Biden vows to rebuild middle class, lead with morality

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Steve Marcus

Former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a campaign stop at the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades Local 159 in Henderson Tuesday, May 7, 2019.

Tue, May 7, 2019 (3:49 p.m.)

Former Vice President Joe Biden said the economic playing field in the U.S. has been tilted in favor of corporate CEOs and shareholders and vowed to “rebuild the middle class” if he makes it back to the White House as president.

“There used to be a basic bargain in the country ... If you contributed to the success — the economic success of the enterprise you worked with — you got to share the benefits,” Biden, a Democratic candidate for president, said Tuesday in Henderson.

“I think the moral obligation of our time is to rebuild the middle class, and when we rebuild it this time, bring everybody along,” Biden said, addressing members of the International Painters and Allied Trades Union.

Biden, visiting Nevada for the first time since announcing his candidacy, said he would raise the minimum wage and roll back President Donald Trump’s 2017 tax cuts, which critics charge have largely benefited the wealthy instead of working people.

Biden, who spoke for about a half hour, also promised to restore a sense of morality to the White House, saying four years of Trump may be a historical aberration but eight years could be disastrous for the country.

“I really believe in my whole heart and soul the values of this country — the decency, honor, leaving no one behind, who we are, we the people — is really ... at stake,” Biden said.

Biden said he would reverse what Trump has done to undermine the Affordable Care Act and threw his support behind a government-run public health insurance option to compete with private insurers.

The issue of Medicare for All has been a dividing line in the 2020 campaign, with Democratic candidates further to the left, such as Sen. Kamala Harris of California and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, supporting it and more centrist candidates, like Biden and former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, supporting a public option.

Marcy Ramirez, a retired Biden supporter, said she agrees with Biden’s stance on health care and is confident he will win the Democratic nomination and unseat Trump. “I told him I’d see him at his inauguration,” she said.

Jason Lamberth, the union’s regional manager, introduced Biden as a pro-labor candidate and “someone who knows that when you give ordinary Americans a chance, they can do extraordinary things.”

Biden ended his speech the same way it began, with a call for unity. “If we just remember who we are, nobody can tear America apart but America,” he said.

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