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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 15th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Joe Biden: “America is Back”

By Scott Galindez, Reader Supported News

14 February 2015

It was billed as an official Office of the Vice President event, not a campaign event. The vice president was greeted at the airport by the Republican governor Terry Branstad. The Dallas Republican Party sent out a press release thanking Joe Biden for coming to Iowa and pointing out how long it has been since Hillary Clinton has visited the Hawkeye State. Umm, she has a 40-point lead, so why would she start campaigning a year before the caucus?

Drake University students and other Iowans started lining up at 7 a.m. for a chance to see the man who is a heartbeat away from being president of the United States. They braved frigid temperatures for hours before being allowed into the Sheslow Auditorium on the campus of Drake University, the site of past presidential election debates. Over 800 people packed the auditorium.

This was the Democrats’ first 2015 salvo into the 2016 presidential election. Joe Biden came to Iowa to frame the economic debate, to serve notice that the administration’s policies have put America on the right path and the Republicans’ threats to change course would send the country in the wrong direction. From health care to jobs and financial reform, the VP claimed success:

In 2009, when the president and I were sworn into office, the middle class was in dire straits. On the day we were sworn in, we had already lost 800,000 jobs, just that month. Over the next few months we continued to lose 700,000 jobs a month. People were losing their homes. If they didn’t lose their homes, they lost the equity in their homes, they lost what is the only real source of wealth for middle class families, that equity … The truth of the matter is pensions, life savings, dreams of hard working Americans were wiped out by the Great Recession … but thanks to the great determination of your parents and many Americans, we have gone from a genuine crisis to a recovery and to the prefaces of a resurgence, re-establishing the middle class’s place in America. Just last November we added over 400,000 jobs; nearly a million jobs the last three months.

“America is back,” proclaimed Biden. “America is leading the world again.” The vice president went on to argue that Democrats should run on the Obama/Biden record.

“It wasn’t that long ago that many in my own party were saying our plan didn’t work and distanced themselves from our policies. I think that would be a terrible mistake. In my view, those seeking to the lead the nation should seek to protect and defend, and yes, run on what we have done, own what we have done, and be judged on what we have done. Some say that would be a third term for the president. I think it would be sticking to what works,” said Biden.

The vice president said that North America is now the epicenter of energy production in the world and will be energy-independent by 2020 or possibly 2018. Biden said that the United States alone has more oil and gas rigs pumping than the rest of the world combined. When I first heard him say that, I wondered if that could be true. It is – the United States has 55% of the world’s oil and gas rigs. According to oilprice.com, “Global drilling for oil and gas is dominated by North America, in particular the USA. In January 1995 there were 737 oil and gas rigs drilling in the USA, 42% of the world total. By October 2011 this figure had grown to 2010 rigs, 55% of the world total.” Drill baby drill? We have been drilling more than the rest of the world combined for a long time already. Market Watch reports that North America will become a net energy exporter by 2020.


Of course, the bad news is we are destroying the environment to get there. Fracking is what is producing the increase in oil production. But Biden also trumpeted the administration’s gains in renewable energy. He said that our use of renewable energy has doubled in the last six years, and that we have tripled electricity production from wind, solar, and geothermal
.

The gains in energy production have lowered our costs to the point where companies are now “in-sourcing.” Natural gas prices in the United States are three times cheaper than in Europe, five times cheaper than in Asia. Biden said the result is that companies are coming home. The global management firm A.T. Kearney did its annual survey of the world’s leading industrialists and they said, by the largest margin ever, the United States is the best market to invest in.

We all know things are going well for the wealthy again. But it is at the expense of the environment, and wages for the middle class and poor are not on the rise.

But Joe Biden has a point: clearly the country is better off than it was six years ago. The last two Democrats to hold the White House left the country better off economically than their predecessors. The Republicans are running on foreign policy and “speeding up” economic growth. That theme itself acknowledges that the economy is growing. While they blame the administration for ISIS, it was the Bush administration that broke Iraq.


The problem I see with the Democrats’ running on the Obama/Biden record is that the “recovery” is not being felt by many Americans. Unemployment is down, but the new jobs are not as good as the old jobs. Many Americans are still not ready to say things are better off for them than they were six years ago. But that is changing.

Biden acknowledged that more has to be done for the middle class and the poor. He said we have the greatest concentration of wealth in the United States since the twenties. Biden said productivity is up, yet wages have not risen for a decade. He said that in the past if your company grew and made a profit, everyone shared the wealth – not just the shareholders.

He also defended the bailout of the banks and the auto industry, and the efficacy of the stimulus package. He reminded the crowd that the banks paid back every penny with interest and that 92% of economists believe the stimulus prevented a much worse economic crisis.

Biden spoke for 90 minutes and stuck mostly to the economy, but he did slip in his foreign policy experience and touted his role in the administration for getting things done. He compared himself to Little Mikey in the Life cereal commercials. He mentioned that President Obama had put “Sheriff Joe” in charge of the TARP money.


While it wasn’t billed as a campaign speech, Biden was clearly testing the waters. He told reporters that he will decide by the end of the summer if he will run for president.

For the question and answer portion of the event, Biden left the stage and walked back and forth … He took only three questions, but gave very long, wide-ranging answers. When he was asked about immigration reform, we learned that Biden has met almost every world leader, clearly a hint that he is prepared to be president. He became most animated when talking about how it makes no sense to send people back to a country they were not even raised in. He pointed out that five-year-olds couldn’t prevent their parents from bringing them across the border. He also said that one of things that make America work is immigration.

When asked what needs to be done to get more people to vote, Biden answered that we have to get the money out of politics. He told the crowd that he supports public financing of campaigns. He also pointed out that 92 senators voted for the Voting Rights Act of 1965, including Strom Thurmond, and that the Supreme Court was wrong to strike down some of its key provisions. He blasted Republicans for passing restrictions on voter access.

All in all, I was left with the impression that the former senator from Delaware still wants to be the president of the United States.

Biden closed with his rephrasing of a famous quote from Plato: “One problem with good people not getting involved in politics is they end up being governed by people worse than themselves.”

One student in the crowd, Mark Reiter, was impressed with Biden’s “intentional candor” and asked the vice president if he would be back for the caucus. He said Biden flashed him a big smile and said “maybe.”

Scott Galindez co-founded Truthout and will be reporting on the presidential election from Iowa throughout 2015.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.

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Some of the Comments:

+16 # ericlipps 2015-02-14 18:13
If “America is back” and on the road to energy independence only because we’re ripping up more of our own land to extract and use more fossil fuels, there’ll be a price to pay down the road–maybe not that far down the road.

+10 # jdd 2015-02-14 18:44
Wait till the effects of the Saudi’s $47/barrel oil ripple through not only the fracking industry, but the trillions of debt built upon it.

+3 # Emmanuel Goldstein 2015-02-14 19:33
“One problem with good people not getting involved in politics is they end up being governed by people worse than themselves.”

That’s for sure. And We the People are experiencing it full on from both parties. With both parties being in the pockets of Corporate America and the military-industrial-media complex, what is a conscientious citizen to do? We desperately need to restore democracy to this country, using whatever means necessary. Otherwise the game’s up.

0 # wantrealdemocracy 2015-02-14 20:00
What can we do? We must stop voting for either a Republican or a Democrat. As Emmanuel says, “Both parties are in the pockets of corporate American and the Military Industrial Complex” and what is ever worse–they are in the pockets of the banking ‘industry’.

We don’t need a third party. We need to get rid of political parties. With the tecnology we have today we can have direct democracy. Our elected official should be mandated to vote as the constituents tell them to—and not vote as directed by their political party or their major donors. The political parties and the donors and that money with strings attached is the reason we are in the mess we are now. Some ‘recovery’. Yeah. We got more jobs but they are part time and pay minimum wage. Time to throw the corrupt out of office and get new people that will vote to end the wars, tax the rich, take care of the people and protect the environment.

0 # wantrealdemocracy 2015-02-14 20:08
We gotta save ourselves!! We have to get together with other working class people and find a good candidate to represent us in Congress. Never mind those with political experience—we know they are corrupt!!! They know the present system and will just give us more of the same. We need new blood and new ideas and we better get out and talk to people to get the peaceful revolution up and going. We are the majority, we can win!!! only 40% of the registered voters vote. That is a lot of people to get involved in changing our rotten government.

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