After the April jobs report showed a loss of 20.5 million jobs and an unemployment rate of 14.7% – the worst since the Great Depression –former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee for President, offered these remarks on “Trump’s Disastrous Economy,” saying “it didn’t have to be this way.” Here are the remarks, as prepared for delivery, which provide an alternate to how things could have, should have been handled:
This morning, we received the worst jobs report in history. 20.5 million jobs lost last month, and an unemployment rate now 14.7 percent — the highest it’s been since the Great Depression.
It’s an economic disaster worse than any we have seen in decades — and it’s made all the worse, because it didn’t have to be this way.
Donald Trump utterly failed to prepare for this pandemic and delayed in taking the necessary steps to safeguard our nation against the near-worst-case-economic scenario we are now living.
COVID-19 caused a massive economic challenge. But this crisis hit us harder, and will last longer, because Donald Trump spent the last three years undermining the core pillars of our economic strength.
Many small businesses have closed because of stay-at-home orders. But a lot of them won’t open again because they do not have a cushion due to three years of Trump’s policies that reward the biggest companies.
Yes, many have lost their jobs because of this crisis — but we are seeing so many proud families forced to endure epic lines for food boxes in football stadium parking lots because Donald Trump has spent three years tilting the playing field to the wealthy, and not the middle class.
Trump has loved to crow about the great economy he built. But when the crisis hit, it became clear who that economy has been built to serve. Not workers. Not the middle class. Not families.
Trump’s economic agenda has three unmistakable failings; failings that have been present since day one, but are coming into sharp relief in the current crisis:
First, Donald Trump’s main measure of economic progress is the state of the stock market.
It’s the only metric he values, so it’s the only lens through which he sees our economy.
For the past three years, even as Americans have had to work harder than ever to pay their bills, he’s said the economy was “great” because the stock market was up.
He irresponsibly downplayed and delayed action on the virus to protect the Dow Jones Average, a choice that has so far cost tens of thousands of American lives and millions of American jobs.
Make no mistake: it doesn’t matter how much the market rebounds. As long as there are millions of unemployed people struggling to get by — we won’t be anywhere near bouncing back.
Second, his entire economic strategy is focused on helping the wealthy and big corporations.
Just imagine what we could be doing now with the $2 trillion in tax cuts that Trump delivered for his rich friends as his first priority.
Imagine how much better a position we’d be in right now if — instead of Donald Trump cheering on corporations that spent hundreds of billions buying back their stock — those corporations were using that money to keep workers on their payrolls.
Imagine if, instead of providing incentives to shift jobs overseas – he had ensured we were investing in manufacturing at home.
Imagine how much more resilient our small businesses might be right now if – rather than repeatedly trying to slash the Small Business Administration’s budget – Trump had invested in making them stronger.
Imagine if instead of fighting tooth and nail to take away people’s health insurance, he’d invested in expanding access, so that families didn’t worry that a visit to the hospital would put their finances at risk.
Third, Donald Trump claimed he would fight for the forgotten middle class – and as soon as he got into office, he forgot them.
He’s been President for more than three years, but hasn’t yet followed through on his core economic campaign promises to middle class voters.
He promised to work with Congress to pass a bill to limit offshoring of jobs. He promised to create $1 trillion worth of new infrastructure jobs. He promised to expand child care support.
He said it would all happen before May 2017. It’s now May 2020 and not one of these promises has materialized.
Instead, he’s run the same playbook that has hollowed out our economy time and again over the past four decades.
It always ends up the same way. The rich get richer, the powerful get more power, and everyone else gets told they just need to work harder.
We’ve heard it before — and we’re not buying it.
And if you need proof that Trump’s policies were a failure even before this virus hit, just compare the first 35 months of Trump’s presidency to the last 35 months of the Obama-Biden Administration, hiring was slower and real wages grew more slowly too.
Trump was already well into the process of hollowing out the good economy we left him long before the first case of coronavirus.
The numbers looked good, but underneath the numbers, things were eroding.
But this pandemic has laid bare exactly how much damage Trump has done in just over three years.
Because Donald Trump has gotten the virus response wrong, the jobs and unemployment numbers are just the beginning. His mistakes will also mean it takes more time to recover from this.
We’re already seeing the tell-tale hallmarks of Trump-o-nomics in the way he is implementing the crisis response efforts: no strings, no oversight, no accountability.
I’ve started to think of it as the Corrupt Recovery.
First, Trump made sure we didn’t have an empowered Inspector General to oversee all of this.
And now, we seeing reports that loan money went to Trump’s donors, political allies, and companies with Trump-connected lobbyists.
Here’s how it worked: Trump’s Treasury Department allowed corporations with connections to go right to the front of the line — they got concierge service.
Meanwhile the mom and pop shops that needed help most got shut out.
More than 40 percent of the initial funding designed to support small businesses—didn’t go to real small businesses at all.
The single largest recipient of small-business money was a hotel executive and a major Trump donor.
The Trump Administration let him exploit the loophole to get $59 million in help, and he’s only giving it back now because the press found out.
And, who knows what else we’d find if the Trump Administration would stop hiding the full list of businesses who received help.
This is your money they’re getting.
We’re reading press stories that the Trump Administration is allowing big corporations that take money to lay off their workers, while other big companies are laying off workers then pay-out millions to shareholders.
How hard is it for Trump to say that if you are a major corporation and you are going to receive taxpayer money, you must first use it to take care of your workers?
But it turns out corruption is a feature of the Trump economic agenda, not a bug.
He will pick his wealthy friends, his corporate cronies, over working families every time.
I say it’s time we pick a different way.
In the coming weeks, I’ll be laying out a detailed plan for the right kind of economic recovery. Today, let me outline just a few key principles.
It starts with rebuilding the backbone of this country: a stronger, more inclusive, more resilient middle class – a middle class that can withstand the next public health crisis or whatever else comes our way.
It’s time we make sure everyone gets a fair shot at success, not just the Mar-a-Lago crowd.
Since the very first days of my campaign, I’ve had a simple message:
Wall Street and CEOs didn’t build this country. The middle class built this country. Ordinary women and men who are capable of doing extraordinary things when given half a chance. They built the country.
That’s who I believe in. That’s who I’m in this race to fight for.
Who is out there on the front lines of this crisis? Who are the workers that are literally carrying this nation on their backs?
The doctors and nurses and other health care workers. The EMTs and firefighters and police. The grocery store clerks and the meat packers and the farmers. The delivery drivers and the mass transit workers.
And these heroes are all too often the lowest-paid and the least appreciated members of our society.
But this crisis is showing us what is essential. And, I think it’s time we reward the people who actually make this country work.
I do believe that from this moment, from this crisis, we have the opportunity to not just rebuild our economy—but transform it.
To make our economy more resilient for whatever comes our way in the future.
Making sure everyone has paid sick leave and child care support.
Remaking our system of unemployment insurance into employment insurance, to help keep people in their jobs.
Putting millions and millions of people to work building the new, green economy that will position us to own the 21st century.
Making sure we’re producing here at home the machines and equipment we need to fight the pandemic and ensure public health.
Guaranteeing an education that equips you to succeed,and access to high-quality, affordable health care.
We can restore the basic bargain that used to exist in this country. The bargain was that if you contributed to the success of an enterprise, you shared in the rewards.
And the way we will do that is by empowering our workers. It means encouraging unionization and collective bargaining. It means more protections to ensure fair pay, over-time compensation, worker-safety, and a secure retirement.
We can insist that big corporations – which we’ve bailed out twice in 12 years – set up and take responsibility for their workers and communities. They have to step up to do that.
We can rip out the race-based inequities that infect every part of our society— from the pollution being pumped into the air and water in communities of color to the health care treatment they receive.
I’ll have more to say on all this in the weeks ahead, but here’s what it comes down to: we can choose who our economy, our government, and our country works for.
Just the wealthy — or everyone else as well. All of us together. All of us together.
That’s the choice we must make – all of us together – this November. It could not be more stark what the choice is.
I’d like to end today by saying thank you to all of our front line workers who are working day in and day out to keep our nation afloat during this crisis. And who are risking their personal health and safety in the process.
And to everyone, to everyone who is struggling with this virus who I talk to or grieving a lost loved one or losing sleep worrying about how you are going to make ends meet for another week — I want to offer my heartfelt condolences.
But I know that we will get through this. We’ll get through it together. I know because I know the American spirit, and the American character. We’re seeing it on display every day.
The proof that there’s nothing, nothing we cannot accomplish when we stand together—one nation, united in purpose, taking care of our neighbors, committing to get the job done.
That’s what has seen us through every moment of crisis in our past — it will see us through again today. It will empower us to write the future we want for our country and our children.
There’s no quit in America. None at all. We’re going to get through this.
Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic candidate for President, in a statement addressing the allegations of sexual assault by a former congressional staffer from 27 years ago, denied the allegations while affirming the woman’s right to be heard and her complaints properly investigated. Biden, who has a distinguished career championing women’s rights, in fact securing passage of the Violence Against Women Act, invited investigation into any evidence of complaint, which he said would be filed in the National Archives. Here is his statement:
April was Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Every year, at this time, we talk about awareness, prevention, and the importance of women feeling they can step forward, say something, and be heard. That belief – that women should be heard – was the underpinning of a law I wrote over 25 years ago. To this day, I am most proud of the Violence Against Women Act. So, each April we are reminded not only of how far we have come in dealing with sexual assault in this country – but how far we still have to go.
When I wrote the bill, few wanted to talk about the issue. It was considered a private matter, a personal matter, a family matter. I didn’t see it that way. To me, freedom from fear, harm, and violence for women was a legal right, a civil right, and a human right. And I knew we had to change not only the law, but the culture.
So, we held hours of hearings and heard from the most incredibly brave women – and we opened the eyes of the Senate and the nation – and passed the law.
In the years that followed, I fought to continually strengthen the law. So, when we took office and President Obama asked me what I wanted, I told him I wanted oversight of the critical appointments in the Office on Violence Against Women at the Department of Justice and I wanted a senior White House Advisor appointing directly to me on the issue. Both of those things happened.
As Vice President, we started the “It’s on Us” campaign on college campuses to send the message loud and clear that dating violence is violence – and against the law.
We had to get men involved. They had to be part of the solution. That’s why I made a point of telling young men this was their problem too – they couldn’t turn a blind eye to what was happening around them – they had a responsibility to speak out. Silence is complicity.
In the 26 years since the law passed, the culture and perceptions have changed but we’re not done yet.
It’s on us, and it’s on me as someone who wants to lead this country. I recognize my responsibility to be a voice, an advocate, and a leader for the change in culture that has begun but is nowhere near finished. So I want to address allegations by a former staffer that I engaged in misconduct 27 years ago.
They aren’t true. This never happened.
While the details of these allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault are complicated, two things are not complicated. One is that women deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, and when they step forward they should be heard, not silenced. The second is that their stories should be subject to appropriate inquiry and scrutiny.
Responsible news organizations should examine and evaluate the full and growing record of inconsistencies in her story, which has changed repeatedly in both small and big ways.
But this much bears emphasizing.
She has said she raised some of these issues with her supervisor and senior staffers from my office at the time. They – both men and a woman – have said, unequivocally, that she never came to them and complained or raised issues. News organizations that have talked with literally dozens of former staffers have not found one – not one – who corroborated her allegations in any way. Indeed, many of them spoke to the culture of an office that would not have tolerated harassment in any way – as indeed I would not have.
There is a clear, critical part of this story that can be verified. The former staffer has said she filed a complaint back in 1993. But she does not have a record of this alleged complaint. The papers from my Senate years that I donated to the University of Delaware do not contain personnel files. It is the practice of Senators to establish a library of personal papers that document their public record: speeches, policy proposals, positions taken, and the writing of bills.
There is only one place a complaint of this kind could be – the National Archives. The National Archives is where the records are kept at what was then called the Office of Fair Employment Practices. I am requesting that the Secretary of the Senate ask the Archives to identify any record of the complaint she alleges she filed and make available to the press any such document. If there was ever any such complaint, the record will be there.
As a Presidential candidate, I’m accountable to the American people. We have lived long enough with a President who doesn’t think he is accountable to anyone, and takes responsibility for nothing. That’s not me. I believe being accountable means having the difficult conversations, even when they are uncomfortable. People need to hear the truth.
I have spent my career learning from women the ways in which we as individuals and as policy makers need to step up to make their hard jobs easier, with equal pay, equal opportunity, and workplaces and homes free from violence and harassment. I know how critical women’s health issues and basic women’s rights are. That has been a constant through my career, and as President, that work will continue. And I will continue to learn from women, to listen to women, to support women, and yes, to make sure women’s voices are heard.
We have a lot of work to do. From confronting online harassment, abuse, and stalking, to ending the rape kit backlog, to addressing the deadly combination of guns and domestic violence.
We need to protect and empower the most marginalized communities, including immigrant and indigenous women, trans women, and women of color.
We need to make putting an end to gender-based violence in both the United States and around the world a top priority.
I started my work over 25 years ago with the passage of the Violence Against Women Act. As president, I’m committed to finishing the job.
Former First Lady, US Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, the first woman to lead a major party’s ticket for President (winning 3 million more votes and the most votes of any white male candidate to run for president, who Biden introduced as “The woman who should be president now”), endorsed Vice President Joe Biden’s candidacy for president during a Women for Biden town hall, saying, “More than ever, these tumultuous times reveal how desperately we need level-headed, solutions-oriented leadership. We need someone who listens to scientists, who acts with kindness and compassion, and who recognizes that America can and must lead the world in responding to this pandemic.
“The world today looks very different than the one so many of us fought for in 2016. Like many of you, I’m concerned — not only about our current health crisis, but about the deep-seated problems in our democracy that it lays bare, from inequity in our health care system to the high-wire act demanded of too many working parents.
“When I think about who I want leading us through this challenging time, there is no question: Joe Biden has the bold ideas, the smart plans, and most of all, the character to tackle this crisis and any others that come our way.”
The two discussed many issues of particular concern to women, including women’s reproductive rights and access to affordable health care, pay parity, food security, protection from domestic violence at a time of enforced sheltering with an abuser, and most significantly, how women, who make up the vast majority of health workers, frontline workers and minimum wage earners, are the most in need of protection during this health and financial crisis posed by the coronavirus pandemic. And have been most derided and held in contempt by Trump and his administration.
“80% of all healthcare workers are women, one out of three jobs held by women has been classified as essential.” Clinton said. “This is an issue that affects all of us, young and old, every background, walk of life, but has disproportionate impact on women on frontlines, working, caring for others, holding down their home.”
Noting that there has been a rise in domestic abuse as women are forced to shelter with their abusers amid a time of increased stress, she noted that Biden championed the Violence Against Women Act during the Clinton administration.
“Violence against women, a huge problem, has been one of leading causes of my life,” Biden said. “ wrote the law, met thousands of abused, know the suffering they are experiencing, how much courage they have. Our support has to match the courage they show every day and let them know they are not alone.” He flashed the number for the national domestic hotline, 800-799-SAFE, but because women may be too afraid to call, they can also text Love to 22522, or chat online (thehotline.org).
“I add my voice to the many who have endorsed you to be president,” Clinton said. “What a difference it would make now if we had a president who not only listened to science, facts over fiction, but brought us together, showed us the kind of compassion, caring we need from our president, which Joe Biden has exemplified throughout his life. What it would mean if had real president, not someone who plays one on TV, but someone who wakes every morning, worried about people responsible for leading.”
Immediately after the town hall, the Biden campaign released a fact sheet highlighting Biden’s plans to support women during the COVID-19 crisis: – Karen Rubin, news-photos-features.com.
Highlights of Biden Plans to Support Women
Women in the United States are acutely impacted by this pandemic. Millions have lost their jobs or had their hours slashed and are worried about making ends meet. Others are doing essential work that has so often been unseen, underpaid, and undervalued. And, while this virus can hit anyone, anywhere, it doesn’t impact every community equally. It hits hardest those who are most vulnerable and who have the fewest resources, including women of color and low-income women.
We cannot unsee what this pandemic has highlighted about the way our society fails women and their families. As President, Joe Biden will act so that essential workers are safe. He will act so women don’t struggle as much financially through the pandemic. He will act so women can get the health care they need and domestic violence survivors have a safe place to call home. And, he will act so that when the United States begins to recover from COVID-19, women are not left out of the recovery.
Joe Biden has long been a champion for women — for their safety, their health care, their paychecks, and their families. He has released several plans that support women through a decisive response to the COVID-19 crisis at joebiden.com/covid19-leadership. Biden is calling for the following steps to be taken immediately to support women and families. As this crisis continues and evolves over the coming weeks and months, Biden will release additional plans and proposals to address the challenges facing women as a result of this crisis.
PROTECT WOMEN PROVIDING ESSENTIAL SERVICES
Women are working in essential jobs in overwhelming numbers — as health care providers, home health aides, child care workers, domestic violence and other social service workers, grocery store workers, and so many more. One in three jobs held by women are essential, and women of color are the most likely to have those jobs. These women are the best of America — running toward the danger, lifting people up when they are at their most vulnerable, and fighting to protect the health and safety of their neighbors. That’s always been true—but now there’s not a single person across this country who doesn’t see exactly what they are: heroes.
It’s unconscionable that the Trump Administration has failed to do everything in its power to protect the health, safety, and well-being of women working on the frontlines. If Biden was President today, he would:
Get our essential workers the protective equipment, testing, and support they need to reduce their risk of getting infected by the virus. All essential workers — health care workers, first responders, homecare workers, child care workers, domestic violence and other social service workers, pharmacy workers, government workers, postal workers, farmworkers, food packagers and processors, grocery store clerks, transportation workers, and many more — should have priority access to personal protective equipment (PPE) and COVID-19 testing based upon their risk of exposure to the virus. The Trump Administration should ramp up capacity to produce masks and other PPE for all essential workers by fully using the Defense Production Act. And, the Trump Administration should appoint and empower a Supply Commander to take control of the national supply chain for essential equipment and gear and to ensure equitable distribution so that at-risk communities and particularly vulnerable populations are fully taken care of.
Implement and enforce standards to keep all women safe on the frontlines and ensure that their civil rights are protected. Biden would direct his Occupational Safety and Health Administration to release and enforce an Emergency Temporary Standard to ensure employers provide safe workplaces, and his Administration would work closely with state occupational safety and health agencies and state and local governments, and the unions that represent their employees, to ensure comprehensive protections for frontline workers. He would also ensure the needs of vulnerable populations are considered in the enforcement of all federal workplace protections. This means funding robust enforcement of civil rights protections, including under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act, and fighting to secure passage of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act to better ensure pregnant workers receive reasonable accommodations in the workplace so they don’t have to choose between work and their health. Biden would also extend Equal Employment Opportunity Commission deadlines for women to file discrimination and harassment complaints during and after the pandemic.
Provide a boost in essential workers’ paychecks. There is no substitute for ensuring worker safety, but all frontline workers putting their lives on the line should receive premium pay for their work, in addition to a permanent $15 minimum wage and overtime protections. Women, who make up the vast majority of the low-wage workforce, should never have to worry about making ends meet for their families — and especially not while protecting our communities during a pandemic.
Ensure all essential workers qualify for child care assistance and other emergency support.
Provide every worker with emergency paid leave so workers don’t have to go to work because they’re worried about a paycheck. Biden would provide all workers – no exceptions – paid leave for 14 days or for the duration of their quarantine or isolation, while also ensuring that employers will not bear any additional costs for such additional leave in the midst of this crisis.
PROTECT WOMEN’S ECONOMIC SECURITY
Hospitality workers, service industry workers, and millions of other women have already lost their jobs through no fault of their own because of this pandemic. Women — many of whom were economically insecure even before the crisis — are worried about making rent, paying bills, and keeping food on the table while waiting for relief checks. If Biden was President today, he would:
Keep as many women on payroll as possible by transforming unemployment insurance into Employment Insurance for millions of workers. Biden would take steps to get all 50 states to adopt and dramatically scale up short-time compensation programs. Here’s how it works: A business keeps a worker on payroll, but at reduced hours – and the federal government makes up the difference in their wages. The worker gets the same pay – but the burden on the business is much less. The Obama-Biden administration championed this approach – so far more than half of states have created work-sharing programs. The Trump Administration should boost assistance to them, to save or restore millions of jobs.
Make women who lose their jobs financially whole by ensuring that they get their unemployment insurance on time and in full. Biden would create a “Banks Defense Production Act” to make sure the banks that work with states prioritize and deliver unemployment payments quickly and require the use of electronic payments and prepaid debit cards to deliver direct cash relief fast. Families shouldn’t have to wait for President Trump to sign a check. Biden would also work with Congress to extend the boosted unemployment benefits (the extra $600) for however long this crisis lasts.
Ensure that all small businesses – not just those with the right connections – can access relief quickly. On April 3, Biden asked the Trump Administration to “produce a weekly dashboard to show which small businesses are accessing loans – to make sure that the program isn’t leaving out communities, minority- and women-owned businesses, or the smallest businesses.” They have not done so. It is unacceptable to have a small business program that is leaving minority and women business owners out in the cold, and that firms with fewer than 20 employees have received only about 20% of the first allotment of funding disbursed from the Paycheck Protection Program – even though they make up about one third of payroll.
Ensure housing security, including by immediately freezing rent for qualifying individuals and halting foreclosures and evictions as people get back on their feet during this crisis.
Forgive at least $10,000 of student debt per person through the duration of the crisis, including for women, who hold two-thirds of all student debt in America.
Ensure food security by increasing SNAP benefits by 15% during the deepening recession, and temporarily provide low-income families with about $100 per month in extra nutritional support.
Boost Social Security payments to $200 per month to help older women with any additional expenses they may incur during the pandemic.
Provide additional funds to state, local and tribal governments that are going to get crushed under the weight of falling revenues combined with far higher emergency financial burdens. Biden would make sure the federal government helps communities with their public health response without forcing painful and damaging cuts to public services, education, and public safety. Biden would also expand assistance to schools facing extra costs – particularly Title I schools — including efforts to continue remote education or remote activities normally done after-school.
PROTECT CAREGIVERS AND ACCESS TO CHILD CARE AND LONG-TERM SERVICES AND SUPPORTS
In the United States, women overwhelmingly take on the burdens of caring for their families, and they make up the vast majority of the care workforce. Many women are taking care of children, as well as elderly parents. If they are lucky enough to have a job during this crisis, they may not be able to take paid time off to care for sick loved ones. Meanwhile, many care facilities, especially child care providers, have been forced to close their doors.
If businesses that provide care do not survive the pandemic, it will be harder for women to go back to work when we recover. It will be even more difficult for the women who make a living by providing care to get by. We must protect workers who are caring for others during the pandemic, and move aggressively to shore up our care infrastructure so it can better support families during the recovery.
Prioritize child care providers, home health care workers, direct support professionals, personal care attendants and other care workers for personal protective equipment and supplies, testing, and premium pay, depending on their risk of exposure. The nature of care work makes social distancing challenging, and we owe these caregivers the safety protections they need.
Protect and Expand the Availability of Long-Term Services and Supports. The majority of family caregivers – those caring for a loved one with a disability or chronic condition – are women. Caregiving imposes significant costs – economic and health-related – on these women. At the same time, the risk of getting COVID-19 is even greater for older Americans and individuals with disabilities living in group homes and other care facilities, increasing the demand for care in a home and community-based setting. Biden would increase resources to enable more seniors and people with disabilities to remain in their own home and community.
PROTECT ACCESS TO HEALTH CARE, INCLUDING REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH
The pandemic has put additional stress on women’s ability to access the health care they need. Before the pandemic, roughly one in four women experienced financial barriers to accessing health care. As women are now laid off or face wage cuts, they may have even more trouble paying for health care. At the same time, several states have used the crisis as an excuse to restrict women’s access to reproductive health, including timely and essential abortion care. The Trump Administration and all states must ensure all women have access to all the health care they need. Building on Joe Biden’s plan to protect and build on Obamacare [read the full plan at: joebiden.com/healthcare], as President, Biden would:
Ensure access to health care by:
Ramping up testing and ensuring that not only testing, but also treatment and any eventual vaccine for COVID-19, is free for all individuals regardless of insurance or immigration status.
Collecting racial, gender and ethnic data on testing and treatment so we can identify and address disparities.
Helping women who have been laid-off keep their health insurance by picking up the full cost of COBRA premiums.
Opening a new Obamacare enrollment period, so women who so badly need insurance can get it, instead of fighting in the courts to gut that landmark law like the Trump Administration is doing.
Stop states from using the pandemic to curtail access to abortions. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and American Medical Association agree that states should not be using the pandemic as an excuse to delay abortions. In this case, health care delayed means health care denied. States should not be using a public health crisis to infringe on women’s constitutional rights. If Biden was President today, he would put science over fiction and ensure states treat abortion as the essential health service it is. This builds on his existing women’s health care agenda. His Justice Department will stop the rash of state laws that so blatantly violate Roe v. Wade. And, he will work to codify Roe, repeal the Hyde Amendment, restore federal funding for Planned Parenthood, including through Medicaid and Title X, and restore access to contraception coverage.
Reduce our unacceptably high maternal mortality rate, which especially impacts people of color. Before the pandemic, the U.S. already had one of the highest rates of deaths related to pregnancy and childbirth relative to other developed countries, especially among Black women, who were 2.5 times more likely to die from pregnancy complications than non-Hispanic white women. California came up with a strategy that halved the state’s maternal death rate. As President, Biden will take the California strategy nationwide. And, he will expand access to high quality health care for the populations that need it most, providing access to a public option and doubling America’s investment in community health centers.
SUPPORT SURVIVORS OF DOMESTIC AND SEXUAL VIOLENCE AND PROTECT CHILDREN AND YOUTH AT-RISK FOR ABUSE
The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the risk for domestic violence, sexual assault, and abuse for women and girls nationwide. For many women and children, home is not a safe place, and sheltering in place restrictions further isolate those at risk of domestic violence. At the same time, community-based supports like domestic violence shelters, sexual assault programs, and child advocacy centers have had to limit in-person services to keep staff and clients safe, while adapting to provide text, chat, and phone-based assistance. The economic fallout of the pandemic will likely increase financial insecurity for survivors, creating further obstacles for leaving an abusive relationship. Shelters and other service providers need support to adapt to the pandemic, and keep pace with the increased demand for assistance to survivors that is expected to only go up after the lockdowns have been lifted.
Survivors and the courageous frontline advocates working to ensure their safety need immediate support. While Biden would work with Congress to provide additional funding, women and vulnerable youth across the country cannot wait another day for the support they need. He would do everything in his power to immediately get funding to service providers and survivors, including by enlisting Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and he would encourage governors to recognize survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse as vulnerable populations in need of state funding.
Provide survivors and their children with a safe place to live, and support shelter staff and residents to stay healthy. Not everyone has a safe place to call home. Shelters, which often have shared bathrooms and communal cooking spaces, need new avenues for providing survivors with a safe living space that adheres to social distancing requirements. Biden would:
Empower FEMA to work with states toimmediately increase shelter options, including contracting with hotels and motels and providing shelter modifications like sleeping and bathroom trailers.
Encourage states to ensure all shelters, not just the larger ones, receive funding. Smaller shelters serving communities of color, tribal programs, or shelters for immigrant and refugee survivors may have less capacity to access federal grant funding and need support.
Fund programs providing shelters and other housing options including the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA), VAWA transitional housing, Housing and Urban Development’s Continuum of Care Domestic Violence Bonus to provide housing for survivors experiencing homelessness, and VAWA emergency transfer tenant protection voucher assistance for rental assistance for survivors.
Provide personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies to victim services providers, including domestic violence and sexual assault programs, child welfare professionals, and other essential social services workers.
Expand the safety net for survivors – including by providing cash assistance, unemployment insurance flexible to their needs, and paid safe days and sick leave – as well as ensuring service providers who support them have adequate health coverage, paid sick leave, and overtime compensation.
Provideemergency cash assistance to survivors through grants to community-based organizations, and make longer-term investments in cash assistance, as Biden called for in November in his plan to End Violence Against Women. Biden would also direct FEMA to work with states to provide shelters with food, including prepared food.
Work to ensure that survivors who quit their job because they are unable to telework are able to access and obtain unemployment insurance from the newly created Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program.
Provide safe days and 12 weeks of paid safe leave for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking who need time to seek physical or mental care, seek counsel, find new housing, or take other action related to the violence they experienced.
Provideemergency funding to the Office on Violence Against Women for domestic violence and sexual assault programs, ensuring enhanced funding streams for tribes and culturally specific victim services, and provide funding for non-residential programs, in addition to shelters, under the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA).
Ensure survivors are able to access and service providers are able to provide remote victim advocacy through text, chat, phone, and other virtual services.
Provide funding to expand the reach of the National Domestic Violence Hotline’s texting and chat services, and create a texting service for the National Sexual Assault Hotline. The National Domestic Violence Hotline and National Sexual Assault Hotline are both available to those that need it. For those who cannot call their local shelter or the hotline because they are living in close proximity with the person harming them, the National Domestic Violence Hotline offers both online chat and texting services, the latter of which Biden premiered in 2011 by sending the first text ever for the service. The National Sexual Assault Hotline offers chat-based support; Biden would fund a texting service. He would also provide funding for both hotlines to hire more advocates.
Ensure service providers and survivors have all the tools they need to connect virtually and safely. Domestic violence and sexual violence programs, including rape crisis centers, offer tele-advocacy and crisis support through text, chat, video, and phone services. To do this, they need technology including computers, upgraded broadband, hotspots, teleconferencing licenses, and other software licenses. And although technology-based services have the benefit of reaching survivors where they are, they also introduce new risks for victim privacy, safety, and confidentiality and need support to mitigate those risks. As President, Biden would:
Get technology to service providers immediately. Biden would direct FEMA to consider technology that is eligible for emergency support and work with Congress to increase funding for domestic violence and sexual assault service programs, including for the Sexual Assault Services Program and the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act so they can boost their capacity to provide virtual services. And he would leverage private-public partnerships where possible.
Expand the Office on Violence Against Women’s training and technical assistance for domestic violence and sexual assault programs so that service providers can safely use technology-based services with survivors.
The Federal Communication Commission should reverse changes that reduced access to wireless service to people who need it most — including domestic violence survivors. The Lifeline program offers low-income adults subsidies for wireless services, but under the Trump Administration, the FCC scaled back help from this program. In November, Biden called for the FCC to reform its Lifeline program to increase the number of participating broadband providers, reduce fraud and abuse, and ultimately offer more low-income Americans the subsidies needed to access high-speed internet. And now, connection couldn’t be more important.
Ensure telehealth is widely accessible to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, including through expanded funding for Sexual Assault Nurse Exams, and pediatric Sexual Assault Nurse Exams for child victims of sexual abuse.
Ensure that people who need it most and are often underserved are receiving funding.
Expand funding for culturally specific services. Since 2005, the Violence Against Women Act has funded domestic and sexual violence programs offering trauma-informed and culturally specific services for survivors from racial and ethnic minority communities. Given the pandemic’s disparate impact on communities of color, it is imperative these programs have all the funding they need.
Protect immigrant women. In addition to ensuring that testing and treatment for COVID-19 is readily available to everyone, regardless of immigration status or English-language ability, Biden would take proactive steps to protect immigrant women, who are often the most vulnerable and least able to access supportive resources. The Trump Administration should immediately halt the implementation of its un-American new Public Charge rules, which may discourage immigrant women from seeking vital food and housing support they need to remain safe and healthy. It should also automatically extend immigration statuses and work authorizations set to expire within one year of the declaration of a national emergency on March 13, 2020, and Congress should ensure that no immigrant who loses their status during this time, or during the 90 days after the national emergency declaration is ended, accrues unlawful presence that could impact their future immigration status. The Trump Administration should also follow the recommendation of public health officials and vastly reduce the number of people in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Border Patrol by releasing to their families or community-based care organizations those individuals in immigration detention who pose no risk to the community. Neither should Trump be wasting resources on ICE enforcement actions to terrorize immigrant families, especially during a pandemic. Sensitive locations should always be protected against ICE actions, and immigrant survivors who have applied for protection under the Violence Against Women Act and Trafficking Victims Protection Act should not be detained or deported while their applications are in process.
Ensure tribes receive sufficient resources in all funding streams, and reaffirm Tribal sovereignty to support victims and hold offenders accountable. The Obama-Biden Administration ensured tribal governments have the power to investigate, prosecute, convict and sentence non-Native Americans who assault indigenous women on tribal lands, through the 2013 Violence Against Women Act. This must be reaffirmed, and the federal government should provide emergency financial support to tribal governments and service providers so they can support Native women.
Make services accessible for older survivors and survivors with disabilities. Funding should be provided to ensure remote advocacy services are accessible to people who often cannot or do not wish to leave home, including for the National Deaf Domestic Violence Hotline and other adaptive and inclusive services for survivors who need accommodation.
Enhance protections for vulnerable children and youth at-risk for abuse. Before the pandemic, at-risk kids had protective support from teachers, coaches, and other caring adults who were most likely to report abuse. Now, families are homebound under increasingly stressful circumstances, adding to the risk of child abuse or neglect. The National Parent Helpline is available to support overwhelmed parents and caregivers. As President, Biden would work with Congress to fund the Helpline to add texting service, as well as increase funding for child advocacy centers, and other child welfare programs that prevent and respond to child abuse and neglect, including sexual abuse.
Establish an Emergency Anti-Violence Task Force that includes representatives of advocacy groups, community-based organizations, and state and local governments, along with legal, housing, and public health experts, to consult with stakeholders, track the unique problems happening now, identify best practices and guidance for responding to them, work with agencies and Congress to adapt to them, and eventually create a report with both an analysis of the problems faced during the pandemic and shortcomings of policy levers, as well as a roadmap for future emergencies. The Task Force would also immediately work on ways to help leverage the private sector to play a role in the response. As President, Biden would immediately task his Office on Violence Against Women with using this information to create a preparedness plan for future national emergency, which should include ways to make programs and funding streams sufficiently flexible, and to determine ways to leverage public-private partnerships, such as with hotel chains and technology and telecommunications companies.
Ensure an Equitable Recovery Women and people of color have historically been left out or left behind in times of recovery — and we can’t make that mistake again. To rebuild a stronger, more inclusive middle class that will make our economy more resilient in any future crisis, when it comes time for economic recovery we must:
Require jurisdictions that receive funding to develop and report on metrics for addressing potential racial and gender disparities, and the Small Business Administration and Treasury should similarly track Paycheck Protection Program and other SBA program lending to ensure that minority and women business owners – who have traditionally faced unequal access to credit and capital – are treated fairly.
Stop the exploitation of low-wage workers – most of whom are women – and who everyone now sees are essential and should be compensated as such. Biden will increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour, support the elimination of the tipped minimum wage, ensure overtime protections, and dismantle the barriers to higher-paying jobs for these workers.
Finish the Obama-Biden Administration’s work on ending unequal pay. The first bill signed into law during the Obama-Biden administration was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which made it easier for women to fight back if they were unfairly paid less than their male coworkers. The Obama-Biden Administration also protected more workers against retaliation for discussing wages and required employers to collect and report wage gaps to the federal government. As President, Biden will build on this critical work by increasing pay transparency, making it easier for workers to join together in class action lawsuits, shifting the burden to employers to prove pay gaps exist for job-related reasons, and increasing penalties against companies that discriminate, as called for in Senator Patty Murray and Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro’s Paycheck Fairness Act.
Provide access to affordable, high quality child care. Biden will increase the child care tax credit to as much as $8,000 per family and expand access to quality, affordable child care through increased funding for grants to states to ensure low and moderate-income families can afford child care. And, he will expand funding for after-school programs, community centers, and national summer jobs programs, to keep kids active and learning after school hours. Biden also will provide high-quality, universal pre-kindergarten for all three- and four-year-olds.
Permanently provide family, medical, and safe leave as well as sick and safe days. As President, Biden will work to provide the type of comprehensive 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave envisioned in the FAMILY Act sponsored by Senator Kristen Gillibrand and Representative Rosa DeLauro. Biden will pay for this proposal by returning the estate tax to 2009 levels. Biden will also work to provide the type of coverage in the Healthy Families Act spearheaded by Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro and Senator Patty Murray, which will ensure workers receive seven days of paid sick leave for routine personal and family health needs, as well as time for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault to seek services.
Ensure women have access to fair and flexible scheduling, in addition to providing permanent paid sick and safe leave, and 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave.
Transform our education system by tripling funding for disadvantaged schools, fully funding the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, offering universal pre-K, providing 4 years of tuition at public colleges and under-resourced Minority Serving Institutions to families earning less than $125K per year, investing in community college and workforce training, and easing the burden of student debt.
Protect and build on Obamacare, ensuring all Americans have access to affordable, quality health insurance.
Provide retirement security. Biden will preserve and strengthen Social Security, including by providing a higher benefit for the oldest Americans, protecting widows and widowers from steep cuts in benefits, and eliminating penalties for teachers and other public-sector workers. And he’ll allow caregivers to make “catch-up” contributions to retirement accounts, even if they’re not earning income in the formal labor market.
Expand long overdue rights to domestic workers and farmworkers. More than a million women and 700,000 women farmworkers – many of whom are immigrants – care for our children, elderly, and people with disabilities, and pick our fruits and vegetables so we can put food on the table. Now more than ever the world sees just how essential they are. But they have far too long been left out of basic workplace protections. Biden will change that, starting by signing into law:
Senator Harris and Congresswoman Jayapal’s Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights, which, among other things, establishes a federal wage and standard board to set fair wage levels and define working conditions for domestic workers across the United States;
and Rep. Zoe Lofgren’s Farm Workforce Modernization Act, to help provide immigrant women who are feeding the nation a path to legal status, workplace protections, and much-needed housing support.
He will also protect the pay of migrant farmworkers, unlike the Trump Administration, which has considered cutting it during a pandemic.
Address International Impacts of the Pandemic
COVID-19 isn’t just a threat to women across the United States. This is a global health crisis that also disproportionately impacts women around the globe. Domestic violence is rising, both in the developed world and in the developing world. For example, in Bogotá, Colombia, violence against women reports have increased 225% during lockdowns, while in Afghanistan, domestic violence rates that were already as high as 50% are compounded by reports of women’s shelters shutting down to protect against the spread of the virus. Meanwhile, women constitute an estimated 70% of workers in the health and social sectors globally, putting them on the frontlines of fighting COVID-19 and increasing their risk of contracting the virus. The COVID-19 pandemic is also likely to mean dramatically increased caregiving responsibilities for women, extended unemployment, and lost business and income as well as greater income inequality. The Ebola epidemic in West Africa in 2014 provides insight into the impacts we can expect to see on adolescent girls, which include an increased vulnerability to physical and sexual abuse, an increase in domestic responsibilities, a loss of pathways to prevent child marriage or early childbearing, and a lower rate of return to school, limiting economic opportunity. And, among the more than 70 million displaced people around the world, women and girls are already among the most vulnerable. Now, in fragile states, displaced persons camps, or tightly populated migrant neighborhoods, they are among the least able to protect themselves against COVID-19. A Biden Administration will reassert global leadership and return a government-wide focus to championing the rights of women and girls at home and around the world, including by:
Elevating the voices of women in the response. As President, Biden will ensure the voices of women leaders help shape and spearhead efforts globally, leveraging their expertise, networks and skills to optimize the global response and recovery.
Prioritizing responses to gender-based violence internationally, human trafficking, and survivors’ lack of access to humanitarian assistance and employment opportunities. In addition, as President, Joe Biden will ensure that domestic violence victims once again have a pathway to claim asylum and will support the Safe from the Start Act, which calls for attention to preventing gender-based violence in humanitarian response.
Ensuring that global health and humanitarian aid prioritize women and remove barriers to accessing reproductive health services. As President, Biden will call on leaders globally to ensure that “essential services” — including sexual and reproductive health clinics, domestic violence shelters, and abortion service providers — remain available to serve women.
Calling for an expanded emphasis on education for girls and boys in refugee and displaced persons camps and supporting programs generally to help teachers, school staff, and communities implement inclusive learning methods for girls, reinforcing the message that girls and boys need equal access to opportunities. Already, research warns that girls in many countries will be less likely to go back to school once this pandemic ends. As President, Biden will build on the work of the Obama-Biden Administration to promote girls’ education, and ensure girls have the same opportunities as boys to reach their full potential.
Essential workers are providing life-saving medical care, cleaning our hospital rooms, delivering our food and other essential goods, stocking our grocery store shelves, getting us from place to place, keeping our cities’ lights on, and so much more. They have been on the frontlines of this pandemic.
Joe Biden has said since the beginning of this campaign that American workers are the heart and soul of this country— too often, though, we’ve taken these workers and the work they do for granted.
But the coronavirus pandemic has highlighted this critical truth: all across this nation, it’s often our lowest-paid workers who have stepped up during this crisis.
Donald Trump’s foot-dragging and delays have only made it more challenging for workers.
These workers are putting themselves on the line every day. They are essential to our society – in times of crisis and beyond, and deserve not just our thanks and respect, but our support.
Joe Biden has a bold agenda to give these workers the long-term support they deserve — raising wages, guaranteeing quality, affordable health care, providing free tuition for public higher education, and encouraging unionization and collective bargaining.
But these workers can’t wait. They need emergency help now. Today, Joe Biden is calling on President Trump’s Administration to take four immediate actions to protect and support our essential workers:
(1) Ensure all frontline workers, like grocery store employees, qualify for priority access to personnel protective equipment (PPE) and COVID-19 testing based upon their risk of exposure to the virus, as well as child care assistance, and other forms of emergency COVID-19 support.
(2) Expand access to effective personal protective equipment, including through use of the Defense Production Act.
The Trump Administration should ramp up capacity to produce masks for all frontline workers – from health care workers to grocery store workers – by fully using the Defense Production Act. And, the Trump Administration should fully empower a Supply Commander to coordinate the production and delivery of essential supplies and equipment, including masks, gloves, and other personal protective equipment. The Supply Commander would be tasked with ensuring equitable distribution so that at-risk communities and particularly vulnerable populations are fully taken care of.
(3) Establish and enforce health and safety standards for workplaces.
During the H1N1 epidemic, the Obama-Biden Administration tasked the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) with issuing detailed guidance for how employers should protect their workers. Then, OSHA enforced the law based on those guidelines. The Trump Administration has only started enforcement efforts this week and is still refusing to do everything it can and should to protect workers’ health and safety.
The Trump Administration should:
Immediately release and enforce an Emergency Temporary Standard (“ETS”) to give employers and frontline employees specific, enforceable guidance on what to do to reduce the spread of COVID.
Finalize a permanent infectious disease standard. After H1N1, the Obama-Biden Administration spent years preparing a new, permanent infectious disease standard, which would have required health facilities and certain other high exposure workplaces to permanently implement infection control programs to protect their workers. It handed it to the Trump Administration, but instead of moving it to rulemaking, it readily shelved it. They should immediately get to work bringing it to conclusion and expanding it to include all relevant workplaces.
Double the number of OSHA investigators to enforce the law and existing standards and guidelines. Under President Trump, OSHA currently has record low inspectors. Given the exigencies of this crisis, and the need for rigorous enforcement of workplace standards across the country, at least twice the number of inspectors are needed.
Work closely with state occupational safety and health agencies and state and local governments, and the unions that represent their employees, to ensure comprehensive protections for frontline workers.
(4) Enact premium pay for frontline workers putting themselves at risk.
There is no substitute for ensuring worker safety, but all frontline workers putting their lives on the line should receive premium pay for their work. The Trump Administration should immediately work with Congress to pass a bold premium pay initiative. Under the Senate Democrats’ “Heroes Fund” proposal, the federal government would step in and give essential workers a raise, with additional funding to attract workers to serve as health and home care workers and first responders. This premium pay should be in addition to paid sick leave and care-giving leave for every worker, which Joe Biden called for in his March 12 plan, and $15 minimum wage for all workers.
Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, offers the starkest contrast possible in terms of leadership and strategy for addressing the most dire crisis the nation has faced in a century. Today, as Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi endorsed Biden saying, “Elections are about the future. Now more than ever, we need a forward-looking, battle-tested leader who will fight For The People: a President with the values, experience and the strategic thinking to bring our nation together and build a better, fairer world for our children. For these and other reasons, I am proud to endorse Joe Biden for President: a leader who is the personification of hope and courage, values, authenticity, and integrity,” the Biden for President Public Health Advisory Committee on Testing offered a strategy for reopening the economy starting first with public health and expanded testing. Here is their statement:
We all agree on the need to reopen the economy and allow some semblance of normalcy as soon as possible. The economic pain and suffering are simply too great to delay unnecessarily. But it is wrong to talk about “choosing” between our public health and our economy. That’s a false choice. If we don’t beat the virus, we will never get back to full economic strength. And the experience of other nations and past pandemics is teaching us that we have to be prepared for a resurgence of cases that could once again stretch the capacity of our health care system and threaten lives.
Public health experts agree there are several keys to safely re-opening the economy and rebuilding the confidence of the American people in their government’s ability to protect them. We need to boost the capacity of our health care system and better protect our health care workers by ramping up the production — and ensuring the fair distribution — of critical equipment like masks and other personal protective equipment, as the Biden for President campaign has repeatedly called for. We need to test and trace contacts of people who have been infected with COVID-19. And we need clear guidance, oversight, and resources for workplaces to keep employees as safe as possible. Are those elements in place? What will it take to put them in place?
So far, the United States has conducted 5 million COVID-19 tests for our population of 330 million people. In recent days the number of tests has climbed, but no one who has studied the facts thinks this is sufficient. We are still seeing a massive shortfall and extensive disparities between states in testing — that’s unacceptable. And those failures are in no small part due to the federal government mishandling and delaying the pandemic response. We are now several months into this crisis, and this administration refuses to own up to the original sin of its failed response – the failure to test. Failed leadership, bureaucracy, and a lack of urgency have slowed the testing production process and continue to put us behind nations like Italy, Canada, and Germany in terms of per capita testing. Last week, we marked the deaths of 50,000 people from COVID-19 in the United States — each one a life cut tragically short. Our nation is now the global epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic with more known cases than any other nation in the world.
This isn’t rocket science. It just takes investment and execution — both of which have been gravely lacking. Vice President Biden has repeatedly called for President Trump to stand up a Pandemic Testing Board, just as FDR created a War Production Board to massively scale up the production and allocation of equipment and supplies we needed to fight and win World War II. The Board should have members from the public and private sectors — and involve state and local leaders, too. It would oversee a nationwide campaign to provide both diagnostic and antibody tests, which includes surging the production of test kits and lab supplies; coordinating the distribution to every state, tribe, and territory; identifying testing sites and sufficient trained personnel to staff them; ensuring adequate lab capacity and the swift reporting of results; and providing clear guidance on who needs a test. A nationwide campaign has to be well-coordinated and highly agile — able to adjust quickly to accommodate new scientific developments or respond to sudden bottlenecks by evaluating a variety of approaches, from rapid point-of-care tests to in-home sample collection, as Seattle has done.
We should better utilize our great university and medical school research laboratories, which spent precious resources equipping their facilities to run COVID-19 tests, yet now sit idle. Let’s harness that capacity to help drastically ramp up our capacity to process these tests
And we shouldn’t just test more, we should test smarter. Right now, because of shortages of tests and personnel protective equipment and related challenges, we are still only largely testing the sickest people we suspect have COVID-19, so they can be isolated and cared for. Smart testing would focus on individuals who are at heightened risk, like nursing home residents, as well as those who interact with many people each day, including health care workers, grocery store workers, public safety officials, public transportation employees, and others.
Time is not on our side. It is urgent we get these pieces in place and functioning smoothly at full capacity before flu season arrives in the fall, when experts say we could experience a second wave of COVID-19 cases. Testing alone is not enough. We also need Apollo-like moonshots to develop and deploy proven therapeutics and vaccines globally if we are ever to gain the upper hand on this virus. We cannot allow this administration to repeat its failure on testing with therapeutics and vaccines. We must let science — not politicians — lead. We should set the goal of identifying safe, effective therapeutics within 100 days by building on long-standing, proven clinical trial networks — which helped save millions of lives in the fight against AIDS — with a new enduring Emerging Infectious Disease Clinical Trial Network and equipping it with every resource at our disposal. Instead of having different studies competing with each other for resources and patients, this new clinical trial network would bring scientific talent together behind the most promising drugs. And, we should be working now to accelerate a coordinated global approach to develop a safe, effective vaccine and the manufacturing capacity for the doses and related materials like syringes that we will need at home and around the world. The only way to stop COVID-19 here, is to stop it everywhere.
In the meantime, however, testing is the springboard we need to help get our economy safely up and running again. Trump could make this happen. He hasn’t. Instead, he’s pushed sole responsibility to governors, while telling them to fly blind without the critical data we derive from testing. If the Biden Administration were in office today, it would have prioritized this testing issue months ago. Since the Trump Administration both can’t and won’t, Congress should step in and establish the Pandemic Testing Board, giving it the authority and funding it needs to succeed.
Once we identify COVID-19 infected people, we need to isolate them and identify those to whom they might have unwittingly spread the disease. This is called contact tracing, and our public health professionals do it every day to halt the transmission of infectious diseases already in our midst, including for tuberculosis and measles. To battle a pandemic as large as COVID-19, it will require not just new privacy-protecting technology, but also trained people.
Through tough times in our past, generations of Americans have stood up and selflessly answered the call to serve their fellow citizens. We need to harness this spirit of empathy, decency, and unity today and form a new U.S. Public Health Jobs Corps of at least 100,000 people to mobilize Americans across the country, including AmeriCorps and Peace Corps Volunteers and those laid off by the crisis. Massachusetts has already launched its own. The U.S. Public Health Jobs Corps could serve in a variety of important functions, including ensuring contact tracing reaches every underserved community in America — ideally by members of those communities themselves. Already the data shows these communities are being left behind, even as they are suffering the brunt of the pandemic. Perhaps even more importantly, the U.S. Public Health Jobs Corps would become the permanent foundation for a stronger national community public health service that could eventually transition to fight the opioid epidemic and address other national public health priorities.
Finally, we need to be working right now on the conditions under which the private sector, industry by industry, can reopen safely. During the H1N1 epidemic, the Obama-Biden Administration tasked the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Centers for Disease Control with issuing detailed guidance for how employers should protect their workers. Then OSHA enforced the law based on those guidelines. And it didn’t stop there. After the epidemic, it spent years preparing for the next one with a comprehensive and specific permanent infectious disease standard that would have required health facilities and certain other high exposure workplaces to permanently implement infection control programs to protect their workers. The Obama-Biden Administration handed this standard to the Trump Administration, but instead of moving it to rulemaking, the Trump Administration shelved it.
Today, the Trump Administration is still not driving a serious enforcement effort, putting the health and safety of workers at risk every day. We should immediately double the number of OSHA investigators to enforce the law and existing standards and guidelines, release and enforce an Emergency Temporary Standard to give employers and employees more comprehensive and specific guidance on what to do to reduce the spread of COVID-19, and get to work bringing a permanent standard to conclusion and expanding it to include all relevant workplaces, from manufacturing plants to grocery stores.
We want our country to get moving and healthy again. But we must take the necessary, rational steps, grounded in science, to do so safely, so COVID-19 doesn’t come roaring back, shredding our still-fragile health care system and the green shoots of an economic reopening. Donald Trump says he’s a wartime president. It’s time for him to take responsibility and act like one.
Biden for President Public Health Advisory Committee Members:
Dr. Zeke Emanuel, Vice Provost of Global Initiatives and University Professor, Perelman School of Medicine and The Wharton School at The University of Pennsylvania
Dr. Rebecca Katz, Associate Professor, the Department of Microbiology & Immunology and Co-Director of the Center for Global Health Science and Security at Georgetown University
Dr. David Kessler, Former Commissioner, U.S. Food & Drug Administration and Professor of Epidemiology, Biostatistics, and Pediatrics, University of California, San Francisco
Dr. Nicole Lurie, Distinguished Health Policy Fellow, Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics (LDI), The University of Pennsylvania
Lisa Monaco, Former Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Advisor to President Obama
Dr. Vivek Murthy, 19th Surgeon General of the United States
Note: University affiliations are for identification purposes only.
As the unprecedented number of Americans filing unemployment claims rose once again, Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic candidate for president, announced a new plan to transform unemployment insurance into Employment Insurance for millions of workers by getting all 50 states to adopt and dramatically scale up short-time compensation programs.
Vice President Biden released the following statement on today’s unemployment claims and his new plan on scaling up employment insurance:
Today, we learned that another 5.2 million people have filed unemployment claims, bringing the total to more than 22 million in the last month.
This dire economic dislocation stems from the need to protect public health through strong social distancing measures. But let’s not forget: these measures are required to the extent they are because we didn’t prepare early enough, and when the virus surfaced in our communities, we didn’t test sufficiently to contain it. This pain is a product of poor decision making by Donald Trump.
With true American spirit, workers did not hesitate to sacrifice to save the lives of fellow citizens. But even as we temporarily shrink economic activity, there’s no reason why the incomes of working people must shrink, too.
As we navigate this crisis, our paramount economic priority must be to make American workers whole, so they retain their income and benefits during this period of social distancing. For the workers that are laid off, we should swiftly compensate for lost wages and health benefits for all of them, not just those who can make it through the bureaucracy.
But we should also be doing more — much more — to reduce the number of people who are laid off in the first place. We should be committed to keeping as many people as possible attached to their employment, so they can easily return to work when appropriate, and maintain their income and benefits.
This is more than just the right thing to do — it is the surest road to a rapid recovery, because the faster everyone returns to their jobs, the faster we can improve demand and get our economy running again.
The Trump Administration has been given a number of extraordinary tools to make this happen — to keep people employed. Yet, they are failing to use them effectively. For more people to stay in their jobs, Donald Trump has to do his job.
As this crisis continues to unfold, I will be putting forward ideas to not only better address the immediate needs of working Americans, but also what is needed for long-term, structural reform to make our economy work for all its people.
So today, as we see these chilling numbers of job losses — each one a mother or father, a neighbor or friend, a proud, hardworking American — I am calling for a bigger and bolder approach to keeping people on the job in times of crisis. That idea is called “short-time compensation” or “work-sharing.” I call it Employment Insurance.
The Biden Plan to Scale Up Employment Insurance by Reforming Short-Time Compensation Programs
Transform unemployment insurance into Employment Insurance for millions of workers by getting all 50 states to adopt and dramatically scale up short-time compensation programs. Under short-time compensation — also known as work sharing — firms in distress keep workers employed but at reduced hours and the federal government helps make up the difference in wages. The Obama-Biden administration championed this approach in the U.S., and so far 27 states have established short-time compensation programs.
These programs must become more flexible and attractive to both employers and employees, so that as many workers as possible can remain attached to their jobs and receive full wages and health benefits during crisis times, even if employers must significantly cut their hours.
Germany has long used short-time work programs to protect jobs in recessions, so that workers are ready to hit the ground running as the economy improves. And this approach is especially well suited to the current moment, when we can expect a more gradual recovery in certain sectors, with some businesses operating a partial capacity for an extended period.
In short, we should start thinking of this as Employment Insurance more than Unemployment Insurance.
For the current crisis, the administration should move rapidly to scale up short-time compensation to save or restore millions of jobs. Specifically:
Small businesses who use this program must be able to get help to cover their worker’s benefits as well as their other costs, like rent and non-payroll overhead, as they are partially shut down through the crisis. Companies that fulfill the goal of payroll protection by using work sharing should not be punished by being excluded from any small business program for loans or forgiveness that is tied to essential overhead in proportion to their fall in revenues.
The federal government should temporarily waive the need for states to “experience rate” companies, that is, force employers to pay higher taxes in the future if they use short-time compensation now.
These are crisis measures, but we can and should do more to strengthen short-time compensation to prevent layoffs in future downturns, learning lessons from other nations and from those states in America that have been leading the way.
As President, Joe Biden would pursue permanent reform of short-time compensation, through the following steps:
Establish 100% federal financing: Currently, states bear the burden of paying for short-time compensation, except in emergencies. Yet, state unemployment funds are already straining under the burden of unprecedented numbers of unemployment claims. Joe Biden would call for short-time compensation to be 100% permanently funded by the federal government to catalyze far greater use of short-time compensation that can keep workers working and connected to their benefits and work relationships.
Secure participation from all 50 states, DC, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands: 23 states still have not established short-time compensation programs. This initiative is too important to leave out millions of Americans. Joe Biden would make it a top priority, using a mix of conditioned assistance and additional incentives, to ensure universal participation, consistent with Supreme Court precedent in Dole and Sebelius.
Create a tax credit for employers’ extra health care costs: Employers must currently provide full health benefits for employees even if they are reducing hours. While it is crucial that employees keep their full benefits, having to fund the full health care costs of workers when they are seeing a significant fall in revenue can discourage companies from choosing short-time compensation over layoffs. Joe Biden would create a refundable tax credit that would reimburse companies as well as non-profits for the extra costs of providing full health benefits of all their workers during a period of work hour reductions.
Raise caps on employer work reductions: States usually cap work hour reductions at 40% to 60%. If your hours go down more than that, you can’t participate. In deep downturns, companies may need to reduce hours even further to prevent layoffs. Raising those caps to 80%, with waivers for extreme circumstances, will help employers keep people in their jobs, even in severe recessions.
Launch a major awareness campaign to improve business participation rates. During the last recession, Rhode Island had much greater participation in its short-time compensation program than the national average. One study from the Brookings Institution found that the chief reason for that was that the state “aggressively marketed work sharing to employers engaged in layoffs during the Great Recession and made use of the media to highlight potential work-sharing benefits.” Joe Biden would take a Rhode Island-style marketing campaign nationwide.
Build automatic triggers based on economic and public health conditions. Enhancements to short-time compensation and unemployment insurance tied to the COVID-19 crisis should be automatically extended based on economic and health conditions, and renewed in future crises. Workers and businesses should not be held hostage by partisans in Congress.
Today, as the nation is too consumed with the coronavirus pandemic to mark Equal Pay Day, Lilly Ledbetter, for whom the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was signed as Barack Obama’s first order of business as President upon taking office 2009, endorsed Joe Biden for President of the United States:
“This is the first time in more than 12 years that I am at home on Equal Pay Day. I’m usually in some part of the country with a huge crowd of women and men who are dedicated to closing the pay gap. Instead I am staying home, watching along with so many other people as the current president shows Americans just how little he cares about working families.
“As Equal Pay Day reminds us, women are paid far less than men. This pandemic is only increasing the inequalities facing women in this country. As the majority of the health care workforce, women are on the frontlines of this crisis, at times putting their own health at risk or separating from their families, while taking care of our country’s sick and vulnerable. And, as this crisis forces women to work from home, work fewer hours, lose their jobs, many at the same time are taking care of their families or trying to teach their kids at home. Yet they still face paycheck discrimination, just like I did so many years ago.
“I know Joe Biden. He understands what it’s like to be a single parent. And, he will fight for equal pay and working women, just as he always has. That’s why I am proud to endorse him to be our next president.”
Ledbetter won a historic gender pay discrimination case against her employer, Goodyear Tire and Rubbery Company, after she was paid less than her male counterparts simply because she was a woman. When the Supreme Court overturned the case, she took her fight to Congress and lobbied for a legislative fix. She is the namesake of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the first piece of legislation signed into law during the Obama-Biden Administration.
Equal Pay Day symbolizes how far into 2020 the average woman has to work to make what the average white man made in 2019.For every dollar a man makes, the average woman makes 82 cents. For a woman who works full time, year round, that’s a gap of more than $10,000 annually and over $400,000 over a forty-year career. The pay gap is even wider for women of color.
The pay gap has significant impacts on American families and our economy overall. If women earned as much as men, the poverty rate for working single women and the children who live with them would be cut in half.
Biden for President has previously announced more than 2,500 endorsements from national, state, and local leaders, including current and former U.S. senators and representatives, governors, state elected officials, community leaders, and national security professionals.
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 investing in communities through housing, “a right, not a privilege.” This is from the Biden Campaign:
Joe Biden is running for President to rebuild the middle class and ensure that this time everyone comes along. He believes the middle class isn’t a number, but a value set which includes the ability to own your own home and live in a safe community. Housing should be a right, not a privilege.
Today, however, far too many Americans lack access to affordable and quality housing. Nationwide, we have a shortage of available, affordable housing units for low-income individuals. Tens of millions of Americans spend more than 30% of their income on housing – leaving them with nowhere near enough money left over to meet other needs, from groceries to prescription drugs. And, tens of millions of Americans live in homes that endanger their health and safety.
Communities of color are disproportionately impacted by the failures in our housing markets, with homeownership rates for Black and Latino individuals falling far below the rate for white individuals. Because home ownership is how many families save and build wealth, these racial disparities in home ownership contribute to the racial wealth gap. It is far past time to put an end to systemic housing discrimination and other contributors to this disparity.
As President, Joe Biden will invest $640 billion over 10 years so every American has access to housing that is affordable, stable, safe and healthy, accessible, energy efficient and resilient, and located near good schools and with a reasonable commute to their jobs. Biden will do this by:
Ending redlining and other discriminatory and unfair
practices in the housing market.
Providing financial assistance to help hard-working
Americans buy or rent safe, quality housing, including down payment assistance
through a refundable and advanceable tax credit and fully funding federal
Increasing the supply, lowering the cost, and improving the
quality of housing, including through investments in resilience, energy
efficiency, and accessibility of homes.
Pursuing a comprehensive approach to ending
While the housing challenges Americans face in different rural and urban
communities across the country may vary, every American in every zip code
should have access to housing that is:
affordable – taking up no more than 30% of income so
they have money left over to meet other needs;
stable – providing families with the
consistency they need to maintain jobs, perform well in
school, and develop social networks necessary for well-being;
safe and healthy – protecting families from
environmental and social risks from polluted air to lead contamination to gun
accessible – meeting the needs of individuals
with disabilities so they can live in their communities;
energy efficient and resilient – reducing our greenhouse
gas emissions and withstanding the impacts of climate change; and
located near good schools and with a reasonable commute
to their jobs.
END REDLINING AND OTHER DISCRIMINATORY AND UNFAIR PRACTICES IN THE
Protect homeowners and renters from abusive lenders and
landlords through a new Homeowner and Renter Bill of Rights. Modeled
on the California Homeowner Bill of Rights,
Biden will enact legislation to end many shortcomings in the mortgage and
rental markets. This new Bill of Rights will prevent mortgage brokers from
leading borrowers into loans that cost more than appropriate, prevent mortgage
servicers from advancing a foreclosure when the homeowner is in the process of
receiving a loan modification, give homeowners a private right of action to
seek financial redress from mortgage lenders and servicers that violate these
protections, and give borrowers the right to a timely notification on the
status of their loan modifications and to be able to appeal modification
denials. Building on the Obama-Biden Administration’s Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure
Act, the Bill of Rights will also expand protections for renters.
For example, the Bill of Rights will include a law prohibiting
landlords from discriminating against renters receiving federal housing
Protect tenants from eviction. Housing evictions
can have devastating consequences for families and often stem from
relatively small shortfalls in
rent. As a former public defender, Biden appreciates the difference legal
representation can make for those facing eviction. As President, he will work
to enact Majority Whip James E. Clyburn and Senator Michael Bennet’s Legal Assistance to Prevent
Evictions Act of 2020, which will help tenants facing eviction
access legal assistance. He also will encourage localities to create eviction
diversion programs, including mediation, payment plans, and financial literacy
Eliminate local and state housing regulations that
perpetuate discrimination. Exclusionary zoning has for decades been
strategically used to keep people of color and low-income families out of
certain communities. As President, Biden will enact legislation requiring any
state receiving federal dollars through the Community Development Block Grants
or Surface Transportation Block Grants to develop a strategy for inclusionary
zoning, as proposed in the HOME Act of 2019 by
Majority Whip Clyburn and Senator Cory Booker. Biden will also invest $300
million in Local Housing Policy Grants to
give states and localities the technical assistance and planning support they
need to eliminate exclusionary zoning policies and other local regulations that
contribute to sprawl.
Hold financial institutions accountable for
discriminatory practices in the housing market. The Obama-Biden
Administration held major national financial institutions accountable for
discriminatory lending practices, securing hundreds of millions of dollars in
settlements to help borrowers who had been harmed by their practices. And in
2013, the Obama-Biden Administration codified a
long-standing, court-supported view that lending practices that have a
discriminatory effect can be challenged even if discrimination was not
explicit. But now the Trump Administration is seeking to gut this
disparate impact standard by significantly increasing the burden of proof for
those claiming discrimination. In the Biden Administration, this change will be
reversed to ensure financial institutions are held accountable for serving all
Strengthen and expand the Community Reinvestment Act to
ensure that our nation’s bank and non-bank financial services institutions are
serving all communities. The Community Reinvestment Act currently
regulates banks, but does little to ensure that “fintechs” and non-bank lenders
are providing responsible access to all members of the community. On top of
that gap, the Trump Administration is proposing to weaken the law by
allowing lenders to receive a passing rating even if the lenders are excluding
many neighborhoods and borrowers. Biden will expand the Community
Reinvestment Act to apply to mortgage and insurance companies, to add a
requirement for financial services institutions to provide a statement
outlining their commitment to the public interest, and, importantly, to close
loopholes that would allow these institutions to avoid lending and investing in
all of the communities they serve.
Roll back Trump Administration policies gutting fair
lending and fair housing protections for homeowners. Biden will
implement the Obama-Biden Administration’s Affirmatively Furthering Fair
Housing Rule requiring communities receiving certain federal
funding to proactively examine housing patterns and identify and address
policies that have a discriminatory effect. The Trump Administration suspended this rule
in 2018. Biden will ensure effective and rigorous enforcement of the Fair
Housing Act and the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act. And, he will reinstate the
federal risk-sharing program which
has helped secure financing for thousands of
affordable rental housing units in partnership with housing finance
Restore the federal government’s power to enforce
settlements against discriminatory lenders. The Trump Administration
has stripped the Office of Fair Lending
and Equal Opportunity, a division of the Consumer Financial
Protection Bureau, of its power to enforce settlements against lenders found to
have discriminated against borrowers – for example by charging significantly
higher interest rates for people of color than white individuals. Biden will
return power to the division so it can protect consumers from discrimination.
Tackle racial bias that leads to homes in communities of
color being assessed by appraisers below their fair value. Housing in
communities primarily comprised of people of color is valued at tens of thousands of dollars below
majority-white communities even when all other factors are the same,
contributing to the racial wealth gap. To counteract this racial bias, Biden
will establish a national standard for housing appraisals that ensures
appraisers have adequate training and a full appreciation for neighborhoods and
do not hold implicit biases because of a lack of community understanding. An
objective national standard for appraisals will also make it harder for
financial institutions to put pressure on appraisers to their benefit.
PROVIDE FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE TO HELP HARD-WORKING
AMERICANS BUY OR RENT QUALITY HOUSING
Help families buy their first homes and build wealth by
creating a new refundable, advanceable tax credit of up to $15,000. Biden’s
new First Down Payment Tax Credit will help families offset the costs of
homebuying and help millions of families lay down roots for the first time.
Building off of a temporary tax credit expanded
as part of the Recovery Act, this tax credit will be permanent and advanceable,
meaning that homebuyers receive the tax credit when they make the purchase
instead of waiting to receive the assistance when they file taxes the following
ProvideSection 8 housing vouchers to
every eligible family so that no one has to pay more than 30% of their income
for rental housing. Roughly three in four households eligible for
Section 8 rental assistance do not receive housing assistance because the
program is underfunded. Biden’s approach is straightforward: the Section 8
rental housing assistance program should be fully funded so that everyone
eligible gets the assistance they need to pay their rent for a safe home. Biden
will devote resources to both voucher-based rental assistance and the
project-based program. Over time, this approach will provide assistance to
at least 17 million low-income
families. And, as part of the Homeowner and Renter Bill of Rights, Biden will
enact a law prohibiting
landlords from discriminating against renters receiving federal housing
Create a new renter’s tax credit to help more low-income
families. Biden will work with Congress to enact a new renter’s tax credit,
designed to reduce rent and utilities to 30% of income for low-income
individuals and families who may make too much money to qualify for a Section 8
voucher but still struggle to pay their rent. He will allocate $5 billion in
federal funding for the tax credit every year.
Expand housing benefits for first-responders, public
school educators, and other public and national service workers who commit to
living in persistently impoverished communities or who work in neighborhoods
with low affordable housing stock. Biden will expand the Good Neighbor Next Door program,
which is designed to help strengthen communities that have experienced
significant underinvestment and high rates of poverty while also providing
opportunities for first responders, educators, and those engaged in national
service to purchase homes in those same communities. Specifically, Biden will
expand the program through additional down-payment assistance, partnering with
state housing agencies, tribal governments, local governments, and state/local
banks to offer the program’s existing significant discount on the price of a
home on a larger pool of homes, and providing access to a low-interest loan to
rehabilitate these homes. And, he will ensure these resources are also
available to public servants who work in neighborhoods with low affordable
Create the Public Credit Reporting Agency. Being
able to obtain a credit report is a critical step for homeownership. But today
credit reports, which are issued by just three large private companies, are
rife with problems: they often contain errors, they leave many “credit invisible” due to the
sources used to generate a credit score, and they contribute to racial disparities.
Biden will create a new public credit reporting agency within the Consumer
Financial Protection Bureau to provide consumers with a government option that
seeks to minimize racial disparities, for example by ensuring the algorithms
used for credit scoring don’t have a discriminatory impact, and by accepting
non-traditional sources of data like rental history and utility bills to
Reducing Greenhouse Gases and Lowering Working
Families’ Electricity Bills
As Biden announced in his climate plan, he 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. In addition to the $10 billion retrofitting fund
described below, other policies he will pursue to reduce the carbon footprint
of residential buildings include:
Directing the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban
Development to make housing for low-income communities more efficient.
Directing the U.S. Department of Energy to redouble
efforts to accelerate new efficiency standards for household appliances and
Repairing and accelerating the building code process, and
creating a new funding mechanism for states and cities to adopt strict
building codes and train builders and inspectors.
Read Biden’s full plan to address the climate
emergency at joebiden.com/climate.
INCREASE THE SUPPLY, LOWER THE COST, AND IMPROVE THE QUALITY OF
Establish a $100 billion Affordable Housing Fund to
construct and upgrade affordable housing.
$65 billion in new incentives for state housing
authorities and the Indian Housing Block Grant program to construct or
rehabilitate low-cost, efficient, resilient, and accessible housing in areas
where affordable housing is in short supply. These funds will be
directed toward communities that are suffering from an affordability crisis and
that are willing to implement new zoning laws that encourage more affordable
$10 billion to make homes more energy efficient. This
retrofitting will lower families’ energy bills, create jobs for workers in the
trades in every state in the nation, and reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.
$5 billion to increase the stock of affordable housing as
part of larger community development efforts. Specifically, these
funds will expand the HOME program, ensuring
that the program’s requirements are more conducive to supporting first-time
homebuyers, and the Capital Magnet Fund,
which spurs private investment in affordable housing and economic development
in distressed communities. Among other uses, localities can use these funds to
purchase vacant, underdeveloped, or underutilized property and construct
Increase funding for the Housing Trust Fund by
$20 billion. Biden will increase the availability of affordable
housing through the Housing Trust Fund, paid for by an increase in the
assessment on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. These additional dollars will support
the construction and rehabilitation of affordable housing units.
Provide tax incentives for the construction of more affordable
housing in communities that need it most. As President, Biden will
expand the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit –
a tax provision designed to incentivize the construction or rehabilitation of
affordable housing for low-income tenants that has created nearly 3 million affordable
housing units since the mid-1980s – with a $10 billion investment.
This investment will be designed to make the credit more efficient,
dramatically increasing the number of new or rehabilitated affordable housing
units. And, he will ensure that urban, suburban, and rural areas all benefit
from the credit. Biden will also invest in the development and rehabilitation
of single family homes across distressed urban, suburban, and rural
neighborhoods through the Neighborhood Homes Investment Act.
Invest in community development. In addition to
the community development Biden is proposing as part of his infrastructure initiative,
he will also expand flexible funding for the Community Development Block Grant
by $10 billion over ten years. The Community Development Block Grant funds
local efforts to expand affordable housing, improve infrastructure, and
increase economic opportunities for low-income individuals and communities.
These funds are flexible federal grants that localities receive to deal with
their specific challenges and support stabilization and infrastructure.
Eliminate local and state housing regulations that limit
affordable housing options and contribute to urban sprawl. Housing
policy can be used as a tool to battle climate change. Many lower- and
middle-income Americans are forced to live far away from job centers due to
high housing costs, leading not only to workers being overburdened by long
commutes and transportation costs, but also to higher greenhouse gas emissions.
Biden will tie new federal investments in housing to a requirement that states
and localities eliminate regulations that reduce the availability of affordable
housing and contribute to sprawl. He will direct his Secretaries of Housing and
Urban Development and Transportation to identify existing federal grant
programs that can be amended by adding zoning reform as a requirement. And,
Biden will expand investments in Local Housing Policy Grants to
give states and localities the technical assistance and planning support they
need to modernize housing regulations.
Ensure minority-owned businesses benefit from investment
in housing construction and repair. To further support wealth creation
among Black and Latino families, Biden will require his Administration to take
all available steps to make sure minority-owned businesses are able to benefit
from ongoing and new federal housing and infrastructure spending.
Use federal transit dollars to leverage local
investment in transit and affordable housing
Smart transit and regional planning policies are essential for ensuring
access to affordable housing, avoiding sprawl, improving quality of life by
reducing the distance between living and leisure areas, and mitigating
climate change. To meet these goals, Biden will ensure a portion of new
federal transit dollars are designed to leverage local investment in both
transit and affordable housing in transit corridors. Biden has proposed the
following new transit investments:
Offer tens of millions of Americans new transportation
options. Outside major cities, most Americans do
not have access to high-quality, reliable public transportation; and within
urban areas, it’s often in need of repair. As a result, workers and families
rely on cars, which can be a big financial burden, clog roadways, and –
along with light-duty trucks – significantly increase U.S. greenhouse gas
emissions. As President, Biden will aim to provide all Americans in
municipalities of more than 100,000 people with quality public transportation
by 2030. To that end, he’ll increase flexible federal investments, helping
cities and towns to install light rail networks and to improve existing
transit and bus lines. He’ll also help them to invest in infrastructure for
pedestrians, cyclists, and riders of e-scooters and other micro-mobility
vehicles. And, Biden will work to make sure that new, fast-growing areas are
designed and built with public transit in mind. Specifically, he will create
a new program that gives rapidly expanding communities the resources to build
in public transit options from the start.
Reduce congestion by working with metropolitan regions
to plan smarter growth. Biden will empower city, county, regional,
and state leaders to explore new, smarter, climate-friendly strategies to
help reduce average commute times and build more vibrant main streets.
Specifically, Biden will create a competitive grant program to help leaders
rethink and redesign regional transportation systems, to get commuters where
they are going safer, faster, and more efficiently. At the same time, Biden
will boost highway funding by 10% and allocate the new funding to states that
embrace smart climate design and pollution reduction, incentivizing them to
invest in greenhouse gas reduction. States will also be free to use existing
highway funding for alternative transportation options.
Connect workers to jobs. For too many
low-income workers, the cost of transportation and time it takes them to
commute to work every day are significant barriers. As President, Biden will
dedicate an additional $10 billion over 10 years specifically for transit
projects that serve high-poverty areas with limited transportation options,
so that workers seeking a better life won’t have to spend as much getting to
Read Biden’s full infrastructure plan at joebiden.com/infrastructure.
Ensure rural communities have access to affordable and
accessible homes. The Biden Administration will increase funding for
needed repairs of affordable rental housing properties and construction of new
property through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Housing Service,
including the Multi-Family Direct Loans and
the Single Family Direct Loans programs, which
support the construction of housing for low income, disabled, or elderly
individuals in rural communities. Majority Whip Clyburn’s 10-20-30 plan has already
been applied to a number of Rural Development programs in order to ensure a
portion of funds are dedicated to serving families living in areas facing
persistent poverty. As President, Biden will apply the
10-20-30 plan to all federal programs.
Expand funding for mission-driven, community-based
financial institutions that invest in building new housing in underserved
areas. As part of his plan to reinvest in communities across the
country, including in rural areas, Biden will expand funding for the Community Development Financial
Institutions Fund, which supports local, “mission-driven” financial
institutions in low-income areas around the U.S. – including those invested in
building new housing in underserved areas.
Drive additional capital into low-income communities to
spur the development of low-income housing. The New Markets Tax Credit
has drawn in $8 of private investment for every
$1 of federal investment in low-income communities by providing
tax credits to investors in community development organizations that support
everything from supermarkets to real estate projects to manufacturing
plants. Biden will expand the program
to provide $5 billion in support every year, and will make the program
permanent so communities can take the credit into account in their long-term
For all of these new housing
investments, those receiving assistance will be required to abide by
Davis-Bacon Act wage requirements so that jobs created with these investments
support family sustaining wages and benefits. And, the Biden Administration
will encourage the use of resources and materials that are sourced domestically,
as well as the use of project labor agreements.
Guarantee safe housing for our military families
The government has broken its trust with military families by providing
sub-par housing. Now, we have to work twice as hard to rebuild this trust.
That will require the utmost transparency and accountability from both the
government and the private sector partners charged with housing the families
of our service members. The Biden Administration will:
Enforce a comprehensive and standardized tenant Bill of
Rights for all military families, and as advocates have rightly demanded,
ensure U.S. Department of Defense senior leadership enforces compliance. We
won’t be making more empty promises to military families. We will hold these
landlords, and ourselves, accountable.
Require regular, standardized, objective, and published
reporting of military family satisfaction and concerns from all housing.
Establish a public-facing document outlining expectations
of quality and consequences for all housing providers and, when necessary,
terminate long-term leases held by private companies.
Read Biden’s full plan for military families at joebiden.com/militaryfamilies.
PURSUE A COMPREHENSIVE APPROACH TO ENDING HOMELESSNESS
Develop a national strategy for making housing a right
for all. Biden believes everyone should have the right to a safe roof
over their head. On the first day of his Administration, he will direct his Secretary
of Housing and Urban Development to lead a task force of mayors and other local
elected officials to put on his desk within 100 days a roadmap for making this
right a reality nationwide. Mayors and local elected officials are on the front
lines of tackling homelessness, so Biden will use their expertise to help the
federal government identify best practices that should be replicated across the
Provide emergency funding designed to tackle the
homelessness crisis. Biden will work with Congress to secure passage
of Congresswoman Maxine Waters’ Ending Homelessness Act.
This bill funds a comprehensive, holistic strategy to ending homelessness,
including everything from case management to emergency shelters to additional
housing vouchers for homeless individuals. In total, this law will invest $13
billion to tackle homelessness over five years, including $5 billion for
McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants, and the law will create more than 400,000 additional
housing units for homeless individuals. In addition, Biden will ensure part of
this grant funding is specifically targeted to assist homeless children and
Reduce homelessness among veterans. The
Obama-Biden Administration cut the population of homeless
veterans by almost half. But with just over 23,000 veterans without shelter on
any given night, we have much more work to do. Biden will work with
Congress to continue to drive down veteran homelessness by permanently
authorizing the Supportive Services for Veterans Families program, which
provides critical funding for wrap-around services for those facing
homelessness. President Biden will also work to ensure that we better
understand the unique needs of women and LGBTQ veterans experiencing
homelessness. And, he will create safe, modern, clean, and recovery-oriented
housing for veterans being treated for substance use disorders and those who
are homeless by refurbishing buildings condemned or not in use, such as the
massive VA Los Angeles campus. Read Biden’s full plan to support our
veterans at joebiden.com/veterans.
Protect LGBTQ individuals. The Obama-Biden
Administration enforced the civil rights of the LGBTQ community, including by
ensuring federally funded homeless shelters provide housing according to an individual’s gender
identity and cannot refuse services based
on gender identity or sexual orientation. The Trump Administration has
since proposed allowing shelters to discriminate against transgender people
when determining their accommodations, for example by forcing transgender women
to sleep and use the bathroom in the same place as men. As President, Biden
will secure the passage of the Equality Act, ensuring
that no President can ever again single-handedly roll back civil rights
protections for LGBTQ individuals, including in housing and homeless shelters.
And, he will increase funding for the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act to
ensure LGBTQ individuals have access to transitional living programs that
provide essential services like job counseling and mental and physical health
Expand access to supportive housing and services for
individuals with disabilities and the elderly. A Biden Administration
will increase the availability of supportive and accessible housing for seniors
and individuals with disabilities, including through the Supportive Housing for
the Elderly (“Section 202”) and
Supportive Housing for Individuals with Disabilities (“Section 811”) programs.
Biden also will increase resources for mental health services and substance use
disorder treatment, including through the Projects for Assistance in
Transition from Homelessness program.
Set a national goal of ensuring 100% of formerly
incarcerated individuals have housing upon reentry. If incarcerated
individuals do not find housing upon reentry, that lack of housing can be
completely destabilizing and limit their likelihood of successfully staying out
of the criminal justice system and fulfilling their potential. Biden will work
toward a goal of ensuring 100% of formerly incarcerated individuals – at the
federal and state level – have housing upon release. He’ll start by eliminating
barriers keeping formerly incarcerated individuals from accessing public
assistance, including housing support. He’ll direct the U.S. Department of
Housing and Urban Development to only contract with entities that are open to
housing individuals looking for a second chance. And, he’ll expand funding for transitional
housing, which has been drastically cut under
the Trump Administration.
Ensure survivors of domestic and sexual violence have
safe, affordable housing
Biden has put forward a comprehensive plan to strengthen social supports for
survivors of domestic and sexual violence and human trafficking, including
helping victims secure housing, gain economic stability, and recover from the
trauma of abuse. The U.S. Conference of Mayors has identified domestic
violence as a top driver of family homelessness, and research points
to domestic violence as a key cause of homelessness for many women. And,
domestic violence survivors and their children often live in unstable housing
conditions, such as with relatives or friends in crowded and potentially
exploitative conditions or returning to abusive partners. Research demonstrates
that providing flexibility in eligibility, services, and support helps
survivors feel safer and rebuild their lives after violence.
The Biden plan will cut through the red tape that can slow down assistance
and limit options for survivors. Specifically, Biden will:
Establish a new coordinated housing initiative. Current
federal housing programs are insufficient for meeting the needs of domestic
and sexual violence survivors. Biden will bring federal agencies together to
create a comprehensive housing grant program tailored to survivors of
domestic and sexual violence. This grant program will include flexible
funding to support the practical needs of survivors; advocacy with landlords
and housing agencies to keep victims in housing; supportive services
including legal assistance, child care, and employment training; new
permanent housing vouchers; increased funding for the VAWA transitional
housing program; and home ownership opportunities.
Expand access to housing assistance. Biden
will strengthen the VAWA housing provisions, for example by making it easier for
victims to retain their federal housing subsidy when needed for safety
Protect survivors from housing discrimination. The Fair Housing Act protects
women from gender discrimination in public and private housing, including
survivors who may be unfairly evicted from housing because of domestic
violence. The Trump Administration proposed rolling
back Fair Housing protections by making it harder to prove disparate impact
claims and allowing landlords and banks to use discriminatory practices. The
Biden Administration will vigorously enforce the Fair Housing Act. VAWA also
protects survivors from discrimination in subsidized housing and allows
survivors to transfer to new units if necessary for safety. But red tape
makes these provisions challenging to implement. The Biden plan will make it
easier for survivors to transfer their housing assistance and move to a new
home so that they can be safe.
Read Biden’s full plan to end violence against women at joebiden.com/VAWA.
Investing In Our Housing to Grow the Middle Class, Paid for by Making
Sure Corporations Pay Their Fair Share
Biden’s $640 billion investment in America’s housing is paid for by raising
taxes on corporations and large financial institutions. Specifically,
approximately $300 billion of the housing plan is devoted to new construction
and is encompassed in the $1.3 trillion infrastructure plan. The remaining
portion is paid for by instituting a financial fee on certain liabilities of
firms with over $50 billion in assets.
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.