Where’s Joe Biden? The Democratic presidential frontrunner has faced questions over his lack of visibility in recent days as the coronavirus crisis has grown. On Monday, in what was reportedly his first public appearance in six days, the former vice president slammed President Trump’s response to the pandemic and the stimulus bill that failed in a Senate vote Sunday.
“My point is not simply that the president was wrong,” Biden said in the speech from his home in Wilmington, Delaware. “My point is that the mindset that was slow to recognize the problem in the first place and to treat it with the seriousness it deserves, is still too much a part of how the president is addressing the problem.”
Biden focused on what he called four key points of action needed now. He called for:
1. Steps to increase the capacity of the health care system. “I’m glad the president has finally activated the National Guard,” he said. “Now we need the Armed Forces and the National Guard to help with hospital capacity, supplies, and logistics. We need to activate a reserve corps of doctors and nurses and beef up the number of responders dealing with this crush of cases.”
2. Trump to use the Defense Production Act to increase the supply of goods needed to treat patients.
3. Trump to end the infighting in his administration and provide clear guidance to the public based on recommendations from scientists.
4. An economic response that would protect workers and taxpayers. “We should be doing everything in our power to keep workers on payrolls, make small businesses healthy, help the economy come out on the other side strong,” Biden said. “The federal government should provide the resources to make that happen, while still protecting the American taxpayers. We can do both.”
Stumbling over his words at times during his speech, Biden joined Senate Democrats in criticizing the $1.8 trillion stimulus plan that failed to advance in a Senate vote Sunday, saying it included a $500 billion “slush fund” for corporations with almost no conditions. “A no-strings corporate bailout makes no sense,” he said, adding that the bill should include an enforceable requirement that corporations taking taxpayer money keep workers on their payrolls.
Biden said he had also sent a letter urging Republicans to withdraw their lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act so as to eliminate the uncertainty it creates for some Americans’ health care coverage.