Joe Biden @ St. Claire Shores, MI

Biden: The Case for Change

Transcript:

Eight years ago, a man ran for President who claimed he was different, not
a typical Republican. He called himself, you remember, he called himself a reformer. He admitted that his Party, the Republican Party, had been wrong about a number of things in times past. He promised us, if you remember, it was a major selling point, that he would work with Democrats. He said he’d been working with Democrats for a long time in Texas.

That candidate was George W. Bush. Remember those promises? Remember the promise to reach across the aisle? To change the way things were done in Washington. To change the tone? To restore honor and dignity to the White House?

You know, we saw how that story ends. A record number of home foreclosures. Home values, tumbling. And the disturbing news that the crisis that you’ve been facing on Main Street is now hitting Wall Street, taking down Lehman Brothers and threatening other large financial institutions.

We’ve seen eight straight months of job losses in America. Nearly 46 million Americans without any health insurance. Average incomes down, while the price of everything ?? from gas to groceries ?? is going up and up. A military stretched thin from two wars, one a necessity and one of choice, and multiple deployments of not only regular military but national guard as well as reservists.

A nation more polarized than I’ve ever seen anytime in my career. And a culture in Washington where the very few wealthy and powerful have a seat at the table and the rest of us are on the menu.

Eight years later, we have another Republican nominee who’s telling us the
exact same thing:

He’s saying, this time will be different. He says it really will. This time he’s going to put country before party, to change the tone, reach across the aisle. He’s going to change the Republican Party, change the way Washington works.

Folks, we’ve seen this movie before, and we know the sequel is always worse than the original.

If we forget this recent history, we’re going to be doomed to repeat it. We’ll get four more years just like the last eight. If you’re ready for four more years of George Bush, then John McCain is your guy.

You know, just as George Herbert Walker Bush was nicknamed “Bush 41” and his son is known as “Bush 43,” John McCain could easily become known as “Bush 44.”

The campaign a person runs tells you everything about the way they’ll govern.

The McCain?Palin campaign decided to bet the house on the politics
perfected by Karl Rove. Those tactics may be good at squeaking by in an
election, but they are very bad if you want to lead one nation, indivisible.

Ladies and gentleman, I count John McCain as a personal friend. I’ve known him since before he was a Senator. If he needed my personal help, I’d go. He served our country bravely, nobly. But, folks, America needs more than a great soldier, America needs a wise leader.

Take a hard look at the positions John McCain has taken for the past 26 years, on the economy, on health care, on foreign policy, and you’ll see why I say that John McCain is just four more years of George Bush. On the issues that you talk about around the kitchen table: Can we afford Mary’s college tuition; what are we going to do about mom’s MRI, how are we going to pay for it; winter is coming, how are we going to heat the house? On those issues, the issues that we talk about everyday, middle class people, John is profoundly, profoundly out of touch.

John McCain has confessed, and I quote, “It’s easy for me to go to Washington and frankly, be somewhat divorced from the day?to?day challenges people have.” Well, he’s right, if all you do is walk the halls of power, all you hear are the wants of the powerful.

Ladies and gentlemen, I believe strongly that’s why Senator McCain could say with a straight face, as recently as this morning, and I quote “the fundamentals of our economy are strong.” That’s what John said. He said “We’ve made great progress economically” during the Bush years. Well, friends, I could walk from here to Lansing, and I wouldn’t run into a single person who thought our economy was doing well, unless I ran into John McCain.

Folks, John just doesn’t get it. He just doesn’t understand what average middle class people are going through the last eight years. I don’t doubt that John cares. He just doesn’t think that we have any responsibility to help people who are hurting.

Just look at John’s budget. Who would he give his tax cuts to and how would he spend the money.

You know, my dad used to have an expression. He’d say: “Don’t tell me what you value. Show me your budget, and I will tell you what you value.”

Well, folks, by that measure, John McCain doesn’t stand with the middle class by that measure. He stands firmly with George Bush in the corner of the wealthy and the well-connected.

He stands with the CEO of Exxon?Mobil, who a year ago was testifying
before my Senate judiciary committee and when I asked him, do you need the $2 billion in tax breaks you’ve just been given to drill for oil, he looked at me and his jaws quivered. I said, Sir, you’re under oath. And his response was, no. No, we don’t need it.

Well, John McCain not only supported that tax cut, John McCain now wants to add $4 billion in new tax cuts for the Exxon?Mobils of the world. And the wealthiest Americans.

Look, folks, look, folks, in addition to that, John’s proposals, as he misrepresents ours, John’s proposals call for an additional $300 billion a year in tax cuts over the next ten years each year for corporate America and the wealthiest among us.

Folks, I promise you, there is simply no daylight between John McCain and George Bush – at least none that I’ve been able to discern.

On every major challenge we face, from the economy, to health care, to
education and the war in Iraq, you can barely tell the difference.

Don’t take my word for it, look at John McCain’s record. Ninety percent of the time, John has voted with George Bush. Ninety percent of the time.

That’s a statistics. Let me tell you what that means:

It means when George Bush said we should privatize Social Security, John McCain campaigned with him to go ahead and do that. Even after it was roundly and soundly rejected by the American people.

When George Bush says the government has no obligation to retrain and to
provide extended unemployment benefits for people who lost their jobs
because of trade agreements, John McCain echoes that view, and goes on to say that Bush is “Right on trade . . . absolutely.”

Where does he live?

When George Bush said we shouldn’t investigate the government’s
incompetent response to Hurricane Katrina, John agreed with him.

When George Bush initially opposed a new GI Bill that would send a new
generation of veterans to college, John McCain stood with him, calling
Senator Webb’s bill too generous to our veterans.

When George Bush blocked our efforts to provide health care to additional 3.8 million children in America, John McCain, John stood with him.

And when, in early 2007, George Bush suggested that your health care
benefits provided by your employer should be taxed as income, John
McCain stood with him. And ladies and gentlemen, now John McCain makes taxing your health care benefits an essential part of his health care
plan.

On issue after issue, vote after vote, the story is the same.

In the last 16 years, John has voted 23 times against funding renewable energy projects for wind and solar and biofuels ?? the very things we need to free ourselves from grip of the oligarchs of oil.

Since he arrived in the Senate over 20 years ago, John has voted 19 times against raising minimum wage for people who are just struggling to get to the next day.

In 1994, when I wrote and the Congress passed and the president signed the so-called Biden Crime bill to put 100,000 new police officers on the street, 3,300 new police officers here in the state of Michigan, a bill that provided shelters and security for women being battered at the home, and helped lead to an eight year drop straight years of decline in violent crime.

John opposed that bill and the Violence Against Women Act, that it contained, calling it “ineffective” and “ill conceived.”

Time and again, time and again John has voted against increased funding for Pell grants to help families with incomes under $55,000 to get a chance to send their kids to college.

Time and again, time and again, John has voted to make it harder for women to go to court to prove that though they’re working just hard and doing the same exacty work as men, they’re not getting the same pay. John voted to make it difficult to prove and punish that discrimination. He even voted against a study, just a study to determine whether or not there is a gap between what women doing the same jobs are being paid the same as men are doing. He voted against that study twice.

Now, Gov. Palin, his running mate, she made the statement ‘all senators do is vote. That’s all they do.’ Well, just imagine what the country would look like if John’s votes over the past 20 years had become the law of the land.

In John McCain’s America, we wouldn’t guarantee that we would spend money on energy reforms, to be able to get wind, solar, and other renewables.

In John McCain’s America, the minimum wage would still be $3.35 an hour. There would have been 100,000 fewer police on the streets.

There would have been no national domestic violence hotline that 1.5
million women screwed up the courage, hiding in the corner on the telephone, calling and saying, please help me, please help me. I’m being beaten.

None of that, none of that would exist.

Over 160,000 members of the National Guard and Reservists who answered their country’s call would not be entitled, even though they fought in Afghanistan and Iraq, even though they had done two tours, would not be entitled to any additional educational benefit.

Ladies and gentlemen, let’s talk some about the National Guard and Reserves. In Iraq and Afghanistan, 6,743 National Guard personnel have been wounded. Ladies and gentlemen, in Iraq alone, 721 National Guard and reservists have given their lives for their country.

And we’re not going to give them the same benefit when they get home, those same people who fought and lost their lives, and those people who gave the last measure of everything they had, that their comrades aren’t entitled to help in terms of their educational benefit?

In John McCain’s world, had his votes counted, had they prevailed, there would be fewer parents able to send their kids to college. A whole lot fewer. And women, women who were discriminated against based on the bias that exist in the market would not be able to go to court and prove their case. All I can say to Sarah Palin, thank goodness John McCain’s vote didn’t count in the majority on all of those issues.

Ladies and gentlemen, John McCain recently said: “the issue of economics is not something I’ve understood as well as I should.”

As my little 10-year-old granddaughter, Finnegan would say: “Hello? Hello?”

Not only did he say it, he then went on to proved it. He then went on to prove it by the advisors he chose to surround himself with, the economic advisors he chose to surround himself with – advisors who have further cocooned him from the reality of what average middle class Americans are facing.

Remember, John is the guy, when asked to define the middle class, he said people earning below $5 million in income a year.

Well, ladies and gentlemen, he hired on people like former Sen. Phil Gramm. The man who wrote John McCain’s economic plan and actually said, Phil Gramm said this repeatedly, he said that we’re not going through not an economic recession. He said the American people are going through just a mental recession. He then went on to say that “we’re a nation of whiners.”

That’s the guy, they’re the people John McCain chose to surround himself with getting economic advise on a subject that he said doesn’t know much about.

Well, let me tell you, tell that to my friend Billy who flew jets in the Navy; worked 20 years for one of the major airlines. They went bankrupt, wiped out his pension. The CEO got a golden parachute. Don’t tell me he is a whiner. And, by the way, if you know Billy, don’t dare tell him because he’ll knock you on your you know what if you tell him he’s a whiner.

Don’t tell me that the woman I recently met in Missouri who worked for 13 years at the Chrysler minivan factory and then saw her job shipped up to Canada, don’t tell me she’s a whiner.

Don’t tell me that the engineer who saw his job shipped overseas because the company was given a tax break to take his job overseas instead of having a tax break to stay, don’t tell me he’s a whiner.

Don’t tell me those people, the people who played by the rules, were the hear and soul of this country, don’t tell me they deserve to be treated as economic scapegoats that the McCain campaign is treating them.

These people worked hard, these people did everything they were supposed to do, these people are ready to work hard again. Our job is to give them jobs so that they can work hard again.

Ladies and gentlemen, our Republican colleagues, they don’t think that the government should be supporting these people.

They watch the government walk away from these people. Nobody stood up for them. Let me say it again, nobody stood up for them.

What’s John’s response to the state of the economy right now? Well, let me quote him again. He said, when asked about the horrible state of the economy, he said “it is psychological.” Let me be precise, “a lot of this is psychological.”

Well, let me tell you something, coming from a family with a father who lost a job and had to move from one city to another to find another job to provide for his family, losing your job is a lot more than a state of mind. It means staring at the ceiling and wondering how in God’s name am I going to pay the mortgage payment and not lose my house?

It means looking at your pregnant wife and saying how in God’s name am I going to come up with the thousands of dollars just for a normal birth? And, God forbid, I have a premature child that’s going to cost me $250,000.

Ladies and gentlemen, it means looking at your child when they come home on Xmas break and saying “Honey, I’m sorry, we can’t send you back to school next semester.”

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s not a state of mind. It’s a loss of dignity. It’s a loss of respect. It’s a loss of more than your economic well being.

You know, when you and your economic advisors are so out of touch, it’s no surprise that your economic policies ignore the challenges of average middle class families.

Let me just give you a couple of more examples. In the midst of the housing crisis, and how many of you know somebody who now has a mortgage that costs more than their house is worth? How many of you know someone that may have lost their house or is trying to keep it from being foreclosed?

Well, let me tell you, here’s what John McCain said. John said, in the midst of this crisis, “I will fight for those that lost their . . . real estate investments.” He went on to say, “It’s not the role of government
to bail out big banks or small borrowers.”

What about small borrowers?

What about homeowners?

What about the people who don’t invest in homes, but actually live in homes?

Ladies and gentlemen, there’s an important distinction that John fails to see between the predators and the preyed upon.

Ladies and gentlemen, I heard, I was told yesterday, that there is a Republican County Chairman right here in your state, in Michigan who said they’re keeping a list of foreclosed homes, suggesting that anyone who lost their home in foreclosure should also lose their right to vote.

Ladies and gentlemen, if you’re afraid of losing your home, you should vote for the guys who are prepared to help you keep your home! Not those who are going to take it away.

Whatever happened to the guy who denounced George Bush’s tax cuts in the midst of a war as “immoral”?

You know, when someone is running in an election and changes his views just to satisfy the base of the party, that seems to me that not change, that’s just more of the same thing that’s been happening in Washington for the last 20 and eight years.

The problem is that in Washington today, the game is the same, it is the American people who are losing.

Ladies and Gentlemen, as of today, there are 50 days until Election Day.

That’s just seven more weeks to talk about the direction we’re going to
take this country, to talk about the issues of concern in your lives, to
talk about you. But, in John’s campaign, his campaign manager just said, and I quote, “This election is not about issues.”

When Senator McCain was subject to those unconscionable, scurrilous attacks by the Bush campaign in that 2000 primary in South Carolina, I picked up the phone and called John McCain as his friend. I said, John, where do you want me? I will show up in public and testify to your character.

And now, and now, some of those very same people and the tactics that were used against John and deplored by him his campaign is now employing against Barack Obama. The same campaign that once called for a town hall a week is now launching a low blow a day in this campaign. And I’m tired of it.

Folks, Barack and I can take it. That’s not what bothers me.

What bothers me is that?? as one media watchdog put it ?? John’s recent
commercial is the, “latest in a number that resort to a dubious disregard
for the facts.”

Another major news organization puts it another way: The wheels have come off the straight talk express.

But what really bothers me, is that for every punch thrown at us ?? it’s an attempt to distract you, to distract the American people from the very important issues that face this country.

Let’s look at some of those distractions.

The McCain campaign put out an ad that misrepresents Barack Obama’s attempt to protect young people from sexual predators.

Like McCain’s effort to go and obscure the fact that Barack Obama’s tax cuts will actually give tax relief to 95 percent of the American people.

Like John McCain’s attempt to cloak himself in reform but then misrepresent his running mate’s record.

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s disappointing to me, literally, to think that the guy I knew, John McCain, really does approve this message, as he says at the end of everyone of these things.

Ladies and gentlemen, every false debate we’re drawn into is a real conversation we are not having, a real conversation we’re not having about the American people. Character attacks get media attention, but they
make this election about us, not about you, not about the middle class.

Ladies and gentlemen, Barack Obama believes that progress in this country is measured by how many people have a decent job, one where they’re shown respect. How many people can pay their mortgage. How many people can turn their good ideas into a new business. How many people can say to their kids, when there’s a problem, “It’s going to be okay.”

Ladies and gentlemen, you know, one of the things that’s always been the case, is we’ve always believed as a nation, that we owe to our children opportunities greater than the ones we had.

That’s the American dream.

That’s what the people in the neighborhood I grew in grew up believing. And that’s what, in fact, we owe our kids, that American dream. And it’s fading away under this administration and it would fade away even further under for more years under John McCaim.

Barack Obama starts from the vision of progress that is simply stated and that is what would it take to get our kids to a better place than we’ve arrived at?

Folks, that’s why his tax cuts are aimed at the middle class.

That’s why he’ll make it easier for families to afford to send their kids to college.

That’s why everyone should be able to have the exact same health care that Debbie Stabenow and I have in Congress.

That’s why Barack’s energy plan will reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and bring down the price of gasoline, and, in the process, in the process of that energy plan being implemented, we would create five million new green jobs that can’t be exported.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is what we mean when we talk about change. This is the change we need.

Yes, this campaign is about change, but it’s about even more than that.

It’s about what we value as a people. It’s not just about a job, it’s
about dignity. It’s not just about a paycheck. It’s about pride. It’s
not just about opportunity. It’s about respect. That’s why Barack and I
are in this race.

Why we need to be able to restore in this country a sense of dignity and respect and pride for the people who play by the rules.

And ladies and gentlemen, Barack Obama and I know why we’re here. We know why we’re running. Barack Obama and I are running for the people we grew up with in our neighborhoods. We know why.

We’re here for the teachers and the assembly line workers. We’re here for the engineers and the owners of small business owners. We’re here for the people who play by the rules. We’re here for the cops and the firefighters. We’re here for the peope we grew up with.

All of the folks who play by the rules, work hard, and do what is asked of
them. They deserve a government as good and an economy as strong as they
are.

We’re all are Americans. America has never, ever shrunk from a challenge, and the stakes have never been higher.

My father always told me, “Champ, when you get knocked down, get up. Get
up.” Well, ladies and gentlemen, it’s time to get up. It’s time to trust the grit and determination of the American people.

America is ready. You are ready. I am ready. And Barack Obama is ready.
Our best days are yet to come.

May god bless America and may He protect our troops.

We need you. Get up. Get up. Fight back. Thank you very much.