Written By: Hannah Yale
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden delivered remarks at a campaign event in Manitowoc, WI on Monday, September 21. Biden began his speech by noting that the U.S. had officially reached over 200,000 coronavirus deaths. He spoke about the particular emotional burden that COVID-19 deaths have had on those who experience them. Many people around the country are unable to visit their loved ones who have COVID-19 and are forced to say goodbye over the phone. Restrictions on public gatherings have prevented people from holding funerals for their loved ones. Biden expressed his worry that “we’ve been living with this pandemic for so long. . . we’re risking becoming numb to the toll that it’s taken on us and our country.” He urged Americans to persevere and maintain our ability to feel the pain of the losses the pandemic has caused.
Biden wore a mask during his speech and criticized President Donald Trump for holding an indoor campaign rally in Nevada on September 13. Many attendees of the event, and the president himself, did not wear masks or social distance. Biden also condemned President Trump’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, citing the recording of a conversation between Trump and Bob Woodward that took place in February, in which the president admits to knowing the dangers of the virus but still refused to take national action. Biden said: “All his life, Donald Trump has been bailed out of any problem he faced. With this crisis, a real crisis, a crisis that required serious presidential leadership, he just wasn’t up to it. He froze. He failed to act. He panicked. And America’s paid the worst price of any nation in the world.”
In May 2020, Columbia University released a study on intervention timing for the spread of COVID-19 in the United States. The study found that if the president had implemented nationwide social distancing measures one week sooner, the U.S. could have prevented 36,000 deaths and a minimum of 700,000 infections. Biden cited this study in speech as well as the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation’s (IHME) COVID-19 projections. Today IHME is the leading model being used to track the coronavirus, and it predicts that between now and the end of this year, there could be up to 200,000 more COVID-19 deaths in America. IHME’s projection track for universal mask-wearing shows that upwards of 100,000 lives could be saved if a universal mask mandate is implemented.
Former Vice President Biden devoted a segment of his speech to “the brave women and men who served our nation in uniform [and] those who have given their lives in service of this nation.” Biden said that “nothing is more offensive” than the way that Trump refers to military members and veterans, adducing the recent news story in The Atlantic, in which President Trump allegedly referred to American Marines who died in World War I as “losers” and “suckers.” Biden mentioned his son, Beau Biden, who “served and volunteered to go to Iraq for a year, won the bronze star, came home decorated, came home with stage four glioblastoma, and died of cancer.” He said passionately: “[my son] wasn’t a loser. He wasn’t a sucker. He was a patriot. And all those people with whom he served and volunteered were patriots as well.”
A portion of Biden’s remarks addressed the economy, specifically his plans to change tax codes. He said that, according to his financial plan for the country, nobody making less than $400,000 annually would see their taxes go up. Biden does plan to raise taxes for people making over $400,000 per year if he is elected president. During the pandemic, billionaires in the United States have seen their wealth increase by $800 billion collectively. “And the rest of us?” Biden stated, “30 million people are unemployed, 20 million Americans are at risk of losing their home [. . .], [and] evictions are on the rise.” Biden’s financial plan includes more tax breaks for the working class, because, he says, “We need to do more than just praise our essential workers, we need to pay them.”
Biden also briefly addressed his plan to shift the country to renewable energy, using American companies and American workers to make the switch. Biden claims that he plans to replace all the cars in the federal fleet with electric vehicles and to make 40 million buildings across the country weather-resistant. This is part of Biden’s Build Back Better plan for sustainable infrastructure and clean energy, details of which are available on the Joe Biden campaign website.
Biden told the audience that some of the most important things he learned in life were from his parents. According to Biden, his mother used to tell him, “Joey, remember, nobody is better than you, but everyone is your equal.” Near the end of his remarks, Biden claimed that this election “is not a partisan moment. This has to be an American moment.” Calling for unity and nonpartisan governing, Biden proclaimed confidently that the American people can overcome anything together.
Vice President Biden’s September 21 speech is available to watch on CSPAN.