BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
WEST POINT – Former Vice President Joe Biden told about 130 people at Small Grand Things in rural West Point Thursday it was time to get up.
It was a phrase his father used when Biden was a young boy.
“It’s not that you get knocked down, it’s how well you get back up. So get up Joey,” Biden said recalling his father’s words of wisdom.
Biden had a stuttering problem as a child and needed special classes to overcome it, while putting up with ridicule from his classmates.
The 76-year-old former senator from Delaware, who grew up in Scranton, Pennsylvania, said America is being ridiculed around the world at the hands of President Donald Trump.
“My dad made what some of you have to make, the longest walk up a short flight of stairs to say, ‘Honey, you can’t go to that school anymore. You can’t play on that Little League. Daddy and Mommy lost their jobs and we have to leave.'”
Biden said his father moved to Delaware and then sent for Biden’s mother and brothers.
“It’s a hard thing to do, to ask for help. The good news was my grandpop had the same values as my dad. It wasn’t hard for grandpop to say yes because it’s family,” he said.
“Today, too many hardworking middle class working class folks can’t look their children in the eye and say it’s going to get better…and mean it.”
He said Wall Street didn’t build America, people like those in Iowa, Scranton, part of the “great middle class” built America.
“There used to be a basic bargain in the country. If you contributed to the well being of the operation you worked for, you got to share in the benefits. Everything went up…everybody won. Management got a raise, labor got a raise. That’s not happening anymore.”
He said families in lower and middle class have no breathing room and statistically speaking more than half of the people in this country are afraid that their children will not have the same quality of life as they do.
“Folks, we have to rebuild the middle class. I’m not talking about it just because of economic fairness, but because the middle class has what’s allowed us the political stability, the social stability, and the economic stability of this country. Other countries’ democracies got in trouble without a strong middle class. That’s never been the case here no matter how bad it’s gotten.”
He said part of that rebuilding process will be expanding on the Affordable Care Act. Biden said his health care program would allow a public option to choose Medicare if you want it, or a public competition that will bring premiums down.
“The money is there to pay for it, it is less than $30 trillion, $3.4 trillion a month. It’s 1/30th of the amount and it can be paid for without raising taxes on anybody in the middle class, period.”
He said the cost of his plan would be $740 billion over 10 years.
“That’s a lot of money, but we can eliminate so many of these existing tax cuts that don’t generate any progress for America,” Biden said.
“Not in five years or ten years, my competitors are very well meaning, but they don’t tell you how Medicare for All is going to be paid for. $3.4 trillion a year is more than the federal budget.”
He said the country also has to rebuild its education system and states have undercut funding for education.
“My wife Jill says it best…any country that out-educates us is going to out-compete us in the 21st century.”
Biden outlined plans to reduce the cost of college debt including revamping repayment options and allowing forgiveness of remaining debt after a decade of repayments and service for different public service occupations including teachers.
He proposes not requiring repayments for any students that don’t make more than $25,000 per year.
Biden also said he wants to give every single person access to the country’s community colleges and cutting the cost of a four-year degree in half.
He said Trump inherited a strong economy from the Obama Administration and is now squandering that.
“Look what his trade policy has done. No benefit to anybody,” he said.
Biden said manufacturing is in a recession across the board and across the country.
He said the country needs to reverse Trump’s tax cuts for the super wealthy and the corporations.
“They didn’t need them in the first place. They were doing very, very well,” he said to applause.
He said corporations have taken their profits and repurchased trillions of dollars in their own stock so the remaining stock has increased value.
“That’s how CEOs get paid. When Ronald Reagan was president, the average corporate CEO of a Fortune 500 company made something like 300 times as much as the average employee. Know what it is today, it’s over 456 times as much. What happened? The bargain has been broken.”
He proposed moving corporate tax back at 28%, which is still competitive and creates additional revenue for the country. He also want to double capital gains from 20% to 40%.
“Folks it doesn’t effect capital gains when you sell your farm or property, only income based on investments,” he said.
He also said the country has to stop violence. Biden said he has shotguns, but said more than 50% of NRA members don’t think you should be able to walk around with an assault rifle, or clips that have more than 100 rounds in it.
“If you need to hunt with something that has more than a 100 rounds in it, you shouldn’t be hunting.” Biden said.
He proposed biometric marks on triggers.
“How is that violating anyone’s second amendment rights? Folks I’m gonna tell ya, I’ve taken on that lobby before and I’ve beat ’em and I’m gonna beat ’em again,” Biden said.
In wrapping up, Biden said this is America and he’s tired of people walking around with their heads down like ‘whoa is me’.”
“This is the United States of America. There’s not a damn thing we can’t do. Well it’s time for us to get up. There’s not a thing we can’t do if we do it together. We should not postpone any longer what we need to do, so let’s do it.”
Leslie Carpenter of the Iowa Mental Health Advocacy said she was a little swayed by Biden after taking with him after the event.
She said she has been talking to all the candidates about mental health plans because Iowa is 51st in the country when it comes to beds with only 64 out of 200.
“We, as a country, have abandoned people with mental health. So we have gotten Pete Buttigieg to come out with a very good mental health plan that has substance to it,” Carpenter said.
She said other candidates such as Amy Kolbuchar have good plans. She said Cory Booker is working with her group to get amendments and bills in front of Congress even before the election.
Don Panther, of West Point, said Biden made some good remarks including taxation and gun control. He also was taken in by Biden’s comments on education.
“I think we do need to do something about schools. I’m still undecided but he’s right in there with the rest.”
Lee County Supervisor Ron Fedler said he was making an endorsement for Biden prior to the event.
“If the legislature is not going to do what needs to be done, we have to do with our votes,” Fedler said.