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Bernie Sanders Defends Medicare-for-All, Attacks Insurance Companies, Big Pharma for Dysfunctional, High-Cost Healthcare

Bernie Sanders, seen at a Brooklyn rally, is defending his signature plan, Medicare-for-All, and blaming the greed of the insurance and pharmaceutical industries as the reason for dysfunctional, high cost health care system that causes 30,000 premature deaths a year and bankrupts 530,000 Americans a year. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, running to be the Democratic nominee for president, on July 17 delivered a major address on Medicare for All, coinciding with the 54th anniversary of Medicare being signed into law. In his remarks, Sanders outlined his plan to make health care a human right for all Americans. Here is highlighted transcript of remarks as they were prepared for delivery: – Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

Thank you all very much for being here to discuss one of the major crises facing our country.  Let me also thank the dozens of organizations throughout America who support Medicare for All and the tens of thousands of doctors, nurses and other health professionals who support my legislation.  Let me thank the 14 Senate co-sponsors that we have on this legislation and the 118 Members of the House who support similar legislation.  And mostly, let me thank the American people who by the millions understand, as I do, that health care is a human right, not a privilege.

Together, we will end the international embarrassment of the United States being the only major country on earth that does not guarantee health care to all of its citizens.  

It is not acceptable to me, nor to the American people, that some 87 million people today are either uninsured or underinsured.

It is not acceptable to me that we end up spending almost twice as much as any other major country on health care, while our life expectancy continues to decline and our healthcare outcomes lag behind many other countries.

Frankly, I am sick and tired of talking to doctors who tell me about the patients who died because they were uninsured or underinsured, and walked into the doctor’s office when it was too late.  And we are talking about over 30,000 Americans who die every year because they are uninsured or under-insured.  What a tragedy. 

I am sick and tired of seeing working class families and small businesses pay far more for healthcare than they can afford, and 530,000 Americans declare bankruptcy each year because they cannot pay off the outrageous cost of a medical emergency or a hospital stay.  Families should not be driven into financial ruin because someone in the family became seriously ill.  How insane is that?

I am sick and tired of hearing from Americans who lost loved ones because they could not afford the unbelievably high cost of prescription drugs, or hearing from constituents who are forced to cut their pills in half due to the cost. 

In fact, later this month, I will be travelling from Detroit, Michigan to Windsor, Ontario with a busload of Americans who have diabetes in order to purchase insulin in Canada at one-tenth of the price that they pay in America.

I am sick and tired of talking with people who are struggling with mental illness but cannot afford the mental health counseling they desperately need. 

I am tired of talking to people who have teeth that are rotting in their mouths, but cannot afford the high cost of dental care

Let me be very honest and tell you that, in my view, the current debate over Medicare for All really has nothing to do with healthcare.  It has everything to do with greed and the desire of the healthcare industry to maintain a system which fails the average American, but which makes the industry tens and tens of billions of dollars every year in profit. 

It is about whether we maintain a dysfunctional system which allows the big drug and health insurance companies to make over $100 billion in profits last year, while the top CEOs in that industry made $2.6 billion in total compensation – all the while 1 out of 5 Americans cannot afford the prescription drugs their doctors prescribe.

It’s about whether we maintain a system in which the CEO of the Aetna insurance company, Mr. Mark Bertolini, received a golden parachute worth nearly $500 million after his company merged with CVS Health, while elderly people lack the resources to purchase a hearing aid.

It’s about whether we maintain a system that allows the former CEO from Gilead (John Martin) to become a billionaire by charging $1,000 a pill for a hepatitis c drug called Sovaldi that costs a dollar to manufacture.

Let us make no mistake about it.  The struggle that we are now undertaking, to guarantee health care to all Americans as a right and to substantially lower the cost of prescription drugs, will be opposed by some of the most powerful forces in America – entities that have unlimited amounts of money.  We’re talking about the insurance companies, the drug companies, private hospitals, medical equipment suppliers, Wall Street and other powerful entities.  

Let me make a prediction. In order to defeat the Medicare for All movement, powerful special interests will be spending millions on 30 second television ads, full page magazine ads, and corporate-sponsored “studies” to frighten the American people about Medicare for All – which is exactly what happened before the passage of Medicare in the 1960s. They failed then and they’re going to fail now.

And let me give you an example of the kind of money and power we are talking about. 

Over the last 20 years, the insurance industry and pharmaceutical companies have spent more than $330 million in campaign contributions and over $4 billion in lobbying to get Congress to do its bidding. 

The pharmaceutical industry alone has hired some 1,200 lobbyists – including the former leadership of both political parties.

I find it quite interesting that Billy Tauzin, the Republican Congressman who wrote the bill to prevent Medicare from negotiating for lower drug prices and then went on to become the President and CEO of Pharma, received over $11.6 million in compensation in 2010.

That’s how business is done in Washington.  Well, I have a different vision of what a rational healthcare system is all about.  Instead of massive profits for the drug companies, the insurance companies and Wall Street, we must provide a healthcare system that provides quality healthcare to all in a cost effective way.

And that is exactly what Medicare for All does.

Under this legislation, every family in America would receive comprehensive coverage, and middle-class families would save thousands of dollars a year by eliminating their private insurance costs as we move to a publicly funded program.

The transition to the Medicare for All program would take place over four years. In the first year, benefits to older people would be expanded to include dental care, vision coverage and hearing aids, and the eligibility age for Medicare would be lowered to 55. All children under the age of 18 would also be covered. In the second year, the eligibility age would be lowered to 45 and in the third year to 35. By the fourth year, every man, woman and child in the country would be covered by Medicare for All.

Medicare for All will reduce – let me repeat, reduce — overall health care spending while lowering the number of uninsured and underinsured people in this country to zero.   

We accomplish this because Medicare for All creates a system of health care insurance that isn’t designed to generate profits for insurance and drug companies — it will be a system focused on delivering actual health care. It will save lives, save money, and end the frustration of endless paperwork, denials, and desperate fights with an insurance company to cover medically-necessary medications and procedures.

Medicare for All will fully eliminate health insurance premiums, deductibles and co-payments. Make no mistake about it: These are nothing less than taxes on the middle class. 

And when we do that, the average middle class family will save an estimated $3,000 each and every year.

Further, unlike the current dysfunctional system, Medicare for All allows people the freedom to choose any doctor, clinic, and hospital without worrying about whether their provider is in-network or not.  People will be able to make the health care choices that are best for themselves and their families without some insurance bureaucrat telling them which providers they can see or not see. Medicare for All is at the end of the day empowering patients and health care providers. 

In addition, a Medicare for All system will allow us to address the serious problem of medically underserved areas. 

Just to demonstrate how absurd our health care system is, I was in Philadelphia two days ago rallying with the people of that city to try to stop the closure of Hahnemann University Hospital, an important, safety net hospital in that community.  Why do the owners want to close this hospital? Because they can make more money redeveloping that property into condominiums and hotels.

Let me address some of the half-truths, misinformation, and, in some cases, outright lies that people may be hearing about Medicare for All.  

Medicare for All critics tell us that Americans just love their private health insurance companies. We heard this most recently from UnitedHealth CEO David Wichmann, who by the way, made $83 million in 2017 and who said Medicare for All would “destabilize the nation’s health system.” 

But let’s remember: the current system is already disrupting and destabilizing millions of people’s lives. In the current system, 50 million Americans every year lose their existing health insurance when their employer changes insurer, when they change jobs, or when they cannot afford their current plan. For many of them, they will no longer be able to see the doctor they have relied on for years.  For others, important treatments for long-term conditions or disabilities will be changed or stopped altogether.  

Here is the simple truth. The American people do not like their private health insurance companies. In fact private health insurance companies are quite unpopular.  What the American people do like are their doctors, nurses and other health care providers. 

While our opponents claim that Medicare for All is too expensive, the reality is that it is much more cost effective than our current system.

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services estimates that, if we do not change the system, this country will be spending $50 trillion over the next ten years –19.4 percent of our nation’s GDP.  This is unsustainable and will be incredibly harmful to the people of our country, to the business community, and to the entire economy.

And the reason why we spend so much is obvious.  It is not just the huge profits in the insurance industry and the pharmaceutical industry, but it is the incredible and wasteful bureaucratic maze developed by thousands of different healthcare plans.  Today, hospitals and doctors must deal with patients who have different deductibles, different co-payments, different networks of coverage, and different coverage for pharmaceuticals, or no insurance at all.  All of this is not only driving doctors and nurses and hospital administrators to distraction, but it is wasting up to $500 billion a year on unnecessary administrative costs.

Unlike our current system, there is broad consensus – from conservative to progressive economists – that Medicare for All would result in substantial savings to the American people.  Two of the most recent studies on this issue have estimated that Medicare for All would save the American people between $2 trillion and $5 trillion over a 10-year period.

Let us be clear, the fight against Medicare for All today is not a new development.  Powerful special interests have always opposed healthcare programs that work for the people and not for corporate interests.

Let us not forget that when President Harry Truman first proposed a program guaranteeing health care to seniors that idea was billed as radical, “un-American,” and an attack on basic freedom. And because of that assault, the idea stalled in Congress for years — until voters made their voices heard.

In 1960, America elected John F. Kennedy after he campaigned in support of Truman’s idea. That election prompted serious work on universal health care bill, and Kennedy at the time noted that “what we are now talking about doing, most of the countries of Europe did years ago.”

Finally, following the 1964 Democratic election landslide, the new Congress was able to pass what is now known as Medicare despite intense opposition from the health insurance industry and the pharmaceutical companies.

More than a half-century after that achievement, the time is now to go forward.  The time is now to expand Medicare to every man, woman and child in this country. 

Let us be very clear.  When it comes to health care, the insurance and drug industries have been able to control the political process.  

If we are going to break the stranglehold of corporate interests over the health care needs of the American people, we have got to confront a Washington culture that is corrupt, that puts profits before people.

That is why I am calling on every Democratic candidate in this election to join me in rejecting money from the insurance and drug industries. That means not accepting donations over $200 from health insurance or pharmaceutical company PACs, lobbyists or executives. Candidates who are not willing to take that pledge should explain to the American people why those corporate interests believe their campaigns are a good investment.

Of course, President Trump should do the same but I am not going to even waste my breath suggesting that he will.  His efforts to throw 32 million people off their health insurance to have it replaced with junk insurance shows exactly what side he is on.

Finally, let me say, eliminating health insurance and drug company money from the Democratic primary won’t solve all the problems, but it is an important step forward. Now is the time to tell the health care industry that your profits are not more important than the lives of the American people.

See also: Biden Plan for Universal Healthcare: Protect, Build on Obamacare

Biden Plan for Universal Healthcare: Protect, Build on Obamacare

Vice President Joe Biden, in the race for the Democratic nomination for President, has staked out a position on improving on the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) as his solution to providing universal healthcare  – essentially, enabling people keep their private insurance but creating a new public option. That is more moderate than the Democrats like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren who want a more extreme Medicare for All that replaces private insurance (though it is unlikely that there will not still be a market for supplemental private insurance, just as there is now for Medicare). Here, is the Biden campaign’s description and rationale for Biden’s plan to protect and build upon the Affordable Care Act: – Karen Rubin, News& Photo Features

Vice President Joe Biden, in the race for the Democratic nomination for President, has staked out a position on improving on the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) as his solution to providing universal healthcare  – essentially, enabling people keep their private insurance but creating a new public option. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

On March 23, 2010, President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law, with Vice President Biden standing by his side, and made history. It was a victory 100 years in the making. It was the conclusion of a tough fight that required taking on Republicans, special interests, and the status quo to do what’s right. But the Obama-Biden Administration got it done.

Today, the Affordable Care Act is still a big deal. Because of Obamacare, over 100 million people no longer have to worry that an insurance company will deny coverage or charge higher premiums just because they have a pre-existing condition – whether cancer or diabetes or heart disease or a mental health challenge. Insurance companies can no longer set annual or lifetime limits on coverage. Roughly 20 million additional Americans obtained the peace of mind that comes with health insurance. Young people who are in transition from school to a job have the option to stay covered by their parents’ plan until age 26.

But, every day over the past nine years, the Affordable Care Act has been under relentless attack.

Immediately after its passage, Congressional Republicans began trying again and again to repeal it. Following the lead of President Trump, Republicans in Congress have only doubled down on this approach since January 2017. And, since repeal through Congress has not been working, President Trump has been unilaterally doing everything he can to sabotage the Affordable Care Act. Now, the Trump Administration is trying to get the entire law – including protections for people with pre-existing conditions – struck down in court.

As president, Biden will protect the Affordable Care Act from these continued attacks. He opposes every effort to get rid of this historic law – including efforts by Republicans, and efforts by Democrats. Instead of starting from scratch and getting rid of private insurance, he has a plan to build on the Affordable Care Act by giving Americans more choicereducing health care costs, and making our health care system less complex to navigate.

For Biden, this is personal. He believes that every American has a right to the peace of mind that comes with knowing they have access to affordable, quality health care. He knows that no one in this country should have to lay in bed at night staring at the ceiling wondering, “what will I do if she gets breast cancer?” or “if he has a heart attack?” “Will I go bankrupt?” He knows there is no peace of mind if you cannot afford to care for a sick child or a family member because of a pre-existing condition, because you’ve reached a point where your health insurer says “no more,” or because you have to make a decision between putting food on the table and going to the doctor or filling a prescription.

In the coming months, Joe Biden will build on today’s plan by rolling out his proposals to tackle some of our greatest public health challenges – from reducing gun violence to curing devastating diseases as we know them like cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and addiction.

I. GIVE EVERY AMERICAN ACCESS TO AFFORDABLE HEALTH INSURANCE

From the time right before the Affordable Care Act’s key coverage-related policies went into effect to the last full year of the Obama-Biden Administration, 2016, the number of Americans lacking health insurance fell from 44 million to 27 million – an almost 40% drop. But President Trump’s persistent efforts to sabotage Obamacare through executive action, after failing in his efforts to repeal it through Congress, have started to reverse this progress. Since 2016, the number of uninsured Americans has increased by roughly 1.4 million.

As president, Biden will stop this reversal of the progress made by Obamacare. And he won’t stop there. He’ll also build on the Affordable Care Act with a plan to insure more than an estimated 97% of Americans. Here’s how:

Giving Americans a new choice, a public health insurance option like Medicare. If your insurance company isn’t doing right by you, you should have another, better choice. Whether you’re covered through your employer, buying your insurance on your own, or going without coverage altogether, the Biden Plan will give you the choice to purchase a public health insurance option like Medicare. As in Medicare, the Biden public option will reduce costs for patients by negotiating lower prices from hospitals and other health care providers. It also will better coordinate among all of a patient’s doctors to improve the efficacy and quality of their care, and cover primary care without any co-payments. And it will bring relief to small businesses struggling to afford coverage for their employees.

Increasing the value of tax credits to lower premiums and extend coverage to more working Americans. Today, families that make between 100% and 400% of the federal poverty level may receive a tax credit to reduce how much they have to pay for health insurance on the individual marketplace. The dollar amount of the financial assistance is calculated to ensure each family does not have to pay more than a certain percentage of their income on a silver (medium generosity) plan. But, these shares of income are too high and silver plans’ deductibles are too high. Additionally, many families making more than 400% of the federal poverty level (about $50,000 for a single person and $100,000 for a family of four), and thus not qualifying for financial assistance, still struggle to afford health insurance. The Biden Plan will help middle class families by eliminating the 400% income cap on tax credit eligibility and lowering the limit on the cost of coverage from 9.86% of income to 8.5%. This means that no family buying insurance on the individual marketplace, regardless of income, will have to spend more than 8.5% of their income on health insurance. Additionally, the Biden Plan will increase the size of tax credits by calculating them based on the cost of a more generous gold plan, rather than a silver plan. This will give more families the ability to afford more generous coverage, with lower deductibles and out-of-pocket costs.

Expanding coverage to low-income Americans. Access to affordable health insurance shouldn’t depend on your state’s politics. But today, state politics is getting in the way of coverage for millions of low-income Americans. Governors and state legislatures in 14 states have refused to take up the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of Medicaid eligibility, denying access to Medicaid for an estimated 4.9 million adults. Biden’s plan will ensure these individuals get covered by offering premium-free access to the public option for those 4.9 million individuals who would be eligible for Medicaid but for their state’s inaction, and making sure their public option covers the full scope of Medicaid benefits. States that have already expanded Medicaid will have the choice of moving the expansion population to the premium-free public option as long as the states continue to pay their current share of the cost of covering those individuals. Additionally, Biden will ensure people making below 138% of the federal poverty level get covered. He’ll do this by automatically enrolling these individuals when they interact with certain institutions (such as public schools) or other programs for low-income populations (such as SNAP).

II. PROVIDE THE PEACE OF MIND OF AFFORDABLE, QUALITY HEALTH CARE AND A LESS COMPLEX HEALTH CARE SYSTEM

Today, even for people with health insurance, our health care system is too expensive and too hard to navigate. The Biden Plan will not only provide coverage for uninsured Americans, it will also make health care more affordable and less complex for all. 
 
The plan’s elements described above will help reduce the cost of health insurance and health care for those already insured in the following ways:

All Americans will have a new, more affordable option. The public option, like Medicare, will negotiate prices with providers, providing a more affordable option for many Americans who today find their health insurance too expensive.

Middle class families will get a premium tax credit to help them pay for coverage. For example, take a family of four with an income of $110,000 per year. If they currently get insurance on the individual marketplace, because their premium will now be capped at 8.5% of their income, under the Biden Plan they will save an estimated $750 per month on insurance alone. That’s cutting their premiums almost in half. If a family is covered by their employer but can get a better deal with the 8.5% premium cap, they can switch to a plan on the individual marketplace, too.

Premium tax credits will be calculated to help more families afford better coverage with lower deductibles. Because the premium tax credits will now be calculated based on the price of a more generous gold plan, families will be able to purchase a plan with a lower deductible and lower out-of-pocket spending. That means many families will see their overall annual health care spending go down.

The Biden Plan has several additional proposals aimed directly at cutting the cost of health care and making the health care system less complex to navigate. The Biden Plan will:

Stop “surprise billing.” Consumers trying to lower their health care spending often try to choose an in-network provider. But sometimes patients are unaware they are receiving care from an out-of-network provider and a big, surprise bill. “Surprise medical billing” could occur, for example, if you go to an in-network hospital but don’t realize a specialist at that hospital is not part of your health plan. The Biden Plan will bar health care providers from charging patients out-of-network rates when the patient doesn’t have control over which provider the patient sees (for example, during a hospitalization).

Tackle market concentration across our health care system. The concentration of market power in the hands of a few corporations is occurring throughout our health care system, and this lack of competition is driving up prices for consumers. The Biden Administration will aggressively use its existing antitrust authority to address this problem.

Lower costs and improve health outcomes by partnering with the health care workforce. The Biden Administration will partner with health care workers and accelerate the testing and deployment of innovative solutions that improve quality of care and increase wages for low-wage health care workers, like home care workers.

III.  STAND UP TO ABUSE OF POWER BY PRESCRIPTION DRUG CORPORATIONS
 
Too many Americans cannot afford their prescription drugs, and prescription drug corporations are profiteering off of the pocketbooks of sick individuals. The Biden Plan will put a stop to runaway drug prices and the profiteering of the drug industry by:

Repealing the outrageous exception allowing drug corporations to avoid negotiating with Medicare over drug prices. Because Medicare covers so many Americans, it has significant leverage to negotiate lower prices for its beneficiaries. And it does so for hospitals and other providers participating in the program, but not drug manufacturers. Drug manufacturers not facing any competition, therefore, can charge whatever price they choose to set. There’s no justification for this except the power of prescription drug lobbying. The Biden Plan will repeal the existing law explicitly barring Medicare from negotiating lower prices with drug corporations.

Limiting launch prices for drugs that face no competition and are being abusively priced by manufacturers. Through his work on the Cancer Moonshot, Biden understands that the future of pharmacological interventions is not traditional chemical drugs but specialized biotech drugs that will have little to no competition to keep prices in check. Without competition, we need a new approach for keeping the prices of these drugs down. For these cases where new specialty drugs without competition are being launched, under the Biden Plan the Secretary of Health and Human Services will establish an independent review board to assess their value. The board will recommend a reasonable price, based on the average price in other countries (a process called external reference pricing) or, if the drug is entering the U.S. market first, based on an evaluation by the independent board members. This reasonable price will be the rate Medicare and the public option will pay. In addition, the Biden Plan will allow private plans participating in the individual marketplace to access a similar rate.

Limiting price increases for all brand, biotech, and abusively priced generic drugs to inflation. As a condition of participation in the Medicare program and public option, all brand, biotech, and abusively priced generic drugs will be prohibited from increasing their prices more than the general inflation rate. The Biden Plan will also impose a tax penalty on drug manufacturers that increase the costs of their brand, biotech, or abusively priced generic over the general inflation rate.

Allowing consumers to buy prescription drugs from other countries. To create more competition for U.S. drug corporations, the Biden Plan will allow consumers to import prescription drugs from other countries, as long as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has certified that those drugs are safe.

Terminating pharmaceutical corporations’ tax break for advertisement spending. Drug corporations spent an estimated $6 billion in 2016 alone on prescription drug advertisements to increase their sales, a more than four-fold increase from just $1.3 billion in 1997. The American Medical Association has even expressed “concerns among physicians about the negative impact of commercially driven promotions, and the role that marketing costs play in fueling escalating drug prices.” Currently, drug corporations may count spending on these ads as a deduction to reduce the amount of taxes they owe. But taxpayers should not have to foot the bill for these ads. As president, Biden will end this tax deduction for all prescription drug ads, as proposed by Senator Jeanne Shaheen.

Improving the supply of quality generics. Generics help reduce health care spending, but brand drug corporations have succeeded in preserving a number of strategies to help them delay the entrance of a generic into the market even after the patent has expired. The Biden Plan supports numerous proposals to accelerate the development of safe generics, such as Senator Patrick Leahy’s proposal to make sure generic manufacturers have access to a sample.

IV. ENSURE HEALTH CARE IS A RIGHT FOR ALL, NOT A PRIVILEGE FOR JUST A FEW
 
Joe Biden believes that every American – regardless of gender, race, income, sexual orientation, or zip code – should have access to affordable and quality health care. Yet racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and other forms of discrimination permeate our health care system just as in every other part of society. As president, Biden will be a champion for improving access to health care and the health of all by:

Expanding access to contraception and protect the constitutional right to an abortion. The Affordable Care Act made historic progress by ensuring access to free preventive care, including contraception. The Biden Plan will build on that progress. Vice President Biden supports repealing the Hyde Amendment because health care is a right that should not be dependent on one’s zip code or income. And, the public option will cover contraception and a woman’s constitutional right to choose. In addition, the Biden Plan will:

1) Reverse the Trump Administration and states’ all-out assault on women’s right to choose. As president, Biden will work to codify Roe v. Wade, and his Justice Department will do everything in its power to stop the rash of state laws that so blatantly violate the constitutional right to an abortion, such as so-called TRAP laws, parental notification requirements, mandatory waiting periods, and ultrasound requirements.

2) Restore federal funding for Planned Parenthood. The Obama-Biden administration fought Republican attacks on funding for Planned Parenthood again and again. As president, Biden will reissue guidance specifying that states cannot refuse Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood and other providers that refer for abortions or provide related information and reverse the Trump Administration’s rule preventing Planned Parenthood and certain other family planning programs from obtaining Title X funds.

3) Just as the Obama-Biden Administration did, President Biden will rescind the Mexico City Policy (also referred to as the global gag rule) that President Trump reinstated and expanded. This rule currently bars the U.S. federal government from supporting important global health efforts – including for malaria and HIV/AIDS – in developing countries simply because the organizations providing that aid also offer information on abortion services.

Reducing our unacceptably high maternal mortality rate, which especially impacts people of color. Compared to other developed nations, the U.S. has the highest rate of deaths related to pregnancy and childbirth, and we are the only country experiencing an increase in this death rate. This problem is especially prevalent among black women, who experience a death rate from complications related to pregnancy that is more than three times higher than the rate for non-Hispanic white women. California came up with a strategy that halved the state’s maternal death rate. As president, Biden will take this strategy nationwide.

Defending health care protections for all, regardless of gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation. Before the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies could increase premiums merely due to someone’s gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Further, insurance companies could increase premiums or deny coverage altogether due to someone’s HIV status. Yet, President Trump is trying to walk back this progress. For example, he has proposed to once again allow health care providers and insurance companies to discriminate based on a patient’s gender identity or abortion history. President Biden will defend the rights of all people – regardless of gender, sexual orientation, gender identity – to have access to quality, affordable health care free from discrimination.

Doubling America’s investment in community health centers. Community health centers  provide primary, prenatal, and other important care to underserved populations. The Biden Plan will double the federal investment in these centers, expanding access to high quality health care for the populations that need it most.

Achieving mental health parity and expanding access to mental health care. As Vice President, Biden was a champion for efforts to implement the federal mental health parity lawimprove access to mental health care, and eliminate the stigma around mental health. As President, he will redouble these efforts to ensure enforcement of mental health parity laws and expand funding for mental health services.

In the months ahead, Biden will put forward additional plans to tackle health challenges affecting specific communities, including access to health care in rural communities, gun violence, and opioid addiction.

SUPPORTING HEALTH, NOT REWARDING WEALTH

Joe Biden believes in rewarding work, not just wealth – and investing in hard-working Americans’ health, not protecting the most privileged Americans’ wealth. Warren Buffett said it best when he stated that he should not pay a lower tax rate than his secretary.
 
The Biden Plan will make health care a right by getting rid of capital gains tax loopholes for the super wealthy. Today, the very wealthy pay a tax rate of just 20% on long-term capital gains. According to the Joint Committee on Taxation, the capital gains and dividends exclusion is the second largest tax expenditure in the entire tax code: $127 billion in fiscal year 2019 alone. As President, Biden will roll back the Trump rate cut for the very wealthy and restore the 39.6% top rate he helped restore when he negotiated an end to the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy in 2012. Biden’s capital gains reform will close the loopholes that allow the super wealthy to avoid taxes on capital gains altogether. The Biden plan will assure those making over $1 million will pay the top rate on capital gains, doubling the capital gains tax rate on the super wealthy.

WATCH: Joe Biden talks more about the need to build on and protect ACA in THIS new video.

See also: Biden Gives Speech on Foreign Policy that Defines His Quest for Presidency

Elizabeth Warren Announces Her Plan for Immigration Reform

One of  hundreds of candlelight Lights for Liberty vigils that took place across the country on the eve of Trump’s raids took place at the Universalist Unitarian Church in Garden City, Long Island. Sen. Elizabeth Warren has put forth her plan for immigration reform. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

As Donald Trump prepares to unleash raids on undocumented migrants in cities across the country, while thousands of men, women and children seeking asylum are crammed into unliveable detention camps for weeks and months without end – a humanitarian crisis created through a combination of cruelty and ineptitude – US Senator Elizabeth Warren, running for Democratic nomination for president, announced a plan to create an immigration system that is fair, humane, and reflects American values. 

“Donald Trump wants to divide us — to pit worker against worker, neighbor against neighbor. He wants Americans to blame their troubles on those who are new to our country, or who don’t look the same, even as his administration robs us dry. He has tried his best to make it appear that immigrants are not welcome on our shores. 

“We can be better than this. Americans know that immigrants helped weave the very fabric of our country in the past — and they know that immigrants belong here today. 

“I’ll work with Congress to pass broad-reaching reform, but I’m also prepared to move forward with executive action if Congress refuses to act. We cannot continue to ignore our immigration challenges, nor can we close our borders and isolate the United States from the outside world. Instead we need big, structural change: a fair immigration system that preserves our security, grows our economy, and reflects our values. That’s good for immigrants, good for workers, and ultimately good for the United States.”

Here is a summary: – Karen Rubin, News& Photo Features

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, candidate for the Democratic nomination for president, introduces her plan for immigration reform © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com


A Fair and Welcoming Immigration System

Immigrants have always been a vital source of American strength. They grow our economy and make our communities richer and more diverse. They are our neighbors, our colleagues, and our friends — and every bit as much a part of America as those who were born in the United States. 

President Trump sees things differently. He’s advanced a policy of cruelty and division that demonizes immigrants. He’s axed programs that protect young Dreamers and asylum seekers fleeing violence and upheaval. He’s championed dramatic cuts to legal immigration, and imposed a bigoted ban on travelers from Muslim-majority countries. He’s threatened to close our ports of entry to lawful transit and commerce, and exploited a crisis of his own making at the border to score cheap political points. But while Trump may have taken the system to its most punitive extreme, his racist policies build on a broken immigration system and an enforcement infrastructure already primed for abuse. 

I saw that in McAllen, Texas, in the eyes of mothers who fled violence only to be ripped apart from their babies at the U.S. border. I saw it in the tears of families as they waited for their loved ones at Logan Airport in Boston on the night Trump announced his Muslim Ban. I saw it in the tired faces of little children made to march in formation between makeshift tents in the hot summer sun at the Homestead detention facility in Florida. 

I also see it when I talk with our Dreamers about their aspirations and their fears. When I meet with business owners who watch their competition exploit undocumented workers for a competitive advantage, and with farmers who cannot access the labor they need. When I sit with families who have been waiting decades for a visa to reunite with their loved ones, and with mixed-status families who worry that a parent, brother or sister could be ripped away at any time. 

We must address the humanitarian mess at the border and reverse this president’s discriminatory policies. But that won’t be nearly enough to fix our immigration system. We need expanded legal immigration that will grow our economy, reunite families, and meet our labor market demands. We need real reform that provides cost-effective security at our borders, addresses the root causes of migration, and provides a path to status and citizenship so that our neighbors don’t have to live in fear. That’s why today I’m announcing my plan for immigration reform — to create a rules-based system that is fair, humane, and that reflects our values. 

Eliminating Abusive Enforcement 

President Trump has weaponized deportation in ways that are costly, ineffective, and designed to maximize pain. It’s time to end this cruelty — and refocus on true threats to public safety and national security instead. As president, I will: 

Decriminalize migration and refocus enforcement on serious criminal activity. Entering the country without authorization has always been a violation of civil immigration law, but thanks to a former segregationist Senator, it’s also a criminal violation. This additional criminal provision is totally unnecessary for border security, and for a century, it was rarely enforced. But since the early 2000s, it has been used to build and sustain a massive immigration detention complex. In 2016, over half of all federal criminal prosecutions were for immigration violations — more than prosecutions for terrorism, organized crime, hate crimes, or financial fraud. This obsessive focus ties up federal prosecutors and overwhelms federal courts. It’s costly and unnecessary. And under Trump, it has become increasingly abusive. We should repeal this criminal prohibition to prevent future abuse. As president, I will immediately issue guidance to end criminal prosecutions for simple administrative immigration violations; end Operation Streamline, which subjects migrants to mass prosecutions; and refocus our limited resources on actual criminals and real threats to the United States. I will also issue prosecutorial guidance to prioritize immigration cases with security concerns, and make sure government attorneys are properly exercising their discretion for individuals who pose no public safety risk. 

Separate law enforcement from immigration enforcement to strengthen our communities. There are good reasons to keep immigration enforcement and law enforcement separate. When law enforcement is forced to also handle immigration violations, people are less willing to report crimes for fear of revealing their immigration status. Combining these functions sows distrust and harms public safety. As President, I’ll put in place strict guidelines to protect sensitive locations like schools, medical facilities, and courthouses from enforcement actions. I’ll expand programs that grant protections to immigrant victims of serious crimes who come forward and assist law enforcement. And I’ll end programs like 287(g) and “Secure Communities” that force local cops to enforce federal immigration laws so they can focus on effectively serving their communities. 

Remake CPB and ICE in a way that reflects our values. Our immigration agencies should protect Americans and uphold the rule of law, not pursue punitive anti-immigrant policies that target communities of color. I’ll hold immigration enforcement to the same due process standards as other law enforcement agencies — no more warrantless arrests or stops deep in the interior of our country. I’ll reshape CBP and ICE from top to bottom, focusing their efforts on homeland security efforts like screening cargo, identifying counterfeit goods, and preventing smuggling and trafficking. And to change the culture, I’ll insist on transparency and strengthen the authorities of independent internal watchdogs to prevent future abuses. 

Create accountability for the abuse perpetrated during the Trump Era. President Trump and his Administration are comfortable looking the other way while criminal abuses of immigrants pile up. When I am President, I will not. I’ll designate a Justice Department task force to investigate accusations of serious violations — including medical neglect and physical and sexual assaults of detained immigrants — and give it independent authority pursue any substantiated criminal allegations. Let there be no ambiguity on this: if you are violating the basic rights of immigrants, now or in the future, a Warren Administration will hold you accountable. 

Significantly Reduce Immigration Detention 

Americans are rightfully horrified by scenes of chaos and abuse at our border. Separating parents and children and detaining families and other vulnerable populations is not only staggeringly expensive and inhumane, it has no proven deterrent effect. To end unnecessary detention and rebuild a more humane system, a Warren administration will: 

End unnecessary detention. We already have the tools to effectively track and monitor individuals without shoving them into cages and camps along the border. As President, I’ll issue guidance ensuring that detention is only used where it is actually necessary because an individual poses a flight or safety risk. I will put additional layers of protection in place for certain groups, including asylum seekers, families and pregnant women, and LGBTQ+ people who are more vulnerable in a general detention facility. And I’ll enforce strict standards for remaining detention facilities, including for medical care and to end the use of solitary confinement. 

Eliminate private detention facilities. There is no place in this country for profiting off cruelty. I’ll end the contracts ICE has with private detention providers, and push for legislation to permanently ban for-profit detention. 

Expand the executive use of parole and invest in alternatives-to-detention. DHS has broad authority to parole individuals who are detained prior to their cases being heard in immigration court. Community-based alternatives to detention are safer, save money, and can be more effective at ensuring compliance. I’ll significantly expand successful programs, which include case management, referrals to legal and social services, and periodic check-ins and surveillance. These programs provide a measure of dignity for those in the system, and their expanded use would save over a billion dollars each year in unnecessary detention costs. 

Provide Rights and Due Process in our Immigration Courts 

It’s not enough to merely correct the excesses of the Trump administration’s immigration policies. To prevent future abuses, we need to treat migrants moving through the system in a manner that reflects our Constitution and our values. A Warren administration will: 

Establish professional, independent Article I immigration courts. DOJ both oversees the immigration court system and enjoys massive authority to manipulate those courts to implement the president’s immigration policy agenda. Immigration court rulings can even be overturned by the Attorney General — a fundamental conflict of interest exploited by Jeff Sessions. I’ll work to create a credible, independent system by passing legislation establishing Article I judicial review for immigration cases modeled on our federal courts. I’ll deploy smart efficiency measures, beginning by restoring judges’ ability to prioritize and manage their own dockets. And my administration will recruit highly qualified immigration judges with a diverse set of legal experiences so that everyone receives appropriate justice. 

Eliminate expedited removal and provide due process. Due process ensures basic fairness for individuals attempting to navigate complex laws and prevents law enforcement and Presidents from abusing authority. But mostimmigrants facing deportation do not have attorneys — and in the Trump administration, that even includes toddlers. In fact, one-third of deported immigrants never even see a judge: instead, the immigration officer serves as both prosecutor and jury. I’ll eliminate the use of expedited removal proceedings and guarantee hearings. I’ll call for creating a national-scale immigration public defender corps, and a Warren administration will provide access to counsel in immigration court. 

Welcome Those In Need 

Our laws and our values compel us to help those fleeing violence and oppression, but Trump’s racism has contributed to a climate of fear for those seeking refuge in our country. As president, I will: 

Reject exclusionary policies based on race, religion and nationality. I’ll reverse Trump’s bigoted Muslim Ban on my first day in office. I’ll withdraw the Trump policy that forces immigrant families to choose between staying together and ensuring their children — many of whom are American citizens — have access to critical services. And I’ll reinstate Temporary Protected Status designations and Deferred Enforced Departure to protect individuals at risk in their home countries, including migrants from the Caribbean and Africa that have built lives and businesses in our country. 

Raise the refugee cap. At a time when 70 million are displaced around the world, President Trump has abused his authority to lower the refugee cap for the United States, admitting just over 22,000 refugees in total last year. I’ll welcome 125,000 refugees in my first year, and ramping up to at least 175,000 refugees per year by the end of my first term. 

Affirm asylum protections. We should welcome those fleeing violence, not imprison them in cages. As president, I will reverse Trump’s efforts to stack the deck against asylum applicants. I’ll ensure that asylum seekers can safely present themselves at ports of entry for humane, efficient processing, including by ending the metering and “Remain in Mexico” policies. I’ll restore President Obama’s promise to extend asylum for those fleeing domestic or gang violence and affirm asylum protections for gender identity and sexual orientation-based asylum claims. I’ll streamline processes to eliminate the backlog of individuals waiting for an asylum adjudication. And I’ll pardon those convicted of providing food and water to migrants — because no one should go to jail simply providing humanitarian aid to another person in need. 

Grow Legal Immigration and Establish a Fair and Achievable Path to Status 

As president, I’ll work to expand legal immigration. I’ll also take executive action to provide a measure of protection for those who are undocumented, while pursuing a legislative solution that provides a path to citizenship. 

Expand legal immigration. America should welcome more legal immigration — done in the right way and consistent with our principles. We should use targeted immigration as a tool to create jobs and businesses and grow our economy. We should reflect our values, which means expanding family reunification and making it easier for relatives of citizens and green card holders to come to the United States. We should put American workers first by ensuring that workers already here get the first opportunity to fill any available positions. We should empower workers, not employers, by coupling any expansion of legal immigration with real accountability on employers who break the rules, exploit workers, or don’t adhere to basic labor standards. And we should be transparent and data-driven in our immigration policies, using the best available information to identify true needs in the labor force and to address those needs in a way that incorporates the input of both workers and companies. 

Make it easier for those eligible for citizenship to naturalize. Today over 9 million green card holders are eligible to apply for citizenship but many have not chosen to naturalize due to unnecessary barriers, including the cost of applications, the complexity of the process, and administrative issues and backlogs. I’ll work to make it possible for everyone who is eligible to naturalize to do so. 

Reduce the family reunification backlog. As many as 4 million immigrants who are otherwise eligible to come to the United States legally are prohibited because of by-country visa caps. My administration will redistribute unused visas to reduce this backlog and reunite more families with their loved ones. I’ll also urge Congress to repeal laws that make family reunification more difficult to achieve. 

Repeal the 3- and 10-year bars. The law currently requires a person unlawfully in the United States to depart the country for three or ten years before they can apply for legal status. I’ll petition Congress to repeal that requirement. In the meantime, I’ll reinterpret “extreme hardship” to include family separation, making it easier to obtain a waiver allowing people to apply for legal status without having to leave the country for an extended period of time. 

Provide a fair and achievable pathway to citizenship. For the good of our economy and our communities, it’s long past time to provide a path forward for the approximately 11 million undocumented individuals currently living and working in the Unites States. We should immediately reinstate the DACA program and protections for our Dreamers and their families. I’ll expand the program to cover more young people by extending the cut-off date, eliminating the arbitrary application age requirement, and extending the “minor” designation to anyone who was brought to the U.S. under the age of 18. But Dreamers have families and communities that are productive, longtime members of our American family and need protection too. The same is true of the Temporary Protected Status and Deferred Enforced Departure holders. I’ll extend the individual exercise of discretion to offer deferred action protections to hardworking immigrants who have contributed to our country for years and have built careers and families here. And I’ll push for a far-reaching legislative fix that provides a fair but achievable path to citizenship for them. 

Limit the penalties considered for status determinations. Part of focusing on real threats means distinguishing between actual criminals and law-abiding immigrants. We shouldn’t penalize people for prior convictions under statutes that criminalize border crossing for the purpose of status determinations. And we should establish a statute of limitations for how long a misdemeanor will be considered as part of an individual’s immigration adjudication. Citizens with minor, non-violent criminal records should not be permanently excluded from being a part of American society — and immigrants shouldn’t be, either. 

Create an Office of New Americans. I’ll establish an Office of New Americans dedicated to supporting new immigrants as they transition into our society and economy, and task that office to draft a national strategy for integration. We should provide English, civics, and employment- focused classes and training for immigrants who want to enroll, and work with faith groups and other community organizations to provide support services for refugees and asylees, providing the tools to make it easier for newcomers to integrate into their communities. 

Address the Forces Displacing Migrants from Their Home Countries

Migration has spiked around the world, the result of poverty, climate change, violence and injustice. Migrants have come to our country fleeing naturaldisasters or conflicts that forced them from their homes. 

In recent years, many have fled north from the Northern Triangle. But the solution to Central American migration isn’t placing children in cages, it’s stabilizing the countries that families are risking their lives to escape. Rather than addressing rampant corruption, criminal gangs, and some of the world’s highest rates of gender-based violence, President Trump has cut off hundreds of millions of dollars in aid for programs that provide vital support. 

We cannot fully address migration until we address its root causes. Now more than ever, the United States must reclaim its role as the world’s beacon of hope — and that means proposing bold and nuanced solutions to these complex challenges. As president, I will: 

Restore and increase aid. I’ll commit at least $1.5 billion annually in aid to fully fund programs that target crime, disrupt trafficking, address poverty, reduce sexual violence, and enhance programs for at-risk youth in Central America and throughout our hemisphere — and I’ll rally the international community to match those funds. 

Step up efforts to address transnational crime. A Warren administration will expand efforts to reduce corruption and improve the rule of law, investigate and prosecute human trafficking, employ targeted financial sanctions against drug kingpins and money launderers, and provide robust funding for efforts to counter gangs. 

Inform and protect those seeking refuge. My administration will provide information about the right to seek asylum, reinstate the Central American Minors program, and coordinate with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to help resettle children and families who need protection. We’ll also do more to spread awareness about the dangers of attempting migration across borders to help prevent vulnerable people from being exploited along the way. 

Biden Plan for Restoring America’s Leadership to Meet Challenges of 21st Century Starts With Reinvigorating Democracy

Vice President Joe Biden, seeking the Democratic nomination for President, lays out his foreign policy vision in a speech at NYU Graduate Center, July 11 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Today, Joe Biden laid out his foreign policy vision for America to restore dignified leadership at home and respected leadership on the world stage. Arguing that our policies at home and abroad are deeply connected, Joe Biden announced that, as president, he will advance the security, prosperity, and values of the United States by taking immediate steps to renew our own democracy and alliances, protect our economic future, and once more place America at the head of the table, leading the world to address the most urgent global challenges. 

In a Biden administration, America will lead by example and rally the world to meet our common challenges that no one nation can face on its own, from climate change to nuclear proliferation, from great power aggression to transnational terrorism, from cyberwarfare to mass migration. Donald Trump’s erratic policies and failure to uphold basic democratic principles have surrendered our position in the world, undermined our democratic alliances, weakened our ability to mobilize others to meet these challenges, and threatened our security and our future.

In a speech at The Graduate Center at CUNY in New York, Joe Biden laid out his blueprint to repair the damage wrought by President Trump and chart a fundamentally different course for American foreign policy for the world as we find it today—and as we anticipate it will be tomorrow. Biden will continue to build on this vision over the course of the campaign.

I. Reinvigorate our Own Democracy & Strengthen the Coalition of Democracies that Stand With Us 

Democracy is the root of our society, the wellspring of our power, and the source of our renewal. It strengthens and amplifies our leadership to keep us safe in the world. It is the engine of our ingenuity that drives our economic prosperity. It is the heart of who we are and how we see the world—and how the world sees us. That is why America’s ability to be a force for progress in the world and to mobilize collective action starts at home. The United States must lead not just with the example of power, but the power of our example.

Among his early actions as president, Joe Biden will: 

Reinforce our Democracy 

  • Remake our education system so that a child’s opportunity in life isn’t determined by their zip code or race;
  • Reform our criminal justice system to eliminate inequitable disparities; 
  • Restore the Voting Rights Act; 
  • Seek greater transparency in our campaign finance system so money, foreign and domestic, won’t pollute our politics; 
  • Dedicate greater resources, including cyber resources, to defending our election systems.
  • End the practice of anonymous shell companies; 
  • Institute strict conflict-of-interest and anti-corruption policies for every member of the Biden administration so there will be no more self-dealing; 
  • Immediately return to daily press briefings at the White House, U.S. Department of State, and U.S. Department of Defense. Our foreign policy relies on the informed consent of the American people. That is not possible when our government refuses to communicate with the public. 

Restore our Moral Leadership

  • Immediately end the horrific practice of separating families at our border and holding immigrant children in for-profit prisons. Abandoning our deepest-held values does nothing to increase security at our border—and everything to diminish our standing in the world. At the same time, as president, Biden will establish sensible policies that improve screening procedures at our legal ports of entry and make smart investments in border technology, in cooperation with Canada and Mexico.
  • Protect undocumented members of our armed services, veterans, and their spouses from deportation because if you are willing to risk your life for this country, you and your family have earned the chance to live safe, healthy, and productive lives in America; 
  • Order a review of Temporary Protected Status to vulnerable populations who cannot find safety in countries ripped apart by violence or disaster, including for Venezuelans and Haitians. 
  • Terminate the travel ban against people from Muslim-majority countries; 
  • Reverse Trump’s detrimental asylum policies and raise our target for refugee admissions to a level commensurate with our responsibility and unprecedented global need; 
  • End the Global Gag Rule, which prevents money from going to international NGOs that even talk about abortion;
  • Return to a government-wide focus of uplifting the rights of women and girls at home and around the world, including by focusing on measures to address gender-based violence internationally.
  • Reaffirm the ban on torture and restore greater transparency in our military operations, including policies instituted during the Obama-Biden administration to reduce civilian casualties;
  • Restore a commitment to science and truth in government, including bringing back the words “climate change”; 
  • Return the phrase “nation of immigrants” to the mission statement of our Citizenship and Immigration Services, because that is who we are.
  • Revitalize our national commitment to advancing human rights and democracy around the world.

Having taken these essential steps to reinforce the democratic foundation of our country and inspire action in others, President Biden will organize and host a global Summit for Democracy to renew the spirit and shared purpose of the nations of the Free World. During his first year in office, President Biden will bring together the world’s democracies to strengthen our democratic institutions, honestly confront the challenge of nations that are backsliding, and forge a common agenda to address threats to our common values.

  • The Summit will prioritize results by galvanizing significant new country commitments in three areas: (1) fighting corruption; (2) defending against authoritarianism, including election security; (3) advancing human rights in their own nations and abroad.
  • The Summit will include civil society organizations from around the world that stand on the frontlines in defense of our democracies.
  • The Summit will also issue a Call to Action for the private sector, including technology corporations and social media giants, to make their own commitments, recognizing their responsibilities and their overwhelming interest in preserving open, democratic societies and protecting free speech. For example, technology companies—which benefit from the fruits of democracy—should make concrete pledges for how they can ensure their algorithms and platforms are not empowering the surveillance state, facilitating repression in China and elsewhere, spreading hate, spurring people to violence, and remaining susceptible to misuse. 

As an example of the concrete action our world needs, Joe Biden served as a founding member of a Trans-Atlantic Commission on Election Integrity—to fight back against Russia’s attacks on Western democracies. The Commission asked politicians across Europe to sign a pledge committing to transparency in campaign finance and to reject the use of fabricated or hacked material. Now that he is a candidate for office, Biden has signed that pledge and is calling on every person running for president to do the same.

II. Equip our People to Succeed in a Global Economy with a Foreign Policy for the Middle Class

Joe Biden believes that economic security is national security. That is why, as president, Biden will pursue a foreign policy for the middle class. To win the competition for the future against China or anyone else, we must sharpen our innovative edge and unite the economic might of democracies around the world to counter abusive economic practices.

Rebuild the Middle Class, the Backbone of the Country: Give every student the skills they need to obtain a good 21st century job; make sure every single American has access to quality, affordable healthcare; invest in infrastructure; raise the minimum wage to $15; and lead the clean-economy revolution to create 10 million new jobs in the United States. 

Invest in Our Innovative Edge: Unleash our nation’s full potential—which includes unrivaled research universities, unparalleled venture capital, and our citizens’ unmatched spirit of entrepreneurship and commitment to hard work—with investments in research and development to spur advances in clean energy, quantum computing, artificial intelligence, 5G, and high-speed rail. We must ensure the technologies of the future like AI are bound by laws and ethics and promote greater shared prosperity and democracy. A Biden administration will join together with our democratic allies to develop secure, private sector-led 5G networks, leaving no community—rural or low-income—behind. 

Ensure the Rules of Road Benefit our Workers and our Communities: There is no going back to business as usual on trade. And he will ensure we negotiate from the strongest possible position. Joining with our fellow democracies, we represent about one-half of global GDP. As president, Biden will use this substantial leverage to shape the future rules of the road on everything from the environment to labor to trade to transparency, non-proliferation to cyber theft, and data privacy to artificial intelligence, so they continue to reflect democratic interests and values—America’s interests and values. 

III. Renew American Leadership to Mobilize Global Action on Global Threats

The world does not organize itself. American leadership, backed by clear goals and sound strategies, is necessary to effectively address the defining global challenges of our time. In order to lead again, we must restore our credibility and influence. From day one of a Biden administration, other countries will once again have reason to trust and respect the word of an American president. Working together, democracies can and must confront the rise of populists, nationalists, and demagogues; the growing strength of autocratic powers and their efforts to divide and manipulate democracies; and the threats unique to our time, including the renewed threat of nuclear war, mass migration, the disruptive impact of new technologies, and climate change.

Defend our Vital Interests: As president, Biden will never hesitate to protect the American people, including when necessary, by using force. We have the strongest military in the world—and as president, Biden will ensure it stays that way. The Biden administration will make the investments necessary to equip our troops for the challenges of the next century, not the last one. But the use of force should be our last resort, not our first—used only to defend our vital interests, when the objective is clear and achievable, and with the informed consent of the American people. 

End Forever Wars: Biden will end the forever wars in Afghanistan and the Middle East, which have cost us untold blood and treasure. As he has long argued, Biden will bring the vast majority of our troops home from Afghanistan and narrowly focus our mission on Al-Qaeda and ISIS. And he will end our support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen. Staying entrenched in unwinnable conflicts only drains our capacity to lead on other issues that require our attention, and it prevents us from rebuilding the other instruments of American power.

Elevate Diplomacy: As president, Biden will elevate diplomacy as the premier tool of our global engagement. He will rebuild a modern, agile U.S. Department of State—investing in and re-empowering the finest diplomatic corps in the world and leveraging the full talent and richness of America’s diversity. Working cooperatively with other nations makes us more secure and more successful. For example, as president, Biden will launch a top-to-bottom review of our funding to Central America to determine how we can build on a successful initiative from the Obama-Biden administration that secured concrete commitments from the leaders of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras to take on the corruption, violence, and endemic poverty that drive migration. 

Restore and Reimagine Partnerships: A Biden administration will do more than restore our historic partnerships; it will lead the effort to reimagine them for the future. This means keeping NATO’s military capabilities sharp, while also expanding our capacity to take on new, non-traditional threats like weaponized corruption, cyber theft, and new challenges in space and on the high seas; calling on all NATO nations to recommit to their responsibilities as members of a democratic alliance; and strengthening cooperation with democratic partners beyond North America and Europe by reaching out to our partners in Asia to fortify our collective capabilities and integrating our friends in Latin America and Africa. When the United States hosts the next Summit of the Americas in 2021, President Biden will harness this opportunity to rebuild strong hemispheric ties based on respect for democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. We will also strengthen our alliances with Japan, South Korea, Australia and other Asian democracies, while sustaining an ironclad commitment to Israel’s security.

Renew our Commitment to Arms Control for a New Era: 

  • The historic Iran nuclear deal, negotiated by the Obama-Biden administration alongside our allies and other world powers, blocked Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. Yet Trump decided to cast it aside, prompting Iran to restart its nuclear program and become more provocative, bringing the region to the cusp of another disastrous war. If Tehran returns to compliance with the deal, President Biden would re-enter the agreement, using hard-nosed diplomacy and support from our allies to strengthen and extend it, while more effectively pushing back against Iran’s other destabilizing activities. 
  • In North Korea, President Biden will empower our negotiators and jump start a sustained, coordinated campaign with our allies and others, including China, to advance our shared objective of a denuclearized North Korea. 
  • As president, Biden will pursue an extension of the New START Treaty, an anchor of strategic stability between the United States and Russia, and use that as a foundation for new arms control arrangements. 
  • President Biden would take other steps to demonstrate our commitment to reducing the role of nuclear weapons. As he said in 2017, Biden believes the sole purpose of the U.S. nuclear arsenal should be deterring—and if necessary, retaliating against—a nuclear attack. As president, he will work to put that belief into practice, in consultation with our allies and military. 

Rally the World to Address Existential Climate Crisis: The Biden administration will rejoin the Paris Climate Accord on day one and lead a major diplomatic push to raise the ambitions of countries’ climate targets. To catalyze this effort and demonstrate concrete actions at home to achieve a clean-energy economy with net-zero emissions by 2050, President Biden – as outlined in his comprehensive plan – will in his first 100 days in office:

  • Convene a climate world summit to directly engage the leaders of the major carbon-emitting nations of the world to persuade them to join the United States in making more ambitious national pledges, above and beyond the commitments they have already made.
  • Lock in enforceable commitments that will reduce emissions in global shipping and aviation—and pursue strong measures to make sure other nations can’t undercut us economically as we meet our own commitments. This includes pressuring China—the world’s largest emitter of carbon—to stop subsidizing coal exports and outsourcing their pollution to other countries by financing billions of dollars of dirty fossil-fuel energy projects through their Belt and Road Initiative.

See also: Biden Gives Speech on Foreign Policy that Defines His Quest for Presidency

Biden Gives Speech on Foreign Policy that Defines His Quest for Presidency

Foreign policy is Joe Biden’s forte. It is a lane he can travel relatively apart from the two dozen others vying for the Democratic nomination for President, and also is the starkest contrast to Trump. It is also gets to the heart of everyday Americans’ most horrific anxieties – living with the fear of nuclear war, climate catastrophe, trade wars that upend businesses and household budgets – and where a president has the most unconstrained power. The proverbial finger on the nuclear button.

Biden alluded to the fact US administrations have not been infallible regarding foreign policy. And though Bernie Sanders (and others) will use his vote as a Senator for the Iraq War as a cudgel as he and Obama did against Hillary Clinton, that vote only confirms one of Biden’s most crucial arguments to replace Trump: a President must be credible. Iraq was a product of Bush/Cheney administration lies – about Weapons of Mass Destruction, about Saddam Hussein’s culpability for 9/11, about what the Senate “authorization” actually authorized.

The speech Biden delivered at the NYU Graduate Center on Fifth Avenue in New York City on July 11 summed up in the clearest terms the former Vice President’s rationale to be President – as he summed it up, “In 2019, foreign policy is domestic policy, and domestic policy is foreign policy.”

He delivered the speech in moderated, controlled tones. It was workmanlike, but, as he would say, “deadly serious.” Here is a highlighted transcript – Karen Rubin, News& Photo Features


Vice President Joe Biden, seeking the Democratic nomination for President, lays out his foreign policy vision in a speech at NYU Graduate Center, July 11 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Ladies and Gentlemen, political wisdom holds that the American public doesn’t vote on foreign policy – but that’s an old way of thinking.

In 2019, foreign policy is domestic policy, and domestic policy is foreign policy.

They are a deeply connected set of choices we make about how to advance the American way of life and our vision for the future.

And, like everything about this election, the threat Donald Trump poses to our national security, and to who we are as a country, is so extreme, we cannot afford to ignore it. His erratic policies and failures to uphold basic democratic principles have muddied our reputation, our place in the world, and our ability to lead it. 

So let me start today, by reminding everyone about what’s been lost amid the chest-thumping, the self-inflicted setbacks, and the manufactured crises of this administration.

American foreign policy must be purposeful and inspiring, based on clear goals and driven by sound strategies – not Twitter-tantrums.

And the overarching purpose of our foreign policy must be to defend and advance the security, prosperity, and democratic values of the United States. 

Every President in modern history prior to Donald Trump, Democrat and Republican alike, has understood and carried out this basic directive – often imperfectly – but never before has it been so thoroughly abandoned.
 

I knew when I saw how Donald Trump responded to the events in Charlottesville – assigning a moral equivalence between those who promote hate, and those who oppose it – that the threat to our democracy was unlike any in my lifetime.
 
Less than a year later, Trump again stood before the press – this time on foreign soil, in Helsinki – and repeatedly deferred to Vladimir Putin – over American interests, the American intelligence community, and, I would argue, the American people. It was one of the weakest, most shameful performances by a U.S. president in modern history – perhaps ever.

And one we saw repeated just last month at the G-20 summit, where Trump smirked along with Putin – making a joke out of Russia’s very real, very dangerous assault on our institutions.

Trump debases our cherished democratic values every time he plays sycophant to strongmen. When he refuses to condemn Saudi Arabia for the gruesome murder of a journalist and American resident. Or when he “falls in love” with a murderous dictator in North Korea. 

He undermines our democratic alliances, while embracing dictators who appeal to his vanity.  And make no mistake, the world sees Trump clearly for what he is – Corrupt, insecure, ill-informed, impulsive. Dangerously incompetent and incapable of leadership. 

It’s why we’ve seen such a precarious drop in how the rest of the world views the United States. One recent poll found America’s leadership is now less respected than China’s and on par with Russia. 

If we give Donald Trump four more years – we may never recover America’s standing in the world or our capacity to bring nations together. And that would be catastrophic for our security and our future.

We can’t let that happen. As President, I will remind the world who we are.  The United States of America does not coddle dictators. The United States of America gives hate no safe harbor. 

There will be no more Charlottesvilles. No more Helsinkis. 

The challenge of following this disastrous presidency, however, will not be to just restore our reputation and credibility. 

We must enact a forward-looking foreign policy for the world as we find it today – and as we anticipate it will be tomorrow.

Much has shifted in the past few years. The international landscape is more crowded, competitive and complicated.

And when we look at what’s different today, two key points stand out, one is that the speed and intensity of our gravest challenges means that the fates of nations are more intertwined than ever before. 

Climate change, nuclear proliferation, great power aggression, transnational terrorism, cyberwarfare, disruptive new technologies, mass migration – none of them can be resolved by the United States, or any nation, acting alone. America’s security, prosperity and way of life require the strongest possible network of partners and allies working alongside us.  

Yet Donald Trump’s brand of America First has too often left America alone, making it that much harder to mobilize others to address threats to our common well-being. 

The second is the rapid advance of authoritarianism, nationalism, and illiberal tendencies around the world – not just in Russia and China, but also among our allies, places like Turkey, the Philippines, Hungary. 

In every part of the world, technology and instant information are driving change at an unprecedented pace and scope, causing many to feel confused and vulnerable.  

Democratic governments – paralyzed by hyper-partisanship, hobbled by corruption – are having a harder time delivering for their people. Trust in our institutions is down. Fear of the “other” is up.  

Together, these forces have driven a dangerous resurgence of extreme nationalism and illiberalism, of protectionism and xenophobia.

And Donald Trump and demagogues around the world are leaning into these forces for their own personal and political gain.

But this is not a moment for fear. 

This is the time for us to tap the strength and the audacity that took us to victory in two world wars and brought down the Iron Curtain. That triumph of democracy and liberalism over fascism and autocracy is what created the Free World. And this contest won’t just define our past –  It will define our future as well.

Today, democracy is under more pressure than at any time since the 1930s. 

Freedom House has reported that, of the 41 countries consistently ranked “free” from 1985 to 2005, 22 have registered net declines in freedom in the last five years.

Yet, when the world’s democracies look to America to stand for the values that unite us – to truly lead the Free World – Donald Trump seems to be on the other team.  When those living under oppression, yearning for freedom, look to the United States for hope – Trump has nothing to offer.

We cannot forget that democracy is the root of our society, the wellspring of our power,  the source of our renewal. It strengthens and amplifies our leadership to keep us safe in the world. It’s the engine of our ingenuity that drives our economic prosperity. It’s the heart of who we are and how we see the world – and how the world sees us. 

As president, I will ensure that democracy is once more the watchword of U.S. foreign policy – not to launch some moral crusade, but because it is in our enlightened self-interest.

We must restore our ability to rally the Free World – so we can once more make our stand upon new fields of action and together face new challenges.  

We only have one opportunity to reset our democracy. After Trump, we have to be prepared to make the most of it. 

So, what does that mean in practice? 

First, it means repairing and reinvigorating our own democracy, even as we strengthen the coalition of democracies that stand with us on every continent.  

I will start by putting our own house in orderremaking our education system so that a child’s opportunity in life isn’t determined by their zip code or race; reforming our criminal justice system to eliminate inequitable disparities; putting the teeth back in the Voting Rights Act. 

I will seek greater transparency in our Campaign Finance System. We need to get big money out altogether, and ensure that foreign dark money doesn’t continue to pollute our politics. 

We need to dedicate greater resources, including cyber resources, to defending our elections.

I served as a founding member of a Trans-Atlantic Commission on Election Integrity to fight back against Russia’s attacks on Western democracies. We asked candidates across Europe and North America to sign a pledge, committing to transparency in campaign finances and to reject the use of fabricated or hacked materials. Now that I am a candidate for office – I have signed that pledge, and I urge everyone running for president to do the same. It’s the right thing to do. 

As individuals, and as a nation, we have to prove to the world that the United States is prepared to lead – not just with the example of our power, but the power of our example. 

To that end, as president, I will take decisive steps to renew our core American values and return transparency to our government. 

We believe in freedom of religion, which is why I will end the Muslim ban. 

We believe in free speech, which is why I will end the Global Gag Rule that prevents money from going to international NGOs that even talk about family planning. 

We believe in the power of a free press, which is why I will immediately return to daily press briefings at the White House, State Department, and Department of Defense. 

We are a nation of immigrants. President Trump took those words out of the mission statement of our citizenship and immigration services. I will restore them.   
 
Our Statue of Liberty invites in the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free. I will reverse Trump’s detrimental asylum policies and raise our target for refugee admissions to a level commensurate with our responsibility  and the unprecedented global need. 

A Biden administration would immediately end the horrific practice of separating families at our border and holding children in for-profit detention centers. 

And I would order a review of Temporary Protected Status to vulnerable populations  who cannot find safety in their countries ripped apart  by violence or disaster – including Venezuelans and Haitians.

We’ve always been a nation that chooses science over fiction – and from climate change to standards for harmful environmental toxins to global health policy. We’re going to return facts to our policy making.  

Renew a government-wide focus on uplifting the rights of women and girls, at home and abroad. And revitalize our national commitment to advancing human rights and democracy around the world.

These changes – and many more, which I’ve released on our website –  are just a start – a day-one down payment on our commitment to living our democratic values at home

And then, I will invite my fellow democratic leaders to put strengthening democracy back on the global agenda. 

We will organize and host in the United States, during the first year of my administration, a global Summit for Democracy to renew the spirit and shared purpose of the nations of the Free World.

Building off the successful model we instituted during the Obama-Biden administration with the Nuclear Security Summitleaders who attend must come prepared with concrete commitments to take on corruption, counter authoritarianism, and advance human rights in their own nations.
   
We have to be honest about our friends that are falling short and forge a common agenda for action to address the greatest threats to our shared values. We’ll include civil society organizations from around the world that stand on the frontlines in defense of our democracies. 

Vice President Joe Biden, seeking the Democratic nomination for President, lays out his foreign policy vision in a speech at NYU Graduate Center, July 11 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

And we’ll challenge the private sector, including tech corporations and social media giants, to make their own commitments.   

America’s openness fueled their success. Now I believe they have a duty to make sure their algorithms and platforms are not misused to sow division at home, or to empower the surveillance state, facilitate repression and censorship in China and elsewhere, spread hate, or spur people to violence.   

Second, we will equip our people to succeed in the global economy with a foreign policy for the middle class.  To win the competition for the future, we must double down on sharpening our innovative edge and uniting the economic might of our friends to counter abusive economic practices. 

We know that economic security is national security. But there are a lot of communities across this country that are hurting because we’ve neglected the basics. 

Our trade policy has to start at home, by strengthening our greatest asset – our middle class. 

We have to take care of everything I’ve talked about on the campaign trail – giving every student the skills or training they need to obtain a good 21st century job; making sure every single American has access to quality, affordable healthcare; investing in rebuilding our bridges and roads, modernizing our airports and trains; making sure Americans have access to broadband networks; reforming our taxes to reward work, not just wealth; leading the clean-economy revolution to create 10 million new jobs right here in the United States. 

I will make investment in research and development a cornerstone of my presidency so that the United States is leading the charge with innovation. There’s no reason we should be falling behind China or anyone else when it comes to clean energy, quantum computing, artificial intelligence, 5G, and high-speed rail. And there’s no reason that we cannot ensure that our people are ready – for the transition that will inevitably accompany this new technology. 

Ladies and Gentlemen – we have the greatest research universities in the world. The most agile system of venture capital. We’re virtually energy independent. We have a strong tradition of the rule of law. And most important, we have an extraordinary population of workers and innovators who have never let our country down.

A foreign policy for the middle class will also work to make sure the rules of the international economy are not rigged against us. Because when American businesses compete on a fair playing field – we win.

President Trump may think he’s being tough on China, but all he has delivered is more pain for American farmers, manufacturers, and consumers. His economic decision making is as short-sighted as the rest of his foreign policy. China is playing the long-game – extending its global reach and investing in the technologies of the future – while Trump is designating our closest allies – from Canada to the European Union – as National Security Threats in order to impose damaging and pointless tariffs. 

By cutting us off from the economic clout of our partners, he knee-caps our capacity to take on the real economic threat. 

We do need to get tough with China. If China has its way, it will keep robbing the U.S. of our technology and intellectual property, or forcing American companies to give it away in order to do business in China.

And the most effective way to meet that challenge is to build a united front of friends and partners to challenge China’s abusive behavior – even as we seek to deepen cooperation on issues where our interests converge, like climate change and preventing nuclear proliferation.

There’s no going back to business as usual on trade.  We need new rules, and a new process that has the voices of all stakeholders at the table – including leaders representing labor and the environment.

We must negotiate from the strongest possible position. On our own, we represent about one-quarter of global GDP. When we join together with fellow democracies, that number doubles. China can’t afford to ignore half the global economy. That gives us substantial leverage to shape the future rules of the road on everything from the environment to labor, trade, technology and transparency so they continue to reflect democratic interests and values – America’s interests and values. 

Not China’s. Not Russia’s. 

The world does not organize itself. If we do not shape the norms and institutions that govern relations among nations, rest assure – that some other nation will step into the vacuum, OR – no one will – and chaos will result. 

Which brings me to my final point. 

The Biden foreign policy agenda will place America back at the head of the table, working with our allies and partners – to mobilize global action on global threats, especially those unique to our Century.

American leadership is not infallible. We have made missteps and mistakes. 
 
Too often we have relied solely on the might of our military  instead of drawing on our full array of strengths. 

Let me be clear – I will never hesitate to protect the American people Including, when necessary, by using force. 

As Vice President, I worked with President Obama to craft the military and diplomatic campaign that ultimately defeated ISIS. In fact, it turned out Trump’s secret plan to destroy the so-called caliphate was to continue the plan we put in place.  

We have the strongest military in the world – I would argue in the history of the world. As President, I will ensure it stays that way. I will make the investments necessary – to equip our troops for the challenges of the next century, not the last one.

But the use of force should be our last resort, not our firstUsed only to defend our vital interests, when the objective is clear and achievable, and with the informed consent of the American people. 

It’s past time to end the Forever Wars, which have cost us untold blood and treasure. 

As I have long argued, we should bring the vast majority of our troops home – from the wars in Afghanistan and the Middle East, and narrowly focus our mission on Al-Qaeda and ISIS.

And we should end our support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen. [This prompted applause.]

Staying entrenched – in unwinnable conflicts – drains our capacity to lead on other issues that require our attention, and it prevents us from rebuilding the other instruments of American power.  

So I will make it my mission – to restore American leadership – and elevate diplomacy as our principal tool of foreign policy.  

I will reinvest in The Diplomatic Corps that this administration has hollowed out – and put our diplomacy back in the hands of genuine professionals.

Above all, diplomacy requires credibility.And Donald Trump has absolutely corroded our country’s credibility.

In the conduct of American foreign policy – and especially in times of crisis – a President’s word – is his or her most valuable asset. 

But by pulling out of treaty after treaty, reneging on policy after policy – walking away from America’s responsibilities, and lying – about matters big and small –  Trump has bankrupted America’s word in the world.

And he has alienated us  from the very democratic allies we need most.

Trump has taken a battering ram to our NATO alliance – he treats it like an American-run protection racket. 

He just doesn’t get it.

NATO is at the very heart of America’s national security. And more than that, it’s the bulwark of the liberal democratic ideal. It is an alliance – first and foremost – of values. 

That makes it far more durable, reliable, and powerful than partnerships built by coercion or cash.

The same is true of our core alliances in Asia.

And let’s be clear: working cooperatively with other nations that share our values and goals doesn’t make America a sucker – it makes us more secure and more successful. 

We amplify our own strength, extend our presence around the globe, and magnify our impact – while sharing the burden among willing partners.

No country, even one as powerful as ours, can go it alone against challenges that respect no borders and cannot be contained by walls. 

As president, I will do more than just restore our historic partnerships I’ll lead the effort to reimagine them – to better meet the challenges we’re grappling with today. 

To keep NATO’s military capabilities sharp, while also expanding our capacity – to take on non-traditional threats like weaponized corruption, cyber theft, and new challenges in space and on the high seas. And, by the way, the increase in NATO defense spending started under the Obama-Biden administration.

We need to look for opportunities to strengthen cooperation with democratic friends – beyond North America and beyond Europe – reaching out to our partners in Asia, including Japan, South Korea, Australia, and India to fortify our collective capabilities. 

Sustaining our ironclad commitment to Israel’s security. 

Integrating our friends in Latin America and Africa  and seizing opportunities throughout the broader network of democracies. 

And in order to regain the confidence of the world –  we’re going to have to prove that America says what it means, and means what it says. 

Especially when it comes to the challenges that will define our time:  the renewed threat of nuclear war, mass migration, disruptive technology, and climate change.

We cannot be a credible voice on non-proliferation and nuclear security while we are abandoning the deals we negotiated. 

From North Korea to Iran, Russia to Saudi Arabia, Trump has made the prospect of nuclear proliferation, a new nuclear arms race, and even the use of nuclear weapons more likely.  

I’ve worked on these issues my entire adult life.  I understand what’s at stake and I understand the consequences of failing to act. That is why, as President, I would renew our commitment to arms control for a new era. 

The historic Iran nuclear deal we negotiated blocked Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. Yet Trump cast it aside, prompting Iran to restart its nuclear program and become more provocative – raising the risk of another disastrous war in the region. 

If Tehran returns to compliance with the deal, I would re-join the agreement and work with our allies to strengthen and extend it, while more effectively pushing back against Iran’s other destabilizing activities.
 
In North Korea, I will empower our negotiators and jumpstart a sustained, coordinated campaign with our allies and others – including China – to advance our shared objective of a denuclearized North Korea.  

I will pursue an extension of the New START Treaty, an anchor of strategic stability between the United States and Russia, and use that as a foundation for new arms control arrangements.

And I would take other steps to demonstrate our commitment to reducing the role of nuclear weapons. 

As I said in 2017, I believe the sole purpose of the U.S. nuclear arsenal should be deterring – and if necessary, retaliating against a nuclear attack. As president, I will work to put that belief into practice, in consultation with our Allies and our military.

By the same measure, we cannot push nations to meet their humanitarian obligations to address the biggest refugee and migration crisis since World War II  if we are not living our democratic values and firmly rejecting Trump’s nativist rhetoric

It shames our nation when a father and his baby daughter drown seeking our shores, when children are locked away in overcrowded detention centers – denied even the most basic necessities – when families are ripped apart.

Abandoning our deepest-held values does nothing to increase security at our border – and everything to diminish our standing in the world. 

We need sensible policies that improve screening procedures at our legal ports of entry and make smart investments in border technology.  

We need to work again with Canada and Mexico as neighbors – not adversaries. And we need to focus on the root causes driving migrants to our border.

As Vice President, I secured commitments from the leaders of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras to take on the corruption, violence, and endemic poverty in their countries that are driving people to leave their homes. Then I worked with a Republican Congress to approve a $750 million aid package to help support those reforms.  

And guess what – it worked.  Security improved and migration flows began to decrease in countries like El Salvador.

Trump announced an end to our aidto Central America – via tweet, with no understanding of the consequences. 

If elected President, I will relaunch that initiative, with a top-to-bottom review of our funding to the region to determine how we can continue to drive reforms that deliver results.  

When it comes to the technologies of the future – like 5-G and Artificial Intelligence – other nations are devoting national resources to dominating their development and determining how they are used. 

We have to ensure that 21st century technologies are used to promote  greater democracy and shared prosperity– not to curb – freedom and opportunity at home and abroad.

As new technologies reshape our economy and society, we must ensure that these engines for progress are bound by laws and ethics  as we’ve done at every technological turning point in history.
 
A Biden administration will join together with our democratic allies to develop secure, private-sector led 5-G networks, leaving no community – rural or low income – behind.  

And the last example  I’ll end on today  is how the United States must lead the world to take on the existential threat we face – climate change. If we don’t get this right, nothing else matters.

I’ll put us on track to achieve a clean-energy economy with net-zero emissions by 2050. 

And, equally important  because the United States is only 15 percent of global emissions, I’ll leverage our economic and our moral authority to push the world to urgent action. 

Vice President Joe Biden, seeking the Democratic nomination for President, lays out his foreign policy vision in a speech at NYU Graduate Center, July 11 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

I will rejoin the Paris Climate Accord and convene a summit of the world’s largest carbon emitters, rallying nations to raise their ambitions and push our progress further – faster. 

We’ll lock in enforceable commitments that will reduce emissions in global shipping and aviation – and we’ll pursue strong measures to make sure other nations can’t undercut us economically as we meet our own commitments.  

That includes insisting that China, the world’s largest emitter of carbon, stops subsidizing coal exports and outsourcing pollution to other countries by financing billions of dollars of dirty fossil-fuel energy projects through their Belt and Road Initiative. 

These are ambitious goals and we won’t accomplish any of them without the United States – flanked by our fellow democracies – leading the way.

We are facing enemies – both without and within – hoping to exploit the fissures in our society, undermine our democracy, break up our alliances, and return us to an international system where might determines right. 

The answer to this threat is more openness – not less. More friendships, more cooperation, more alliances. More democracy. 

Vladimir Putin wants to tell himself and anyone he can dupe into believing him that the liberal idea is “obsolete” – because he’s afraid of its power.  

No army on earth can match – how the Electric Idea of Liberty – passes freely from person to person, jumps borders, transcends languages and cultures – how it can supercharge communities of ordinary citizens into activists and organizers and change agents.  

We must once more harness that power and rally the Free World to meet the challenges facing our world today. And it falls to the United States of America to lead the way. 

No other nation has the capacity. No other nation is built on that idea – that promise. 

And it’s in our self-interest.

We have to champion liberty and democracy. We have to reclaim our credibility. We have to look with unrelenting optimism and determination toward the future. 

Thank you, and God protect our troops. 

Vice President Joe Biden, seeking the Democratic nomination for President, lays out his foreign policy vision in a speech at NYU Graduate Center, July 11 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

See more detail on Biden’s foreign policy platform:

Biden Plan for Restoring America’s Leadership to Meet Challenges of 21st Century Starts With Reinvigorating Democracy

As US World Cup Champions Get Keys to City, Rapinoe Issues Challenge: ‘It’s Our Responsibility to Make this World a Better Place’

US Women’s National Team celebrated with a ticker-tape parade through Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes in honor of their 2019 World Cup victory © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News& Photo Features

They came in incontrovertible triumph, a study in strength, talent, perseverance, grit, discipline – celebrated role models for girls and women everywhere. True champions, the US Women’s National Team battled on the to become four-time World Cup Champions, winning two consecutive titles, pitch as well as off, their fight for equal pay elevated to national politics.

Just before stepping off for their ticker-tape parade through the Canyon of Heroes through New York’s financial district to City Hall where they would receive the Keys to the City from Mayor Bill De Blasio, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a law prohibiting unequal pay on the basis of a protected class for all substantially similar work and forbidding employers from asking prospective employees about their salary history. He also called on U.S. Soccer to pay the women’s national team the same as the men’s national team

“There is no rationale why women should not get paid what men get paid. These are women’s soccer players, they play the same game as the men’s soccer players, and they play it better – so if there is any economic rationale, the men should get paid less than the women,” Governor Cuomo said. “New York will continue to lead the way forward and stand in solidarity with women and girls in every corner of this state. By signing this legislation, we are not only doing the right thing, we are also doing the moral thing and equal pay for equal work is now the law in the State of New York.”

There were signs calling for “Equal Pay,” but few chants could be heard over the squeals of delight when the 2019 World Cup Champions came into view.

US Women’s National Team celebrated with a ticker-tape parade through Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes in honor of their 2019 World Cup victory © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

During the parade, US Soccer Federation President Carlos Cordeiro was all smiles, and when it was his turn to come to the stage – greeted by chants of “Equal Pay, Equal Pay” – was conciliatory, suggesting that prayers – or rather, the court case – would be answered to the women’s satisfaction.

“To our Women’s National Team and the millions who support them, in recent months, you’ve raised your voices for equality.  Today, on behalf of all of us at U.S. Soccer, I want to say, we hear you, we believe in you and we’re committed to doing right by you.

“That’s why, over the years—from our development programs to our youth national teams to our professional leagues to our women’s national team—U.S. Soccer has invested more in women’s soccer than any other country in the world.  We will continue to invest more in women’s soccer than any country in the world.  And we will continue to encourage others, including FIFA, to do the same.

“We believe that all female athletes deserve fair and equitable pay.  Together, we can get this done.

“Because as this team has taught us all, being the greatest isn’t just about how you play on the field, it’s about what you stand for off the field.  It’s about who we are—as a sport and as a country.  The 2019 Women’s World Cup Champions!  The United States of America!  One Nation, One Team!  Go USA!”

US Women’s National Team celebrated with a ticker-tape parade through Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes in honor of their 2019 World Cup victory © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Then Megan Rapinoe came to the stage, a glittering star among stars not just for winning the Golden Boot for most goals and the Golden Ball as the tournament’s most valuable player and co-captaining the team to their victory, but for her bold stand for equal pay, for social justice (she was one of the few athletes who knelt in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick), and her rejection of any invitation by Donald Trump to visit the White House, prompting his twitter ire.

She went out of her way to express appreciation to Cordeiro. “Thank you, you were incredible during the World Cup….. everyone gets booed in a position of power. I will stick my neck out, endorse Carlos. I think he’s on the right side of things. I think he will make things right…”

US Women’s National Team celebrated with a ticker-tape parade through Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes in honor of their 2019 World Cup victory © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Her speech, delivered on the City Hall steps extemporaneously and without notes, was a call to action, and a call to come together.

“This is my charge to everyone. We have to be better, we have to love more, hate less, listen more, talk less, we got to know that this is everybody’s responsibility – every single person here, every single person who’s not here, every single person who doesn’t want to be here, who agrees and doesn’t agree, it’s our responsibility to make this world a better place.

“I think this team does an incredible job of taking that on our shoulders, and understanding the position we have and the platform we have in this world.  Yes we play sports, yes we play soccer, yes we’re female athletes, but we’re so much more than that. You’re so much more than that. You’re more than a fan who supports sports, who tunes in every four years. You’re someone who works these streets every single day, you  interact with your community every day. How do you make your community better, how do you make the people around you better, your family, your closest friends, the 10 closets people, the hundred closest people to you. It’s every single person’s responsibility

US Women’s National Team celebrated with a ticker-tape parade through Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes in honor of their 2019 World Cup victory © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“There’s been so much contention in these last years. I’ve been a victim of that. I’ve been a perpetrator of that. If I’ve (hurt) the Federation  sorry for some of the things I’ve said – not all the things. But it’s time to come together. This conversation is at the next step. We have to collaborate. It takes everybody.

US Women’s National Team celebrated with a ticker-tape parade through Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes in honor of their 2019 World Cup victory © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“This is my charge to everybody: Do what you can. Do what you have to do. Step outside yourself. Be more, be better, be bigger, be better than you ever have been before. If this team is a representation of what you can be when you do that, please take that as an example. This group is incredible. We took so much on our shoulders to be here with you today, to celebrate with you today. And we did it with a smile. So do the same for us.”

Then she ended with classic, mischievous outrageousness: “New York City! You the mother-[expletive] best!!!”

US Women’s National Team celebrated with a ticker-tape parade through Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes in honor of their 2019 World Cup victory © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

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© 2019 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go towww.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging atwww.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us onfacebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

Fans Cheer US Women’s National Team as They Parade Through ‘Canyon of Heroes’ – Photo Highlights

US Women’s National Team celebrated with a ticker-tape parade through Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes in honor of their 2019 World Cup victory © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News& Photo Features

It was a day to celebrate grit, determination, perseverance and pure excellence, as tens of thousands turned out to cheer the United States Women’s National Team on their 2019 World Cup victory as they floated through Lower Manhattan’s “Canyon of Heroes,” the second of the team’s ticker-tape parades, with the first only 2015. Notably, the vast majority of parade watchers were mothers and daughters. They held signs thanking the team for being such wonderful role models, and signs that called for Equal Pay.

Here are highlights from the parade:

US Women’s National Team celebrated with a ticker-tape parade through Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes in honor of their 2019 World Cup victory © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
US Women’s National Team celebrated with a ticker-tape parade through Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes in honor of their 2019 World Cup victory © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
US Women’s National Team celebrated with a ticker-tape parade through Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes in honor of their 2019 World Cup victory © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
US Women’s National Team celebrated with a ticker-tape parade through Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes in honor of their 2019 World Cup victory © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
US Women’s National Team celebrated with a ticker-tape parade through Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes in honor of their 2019 World Cup victory © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
US Women’s National Team celebrated with a ticker-tape parade through Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes in honor of their 2019 World Cup victory © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
US Women’s National Team celebrated with a ticker-tape parade through Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes in honor of their 2019 World Cup victory © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
US Women’s National Team celebrated with a ticker-tape parade through Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes in honor of their 2019 World Cup victory © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
US Women’s National Team celebrated with a ticker-tape parade through Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes in honor of their 2019 World Cup victory © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
US Women’s National Team celebrated with a ticker-tape parade through Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes in honor of their 2019 World Cup victory © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
US Women’s National Team celebrated with a ticker-tape parade through Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes in honor of their 2019 World Cup victory © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
US Women’s National Team celebrated with a ticker-tape parade through Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes in honor of their 2019 World Cup victory © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
US Women’s National Team celebrated with a ticker-tape parade through Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes in honor of their 2019 World Cup victory © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
US Women’s National Team celebrated with a ticker-tape parade through Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes in honor of their 2019 World Cup victory © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
US Women’s National Team celebrated with a ticker-tape parade through Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes in honor of their 2019 World Cup victory © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
US Women’s National Team celebrated with a ticker-tape parade through Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes in honor of their 2019 World Cup victory © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
US Women’s National Team celebrated with a ticker-tape parade through Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes in honor of their 2019 World Cup victory © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
US Women’s National Team celebrated with a ticker-tape parade through Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes in honor of their 2019 World Cup victory © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
US Women’s National Team celebrated with a ticker-tape parade through Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes in honor of their 2019 World Cup victory © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
US Women’s National Team celebrated with a ticker-tape parade through Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes in honor of their 2019 World Cup victory © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
US Women’s National Team celebrated with a ticker-tape parade through Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes in honor of their 2019 World Cup victory © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
US Women’s National Team celebrated with a ticker-tape parade through Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes in honor of their 2019 World Cup victory © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
US Women’s National Team celebrated with a ticker-tape parade through Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes in honor of their 2019 World Cup victory © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
US Women’s National Team celebrated with a ticker-tape parade through Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes in honor of their 2019 World Cup victory © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
US Women’s National Team celebrated with a ticker-tape parade through Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes in honor of their 2019 World Cup victory © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
US Women’s National Team celebrated with a ticker-tape parade through Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes in honor of their 2019 World Cup victory © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
US Women’s National Team celebrated with a ticker-tape parade through Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes in honor of their 2019 World Cup victory © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

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Sanders, Blumenauer and Ocasio-Cortez Introduce Climate Emergency Resolution to Marshall WWII-Scale Mobilization

Climate catastrophes like Superstorm Sandy pose an existential threat to civilization and the natural world. On Tuesday, July 9, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and Rep. Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) introduced a resolution in both chambers of Congress declaring that the climate emergency facing the planet demands a “national, social, industrial, and economic mobilization of the resources and labor of the United States” in order to “restore the climate for future generations.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

On Tuesday, July 9, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and Rep. Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) announced the introduction of a resolution in both chambers of Congress declaring the climate emergency facing the planet demands a “national, social, industrial, and economic mobilization of the resources and labor of the United States” in order to “restore the climate for future generations.”

The resolution, cosponsored in the Senate by Sens. Merkley (D-Ore.), Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Booker (D-NJ), Gillibrand (D-NY), Warren (D-Mass.), and Harris (D-Calif.), and 19 members of the House, comes in the wake of President Trump’s environmental speech yesterday, in which he avoided any mention of climate change. 

The lawmakers note in the resolution that the “United States has a proud history of collaborative, constructive, massive-scale federal mobilizations of resources and labor in order to solve great challenges, such as the Interstate Highway System, the Apollo 11 Moon landing, Reconstruction, the New Deal, and World War II,” and that the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has warned that the global community has little more than a decade to stop the worst impacts of climate change.  

The lawmakers’ bicameral recognition of the climate emergency stands in sharp contrast to President Trump’s recent misuse of emergency declarations, manufactured in order to seize funds that Congress refused to appropriate to build a wall on the border with Mexico and to sell Saudi Arabia weapons that Congress had blocked. Climate change, an actual emergency, has been described by Trump as a “hoax.”

“Today, as we face the global crisis of climate change, it is imperative that the United States lead the world in transforming our energy system away from fossil fuel to energy efficiency and sustainable energy.  What we need now is Congressional leadership to stand up to the fossil fuel industry and tell them that their short term profits are not more important than the future of the planet.  Climate change is a national emergency, and I am proud to be introducing this resolution with my House and Senate colleagues,” Sanders said.

“To address the climate crisis, we must tell the truth about the nature of this threat,” said Blumenauer. “Congressional Republicans have teetered on the brink of ignorance for far too long and now urgent, massive action is needed. This is an emergency. We must act now.” 

“Today we stand in solidarity with tens of millions of people from around the world in calling for a mass mobilization of our social and economic resources. It is time we began a swift transition away from fossil fuels and towards a sustainable renewable energy economy. Climate change represents not only our greatest threat but one of our greatest opportunities. Working to solve the climate crisis will create tens of millions of union jobs, empower communities, and improve the quality of life for people across the globe,” said Ocasio-Cortez.  

“The United States is facing a climate crisis. We must speak that truth, and then we must take bold action to confront the existential crisis before us,” said Senator Harris. “In California and across the country, Americans are already seeing the impact of the climate crisis as unprecedented floods, wildfires, hurricanes, and extreme weather events devastate their communities. I’m proud to join my colleagues in this resolution that affirms that the policy of the United States Congress will be based on science fact, not science fiction.”

The resolution is endorsed by 15 independent organizations.

“It’s abundantly clear that climate change has arrived and that we are living in a climate crisis. It’s past time that the federal government recognize this fact and declare a climate emergency. We need bold, comprehensive legislation to move us off fossil fuels and onto a clean energy revolution. This resolution lays out the scope of what we need to do. It’s time to act for the future of our planet,” said Mitch Jones, Climate & Energy Program Director of Food & Water Watch.

“It’s heartening to see members of Congress taking up their authority and calling out the climate crisis as it happens. We are experiencing the effects of a global emergency, right now, in every part of our nation and it demands that we take immediate action that is equitable and to scale. Communities most impacted by this crisis have known for decades that our climate is changing and that it is affecting our health, safety, and the prospects of the next generation. We applaud Sen. Sanders and Reps. Blumenauer and Ocasio-Cortez for this step, and call on their colleagues in the House and Senate to support this resolution and show their commitment to just climate action today to give us a chance at tomorrow,” said Tamara Toles O’Laughlin, North America Director of 350 Action.

“The climate crisis poses a threat unlike any other in history. If we fail to mobilize national resources very soon, with the utmost speed and unprecedented scale, we will face catastrophic harm in the coming decades and possibly existential threats to the nation and human civilization by the end of this century. There is nothing more deserving of the ‘emergency’ designation. Senator Sanders and Reps. Blumenauer and Ocasio-Cortez should be commended for their leadership in calling the climate crisis exactly what it is: a genuine national emergency,” said David Arkush, Managing Director of Public Citizen’s Climate Program. 
 
“We’re in a climate emergency fueled by a democracy emergency — an out-of-control fossil fuel industry is hijacking our government, and it’s time we acted like it and fought back. We the people demand that our government say ‘no’ to Big Oil and ‘yes’ to our futures. This resolution is a critical step toward a system that works for people, not polluters, and we thank Sen. Sanders and Reps. Blumenauer and Ocasio-Cortez for their bold leadership,” said Stephen Kretzmann, Founder & Executive Director of Oil Change U.S.

“Climate Justice Alliance (CJA) applauds Senator Sanders, Representative Blumenauer and Representative Ocasio-Cortez who continue to demonstrate leadership in addressing the climate crisis with this resolution. Logic dictates that we must clearly name the crisis if we are serious about addressing it. The road to a truly just and regenerative economy begins with recognizing and naming the challenge that confronts us. This resolution is a necessary step on the path to doing just that,” said Angela Adrar, Executive Director of Climate Justice Alliance.

Climate and ecological breakdown threatens to destroy human civilization and kill billions of innocent people through mass starvation, wars over declining resources, and in the worst case scenario, a runaway greenhouse effect. This historic national declaration of climate emergency formally acknowledges this unprecedented threat and demands the only sane response: A massive, federal government-led mobilization of all available resources to rapidly halt and reverse global warming through a managed phase out of coal, oil, and gas, a large-scale carbon sequestration effort, and other life-saving measures,” said Ezra Silk, Co-Founder and Director of Strategy & Policy of The Climate Mobilization.

 “We are absolutely in a climate emergency, and it’s time all of our elected officials started acting like it. Acknowledging that climate change represents a monumental threat, as this resolution does, is a critical first step. What the American people need to survive this crisis is swift action from our government to end drilling, fracking, and mining for fossil fuels and to invest in a more just, inclusive economy built on renewable energy,” said Janet Redman, Climate Campaign Director, Greenpeace USA.

“For decades our politics has been dominated by fear — fear of fossil fuel corporations, fear of a just transition, and fear of each other. As our leaders have been crippled by fear, we’re now left with only 11 years to rapidly transition off fossil fuels and toward green energy. It’s time to declare a national emergency to stop the crisis and create millions of good-paying jobs in our communities,” said Alexandra Rojas, executive director of Justice Democrats. 

To read a summary of the resolution, click here.

To read the resolution, click here.

Senator Klobuchar Proposes ‘Progress Partnerships’ To Boost Education

US Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota during the first Democratic Debate for the Presidential nomination © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – Senator Klobuchar’s mom taught second grade until she was 70 years and she was also a proud teachers’ union member who walked the picket line in the 1951 teachers’ strike. As the daughter of a teacher and union member, Senator Klobuchar understands that a good education is a basic right of every child and that all Americans should have the educational opportunities they need to succeed in today’s economy. 

During the presidential campaign, Senator Klobuchar has announced plans to fully fund education and our schools, make a historic investment in increasing teacher pay, close the opportunity gap, fully fund the IDEA, boost STEM education and apprenticeship opportunities, and rebuild our crumbling school infrastructure. 

In addition to her already announced plans, Senator Klobuchar is announcing at the 2019 National Education Association Presidential Forum an additional proposal —  new federal-state school “Progress Partnerships” that will allow states to take aggressive action to support our students. These partnerships are designed to elevate the voices of our educators and they will provide additional resources to help states take bold action to fund our public schools, support our teachers, and prioritize learning. 

To participate in the “Progress Partnership,” states should take (or have already taken) the following actions (which draws on a list of state-level executive actions proposed by the Center for American Progress):

Increase teacher pay: States will agree to a state-federal partnership with a generous federal match to increase salaries for all teachers, as well as recommendations that address unique state needs when it comes to the teacher pipeline, such as recruitment, retention, diversity of the workforce, and quality of teacher preparation. State educators should be included in the development of these plans.

Adapt high school curricula to improve workforce readiness and post-secondary success: State education departments, working with educators, will evaluate student career and college readiness, including coursework, curriculum and other policies that prepare students for today’s workforce and post-secondary success.

Establish an equitable school infrastructure funding mechanism: In addition to receiving generous direct federal funding for school infrastructure improvements, states will create a mechanism for distributing federal school infrastructure funding that addresses disparities in conditions and resources and ensures equity in funding for construction and repairs of school buildings across the state.

Submit recommendations to align school services and schedules with the needs of working families: States will work with educators to develop and submit recommendations on how schools can meet the needs of working families, which could include low-cost after-school programs, alternative programs for students on days when schools are closed, and a community school model that wraps other community services in the school building to make schools into community hubs.

Convene a commission to review the state’s existing funding formula to improve equity: States will review the existing funding formula to ensure that all students, particularly those with the greatest need, have access to adequate educational resources. The commission must include professional educators and develop recommendations for improving state education funding equity, which will be published biennially along with an assessment of state progress.

As part of her plan for her first 100 days as President, Senator Klobuchar will also:

Reduce racial disparities in disciplining students. Senator Klobuchar will re-issue guidance directing schools to reduce racial disparities in how they discipline students, which prompted more than 50 of America’s largest school districts to institute discipline reform.

Fully fund the IDEA and reinstate the guidance protecting the rights of students with disabilities. Senator Klobuchar’s budget will fully fund IDEA to support students with disabilities. In addition, Senator Klobuchar will reinstate documents protecting the rights of students with disabilities after Secretary DeVos rescinded 72 guidance documents outlining those rights.

Prevent the expansion of private school vouchers. Senator Klobuchar will stand firmly with our public schools and end discussions of Secretary Betsy DeVos’s $50 billion proposal to fund private school vouchers.

Restore protections for the LGBTQ community. Senator Klobuchar will reverse the harmful anti-LGBTQ administrative actions taken by the Trump Administration when it comes to education, health care and civil rights, and she will work to pass the Equality Act in year one of her presidency.

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Joe Biden on July 4th: ‘The liberal idea is the American idea; the liberal idea is what built the Free World’

Vice President Joe Biden campaigning for the Democratic nomination for President in Iowa.

Celebrating the Fourth of July with Iowans in Marshalltown, Vice President Joe Biden, campaigning for the Democratic nomination for President, expressed what the holiday is really about and how Donald Trump doesn’t get it. Here is his speech, as prepared for delivery, with segments highlighted:

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s great to be back in Iowa celebrating the independence of our country and the incredible promise of the American future. 

243 years ago, a group of rebels in Philadelphia pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to a revolutionary idea—to the self-evident truth that all men—and women—are created equal. 

And ever since then presidents and patriots have gathered together on the 4th, as we are gathered today, to reflect on the greater meaning of our American experiment. 

In 1821, just decades after revolution, John Quincy Adams proclaimed: “[America’s] glory is not dominion, but liberty. Her march is the march of the mind.”

In 1861, Abraham Lincoln invoked the Declaration to make the case for the Civil War, reminding Congress that it would be: “a struggle for maintaining in the world that form and substance of government whose leading object is to elevate the condition of men; to lift artificial weights from all shoulders; to clear the paths of laudable pursuit for all.”

In 1962, deep in the grip of the Cold War, Kennedy made the pilgrimage to Independence Hall to declare that: “this Nation—conceived in revolution, nurtured in liberty, maturing in independence—has no intention of abdicating its leadership  in that worldwide movement for independence to any nation or society committed to systematic human oppression.”

Three different presidents, of three vastly different eras, united by their faith in the power of the idea that is America. Constant in their dedication to the pursuit of humankind’s highest ideal—liberty. 

What, I wonder, will Donald Trump say this evening when he speaks to the nation at an event designed more to stroke his ego than celebrate American ideals?

Will he speak to the example America must set to inspire the world? Will he offer a robust defense of the democratic values that have always been our strength in times of crisis? 

We all know the answer to that. Donald Trump is incapable of celebrating what makes America great—because he doesn’t get it. 

He cannot distinguish between our Allies and our adversaries—because he does not grasp that America is the “march of the mind” toward greater openness, greater understanding, greater human freedom to pursue lives of meaning and fulfillment. 

And if we give Donald Trump eight years in the White House he will forever and fundamentally alter the character of this nation. We can’t let that happen.

Trump’s embrace of dictators and strongmen is a fundamental rejection of everything our founders wrote into their Declaration. 

Vladimir Putin in Russia, Kim Jong Un in North Korea, Mohamad bin Salman in Saudi Arabia—their drive to concentrate greater and greater power in their own hands and to silence their opposition, including through brutal assassinations—that is the death of liberty. 

Last week, Putin gave an interview where he crowed: “the liberal idea has become obsolete.” 

Trump thought he was talking about Democrats in California. Not a joke.  

Our president does not understand the difference between liberal as opposed to conservative politics, and liberal as opposed to autocratic systems of government. 

Well, I’m here to tell Vladimir Putin, and Donald Trump, and anyone who needs to hear it:the liberal idea is the American idea. And it will never be obsolete—not as long as there remain patriots committed to the higher ideals of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. 

The liberal idea is what drives innovation and entrepreneurship. The liberal idea is what inspires art and exploration and human curiosity. And—critically—the liberal idea 
is what built the Free World. 

The Free World is an American design. We created it, together with our democratic allies in Europe and in Asia after World War II, to hold in check the abuse of power by any one nation, and to affirm a collective defense, open economies, and human rights. 

The Free World drove the march of democracy, prevented a third great war, protected the territorial integrity and sovereignty of small states, allowed unprecedented economic growth and development, and advanced basic human rights and fundamental freedoms in every corner of the world. 

Ours is a community of values that stands in opposition to all who seek to profit by the oppression of others.  

That’s why Putin wants to see it destroyed. That’s why he’s actively working to tear apart our democracy. 

Ladies and gentlemen – America is the heart of the Free World—and we must defend it. 

That is how the Fourth of July is best honored – by remembering that our Declaration is first and foremost a call to arms, in defense of liberty.

But we must also remember, as JFK put it, that ours is: “not the individual liberty of one 
but the indivisible liberty of all.”

Donald Trump doesn’t get that either. 

My liberty, depends on yours. Our liberty as a nation rests on our ability to ensure equal access, equal opportunity – not just for our own children, but all our children. 

We have to take on the inequalities in our system that are causing too many today—
in America and around the world—to question their faith in the ability of democracy to deliver for them. 

It’s not enough to be for political equality—we have to be for economic fairness as well.  

It’s not enough to be against the way Donald Trump conducts himself—the way he assaults the dignity of women, people of color, immigrants, LGBTQ individuals—we have to be against his policies that are further entrenching economic inequality in this nation. 

That are rigging the system against the middle class.

That too is an attack on our democracy—on our liberty. 

That’s the message I’ve been taking all across this nation.  

And it’s all the more clear today – on the day we celebrate our independence—this country wasn’t built by Wall Street bankers and CEOs and hedge fund managers. 

It was built by you. By ordinary Americans – given half a chance – doing extraordinary things. That’s the history of the journey of America.

My dad used to have an expression. He’d say a job is about a lot more than a paycheck. It’s about dignity. It’s about respect. It’s about one’s place in the community. It’s about being able to look your child in the eye and say everything is going to be ok.  And mean it.

But today so many people can’t do that. That’s what we have to change. That is my north star.

The moral obligation of our time is to rebuild the middle class. And this time, everybody comes along – no matter their race, gender, ethnicity, religion,who they love or where they live or whether they have a disability. 

For me, it’s all about restoring the dignity of work – being able to provide security and joy for your family.

But how can a person’s dignity be maintained if they can’t afford to care for a sick child  or a family member because of a pre-existing condition – or because they’ve reached a point where their health insurer says “no more?”

I can’t imagine what Jill and I would have done with Beau if we couldn’t get the best care to ease his pain and suffering while dealing with an incurable disease.

How can a parent maintain their dignity if their talented and qualified child wants to go beyond high school to trade school or community college or college, but they can’t afford to get them there?

I remember how my father felt when he told me the bank wouldn’t give him a loan to help me go to college. He said, “I’m so ashamed.” I got there – but I’ll never forget that look on his face. 

Today’s corporate culture and this Administration don’t care about your dignity. They don’t care about economic fairness.

They’re squeezing the life out of workers. They’re making it harder for you to bargain for your personal worth as well.

40% of workers have to sign non-compete clauses at some point in their careers. 

These non-compete agreements have one purpose: to hold down the ability of workers 
to bargain for themselves and to keep their wages low. 

And why do companies classify so many low-wage workers as managers? 

So they can get out of paying overtime and take more in profits for themselves. That cost more than 4 million hourly workers $1.2 billion in lost wages last year.

And speaking of overtime – it’s long past time we make a $15 minimum wage at the federal level. 

It’s time we started to reward work over wealth in this country. 

Let me ask you something. 

The stock market is roaring. Do you feel it?

Or how about that big tax cut passed by Trump and the Republicans? Did you feel it?

That tax cut exploded the deficit by some $2 trillion – and now the Republicans are using it as an excuse to go after the social safety net. 

Let’s not kid one another. If Trump and the Republicans win in 2020 – they’re coming after Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security. 

They’ve already said it.  And we can’t let that happen. 

So, we need to reverse the Trump tax cuts on the super wealthy. And then we need to get rid of the capital gains loophole. 

A just economy—an economy that advances liberty for all—isn’t one where the super wealthy pay lower tax rates than teachers and firefighters.

The Fourth is also a reminder of an important lesson we learned early in this county.

As Benjamin Franklin supposedly said at the signing: “We must all hang together, or most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.”

Folks, we need to unify this country. We have to overcome this status quo of division—that’s the only way we’ll be able to get anything done. 

And we can do it without compromising our principles. Marshalltown knows that better than anyone—what do you do when disaster strikes? You come together.  

Mr. Mayor, how did you begin rebuilding after that God-awful tornado? By working together with the city council and the local businesses. 

It didn’t matter whether folks were Democrats or Republicans then—all that mattered was getting Marshalltown back up and running.

You made that happen—you’re still making that happen.  

It goes to show that all that stands in our way is a broken political system.

Folks, for all our problems, I’m more optimistic today than when I got elected to the United States Senate as a 29-year old kid. 

And here’s why: We’re better positioned than any nation in the world to lead the 21st Century. 

We have the strongest military in the world. We have led not by the example of our power, but by the power of our example. The most productive workers among major world economies. North America is energy independent. We have the world’s greatest research universities. 

No other nation in the world can match us. The only thing that can tear America apart is America itself. 

The only thing that would make the liberal idea obsolete is if Americans walked away from liberty itself. 

Everybody knows who Donald Trump is. 

This July 4th, let’s remind the world who we are.

This is the United States of America.  

This is the nation that willed ourselves into existence with nothing but faith in ourselves and in the power of an idea. 

There’s not a single thing we can’t do – together.

God bless all of you. May God protect our troops.