Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, made his strongest attacks on Trump to date, taking Trump to task tens of thousands of needless deaths and millions who have lost their livelihoods as a result failures to effectively lead and take action to address the coronavirus pandemic. It was a condemnation of a federal government completely dismantled and dysfunctional.
Listening to the remarks, you are reminded that Biden was Obama’s partner in addressing multiple crises often all at once – he came into office with two wars, economic crisis. Soon after there was the swine flu. The BP Oil spill. Later the Ebola epidemic. Obama-Biden did what no president was able to do in 100 years: create a universal health care system which Trump has ceaselessly tried to dismantle, even during a pandemic, as millions are losing their employer-sponsored health insurance; global pact to address the existential threat of climate change. Obama-Biden did their best to address immigration reform, passing DACA; gun violence prevention; and after Michael Brown was murdered in Ferguson, Missouri, created a template for 21st Century Policing. They left it, along with a template for handling a global pandemic, for Trump, who ignored or shredded or repealed everything that the Obama administration created.
But Biden was there. He was not just “in the room” but was a partner. He knows how to amass the expertise to rebuild the institutions so harmed by a corrupt, self-serving ignoramus. Institutions like the CDC, once so respected; Justice Department which once stood for the Rule of Law; Environmental Protection Agency which once protected rather than pillaged the environment. –Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Here is a transcript of Vice President Biden’s remarks:
Good afternoon everyone.
And thank you to all the local officials joining me today.
Before I begin my remarks, I want to acknowledge that it was five years ago today when a white supremacist walked into the Mother Emanuel church in Charleston, South Carolina, and slaughtered my friend Reverend Clementa Pinckney and eight other parishioners.
It was hatred unbridled. It was a poisonous expression of the white supremacy that still infects our nation and our institutions — and of the dangers we face as a society if we cannot root out this corrosive and deadly ideology.
When I reflect back on the amazing grace and compassion and forgiveness of the Mother Emanuel community — I see the very best of who we are as Americans.
But we know that grace alone is not enough — we have to put in the work.
And we’re seeing the best of America in that as well — in the weeks of peaceful protests and civil actions taking place in cities and towns of every size all across the country.
People are keeping our eyes focused on how dangerous it is to live in Black and Brown skin in this country.
And Americans are out there marching, notwithstanding the fact that we’re in the middle of a pandemic.
On Monday, Donald Trump said, “if we stopped testing right now” for COVID, “we’d have very few cases, if any.” It’s a statement that’s not only absurd — it’s absolutely tragic.
And yesterday, the head of the White House task force on coronavirus — the Vice President — claimed success in this fight because deaths are “down to” fewer than 750 a day.
750 fathers and mothers and sisters and brothers and husbands, wives, children – dying every day.
More than 20,000 a month. That’s greater than World War II level casualties each month. That’s more than five 9/11’s each month.
And this Administration is self-congratulating?
That may be good enough for Donald Trump, but it will never, ever be acceptable if I am President.
Researchers have shown that tens of thousands of Americans have died needlessly because Donald Trump was slow to respond to this crisis, and then bungled the response.
For weeks in January and February, I was raising my concerns about how we needed to take this virus seriously, all while Trump was ignoring the reporting from the intelligence community in his daily briefing and the warnings of his closest advisors, and praising the Chinese government for being transparent in its handling of the virus, instead of demanding access for the CDC that Beijing was refusing to give.
The American people have sacrificed so much to fight this virus.
We’ve lost lives, we lost businesses, we’ve lost paychecks. And now, thanks to Donald Trump’s bungling, we may lose some of the progress we’ve begun to make. All because he’s lost interest.
He’s once again ignoring the facts. The public health response is still woefully lacking.
More than 117,000 people have died in the United States, with the average daily number of cases still climbing in 21 states — and we still don’t have what we need when it comes to rapid-results testing, contact tracing capacity, widely available personal protective equipment, or clear nationwide guidance.
Instead, President Trump pushes dangerous, disproven drugs, stands in the way of the CDC issuing guidelines on reopening, and he refuses to wear a mask, failing even the most basic test of leadership.
He’s scaled back the meetings of the COVID-19 task force in spite of experts saying testing and tracing is necessary for reopening — he’s sent his Testing Czar home.
Of the money provided to the Pentagon for essential medical supplies, only 15 percent has been moved out the door.
Donald Trump wants to style himself a wartime president against an invisible enemy — the coronavirus. But unlike any other war time leader, he takes no responsibility, he exercises no leadership, and now he’s surrendering the fight.
Instead of leading the charge to defeat this virus, he has waved the white flag and retreated.
And he is so eager to get back to his campaign rallies that he’ll put people at risk, in violation of CDC guidelines that still warn against large gatherings, as long as they sign a waiver promising not to hold his campaign liable.
Donald Trump’s failure to fight the coronavirus with the same energy and focus that he uses to troll his enemies on Twitter has cost us lives — and is putting hope for an economic recovery at risk.
Jobs numbers and retail sales reports were better than expected in May. That’s great news for our country. But now Donald Trump’s desire to declare victory and be done with it will only imperil our continued progress.
Our economy is still sputtering, with more than 20 million people unemployed and no clear guidance from the federal government for what businesses need to do to re-open safely and effectively for a strong recovery.
This isn’t a debate about whether to reopen — it’s about how we make reopening work for everyone.
The employees at the White House get daily COVID-19 tests. They know they are safe before they go to work — and they know their co-workers are safe. They have the confidence to resume their lives.
Workers across the country aren’t asking for daily testing — they’re just asking for regular, reliable access to tests. Don’t they deserve that?
So it’s not that Donald Trump doesn’t recognize the importance of testing. It’s that he’s not up to the task. And now, he’s seemingly decided that he doesn’t even want to try.
But just like he couldn’t wish COVID-19 away in March, just like he couldn’t tweet it away in April — he can’t ignore it away in June.
So I have some basic questions for President Donald Trump: What are you going to do to make sure every worker has access to regular testing so that they have the same confidence to go into a store or go back to work as White House staffers?
Why are you leaving schools and child care centers to navigate this uncertainty all on their own without the effective guidance and resources they need to help protect kids and their communities?
Why won’t you enforce an OSHA standard for worker protections during a global pandemic?
Why is it that the Main Street lending program, created more than two months ago by the Congress to help struggling small businesses, only opened for registration to lenders two days ago — and still hasn’t distributed a single penny?
And why won’t you disclose the names of the businesses who received a total of $500 billion in taxpayer funding? Why are they being hidden?
How many cronies got bailouts? How many donors?
What businesses had to shut down because they were denied funding in April, and what businesses get special approval thanks to a nod from the top?
Why did you get rid of the watchdog originally appointed to oversee it?
What are you trying to hide?
It’s bad management on top of bad planning on top of neglect. And it’s unacceptable.
Folks, here’s the truth: This pandemic is still here.
It’s going to be here for the foreseeable future — until we get it under control, or until we have a safe, proven, widely-available vaccine. COVID-19 is a fact of nature. We have to deal with this virus, and everything that comes with it, head on.
And we can deal with it, if we put in the work and invest in building a dynamic, resilient economy and health system capable of getting – and then staying – ahead of new outbreaks. We have the capacity and the resources to do that.
I’ve laid out the baseline steps of what needs to be done — from the “Make it Work” checklist for a successful, accountable recovery that I put out back in early April, to the steps for a strong re-opening that I released last week.
It’s not rocket science. It’s common sense. It’s straightforward. And that’s why this is perhaps the greatest indictment of Donald Trump’s complete lack of leadership.
He wasted months and months and months passing the buck, blaming everyone else, and refusing to act when we should have been preparing our country for a long-term response and building up our resiliency to respond to future flare-ups. Yet, we still don’t have a comprehensive system for collecting COVID-19 case data. These are the basics.
He should have been preparing us to weather the valleys and peaks of this virus. He should have been working to shore up the vulnerabilities in our health care system that have been laid bare by this crisis. He should have been working to bridge the inequities and strengthen the cracks in the foundation of our economic system that are exposed for all to see.
He hasn’t done any of it.
And because of the depth of Donald Trump’s failures, this pandemic will continue to be worse for all Americans, and much worse for Black and Brown Americans, who are getting hit the hardest. For folks in communities like Darby Borough and Yeadon.
Donald Trump thinks that if he puts his head in the sand, the American people will too.
But it doesn’t work that way. Not when hundreds of people are still dying every day, and millions are unemployed, wondering how they’re going to keep the lights on and food on the table.
Not when workers are weighed down with worries about their safety or what happens if they get sick.
And there are the steps that we need to be taking now to steer us – steady and strong – through these difficult times to a more resilient future.
First, we have to do everything we can to avoid deadly spikes of infections as people begin to go back out into the world. We are not that much better prepared today for a run of cases that over-fills our intensive care units than we were 3 months ago.
And second—we have to help give people the assurance and precautions that are necessary to restart our economy with confidence. If Americans lose what faith they have left in our government’s ability to manage this pandemic, we will see a much deeper and longer-lasting economic impact that will have even greater repercussions for people’s well-being.
Mr. President: Don’t leave the American people to face this threat on their own — with no guidance, resources, or leadership from the federal government.
Don’t let the support from the CARES Act expire next month while people are still hurting.
Don’t leave our front line workers exposed and without the resources they need. And don’t waste any more of our time.
The American people need the confidence of clear guidelines, grounded in science, that will allow them to resume their daily lives safely.
American businesses need the support of the federal government to continue to backstop them through the phases of reopening, and workers need the assurance that their health is your first concern.
America needs a president who will put the American people first, not his own ego. America needs a president who will do the work.
I’m ready on day one.
After more than three years in office, why isn’t Donald Trump?
Mr. President, wake up, get to work. There is so much more to be done.
Later, Biden issued a statement after news broke of John Bolton’s reports that Trump directly asked China to help him get re-elected, a quid pro quo for a trade deal. Here is his statement:
Today, we learned from John Bolton, the President’s former national security advisor, that President Trump sold out the American people to protect his political future. He reportedly directly asked Xi Jinping, China’s leader, to help him get re-elected. He was willing to trade away our most cherished democratic values for the empty promise of a flimsy trade deal that bailed him out of his disastrous tariff war that did so much damage to our farmers, manufacturers, and consumers.
If these accounts are true, it’s not only morally repugnant, it’s a violation of Donald Trump’s sacred duty to the American people to protect America’s interests and defend our values.
For months, our country and the world have suffered through the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 117,000 Americans have lost their lives and tens of millions of workers are unemployed — and we’ve been hurt far worse because of Donald Trump’s inability to lead and his failure to meet the crisis. Today we learned more about the depth and nature of that failure.
Why didn’t he act when the warning signs were so clear? Why did he ignore his briefings from the intelligence community, the warnings from his own team, and from me? Why did he repeatedly praise the Chinese government and President Xi as the coronavirus spread? Because he wanted to have a trade deal with China as a talking point for his re-election campaign. He thought that letting the President of China run the table on us in the long run would give him another term in the short run. In exchange, he was willing to stay silent on Hong Kong. In exchange, he condoned interning more than one million Uighurs in concentration camps. It’s no wonder that this week we’ve also seen reporting that China wants four more years of Donald Trump as president, because he has so weakened the United States.
Donald Trump’s behavior disgraces the American presidency. We knew that long before today’s revelations.
And my message to China’s leaders, or anyone else who President Trump might invite to interfere: stay out of our democracy. Stay out of our elections. The American people alone will decide the future of this country, and I am confident in the choice they will make.