Jul. 10--DUNMORE -- Paying homage to his Scranton roots, Joe Biden in a campaign stop here on Thursday invoked childhood memories to lay out his plan to "build back a better America."
Biden, 77, the presumptive Democratic candidate for president, toured McGregor Industries in Dunmore and then addressed about 50 people -- mostly campaign workers and media -- on his jobs and economic recovery plan for America's working families.
Biden said the key to bringing the country's economy back, from all that has been lost during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond, rests with the middle class, or as he called them "the hardworking backbone of this country."
"Nobody has more respect for the working women and men who get up every day to build and sustain this country, or more confidence that they can meet the challenges we face," Biden said. "Make no mistake: America has been knocked down. The unemployment rate is higher than it was in the Great Recession. Millions have lost jobs, hours, pay, health care, or the small business they started, through no fault of their own."
Biden was joined at the manufacturing company by U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Scranton, who said Biden's economic plan is critical to the country's post-pandemic recovery and beyond.
"He has always had a real pride of coming from Northeastern Pennsylvania," Casey said of Biden. "He understands the struggles we have had here and he will do all he can to help."
Biden was born in Scranton in 1942 and he was raised in the city until his family moved to Delaware in 1953.
Bob McGregor, owner of the business, said he employs about 75 people and he was approached by the International Ironworkers Union to host the event.
Before addressing the media, Biden toured the facility, stopping to talk to employees and learn what each person's job was at McGregor.
When he finished the half-hour tour, Biden then spoke for 45 minutes about his economic plan. He said he believes that there's no greater economic engine in the world than the hard work and ingenuity of the American people.
Biden said the pandemic has also laid bare some unacceptable truths. He said even before COVID-19, the Trump Administration was pursuing economic policies that rewarded wealth over work and corporations over working families.
"Too many families were struggling to make ends meet and too many parents were worried about the economic future for their children," Biden said. "We must reward work as much as we rewarded wealth. But now we just reward excessive wealth."
Biden said Trump "loves to talk and talk and talk."
He added, "But after three and a half years of big promises, what do the American people have to show for all the talk? He promised a health care plan, but never even offered his own bill."
Biden said if he is elected, he will focus on working families -- the middle-class families he came from in Scranton -- not the wealthy investor class.
"They don't need me," he said. "But working families do."
Biden believes that now is the time to imagine and build a new American economy for our families and the next generation. He said he will get back the jobs lost during the pandemic and create as many as five million new jobs.
"We must build an economy where every American enjoys a fair return for their work and an equal chance to get ahead," Biden said. "An economy more vibrant and more powerful precisely because everybody will be cut in on the deal."
Biden said the jobs crisis can't be solved until the until the public health crisis is solved.
"Trump may have forgotten about COVID, but COVID hasn't forgotten about us," Biden said.
On March 12, April 27, and June 11, Biden said he laid out a comprehensive strategy to get the pandemic under control and effectively reopen the economy -- an approach that he said will both protect the health and safety of the people and boost economic activity.
"Whenever America has had its back against the wall, we have acted together to lay the foundation -- through public investment and a strong social contract -- for the American people to pull together and push forward," Biden said.
The Biden plan will mobilize the American people in service of four bold, national efforts to address four great national challenges"
--Mobilize American manufacturing and innovation to ensure that the future is made in America, and in all of America.
--Mobilize American ingenuity to build a modern infrastructure and an equitable, clean energy future.
--Mobilize American talent and heart to build a 21st century caregiving and education workforce which will help ease the burden of care for working parents, especially women.
--Mobilize across the board to advance racial equity in America.
"We've seen again this year the tragic costs of systemic racism," Biden said.
Biden said "building back better" means an updated social contract that treats American workers and working families as essential at all times, not just times of crisis -- with higher wages, stronger benefits, and fair and safe workplaces.
"We've seen millions of American workers put their lives and health on the line to keep our country going," he said. "Let's not just praise them, let's pay them -- a decent wage, at least $15 per hour, and ending the tipped minimum wage and sub-minimum wage for people with disabilities, and strong benefits so they can live a middle class life and provide opportunity for their kids."
And Biden said he will help small businesses manage through the pandemic and recover, so that millions of entrepreneurs can get back on their feet and carry this economy forward.
Reach Bill O'Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.
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