
So that’s what I want to hear from you all today, about the challenges you individually are experiencing. I know you’re all experiencing the effect of one great problem, and that is the economic downturn in large part because of COVID, and the failure of some of our friends in Congress to move forward on the kind of economic package that was passed and needed to help people. But the challenges you’ve experienced affects everybody the same but slightly differently. And I want to hear, to the extent you’re willing to be straightforward with me, and tell me about what your real, deep concerns are, I’d like to hear it. It would help me inform my policy.
Joe Biden: (04:37)
And I’ve been doing this on a regular basis, meeting with people who are victims of this economic downturn through no fault of their own, have done everything, worked like heck their whole lives, and find themselves in a real dilemma right now. So with that, why don’t I, as my mother used to say, “Hush up, Joey,” and hear from you all. And then maybe I could, as you’re talking, after you finish, maybe ask you some questions. And you all can ask me questions as well in the process here, okay?
Joe Biden: (05:09)
But let’s just have a candid talk, because I got involved in public life way back when I was a kid because of civil rights and because of ordinary working people and middle class people who really built this country. The very wealthy, they’re a lot of good people, but they don’t need my help. But families I came from need my help, and just need a shot, just a chance, just a chance to make it. When they’ve had that chance, they’ve never let the country down.
Joe Biden: (05:41)
Having said all that, why don’t I be quiet, and I’ll let you start, Cecilia, you tell me who’s talking first, and we’ll go from there, okay?
Cecilia Munoz: (05:49)
Thank you so much. We’re going to go first to Chicago, to you, Lorie Alexander. You’ve worked as a crossing guard. I understand you never missed a day until this year. Can you tell us a little bit about how this is affecting you?
Lorie Alexander: (05:59)
Yes, I wanted to say thank you so much for this opportunity, President-Elect, and congratulations on your win. I’ve been working for the city in Chicago for 18 years on and off. The city had so many different issues [inaudible 00:06:18] when I first came into the department. However, COVID took a tremendous strain where I am now unemployed, and I am getting unemployment, and that be difficult during the time of unemployment from the beginning of March. The changes of the dollar amount that they’re getting, you can’t even feed your family, and I just thank god that I don’t have a family right now, my children are grown, they’re adults, and they’re able to [inaudible 00:06:46] for themselves. But unfortunately, as a mom, you want to be able to take care of your children when they call you and say, “Mom, I need something.” I can’t even do that for them.
Lorie Alexander: (06:56)
It’s just been such a pleasure to have worked with Local 73, the union, because they have been helping me and guiding me through a lot of the same things that I needed throughout this whole pandemic. I thank god for the organizations in my community and neighborhood, because I’ve been a leader, and also in my community I try to work with seniors, and been working with seniors for years, and I wasn’t even able to help a lot of seniors this year, to be honest with you.
Lorie Alexander: (07:21)
That’s just been such a turmoil, but I do thank god I have the opportunity to speak about it for other people who are unable to speak for themselves right now. My job right now, because it’s on a scale where I don’t know if I’m going to get to go back to work, my biggest concern is probably my pension. If I choose to retire, or even if I’m still going to be able to work, and if I do go back to work, would I even be safe? It’s just so many unanswered questions, even just taking, going to get tested and taking the virus, I mean taking the virus if they got it, if it work, and what’s the side effects to the virus if you already have underlying health issues.
Lorie Alexander: (08:05)
It’s just so many unanswered questions, and it brings a lot of confusion. I do pray that we can get some type of stimulus package where we, again, can take care of some of our needs and our family, where we can meet some criteria, things that we can take care of far as food and shelter and clothing. I know when I got my stimulus before that health, believe it or not, health is so caught up in dying and bills, it really didn’t do much for me. It went basically to my veterinary bill for my dog and my cat, and I’m not ashamed to say that.
Lorie Alexander: (08:38)
But I do pray that you hear our voices, and together, people, we let everybody know what’s going on, and together we can work it out, and hopefully we’ll come up with plenty of solutions thank you.
Joe Biden: (08:50)
Thank you, Lorie. I’ll come back, ask some questions if I may, but I’ll wait until we get through it all.
Cecilia Munoz: (08:59)
Thank you. Next we’re going to Detroit to Karen Coffey. You work at Comerica Stadium. That’s my hometown. Thank you for being here. Can you tell us a little bit about how the crisis is affecting you?
Karen Coffey: (09:10)
Yes, thank you so much for having me, and thank you so much for the platform. Hello, President-Elect Joe Biden. Thank you for your time. I really appreciate it, for you sitting down and listening to our concerns today. Because we do have a lot of concerns, Mr. Biden. It’s been rough. I mean, my last day of work was March the 8th when everything shut down. I’ve been an employee at LCA Joe Louis, Joe Louis’s, LCA is the new Joe Louis Arena, and Comerica Park for 30 years. I’ve been with my union, Unite Here, they’ve helped us tremendously through this by giving us all type of information and staying by us.
Karen Coffey: (10:06)
The unemployment helps so much, when we had the extra money. But once the extra money left, it’s downhill from there. It’s hard trying to keep up with your bills, trying to pay … Not only me, all of us. This is all servers, all of these stadium workers, and the hospitality workers. We are really suffering. And it hurts us when we hear people that don’t have any issues, politicians that are doing just fine, when they say, “Oh, they don’t need that extra money, they’re just lazy. They need to get a job.” There is nowhere to go to get a job.
Karen Coffey: (10:50)
But we would be working. We don’t want to be sitting here, home, on unemployment. We want to be working. We want to be able to go back to our old jobs that we had, that we want to make sure that they’re safe for all the employees to come back. We want to make sure that the companies cannot go out and hire new employees once we are able to go back to work. We were right in the middle of contracts. And we’re just hoping that they don’t try and take our jobs away from us, that we’ve been there for so many years, and we’ve been so dedicated to them. Our health insurance. Now we don’t have health insurance. We paid for, a lot of us pay for our own health insurance because the companies don’t pay for that. But now we can’t even afford to pay our health insurance because we’re not getting the money. I don’t even know what to say. We feel hopeless. That’s how we feel. We feel like there’s … Like we don’t know what tomorrow is going to bring, where there is any help going to come from. And it’s just an everyday struggle for us.
Karen Coffey: (12:07)
So we’re hoping that we can get some help. Our health insurance is gone, our jobs are basically gone, and we need job security. We need the companies to know that they can’t give our jobs to somebody else once this is over, that we can come back. We want to be there. We want to pick right back up our lives and move on. I mean, my mother is here with me. It’s just been mentally straining, and draining, to have to worry about … She’s elderly. So I worry about her. Then I have to worry about my own self trying to stay healthy without insurance so I can take care of my mother. It’s bad. And we need help.
Karen Coffey: (12:52)
We need help with unemployment, we need help with our health insurance, and we need to know that our jobs will be there once it is safe for us to go back. And I thank you for this time, and this platform, for you listening to our concerns, and hopefully we can come to some type of help, something, that can get us through this. And I thank you.
Joe Biden: (13:23)
Karen, can I ask you a question before we go on? Do you have reason to believe that if the industry comes back, that is your employers are able to open up again and have full service again, that they’re not going to bring back their other employees? Do you have reason to believe that?
Karen Coffey: (13:47)
Well, I fear that. I really do. I fear that from the company that I work for. I mean, our union is trying to stand behind us and trying to make sure that we’re okay here. But we don’t know. We have not heard one thing from then since they closed down, since we shut down. Not one reach out, not one email. Nothing to say, “We will welcome you back.” So we don’t know. We really don’t know. None of us.
Joe Biden: (14:18)
Well, you ought to talk to your union. I think your union probably does know that they’re likely-
Karen Coffey: (14:24)
No, I am part of the union. Our company will not reach back out to us.
Joe Biden: (14:29)
Well my … Okay.
Karen Coffey: (14:31)
It’s ghosts. They’re ghosts.
Joe Biden: (14:33)
Well, I think it’s going to be hard for them to not hire back the existing workforce if they’re able to hire people back. But that’s a different, I’ll look into that. But I have other questions later. Thank you.
Karen Coffey: (14:46)
Thank you. Thank you.
Cecilia Munoz: (14:48)
Thank you so much, Karen.
Karen Coffey: (14:49)
Cecilia Munoz: (14:50)
So we’re going to Milwaukee next. Dan Jacobs, you’re a small business owner. You own restaurants. And this is out of, the crisis has had an effect on you, on the people who work for you. Can you tell us a little bit about it?
Dan Jacobs: (15:03)
Absolutely. Thank you, President-Elect Biden, and your staff for taking the time today to talk to American workers and me, the lone small business owner. Successful small business owners have one thing in common, and that’s our willingness to do whatever it takes. This keeps us not very far removed from the other people on this call. But let me share with you what I’m going through right now.
Dan Jacobs: (15:25)
My name is Dan Jacobs, and I am a member of the IRC, which is the Independent Restaurant Coalition, HUA, Hospitality United Associations, and a cofounder of MIRC, Milwaukee’s Independent Restaurant Coalition. These organizations did not exist pre-COVID, but they came together in response to the pandemic to help navigate and find the best possible solutions to keeping our vibrant restaurant and bar communities together, and to help find a solution to the economic fallout of COVID-19.
Dan Jacobs: (15:54)
My partner, Dan Van Wright and I, we own and operate the JVR Hospitality Group here in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. On March 1st, our group consisted of 90 plus …
Dan Jacobs: (16:03)
… Johnson. On March 1st, our group consisted of 90 plus employees with 80% of them being full time. Three restaurants, a bakery, a restaurant consulting out of our organization, and a Dandan kiosk in the Fiserv Forum where the Milwaukee Bucks play. Today, due to COVID, we’ve had to reduce our staff to 26 employees with only 12 of them being full-time. We’re left with two restaurants, Dandan and EsterEv, having been forced to permanently closed the bakery, Batches, and our French restaurant Fauntleroy because of a 91% revenue loss. Since June 1st, here at Dandan and EsterEv, we lost another $700,000 worth of revenue. Unfortunately, this story isn’t unique, not among the 500,000 plus independent restaurants or the countless small businesses across the country. I worry about our future as a company, but I’m mostly worried about the future of our team, as well as the workers of our industry and small businesses nationwide, who are furloughed right now and whose UI benefits are set to run out or already have.
Dan Jacobs: (16:59)
Our business initially missed out on the first round of PPP. But in the end, we did receive a PPP and an EIDL loan in May and in June. While these two programs helped, they just act as a bandaid to slow losses and furloughs. These programs are not answers to our deepening small business economic problems. For restaurants specifically, the PPP program falls far short. Only 8% of the businesses that receive PPP loans were restaurants. However, our industry was the hardest hit, mainly because restaurant’s first or second largest expenses are food and beverage costs. These are not eligible as grant expenses. Our company personally exhausted our PPP loan in October. Patios? It’s winter here in Milwaukee, which I’m sure you know about Scranton winters. Pretty much the same.
Dan Jacobs: (17:54)
Add that to the exploding COVID positivity rate, that’s come to form a perfect storm of loss of revenue for businesses. Then on top of that, the loss of jobs from the American workforce that were propped up by those PPP loans. As winter approached, we spent $20,000 to make our restaurant as safe as possible for our team and for our guests. But that money just seems like a waste now as it’s just not safe to be indoors with people that aren’t in your bubble. We are worse off right now than we were in March. At least in March, there was hope and there was a feeling that we were all in this together. Now we look toward a long winter that’s here, knocking on the door, with a feeling of true desperation. Last month alone, my company lost $23,000. At this rate, we will make our obligations having to continue to get real scrappy, real inventive through March or April.
Dan Jacobs: (18:43)
But after that, our continued operation is not guaranteed or even possible without some help. This is the big one. Mr. President-Elect, if there’s one point that I hope that you take away from today, it’s that we as small business owners, like our workforce, can not have that help come in the form of taking on more debt. We need grant help and we need that grant help now. Luckily there’re programs out there like the Restaurant Act, which has bipartisan support in the Senate, including co-sponsored by your Vice President-Elect, Kamala Harris and has passed the House of Representatives. The Restaurant Act would immediately help independent restaurants across the country. Independent restaurants account for 11 plus million workers, plus another 6 million workers just outside our bubble. Think about bakers, fishermen, farmers, forgers. These are the people that work outside of us. Restaurant and bars are a lot of the time people’s first and last jobs in our workforce.
Dan Jacobs: (19:36)
So many people have passed through our industry, including former presidents like Abraham Lincoln, who was a bartender in Illinois. I love that story. I want the opportunity to bring my bartenders back and give them the tools to be their best selves because who knows, the next one could be the next Joe Biden. In Wisconsin, the Restaurant Act would be absolutely huge. We understand the necessity to shut down now and stay safe right now for us to get through this winter with very minimum loss of life. But the post vaccine world is where our economy needs us most. The Restaurant Act would allow us to bridge to a post vaccine world where we could get our staff back to work, to galvanize Wisconsin tourism industry, encouraging travelers to eat in Wisconsin’s establishments, visit our tourist attractions, go to our retail shops, and take in a show at maybe one of our local independent concert event venues, which selfishly I miss the most. The Restaurant Act would allow independent restaurants to continue to be the gateway to cultures and neighborhoods throughout our country. It will allow us to be the great engine of our economy.
Dan Jacobs: (20:44)
90 cents of every dollar that comes into a restaurant goes right back out the door. It’s fueling economic ecosystem of bankers, farmers, butchers, foragers, all the way to electricians and carpenters, to that Cisco truck driver transporting food across the country, and then all of the things he or she touches along the way.
Dan Jacobs: (21:04)
Finally, Mr. President-Elect, small business owners are some of the most creative people out here. We have to constantly pivot and re-pivot, adapting to an ever-changing disease that we didn’t bring on. As an industry, restaurant and bars have never asked for a handout. We are always the companies that charity organizations come to for donations first. Whether it’s feeding the hungry or just donating our time and energy to causes diverse and best, we answer that call because it’s simply the right thing to do. For most of us, all we know is hospitality. Hospitality is defined as the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, and strangers.
Dan Jacobs: (21:45)
We do this because we love taking care of people. All I’m asking is that you give us the tools to succeed, to get back to what we do best, which is hospitality. We just want to reach to the crazy end of this chapter of American history together. I think you said something, give me the ability to tell our staffs that everything is going to be okay, just like somebody gave you or your father the ability to say that. I want to be able to do that for my staff. Thanks again for your time and for hearing me today.
Joe Biden: (22:14)
Thank you, Dan.
Cecilia Munoz: (22:16)
Thank you so much. We’re going to go to Georgia now and hear from Jessica Gavin. You and your mom both work as a stagehand and a rigger. Can you tell us a little bit about how the state of the economy has affected you in your life?
Jessica Gavin: (22:31)
Yes. Thank you so much President-elect Biden. I appreciate you and your staff for giving me the time to actually speak on behalf of workers and entertainment workers within the union. I’m actually a member of IATSE Local 834 here in Atlanta, Georgia. We do trade shows. We were the first to be let off and we’ll probably be the last to go back. Our entire workforce is pretty much unemployed and we’ve been unemployed since March. The federal extension from the CARES Act, it kind of helped us out from March until now. I’m sorry. It’s very emotional.
Jessica Gavin: (23:20)
It’s very hard and it’s very bad what’s happening here. A lot of people are going hungry. A lot of people can’t afford to pay their bills. I don’t know how to explain it, but it’s something that we never wished we would see in this lifetime. Unemployment, it helps, but without the $600 we’re forced or we were left to live off of $365 a week. Some people don’t qualify for unemployment and even if you do qualify for unemployment, some extension programs, they usually would take a minimum of three weeks before we would qualify. Now you have anywhere from eight to nine weeks before you can receive any type of compensation. That unemployment check is not guaranteed to go to food. A lot of those are for utility bills and car notes and mortgages and rents. So when you go down the street and you see a food pantry line wrapped around the corner because people are starving and some people are getting out of line because they would rather mother with children and elderly people to go before them.
Jessica Gavin: (24:40)
So you have hungry people who would move to the back of the line just to allow others to go before them and they’re still hungry. It’s hard. That’s just being able to survive. You still have people who don’t have health insurance. In September, 30% of our labor force was removed from the health insurance. By 2021, February, 100% of my local union will not have health insurance. Entertainment workers right now are being put on the back burner. A lot of small businesses and a lot of other workforces are going back, slowly but surely, with COVID relief and aid programs, but entertainment workers are still left behind. My concern would be for unemployment, for job security, as far as going back to work and health insurance and just any type of relief package for actual entertainment workers. We’re basically just on a limb here. We’ve tried everything, we’re doing as much as we can. We’re trying to get out. I’m here in Georgia, so of course we’re trying to get out and make sure we get people to vote for this Senate race because it’s very important, but we need help. We need a lot of help. We need a lot of help. So my concern is, President-elect Biden, what will you do to aid workers who have been without since the beginning of February? Some in January. What can you do or what will you do to help us? We need help. Not all government assistance programs will relieve us from the burdens that we have of not being able to provide for our families. If you have union families like mine, my mother, my stepfather, my brother, as well as myself, we are all union members. It’s not like we can call another family member or call someone else to aid us when the entire family is off work. My concern is the relief for working people during this time.
Cecilia Munoz: (27:15)
Can I ask you too-
Jessica Gavin: (27:16)
Cecilia Munoz: (27:17)
… before the President-elect responds, I know your family has been hit hard by the COVID epidemic itself.
Jessica Gavin: (27:23)
Cecilia Munoz: (27:24)
Can you share that with us and with the President-elect?
Jessica Gavin: (27:28)
Yes. Like I said before, it has been very, very hard. I am so thankful for my union, because if it wasn’t for being able to pull from pensions, our annuity or IRA, we would be left without. Like I said before, I can’t call my mother to ask her to assist in taking care of my home because she’s going through the same situation. So at this time we are all in a slump. We are all just waiting and we’re on a hope and a prayer that something will change because now we’re going into a full year with no work, no income. Majority of us have no health insurance. That’s no way to pay bills. That’s no way to really put food on the table to take care of your family. Usually around this time, everyone would be getting excited for Christmas. We would always be grabbing gifts and wrapping gifts and sitting around.
Jessica Gavin: (28:33)
But due to COVID, you can’t even sit around in your family and we can’t afford to purchase gifts.
Speaker 1: (28:41)
Jessica Gavin: (28:44)
To be honest, you look around, you can’t even celebrate with some family members because we have lost them due to COVID. COVID has really changed everyone’s world. I can’t call my aunt and ask her what she wants for Christmas, because COVID has taken her life, as well as other family members and union members and friends. I hope this vaccine actually do help. I hope that we can get back to work and I pray that our government actually put in protocols and procedures for working people with COVID around. Because the worst thing about COVID, even if we do go back to work and someone catches it, or someone in the crew catches it, now we all have to quarantine. Now we’re out of work again for 14 days.
Jessica Gavin: (29:35)
There’s no relief or aid for working people when they’re sent home and quarantine due to COVID. Now maybe I have to stay in a hotel or maybe my family has to go somewhere else. All of this stuff costs money, all of this costs money, everything costs money. Then not only that, we don’t have health insurance, a lot of us, and if you do have health insurance, how long will you have it? There’s a lot of questions and concerns behind COVID, especially for working people. Again, my biggest concern is a relief for working people. You’re going to take care of us while we’re not working, but when we go back to work, will we still have relief? Because you have a lot of billion dollar corporate corporations that are not concerned about the health of working people. Some of us wish we would never see these days, but we are seeing them. We have to do something. President-elect, I’m so sorry that you had to come in during this time. I really wish you could just have one year election within a good time, but we trust you, the American people trust you, unions trust you, working people’s trust you, and Vice President Harris, I hope all of this could just work out in our favor. But we trust you and hopefully we can all come to some type of conclusion.
Joe Biden: (31:11)
Well, let me start by saying, I’m going to be completely blunt with you and frank, about what’s available, what’s not, what should be and what shouldn’t be. To state the obvious, my ability to get you help immediately does not exist. I’m not even in office for another 50 days and then I have to get legislation passed through the United States Congress to get things done. But I can lay out what I want to do. Let me tell you what I think should be done in the meantime. Number one, there is what they call this lame duck session, a fancy word for saying the administration has changed, the Congress has changed, but the people who were there the past two years remain there until January 21st, when I would…
Joe Biden: (32:03)
Remain there until January 21st, when I would take office, after being sworn in on January 20th. There’s been an attempt to be able to provide for help, in the meantime. One of my greatest concerns has been the failure to deal with COVID to begin with. Had we taken the action we should have taken back in late January, February, March, and April, to deal with the disease, the disease which the president said would go away, “It will go away by Easter. When the hot weather comes, it may be gone. Don’t worry about it. It’s going to be like a miracle, it’s going to go away.” None of that was true to begin with. And it was all designed, in my view, to make sure that it didn’t spook the stock market, which doesn’t affect a lot of you unless you have a 401k and even then it doesn’t affect you that much. And so we didn’t do the things that had to be done in order to be able to protect people’s lives, and to dampen down, flatten out this curve, and begin to make real progress on getting rid of the disease.
Joe Biden: (33:17)
At the bottom rung, that still is a single most consequential thing that has to be done. We could provide all the aid in the world, and your restaurants aren’t going to be good and open unless people decide they’re all going to show up anyway and get COVID, if they’re in close proximity to one another. And the States are not going to be able to fund the school crossing guards, which are essential workers, and the teachers, and the first responders, the cops, the firefighters, the EMTs, et cetera, because the cities have to balance their budgets, and the good smart thing about our founders, although it was over 200 years ago, that’s why they allowed the federal government to deficit spend. That is, in moments of crisis, to be able to spend money on the [inaudible 00:02:09], so that in fact, we could get the economy moving again, which has happened in every great recession that we’ve had.
Joe Biden: (34:18)
But what happened is that we’re now in a situation where the Congress and these CARES Acts that they passed, they passed a couple of trillion dollars worth of help. And one of the big problems was that help went to a lot of people who didn’t need the help; the PPP, and the PPE, the equipment went to places that were doing pretty well. They didn’t go to the people who badly needed it early on. Some of it did, but not nearly what it should have. And I think your experience Dan, was that first time you went for the PPP loan, you went to a major bank and they decided they weren’t going to fund it. If I’m not mistaken.
Speaker 2: (35:03)
That’s right sir. That’s correct.
Joe Biden: (35:04)
Well, you may remember because you seem to be attuned with what’s going on in the news, I argued that that was going to happen because the big banks, even though they weren’t liable for any of this money, they were getting it, we bailed them out in the past, you know? They’re being held harmless. It was too much trouble to take the time to lend it. They’d ask you, “Do you have a credit card with us? Do you have an account with us? Have you borrowed with us before? Or do you have a system?” And by the time you get answers to all that, the answer is basically, “No, we’re not going to lend to you,” and you’re in trouble. You’re already behind the eight ball.
Joe Biden: (35:39)
And so first point of this is that I think that the Congress they’re trying like the devil, there was a bipartisan effort it’s been happening now, time and again, a bipartisan effort that came forward about three, four or five days ago, that called for instead of the $1.6 trillion at the House thought, I think is 1.6, Cecilia, I can’t remember the exact number, in the new bill that they passed. “New,” back in May they passed it. And they finally decided, they negotiated something for about 900 billion. Wouldn’t be the answer, but it’d bring immediate help for a lot of things quickly. But what happened was the president said he wouldn’t support it, and apparently Republicans in the Congress, the Senate said they wouldn’t support it. So it’s now back to square one again. And what our friends seem to be focusing most on is liability. Guaranteed, there’s no liability for businesses if in fact they open, anything happens.
Joe Biden: (36:57)
And anyway, it’s a long story, but here’s the deal; one of the things that we think should happen and continue is that no-one should be evicted from their apartment or their home for being able to fail, to be able to pay their rent and/or their mortgage until this crisis is over. And it should be funded, that should be held up. Now, you can’t deny the apartment owner, he or she’s not have just pockets that are so deep they can afford to pay everything and not have anything, so it was supposed to be paid for. Paid for, not a loan, to be paid for in a crisis. This is a national crisis. This is a national crisis that we’re facing, and it affects the entire economy. So the first thing is rent, and you just your housing, your basic housing, are you able to maintain without being worried you’re going to be getting notice you’re thrown out in the street.
Joe Biden: (38:03)
Number two, and if you’re fortunate enough to own your home, that’s a different thing or own your condominium, that’s a different thing. Second thing is that there was a proposal we put forward that suggested that already over 10 million people have lost their health insurance because their businesses went out of business. So the business can’t pay anybody, the business is out of business. So it’s basically bankrupt. So they’re not able to participate in paying for that. And so that’s a lot of wonky language, but there was a proposal to said that we would, in fact, the federal government, pay the share that the business used to pay for the employee, so they could keep that health insurance policy they had, and until things got better.
Joe Biden: (39:06)
Thirdly, we find that the president is still in court, trying to strip away all of healthcare from the Affordable Care Act, just flat, eliminate it, all get rid of it all. It’s deadly wrong. I think not only should we keep it, we should be adding to it, providing for a public option, a Medicare option if you chose that, if you can’t afford to buy in, then you’re in a situation where you get Medicare, Medicaid, if you’re eligible for Medicaid and your state doesn’t provide it, you get it for free, period. And so there’s two ways to deal with healthcare. One is to supplement the businesses that are going out of business, or can’t afford to keep their health insurance for their employees. And secondly, to make sure we make it a lot easier to buy into the Affordable Healthcare Act and get more coverage with a lot cheaper, with drug prices coming down substantially, as well as making sure that there’s a Medicaid option, a Medicare option in the healthcare plan. That’s what I ran on. That’s the one of the reasons I think I got the nomination. And so that’s going to be one of my first efforts as well when I get elected, it’s not going to happen between now and then. Third thing that it seems to me, is the unemployment with their $600 kick in is really important. It’s the thing that allows people to stay above water, give some sense of security. It’s not like there’s a lot of jobs you’re going to go do. Like, “Oh you’re sitting home being lazy.” Well, where the heck are you going to go get a job? Every one of you, if there are another job out there that could pay you something, be out applying for it. But it just makes no sense. But it’s some of our very conservative friends think that, the same people who think you should have to, if you need what used to be called, “Food stamps,” you should have to work to be able to do [inaudible 00:41:14], I mean, come on, we’re way beyond that.
Joe Biden: (41:18)
And so there’s a number of things that could be done. And in terms of being able to open your restaurants, first of all, my deceased wife’s father was a restaurateur. After World War II he came home and became a very successful restaurateur. And I watched how hard he worked, and that made me realize I never want to be in the restaurant business. You think I’m joking? You guys, men and women have to love it. It is a God awful thing. Especially if you have a 24 hour diner like my father-in-law had. Plus making sure that all those folks who had the contracts to serve the universities and their food system, what’s happening to them now? They’re all in trouble as well. There’s nothing there, because these universities are shutting down, and they’re all going virtual.
Joe Biden: (42:13)
So we’ve got to provide for you the ability to open, and open safely, and there’s ways to do that, and it should not be a loan; it should be a guarantee. You should be in a position where you can have all that ventilation changed, all the dividers put up, all the social distancing that you need, and make sure that your staff is safe as well, both indoors and out. But it costs a lot of money to do that, and you should be able to get that money to be able to stay open, because it affects the ability of the economy to continue to grow. What people don’t realize is putting this money into the economy generates economic growth. It’s not just you have a debt; you do, but it generates so much growth when you’re a restaurant employees able to go out and buy a used car, you go out and make sure they can get their first apartment, make sure they can go out and purchase new clothing. It all relates to everybody else does better. So that’s why, for example, with my proposal, I know my Republican friends say everybody’s a big spending Democrat, well, the point is that even the Wall Street types, like [Moody’s 00:43:38] point out that my proposal would create 18.6 million new jobs, good paying jobs and would increase the economy by a trillion dollar economic growth.
Joe Biden: (43:51)
So what’s though, and the big thing for [Laurie 00:00:43:56], and state workers is, one of the most important things we have to do is we have to deal with giving state and local governments assistance. You may remember, all but one of you are old enough to remember when we had the Great Recession in 2008, that we had Barack and I inherited from the last administration. It was the most significant recession in the history of the United States, short of a depression. And what happened was, we went out and the president of put me in charge of spending, we were able to convince three Republicans to change their votes, and we passed the bill, it turned out to be $84 billion that had to be spent in 18 months to keep the economy from crashing. It kept us from out of the depression. And by the way, even the conservative think tanks pointed out of less than 2/10th of 1% waste or fraud. I handle that on a daily basis every single day. I talked over 165 mayors I talked to every governor but one, on a constant basis about how they could spend the money. And what happened was it generated economic growth. People came back.
Joe Biden: (45:09)
Well, that was federal money, and I’ll be out of that federal money, 147 billion, I was able to give to the States and the cities, who showed they had a need, because they are laying off permanently their teachers, their firefighters, their law enforcement officers, their first responders, shutting down local mental health clinics, shutting down small hospitals, and that all relates to people’s health, safety, and wellbeing.
Joe Biden: (45:43)
And I guess the point is, the full Congress should come together and pass a robust package of relief to address your urgent needs now. That means extending unemployment insurance for Laurie, and Jessica and Karen, and the millions of Americans like them who’ve lost their jobs, or ours, through no fault of their own. And that’s going to help you put food on the table, and pay the bills. You’re going to make sure businesses like yours, Dan have the resources they need in addition to the guidance and health and safety standards to open safely. Open safely. And that will help businesses stay open, hire workers, like all of you. Thirdly, we have to provide States and cities, the funding. So workers like Laurie can go back to work as her job as school crossing guard, keeping children safe. And we have to make sure, fourthly, people came evicted from their homes because they can’t pay their rent or their mortgage payment during the pandemic.
Joe Biden: (46:48)
This isn’t a political game. This impacts on people’s real lives, and families. It impacts on all of you, all of us, and we need to get help out the door as soon as we can. And Americans like you need relief now. So I’ve been urging our congressional Republicans to work on a bipartisan emergency package now, but any package passed in this so-called, “Lame duck” [inaudible 00:47:15] be now in January 21st, at best is only going to be a down payment on what’s going to happen early next year. My transition team is already working on what I will put forward the next Congress to address the multiple crises we’re facing, especially the economic crisis and COVID. Come January, the vice-president elect and I are going to fight every day for your families. That’s my commitment. And one of the things we don’t talk about is there is a profound increase, as you all know, in depression, profound increase, quite frankly, in suicide rates, a profound increase in increased drug abuse, a profound increase in, quite frankly, abuse against-
Joe Biden: (48:03)
And quite frankly, abuse against women and children in households. And so there’s an awful lot of people, including our doctors and nurses, who need additional mental assistance. The doctors and nurses talking to me are telling me how many of them, when they’re in an operating room, or they’re critical care nurses, how many times can they hold the hand of person who’s dying, and hold they’re hand, and know that that woman or man can’t even talk to, can’t see, they may hold up a phone, their son, their daughter, their husband, their wife, their child. I mean, it’s one of those things that is profoundly destabilizing.
Joe Biden: (48:57)
And so there’s a lot we have to do to keep these people, keep them up. Now the only good… not the only one of them, good news pieces here is, and it really is, is that, as you probably have been reading, I, early on, put together a COVID taskforce of the most significant scientists in the area. I think there are… how many we have on it now? 23 members, something like that.
Speaker 3: (49:28)
23, yes sir.
Joe Biden: (49:30)
And these are the leading doctors in the world, happen to be in the United States. And there’s two things that are happening for real. One, help is on the way in terms of vaccines. But the vaccine is not the most important thing, it’s the vaccination. It’s one thing to pay, and the government have people show up and get the vaccine that’s been delivered to the state capital or to hospitals, wherever it’s going to be delivered, another thing to get that vaccine from the vaccine, and I don’t want to scare anybody, but into the arm, to get a vaccination.
Joe Biden: (50:10)
That’s a really expensive proposition. We’re talking about having to make sure over 340 million Americans, and others I might add, have to access to that vaccination. And so that’s going to rapidly, God willing, once we have it, be able to get out, and be able to change the way in which we no longer have to shut down like we did. And what’s happening is, and I hope you all are listening with all the trouble you’re going through. You cannot be traveling during these holidays, as much as you want to.
Joe Biden: (50:46)
I have a large family, you probably… Barack used to kid me about it. I mean, everything for me is family, beginning, middle, and end. When one comes, everybody comes. You think I’m joking, I’m not. We would have 16 people go away every Thanksgiving. And my deceased son, before he passed away, we’d all go away and we’d go away on Thanksgiving to be just a nuclear family, mom, dad, sons, daughters, husbands, wives, grandchildren, and we, the first time, we had a Thanksgiving with my wife and myself, my daughter in the region and her husband, who’s a doctor, in the region. That’s it. All my other kids, everybody else in the family was on Zoom on Thanksgiving, which doesn’t…
Joe Biden: (51:36)
Well Christmas is going to be a lot harder. And I don’t want to scare anybody here, but understand the facts. We’re likely to lose another 250,000 people dead between now and January. You hear me? Because people aren’t paying attention. People aren’t paying attention. You are Dan, you’re not letting people congregate inside your restaurant. You know what that would mean. But there’s ways we have to bring down the virus, we have to bring down the replication rate of it, how many… Anyway, and we have to significantly increase testing.
Joe Biden: (52:17)
And there’s a lot of things we can do by the spring to be able to get everybody back in the swing of things, and people being able to safely open, and safely be with one another. But look, I know I’m… Trump always made fun of me, I’m always wearing this mask. But let me tell you something, it matters. It’s not about saving my life, it’s about saving your life. When I have this mask on I have the heavy one underneath it. When I have this mask on, it’s less about me being safe, it’s about me making sure that you are safe. It’s a patriotic thing to do, it really is.
Joe Biden: (52:58)
I hear all this about, ” Well, it’s a great sacrifice of my freedom.” Well tell that to all the people who went to WWI and gave their lives, and WWII, and the Korean War, and tell… I mean, come on. You’re helping other people. It’s not you. It’s other people. Other people. And so I think we have to change the mindset here a little bit. It’s got to be about giving. About giving. You know that old expression from the Bible, ” What you do to the least of brethren you do unto me.” Well that’s what this is about. I’m not trying to proselytize and convert anybody to anything, but this is basic human decency. Just decency.
Joe Biden: (53:44)
So look, I promise you, the things that I’m going to be working on very, very hard are first and foremost getting the billions of dollars that are needed to get COVID under control, get the vaccine distributed, get it out quickly, and get it to the most urgent people, most urgently needed, and that happens to be people who are in nursing homes, because there’s significantly high proportion of those are in the mortality side of things. And the number of people who have died in nursing homes exceeds about anything else. And I have to get it to those doctors and nurses, who by the way, are losing their lives. Their lives. A lot of them, not a joke.
Joe Biden: (54:29)
It’s about those first responders, driving those ambulances, making sure that they’re showing up. It’s about that fireman going into a burning vehicle and pulling somebody out and not asking, “Do you have COVID or don’t you have COVID?” I mean, we have to get that. And then to get to the school teachers and small businesses to be able to open, because small business is the economic engine of the country, and restaurants are a major part of that small business, a major part of that small businesses. So I just think that Karen, I know this has a lot of emotional strain on you and everybody else.
Joe Biden: (55:12)
But imagine what it’s like if you weren’t even a member of a union.
I know, that’s why I love my union. I know.
Joe Biden: (55:19)
No, I know that, but my point is, that’s the last point I want to make. America is built by the working folks and middle class. And unions built the middle class, and look at all the people who aren’t represented, so don’t have any possibility, talk about a pension, what pension? I remember my dad coming home and saying, “Well, started this pension, the company, he just decided to stop it. Boom, done, over.” Or, remember him rolling around in the bed at night and asking my mom what was the matter. And she said, “Dad’s upset because we lost our health insurance.” You know what I mean?
Joe Biden: (56:01)
This is stuff that has a profound impact on people’s minds, on their sense of themselves. And so, but here’s the… I don’t want you giving up hope. I really don’t want you giving up hope. I promise you, hang on, we’re going to get through this. You’re going to get through this. It’s going to be hard as hell for the next 50 to 70 days unless the House acts in some way, the Senate acts and passes some of this material. And Dan, I think we got to go back and look at all the businesses that have gone out of business, and look at all, particularly, [Menardi 00:56:44] businesses.
Joe Biden: (56:44)
I know you have something like four out of six black business going out of business. Whether it’s the local grocery store or it’s the beauty salon, or whatever. It’s the center of communities. Most of you are from fairly large cities. Well there’s a lot of rural areas that are really getting crushed. They don’t have anything going for them. We can fix it. And I think when we fix it we got to go back and try to make up for what we didn’t do for you all, what we didn’t do, so people aren’t left with staggering amounts of debt, staggering amounts of… As they go through.
Joe Biden: (57:28)
So anyway, as my… Every time I walk out of my grandpa’s house up in Scranton, Pennsylvania, he was a good guy, and he’d yell, “Joey, keep the faith.” And my grandmother would yell, “No Joey, spread the faith.” You’ve got to spread the faith a little bit.
Mm-hmm (affirmative). I like that.
Joe Biden: (57:49)
No, I really mean it. I promise you, I promise you, watch. I always try to do what I say I’m going to do, and if I make a mistake I’ll tell you I made a mistake and I’ll take responsibility. It’s the responsibility of the president of the United States to set the agenda as to how we deal with this crisis. It’s the responsibility… guidepost for how people can move forward. Instead of leaving it to every… And the mayors and governors are working like hell, Democrat and Republican. They’re working like hell.
Joe Biden: (58:24)
But, but, they need more guidance and more help. And that’s what my job is as the Commander in Chief. I view this as sort of a standing army we got to put together to deal with this. But we all know, you’ve all been through not just this crisis, many of you have been through difficult times in your life in other ways. We all have dealt with pain. But it’s kind of a… The human condition is that… I believe why we’re going to do okay is, it’s always a bad bet to bet against the United States. The United States is all about possibilities. There’s never anything we’ve tried to do together we haven’t been able to get done. We’ll get this done.
Joe Biden: (59:22)
My fear and concern is, how many people may get left by the wayside in the meantime. And that’s the job we have to step up now to do whatever we can now. And by the way, look at all that’s going on. Look at what’s happening in major cities in America, where you see where there’s prosperity, you see miles and miles and miles and miles of automobiles lined up to get food. The food shortage in the United States, lack of access, is overwhelming. Like you said Jessica, people in line, and stepping… Or maybe it was you Karen, standing in line and backing up to let somebody else move.
Joe Biden: (01:00:04)
The American people are showing their grit, and it’s about time the government show it. So anyways, we have a way of trying to keep in touch with you, I know we got in touch with you, Cecilia has it, and I’d like to be able to continue to do that if I can, to see how you’re doing, if that’s okay, all right?
Speaker 4: (01:00:23)
Speaker 4: (01:00:24)
Joe Biden: (01:00:24)
All right? All right.
Speaker 3: (01:00:26)
Thank you so much Mr. President.
Speaker 4: (01:00:28)
Speaker 3: (01:00:29)
I’d like to thank you.
Joe Biden: (01:00:29)
Speaker 3: (01:00:30)
Karen, Jessica, Laurie, Dan, thank you for letting us in your home.
Joe Biden: (01:00:35)
Stay strong, stay strong.
Speaker 3: (01:00:35)
Thanksgiving was the opportunity.
Joe Biden: (01:00:35)
No, no, you-
Thank you. Thank you very much for listening.
Joe Biden: (01:00:41)
Thank you. Okay.
Joe Biden: (01:00:43)
All right, bye, bye.
Speaker 4: (01:00:44)
Thank you all now. Bye now.