Mar 23, 2020
Joe Biden YouTube Speech Transcript on Coronavirus – March 23
Joe Biden released a video this morning to his YouTube channel with remarks about COVID-19. Read the full speech transcript right here.
Joe Biden: (00:00)
Good morning, I hope you and your family are doing well in these difficult and anxious times. Confusing times. Like all families, the Biden family is adjusting to new ways. Less time together, more worrying about friends and relatives, concerns about those who are isolated, or suffering due to the coronavirus. As Americans, we may be physically apart, but we are truly all in this together. And you know it. Let me say something right up front. When we’ve stood as one, this nation has never ever been defeated when we’ve been together, and we’re not going to be defeated now. The pandemic of 1918, the Great Depression, two world wars, we overcame them all. And out of each crisis, we emerged stronger and we will again. This new enemy may be unseen, but we have the tools, the expertise, and most importantly the spirit to defeat it. But we need to move, and we need to move fast.
Joe Biden: (00:48)
It matters our public health, it matters of our economy. It matters how fast we move from both. Later today, you’ll hear from the president in his daily briefing. These briefings are an important opportunity to inform and reassure the American public. They’re not a place for political attacks, or to lash out at the press. They’re about the American people. So I hope today and in the days ahead, the president will give us the unvarnished truth. That’s who the American people need and what they deserve. I hope we let some medical experts and FEMA leaders and others carrying out the work to take center stage, to hear from them directly. And I hope we hear less talk and see more evidence of fast action.
Joe Biden: (01:34)
My principle focus today and every day will be on what we should do to get this response fixed. To save lives, to provide economic assistance to the tens of millions Americans who need it and they need it now. And they’re going to need it in the weeks and months ahead. It starts with adopting a mindset of real urgency. For too long, the warning signs were ignored. For too long the administration said the threats were “Under control”, “Contained”, “Like the flu.” The president says, “No one saw this coming.”
Joe Biden: (02:07)
Well, that’s just not accurate. Our intelligence officials were warning of coronavirus threat in January. Just based on public information that I had, I warned the threat was getting worse way back on January the 27th and urged the need to put signs first, draw on emergency funds to get response started, think about invoking disaster powers to respond. Many of us talked about the need to get the U.S. scientists on the ground to see firsthand what was happening in China rather than relying on what came from China.
Joe Biden: (02:41)
My point is not simply that the president was wrong. My point is that the mindset, that was slow to recognize the problem in the first place to treat it with a seriousness is deserved, is still too much a part of how the president is addressing the problem. South Korea detected their first case of coronavirus on the same day we did, but they had tests and sophisticated tracing programs to stop the spread of the virus, so they didn’t have to put the entire country on lockdown. We had none of that. So we’re left with only one, the only extreme social distancing measures currently in place.
Joe Biden: (03:18)
That’s a failure of planning and preparation by the White House. Today, months later, American’s who need to be tested still have no access to tests in many parts of the country. And in many places, our healthcare system teeters on the brink of collapse. Hospital beds are filling. Doctors and nurses are already running out of critical equipment. The federal government needs to coordinate getting medical supplies out to every corner of the country, so we don’t have governors competing against one another.
Joe Biden: (03:50)
As of late yesterday, we’re told that the president still has not activated the authority under the Defense Production Act, which I and others call for him to invoke immediately and act on, to direct American manufacturers to make essential supplies. Trump keeps saying that he’s a wartime president, well start to act like one. To paraphrase a frustrated President Lincoln writing to an inactive General McClellan during the Civil War. “If you don’t want to use the army, may I borrow it?”
Joe Biden: (04:22)
We need to get in motion. Get in motion today what we should have set in motion weeks ago. Any public health expert will tell you that in a crisis like this, you can’t move too fast, you can only move too slowly. Let me be clear, Donald Trump is not the blame for the coronavirus, but he does bear responsibility for our response. And I, along with every American, hope he steps up and starts to get this right. No, this isn’t about politics. This is simply too much at stake. Too many lives, too many livelihoods, too many homes and families and businesses and communities at risk.
Joe Biden: (05:02)
I’ve laid out a very detailed, in-depth plan, what I think we should be doing. You can read it on joebiden.com. We need immediate action on testing, on research for treatments and vaccines, on leading a global response to beat the virus everywhere. But today, I want to focus on just four key points of action.
Joe Biden: (05:23)
First, the president must take immediate steps to increase our capacity, the capacity of our healthcare system, to treat the sickest coronavirus patients, safely. I’m glad the president has finally activated the National Guard. Now we need the Armed Forces and the National Guard to help with hospital capacity, supplies and logistics. We need to activate the Reserve Corps of doctors and nurses and beef up the number of responders dealing with these crush of cases. And, in addition to that, we have to make sure that we are in a position that we are… Let me go to the second thing, I’ve spoke enough on it.
Joe Biden: (06:08)
The president must use the Defense Production Act to radically increase the supply of critical goods needed to treat patients and protect our healthcare workers and first responders. Including the protective gear like face mask and critical equipment like ventilators, so desperately needed in our hospitals. It means working with all our allies and partners to get supplies from overseas when available, dispatching U.S. Military assets to retrieve them quickly if they are available. It means federal coordination of the supply chains, to accelerate deliveries and get them to the right places at the right time and much more.
Joe Biden: (06:44)
And we need to build an arsenal of democracy, and as we did in 1940, we can make personal productive equipment. Look, here’s the deal. We have to do what we did in the 40s and the 20s in the 2020s, and we can do that. We need to build a medical arsenal here.
Joe Biden: (07:02)
Third, the president needs to end the infighting and bickers with his own administration. Listen to the scientists and provide clear guidance. American people are not getting clear leadership, clear action and clear accountability. Management matters in a crisis. I’ve been there in the situation room. There are thousands of steps that need to be taken all at once. You need to be planning, not just for today, but for tomorrow and the day after tomorrow.
Joe Biden: (07:33)
Is the White House actively planning for what it will take for the American people to begin to return to something resembling a normal life? I don’t know. Just waiting to see isn’t going to cut it. What are the conditions required? The capabilities that should be in place? What protections and protocols do we need to ensure that it doesn’t simply start spreading again in the fall? They need to start planning now, so the current measures stay in place for as long as they’re needed, but not longer.
Joe Biden: (08:02)
And fourth, the president needs to set the right priorities for economic response. Our guiding principle must be to keep everyone paid through this crisis. Everyone. We should be doing everything in our power to keep workers on payrolls, make small businesses healthier, help the economy come out on the other side strong. The federal government should provide the resources to make that happen, while still protecting the American taxpayers. We can do both.
Joe Biden: (08:31)
Unfortunately, as of last night, President Trump and Mitch McConnell were offering a plan to let big corporations off the hook. They proposed a $500 billion slush fund for corporations with almost no conditions. Under their plan the Trump administration could even allow companies to use the money that they’re being given to them, by taxpayers’ money, to buy back stocks, increase executive pays, if that’s what the Secretary of Treasury decided. They wouldn’t have to make commitments to keep workers employed at these big corporations. They wouldn’t have to tell the Americans where the money goes for months.
Joe Biden: (09:12)
Today, there’s an active effort to fix that bill in the Congress and it’s going on now as I speak. So for workers and families and small businesses, we should be focused on them. And the no strings, corporate bailouts makes no sense. Here’s my bottom line. Millions of small businesses like the family run restaurant, is trying to stay open to pay its workers. They should get the funds they need. Big companies will need help too, but no blank checks. If corporations take money from taxpayers, they have to make an enforceable commitment that they will keep workers on the payroll.
Joe Biden: (09:50)
Workers, the worker who is seeing their wages slashed, they need to be made whole. Those who are losing their jobs, they need strong, sustained unemployment benefits. Whether they are gig workers, or full-time employees. The family that will go hungry and needs food on the table, they need the help now. Social security checks need to be boosted now. Student debt should be forgiven for now. Cash relief needs to go out as fast as possible to those who need it the most. And we can act quickly and we can do it together. We can put politics aside and meet the moment, like governors all across this nation are doing.
Joe Biden: (10:32)
Governor Mike DeWine in Ohio, Governor Larry Hogan in Maryland, Governor Charlie Baker in Massachusetts, Gavin Newsom in California, James Liam Washington, hard hit, Gretchen Whitmer in Michigan. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s briefings are a lesson in leadership. Republicans and Democrats all are rising to the moment. Putting aside politics to do what has to be done. But they’re looking to the federal government for more help.
Joe Biden: (11:00)
Finally, it’s worth noting that today is the 10th anniversary of the signing of the Affordable Care Act. I’m proud of the role I played alongside President Obama, backing him up to bring Obamacare into the law, make it the law. It’s now law. And I’m proud of the record is achieved. But also today in the middle of one of the largest public health emergencies in generations, the White House Republican attorneys generals are actively pursuing a lawsuit to invalidate the ACA in court. They’re working in the strip. millions of Americans of their healthcare and tens of millions of their protections for preexisting conditions.
Joe Biden: (11:39)
I sent a letter this morning with a simple request, “Withdraw the lawsuit please.” End this effort to take away people’s healthcare. This is not the moment to add additional uncertainty and fear in this nation, or to let politics, Trump doing what’s right. Give American’s peace of mind. That’s what they’re looking for, help. In crisis, characters avail and each day, we’re seeing the courage and the heart of American’s shine through. Our military, our first responders, our doctors, nurses, healthcare workers. Of course, they’re doing an incredible job.
Joe Biden: (12:20)
But also those who we don’t talk about much. The grocery store worker stocking the shelf, the mail and package carriers, the workers manufacturing gear we need to keep delivery trucks on the road, cooking meals to deliver, tending to our elderly loved ones. The journalists who keep us up to date and hold us accountable as leaders. The government officials working on this problem, and so many more. They’re putting all of it on the line for all of us. And we need to give them all the help they need. And now, they need help now. We need to be sure we never forget what they’ve done, because they’re doing a great deal.
Joe Biden: (13:00)
Let me close with a thought. Deep in the heart of every American, I think there burns a flame. It’s an inheritance from every generation of Americans that has come before us. That’s why we have overcome every crisis we have ever faced before. It’s what makes this nation so special, why we stand apart. That flame is not going to be extinguished in this moment. If our leadership does its part, the American people will do more than their part. Because here’s the simple truth. Ordinary, hardworking Americans have never, ever, ever, ever, ever let their country down. So we need to get moving, move faster. This is the United States of America. There’s not a single thing we cannot do if we do it together. God bless you all those who are fighting this virus. May God protect you and may God protect our troops. Thank you.