Tag Archives: Joe Biden

Biden Offers “Make It Work” Checklist for Implementation and Oversight of the CARES Act

Joe Biden released a “Make It Work” checklist to provide the federal government with specific recommendations surrounding the implementation and oversight of the CARES Act, the recent stimulus package passed by Congress to ensure the economic relief and recovery effort works for families, workers, and small businesses. The checklist builds on Biden’s plan to combat coronavirus (COVID-19) released on March 12 and his emergency action plan for the economy released on March 26. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Absolutely none of the plans to mitigate against the twin crises posed by the coronavirus pandemic on Americans’ healthcare and the nation’s economy have come from Trump, but rather he has played catch up finally responding to the pleas and shaming from Congressional Democrats, who turned the trillion dollar slush fund for corporations into a $2.2 trillion relief bill, and from Governors and Mayors desperate for life-saving medical equipment and supplies. But his administration has proved woefully inadequate to implement. The $350 billion earmarked to rescue small businesses that is supposed to go into effect has no actual means; the billions in relief checks that are supposed to go to individuals are bogged down by a dysfunctional administration. While Trump has used the coronavirus pandemic to attack Democrats, and take advantage of the limited ability of Democratic candidates Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders to campaign by turning briefings into rallies and extort praise and adulation from desperate government officials, Biden has sought to point to the contrast his leadership would offer.

Joe Biden released a “Make It Work” checklist to provide the federal government with specific recommendations surrounding the implementation and oversight of the CARES Act, the recent stimulus package passed by Congress to ensure the economic relief and recovery effort works for families, workers, and small businesses. (Recall Trump’s signing statement which basically obviated the oversight the Democrats put into the Act.) The checklist builds on Biden’s plan to combat coronavirus (COVID-19) released on March 12 and his emergency action plan for the economy released on March 26. This is from the Biden campaign –Karen Rubin, news-photos-features.com.

Implementation and Oversight of the CARES Act:
The Biden “Make It Work” Checklist

1. Making Americans who lose their jobs financially whole by ensuring that they get their unemployment insurance on time and in full. The CARES Act provides for the equivalent of full wage replacement for average American wage-earners. With millions of Americans making claims for lost jobs in a single week – nearly five times the previous record – getting workers their wage replacement checks fast has never been more important. Let’s be clear: even with new funds from the CARES Act, if the White House does not do everything in its power to help all of our states swiftly implement these new unemployment (UI) benefits, states will be even more overwhelmed. Our states will need help with staffing capacity, technology solutions, training for new claims processors, and best practices from other jurisdictions. This must happen immediately – before the crush of UI claims becomes even more overwhelming. Americans desperate for relief to pay the rent and keep food on the tables for their children will judge states’ performance on the number of UI claims successfully processed, the number of Americans paid as quickly as possible, and how quickly they receive relief – beginning this week. Biden would:

Establish a UI delivery team to help states solve any implementation problems they face. He would authorize that team to provide funds beyond the $1 billion appropriated to states to add staffing and server capacity.

Apply a financial version of the Defense Production Act to ensure that banks that have contracts with states deliver unemployment benefit payments to laid-off workers do so in a timely manner, and that they offer prompt electronic payment options.

Issue clear guidance about the broadest possible eligibility and communicate that guidance effectively so that all Americans understand what benefits they are entitled to.

Make clear that gig workers can get partial benefits when they are still working if their compensation and hours have been significantly reduced.

Work with Congress to extend the provisions for the duration of the crisis. Four months is not enough to provide families the aid they need throughout this economic crisis.

2. Get direct cash relief as quickly as possible to as many Americans as possible. The CARES Act provides for $1,200 per person and $500 per child in cash relief for millions of  working families. Biden would prioritize getting Americans the cash relief they are owed and making it easy to access the relief. The Trump administration is already failing at this by causing needless worry for millions of seniors and people with disabilities. Biden would do so by:

Delivering the payments electronically whenever possible and delivering pre-paid debit cards to those who don’t have bank accounts. Payments should not be delayed just so that President Trump can put his signature on a physical check.

Making payments automatic for millions who haven’t filed a tax return based on information the government already has– and streamlining filing for others. The Trump Administration has needlessly confused millions by first announcing that Social Security recipients and people with disabilities would have to file a tax return to receive their stimulus rebate, before reversing themselves. The reversal is welcome. The CARES Act clearly allows the Treasury Department to send cash relief payments automatically to millions of seniors, people with disabilities, veterans, and others without burdening them with new paperwork during a pandemic. Treasury can send these payments using information that the Social Security Administration, the Veterans Administration, and other agencies already possess to get payments to these people. From the start, Biden would have announced an automatic, clear, and simple process of getting stimulus payments to these individuals. And he would extend these same automatic payments to others, like veterans, who still would not get automatic payments under the Administration’s plan. For those who do need to file a new form, Biden would establish an immediate, streamlined cash relief application process to make sure the neediest Americans are being taken care of. There is no reason that most of these Americans cannot be paid within days of filing this paperwork with the right focus, the right process, and the right prioritization.

Expanding the CARES Act relief to dependents left out of the legislation. Democrats fought and won cash relief for most working families, but the legislation left out relief for dependents aged 17 and older, whether a high school student or an older relative living with a family. That is a huge hole in support for working families. As he pushes for relief to extend as long as is needed to pull us through this crisis, Biden would immediately ask Congress to correct this and give these families the support they deserve.

Preparing for additional payments. As the crisis continues, Biden would provide additional cash payments as necessary.

3. Keep as many people on payroll as possible by working with all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands to make maximum use of “work-sharing” and “short-time compensation” programs. The Obama-Biden administration expanded an innovative form of “employment insurance,” called “work-sharing” or “short-time compensation.” Under these programs, when a business keeps its workers on payroll – but with reduced hours – federally-backed insurance will compensate those workers to make up for their reduced hours. Expanding short-time compensation has never been more important than today, when keeping workers on payrolls is an urgent national economic priority. Before this crisis, more than 20 states didn’t have programs to allow for short-time compensation, and they were often underutilized even in the states that did. The CARES Act provides for additional federal financing to expand work-sharing. To make that financing work, Biden would:

Direct the Department of Labor to ensure these programs are offered in 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.

Provide resources and guidance for states to create a simple application for small businesses, as well as larger businesses, to take advantage of work-sharing. 

Direct the Department of Labor to issue guidance applying the $600 per week emergency boost in unemployment insurance under the CARES Act to work-sharing programs.

Work with Congress to allow, on an emergency basis, work-sharing programs to pay benefits when hours are reduced dramatically, but employees are still working part-time. 

4. Take the necessary steps to ensure that all small businesses can access relief fast, not just those with the right connections. The CARES Act includes a small business program to provide loans and funds to help small businesses survive this storm and keep their workers on their payroll. It also provides the same relief to small nonprofits, many of whom are needed more than ever in a national crisis. However, there is no assurance that all eligible small businesses will receive support — and the program relies on private banks’ willingness and ability to swiftly provide these government-backed loans. An approach that simply assumes major banks will do this in a fair, efficient, and comprehensive way is likely to result in too few loans being made, too slowly, and mostly to larger and more well-resourced businesses with established relationships and connections. To get loans out quickly to the millions of qualifying Main Street small businesses that need relief — especially in rural and urban communities and those owned by women and minorities — we need a network of financial institutions committed to and capable of efficiently extending credit to every small business and nonprofit in need of support. The rules must be clear and simple to give every eligible small business the confidence that relief is coming, and that they can plan for the future with that relief in mind. There are millions of struggling businesses that do not have time to wait. Success cannot be judged by incremental progress or splashy announcements – we need an effort to direct hundreds of thousands of loans to businesses, beginning this week. For Biden, this would be designated as a vital national priority. Immediately, he would:

Apply a financial version of the Defense Production Act, to make all banks prioritize the swift processing of small business loans, putting them at the front of the line as a national priority. Banks would have to process loan applications within a few working days from all small businesses seeking relief, including the mom-and-pop shops that need help the most and are frequently pushed to the back of the line and those in low-income and traditionally underbanked geographies.

Cut red tape: immediately use the authority in the CARES Act to set simple and clear eligibility criteria; a hyper-streamlined application process; and an expedited process for the smallest of businesses who are most likely to be left out.

Explore creative solutions like working with payroll processing companies to speed up disbursement, including a one-click process for accessing funds.

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 – and whether they are maintaining payroll.

Make sure that the small business loan program is connected with the work-sharing strategy so that these initiatives are providing the maximum support towards keeping workers on payroll.

Halt evictions and foreclosures of small businesses, and work to provide forbearance on rent and mortgages to provide a lifeline as loans are being processed

Immediately reengage Congress to allow for small business loans that can keep workers on the payroll for far longer than eight weeks.

Immediately seek bipartisan agreement that additional resources will be available as needed to cover loans to eligible small businesses and nonprofits, so that there is not a race to exhaust the $350 billion that leaves some of the most deserving family and smaller-businesses out in the cold because they were not as well-connected or served well by banks.

5. Set clear rules on any industry support – they must help workers and communities, not bail out shareholders or financial industry creditors. The CARES Act gives the Treasury Secretary authority to provide financial assistance directly to large companies. While Democrats secured important protections against stock buybacks and executive compensation, Biden would set a higher bar to make sure that any industry bailout package helps workers and communities where the company operates – not the existing shareholders or creditors of some of the largest companies in the country. He would require that, in return for any financial assistance, large companies accept further conditions along the lines outlined by Senators Brown and Warren, including that they: 

Demonstrate they are prepared to actively participate in the public health effort, including production, distribution, and logistics capacity.

Agree to maintain payrolls at reasonable levels, for both full-time employees and contractors.

Allow taxpayers to share in the upside of any recovery, as was practiced during the last downturn, while ensuring existing shareholders and creditors share in any losses.

Agree to worker representation on their Board of Directors.

Commit to not transfer jobs out of the United States.

6. Establish strong oversight and transparency to police abuse and misappropriation by the Administration and the corporations who receive funds. In addition to enforcing strict conditions, Biden would ensure there are no sweetheart deals, no special favors, and no slush fund, and that corporations follow through on their hard commitments. This is a major concern given the track record of the Trump administration. In the CARES Act, Congress established a Special Inspector General to police the $500 billion in funding for large corporations and to make sure it is going to the right places for the right reasons. But last week, Trump’s White House announced that it intends to restrict the work of the Special Inspector General, in defiance of the bipartisan legislation and the will of the American people to have strong transparency and oversight. Biden would provide full freedom to the Special Inspector General to conduct oversight, meet regularly with him or her, and ensure he or she had all the resources required for effective oversight. That is what he did with the Inspector General under the Recovery Act, and the result was less than 0.2% fraud . 

7. Move much-needed funds for public health and emergency medical needs to hospitals, and local, state, and tribal governments. The CARES Act includes critical provisions to meet the needs of this public health emergency, including funding for cash-strapped hospitals. Biden would focus on getting those funds out the door, with a special focus on rural hospitals that were already financially constrained before COVID-19. He would also provide additional reimbursement plus-ups for Medicare providers who are risking their lives to treat patients. Finally, Biden would ensure that hospitals are not cutting the pay of doctors and nurses during this emergency, as some reports have indicated. The allocation of federal dollars should be conditioned on an explicit commitment to not cut back on wages or benefits of hospital-based health care workers. As funds are disbursed, Biden would work to ensure the administration is tracking what else hospitals need so that we can ensure that we incorporate that into future legislation and budgets. 

8. Ensure equitable allocation of recovery funds. There is a growing body of evidence that recovery funding after crises actually widens pre-existing racial disparities. For example, researchers at Rice University and the University of Pittsburgh found that “whites accumulate more wealth after natural disasters while residents of color accumulate less.” Federal leadership will be required to ensure that recovery from the pandemic helps everyone hurt in the crisis in a fair and equitable way, with a special focus on populations that have historically been left out or left behind. Jurisdictions that receive funding should be required to develop and report on metrics for addressing potential racial disparities, and the SBA and Treasury should similarly track lending to ensure that minority business owners – who have traditionally faced unequal access to credit and capital – are not treated unfairly.  And, the Trump Administration should suspend their public charge rule. Allowing immigration officials to make an individual’s ability to receive a visa or gain permanent residency contingent on their use of government services such as SNAP benefits or Medicaid, their household income, and other discriminatory criteria not only undermines America’s character as land of opportunity that is open and welcoming to all, but also may stop immigrants from getting help during this pandemic and pose broader issues for public health.

9. Establish a CARES Act Implementation Office with responsibility for ensuring (a) people understand and can effectively access all the relief to which they are entitled; and (b) states have all the capacities they need to get the money out as fast as possible. The CARES Act is hundreds of pages long. Big businesses have armies of lawyers to help them figure it out. But many small businesses and families won’t know what’s available to them like: who qualifies for mortgage forbearance? What do small businesses need to qualify not just for loans but for loan forgiveness? Biden would establish a team that would put together a plain-language, comprehensive guide to the benefits in the bill and who they are meant for — and a strategy to communicate to the American people. The Office would set up both online- and telephone-based customer service to answer questions. It would work with community leaders across the country who are on the front lines of this crisis. And, Biden would dedicate staff to every single state as action officers to assist states in accessing the CARES Act funds and disbursing them efficiently. 

10. Start working on the Fourth Package now. We already know that more will have to be done; potentially a massive amount more. Biden wouldn’t wait. He would bring together the leaders of Congress to design a fourth package that accomplishes three things: (a) fixes things that aren’t working in CARES Act implementation and fills in gaps that become apparent; (b) takes care of the people the CARES Act left out; and (c) does whatever it takes, spends whatever it takes, to help the American people and the American economy emerge from the other side of this stronger. He would also make sure the new package automatically extends relief as long as is needed to support families and communities through this crisis. In addition to provisions mentioned above, Biden would ask Congress to include in new legislation:

Any further resources and authority required to break down barriers to implementation, whether on small business, or unemployment insurance, or short-time compensation.

Additional provisions to meet needs not fully covered in the CARES Act, including:

Additional funds for states. As this crisis unfolds, states are going to get crushed under the weight of falling revenues combined with far higher emergency financial burdens. Cops and firefighters and teachers are going to be at risk of losing pay. Biden would make sure the federal government provides the relief that communities on the front lines need to put their full resources behind the public health response without forcing painful and damaging cuts to public services, education, and public safety, and to deal with extraordinary economic circumstances like helping with missed rent and other payments for those facing significant hardship.

Cost-free treatment for COVID-19, regardless of immigration status.

Student debt forgiveness through the duration of the crisis, with a minimum of $10,000.

Boosts to Social Security by $200 per month for seniors and persons with disabilities.

Paid sick leave and paid family and medical leave for every worker, and making these benefits permanent.

An increase in SNAP benefits by 15 percent during the deepening recession, and temporarily provide low-income families with about $100 per month in extra nutritional support.

A rent freeze for qualifying individuals for the duration of the crisis

A halt to foreclosures and evictions as people get on their feet.

Key long-term investments, stronger public health systems, and automatic stabilizers so that in future crises the social safety net is there for Americans who need it.

Biden Challenges Trump Attempts to Spin Historic Failure to Combat Coronavirus

Vice President Joe Biden is directly challenging Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic accelerating across the United States and world that has produced twin crises in healthcare and the economy, in the form of questions that should be posed at the White House briefings that have become campaign rallies for Trump’s election. (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Vice President Joe Biden is directly challenging Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic accelerating across the United States and world that has produced twin crises in healthcare and the economy, in the form of questions that should be posed at the White House briefings that have become campaign rallies for Trump’s election. Instead of a “whole of government” marshaling of forces to combat the virus, Trump’s “whole of government” is one big political enterprise, while Trump uses that time at the bully pulpit to attack Democrats, particularly Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and call the impeachment yet another “hoax” instead of organizing his administration to make sure all the states and cities have the life-saving equipment and staff needed to save lives, that the nation unites together to curtail social contact, and to make sure businesses and families to have the financial resources necessary to make it through. Instead, Trump has denied re-opening enrollment to Obamacare for those who don’t have health insurance, and his administration has no clue how to actually implement the $2.2 trillion in “relief” money to families and businesses.  This is from the Biden campaign: –Karen Rubin, news-photos-features.com.

As Trump Attempts to Spin Away His Historic Failure to Combat the Coronavirus, Here Are Questions He Needs to Answer at Today’s Press Conference


1.  Why are you refusing to allow Americans who desperately need health insurance in the middle of a pandemic access to the Affordable Care Act’s marketplace? 
 
The Trump administration is refusing to re-open the federal ACA marketplace’s enrollment period — jeopardizing Americans’ access to health insurance in the midst of a global pandemic — despite pleas from a bipartisan coalition of leaders, including the Republican Governor of Arizona, Doug Ducey, to do so.
 
This is yet another step in Trump’s ideological battle against the ACA — no matter the cost to the health care of Americans — which has seen his Administration pursue efforts that would kick tens of millions of Americans off their coverage and roll back protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions
 
About 20 million Americans have received health insurance through the ACA, and it’s given better care and peace of mind to countless others — that’s why Vice President Biden sent a letter to President Trump and Republican leaders demanding that they drop their efforts to jeopardize Americans’ health care. 
 

2.  Why do you continue to mislead Americans about your failure to adequately develop and deploy an effective coronavirus test — a failure that allowed the virus to spread unchecked and explode across our country?
 
In a call with governors on Monday, according to the New York Times, Trump continued to shrug off the coronavirus testing crisis that exploded on his watch, claiming that “I haven’t heard about testing being a problem” and that he hasn’t “heard about testing in weeks” — even though countless Americans are still unable to be tested for the coronavirus, fatally undercutting our response to this crisis?

Trump’s lie was so out of step with reality that it prompted a rebuke from fellow Republicans, with Maryland Governor Larry Hogan saying yesterday that Trump’s claim was “just not true” and that “no state has enough testing” and Ohio Governor Mike DeWine adding that “we know Ohio hasn’t had as much testing as we would have liked. We had to ration the testing.”
 
Similarly, Trump’s assertion in a Monday interview with Fox New that testing failures were the fault of the Obama-Biden administration was demolished by PolitiFact yesterday, which rated Trump’s claim “Pants on Fire” false, and said that that his attack “flies in the face of logic.”
 
Trump’s baseless claims come just days after a bombshell report by the Times showed how his failure to quickly deploy an accurate coronavirus test resulted in a “lost month” that left America blind as it tried to combat the virus’ spread, and that his administration “squandered [America’s] best chance of containing the virus’s spread.”


3.  With new polls showing that Americans don’t approve of your handling of the coronavirus crisis, do you regret not acting sooner to halt the virus’ spread, like other countries did, instead of downplaying its threat for months?
 
Two new polls today show growing numbers of Americans disapprove of Trump’s slow and erratic response to the coronavirus, which has left the United States leading the world in confirmed cases.
 
POLITICO/Morning Consult survey found that by a seven point margin, Americans don’t think the administration is doing enough to combat the coronavirus. Similarly, an Associated Press poll also out today shows that only 44% of Americans approve of Trump’s handling of the pandemic and only 38% approve of the federal government’s response — even as people rally in support of how their state and local officials have handled the crisis. 
 
These sliding poll numbers come as Trump continues to mislead Americans about his slow response to the coronavirus pandemic, bizarrely claiming in Monday’s press briefing that he knew all along how dangerous the virus was, but failing to explain why he didn’t take swift action.
 

4.  GOP State Attorneys General confirmed Monday that they will continue their lawsuit to roll back the Affordable Care Act and kick millions of Americans off their health insurance in the midst of a pandemic. Will you, as Vice President Biden has called for, withdraw your support for this effort?
 
The Daily Beast confirmed on Monday that at least five Republican state Attorneys General plan to continue their lawsuit to overturn the ACA — threatening the health care of millions of Americans in the middle of a pandemic.  
 
Ten years ago, President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law, expanding access to quality, affordable health care for millions of Americans. But instead of standing up for Americans’ health care, Donald Trump continues to lead fellow Republicans in efforts to do away with the law and the critical protections it put in place.
 

5.  Why did your administration ignore existing Obama-Biden Administration plans to combat pandemics and why did you take actions that reduced our preparedness for challenges like the coronavirus?
 
POLITICO reports that the Trump administration tossed out an existing “pandemic playbook” from the National Security Council that laid out, in detail, steps to take in the face of a public health emergency like this. 
 
As a result, key problems that the playbook planned for — like the current logistical challenges plaguing our health care system — went unaddressed, slowing down our response. 
 
This is only one in a string of missteps by the Trump administration that left the United States unprepared and vulnerable to a future pandemic. Key positions across the government have been left unfilled, or occupied by unqualified political cronies. Similarly, CDC staff in China was slashed on Trump’s watch, removing important eyes and ears on the ground that could have given us critical early notice of the coronavirus’ spread.


6.  With another round of record unemployment claims showing the economic pain the coronavirus is putting the American people through, do you regret the weeks you spent downplaying the threat it posed and do you agree with your Treasury Secretary who said last week that unemployment numbers are “not relevant”?
 
With 6.6 million Americans filing for unemployment benefits last week, the explosive economic toll of the coronavirus continues to grow.
 
For months, Trump ignored and downplayed the looming threat of the coronavirus and failed to take the necessary steps to prepare us — even as other countries quickly acted. Now, America has more coronavirus cases than any other country in the world and our economy continues to suffer body blows.
 
Throughout, Trump’s administration has shown a cavalier indifference to the unimaginable economic toll of the coronavirus has had on the American workers, with Secretary Mnuchin claiming that last week’s massive unemployment figures were “not relevant” — even as families across the country are struggling to make ends meet.
 
 
7.  Why are you refusing to allow Americans who desperately need health insurance in the middle of a pandemic access to the Affordable Care Act’s marketplace? 
 
The Trump administration is refusing to re-open the federal ACA marketplace — preventing Americans’ access to health insurance in the midst of a global pandemic — despite pleas from a bipartisan coalition of leaders, including the Republican Governor of Arizona, Doug Ducey, to do so.
 
This is yet another step in Trump’s ideological battle against the ACA — no matter the cost to the health of Amercans — which has seen his Administration pursue efforts that would kick tens of millions of Americans off their coverage and roll back protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions
 
About 20 million Americans have received health insurance through the ACA, and it’s given better care and peace of mind to countless others — that’s why Vice President Biden sent a letter to President Trump and Republican leaders demanding that they drop their efforts to jeopardize Americans’ health care.
 

8.  A new report today shows that the U.S. Army was projecting as early as the beginning of February that 150,000 Americans could be killed by the coronavirus. So why did you continue to waste precious weeks downplaying the threat it posed?
 
A shocking report today by the Daily Beast shows that as early as February 3, the U.S. Army had internal projections showing that upwards of 150,000 Americans could die as a result of the coronavirus that was then spreading rapidly around the globe.
 
Instead of joining other countries around the world in taking quick action to prepare for the virus, Trump dismissed and downplayed its threat, telling a campaign rally a week later that “looks like by April, you know, in theory, when it gets a little warmer, it miraculously goes away.”
 
Vice President Biden, in contrast, was sounding the alarm — writing a January 27 op-ed in USA Today about the threat it posed and the steps that should be taken, with Jonathan Chait of New York Magazine noting yesterday that Joe Biden “very much did see the coronavirus disaster coming.”
 
 
9.  With new polls showing that Americans don’t approve of your handling of the coronavirus crisis, do you regret not acting sooner to halt the virus’ spread?
 
Two new polls released yesterday show growing numbers of Americans disapprove of Trump’s slow and erratic response to the coronavirus, which has left the United States leading the world in confirmed cases.
 
POLITICO/Morning Consult survey found that by a seven point margin, Americans don’t think the administration is doing enough to combat the coronavirus. Similarly, an Associated Press poll also out today shows that only 44% of Americans approve of Trump’s handling of the pandemic and only 38% approve of the federal government’s response — even as people rally in support of how their state and local officials have handled the crisis.
 
These sliding poll numbers come as Trump continues to mislead Americans about his slow response to the coronavirus pandemic, bizarrely claiming in Monday’s press briefing that he knew all along how dangerous the virus was, but failing to explain why he didn’t take swift action.
 
 
10.  Why do you continue to mislead Americans about your failure to adequately develop and deploy an effective coronavirus test — a failure that allowed the virus to spread unchecked and explode across our country?
 
In a call with governors on Monday, according to the New York Times, Trump continued to shrug off the coronavirus testing crisis that exploded on his watch, claiming that “I haven’t heard about testing being a problem” and that he hasn’t “heard about testing in weeks” — even though countless Americans are still unable to be tested for the coronavirus, fatally undercutting our response to this crisis?
 
Trump’s lie was so out of step with reality that it prompted a rebuke from fellow Republicans, with Maryland Governor Larry Hogan saying Tuesday that Trump’s claim was “just not true” and that “no state has enough testing” and Ohio Governor Mike DeWine adding that “we know Ohio hasn’t had as much testing as we would have liked. We had to ration the testing.”
 
Similarly, Trump’s assertion in a Monday interview with Fox New that testing failures were the fault of the Obama-Biden administration was demolished by PolitiFact yesterday, which rated Trump’s claim “Pants on Fire” false, and said that that his attack “flies in the face of logic.”
 
Trump’s baseless claims come just days after a bombshell report by the Times showed how his failure to quickly deploy an accurate coronavirus test resulted in a “lost month” that left America blind as it tried to combat the virus’ spread, and that his administration “squandered [America’s] best chance of containing the virus’s spread.

Biden to Trump: Lift Sanctions on Iran to Combat COVID-19 Pandemic

Demonstrating once again a clear contrast between the failed leadership of a clueless Donald Trump, who only knows how to politicize, attack and destroy, Vice President Joe Biden is calling for the US to lift sanctions on Iran, which is undergoing one of the deadliest COVID-19 outbreaks in the world.(c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Demonstrating once again a clear contrast between the failed leadership of a clueless Donald Trump, who only knows how to politicize, attack and destroy, Vice President Joe Biden is calling for the US to lift sanctions on Iran, which is undergoing one of the deadliest COVID-19 outbreaks in the world. “America should lead. We should be the first to offer help to people who are hurting or in danger… To stop this pandemic effectively, every country on earth will need to work together.” Here is Biden’s statement:  –Karen Rubin, news-photos-features.com.

In times of global crisis, America should lead. We should be the first to offer help to people who are hurting or in danger. That’s who we are. That’s who we’ve always been. And, in the midst of this deadly pandemic that respects no borders, the United States should take steps to offer what relief we can to those nations hardest hit by this virus — including Iran — even as we prioritize the health of the American people.

Iran is struggling to contain one of the deadliest COVID-19 outbreaks in the world. While the Iranian government has failed to respond effectively to this crisis, including lying and concealing the truth from its own people, and it continues to act provocatively in the region, the Iranian people are hurting desperately. It is bad enough that the Trump administration abandoned the Iran nuclear deal in favor of a “maximum pressure” strategy that has badly backfired, encouraging Iran to become even more aggressive and restart its nuclear program. It makes no sense, in a global health crisis, to compound that failure with cruelty by inhibiting access to needed humanitarian assistance. Whatever our profound differences with the Iranian government, we should support the Iranian people. 

There are already humanitarian exceptions in place for sanctions, but in practice, most governments and organizations are too concerned about running afoul of U.S. sanctions to offer assistance. As a result, our sanctions are limiting Iran’s access to medical supplies and needed equipment. The Trump Administration should take immediate steps to address this problem and streamline channels for banking and public health assistance from other countries in response to the health emergency in Iran. 

Specific steps should include: issuing broad licenses to pharmaceutical and medical device companies; creating a dedicated channel for international banks, transportation companies, insurers, and other service firms to help Iranians access life-saving medical treatment; issuing new sanctions guidance to these groups and international aid organizations to make it clear how they can immediately, directly, and legally respond to the tragedy in Iran, without fear of penalty; and, for entities already conducting enhanced due diligence, it should issue comfort letters to reassure them that they will not be subject to U.S. sanctions if they engage in humanitarian trade with Iran to support its COVID-19 response. The administration should also consider similar steps to ensure that U.S. sanctions do not inhibit live-saving medical assistance to other countries hard hit by the virus.

The administration’s offer of aid to Iran is insufficient if not backed by concrete steps to ensure the United States is not exacerbating this growing humanitarian crisis. Whatever our many, many disagreements with the Iranian government, it’s the right and the humane thing to do. And Iran also should make a humanitarian gesture and allow detained American citizens to return home.

To stop this pandemic effectively, every country on earth will need to work together. We must address COVID-19 outbreaks wherever they occur, because as long as this virus is spreading anywhere in the world, it is a danger to public health everywhere. Artificially limiting the flow of international humanitarian assistance to pursue a political point will not only allow the Iranian government to deflect responsibility for its own botched response, it will increase the threat this virus poses to the American people, now and in the future. 

Biden Poses 5 Questions Challenging Trump’s Handling of Coronavirus Pandemic

As Trump uses daily press briefings as political rallies to spin away his monumental failure to combat coronavirus and save lives, Democratic candidate for president Joe Biden is cut off from the ability to effectively campaign. Here he offers five questions that should be posed to Trump, that underscore the difference in leadership. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

As Trump uses daily press briefings as political rallies to spin away his monumental failure to combat coronavirus and save lives, Democratic candidate for president Joe Biden is cut off from the ability to effectively campaign. Here he offers five questions that should be posed to Trump, that underscore the difference in leadership. This is from the Biden campaign: -Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com.


1.  Why did you tell governors pleading for help from the federal government that you “haven’t heard about testing being a problem” and that you haven’t “heard about testing in weeks” when many Americans are still unable to get tested for coronavirus and earlier testing delays allowed the virus to explode across the country?
 
In a call with governors today, according to the New York Times, Trump claimed that “I haven’t heard about testing being a problem” and that he hasn’t “heard about testing in weeks” — even though countless Americans are still unable to be tested for the coronavirus, fatally undercutting our response to this crisis?
 
Trump’s baseless claim comes just days after a bombshell report by the Times showed how his failure to quickly deploy an accurate coronavirus test resulted in a “lost month” that left America blind as it tried to combat the virus’ spread, and that his administration “squandered [America’s] best chance of containing the virus’s spread.”
 
 
2.  Why did you make the unfounded claim that first responders and health care workers in New York were stealing masks, and will you heed Vice President Biden’s challenge from last night to use the DPA within 48 hours to secure life-saving personal protective equipment?
 
In a bizarre rant yesterday, President Trump claimed, without evidence, that first responders and health care workers in New York were responsible for the theft or hoarding of huge numbers of masks. This unfounded claim was Trump’s latest attempt to avoid taking responsibility for his failure to get life-saving equipment to people on the front lines of the fight against the coronavirus.
 
In response, Vice President Biden called on Trump on Sunday night to finally use the Defense Production Act within 48 hours to secure enough of the badly-needed personal protective equipment to provide for every state and first responder who needs it.
 
 
3.  GOP State Attorneys General confirmed today that they will continue their lawsuit to roll back the Affordable Care Act and kick millions of Americans off their health insurance in the midst of a pandemic. Will you, as Vice President Biden has called for, withdraw your support for this effort?
 
The Daily Beast confirmed today that at least five Republican state Attorneys General plan to continue their lawsuit to overturn the ACA — threatening the health care of millions of Americans in the middle of a pandemic. 
 
Ten years ago, President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law, expanding access to quality, affordable health care for millions of Americans. But instead of standing up for Americans’ health care, Donald Trump continues to lead fellow Republicans in efforts to do away with the law and the critical protections it put in place.
 
20 million Americans have received health insurance through the ACA, and it’s given better care and peace of mind to countless others — that’s why Vice President Biden sent a letter to President Trump and Republican leaders demanding that they drop their efforts to jeopardize Americans’ health care.
 
 
4.  Why did you claim again this morning on Fox News that New York already has “more than enough” ventilators and say, without evidence, that they’re being misused? And, why did it take you so long to head the pleas of governors and health care workers to use the DPA to secure more ventilators after wasting months?
 
During an interview this morning on Fox News, Trump again downplayed the critical ventilator shortage in New York, saying “[they] should be fine, based on the numbers that we see. They should have more than enough.” And that, “I’m hearing stories that they’re not used, or not used right.” This comes after Trump similarly downplayed the ventilator shortage during an interview with Sean Hannity last week.
 
Across the country, experts and health care workers on the front lines are sounding the alarm about a critical shortage of life-saving ventilators and personal protective equipment, but Donald Trump has been slow and erratic at every step of the way.
 
Trump’s months of downplaying the looming threat of coronavirus cost us precious weeks where ventilator production could have been ramped up. And, Trump’s decision to bow to corporate lobbying instead of quickly invoking the Defense Production Act has slowed and complicated efforts to get ventilators to patients whose lives depend on access to them.
 
 
5.  Why did your administration ignore existing Obama-Biden Administration plans to combat pandemics and why did you take actions that reduced our preparedness for challenges like the coronavirus?
 
POLITICO reports that the Trump administration tossed out an existing “pandemic playbook” from the National Security Council that laid out, in detail, steps to take in the face of a public health emergency like this.
 
As a result, key problems that the playbook planned for — like the current logistical challenges plaguing our health care system — went unaddressed, slowing down our response.
 
This is only one in a string of missteps by the Trump administration that left the United States unprepared and vulnerable to a future pandemic. Key positions across the government have been left unfilled, or occupied by unqualified political cronies. Similarly, CDC staff in China was slashed on Trump’s watch, removing important eyes and ears on the ground that could have given us critical early notice of the coronavirus’ spread.

The Biden Emergency Action Plan to Save the Economy From Coronavirus Pandemic

Vice President Joe Biden offers his own plan to address the coronavirus pandemic that contrasts with Trump’s: “It would be catastrophic to reopen everything without a plan, and then have a spike in cases and shut it all back down. That would just mean more loss of life and economic pain.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

So far, Donald Trump has failed to lead – he has begrudgingly followed when shamed into acting by Governors like Cuomo, Newsome yet still manages to take credit for the “boldest” “greatest” “historic” “unprecedented” actions for which he had no input. Trump is taking credit for a $2 trillion aid package that contradicts his own plans to bail out the Oil & Gas industry and give Treasury Secretary Mnuchin unlimited power to steer billions of dollars to friends, while his EPA and Interior Department race to institute rules that overturn Obama-era rules to reduce carbon emissions that contribute to Climate Change; there is even a provision in the bail-out specifically barring funds to go to Trump’s own businesses because of his record of using his office for self-enrichment, in violation of the Emoluments Clause. Trump’s daily briefings have been turned into substitutes for his campaign rallies, where he gets to attack “enemies” (The Press) and spout lies designed to boost his approval and chances for election. Democratic challengers Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders don’t have the same bully pulpit, but have nonetheless attempted to draw stark contrasts in how they would lead the nation out of this coronavirus pandemic, which, in fact, could be continuing into the next president’s administration. This is from the Biden campaign: — Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features, editor@news-photos-features.com

Tonight, Joe Biden is releasing an emergency action plan to save the economy, laying out three key steps he would take as president to tackle the ongoing pandemic and safeguard our country’s economic prosperity. In a new video speaking directly to Americans, Vice President Biden outlined his emergency action plan and highlighted the immediate, impactful steps that can be taken to defeat the virus and protect the livelihood of working families.

FACT SHEET:
The Biden Emergency Action Plan to Save the Economy

Congress is close to passing a massive relief bill. When it passes, it’s all about execution — and filling in the gaps.
 
If Joe Biden were President right now, here are the three things he would do now to save our economy and help our families weather the storm.  And to get them done, he would appoint a task force reporting twice-daily to him on progress.
 
FIRST, use all available authorities, including the Defense Production Act to turn the tide on this epidemic. Joe Biden knows that no economic strategy will work if we don’t stop the virus. In recent days, there’s been talk that we have to choose between public health and our economy. That’s not just a false choice. It’s a dangerous one.
 
It would be catastrophic to reopen everything without a plan, and then have a spike in cases and shut it all back down. That would just mean more loss of life and economic pain.
 
To reopen, public health experts say we need real testing capacity, the ability to trace contacts if someone tests positive, and the ability to surge equipment and supplies to any new hotspots. We should listen to them. It’s the quickest, surest way to getting our economy back on track. And we also need to address the shortage of items like ventilators and personal protective equipment for health care workers, and make sure our workforce on the frontlines everyday has the protections to provide the essential services we will continue to need.  Joe Biden would use the full powers of the presidency and this government to make that happen. 
 
Joe Biden would end this epidemic and get our economy back on track through bold action — not by picking an arbitrary date on the calendar and asserting it’s over.
 
SECOND, launch a task force reporting directly to me to make sure every dollar going out the door gets to the people who need it — fast.
 
Joe Biden led the implementation of the Recovery Act in the last crisis.  He knows it’s all about priorities. Here would be his:

  • Keep as many people on the payroll as possible and make Americans whole for lost hours and wages. Joe Biden would expedite aid to businesses who commit to helping workers stay employed through the crisis, so they can get back to work when conditions allow.  He would maximize work-sharing, a form of “employment insurance” we championed in the Obama-Biden administration to keep more workers on the job. And for those who do get laid off and who’s industries are out of work, the congressional bill boosts unemployment benefits — Biden would cut through the red tape to deliver them without delay, and extend them as long as public health and economic conditions call for it.
  • Act decisively to keep small businesses in business. Included in the legislation before Congress is $377 billion for small businesses. This money will guarantee immediate loans that banks provide to small businesses to make payroll, pay rent and other costs, and keep their doors open. But there is a real risk it won’t get out fast enough to make a difference.  So Joe Biden would take unprecedented measures to get it done  Where the government is guaranteeing loans, banks have no commercial excuse for not making them. So he would call in bank CEOs and tell them that in this time of crisis, it is a matter of the utmost national interest to get these loans out the door quickly and efficiently. And if they don’t, he would seek authority similar to the Defense Production Act to make sure their lending platforms are giving priority to small business. He would also make clear that $377 billion is not a cap — we will spend whatever it takes. 
  • Enforce real conditions and oversight on big corporations.  Joe Biden would tell large companies seeking taxpayer assistance that they need to make hard commitments that the assistance will go toward their workers, not toward enriching their CEOs or shareholders. He would hold the strictest line on bans on buybacks and raises for executives. He would impose the highest scrutiny on payroll plans. And he would impose strict oversight and enforcement of these conditions by appointing strong regulators focused on corporate accountability and worker protections in the event of bankruptcy. Joe Biden will not let companies off the hook, the way the White House and Senate originally proposed.

THIRD, bring the leaders of Congress together to build the next deal. This was a good start. But more must be done. Congress approved direct cash relief — $1,200 per person to help working families through this crisis.  But it’s a one-off.  And Congress didn’t include direct student loan forgiveness, or Social Security boosts for seniors, or cost-free treatment for COVID-19, full paid sick leave for our workers, or sufficient fiscal relief to states.  Joe Biden would:

  • Provide for additional checks to families should conditions require.
  • Forgive a minimum of $10,000 per person of federal student loans, as proposed by Senator Warren and colleagues. Young people and other student debt holders bore the brunt of the last crisis. It shouldn’t happen again.
  • Increase monthly Social Security checks by $200/month, as proposed by Senator Wyden and colleagues. Seniors and people with disabilities are uniquely at risk right now.
  • Provide emergency paid sick leave to everyone who needs it, with no one left out. This should include workers in all industries and all sectors, regardless of company size, and including gig workers, domestic workers, contractors, and the self-employed.
  • Ensure that no one has to pay a dollar out of pocket for COVID-19 testing, treatment, or an eventual vaccine.
  • Provide all necessary fiscal relief to states so their workers and communities get the help they need, especially those on the front lines like New York.

The bottom line is that Congress will have to keep acting. This is not the last bill.  There will be more. And Joe Biden would do whatever it takes, spend whatever it takes, move heaven and earth to help all the people harmed by this crisis.

Joe Biden: 5 Questions for Donald Trump at Coronavirus Pandemic Briefing

Vice President Joe Biden offers stark difference to Donald Trump in focus and approach to addressing coronavirus pandemic poses five questions to Trump that should be asked at the daily briefing (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The coronavirus pandemic has completely derailed the 2020 presidential campaigns. While Trump has a bully pulpit and turns daily briefings into political rallies, challengers including Vice President Joe Biden cannot compete for visibility or reach. We will do our part, as much as possible, to broadcast their messages so that voters may discern for themselves who should be elected to lead this country. This is from the Joe Biden campaign, which came before Trump, switching focus from the 10 minutes he spent concerned about the spread of the disease and having an adequate health care system, turned again to prioritize the economy, saying he would look to end measures in a matter of weeks (not months) designed to slow the spread of COVID-19 in order to goose the economy. Trump said that the economic impact could become worse than COVID-19 itself. “We cannot let cure be worse than the problem,” causing the medical community to scratch heads.  The desire to prioritize economic health over people is echoed by other Republicans and rightwingers. Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said lots of grandparents would be willing to die in order to save the economy for their grandchildren. This is from the Biden campaign, in advance of Trump’s March 23 briefing–Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features.

Five Questions for Donald Trump at Today’s Briefing

As Trump Attempts to Spin Away His Historic Failure to Combat the Coronavirus, Here Are Five Questions He Needs to Answer at Today’s Press Conference

1.  Why do you continue to support efforts to roll back the Affordable Care Act and kick tens of millions of Americans off their insurance in the middle of a global pandemic?
 
Ten years ago today, President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law, expanding access to quality, affordable health care for millions of Americans. But, even in the midst of a global pandemic, Donald Trump continues to lead fellow Republicans in efforts to do away with the law and the critical protections it put in place.
 
Over 20 million Americans have received health insurance through the ACA, and it’s given better care and peace of mind to countless others — that’s why Vice President Biden sent a letter today to President Trump and Republican leaders demanding that they drop their efforts to jeopardize Americans’ health care.
 
 
2.  Why did you put the profits of big corporations ahead of desperately needed medical supplies for health care workers, first responders, and coronavirus victims?
 
New reporting today from CNN shows that Trump abruptly reversed himself on using the Defense Production Act to speed up the manufacture of critical medical equipment because big businesses aggressively lobbied the White House out of fear of “profit loss.”
 
Trump is continuing to put the bottom lines of his corporate cronies ahead of the safety of first responders and coronavirus victims — even as a bipartisan group of governors and mayors has demanded that he finally use the DPA to help secure life-saving gear.
 
 
3.  Why did you ignore the repeated warnings of your own intelligence officials in January and February about the impending risk of the coronavirus and decide to downplay the threat instead of preparing a response?
 
The Washington Post reported that Trump ignored repeated warnings from top intelligence officials in January and February that the coronavirus was spreading globally and that it posed a dire threat to the safety of the United States, with one official telling the Post that “the system was blinking red.”
 
Instead of preparing for the imminent spread of coronavirus in America, Trump repeatedly ignored experts and downplayed its significance, claiming, “it’s going to disappear. One day — it’s like a miracle — it will disappear.” The result: a “chaotic” response as basic needs for tests and life-saving equipment go unmet, and as Administration officials scramble to cover up for Trump’s lies about the response.
 
While Trump was ignoring the experts and downplayed the threat of the coronavirus, Vice President Biden laid out a clear-eyed vision in January for how we could come together as a country to stop the emerging pandemic and has built on that with a comprehensive plan to combat the coronavirus.
 
 
4.  Why did you take China’s word and praise Xi’s response for weeks as the coronavirus continued to spread, ignoring Vice President Biden’s warning about their misleading statements?
 
Trump wasted critical weeks praising President Xi and China’s response to the coronavirus epidemic — even as Trump’s own intelligence officials warned that the Chinese were providing faulty information. Vice President Biden, on the other hand, clearly warned Trump against trusting information from Xi at face value, insisting instead that America push to get experts on the ground in China.
 
Now Trump has laughably pivoted to criticizing China, attempting to rewrite history and brush aside countless examples of him heaping praise on Xi and the Chinese government. Moreover, is Trump saying that he wasn’t supposed to take steps to protect the American people simply because this virus emerged in another country?
 
 
5.  Why are you supporting a $500 billion slush fund for corporations with no strings attached and no protections for workers?
 
With America’s economy teetering, and with countless families facing financial ruin, Trump continues to back a massive corporate bailout package with almost no conditions, and no restraints on corporations using taxpayer dollars for executive bonuses and stock buybacks.
 
That’s why Vice President Biden has called for workers and families to be put first in any stimulus package — with no blank checks for big corporations — so Americans will have the financial support they need to weather this storm.

On 10th Anniversary of Obamacare, Biden tells Trump, AGs ‘Drop the Lawsuit’ to Strip Millions of Health Insurance, Gut Protections for Pre-Existing Conditions

2017 rally to save Obamacare, Long Island. On the 10th anniversary of President Obama signing the Affordable Care Act into law and expanding access to quality, affordable health care for millions of Americans, Vice President Joe Biden, candidate for President, sent a letter to President Trump, State Attorneys General, and Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves calling on them the drop the lawsuit against the landmark legislation, which would strip millions of their health insurance and gut protections for those with pre-existing conditions—during a global pandemic. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Today, on the 10th anniversary of President Obama signing the Affordable Care Act into law and expanding access to quality, affordable health care for millions of Americans, Vice President Joe Biden sent a letter to President Trump, State Attorneys General, and Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves calling on them the drop the lawsuit against the landmark legislation, which would strip millions of their health insurance and gut protections for those with pre-existing conditions—during a global pandemic.  Below is the text of Vice President Biden’s letter:

March 23, 2020

Dear President Trump, State Attorneys General, and Governor Reeves,

All across this nation, Americans are anxious and afraid about the impact the deadly COVID-19 pandemic is already having on their lives, their families, and their ability to pay their bills. Individuals and families are stepping up to do their part––staying home, taking individual precautions and implementing social distancing, and making donations to support food banks and other vital service providers, all to protect those most at-risk from the virus in our communities. Their level of dedication should be matched by their elected leaders.

At a time of national emergency, which is laying bare the existing vulnerabilities in our public health infrastructure, it is unconscionable that you are continuing to pursue a lawsuit designed to strip millions of Americans of their health insurance and protections under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), including the ban on insurers denying coverage or raising premiums due to pre-existing conditions. No American should have the added worry right now that you are in court trying to take away their health care. You are ​letting partisan rancor and politics threaten the lives of your constituents, and that is a dereliction of your sworn duty​. I am therefore calling on each of you to drop your support of litigation to repeal the ACA.

This Monday, March 23, marks 10 years since President Obama signed into law the ACA. It was—and still is—a big deal for our country, because having health insurance isn’t just about being able to access health care when you need it, it’s about the peace of mind that comes from knowing that if your kid gets sick, you will be able to get them the care they need, or that if you have an accident, you won’t have to also worry about how to pay your medical bills. During a public health crisis, it’s part of the assurance that you can seek the treatment you and your loved ones need. I was proud to stand with President Obama every day of our Administration, but no day more so than when he signed the ACA, because of the real security it delivered for every day American families.

Since 2010, 20 million Americans have gained access to health insurance coverage. But the ACA also helps tens of millions more Americans across the country. It is the reason 100 million people with pre-existing conditions—including conditions like asthma and diabetes that make them at higher-risk for adverse health impacts from the—don’t have to worry about being charged more or denied coverage. It is the reason insurance companies can’t tell patients that they’ve hit an annual or lifetime cap on care.

The litigation you are supporting—Texas v. U.S.—jeopardizes every single one of those protections and threatens the peace of mind and access to care for hundreds of millions of Americans. There is no underlying constitutional flaw with the Affordable Care Act. In fact, the Supreme Court twice upheld the constitutionality of the law. The only reason this new case gained traction was because Congressional Republicans decided to amend the law and zero-out the penalty for not being insured, and legal experts from across the ideological spectrum have concluded that this new argument—that this change invalidates the entire law—is legally unsupportable.

The purpose of your suit is to destroy the ACA. Make no mistake: If the ACA did not exist right now, in this public health crisis, tens of millions of people would not have health insurance. 100 million would not have protections for the kind of underlying conditions that make them even more vulnerable to the impact of COVID-19. Insurance companies would be allowed to place caps on care provided to individuals. And if you succeed in killing it next year, you’ll put countless Americans at risk in the next pandemic.

If there was ever a moment to set aside politics, it is now. I have called for making all testing, treatment, and any eventual vaccine free of charge, regardless of whether an individual is insured. That is what is needed to defeat this virus. The last thing we need right now is people avoiding seeking care because they can’t afford it. But people will still have medical needs not directly related to COVID-19, which is why every American needs access to high-quality, affordable health insurance and the pre-existing condition protections that the law guarantees.

You have in your power the ability to make life safer, healthier, and a little bit easier for your constituents. All you have to do is drop your support for this ill-conceived lawsuit, which is even more dangerous and cruel in this moment of national crisis. History will judge all of us by how we respond to this pandemic. The public health imperative we now face is bigger than politics, and it requires all of us to summon the courage to lead and to do what is right for the American people.

Joseph R. Biden, Jr.
47th Vice President of the United States

Biden, in Harsh Critique of Trump Administration, Offers Own Plan for Combating Coronavirus Pandemic

Vice President Joe Biden offers his own plan to combat the coronavirus pandemic: “We need immediate action –on testing, on research for treatments and vaccines, on leading a global response to beat the virus everywhere.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com 

It is stunning that Grim Reaper McConnell, who held up the first House coronavirus stimulus bill for days, is now attacking Senate Democrats for refusing to rubberstamp a $2 trillion giveaway to corporate insiders and CEOs, raising the alarm (get this) that waiting until noon would mean a whole morning of Wall Street sinking further. A morning in exchange for the health and well being of Americans and the economy. The idea that Treasury Secretary Mnuchin, who made a bundle on the misery of the 2008 Bush Great Recession using just these same tactics, will personally decide what companies get bailed out is absurd – and a clear clue is that they want to keep secret who they are handing money to for 6 months.

Senator Elizabeth Warren and the Democrats have a better plan for immediate relief to Americans who will be most harmed financially now and perhaps for the rest of their lives: erase student debt, use the mechanisms you already have: expand unemployment insurance, disability, social security. Instead of simply incentivizing companies to not do anything and still collect up to $10 million in loans that would be forgiven (Mnuchin will choose who gets what), purchase goods and services needed now; evoke the war powers to require factories to reconfigure to produce vitally needed medical equipment and put in purchase orders for future production, say electric cars, long-life batteries, solar panels, wind turbines, and especially medical supplies which will give the companies the needed cash flow to get through. Then test everyone to determine who is already immune and can return to work, rather than lock people in for six months, nine months, until the hypothetical “herd immunization” number is reached.  

At this point, projections call for 40 to 80 percent of people to become infected, and deaths from one million to two million. Trump and his Keystone Cops administration of corrupt, inept thugs have no clue how to keep the numbers down to a minimum, and keep people and the economy healthy. Vice President Joe Biden, running for president, offered his own criticism and plan in a speech – Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

Remarks as Prepared for Delivery by Vice President Joe Biden on Combating Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Good morning. 
 
I hope you and your family are doing well in these difficult, anxious, and confusing times. 
 
Like all families, the Biden family is adjusting to new ways: less time together, more worrying about friends and relatives, concern about those isolated – or suffering – due to the coronavirus. 
 
As Americans, we may be physically apart, but we are truly all in this together.
 
And let me say something right up front: When we have stood as one, this nation has never been defeated. And we are not going to be defeated now.
 
The pandemic of 1918. The Great Depression. Two World Wars. 9/11.
 
We overcame them all.
 
And out of each crisis – we emerged stronger.
 
And we will again.
 
This new enemy may be unseen – but we have the tools, the expertise, and, most important, the will and the spirit to defeat it.
 
But we need to move – and we need to move fast.
 
It matters for the public health. And it matters for our economy.
 
Later today, you will hear from the President in his daily briefing.
 
These briefings are an important opportunity to inform and reassure the American people
 
They’re not a place for political attacks. Or to lash out at the press.
 
They’re about the American people.
 
So I hope today and in the days ahead, the president will give us the unvarnished truth. That’s what the American people need and deserve.
 
I hope he lets medical experts and FEMA leaders and others carrying out the work take center stage so we can hear directly from them.
 
And I hope we hear less talk and see more evidence of fast action.
 
My principal focus today – and every day – will be on what we should do to get this response fixed, to save lives, and to provide economic assistance to the tens of millions of Americans who need it now – and who will need it in the weeks and months ahead.
 
It starts with adopting a mindset of real urgency.
 
For too long, the warning signs were ignored.
 
For too long the Administration said the threat was “under control,” “contained,” like a “flu.” The president says no one saw this coming. That’s just not true.
 
Our own intelligence officials were warning of the coronavirus threat in January.
 
Just based on public information, I warned that this threat would get worse way back on January 27, and urged the need to put science first, draw on emergency funds to get the response started, and think about invoking disaster powers to respond.
 
Many of us talked about the need to get U.S. scientists on the ground in China to see first-hand what was happening, rather than relying solely on China.
 
My point is not simply that the president was wrong.
 
My point is that the mindset that was slow to recognize the problem and treat it with the seriousness it deserves, is still too much a part of how the president is addressing the problem.
 
South Korea detected their first case of coronavirus on the same day that we did. 
 
But they had tests and a sophisticated tracing program to stop the spread of the virus,
so they didn’t have to put the country on lockdown. 
 
We had none of that. 
 
So we are left with only the extreme social distancing measures currently in place. 
 
That’s a failure of planning and preparation by this White House.
 
Today, months later, Americans who need to be tested still have no access to tests
in many parts of the country. And in many places, our health care system teeters on the brink of collapse. 
 
Hospital beds are filling. Doctors and nurses are already running out of critical equipment.
 
The federal government needs to coordinate getting medical supplies out to every corner of our country so we don’t have governors competing against one another.  
 
As late as yesterday, we are being told that the president still has not activated his authority under the Defense Production Act to direct American manufacturers to make essential supplies.
 
Trump keeps saying he’s a wartime president— well, then, he should act like one.
 
To paraphrase a frustrated President Lincoln writing to an inactive General McLellan during the Civil War: “If you don’t want to use the army, may I borrow it?”
 
We need to get in motion today what should have been set in motion weeks ago.
 
Any public health expert will tell you that in a crisis like this you can’t move too fast – you can only move too slow.
 
Let me be clear: Donald Trump is not to blame for the coronavirus. But he does bear responsibility for our response.
 
And I, along with every American, hope he steps up and starts to get this right.
 
This isn’t about politics.
 
There is simply too much at stake – too many lives, too many livelihoods, too many homes and families and businesses and communities at risk.
 
I’ve laid out a very detailed, in-depth plan for what we should do. You can read it all on JoeBiden.com
 
We need immediate action –on testing, on research for treatments and vaccines, on leading a global response to beat the virus everywhere.  
 
But today, I want to focus on just four key areas for action.
 
First, the President must take immediate steps to increase the capacity of our health care system to treat the sickest coronavirus patients, safely. 
 
I’m glad the president has finally activated the National Guard.

Now we need the Armed Forces and the National Guard to help with hospital capacity, supplies, and logistics. 

We need to activate a reserve corps of doctors and nurses to beef up the number of responders dealing with this crush of cases, and allow doctors and nurses trained abroad, not currently at work in the U.S., to temporarily work alongside our overburdened health care providers.
 
Second, the President must use the Defense Production Act to radically increase the supply of critical goods needed to treat patients and protect our health care workers and first responders, including protective gear like face masks, and critical equipment like ventilators so desperately needed in our hospitals. 
  
It means working with our allies and partners to get supplies from overseas when available, and dispatching U.S. military assets to retrieve them quickly. 
 
It means federal coordination of the supply chain to accelerate deliveries and get them to the right places. And much more.
 
We are the nation that built the arsenal of democracy in the 1940s. We can make personal protective equipment for health care workers in 2020.
 
Third, the President needs to end the infighting and bickering in his own administration, listen to the scientists, and provide clear guidance. 
 
The American people are not getting clear leadership, clear action, or clear accountability.
 
Management matters in a crisis. I’ve been there in the Situation Room. There are thousands of steps that need to be taken, all at once. 
 
You need to be planning not just for today and tomorrow, but for the day after.  
 
Is this White House actively planning for what it will take for America to begin to return to something resembling normal life?  
 
Just waiting and seeing isn’t going to cut it.
 
What are the conditions required? What capacities should be in place? What protections and protocols do we need to ensure the virus doesn’t simply start spreading again?  
 
They need to start planning now, so the current measures stay in place for as long as they are needed, but not longer.  
 

And fourth, the President needs to set the right priorities for our economic response. 
 
Our guiding principle must be to keep everyone paid through this crisis.
 
We should be doing everything in our power to keep workers on payrolls, make small businesses healthy, and help the economy come out the other side strong.

The Federal Government should provide the resources to make that happen, while still protecting the American taxpayer.
 
Unfortunately, as of last night, President Trump and Mitch McConnell were offering a plan that let big corporations off the hook. They proposed a $500 billion slush fund for corporations, with almost no conditions.

Under their plan, the Trump Administration could even allow companies to use taxpayers’ money for stock buybacks and executive pay packages.
 
They wouldn’t have to make commitments to keep workers employed.
 
They wouldn’t even have to tell Americans where the money goes for months. 
 
Today, there are active efforts to fix this bill so it focuses on workers and families and small businesses rather than no-strings corporate bailouts.
 
Here’s my bottom line: Millions of small businesses, like the family-run restaurant that is trying to stay open and pay its workers – they should get the funds they need.
 
Big companies will need help, too — but no blank checks.

 
If corporations take money from taxpayers, they have to make a commitment that they will keep workers on payroll.
 
The worker who is seeing their wages slashed — they need to be made whole. 
 
Those who do lose jobs – they need strong, sustained, unemployment benefits, whether they are a gig worker or a full-time employee. 
 
The family that will go hungry tonight – they need food on the table. 
 
Social Security checks need to be boosted.
 
Student debt should be forgiven. 
 

Cash relief needs to go out fast to all of the people who need it the most. 
 
We can act quickly and together. 
 
We can put the politics aside to meet this moment, like Governors all across the nation.
 
Mike Dewine in Ohio, Larry Hogan in Maryland, Charlie Baker in Massachusetts.
 
Gavin Newsom in California, Jay Inslee in Washington, Gretchen Witmer in Michigan.
 
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s briefings are a lesson in leadership.
 
Republicans and Democrats — all are rising to the moment, putting aside politics to do what needs to be done. 
 
But they all are looking to the federal government for more help.
 
Finally, it’s worth noting that today is the 10th anniversary of the signing of the Affordable Care Act. I’m proud of the role I played, alongside President Obama, in bringing Obamacare into law. And I’m proud of its record of achievement. 
 
But also today, in the middle of one of the biggest public health emergencies in generations, the White House and Republican attorneys general are actively pursuing a lawsuit to invalidate the ACA in court. 
 
They are working to strip millions of Americans of their health care and tens of millions of their protections for pre-existing conditions.  

 
I sent them a letter this morning, with a simple request: Withdraw this lawsuit. End this effort to take away people’s health care. 

This is not the moment to add additional uncertainty and fear in this nation or to let politics trump doing what is right. Give Americans peace of mind.
 
In a crisis, character is revealed — and each day we are seeing the courage and heart of Americans shine through.  
 
Our military, our first responders, our doctors, nurses and health care workers, of course. 
 
But also those who we don’t think about as much: the grocery store workers; the mail and package carriers; the workers manufacturing the gear we need, keeping delivery trucks on the road, cooking meals to deliver, and tending our elderly loved ones; the journalists who keep us up to date and hold leaders accountable; the government officials working on this problem, and so many more.
 
They are putting it all on the line for us. We need to give them all the help they need now. And we need to be sure we never forget what they’ve done.
 
Let me close with this thought: Deep in the heart of every American, there burns a flame. It’s an inheritance from every generation of Americans that has come before us. It’s why we have overcome every crisis we have ever faced before. It’s what makes this nation special and why we stand apart.
 
That flame is not going to be extinguished in this moment.
 
If our leadership does its part, the American people will do their part.
 
Because here’s the simple truth: The American people have never, ever let this country down.
 
So, we need to get moving, and moving fast. 

This is the United States of America, and there’s not a single thing we can’t do — if we do it together. Thank you.

Democratic Race for 2020: Biden Issues Plan to End Opioid Crisis, Ensure Access to Treatment and Recovery

Vice President Joe Biden, running for the 2020 Democratic nomination for president, has released his plan for ending the opioid crisis and ensuring access to effective treatment and recovery for substance use disorders. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The vigorous contest of Democrats seeking the 2020 presidential nomination has produced excellent policy proposals to address major issues. Vice President Joe Biden has released his plan for ending the opioid crisis and ensuring access to effective treatment and recovery for substance use disorders. This is from the Biden Campaign:

Millions of families are impacted by the opioid crisis. It’s ravaging communities coast to coast, from New Hampshire to California. The challenge of substance use disorders is not limited to opioids. Millions of individuals are affected by misuse of other substances such as alcohol or methamphetamine. Latest estimates indicate that, in 2018, almost 68,000 Americans died from a drug overdose – almost 47,000 of which involved an opioid. And, the impacts of this crisis reverberate in our classrooms and neighborhoods, in small towns and big cities.
 
Biden will tackle this crisis by making sure people have access to high quality health care – including substance use disorder treatment and mental health services. That’s what Obamacare did by designating substance use disorder treatment and mental health services as essential benefits that insurers must cover, and by expanding Medicaid, the nation’s largest payer for mental health services which also plays an increasingly growing role as a payer for substance use disorder services.
 
But President Trump wants to repeal Obamacare, including its Medicaid expansion. Repeal would be disastrous for communities and families combating the opioid crisis. It is not realistic to think that grant money will fill the hole that eliminating Obamacare and its Medicaid expansion would create.
 
Step one of Biden’s plan to tackle the opioid epidemic and substance use disorders is to defeat Trump and then protect and build on Obamacare. And, Biden will pursue a comprehensive, public health approach to deal with opioid and other substance use disorders. His plan will:

Hold accountable big pharmaceutical companies, executives, and others responsible for their role in triggering the opioid crisis.

Make effective prevention, treatment, and recovery services available to all, including through a $125 billion federal investment.

Stop overprescribing while improving access to effective and needed pain management.

Reform the criminal justice system so that no one is incarcerated for drug use alone.

Stem the flow of illicit drugs, like fentanyl and heroin, into the United States – especially from China and Mexico.


HOLD ACCOUNTABLE BIG PHARMA COMPANIES, EXECUTIVES, AND OTHERS RESPONSIBLE FOR THEIR ROLE IN TRIGGERING THE OPIOID CRISIS
 
Biden will demand accountability from pharmaceutical companies and others responsible for the opioid crisis, including manufacturers, distributors, and “pill mill operators.” Pharmaceutical executives should be held personally responsible, including criminally liable where appropriate. Specifically, Biden will:

Direct the U.S. Justice Department to make actions that spurred this crisis a top investigative and, where appropriate, civil and criminal enforcement priority. Biden will make sure the Department has all the necessary resources to complete this work. Building on the efforts of the Obama-Biden Administration, Biden will also ensure the Food and Drug Administration takes action when new information reveals harms from previously approved drugs (including the risk of diversion, or the use of drugs by an individual other than the one to whom the drug was prescribed), ensures compliance with risk mitigation strategies, and punishes drug companies for deceptive practices. And, he will appoint an Opioid Crisis Accountability Coordinator to coordinate efforts across federal agencies and support the enforcement efforts of state and local partners.

Direct the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to step up its efforts to identify suspicious shipments and protect communities. Opioids distributors knowingly shipped millions of pills to towns with hundreds of residents, helping trigger the opioid epidemic. Biden will empower the DEA to stop drug shipments from pharmaceutical companies and their distributors that create risks of diversion and misuse. Biden will work with Congress to allow the DEA to act expeditiously when a pharmaceutical distributor fails to adequately monitor shipments that could pose an “imminent danger” to vulnerable communities and increase penalties for companies that fail to take action to stop suspicious shipments. In addition, Biden will direct the DEA to improve data collection on wholesalers and pharmacies, including prescribing patterns and suspicious order reports, and to disseminate its analysis to distributors to prevent problems before they become disasters.

Ban drug manufacturers from providing payments or incentives to physicians and other prescribers. Pharmaceutical companies work hard to persuade doctors and other medical personnel to prescribe their products. These companies essentially pay providers to prescribe opioids and other drugs by, for example, paying providers to speak at or attend conferences, or consult for their companies. By banning these practices, Biden will ensure that patients’ lives do not take a backseat to doctors’ bottom lines.

Terminating pharmaceutical corporations’ tax break for advertisement spending. Drug corporations spent an estimated $6 billion in 2016 alone on prescription drug advertisements to increase their sales, a more than four-fold increase from just $1.3 billion in 1997. The American Medical Association has even expressed “concerns among physicians about the negative impact of commercially driven promotions, and the role that marketing costs play in fueling escalating drug prices.” Currently, drug corporations may count spending on these ads as a deduction to reduce the amount of taxes they owe. But taxpayers should not have to foot the bill for these ads. As President, Biden will end this tax deduction for all prescription drug ads, as proposed by Senator Jeanne Shaheen.

 
MAKE EFFECTIVE PREVENTION, TREATMENT, AND RECOVERY SERVICES AVAILABLE TO ALL WHO NEED THEM
 
Biden has long recognized and led on efforts to make clear that substance use disorders are diseases, not a lifestyle choice, and that we need to change how we talk about and treat substance use disorders to align with this fact.
 
He knows that the most important step we can take to address substance use disorders is to ensure that Americans have access to affordable, high-quality health care, including treatment for mental illnesses and substance use disorder. That’s why Biden has plan to build on the Affordable Care Act and achieve universal coverage. In addition, Biden will redouble efforts to ensure insurance companies stop discriminating against people with behavioral health conditions and instead provide the coverage for treatment of mental illness and substance use disorders that patients and families need. Congress passed a bipartisan parity law 12 years ago requiring that this discrimination stop, but the enforcement of parity has been insufficient. As Vice President, Biden championed efforts to implement the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act. As President, he will finish the job by appointing officials who will hold insurers accountable, enforcing our parity laws to the fullest extent. He will also direct federal agencies to issue guidance making clear how state officials and the public can file a complaint when their insurers – or Medicaid – are not living up to their parity obligations.
 
In addition, Biden will work to make sure that people experiencing substance use disorders have access to quality facilities and providers. As President, he will ensure that the new public option, Medicare, Medicaid, the Indian Health Service, the Military Health System, and the Veterans Health Administration accelerate integration of substance use disorder care into standard health care practice. Biden will double funding for community health centers and expand the supply of health care providers, for example by growing the National Health Service Corps. And, he will protect rural hospitals from payment cuts, give them the flexibility they need to remain open, and invest in telehealth so people in remote areas can still have access to mental health and substance use disorder specialists.

Finally, Biden will make sure federal funds are specifically targeted at improving access to treatment and recovery for opioid and other substance use disorders, and at preventing these disorders in the first place. As Vice President, Biden championed passage of the 21st Century Cures Act, which included $1 billion in funding for states to address the opioid epidemic. That was a down payment. To deal with the immense scope of the opioid and substance use disorder crisis, Biden will dramatically scale up the resources available, with an unprecedented investment of $125 billion over ten years. Funds will be used to:

Pursue comprehensive strategies to expand access to treatment, particularly in rural and urban communities with high rates of substance use disorders and a lack of access to substance use disorder treatment services. Biden will invest $75 billion in flexible grants to states and localities for prevention, treatment, and recovery efforts. State and local agencies will also be able to use funds to enhance data systems allowing them to better target resources to individuals and communities most in need of support. As a condition for receiving funding, grant recipients will have to provide long-term, comprehensive strategic plans that address the multifaceted nature of the substance use disorder crisis. Funds may be used to:

Invest in evidence-based, cost-effective prevention programs in schools and communities to reduce the development of substance use disorders.

Mitigate harms from opioid and other drug use, including overdoses. Local communities will be able to use the funds to implement evidence-based programs designed to stop the spread of diseases like hepatitis C and HIV, including syringe service programs, or to scale up innovative programs like the safe station initiative started in Manchester, New Hampshire, which allows those seeking help to go to fire stations in order to be connected to treatment and recovery services.

Expand access to ongoing treatment and recovery services. Communities will be able to use funds to increase access to substance use disorder and mental health treatment and other services to support long-term recovery, including peer support networks and recovery coaches, and better integrate primary care and behavioral health. Recognizing the strong evidence that social supports, including family support, may have a positive impact on the treatment of HIV, Biden will support the development of family-centered models for substance use disorder treatment and recovery.

Make Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) available to all who need it, reaching universal access no later than 2025. MAT (also referred to as MOUD or Medications for Opioid Use Disorder) is regarded as the gold standard of care for individuals with opioid use disorder. Yet, less than 50% of substance use disorder facilities around the country offer even one of the FDA-approved medications. The 21st Century Cures Act, legislation Biden championed as Vice President, provided resources to states designed to expand access to MAT.  Biden will build on this in order to ensure universal access to MAT for all who need it, including by:

Providing $20 billion for grants to dramatically expand capacity to administer MAT across the country, especially in underserved areas, including establishing new facilities and developing training programs to increase the number of professionals able to administer MAT.

Stopping insurance companies from erecting barriers to coverage of MAT. For example, insurers have imposed “fail first” protocols which require prescribers to certify that other therapies were tried before covering MAT. Insurers also may require that physicians obtain “prior authorization” for MAT before prescribing it.   

Removing undue restrictions on prescribing medications for substance use disorder. For example, drugs containing buprenorphine were approved by the FDA in 2002 but a relatively small number of doctors or medical personnel are certified to prescribe them. Biden will ensure that any undue restrictions on prescribing are lifted and review methadone treatment regulations.

Help first responders and community health providers respond to overdoses. Biden will invest $10 billion to provide local communities with the tools needed to prevent overdoses and respond to emergencies emanating from this crisis. 

Ensure local communities have a sufficient supply of overdose prevention drugs. Naloxone (also known as Narcan) is a medication that can reverse an opioid overdose, making it a critical tool in the fight to save lives. Biden will expand grants to states for the purchase of Naloxone to be distributed to local community actors called upon to respond to overdoses, including first responders, public health providers, and the staff at homeless shelters and public libraries.

Demand that drug companies charge a fair price for overdose drugs, including Naloxone. The Biden Administration will aggressively negotiate a reduction in the drug’s price, on behalf of the federal government, and state and local communities.

Support first responders. Police officers and firefighters are often the first on the scene of an overdose. Biden will ensure they are equipped not just with naloxone, but also with the mental health and resilience support anyone would need after being exposed again and again to such trauma.

Invest in community-based prevention programs and a major public education effort to eliminate the stigma surrounding substance use disorder treatment. Biden will invest $5 billion in community-based prevention efforts and public education initiatives including training educators to recognize the signs of mental health problems and substance use disorders and refer them to appropriate services. Funds will also support evidence-based education programs for young people on mental health and substance use disorders.

Expand the pipeline of medical personnel to treat substance use disorders. Building on legislation like the Opioid Workforce Act of 2019, Biden will work with Congress to invest $5 billion to expand medical residencies and access to education and training for medical personnel in substance use disorder diagnosis and treatment. Funding will support training for primary care providers, as well as other members of the health care team, to build an integrated system of care.

Invest in research by doubling funding for the NIH HEAL (Helping to End Addiction Long-Term) Initiative. This $10 billion investment will support efforts to improve treatments for chronic pain.

Provide targeted interventions for particular populations. Biden will invest $10 billion in efforts specifically designed to support populations with unique situations or needs. Biden will ensure a portion of this funding for state and local governments is set aside for Tribal governments. In addition to expanding veterans’ access to substance use disorder and mental health treatment, Biden will direct his Secretary of Veterans Affairs to ensure VA medical personnel are sufficiently trained in safe prescribing practices and pain treatment. Biden will call upon the public health and criminal justice systems to provide evidence-based substance use disorder treatment, including MAT, for people during their incarceration and after their release. Finally, Biden will expand investments to help children suffering from Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome or Neonatal Opioid Withdrawal Syndrome, and to ensure their mothers have access to effective treatment and care.


STOP OVERPRESCRIBING WHILE IMPROVING ACCESS TO EFFECTIVE AND NEEDED PAIN MANAGEMENT
 
An essential part of our national strategy to address the opioid epidemic must be stopping pharmaceutical companies’ practices that lead to overprescribing. Yet at the same time, physicians still must effectively treat pain. Chronic pain is a growing public health challenge with wide-ranging impacts: keeping individuals out of the workforce, negatively affecting their mental and physical health, contributing to suicidal ideation, and otherwise limiting their quality of life. Biden believes we need to pursue two joint goals: eliminate overprescribing of prescription opioids for pain, and improve the effectiveness of and access to alternative treatment for pain. Biden will:

Support development of less addictive pain medications and alternative pain treatments, and improve standards of quality for treatment. We need pain medications that are less addictive and more effective. Biden will invest in NIH research to develop these new medications. By doubling funding for NIH’s HEAL program, Biden will accelerate research regarding alternative treatments and therapies and help providers and patients better understand the options and access alternatives. And, he will direct the FDA to give priority to new pain medications with a documented reduced risk of addiction. 

Expand coverage for alternative pain treatments. As documented in a recent study related to back pain, some non-pharmacological pain interventions (e.g., psychological counseling, acupuncture, physical therapy, or occupational therapy) are not consistently covered or have administrative barriers to coverage (e.g., pre-authorization, visit limits). In accordance with evidence-based medicine, Biden will call for a requirement that Medicare, Medicaid, his proposed new public option, and private insurance companies consistently and transparently cover alternatives to opioids for chronic pain, without barriers such as prior authorization or high levels of cost-sharing.

Crack down on misleading advertising regarding substance use disorder treatment facilities with no basis in evidence. Biden will ensure that the Federal Trade Commission and the FDA act when companies try to mislead. He will appoint leaders of both agencies who will make this a key priority.

Provide training to medical personnel in pain management and substance use disorder treatment. Building on the Obama-Biden Administration’s prior efforts, Biden will direct the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to work with the medical community to support research and the development of curricula and training regarding pain management. He will ensure that the systematic study of pain management and substance use disorder is a mandatory part of the curricula and material on which doctors and other medical personnel are tested. Those seeking a federal DEA license to prescribe controlled substances will be required to receive training on proper prescribing guidelines and pain management.

Expand the effectiveness of monitoring programs designed to prevent inappropriate overprescribing of opioids. Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs) are electronic databases designed to prevent drug abuse. For example, a provider can check the database before prescribing in order to determine whether his or her patient has been getting the same prescription from multiple providers. In order to receive any of the $125 billion in new grants under the Biden Administration, states will have to institute a requirement that every prescriber checks the database every time they write a new opioid prescription. Biden will also set aside some of these grant dollars to ensure states improve Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs data-sharing across state lines.

Ensure regular updating of the Centers for Disease the Control and Prevention (CDC) prescriber guideline based on the best available evidence. The CDC has issued a guideline to help prescribers make evidence-based decisions regarding when and how to prescribe opioids in order to minimize the risk of abuse while also effectively treating pain. Biden will ask the CDC to commit to regularly updating these guidelines as new evidence emerges regarding opioid abuse risk factors and alternative pain treatments. And, he will partner with health care providers and states to maximize providers’ awareness and use of the guideline.

 
REFORM THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM SO THAT NO ONE IS INCARCERATED FOR DRUG USE ALONE
 
Biden has released a criminal justice plan that will strengthen America’s commitment to justice and reform our criminal justice system by building a system focused on redemption and rehabilitation. Biden believes that no one should be incarcerated for drug use alone, and as President he will treat drug use as a disease rather than a crime. Specifically, Biden will:

End all incarceration for drug use alone and instead divert individuals to drug courts and treatment. Biden will require federal courts to divert these individuals to drug courts so they receive appropriate treatment and services. He’ll incentivize states to put the same requirements in place. And, he’ll expand funding for federal, state, and local drug courts and other programs that divert individuals who commit crimes as a result of or in furtherance of substance use disorders to treatment rather than incarceration. 

Get people who should be supported with social services – instead of in our prisons  – connected to the help they need. Too often, those in need of mental health care or treatment for a substance use disorder do not get the care that they need. Instead, they end up having interactions with law enforcement that lead to incarceration. To change the nature of these interactions, the Biden Administration will fund initiatives to partner mental health and substance use disorder experts, social workers, and disability advocates with police departments. These service providers will respond to calls with police officers so individuals who should not be in the criminal justice system are diverted to treatment for substance use disorder or mental illness, when appropriate, or are provided with the housing or other social services they may need.

Read more about Biden’s plan to reform the criminal justice system at https://joebiden.com/justice/.
 
STEM THE FLOW OF ILLICIT DRUGS LIKE FENTANYL, ESPECIALLY FROM CHINA AND MEXICO
 
As part of a comprehensive agenda that prioritizes prevention, treatment, recovery, and harm reduction, Biden believes that part of the solution to the opioid crisis involves preventing bad actors from smuggling opioids and other illicit drugs into our country. Specifically, Biden will:

Make fentanyl a top priority in our dealings with China. The Treasury Department has already sanctioned a small number of Chinese nationals in connection with fentanyl – it’s a good start, but going after individuals will not alter Beijing’s thinking long-term. Biden will pressure Beijing to crack down on illicit fentanyl production in China and stem the flow of the drug into the United States. Biden will also develop regional strategies in the Asia-Pacific and the Americas to deal with shifts in the routes and sources of fentanyl in response to a Chinese crackdown.

Enhance cooperation with Mexican authorities to disrupt the movement of heroin and fentanyl across the U.S.-Mexico border.  Chinese fentanyl is frequently transshipped through Mexico, and then smuggled across the border in pure form or combined with heroin. As China takes steps to police fentanyl and its precursors, production and distribution will increasingly shift to Mexico. Biden will pursue strong, sustained cooperation with Mexican authorities to disrupt suppliers and supply routes, including the importation of precursor chemicals from China. The Biden Administration will also provide technical assistance to enhance the Mexican Post Service’s (SEPOMEX) ability to detect and electronically track shipments of fentanyl and precursors that come through Mexico. As President, Biden will repair the damage to U.S.-Mexico ties inflicted by Donald Trump and develop a common agenda with Mexico that looks beyond our shared border to promote our shared prosperity and protect U.S. national security interests.

Enforce sanctions on international actors engaged in the trafficking of illicit drugs like heroin and fentanyl. Biden’s Treasury Department sanctions team will map the financial institutions and networks that facilitate the distribution of fentanyl and key precursors and develop sanctions packages based on that evidence and task the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to support these efforts with a focus on illicit finance.

Increase cooperation among global law enforcement agencies. Biden will direct U.S. law enforcement agencies to work closely with foreign counterparts, share threat information, and use technology to assist in tracking and seizing illicit shipments.

Ensure federal agencies have the tools and resources they need to stop the flow of fentanyl from abroad. Fentanyl producers have exploited gaps in monitoring through the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) to flood the U.S. with the deadly product. Biden will give the USPS the tools and resources it needs to carry out that mandate and disrupt the large supplies of fentanyl that are sent through the mail system, working with U.S. Customs and Border Protection. In addition, the vast majority of opioids and fentanyl are shipped through legal ports of entry—not in between them. Rather than waste resources building a wall or tearing families apart, Biden will direct resources to the ports of entry to interdict opioid shipments there.

Combating the Opioid Epidemic and Substance Use Disorders, Paid for By Making Sure Pharma Pays Its Fair Share
 
Biden’s $125 billion investment in a comprehensive response to the opioid epidemic and substance use disorders is paid for by raising taxes on the profits of pharmaceutical corporations.

Democratic Candidates for 2020: Biden Releases Plan for ‘Investing in Our Communities through Housing’

Vice President Joe Biden, running for the 2020 Democratic nomination for president, has released his plan for investing in communities through housing, “a right, not a privilege.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The vigorous contest of Democrats seeking the 2020 presidential nomination has produced excellent policy proposals to address major issues. 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 rental assistance.

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 homelessness. 

Housing is an essential part of Biden’s broader strategy to grow strong, healthy communities in every zip code – from his plan to rebuild our nation’s infrastructure and revitalize local economies to his plan to invest in our public schools.
 

The Biden Principles for Housing
 
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 violence; 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 HOUSING MARKET

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 benefits. 

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 education programs.

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 customers.

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 agencies.  

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 year.

Provide Section 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 benefits. 

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 housing stock.

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 establish credit.

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 equipment. 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 HOUSING

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 housing.

$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 affordable housing.

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 their jobs.  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 planning.

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 country.

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 young adults.

Reform federal housing programs to ensure they take a “housing first” approach to ending homelessness. The Trump Administration has demonstrated acceptance of a worldview that housing and food should be withheld until homeless individuals tackle challenges such as addiction and mental illness. This view isn’t just inhumane, it defies the evidence regarding what works. More and more evidence is making clear that a “housing first” approach – “guided by the belief that people need basic necessities like food and a place to live before attending to anything less critical, such as getting a job, budgeting properly, or attending to substance use issues” – is an effective strategy for reducing homelessness. So, while the Biden Administration will pursue a comprehensive strategy addressing homelessness’ underlying causes – from making sure everyone has access to quality mental health and addiction support, to increasing the minimum wage and expanding workforce training, to changing the culture so more LGBTQ teenagers are accepted in their homes – President Biden will make sure our country commits to a “housing first” approach to ending homelessness. In his first 100 days, Biden will direct his Secretary of Housing and Urban Development to conduct a full review of federal housing policies to make sure they pursue and incentivize the “housing first” approach. The Secretary will identify all ways in which homelessness assistance grants can further support rapid re-housing and long-term supportive housing. Supportive housing has been found to have positive long-term impacts, and rapid re-housing has been shown to lead to quick exits from homelessness.

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 care.

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 reasons. 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.