Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic candidate for president, presented a 9-point plan for a Clean Energy Revolution, in stark contrast to Trump’s efforts to roll back climate actions and reignite oil, gas, coal industries over clean, renewable energy. This is from the Biden campaign:
President Trump has spent his presidency ignoring the experts and scientists, reversing the Obama-Biden Administration’s efforts to address climate change, abandoning communities and workers, and blocking states and cities trying to lead— going backwards, all while we should have been doing even more.
On the first day of Biden’s Administration, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, there will only be 9 years left to stop the worst consequences of climate change. Biden will act on climate immediately and ambitiously, because there’s no time to waste.
1) Take executive action on Day 1 to not just reverse all of the damage Trump has done, but go further and faster. Day 1 of the Biden Administration is going to be very busy! To immediately make progress on his climate agenda, Biden will take actions including requiring aggressive methane pollution limits for new and existing oil and gas operations; developing rigorous new fuel economy standards aimed at ensuring 100% of new sales for light- and medium-duty vehicles will be zero emissions and annual improvements for heavy duty vehicles; protecting America’s natural treasures by permanently protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and other areas impacted by President Trump’s attack on federal lands and waters; and banning new oil and gas leasing on public lands and waters.
2) Work with Congress to enact in 2021, President Biden’s first year in office, legislation that, by the end of his first term, puts us on an irreversible path to achieve economy-wide net-zero emissions no later than 2050. The legislation must require polluters to bear the full cost of the carbon pollution they are emitting.
3) Rally the world to urgent and additional action. We know we cannot solve this emergency on our own: the United States accounts for only 15% of global emissions. On Day 1, Biden will rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement. But we must go further. In his first 100 days in office, Biden will convene a climate world summit to directly engage the leaders of the major greenhouse gas-emitting nations of the world to persuade them to join the United States in making more ambitious national pledges, above and beyond the commitments they have already made. Biden will not allow other nations, including China, to game the system by becoming destination economies for polluters, undermining our climate efforts and exploiting American workers and businesses.
4) Make a historic investment in clean energy and innovation. Biden will invest $400 billion over ten years, as one part of a broad mobilization of public investment, in clean energy and innovation. That investment is twice the investment of the Apollo program which put a man on the moon, in today’s dollars. He will also establish ARPA-C, a new research agency focused on accelerating climate technologies.
5) Accelerate the deployment of clean technology throughout our economy. Creating the best, most innovative clean technology in the world is not enough. We also need to make sure it is used by households and industry in order to achieve aggressive emissions reductions. Biden will set a target of reducing the carbon footprint of the U.S. building stock 50% by 2035, creating incentives for deep retrofits that combine appliance electrification, efficiency, and on-site clean power generation. He will work with our nation’s governors and mayors to support the deployment of more than 500,000 new public charging outlets by the end of 2030. And, Biden will ensure our agricultural sector is the first in the world to achieve net-zero emissions, and that our farmers earn income as we meet this milestone.
6) Make environmental justice a priority across all federal agencies. Everyone is already feeling the effects of climate change. But the impacts of climate change (and inaction on climate change) – on health, economics, and overall quality of life – are far more acute on communities of color, tribal lands, and low-income communities. The coronavirus pandemic, which early data suggests is linked to air pollution that disproportionately affects communities of color and low-income communities, is shining new light on this reality. Biden will make it a priority for all federal agencies — and hold them accountable for results — to engage in community-driven approaches to develop solutions for environmental injustices affecting communities of color, low-income communities, and indigenous communities.
7) Hold polluters accountable. On Day 1, Biden will require public companies to disclose climate-related financial risks and the greenhouse gas emissions in their operations and supply chains. In his first year, he’ll work to enact legislation requiring polluters to bear the full cost of their climate pollution. But that’s not all: Biden will direct his EPA and Justice Department to pursue these cases to the fullest extent permitted by law and, when needed, seek additional legislation to hold corporate executives personally accountable – including jail time when merited. Allowing corporations to continue to pollute – affecting the health and safety of both their workers and surrounding communities – without consequences perpetuates an egregious abuse of power. These companies must be accountable to the American people, the communities where they operate, and the workers they employ.
8) Create 10 million good-paying, middle-class, union jobs. Every federal dollar spent on rebuilding our infrastructure during the Biden Administration will be used to prevent, reduce, and withstand the impacts of this climate crisis. American workers should build American infrastructure and manufacture all the materials that go into it, and all of these workers must have the option to join a union and collectively bargain. Biden will ensure his infrastructure legislation incorporates labor provisions so federal investments create millions of middle-class jobs, benefiting workers across industries.
9) Fulfill our obligation to the communities and workers that have risked their lives to produce fossil fuels that made it possible for America to win world wars and become an industrial power. Biden will stand with communities and workers impacted by the changing energy market, including by increasing coal companies’ payments into the black lung benefits program, reforming the black lung benefits system so it is no longer rigged in favor of coal companies who can hire lawyers and doctors to ensure miners’ benefits are denied, expanding efforts to help miners detect black lung cases earlier and access care, and enforcing regulations to reduce cases of black lung in the first place. Biden will also establish a task force to help these communities access federal investments and leverage private sector investments to help create high-paying union jobs based upon the unique assets of each community, partner with unions and community colleges to create training opportunities for these new jobs, repair infrastructure, keep public employees like firefighters and teachers on the payroll, and keep local hospitals open.
The vigorous contest of Democrats seeking the 2020 presidential nomination has produced excellent policy proposals to address major issues. Vice President Joe Biden has released his plan for ending the opioid crisis and ensuring access to effective treatment and recovery for substance use disorders. This is from the Biden Campaign:
Millions of families are impacted by the opioid crisis. It’s ravaging communities coast to coast, from New Hampshire to California. The challenge of substance use disorders is not limited to opioids. Millions of individuals are affected by misuse of other substances such as alcohol or methamphetamine. Latest estimates indicate that, in 2018, almost 68,000 Americans died from a drug overdose – almost 47,000 of which involved an opioid. And, the impacts of this crisis reverberate in our classrooms and neighborhoods, in small towns and big cities.
But President Trump wants to repeal Obamacare, including its Medicaid expansion. Repeal would be disastrous for communities and families combating the opioid crisis. It is not realistic to think that grant money will fill the hole that eliminating Obamacare and its Medicaid expansion would create.
Step one of Biden’s plan to tackle the opioid epidemic and substance use disorders is to defeat Trump and then protect and build on Obamacare. And, Biden will pursue a comprehensive, public health approach to deal with opioid and other substance use disorders. His plan will:
accountable big pharmaceutical companies, executives, and others responsible
for their role in triggering the opioid crisis.
effective prevention, treatment, and recovery services available to all,
including through a $125 billion federal investment.
overprescribing while improving access to effective and needed pain management.
the criminal justice system so that no one is incarcerated for drug use alone.
the flow of illicit drugs, like fentanyl and heroin, into the United States – especially from China and
HOLD ACCOUNTABLE BIG PHARMA COMPANIES, EXECUTIVES, AND OTHERS
RESPONSIBLE FOR THEIR ROLE IN TRIGGERING THE OPIOID CRISIS
Biden will demand accountability from pharmaceutical companies and others
responsible for the opioid crisis, including manufacturers, distributors, and
“pill mill operators.” Pharmaceutical executives should be held personally
responsible, including criminally liable where appropriate. Specifically, Biden
Direct the U.S. Justice Department to make actions that spurred
this crisis a top investigative and, where appropriate, civil and criminal
enforcement priority. Biden
will make sure the Department has all the necessary resources to complete this
work. Building on the efforts of the Obama-Biden Administration, Biden will also ensure the
Food and Drug Administration takes action when new information reveals harms
from previously approved drugs (including the risk of diversion, or the use of
drugs by an individual other than the one to whom the drug was prescribed),
ensures compliance with risk mitigation strategies, and punishes drug companies
for deceptive practices. And, he will appoint an Opioid Crisis Accountability
Coordinator to coordinate efforts across federal agencies and support the
enforcement efforts of state and local partners.
Direct the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to step up
its efforts to identify suspicious shipments and protect communities. Opioids distributors
knowingly shipped millions of pills to towns with hundreds
of residents, helping trigger the opioid epidemic. Biden will empower the DEA
to stop drug shipments from pharmaceutical companies and their distributors
that create risks of diversion and misuse. Biden will work with Congress to
allow the DEA to act expeditiously when a pharmaceutical distributor fails to
adequately monitor shipments that could pose an “imminent danger” to vulnerable
communities and increase penalties for companies that fail to take action to
stop suspicious shipments. In addition, Biden will direct the DEA to improve
data collection on wholesalers and pharmacies, including prescribing patterns
and suspicious order reports, and to disseminate its analysis to distributors
to prevent problems before they become disasters.
Ban drug manufacturers from providing payments or incentives
to physicians and other prescribers. Pharmaceutical companies work hard to persuade doctors and
other medical personnel to prescribe their products. These companies essentially pay providers to prescribe
opioids and other drugs by, for example, paying providers to speak at or attend
conferences, or consult for their companies. By banning these practices, Biden
will ensure that patients’ lives do not take a backseat to doctors’ bottom lines.
MAKE EFFECTIVE PREVENTION, TREATMENT, AND RECOVERY SERVICES AVAILABLE TO
ALL WHO NEED THEM
Biden has long recognized and led on
efforts to make clear that substance use disorders are diseases, not a
lifestyle choice, and that we need to change how we talk about and treat
substance use disorders to align with this fact.
He knows that the most important step we can take to address substance use
disorders is to ensure that Americans have access to affordable, high-quality
health care, including treatment for mental illnesses and substance use
disorder. That’s why Biden has a plan to
build on the Affordable Care Act and achieve universal coverage. In addition,
Biden will redouble efforts to ensure insurance companies stop discriminating
against people with behavioral health conditions and instead provide the
coverage for treatment of mental illness and substance use disorders that
patients and families need. Congress passed a bipartisan parity law 12 years ago requiring
that this discrimination stop, but the enforcement of parity has been
insufficient. As Vice President, Biden championed efforts
to implement the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici
Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act. As President, he will finish the
job by appointing officials who will hold insurers accountable, enforcing our
parity laws to the fullest extent. He will also direct federal agencies to
issue guidance making clear how state officials and the public can file a
complaint when their insurers – or Medicaid – are not
living up to their parity obligations.
In addition, Biden will work to make sure that people experiencing substance
use disorders have access to quality facilities and providers. As President, he
will ensure that the new public option, Medicare, Medicaid, the Indian Health
Service, the Military Health System, and the Veterans Health Administration
accelerate integration of substance use disorder care into standard health care
practice. Biden will double funding for community health centers and expand the
supply of health care providers, for example by growing the National Health Service Corps. And, he
will protect rural hospitals from
payment cuts, give them the flexibility they need to remain open, and invest in
telehealth so people in remote areas can still have access to mental health and
substance use disorder specialists.
Finally, Biden will make sure federal funds are specifically targeted at
improving access to treatment and recovery for opioid and other substance use
disorders, and at preventing these disorders in the first place. As Vice
President, Biden championed passage of the 21st Century Cures Act, which
included $1 billion in funding for states to address the opioid epidemic. That
was a down payment. To deal with the immense scope of the opioid and substance
use disorder crisis, Biden will dramatically scale up the resources available,
with an unprecedented investment of $125 billion over ten years. Funds will be
Pursue comprehensive strategies to expand access to
treatment, particularly in rural and urban communities with high rates of
substance use disorders and a lack of access to substance use disorder
treatment services. Biden will invest $75 billion in flexible grants to states and localities
for prevention, treatment, and recovery efforts. State and local agencies will
also be able to use funds to enhance data systems allowing them to better
target resources to individuals and communities most in need of support. As a
condition for receiving funding, grant recipients will have to provide
long-term, comprehensive strategic plans that address the multifaceted nature
of the substance use disorder crisis. Funds may be used to:
Invest in evidence-based, cost-effective prevention programs
in schools and communities to reduce the development of substance use
Mitigate harms from opioid and other drug use, including
communities will be able to use the funds to implement evidence-based programs
designed to stop the spread of diseases like hepatitis C and HIV, including
syringe service programs, or to scale up innovative programs like the safe station initiative started in Manchester,
New Hampshire, which allows those seeking help to go to fire stations in order
to be connected to treatment and recovery services.
Expand access to ongoing treatment and recovery services. Communities will be
able to use funds to increase access to substance use disorder and mental
health treatment and other services to support long-term recovery, including
peer support networks and recovery coaches, and better integrate primary care
and behavioral health. Recognizing the strong evidence that social supports,
including family support, may have a positive impact on the treatment of HIV, Biden will support the
development of family-centered models for substance use disorder treatment and
Make Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) available to all
who need it, reaching universal access no later than 2025. MAT (also referred to as
MOUD or Medications for Opioid Use Disorder) is regarded as the gold standard of care for
individuals with opioid use disorder. Yet, less than 50% of substance use disorder
the country offer even one of the FDA-approved medications. The 21st Century
Cures Act, legislation Biden championed as Vice President, provided resources to states designed to expand
access to MAT. Biden will build on this in order to ensure universal
access to MAT for all who need it, including by:
Providing $20 billion for grants to dramatically expand
capacity to administer MAT across the country, especially in underserved
establishing new facilities and developing training programs to increase the
number of professionals able to administer MAT.
Stopping insurance companies from erecting barriers to
coverage of MAT. For
example, insurers have imposed “fail first” protocols which require
prescribers to certify that other therapies were tried before covering MAT.
Insurers also may require that physicians obtain “prior authorization” for MAT
before prescribing it.
Removing undue restrictions on prescribing medications for
substance use disorder. For example, drugs containing buprenorphine were approved by the FDA in
2002 but a relatively small number of doctors or medical
personnel are certified to prescribe them. Biden will ensure that any undue restrictions on prescribing are
lifted and review methadone treatment regulations.
Help first responders and community health providers respond
to overdoses. Biden
will invest $10 billion to provide local communities with the tools needed to
prevent overdoses and respond to emergencies emanating from this crisis.
Ensure local communities have a sufficient supply of
overdose prevention drugs. Naloxone (also known as Narcan)
is a medication that can reverse an opioid overdose, making it a critical tool
in the fight to save lives. Biden will expand grants to states for the purchase
of Naloxone to be distributed to local community actors called upon to respond
to overdoses, including first responders, public health providers, and the
staff at homeless shelters and public libraries.
Demand that drug companies charge a fair price for overdose
drugs, including Naloxone. The Biden Administration will aggressively negotiate a reduction in the
drug’s price, on behalf of the federal government, and state and local
Support first responders. Police officers and firefighters are often the first
on the scene of an overdose. Biden will ensure they are equipped not just with
naloxone, but also with the mental health and resilience support anyone would
need after being exposed again and again to such trauma.
Invest in community-based prevention programs and a major
public education effort to eliminate the stigma surrounding substance use
disorder treatment. Biden
will invest $5 billion in community-based prevention efforts and public
education initiatives including training educators to recognize the signs of
mental health problems and substance use disorders and refer them to
appropriate services. Funds will also support evidence-based education programs
for young people on mental health and substance use disorders.
Expand the pipeline of medical personnel to treat substance
use disorders. Building
on legislation like the Opioid Workforce Act of 2019, Biden will work with
Congress to invest $5 billion to expand medical residencies and access to
education and training for medical personnel in substance use disorder
diagnosis and treatment. Funding will support training for primary care
providers, as well as other members of the health care team, to build an
integrated system of care.
Invest in research by doubling funding for the NIH HEAL (Helping to
End Addiction Long-Term) Initiative. This $10 billion investment will support efforts to improve
treatments for chronic pain.
Provide targeted interventions for particular
will invest $10 billion in efforts specifically designed to support populations
with unique situations or needs. Biden will ensure a portion of this funding
for state and local governments is set aside for Tribal governments. In addition
to expanding veterans’ access to
substance use disorder and mental health treatment, Biden will direct his
Secretary of Veterans Affairs to ensure VA medical personnel are sufficiently
trained in safe prescribing practices and pain treatment. Bidenwill call upon the public health and
criminal justice systems to provide evidence-based substance use disorder
treatment, including MAT, for people during their incarceration and after their
release. Finally, Biden will expand investments to help children suffering from
Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome or Neonatal Opioid Withdrawal Syndrome, and to
ensure their mothers have access to effective treatment and care.
STOP OVERPRESCRIBING WHILE IMPROVING ACCESS TO EFFECTIVE AND NEEDED
An essential part of our national strategy to address the opioid epidemic must
be stopping pharmaceutical companies’ practices that lead to overprescribing.
Yet at the same time, physicians still must effectively treat pain. Chronic
pain is a growing public health challenge with wide-ranging impacts: keeping
individuals out of the workforce, negatively affecting their mental and physical
health, contributing to suicidal ideation, and otherwise limiting their quality
of life. Biden believes we need to pursue two joint goals: eliminate
overprescribing of prescription opioids for pain, and improve the effectiveness
of and access to alternative treatment for pain. Biden will:
Support development of less addictive pain medications and
alternative pain treatments, and improve standards of quality for treatment. We need pain medications
that are less addictive and more effective. Biden will invest in NIH research
to develop these new medications. By doubling funding for NIH’s HEAL program,
Biden will accelerate research regarding alternative treatments and therapies
and help providers and patients better understand the options and access alternatives.
And, he will direct the FDA to give priority to new pain medications with a
documented reduced risk of addiction.
Expand coverage for alternative pain treatments. As documented in a recent study related to back pain,
some non-pharmacological pain interventions (e.g., psychological counseling,
acupuncture, physical therapy, or occupational therapy) are not consistently
covered or have administrative barriers to coverage (e.g., pre-authorization,
visit limits). In accordance with evidence-based medicine, Biden will call for
a requirement that Medicare, Medicaid, his proposed new public option, and
private insurance companies consistently and transparently cover alternatives
to opioids for chronic pain, without barriers such as prior authorization or
high levels of cost-sharing.
Provide training to medical personnel in pain management and
substance use disorder treatment. Building on the Obama-Biden Administration’s prior
Biden will direct the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to work with
the medical community to support research and the development of curricula and
training regarding pain management. He will ensure that the systematic study of
pain management and substance use disorder is a mandatory part of the curricula
and material on which doctors and other medical personnel are tested. Those
seeking a federal DEA license to prescribe controlled substances will be required to receive training on
proper prescribing guidelines and pain management.
Expand the effectiveness of monitoring programs designed to
prevent inappropriate overprescribing of opioids. Prescription Drug Monitoring
Programs (PDMPs) are electronic databases designed to prevent drug abuse. For
example, a provider can check the database before prescribing in order to
determine whether his or her patient has been getting the same prescription
from multiple providers. In order to receive any of the $125 billion in new
grants under the Biden Administration, states will have to institute a
requirement that every prescriber checks the database every time they write a
new opioid prescription. Biden will also set aside some of these grant dollars
to ensure states improve Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs data-sharing
across state lines.
Ensure regular updating of the Centers for Disease the
Control and Prevention (CDC) prescriber guideline based on the best available
evidence. The CDC
has issued a guideline to help prescribers
make evidence-based decisions regarding when and how to prescribe opioids in
order to minimize the risk of abuse while also effectively treating pain. Biden
will ask the CDC to commit to regularly updating these guidelines as new
evidence emerges regarding opioid abuse risk factors and alternative pain
treatments. And, he will partner with health care providers and states to
maximize providers’ awareness and use of the guideline.
REFORM THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM SO THAT NO ONE IS INCARCERATED FOR
DRUG USE ALONE
Biden has released a criminal justice plan
that will strengthen America’s commitment to justice and reform our criminal
justice system by building a system focused on redemption and rehabilitation.
Biden believes that no one should be incarcerated for drug use alone, and as
President he will treat drug use as a disease rather than a crime.
Specifically, Biden will:
End all incarceration for drug use alone and instead divert
individuals to drug courts and treatment. Biden will require federal courts to divert these
individuals to drug courts so they receive appropriate treatment and services.
He’ll incentivize states to put the same requirements in place. And, he’ll
expand funding for federal, state, and local drug courts and other programs
that divert individuals who commit crimes as a result of or in furtherance of
substance use disorders to treatment rather than incarceration.
Get people who should be supported with social services –
instead of in our prisons – connected to the help they need. Too often, those in need of
mental health care or treatment for a substance use disorder do not get the
care that they need. Instead, they end up having interactions with law
enforcement that lead to incarceration. To change the nature of these
interactions, the Biden Administration will fund initiatives to partner mental
health and substance use disorder experts, social workers, and disability
advocates with police departments. These service providers will respond to
calls with police officers so individuals who should not be in the criminal
justice system are diverted to treatment for substance use disorder or mental
illness, when appropriate, or are provided with the housing or other social
services they may need.
STEM THE FLOW OF ILLICIT DRUGS LIKE FENTANYL, ESPECIALLY FROM CHINA AND
As part of a comprehensive agenda that prioritizes prevention, treatment,
recovery, and harm reduction, Biden believes that part of the solution to the
opioid crisis involves preventing bad actors from smuggling opioids and other
illicit drugs into our country. Specifically, Biden will:
Make fentanyl a top priority in our dealings with
Treasury Department has already sanctioned a small number of Chinese nationals in connection with
fentanyl – it’s a good start, but going after individuals will not alter Beijing’s
thinking long-term. Biden will pressure Beijing to crack down on illicit
fentanyl production in China and stem the flow of the drug into the United
States. Biden will also develop regional strategies in the Asia-Pacific and the
Americas to deal with shifts in the routes and sources of fentanyl in response
to a Chinese crackdown.
Enhance cooperation with Mexican authorities to disrupt the
movement of heroin and fentanyl across the U.S.-Mexico border. Chinese fentanyl is
frequently transshipped through Mexico, and then smuggled across the
border in pure form or combined with
China takes steps to police fentanyl and its precursors, production and
distribution will increasingly shift to Mexico. Biden will pursue strong,
sustained cooperation with Mexican authorities to disrupt suppliers and supply
routes, including the importation of precursor chemicals from China. The Biden
Administration will also provide technical assistance to enhance the Mexican
Post Service’s (SEPOMEX) ability to detect and electronically track shipments
of fentanyl and precursors that come through Mexico. As President, Biden will
repair the damage to U.S.-Mexico ties inflicted by Donald Trump and develop a
common agenda with Mexico that looks beyond our shared border to promote our
shared prosperity and protect U.S. national security interests.
Enforce sanctions on international actors engaged in the
trafficking of illicit drugs like heroin and fentanyl. Biden’s Treasury Department sanctions team will
map the financial institutions and networks that facilitate the distribution of
fentanyl and key precursors and develop sanctions packages based on that
evidence and task the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to
support these efforts with a focus on illicit finance.
Increase cooperation among global law enforcement
will direct U.S. law enforcement agencies to work closely with foreign
counterparts, share threat information, and use technology to assist in
tracking and seizing illicit shipments.
Ensure federal agencies have the tools and resources they
need to stop the flow of fentanyl from abroad. Fentanyl producers have exploited gaps in monitoring through
the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) to flood the U.S. with the deadly product. Biden
will give the USPS the tools and resources it needs to carry out that mandate
and disrupt the large supplies of fentanyl that are sent through the mail
system, working with U.S. Customs and Border Protection. In addition, the vast majority of opioids and
fentanyl are shipped through legal ports of entry—not in between them. Rather
than waste resources building a wall or tearing families apart, Biden will
direct resources to the ports of entry to interdict opioid shipments there.
Combating the Opioid Epidemic and Substance Use
Disorders, Paid for By Making Sure Pharma Pays Its Fair Share
Biden’s $125 billion investment in a comprehensive response to the opioid
epidemic and substance use disorders is paid for by raising taxes on the profits
of pharmaceutical corporations.
While most Americans give little consideration to foreign policy credentials of their candidates for president, over the “kitchen table” issues such as health care, education, taxes, foreign policy should loom largely over the 2020 election as Americans are waking up to the fact that while a president is for the most part constrained by the legislative branch (Congress) on what can be accomplished domestically (recall how Republicans obstructed Obama on health care, immigration reform, gun safety, climate action and infrastructure and why Medicare for All, a wealth tax may still be a pipe dream), a president is virtually unrestrained in making foreign policy at a time when the world is smaller and more globally interdependent, such as addressing climate change.
And while the Constitution theoretically gives Congress the power to declare war, presidents have found loopholes in addressing “imminent threats.” Trump has gone so much further in pulling out of treaties (the Iran nuclear deal), trade agreements and mutual assistance pacts like the Paris Climate Accord, while taking actions to weaken NATO alliance. The way he has dealt with North Korea has only made the world less safe and the list goes on: Iraq, Syria and ISIS, Turkey and the Kurds, Yemen, Venezuela, Australia.
Of the Democratic candidates for president, Vice President Joe Biden is hoping that voters will appreciate his vast experience (which Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg try to diminish because of his vote, along with just about every other Senator, to give George Bush power to address what they were told (lied) was an imminent threat of Saddam Hussein’s use of Weapons of Mass Destruction).
Now there are a few Democrats, like Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who are introducing legislation to rescind the 2002 AUMF and require the President to get Congress’ authorization for use of military force, make it specific and require reauthorization after a period of time. But that is already in the Constitution and they are faced with a president who has demonstrated over and over he does not respect the bounds or oversight on him by the Constitution, with Congress apparently unwilling to do anything about it.
Vice President returned to New York to speak again on foreign policy and the unfolding situation in Iran, drawing a contrast to how Trump has mishandled the situation. These are his prepared remarks:
Six months ago, here in New York City, I made the case that Donald Trump was “dangerously incompetent and incapable … of world leadership.”
In the past few days, in the wake of the killing of Iranian General Soleimani, Donald Trump has proven it beyond dispute.
The haphazard decision-making process that led up to it, the failure to consult our allies or Congress, and the reckless disregard for the consequences that would surely follow — was dangerously incompetent.
In the wake of such an enormous escalation that has exploded geo-politics in the region and put the United States and Iran on a collision course, what would we expect of an American President – and what have we heard from President Trump?
We have not heard a sober-minded explanation to reassure the American people about his decision and its consequences.
Not level-headed words meant to dial down tensions and take us off the path of conflict.
No press conference or consultation with Congress.
No — all we have heard from this president is tweets. Threats. Tantrums.
And all we have heard from his administration are shifting explanations, evasive answers, and repeated assertions of an imminent threat, without the necessary evidence to support that conclusion.
And since this is a president with a history of lying about everything — who has destroyed his own credibility, and that of the United States on the global stage — neither the American people, nor our allies, are inclined to take his word for it.
If there was an imminent threat that required extraordinary action, then we are owed that explanation — and the facts to back it up.
These are matters of deadly import, so let me be unmistakably clear: Donald Trump does not have the authority to go to war with Iran without Congressional authorization.
Working with Congress is not an optional part of the job. Presidential notification to Congress about the need to exercise war powers cannot be satisfied in 280 characters or less.
And no president should ever take the United States to war without securing the informed consent of the American people.
So — because he refuses to level with the American people about the danger in which he has placed American troops and our diplomatic personnel and civilians, as well as our partners and allies, or to demonstrate even a modicum of presidential gravitas — I will.
That starts with an honest accounting of how we got here.
Make no mistake: this outcome of strategic setbacks, heightened threats, chants of “death to America” once more echoing across the Middle East, Iran and its allies vowing revenge. This was avoidable.
The seeds of these dangers were planted by Donald Trump himself on May 8, 2018 — the day he tore up the Iran nuclear deal, against the advice of his own top national security advisors. The day he turned his back on our closest European allies, and decided it was more important to him to destroy any progress made by the Obama-Biden Administration than build on it to create a better, safer world.
When we had the Iran Deal, we had verifiably cut off every one of Iran’s pathways to a nuclear weapon. International inspectors repeatedly confirmed Iran’s compliance, as did our intelligence agencies. One of the greatest threats to stability in the region and global security was off the table.
And when the Iran Deal was in force, we did not have this dangerous cycle of tit-for-tat provocation and response.
There was a united front of allies and partners to address Iran’s other destabilizing actions throughout the region.
The Iran Deal was not only accomplishing the critical mission it was designed for, it created an environment where diplomacy was possible.
But Trump walked away — not Iran.
Trump made the United States the international outlier.
Trump re-imposed significant sanctions designed to exert “maximum pressure” on the regime, with claims that it would deter Iranian aggression and return Iran to the negotiating table to secure a much-promised “better deal.” And on both fronts, as many anticipated at the time, Trump’s promises were empty, baseless, and naïve.
And since then, all that has materialized is an utterly predictable cycle of escalating conflict with Iran.
Of course Iran would seek to demonstrate that the pressure we were exerting was not cost free – that it could take actions to make life more difficult for us, as well.
So Iran began again to enrich uranium beyond the limits allowed under the Iran deal. Iran attacked oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz. Iran shot down an unmanned U.S. surveillance drone.
Yet the administration had no plan to prevent, mitigate, or appropriately respond to these provocations. Instead, Trump acted erratically and impulsively. He ordered a retaliatory strike, then called it off at the last minute — feeding Iran’s sense of impunity.
Then, the administration imposed more sanctions, shot down an Iranian drone, issued a warrant to seize an Iranian oil tanker.
Before long, Iran attacked Saudi oil facilities and Iranian-backed militia in Iraq restarted rocket attacks against our bases. Until one of those attacks, against our base in Kirkuk, killed a U.S. citizen and wounded others. It was a tragic loss of life, and an act condemned by all Americans.
In response, Trump bombed five sites in Iraq and Syria tied to the militia group, killing at least 25.
Iraqi protestors, organized by Iranian-backed militia, assaulted our Embassy in Baghdad and breached the outer wall. No injuries were reported, but Trump was embarrassed by the images of a burnt-out reception area.
He ordered a drone strike to kill Soleimani — perhaps the second most important official in Iran — near the Baghdad airport. And rushed thousands more troops to the region to deal with the fallout.
Action and reaction. Provocation and response. All predictable — and, indeed, all predicted.
A president who says he wants to end endless war in the Middle East is bringing us dangerously close to starting a new one.
A president who says he wants out of the region sends more than 18,000 additional troops to deal with a crisis of his own making.
And an administration that claims its actions have made Americans safer in the same breath urges our citizens to leave Iraq and puts Americans throughout the region on notice because of the increased danger.
I have no illusions about Iran. The regime has long sponsored terrorism and threatened our interests. It continues to detain American citizens. They’ve ruthlessly killed hundreds of protesters, and they should be held accountable for their actions.
But there is a smart way to counter them — and a self-defeating way. Trump’s approach is demonstrably the latter.
Soleimani was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American troops and thousands of innocent lives throughout the region. He was the mastermind, but he was not the whole of the regime or its capacity to strike back.
So the question is: was the reward of removing a bad actor worth the risk of what comes next?
We don’t have any evidence to suggest that Trump or anyone around him thought seriously about that calculus. It’s been reported that the Pentagon — which has long warned against taking a shot like this — was shocked that Trump would take such a risk.
This is not just a question of whether Iran will retaliate — it almost certainly will — but what it will mean for our troops and our personnel throughout the region. What it will mean for our allies and partners who also have troops in harm’s way that are impacted by this decision. What it will mean for our long-term mission to counter Iran and prevent ISIS from bouncing back, and our ability to pursue our broader strategic aims in the region.
Already, we are seeing the fall out.
Iran has declared it will no longer abide by any of the constraints set up under the nuclear deal — putting it back on track to obtaining material for a nuclear weapon, and pushing the region closer to a nuclear crisis.
Our forces in Iraq and Syria are now focused on protecting themselves and preparing to leave — putting the counter-ISIS mission on hold, and allowing a deadly terrorist organization the room to regroup and reactivate.
The Iraqi parliament has voted to eject all American and coalition forces from the country. And however you may feel about an American military presence in the Middle East, there is a right way and a wrong way to draw down our troop presence. Getting unceremoniously kicked out is unequivocally the wrong way. And if we do end up having to leave, that would be another boon to Iran — tipping the balance of power in the region.
Where, just weeks ago, there were spontaneous protests across Iran against the regime, the killing of Soleimani has taken that pressure off the regime.
Trump’s impulsive decision may well do more to strengthen Iran’s position in the region, than any of Soleimani’s plots could have ever accomplished.
Whether or not we see more loss of life, more threats against American interests and assets — this is already a debacle.
And at what is possibly the most dangerous time in recent American history — at precisely the moment when we should be rallying our allies to stand beside us and hold the line against threats — Donald Trump’s short-sighted “America First” dogmatism has come home to roost.
Our closest allies are calling for restraint and de-escalation — on both sides. Making a moral equivalence between us and Iran.
Russia and China are quietly reveling in the prospect that the United States may once more be bogged down in another major conflict in the Middle East. They would love nothing more than to be able to pursue their own interests, and carve out their own spheres of influence, without the United States challenging them on human rights, on abusive trade practices, or on meddling in other nations’ democracies — because we are too busy fighting Iran.
We are alone. And we alone will have to bear the costs of Donald Trump’s folly.
This is also the moment when we most feel the lack of a functioning national security process or any investment in diplomacy.
After three years of hollowing out the State Department; disrespecting and dismissing our intelligence community; destroying the relationship between the White House and Capitol Hill; throwing out the deliberate policy making process that has served Republican and Democratic administrations for decades; corroding the value of the word of the United States; abusing our allies; embracing dictators; creating, not solving, foreign policy crises on the international stage — we are in a much worse position to meet the demands of this crisis than we were when President Obama and I left office.
President Trump has no strategy here. No endgame. And here’s the hardest truth of all: His constant mistakes and poor decision making have left us with a severely limited slate of options for how to move forward — and most of the options are bad.
But there are some key steps that any responsible commander in chief would take. And, while I don’t expect Donald Trump will listen to me, I hope he listens to those around him who understand the gravity of the threats we now face.
He should take all necessary steps to protect our forces and ensure the security of our diplomats, civilians, and overseas facilities — not just in the Middle East, but anywhere that Iran might strike back.
He should ensure that federal authorities are working with states, local governments, and private institutions to guard against the heightened risk of cyber attacks.
He should stop tweeting so he doesn’t box us in with his threats, such that the only options left to us or Iran are increasingly damaging strikes and counterstrikes.
And he should immediately reach out to our European partners and others to send private signals of deterrence and de-escalation to Iran and find a way to avoid the onrush of war.
The best way to do that, of course, would be for President Trump, to rejoin the Iran Deal and build on it — if Iran also moves back into compliance with its obligations — and re-establish international consensus about how to confront the threats from Iran.
The only way out of this crisis is through diplomacy — clear-eyed, hard-nosed diplomacy grounded in strategy, that’s not about one-off decisions or one-upsmanship. Diplomacy that is designed to de-escalate the crisis, protect our people, and secure our regional interests — including our counter-ISIS campaign.
No one wants war. But it’s going to take hard work to make sure we don’t end up there by accident.
Finally, and this one’s not optional, Mr. President, you have to explain your decisions and your strategy to the American people.
That is your job as President — Not Dear Leader, not Supreme Leader.
Democracy runs on accountability. And nowhere is that more important than in the power to make war and bring peace. You are required to work with Congress. You are required to abide by the War Powers Resolution. You cannot pursue a war with Iran absent Congressional authority. The existing AUMFs — the Congressional Authorizations for the Use of Military Force — do not apply.
The American people do not want, and our Constitution will not abide, a president who rules by fiat and demands obedience.
I served in the executive branch of our government for eight years, but I served in the legislative branch for 36 prior to that, and I understand better than anyone that the system will not hold unless we find ways to work together to advance our national interests — not the political interests of one person or one party.
We need to restore the balance of powers between the branches of government.
We need checks and balances that actually serve to check and balance the worst impulses of our leaders — in any branch.
We need to use our system to bring us together as a nation — not abuse it to rip us apart.
That’s not a naïve or outdated way of thinking. That’s the genius and timelessness of our democratic system, which has, for more than 240 years, allowed us to remake ourselves, reckon with our shortcomings, and move ever forward.
That’s what we owe to those brave men and women who step forward to wear the uniform of these United States; who dedicate their lives to diplomatic service; who choose to join the Peace Corps or to work in development; who represent the best of our country all around the world — and who are, today, doing so at greater risk because of the actions of our president.
Thank you — and in these dangerous times — may God protect our troops.
At a fundraiser before his speech, he told the gathering:
“Did you ever think you’d see the time when we would be engaged in potential conflict and our NATO allies would be applying a moral equivalence between what we do and what the Iranians do? I never thought I see that day I spent my entire professional career dealing with NATO and dealing with foreign policy…Now the president says he did this to make us safer. Make Americans safer. Yet, we’re surging another roughly 18,000 forces in the region. And we find ourselves in position where there’s no evidence that they thought through how to protect our diplomats and our military personnel.”
Mr. Biden used the Iran situation to argue “the next president better be able to on day one, know how to begin to bring things together.”
Later in the day, at another fundraising event, news of an Iranian air strike on a US military base in Iraq started breaking. Without more details about the event, Biden said he would only speak briefly and generally about what happened:
“What’s happening in Iraq and Iran today was predictable – not exactly what’s happening but the chaos that’s ensuing,” he said, faulting Trump for withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal and the recent order of a missile strike killing a high ranking Iranian general, Qasem Soleimani, according to the pool report by Julia Terruso of The Philadelphia Inquirer.
“Some of the things he’s done and said in the meantime have been close to ludicrous, including threatening to bomb holy sites…And I just pray to God as he goes through what’s happening, as we speak, that he’s listening to his military commanders for the first time because so far that has not been the case.”
Former Vice President Joe Biden became the latest 2020 Democratic Candidate to come out with a detailed plan to end the epidemic of gun violence, once again proving that there is no shortage of pragmatic plans to solve the most intransient, important issues we face as a nation and a world – what has been lacking is political will. Have you seen a plan from Donald Trump? Me neither. – Karen Rubin, News-Photos-Features.com
While Democratic leaders and the American public have reached an undeniable and
broad consensus about what needs to be done to address the gun violence
epidemic that has engulfed communities across America, Donald Trump, Mitch
McConnell, Congressional Republicans, and the NRA refuse to take any sensible
action. As president, Biden will not let anyone hold our nation’s children,
families, and communities hostage to the scourge of gun violence Americans face
Biden is introducing a bold, comprehensive plan that
not only calls for common sense gun safety reform, but outlines how he is going
to get it done for the American people. Biden’s plan calls for universal
background checks, closing loopholes in the background check system, banning
assault weapons and high capacity magazines, incentivizing states to establish
red flag law, holding gun manufacturers accountable, and investing in public
health research regarding the causes and prevention of gun violence.
As a leader who has championed common sense gun safety laws both as a United
States Senator and Vice President, Biden has unmatched substantive expertise on
addressing gun violence. He has been pushing the conversation on ending gun
violence for at least 25 years. And he has taken on the NRA twice and won –
first with the Brady Bill, which established firearms background check system,
and then securing the passage of a ten-year ban on assault rifles and high-capacity
magazines together with Senator Dianne Feinstein.
Based on his expertise and experience on this issue, Biden’s plan also includes
three standout sections that further demonstrate how he will end the gun
the daily combination of guns and domestic violence;
urban gun violence with targeted, evidence-based community interventions; and
survivors of violence and their communities.
the second anniversary of the deadliest mass shooting in modern American
history, Vice President Biden released a statement decrying Donald Trump’s
continued inaction on sensible gun reform and his capitulation to the NRA.
Biden also declared, “We can beat the NRA; we can get those weapons of war
off our streets; and we can make sure our children don’t grow up in constant
fear. Real leadership — moral leadership — can get these reforms done.”
Today’s plan follows Biden for President’s release of “Purpose,” a video
of gun safety advocate Fred Guttenberg who credits Biden for helping inspire
his mission as a gun safety advocate after his 14-year-old daughter was killed
in Parkland, Florida.
THE BIDEN PLAN TO END OUR GUN VIOLENCE EPIDEMIC
Joe Biden knows that gun violence is a public health epidemic. Almost 40,000 people die as a result of firearm injuries every year in the United States, and many more are wounded. Some of these deaths and injuries are the result of mass shootings that make national headlines. Others are the result of daily acts of gun violence or suicides that may not make national headlines, but are just as devastating to the families and communities left behind.
Joe Biden has taken on the National Rifle Association (NRA) on the national stage and won – twice. In 1993, he shepherded through Congress the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, which established the background check system that has since kept more than 3 million firearms out of dangerous hands. In 1994, Biden – along with Senator Dianne Feinstein – secured the passage of 10-year bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. As president, Joe Biden will defeat the NRA again.
Joe Biden also knows how to make progress on reducing gun violence using executive action. After the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, President Obama tasked Vice President Biden with developing both legislative proposals and executive actions to make our communities safer. As a result of this effort, the Obama-Biden Administration took more than two dozen actions, including narrowing the so-called “gun show loophole,” increasing the number of records in the background check system, and expanding funding for mental health services.
It’s within our grasp to end our gun violence epidemic and respect the Second Amendment, which is limited. As president, Biden will pursue constitutional, common-sense gun safety policies. Biden will:
Hold gun manufacturers accountable. In 2005, then-Senator Biden voted against the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, but gun manufacturers successfully lobbied Congress to secure its passage. This law protects these manufacturers from being held civilly liable for their products – a protection granted to no other industry. Biden will prioritize repealing this protection.
Get weapons of war off our streets. The bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines that Biden, along with Senator Feinstein, secured in 1994 reduced the lethality of mass shootings. But, in order to secure the passage of the bans, they had to agree to a 10-year sunset provision and when the time came, the Bush Administration failed to extend them. As president, Biden will:
Ban the manufacture and sale of assault
weapons and high-capacity magazines. Federal law prevents
hunters from hunting migratory game birds with more than three shells in their
shotgun. That means our federal law does more to protect ducks than children.
It’s wrong. Joe Biden will enact legislation to once again ban assault weapons.
This time, the bans will be designed based on lessons learned from the 1994
bans. For example, the ban on assault weapons will be designed to prevent
manufacturers from circumventing the law by making minor changes that don’t
limit the weapon’s lethality. While working to pass this legislation, Biden
will also use his executive authority to
ban the importation of assault weapons.
Regulate possession of existing assault
weapons under the National Firearms Act. Currently, the National Firearms
Act requires individuals possessing machine-guns, silencers, and short-barreled
rifles to undergo a background check and register those weapons with the Bureau
of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Due to these requirements,
such weapons are rarely used in
crimes. As president, Biden will pursue legislation to regulate possession of existing
assault weapons under the National Firearms Act.
Buy back the assault weapons and
high-capacity magazines already in our communities. Biden will also
institute a program to buy back weapons of war currently on our streets. This
will give individuals who now possess assault weapons or high-capacity
magazines two options: sell the weapons to the government, or register them
under the National Firearms Act.
Reduce stockpiling of weapons. In order
to reduce the stockpiling of firearms, Biden supports legislation restricting
the number of firearms an individual may purchase per month to one.
Keep guns out of dangerous hands. The
federal background check system (the National Instant Criminal Background Check
System) is one of the best tools we have to prevent gun violence, but it’s only
effective when it’s used. Biden will enact universal background check
legislation and close other loopholes that allow people who should be
prohibited from purchasing firearms from making those purchases. Specifically,
Require background checks for all gun
an estimated 1 in 5 firearms are
sold or transferred without a background check. Biden will enact universal
background check legislation, requiring a background check for all gun sales
with very limited exceptions, such as gifts between close family members. This
will close the so-called “gun show and online sales loophole” that the
Obama-Biden Administration narrowed, but which cannot be fully closed by
executive action alone.
Close other loopholes in the federal
background check system. In addition to closing the “boyfriend
loophole” highlighted below, Biden will:
Reinstate the Obama-Biden policy to keep
guns out of the hands of certain people unable to manage their affairs for
mental reasons, which President Trump reversed. In 2016, the
Obama-Biden Administration finalized a rule to make sure
the Social Security Administration (SSA) sends to the background check system
records that it holds of individuals who are prohibited from purchasing or
possessing firearms because they have been adjudicated by the SSA as unable to
manage their affairs for mental reasons. But one of the first actions Donald
Trump took as president was to reverse this rule.
President Biden will enact legislation to codify this policy.
Close the “hate crime loophole.” Biden will
enact legislation prohibiting
an individual “who has been convicted of a misdemeanor hate crime, or received
an enhanced sentence for a misdemeanor because of hate or bias in its
commission” from purchasing or possessing a firearm.
Close the “Charleston loophole.” The Charleston
loophole allows people to complete a firearms purchase if their background
check is not completed within three business days. Biden supports the proposal
in the Enhanced Background Checks Act of
2019, which extends the timeline from three to 10 business days.
Biden will also direct the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to put on his
desk within his first 100 days as president a report detailing the cases in
which background checks are not completed within 10 business days and steps the
federal government can take to reduce or eliminate this occurrence.
Close the “fugitive from justice”
loophole created by the Trump Administration. Because of actions by the
Trump Administration, records of almost 500,000 fugitives from justice who are
prohibited from purchasing firearms were deleted from the background check
system. The Biden Administration will restore these records, and enact
legislation to make clear that people facing arrest warrants are prohibited
from purchasing or possessing firearms.
End the online sale of firearms and
will enact legislation to
prohibit all online sales of firearms, ammunition, kits, and gun parts.
Create an effective program to ensure
individuals who become prohibited from possessing firearms relinquish their
law defines categories of individuals who are prohibited from purchasing or
possessing firearms, and the federal background check system is an effective
tool for ensuring prohibited persons cannot purchase firearms. But we lack any
serious tool to ensure that when someone becomes newly prohibited – for example,
because they commit a violent crime – they relinquish possession of their
firearms. There are some promising models for how this could be enforced. For example, California
has a mandatory process for ensuring relinquishment by any individual newly
subject to a domestic violence restraining order. As president, Biden will
direct the FBI and ATF to outline a model relinquishment process, enact any
necessary legislation to ensure relinquishment when individuals newly fall
under one of the federal prohibitions, and then provide technical and financial
assistance to state and local governments to establish effective relinquishment
processes on their own.
Incentivize state “extreme risk”
laws. Extreme risk laws, also
called “red flag” laws, enable family members or law enforcement officials to
temporarily remove an individual’s access to firearms when that individual is
in crisis and poses a danger to themselves or others. Biden will incentivize
the adoption of these laws by giving states funds to implement them. And, he’ll
direct the U.S. Department of Justice to issue best practices and offer
technical assistance to states interested in enacting an extreme risk law.
Give states incentives to set up gun
licensing programs. Biden will enact legislation to give
states and local governments grants to require individuals to obtain a license
prior to purchasing a gun.
Adequately fund the background check
Obama and Vice President Biden expanded incentives for
states to submit records of prohibited persons into the background checks
system. As president, Biden will continue to prioritize that funding and ensure
that the FBI is adequately funded to accurately and efficiently handle the NICS
THE DEADLY COMBINATION OF GUNS AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
The statistics tell a devastating and overwhelming story. The likelihood that a
woman in a domestic violence situation will be killed increases by a factor of five if a
gun is nearby. Half of mass
shootings involve an individual shooting a family member or former intimate
partner. This deadly connection tragically impacts children as well: 86% of children
killed in shootings with four or more victims were involved in domestic or
Biden recognizes that the gun violence and domestic violence epidemics are
linked and cannot be solved in isolation. Addressing the interconnectedness of
these challenges will be a core focus of Biden’s anti-violence work as
The Violence Against Women
Reauthorization Act of 2019, which Leader McConnell refuses to bring
to the floor for a vote, includes a number of reforms to keep firearms out of
the hands of abusers. Senator McConnell should ensure this legislation gets
passed long before President Biden would take the oath of office. But if
McConnell refuses to act, Biden will enact legislation to close the so-called
“boyfriend loophole” and “stalking loophole” by prohibiting all individuals
convicted of assault, battery, or stalking from purchasing or possessing
firearms, regardless of their connection to the victim. This proposal is
modeled after existing laws in California,
Connecticut, Hawaii, Nevada, New York, and Pennsylvania. Biden also supports
enacting the proposal to
prohibit anyone under a temporary restraining order from purchasing or
possessing a firearm before their hearing.
In addition, President Biden will:
Establish a new Task Force on Online
Harassment and Abuse to focus on the connection between mass shootings, online
harassment, extremism, and violence against women. As President,
Joe Biden will convene a national Task Force with federal agencies, state
leaders, advocates, law enforcement, and technology experts to study rampant
online sexual harassment, stalking, and threats, including revenge porn and
deepfakes — and the connection between this harassment, mass shootings,
extremism and violence against women. The Task Force will be charged with developing
cutting-edge strategies and recommendations for how federal and state
governments, social media companies, schools, and other public and private
entities can tackle this unique challenge. The Task Force will consider
platform accountability, transparent reporting requirements for incidents of
harassment and response, and best practices.
Expand the use of evidence-based
lethality assessments by law enforcement in cases of domestic violence. Lethality
assessments, sometimes called “risk” or “danger” assessments, are a proven
strategy to help law enforcement officers identify domestic violence survivors
who are at high risk of being killed by their abusers. These survivors are then
connected with social service programs that can offer services and safety
planning. An evaluation of the Lethality Assessment Program (LEP) created by
the Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence showed promising results.
Increased federal funding will incentivize jurisdictions to take advantage of
implementing these programs more widely.
Make sure firearm owners take on the responsibility
of ensuring their weapons are used safely.
Put America on the path to ensuring that
100% of firearms sold in America are smart guns. Today, we have
the technology to allow only authorized users to fire a gun. For example,
existing smart gun technology requires a fingerprint match before use. Biden
believes we should work to eventually require that 100% of firearms sold in the
U.S. are smart guns. But, right now the NRA and gun manufacturers are bullying
firearms dealers who try to sell these guns. Biden will stand up against these
bullying tactics and issue a call to action for gun manufacturers, dealers, and
other public and private entities to take steps to accelerate our transition to
Hold adults accountable for giving
minors access to firearms. Biden supports legislation holding
adults criminally and civilly liable for directly or negligently giving a minor
access to a firearm, regardless of whether the minor actually gains possession
of the firearm.
Require gun owners to safely store their
will pass legislation requiring firearm owners to store weapons safely in their
Empower law enforcement to effectively
enforce our gun laws.
Prioritize prosecution of straw
purchasers” buy a firearm on behalf of an individual who cannot pass a
background check. Biden will end those loopholes by enacting a law to make all
straw purchases a serious federal crime and ensure the U.S. Justice Department
has sufficient resources to prioritize their prosecution.
Notify law enforcement when a potential
firearms purchaser fails a background check. Too often, when prohibited
persons attempting to buy a firearm fail a background check, state and local
law enforcement is never informed of the attempt. As president, Biden will
direct the FBI to set up a process to ensure timely notification of denials to
state and local law enforcement, and he’ll support legislation to
codify this process. This empowers law enforcement to follow up and ensure
prohibited persons do not attempt to acquire firearms through other means.
Require firearms owners to report if
their weapon is lost or stolen. Responsible gun owners have a responsibility
to inform law enforcement if their weapon is lost or stolen. Biden will enact
legislation to make this the law of the land.
Stop “ghost guns.” One way people
who cannot legally obtain a gun may gain access to a weapon is by assembling a
one on their own, either by buying a kit of disassembled gun parts or 3D
printing a working firearm. Biden will stop the proliferation of these
so-called “ghost guns” by passing legislation requiring that purchasers of gun
kits or 3D printing code pass a federal background check. Additionally, Biden
will ensure that the authority for firearms exports stays with the State
Department, and if needed reverse a proposed rule by
President Trump. This will ensure the State Department continues to block the
code used to 3D print firearms from being made available on the Internet.
Reform, fund, and empower the U.S.
Justice Department to enforce our gun laws. Biden will direct his
Attorney General to deliver to him within his first 100 days a set of
recommendations for restructuring the ATF and related Justice Department
agencies to most effectively enforce our gun laws. Biden will then work to secure
sufficient funds for the Justice Department to effectively enforce our existing
gun laws, increase the frequency of inspections of firearms dealers, and repeal
riders that get in the way of that work.
Direct the ATF to issue an annual
report on firearms
trafficking. This report will provide officials with critical
information to better identify strategies for curbing firearms trafficking.
GUN VIOLENCE WITH TARGETED, EVIDENCE-BASED COMMUNITY INTERVENTIONS
Daily acts of gun violence in our communities may not make national headlines,
but are just as devastating to survivors and victims’ families as gun violence
that does make the front page. And, these daily acts of gun violence
disproportionately impact communities of color. But there is reason to be
optimistic. There are proven strategies for
reducing gun violence in urban communities without turning to incarceration.
For example, Group Violence Intervention organizes
community leaders to work with individuals most likely to commit acts of gun
violence, express the community’s demand that the gun violence stop, and
connect individuals who may be likely perpetrators with social and economic
support services that may deter violent behavior. These types of interventions
have reduced homicides by as much as 60%. Hospital-Based Violence
Intervention engages young people who have been injured by gun
violence while they are still in the hospital, connecting them to social and
economic services that may decrease the likelihood they engage in or are
victims of gun violence in the future. Biden will create a $900 million, eight-year
initiative to fund these and other types of evidence-based
interventions in 40 cities across the country – the 20 cities with the highest
number of homicides, and 20 cities with the highest number of homicides per
capita. This proposal is estimated to save more than 12,000
lives over the eight-year program.
Dedicate the brightest scientific minds
to solving the gun violence public health epidemic. In 2013, President Obama issued a memorandum clarifying
that a longstanding appropriations rider that prohibited the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other federal scientific agencies from
using federal dollars to “advocate or promote gun control”
does not prohibit those agencies from researching the causes and prevention of
gun violence. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) subsequently embarked on funding
some of this research, though Republican leadership in Congress refused to
appropriate any funds to the CDC for this work. Biden will call for Congress to
appropriate $50 million to
accelerate this research at the CDC and NIH.
Prohibit the use of federal funds
to arm or train educators to discharge firearms. We should be passing rational gun laws, not requiring educators
who already have too much on their plates to also protect the safety of their
students. Biden supports barring states from using federal dollars to arm or
train educators to discharge firearms.
Address the epidemic of suicides
by firearms. Biden believes any plan to
address the gun violence epidemic must address suicides by firearms, which
account for 6 in 10 gun-related
deaths but are often left out of the conversation. Many of the policies noted
above – including safe storage requirements and extreme risk protection orders
– will have a serious impact on efforts to reduce gun violence. But there’s so
much more we need to do to support people experiencing suicidal ideation. In
the months ahead, Biden will put forward a comprehensive plan to improve access
to mental health services.
SURVIVORS OF VIOLENCE AND THEIR COMMUNITIES
Violence causes ripples of trauma throughout our communities, impacting not
just the victims of violence but also their communities and first responders.
Fear of school shootings is having a noticeable impact on
the mental health of Gen Z. Intimate partner violence is linked to
depression, post-traumatic stress, and other mental health challenges among
survivors. And, this trauma can be intergenerational. Science now shows that young
children who witness violence – including in their home – literally alters the
parts of their brains that affect “reasoning, planning, and behavioral
We need to reduce violence to prevent trauma from happening in the first place.
But we also must treat the resulting trauma as a serious crisis in its own
As president, Biden will:
Make federal programs more
trauma-informed. During his first 100 days, Biden will direct his
Cabinet to conduct a review of all federal programs that directly serve
communities likely to experience violence and identify reforms to make sure
those programs effectively address resulting trauma. Biden will then invest
significant federal funds in expanding and improving the federal government’s
support for trauma-informed and culturally responsive care.
Create a network of trauma care centers. Biden will
bring together offices within the federal government to establish specialized
trauma care centers for survivors of violence, with a special focus on
survivors of domestic and sexual violence. Domestic violence services are
focused on meeting the emergency needs of survivors, including safety planning
and crisis intervention. As a result, frontline providers lack the resources
they need to offer therapeutic services to help survivors heal from trauma.
These trauma care centers will be flexible in meeting the needs of communities,
and could be housed at rape crisis centers, domestic violence programs,
universities, and existing mental health centers.
Train health care and other service
providers in trauma-centered care. To prevent
revictimization and secondary trauma, Biden will align training efforts
throughout relevant federal programs to include a focus on understanding the
traumatic effects of violence, providing appropriate care to avoid furthering
the trauma, linking survivors with evidence-based trauma therapies, and
reducing myths about domestic and sexual violence. This will be accomplished
through agency directives, policy guidance, and special conditions for grantees
For more on Vice President
Biden’s plan, see HERE.
As Donald Trump departed the White House to attend the G7 after
a day in which he attacked Federal Reserve Chairman Jay Powell as a “worse
enemy” than China’s Chairman Xi and ordered US companies to leave China, a day
in which the Dow plummeted 600 points, a day after he referred to himself as the
“Chosen One” as he looked to the heavens and demanded that Russia be invited
back into the G8, Vice President Joe Biden, candidate for the Democratic
nomination for president, issued this statement:
“This week, in the lead-up to the G7 in
France, President Trump has continued his irrational and self-defeating
campaign to make America less secure and less respected in the world. He
has insulted our closest partners and denigrated one of our most capable
allies, Denmark—a country that has repeatedly fought and sacrificed alongside
our troops. He issued yet another attack on NATO, reiterating his belief that
NATO is an American-run protection racket where our allies better pay up, or
else. And he advocated for Russia’s return to the G7, despite Vladimir Putin’s
long and growing record of aggressive behavior and provocations against the
United States and our allies in Europe.
“Trump’s actions and words are not just embarrassing—they are making the
American people less safe. Every incident further isolates us on the global
stage, reinforcing that his version of “America First” means America alone. For
the first time in its history, the G7 will not even issue a joint communique,
because President Trump refuses to cooperate with our partners on the pressing
issues of our time, including climate change, China’s predatory trade
practices, Russian attacks on western democracies, and nuclear proliferation.
No country, even one as powerful as ours, can go it alone against 21st century
challenges that respect no borders and cannot be contained by walls.
“NATO, the most powerful alliance in history, is the bulwark of America’s
national security and the free world’s first line of defense. It’s how we
amplify our own strength, maintain our presence around the globe, and magnify
our impact – while sharing the burden among willing partners. NATO is an
alliance built first and foremost on shared democratic values, which makes it
more durable and more reliable than partnerships built on coercion or cash. But
it is not indestructible, and Trump has taken a battering ram to our most
important strategic alliance.
“More than two-and-a-half years into his presidency, the pattern of
Trump’s conduct and character is clear. He never misses a chance to lavish
praise on dictators like Putin and Kim Jong Un, and takes every opportunity to
bash our closest democratic allies. Instead of leading alongside fellow
democracies, he seems to be on the other team. His incompetence threatens to
permanently reduce America’s standing and, consequently, our capacity to bring
together nations to address shared challenges. This will change when I am
president. We will restore the soul of this nation. And we will once again lead
the international community in a way that is consistent with our most cherished
values, standing with—not against—the rest of the free world.”
vigorous contest of Democrats seeking the 2020 presidential nomination has
produced excellent policy proposals to address major issues. This is from the
Biden 2020 campaign:
BIDEN PLAN FOR OLDER AMERICANS
The moral obligation of our time is rebuilding
the middle class. The middle class isn’t a number, it’s a value set. And, a key
component of that value set is having a steady, secure income as you age so
your kids won’t have to take care of you in retirement. This means not only
protecting and strengthening Social Security, but also helping more
middle-class families grow their savings.
A dignified retirement also means having access to affordable health care and
support. Too many Americans – and too many older Americans – cannot afford
their prescriptions or their long-term care. Their families are faced with
saving for their own retirement or taking care of their aging parents. It’s not
Working- and middle-class Americans built this country. And, they deserve to
retire with dignity – able to pay for their prescriptions and with access to
quality, affordable long-term care.
STAND UP TO THE ABUSE OF POWER BY PRESCRIPTION DRUG CORPORATIONS
Too many Americans cannot afford their prescription drugs, and prescription
drug corporations are profiteering off of the pocketbooks of sick individuals.
The Biden Plan will put a stop to runaway drug prices and the profiteering of
the drug industry by:
outrageous exception allowing drug corporations to avoid negotiating with
Medicare over drug prices. Because Medicare covers so
many Americans, it has significant leverage to negotiate lower prices for
its beneficiaries. And it does so for hospitals and other providers
participating in the program but not drug manufacturers. Drug
manufacturers not facing any competition, therefore, can charge whatever
price they choose to set. There’s no justification for this except the power
of prescription drug lobbying. The Biden Plan will repeal the existing law
explicitly barring Medicare from negotiating lower prices with drug
prices for drugs that face no competition and are being abusively priced
by manufacturers. Through his work on the Cancer Moonshot, Biden
understands that the future of pharmacological interventions is not
traditional chemical drugs, but specialized biotech drugs that will have
little to no competition to keep prices in check. Without competition, we
need a new approach for keeping the prices of these drugs down. For these
cases where new specialty drugs without competition are being launched,
under the Biden Plan the Secretary of Health and Human Services will
establish an independent review board to assess their value. The board
will recommend a reasonable price, based on the average price in other
countries (a process called external reference
or, if the drug is entering the U.S. market first, based on an evaluation
by the independent board members. This reasonable price will be the rate
Medicare and the public option will pay. In addition, the Biden Plan will
allow private plans participating in the individual marketplace to access
a similar rate.
increases for all brand, biotech and abusively priced generic drugs to
a condition of participation in the Medicare program and public option,
all brand, biotech and abusively priced generic drugs will be prohibited
from increasing their prices more than the general inflation rate. The
Biden plan will also impose a tax penalty on drug manufacturers that
increase the costs of their brand, biotech or abusively priced generic
over the general inflation rate.
consumers to buy prescription drugs from other countries. To create
more competition for U.S. drug corporations, the Biden Plan will allow
consumers to import prescription drugs from other countries, as long as
the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has certified that those
drugs are safe.
supply of quality generics. Generics help reduce health
care spending, but brand drug corporations have succeeded in preserving a
number of strategies to help them delay the entrance of a generic into the
market even after the patent has expired. The Biden Plan supports numerous
proposals to accelerate the development of safe generics, such as Senator Patrick
Leahy’s proposal to make sure generic
manufacturers have access to a sample.
II. PROTECT AND STRENGTHEN MEDICARE AS WE KNOW
IT AND ENSURE QUALITY, AFFORDABLE HEALTH CARE FOR ALL OLDER AMERICANS
On March 23, 2010, President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law,
with Vice President Biden standing by his side, and made history. It was a
victory 100 years in the making. It was the conclusion of a tough fight that
required taking on Republicans, special interests, and the status quo to do
what’s right. But the Obama-Biden Administration got it done.
But, every day over the past nine years, the Affordable Care Act has been under
Immediately after its passage, Congressional Republicans began trying again and
again to repeal it. Following the lead of
President Trump, Republicans in Congress have only doubled down on this
approach since January 2017. And, since repeal through Congress has not been
working, President Trump has been unilaterally doing everything he can to
sabotage the Affordable Care Act. Now, the Trump Administration is trying to
get the entire law – including protections for people with pre-existing
conditions – struck down in court.
As president, Biden will protect
the Affordable Care Act from these continued attacks. He opposes
every effort to get rid of this historic law – including efforts by Republicans,
and efforts by Democrats. Instead of starting from scratch and getting rid of
private insurance, he has a plan to build
on the Affordable Care Act by giving Americans more choice, reducing health care costs, and making our health care system less complex to navigate. You
can read Biden’s full health care plan [here]. In
addition, to improve older Americans’ access to affordable, quality health
care, Biden will:
as we know it. Today,
Medicare provides health insurance coverage to over 60 million older
Americans and people with disabilities. As president, Biden will
continue to defend our nation’s commitment to older Americans and people
with disabilities through Medicare, and he will keep Medicare as a
separate and distinct program, and ensure there is no disruption to the
current Medicare system.
and ensure its beneficiaries can access home and community-based long-term
care when they want it. Medicaid pays for more
long-term care than any other insurer in the country. In fact,
roughly 6 in 10 individuals
residing in nursing homes are enrolled in Medicaid, including many older
Americans. Yet, the Trump Administration is reportedly considering
a plan to cut Medicaid funding by turning it into a block grant. And
Republican leadership in states like Iowa, where Medicaid has been
privatized with devastating results for some
of its most vulnerable residents, are not fulfilling their obligations
under the program. The Biden Plan will protect Medicaid funding and make
sure the program gives those on Medicaid who need long-term care the
flexibility to choose home- and community-based care. In addition, the
Biden Administration won’t let states skirt their duties under Medicaid
and will take enforcement action against any state that allows
profiteering to get in the way of Medicaid beneficiaries’ health.
relief to help solve the long-term care challenge. The Biden
Plan will also help Americans pay for long-term care by providing relief
for Americans needing long-term care by creating a $5,000 tax credit for
informal caregivers, modeled off of legislation
supported by AARP. These informal caregivers –
whether family members or other loved ones – have for too long been doing
tireless work without any financial support. In addition, Biden will
increase the generosity of tax benefitsfor older
Americans who choose to buy long-term care insurance and pay for it using
their savings for retirement.
Care for our
physical, emotional, and financial challenges of caring for a loved one is
enormous. As president, Biden will work to enact at the federal level
Caregiver Advise, Record, Enable (CARE) Act, which has
already been passed in 39 states. This
legislation will help our caregivers by ensuring hospitals equip them with
instructions and information when their loved ones are discharged. Biden
also supports additional proposals to support caregivers, such as funding
to give them access to respite care.
The Biden Plan will protect Social Security for the millions of Americans who
depend on the program. With Social Security’s Trust Fund already in deficit and expected to be
exhausted in 2035, we
urgently need action to make the program solvent and prevent cuts to American
But the Biden Plan doesn’t stop there. As president, Joe Biden will strengthen
benefits for the most vulnerable older Americans – including widows and
widowers, lifelong workers with low monthly benefits, and old-age beneficiaries
who may have exhausted their other savings. Specifically, the Biden Plan will:
Security on a path to long-run solvency. The impending exhaustion of
the Social Security Trust fund imperils American retirement as we know it.
Waiting to act only jeopardizes the program further, and will make an
eventual solution that much more difficult. The Biden Plan will put the
program on a path to long-term solvency by asking Americans with
especially high wages to pay the same taxes on those earnings that
middle-class families pay.
nature of Social Security. Social Security is one of
our nation’s great public policy successes, in large part due to the fact
that participation in the program is shared across almost all workers.
Efforts to privatize the program – such as an approach suggested under the
Bush Administration – will undermine the program’s solvency, while putting
at risk individuals’ income in retirement. Similarly, proposals to make
the program “means-tested” – so that only low-income retirees workers
receive benefits – jeopardizes the program’s universal nature and key role
as the bedrock of American retirement. Ultimately, the success of Social
Security is largely due to the fact that almost all Americans can rely on
the program to make their retirement more secure.
Provide a higher
benefit for the oldest Americans. At advanced ages, Americans
become more vulnerable to exhausting their savings, sometimes falling into
poverty and living a life of hardship. The Biden Plan will provide the
oldest beneficiaries – those who have been receiving retirement
benefits for at least 20
with a higher monthly check to help protect retirees from the pain of
dwindling retirement savings.
Implement a true
minimum benefit for lifelong workers. No one who has worked for
decades and paid into Social Security should have to spend their
retirement in poverty. The Biden Plan will revolutionize the Social
Security’s minimum benefit, which has deteriorated over time to the point
of being entirely ineffective. Under the Biden Plan, workers who spent 30
years working will get a benefit of at least 125%
of the poverty level.
and widowers from steep cuts in benefits. For many
couples, the death of a spouse means that Social Security benefits will be
cut in half – putting pressure on the surviving spouse who still needs to
make the mortgage payment and handle other bills. The Biden Plan
will allow surviving
keep a higher share of the benefits. This will make an appreciable
difference in the finances of older Americans, especially women (who live
longer on average than men), raising the monthly payment by about 20% for
teachers and other public-sector workers. Current rules penalize
teachers and other public sector workers who either switch jobs or who
have earned retirement benefits from various sources. The Biden Plan would
eliminate these penalties by ensuring that teachers not eligible for
Social Security will begin receiving benefits sooner – rather than the
current ten-year period for many teachers. The Biden Plan
will also get rid of the benefit cuts for workers and surviving
beneficiaries who happen to be covered by both Social Security and another
pension. These workers deserve the benefits they earned.
IV. EQUALIZE SAVING INCENTIVES FOR
In the modern retirement landscape, a sound retirement begins with years of
diligent saving. While other aspects of the Biden Plan will help raise wages
for workers and reduce costs for spending like child care and health insurance,
the Biden Plan will also ensure that middle-class families get a leg up as they
grow their nest egg.
Under current law, the tax code affords workers over $200 billion
each year for various retirement benefits – including saving in 401(k)-type
plans or IRAs. While these benefits help workers reach their retirement goals,
many are poorly designed to help low- and middle-income savers – about
two-thirds of the benefit goes to the wealthiest 20% of families. The
Biden Plan will make these savings more equal so that middle class families can
enter retirement with enough savings to support a healthy and secure
retirement. President Biden will do so by:
tax benefits of defined contribution plans. The
current tax benefits for retirement savings are based on the concept of
deferral, whereby savers get to exclude their retirement contributions
from tax, see their savings grow tax free, and then pay taxes when they
withdraw money from their account. This system provides upper-income
families with a much stronger tax break for saving and a limited benefit
for middle-class and other workers with lower earnings. The Biden Plan
will equalize benefits across the income scale, so that low- and
middle-income workers will also get a tax break when they put money away
penalties for caregivers who want to save for retirement. Under
current law, people who work as caregivers without receiving wages are
ineligible to get tax breaks for retirement saving. The Biden Plan will
allow caregivers to make “catch-up” contributions to retirement accounts,
even if they’re not earning income in the formal labor market, as has
been proposed in
bipartisan legislation by Representatives Jackie Walorski
and Harley Rouda.
businesses a tax break for starting a retirement plan and giving workers
the chance to save at work. As proposed by the
Obama-Biden Administration, the Biden Plan will call for widespread
adoption of workplace savings plans and offer tax credits to small
businesses to offset much of the costs. Under Biden’s plan, almost all
workers without a pension or 401(k)-type plan will have access to an
“automatic 401(k),” which provides the opportunity to easily save for
retirement at work – putting millions of middle-class families in the path
to a secure retirement.
V. PROVIDE HELP FOR OLDER WORKERS WHO WANT TO
With longer lifespans and the changing nature of work, many Americans are
choosing to stay in the workforce longer. Despite their valuable contributions,
these workers often face illegal discrimination or steep tax penalties when
they try to continue to earn a living. Joe Biden believes that all workers
deserve an opportunity to earn a living and will fight to change the laws to
allow all people – regardless of their age – to get the pay they deserve. The
Biden Plan will:
Americans against harmful age discrimination. As
president, Biden will back bipartisan legislation protecting older workers
from being discriminated against in the workforce. According to an AARP
this practice is widespread – with more than 60% of older workers
reporting discrimination because of their age. The Biden Plan will put in
place workplace safeguards making it easier for older workers to prove
that they were treated unfairly at work.
Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) to older workers. The EITC
is one of the most effective strategies for helping low-wage workers
achieve a living wage. Unfortunately, the EITC is not available to workers
once they turn 65, putting them at a distinct disadvantage relative to
their younger peers. As president, Joe Biden will allow low-wage older
workers to claim the tax credit they deserve.
Celebrating the Fourth of July with Iowans in Marshalltown, Vice President Joe Biden, campaigning for the Democratic nomination for President, expressed what the holiday is really about and how Donald Trump doesn’t get it. Here is his speech, as prepared for delivery, with segments highlighted:
Ladies and gentlemen, it’s great to be back in Iowa celebrating the independence of our country and the incredible promise of the American future.
243 years ago, a group of rebels in Philadelphia pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to a revolutionary idea—to the self-evident truth that all men—and women—are created equal.
And ever since then presidents and patriots have gathered together on the 4th, as we are gathered today, to reflect on the greater meaning of our American experiment.
In 1821, just decades after revolution, John Quincy Adams proclaimed: “[America’s] glory is not dominion, but liberty. Her march is the march of the mind.”
In 1861, Abraham Lincoln invoked the Declaration to make the case for the Civil War, reminding Congress that it would be: “a struggle for maintaining in the world that form and substance of government whose leading object is to elevate the condition of men; to lift artificial weights from all shoulders; to clear the paths of laudable pursuit for all.”
In 1962, deep in the grip of the Cold War, Kennedy made the pilgrimage to Independence Hall to declare that: “this Nation—conceived in revolution, nurtured in liberty, maturing in independence—has no intention of abdicating its leadership in that worldwide movement for independence to any nation or society committed to systematic human oppression.”
Three different presidents, of three vastly different eras, united by their faith in the power of the idea that is America. Constant in their dedication to the pursuit of humankind’s highest ideal—liberty.
What, I wonder, will Donald Trump say this evening when he speaks to the nation at an event designed more to stroke his ego than celebrate American ideals?
Will he speak to the example America must set to inspire the world? Will he offer a robust defense of the democratic values that have always been our strength in times of crisis?
We all know the answer to that. Donald Trump is incapable of celebrating what makes America great—because he doesn’t get it.
He cannot distinguish between our Allies and our adversaries—because he does not grasp that America is the “march of the mind” toward greater openness, greater understanding, greater human freedom to pursue lives of meaning and fulfillment.
And if we give Donald Trump eight years in the White House he will forever and fundamentally alter the character of this nation. We can’t let that happen.
Trump’s embrace of dictators and strongmen is a fundamental rejection of everything our founders wrote into their Declaration.
Vladimir Putin in Russia, Kim Jong Un in North Korea, Mohamad bin Salman in Saudi Arabia—their drive to concentrate greater and greater power in their own hands and to silence their opposition, including through brutal assassinations—that is the death of liberty.
Last week, Putin gave an interview where he crowed: “the liberal idea has become obsolete.”
Trump thought he was talking about Democrats in California. Not a joke.
Our president does not understand the difference between liberal as opposed to conservative politics, and liberal as opposed to autocratic systems of government.
Well, I’m here to tell Vladimir Putin, and Donald Trump, and anyone who needs to hear it:the liberal idea is the American idea. And it will never be obsolete—not as long as there remain patriots committed to the higher ideals of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
The liberal idea is what drives innovation and entrepreneurship. The liberal idea is what inspires art and exploration and human curiosity. And—critically—the liberal idea is what built the Free World.
The Free World is an American design. We created it, together with our democratic allies in Europe and in Asia after World War II, to hold in check the abuse of power by any one nation, and to affirm a collective defense, open economies, and human rights.
The Free World drove the march of democracy, prevented a third great war, protected the territorial integrity and sovereignty of small states, allowed unprecedented economic growth and development, and advanced basic human rights and fundamental freedoms in every corner of the world.
Ours is a community of values that stands in opposition to all who seek to profit by the oppression of others.
That’s why Putin wants to see it destroyed. That’s why he’s actively working to tear apart our democracy.
Ladies and gentlemen – America is the heart of the Free World—and we must defend it.
That is how the Fourth of July is best honored – by remembering that our Declaration is first and foremost a call to arms, in defense of liberty.
But we must also remember, as JFK put it, that ours is: “not the individual liberty of one but the indivisible liberty of all.”
Donald Trump doesn’t get that either.
My liberty, depends on yours. Our liberty as a nation rests on our ability to ensure equal access, equal opportunity – not just for our own children, but all our children.
We have to take on the inequalities in our system that are causing too many today— in America and around the world—to question their faith in the ability of democracy to deliver for them.
It’s not enough to be for political equality—we have to be for economic fairness as well.
It’s not enough to be against the way Donald Trump conducts himself—the way he assaults the dignity of women, people of color, immigrants, LGBTQ individuals—we have to be against his policies that are further entrenching economic inequality in this nation.
That are rigging the system against the middle class.
That too is an attack on our democracy—on our liberty.
That’s the message I’ve been taking all across this nation.
And it’s all the more clear today – on the day we celebrate our independence—this country wasn’t built by Wall Street bankers and CEOs and hedge fund managers.
It was built by you. By ordinary Americans – given half a chance – doing extraordinary things. That’s the history of the journey of America.
My dad used to have an expression. He’d say a job is about a lot more than a paycheck. It’s about dignity. It’s about respect. It’s about one’s place in the community. It’s about being able to look your child in the eye and say everything is going to be ok. And mean it.
But today so many people can’t do that. That’s what we have to change. That is my north star.
The moral obligation of our time is to rebuild the middle class. And this time, everybody comes along – no matter their race, gender, ethnicity, religion,who they love or where they live or whether they have a disability.
For me, it’s all about restoring the dignity of work – being able to provide security and joy for your family.
But how can a person’s dignity be maintained if they can’t afford to care for a sick child or a family member because of a pre-existing condition – or because they’ve reached a point where their health insurer says “no more?”
I can’t imagine what Jill and I would have done with Beau if we couldn’t get the best care to ease his pain and suffering while dealing with an incurable disease.
How can a parent maintain their dignity if their talented and qualified child wants to go beyond high school to trade school or community college or college, but they can’t afford to get them there?
I remember how my father felt when he told me the bank wouldn’t give him a loan to help me go to college. He said, “I’m so ashamed.” I got there – but I’ll never forget that look on his face.
Today’s corporate culture and this Administration don’t care about your dignity. They don’t care about economic fairness.
They’re squeezing the life out of workers. They’re making it harder for you to bargain for your personal worth as well.
40% of workers have to sign non-compete clauses at some point in their careers.
These non-compete agreements have one purpose: to hold down the ability of workers to bargain for themselves and to keep their wages low.
And why do companies classify so many low-wage workers as managers?
So they can get out of paying overtime and take more in profits for themselves. That cost more than 4 million hourly workers $1.2 billion in lost wages last year.
And speaking of overtime – it’s long past time we make a $15 minimum wage at the federal level.
It’s time we started to reward work over wealth in this country.
Let me ask you something.
The stock market is roaring. Do you feel it?
Or how about that big tax cut passed by Trump and the Republicans? Did you feel it?
That tax cut exploded the deficit by some $2 trillion – and now the Republicans are using it as an excuse to go after the social safety net.
Let’s not kid one another. If Trump and the Republicans win in 2020 – they’re coming after Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security.
They’ve already said it. And we can’t let that happen.
So, we need to reverse the Trump tax cuts on the super wealthy. And then we need to get rid of the capital gains loophole.
A just economy—an economy that advances liberty for all—isn’t one where the super wealthy pay lower tax rates than teachers and firefighters.
The Fourth is also a reminder of an important lesson we learned early in this county.
As Benjamin Franklin supposedly said at the signing: “We must all hang together, or most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.”
Folks, we need to unify this country. We have to overcome this status quo of division—that’s the only way we’ll be able to get anything done.
And we can do it without compromising our principles. Marshalltown knows that better than anyone—what do you do when disaster strikes? You come together.
Mr. Mayor, how did you begin rebuilding after that God-awful tornado? By working together with the city council and the local businesses.
It didn’t matter whether folks were Democrats or Republicans then—all that mattered was getting Marshalltown back up and running.
You made that happen—you’re still making that happen.
It goes to show that all that stands in our way is a broken political system.
Folks, for all our problems, I’m more optimistic today than when I got elected to the United States Senate as a 29-year old kid.
And here’s why: We’re better positioned than any nation in the world to lead the 21st Century.
We have the strongest military in the world. We have led not by the example of our power, but by the power of our example. The most productive workers among major world economies. North America is energy independent. We have the world’s greatest research universities.
No other nation in the world can match us. The only thing that can tear America apart is America itself.
The only thing that would make the liberal idea obsolete is if Americans walked away from liberty itself.
Everybody knows who Donald Trump is.
This July 4th, let’s remind the world who we are.
This is the United States of America.
This is the nation that willed ourselves into existence with nothing but faith in ourselves and in the power of an idea.
There’s not a single thing we can’t do – together.