Sep 15, 2020
Joe Biden Veterans Roundtable Event & Speech Transcript September 15
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden hosted a roundtable event to speak with veterans in Tampa, Florida on September 15. Read the transcript of Biden’s speech and the roundtable event here.
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Joe Biden: (00:00)
Thank you Serg. Thank you, to [Sean 00:00:09]. I thank you for you as a service and thank you for your continued commitment to supporting our students and veterans as they pursue their educations. Thank you a Hillsborough Community College for hosting us today. My wife Jill is a community college professor and I’ve known for a long, long time that community colleges, she says, are the best kept secret in America, in terms of our education system. This is just one reason why.
Joe Biden: (00:41)
You help people take the next step in their lives to get the training and accreditation that they need, including our vets, who after years of dedication to our country are ready to build civilian lives of meaning and of opportunity. Less than 1% of the population of our country chooses to serve our country in the military. Less than 1% risk everything to defend our nation, our values and everything we hold dear and the other 99% of us, we owe them. We owe them our thanks, our gratitude and our respect.
Joe Biden: (01:19)
In my view, based on reports of interviews, President Trump has proven he’s unfit to hold the office of the president time again, but nowhere are his faults more glaring and more offensive, to me at least, than when it comes to his denigration of our service members, veterans, wounded warriors, the fallen. Quite frankly, I won’t say I get angry. Quite frankly, it makes me a very upset the way he gets in front of a camera and crows about how much he has done for veterans and then turns around and salts our service members and fallen heroes when the camera’s off. He calls the suckers and losers.
Joe Biden: (02:03)
My son Beau was a US attorney, he volunteered to go six months to Kosovo to help them set up a criminal justice system. He did such a good job there, the Kosovo government named a highway after him, and erected a war memorial. Then he had to get an exemption because he was attorney general in the state of Delaware, to go with his unit to Iraq, and he went for a year, in Iraq, came home with a Bronze Star. He’s gone now, but he was no sucker. He was a man, like many of the people he served with. Women and men who served with him served in a way that they should be honored as heroes, not in some derogatory way. They didn’t come home losers. They came home heroes. I think it’s an absolute disgrace. Donald Trump has no idea about the ideas that animate women and men who sign up to serve, duty, honor, country. That’s what service and patriotism is all about: Duty, honor, country. As reported from a very reliable source, and confirmed by many major outlets, that he said to a fallen father, a member of the service, the father of a fallen soldier, who was himself was a member of the service, as he was standing by the grave site, he allegedly said, “I don’t get it. What was in it for them?” What was in it for them? Donald Trump doesn’t seem to be able to conceive the idea of selfless service or being part of a cause that’s bigger than yourself.
Joe Biden: (04:04)
Every day I carry with me a card and I’ve been doing this for better part of 14 years. It’s my schedule. On the back of it, wherever the schedule ends, there’s always a black box that I have here. It says, “Daily troop updates.” Us troops died in Iran and Afghanistan, 6,000 as of today, 923, not roughly 6,900, 923, because every one of these fallen angels left behind a family, and left behind a community. There’s an empty seat that table now. US troops wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan, 53, 192, not over 53,000. I’ve flown back on those C-130s with caskets draped coming out of Iraq and Afghanistan. I’ve been there at Dover Air Base when those bodies come home. I think of all the folks, and you all know it, coming home with unseen injuries. Tens of thousands coming home with unseen injuries, post traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury, mental health challenges. As a nation, I’ve been criticized for this over the last 30 years when I’ve said it. But as a nation, we have many obligations to our children, to the elderly, to the poor, to those in need. But I believe we only have one truly sacred obligation, to prepare and equip our troops that we send in a harm’s way and to care for them and their families when they return. We owe our veterans the future of security and dignity that they’ve earned and it starts by protecting the VA.
Joe Biden: (06:27)
Restoring the trust in the VA because the VA must be the premier provider of healthcare services to promote our veterans overall wellbeing. That’s why the VA has more specialized knowledge about how to treat veterans unique health needs beyond physical and mental than the private sector does by far. It provides a community of understanding and support, facilitates accountability for veterans health and wellbeing as a whole. That is absolutely vital for successful outcomes. We have a responsibility to ensure that we’re providing the veterans with world-class healthcare they deserve in every situation. That means hiring more doctors and medical personnel and professionals to work at the VA, including positions essential to veterans health care, nurses and psychologists.
Joe Biden: (07:20)
We need to offer these medical professionals the incentive to join the VA. We need to pay them and competitive salary to the private sector. We also have to do more to build a pipeline of doctors and nurses, especially in rural areas. If you live far away from a VA center, it’s absolutely essential that you can see a doctor closer to home. That’s why during our administration, President Obama signed the VA Access, Choice and Accountability Act into law in 2014. President Trump likes to say he passed the VA Choice, but just like everything else he seems to be saying, it’s a figment of his imagination or it’s a flat lie. Now I need to keep working to implement the MISSION Act effectively and efficiently so that works for all our veterans while always making sure community care providers are held to the same high quality standard as VA centers.
Joe Biden: (08:20)
We’re going to make sure our women veterans and our LGBTQ veterans get the service and respect they deserve from culturally competent providers, and critically, we’re going to make sure that no veteran is locked out of treatment for conditions related to toxic exposure from burn pits or traumatic brain injuries they experienced in the line of duty. We made that mistake With Agent Orange. As a Senator, I fought for decades to help Vietnam veterans get access and help, we were able to expand on it during the Obama- Biden administration. We can’t let this be delayed again, denying access because the Fed could not prove a direct connection. If you’re exposed to Agent Orange, it was wrong, and it’s to be presumed. If the ailment you have is caused by your exposure to Agent Orange that you get treatment.
Joe Biden: (09:21)
We’ve got to seriously tackle the mental health crisis we have. A suicide epidemic is claiming far too many of our veterans and service members. One of the saddest things that my son came home … After a year in Iraq, he was back as attorney general. The week before Christmas, he came over to the house. He said, “Dad I don’t know what I’m going to do.”
Joe Biden: (09:48)
There was a Marine veteran who had been deployed a total of six times, if my memory is correct, who was in a relatively a modern upscale neighborhood, middle class neighborhood, and he got up in the morning and he got out, and I think it was a Dodge Ram started down the street in front of his house, which was no sidewalks. Saw a woman walking her dog, ran over her, killed her, killed the dog, put her in the back of his pickup truck, took her down to I95, right by where there was all the sand pile for emergencies, molested her, put her back in the truck, came home and called the state police and said, “I just killed someone. There was a voice in my head saying, “I had to kill someone.” I had to kill someone,” and turn himself in.
Joe Biden: (10:49)
You know, the latest data suggests that almost 600 veterans as well are dying by suicide every year, just here in Florida, 600 a year. It’s devastating. There aren’t any easy answers to this, but we can do so much better than we’re doing now. We have an obligation to do so much better. We have to help our heroes understand that it’s an honorable thing to do and take strength to reach out and ask for help if they’re suffering from unseen wounds. They’re so accustomed to being asked not to ask for anything. We have to end the stigma surrounding mental health treatment.
Joe Biden: (11:34)
When they do reach out, when they call the crisis hotline or walk into a VA hospital or visit a VA center for counseling, we have to make sure, damn sure, that no one turns them away. No one tells them they have to wait. Part of it’s also making sure that veterans feel a sense of security and connection and mission in the civilian world, as they did on active duty, better employment opportunities, meaningful career trajectories, education, like the one student vets get here at Hillsborough Community College, which translate into greater opportunities for our vets, not just putting money on the pockets of, for profit fraudulent outfits, because we got to stop that. It all matters.
Joe Biden: (12:24)
It especially matters how their families are treated. John Milton, the poet, wrote these lines, “They also serve who only stand and wait.” Well, military families, husbands, wives, sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, they serve every single day tending to their specific needs and unique challenges, and should never be an afterthought for us. It’s a national security imperative. Fulfilling our promise to our veterans, and our military families, caregivers and survivors is critical to ensuring that we not only meet our obligations, but the future generations continue to volunteer to serve.
Joe Biden: (13:13)
My wife, Jill, she worked on this more than about anyone. During our administration, she and Michelle Obama teamed up and started an outfit called Joining Forces, a nationwide initiative to drive concrete commitments to support service members, veterans, and their families and caregivers and survivors, to help make sure teachers are equipped to better meet the needs of military children in their classrooms, and help bring down some of the barriers because the vast majority, the vast majority of those kids in the school have no idea that little Johnny or Mary or Jamal is worried because his mommy or daddy is stationed in a foreign land.
Joe Biden: (13:58)
It makes it so much harder for military spouses to find good jobs and build their careers. I have to change it and we’re working on that, working with leaders like Lauren Weiner, Hiring Our Heroes and Military Spouses Employment program. For example, making it easy to carry your professional credentials with you from one state to another when your spouse moves. Harris-Biden administration is going to relaunch that effort and keep pushing further to make it easier for military spouses and veterans to find meaningful careers, to ensure teachers know how to support military children in their classrooms, and to improve support for caregivers and survivors so much more than we do now.
Joe Biden: (14:41)
This isn’t a theoretical commitment, it’s personal. The year that my son Beau deployed to Iraq, with his National Guard unit, that’s when Jill and I learned what it really means to be part of a military family. You end up praying every night and every morning for the safety of your child, far from home, in the middle of a war zone, facing unknown dangers. Every family gathering, they’re missed. Every time the children ask why mommy or daddy isn’t there to tuck them in, it hurts. These are the challenges most Americans never have to face. These are the women and men and they’re families. They’re the absolute best that our country has to offer. They’re the backbone of America.
Joe Biden: (15:29)
Some of the most meaningful moments of my vice presidency, of those eight years, was Thanksgiving. We’d host a Thanksgiving meal for the wounded veterans at the vice presidential residence. We’d spend every Christmas day visiting the patients at Walter Reed hospital. I spent time with our wounded warriors in trauma centers all across the country and around the world. You know what the message often heard when I’d walk in and say, “Soldier, sailor, Marine, what can I do for you?” Whether they’re amputees or not, their arms not there, they try to pull themselves up and try to salute, and they’d say, “Yes, sir. I want to go back to my unit. Can you get me back to my unit?”
Joe Biden: (16:17)
Does that sound like the heart and the grit and patriotism of a sucker or a loser? It sounds like heroism to me. It sounds like what patriotism is all about. Our military is the greatest fighting force in the history of the world and that’s not hyperbole. It’s the God’s truth. It deserves a commander in chief who respects their sacrifice, understands their service and will never betray the values they defend. They deserve better than goes on now with their commander in chief. If I have the honor of ever serving as the next commander in chief, I want every single member of the Armed Forces, our veterans, their families, their caregivers, and their survivors to know, I will never treat you with anything other than the honor and respect and dignity you deserve. I’ll always have your back, like you’ve had our back, the country’s back. Thank you all. May God protect our troops. Thank you.
Lauren Weiner: (17:52)
Thank you Vice President Biden for your compelling remarks. Thank you to Hillsborough Community College for hosting this event, and thank you to the viewers around the country who are watching today. I have the great honor of being not only a participant, but a moderator for today’s events. My name is Lauren Weiner, and I’m the CEO of WWC Global.
Lauren Weiner: (18:11)
In 2004. My husband received military orders to Naples, Italy. As I prepared for our adventure, I soon realized that moving would bring a myriad of unexpected career challenges. In particular, there was a formal policy on base that prohibited local military spouses for applying for professional level jobs. I had come from the White House and realized quickly that my career was at a total standstill. Fast forward 16 years, and not only have we created jobs for almost 300 military spouses and veterans, many of whom have moved with the military and with WWC Global many times, but we are also one of the largest women-owned small businesses here in the Tampa Bay area, and the second largest privately held government contracting firm in the region.
Lauren Weiner: (18:55)
WWC Global is proud to have won the largest government contract award to a woman- owned business in US Special Operations Command history here in Tampa.
Joe Biden: (19:04)
Lauren Weiner: (19:05)
Thank you. All of this because me, my co-founder, Donna Huneycutt, and so many other talented professional military spouses wanted to obtain meaningful employment in Naples Italy so many years ago. We realized that, much as we may want to, WWC could not hire all of the talented military spouses around the world. Although we’re still trying. In 2010, we launched a nonprofit called In Gear Career, now part of the Hiring Our Heroes program, to give back to this incredible population that it helped us grow. We also started Homefront Rising, an annual training program to help military spouses get engaged in the political process across the political spectrum.
Lauren Weiner: (19:46)
Military spouses are four times more likely to be unemployed or underemployed than their civilian counterparts. A 24% unemployment rate pre-COVID. This is a staggering number, but hiring military spouses, isn’t simply the patriotic or right thing to do. Hiring military spouses is good for our economy, it’s good for individual businesses and it’s good for our force readiness. Military spouse employment, done right, impacts all of the other issues that we’ll talk about here today. Mental health, transition, quality of life, all get better when military spouses are afforded the opportunity to contribute their intellect, ingenuity, and professional background to our communities. Mr. Vice President, thank you for what you and Dr. Biden have done for all military families, the Joining Forces initiative, profoundly impacted efforts around military spouse employment, and other military family issues. Thank you for inviting us here today.
Joe Biden: (20:47)
Thank you for what your company has done. Look, you all know this because you’re veterans and many of you have spouses, and not all of you, I don’t want to presume anything. But the fact is that one of the things that was, I found, particularly difficult when watching what happened during the heavy deployments back in Iraq and Afghanistan, before I was able to get permission to bring home 150,000 troops, was that a significant portion of those troops were either reservist or national guard. They did not have the comradery of, if they stayed back on the base, at least with other people being in the same circumstance.
Joe Biden: (21:41)
What I found was as we traveled around the world and around the country, is that the lack of a sense of being understood, what’s happening, just being able to know that somebody else knows what you’re going through. That sense of loss, even if everything’s fine, even if your husband or wife is in good physical shape and safe where they’re ever deployed. But this idea that you’re still … Every night, you’re taking care of the homework by yourself, or you’re the only one being able to go to the school play, or you’re the only one there for the birthday and no one’s there. I mean, it does impact on family solidarity. It does impact on a sense of community, which you have. My wife was part of an organization in Delaware called Boots on the Ground. I don’t know if you’re familiar with it at all, but what that was, and just in my small state of Delaware, and if I’m taking too much time, tell me because I’ll stop. But what I found was that I remember my daughter-in-law calling the first snowstorm after Beau was deployed, and she said, ” Nana, somebody is out there shoveling the driveway.” This was up the snowstorm, “Shoveling the driveway, and I didn’t call them. They left a note saying, “Thanks for the service. Thanks for your service.””
Joe Biden: (23:19)
Or things like, when someone’s deployed and you’re off base, even when you’re on base, but you’re off base, find yourself in a situation you have to show up for a mammogram, or you follow up on something having to do with a health problem, who takes care of the kids? I mean, what happens? Well, they started this whole thing in Delaware where people would show up, people would just volunteer, they’d give phone numbers and say, “I’ll be there,” and show up.
Joe Biden: (23:47)
The only reason I’m bothering to say this, and you know it, but I want the people to understand it, it does help with the psychological health, the sense of community. You didn’t volunteer to serve, all of you, to get thanked. You …
Joe Biden: (24:03)
… it’s here to serve all of you, to get thanked. You volunteered to serve because that’s who you are, you’re not used to saying, “Thank me, I did something special,” but it matters when you know people know what you’ve done and they’re just generically supportive of what you did, respect you for it. So, I think it’s a big deal, what you’ve done, and it’s a major part of what [Joel 00:24:26] is already, God willing if we’re elected, starting and she’ll be calling you, not a joke-
I’m always happy to take her calls.
Joe Biden: (24:33)
… to begin and reignite, joining forces again than she and Michelle had done. So… But, thank you.
That’d be amazing, thank you. Next we’ve got [Deshaun Heinz 00:00:45], who’s going to speak to us as well.
Deshaun Hienz: (24:50)
Thanks, Lauren, I appreciate it. Yes, sir, it’s an honor to meet you.
Joe Biden: (24:53)
By the way, when my son got promoted to major and got the Bronze Star I said, “Congratulations, you’re now a field-grade officer.” He said, “Dad, I know who runs the military, sergeants.” So, who are field-grade officers? But anyway… So, especially in Marine Corps. Excellent.
Deshaun Hienz: (25:10)
It’s an honor, I know you hear that a lot, but I really truly mean that. As a… Again, my name is Deshaun Hienz, I served in the United States Marine Corps. And I… After the Marine Corps, I decided to come here to Hillsborough Community College and get my associate’s degree, and I went on to the University of Tampa to get my bachelor’s degree, so I’ve been around education ever since I got out of the military. Luckily they found that I was great with veterans, so that’s why I decided to come here and work with them. As an academic advisor, excuse me, the veterans education is a big part of my life now. And I think that our current VA education system is great, but one of the fears that I have is that they may not be keeping up with the times and that they may fall behind in regards to evolving with veterans.
Deshaun Hienz: (25:52)
As you probably know, there’s a lot of veteran owned businesses now and that’s because we have great entrepreneurship programs that are starting to come out of colleges, such as the one we have here with Hillsborough Community College ran by Dr. Andy Gold and Beth Kerly, to where they can have a veteran go from idea to actually starting and making sales in just four months. One of the concerns I have is, after they have their company, they may not… A lot of them don’t come back to finish their education and their VA [inaudible 00:26:17] sits there. And I was… One of the things that we had mentioned was, if there was a way that we can possibly get it to where they can maybe use the benefits that they’re not going to be using for education to fund their business if they don’t come back to use it, so I was wondering if you in essence were thinking about that or about the VA education.
Deshaun Hienz: (26:37)
Another issue was, which you had touched on in your speech, was veteran suicide. As you know, we’ve all heard the term the 22, and it hit home personally to me where I had a young Marine named [Frank Smith 00:00:26:48], who had… Went to a VA hospital, who was already getting assistance with healthcare and with mental illness, and told them that he was going to leave and commit suicide if they didn’t help him, and unfortunately they didn’t, he walked out and ended up committing suicide. So, I know a lot of people talk about doing something or stopping it, but it seems like it’s still a big issue, and so I appreciate what you had said on how you’re going to take action behind trying to stop this pandemic. [crosstalk 00:00:27:16].
Joe Biden: (27:16)
Well, look, there’s a couple of things. And again, tell me if I’m telling you more than you want to hear, okay? Because I know you all know all of this. But first of all, one of the things we’re finding is that… I used to have a friend who was a great basketball player years ago, back in the days when Providence College had those great teams, and Riordan, and Walker, the… All pros, ended up being all pros, were on that team if you’re a basketball fan. And his name was Pete. And Pete was not that interested in academics, but he was a smart guy, and he used to have an expression, he said, “You’ve got to know how to know.” I can take you into the Library of Congress and if you don’t know how to read the card catalog using the community, very little value to you, all those thousands and thousands of books.
Joe Biden: (28:20)
Well, I find the same thing, and it didn’t start off in the context of veterans, but I found the same thing with entrepreneurs. There’s an awful lot of entrepreneurs, and you see what’s… Well, I won’t go into that. But an awful lot of entrepreneurs, and it started off dealing with minority entrepreneurs, who given the opportunity or as successful as any other group of entrepreneurs. That’s why Barack and I started this program for giving money to state small business associations that they could then fund and bring from the… Outside the federal government, bring in, attract private funding to help people get started. Well, what I was amazed about when I read about your program down here, is you provide the kind of help that knows teaching how to know how to know. They may not know that they need this particular accountant, or they may not know how to get in contact with a lawyer to get the documents that are needed to be done, they may not know the detail because most of the big banks don’t like leading to small operators.
Joe Biden: (29:29)
And so, what you’ve done here is that you in fact have provided for these young entrepreneurs and these military entrepreneurs, you’ve sort of shown the way. I don’t mean take them by the hand and say, “Come on now,” they’ve got great ideas, but they don’t know the system well enough. Their ideas are as good as anybody else’s idea, and if they get the chance to get them the infrastructure set up to be able to start whatever that entrepreneurial effort is, they can do very well, but they don’t know how. And that’s what I was so impressed about what Hillsborough does here, or you all do here. What I haven’t… What I don’t know, and I’ll be very blunt with you because it didn’t occur to me until we set up coming down here and I learned about the program, I don’t know how we can move. And I think it’s a good idea, if they drop out of school to run that business, can they use those fundings to promote their business, to get their business up and going? Can they use that funding that they’d ordinary… Is that what you’re asking me?
Deshaun Hienz: (30:48)
Yes, sir, in essence, so that if they can be able to get a lump sum of that, of course not the full amount that it will be over the course of four years, but it was [crosstalk 00:30:58].
Joe Biden: (31:00)
And the answer is, the service of these young women and men is not over, but they… We need their talent, leadership, and their experience, but… So, from 9/11, the protect Post-9/11 and Forever GI Bill benefits, we got to on the one hand crack down on a fraud or the for-profit outfits out there that are trying to take advantage, and figure out how these vets can get access to training and placement, but also can they use it for their business? I have to give you an honest answer, I’ve not thought of it. And I promise you I’ll pursue it and I’ll get back to you and tell you whether or not mechanically that can be done or is it better to go straight to what I already have set up, the small business enterprise proposal. For example, the $1 billion, $500 million, we put aside for entrepreneurial encouragement brought $30 billion from the private sector. My proposal is to raise that to a $15 billion, this goes to the states now, a $15 billion SBA [inaudible 00:32:11] to states.
Joe Biden: (32:13)
That’s likely to build and may be somewhere between… Close to $150 billion off the sidelines. That may be the better way to do it and still preserve the ability to come back and finish that degree, because no matter what is said, even in your entrepreneurial business you can still at night, if it make sense to… Can complete the degree. But I don’t know the answer, I’ve never thought of it before, I must tell you, about using VA benefits to provide for the entrepreneurial enterprise you have underway. And if you have… If it’s… I forget what the tuition here is, it’s actually quite low here compared to other universities, other community colleges.
Deshaun Hienz: (32:56)
Joe Biden: (32:57)
But, would you be able to use that? Now, the other complication, I must tell you is, if I’m elected, I promise you that we’re going to make sure, and there’s the votes to do it, to provide for free community college for anybody who qualifies across the board. So there would be no… The question is, well then, how would that work? You follow me? So, I promise I’ll have my guys get my… Actually, the woman who runs this, get in touch with you, and we’ll see if I can work something out and I’ll get back to all of you as to what my position is. But, I think it may be better to go directly through the existing program than to do it that way, but I’ll look at it.
Deshaun Hienz: (33:34)
Yes, sir, thank you.
Deshaun, you guys are doing amazing work here and I see it in the entrepreneurial infrastructure here in Tampa, here in Hillsborough County and across the state, you guys are doing amazing stuff, so thank you.
Joe Biden: (33:49)
But it really is amazing. I mean, you just have to know how… Little things like, how do I go about getting a license for this? Where do I go do… You have the idea, that doesn’t in any way undercut your new idea on IT or your new ID on whatever, because… But, how you get there, point me, tell me what I need to do to get it done. I was impressed.
Next we’ve got [Elena 00:34:12] and [McCullough 00:34:13] to speak.
Deshaun Hienz: (34:19)
Thank you, sir.
Speaker 1: (34:21)
Joe Biden: (34:21)
Hello, lieutenant, how are you?
Speaker 1: (34:23)
Yes. So, I wrote a little story to tell you about my military career. I was born and raised in the Dominican Republic. When I was 16, my family sent me to live with my aunt and uncles in California and I had the opportunity for having an opportunity to have a better life. On the week of my 18th birthday, I joined the United States Coast Guard and I served for 24 years. I started as enlisted, and I did 14 years as enlisted, and then I had… I became a lieutenant and I kept serving in my country. The highlights of my careers are [inaudible 00:35:14] major interdiction operation in the Caribbean and maritime efforts in the WTO in Miami. So, I was very proud of my military career, but I have one issue that I have been talking to a lot of people on, they’re very concerned about it, and it’s Social Security.
Speaker 1: (35:43)
It’s a crucial program for millions of hardworking Americans, including veterans. Florida, is home of the second most military retirees in the country. We have contributed to Social Security our entire lives, and with the expectation that we will retire and if we become disabled, Social Security will be there for us. But now, President Trump is threatening to defund Social Security by cutting the payroll tax. So, many retired veterans depend on Social Security. Part of the reason that… That’s why we’re supporting you, because you will protect Social Security, and I can’t imagine an alternative. That’s why we are working so hard to make sure that we have you as our president.
Joe Biden: (36:41)
Folks, this is both simple and complicated. Number one, you all know the way the Social Security system has been funded because you’ve been paying into it your whole lives, and it’s essentially 6.5% of your salary, and your employer pays 6.5%, and that’s how the Social Security system is funded, it’s a little more complicated but that’s the essence of it. What the president is… What we did by the way, when Barack and I got into… President Barack Obama and I got into office, is that we inherited the most significant recession, short of a depression in American history. And so, we decided that we had to do things to spur the economy and have economic growth. One of the things we did was to get money immediately into the hands of folks who had a job still and a paycheck by deferring their Social Security payment, but we had written into the law a affirm commitment that the government would, when crisis was done, would make up the entirety of that so there’d be no diminishment of the amount of money in the fund to be able to pay for this.
Joe Biden: (38:01)
Now, the president… I don’t want to sound… Well, I’ll just say it. The president has focused on, the reason why the COVID crisis has been so bad, he has focused only on making sure the stock market stays up and to make sure it doesn’t decline because then it looks bad and the economy begins to drop for the very people that he most represents. And so, one of the ways… But, the Congress has passed legislation to provide for significant help for working families so that they would be able to, for example, have the ability to not be able to be thrown out of their apartments and the government would pay for that until the recession is over if they didn’t have the money. Well, there’s 20 million people in America, awful lot of Latinos here as well, in the state, because they have 50% of Latinos own homes, they find themselves in a position where 20 million Americans are on the verge of having to worry they’ll be foreclosed down because they can’t pay the mortgage payment.
Joe Biden: (39:12)
And all that money is in this act that’s been passed in the Senate and support… I mean, the House. With some Republicans supporting and some Republicans supporting in the Senate, but Mitch McConnell, the Senator from Kentucky is the Majority Leader, won’t bring it up to be voted on. And the president is unwilling to figuratively and literally speaking, get off his golf course and out of his sand trap and call a meeting in the Oval Office, for real. Have you ever heard of a time in a crisis like this the president has not called together the factions of the Senate and the House to come and try to settle something this consequential? I mean, for real, hasn’t done it. But… So, he’s trying to figure out ways in which he can in fact, I’m sorry for the explanation but I think it’s important to know the context, whereby he can say those people will still have a job even though you have over 30 million people receiving unemployment now and that’s about to dry up too.
Joe Biden: (40:15)
Is that those who’ll get a paycheck will find they get their 6.5% that were taken out of the paycheck in their paychecks, so it looks like they’re going to get a pay raise. They’ll have more money to spend, which is not a bad idea, theoretically. But, he’s told… He said he wanted to make sure that the employer and employee stopped paying into the system because that would give them more cash available to deal with their issues. But the problem is, the actuary at Social Security, the professional said, “If they do that, within three years the system will be totally bankrupt.” We’re talking about hundreds of billions of dollars here that would have to be made up. How could you… So, all the things you paid into will be gone. So, the president is now saying that he’s just going to defer that being done between now and after the elections, so I guess it’s February 1st or something, he’s going to defer and say, “You don’t have to pay for that period of time your tax on for Social Security and Medicare.”
Joe Biden: (41:34)
The problem is, it’s required that the day after that exemption runs out you got to make it all up. So, if the last… The fourth quarter of this year, you don’t pay… No one pays into the Social Security trust fund, all that money has to be paid up in the Social Security trust fund in the first quarter of next year. So, if people don’t know, particularly the military, they’re not going to know, on your military pay you’re going to have to pay, have to come up with in the next quarter, twice the amount of money that was taken out of your paycheck before. You’re with me? Now, I doubt whether most people are going to take that money and be able to put it away and save it because they have such urgent needs, and so it’s going to be chaos.
Joe Biden: (42:27)
Now, a number of employers, and our moderator may know this, a number of employers are saying, “We’re not going to withhold it. We’re going to keep paying in because we don’t want to get hit with a 400,000 or 200 or a million, whatever [inaudible 00:42:40] how big the company is, bill next quarter. You’re with me? But this is all about, I’m making an assumption here, I can’t… But it seems as though it makes no fiscal sense. It seems to be all about trying to make it look like you’re doing something to help people in the middle of the COVID crisis when unemployment continues to go up, and when you have so many people out of work now, I think there’s 16 million have nothing at all. And to make it look like we’re actually helping some people that are in that struggling area to middle class area, it’ll put more money in their pocket now, and they say, “Oh God, he’s doing something to help me.” It’s like the one thing he wants passed, again, out of this next round that they’re still stalled on, is he wants to be able to send that $1,200 checkout per person, because he literally signs it, it has his name on it. He doesn’t want to do anything else, he doesn’t want to help state and localities in terms of running their deficits, dealing with them. I’ll end by saying, the reason I know a little about this is, when we hit the recession the president… President Obama asked me to see if I could convince my Republican friends to join us in what turned out to be an $800 billion recovery package that would be distributed within 18 months, and so that, in fact, we wouldn’t go into depression, even outfits like The Heritage Foundation, conservative think tanks, acknowledge it kept us from going over the cliff.
Joe Biden: (44:28)
And part of it was, he gave me the authority to run it, I was able to provide $140 billion over the 18 months to state and local governments, because the state government has to balance their budget. If you’re the mayor of this city, you have to have a balanced budget, you can’t run a deficit. And when you have a… When you’re running a deficit means you lay off school teachers, you lay off the fire department, or not the whole department, you lay off firefighters, you lay off police officers, you lay off first responders, you lay off doctors in the public hospitals, et cetera. And so, he’s refusing to do that, and the consequence he has to demonstrate he’s going to get something out there. You’re with me? And I think that’s what this is about. I just wish, and I really mean this, I wish he would in fact just say, “We’re going to call a meeting in the White House and we’re going to stay here till we get a deal done, Democrats and Republicans.”
Joe Biden: (45:26)
Now, apparently there’s a lot of Republicans who are willing to get a deal, but apparently there’s 20 Republicans, very conservative members, who say they don’t want to spend any more money. And so, that’s the hard part, getting the majority of leaders in the spot that he [inaudible 00:21:44], but I want you to understand what’s not happening. There’s answers, the House has already passed this legislation to make sure that you’ll still get your Social Security, make sure Medicare is expanded. Like in this state, there’s not expanded Medicaid. Well guess what, you’ve got a lot of people losing their health insurance. And every other state out there, not every other but most other states, under the Affordable Care Act, the federal government will pay a hundred percent of the money for Medicaid, which takes care of the poor, and then after several years pay 90%. But, a lot of Republican governors don’t like Medicare and Medicaid and don’t think the government should do it, so they don’t want to take on that responsibility for the 10% down the road.
Joe Biden: (46:43)
So, that’s… It’s all caught up in that. I hope that explains it, but I think it’s a big mistake and I think that we should… At least if the president has done this, which I think is a very bad idea, he should be honest with the public and say, ” But you’re going to have to pay this back in the next quarter.” So if you’re an E5 and you’re out there trying to keep your family going here and you’re paid… I mean, you’re still in the military but you’re home based. You got to know that, “God, that’s a little bit more money every month, every paycheck from military, but I’m going to have to double it going back.” I’m sorry it takes so long, but I think it’s important for people to understand exactly what’s going on.
Thank you, sir. That was extremely comprehensive and extremely helpful.
Joe Biden: (47:35)
I’ll be less comprehensive, I’m sorry.
I’ve told a few times, so-
Joe Biden: (47:38)
I feel very passionate about this stuff, maybe it’s because I come from a family that… Dad didn’t have a job and we had to move and figure about the next meal on the table. I mean, it’s…
Well, now, I’m going to turn to you Rev. Dr. Glenn Dames.
Dr. Glenn Dames: (48:01)
And thank you, Mr. Vice President for being here…
Dr. Glenn Dames: (48:03)
Well, thank you. And thank you, Mr. Vice President, for being here today.
Joe Biden: (48:04)
Dr. Glenn Dames: (48:04)
I’m the Reverend Dr. Glenn B. Dames, Jr. I am the senior pastor of the Allen Temple AME Church here in Tampa and also a US Army veteran. I’m excited to have you here today, and I’m more excited to do everything I can to make sure you get elected to be the next president of United States of America.
Joe Biden: (48:23)
Just pray a heck of a lot.
Dr. Glenn Dames: (48:26)
Mr. Vice President, I want to first say that your son Beau’s memory is still etched in our memory, and he was indeed no sucker or loser. He was the epitome of bravery and sacrifice.
Joe Biden: (48:41)
Dr. Glenn Dames: (48:42)
And to this day, we still honor his memory and his sacrifice to our country and to his community. Mr. Vice President, when I was in the Army, I served as a mortuary affairs specialist at Fort Lee, Virginia, and I had the wonderful opportunity to serve at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Washington, DC at Walter Reed Hospital, where I got an opportunity to see firsthand the disparities, unfortunately, of African American veterans. And that’s one of the things that is passionate to me, is the disparities that exist in federal medicine, especially in the VA system, when it comes to African American vets. We fight so hard for things that should rightfully be ours. We’re always the first to volunteer to serve our country and community, and so I’m hoping that you can put together a plan, your team can put together a plan, to help bridge that gap, that disparity with African American veterans who have served their country honorably and deserve benefits to that point.
Dr. Glenn Dames: (49:57)
I am currently working with a veteran who’s a member of my congregation. His name is Mr. David Hicks. He has been retired for 28 years from the United States Air Force, a Vietnam veteran, excuse me, because I get emotional, a Vietnam veteran, Agent Orange. And to this day, he is still fighting for benefits, 28 years after his retirement, after serving his country honorably. He is still fighting for benefits.
Dr. Glenn Dames: (50:42)
And he and his spouse are both disabled. They have a son that’s taking care of the both of them, and they cannot get the benefits they need to make their ends meet. I think that’s abhorrent, and I hope that as president, you can do something to help expedite, bridge the gap, and help especially our African American veterans get the much needed care that they deserve from the VA system.
Dr. Glenn Dames: (51:15)
And then secondly is veteran retooling. With all the layoffs that COVID-19 has caused, we found a lot of our veterans are having to look for reemployment. And as a result, Mr. Vice President, they need desperately to be retooled. And there’s not very many VA programs that can help them retool in this particular process, that I’m hoping Mr. Vice President, that you can and your team can put together something to help our veterans retool in today’s economy.
Joe Biden: (51:54)
Well look, first of all, your parishioner, congregant, is not alone. It doesn’t make it any easier. When you’re in that situation, you’re alone. It’s you, number one. Number two, I see two pieces to what you’re talking about here. The first piece is the gentleman you referenced has been out 28 years, is still fighting for access to service and his medical needs being cared for, having been exposed to Agent Orange. I was the original co-sponsor a long, long time ago. I got to the Senate when I was 29 years old, 30 years old, and right from the beginning generation, the whole fight was about Agent Orange.
Joe Biden: (52:48)
Some of you, none of you women are old enough, but a few of you men may be old enough to remember that the argument was that in order to be able to get veterans benefits, whatever ones that related to illness, what you had to be able to show is a direct causal relationship to that immune disease you may have and been exposed to Agent Orange, which science was not able to absolutely confirm precisely whatever year, whether it was a brain injury, or you had an auto immune disease, or whatever. They couldn’t prove beyond a reasonable doubt that it was caused by Agent Orange. Therefore, all these folks were left out.
Joe Biden: (53:35)
I started with some others, including eventually a great friend, John McCain, later on. But this program to say, all you have to do is show that you were in fact exposed to Agent Orange. It fell on top of your head, and millions and millions of tons of it dropped. And whatever illness you have that is inexplicable relating to your immune system, tumors, et cetera, would be presumed to be a consequence of the exposure. So you shifted the burden from the individual soldier or sailor or marine or coast guardsman to the military, to the government, to say, no, we have to pay for that. We have to provide the services. We have to provide all the backup. We have to provide the disability payments, because you were exposed.
Joe Biden: (54:35)
It took a long time to get it done. And you may remember when we finally with Barack, even though he wasn’t around for that war, he strongly supported it, and we increased that legislation. So there was a guarantee, basically. It also put the VA in real trouble, quite frankly, because all of a sudden you had thousands of veterans now eligible for the treatment at the VA. You with me? But we finally worked our way through that. That’s why I got to the point where one of the things you may remember, if you’re from the Iraq War and the Afghan War, is an awful lot of our military, we have more amputees per capita in these wars than we had since the Civil War. And why? Because of IEDs, improvised devices buried in the ground, and going by with a Humvee, just going by with a vehicle and getting blown up, and so many were dying.
Joe Biden: (55:46)
But what happened was there was an effort, there was a recommendation by some in the military that we could [inaudible 00:55:54] could save a lot of lives, but they’re very expensive. And the military wanted to spend the money on other needs they saw. But I became a, how can I say it politely, a royal pain in the neck to everybody on the Senate floor. And I constantly went to the floor, saying that we will be responsible for these deaths and amputations if we don’t act. We have something that can fundamentally change the effects on a soldier, a sailor, or anyone who’s blown up an IED with these new vehicles. And they’ve saved thousands of lives in the meantime.
Joe Biden: (56:38)
But what happened was as the president says, “They’re just headaches,” but traumatic brain injury is real. It causes significant physical consequences and psychological consequences, as well. And so what was happening, I wanted to make sure we didn’t go through another period like we did in that fight to finally get coverage for people exposed to Agent Orange after all those years. I didn’t want to have to go back and have a debate, how do we make up, so now, if in fact you can demonstrate you have traumatic brain injury, you have a brain injury problem, and you were in an area of concussion, it’s assumed it’s because of that concussion. You don’t have to go back and prove, no, I was there on this day. I was 300 yards from that IED and this happened, and I got approved, and I got a doctor to say that’s precisely why this injury occurred. And so we wouldn’t have to go through that again.
Joe Biden: (57:44)
But it takes me to the larger question you have. What about dealing with all the things that African Americans, military members or veterans, what about the fact that they get left behind, and they do for several reasons. Number one, if you are a African-American, whether it’s COVID on a military base, or you’re off base and you’re retired, you’re a veteran, COVID, you are four times as likely to come down with COVID and three times as likely to die if you’re white. That’s because of a lot of preconditions that exist. If you are Hispanic or Latino, the ratio is two to one and three to one, but it’s still much higher because of other exposures that exist, and the lack of ability to be in circumstances where your physical health has been able to be taken care of because you’ve had the insurance and the like for preventative stuff early on. So a lot of it has to do with everything from having diabetes to other problems that are complicated. That’s why you see so many people, white and Black and Hispanic and Asian Americans dying, because of preexisting conditions that are out there.
Joe Biden: (59:12)
So one of the things that we have to do is we have to focus on those veterans, and you’re talking about veterans now, African Americans who have had that exposure, that exposure to whether it’s COVID and/or anything else, because they’re in a position where they’re more likely to be susceptible. But one of the pieces of that is that if you are an African American veteran, the likelihood, although we’ve tried incredibly hard in our administration, and we significantly cut down the rate of unemployment of vets getting out, African Americans, is that that old thing is, to quote Barack, “There’s still systemic racism.” If your name is Joe, and I apply for the job, and you have the same qualifications I have, and your name is Jamal, I’m likely to get the job. It’s just a fact of life.
Joe Biden: (01:00:14)
And so what we’re not doing enough of is bringing in veterans, and you probably have it right here in your programs here at school. That seems to me you probably are emphasizing it and dealing with it. But the ability to, again, know how to know, the ability to find jobs and connect people with jobs. That’s what we spent a lot of time doing in our administration, getting, providing significant number of government jobs in the federal government. Because if you could take care, if you were a quartermaster, you can sure in hell take care of running a department store thing, and the second floor of the ladies’ department or whatever, you know what I mean? If you have been responsible for a couple of billion dollars worth of tanks, you can sure handle a distributing capacity for, I don’t know, FedEx. You can do it.
Joe Biden: (01:01:16)
And so trying to connect the veteran retiring with helping them understand what their training in the military most qualifies them to be part of, to know where to start looking, to know where to try to connect people. And that’s part of what I think the VA has to do more of, not the health side of it, but the connection side. Again, our moderator, you probably do that already in your business, but people don’t realize that I have this skill. That skill may not work very well for me to go in and be a salesperson, but it may work very well for me to be a warehouse manager. It may be a place … You understand what I’m saying? And so, Doc, what we ought to do is talk a little bit about, and I’ll get my people on the line with you, you may be able to be specifically helpful, and you may, as well, from here, specifically helpful in the kinds of things that are already available that people don’t know are available. You follow me?
Joe Biden: (01:02:27)
But explicitly what is more helpful, and by the way, white guys with high school educations come out and they’re having the same kinds of problems, and not as bad, not as bad. It’s just worse for minorities. And I’m happy to go through with you in some more detail what kinds of initiatives are available, so you can help. For example, if I were still a Senator, if I were still, I can do it anyway, you ought to get us in touch with your individual you’re talking about and see if we can do a little bit of casework here and guide a little bit, but larger than that, that’s one person, larger than that, we have to expand the access to these programs that connect a veteran with their most likely area of employment. They may say they want to go and I don’t know, do whatever, but it may not be their skill that they acquired in the military may not in any way enhance that piece. Am I making sense?
Dr. Glenn Dames: (01:03:35)
Joe Biden: (01:03:37)
Okay. All right. Sorry.
Speaker 2: (01:03:41)
And there are some great [crosstalk 01:03:42].
Joe Biden: (01:03:41)
You’ve got to ask me some easy questions here.
Speaker 2: (01:03:44)
I don’t think anyone’s going to ask you any easy questions, Sir. So there are some great programs out there, both government, but also nonprofit, that are doing that. And it’s a good thing, because we are getting better. The next person that we have is Elliott Steele.
Elliott Steele: (01:04:02)
Good afternoon, Mr. Vice President Biden. My name is Elliott Steele. I’m a veteran, and both my parents were veterans. My wife and I are founders of Vincent House, Florida’s first internationally accredited clubhouse for people with a mental illness. As we all clearly know, if someone experiences an injury, heart attack, or prosthesis, they go through physical therapy to learn to walk on that uneven sidewalk, get their stamina, self esteem, and self confidence back, and then they’re successful at returning to work and having a purpose in life. Before Vincent House, veterans and other people with mental illnesses in Florida did not have that opportunity.
Elliott Steele: (01:04:48)
Vincent House is a clean, safe, restorative community, as it’s built upon respect and dignity, something people with a mental illness rarely experience. In addition to the opportunity to practice work, participants, called members, can find a purpose in life through voluntary work running the clubhouse and relationships developed with staff and other members. As a veteran myself, I wanted to ensure veterans were included from the beginning almost 18 years ago. We had veterans from Bay Pines VA visit us weekly and participate in our work order day. Many became members, and membership is for life.
Elliott Steele: (01:05:32)
Since inception, our members have collectively earned over seven and a half million dollars working real jobs in the community. Many of these members were written off by their doctors, department of vocational rehabilitation, their families, and in sometimes themselves, as unemployable. Even more importantly, they have broken that cycle of perpetual patient. Vincent House has grown into two additional counties, with the most recent one in [inaudible 01:06:04] County having their ribbon cutting tomorrow. Additionally, there are now 11 clubhouses in the state of Florida. There are over 300 international clubhouses in more than 30 countries. 200 of them are in the United States. My goal when you become president is to assist your team in providing increased mental health funding to offer veterans and other people with mental illnesses the opportunity to become a member in a clubhouse in their own community.
Elliott Steele: (01:06:37)
Just a short example of one of our many veteran members, a Vietnam vet decided to go back to school. He got his masters with honors. He’s a certified addictions counselor. Today, he does a weekly Double Trouble program for our members, and Double Trouble is a program, a 12 step program for people with mental illnesses and addictions. So he’s giving back to the clubhouse. And I thank you for this opportunity to share with you Vincent House.
Joe Biden: (01:07:07)
Elliott, thank you. Look, as my mother would say if she were here, “You’re doing God’s work, kid. You really are.” You know, we’ve learned an awful lot in the last decade about a lot of things relating to health and wellbeing. One of them we learned is that the double addiction of mental health and substance addiction, we always thought that mental, excuse me, physical addiction to a substance caused mental illness. Not so. Other way around. And so we found that out now, and that’s why one of the things is not what you asked, but I’m just going to make the point of it, though.
Joe Biden: (01:07:54)
One of the things that we have to do is, speaking of schooling, we used to in our public school system have school psychologists in the school, social workers and folks who, school nurses. But now we only have one school psychologist for every 1,570 kids. Even though we now know that mental problems, it starts off with anxieties that exist, in fact, generate drug addiction. And so by putting psychologists back in the school system, we can identify early an entire generation that is dealing with serious, serious uncertainty about their state of security.
Joe Biden: (01:08:53)
For example, the generation between seven years old and 17 years old is more at risk than any generation in the history of the United States in terms of anxiety. Why? Because they see mom and dad splitting, they see this crazy thing of everybody’s home. There’s increased domestic violence, because people are staying home. There’s increased child abuse, there’s increased whole range of things. And so one of the ways to get ahead of this, so there’s not as many Vincent Houses that are going to be needed 20 years from now, is catch this early to keep kids on track.
Joe Biden: (01:09:31)
And we find out when you have that occur, and you put these three, four, and five year olds in school as opposed to in daycare, they increased by 58% the prospect they’ll go all through 12 years of school without running addiction problems and/or mental health problems. But having said that, what you’re talking about is incredibly consequential. When Barack and me, when we pushed the Affordable Care Act, we insisted that there be mental health parity. Whether you have a mental problem, a disease, it’s a disease of the brain, any more than you go out and you break your arm or your back or your leg. And it has to be treated the same way, accommodated by the insurance companies the same way you would if you walked in and said, “My insurance covers my broken leg.” It has to cover the mental health treatment you get.
Joe Biden: (01:10:35)
But in addition to that, we are so short across the country, as you know, with community mental health centers, with access to mental health, period, that one of the things I call for is a multi-billion dollar investment in community health centers. But secondly, making sure that we are in a position that nonprofits like you guys are a major part of the operation of bringing people into this ambit, this gambit we have here. Look, there is an [inaudible 01:11:12] called the Wounded Warriors. They had that march across the United States. These are brave women and men, and both American and European and out of England and other places, that literally marched across the United States. My wife and I spent two days with them doing part of it. And the whole purpose was to say, “Look, I was the guy, I was the woman that did the following, but I have a mental health problem. I have traumatic brain injury, or I have post traumatic stress, and I need help,” because they wanted to show all those vets out there that in fact, you shouldn’t be ashamed of needing mental health help any more than you should be ashamed if you went and you broke your arm…
Joe Biden: (01:12:03)
Help any more than you should be ashamed if you went and you broke your arm or you needed glasses or whatever it was. And so one of the big things that we started to do, was making some progress, and you’d know better than anyone is we made an effort in our administration to take the stigma off of seeking mental health assistance. Number one.
Joe Biden: (01:12:23)
Number two, what you’re doing is providing a community for people who have gone through similar circumstances, and now know, “I’m not alone. I’m not the only one did this happened to. I shouldn’t be ashamed.” And by the way, sit down and it’s like AA, the 12 step program or whatever. Okay, here’s how others have done it, and every once in a while when they fall back to say, “No, no, no, no, come on back. We can do it. You can do it.” It requires that old overused phrase. It takes a village to raise somebody. Well, to deal with someone dealing with both a mental health problem or addiction problem, it takes a bit of a village. You got to have support. And the support that is most helpful most of the time are people who are in recovery. And I mean mental health recovery, as well as addiction recovery. And so one of the things that …
Joe Biden: (01:13:33)
And by the way, this whole notion of dealing with the idea that … Look, more vets are dying, and active duty military, are dying of suicide than all the veterans, all the military, that had been killed in wars or conflicts since 9/11. Think of that. More people are dying by suicide, mostly with getting access to a gun and blowing their brains out, then died in conflict and military conflicts since 9/11.
Joe Biden: (01:14:21)
And so it is a sad, sad thing. And since only 1% of the population went to fight anyway, and of that 1% there is this percentage who in fact are committing suicide on a daily basis, 22 or so, I think. It depends very slightly every day. It’s like it’s somebody else’s yard. It’s not me. It doesn’t affect me. You don’t know it until you know somebody who it happens to, or it happens to somebody that is your neighbor. And so one of the things … We have to deal with a number of things.
Joe Biden: (01:15:03)
What we did when we were dealing with the mental health issues, Elliot, is that we said it was the same as … Had to be treated with priority with every other health problem, but PTSD and traumatic brain issues compounded the issue, and the VA is best equipped to help navigate this. We boosted funding for VA for this purpose by 76% in our administration. And we got to build on that. As I said, the whole vet, mental health jobs and community ties. It’s not just enough to do one of them. There has to be someplace where I say, “I’m back, I belong, I know what I’m doing.” And we have to expand access to telehealth as well, because a lot of people live in communities that are rural, and they have these needs. And just getting on a computer looking at and talking to a doc can make a big … I’m telling you what you know more about than most people. But the idea of …
Joe Biden: (01:16:17)
Most important thing to me is, as it relates to the VA, we got to end the wait times, no matter what it takes. And that’s why we have to make it more competitive and make people want to. We have an overall shortage of psychiatric nurses, an overall shortage of psychiatrists and docs who deal with this, and psychologists. And it’s something that we should be encouraging in terms of how we provide access to universities and funding for people to get these degrees. Just like if we were short on engineers, we’d be out there saying, “Well, we need to have more engineers out there and we’re going to fund how to get them.” So I know that that’s not a complete answer, except you know one thing, that I’ve observed anyway, a number of these facilities that I visited relating to the military. Half of it is just, figuratively and literally, touching this vet. I’m not joking. Just half it’s just touching it. I’m here. We’re here. There’s a way.
Joe Biden: (01:17:27)
Because the despondency … And one of the things that the US … I think this is true. I’m unsure of my source. So I want to be clear because the press is here and they were right to correct what I say if I’m wrong. But there’s an overwhelming assessment by the medical community writ large, that we’re in a period of greater uncertainty and unease with a combination of COVID. Approaching 200,000 people dead, roughly 1000 a day dying. The loss of being near depression heading, if we don’t figure out how to get this thing going again and open safely. All those parents home trying to figure out how my kid’s school was not open. I’m making seven bucks an hour. If I stay home, I lose everything. If I don’t stay home, who takes care of my … The anxiety that the American people are feeling, including people that are well off, is extreme. And so we’re going to have to focus on this. There’s going to be real fallout from this.
Joe Biden: (01:18:46)
And let me end by saying, that’s why I think it’s important that we level with the American people. I noticed the president was quoting Roosevelt and Churchill. That doesn’t surprise me if he says he’s the best president for blacks since Abraham Lincoln. Actually he was better. I guess he’d think that. But anyway, the point is that Roosevelt, when World War II started, said after Pearl Harbor, said, “It’s going to get worse and worse and worse until it gets better and better and better.” And the American people can handle anything if you give it to them straight from the shoulder. False promises, not leveling with how tough things are going to be. The American people have never failed to step up to what had to be done when it had to be done. But that’s not happening now.
Joe Biden: (01:19:45)
I am, ironically, more optimistic about the prospects of dealing with the problems we talked about today, as well as so many other problems we have right now than I’ve ever been in my whole career. And they say, “Well, why in the hell would you say that Biden? You just talked about all these difficulties.” Well, I’ll tell you why. Because the American public, the blinders have been taken off. They’ve all of a sudden seen a hell of a lot clearer. They’re saying, “Jeeze, the reason I was able to stay sequestered in my home is because some black woman was able to stack the grocery shelf. Or I got a young Hispanic is out there, these dreamers are out there, 60,000 of them acting as first responders and nurses and docs.” Or all of a sudden people are realizing, “My Lord, these people have done so much. Not just black, white, across the board, have done so much for me. We can do this. We can get things done.” And I think they’re ready.
Joe Biden: (01:20:51)
And the irony of all ironies is that I think the vehicle by which we’re going to be able to create really good paying jobs. We’re going to be able to provide for significant healthcare. The idea that in the middle of a pandemic, the worst thing since the great flu back in the turn of the century, where so many people died worldwide, is that people are figuring out that we’re all in this together. We can get through this if we just level with one another. Just tell the truth, let people know.
Joe Biden: (01:21:33)
And I think for example, all of a sudden people are focusing an awful lot on a global warming. Don’t have to tell Florida about global warming. I’m not joking. Look what’s happened just west of here. My state is the lowest line state in terms of sea level of any state in the union. We have … President talks about how suburbia is going to be ruined by integration or whatever the heck he’s saying now. Well, guess what, they’re going to be ruined because they’re going to get blown away. They’re going to burn out of their neighborhoods. They’re going to have in the Midwest these floods that are wiping out entire neighborhoods. Down here, hurricane. And so people are sort of saying, “Whoa, science matters.” They don’t know, nor do I necessarily know all the science, but they go, “Whoa, our health is at stake and there’s things we can do.” They’re figuring out in the process the very things we have to do to deal with all these problems. Guess what it does? It provides employment, it provides good paying jobs. People out there making a windmill, are people making prevailing wage, not 15 bucks an hour, to overstate it.
Joe Biden: (01:22:47)
Anyway, I just think there’s a gigantic opportunity. I’ll conclude and get out of your hair by saying that I was asked by a foreign leader, “Can you define America for me?” And I told him, “Yeah I can. In one word.” Seriously, think about it. Possibilities. The United States of America is the only nation in the world that’s thought anything, anything is possible. We set our mind to it, do it together. And I think the public’s ready. I think they’re ready to get engaged. I think they’re ready to get engaged. We can generate real economic growth, provide significant opportunity to people. Education matters, healthcare matters. Having access to healthcare is a right, not a privilege. Making sure that you have access to employment. All those things. I think people would like … The blinders have been taken off. So as my grandpop would say, “With the grace of God, the goodwill of neighbors and the creek not rising, we can get a lot done.”
Sir, we have one more person.
Joe Biden: (01:23:56)
Oh, I’m sorry.
I’m so sorry.
Joe Biden: (01:23:59)
[inaudible 01:23:59] No, no. I’m so sorry. [crosstalk 01:24:03].
General Haddad: (01:24:03)
[inaudible 01:24:04] General Haddad.
Joe Biden: (01:24:04)
I’m sorry. Fire away.
General Haddad: (01:24:06)
Hey Mr. Vice-president, it’s an honor to be here with you, and thanks for the opportunity to be [crosstalk 00:12:12]. Thanks for the opportunity to be here at this round table, or I guess more appropriately, it’s a rectangular table. But real quickly, a little bit about me, and then I’ll get into what I want to talk about. I’m a proud descendant of Lebanese immigrants. I grew up in a small little copper mining town in Arizona. I played football at the Air Force Academy, hence the nickname Beef. I had more hair, was a little larger back then. And I-
Joe Biden: (01:24:36)
Didn’t I meet you?
General Haddad: (01:24:37)
Joe Biden: (01:24:38)
Didn’t I meet you?
General Haddad: (01:24:38)
Sir, we met in 2016 as a matter of fact. Where’s it at? I got your coin right here.
Joe Biden: (01:24:44)
Oh I owe you a drink.
General Haddad: (01:24:48)
So I graduated in 1981. I flew C130’s primarily special operations, gunships, and Talons. I deployed to the desert eight different times beginning in Desert Storm, and I amassed a few hundred hours of combat time. I’m most proud of commanding a deployed special operations squadron that racked up thousands of hours in Iraq and Afghanistan without one accident, and still one of the most highly decorated units in the air force reserve. After 40 years of wearing the uniform, I retired in 2016 as the vice commander of the air force reserve command. And incidentally, my wife has served for 25 years in the Air Force. She’s a JAG and she thinks you and Dr. Jill are awesome.
General Haddad: (01:25:38)
The Air Force brought me to Florida in 1985, and I’ve called it home ever since. As a resident of Florida and a military retiree, I’m concerned that oil drilling in the Gulf will negatively impact military operations. In 2006, Congress recognized the importance of restricting drilling in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico and a portion of the central Gulf. Congress enacted the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act, which is set to expire in June of 2022. Until last week, the current president proposed leases once the moratorium expired. As an election ploy, he has now announced he will support an executive order. I hope informed voters realize the executive order will be lifted if Donald Trump is reelected.
General Haddad: (01:26:36)
These ranges provide the largest military training and testing ranges, and they are essential to our national security. This is the largest range in the continental United States. It provides more uninterrupted surface and airspace than all lower 48 States combined. These ranges allow us to develop and test conventional weapons and ordinance in a safe environmentally conscious manner. Failing to extend the Eastern Gulf moratorium will impact military readiness, preparedness, and will ultimately threaten our national defense.
General Haddad: (01:27:13)
The 20 military installations in the state of Florida rely on the ability to have ready access to the golf ranges. The economic impact, to paraphrase our current president, is huge. 2018 defense spending accounted for $95 billion and 915,000 jobs in the state of Florida. Lastly, we cannot afford to allow drilling near our beautiful Florida coastlines. It creates the potential for a BP magnitude of oil spill, which would destroy coastal economies as well as military training and testing.
General Haddad: (01:27:55)
We need a president who will protect our environment, especially when it impacts national security. We also need a president who will honor and support our men and women who don the uniform and not mock them. Vice president Biden, you and Dr. Jill have a record of taking care of our military and their families, and know firsthand what it’s like to have a family member serve in the greatest military the world has ever known. We need a president who won’t tolerate Russians paying bounties to kill American troops. We need a president who will use war as a last resort and not use the military as a personal security force. We need a president who will unify this nation, not divide it. We need a president who will rebuild alliances with our friends and not cozy up to evil dictators. These are not partisan or political issues, but issues of patriotism and love of country. We need to change on November 3rd. Thanks
Joe Biden: (01:28:55)
General, as you probably know, I’ve been a significant supporter of the moratorium, and I make it permanent relative to the base capacity that you have for testing. Otherwise, you’ve got to go way above Fairbanks to find a place where you can have live fire exercises, which I’ve been to as well.
Joe Biden: (01:29:19)
Look, I believe you’re absolutely right. The president made it clear he was going to lift the moratorium on offshore drilling. Most people only focused on the … Not only, but focused on the environmental impact of that happening, what that would mean. Especially since when we don’t need more fossil fuel, what we need is more renewable energy. But I strongly support, I can guarantee you if I’m president, there will be no offshore drilling, and I extend the moratorium. I think it should be basically a permanent moratorium.
Joe Biden: (01:30:01)
But particularly as it relates to … And it frightens people when I talk about the testing area. They say, “Well, I didn’t know that. I didn’t know they’re out there testing. They really shooting live ammo and things?” Yeah, you have to find someplace to do it. And it’s not doing the environmental damage that putting a well down there may do. And so I guarantee you, I haven’t changed my view from the time I supported the moratorium in the first place. It will stay as long as … I think we should try to make it permanent, absent the ability to find that no longer is there a need for that kind of practice, which I don’t see happening in any near term, in terms of being able to fly those missions and understand exactly how you train all these young women and men to be able to protect us.
Joe Biden: (01:30:53)
And so I strongly support your position. I’m not just saying it. You probably know that’s been my position for a long time, but I must admit to you, even if it were not, even we were not in a position to deal with having to deal with the military side of it, I think it’s a mistake environmentally. Especially at this time, we should be investing our money in renewable capacity, not eliminating tomorrow all fossil fuels, but making sure that we invest in the things that in fact can fundamentally alter the continent. Because you’re going to have … There’s a reason why all these hurricanes are coming. The water is getting a hell of a lot warmer off your coast in the Caribbean. And it’s getting awful warm also in the west, and El Nino.
Joe Biden: (01:31:47)
So I completely agree with you. And since I already made a closing statement, I won’t, but thank you for what you’re doing. And thank you for your service. And by the way, is a seven … What’s the unit?
General Haddad: (01:32:04)
It was a 711 [crosstalk 01:32:05] operation squadron.
Joe Biden: (01:32:06)
Yeah, yeah. You guys are amazing, man.
General Haddad: (01:32:10)
They did amazing things during both Iraq and Afghanistan and they still do the amazing things today.
Joe Biden: (01:32:15)
They sure do. And by the way, the president’s met and talked with Putin six times and still hasn’t mentioned the bounty on the heads of Americans in Afghanistan, and the recent ramming of American vehicles by Russians in Syria, and injuring American soldiers. Not even mentioned.
Sir, I can’t tell you how much we all appreciate the time that you’ve you’ve taken today. Really. I think I speak for all six of us here. Your commitment to the military is undisputed. And we really appreciate the time that you’re taking to address these issues. So thank you.
Joe Biden: (01:32:57)
Well, one last comment, actually, I think that … Look, I’m running for president as a Democrat. But I’m not going to be a Democrat president. I’m going to be an American president. And the one thing we’ve always had bipartisanship on is support of the military. Think about it. There’s been extremes in both parties, but support for the military, the sacrifices they make. And I can tell you, if I’m elected I’m going to spend as much time trying to help people that didn’t vote for me as those who did. So thank you so very much. Thank you very much. And I’ll be back to you on what we talked about, okay? The bad news is I show up when I’m invited. So, you’re poor relative … Well, like the poor relative. The poor relatives show up, eat all your food, stay longer than they should. The wealthy ones don’t come. I’m like a poor relative. I show up. So thank you so very, very much. Appreciate it.
Speaker 3: (01:34:12)
So we’re going to take a group photo. So if you just want to look at Adam right there and stand in front of the seats. Adam will wave his hand. [crosstalk 01:34:13] Leave your mask on.
Speaker 4: (01:34:13)
Yep. Ma’am [crosstalk 01:34:16] Yep, there we go. Okay.