Tag Archives: VP 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 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.

Biden Delivers His Prescription for Fighting the Health, Economic Impacts of Coronavirus Pandemic

Vice President Joe Biden gave his prescription for addressing the health and economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic – a strong contrast to the speech Trump delivered from the Oval Office (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

This is the speech on protecting against the health and economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic that Americans should have heard from the Oval Office:

Remarks by Vice President Joe Biden on Combating Coronavirus (COVID-19)

My fellow Americans:
 
Today, across the nation, many of us are feeling anxious about the rapid spread of COVID-19, known as the coronavirus, and the threat it poses to our health, our loved ones, and our livelihoods.
 
I know people are worried, and my thoughts are with all those who are directly fighting this virus — those infected, families that have suffered a loss, our first responders and health care providers who are putting themselves on the line for others. And I’d like to thank those who are already making sacrifices to protect us— whether that’s self-quarantining or cancelling events or closing campuses. Because whether or not you are infected, or know someone who is infected, or have been in contact with an infected person — this will require a national response. Not just from our elected leaders or our public health officials — from all of us.
 
We all must follow the guidance of health officials and take appropriate precautions — to protect ourselves, and critically, to protect others, especially those who are most at-risk from this disease.
 
It will mean making some radical changes to our personal behaviors: more frequent and more through handwashing and staying home from work if you are ill, but also altering some deeply-ingrained habits, like handshakes and hugs, and avoiding large public gatherings.
 
That is why earlier this week, on the recommendation of officials, my campaign cancelled the election night rally we had planned to hold in Cleveland, Ohio. We will also be re-imagining the format for the large-crowd events we had planned in Chicago and Miami in the coming days. And we will continue to assess and adjust how we conduct our campaign as we move forward, and find new ways to share our message with the public, while putting the health and safety of the American people first.
 
Yesterday, we announced a Public Health Advisory Committee of experts who will counsel our campaign and help guide our decisions on steps to minimize the risk. We will be led by the science.
 
The World Health Organization has now officially declared COVID-19 a pandemic. Downplaying it, being overly dismissive, or spreading misinformation will only hurt us and further advantage the spread of the disease. But neither should we panic or fall back on xenophobia. Labeling COVID-19 a “foreign virus” does not displace accountability for the mismanagement that we have seen from the Trump Administration.
 
Let me be crystal clear: the coronavirus does not have a political affiliation. It will infect Republicans and Democrats alike. It will not discriminate based on national origin, race, gender, or zip code. It will touch people in positions of power and the most vulnerable in our society.
 
A wall will not stop it. Banning all travel from Europe, or any other part of the world, may slow it — but as we have seen — it will not stop it. And travel restrictions based on favoritism and politics — rather than risk — will be counterproductive. This disease could impact every nation and any person on the planet. And we need a plan about how we are going to aggressively manage it here at home.
 
The American people have the capacity to meet this moment. We will face this with the same spirit that has guided us through previous crises. We will come together as a nation. We will look out for one another and do our part as citizens. We have to harness the ingenuity of our scientists and the resourcefulness of our people. And we have to lead the world to drive a coordinated global strategy, not shut ourselves off from it.
 
Protecting the health and safety of the American people is the most important job of any president — and unfortunately, this virus has laid bare the severe shortcomings of the current Administration. Public fears are being compounded by a pervasive lack of trust in this president, fueled by his adversarial relationship with the truth.
 
Our government’s ability to respond effectively has been undermined by the hollowing-out of our agencies and the disparagement of science. And our ability to drive a global response is dramatically undercut by the damage Trump has done to our credibility and our relationships around the world.
 
We have to get to work immediately to dig ourselves out of this hole. That is why, today, I am releasing a plan to combat and overcome the coronavirus. The full details are on JoeBiden.com laying out the immediate steps we must take to deliver: A decisive public health response to curb the spread of this disease and provide treatment to those in need; and a decisive economic response that delivers real relief to American workers, families, and small businesses — and protects the economy as a whole.
 
I offer it as a roadmap, not for what I will do as president 10 months from now, but for the leadership I believe is required right now, in this moment. President Trump is welcome to adopt it today. 
 
The core principle is simple: public health professionals must be the ones making our public health decisions and communicating with the American people. It would be a step toward reclaiming public trust and confidence in the United States government and toward stopping the fear and chaos that can overtake communities faster than this pandemic. And it’s critical to mounting an effective national response that will save lives, protect our front-line health workers, and slow the spread of this virus.  
 
First, anyone who needs to be tested based on medical guidelines, should be tested—at no charge. The Administration’s failure on testing is colossal. It is a failure of planning, leadership, and execution. The White House should measure and report each day how many tests were ordered, how many tests have been completed, and how many have tested positive. By next week, the number of tests should be in the millions, not the thousands. We should make sure every person in a nursing home, a senior center, or a vulnerable population has easy access to a test. 
 
We should establish hundreds of mobile testing sites — at least 10 per state — and drive-thru testing centers to speed testing and protect health care workers. 
 
The CDC, private labs, universities, and manufacturers should be working in lock-step to get this done, and get it done right. No effort should be spared. No excuses should be made. Tests should be available to all who need them and the government should stop at nothing to make that happen. 
 
We must know the true extent of this outbreak so we can map it, trace it, and contain it. Nor should we hide the true number of infections in hopes of protecting political interests or the stock market. The markets will respond to strong, steady, capable leadership that addresses the root of the problem, not efforts to cover it up.
 
Second, we need to surge our capability to both prevent and treat the coronavirus, and prepare our hospitals to deal with an influx of those needing care. This means not just getting out the testing kits and processing them quickly, but making sure communities have the hospital beds, the staff, the medical supplies, and the personal protective equipment necessary to treat patients.
 
The president should order FEMA to prepare the capacity with local authorities to establish temporary hospitals with hundreds of beds on short notice. The Department of Defense should prepare for the potential deployment of its resources to provide medical facility capacity and logistical support. A week from now, a month from now, we could need an instant, 500-bed hospital to isolate and treat patients in any city in the country. We can do that — but we aren’t ready yet, and the clock is ticking.

As we take these steps, state, federal, and local authorities need to ensure that there is accurate, up-to-date information easily available to every American so everyone can make an informed decision about when to get tested, when to self-quarantine, and when to seek medical treatment. And the federal government should provide states and municipalities with clear guidance about when to trigger more aggressive mitigation policies, such as closing schools.
 
Third, we need to accelerate the development of treatments and a vaccine. Science takes time. It will still be many months before we have a vaccine that can be proven safe for public use and produced in sufficient quantity to make a difference. Therapeutics can and should come sooner. That will save lives. We passed the Cures Act in 2016 to accelerate work at the National Institutes of Health, but now it must have every available resource to speed the process along.
 
We must fast-track clinical trials within the NIH, while closely coordinating with the Food and Drug Administration on trial approvals, so that the science is not hindered by the bureaucracy. And, when we do have a vaccine ready to go, it should also be made widely available, free of charge.  
 
We should also immediately restore the White House National Security Council Directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefense –with a full-time, dedicated coordinator to oversee the response.
 
Our Administration created that office to better respond to future global health threats after the Ebola crisis in 2014.
 
It was designed for exactly this scenario.
 
President Trump eliminated the office two years ago.
 
Here’s the bottom line: we have to do what is necessary to beat this challenge sooner rather than later.
 
I assure you, if we wait for it to worsen then scramble to catch up, the human and economic toll will be far greater and last far longer.
 
Congress gave the Administration $8 billion last week to fight the virus.  We need to know exactly where that money is going, how quickly it is going out the door, and how it is being spent. 

This brings me to the second half of this challenge — the economic dislocation the coronavirus will cause in our country.
 
We must do whatever it takes, spend whatever it takes, to deliver relief for our families and ensure the stability of our economy.
 
Taking immediate, bold measures to help Americans who are hurting economically right now.
 
It means we will need bigger and broader measures to shore up economic demand, protect jobs, keep credit flowing to our job creators, and make sure we have the economic fire power we need to weather this storm and get our people and this economy back to full strength as soon as possible.  

This crisis will hit everyone, but it will hit folks who live paycheck-to-paycheck the hardest, including working people and seniors.
 
Another tax cut to Google or Goldman or millionaires won’t get the job done.
 
Indiscriminate corporate tax subsidies won’t effectively target those who really need help.
 
We need to place our focus on those who will struggle just to get by.
 
People are already losing jobs — we need to replace their wages.

That includes workers in the gig economy who lack unemployment insurance.

Parents who are already struggling with childcare costs — we need to give them relief.
 
Children who rely on school lunches will need food.

And schools will need help ensuring children who do not have easy access to computers can still learn if their schools close. 
 
People who have difficulty paying their rent or mortgage because they’ve been laid off or had their hours cut back — we need to help them stay in their homes.
 
Small businesses that will be devastated as customers stay home and events are canceled — we need to make sure they have access to interest-free loans.
 
It is a national disgrace that millions of our fellow citizens do not have a single day of paid sick leave.
 
We need — both — a permanent plan for paid sick leave and an emergency plan for everyone who needs it due to the outbreak.
 

Beyond these national measures, my plan also calls for the creation of a State and Local Emergency Fund to make sure governors, mayors, and local leaders who are battling coronavirus on the ground have the resources necessary to meet this crisis head on.

These funds could be used at the discretion of local leaders for whatever they most need: expanding critical health infrastructure, hiring additional health care and emergency service personnel, or cushioning the wider economic blow this virus will cause our communities. 
 
We need smart, bold, and compassionate leadership that will help contain the crisis, reduce hardship to our people, and help our economy rebound.
 
But let me be clear: this is just a start. 
 
We must prepare now to take further decisive action, including direct relief, that will be large in scale and focused on the broader health and stability of our economy.
 
But we can only protect the health of our economy, if we do everything in our power to protect the health of our people.

The last point I want to make today is this — we will never fully solve this problem if we are unwilling to look beyond our own borders and engage fully with the world.
 
A disease that starts any place on the planet can be on a plane to any city on earth a few hours later.
 
So we have to confront coronavirus everywhere. 
 
We should be leading a coordinated, global response, just as we did for Ebola, that draws on the incredible capability of the U.S. Agency for International Development and our State Department to assist vulnerable nations in detecting and treating coronavirus wherever it is spreading.
 

We should be investing in rebuilding and strengthening the Global Health Security Agenda, which we launched during our Administration, specifically to mobilize the world against the threat of new infectious diseases.
 
It can be hard to see the concrete value of this work when everything seems well with the world.
 
But by cutting our investments in global health, this Administration has left us woefully ill-prepared for the exact crisis we now face.
 
No President can promise to prevent future outbreaks.
 
But I can promise you that when I’m president, we will prepare better, respond better, and recover better.

We will lead with science.
 
We will listen to experts and heed their advice.
 
We will rebuild American leadership and rally the world to meet global threats.
 
And I will always, always tell you the truth.
 
That is the responsibility of a president.
 
That is what is owed to the American people.
 
Now, and in the difficult days that still lie ahead, I know that this country will summon our spirit of empathy, decency, and unity.
 
Because, in times of crisis, Americans stand as one. 
 
Volunteers raise their hands to help.
 
Neighbors look out for neighbors.
 
Businesses take care of their workers.
 
So we will meet this challenge — together.
 
Thank you all.

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.

Vice President Joe Biden Decries Rise of Anti-Semitism

With increasing violence against Jewish people, including the massacres at a New Jersey kosher grocery, in California and Pittsburgh, desecrations at Holocaust Memorial Center on Long Island, and attacks on Jews in New York City and upstate New York, as Jews around the world celebrate Chanukah and the historic victory over religious repression, Vice President Joe Biden, a candidate for President, issued a statement decrying the rise of Anti-Semitism and reflecting on “the battle for the soul of this nation.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

With increasing violence against Jewish people, including the massacres at a New Jersey kosher grocery, in California and Pittsburgh, desecrations at Holocaust Memorial Center on Long Island, and attacks on Jews in New York City and upstate New York, as Jews around the world celebrate Chanukah and the historic victory over religious repression, Vice President Joe Biden, a candidate for President, issued a statement decrying the rise of Anti-Semitism and reflecting on “the battle for the soul of this nation.” This is from the Biden campaign:

Statement from Vice President Joe Biden on the Rise of Anti-Semitism and the Battle for the Soul of This Nation

Across America, and around the globe, the disturbing rise of anti-Semitism is shredding the fabric of our communities, tearing apart the lives of innocent people and their families, and eroding the soul of our nation. 

This tide of hatred fueled last week’s horrific act of domestic terrorism that took the lives of a police officer and three people at JC Kosher Supermarket in New Jersey. It’s the same hatred that unleashed the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in U.S. history last year at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. That led a gunman armed with an AR-15 style gun to storm the Chabad of Poway Synagogue in California earlier this year on the last day of Passover. 

We have to fight the pernicious and persistent evil of anti-Semitism at every level of our society — starting with our political leaders. My dear friend, the late Tom Lantos, had a saying that I’ve quoted frequently. He said, “The veneer of civilization is paper thin. We are its guardians, and we can never rest.” That means we have to stand up and speak out every time anti-Semitism rears its head, because silence can all too quickly become complicity. 

Yet, after Charlottesville, instead of condemning a naked display of hatred, Trump assigned a moral equivalence between those streaming through the night with torches, chanting anti-Semitic bile — and the courageous neighbors and activists who stood against them. He gave license and safe harbor to white supremacists, Neo-Nazis, and the KKK. 

We have all seen what has followed. There’s a short line from those white supremacists in Charlottesville chanting “Jews will not replace us,” to the shooter at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh last year, saying Jews “were committing genocide to his people.” 

Since he took office, Trump has presided over a historic increase in hate crimes and biased-incidents targeting people of color, immigrants, LGBTQ Americans, and people of Jewish faith. Active hate groups grew to 1,020 in the U.S. last year, with white nationalists leaping almost 50%, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. FBI data shows that most of our religion-based hate crimes are aimed at Jews. At the end of 2017, Trump’s first year in office, anti-Semitic incidents increased nearly 60%, the largest one-year increase since the Anti-Defamation League started keeping records 40 years ago. 

As I said after Charlottesville, we are in a battle for the soul of this nation. And, it’s why I am running for president. 

Trump announced his first campaign by calling Mexican immigrants “rapists.” He called a major American city a “disgusting rat-and rodent-infested mess” that “no human being” would choose to live in. He tried to ban a whole religion from entering our country. He has repeated anti-Semitic tropes and sought to turn U.S. support for Israel into a political football.  
 
In both clear language and cynical code, this president has fanned the flames of white supremacy and anti-Semitism in this nation. The Jewish people know better than anyone, that any action designed to marginalize one ethnic or religious group imperils us all.

Trump’s actions have only worsened the crisis: retweeting white nationalist postings. Cutting funding for Obama-Biden initiatives put in place to counter violent domestic extremism. 

As I said earlier this year, we must enact a federal domestic terrorism law. We have to make the same commitment to rooting out domestic terrorism as we’ve made to stopping it internationally. And, we can do it without infringing on people’s free speech and without trampling civil liberties.

We must appoint leadership at the U.S. Department of Justice who will prioritize the prosecution of hate crimes – making clear that there is no place for such vitriol in this country.

We must defeat the National Rifle Association to get weapons of war off our streets and out of dangerous hands. I know we can because I’ve done it before – twice. As president, I’ll do it again. I’ll ban the manufacture and sale of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, require background checks for all gun sales, and close the hate crime loophole by enacting legislation to get guns out of dangerous hands of those convicted of a misdemeanor hate crime.

And, we have to condemn pernicious stereotypes wherever we find them, and stand up to those who seek to delegitimize Israel, including at the United Nations. No nation, including Israel, is immune from legitimate criticism, but it should not be unfairly singled out. 

Hate didn’t begin with Donald Trump, and it won’t end with him. But this is a defining moment in our nation’s history. A moment where we are once again called to fight against the same forces of hate and intolerance that we’ve battled throughout our history. Yet it’s in these times, when what’s at stake matters the most, that we decide who we are, and maybe more importantly, who we want to be.

I am running for president because I believe in the best of America. I believe in our values of equality, giving everyone a fair shot, and treating everyone with dignity and respect. We are a country that gives to hate no safe harbor. We lead by the power of our example, not just the example of our power. So let us renew our commitment to our better angels and do what this president cannot: Stand together against hate, and stand up for what, at our best, this nation believes.

Read Joe Biden’s full plan to end gun violence at joebiden.com/gunsafety

See Joe Biden’s statement on Medium HERE

Democratic Candidates for 2020: Biden Advances Plan to Assist Military Families, Caregivers, Survivors

Vice President Joe Biden with Dr. Jill Biden are proposing an expansive plan to assist military families, caregivers and survivors © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

As Second Lady in the Obama Administration, Dr. Jill Biden worked closely with First Lady Michelle Obama on behalf of bettering lives for military families. VP Joe Biden, candidate for President, is proposing a plan to reinvigorate and expand that program for military families, caregivers and survivors. This is from the Biden campaign:

FACT SHEET:
The Biden Plan to Fulfill Our Commitment to Military Families, Caregivers and Survivors

As parents of a service member who deployed to Iraq, Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden understand that it’s not just military members who sign up to serve our nation, their families do too. The Bidens understand the sleepless nights, wondering if your deployed loved one is safe; the difficulties children experience while their parent is serving far away; and all the added sacrifices and challenges, big and small, military families face because they choose selfless service. Our military families never fail to give their best to the United States, and we owe them our best in return.
 
Less than one percent of Americans sign up to serve. They volunteer to shoulder the sacrifices necessary to keep our country safe. That’s why Vice President Biden has long been adamant that, as a nation, our one truly sacred obligation is to properly prepare and equip our troops when we send them to war, and to take care of them and their families — during deployments and when they return home.  
 


Building on the Biden Commitment to Military Families  
The Obama-Biden Administration made support for our military families a signature issue–and a personal priority. Together with First Lady Michelle Obama, Dr. Biden created Joining Forces, a national initiative driving top-level focus on the issues that matter to military families, service members, and veterans including employment, education, and wellness. Joining Forces supported opportunities that led to the hiring or training of more than 1.5 million veterans and military spouses and drove reforms in all 50 states to reduce credentialing barriers for qualified military spouses seeking employment. Dr. Biden also supported the Department of Defense’s (DoD’s) Military Spouse Employment Partnership, which brought together hundreds of companies to help 100,000 military spouses find jobs.
 
As a life-long educator, Dr. Biden spearheaded “Educate the Educators”–a commitment from more than 100 colleges and universities to take steps to meet the unique needs of military-connected children–and championed the GI Comparison tool to help veterans and military family members choose high-quality post-secondary educational institutions. She also worked to make sure that all 50 states signed the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children to better address relocation challenges facing military school-aged children. 
Vice President Biden and Dr. Biden continued this commitment after leaving office, making support for military families a key focus of their continued public service. The Biden Foundation sought to drive economic opportunity for military spouses, create supportive educational environments for military-connected children, and change the conversation around mental health for service members, veterans, and their families.

As President and First Lady, the Bidens will ensure we keep our national commitment to military families by relaunching and strengthening Joining Forces, making it a priority for a Biden Administration.
 

 
We know that many future service members come from military families. So family readiness is integral to mission readiness, both now and in the future. This cannot be an afterthought. It is a national security imperative, and it should be resourced and supported as such.
 
Through nearly two decades of sustained warfare, military families have met many challenges and sacrificed much for our country. They have answered the call to duty again and again. To sustain the world’s finest fighting force, Biden will ensure that families on the homefront receive our full support and the benefits they have earned and deserve through:

Paying Service Members a Competitive Wage

Providing Resources for Military Spouses, Caregivers, and Survivors

Prioritizing Support for Military Children  

President Biden will inspire a future generation of Americans to volunteer for military service by ensuring we fulfill our obligations to the generations who have already answered the call to serve our country and by supporting the well-being of ALL military families.
 
Modernize Compensation to Keep Pace with the Current Economy: Today, more military families are struggling to make ends meet, and some report food insecurity, lack of quality childcare, and poor financial health. That is totally unacceptable. Military service members and their families risk everything for our country–they must be guaranteed a living wage. But the existing compensation framework simply does not allow military families–especially those who are young and more vulnerable–to thrive in today’s modern economy. President Biden will work aggressively to update the federal workforce compensation framework for service members so that the government leads the way in ensuring hard-working families can attain a middle class life, and he will support legislation which will, in the meantime, provide an additional allowance for military families living below the poverty line.
 
Create Stability by Increasing Time between Permanent Change of Station (PCS) Moves: Every year, more than 400,000 Permanent Change of Station (PCS) moves occur for service members and their families. This system is expensive, and it is broken. Military families consider frequent relocation as a driver for negative outcomes in career opportunities for military spouses, military child education, and the development of supportive social networks. While every service member and family understands that mission is paramount, we must invest in solutions that build stability for families and set conditions for service member retention and military family well-being.
 
As president, Biden will commission research and develop solutions to support the increase of time between PCS moves while ensuring we meet targets for Operational and Personnel Tempo in order to meet our national security demands. This will require that we comprehensively examine the potential positive and negative impacts of any changes to deployment cycles, unit assignment policies, and force size calculations. One such solution could be investing in the creation of virtual or hybrid learning scenarios for mandatory Professional Military Education (PME) so that service members and their families can remain in place, rather than PCS to a new base for a short educational tour.
 
Ensure Military Spouse Professional and Economic Opportunity: Military spouses are often more highly educated than their civilian peers, yet they face an unemployment rate of around 30%. Frequent relocation and high operational tempos often stifle their career trajectory. The military personnel system was designed with the single-earner family in mind, but many military families, like their civilian counterparts, depend on earning a second income or simply want the opportunity for the military spouse to pursue a career. Military families are increasingly experiencing challenges such as food insecurity or insufficient savings for emergencies, and with far too many military spouses unemployed or underemployed, meeting these needs is a challenge. LGBTQ military spouses may also be disproportionately affected when they reside in states that are allowed to discriminate based on an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity. The Trump Administration has not only allowed but encouraged these discriminatory practices, all while claiming to support the military. It’s hypocritical and just plain wrong.
 
To increase economic opportunity for military spouses, President Biden will:

Invest $500 million in a 3-year Department of Defense (DOD) military spouse entrepreneurship pilot program, which will provide micro-grants, mentorship, and technical assistance to military spouses who are interested in starting or growing small businesses.

Ensure that the DoD’s Military Spouse Education and Career Opportunity office is fully funded and staffed so that effective programming such as the Military Spouse Employment Partnership (MSEP), My Career Advancement Account (MyCAA) scholarships, and the Military Spouse Transition Program (MySTeP) have the opportunity to deliver results and raise awareness and utilization among military families.

Build bridges between the private sector and the U.S. government to help educate employers about the value of military spouse talent, drive commitments to hire, retain, and promote them, and create concrete career opportunities, as Joining Forces did.

Expand the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) to include military spouses.

Undo the Trump administration’s discriminatory policies and redouble efforts with state officials to ensure that LGBTQ military spouses have the support they need to pursue successful careers.

Continue efforts begun during the Obama-Biden Administration to put an end to unnecessary occupational licensing requirements. While licensing is important in some occupations to protect consumers, in many occupations licensing does nothing but thwart economic opportunity. If a military spouse who works in an occupation that requires a license or credential and has to move because of their military member’s career, they may have to get certified all over again. As president, Biden will build on the Obama-Biden Administration’s efforts to incentivize states to reduce unnecessary licensing requirements and to ensure licenses are transferable from one state to the next.

Fully fund installation-based child care facilities and expand awareness of the DoD fee assistance program, as supported by leading advocates for military families,, so that military spouses can more easily pursue their educations and careers and tap into respite care to relieve stressors of deployments.

Improve Support for Caregivers: Caregivers of wounded, ill, or injured service members and veterans face a variety of challenges, including negative health outcomes, lost wages, and difficulties planning their future. They are essential to military families and our veterans, and we owe them the same commitment and support that they show to our wounded, ill, or injured service members and veterans. 
 
As president, Biden will:

Ensure that caregivers of active duty service members receive adequate professional and peer support, including competent mental health care, financial readiness training, and transition support throughout the rehabilitation timeline (whether that is leading to the service member’s medical retirement or a return to duty).

Provide transparency and high-touch case management via in-person or telehealth sessions with caregiver coordinators for those caregivers enrolled in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Caregiver Support Program, especially to provide personalized assistance as they navigate dual eligibility for benefits and services from both the DoD and VA.

A critical part of meeting our commitment to military families is to do so on time, something the Trump Administration has failed to do. President Biden will ensure that the eligibility expansion for the VA Caregiver Support Program meets its timelines and collects longitudinal satisfaction data through regular surveying of those enrolled or enrolling in the program.

Help caregivers of wounded, ill, injured, or elderly veterans pay for long-term care by providing relief through the creation of a $5,000 tax credit for informal caregivers, modeled off of legislation supported by AARP. This tax credit will be in addition to the financial support provided by the VA Caregiver program.

Support proposals to expand opportunities for much needed respite care for caregivers, to include those offered within DoD, VA, and through the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Institute a waiver for the Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance Program (Chapter 35), so that spouses and survivors who have not accessed their benefits in the allotted time frame will have the opportunity to request additional time.

End Needless Financial Burdens Facing Survivors: As President, Joe Biden will end the needless financial burdens caused by the Survivor Benefit Plan/Dependency Indemnity Compensation Offset (SBP/DIC Offset) or “Widow’s Tax.” It is wrong that we punish the families of the fallen financially in the wake of their extreme sacrifice. 
 
Improve Military Child Education: There are more than 1 million children of active duty service members worldwide. Whether they are educated in Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) schools, local school districts, parochial schools, home schools, or online schools, military children require support to ensure they have every opportunity to succeed in their education. 
 
As president, Biden will:

Propose legislation to expand the Military Student Identifier (MSI) to all military-connected children (to include children of National Guard and Reserve personnel regardless of activation/order status), children of veterans, and children of deceased service members or veterans, who are often impacted by the service of their parents. Under the Obama-Biden Administration, we passed into law the Every Student Succeeds Act, which included the MSI, a designation that allows educators and schools to better understand where military-connected children are receiving their education, and how we can better support them. Currently, the MSI extends only to children of active duty service members, excluding children of National Guard, Reserve, veterans, caregivers, and children of the fallen. But these children face unique challenges too, and we need to know who they are so we can determine what support they need .

Promote efforts across states to streamline enrollment requirements, standardize educational resources, and train teachers and school-based leadership to ensure we are meeting the unique needs of military children effectively, no matter where they study or how often they have to move.

Promote greater awareness of the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children among military families, teachers, and administrators.

Create and disseminate training tools that empower military-connected parents to better advocate for their children.

Provide financial incentives for school districts to train educators on the unique needs and barriers faced by military-connected youth so that they are able to help military children thrive, no matter where they receive their education.

Support and protect post-9/11 GI benefits for veterans and qualified family members by strengthening the GI Bill Comparison Tool and School Feedback Tool to help put an end to post-secondary institutions’ predatory practices.

Enact legislation eliminating the so-called 90/10 loophole that gives for-profit schools an incentive to enroll veterans, service members, and military family members who are using the GI Bill or Tuition Assistance in programs that aren’t delivering results. 

Expand and Improve Behavioral Health Services for Military Dependents: Children and spouses in military families are resilient, but they do experience high levels of stress, whether due to frequent moves, deployment and training schedules of the service member, or weak social/emotional support networks. School-age children and adolescents who experience separation from a parent (either through deployment or other assignments) show higher levels of emotional and behavioral distress. About 25 percent of high school freshmen and juniors in a military family have reported suicidal thoughts during the previous year, and the stresses of military life can exacerbate health issues, among them depression, anxiety, or substance use disorders.
 
Biden has committed to achieving mental health parity, expanding access to behavioral health care, and removing the stigma surrounding behavioral health issues. He will redouble our efforts to ensure enforcement of mental health parity laws and expand funding for mental health services.
 
It is also essential that we invest in an infrastructure that promotes health and well-being, reduces risky behaviors, and provides timely, convenient access to high-quality mental health and substance use/abuse services for military dependents. We must ensure that DoD facilities are fully staffed, equipped, resourced, and able to support the behavioral health of military dependents. If this capacity is not in place, we must invest in solutions to create additional affordable, accessible, and high-quality capacity in the civilian sector. Care must be effective and grounded in evidence-based treatments. Providers must be culturally competent, educated in the unique needs of military families. And families who seek support should never go into debt for treatment or be concerned about confidentiality.
 
The Biden Administration will:

Increase funding for and expand access to telehealth for military families, particularly in areas not able to access timely care.

Expand the number of free, non-medical Military OneSource counseling sessions for military families from 12 sessions to 18 and expand access to Coast Guard families regardless of activation status.

Invest in recruiting and retaining behavioral health care professionals in military treatment facilities to ensure there are enough clinicians to support the needs of not only our active duty force, but military dependents.

Redefine the federal “Health Professional Shortage Areas” (HPSAs) to specifically include military-impacted geographies.

Expand the National Health Services Corps to incentivize early professional behavioral health providers to serve this population.

Re-prioritize and expand the work of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) interagency task force on the behavioral health needs of veterans and military families, to include issues related to traumatic brain injury, substance use disorder and addiction, and other related conditions. Additionally, President Biden will fully restore SAMHSA’s focus on evidence-based solutions and appoint a specific position on the Domestic Policy Council to drive a whole-of-government focus on these issues. 

Direct the Department of Defense to produce a robust, annual report on the state of military family behavioral health, in coordination with VA and SAMHSA.

Guarantee Safe Housing: 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 DoD 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.

Know our Families: Long periods of sustained war-fighting have made us reactive in our responses to military family needs. To best support these families and optimize their health and well-being, we must improve our understanding of their current and emerging needs. We can’t be caught on our heels. We must anticipate and prepare solutions that respond to the evolving needs of military families across the military life cycle. We must be able to track and identify emerging trends so that we can be nimble and responsive to the changing needs of our military families.
 
As president, Biden will:

Convene a multi-disciplinary working group of policy makers, program leaders, and research and subject-matter experts to construct a strategic research plan to inform solutions to support military families.

Designate specific resources for research and development related to military families outcomes within the budget of the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, to include resources for research within both the Military Family and Community Policy and the Defense Health Program.

Require that DoD work across the federal government to leverage national and state-level assessments of health and well-being to ensure they appropriately assess military affiliation in ongoing data collections across the United States. It is imperative that all national surveys include variables that allow us to examine how well military families fare relative to others.

Democratic Candidates for 2020: Biden Details Plan for Education Beyond High School

Vice President Joe Biden has announced a detailed plan for education beyond high school in order to build a stronger, more inclusive middle class. © 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. In a recent poll, Americans have indicated that education is a top issue. Vice President Joe Biden has announced a detailed plan for education beyond high school in order to build a stronger, more inclusive middle class.  This is from the Biden campaign:

For many, earning a bachelor’s degree, associate’s degree, or other credential after high school is unaffordable or saddles them with so much debt it prevents them from buying a home, saving for retirement. Or, it puts financial stress on their parents and grandparents. In an increasingly globalized and technology-driven economy, 12 years of education is no longer enough for American workers to remain competitive and earn a good income. While 6 in 10 jobs require some education after high school, not all require a bachelor’s degree. 

Biden is proposing a bold plan for education and training beyond high school that will give hard-working Americans the chance to join or maintain their place in the middle class, regardless of their parents’ income or the color of their skin. Four years of college shouldn’t be the only path to the middle class. Biden’s plan ensures every child in the U.S. can afford the path that makes sense for them – whether its an industry credential, associate’s degree, or bachelor’s degree. Coupled with his proposals to make sure there are quality jobs ready for our workers, Biden is putting forward a bold plan to rebuild the backbone of our country – the middle class – and this time make sure everyone has the chance to come along.

As president, Biden will:

  • Invest in community colleges and training to improve student success and grow a stronger, more prosperous, and more inclusive middle class.
  • Strengthen college education as the reliable pathway to the middle class, not an investment that provides limited returns and leaves graduates with mountains of debt they can’t afford.
  • Support colleges and universities that play unique and vital roles in their communities, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority-Serving Institutions.

Earlier this week, the campaign announced Women for Biden, highlighting how Trump’s administration has turned its back on women. The Trump Administration’s failure to deal with the student debt crisis is a perfect example. Women hold two thirds of the nation’s $1.5 trillion student debt. Instead of reducing the debt burden or expanding educational opportunities for women, Trump’s administration – with Secretary Betsy DeVos leading the U.S. Department of Education – has worked to cut access to education and sided with for-profit colleges and loan companies over students and graduates. 
 
Biden’s plan builds on his and Dr. Biden’s work to give hard working Americans access to two years of community college without debt. A majority of community college students are women and face unique barriers to completing their degrees. Biden will expand these students’ access to needed services like child care, and ensure that Pell Grants can be used for other costs like housing and books.   
 
This plan builds on Vice President Biden’s comprehensive plan to invest in our children’s education from birth through 12th grade. And, in the months ahead, Biden will also outline in further detail his proposals to make sure there are quality jobs ready for our workers.

FACT SHEET:
THE BIDEN PLAN FOR EDUCATION BEYOND HIGH SCHOOL 

Joe Biden is running for president to rebuild the backbone of the United States – the middle class – and this time make sure everyone has a chance to come along. In today’s increasingly globalized and technology-driven economy, 12 years of education is no longer enough for American workers to remain competitive and earn a middle class income. Roughly 6 in 10 jobs require some education beyond a high school diploma. And, because technology continues to change, American workers  – whether they have an industry-recognized credential, an associate’s degree, a bachelor’s degree, or a PhD – will need opportunities to continue to learn and grow their skills for career success and increased wages in the 21st century economy.

But for too many, earning a degree or other credential after high school is unaffordable today. For others, their education saddles them with so much debt it prevents them from buying a home or saving for retirement, or their parents or grandparents take on some of the financial burden.
 
Biden is proposing a bold plan for education and training beyond high school that will give hard-working Americans the chance to join or maintain their place in the middle class, regardless of their parents’ income or the color of their skin. President Biden will:

Invest in community colleges and training to improve student success and grow a stronger, more prosperous, and more inclusive middle class.

Strengthen college as the reliable pathway to the middle class, not an investment that provides limited returns and leaves graduates with mountains of debt they can’t afford.

Support colleges and universities that play unique and vital roles in their communities, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority-Serving Institutions.

All of these proposals will be implemented in partnership with states as well as school faculty and staff. Educators must play a key role in decisions affecting teaching and learning.
 
Of course, increasing the quality and affordability of post-secondary education system alone is not enough to make sure our middle class succeeds. This plan builds on Vice President Biden’s comprehensive plan to invest in our children’s education from birth through 12th grade. And, in the months ahead, Biden will also outline in further detail his proposals to make sure there are quality jobs ready for our workers.
 
INVEST IN COMMUNITY COLLEGES AND TRAINING TO IMPROVE STUDENT SUCCESS AND GROW A STRONGER, MORE PROSPEROUS, AND MORE INCLUSIVE MIDDLE CLASS
 
Dr. Jill Biden, a current community college professor, refers to community colleges as America’s best kept secret. They are a proven, high-quality tool for providing hard-working Americans access to education and skills and a pathway to the middle class. In fact, today in the United States there are an estimated 30 million quality jobs, with an average salary of $55,000, that don’t require a bachelor’s degree. Every year, millions of Americans attend community colleges to get the credentials they need to obtain these jobs. And, community colleges offer affordable, quality ways for students to complete the first two years of a four-year degree.
 
Part of what makes community colleges so extraordinary is that, working with limited resources, they have figured out how to provide a high-quality, cost-effective education to students often juggling additional responsibilities, such as jobs or child care. But as a country, we haven’t invested enough in making sure community colleges can reach all the Americans who could benefit from their programs, or improve their quality and completion rates.
 
The Biden Administration will build on community colleges’ success and unleash their full potential to grow a stronger, more inclusive middle class by:

Providing two years of community college or other high-quality training program without debt for any hard-working individual looking to learn and improve their skills to keep up with the changing nature of work. In 2015, President Obama and Vice President Biden proposed to make two years of community college tuition-free for hard-working students. Since then, Vice President Biden and Dr. Biden have championed progress toward this goal, and hundreds of state and local College Promise programs have expanded access to free two-year or four-year college educations. As president, Biden will build on this progress by enacting legislation to ensure that every hard-working individual, including those attending school part-time and DREAMers (young adults who came to U.S. as children), can go to community college for up to two years without having to pay tuition. Individuals will also be able to use these funds to pursue training programs that have a track record of participants completing their programs and securing good jobs. Importantly, this initiative will not just be for recent high school graduates; it will also be available to adults who never had the chance to pursue additional education beyond high school or who need to learn new skills. And, students who do want a bachelor’s degree could then transfer to a four-year school, including to Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority-Serving Institutions that play vital roles in their communities. This plan will be a federal-state partnership, with the federal government covering 75% of the cost and states contributing the remaining obligation. The federal government will cover up to 95% of the cost for Indian Tribes operating community colleges serving low-income students. 

Creating a new grant program to assist community colleges in improving their students’ success. The Biden Administration will support community colleges implementing evidence-based practices and innovative solutions to increase their students’ retention and completion of credentials. Reforms could include academic and career advising services; dual enrollment; credit articulation agreements; investing in wages, benefits, and professional development to recruit and retain faculty, including teacher residencies; and improvements to remediation programs. The Biden plan will also help community colleges around the country scale successful programs to help a larger number of students.

Tackling the barriers that prevent students from completing their community college degree or training credential. There are too many Americans who don’t complete their education or training programs not because of a lack of will, but because of other responsibilities they are juggling, such as a job to pay their bills or caring for children. Often these students and their families also face housing and food insecurity. The Biden Administration’s community college initiative will be a first-dollar program, meaning that students will be able to use their Pell grants, state aid, and other aid to help them cover expenses beyond tuition and fees. In addition, the Biden plan will give states financial incentives to foster collaboration between community colleges and community-based organizations to provide wraparound support services for students, especially veterans, single parents, low-income students, students of color, and students with disabilities who may face unique challenges. Wraparound support services can range from public benefits and additional financial aid to cover textbook and transportation costs that often keep students from staying enrolled, to child care and mental health services, faculty mentoring, tutoring, and peer support groups. And, Biden will establish a federal grant program to help community colleges create emergency grant programs for students who experience an unexpected financial challenge that threatens their ability to stay enrolled.

Make a $50 billion investment in workforce training, including community-college business partnerships and apprenticeships. In 2014, President Obama asked Vice President Biden to develop a national strategy for reforming our nation’s workforce training programs designed to prepare “ready-to-work Americans with ready-to-be-filled jobs.” Building on the successful models championed through that initiative, President Biden will make an investment of $50 billion in high-quality training programs. These funds will create and support partnerships between community colleges, businesses, unions, state, local, and tribal governments, universities, and high schools to identify in-demand knowledge and skills in a community and develop or modernize training programs – which could be as short as a few months or as long as two years – that lead to a relevant, high-demand industry-recognized credential. These funds will also exponentially increase the number of apprenticeships in this country through strengthening the Registered Apprenticeship Program and partnering with unions who oversee some of the best apprenticeship programs throughout our nation, not watering down the quality of the apprenticeship system like President Trump is proposing.

Invest in community college facilities and technology. Biden will invest $8 billion to help community colleges improve the health and safety of their facilities, and equip their schools with new technology that will empower their students to succeed in the 21st century.

STRENGTHEN COLLEGE AS A RELIABLE PATHWAY TO THE MIDDLE CLASS
 
We have a student debt crisis in this country, with roughly more than 44 million American individuals now holding a total of $1.5 trillion in student loans. One in five adults who hold student loans are behind on payments, disproportionate number of whom are black. Thus, student debt both exacerbates and results from racial wealth gap.
 
This challenge is also intergenerational. Almost one in ten Americans in their 40s and 50s still hold student loan debt. But, college debt has especially impacted Millennials who pursued educational opportunities during the height of the Great Recession and now struggle to pay down their student loans instead of buying a house, opening their own business, or setting money aside for retirement.
 
There are several drivers of this problem. The cost of higher education has skyrocketed, roughly doubling since the mid-1990s. States have dramatically decreased investments in higher education, leaving students and their families with the bill. And, too often individuals have been swindled into paying for credentials that don’t provide value to graduates in the job market. As president, Biden will address all of these challenges.
 
Biden’s plan to make two years of community college without debt will immediately offer individuals a way to become work-ready with a two-year degree or an industry certification. It will also halve their tuition costs for obtaining a four-year degree, by earning an associate’s degree and then transferring those credits to a four-year college or university. And, as a federal-state partnership, it will ensure states both invest in community colleges and give states some flexibility to also invest in college readiness or affordability at four-year institutions. In addition, President Biden will:

Target additional financial support to low-income and middle-class individuals by doubling the maximum value of Pell grants, significantly increasing the number of middle-class Americans who can participate in the program. Pell grants help 7 million students a year afford college, but they have not kept up with the rising cost of college. In the 1970s, Pell grants covered roughly 70 to 80 percent of the cost of a four-year degree at a public institution; today, that percentage has been cut in more than half, to roughly 30 percent. Biden will double the maximum value of the Pell grant, a level of investment experts say is necessary to close the gap between the rich and poor so that everyone has the opportunity to receive an education beyond high school, and will automatically increase the value based on inflation. Doubling the maximum value of Pell grants will increase the grant value for individuals already eligible for Pell and, given the program’s formula for determining eligibility, expand the benefits of Pell to more middle class Americans. As president, Biden will also take care of young immigrants by ensuring DREAMers are eligible for financial aid if they meet other requirements for that aid. And, he will restore formerly incarcerated individuals’ eligibility for Pell.

More than halve payments on undergraduate federal student loans by simplifying and increasing the generosity of today’s income-based repayment program. Under the Biden plan, individuals making $25,000 or less per year will not owe any payments on their undergraduate federal student loans and also won’t accrue any interest on those loans. Everyone else will pay 5% of their discretionary income (income minus taxes and essential spending like housing and food) over $25,000 toward their loans. This plan will save millions of Americans thousands of dollars a year. After 20 years, the remainder of the loans for people who have responsibly made payments through the program will be 100% forgiven. Individuals with new and existing loans will all be automatically enrolled in the income-based repayment program, with the opportunity to opt out if they wish. In addition to relieving some of the burden of student debt, this will enable graduates to pursue careers in public service and other fields without high levels of compensation. Biden will also change the tax code so that debt forgiven through the income-based repayment plan won’t be taxed. Americans shouldn’t have to take out a loan to pay their taxes when they finally are free from their student loans.

Make loan forgiveness work for public servants. Public servants do the hard work that is essential to our country’s success – protecting us, teaching our children, keeping our streets clean and our lights on, and so much more. But the program designed to help these individuals serve without having to worry about the burden of their student loans – the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program – is broken. Biden will create a new, simple program which offers $10,000 of undergraduate or graduate student debt relief for every year of national or community service, up to five years. Individuals working in schools, government, and other non-profit settings will be automatically enrolled in this forgiveness program; up to five years of prior national or community service will also qualify. Additionally, Biden will fix the existing Public Service Loan Forgiveness program by securing passage of the What You Can Do For Your Country Act of 2019. Biden will ensure adjunct professors are eligible for this loan forgiveness, depending on the amount of time devoted to teaching.

Create a “Title I for postsecondary education” to help students at under-resourced four-year schools complete their degrees. The Biden Administration will establish a new grant program to support under-resourced four-year schools that serve large numbers of Pell-eligible students. The funds will be used to foster collaboration between colleges and community-based organizations to provide wraparound support services for students, especially veterans, single parents, low-income students, students of color, and students with disabilities who may face unique challenges. Wraparound support services can range from public benefits and additional financial aid to cover textbook and transportation costs that often keep students from staying enrolled, to child care and mental health services, faculty mentoring, tutoring, and peer support groups. And, Biden will ensure that these funds can be used to help colleges create emergency grant programs for students who experience an unexpected financial challenge that threatens their ability to stay enrolled.

Create seamless pathways between high school, job training, community college, and four-year programs to help students get their degrees and credentials faster. The Biden Administration will provide grants to states that work to accelerate students’ attainment of credentials, including bachelor’s degrees, while still ensuring quality and accountability. For example, some communities have adopted the early college model, allowing students to begin earning credits towards an associate’s degree while still in high school. And, in some areas students can be dual enrolled in the community college and the four-year program they wish to complete. Biden will challenge more communities to expand on these accelerated pathways and create a seamless transition between high school, community college, other job training, and four-year programs, enabling students to obtain an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in less time. Approaches to accelerating degree attainment include guided pathways that provide a sequence of classes for a specific area of study; shifting toward a 12-month academic calendar; better aligning high school, community college, and four-year college courses; providing college credits for quality, degree-related on-the-job training; and offering degree-related paid internships for course credit. Read more about Joe Biden’s plan for education from birth through 12th grade here.

Prioritize the use of work-study funds for job-related and public service roles. Biden will work to reform federal work study programs to ensure that more of these funds place students in roles where they are either learning skills valuable for their intended careers, or contributing to their communities by mentoring students in K-12 classrooms and community centers.

Stop for-profit education programs from profiteering off of students. Students who started their education at for-profit colleges default on their student loans at a rate three times higher than those who start at non-profit colleges. These for-profit programs are often predatory – devoted to high-pressure and misleading recruiting practices and charging higher costs for lower quality education that leaves graduates with mountains of debt and without good job opportunities. The Biden Administration will require for-profits to first prove their value to the U.S. Department of Education before gaining eligibility for federal aid. The Biden Administration will also return to the Obama-Biden Borrower’s Defense Rule, forgiving the debt held by individuals who were deceived by the worst for-profit college or career profiteers.  Finally, President Biden will enact legislation eliminating the so-called 90/10 loophole that gives for-profit schools an incentive to enroll veterans and servicemembers in programs that aren’t delivering results.

Crack down on private lenders profiteering off of students and allow individuals holding private loans to discharge them in bankruptcy. In 2015, the Obama-Biden Administration called for Congress to pass a law permitting the discharge of private student loans in bankruptcy. As president, Biden will enact this legislation. In addition, the Biden Administration will empower the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau – established during the Obama-Biden Administration – to take action against private lenders who are misleading students about their options and do not provide an affordable payment plan when individuals are experiencing acute periods of financial hardship.

Support and protect post-9/11 GI benefits for veterans and qualified family members. Veterans and their family members served our country and as a nation, we must maintain our commitment to GI benefits. The Obama-Biden Administration took groundbreaking action to ensure that veterans and their family members were empowered to make informed decisions regarding their education and, in turn, ensure that programs educating them met high quality standards. President Biden will build and convene coalitions of experts and advocates to continue this work. He’ll also strengthen the GI Bill Comparison Tool and School Feedback Tool to put an end to post-secondary institutions’ predatory practices.

SUPPORT COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES THAT PLAY UNIQUE AND VITAL ROLES IN THEIR COMMUNITIES
 
Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribal Colleges And Universities (TCUs), Hispanic-serving Institutions (HSIs), Asian American And Native American Pacific Islander-serving Institutions (AANAPISIs), Alaska Native-serving Institutions and Native Hawaiian-serving Institutions (ANNHs), Predominantly Black Institutions (PBIs), and Native American-serving Nontribal Institutions (NASNTIs) serve a disproportionate number of students of color and low-income students, yet are severely under-resourced, especially when compared to other colleges and universities.
 
This makes HBCUs and MSIs’ contributions even more impressive. HBCUs, for example, disproportionately educate first-generation and low-income students. In Vice President Biden’s home state of Delaware, the HBCU Delaware State University graduates nearly half of the state’s black undergraduate students.
 
As president, Biden will take steps to rectify the funding disparities faced by HBCUs, TCUs, and Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs) so that the United States can benefit from their unique strengths. Students at HBCUs, TCUs, and MSIs will benefit from Biden’s proposals to double Pell grants, slash the income-based repayment of loans to 5% of income, and provide free tuition for students at all community colleges, including those that are MSIs. In addition, Biden will invest over $70 billion in these colleges and universities to:

Make HBCUs, TCUs, and under-resourced MSIs more affordable for their students. The Biden plan will invest $18 billion in grants to these four-year schools, equivalent to up to two years of tuition per low-income and middle class student, including DREAMers and students who transfer to a four-year HBCU, TCU, or MSI from a tuition-free community college. Schools must invest in lowering costs, improving retention and graduation rates, and closing equity gaps year over year for students of color.

Invest in the diverse talent at HBCUs, TCUs and MSIs to solve the country’s most pressing problems. The Biden Administration will invest $10 billion to create at least 200 new centers of excellence that serve as research incubators and connect students underrepresented in fields critical to our nation’s future – including fields tackling climate change, globalization, inequality, health disparities, and cancer – to learning and career opportunities. These funds will provide additional work study opportunities and incentivize state, private, and philanthropic dollars for these centers. Biden will also boost funding for agricultural research at land-grant universities, many of which are HBCUs and TCUs, as outlined in his Plan for Rural America. As president, Biden will also dedicate additional and increased priority funding streams at federal agencies for grants and contracts for HBCUs and MSIs. And, he will require any federal research grants to universities with an endowment of over $1 billion to form a meaningful partnership and enter into a 10% minimum subcontract with an HBCU, TCU, or MSI.

Build the high tech labs and facilities and digital infrastructure needed for learning, research, and innovation at HBCUs, TCUs, and MSIs. Biden will invest $20 billion in infrastructure for HBCUs, TCUs, and MSIs to build the physical research facilities and labs urgently needed to deliver on the country’s research and development, to update and modernize deteriorating facilities, including by strengthening the Historic Preservation program, and to create new space for increasing enrollments, especially at HSIs. While schools will be able to use these funds to upgrade the digital infrastructure, Biden will also support TCUs and other institutions in rural areas by investing $20 billion in rural broadband infrastructure and tripling funding to expand broadband access in rural areas. Additionally, as president, Biden will ensure all HBCUs, TCUs, and MSIs have access to low-cost federal capital financing programs and will work with states to ensure they can take advantage of these programs. And, he will work to incentivize further public, private, and philanthropic investments in school infrastructure.

Provide support to continuously improve the value of HBCUs, TCUs, and MSIs by investing $10 billion in programs that increase enrollment, retention, completion, and employment rates. These programs may include partnerships with both high schools, other universities, and employers; evidence-based remedial courses; academic and career advising services; and investing in wages, benefits, and professional development and benefits to recruit and retain faculty, including teacher residencies. Additionally, Biden will incentivize states, private, and philanthropic dollars to invest in these programs, while ensuring schools that do not receive matches increase their competitiveness.

Expand career pathways for graduates of HBCUs, TCUs, and MSIs in areas that meet national priorities, including building a diverse pipeline of public school teachers. Biden will invest $5 billion in graduate programs in teaching, health care, and STEM and will develop robust internship and career pipelines at major research agencies, including Department of Energy National Laboratories, National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, and the Department of Defense.

Triple and make permanent the capacity-building and student support for HBCUs, TCUs, and MSIs in Title III and Title V of the Higher Education Act. These funds serve as a lifeline to under-resourced HBCUs, TCUs, and MSIs year over year, ensuring that the most vulnerable students have the support they need to succeed. The Biden Administration will make permanent $750 million per year in Title III and Title V funding, which will provide a dedicated revenue stream of $7.5 billion over the first ten years.

Reduce disparities in funding for HBCUs, TCUs, and MSIs. Biden will require federal agencies and states to publish reports of their allocation of federal funding to colleges and universities. When inequities exist between HBCUs, TCUs, and MSIs and similar non-HBCU, TCU, MSI colleges, federal agencies and states will be required to publish robust rationale and show improvements in eliminating disparities year over year. To ensure funding is more equitably distributed among HBCUs, TCUs, and MSIs, the Biden Administration will require that competitive grant programs make similar universities compete against each other, for example, ensuring that HBCUs only compete against HBCUs. And, President Biden will require higher education accreditors to provide increased transparency in their processes.

Additionally, Biden recognizes the critical role low-endowment private colleges and universities play in providing educational opportunities and jobs in many rural communities. As president, he will establish an innovation competitive grant fund for these institutions, giving them additional funds to invest in increasing graduation rates; closing ethnic, racial, and income disparities; and increasing career outcomes for low-income students, students of color, first-generation students, and students with disabilities..
 
SUPPORTING LEARNERS AND WORKERS, NOT REWARDING WEALTH
 
The Biden plan for education beyond high school is a $750 billion investment over ten years targeted at growing a stronger, more inclusive middle class. It will be paid for by making sure that the super-wealthy pay their fair share. Specifically, this plan will be paid for by eliminating the stepped-up basis loophole and capping the itemized deductions the wealthiest Americans can take to 28%.

For more on Vice President Biden’s plan, see HERE. To see how Vice President Biden’s plan would impact you, click HERE.

Democratic Candidates for 2020: Biden Outlines Plan to End America’s Gun Violence Epidemic

Vice President Joe Biden announced a detailed plan to end the epidemic of gun violence. (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Former Vice President Joe Biden became the latest 2020 Democratic Candidate to come out with a detailed plan to end the epidemic of gun violence, once again proving that there is no shortage of pragmatic plans to solve the most intransient, important issues we face as a nation and a world – what has been lacking is political will. Have you seen a plan from Donald Trump? Me neither.Karen Rubin, News-Photos-Features.com

This is from the Biden 2020 campaign:

Former Vice President Joe Biden announced a detailed plan to end America’s gun violence epidemic ahead of his participation in the Giffords and March for Our Lives presidential gun safety forum in Las Vegas, Nevada. 

While Democratic leaders and the American public have reached an undeniable and broad consensus about what needs to be done to address the gun violence epidemic that has engulfed communities across America, Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, Congressional Republicans, and the NRA refuse to take any sensible action. As president, Biden will not let anyone hold our nation’s children, families, and communities hostage to the scourge of gun violence Americans face every day. 

Biden is introducing a bold, comprehensive plan that not only calls for common sense gun safety reform, but outlines how he is going to get it done for the American people. Biden’s plan calls for universal background checks, closing loopholes in the background check system, banning assault weapons and high capacity magazines, incentivizing states to establish red flag law, holding gun manufacturers accountable, and investing in public health research regarding the causes and prevention of gun violence.

As a leader who has championed common sense gun safety laws both as a United States Senator and Vice President, Biden has unmatched substantive expertise on addressing gun violence. He has been pushing the conversation on ending gun violence for at least 25 years. And he has taken on the NRA twice and won – first with the Brady Bill, which established firearms background check system, and then securing the passage of a ten-year ban on assault rifles and high-capacity magazines together with Senator Dianne Feinstein. 

Based on his expertise and experience on this issue, Biden’s plan also includes three standout sections that further demonstrate how he will end the gun violence epidemic:

Addressing the daily combination of guns and domestic violence;

Tackling urban gun violence with targeted, evidence-based community interventions; and

Supporting survivors of violence and their communities.

On the second anniversary of the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history, Vice President Biden released a statement decrying Donald Trump’s continued inaction on sensible gun reform and his capitulation to the NRA. Biden also declared, “We can beat the NRA; we can get those weapons of war off our streets; and we can make sure our children don’t grow up in constant fear. Real leadership — moral leadership — can get these reforms done.”

Today’s plan follows Biden for President’s release of “Purpose,” a video of gun safety advocate Fred Guttenberg who credits Biden for helping inspire his mission as a gun safety advocate after his 14-year-old daughter was killed in Parkland, Florida. 



FACT SHEET: 
THE BIDEN PLAN TO END OUR GUN VIOLENCE EPIDEMIC

Vice President Joe Biden presents a plan to address gun violence as a public health epidemic. (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com.

Joe Biden knows that gun violence is a public health epidemic. Almost 40,000 people die as a result of firearm injuries every year in the United States, and many more are wounded. Some of these deaths and injuries are the result of mass shootings that make national headlines. Others are the result of daily acts of gun violence or suicides that may not make national headlines, but are just as devastating to the families and communities left behind.

Joe Biden has taken on the National Rifle Association (NRA) on the national stage and won – twice. In 1993, he shepherded through Congress the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, which established the background check system that has since kept more than 3 million firearms out of dangerous hands. In 1994, Biden – along with Senator Dianne Feinstein – secured the passage of 10-year bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. As president, Joe Biden will defeat the NRA again.
 
Joe Biden also knows how to make progress on reducing gun violence using executive action. After the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, President Obama tasked Vice President Biden with developing both legislative proposals and executive actions to make our communities safer. As a result of this effort, the Obama-Biden Administration took more than two dozen actions, including narrowing the so-called “gun show loophole,” increasing the number of records in the background check system, and expanding funding for mental health services.
 
It’s within our grasp to end our gun violence epidemic and respect the Second Amendment, which is limited. As president, Biden will pursue constitutional, common-sense gun safety policies. Biden will:
 
Hold gun manufacturers accountable. In 2005, then-Senator Biden voted against the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, but gun manufacturers successfully lobbied Congress to secure its passage. This law protects these manufacturers from being held civilly liable for their products – a protection granted to no other industry. Biden will prioritize repealing this protection.
 
Get weapons of war off our streets. The bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines that Biden, along with Senator Feinstein, secured in 1994 reduced the lethality of mass shootings. But, in order to secure the passage of the bans, they had to agree to a 10-year sunset provision and when the time came, the Bush Administration failed to extend them. As president, Biden will:
 

Ban the manufacture and sale of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Federal law prevents hunters from hunting migratory game birds with more than three shells in their shotgun. That means our federal law does more to protect ducks than children. It’s wrong. Joe Biden will enact legislation to once again ban assault weapons. This time, the bans will be designed based on lessons learned from the 1994 bans. For example, the ban on assault weapons will be designed to prevent manufacturers from circumventing the law by making minor changes that don’t limit the weapon’s lethality. While working to pass this legislation, Biden will also use his executive authority to ban the importation of assault weapons.

Regulate possession of existing assault weapons under the National Firearms Act. Currently, the National Firearms Act requires individuals possessing machine-guns, silencers, and short-barreled rifles to undergo a background check and register those weapons with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Due to these requirements, such weapons are rarely used in crimes. As president, Biden will pursue legislation to regulate possession of existing assault weapons under the National Firearms Act.

Buy back the assault weapons and high-capacity magazines already in our communities. Biden will also institute a program to buy back weapons of war currently on our streets. This will give individuals who now possess assault weapons or high-capacity magazines two options: sell the weapons to the government, or register them under the National Firearms Act.

Reduce stockpiling of weapons. In order to reduce the stockpiling of firearms, Biden supports legislation restricting the number of firearms an individual may purchase per month to one.

Keep guns out of dangerous hands. The federal background check system (the National Instant Criminal Background Check System) is one of the best tools we have to prevent gun violence, but it’s only effective when it’s used. Biden will enact universal background check legislation and close other loopholes that allow people who should be prohibited from purchasing firearms from making those purchases. Specifically, he will:

Require background checks for all gun sales. Today, an estimated 1 in 5 firearms are sold or transferred without a background check. Biden will enact universal background check legislation, requiring a background check for all gun sales with very limited exceptions, such as gifts between close family members. This will close the so-called “gun show and online sales loophole” that the Obama-Biden Administration narrowed, but which cannot be fully closed by executive action alone.

Close other loopholes in the federal background check system. In addition to closing the “boyfriend loophole” highlighted below, Biden will:

Reinstate the Obama-Biden policy to keep guns out of the hands of certain people unable to manage their affairs for mental reasons, which President Trump reversed. In 2016, the Obama-Biden Administration finalized a rule to make sure the Social Security Administration (SSA) sends to the background check system records that it holds of individuals who are prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms because they have been adjudicated by the SSA as unable to manage their affairs for mental reasons. But one of the first actions Donald Trump took as president was to reverse this rule. President Biden will enact legislation to codify this policy.

Close the “hate crime loophole.” Biden will enact legislation prohibiting an individual “who has been convicted of a misdemeanor hate crime, or received an enhanced sentence for a misdemeanor because of hate or bias in its commission” from purchasing or possessing a firearm.

Close the “Charleston loophole.” The Charleston loophole allows people to complete a firearms purchase if their background check is not completed within three business days. Biden supports the proposal in the Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2019, which extends the timeline from three to 10 business days. Biden will also direct the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to put on his desk within his first 100 days as president a report detailing the cases in which background checks are not completed within 10 business days and steps the federal government can take to reduce or eliminate this occurrence.

Close the “fugitive from justice” loophole created by the Trump Administration. Because of actions by the Trump Administration, records of almost 500,000 fugitives from justice who are prohibited from purchasing firearms were deleted from the background check system. The Biden Administration will restore these records, and enact legislation to make clear that people facing arrest warrants are prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms.

End the online sale of firearms and ammunitions. Biden will enact legislation to prohibit all online sales of firearms, ammunition, kits, and gun parts.

Create an effective program to ensure individuals who become prohibited from possessing firearms relinquish their weapons. Federal law defines categories of individuals who are prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms, and the federal background check system is an effective tool for ensuring prohibited persons cannot purchase firearms. But we lack any serious tool to ensure that when someone becomes newly prohibited – for example, because they commit a violent crime – they relinquish possession of their firearms. There are some promising models for how this could be enforced. For example, California has a mandatory process for ensuring relinquishment by any individual newly subject to a domestic violence restraining order. As president, Biden will direct the FBI and ATF to outline a model relinquishment process, enact any necessary legislation to ensure relinquishment when individuals newly fall under one of the federal prohibitions, and then provide technical and financial assistance to state and local governments to establish effective relinquishment processes on their own.

Incentivize state “extreme risk” laws. Extreme risk laws, also called “red flag” laws, enable family members or law enforcement officials to temporarily remove an individual’s access to firearms when that individual is in crisis and poses a danger to themselves or others. Biden will incentivize the adoption of these laws by giving states funds to implement them. And, he’ll direct the U.S. Department of Justice to issue best practices and offer technical assistance to states interested in enacting an extreme risk law.

Give states incentives to set up gun licensing programs. Biden will enact legislation to give states and local governments grants to require individuals to obtain a license prior to purchasing a gun.

Adequately fund the background check system. President Obama and Vice President Biden expanded incentives for states to submit records of prohibited persons into the background checks system. As president, Biden will continue to prioritize that funding and ensure that the FBI is adequately funded to accurately and efficiently handle the NICS system.


ADDRESSING THE DEADLY COMBINATION OF GUNS AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

The statistics tell a devastating and overwhelming story. The likelihood that a woman in a domestic violence situation will be killed increases by a factor of five if a gun is nearby. Half of mass shootings involve an individual shooting a family member or former intimate partner. This deadly connection tragically impacts children as well: 86% of children killed in shootings with four or more victims were involved in domestic or family violence.
 
Biden recognizes that the gun violence and domestic violence epidemics are linked and cannot be solved in isolation. Addressing the interconnectedness of these challenges will be a core focus of Biden’s anti-violence work as president.
 
The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2019, which Leader McConnell refuses to bring to the floor for a vote, includes a number of reforms to keep firearms out of the hands of abusers. Senator McConnell should ensure this legislation gets passed long before President Biden would take the oath of office. But if McConnell refuses to act, Biden will enact legislation to close the so-called “boyfriend loophole” and “stalking loophole” by prohibiting all individuals convicted of assault, battery, or stalking from purchasing or possessing firearms, regardless of their connection to the victim. This proposal is modeled after existing laws in California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Nevada, New York, and Pennsylvania. Biden also supports enacting the proposal to prohibit anyone under a temporary restraining order from purchasing or possessing a firearm before their hearing.
 
In addition, President Biden will:

Establish a new Task Force on Online Harassment and Abuse to focus on the connection between mass shootings, online harassment, extremism, and violence against women. As President, Joe Biden will convene a national Task Force with federal agencies, state leaders, advocates, law enforcement, and technology experts to study rampant online sexual harassment, stalking, and threats, including revenge porn and deepfakes — and the connection between this harassment, mass shootings, extremism and violence against women. The Task Force will be charged with developing cutting-edge strategies and recommendations for how federal and state governments, social media companies, schools, and other public and private entities can tackle this unique challenge. The Task Force will consider platform accountability, transparent reporting requirements for incidents of harassment and response, and best practices.

Expand the use of evidence-based lethality assessments by law enforcement in cases of domestic violence. Lethality assessments, sometimes called “risk” or “danger” assessments, are a proven strategy to help law enforcement officers identify domestic violence survivors who are at high risk of being killed by their abusers. These survivors are then connected with social service programs that can offer services and safety planning. An evaluation of the Lethality Assessment Program (LEP) created by the Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence showed promising results. Increased federal funding will incentivize jurisdictions to take advantage of implementing these programs more widely.



Make sure firearm owners take on the responsibility of ensuring their weapons are used safely.

Put America on the path to ensuring that 100% of firearms sold in America are smart guns. Today, we have the technology to allow only authorized users to fire a gun. For example, existing smart gun technology requires a fingerprint match before use. Biden believes we should work to eventually require that 100% of firearms sold in the U.S. are smart guns. But, right now the NRA and gun manufacturers are bullying firearms dealers who try to sell these guns. Biden will stand up against these bullying tactics and issue a call to action for gun manufacturers, dealers, and other public and private entities to take steps to accelerate our transition to smart guns.

Hold adults accountable for giving minors access to firearms. Biden supports legislation holding adults criminally and civilly liable for directly or negligently giving a minor access to a firearm, regardless of whether the minor actually gains possession of the firearm.

Require gun owners to safely store their weapons. Biden will pass legislation requiring firearm owners to store weapons safely in their homes.

Empower law enforcement to effectively enforce our gun laws.

Prioritize prosecution of straw purchasers. “Straw purchasers” buy a firearm on behalf of an individual who cannot pass a background check. Biden will end those loopholes by enacting a law to make all straw purchases a serious federal crime and ensure the U.S. Justice Department has sufficient resources to prioritize their prosecution.

Notify law enforcement when a potential firearms purchaser fails a background check. Too often, when prohibited persons attempting to buy a firearm fail a background check, state and local law enforcement is never informed of the attempt. As president, Biden will direct the FBI to set up a process to ensure timely notification of denials to state and local law enforcement, and he’ll support legislation to codify this process. This empowers law enforcement to follow up and ensure prohibited persons do not attempt to acquire firearms through other means.

Require firearms owners to report if their weapon is lost or stolen. Responsible gun owners have a responsibility to inform law enforcement if their weapon is lost or stolen. Biden will enact legislation to make this the law of the land.

Stop “ghost guns.” One way people who cannot legally obtain a gun may gain access to a weapon is by assembling a one on their own, either by buying a kit of disassembled gun parts or 3D printing a working firearm. Biden will stop the proliferation of these so-called “ghost guns” by passing legislation requiring that purchasers of gun kits or 3D printing code pass a federal background check. Additionally, Biden will ensure that the authority for firearms exports stays with the State Department, and if needed reverse a proposed rule by President Trump. This will ensure the State Department continues to block the code used to 3D print firearms from being made available on the Internet.

Reform, fund, and empower the U.S. Justice Department to enforce our gun laws. Biden will direct his Attorney General to deliver to him within his first 100 days a set of recommendations for restructuring the ATF and related Justice Department agencies to most effectively enforce our gun laws. Biden will then work to secure sufficient funds for the Justice Department to effectively enforce our existing gun laws, increase the frequency of inspections of firearms dealers, and repeal riders that get in the way of that work.

Direct the ATF to issue an annual report on firearms trafficking. This report will provide officials with critical information to better identify strategies for curbing firearms trafficking.


TACKLE URBAN GUN VIOLENCE WITH TARGETED, EVIDENCE-BASED COMMUNITY INTERVENTIONS

Daily acts of gun violence in our communities may not make national headlines, but are just as devastating to survivors and victims’ families as gun violence that does make the front page. And, these daily acts of gun violence disproportionately impact communities of color. But there is reason to be optimistic. There are proven strategies for reducing gun violence in urban communities without turning to incarceration. For example, Group Violence Intervention organizes community leaders to work with individuals most likely to commit acts of gun violence, express the community’s demand that the gun violence stop, and connect individuals who may be likely perpetrators with social and economic support services that may deter violent behavior. These types of interventions have reduced homicides by as much as 60%Hospital-Based Violence Intervention engages young people who have been injured by gun violence while they are still in the hospital, connecting them to social and economic services that may decrease the likelihood they engage in or are victims of gun violence in the future. Biden will create a $900 million, eight-year initiative to fund these and other types of evidence-based interventions in 40 cities across the country – the 20 cities with the highest number of homicides, and 20 cities with the highest number of homicides per capita. This proposal is estimated to save more than 12,000 lives over the eight-year program.



Dedicate the brightest scientific minds to solving the gun violence public health epidemic. In 2013, President Obama issued a memorandum clarifying that a longstanding appropriations rider that prohibited the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other federal scientific agencies from using federal dollars to “advocate or promote gun control” does not prohibit those agencies from researching the causes and prevention of gun violence. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) subsequently embarked on funding some of this research, though Republican leadership in Congress refused to appropriate any funds to the CDC for this work. Biden will call for Congress to appropriate $50 million to accelerate this research at the CDC and NIH.
 
Prohibit the use of federal funds to arm or train educators to discharge firearms. We should be passing rational gun laws, not requiring educators who already have too much on their plates to also protect the safety of their students. Biden supports barring states from using federal dollars to arm or train educators to discharge firearms.
 
Address the epidemic of suicides by firearms. Biden believes any plan to address the gun violence epidemic must address suicides by firearms, which account for 6 in 10 gun-related deaths but are often left out of the conversation. Many of the policies noted above – including safe storage requirements and extreme risk protection orders – will have a serious impact on efforts to reduce gun violence. But there’s so much more we need to do to support people experiencing suicidal ideation. In the months ahead, Biden will put forward a comprehensive plan to improve access to mental health services.
 


SUPPORTING SURVIVORS OF VIOLENCE AND THEIR COMMUNITIES
 
Violence causes ripples of trauma throughout our communities, impacting not just the victims of violence but also their communities and first responders. Fear of school shootings is having a noticeable impact on the mental health of Gen Z. Intimate partner violence is linked to depression, post-traumatic stress, and other mental health challenges among survivors. And, this trauma can be intergenerational. Science now shows that young children who witness violence – including in their home – literally alters the parts of their brains that affect “reasoning, planning, and behavioral control.”
 
We need to reduce violence to prevent trauma from happening in the first place. But we also must treat the resulting trauma as a serious crisis in its own right.
 
As president, Biden will:

Make federal programs more trauma-informed. During his first 100 days, Biden will direct his Cabinet to conduct a review of all federal programs that directly serve communities likely to experience violence and identify reforms to make sure those programs effectively address resulting trauma. Biden will then invest significant federal funds in expanding and improving the federal government’s support for trauma-informed and culturally responsive care.

Create a network of trauma care centers. Biden will bring together offices within the federal government to establish specialized trauma care centers for survivors of violence, with a special focus on survivors of domestic and sexual violence. Domestic violence services are focused on meeting the emergency needs of survivors, including safety planning and crisis intervention. As a result, frontline providers lack the resources they need to offer therapeutic services to help survivors heal from trauma. These trauma care centers will be flexible in meeting the needs of communities, and could be housed at rape crisis centers, domestic violence programs, universities, and existing mental health centers.

Train health care and other service providers in trauma-centered care. To prevent revictimization and secondary trauma, Biden will align training efforts throughout relevant federal programs to include a focus on understanding the traumatic effects of violence, providing appropriate care to avoid furthering the trauma, linking survivors with evidence-based trauma therapies, and reducing myths about domestic and sexual violence. This will be accomplished through agency directives, policy guidance, and special conditions for grantees and contractors.

For more on Vice President Biden’s plan, see HERE.