Category Archives: Democracy

President Biden Tells Nation ‘We have stared into the abyss of insurrection and autocracy, pandemic and pain, and “We the People” did not flinch’

President Biden, putting the Reagan canard to pasture, tells nation in his State of the Union Address: “It’s time to remember that ‘We the People’ are the government — you and I.  Not some force in a distant capital.  Not some powerful force that we have no control over.  It’s us.  It’s ‘We the People’… ‘We have stared into the abyss of insurrection and autocracy, pandemic and pain, and ‘We the People’ did not flinch.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com via msnbc

Here is a highlighted transcript of President Joe Biden’s speech to a joint session of Congress, April 28, 2021:

9:06 P.M. EDT
 
THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  Thank you.  Good to be back.  And Mitch and Chuck will understand it’s good to be almost home, down the hall.  Anyway, thank you all.
 
Madam Speaker, Madam Vice President — (applause) — no President has ever said those words from this podium.  No President has ever said those words, and it’s about time.  (Applause.)
 
First Lady — (applause) — I’m her husband; Second Gentleman; Chief Justice; members of the United States Congress and the Cabinet; distinguished guests; my fellow Americans: While the setting tonight is familiar, this gathering is just a little bit different — a reminder of the extraordinary times we’re in.
 
Throughout our history, Presidents have come to this chamber to speak to Congress, to the nation, and to the world to declare war, to celebrate peace, to announce new plans and possibilities.
 
Tonight, I come to talk about crisis and opportunity, about rebuilding the nation, revitalizing our democracy, and winning the future for America.
 
I stand here tonight, one day shy of the 100th day
of my administration — 100 days since I took the oath of office and lifted my hand off our family Bible and inherited a nation — we all did — that was in crisis.
 
The worst pandemic in a century.  The worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.  The worst attack on our democracy since the Civil War.
 
Now, after just 100 days, I can report to the nation: America is on the move again — (applause) — turning peril into possibility, crisis to opportunity, setbacks into strength.
 
We all know life can knock us down.  But in America, we never, ever, ever stay down.  Americans always get up.  Today, that’s what we’re doing: America is rising anew, choosing hope over fear, truth over lies, and light over darkness.
 
After 100 days of rescue and renewal, America is ready for takeoff, in my view.  We’re working again, dreaming again, discovering again, and leading the world again.
 
We have shown each other and the world that there’s no quit in America — none.
 
One hundred days ago, America’s house was on fire.  We had to act.  And thanks to the extraordinary leadership of Speaker Pelosi; Majority Leader Schumer; and the overwhelming support of the American people — Democrats, independents, and Republicans — we did act.
 
Together we passed the American Rescue Plan — one of the most consequential rescue packages in American history.  We’re already seeing the results.  (Applause.)   We’re already seeing the results. 
 
After I promised we’d get 100 million COVID-19 vaccine shots into people’s arms in 100 days, we will have provided over 220 million COVID shots in those 100 days.  (Applause.)
 
Thanks to all the help of all of you, we’re marshalling — with your help, everyone’s help — we’re marshalling every federal resource.  We’ve gotten vaccines to nearly 40,000 pharmacies and over 700 Community Health Centers where the poorest of the poor can be reached.  We’re setting up community vaccination sites, developing mobile units to get to hard-to-reach communities.
 
Today, 90 percent of Americans now live within five miles of a vaccination site.  Everyone over the age of 16 – everyone is now eligible to get vaccinated right now, right away.  (Applause.)  Go get vaccinated, America.  Go and get the vaccination.  They’re available.  You’re eligible now.
 
When I was sworn in on January 20th, less than 1 percent of the seniors in America were fully vaccinated against COVID-19.  One hundred days later, 70 percent of seniors in America over 65 are protected — fully protected.  
 
Senior deaths from COVID-19 are down 80 percent since January — down 80 percent because of all of you.  And more than half of all the adults in America have gotten at least one shot.
 
At a mass vaccination center in Glendale, Arizona, I asked a nurse — I said, “What’s it like?”  She looked at me and she said, “It’s like every shot is giving a dose of hope” — was the phrase.  “A dose of hope.”
 
A dose of hope for an educator in Florida who has a child suffering from an autoimmune disease — wrote to me, said she’s worried — that she was worrying about bringing the virus home.  She said she then got vaccinated at a — at a large site, in her car.  She said she sat in her car, when she got vaccinated, and just cried — cried out of joy and cried out of relief.
 
Parents see the smiles on their kids’ faces, for those who are able to go back to school because the teachers and school bus drivers and cafeteria workers have been vaccinated.
 
Grandparents hugging their children and grandchildren instead of pressing hands against a window to say goodbye.
 
It means everything.  Those things mean everything.
 
You know, there’s still — you all know it; you know it better than any group of Americans — there’s still more work to do to beat this virus.  We can’t let our guard down.
 
But tonight I can say it: Because of you, the American people, our progress these past 100 days against one of the worst pandemics in history has been one of the greatest logistical achievements — logistical achievements this country has ever seen.
 
What else have we done in those first 100 days?
 
We kept our commitment — Democrats and Republicans — of sending $1,400 rescue checks to 85 percent of American households.  We’ve already sent more than one — 160 million checks out the door.  It’s making the difference.  You all know it when you go home.  For many people, it’s making all the difference in the world.
 
A single mom in Texas who wrote to me, she said she couldn’t work, but she said the relief check put food on the table and saved her and her son from eviction from their apartment.
 
A grandmother in Virginia who told me she immediately took her granddaughter to the eye doctor — something she said she put off for months because she didn’t have the money. 
 
One of the defining images, at least from my perspective, of this crisis has been cars lined up — cars lined up for miles.  And not — not people who just barely ever start those cars — nice cars lined up for miles, waiting for a box of food to be put in their trunk.
 
I don’t know about you, but I didn’t ever think I’d see that in America.  And all of this is through no fault of their own.  No fault of their own these people are in this position.
 
That’s why the Rescue Plan is delivering food and nutrition assistance to millions of Americans facing hunger, and hunger is down sharply already. 
 
We’re also providing rental assistance — you all know this, but the American people, I want to make sure they understand — keeping people from being evicted from their homes, providing loans to small businesses to reopen and keep their employees on the job.
 
During these 100 days, an additional 800,000 Americans enrolled in the Affordable Care Act when I established the special sign-up period to do that — 800,000 in that period.
 
We’re making one of the largest one-time ever investments — ever — in improving healthcare for veterans.  Critical investments to address the opioid crisis.  And, maybe most importantly, thanks to the American Rescue Plan, we’re on track to cut child poverty in America in half this year.  (Applause.)
 
      [Notably, the Republicans kept their seats and silence.]

And in the process, while this was all going on, the economy created more than 1,300,000 new jobs in 100 days — more jobs in the first — (applause) — more jobs in the first 100 days than any President on record.
 
The International Monetary Fund — (applause) — the International Monetary Fund is now estimating our economy will grow at a rate of more than 6 percent this year.  That will be the fastest pace of economic growth in this country in nearly four decades.
 
America is moving — moving forward — but we can’t stop now.  We’re in competition with China and other countries to win the 21st Century.  We’re at a great inflection point in history.
 
We have to do more than just build back better — I mean “build back.”  We have to build back better.  We have to compete more strenuously than we have.
 
Throughout our history, if you think about it, public investment and infrastructure has literally transformed America — our attitudes, as well as our opportunities.
 
The transcontinental railroad, the interstate highways united two oceans and brought a totally new age of progress to the United States of America.
 
Universal public schools and college aid
opened wide the doors of opportunity.
 
Scientific breakthroughs took us to the Moon — now we’re on Mars; discovering vaccines; gave us the Internet and so much more.
 
These are the investments we made together as one country, and investments that only the government was in a position to make.  Time and again, they propel us into the future.
 
That’s why I proposed the American Jobs Plan — a once-in-a-generation investment in America itself.  This is the largest jobs plan since World War Two.
 
It creates jobs to upgrade our transportation infrastructure; jobs modernizing our roads, bridges, highways; jobs building ports and airports, rail corridors, transit lines. 
 
It’s clean water.  And, today, up to 10 million homes in America and more than 400,000 schools and childcare centers have pipes with lead in them, including in drinking water — a clear and present danger to our children’s health.
 
The American Jobs Plan creates jobs replacing 100 percent of the nation’s lead pipes and service lines so every American can drink clean water.  (Applause.)
 
And in the process, it will create thousands and thousands of good-paying jobs.  It creates jobs connecting every American with high-speed Internet, including 35 percent of the rural America that still doesn’t have it.
 
This is going to help our kids and our businesses succeed in the 21st-century economy.
 
And I am asking the Vice President to lead this effort, if she would —
 
THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Of course.
 
THE PRESIDENT:  — because I know it will get done.  (Applause.)
 
It creates jobs, building a modern power grid.  Our grids are vulnerable to storms, hacks, catastrophic failures — with tragic results, as we saw in Texas and elsewhere during the winter storms.
 
The American Jobs Plan will create jobs that will lay thousands of miles of transmission lines needed to build a resilient and fully clean grid.  We can do that.  (Applause.)
 
Look, the American Jobs Plan will help millions of people get back to their jobs and back to their careers.
 
Two million women have dropped out of the workforce during this pandemic — two million.  And too often because they couldn’t get the care they needed to care for their child or care for an elderly parent who needs help.
 
Eight hundred thousand families are on a Medicare waiting list right now to get homecare for their aging parent or loved one with a disability.  If you think it’s not important, check out in your own district.
 
Democrat or Republican — Democrat or Republican voters, their great concern — almost as much as their children — is taking care of an elderly loved one who can’t be left alone.  Medicaid contemplated it, but this plan is going to help those families and create jobs for our caregivers with better wages and better benefits, continuing a cycle of growth.
 
For too long, we’ve failed to use the most important word when it comes to meeting the climate crisis: “jobs.”  Jobs.  Jobs.  (Applause.) 
 
For me, when I think “climate change,” I think “jobs.”
 
The American Jobs Plan will put engineers and construction workers to work building more energy-efficient buildings and homes.  Electrical workers — IBEW members — installing 500,000 charging stations along our highways so we can own — (applause) — so we can own the electric car market.  (Applause.)
 
Farmers — farmers planting cover crops so they can reduce the carbon dioxide in the air and get paid for doing it.  (Applause.)
 
Look, but think about it: There is simply no reason why the blades for wind turbines can’t be built in Pittsburgh instead of Beijing.  No reason.  None.  No reason.  (Applause.)
 
So, folks, there’s no reason why American — American workers can’t lead the world in the production of electric vehicles and batteries.  I mean, there is no reason.  We have this capacity.  (Applause.)  We have the brightest, best-trained people in the world.
 
The American Jobs Plan is going to create millions of good-paying jobs — jobs Americans can raise a family on — as my dad would then say, “with a little breathing room.”
 
And all the investments in the American Jobs Plan will be guided by one principle: Buy American.  (Applause.)  Buy American.
 
And I might note, parenthetically — (applause) — that does not — that does not violate any trade agreement.  It’s been the law since the ’30s: Buy American. 
 
American tax dollars are going to be used to buy American products made in America to create American jobs.  That’s the way it’s supposed to be and it will be in this administration.  (Applause.)
 
And I made it clear to all my Cabinet people.  Their ability to give exemptions has been strenuously limited.  It will be American products.
 
Now I know some of you at home are wondering whether these jobs are for you.  So many of you — so many of the folks I grew up with feel left behind, forgotten in an economy that’s so rapidly changing.  It’s frightening. 
 
I want to speak directly to you.  Because if you think about it, that’s what people are most worried about: “Can I fit in?”
 
Independent experts estimate the American Jobs Plan will add millions of jobs and trillions of dollars to economic growth in the years to come.  It is an eight-year program.  These are good-paying jobs that can’t be outsourced.
 
Nearly 90 percent of the infrastructure jobs created in the American Jobs Plan do not require a college degree; 75 percent don’t require an associate’s degree.
 
The American Jobs Plan is a blue-collar blueprint to build America.  That’s what it is.  (Applause.)
 
And it recognizes something I’ve always said in this chamber and the other.  Good guys and women on Wall Street, but Wall Street didn’t build this country.  The middle class built the country, and unions built the middle class.  (Applause.)
 
So that’s why I’m calling on Congress to pass the Protect the Right to Organize Act — the PRO Act — and send it to my desk so we can support the right to unionize.  (Applause.)
 
And, by the way, while you’re thinking about sending things to my desk — (laughs) — let’s raise the minimum wage to $15.  (Applause.)
 
No one — no one working 40 hours a week — no one working 40 hours a week should live below the poverty line.
 
We need to ensure greater equity and opportunity for women.  And while we’re doing this, let’s get the Paycheck Fairness Act to my desk as well — equal pay.  It’s been much too long.  And if you’re wondering whether it’s too long, look behind me.  (Applause.)
 
And finally, the American Jobs Plan will be the biggest increase in nondefense research and development on record.  We will see more technological change — and some of you know more about this than I do — we’ll see more technological change in the next 10 years than we saw in the last 50.  That’s how rapidly artificial intelligence and so much more is changing.
 
And we’re falling behind the competition with the rest of the world.
 
Decades ago, we used to invest 2 percent of our gross domestic product in America — 2 percent of our gross domestic product — in research and development. 
 
Today, Mr. Secretary, that’s less than 1 percent. 
China and other countries are closing in fast.  We have to develop and dominate the products and technologies of the future:advanced batteries, biotechnology, computer chips, clean energy.
 
The Secretary of Defense can tell you — and those of you on — who work on national security issues know — the Defense Department has an agency called DARPA — the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency.  The people who set up before I came here — and that’s been a long time ago — to develop breakthroughs that enhance our national security -– that’s their only job.  And it’s a semi-separate agency; it’s under the Defense Department.  It’s led to everything from the discovery of the Internet to GPS and so much more that has enhanced our security.
 
The National Institute of Health — the NIH –- I believe, should create a similar Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health.  (Applause.)
 
And that would — here’s what it would do.  It would have a singular purpose: to develop breakthroughs to prevent, detect, and treat diseases like Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and cancer.
 
I’ll still never forget when we passed the cancer proposal the last year I was Vice President — almost $9 million going to NIH.  And if you excuse the point of personal privilege, I’ll never forget you standing and mentioning — saying you’d name it after my deceased son.  It meant a lot.
 
But so many of us have deceased sons, daughters, and relatives who died of cancer.  I can think of no more worthy investment.  I know of nothing that is more bipartisan.  So, let’s end cancer as we know it.  (Applause.)  It’s within our power.  (Applause.)  It’s within our power to do it.  (Applause.)
 
Investments in jobs and infrastructure, like the ones we’re talking about, have often had bipartisan support in the past.  Vice President Harris and I met regularly in the Oval Office with Democrats and Republicans to discuss the Jobs Plan.  And I applaud a group of Republican senators who just put forward their own proposal.
 
So, let’s get to work.  I wanted to lay out, before the Congress, my plan before we got into the deep discussions.  I’d like to meet with those who have ideas that are different — they think are better.  I welcome those ideas. 
 
But the rest of the world is not waiting for us.  I just want to be clear: From my perspective, doing nothing is not an option.  (Applause.)
 
Look, we can’t be so busy competing with one another that we forget the competition that we have with the rest of the world to win the 21st century.
 
Secretary Blinken can tell you, I spent a lot of time with President Xi — traveled over 17,000 miles with him; spent, they tell me, over 24 hours in private discussions with him.  When he called to congratulate me, we had a two-hour discussion.  He’s deadly earnest about becoming the most significant, consequential nation in the world.  He and others — autocrats — think that democracy can’t compete in the 21st century with autocracies because it takes too long to get consensus. 
 
To win that competition for the future, in my view, we also need to make a once-in-a-generation investment in our families and our children.  That’s why I’ve introduced the American Families Plan tonight, which addresses four of the biggest challenges facing American families and, in turn, America.
 
First is access to a good education.  When this nation made 12 years of public education universal in the last century, it made us the best-educated, best-prepared nation in the world.  It’s, I believe, the overwhelming reason that propelled us to where we got in the 21st — in the 20th century. 
 
But the world has caught up, or catching up.  They are not waiting.  I would say, parenthetically: If we were sitting down, put a bipartisan committee together and said, “Okay, we’re going to decide what we do in terms of government providing for free education,” I wonder whether we’d think, as we did in the 20th century, that 12 years is enough in the 21st century.  I doubt it.  Twelve years is no longer enough today to compete with the rest of the world in the 21st Century.
 
That’s why my American Families Plan guarantees four additional years of public education for every person in America, starting as early as we can.
 
The great universities of this country have conducted studies over the last 10 years.  It shows that adding two years of universal high-quality preschool for every three-year-old and four-year-old, no matter what background they come from, it puts them in the position to be able to compete all the way through 12 years.  It increases exponentially their prospect of graduating and going on beyond graduation.
 
The research shows when a young child goes to school — not daycare — they are far more likely to graduate from high school and go to college or something after high school.
 
When you add two years of free community college on top of that, you begin to change the dynamic.  (Applause.)  We can do that.  (Applause.) 
 
And we’ll increase Pell Grants and invest in Historical Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges, Minority-Serving Institutions.  The reason is: They don’t have the endowments, but their students are just as capable of learning about cybersecurity, just as capable of learning about metallurgy — all the things that are going on that provide those jobs of the future.
 
Jill was  a community college professor who teaches today as First Lady.  She has long said — (applause).  She has long — (applause).  If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a thousand times: “Joe, any country that out-educates us is going to outcompete us.”  She’ll be deeply involved in leading this effort.  Thank you, Jill.
 
Second thing we need: American Families Plan will provide access to quality, affordable childcare.  We guarantee — (applause).  And I’m proposing a legislation to guarantee that low- and middle-income families will pay no more than 7 percent of their income for high-quality care for children up to the age of 5.  The most hard-pressed working families won’t have to spend a dime.
 
Third, the American Families Plan will finally provide up to 12 weeks of paid leave  and medical leave — family and medical leave.  We’re one of the few industrial countries in the world — (applause). 
 
No one should have to choose between a job and paycheck or taking care of themselves and their loved ones –- a parent, a spouse, or child.
 
And fourth, the American Family Plan puts directly into the pockets of millions of Americans.  In March, we expanded a tax credit for every child in a family.  Up to a $3,000 per child, if they’re under six years of age — I mean, excuse me — under six years of age, and $3,600 for children over six years of age.
 
With two parents, two kids, that’s $7,200 in the pockets that’s going to help to take care of your family.  And that will help more than 65 million children and help cut [child] poverty in half.  (Applause.)  And we can afford it. 
 
So we did that in the last piece of legislation we passed. But let’s extend that Child Care Tax Credit at least through the end of 2025.  (Applause.)  
 
The American Rescue Plan lowered healthcare premiums for 9 million Americans who buy their coverage under the Affordable Care Act.  I know that’s really popular on this side of the aisle.  (Laughter.)  But let’s make that provision permanent so their premiums don’t go back up.  (Applause.)  
 
In addition to my Families Plan, I’m going to work with Congress to address, this year, other critical priorities for American families. 
 
The Affordable Care Act has been a lifeline for millions of Americans, protecting people with preexisting conditions, protecting women’s health.  And the pandemic has demonstrated how badly — how badly it’s needed.  Let’s lower deductibles for working families on the Affordable Care — in the Affordable Care Act.  (Applause.)  And let’s lower prescription drug costs.  (Applause.) 
 
We know how to do this.  The last President had that as an objective.  We all know how outrageously expensive drugs are in America. 
 
In fact, we pay the highest prescription drug prices of anywhere in the world right here in America — nearly three times — for the same drug, nearly three times what other countries pay.  We have to change that, and we can. 
 
Let’s do what we’ve always talked about for all the years I was down here in this — in this body — in Congress.  Let’s give Medicare the power to save hundreds of billions of dollars by negotiating lower drug prescription prices.  (Applause.)
 
And, by the way, that won’t just — that won’t just help people on Medicare; it will lower prescription drug costs for everyone. 
 
And the money we save, which is billions of dollars, can go to strengthen the Affordable Care Act and expand Medicare coverage benefits without costing taxpayers an additional penny.  It’s within our power to do it; let’s do it now.  (Applause.)
 
We’ve talked about it long enough.  Democrats and Republicans, let’s get it done this year.  This is all about a simple premise: Healthcare should be a right, not a privilege in America.  (Applause.) 
 
So, how do we pay for my Jobs and Family Plan?  I made it clear, we can do it without increasing the deficits.  Let’s start with what I will not do: I will not impose any tax increase on people making less than $400,000.  It’s — but it’s time for corporate America and the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans to just begin to pay their fair share.  (Applause.)  Just their fair share. 
 
Sometimes I have arguments with my friends in the Democratic Party.  I think you should be able to become a billionaire and a millionaire, but pay your fair share.
 
A recent study shows that 55 of the nation’s biggest corporations paid zero federal tax last year.  Those 55 corporations made in excess of $40 billion in profit.  A lot of companies also evade taxes through tax havens in Switzerland and Bermuda and the Cayman Islands.  And they benefit from tax loopholes and deductions for offshoring jobs and shifting profits overseas.  It’s not right. 
 
We’re going to reform corporate taxes so they pay their fair share and help pay for the public investments their businesses will benefit from as well.  (Applause.)
 
We’re going to reward work, not just wealth.  We take the top tax bracket for the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans — those making over $400,000 or more — back up to where it was when George W. Bush was President when he started: 39.6 percent.  That’s where it was when George W. was President. 
 
We’re going to get rid of the loopholes that allow Americans who make more than a million dollars a year and pay a lower tax rate on their capital gains than Americans who receive a paycheck.   We’re only going to affect three tenths of 1 percent of all Americans by that action.  Three tenths of 1 percent. 
 
And the IRS is going to crack down on millionaires and billionaires who cheat on their taxes.  It’s estimated to be billions of dollars by think tanks that are left, right, and center. 
 
I’m not looking to punish anybody.  But I will not add a tax burden — an additional tax burden to the middle class in this country.  They’re already paying enough.  I believe what I propose is fair — (applause) — fiscally responsible, and it raises revenue to pay for the plans I have proposed, and will create millions of jobs that will grow the economy and enhance our financial standing in the country.
 
When you hear someone say that they don’t want to raise taxes on the wealthiest 1 percent or corporate America, ask them: “Whose taxes you want to raise instead?  Whose are you going to cut?” 
 
Look, the big tax cut of 2017 — remember, it was supposed to pay for itself — that was how it was sold — and generate vast economic growth.  Instead, it added $2 trillion to the deficit.  It was a huge windfall for corporate America and those at the very top.  
 
Instead of using the tax saving to raise wages and invest in research and development, it poured billions of dollars into the pockets of CEOs.  In fact, the pay gap between CEOs and their workers is now among the largest in history. 
 
According to one study, CEOs make 320 times what the average worker in their corporation makes.  It used to be in the — below a hundred. 
 
The pandemic has only made things worse.  Twenty million Americans lost their job in the pandemic — working- and middle-class Americans.  At the same time, roughly 650 billionaires in America saw their net worth increase by more than $1 trillion — in the same exact period.  Let me say it again: 650 people increased their wealth by more than $1 trillion during this pandemic.  And they’re now worth more than $4 trillion. 
 
My fellow Americans, trickle-down — trickle-down economics has never worked and it’s time to grow the economy from the bottom and the middle out. (Applause.) 
 
You know, there’s a broad consensus of economists — left, right, center — and they agree what I’m proposing will help create millions of jobs and generate historic economic growth.  These are among the highest-value investments we can make as a nation. 
 
I’ve often said: Our greatest strength is the power of our example, not just the example of our power.  
 
In my conversations with world leaders — and I’ve spoken to over 38, 40 of them now — I’ve made it known — I’ve made it known that America is back.  And you know what they say?  The comment that I hear most of all from them is they say, “We see America is back but for how long?  But for how long?”
 
My fellow Americans, we have to show not just that we’re back, but that we’re back to stay and that we aren’t going to go it alone.  (Applause.)  We’re going to do it by leading with our allies.  (Applause.)   
 
No one nation can deal with all the crises of our timefrom terrorism, to nuclear proliferation, mass migration, cybersecurity, climate change, as well as experi- — what we’re experiencing now with pandemics. 
 
There’s no wall high enough to keep any virus out.  And our own vaccine supply — as it grows to meet our needs; and we’re meeting them — will become an arsenal of vaccines for other countries, just as America was the arsenal of democracy for the world — (applause) — and in consequence, influenced the world.  (Applause.)  
 
But every American will have access before that occur- — every American will have access to be fully covered by COVID-19 — from the vaccines we have.
 
Look, the climate crisis is not our fight alone; it’s a global fight.  The United States accounts, as all of you know, less than 15 percent of carbon emissions.  The rest of the world accounts for 85 percent.  That’s why I kept my commitment to rejoin the Paris Accord — because if we do everything perfectly, it’s not going to ultimately matter.
 
I kept my commitment to convene a climate summit right here in America with all of the major economies of the world — China, Russia, India, the European Union — and I said I’d do it in my first 100 days.
 
I want to be very blunt about it: I had — my attempt was to make sure that the world could see there was a consensus, that we are at an inflection point in history.  And consensus — the consensus is: If we act to save the planet, we can create millions of jobs and economic growth and opportunity to raise the standard of living to almost everyone around the world.
 
If you’ve watched any of it — and you were all busy; I’m sure you didn’t have much time — that’s what virtually every nation said, even the ones that aren’t doing their fair share.
 
The investments I’ve proposed tonight also advance the foreign policy, in my view, that benefits the middle class.  That means making sure every nation plays by the same rules in the global economy, including China.
 
In my discussions — in my discussions with President Xi, I told him, “We welcome the competition.  We’re not looking for conflict.”  But I made absolutely clear that we will defend America’s interests across the board.  America will stand up to unfair trade practices that undercut American workers and American industries, like subsidies from state — to state-owned operations and enterprises and the theft of American technology and intellectual property.
 
I also told President Xi that we’ll maintain a strong military presence in the Indo-Pacific, just as we do with NATO in Europe — not to start a conflict, but to prevent one.  (Applause.) 
 
I told him what I’ve said to many world leaders: that America will not back away from our commitments — our commitment to human rights and fundamental freedoms and to our alliances.
 
And I pointed out to him: No responsible American President could remain silent when basic human rights are being so blatantly violated.  An American President — President has to represent the essence of what our country stands for.  America is an idea — the most unique idea in history: We are created, all of us, equal.  It’s who we are, and we cannot walk away from that principle and, in fact, say we’re dealing with the American idea.
 
With regard to Russia, I know it concerns some of you, but I made very clear to Putin that we’re not going to seek escalation, but their actions will have consequence if they turn out to be true.  And they turned out to be true, so I responded directly and proportionally to Russia’s interference in our elections and the cyberattacks on our government and our business.  They did both of these things, and I told them we would respond, and we have.
 
But we can also cooperate when it’s in our mutual interest.  We did it when we extended the New START Treaty on nuclear arms, and we’re working to do it on climate change.  But he understands we will respond.
 
On Iran and North Korea — nuclear programs that present serious threats to American security and the security of the world — we’re going to be working closely with our allies to address the threats posed by both of these countries through diplomacy, as well as stern deterrence.
 
And American leadership means ending the forever war in Afghanistan.  (Applause.)  We have — (applause) — we have, without hyperbole, the greatest fighting force in the history of the world.  I’m the first President in 40 years who knows what it means to have a son serving in a warzone. 
 
Today we have servicemembers serving in the same warzone as their parents did.  We have servicemembers in Afghanistan who were not yet born on 9/11.
 
The War in Afghanistan, as we remember the debates here, were never meant to be multi-generational undertakings of nation-building.  We went to Afghanistan to get terrorists — the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11 — and we said we would follow Osama bin Laden to the gates of hell to do it.  If you’ve been to the upper Kunar Valley, you’ve kind of seen the gates of hell.  And we delivered justice to bin Laden.  We degraded the terrorist threat of al Qaeda in Afghanistan.  And after 20 years of value — valor and sacrifice, it’s time to bring those troops home.  (Applause.) 
 
Look, even as we do, we will maintain an over-the-horizon capacity to suppress future threats to the homeland.  And make no mistake: In 20 years, terrorists has — terrorism has metastasized.  The threat has evolved way beyond Afghanistan.  And those of you in the intelligence committees, the foreign relations committee, the defense committees, you know well: We have to remain vigilant against the threats to the United States wherever they come from.  Al Qaeda and ISIS are in Yemen, Syria, Somalia, other places in Africa, the Middle East, and beyond. 
 
And we won’t ignore what our intelligence agencies have determined to be the most lethal terrorist threat to the homeland today: White supremacy is terrorism.  We’re not going to ignore that either.
 
My fellow Americans, look, we have to come together to heal the soul of this nation.  It was nearly a year ago, before her father’s funeral, when I spoke with Gianna Floyd, George Floyd’s young daughter.  She’s a little tyke, so I was kneeling down to talk to her so I could look her in the eye.  And she looked at me and she said, “My daddy changed the world.”  Well, after the conviction of George Floyd’s murderer, we can see how right she was if — if we have the courage to act as a Congress. 
 
We’ve all seen the knee of injustice on the neck of Black Americans.  Now is our opportunity to make some real progress.  The vast majority of men and women wearing the uniform and a badge serve our communities, and they serve them honorably.  I know them.  I know they want — (applause) — I know they want to help meet this moment as well.
 
My fellow Americans, we have to come together to rebuild trust between law enforcement and the people they serve, to root out systemic racism in our criminal justice system, and to enact police reform in George Floyd’s name that passed the House already. 
 
I know Republicans have their own ideas and are engaged in the very productive discussions with Democrats in the Senate.  We need to work together to find a consensus.  But let’s get it done next month, by the first anniversary of George Floyd’s death.  (Applause.) 
 
The country supports this reform, and Congress should act — should act.  We have a giant opportunity to bend to the arc of the moral universe towards justice — real justice.  And with the plans outlined tonight, we have a real chance to root out systemic racism that plagues America and American lives in other ways; a chance to deliver real equity — good jobs, good schools, affordable housing, clean air, clean water, being able to generate wealth and pass it down two generations because you have an access to purchase a house.  Real opportunities in the lives of more Americans — Black, white, Latino, Asian Americans, Native Americans.
 
Look, I also want to thank the United States Senate for voting 94 to 1 to pass the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act to protect Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.  (Applause.)  You acted decisively.  (Applause.)  And you can see on television the viciousness of the hate crimes we’ve seen over the past year — this past year and for too long.  I urge the House to do the same and send that legislation to my desk, which I will gladly, anxiously sign.
 
I also hope Congress can get to my desk the Equality Act to protect LGBTQ Americans.  (Applause.)  To all transgender Americans watching at home, especially young people who are so brave, I want you to know your President has your back.
 
Another thing: Let’s authorize the Violence Against Women Act, which has been law for 27 years.  (Applause.)  Twenty-seven years ago, I wrote it.  It’ll close the — the act that has to be authorized now will close the “boyfriend” loophole to keep guns out of the hands of abusers.  The court order said, “This is an abuser.  You can’t own a gun.”  It’s to close that loophole that existed. 
 
You know, it’s estimated that 50 women are shot and killed by an intimate partner every month in America — 50 a month.  Let’s pass it and save some lives.  (Applause.)
    
And I need not — I need not tell anyone this, but gun violence is becoming an epidemic in America.
 
The flag at the White House was still flying at half-mast for the 8 victims in the mass shooting in Georgia when 10 more lives were taken in a mass shooting in Colorado.
 
And in the week in between those two events, 250 other Americans were shot dead in the streets of America — 250 shot dead.
 
I know how hard it is to make progress on this issue.  In the ’90s, we passed universal background checks, a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines that hold 100 rounds that can be fired off in seconds.  We beat the NRA.  Mass shootings and gun violence declined.  Check out the report in over 10 years.  But in the early twe- — 2000s, the law expired, and we’ve seen daily bloodshed since.  I’m not saying if the law continued, we wouldn’t see bloodshed.  
 
More than two weeks ago in the Rose Garden, surrounded by some of the bravest people I know — the survivors and families who lost loved ones to gun violence — I laid out several of the Department of Justice a- — actions that are being taken to — impact on this epidemic. 
 
One of them is banning so-called “ghost guns.”  These are homemade guns built from a kit that includes directions on how to finish the firearm.  The parts have no serial numbers, so they show up at crime scenes and they can’t be traced.  The buyers of these ghost gun kits aren’t required to pass any background check.  Anyone, from a criminal or terrorist, could buy this kit and within 30 minutes have a weapon that’s lethal.  But no more.
 
And I will do everything in my power to protect the American people from this epidemic of gun violence, but it’s time for Congress to act as well.  (Applause.)
 
Look, I don’t want to become confrontational but we need more Senate Republicans to join the overwhelming majority of Democrat colleagues and close the loopholes requiring a background check on purchases of guns.  We need a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.  And don’t tell me it can’t be done.  We did it before, and it worked.
 
Talk to most responsible gun owners and hunters. They’ll tell you there’s no possible justification for having 100 rounds in a weapon.  What do you think — deer are wearing Kevlar vests?  (Laughter.)  They’ll tell you that there are too many people today who are able to buy a gun but shouldn’t be able to buy a gun.
 
These kinds of reasonable reforms have overwhelming support from the American people, including many gun owners.  The country supports reform and is — and Congress should act.
 
This shouldn’t be a red or blue issue.  And no amendment to the Constitution is absolute.  You can’t yell “Fire!” in a crowded theater.  From the very beginning, there were certain guns, weapons, that could not be owned by Americans.  Certain people could not own those weapons ever. 
 
We’re not changing the Constitution; we’re being reasonable.  I think this is not a Democrat or Republican issue; I think it’s an American issue.
 
And here’s what else we can do: Immigration has always been essential to America.  Let’s end our exhausting war over immigration.  For more than 30 years, politicians have talked about immigration reform, and we’ve done nothing about it.  It’s time to fix it.
 
On day one of my presidency, I kept my commitment and sent a comprehensive immigration bill to the United States Congress.  If you believe we need to secure the border, pass it, because it has a lot of money for high-tech border security.  If you believe in a pathway to citizenship, pass it so over 11 million undocumented folks — the vast majority are here overstaying visas.  Pass it.  We can actually — if you actually want to solve a problem, I’ve sent a bill to take a close look at it. 
 
We have to — also have to get at the root problem of why people are fleeing, particularly to — to our southern border from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador: the violence, the corruption, the gangs, and the political instability, hunger, hurricanes, earthquakes, natural disasters.
 
 
When I was President, my President — when I was Vice President, the President asked me to focus on providing the help needed to address the root causes of migration.  And it helped keep people in their own countries instead of being forced to leave.  The plan was working, but the last administration decided it was not worth it.
 
I’m restoring the program and asked Vice President Harris to lead our diplomatic effort to take care of this.  I have absolute confidence she’ll get the job done.  (Applause.)
 
Now, look, if you don’t like my plan, let’s at least pass what we all agree on.  Congress needs to pass legislation this year to finally secure protection for DREAMers — the young people who have only known America as their home.  (Applause.) 
 
And permanent protection for immigrants who are here on temporary protected status who came from countries beset by manmade and natural-made violence and disaster.  (Applause.)
 
As well as a pathway to citizenship for farmworkers who put food on our tables.  (Applause.) 
 
Look, immigrants have done so much for America during this pandemic and throughout our history.  The country supports immigration reform.  We should act.  Let’s argue over it, let’s debate it, but let’s act.  (Applause.)
 
And if we truly want to restore the soul of America, we need to protect the sacred right to vote.  Most people — (applause).  
 
More people voted in the last presidential election than any time in American history, in the middle of the worst pandemic ever.  It should be celebrated.  Instead, it’s being attacked.
 
Congress should pass H.R. 1 and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and send it to my desk right away.
  (Applause.)  The country supports it.  The Congress should act now.  (Applause.)
 
Look, in closing, as we gather here tonight, the images of a violent mob assaulting this Capitol, desecrating our democracy, remain vivid in all our minds.
 
Lives were put at risk — many of your lives.  Lives were lost.  Extraordinary courage was summoned.  The insurrection was an existential crisis –- a test of whether our democracy could survive.  And it did.
 
But the struggle is far from over.  The question of whether our democracy will long endure is both ancient and urgent, as old as our Republic — still vital today. 
 
Can our democracy deliver on its promise that all of us, created equal in the image of God, have a chance to lead lives of dignity, respect, and possibility?
 
Can our democracy deliver the most — to the most pressing needs of our people? 
 
Can our democracy overcome the lies, anger, hate, and fears that have pulled us apart?
 
America’s adversaries –- the autocrats of the world –- are betting we can’t.  And I promise you, they’re betting we can’t.  They believe we’re too full of anger and division and rage.
 
They look at the images of the mob that assaulted the Capitol as proof that the sun is setting on American democracy.  But they are wrong.  You know it; I know it.  But we have to prove them wrong.
 
We have to prove democracy still works — that our government still works and we can deliver for our people.
 
In our first 100 days together, we have acted to restore the people’s faith in democracy to deliver.  We’re vaccinating the nation.  We’re creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs.  We’re delivering real results to people; they can see it and feel it in their own lives.
 
Opening doors of opportunity, guaranteeing some more fairness and justice — that’s the essence of America.  That’s democracy in action.
 
Our Constitution opens with the words — as trite as it sounds — “We the People”.  Well, it’s time to remember that “We the People” are the government — you and I.  Not some force in a distant capital.  Not some powerful force that we have no control over.  It’s us.  It’s “We the People.”
 
In another era when our democracy was tested, Franklin Roosevelt reminded us, “In America, we do our part.”  We all do our part.  That’s all I’m asking: that we do our part, all of us.
 
If we do that, we will meet the center challenge of the age by proving that democracy is durable and strong.  Autocrats will not win the future.  We will.  America will.  And the future belongs to America.
 
As I stand here tonight before you, in a new and vital hour of life and democracy of our nation, and I can say with absolute confidence: I have never been more confident or optimistic about America — not because I’m President, because what’s happening with the American people.
 
We have stared into the abyss of insurrection and autocracy, pandemic and pain, and “We the People” did not flinch.
 
At the very moment our adversaries were certain we would pull apart and fail, we came together.  We united.
 
With light and hope, we summoned a new strength, new resolve to position us to win the competition of the 21st century, on our way to a union more perfect, more prosperous, and more just, as one people, one nation, and one America.
 
Folks, as I told every world leader I’ve ever met with over the years, it’s never ever, ever been a good bet to bet against America, and it still isn’t.  (Applause.)
 
We are the United States of America.  (Applause.)  There is not a single thing — nothing — nothing beyond our capacity.  We can do whatever we set our mind to do if we do it together.  (Applause.)  So let’s begin to get together.  (Applause.)
 
God bless you all, and may God protect our troops.  Thank you for your patience.  (Applause.)
 
10:12 P.M. EDT
 

Biden on Bloody Sunday Signs Executive Order to East Voter Registration, Access to Voting

President-Elect Joe Biden and Jill Biden pay respects to civil rights icon, Congressman John Lewis, lying in state in the Capitol rotunda, July 27, 2020. Just before he died, Biden related at the Bloody Sunday commemoration, “he asked us to stay focused on the work left undone to heal and to unite this nation around what it means to be an American.” Biden took steps to fulfill that pledge by signing an Executive Order easing voter registration and access to voting. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

On a day marking the anniversary of Bloody Sunday in Selma, an event that so outraged Americans it led ultimately to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, President Joe Biden addressed the unity breakfast named after Dr. and Mrs. King and announced that he had signed an Executive Order “to make it easier for eligible voters to register to vote and improve access to voting.”

President Biden declared, “Every eligible voter should be able to vote and have that vote counted. If you have the best ideas, you have nothing to hide. Let the people vote.” Here is the text of his remarks and the details of his Executive Order:


I know this is the first commemoration of Bloody Sunday without Reverend C.T. Vivian, Reverend Joseph Lowery, and Congressman John Lewis. Preachers of the social gospel. Architects of the ‘Beloved Community,’ they built not only with words but with action. And reminders that in our lifetime, for Black Americans, the fundamental right to vote has been denied by white supremacy hiding both behind white hoods and in plain sight in state houses and courtrooms.
 
Yet those torches and burning crosses, the batons, tear gas, fire hoses, attack dogs, and unfair laws and trials could not stop progress. The blood of John Lewis and hundreds of other brave and righteous souls that was spilled in Selma, on this Sunday in 1965 sanctified a noble struggle.
 
And when the country saw those images that night, America was forced to confront the denial of democracy — the fierce urgency of justice.
 
Congress passed the Voting Rights Act a few months later, and President Johnson signed it into law.
 
The legacy of the march in Selma is that while nothing can stop a free people from exercising their most sacred power as a citizen, there are those who will do everything they can to take that power away.
 
The Voting Rights Act began to dismantle barriers to voting and to make our elections more fair, free, and representative.
 
I was always proud to lead the efforts to reauthorize it over the years as a U.S. Senator in the Judiciary Committee. But at the same time, Republicans at every level have chipped away at it.
 
Then in 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act, holding that times have changed and blatant voter discrimination was rare, contrary to the assault that was taking place on the ground. The late Justice Ginsburg wrote that the decision was like “throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm.” Today, we have a hail storm, not a rain storm.
 
And in 2020, our very democracy on the line, even in the midst of a pandemic, more Americans voted than ever before. Multiple recounts in states and decisions in more than 60 courts  from judges appointed by my predecessor, including at the Supreme Court – upheld the integrity of this historic election.
 
Yet instead of celebrating this powerful demonstration of voting – we have seen an unprecedented insurrection in our Capitol and a brutal attack on our democracy on January 6th. A never before seen effort to ignore, undermine, and undo the will of the people.
 
And to think that it’s been followed by an all-out assault on the right to vote in state legislatures all across the country happening right now. During the current legislative session, elected officials in 43 states have already introduced more than 250 bills to make it harder for Americans to vote. We cannot let them succeed.
 
Last week, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 1, the For the People Act of 2021. This is a landmark piece of legislation that is urgently needed to protect the right to vote, the integrity of our elections, and to repair and strengthen our democracy. I hope the Senate does its work so that I can sign it into law.
 
I also urge Congress to fully restore the Voting Rights Act, named in John Lewis’ honor.
 
Today, on the anniversary of Bloody Sunday, I am signing an executive order to make it easier for eligible voters to register to vote and improve access to voting. Every eligible voter should be able to vote and have that vote counted. If you have the best ideas, you have nothing to hide. Let the people vote.
 
I’ll close with this – a few days before he passed, Jill and I spoke with John, Congressman Lewis.
 
But instead of answering our concerns about him, “how are you doing, John,” he asked us to stay focused on the work left undone to heal and to unite this nation around what it means to be an American.
 
That’s the God’s truth. John wouldn’t talk about his pending death or his concerns. He said we just got to get this done.
 
That we are all created equal. That we all deserve to be treated equally.
 
On this day of reflection, please, let’s stay focused on the work ahead.
 
Let’s remember all those who came before us as a bridge to our history so we do not forget its pain, and as a bridge to our future so we never lose our hope.
 
May God bless their memory. May God bless you all.


FACT SHEET:
President Biden to Sign Executive Order to Promote Voting Access


On this day in 1965, state troopers beat and tear-gassed hundreds of peaceful protestors crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. The protestors were seeking justice and to ensure their right to vote would not be denied. At the head of the march were former Congressman John Lewis and Rev. Hosea Williams. As the troopers advanced with clubs raised, the group knelt in prayer. The images of protestors, bloody and bruised, flashing on television screens across the nation spurred Congress to pass, and President Johnson to sign into law, the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Congressman Lewis’ fight to protect and expand the vote did not end that day in Selma. He carried the mission to our nation’s Capital and remained a vigilant protector of our right to vote, knowing all too well the burdens borne to guarantee it.

Today, to mark the 56th anniversary of Selma with actions and not just words, President Biden will sign an Executive Order to promote voting access and allow all eligible Americans to participate in our democracy. This Executive Order will leverage the resources of the federal government to increase access to voter registration services and information about voting. 
 
As the President has said, democracy doesn’t happen by accident. We have to defend, strengthen, and renew it. Free and fair elections that reflect the will of the American people must be protected and defended.  Too many Americans face significant obstacles to exercising their fundamental right to vote. For generations, Black voters and other voters of color have faced discriminatory policies that suppress their vote. Voters of color are more likely to face long lines at the polls and are disproportionately burdened by voter identification laws and limited opportunities to vote by mail. Native Americans likewise face limited opportunities to vote by mail and frequently lack sufficient polling places and voter registration opportunities near their homes. Limited access to language assistance is an obstacle for many voters.  People with disabilities face longstanding barriers in exercising their right to vote, especially when it comes to legally required accommodations to vote privately and independently. Members of our military serving overseas, as well as other American citizens living abroad, also face unnecessary challenges to exercising their right to vote.

Today’s Executive Order is an initial step in this Administration’s efforts to protect the right to vote and ensure all eligible citizens can freely participate in the electoral process. The President is committed to working with Congress to restore the Voting Rights Act and pass H.R. 1, the For the People Act, which includes bold reforms to make it more equitable and accessible for all Americans to exercise their fundamental right to vote.

Today’s Executive Order will:

Direct federal agencies to expand access to voter registration and election information. The executive order will direct the head of each federal agency to submit to the Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy a strategic plan outlining ways their agency can promote voter registration and participation within 200 days. These strategic plans could include actions such as:

  • Leveraging agencies’ existing websites and social media to provide information about how to register to vote
  • Distributing voter registration and vote-by-mail ballot applications in the course of regular services
  • Considering whether any identity documents issued by the agency can be issued in a form that satisfies state voter identification laws

And, the Federal Chief Information Officer of the United States will coordinate across federal agencies to improve or modernize federal websites and digital services that provide election and voting information to the American people, including ensuring that federal websites are accessible to individuals with disabilities and people with limited English proficiency.
 
Direct federal agencies to assist states under the National Voter Registration Act. Today’s Executive Order reaffirms the intent of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) of 1993 to have federal agencies assist with voter registration efforts. Since the NVRA was enacted, state government agencies, like a department of motor vehicles, have helped register hundreds of millions of voters. Unlike state agencies, however, federal agencies can only become voter registration agencies under the NVRA at a state’s request. Federal agencies providing direct services to underserved communities represent a unique opportunity to provide access to voter registration services. Under today’s action, the head of each federal agency will evaluate where and how the federal agency provides services that directly engage with the public, and to the greatest extent possible, formally notify states in which it provides services that it would agree to designation as a voter registration agency. If requested by a state to be designated as a voter registration agency, the federal agency shall to the greatest extent possible agree to such designation.
 
Improve and modernize Vote.gov. The Executive Order will direct the General Services Administration (GSA) to submit to the Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy a strategic plan outlining steps to modernize and improve the user experience of the federal government’s premier source of voting-related information, Vote.gov, including the accessibility of the website within 200 days. The order requires GSA to seek the input of affected stakeholders, including election administrators, civil rights and disability rights activists, Tribal Nations, and nonprofit groups that study best practices for using technology to promote civic engagement.
 
Increase federal employees’ access to voting. The Executive Order will direct the Director of the Office of Personnel Management to work with the head of federal agencies to provide recommendations to the President regarding leave for federal employees to vote or to volunteer as nonpartisan poll workers, ensuring that the federal government serves as a model to other employers.
 
Analyze barriers to voting for people with disabilities.  The Executive Order will direct the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) within the Department of Commerce to evaluate and publish recommendations on the steps needed to ensure that the online Federal Voter Registration Form is accessible to people with disabilities within 200 days.  The order directs NIST—in consultation with the Department of Justice, the Election Assistance Commission, and other agencies—to analyze barriers to private and independent voting for people with disabilities, including access to voter registration, voting technology, voting by mail, polling locations, and poll worker training.
 
Increase voting access for active duty military and other overseas voters.  The executive order will direct the Secretary of Defense within 200 days to establish procedures to annually offer each member of the Armed Forces on active duty the opportunity to register to vote in federal elections, update voter registration, or request an absentee ballot. Additionally, the Secretary of Defense—in coordination with the Department of State, the Military Postal Service Agency and United States Postal Service—is required to submit a strategic plan for an end-to-end ballot tracking system for overseas ballots. And, the head of each federal agency with overseas employees is directed to designate a point of contact to coordinate with the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) and promote voter registration and voting services available to these employees.
 
Provide voting access and education to citizens in federal custody. The order will direct the Attorney General to establish procedures to provide educational materials related to voter registration and voting, and to the extent practicable, to facilitate voter registration, for all eligible individuals in the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons.  It also directs the Attorney General to coordinate with the Probation and Pretrial Services Office to develop similar procedures for eligible individuals under its supervision. The Executive Order also directs the Attorney General to establish procedures to ensure the U.S. Marshals Service includes language in jail contracts to provide eligible individuals educational materials related to voter registration and voting, and to facilitate voting by mail, to the extent practicable and appropriate. And, it directs the Attorney General to take steps to support formerly incarcerated individuals in obtaining a means of identification that satisfies state voter identification laws.
 
Establish a Native American voting rights steering group. The order will establish an interagency steering group on Native American voting rights to be coordinated by the Domestic Policy Council. The steering group will include, at a minimum, the Attorney General, the Secretary of the Interior, the Secretary of Agriculture, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Secretary of Labor, and the Secretary of Veterans Affairs or their designees. The steering group will study best practices, in consultation with Tribal Nations, for protecting voting rights of Native Americans and will produce a report within one year of the date of the order outlining recommendations for increasing voter outreach, education, registration, and turnout in Native American communities.

President-Elect Biden, After Electoral College Vote: ‘In America, Politicians Don’t Take Power — the People Grant Power to Them’

Joe Biden officially became President-Elect with the conclusion of the Electoral College vote. “In America, politicians don’t take power — the people grant power to them,” Biden said in remarks to the nation © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Joe Biden officially became President-Elect with the conclusion of the Electoral College vote cementing Joe Biden’s victory with 306 votes to Donald Trump’s 232.  After weeks of keeping silent as the Trump campaign brought 60 lawsuits in the hopes of the Supreme Court ultimately declaring Trump the winner, Biden delivered a rebuke of the efforts by Trump and the Republicans to overturn the election, as notable for the most votes cast in history and the most votes won by a candidate in history,  by disenfranchising millions of voters, mostly Black, but declared democracy “resilient, true and strong.”

In America, politicians don’t take power — the people grant power to them,” Biden declared.

He attacked the unprecedented, relentless but baseless court challenges, culminating in Texas seeking to overturn the results in four swing states, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Georgia to “wipe out the votes of more than 20 million Americans in other states and to hand the presidency to a candidate who lost the Electoral College, lost the popular vote, and lost each and every one of the states whose votes they were trying to reverse.

It’s a position so extreme we’ve never seen it before. A position that refused to respect the will of the people, refused to respect the rule of law, and refused to honor our Constitution. Thankfully, a unanimous Supreme Court immediately and completely rejected this effort…

“In this battle for the soul of America, democracy prevailed. We the People voted. Faith in our institutions held. The integrity of our elections remains intact. Now it is time to turn the page as we’ve done throughout our history.”

Here is a highlighted transcript of his remarks, as prepared for delivery:

Good evening, my fellow Americans. 

Over the past few weeks, officials in each state, commonwealth, and district, without regard to party or political preference have certified their winning candidate.  

Today, the members of the Electoral College representing the certified winner, cast their votes for President and Vice President of the United States in an act just as old as our nation itself. 

And once again in America, the rule of law, our Constitution, and the will of the people have prevailed.

Our democracy — pushed, tested, threatened — proved to be resilient, true, and strong.

The Electoral College votes which occurred today reflect the fact that even in the face of a public health crisis unlike anything we have experienced in our lifetimes, the people voted. 

They voted in record numbers. More Americans voted this year than have ever voted in the history of the United States of America. Over 155 million Americans were determined to have their voices heard and their votes counted.

At the start of the pandemic crisis, many were wondering how many Americans would vote at all. But those fears proved to be unfounded. 

We saw something very few predicted or even thought possible — the biggest voter turnout ever in the history of the United States of America. 

Numbers so big that this election now ranks as the clearest demonstration of the true will of the American people — one of the most amazing demonstrations of civic duty we’ve ever seen in our country. 

It should be celebrated, not attacked.

More than 81 million of those votes were cast for me and Vice President-elect Harris. 

This too is a record number. More votes than any ticket has received in the history of America. 

It represented a winning margin of more than 7 million votes over the number of votes cast for President Trump and Vice President Pence.

Altogether, Vice President-elect Harris and I earned 306 electoral votes — well exceeding the 270 electoral votes needed to secure victory.  

306 electoral votes is the same number of electoral votes Donald Trump and Mike Pence received in 2016. 

At that time, President Trump called his Electoral College tally a landslide. 

By his own standards, these numbers represented a clear victory then. 

And I respectfully suggest they do so now.

If anyone didn’t know it before, they know it now.  

What beats deep in the hearts of the American people is this: Democracy. 

The right to be heard. 

To have your vote counted. 

To choose the leaders of this nation.

To govern ourselves. 

In America, politicians don’t take power — the people grant power to them. 

The flame of democracy was lit in this nation a long time ago. And we now know that nothing, not even a pandemic or an abuse of power, can extinguish that flame.

And as the people kept it aflame, so, too did courageous state and local officials and election workers. 

American democracy works because Americans make it work at the local level. 

One of the extraordinary things we saw this year was these everyday Americans — our friends and neighbors, often volunteers, Democrats and Republicans and Independents — demonstrating absolute courage. They showed a deep and unwavering faith in and a commitment to the law. 

They did their duty in the face of a pandemic.

And then they could not and would not give credence to what they knew was not true. 

They knew the elections they oversaw were honest and free and fair. 

They saw it with their own eyes. 

And they wouldn’t be bullied into saying anything different. 

It was truly remarkable because so many of these patriotic Americans were subjected to so much: enormous political pressure, verbal abuse, and even threats of physical violence. 

While we all wish that our fellow Americans in these positions will always show such courage and commitment to free and fair elections, I hope we never again see anyone subjected to the kind of threats and abuse we saw in this election. 

It is unconscionable. 

We owe these public servants a debt of gratitude. They didn’t seek the spotlight, and our democracy survived because of them. 

Which is proof once more that it’s the everyday American — infused with honor and character and decency — that is the heart of this nation.

And in this election, their integrity was matched by the strength, independence, and the integrity of our judicial system. 

In America, when questions are raised about the legitimacy of any election, those questions are resolved through a legal process. 

And that is precisely what happened here. 

The Trump campaign brought dozens and dozens and dozens of legal challenges to test the results. 

They were heard.  And they were found to be without merit. 

Time and again, President Trump’s lawyers presented their arguments to state officials, state legislatures, state and federal courts, and ultimately to the United States Supreme Court, twice.

They were heard by more than 80 judges across the country. 

And in every case, no cause or evidence was found to reverse or question or dispute the results.  

A few states went to recounts. All of the counts were confirmed.

The results in Georgia were counted three times. It did not change the outcome. 

The recount conducted in Wisconsin actually saw our margin grow. 

The margin we had in Michigan was fourteen times the margin President Trump won the state by four years ago. 

Our margin in Pennsylvania was nearly twice the size of President Trump’s margin four years ago.

And yet none of this has stopped baseless claims about the legitimacy of the results. 

Even more stunning, 17 Republican Attorneys General and 126 Republican Members of Congress actually signed on to a lawsuit filed by the State of Texas. It asked the United States Supreme Court to reject the certified vote counts in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. 

This legal maneuver was an effort by elected officials in one group of states to try to get the Supreme Court to wipe out the votes of more than twenty million Americans in other states and to hand the presidency to a candidate who lost the Electoral College, lost the popular vote, and lost each and every one of the states whose votes they were trying to reverse. 

It’s a position so extreme we’ve never seen it before. A position that refused to respect the will of the people, refused to respect the rule of law, and refused to honor our Constitution.

Thankfully, a unanimous Supreme Court immediately and completely rejected this effort. 

The Court sent a clear signal to President Trump and his allies that they would be no part of this unprecedented assault on our democracy. 

Every avenue was made available to President Trump to contest the results. 

He took full advantage of each and every one of these avenues. 

President Trump was denied no course of action he wanted to take. 

He took his case to Republican Governors and Republican Secretaries of State. To Republican state legislatures. To Republican-appointed judges at every level. 

And in a case decided after the Supreme Court’s latest rejection, a judge appointed by President Trump wrote: “This court has allowed the plaintiff the chance to make his case, and he has lost on the merits.”

Even President Trump’s own cybersecurity chief overseeing our elections said it was the most secure in American history.

Let me say it again, his own cybersecurity chief overseeing this election said it was the most secure in American history.

Respecting the will of the people is at the heart of our democracy — even when we find those results hard to accept. 

But that is the obligation of those who have taken a sworn duty to uphold our Constitution.

Four years ago, as the sitting Vice President of the United States, it was my responsibility to announce the tally of the Electoral College votes that elected Donald Trump.

I did my job. 

And I am pleased — but not surprised — that a number of my former Republican colleagues in the Senate have acknowledged the results of the Electoral College.

I thank them. I am convinced we can work together for the good of the nation.

That is the duty owed to the people, to our Constitution, and to history.

In this battle for the soul of America, democracy prevailed.

We the People voted. 

Faith in our institutions held. 

The integrity of our elections remains intact.


Now it is time to turn the page as we’ve done throughout our history.

To unite. To heal.

As I said through this campaign, I will be a president for all Americans.

I will work just as hard for those of you who didn’t vote for me, as I will for those who did.

There is urgent work in front of us all.

Getting the pandemic under control and getting the nation vaccinated against this virus.

Delivering immediate economic help so badly needed by so many Americans who are hurting today — and then building our economy back better than ever.

In doing so, we need to work together, give each other a chance, and lower the temperature.

And most of all, we need to stand in solidarity as fellow Americans. To see each other, our pains, our struggles, our hopes, our dreams. 

We are a great nation. 

We are a good people.

We may come from different places and hold different beliefs, but we share a love for this country. A belief in its limitless possibilities.

For we, the United States of America, have always set the example for the world for the peaceful transition of power.

We will do so again.

I know the task before us will not be easy. 

It’s tempered by the pain so many of us are feeling.

Today, our nation passed a grim milestone, 300,000 deaths due to this virus.

My heart goes out to all of you in this dark winter of the pandemic about to spend the holidays and the new year with a black hole in your hearts and without the ones you love by your side.

My heart goes out to all of you who have fallen on hard times through no fault of your own, unable to sleep at night, weighed down with the worry of what tomorrow will bring for you and for your family.

But we have faced difficult times before in our history.

And I know we will get through this one, together.

And so, as we start the hard work to be done, may this moment give us the strength to rebuild this house of ours upon a rock that can never be washed away. 

And as in the Prayer of St. Francis, for where there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith, where there is darkness, light.

This is who we are as a nation. 

This is the America we love. 

And that is the America we will be.

May God bless you all.

May God protect our troops and all those who stand watch over our democracy. 

March for Truth Rallies Demand Witnesses, Evidence in Trump Impeachment Trial

Stop the GOP Cover-Up. March for Truth, NYC calls for witnesses, evidence in Trump Impeachment Trial © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News-Photos-Features.com

With chants of “No More Cover-Ups. We Want Witnesses” and “What do we want? Witnesses. If we don’t get it, Shut It Down,” protesters took to the streets in New York City as well as Washington DC and 30 other cities to demand Senators uphold their oath for an impartial examination of the truth before a vote to convict or acquit Donald Trump of his office as President of the United States.

In New York, a couple of hundred protesters organized by the NYC Coalition to Impeach and Remove gathered in Times Square, and then marched down to Herald Square. Here are highlights:

“Trump is Guilty.” March for Truth, NYC calls for witnesses, evidence in Trump Impeachment Trial © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
“Demand Truth.” March for Truth, NYC calls for witnesses, evidences in Trump Impeachment Trial © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
March for Truth, NYC calls for witnesses, evidences in Trump Impeachment Trial © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
March for Truth, NYC calls for witnesses, evidences in Trump Impeachment Trial © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
March for Truth, NYC calls for witnesses, evidences in Trump Impeachment Trial © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
March for Truth, NYC calls for witnesses, evidences in Trump Impeachment Trial © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
March for Truth, NYC calls for witnesses, evidences in Trump Impeachment Trial © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
March for Truth, NYC calls for witnesses, evidences in Trump Impeachment Trial © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
“Imminent Threat.” March for Truth, NYC calls for witnesses, evidence in Trump Impeachment Trial © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
March for Truth, NYC calls for witnesses, evidences in Trump Impeachment Trial © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
“Trump is Guilty.” March for Truth, NYC calls for witnesses, evidence in Trump Impeachment Trial © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
March for Truth, NYC calls for witnesses, evidences in Trump Impeachment Trial © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
March for Truth, NYC calls for witnesses, evidences in Trump Impeachment Trial © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Marching down Broadway. March for Truth, NYC calls for witnesses, evidences in Trump Impeachment Trial © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Grow a Spine. March for Truth, NYC calls for witnesses, evidences in Trump Impeachment Trial © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
March for Truth, NYC calls for witnesses, evidences in Trump Impeachment Trial © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
March for Truth, NYC calls for witnesses, evidence in Trump Impeachment Trial © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
“Stop the GOP Cover-Up” March for Truth, NYC calls for witnesses, evidence in Trump Impeachment Trial © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Rallies were also held in:

Dallas, Texas

Phoenix, Arizona

Raleigh, North Carolina

Allentown, Pennsylvania

Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Maryville, Illinois

Lexington, Kentucky

Portland, Oregon

Hillsborough, Oregon

Brea, California

St. Petersburg, Florida

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Gulfport, Mississippi

Danville, Kentucky

Louisville, Kentucky

Hudson, Wisconsin

Bangor, Maine

Tucson, Arizona

Colorado Springs, Colorado

Clarksville, Tennessee

Salt Lake City, Utah

Denver, Colorado

Phoenix, Arizona

Chico, California

Anchorage, Alaska

Charlotte, North Carolina

__________

© 2020 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures. ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

Democratic Candidates for 2020: Senator Warren Would Tax Excessive Lobbying As Part of Her Anti-Corruption Proposal

Senator Elizabeth Warren, seeking the Democratic nomination for President, takes on the issue of corruption at a rally in Washington Square Park, New York City, that drew 20,000 people © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The vigorous contest of Democrats seeking the 2020 presidential nomination has produced excellent policy proposals to address major issues. Senator Elizabeth Warren details her plan to tax excessive lobbying as part of her anti-corruption proposal. This is from the Warren campaign:

Charlestown, MA – Senator Elizabeth Warren recently unveiled her plan for a new tax on excessive lobbying. It applies to every corporation and trade organization that spends over $500,000 per year lobbying our government. The revenue from this tax will be used to help our government fight back against the influence of lobbyists. 

Based on our analysis of lobbying data provided by the Center for Responsive Politics, if this tax had been in effect over the last 10 years, over 1,600 corporations and trade groups would have had to pay up – leading to an estimated $10 billion in total revenue. 

Senator Warren has already laid out how she will end lobbying as we know it and strengthen Congressional independence from lobbyists. (Read more about her plan here.)

Here is more about her plan to tax excessive lobbying:

When Americans think about corporate lobbyists, they usually think about the people in fancy suits who line the halls of Congress armed with donations, talking points, and whatever else they need to win favorable treatment for their big corporate clients. 

They’re right. In fact, corporate interests spend more on lobbying than we spend to fund both houses of Congress — spending more than $2.8 billion on lobbying last year alone. That’s why I have a plan to strengthen congressional independence from lobbyists and give Congress the resources it needs to defend against these influence campaigns. 

But corporate lobbyists don’t just swarm Congress. They also target our federal departments like the Environmental Protection Agency and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. These agencies exist to oversee giant corporations and implement the laws coming out of Congress – but lobbyists often do their best to grind public interest work at these agencies to a halt. 

When the Department of Labor tried to protect workers from predatory financial advisors who got rich by siphoning off large and unnecessary fees from workers’ life savings, Wall Street lobbyists descended on Washington to try to kill the effort – twice. When they failed the second time, they sued to stop it in the courts. 

When the Environmental Protection Agency decided to act on greenhouse gas emissions by passing regulations on methane, fossil fuel companies called in their lobbyists. The rule was dramatically weakened – and then Trump’s EPA went even further than some in the industry wanted by proposing to scrap the rule altogether

When the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau tried to crack down on payday lenders exploiting vulnerable communities, lobbyists convinced the Trump administration to cripple the rule – while the payday lenders who hired them spent about $1 million at a Trump resort. 

Regulatory agencies are only empowered to implement public interest rules under authority granted by legislation already passed by Congress. So how is it that lobbyists are able to kill, weaken, or delay so many important efforts to implement the law? 

Often they accomplish this goal by launching an all out assault on the process of writing new rules – informally meeting with federal agencies to push for favorable treatment, burying those agencies in detailed industry comments during the notice-and-comment rulemaking process, and pressuring members of Congress to join their efforts to lobby against the rule. If the rule moves forward anyway, they’ll argue to an obscure federal agency tasked with weighing the costs and benefits of agency rules that the rules are too costly, and if the regulation somehow survives this onslaught, they’ll hire fancy lawyers to challenge it in court. 

I have released the most sweeping set of anti-corruption reforms since Watergate. Under my plan, we will end lobbying as we know it. We will make sure everyone who is paid to influence government is required to register as a lobbyist, and we’ll impose strict disclosure requirements so that lobbyists have to publicly report which agency rules they are seeking to influence and what information they provide to those agencies. We’ll also shut the revolving door between government and K Street to prevent another Trump administration where ex-lobbyists lead the Department of Defense, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Labor, the Department of Interior, and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. 

My plan also calls for something unique – a new tax on excessive lobbying that applies to every corporation and trade organization that spends over $500,000 per year lobbying our government. This tax will reduce the incentive for excessive lobbying, and raise money that we can use to fight back against this kind of onslaught when it occurs. 

Under my lobbying tax proposal, companies that spend between $500,000 and $1 million per year on lobbying, calculated on a quarterly basis, will pay a 35% tax on those expenditures. For every dollar above $1 million spent on lobbying, the rate will increase to 60% – and for every dollar above $5 million, it will increase to 75%. 

Based on our analysis of lobbying data provided by the Center for Responsive Politics, if this tax had been in effect over the last 10 years, over 1,600 corporations and trade groups would have had to pay up – leading to an estimated $10 billion in total revenue. And 51 of them – including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Koch Industries, Pfizer, Boeing, Microsoft, Walmart, and Exxon – would have been subject to the 75% rate for lobbying spending above $5 million in every one of those years. 

Nobody will be surprised that the top five industries that would have paid the highest lobbying taxes are the same industries that have spent the last decade fighting tooth and nail against popular policies: Big Pharma, health insurance companies, oil and gas companies, Wall Street firms, and electric utilities. 

Among individual companies, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce would have owed the most of any company or trade group in lobbying taxes: an estimated $770 million on $1 billion in lobbying spending – over $400 million more than the next-highest-paying organization, the National Association of Realtors, which would have paid $307 million on $425 million in lobbying spending. Blue Cross Blue Shield, PhRMA, and the American Hospital Association would have all paid between $149 and $163 million in taxes on between $213 and $233 million in lobbying spending. And General Electric, Boeing, AT&T, Business Roundtable, and Comcast round out the top ten, paying between $105 million and $129 million in taxes. 

Every dollar raised by the lobbying tax will be placed into a new Lobbying Defense Trust Fund dedicated to directing a surge of resources to Congress and federal agencies to fight back against the effort to bury public interest actions by the government. 

Corporate lobbyists are experts at killing widely popular policies behind closed doors. 

Take just one example from the Obama administration. In October 2010, the Department of Labor (DOL) proposed a “fiduciary rule” to protect employee retirement accounts from brokers who charge exorbitant fees and put their own commissions above earning returns for their clients. The idea was simple: if you’re looking after someone’s money, you should look out for their best interests. 

It’s an obvious rule – but it would cut into financial industry profits. So the industry dispatched an army of lobbyists to fight against the rule, including by burying the agency in public comments. In the first four months, the DOL received hundreds of comments on the proposed rule, including comments from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, BlackRock, and other powerful financial interests. After a public hearing with testimony from groups like Fidelity and J.P Morgan, the agency received over 100 more comments — including dozens from members of Congress, many of which were heavily slanted toward industry talking points. Because the law requires agencies to respond to each concern laid out in the public comments, when corporate interests flood agencies with comments, the process often becomes so time-consuming and resource-intensive that it can kill or delay final rules altogether – and that’s exactly what happened. On September 19, 2011, the DOL withdrew the proposed rule, but said that it planned to try again in the future. 

Undeterred, Wall Street pushed forward their lobbying campaign to ensure that the Department of Labor wouldn’t try again to re-issue the fiduciary rule. In June 2013, Robert Lewis, a lobbyist for an investment industry trade group, personally drafted a letter opposing this common-sense reform – and got 32 members of Congress to sign it. The letter ominously urged the Department to “learn from its earlier experience” when the financial industry had killed the first proposal. Soon, members of Congress from both parties were joining in, telling the Obama administration to delay re-issuing the rule. 

To its great credit, the Obama Department of Labor didn’t give up. On February 23, 2015, the agency finally re-proposed the rule. Wall Street ramped up their lobbying once more to try to kill it a second time. This time, with firm resolve and committed allies, DOL and those of us fighting alongside them beat back thousands of comments, and retirees won – but it took so long that Donald Trump became President before the rule fully went into effect. 

Trump came through for Wall Street: the new Administration delayed implementing the rule, and after financial firms spent another $3 million on lobbying at least in part on the rule, the Department of Justice refused to defend it in court. Today, the Department of Labor is led by Eugene Scalia, the very corporate lawyer and ex-lobbyist who brought the lawsuit to kill off the proposal. 

Lobbyists have followed this same playbook to block, narrow, or delay countless other common- sense industry regulations. Swarm regulators and Congress, bury everyone in an avalanche of money, and strangle government action in the public interest before it even gets off the ground. 

That’s why I’m using the revenue from my tax on excessive lobbying to establish a new Lobbying Defense Trust Fund, which will help our government fight back against the influence of lobbyists. 

First, we’ll use the Lobbying Defense Trust Fund to strengthen congressional support agencies. In my plan to strengthen congressional independence from lobbyists, I explained how lobbying tax revenue would help to reinstate the Office of Technology Assessment and increase the budget for other congressional support agencies, like the Congressional Budget Office. 

Second, we’ll give more money to federal agencies that are facing significant lobbying activity. Every time a company above the $500,000 threshold spends money lobbying against a rule from a federal agency, the taxes on that spending will go directly to the agency to help it fight back. In 2010, DOL could have used that money to hire more staffers to complete the rule more quickly and intake the flood of industry comments opposing it. 

Third, revenue from the lobbying tax will help to establish a new Office of the Public Advocate. This office will help the American people engage with federal agencies and fight for the public interest in the rule-making process. If this office had existed in 2010, the Public Advocate would have made sure that DOL heard from workers and retirees – even while both parties in Congress were spouting industry talking points.


My new lobbying tax will make hiring armies of lobbyists significantly more expensive for the largest corporate influencers like Blue Cross Blue Shield, Boeing, and Comcast. Sure, this may mean that some corporations and industry groups will choose to reduce their lobbying expenditures, raising less tax revenue down the road – but in that case, all the better.

And if instead corporations continue to engage in excessive lobbying, my lobbying tax will raise even more revenue for Congress, agencies, and federal watchdogs to fight back.

It’s just one more example of the kind of big, structural change we need to put power back in the hands of the people – and break the grip that lobbyists have on our government for good.

Democratic Candidates for 2020: Warren Releases Plan to End Corruption in Washington

“The Best President Money Can’t Buy” Senator Elizabeth Warren lays out her plan to end corruption in government, in a speech to 20,000 in Washington Square Park, NYC, near where the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire took 146 lives in 1911 and triggered a grassroots movement that secured labor reform. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The vigorous contest of Democrats seeking the 2020 presidential nomination has produced excellent policy proposals to address major issues. Ahead of her speech in Washington Square Park near the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, in which she delineated how corruption in Washington has allowed the rich and powerful to tilt the rules and grow richer and more powerful, Senator Elizabeth Warren released her plan to end Washington corruption. 

Warren has already advanced comprehensive anti-corruption legislation in Congress, but she is going further with a set of far-reaching and aggressive proposals. “Her plan will end lobbying as we know it, end self-dealing in the White House, end corporate capture of the federal government’s rule-making process, hold our federal judiciary and the Supreme Court to the highest ethical standards, and more.”

Warren declared, “No matter what brings you into this fight — whether it’s child care, student loans, health care, immigration, or criminal justice, one thing is crystal clear: corruption is making it worse — and it’s at the root of the major problems we face as a democracy.

“Reforming the money game in Washington isn’t enough. We also need to comprehensively clean up our campaign finance system. That’s why I’ve also called for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United. It’s why we need to get rid of the Super PACs and secret spending by billionaires and giant corporations that try to buy our democracy. It’s why we need to break the grip that big donors have by creating a system of exclusive public funding of our elections. But even if we solve our campaign finance problems, comprehensive anti-corruption reforms targeted at Washington itself are necessary to finally end the stranglehold that the wealthy and the well-connected have over our government’s decision-making processes.

“I believe that we can root out corruption in Washington. I believe we must make big, structural changes that will once again restore our trust in government by showing that it can work for all of us. And when I’m President, that’s exactly what I’ll do.”

This is from the Elizabeth Warren campaign:



In 1958, the National Election Survey first asked Americans a simple question: Do you trust the government to do the right thing most of the time? That year, 73% of Americans said yes.

Senator Elizabeth Warren holds campaign rally in Washington Square Park, NYC © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

In 2019, that number is just 17%. Five out of every six Americans do not trust their government to do the right thing.

Why have so many people lost faith in government?

It’s true that right-wing politicians have spent a generation attacking the very idea of government. But it’s also true that these days, our government doesn’t work for most people. Sure, it works great for the wealthy and the well-connected — but for everybody else, it doesn’t.

It doesn’t work because big insurance companies and hospital conglomerates put profits ahead of the health and well-being of the American people, and dump piles of money into political campaigns and lobbying efforts to block any move toward Medicare for All.

It doesn’t work because big oil companies that have concealed climate studies — and funded bought-and-paid-for climate denial research — bury regulators in an avalanche of shady, bad-faith pseudoscience and then spend freely on influence peddling in Congress to make sure nothing like a Green New Deal ever sees the light of day.

It doesn’t work because giant pharmaceutical companies want to squeeze every last penny out of the people who depend on their prescriptions, while their army of lobbyists suffocates reform any time there’s a discussion in Congress on drug pricing.

Universal child care. Criminal justice reform. Affordable housing. Gun reform. Look closely, and you’ll see — on issue after issue, widely popular policies are stymied because giant corporations and billionaires who don’t want to pay taxes or follow any rules use their money and influence to stand in the way of big, structural change.

We’ve got to call that out for what it is: corruption, plain and simple.

Make no mistake about it: The Trump Administration is the most corrupt administration of our lifetimes.

Foreign nations, like Saudi Arabia, funnel money into Trump’s pockets by spending freely at his hotels.

Trump’s tax bill is a $1.5 trillion giveaway that primarily helps large corporations and wealthy Americans. Half of the total registered lobbyists in Washington worked on issues involving the word “tax” the year the bill was written — that’s eleven lobbyists for every member of Congress. And when the members of Congress who championed it lost their elections, they got juicy gigs in the lobbying industry themselves.

Trump’s Supreme Court Justices were hand-picked by right-wing extremist groups that spent millions on television ads — first to hold open a Supreme Court seat in the Obama Administration, and then to pressure the Senate to rubber stamp their candidates of choice, even when it meant ignoring serious sexual assault charges to ram through the confirmation.

Trump’s pick to lead the Environmental Protection Agency was a climate denier with ties to Big Oil — and when he was forced to resign after a slew of ethics violations, Trump replaced him with a former coal lobbyist.

Our nation’s ambassadors are a who’s who of Trump’s biggest donors and Mar-a-Lago members.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Maurice Mitchell, national director of the Working Families Party, introduces Senator Elizabeth Warren, who has secured the labor-aligned progressive group’s endorsement for President © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

But these problems did not start with Donald Trump. They are much bigger than him — and solving them will require big, structural change to fundamentally transform our government.

That’s why I’ve released plans to fight Washington corruption. A plan to make sure that no president is above the law. A plan to tackle defense contractor coziness at the Pentagon. A plan to ban private prisons and expand oversight, transparency, and enforcement for all contractors hired by the federal government. In Congress, I’ve previously advanced wide-ranging anti-corruption legislation.

But we must go further.

Today, I’m announcing a comprehensive set of far-reaching and aggressive proposals to root out corruption in Washington. It’s the most sweeping set of anti-corruption reforms since Watergate. The goal of these measures is straightforward: to take power away from the wealthy and the well-connected in Washington and put it back where it belongs — in the hands of the people.

My plan lays out nearly a hundred ways that we can change our government to fix this problem — from improving public integrity rules for federal officials in every branch of government to ending lobbying as we know it, fixing the criminal laws to hold corrupt politicians to account, and ensuring our federal agencies and courts are free from corrupting influences.

And I’m just getting started.

Restoring Public Integrity

If you choose to be a public servant, you should serve the public — not your own financial interests or the financial interests of the rich and powerful. But we face a crisis of confidence in the ethics and public integrity of federal officials in America. The revolving door in and out of the Trump Administration is spinning out of control, and wave after wave of people in Trump’s orbit are trying to profit personally from his presidency — including him.

But even before Trump entered the White House, our nation’s public integrity rules were far too lax. Too many public officials can easily leverage public service for personal gain. And the ability to walk around government with obvious and direct personal financial conflicts reduces public faith in honest officials. To fix this, we need a total rewrite of our ethics laws.

We must begin by rooting out financial conflicts of interest in Washington.

Donald Trump is a walking conflict of interest. Actually, more like 2,310 conflicts of interest — and counting. His refusal to divest from his businesses has opened the door for giant corporations, foreign lobbyists, and our own government officials to curry favor with his administration and pad his own bottom line.

According to a study by the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, Donald Trump has visited one of his own properties for nearly a third of the total days that he has been president. Trump’s Washington hotel even sent the federal government a bill for $200,000 because Secret Service agents were forced to stay there as well.

Foreign countries have also taken the hint. Representatives from 65 foreign governments have visited Trump properties since he took office, and embassies have begun booking Trump’s hotels for their events. Trump has egged them on, shamelessly floating another one of his properties as the venue for a future international summit.

Big corporations and billionaires have also tried to curry favor with Donald Trump by patronizing his properties. T-Mobile sent its top executives to the Trump Hotel in DC right after the company announced a merger requiring the Trump administration’s approval. Payday lenders held their annual meetings at Trump’s golf club in Miami, while the Trump administration has consistently gutted restrictions and regulations on exploitative payday lenders. And several wealthy donors who pay the $200,000 Mar-a-Lago membership fee — which doubled when Trump became President — have exerted “sweeping influence” at the Department of Veteran’s Affairs.

Even Trump’s own appointees and political allies have tried to suck up to Trump by exploiting his conflicts of interest. More than 100 Republican Members of Congress have become patrons of Trump’s businesses since he became President. Most recently, Trump’s Attorney General William Barr spent $30,000 at Trump’s Washington Hotel, implausibly claiming that it was the only place he could find for his holiday party in Washington — and on an official trip to Ireland, Vice President Mike Pence stayed at a Trump property reportedly at Trump’s instruction, even though it was three hours away from his scheduled meetings in Dublin.

Trump is by far the most egregious example — and we need new rules to hold leaders accountable for this kind of conduct. But we cannot condemn this conduct without also acknowledging that opportunities for the appearance of self-dealing are far too easy across the federal government. Restoring public confidence isn’t just about replacing Trump and his cronies. We need new bright lines and clear rules to eliminate the possibility of public officials serving private interests.

Senator Elizabeth Warren holds campaign rally in Washington Square Park, NYC © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Here’s where I would start:

End self-dealing in the White House by applying conflict of interest laws to the President and Vice President. Under my plan,Presidents and Vice Presidents would be required to place their businesses into a blind trust to be sold off. No more payoffs. No more bribes from foreign governments. No more self-dealing.

Disclose tax returns of federal candidates and officeholders to the public automatically. Tax return disclosure for federally elected officials shouldn’t be optional — it should be the law. And it shouldn’t just apply to Presidents — it should apply to everyone running for or serving in federal elected office. Presidential candidates, in particular, should follow the standard set by Barack Obama for releasing at least eight years of returns. (I’ve released eleven.) And the IRS should simply put out the required tax returns for qualified candidates themselves — so nothing like Donald Trump’s refusal to disclose his taxes can ever happen again.

Force senior government officials to divest from privately-owned assets that could present conflicts of interest. White House advisers like Jared Kushner have been allowed to use their government positions to further enrich themselves and their families, while Cabinet Officials like Betsy DeVos have hundreds of millions held in privately-owned accounts that make it nearly impossible to determine who could exercise influence over DeVos and her family. The fact that such conduct could pass any kind of ethics screen makes it clear that we need new rules. My plan puts an end to this practice by requiring senior officials, including those who are unpaid like Kushner, to divest from their businesses and other conflicted assets.

Completely ban the practice of government officials trading individual stocks while in office. Under current law, members of Congress can trade stocks and then use their powerful positions to increase the value of those stocks and pad their own pockets. Tom Price, Trump’s former Secretary of Health and Human Services, purchased pharmaceutical stocks while in the House of Representatives — then fought hard to get a return on his investment by pushing policies that would benefit giant pharmaceutical companies. And another member of Congress, Chris Collins, was charged for trading the same stocks based on insider information. But prosecutions like this are rare. And even where investments don’t influence decisions, the existence of these direct conflicts undermine public confidence in government.

The solution is simple — ban members of Congress and senior government officials from owning or trading individual stocks. Instead, they can invest in conflict-free mutual funds or funds managed by the federal Thrift Savings Program. Law firms follow these kinds of rules to prevent the appearance of financial conflicts with the interests of their clients — there’s no reason important public servants and elected officials shouldn’t, too.

Shut down a raft of additional shady practices that provide opportunities for government officials to serve their own financial interests. My plan bans members of Congress and senior congressional staff from serving on corporate boards — whether or not they’re paid to do so. It also strengthens ethics requirements for presidential transition teams to ensure that those who are shaping our government disclose any conflicts of interest and comply with the highest ethical standards. And to ensure that there are no questions about whether members of Congress are acting based on financial conflicts, like lobbyist-turned-Senator-turned-lobbyist Jon Kyl, my plan requires every member of Congress, including appointed ones, to disclose their financial conflicts before they take office.

Senator Elizabeth Warren, speaking from a podium built of wood from the Frances Perkins homestead in Newcastle, Maine, obtained from her grandson, Tomlin Perkins Coggeshall, evokes FDR’s Labor Secretary in laying out a plan to end the link between corporate greed and political corruption to get a fair deal for workers and families © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Finally, we must immediately end the possibility of trading on access to insider political information. Every year, hundreds of millions of dollars flow into so-called “political intelligence” firms that hire operatives to prowl the halls of Congress for insider information and sell that information to Wall Street traders trying to make a buck. My plan combats this practice by implementing strict disclosure requirements and regulations on so-called “political intelligence consulting,” including criminal penalties for former public officials who use insider political information to make investments or advise others who are doing so.

Senator Elizabeth Warren holds campaign rally in Washington Square Park, NYC © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Next, it’s time to close and padlock the revolving door between government and industry.

Donald Trump has not just enriched himself and his advisers; he has turned his White House into a case study in the dangers of the revolving door between industry and government.

Trump railed against Goldman Sachs on the campaign trail in 2016. But as soon as he was elected, he tapped more than half a dozen of the firm’s employees to fill senior positions in his administration — enough to open a new Goldman Sachs branch office.

One of these people was Gary Cohn, the former President of Goldman Sachs, who became Trump’s top economic adviser. On his way out of Goldman, the firm gave him a whopping $285 million — $123 million in the form of cash and stocks that he could only collect if he left the firm to work in government.

I call that a “pre-bribe.” And it paid off, too. While cashing that $285 million check, Gary Cohn helped rewrite our nation’s tax laws, rammed the changes through Congress, and gave Goldman Sachs their money back — and a few billion dollars in change.

There are countless examples like this in the Trump Administration, but it’s a widespread problem in official Washington — and it goes far beyond obvious and egregious quid-pro-quo bribery. When someone serves in government with plans to immediately turn around and work in the industry they’ve been overseeing, that individual faces obvious incentives to advance the interests of their future employer. And when someone moves immediately from a regulated company to a job regulating that company, the public is right to worry about the risk that such individuals will prioritize the interests of their old bosses.

Government must be able to benefit from tapping private sector expertise, and public servants who leave government should be able to find post-government employment. Similarly, volunteer and part-time government positions, which make sense in certain situations, necessarily assume some level of outside work. But there is a difference between expertise and graft.

It isn’t simply a matter of replacing Trump with an honest President. We’ve seen the issue of industry lobbyists and top execs spinning freely through the revolving door to and from important government positions in both Democratic and Republican administrations. Fixing the underlying problem requires us to tighten up the rules to ensure that when government officials are making decisions, they are considering only the public interest — and not their own personal interests or the interests of their friends and future employers.

Senator Elizabeth Warren holds campaign rally in Washington Square Park, NYC © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Here are some obvious steps to help address this problem:

Ban “golden parachutes” that provide corporate bonuses to executives for serving in the federal government. We can’t let big companies get away with installing their top executives in senior government positions and paying them pre-bribes on their way out the door. Under my plan, this would be illegal.

Restrict the ability of lobbyists to enter government jobs. Under my proposal, current lobbyists won’t be able to take government jobs for 2 years after lobbying, with limited exceptions for when the hiring is in the national interest. Corporate lobbyists will have to wait at least 6 years — no exceptions, and no waivers. These extensive cooling off periods will help ensure that if anyone with this background is hired into a government role, they are being selected because of their expertise, and not their connections.

Make it illegal for elected officials and top government appointees to become lobbyists — ever. My plan bans Presidents, Vice Presidents, Members of Congress, federal judges, and Cabinet Secretaries from ever becoming lobbyists — not for one or two years, but for life. All other federal employees will also be barred from lobbying their former office, agency, or House of Congress after they leave government service for at least 2 years — or 6 years for corporate lobbyists.

Restrict the ability of companies to buy up former federal officials to rig the game for themselves. Under my plan, companies would be banned from immediately hiring former senior government officials whose agency or office the company has lobbied in the past two years. And because the biggest and most market-dominant corporations in America also exercise outsized political power, my plan blocks them from using personnel hires to rig the game by banning giant companies, banks, and monopolies from hiring former senior government officials for at least four years.

Next, we’ll hold our federal judiciary to the highest ethical standards.

Giant corporations and powerful interests haven’t limited their influence-peddling to Congress and the White House. They’ve also turned their attention to the courts.

There is “no formal mechanism for review of conflicts” for Supreme Court justices. But covering your eyes doesn’t mean there’s nothing to see. The Federalist Society — an extremist, corporate-funded right-wing group that hand-picked Trump’s list of Supreme Court nominees — picked up Justice Clarence Thomas’s bills to attend a fancy retreat hosted by the Koch brothers. And for years, Justice Thomas failed to file public disclosures indicating that his wife worked as the White House liaison for the Heritage Foundation, a group whose co-founder personally began the conservative push to overturn Roe v. Wade.

It’s not just Supreme Court Justices, either. Federal judges can do just about anything without disclosing it, and in the rare instance where their ethical violations are discovered and they face investigation, they can escape further scrutiny altogether by resigning without penalty.

Our federal court system only works if the American people have faith that it is neutrally dispensing fair-minded justice without bias or personal interests interfering in judicial decisions. If we want the American people to believe this, we need some serious judicial ethics reforms.

Senator Elizabeth Warren holds campaign rally in Washington Square Park, NYC © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Here’s where I’d start:

Ensure Supreme Court Justices are held to the same standard as the rest of the federal judiciary. Today, every federal judge is bound by a Code of Conduct — except Supreme Court justices. It’s a recipe for corruption. We can fix it by applying the Code of Conduct for United States Judges to Supreme Court justices.

Strengthen ethics requirements for federal judges. Corporations and advocacy organizations routinely provide federal judges with all-expenses-paid trips to extravagant seminars. My plan tightens existing rules that prohibit judges from accepting gifts and establishes a new fund to cover reasonable expenses for participating in judicial seminars. No more big speaking fees and no more fancy trips to hunting lodges and golf courses. My plan also bans federal judges from owning individual stocks.

Require judges to disclose key information so the American people can verify that their conduct is above ethical reproach. My plan requires the Judicial Conference of the United States — the institution in charge of administering our federal courts — to publicly post judges’ financial reports, recusal decisions, and speeches to bring these activities out of the shadows. This will build public confidence that cases are being heard by fair and independent judges.

Close the loophole that allows federal judges to escape investigations for misconduct by stepping down from their post. When Ninth Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski was confronted with a judicial ethics investigation for sexual misconduct towards young female law clerks, he resigned — and the investigation immediately ended. Similarly, sexual assault and perjury complaints against Brett Kavanaugh were dismissed when he was confirmed to the Supreme Court, and Donald Trump’s sister Maryanne Trump-Barry resigned from the bench, ending an investigation into the Trump family’s decades-long tax schemes, including potential fraud. Under my plan, investigations will remain open until their findings are made public and any penalties for misconduct are issued.

Ending Lobbying As We Know It

The fundamental promise of our democracy is that every voice matters. But when lobbyists and big corporations can buy influence from politicians, that promise is broken. The first thing to do to fix it is to end lobbying as we know it.

The Constitution guarantees the American people the right to petition their government with grievances. Lobbying isn’t new — it’s been around for centuries. What’s new is the weaponization of lobbying to coerce our government into doing whatever corporate interests want. While companies have an important role to play in our democratic conversation, the voices of corporations and powerful interests shouldn’t be the only voices in the room. But that’s exactly what’s happened.

Prior to the 1970s, there was little corporate spending on lobbying. Last year, over eleven thousand registered lobbyists roamed the halls of government, mostly representing their powerful clients — to the tune of over $3 billion. It’s no wonder everyone else has such a hard time breaking through the noise.

This boom in the influence-peddling game has happened around the same time that right-wing ideologues have slashed independent government resources and in-house expertise, which are essential for officials to maintain their independence from the “expertise” of self-interested corporate lobbyists. Meanwhile, most corporate lobbying work remains hopelessly opaque — nominally governed by a patchwork of weak definitions, few meaningful restrictions, and inadequate reporting and disclosure requirements. And the free rein granted to corporate lobbyists to also fundraise for political campaigns crosses the line from influence peddling to legalized bribery.

We can break the grip that lobbyists for giant corporations have on our government. Together, we can end lobbying as we know it. Here’s where to start:

Expand the definition of lobbyists to include everyone who is paid to influence lawmakers. Because of our weak laws, only individuals who meet directly with politicians or spend more than 20% of their time lobbying are required to register as lobbyists. That means law firms, consultancies, and even self-described lobbying firms that hire individuals for the express purpose of influencing government may be able to avoid these registration requirements — allowing powerful interests to influence policy without any public accountability. This practice, endemic on both sides of the aisle, must end.

My plan brings this activity out of the shadows by strengthening the definition of a lobbyist to include all individualspaid to influence government. It also creates a new designation for corporate lobbyists to identify individuals paid to influence government on behalf of for-profit entities and their front-groups — and subjects these corporate hired guns to additional restrictions.

Ban lobbying for foreign entities — period. President Trump’s campaign chair currently sits in prison, convicted in part of failing to properly register his shady foreign lobbying activity on behalf of Ukraine. But what is the justification for allowing foreign governments to use Americans as hired guns who sit in the shadows, quietly attempting to influence our domestic political system? That’s not how diplomacy should work. Other nations have ambassadors and diplomatic staff in the United States. If those governments want to interact with our political process they can do so through normal, above-board diplomatic channels. My plan categorically bans the practice of private lobbying for foreign governments, foreign individuals, and foreign companies. No more K Street influence-peddlers looking out for the interests of China, Russia, or Saudi Arabia.

Impose strict rules on all lobbyists, including preventing them from donating to or fundraising for political candidates. Paid lobbyists are hired for one objective: to advance the interests of their clients. Allowing individuals who are paid to influence government officials on policy to also give gifts or funnel money to the political campaigns of those same officials sounds like legalized bribery. My plan not only bans lobbyists from making political contributions, it also bans them from bundling donations or hosting fundraisers for political candidates. And it outlaws lobbying contingency fees, where lobbyists are only paid if they successfully influence politicians to achieve a policy outcome that serves their client’s narrow interests.

Dramatically expand the kinds of information lobbyists are required to disclose. Our current laws require only minimal disclosure from lobbyists of their activities. This prevents the American people from fully understanding who is trying to influence government — and why. My plan requires all lobbyists to report publicly all meetings with Congressional offices or public officials, the documents they provide to those individuals, and all government actions they attempt to influence. It also demands that all charitable non-profit organizations, social welfare organizations, and trade associations disclose any donors whose money was used to develop products to influence Congressional testimony, agency rulemaking, or for lobbying purposes.

Impose a tax on excessive lobbying — and use this revenue to give Congress and agencies the tools to fight back against the corporate influence machine. In 2018, lobbyists spent a whopping $3.4 billion trying to influence public policy on behalf of their clients, including $95 million from the pro-corporate Chamber of Commerce, $73 million from the National Association of Realtors, and $28 million from the Big Pharma lobbying group. The right to petition our government does not allow industries to exercise unlimited financial influence over policymakers. That’s why I will impose a tax on any entity that spends over $500,000 per year on lobbying. The tax will reduce the financial incentive for excessive lobbying, and its revenue will be used to counter the effects of excessive lobbying by providing additional financial resources for agencies to research and review regulatory actions that are the targets of excessive lobbying activity, as well as additional funding for the National Public Advocate, an office established to help the public engage with the rulemaking process, and for Congressional support agencies.

Strengthen Congressional independence from lobbyists. Congressional offices and agencies are severely underfunded, creating unnecessary pressure to rely on lobbyists for expertise. My plan transitions Congressional staff to competitive salaries and reinstates the nonpartisan Congressional Office of Technology Assessment to help members of Congress understand new areas of science and technology — because members of Congress should be able to access expertise and information without being dependent on lobbyists.

Senator Elizabeth Warren holds campaign rally in Washington Square Park, NYC © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

End Corporate Capture of our Federal Agencies

Major federal agencies — agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Labor, and the Department of Energy — were created by Congress to enforce and implement laws that protect the broad interests of the public against the unrestrained exercise of corporate power. But because of the revolving door, the avalanche of lobbyists, and the weakness of our agency tools to fight back, agencies often find their agendas hijacked by the very industries they are supposed to regulate. We can and should make additional changes to strengthen agencies’ independence and their ability to act decisively in the public interest.

Here are some of the steps my plan takes to address this:

Stop powerful actors from peddling fake research — often funded by undisclosed donors — and hold corporations accountable for lying to regulators. I’ll crack down on corporations who manipulate agencies by submitting sham research — like the climate denial studies bought and paid for by oil and gas magnates like the Koch Brothers — by requiring individuals who submit a public comment on a proposed rule to disclose editorial conflicts-of-interest related to any non-peer-reviewed research they cite. Studies that are determined to have conflicts of interest will be withheld from the rulemaking process unless the individual offering that research certifies that they have undergone rigorous, independent peer review. Otherwise, we’ll treat them like the bad faith junk science that they are, excluding them from the rulemaking process and preventing any court from considering them too. And if a company misleads an agency with “analysis” it knows to be false, they’ll be prosecuted just like anyone else who lies under oath to Congress or in a court of law.

End the practice of inviting corporate bigwigs to negotiate rules their companies would have to follow and put a stop to the stall tactics they use to kill public interest rules. My plan restricts the parties eligible to participate in the negotiated rulemaking process so that industry no longer has an open door to dominate the process. It also closes the loopholes that have allowed industry and agencies to delay the implementation of rules it disfavors, including by ending so-called informal review, reducing the review period to 45 days, and clarifying that only Appeals Courts — not individual Federal District judges — can temporarily block the implementation of rules. And my plan requires agencies to publicly justify the withdrawal of any public interest rules.

Give the public the tools to fight back against corporations who seek to co-opt this process for their benefit. My plan establishes an Office of the Public Advocate to help the public engage with important legal changes made by federal agencies during the rulemaking process. I’ll also allow private individuals to bring lawsuits against federal agencies for unnecessarily delaying or failing to enforce agency rules — and against corporations who have violated them.

Ensuring Access to Justice for All

Equal justice is supposed to be the promise of the American legal system. But it’s not delivering on that promise. Instead, we have one system for the wealthy and the well-connected, and a different one for everyone else. It’s hard enough to hold a powerful company accountable through our legal system, but recent developments in the law have made it even harder for individuals to even bring those cases in the first place. We need to reform our legal rules to make sure every person who has been harmed can have their day in court.

Here’s how I’ll start:

Ban forced arbitration clauses. Many companies force their employees and consumers to sign “forced arbitration” clauses as part of their contracts for employment or for services. These clauses mean that if something goes wrong, individuals agree to never file a lawsuit in federal court against the company — and instead are diverted into a private dispute system. These provisions are often tucked in the fine print of contracts that workers or consumers sign, and many people don’t even know that they have signed one until they have been harmed and need our courts to help them get justice. These provisions shouldn’t be enforceable, but the conservative majority in the Supreme Court decided that because there was no law explicitly against them, they could be freely enforced. So let’s pass that law. My plan categorically bans forced arbitration clauses from blocking lawsuits related to employment, consumer protection, antitrust, and civil rights.

Ban mandatory class action waivers. When workers or consumers are wronged by a company, they should be able to band together and seek justice. Taking on a big corporation’s army of lawyers takes enormous sums of money and legal expertise. But class action waivers tucked into consumer and employment contracts prevent individuals from suing together. That makes it virtually impossible to pursue a lawsuit, and gives companies unlimited license to rip you off without any consequences. These anti-worker and anti-consumer provisions shouldn’t be enforceable, but because of a Supreme Court decision written by Justice Gorsuch, they’re alive and well. That’s why my plan would restore the fundamental right of workers and consumers to join together when they are wronged by banning these provisions in employment, consumer protection, antitrust, and civil rights cases.

Restore fair pleading standards. When you file a lawsuit, one of the first steps of the legal process is called “discovery.” That’s when you’re supposed to ask questions and gather facts about your case, but a pair of recent Supreme Court decisions upended decades of pleading standards, making it difficult to file a case without already having many of these facts. These widely criticized cases deprive plaintiffs of their day in court, and allow powerful defendants to successfully dismiss cases before they even begin. My plan would undo this damage by restoring fair pleading standards so that every person who has been harmed gets their day in court.

Holding Bad Actors Accountable

The reforms I’ve outlined will go a long way toward cleaning up Washington. But we also need strong enforcement mechanisms and broad transparency requirements to make sure we can hold bad actors accountable.

Let’s start with real penalties for violating the rules.

When Secretary Ben Carson was warned about his son participating in fancy government events, he brushed it off. And when an independent federal ethics watchdog determined that Kellyanne Conway should be fired for repeatedly violating federal law, the administration barely cared.

In Washington, corrupt actors should face penalties when they break the law — not return to business as usual.

Here’s how my plan would fix this:

Establish a new U.S. Office of Public Integrity and strengthen ethics enforcement. The new office will investigate ethics complaints from the public, impose civil and administrative penalties on violators, and refer egregious violations to the Department of Justice for criminal prosecution.

Expand and strengthen the independent Office of Congressional Ethics. My plan ensures this office has the proper authorities and resources to conduct investigations, refer civil and criminal violations to the appropriate authorities, and recommend disciplinary action to the House and Senate Ethics Committees.

Expand the definition of “official act” in bribery statutes to criminalize the sale of government access. When a politician accepts gifts in exchange for government favors, that’s bribery — but thanks to a wrong-headed Supreme Court decision in United States v. McDonnell, our laws don’t fully recognize it. My plan plugs that tractor-sized loophole and ensures that corrupt politicians who accept bribes can be prosecuted. It also clarifies that a stream of benefits — rather than a single act — qualifies as an unlawful benefit paid in exchange for a bribe.

Clarify the definition of “in-kind contributions” to ensure that no future candidate can receive political assistance from foreign countries or solicit large hush money payments without facing legal consequences. Politicians and advisors like Donald Trump Jr. have reportedly tried to receive help from foreign countries, even though it is illegal for foreign individuals to provide in-kind contributions to campaigns. And Donald Trump directed Michael Cohen to spend $130,000 to cover up an affair so it would not come to light before the 2016 election, despite laws preventing him from soliciting large in-kind contributions. Although a federal judge accepted Cohen’s guilty plea, Trump’s lawyers and defenders continued to insist that what Cohen did — and what Trump solicited — was not a crime. My plan settles this debate and clarifies that the rules governing in-kind contributions also apply to intangible benefits, such as dirt on political opponents, and in-kind financial contributions, like the payment of hush money, when those contributions are made at least in part — even if not exclusively — for campaign purposes.

Senator Elizabeth Warren holds campaign rally in Washington Square Park, NYC © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Deter Corruption Through Broad New Government Transparency Standards

If government is supposed to work for the people, then the people should be given enough information to judge how well their government is working for them. Too many government records are kept behind lock and key, making it impossible for the public to hold their government accountable. Significant legal actions that have implications for public health and safety can be kept secret. And the actions of federal contractors — the companies often tasked with the implementation of government policies and programs, like Trump’s family separation policy — are almost completely concealed from public view, thanks to an assortment of exemptions and loopholes.

Here’s how my plan would shine a light on government activity:

Prohibit courts from sealing records involving major public health and safety issues. When people were killed by ignition defects in Chevrolet vehicles, General Motors settled the cases on the condition that all documents related to the defects would be sealed from public view. It wasn’t an isolated incident. Big corporations routinely use secret settlements to keep defective products on the market so they can continue to rake in profits. That must stop. My plan bans courts from sealing records in cases involving public health and safety, with rare exceptions, so that corporations cannot conceal these dangerous conditions from the American people.

Impose strict transparency standards for federal courts and remove barriers to accessing electronic judicial records. My plan requires federal appellate courts to livestream audio of their proceedings, share case assignment data in bulk, and make all electronic case records — which currently must be purchased from the government — more easily accessible and free of charge.

Strengthen federal open records laws to close loopholes and exemptions that hide corporate influence, and increase transparency in Congress, federal agencies, and nonprofits that aim to influence policy. The American people have a right to know whether their elected leaders are acting in the public’s best interest — and who is trying to influence them. Under my plan, Congressional committees, government agencies, and federal contractors would be required to publicly release key information so that the American people — and the American press — can hold the federal government accountable.

Read more about her plan here

Warren Tells Crowd of 20,000 in Washington Square Park ‘We can root out corruption in Washington’

Senator Elizabeth Warren, running for president in 2020, outlines her plan to address corruption before a crowd of 20,000 gathered in Washington Square Park, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News-Photos-Features.com

Senator Elizabeth Warren, running to be the Democratic candidate for president, began and ended her speech before some 20,000 gathered at Washington Square Park in New York City relating the history of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire of 1911 which took place mere blocks from the Arch that took the lives of 146 Jewish and Italian immigrant women and girls – still one of the largest industrial accidents in US history. She spoke of Francis Perkins, who ran from a townhouse just behind where Warren stood. Perkins was already an activist for workers’ rights and won fire safety regulations, “but didn’t stop there,” and other worker protections.

Even before women got the right to vote, Perkins became a political adviser on workers rights and became the first woman Cabinet secretary, Secretary of Labor, under FDR.

Perkins, Warren said, worked from within, while thousands of women in the trade union movement, worked from outside – 500,000 marched in a funeral procession up Fifth Avenue for the 146.

Speaking from a podium built of wood from the Frances Perkins homestead in Newcastle, Maine, obtained from her grandson, Tomlin Perkins Coggeshall, Warren used the story to prove her point of what can happen through grassroots action, that big bold things – such as what she is proposing to make fundamental, systemic change. “Don’t be afraid…” she declared – a not-so-subtle shout out to the Democrats who, desperate to see Trump voted out of office, are looking for a candidate they believe has the best chance of winning the general election, which for many means someone who won’t rock the boat too much, rather than someone whose ideas and proposals excite, engage and promote real structural change.

There were cheers throughout her speech delivered by a crowd that the campaign estimated at 20,000 (Warren’s biggest to date) but especially as she said, “Medicare for All,” and then, at the phrase, “wealth tax,” chants of 2c, 2c, 2c rose up.

Warren, who had just been endorsed by the National Working Families Party,  said that the 2c on every dollar after the first $50 million in wealth, would correct historic, systemic, and “government sanctioned” racism and sexism that produced gaps in income and also political power – redlining in housing, the pay gap between women and men, particularly women of color, criminal justice reform, eliminating private prisons that incentive locking people up, eliminating student debt, providing universal pre-K. Without using the word “reparations” – she offered a more constructive, implementable series of programs that would accomplish the same goal of equalizing the opportunity to succeed.

“The time to hold back is over. We need structural change.”

Warren added, “I know what you are thinking – it is too much, too big, too hard.” Then, scanning the crowd, she joked, “OK, nobody here. I know this change is possible because others have made big structural change before.”

And she went back to Perkins and the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory – how factory owners, made filthy rich because of the horrendous working conditions and wages were able to amass the wealth to buy politicians, how greed by owners and corruption by politicians effectively negated democracy.

“30 years old, Francis Perkins already was a human rights activist…how, seeing the fire at the factory, she ran and watched as young women leaped to their death rather than be consumed by the flames.  500,000 at that march. It wasn’t the first march, but it was different.”

“While they picketed from the outside, Francis pushed from the inside. Those women died because of the greed of business owners and the corruption of politicians. Perkins was the lead investigator, years before women could vote, let alone have a role in government. But Frances had a” plan – she fought for fire safety, but she didn’t stop there.




Senator Elizabeth Warren, running for president in 2020, outlines her plan to address corruption before a crowd of 20,000 gathered in Washington Square Park, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“With Francis working from the inside and the women workers applying pressure from the outside, they rewrote state labor laws top to bottom to protect workers. She became the leading expert on working conditions.” President Franklin D. Roosevelt named her his Labor Secretary through the New Deal.

“That what one woman can do.” She added, “It’s what’s possible when we fight together.”

Warren declared, “No matter what brings you into this fight — whether it’s child care, student loans, health care, immigration, or criminal justice, one thing is crystal clear: corruption is making it worse — and it’s at the root of the major problems we face as a democracy.

Senator Elizabeth Warren, running for president in 2020, outlines her plan to address corruption before a crowd of 20,000 gathered in Washington Square Park, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“Reforming the money game in Washington isn’t enough. We also need to comprehensively clean up our campaign finance system. That’s why I’ve also called for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United. It’s why we need to get rid of the Super PACs and secret spending by billionaires and giant corporations that try to buy our democracy. It’s why we need to br”eak the grip that big donors have by creating a system of exclusive public funding of our elections. But even if we solve our campaign finance problems, comprehensive anti-corruption reforms targeted at Washington itself are necessary to finally end the stranglehold that the wealthy and the well-connected have over our government’s decision-making processes.

“I believe that we can root out corruption in Washington. I believe we must make big, structural changes that will once again restore our trust in government by showing that it can work for all of us. And when I’m President, that’s exactly what I’ll do.”

Warren, famous now for posing for selfies with people who come out to see her, wound up staying until midnight before the line, thousands long, was through. “I stayed four hours, but so did the last guy on line,” she later said. It is an indication of the enthusiasm for her and her endurance as a candidate at a time when a big issue among Democrats is who can get out the vote.

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

Mueller Hearings: House Intel Chair Adam Schiff Decries Trump Campaign Cooperation with Russian Interference In Elections-A Story of Disloyalty, Greed, Lies

House Intelligence Committee Chairman gavels in hearings with Special Counsel Robert Mueller to address the findings of the Mueller Report © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

House Intelligence committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-CA), in his opening and closing statements for the historic hearings on July 24, 2019, set out the significance of the findings of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 Election, and the ramifications of the government’s failure to prevent such interference in future elections.

“When asked, ‘If the Russians intervene again, will you take their help, Mr. President?” ‘Why not?’ was the essence of his answer. ‘Everyone does it.’

“No, Mr. President, they don’t. Not in the America envisioned by Jefferson, Madison and Hamilton. Not for those who believe in the idea that Lincoln labored until his dying day to preserve, the idea animating our great national experiment, so unique then, so precious still, that our government is chosen by our people, through our franchise, and not by some hostile foreign power.

“This is what is at stake, our next election, and the one after that for generations to come. Our democracy.”

Here is the text of his opening and closing statements: – – Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

Your report, for those who have taken the time to study it, is methodical and it is devastating, for it tells the story of a foreign adversary’s sweeping and systemic intervention in a close U.S. presidential election.

That should be enough to deserve the attention of every American, as you well point out. But your report tells another story as well. The story of the 2016 election is also a story about disloyalty to country, about greed, and about lies.

Your investigation determined that the Trump campaign, including Donald Trump himself, knew that a foreign power was intervening in our election and welcomed it, built Russian meddling into their strategy and used it.

Disloyalty to country. Those are strong words, but how else are we to describe a presidential campaign which did not inform the authorities of a foreign offer of dirt on their opponent, which did not publicly shun it or turn it away, but which instead invited it, encouraged it and made full use of it?

That disloyalty may not have been criminal. Constrained by uncooperative witnesses, the destruction of documents and the use of encrypted communications, your team was not able to establish each of the elements of the crime of conspiracy beyond a reasonable doubt, so not a provable crime in any event.

But I think maybe something worse: The crime is the violation of law written by Congress. But disloyalty to country violates the very oath of citizenship, our devotion to a core principle on which our nation was founded that we, the people and not some foreign power that wishes us ill, we decide who governs us.

This is also a story about money, and about greed and corruption. About the leadership of a campaign willing to compromise the nation’s interest not only to win, but to make money at the same time.

About a campaign chairman indebted to pro-Russian interests who tried to use his position to clear his debts and make millions. About a national security advisor using his position to make money from still other foreign interests.

And about a candidate trying to make more money than all of them put together through real estate project that to him was worth a fortune, hundreds of millions of dollars and the realization of a life-long ambition, a Trump Tower in the heart of Moscow. A candidate who, in fact, viewed his whole campaign as the greatest infomercial in history.

Donald Trump and his senior staff were not alone in their desire to use the election to make money. For Russia, too, there was a powerful financial motive. Putin wanted relief from U.S. economic sanctions imposed in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and over human rights violations.

The secret Trump Tower meeting between the Russians and senior campaign officials was about sanctions. The secret conversations between Flynn and the Russian ambassador were about sanctions. Trump and his team wanted more money for themselves, and the Russians wanted more money for themselves and for their oligarchs.

But the story doesn’t end here either, for your report also tells a story about lies. Lots of lies. Lies about a gleaming tower in Moscow and lies about talks with the Kremlin. Lies about the firing of FBI Director James Comey and lies about efforts to fire you, Director Mueller, and lies to cover it up. Lies about secret negotiations with the Russians over sanctions and lies about WikiLeaks. Lies about polling data and lies about hush money payments. Lies about meetings in the Seychelles to set up secret back channels and lies about a secret meeting in New York Trump Tower. Lies to the FBI, lies to your staff, and lies to this committee. Lies to obstruct an investigation into the most serious attack on our democracy by a foreign power in our history.

That is where your report ends, Director Mueller, with a scheme to cover up, obstruct and deceive every bit as systematic and pervasive as the Russian disinformation campaign itself, but far more pernicious since this rot came from within.

Even now after 448 pages and two volumes, the deception continues. The president and his accolades say your report found no collusion, though your report explicitly declined to address that question, since collusion can involve both criminal and noncriminal conduct.

Your report laid out multiple offers of Russian help to the Trump campaign, the campaign’s acceptance of that help, and overt acts in furtherance of Russian help. To most Americans that is the very definition of collusion, whether it is a crime or not.

They say your report found no evidence of obstruction, though you outlined numerous actions by the president intended to obstruct the investigation.

They say the president has been fully exonerated, though you specifically declare you could not exonerate him.

In fact, they say your whole investigation was nothing more than a witch hunt, that the Russians didn’t interfere in our election, that it’s all a terrible hoax. The real crime, they say, is not that the Russians intervened to help Donald Trump, but that the FBI investigated it when they did.

But worst of all, worse than all the lies and the greed, is the disloyalty to country, for that, too, continues.

When asked, “If the Russians intervene again, will you take their help, Mr. President?” “Why not?” was the essence of his answer. “Everyone does it.”

No, Mr. President, they don’t. Not in the America envisioned by Jefferson, Madison and Hamilton. Not for those who believe in the idea that Lincoln labored until his dying day to preserve, the idea animating our great national experiment, so unique then, so precious still, that our government is chosen by our people, through our franchise, and not by some hostile foreign power.

This is what is at stake, our next election, and the one after that for generations to come. Our democracy.

This is why your work matters, Director Mueller. This is why our investigation matters, to bring these dangers to light.

Closing Statement:

Director Mueller, let me close by returning to where I began. Thank you for your service and thank you for leading this investigation. The facts you set out in your report and have elucidated here today tell a disturbing tale of a massive Russian intervention in our election, of a campaign so eager to win, so driven by greed, that it was willing to accept the help of a hostile foreign power, and a presidential election decided by a handful of votes in a few key states.

Your work tells of a campaign so determined to conceal their corrupt use of foreign help that they risked going to jail by lying to you, to the FBI and to Congress about it and, indeed, some have gone to jail over such lies. And your work speaks of a president who committed countless acts of obstruction of justice that in my opinion and that of many other prosecutors, had it been anyone else in the country, they would have been indicted.

Notwithstanding, the many things you have addressed today and in your report, there were some questions you could not answer given the constraints you’re operating under. You would not tell us whether you would have indicted the president but for the OLC only that you could not, and so the Justice Department will have to make that decision when the president leaves office, both as to the crime of obstruction of justice and as to the campaign finance fraud scheme that individual one directed and coordinated and for which Michael Cohen went to jail.

You would not tell us whether the president should be impeached, nor did we ask you since it is our responsibility to determine the proper remedy for the conduct outlined in your report. Whether we decide to impeach the president in the House or we do not, we must take any action necessary to protect the country while he is in office.

You would not tell us the results or whether other bodies looked into Russian compromise in the form of money laundering, so we must do so. You would not tell us whether the counterintelligence investigation revealed whether people still serving within the administration pose a risk of compromise and should never have been given a security clearance, so we must find out.

We did not bother to ask whether financial inducements from any gulf nations were influencing this U.S. policy, since it is outside the four corners of your report, and so we must find out.

One thing is clear from your report, your testimony from Director Wray’s statements yesterday, the Russians massively intervened in 2016, and they are prepared to do so again in voting that is set to begin a mere eight months from now.

The president seems to welcome the help again. And so, we must make all efforts to harden our election’s infrastructure to ensure there is a paper trail for all voting, to deter the Russians from meddling, to discover it when they do, to disrupt it, and to make them pay.

Protecting the sanctity of our elections begins, however, with the recognition that accepting foreign help is disloyal to our country, unethical, and wrong. We cannot control what the Russians do, not completely, but we can decide what we do and that the centuries old experiment we call American democracy is worth cherishing.

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