Partisan camps faced off in dueling protests the morning of Donald Trump’s arraignment in Manhattan Criminal Court he was charged with 34 felony counts of falsifying business records, compounded by tax issues, for the purpose of concealing information that might have swayed the 2016 election. The twice impeached Trump was the first president or ex-president to be indicted for felony crimes.
Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, promoted prominently by the New York Young Republicans Club, made a 10-minute appearance, but was drowned out by whistles and jeers. Another disgraced Congressman, George Santos, who apparently has modeled his campaign frauds on Trump’s ability to lie and cheat with impunity, also made an appearance.
For most of the day, the two camps were separated by a “neutral zone” set up by the New York Police Department.
“Those who have served know empathy is a vital leadership quality – you cannot do what is best for those you lead if you do not know their challenges. Joe Biden has empathy born of his humble roots, family tragedies and personal loss. When Americans are struggling, Joe Biden understands their pain and takes it upon himself to help.”
Today, nearly 500 retired top military and national security officials endorsed Joe Biden for President of the United States. In an open letter, the generals, admirals, ambassadors, and other former national security leaders pointed to Joe Biden’s empathy, honesty, experience and leadership as necessary traits required to navigate America through a painful time. The leaders, including Democrats, Republicans and Independents, also cited Donald Trump’s failure to address the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, and other monumental crises facing the nation.
We are former public servants who have devoted our careers, and in many cases risked our lives, for the United States. We are generals, admirals, senior noncommissioned officers, ambassadors, and senior civilian national security leaders. We are Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. We love our country. Unfortunately, we also fear for it. The COVID-19 pandemic has proven America needs principled, wise, and responsible leadership. America needs a President who understands, as President Harry S. Truman said, that “the buck stops here.”
We the undersigned endorse Joe Biden to be the next President of the United States. He is the leader our nation needs. We believe that Joe Biden is, above all, a good man with a strong sense of right and wrong. He is guided by the principles that have long made America great: democracy is a hard-won right we must defend and support at home and abroad; America’s power and influence stem as much from her moral authority as it does from her economic and military power; America’s free press is invaluable, not an enemy of the people; those who sacrifice or give their lives in service of our nation deserve our respect and eternal gratitude; and America’s citizens benefit most when the United States engages with the world. Joe Biden will always put the nation’s needs before his own.
Those who have served know empathy is a vital leadership quality – you cannot do what is best for those you lead if you do not know their challenges. Joe Biden has empathy born of his humble roots, family tragedies and personal loss. When Americans are struggling, Joe Biden understands their pain and takes it upon himself to help.
We believe America’s president must be honest, and we find Joe Biden’s honesty and integrity indisputable. He believes a nation’s word is her bond. He believes we must stand by the allies who have stood by us. He remembers how America’s NATO allies rushed to her side after 9/11; how the Kurds fought by our side to defeat ISIS; and how Japan and South Korea have been steadfast partners in countering North Korean and Chinese provocations. Joe Biden would never sell out our allies to placate despots or because he dislikes an allied leader.
While some of us may have different opinions on particular policy matters, we trust Joe Biden’s positions are rooted in sound judgment, thorough understanding, and fundamental values.
We know Joe Biden has the experience and wisdom necessary to navigate America through a painful time. He has grappled with America’s most difficult foreign policy challenges for decades, learning what works – and what does not – in a dangerous world. He is knowledgeable, but he also knows that listening to diverse and dissenting views is essential, particularly when making tough decisions concerning our national security. Many of us have briefed Joe Biden on matters of national security, and we know he demands a thorough understanding of any issue before making a decision – as any American president should.
Finally, Joe Biden believes in personal responsibility. Over his long career, he has learned hard lessons and grown as a leader who can take positive action to unite and heal our country. It is unthinkable that he would ever utter the phrase “I don’t take responsibility at all.”
The next president will inherit a nation – and a world – in turmoil. The current President has demonstrated he is not equal to the enormous responsibilities of his office; he cannot rise to meet challenges large or small. Thanks to his disdainful attitude and his failures, our allies no longer trust or respect us, and our enemies no longer fear us. Climate change continues unabated, as does North Korea’s nuclear program. The president has ceded influence to a Russian adversary who puts bounties on the heads of American military personnel, and his trade war against China has only harmed America’s farmers and manufacturers. The next president will have to address those challenges while struggling with an economy in a deep recession and a pandemic that has already claimed more than 200,000 of our fellow citizens. America, with 4% of the world’s population suffers with 25% of the world’s COVID-19 cases. Only FDR and Abraham Lincoln came into office facing more monumental crises than the next president.
Joe Biden has the character, principles, wisdom, and leadership necessary to address a world on fire. That is why Joe Biden must be the next President of the United States; why we vigorously support his election; and why we urge our fellow citizens to do the same.
New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer are calling for a Congressional oversight investigation into the Trump administration’s politicization of government functions that have impeded the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, releasing this joint statement:
“It is an inarguable fact that the United States has had the worst response to the COVID-19 virus of any nation in the world. Nearly 7 million Americans have tested positive for the virus, and more than 200,000 Americans have been killed by it — both more than any other country. The unprecedented and unacceptable scale of this tragedy is the direct result of President Trump and the federal government’s deceit, political self-dealing, and incompetence.
“Rather than turning to the advice and direction of public health experts and career public servants, President Trump instead put the health and security of the American people in the hands of political appointees whose first priority was securing the reelection of their benefactor, with predictably tragic results.
“Last week’s revelation that the White House blocked a Department of Health and Human Services plan to utilize the U.S. Postal Service to ship five life-saving masks to every household in the country, free of charge, in April was heartbreaking. Imagine the lives that could have been saved if every household were provided masks at such a crucial time.
“Even more dangerous, the nation learned last week that political appointees at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services — over the strong objection of CDC scientists — published the indefensible guidance that said people without symptoms did not need to get tested for COVID. Coupled with the agency’s abrupt reversal earlier this week on guidance related to the airborne transmission of the virus, it’s increasingly clear that the President and his advisers are trying to undermine the credibility of experts whose facts run counter to the administration’s political agenda.
“As a country, we cannot allow this type of politically-motivated decision making to take root. Logic dictates that COVID won’t be the last public health challenge we will face, and we can’t afford to again respond by playing politics, instead of listening to the science and facts. Congress must immediately conduct an oversight investigation into the Trump administration’s response to this pandemic, including the actions at HHS and the USPS the public learned about over the past week. Especially in light of Bob Woodward’s reporting, the question of, “What did they know and when did they know it?” cannot be left to the history books to answer. Our future health and economic security depends on holding the Trump administration accountable today.”
Cuomo commented, “Governor Whitmer and I today called on Congress to immediately conduct an oversight investigation into the Trump administration’s response on this pandemic. How can you not tell the American people what you knew and when you knew it? Just ask Peter Navarro. You had a memo that said millions of Americans would be infected. Did you tell anyone? Who did you send it to? Did anyone send you back the memo with a question mark? You met with the President 180 times since that memo – did you ever mention to the President, ‘By the way, I had a concern here that millions of Americans might be infected.’ It just doesn’t pass the smell test. It can’t be true.”
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt), in remarks at George Washington University regarding the “unprecedented and dangerous moment we are in because of Trump’s unique threats to our democracy” called for unprecedented voter turnout, warning that Trump may well declare victory in Election Night, before the millions of mail-in-ballots are counted, confiscate the ballots to prevent them from being counted, and even instruct Republican legislators to disregard the popular vote and select Trump electors to vote in the Electoral College. If all that, including impeding delivery of mail-in-ballots, calling out thugs to intimidate voters who come to the polls, Trump says he is counting on the Supreme Court, with his third pick already on the court, to hand him the election. Only then, he says, will there be a “peaceful transfer” because there won’t be a transfer at all, but a continuation of power. – Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Here are Senator Sanders’ remarks, highlighted, as prepared for delivery:
Saving American Democracy
This country faces an unprecedented set of crises. We are struggling with a pandemic that has already cost us over 200,000 lives.
We have an economy in which we have a grotesque level of income and wealth inequality, where the middle class is being decimated, where millions of workers have lost their jobs and half of our people continue to work paycheck to paycheck — many for starvation wages.
We are living in the moment when climate change is ravaging this planet, leading to massive fires on the West Coast, drought and unprecedented levels of extreme weather disturbances all across the globe.
We are the only major country on earth not to guarantee healthcare to all people as a right, over 90 million Americans are uninsured or under-insured, and we pay by far the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs.
All of these issues, and others, are enormously important and should be the issues that are being debated in this campaign. But, today, I’m not going to talk about any of them.
What I am going to talk about is something that, in my wildest dreams, I never thought I would be discussing. And that is the need to make certain that the President of the United States, if he loses this election, will abide by the will of the voters and leave office peacefully.
What I will be discussing today is the danger that this country faces from a president who is a pathological liar, who has strong authoritarian tendencies, who neither understands nor respects our constitution and who is prepared to undermine American democracy in order to stay in power.
With less than 6 weeks left to go in this campaign it is my fervent hope that all Americans — Democrats, Republicans, independents, progressives, moderates, conservatives — come together to defend American democracy, our constitution and the rule of law. We must ensure, in this unprecedented moment in American history that this is an election that is free and fair, an election in which voters are not intimidated, an election in which all votes are counted and an election in which the loser accepts the results.
This is not just an election between Donald Trump and Joe Biden. This is an election between Donald Trump and democracy – and democracy must win.
The United States is the oldest continuous democracy in the modern world. We held elections in the middle of a Civil War in 1864. We held free and fair elections during World War I, during the Great Depression, and during World War II. After all of those elections, held in extremely difficult circumstances, the loser acknowledged defeat and the winner was inaugurated and took office. That is what America is all about. That’s what democracy is all about.
But today, under Donald Trump, we have a president who has little respect for our constitution or the rule of law. Today, that peaceful transition of power, the bedrock of American democracy, is being threatened like never before.
I am not in the habit of quoting former President Ronald Reagan, but I think something that he said in his first inaugural address makes the point about how important — how precious — is this part of our heritage. I quote: “The orderly transfer of authority as called for in the Constitution routinely takes place as it has for almost two centuries and few of us stop to think how unique we really are. In the eyes of many in the world, this every 4-year ceremony we accept as normal is nothing less than a miracle.” Unquote.
Protecting this “orderly transfer of authority” as President Reagan characterized it, this miracle, is absolutely essential if we together — all of us, Republicans, Democrats, Independents — want to keep faith with the American ideals we hold so dear and with the sacrifices that so many made in order to protect our democracy.
And in that regard I think it is terribly important that we actually listen to, and take seriously, what Donald Trump is saying.
Several weeks ago, speaking at the Republican National Convention, Trump said, and I quote, “The only way they can take this election away from us is if this is a rigged election.” What is remarkable about that statement is that he made it at a time when almost every national poll had him behind and when he was trailing in polls in most battleground states.
Think about what that statement means. What he is saying is that if he wins the election, that’s great. But if he loses, it’s rigged, because the only way, the only way, he can lose is if it’s rigged. And if it’s rigged, then he is not leaving office. Heads I win. Tails you lose. In other words, in Trump’s mind, there is no conceivable way that he should leave office.
And just last night Donald Trump went even further down the path of authoritarianism by being the first president in the history of this country to refuse to commit to a peaceful transition of power if he loses the election.
When asked by a reporter in the White House briefing room: “Win, lose or draw in this election, will you commit here today for a peaceful transferal of power after the election?” Trump responded:
“We’re going to have to see what happens. You know that I’ve been complaining very strongly about the ballots, and the ballots are a disaster. We want to get rid of the ballots and you’ll have a very peaceful — there won’t be a transfer, frankly. There will be a continuation.”
That’s not his choice. That’s for the American people to determine. Let us be very clear. There is nothing in our constitution or in our laws that give Donald Trump the privilege of deciding whether or not he will step aside if he loses. In the United States the president does not determine who can or cannot vote and what ballots will be counted. That may be what his friend Putin does in Russia. It may be what is done in other authoritarian countries. But it is not and will not be done in America. This is a democracy.
I do understand that Donald Trump is a billionaire, or so he says. I do understand that he was born to a very wealthy family and, from his earliest days, was able to get anything he wanted because his family was rich and his family was powerful. I do understand that when you’re rich and you’re powerful you don’t have to pay taxes like ordinary people and that it’s easy for you to avoid the military draft. I do understand that when you’re rich and you’re powerful you can buy politicians and get hundreds of millions of dollars in corporate welfare for your real estate empire.
But this I also understand. No matter how rich and powerful you may be, no matter how arrogant and narcissistic you may be, no matter how much you think you can get anything you want, let me make this clear to Donald Trump: Too many people have fought and died to defend American democracy. You are not going to destroy it. The American people will not allow that to happen.
Despite all of the evidence, Trump continues to be obsessed with the belief that there is massive voter fraud in this country.
In 2017, after he won the presidency, Trump insisted that he would have won the popular vote, which he lost by 3 million votes, if, quote “millions of illegal votes had not been cast.” There is absolutely no evidence of that being true. In fact, it is totally preposterous to believe that millions of votes, or any significant number of votes at all, were cast illegally. This is an assertion supported by no one. Not Democratic officials. Not Republican officials. No one. And yet that is what Trump said after he won.
There have been numerous studies done on the issue of voter fraud in our country. They have all concluded essentially the same thing. Voter fraud in the United States of America is extremely rare.
An article in the New York Times from December 18, 2016 stated: “In an election in which more than 137.7 million Americans cast ballots, election and law enforcement officials in 26 states and the District of Columbia — Democratic-leaning, Republican-leaning and in-between — said that so far they knew of no credible allegations of fraudulent voting. Officials in another eight states said they knew of only one allegation … In Georgia, where more than 4.1 million ballots were cast, officials said they had opened 25 inquiries into “suspicious voting or election-related activity.” But inquiries to all 50 states (every one but Kansas responded) found no states that reported indications of widespread fraud.”
A report by the Brennan Center for Justice reviewed elections that had been meticulously studied for voter fraud, and found incident rates between 0.0003 percent and 0.0025 percent. The report concluded that it is more likely that an American, quote, “will be struck by lightning than that he will impersonate another voter at the polls,” unquote.
Even the conservative Heritage Foundation, which maintains a database on election fraud, could only find 143 criminal convictions of mail in voter fraud out of 250 million mail-in votes cast over the past 20 years, a rate of 0.00006%.
But you don’t have to trust me on this issue. Benjamin Ginsburg, one of the leading Republican experts on elections, a man who served as national counsel to the Bush-Cheney presidential campaign, a man who played a major role for the Republican Party in the 2000 Florida recount, and who co-chaired the bipartisan 2013 Presidential Commission on Election Administration, recently wrote in the Washington Post, and I quote, “The truth is that after decades of looking for illegal voting, there’s no proof of widespread fraud. At most, there are isolated incidents — by both Democrats and Republicans. Elections are not rigged,” unquote.
Let me repeat from one of the Republican Party’s leading experts on elections: “The truth is that after decades of looking for illegal voting, there’s no proof of widespread fraud. At most, there are isolated incidents — by both Democrats and Republicans. Elections are not rigged.”
And if even the statement of Mr. Ginsburg is not good enough for you, here is what the Trump administration’s own voting integrity commission reported. According to an analysis of administration documents by the Associated Press, Trump’s commission uncovered, quote “no evidence to support claims of widespread voter fraud,” unquote, and disbanded in 2018.
Even Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tamped down concerns about mail-in ballots last month, saying, and I quote, “Many parts of our country vote by mail. Oregon, Washington and Colorado have voted by mail for years.”
And yet we have a president who calls mail in ballots “a hoax” and “a scam.”
Trump’s strategy to delegitimize this election and to stay in office if he loses is not complicated. Finding himself behind in many polls, he is attempting massive voter suppression. He and his Republican colleagues are doing everything they can to make it harder and harder for people to vote. In addition, he is sowing the seeds of chaos, confusion and conspiracy theories by casting doubt on the integrity of this election and, if he loses, justifying why he should remain in office.
In an interview with Chris Wallace on Fox News, Trump refused to say that he would leave office if he lost. Asked to give a direct answer on whether he would accept the election results, Trump refused. He said, quote, “I have to see. No, I’m not going to just say yes. I’m not going to say no, and I didn’t last time either.” Pretty much what he said yesterday.
In the middle of a pandemic Trump made clear that he wants to defund the Postal Service in order to limit the use of mail in ballots.In an interview on August 13, discussing a possible deal for a relief package that would have funded the post office, Trump let the cat out of the bag by admitting that, quote “If we don’t make a deal, that means they don’t get the money. That means they can’t have universal mail-in voting; they just can’t have it.”
In other words, what Trump is saying to tens of millions of Americans is that at a time when over 200,000 people have already died from the coronavirus, you have a choice: You can either risk your health or even your life by walking into a voting booth or you can’t vote. How disgusting is that?
Amazingly, at the very same time Trump is making completely baseless allegations about voter fraud, last month he urged his supporters in North Carolina to try voting twice, which is a felony.
In order to advance his plan for mass voter suppression, the Trump campaign filed a lawsuit in Nevada, which fortunately was dismissed, challenging the state’s mail-in voting laws.
In July, Trump used false claims of voter fraud to propose delaying this year’s election, which he does not have the power to do. This was so outrageous that Steven Calabresi, the co-founder of the conservative Federalist Society, wrote that it was, quote “grounds for the president’s immediate impeachment again by the House of Representatives and his removal from office by the Senate,” unquote.
Last week, Trump told his supporters at a rally in Nevada that he, quote, “was entitled” to serve a third term, which is obviously a violation of the Constitution’s 22nd Amendment.
On Saturday, Trump suggested to his supporters in North Carolina that he might sign an executive order to prevent Joe Biden from becoming president.
Trump has also urged his supporters to become, quote, “poll watchers,” but what he is really saying is he wants his supporters, some of whom are members of armed militias, to intimidate voters. We’re already seeing this in Virginia, where early voters were confronted by Trump supporters, and election officials in Fairfax County said that some voters and polling staff felt intimidated.
On and on it goes. Every day, over and over again, Trump is making it harder for the American people to participate in the political process and is attempting to delegitimize the outcome of this election so that if he loses he can remain in office.
The concerns that I am raising today are not just mine alone, and are not just concerns shared by progressives and Democrats.
Miles Taylor, a lifelong Republican who previously served as chief of staff inside the Trump administration’s Department of Homeland Security, warned that there is nothing that Trump will not do or say to defeat Biden.
“Put nothing past Donald Trump,” Taylor told The Associated Press. “He will do anything to win. If that means climbing over other people, climbing over his own people, or climbing over U.S. law, he will do it. People are right to be concerned.”
Well, I agree with Mr. Taylor. I am concerned. I am very concerned.
Last week, my former Senate colleague Dan Coats, Trump’s own former Director of National Intelligence, published a piece in the New York Times calling for a high-level bipartisan and nonpartisan commission to oversee the election to reassure all Americans that it has been carried out fairly. Coats wrote, quote, “The most urgent task American leaders face is to ensure that the election’s results are accepted as legitimate. Electoral legitimacy is the essential linchpin of our entire political culture. We should see the challenge clearly in advance and take immediate action to respond.”
I couldn’t agree more. I strongly second Director Coats’ call for this election commission.
Last week as well, Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and I sent a letter to Senator McConnell urging him to hold hearings on the issue of election and post-election security. Senator Schumer and I stated, “We would like to hear from the most knowledgeable people in the country as to how we can do everything possible to make sure that the election and the period afterward is secure and peaceful.”
Majority Leader McConnell: Please respond to that letter. Please establish that bi-partisan committee.
And today I call on every elected official in America whether they be Republican, Democrat or Independent to vigorously oppose voter suppression and voter intimidation, to make sure that every vote is counted, and that no one is declared the winner until those votes are counted.
And to my Republican colleagues in the Congress please do not continue to tell the American people how much you love America if, at this critical moment, you are not prepared to stand up to defend American democracy and our way of life. Stop the hypocrisy.
With or without Donald Trump this election is unique in American history because it’s taking place during a pandemic and a public health crisis.
As a result, states all over America are taking the appropriate steps to ensure more Americans can safely vote by mail in their own homes instead of risking their health or their lives to vote in person.
The result is that this election will see, by far, the largest number of mail in ballots ever.
And let’s be clear. Despite what Donald Trump says, voting by mail is not a new or dangerous idea. Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington and Utah conduct their elections almost entirely by mail. California, Nevada, New Jersey, the District of Columbia and my state of Vermont have pledged to mail ballots to all registered voters for the upcoming election. And many other states are making it easier to vote by mail. Trump himself, as well as members of his administration, have repeatedly voted by mail. Members of the U.S. military have regularly voted by mail since the 1800s.
Given the significant increase in mail in ballots why, you might ask, are Trump and his allies trying to attack the integrity of our vote by mail system?
The answer is simple. A number of studies have shown that for, whatever reasons, Republicans are more likely to vote in person while Democrats are more likely to use mail in ballots.
In fact, one poll found that only about a quarter of Biden supporters would vote in person on Election Day while some two thirds of Trump voters planned to vote in person.
In other words, if Trump can undermine people’s confidence in the validity of votes cast by mail, he will be calling into question the validity of votes that may overwhelmingly support Joe Biden.
Let us consider the following scenario:
On election night, Trump is ahead in many battleground states based on the votes of those who voted in person on election day. All across the television screens people see Trump ahead before they turn in for the night. But as more and more mail in ballots are counted, Trump’s lead falls. Trump then announces, with no proof, that there has been massive mail in ballot fraud and that these votes should not be counted – and that he has won the election.
In other words, Trump may well announce that he has won the election before all of the votes are counted and that large numbers of mail in ballots should be discarded.
Furthermore, in states where Republicans control the legislature, it is possible that the election results will be ignored because of false accusations of voter fraud and that the legislature itself will use its power to appoint electors pledged to vote for Trump, overriding the will of the people.
And, in the midst of all of this, with the death of Justice Ginsburg, Trump is attempting to push through a Supreme Court Justice who may very well cast a vote in a case that will determine the outcome of this election. He is doing that at a time when early voting has already begun and millions of ballots will have already been cast.
In this unprecedented moment what can we as a people do in the struggle to preserve American democracy?
First, it is absolutely imperative that we have, by far, the largest voter turnout in American history and that people vote as early as possible.
As someone who is strongly supporting Joe Biden, let’s be clear: A landslide victory for Biden will make it virtually impossible for Trump to deny the results and is our best means for defending democracy.
Second, with the pandemic and a massive increase in mail in voting, state legislatures must take immediate action now to allow mail in votes to be counted before Election Day – as they come in.
In fact, 32 states allow for the counting or processing of absentee ballots – verifying signatures for example – before Election Day. All states should do the same. The faster all ballots are counted, the less window there is for chaos and conspiracy theories.
Third, the news media needs to prepare the American people to understand there is no longer a single election day and that it is very possible that we may not know the results on November 3rd.
Fourth, social media companies must finally get their act together and stop people from using their tools to spread disinformation and to threaten and harass election officials.
Fifth, in the Congress and in state legislatures hearings must be held as soon as possible to explain to the public how the election day process and the days that follow will be handled. As we count every vote, and prevent voter intimidation everything possible must be done to prevent chaos, disinformation, and even violence.
Lastly, and most importantly, the American people, no matter what their political persuasion, must make it clear that American democracy will not be destroyed. Our country from its inception and through the sacrifices of millions has been a model to the world with regard to representative government. In 1863, in the midst of the terrible Civil War, Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg stated that this government “of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.”
That was true then. That is true today. Regardless of what Donald Trump wants the American people will preserve democracy in our country.
The hypocrisy and shamelessness of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans to now move forward to fill the seat vacated by Ruth Bader Ginsburg with someone who would completely undo all the progress she made toward equality and social justice in the midst of actual voting to replace the president and Congress is only matched by the hypocrisy and shamelessness of the self-professed conservative “originalist” Supreme Court justices who have the audacity to suggest they can fathom what the Founding Fathers meant and disregard all the changes since then, to actually make law. Five justices contradicting the 435 elected members of the House and 100 elected members of the Senate and the president, going further, reaching back into settled law and precedent to overturn women’s rights, civil rights, voting rights, workers rights, environmental protection, to re-form this nation as a Catholic theocracy, not much different than Islamic theocracy.
Just a reminder: McConnell invented this “rule” of not confirming – not even giving President Obama’s nominee a hearing – even though the election was 10 months away (and Scalia’s seat was vacant for 400 days) because it was an election year, and that Obama purposely looked for a moderate, not a progressive, and not someone who could conceivably serve for 50 years on the bench, in choosing Merrick Garland to replace Antonin Scalia. It really was a further demonstration of the disrespect he had for Obama, America’s first Black president, and, when Obama took office in the midst of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, McConnell said his first priority was not to help Americans seeing their lives come apart but to make Obama a “one-term president.” He stalled hundreds of judicial appointments so that he could fill them all – and hand Trump his only achievement Trump can crow about. B
McConnell’s does not necessarily see the swift filling of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat as energizing Republican turnout but because he expects to lose the White House and very possibly the Senate. Also, he wants a Supreme Court in Trump’s pocket to decide the dozens of outrageous court suits designed to suppress voting (the only way Trump can eke out a win in the Electoral College).
Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic candidate for president, spoke out in Philadelphia, paying homage to Justice Ginsburg’s life and legacy and outrage over yet another theft of a Supreme Court seat that, despite the conservative minority in the country and majority’s rejection of their positions, will control the lives of every American for generations. Presidents may come and go, but these justices serve for life.
”This appointment isn’t about the past. It’s about the future. And the people of this nation are choosing the future right now,” Biden declared. “To jam this nomination through the Senate is just an exercise in raw political power.”
Here are Vice President’s remarks, highlighted, as prepared for delivery on September 20, 2020 in Philadelphia:
I attended mass earlier today and prayed for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her family.
The nation lost an icon, but they lost a mother, a grandmother, and a matriarch.
We know how hard that is to watch a piece of your soul absorb the cruelty and pain of that dreadful disease of cancer.
But as I spoke with her daughter and granddaughter last night, they made clear that until the very end she displayed the character and courage we would expect of her. She held their hand and gave them strength and purpose to carry on.
It’s been noted that she passed away on Rosh Hashanah.
By tradition, a person who dies during the Jewish New Year is considered a soul of great righteousness.
That was Ruth Bader Ginsgburg. A righteous soul.
It was my honor to preside over her confirmation hearings, and to strongly support her accession to the Supreme Court.
Justice Ginsburg achieved a standing few justices do. She became a presence in the lives of so many Americans, a part of the culture.
Yes there was humor in the mentions of the “Notorious RBG” and her impressive exercise routines. But it was so much more. She was a trailblazer, a role model, a source of hope, and a powerful voice for justice.
She was proof that courage and conviction and moral clarity can change not just the law, but also the world.
And I believe in the days and months and years to follow, she will continue to inspire millions of Americans all across this country. And together, we can — and we will — continue to be voices for justice in her name.
Her granddaughter said her dying words were “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”
As a nation, we should heed her final call to us — not as a personal service to her, but as a service to the country at a crossroads.
There is so much at stake — the right to health care, clean air and water, and equal pay for equal work. The rights of voters, immigrants, women, and workers.
And right now, our country faces a choice. A choice about whether we can come back from the brink.
That’s what I’d like to talk about today.
Within an hour of news of her passing, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said President Trump’s nominee to replace Justice Ginsburg will receive a vote in the Senate.
The exact opposite of what he said when President Obama nominated Merrick Garland to replace Justice Scalia in 2016.
At that time, Majority Leader McConnell made up a rule based on the fiction that I somehow believed that there should be no nomination to the Court in an election year.
It’s ridiculous. The only rule I ever followed related to Supreme Court nominations was the Constitution’s obligation for Senators to provide advice and consent to the president on judicial nominees.
But he created a new one — the McConnell Rule: absolutely no hearing and no vote for a nominee in an election year.
Period. No caveats.
And many Republican Senators agreed. Including then-Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Chuck Grassley of Iowa. Including the current Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Lindsay Graham of South Carolina. Who at the time said, and I quote verbatim:
“I want you to use my words against me. If there’s a Republican president in 2016 and a vacancy occurs in the last year of the first term, you can say Lindsay Graham said let’s let the next president, whoever it might be, make that nomination. And you could use my words against me and you’d be absolutely right.”
That is what Republicans said when Justice Scalia passed away — about nine months before Election Day that year. Now, having lost Justice Ginsburg less than seven weeks before Election Day this year — after Americans have already begun to cast their votes — they cannot unring the bell.
Having made this their standard when it served their interest, they cannot, just four years later, change course when it doesn’t serve their ends. And I’m not being naive.
I’m not speaking to President Trump, who will do whatever he wants.
I’m not speaking to Mitch McConnell, who will do what he does.
I’m speaking to those Senate Republicans out there who know deep down what is right for the country — not just for their party.
I’m speaking for the millions of Americans out there, who are already voting in this election. Millions of Americans who are voting because they know their health care hangs in the balance.
In the middle of the worst global health crisis in living memory, Donald Trump is at the Supreme Court trying to strip health coverage away from tens of millions of families and to strip away the peace of mind from more than 100 million people with pre-existing conditions.
If he succeeds, insurers could once again discriminate or drop coverage completely for people living with preexisting conditions like asthma, diabetes, and cancer.
And perhaps, most cruelly of all, if Donald Trump has his way, complications from COVID-19, like lung scarring and heart damage, could become the next deniable pre-existing condition.
Millions of Americans who are also voting because they don’t want nearly a half century of legal precedent to be overturned and lose their right to choose.
Millions of Americans who are at risk of losing their right to vote.
Millions of Dreamers who are at risk of being expelled from the only country they have ever known.
Millions of workers who are at risk of losing their collective bargaining rights.
Millions of Americans who are demanding that their voices be heard and that equal justice be guaranteed for all.
They know — we all know — what should happen now.
The voters of this country should be heard. Voting has already begun in some states.
And in just a few weeks, all the voters of this nation will be heard. They are the ones who should decide who has the power to make this appointment.
This appointment isn’t about the past. It’s about the future. And the people of this nation are choosing the future right now.
To jam this nomination through the Senate is just an exercise in raw political power.
I don’t believe the people of this nation will stand for it.
President Trump has already made it clear this is about power. Pure and simple.
Well, the voters should make it clear on this issue and so many others: the power in this nation resides with them — the people.
And even if President Trump wants to put forward a name now, the Senate should not act on it until after the American people select their next president and the next Congress.
If Donald Trump wins the election — then the Senate should move on his selection — and weigh that nominee fairly.
But if I win the election, President Trump’s nomination should be withdrawn.
As the new President, I should be the one who nominates Justice Ginsburg’s successor, a nominee who should get a fair hearing in the Senate before a confirmation vote.
We’re in the middle of a pandemic. We’re passing 200,000 American deaths lost to this virus. Tens of millions of Americans are on unemployment.
Health care in this country hangs in the balance before the Court.
And now, in a raw political move – this president and the Republican leader have decided to jam a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court through the United States Senate.
It’s the last thing we need in this moment.
Voters have already begun casting ballots in this country.
In just a few weeks, we are going to know who the voters of this nation have chosen to be their next president.
The United States Constitution was designed to give the voters one chance – to have their voice heard on who serves on the Court.
That moment is now — and their voice should be heard. And I believe voters are going to make it clear – they will not stand for this abuse of power.
There’s also discussion about what happens if the Senate confirms — on election eve – or in a lame duck after Donald Trump loses — a successor to Justice Ginsburg.
But that discussion assumes that we lose this effort to prevent the grave wrong that Trump and McConnell are pursuing here.
And I’m not going to assume failure at this point. I believe the voices of the American people should be heard.
This fight won’t be over until the Senate votes, if it does vote.
Winning that vote — if it happens — is everything.
Action and reaction. Anger and more anger. Sorrow and frustration at the way things are.
That’s the cycle that Republican Senators will continue to perpetuate if they go down this dangerous path they have put us on.
We need to de-escalate — not escalate.
So I appeal to those few Senate Republicans — the handful who will really decide what happens.
Don’t vote to confirm anyone nominated under the circumstances President Trump and Senator McConnell have created.
Don’t go there.
Uphold your Constitutional duty — your conscience.
Cool the flames that have been engulfing our country.
We can’t keep rewriting history, scrambling norms, and ignoring our cherished system of checks and balances.
That includes this whole business of releasing a list of potential nominees that I would put forward.
It’s no wonder the Trump campaign asked that I release a list only hours after Justice Ginsburg passed away.
It’s a game to them, a play to gin up emotions and anger.
There’s a reason why no Presidential candidate other than Donald Trump has ever done such a thing.
First, putting a judge’s name on a list like that -could influence that person’s decision-making as a judge — and that’s wrong.
Second, anyone put on a list like that under these circumstances – will be the subject of unrelenting political attacks.
And because any nominee I would select would not get a hearing until 2021 at the earliest – she would endure those attacks for months on end without being able to defend herself.
Third, and finally, and perhaps most importantly, if I win, I will make my choice for the Supreme Court — not as part of a partisan election campaign — but as prior Presidents did.
Only after consulting Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. Senate – and seeking their advice before I ask for their consent.
As everyone knows – I have made it clear that my first choice for the Supreme Court will make history as the first African American woman Justice.
I will consult with Senators in both parties about that pick, as well as with legal and civic leaders. In the end, the choice will be mine and mine alone.
But it will be the product of a process that restores our finest traditions – not the extension of one that has torn this country apart.
I’ll conclude with this.
As I’ve said in this campaign, we are in the battle for the soul of this country.
We face four historic crises. A once-in-a-generation pandemic. A devastating economic recession. The rise of white supremacy unseen since the 1960’s, and a reckoning on race long overdue. And a changing climate that is ravaging our nation as we speak.
Supreme Court decisions touch every part of these crises — every part of our lives and our future.
The last thing we need is to add a constitutional crisis that plunges us deeper into the abyss – deeper into the darkness.
If we go down this path, it would cause irreversible damage.
The infection this president has unleashed on our democracy can be fatal. Enough.
We must come together as a nation. Democrat, Republican, Independent, liberal, conservative. Everybody.
I’m not saying that we have to agree on everything. But we have to reason our way through to what ails us – as citizens, voters, and public servants. We have to act in good faith and mutual good will. In a spirit of conciliation, not confrontation.
This nation will continue to be inspired by Ruth Bader Ginsburg, but we should be guided by her as well.
By her willingness to listen, to hear those she disagreed with, to respect other points of view.
Famously, Justice Ginsburg got along well with some of the most conservative justices on the Court.
And she did it without compromising her principles – or clouding her moral clarity – or losing her core principles.
If she could do this, so can we.
How we talk to one another matters. How we treat one another matters. Respecting others matters.
Justice Ginsburg proved it’s important to have a spine of steel, but it’s also important to offer an open hand — and not a closed fist — to those you disagree with.
This nation needs to come together.
I have said it many times in this election. We are the United States of America.
There’s nothing we cannot do if we do it together. Maybe Donald Trump wants to divide this nation between Red States and Blue States.
Between representing those states that vote for him and ignoring those that don’t.
I do not.
I cannot — and I will not — be that president.
I will be a president for the whole country.
For those who vote for me and those who don’t.
We need to rise to this moment, for the sake of our country we love.
It’s ridiculous, almost humorous – if not so tragic – to hear Trump complaining that Biden hasn’t been able to issue a nationwide mandate to wear masks, when he is ostensibly the president (he says so, “I’m president. Can you believe it?” and “I can do anything I want. I’m president.”) but has failed to serve in the function while abusing the power. Trump could have used his power to require Domestic Production of protective equipment like masks, gowns, gloves, and the all-important ventilators, rather than give out massive no-bid contracts to companies like Kodak that had no experience, or have his son-in-law Jared Kushner use political operatives to take calls from grifters who claimed to be able to procure PPE, while dismissing the need to set up testing or send out equipment to Blue States, because, well, they vote Democratic and have Democratic leadership. Trump (an anti-vaxxer) has contradicted his own medical advisers, politicized the once vaunted CDC, FDA, NIH, thrown out nearly $1 trillion in Operation War Speed, all the while sowing such doubt in the efficacy or safety of any vaccine that would be rushed through testing. And yet, Trump, who disbanded the Obama-era pandemic office, pulled out of the World Health Organization and international efforts to produce a vaccine, has actually blamed Biden for failing to have stockpiled testing and vaccines against a virus that didn’t exist until more than three years into his reign. The Trump Campaign is now chiding and misrepresenting and frankly lying about Biden’s proposals and position on coronavirus and vaccines.
Trump, who is now listening only to those health “experts” like radiologist Scott Atlas who confirm his own conveniences, now is embracing the “herd immunity” (he called it “herd mentality in the ABC Town Hall) approach – essentially doing nothing, telling people not to wear masks or socially distance, so that as many as possible will become infected until so many are infected or dead, the virus has no place to go. Problem with that is you would need 225 million out of the 330 million population to get the infection, out of which as many as 6 million would die. But there is actually no proof that there is immunity from COVID-19, or that immunity after infection does not last more than a few months, or whether the virus mutates (like flu viruses) so that it becomes a new disease all over again.
Actual medical experts, including CDC Director Dr. Robert R. Redfield: “We are not defenseless against COVID-19,” he said. “Cloth face coverings are one of the most powerful weapons we have to slow and stop the spread of the virus – particularly when used universally within a community setting. All Americans have a responsibility to protect themselves, their families, and their communities.” Dr. Redfield said as recently as this week, after Trump chided the use of masks, “I might even go so far as to say that this face mask is more guaranteed to protect me against COVID than when I take a COVID vaccine.” Trump’s reaction? He rebuked Redfield, saying he had “made a mistake,” “misunderstood the question,” and had taken back his statement.
Estimates put the number of lives that could be saved between now and December- now forecast to be as high as 215,000 MORE deaths- at 100,000 and it is likely that had a nationwide mask order been imposed, 100,000 of the 200,000 who have already died could have been saved.About 1,000 Americans are dying each day.
And let’s be clear, New York State and the surrounding states became a hotspot because Trump’s intelligence network did not want to mention that the coronavirus was coming in from Europe. While everyone watched for the spread to come from the West Coast from China, 3 million people who came from infected areas of Europe had already come through New York’s airports. New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo was left to figure out on his own how to contain the virus before it completely overwhelmed the health care system. Now, Trump wants to dismiss the numbers of COVID-19 dead in Blue States – apparently, dead people in Blue States don’t matter – to make the absurd argument that the rates of death in the United States are somehow on par with the rest of the world (not).
Here are Vice President Joe Biden’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, after a vaccine briefing in Wilmington, Delaware, in which he outlined his own plan to get control of the coronavirus, save lives and restore the economy: testing and tracing, national protocols for mask-wearing and social distancing, an actual plan to distribute the vaccine free.
“So let me be clear, I trust vaccines. I trust the scientists. But I don’t trust Donald Trump — and the American people can’t either,” Biden said.
“If I am elected president, I will begin implementing an effective distribution plan from the minute I take office. That is what I discussed with the experts in the briefing today. “It will include: a detailed timeline for when people will get the vaccine, a clear delineation of priority populations, the specific means and mechanisms of shipping and storage at appropriate temperatures, the division of responsibility at every level of government.
“And I will provide the leadership necessary to carry this plan out. I will level with the American people. I will take responsibility. I will support rather than tear down the experts responsible for day-to-day execution. I will follow the science.”
– Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com.
I just concluded an hour and a half long briefing with seven of our nation’s top public health experts on the state of the pandemic, the steps needed to curb the spread of the virus, and the challenge of distributing a safe and effective vaccine once we have identified one.
Before I turn to those issues, let me say a few words about the president’s comments last night.
Even after acknowledging to Bob Woodward on tape that he was fully informed on the gravity of the danger related to COVID-19. He refused to warn the American people. And again, last night, in a televised town hall, the President revealed in no uncertain terms the lack of seriousness with which he continues to take this pandemic.
Nearly eight months after this crisis on the doorstep of 200,000 American deaths, President Trump refused once again to take responsibility or to take action.
By his own admission he continued to lie about COVID-19. He doubled down on his catastrophic mistakes.
And, perhaps worst of all — he made clear that he still doesn’t have a plan to bring us out of this crisis.
He even said that quote — “a lot of people think that masks are not good” — undercutting the easiest and most effective means we have for reducing the spread of this disease. [Asked “who thought that?” Trump said “waiters.”]
This virus is still taking nearly a thousand lives each day.
And forecasts show that the numbers are likely to climb this winter.
But, incredibly, President Trump insists that he wouldn’t have done anything differently.
Not one thing.
Last Friday, we learned that another one thousand Americans died due to this virus.
On the very same day, Canada reported that not one person died of COVID-19.
And Trump wouldn’t have done anything differently?
If you’re a parent in America, preparing for another day that you can’t send your child to school, if you’re grieving the loss of a loved one, if your small business can’t open or you can’t go back to work because the virus is still spreading in your community, how does it make you feel to hear the President say he wouldn’t have done anything differently?
And if he gets four more years, why should we expect anything to change?
All President Trump had to offer last night was the same weak and feckless inaction — the same lies and empty promises — that we’ve seen from the very beginning.
He still won’t accept responsibility. He still won’t offer a plan.
Last night, he repeated what he has said so many times before: That even if he continues to offer only failing indifference some day, the virus will go away like a miracle.
It won’t go away like a miracle. The fact is, even if we get a vaccine, it will not be available to most of the population until well into next year.
And we are heading into a dangerous autumn.
In fact, the University of Washington model — which the White House has previously touted — projects that cases and deaths are going to spike in November – and an additional 215,000 Americans will die by the end of the year.
That’s more than have already died.
We need leadership right now to prevent that from happening. That same University of Washington model shows that if there is universal masking, we could cut those deaths by more than half. We could save more than 100,000 lives.
Even Donald Trump’s own director of the CDC told us that wearing a mask is the single most important step we can take to curb this virus. He said “I might even go so far as to say that this face mask is more guaranteed to protect me against COVID than when I take a COVID vaccine.”
I spoke with the experts today about additional steps we can take to prevent needless deaths and suffering.
Uniform national guidance – and standards on social distancing – that can be applied to the particular circumstances of states and communities.
More effective approaches on testing and tracing.
If we do these things between now and January – we could save even more lives.
Last night, Donald Trump indicated he has no interest in doing these things.
A president’s first responsibility is to protect the American people.
And he won’t.
That is utterly disqualifying.
I also spoke with the experts about the paramount importance of preparing now for the swift, organized, and free distribution of a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine.
I am profoundly grateful to the scientists and researchers working tirelessly to ensure that a safe and effective vaccine becomes a reality as soon as possible.
They carry the hopes of our entire nation and the entire world.
And when their work comes to fruition – and it will — they will no doubt save countless lives.
But scientific breakthroughs don’t care about calendars any more than the virus does.
They certainly don’t adhere to election cycles.
And their timing, their approval, and their distribution should never, ever be distorted by political considerations. They should be determined by science and safety alone.
A vaccine would offer a way back to normalcy and a path forward to better days for all of us.
It won’t happen overnight. It will take months to distribute it to the entire population.
But I’m more hopeful than ever in the power of science to get us there.
One thing is certain, we cannot allow politics to interfere with a vaccine in any way.
Americans have had to endure President Trump’s incompetence and dishonesty when it came to testing and personal protective equipment.
We cannot afford a repeat of those fiascos when it comes to a vaccine. The stakes are too high American families have already suffered and sacrificed far too much.
So let me be clear, I trust vaccines. I trust the scientists. But I don’t trust Donald Trump — and the American people can’t either.
Last week, Senator Harris and I laid out three questions this Administration must answer — to assure the American people that politics will play no role whatsoever in the vaccine process.
If Donald Trump can give honest answers to these questions — the American people should have the confidence and transparency they need to trust a vaccine and adopt it in numbers that make a difference.
First, what criteria will be used to ensure that a vaccine meets the scientific standard of safety and effectiveness?
Second, if the Administration greenlights a vaccine — who will validate that the decision was driven by science rather than politics?
Third, how can we be sure that the distribution of the vaccine will take place — safely, cost-free, and without a hint of favoritism?
The fact of the matter is developing a vaccine is only part of the battle.
Distributing a vaccine to the entire population is as complex and challenging as the most sensitive military operation.
I’ve been calling for an effective distribution plan for months.
If I am elected president, I will begin implementing an effective distribution plan from the minute I take office. That is what I discussed with the experts in the briefing today.
It will include: a detailed timeline for when people will get the vaccine, a clear delineation of priority populations, the specific means and mechanisms of shipping and storage at appropriate temperatures, the division of responsibility at every level of government.
And I will provide the leadership necessary to carry this plan out. I will level with the American people. I will take responsibility. I will support rather than tear down the experts responsible for day-to-day execution. I will follow the science.
With satisfactory answers to the three questions I laid out — every American— including me and my family — can have confidence in a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine.
This isn’t about politics. It’s about saving lives.
It’s about getting back to our loved ones and our friends.
It’s about getting our economy back on its feet.
Getting back to the movie theater, to the restaurant, to the ballpark.
It’s about getting back to our lives — and getting America up off the mat.
We can, and we must, be united in that pursuit.
No matter when that breakthrough emerges — no matter when that hope bears fruit.
That’s America at our best.
God bless our scientists and researchers — and frontline workers.
While Trump continues to deny climate change as a “hoax” (one perpetrated by China to hurt US business), minimize the destruction to life and livehood of the wildfires setting the West ablaze that he blamed on California’s “failure” to adequately rake the forest floor, actively denigrate public health experts while promoting conditions for the super-spread of coronavirus, and call for Obama to be jailed for treason, former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic candidate for president, spoke out on the urgency to address the existential climate crisis and how he would address it.
“The unrelenting impact of climate change affects every single one of us…It requires action, not denial. It requires leadership, not scapegoating…
“Our response should be grounded in science. Acting together. All of us. But like with our federal response to COVID-19, the lack of a national strategy on climate change leaves us with patchwork solutions…
“But if Trump gets a second term, these hellish events will become more common, more devastating, and more deadly.
“If we have four more years of Trump’s climate denial, how many suburbs will be burned in wildfires? How many suburbs will have been flooded out? How many suburbs will have been blown away in superstorms?
“If you give a climate arsonist four more years in the White House, why would anyone be surprised if more of America is ablaze? ..
“And from the pandemic, the economic freefall, the racial unrest, and the ravages of climate change, it’s clear that we are not safe in Donald Trump’s America.
“Like the pandemic, dealing with climate change is a global crisis that requires American leadership.
“It requires a president to meet the threshold duty of the office — to care for everyone. To defend us from every attack – seen and unseen. Always and without exception. Every time.”
Here is a highlighted transcript of Vice President Joe Biden’s remarks as prepared for delivery in Delaware:
As a nation, we face one of the most difficult moments in our history. Four historic crises. All at the same time.
The worst pandemic in over 100 years, that’s killed nearly 200,000 Americans and counting.
The worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, that’s cost tens of millions of American jobs and counting.
Emboldened white supremacy unseen since the 1960s and a reckoning on race long overdue.
And the undeniable, accelerating, and punishing reality of climate change and its impact on our planet and our people — on lives and livelihoods — which I’d like to talk about today.
Jill and I continue to pray for everyone in California, Oregon, Washington, and across the West as the devastating wildfires rage on — just as we’ve held in our hearts those who’ve faced hurricanes and tropical storms on our coasts, in Florida, in North Carolina, or like in parts of New Orleans where they just issued an emergency evacuation for Hurricane Sally, that’s approaching and intensifying; Floods and droughts across the Midwest, the fury of climate change everywhere — all this year, all right now.
We stand with our families who have lost everything, the firefighters and first responders risking everything to save others, and the millions of Americans caught between relocating during a pandemic or staying put as ash and smoke pollute the air they breathe.
Think about that.
People are not just worried about raging fires. They are worried about breathing air. About damage to their lungs.
Parents, already worried about Covid-19 for their kids when they’re indoors, are now worried about asthma attacks for their kids when they’re outside.
Over the past two years, the total damage from wildfires has reached nearly $50 Billion in California alone.
This year alone, nearly 5 million acres have burned across 10 states — more acres than the entire state of Connecticut.
And it’s only September. California’s wildfire season typically runs through October.
Fires are blazing so bright and smoke reaching so far, NASA satellites can see them a million miles away in space.
The cost of this year’s damage will again be astronomically high.
But think of the view from the ground, in the smoldering ashes.
Loved ones lost, along with the photos and keepsakes of their memory. Spouses and kids praying each night that their firefighting husband, wife, father, and mother will come home. Entire communities destroyed.
We have to act as a nation. It shouldn’t be so bad that millions of Americans live in the shadow of an orange sky and are left asking if doomsday is here.
I know this feeling of dread and anxiety extends beyond just the fires. We’ve seen a record hurricane season costing billions of dollars. Last month, Hurricane Laura intensified at a near-record rate just before its landfall along Louisiana and the Gulf Coast.
It’s a troubling marker not just for an increased frequency of hurricanes, but more powerful and destructive storms. They’re causing record damage after record damage to people’s homes and livelihoods.
And before it intensified and hit the Gulf Coast, Laura ravaged Puerto Rico — where, three years after Hurricane Maria — our fellow Americans are still recovering from its damage and devastation.
Think about that reality.
Our fellow Americans are still putting things back together from the last big storm as they face the next one.
We’ve also seen historic flooding in the Midwest — often compounding the damages delivered by last year’s floods that cost billions dollars in damage.
This past spring Midland, Michigan experienced a flood so devastating — with deadly flash flooding, overrunning dams and roadways, and the displacement of 10,000 residents — that it was considered a once-in-500-year weather event.
But those once-in-many-generations events? They happen every year now.
The past ten years were the hottest decade ever recorded. The Arctic is literally melting. Parts are on fire.
What we’re seeing in America — in our communities — is connected to that.
With every bout with nature’s fury, caused by our own inaction on climate change, more Americans see and feel the devastation in big cities, small towns, on coastlines and farmlands.
It is happening everywhere. It is happening now. It affects us all.
Nearly two hundred cities are experiencing the longest stretches of deadly heat waves in fifty years. It requires them to help their poor and elderly residents adapt to extreme heat to simply stay alive, especially in homes without air conditioning.
Our family farmers in the Midwest are facing historic droughts.
These follow record floods and hurricane-speed windstorms all this year.
It’s ravaged millions of acres of corn, soybeans, and other crops. Their very livelihood which sustained their families and our economy for generations is now in jeopardy. How will they pay their bills this year? What will be left to pass on to their kids?
And none of this happens in a vacuum.
A recent study showed air pollution is linked with an increased risk of death from COVID-19.
Our economy can’t recover if we don’t build back with more resiliency to withstand extreme weather — extreme weather that will only come with more frequency.
The unrelenting impact of climate change affects every single one of us. But too often the brunt falls disproportionately on communities of color, exacerbating the need for environmental justice.
These are the interlocking crises of our time.
It requires action, not denial.
It requires leadership, not scapegoating.
It requires a president to meet the threshold duty of the office — to care for everyone. To defend us from every attack – seen and unseen. Always and without exception. Every time.
Because here’s the deal.
Hurricanes don’t swerve to avoid “blue states.” Wildfires don’t skip towns that voted a certain way.
The impacts of climate change don’t pick and choose. That’s because it’s not a partisan phenomenon.
And our response should be the same. Grounded in science. Acting together. All of us.
But like with our federal response to COVID-19, the lack of a national strategy on climate change leaves us with patchwork solutions.
I’m speaking from Delaware, the lowest-lying state in the nation, where just last week the state’s Attorney General sued 31 big fossil fuel companies alleging that they knowingly wreaked damage on the climate.
Damage that is plain to everyone but the president.
As he flies to California today, we know he has no interest in meeting this moment.
We know he won’t listen to the experts or treat this disaster with the urgency it demands, as any president should do during a national emergency.
He’s already said he wanted to withhold aid to California — to punish the people of California — because they didn’t vote for him.
This is yet another crisis he won’t take responsibility for.
The West is literally on fire and he blames the people whose homes and communities are burning.
He says, “You gotta clean your floors, you gotta clean your forests.”
This is the same president who threw paper towels to the people of Puerto Rico instead of truly helping them recover and rebuild.
We know his disdain for his own military leaders and our veterans.
Just last year, the Defense Department reported that climate change is a direct threat to more than two-thirds of our military’s operationally critical installations. And this could well be a conservative estimate.
Donald Trump’s climate denial may not have caused the record fires, record floods, and record hurricanes.
But if he gets a second term, these hellish events will become more common, more devastating, and more deadly.
Meanwhile, Donald Trump warns that integration is threatening our suburbs. That’s ridiculous.
But you know what’s actually threatening our suburbs?
Wildfires are burning the suburbs in the West. Floods are wiping out suburban neighborhoods in the Midwest. And hurricanes are imperiling suburban life along our coasts.
If we have four more years of Trump’s climate denial, how many suburbs will be burned in wildfires? How many suburbs will have been flooded out? How many suburbs will have been blown away in superstorms?
If you give a climate arsonist four more years in the White House, why would anyone be surprised if more of America is ablaze?
If you give a climate denier four more years in the White House, why would anyone be surprised when more of America is under water?
We need a president who respects science, who understands that the damage from climate change is already here, and, unless we take urgent action, will soon be more catastrophic.
A president who recognizes, understands, and cares that Americans are dying.
Which makes President Trump’s climate denialism — his disdain of science and facts — all the more unconscionable.
Once again, he fails the most basic duty to this nation.
He fails to protect us.
And from the pandemic, the economic freefall, the racial unrest, and the ravages of climate change, it’s clear that we are not safe in Donald Trump’s America.
What he doesn’t get is that even in crisis, there is nothing beyond our capacity as a country.
And while so many of you are hurting right now, I want you to know that if you give me the honor of serving as your President, we can, and we will, meet this moment with urgency and purpose.
We can and we will solve the climate crisis, and build back better than we were before.
When Donald Trump thinks about climate change he thinks: “hoax.”
I think: “jobs.”
Good-paying, union jobs that put Americans to work building a stronger, more climate resilient nation.
A nation with modernized water, transportation and energy infrastructure to withstand the impacts of extreme weather and a changing climate.
When Donald Trump thinks about renewable energy, he sees windmills somehow causing cancer.
I see American manufacturing — and American workers — racing to lead the global market. I also see farmers making American agriculture first in the world to achieve net-zero emissions, and gaining new sources of income in the process.
When Donald Trump thinks about LED bulbs, he says he doesn’t like them because: “the light’s no good. I always look orange.”
I see the small businesses and master electricians designing and installing award-winning energy conservation measures.
This will reduce the electricity consumption and save businesses hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in energy costs.
While he turns us against our allies, I will bring us back into the Paris Agreement. I will put us back in the business of leading the world on climate change. And I will challenge everyone to up the ante on their climate commitments.
Where he reverses the Obama-Biden fuel-efficiency standards, he picks Big Oil companies over the American workers.
I will not only bring the standards back, I will set new, ambitious ones — that our workers are ready to meet.
And I also see American workers building and installing 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations across the country and American consumers switching to electric vehicles through rebates and incentives.
Not only that, the United States owns and maintains an enormous fleet of vehicles — and we’re going to harness the purchasing power of our federal government to make sure we are buying electric vehicles that are made and sourced by union workers right here in the United States of America.
All together, this will mean one million new jobs in the American auto industry.
And we’ll do another big thing: put us on a path of achieving a carbon-pollution free electricity sector by 2035 that no future president can turn back.
Transforming the American electricity sector to produce power without carbon pollution will be the greatest spur to job creation and economic competitiveness in the 21st Century. Not to mention the positive benefits to our health and our environment.
We need to get to work right away.
We’ll need scientists at national labs and land-grant universities and Historically Black Colleges and Universities to improve and innovate the technologies needed to generate, store, and transmit this clean electricity.
We’ll need engineers to design them and workers to manufacture them. We’ll need iron workers and welders to install them.
And we’ll become the world’s largest exporter of these technologies, creating even more jobs.
We know how to do this.
The Obama-Biden Administration rescued the auto industry and helped them retool.
We made solar energy cost-competitive with traditional energy, and weatherized more than a million homes.
We will do it again — bigger and faster and better than before.
We’ll also build 1.5 million new energy-efficient homes and public housing units that will benefit our communities three-times over — by alleviating the affordable housing crisis, by increasing energy efficiency, and by reducing the racial wealth gap linked to home ownership.
There are thousands of oil and natural gas wells that the oil and gas companies have just abandoned, many of which are leaking toxins.
We can create 250,000 jobs plugging those wells right away — good union jobs for energy workers. This will help sustain communities and protect the environment as well.
We’ll also create new markets for our family farmers and ranchers.
We’ll launch a new, modern day Civilian Climate Corps to heal our public lands and make us less vulnerable to wildfires and floods.
I believe that every American has a fundamental right to breathe clean air and drink clean water. But I know that we haven’t fulfilled that right.
That’s true of the millions of families struggling with the smoke created by these devastating wildfires right now.
But it’s also been true for a generation or more in places — like Cancer Alley in Louisiana or along the Route 9 corridor right here in Delaware.
Fulfilling this basic obligation to all Americans — especially Black, Brown, and Native American communities, who too often don’t have clean air and clean water — is not going to be easy.
But it is necessary. And I am committed to doing it.
These aren’t pie-in-the-sky dreams. These are concrete, actionable policies that create jobs, mitigate climate change, and put our nation on the road to net-zero emissions by no later than 2050.
Some say that we can’t afford to fix this.
But here’s the thing.
Look around at the crushing consequences of the extreme weather events I’ve been describing. We’ve already been paying for it. So we have a choice.
We can invest in our infrastructure to make it stronger and more resilient, while at the same time tackling the root causes of climate change.
Or, we can continue down the path of Donald Trump’s indifference, costing tens of billions of dollars to rebuild, and where the human costs — the lives and livelihoods and homes and communities destroyed — are immeasurable.
We have a choice.
We can commit to doing this together because we know that climate change is the existential challenge that will define our future as a country, for our children, grandchildren, and great-children.
Or, there’s Donald Trump’s way — to ignore the facts, to deny reality that amounts to full surrender and a failure to lead.
It’s backward-looking politics that will harm the environment, make communities less healthy, and hold back economic progress while other countries race ahead.
And it’s a mindset that doesn’t have any faith in the capacity of the American people to compete, to innovate, and to win.
Like the pandemic, dealing with climate change is a global crisis that requires American leadership.
It requires a president for all Americans.
So as the fires rage out West on this day, our prayers remain with everyone under the ash.
I know it’s hard to see the sun rise and believe today will be better than yesterday when America faces this historic inflection point.
A time of real peril, but also a time of extraordinary possibilities.
I want you to know that we can do this.
We will do this.
We are America.
We see the light through the dark smoke.
We never give up.
May God bless our firefighters and first responders.
On Labor Day, Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic candidate for President, issued his plan to “Build Back Better” for American workers, drawing a contrast to the actual record of Donald Trump and contradicting Trump’s claim of a rebounding economy. Biden points to fewer than half of the 29 million jobs lost to the coronavirus pandemic have been restored (though Trump likes to boast about 1 million jobs added a month as a record and proof of a robust, rebounding economy), with 11.5 million still unemployed and facing the possibility their jobs will not come back. Manufacturing jobs, which Trump touts, is down 720,000 from when Trump took office. “President Trump may well be the only president in modern history to leave office with fewer jobs than when he took office. Trump thinks if the stock market is up, his rich friends and donors are doing well and corporation see their valuations rising, then everyone must be doing well… Joe knows we need to get serious about defeating the pandemic, dig out from the worst jobs crisis in nearly a century, and rebuild the middle class so everyone comes along.” Biden’s plan is to invest in infrastructure, clean energy, caregiving and education, and will support – not break up – unions, collective bargaining, higher wages and worker safety. Here is a fact sheet from the Biden campaign – Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Joe Biden’s Plan to “Build Back Better” for American Workers
After six months in the pandemic, we are less than halfway back to where we were — with 11.5 Million Americans not yet getting their jobs back. We’re still down 720,000 manufacturing jobs. President Trump may well be the only president in modern history to leave office with fewer jobs than when he took office.
Trump thinks if the stock market is up, his rich friends and donors are doing well, and corporations see their valuations rising — then everyone must be doing well. But Joe knows from growing up in neighborhoods in Scranton, Pennsylvania and Claymont, Delaware that the measure of our economic success is the quality of life of the American people. Today, too many working families are worried about paying their bills and putting food on the table.
Joe knows we need to get serious about defeating the pandemic, dig out from the worst jobs crisis in nearly a century, and rebuild the middle class so everyone comes along. He has a plan to Build Back Better by summoning a new wave of worker power and building an economy that serves the dignity of the hard-working people who make it run. He will put millions of Americans to work in good-paying jobs with a choice to join a union to meet four national challenges: building a stronger industrial and innovation base so the future is made in America, building sustainable infrastructure and a clean energy future, building a stronger caring economy, and advancing racial equity across the board.
Build worker power, raise wages, and secure stronger benefits. We’ve seen millions of American workers put their lives and health on the line to keep our country going. Joe will treat American workers and working families as essential at all times, not just times of crisis — with higher wages, stronger benefits, and fair and safe workplaces, so they can live a middle class life and provide opportunity for their kids. And, he will strengthen unions and worker power.
Encourage, not only defend, union organizing and collective bargaining. Joe knows the only way to take on abuses of power by corporations and Wall Street, and to restore America’s middle class, is with worker power. Joe will send economic recovery legislation to Congress that will make it easier for workers to organize a union and bargain collectively with their employers by including the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, card check, union and bargaining rights for public service workers, and a broad definition of “employee” and tough enforcement to end the misclassification of workers as independent contractors. Joe will also hold company executives personally liable when they interfere with organizing efforts.
Raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour and end the tipped minimum wage and sub-minimum wage for people with disabilities.
Ensure that every American has access to quality, affordable health care, by providing a public option and lowering costs for care and for prescription drugs.
Provide universal paid sick days and 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave.
Pass the Paycheck Fairness Act as the next step in efforts to ensure women are paid equally for equal work, and take other steps to address discrimination and harassment in the workplace.
Ensure workers are safe from COVID-19 and other workplace hazards by setting and enforcing robust safety standards. No one should get sick, injured, or die because they went to work.
Buy American. Joe will strengthen and enforce “Buy American” so that the massive amount of taxpayer money the federal government spends every year on everything from defense equipment to steel to auto fleets is used to help American manufacturers and their workers. And he’ll invest $400 billion more in buying American made goods to build a clean energy future.
Innovate in America. Joe will make a new $300 billion investment in research and development (R&D) and breakthrough technologies – from electric vehicle technology to lightweight materials to 5G – to unleash high-quality job creation in manufacturing and technology.
Pursue a Pro-American worker tax and trade strategy to fix the harmful policies of the Trump Administration and give our manufacturers and workers the fair shot they need.
Bring back critical supply chains to America so we aren’t dependent on China or any other country for the production of critical goods in a crisis.
Build a modern, sustainable infrastructure and an equitable clean energy future. Joe will make a $2 trillion accelerated investment setting us on an irreversible course to meet the ambitious climate progress that science demands, putting millions of people to work in good paying jobs:
Rebuilding America’s crumbling infrastructure – from roads and bridges to green spaces and water systems to electricity grids and universal broadband – to lay a foundation for sustainable growth, withstand the impacts of climate change, and provide access to clean air and water.
Position the American auto industry to win the 21st century, mobilizing American workers to manufacture clean vehicles and their input materials and parts.
Generating clean, American-made electricity, creating jobs for every kind of worker from scientists to construction workers to electricity generation workers to welders to engineers.
Retrofitting buildings, weatherizing homes, and building affordable housing.
Create jobs in climate-smart agriculture, resilience, and conservation, including by mobilizing the next generation of conservation and resilience workers through a Civilian Climate Corps and creating jobs to clean up local economies from the impacts of resource extraction.
Mobilize American talent and heart to create a 21st century caregiving and education workforce. The pandemic has laid bare just how hard it is for people in this country to find access to quality caregiving they need for themselves, or to juggle the responsibilities of working and also caring for family members. Joe will make substantial investments in the infrastructure of care in our country. He’ll:
Create millions of caregiving jobs by making preschool universal and high quality child care affordable and accessible for working families, and making it easier for aging relatives and loved ones with disabilities to have quality, affordable home- or community-based care
Treat caregivers and early childhood educators with respect and dignity, and give them the pay and benefits they deserve, training and career ladders to higher-paying jobs, the choice to join a union and bargain collectively, and other fundamental work-related rights and protections.
Free up millions of unpaid caregivers to pursue paid careers if they so choose.
Advance racial equity across the American economy. Joe will ensure Black and Brown small business owners, families, and workers are finally and fully cut in on the deal. His plan for achieving racial equity across the American economy covers everything from infrastructure to housing to education, and targets the racial wealth, jobs, and income gaps.
As workers struggle against a deadly pandemic, painful recession, and deep racial disparities — all worsened by Trump’s mismanagement and neglect — they also face an additional burden: a union-busting president. When he isn’t calling to boycott Goodyear and its thousands of union workers for petty personal reasons, President Trump is actively fighting against working people. Among many other things, Trump has:
Promised to veto the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO Act) – legislation that would make it easier for workers to unionize and collectively bargain – and stripped federal workers of their right to unionize.
Provided big tax cuts to corporations, without making them bring jobs home – and raised taxes for union members, by ending deductions for union dues.
Abandoned the Obama-Biden overtime expansion, costing over 8 million workers over $3.4 billion in lost wages already.
Let federal contractors double offshoring in his first 18 months in office.
Started a trade war with China that pushed manufacturing into recession – and then wasted his so-called “phase one” deal lobbying for big banks, instead of fighting for American jobs.
Broke his promise to invest in rebuilding infrastructure. Donald Trump promised a big infrastructure bill when he ran in 2016 and every year since. Every few weeks when he needs a distraction from the latest charge of corruption in his staff — or the conviction of high ranking members of his administration and political apparatus — the White House announces it’s “Infrastructure Week.” But he’s never delivered or even really tried.
Rolled back safety protections at workplaces, including by trying to weaken several occupationalandsafety regulations established during the Obama-Biden Administration, reducing Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) investigators to a historic low, and failing to put in place OSHA Emergency Temporary Standards to keep workers safe from COVID-19.
Weakened enforcement of American labor laws and made it easier for employers to misclassify workers by sabotaging the enforcement agencies and slashing their investigator corps.
Using his trademark restraint, Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic candidate for Trump, could not contain his revulsion and distress in condemning in harshest terms Donald Trump’s remarks denigrating POWs and the soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice for their nation. The speech was supposed to be about the economy, and despite some favorable jobs numbers which have brought down the unemployment rate somewhat, a take-down of Trump’s incompetent handling of COVID-19 and the economy and lack of leadership which have made the situation so much worse. But the revelations the night before about remarks Trump made concerning the military, on top of Trump’s call to supporters to vote twice, and his refusal, yet again, to say anything against Vladimir Putin, prompted him to say, in response to a question, “I’ve never been as disappointed in my whole career with a leader that I’ve worked with, president or otherwise. If [the Atlantic] article is true, based on other things he has said, it is damnable. A disgrace….
“It is sick. It is deplorable. It is so un-American, so unpatriotic.”
The comments attributed to Trump, he said, “affirm what we already know to be true: Donald Trump is not fit for the job of president, or to hold the title commander in chief.”
Biden declared, “It is a sacred duty to ensure we properly prepare and equip those we send into harm’s way, and to care for them and their families, both while they are deployed and after they return home.
“Duty, honor, country — those are the values that drive our service members.
“President Trump has demonstrated he has no sense of service, no loyalty to any cause other than himself.
“And if I have the honor of serving as the next Commander-in-Chief, I will ensure that our American heroes know I will have their back and honor their sacrifice — always.”
And about the jobs report and economic situation, he said, “you can’t deal with the economic crisis until you beat the pandemic.”
“No matter what he says or what he claims, you are not safer in Donald Trump’s America. You are not safe in Trump’s America where people are dying at a rate last seen when Americans were fighting in World War II.”
Here are Vice President Biden’s highlighted remarks:
Before I begin, I wanted to speak to the revelations about President Trump’s disregard for our military and veterans.
They are disgusting. They affirm what we already know to be true: Donald Trump is not fit for the job of president, or to hold the title commander in chief.
The president reportedly said that those who sign up to serve — instead of doing something more lucrative — are suckers. So let me be clear: my son Beau, who volunteered to go to Iraq, was not a sucker.
The men and women who served with him are not suckers, and the service men and women he served with, who did not come home, are not losers.
If these statements are true, the president should humbly apologize to every person in uniform, and every Gold Star and Blue Star family he has insulted.
Who the hell does he think he is?
Is it true? Well, we’ve heard from his own mouth his characterization of American hero John McCain as a loser, and his dismissal of the traumatic brain injuries suffered by troops serving in Iraq as mere “‘headaches.”
He stood by, failing to take action or even raise the issue with Vladimir Putin, while the Kremlin put bounties on the heads of American troops serving in Afghanistan.
It is a sacred duty to ensure we properly prepare and equip those we send into harm’s way, and to care for them and their families, both while they are deployed and after they return home.
Duty, honor, country — those are the values that drive our service members.
President Trump has demonstrated he has no sense of service, no loyalty to any cause other than himself.
And if I have the honor of serving as the next Commander-in-Chief, I will ensure that our American heroes know I will have their back and honor their sacrifice — always.
And that’s just another marker of how deeply President Trump and I disagree about the role of the President of the United States.
The August jobs report came out this morning.
I am grateful for everyone who found work again and found a glimmer of hope that brings them back from the edge.
But there is real cause for concern, too.
The pace of job gains in August was slower than in July — and significantly slower than May or June.
More and more temporary layoffs are turning into permanent layoffs.
After six months in the pandemic, we are less than halfway back to where we were — with 11.5 Million Americans not yet getting their jobs back.
We’re still down 720,000 manufacturing jobs. In fact, Trump may well be the only president in modern history to leave office with fewer jobs than when he took office.
Talk to a lot of real working people who are being left behind — ask them, do you feel the economy is coming back?
They don’t feel it.
That’s why I’m here today.
Thank you, Paul Calistro and his team, for hosting us at West End Neighborhood House here in Wilmington.
You continue a tradition of doing God’s work for this community.
For more than 130 years, through pandemics, wars, and depression, West End has been there for generations of people who are just looking for a chance. Not a handout.
Just a fair shot at a good job, a safe place to live, and a better life to pass down to their kids.
And it’s a special place for the Biden family. My daughter Ashley worked here as a caseworker helping young people aging out of foster care.
When he was Attorney General of Delaware, my son Beau came here – right here – to learn more about its job training programs for folks working toward a GED and a certificate for a good-paying job.
And when I was Senator and Vice President, there were plenty of economists around to talk about how the economy was doing.
But I’d always think about the people who walk through these doors.
If working people — white, Black, Brown, Latino — here were doing okay, then I knew the economy was doing okay. If they weren’t, then I knew we weren’t.
And that’s what we should think about with the latest jobs report.
But the report reinforces our worst fears and painful truths — the economic inequities that began before the downturn have only worsened under this failed presidency.
When the crisis started, we all hoped for a few months of a shutdown followed by a rapid economic turnaround. No one thought they’d lose their job for good or see small businesses shut down in mass.
But that kind of recovery requires leadership — leadership we just don’t have.
As a result, economists are starting to call this a K-shaped recovery — which is a fancy phrase for what’s been wrong with everything about Trump’s presidency.
The “K” means that those at the top see things go up, but those in the middle and below see things get worse.
That’s no surprise because at the root of this is the fact that Trump has managed COVID to become a K-shaped pandemic.
First, the president’s chaotic mismanagement of the pandemic is still holding us back.
And compared to other major industrial countries in Europe and Asia during the pandemic, our unemployment rate has still more than doubled while those nations have only gone up by less than half.
Why? Because the president has botched the COVID response. Botched it badly.
I’ve said from the beginning, you can’t deal with the economic crisis until you beat the pandemic.
You can’t have a full economic comeback, when almost 1,000 Americans die each day from COVID, when the death toll is about to reach 200,000, when more than six million Americans have been infected, and when millions more are worried about getting sick and dying as schools and businesses try to reopen. And we all know it didn’t have to be this bad. It didn’t have to be this bad if the president just did his job.
If he just took this virus seriously early on in January and February as it spread around the globe.
If he just took the steps we needed back in March and April to institute widespread testing and tracing to control the spread.
If he provided clear, national, and science-based guidance to state and local authorities, and if he had just set a good example like social distancing and mask wearing. Not that much to ask.
But it’s almost like he doesn’t care because it doesn’t affect him and his class of friends.
Anyone with a big enough checkbook can get a rapid test on demand.
If you don’t, you might have to wait in line for hours and weeks for results — if you can get a test at all.
If you have the kind of job where you can work on your laptop — at home, or remotely — your risk of getting COVID at work is small.
This jobs report shows that 37 million workers reported teleworking in August.
But if you work on an assembly line or at a checkout counter orat a meat packing plant, or if you drive a truck or deliver packages — you’re at greater risk.
And the jobs report shows that more than 24 million workers reported that they couldn’t work or lost hours because their employer had to close or lost business due to the pandemic.
If you can hire a private tutor, or have live-in child care, you can balance being a parent and remote schooling.
If you can’t, you have to do your job and be a teacher all at once.
Jill and I just held a briefing on reopening schools safely two days ago, asking the questions we hear from so many parents and educators who feel like they are in an impossible situation: What are we supposed to do with our children when the president has made it so hard for schools to reopen safely?
What’s the alternative when it’s devastating to keep them isolated from their friends and support system?
I also said earlier this week, to the shock of many, that we have lost more cops this year to covid than when they’re on patrol.
It’s a reminder how a dangerous job — law enforcement — has gotten more dangerous due to Trump’s mismanagement.
What may be just as shocking as that is many other jobs have also become dangerous due to Covid.
Being a health care worker is now more dangerous than ever — we’ve lost hundreds of them this year because they weren’t protected from COVID on the job.
Being a meat packer is more dangerous — so many have died due to getting COVID at work.
Work for waiters and waitresses and transit workers has all become more dangerous with so many dying of COVID.
Ladies and gentlemen, no matter what he says or what he claims, you are not safer in Donald Trump’s America. You are not safe in Trump’s America where people are dying at a rate last seen when Americans were fighting in World War II.
Donald Trump’s malpractice during this pandemic has made being a working American life-or-death work.
And while there’s a disproportionate impact on Black, Latino, Asian American, and Native American working class communities — white working class communities are being hit hard, too.
Opioid deaths, for example, are up during the pandemic —another crisis that President Trump all but ignores.
In the meantime, Trump and his friends have strong views about what the rest of America should do:
Cut unemployment benefits to force people to go back on their jobs.
Defund Social Security and eliminate Obamacare — in the middle of a pandemic.
Reopen public schools without resources or guidance.
Reopen businesses without protection for workers so corporations can continue to soar
This is their plan?
Second, and similarly, the economic pain remains unrelenting for millions of working people of every race and background who aren’t getting the relief they need.
Meanwhile the wealthy are doing just fine, if not better than ever.
This divergence in fortune is unique to any recession in recent memory.
And the painful truth is we have a president who just doesn’t see it.
Who doesn’t feel it. Who doesn’t understand. He just doesn’t care.
He thinks if the stock market is up, then everything is great.
If his rich friends and donors are doing well, then everyone is doing well.
If corporations see their valuations rising — then they must be hiring.
But even the best economists know what I know growing up in neighborhoods in Scranton, Pennsylvania and Claymont, Delaware — places where folks aren’t invested in the market like wealthier Americans.
The measure of our economic success is the quality of life of the American people. And if our stocks soar as families teeter on the brink of hunger and homelessness — and our president calls that a success — what does that say about what he values?
When you see the world in such a narrow way, it’s no wonder he doesn’t see the nearly 30 million Americans on unemployment, and 1 in 6 small businesses that are closed right now.
He doesn’t understand what life is like for people walking by their boarded up shop — educators afraid that doing the job they love will bring the virus home to the people they love — or a parent searching for health insurance now that the furlough has turned into a layoff.
It’s no wonder he doesn’t see the single mom forced to wait in a three-hour food line for the first time in her life because she’s now part of a record 1 in 6 households with children that don’t have enough food to eat.
He wants us to believe that we’re doing better — to keep it up while we’re still in a deep, deep hole —and our country faces a historic divergence in our way of life.
Which gets to my third point and final point — and what the American people really need to understand — all the pain and suffering stems from President Trump’s failure to lead.
His sheer inability and unwillingness to bring people together.
He likes to sign executive actions for photo ops. But they are ill-conceived and could do more harm than good.
He says he is protecting renters from eviction, but he’s not giving them any support to pay their rent.
Millions of Americans will ultimately be left with a terrible choice between eviction and living on the street — or paying back rent they simply don’t have.
He says he is continuing to provide enhanced unemployment insurance payments — but he cut the amount for everyone on it and will leave them on the edge when it runs out in a few weeks or sooner.
What he should be doing is calling Congressional leaders together — immediately — to get a deal that delivers real relief to the American people.
If I were president, that’s what I would do — and I’d get it done.
Rental, food, unemployment assistance to tens of millions of struggling Americans.
Student loan relief, small business support, and aid to schools and state governments. And as long as this pandemic and the accompanying economic catastrophe persist, no one should have their water or their power cut off because they can’t afford to pay the bill.
Bottom line, Mr. President — do your job.
Get off your golf course and out of the sand bunker. Call the leaders of Congress together. Get them into the Oval Office. Make a deal that delivers for working people.
In July, I laid out my Build Back Better plan for an economy that works for everyone.
Over the next three weeks, I will be laying out the sharp contrast with President Trump.
I’ll be asking the American people three basic questions: Who can handle the pandemic? Who can keep their promises? Who cares about and will fight for working families?
Like the people here at West End. Throughout this pandemic, they found a way to keep the center open safely to provide their critical services.
No one was laid off. They adjusted their space for social distancing. They started a lending program to help local small businesses.
They continued their child care services, which is critical for so many working families. By pure courage, heart and gut, they never give up and they never give in as they pursue the full promise of America.
That’s the story of the people of this community and of this country. That’s who we are.
Give ordinary Americans just a half a chance and they will do extraordinary things.
They’ll never let America down — and unlike the current President — I won’t either.
Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic candidate for president, spoke out against violence that has erupted out of peaceful protests against racial injustice and police brutality, which Donald Trump has stoked, inflamed, ignited seeing violence as the deflection to rising angst over his failure to contain COVID-19, which is killing 1,000 people a day, or improve the economic hardship most Americans are experiencing because of the public health crisis.
“Ask yourself: Do I look to you like a radical socialist with a soft spot for rioters? Really?” Biden said.
“I want a safe America – safe from COVID, safe from crime and looting, safe from racially motivated violence, safe from bad cops.
“And let’s be crystal clear: Safe from four more years of Donald Trump.
“I look at this violence and I see lives and communities and the dreams of small businesses being destroyed and the opportunity for real progress on the issues of race and police reform and justice being put to the test.
“Donald Trump looks at this violence and sees a political lifeline.”
These are Biden’s remarks, highlighted, delivered in Pittsburgh on Monday, August 31:
In the early days of World War II, Franklin Roosevelt told the country, “The news is going to get worse and worse before it gets better and better, and the American people deserve to have it straight from the shoulder.”
Straight from the shoulder: The job of a President is to tell the truth. To be candid. To face facts. To lead, not to incite. That’s why I am speaking to you today. The incumbent President is incapable of telling us the truth. Incapable of facing facts. Incapable of healing.
He doesn’t want to shed light. He wants to generate heat. He’s stoking violence in our cities. That is the tragic fact of the matter about this perilous hour in our nation. And now – we must stand against violence – in every form it takes. The violence we’ve seen again and again and again of unwarranted police shootings and excessive force.
Seven bullets in the back of Jacob Blake. A knee on the neck of George Floyd. The killing of Breonna Taylor – in her own apartment.
The violence of extremists and opportunists – right-wing militias, white supremacists, vigilantes – who infiltrate protests carrying weapons of war, hoping to wreak havoc, and to derail any hope and support for progress.
The senseless violence of looting and burning and destruction of property.
I want to be clear about this: Rioting is not protesting. Looting is not protesting. Setting fires is not protesting.
None of this is protesting – it’s lawlessness – plain and simple.
And those who do it should be prosecuted. Violence will not bring change, only destruction. It’s wrong in every way. It divides instead of unites.
Destroying businesses only hurts hard working families that serve the community. It makes things worse, not better.
It is not what Dr. King or John Lewis taught. It must end.
The fires are burning – and we have a president who fans the flames rather than fighting them.
But we must not burn. We must build.
This president long ago forfeited any moral leadership in this country. He can’t stop the violence – because for years he has fomented it.
He may believe mouthing the words law and order makes him strong, but his failure to call on his own supporters to stop acting as an armed militia in this country shows you how weak he is.
Does anyone believe there will be less violence in America if Donald Trump is reelected?
We need justice in America. And we need safety in America.
We are facing multiple crises – crises that, under Donald Trump, keep multiplying.
Unwarranted police violence.
Emboldened white nationalists.
A reckoning on race.
Declining faith in a bright American future.
The common thread?
An incumbent president who makes things worse, not better.
An incumbent president who sows chaos rather than providing order.
An incumbent president who fails in the basic duty of the job: to advance the truths that all of us are born with a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
That’s right: all of us.
The moms and dads in Scranton where I grew up – who have worked and scrapped for everything they’ve ever gotten in life.
The auto worker in Michigan – who still makes the best car in the world.
The single mom in Ohio working three jobs just to stay afloat – who will do anything for her child.
The retired veteran in Florida who gave everything he had to this country – and now just wants us to honor the promises we made to him.
The Lord and Taylor salesperson who just lost their job – the store closing after 194 years in business.
The nurses and doctors in Wisconsin who have seen so much sickness and so much death the past six months they wonder how much more they can take, but still they muster up the courage to take care of their patients in this pandemic and risk their lives.
The researcher in Minnesota who woke up this morning determined to find a breakthrough in treating cancer – who will do the same thing tomorrow and the day after and the day after – because she will never give up.
I’m in this campaign for you, no matter your color, no matter your Zip Code. No matter your politics.
When I think about the presidency, I don’t think about myself.
This isn’t about my brand.
This is about you.
We can do better.
We must do better.
And I promise this: We will do better.
The road back begins now, in this campaign. You know me. You know my heart, and you know my story, my family’s story.
Ask yourself: Do I look to you like a radical socialist with a soft spot for rioters? Really?
I want a safe America – safe from COVID, safe from crime and looting, safe from racially motivated violence, safe from bad cops.
And let’s be crystal clear: Safe from four more years of Donald Trump.
I look at this violence and I see lives and communities and the dreams of small businesses being destroyed and the opportunity for real progress on the issues of race and police reform and justice being put to the test.
Donald Trump looks at this violence and sees a political lifeline.
Having failed to protect this nation from a virus that has killed more than 180,000 Americans, Trump posts all cap tweets screaming Law and Order to save his campaign.
One of his closest political advisors in the White House doesn’t even bother to speak in code. She just comes out and says it: “The more chaos…and violence…the better it is” for Trump’s reelection.
Think about that.
This is a sitting President of the United States. He’s supposed to be protecting this country. But instead he’s rooting for chaos and violence.
The simple truth is Donald Trump failed to protect America. So now, he’s trying to scare America.
Since Donald Trump and Mike Pence can’t run on their record that has seen more American deaths to a virus than this nation suffered in every war since Korea combined…
Since they can’t run on their economy that has seen more people lose their jobs than at any time since the Great Depression…
Since they can’t run on the simple proposition of sending our children safely back to school…
And since they have no agenda or vision for a second term Trump and Pence are running on this:
“You won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America”.
And what’s their proof? The violence you’re seeing in Donald Trump’s America.
These are not images from some imagined “Joe Biden’s America” in the future.
These are images from Donald Trump’s America today.
He keeps telling you if only he was president it wouldn’t happen.
He keeps telling us if he was president you would feel safe.
Well – he is president. And it is happening. And you don’t.
And it’s getting worse. And we know why. Because Donald Trump adds fuel to every fire.
Because he refuses to even acknowledge there is a racial justice problem in America.
Because he won’t stand up to any form of violence.
He’s got no problem with the right-wing militias and white supremacists and vigilantes with assault weapons – often better armed than the police, often in the middle of the violence – at these protests.
And because tens of millions of Americans simply don’t trust this president to respect their rights, to hear their concerns, or to protect them.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
When President Obama and I were in the White House, and had to defend federal property, you didn’t see us whipping up fears around the deployment of secret federal troops.
We just did our job. And the federal property was protected.
When President Obama and I were in office, we didn’t look at cities as Democratic- or Republican-run. These are American cities.
But Trump doesn’t see himself as a president for all of America.
Frankly, I believe if I were president today, the country would be safer and we would be seeing less violence. And here’s why.
I have said we must address the issue of racial injustice. I have personally spoken to George Floyd’s family and Jacob Blake’s family. I know their pain, I know the justice they seek. They have told us none of this violence respects or honors George or Jacob.
I believe I can bring those fighting for racial justice to the table. I have worked with the police in this country for over forty years. I know most cops are good and decent people. I know the risk they take every day with their lives. And I am confident I can bring the police to the table.
I would make sure every mayor and governor had the support they needed from the federal government – but I wouldn’t be looking to use the United States military against our own people.
If I were president, my language would be less divisive. I would be looking to lower the temperature in the country – not raise it. And I would be looking to unite the nation.
But, look, if Donald Trump wants to ask the question: Who will keep you safer as President? Let’s answer it.
First, some simple facts.
When I was Vice President, violent crime fell 15% in this country. We did it without chaos and disorder. And yes we did it with Democrats as mayors of most big cities in this country.
The murder rate is up 26% in cities across the nation this year under Donald Trump.
Do you feel really safer under Trump?
COVID has taken more lives this year than any outbreak in more than 100 years. More than 180,000 lives in just six months. An average of 1,000 people dying every day in the month of August.
Do you feel really safer under Trump?
Mr. Trump – you want to talk about fear? Do you know what people are afraid of in America?
They’re afraid they’re going to get COVID. They’re afraid they’re going to get sick and die. And that in no small part is because of you.
We are now on track for more than 200,000 deaths in this country due to COVID.
More than 100,000 seniors have lost their life to the virus. More cops have died from COVID this year than have been killed on patrol. Nearly one in six small businesses is closed in this country today.
Do you really feel safer under Trump?
What about Trump’s plan to destroy the Affordable Care Act – and with it the protections for pre-existing conditions. That impacts more than 100 million Americans.
Does that make you feel safer?
Or how about Trump’s plan to defund Social Security.
The Social Security Administration’s chief actuary just released a report saying if a plan like the one Trump is proposing goes into effect, the Social Security Trust Fund would be, quote, “permanently depleted by the middle of calendar year 2023, with no ability to pay benefits thereafter.” To put it plainly, Social Security would be wiped out.
Feel safer now?
And the fear that reigns under this president doesn’t stop at our shores.
The Kremlin has put bounties on the heads of American soldiers.
And instead of telling Vladimir Putin that there will be a heavy price to pay if they dare touch an American soldier – this president doesn’t even bring up the subject in a phone call.
Russian forces just attacked American troops in Syria, injuring our service members. The president didn’t say a word. He didn’t lift a finger.
Never before has an American president played such a subservient role to a Russian leader.
It’s not only dangerous – it’s an embarrassment.
Not even America’s troops can feel safer under Trump.
Donald Trump’s role as a bystander in his own presidency extends to the economic pain being felt by millions of Americans.
He said this weekend, “You better vote for me or you are going to have the greatest depression you’ve ever seen.”
Does he not see the tens of millions who had to file for unemployment this year? The folks who won’t be able to make next month’s rent? The folks who lost wages while the cost of food staples rose dramatically?
Barack Obama and I stopped a depression in 2009. We took a bad economy and turned it around.
Donald Trump took a good economy and drove it into the ditch. Through his failure to get COVID under control, his failure to pull together the leaders in Congress, his failure to deliver real relief for working people — has made our country’s economic situation so much worse than it had to be.
When we talk about safety, and security, we should also talk about the basic security of being able to look your kid in the eye and tell them everything is going to be okay. We won’t lose our home. We’ll be able to put food on the table.
I’ve laid out an agenda for economic recovery that will restore a sense of security for working families. And we won’t just build things back the way they were before. We’re going to build back better.
With good-paying jobs building our nation’s roads, bridges, solar arrays and windmills. With investments in our health care and child care workers so they get the pay and dignity they deserve, while easing the financial burdens for millions of families. With a clean energy strategy that has a place for the energy workers right here in western Pennsylvania. I’m not for banning fracking. Let’s say that again. I’m not for banning fracking – no matter how many times Donald Trump lies about me.
The future. That’s what this is all about.
We all hear Donald Trump’s self-centered rants and riffs, but the voice America should hear is Julia Jackson’s – the mother of Jacob Blake.
Hers is a voice of courage and character and wisdom.
In looking at the damage that had been done in her city she said, “the violence and destruction” didn’t “reflect my son or my family.”
These are the words of a mother whose son had just been shot seven times in front of his children. Badly injured. Paralyzed, perhaps permanently.
And even as she seeks justice for her son – she is pleading for an end to the violence – and for this nation to heal.
She said she was praying for her son. She said she was praying for all police officers. She said she had already been praying for America, even before her son was shot.
She asked us all to examine our hearts – citizens, elected officials, the police – all of us.
And then she said this, “We need healing.”
More than anything, that is what we need to do as a nation: We need to heal.
The current president wants you to live in fear. He advertises himself as a figure of order.
He isn’t. He is not part of the solution. He is part of the problem. The biggest part.
A problem that I, as President, will give my all to resolve.
I will deal with the virus. I will deal with the economic crisis. I will work to bring equity and opportunity to all.
We have arrived at the moment in this campaign that we all knew we would get to. The moment when Donald Trump would be so desperate, he would do anything to hold on to power.
Donald Trump has been a toxic presence in our nation for four years.
Poisoning how we talk to one another. Poisoning how we treat one another. Poisoning the values this nation has always held dear. Poisoning to our democracy.
Now – in just a little over 60 days – we have a decision to make:
Will we rid ourselves of this toxin? Or will we make it a permanent part of our national character?
As Americans we believe in Honesty and Decency. Treating everyone with dignity and respect. Giving everyone a fair shot. Leaving no one behind. Giving hate no safe harbor. Demonizing no one. Being part of something bigger than ourselves.
Donald Trump doesn’t believe in any of that.
America is an idea.
It is the most powerful idea in the history of the world – and it beats in the hearts of the people of this country:
All men and women are created equal – and they deserve to be treated equally.
Trump has sought to remake this nation in his image – selfish, angry, dark, divisive.
That is not who we are.
At her best, America has always been – and if I have anything to do with it – always will be a generous, confident, optimistic nation.
Donald Trump is determined to instill fear in America – that is what his entire campaign for presidency has come down to.
But I believe Americans are stronger than that.
I believe we will be guided by the words of Pope John Paul II. Words drawn from Scripture: “Be not afraid”.
Fear never builds the future. Hope does. And building the future is what America does.
In fact, it’s what we do best.
This is the United States of America. And there is nothing we haven’t been able to do, when we’ve done it together.
Thank you. May God bless you. And may God protect our troops.