Kaine, Biden celebrate labor, deride Trump economic strategy
TIM KAINE: “How are you guys doing? Wow. Happy Labor Day. Let’s give a big round for labor. This is a historic Labor Day Parade, and what an opportunity to come and be with great labor leaders, great Pennsylvanians like your governor right here. Thank you so much, Governor Wolf. I had a chance to visit with your mayor. I’m very fond of mayors because I was a mayor. Mayor Peduto, give him a big round of applause. And Congressman Mike Doyle – Mike, thanks so much for being here.
And then let me just say a word about Leo. Leo Gerard is one of the best leaders that labor has ever had, and we do count him as a dear, dear friend in Virginia because the largest local in the international steelworkers is in Newport News, Virginia, shipbuilders who walk in the door every day doing something very patriotic to support our men and women in uniform. And whenever I meet anybody who says or has questions about American manufacturing or about the power of the American worker or about the worth of organized labor or about the power of trades, I say come with me to the shipyard in Newport News and look at union labor building the most complex items on planet Earth: nuclear aircraft carriers and subs, and you will see the value of labor, the value of workers, the value of manufacturing, the value of career and technical education.
I was a proud partner of the shipyard when I was governor, and now as a member of the Armed Services Committee in the Senate where I work every day to support our men and women in uniform. I have a different reason to be a proud supporter of the shipyard. So to Leo and the steelworkers, thank you for that partnership of many years.
So glad to have other great labor leaders with us – Randi Weingarten from the AFT. Give Randi a big round of applause. Raise your hand if you’re an educator. Alright, got a lot of educators here. Mary Kay Henry from the SEIU, right here. Give Mary Kay a huge round of applause. I had a blast working with the SEIU when I was governor to help organize home health care workers all over the Commonwealth of Virginia. In so many ways, the SEIU does such good work. And then I’ve got a friend here that I just hope you will work so hard for to make sure she is your next United States senator. Please give a big round of applause to Katie McGinty.
Labor Day is personal to me. It’s personal to me. I grew up in a family where my dad ran an ironworker-organized welding shop in the stockyards of Kansas City, Missouri. My dad was the owner; he was management. He had five employees in a tough year and 12 employees in a good year, plus my two brothers and me and my mom. That was the business. My dad always taught us, as my brothers and I worked in that plant, that his business acumen would put his workers’ kids through school, but that it was the skill and artistry of union ironworkers that would put my brothers and me through school. It was about a partnership. It was about shared prosperity. It wasn’t about a CEO disconnected from the workers. It was a CEO connected to the workers because we’ve got to be about shared prosperity. And we know we don’t have to have a society where it’s union against management, where it’s worker against employer. Things work better when we work as a team and we work in partnership. That’s how I came up. That’s what I believe. That’s what Hillary Clinton believes.
Hillary was born also to a family that had a small business – a drapery manufacturing business in the suburbs of Chicago. Just like my brothers and I would go down on weekends and summers to help my dad when he had to put an order out, Hillary would go help her dad and her brothers would do it too when they had to get some drapes printed to sell to the hotels that were their customers of their small family business.
This stuff about growing an economy that works for everybody, we haven’t been sitting in an ivory tower looking out at the world; we’ve not ever been sitting in penthouses looking out at the world. What we’ve been doing is coming up in small business families. Small business is the backbone of the American economy. Two-thirds of new jobs are create by small businesses, and we grew to appreciate the power of workers and we grew to appreciate the power of small businesses as our backbone.
So we started off the campaign right here in Pennsylvania. Hey, you guys ran a great convention. Give yourselves a round of applause for that. Philadelphia and Pennsylvania, Governor, you guys did a superb job. And right out of the convention, Hillary and I started on a bus tour across the state, talking about our plan to create an economy that works not just for some but an economy that works for everyone. It’s a pretty straightforward plan. We’ve got to invest in infrastructure and manufacturing. That is what has made our country great, that’s created a middle class. Labor has been at the core of both manufacturing and infrastructure in the course of our history. We’ve got to make those investments again and make sure that labor is right there helping us design the way to implement that plan.
Second, we’ve got to make sure that people have the skills they need to be successful. So with all the educators here, from early childhood education, to empowering our teachers to use the tools of creativity that they have to make sure that our kids learn, to affordable college, debt-free college, free community college, and to better and more focused training in the career and technical fields, union apprenticeship programs. We want to make sure we’ve got the best skilled workforce on planet Earth. We’ve got it but we can’t stand still. We’ve got to innovate and we’ve got to invest; we have to make that a key priority.
We’ve got to have an economy that’s about fairness – the right to organize, the right to be paid equal pay for equal work. An increased minimum wage so that nobody who works full-time in this country is below the poverty level. Childcare tax credits so that people can do the work that they need to do without worrying about how their children will be taken care of. So basic equity investments.
And then finally, the point that I made about small businesses – we can measure the health of our economy by how we start, finance, grow, and train the workers for the small and startup businesses of today and tomorrow. That’s what Hillary and I started talking about the day after the convention on a bus tour through Pennsylvania and then Ohio, and that’s what we’ve been talking about ever since.
And the good thing is if you want to know how we’re going to do it, just go to hillaryclinton.com online and you can read about our proposals and read specifically about how we’re going to involve labor in everything we do, because we believe this nation works best when we work as a team, when we work in partnership. That’s an American value. And nobody understands the value of teamwork better than organized labor because it’s a collective. It’s a communal thing, and that’s how we do our best work.
Last week a study confirmed what we knew all along, that in a nation when fewer workers are in unions, wages are lower, and when more workers are in unions, wages are higher. That’s one of the values that we celebrate in the pledges that we make on Labor Day.
So a basic question that I’ve been asked as I’ve been going around – when it gets to the economy it’s pretty simple – with Hillary Clinton, you can have a ‘you’re hired’ president, but with Donald Trump you’re going to get a ‘you’re fired’ president. I mean, isn’t it kind of ironic and interesting that what we knew Donald Trump best for, what we knew him best for before he was presidential nominee, was those two words, ‘You’re fired’? When somebody tells you who they are, believe them. When they tell you who they are, believe them, because Donald Trump’s got a track record. Everywhere he goes, it’s looking out for number one and walking over everybody else.
The small businesses like my dad’s, like my dad’s business, that did work for him on casinos and work for him on golf course projects, and they were proud to get that work. And they did the work, and they paid their employees, and they paid their material costs, and then they said, ‘We’ve done the work. Are you happy with it?’ ‘Yes, we’re happy with it.’ ‘Then pay us.’ And they didn’t get paid. Or they got told, ‘We’ll pay you 10 percent, and if you don’t like it, sue us,’ because Trump knew about small businesses, that they couldn’t hire the phalanx of lawyers and lobbyists and accountants to go head-to-head with him. And he could grind them down. And that meant that some of these businesses went out of business because they trusted Donald Trump.
Students who wanted an education, who gave him thousands of dollars to go to Trump University and found out it wasn’t worth anything, they lost money because they trusted Donald Trump. Retirees who gave him down payments for condo units and never got the condo and lost the money, they got hurt because they trusted Donald Trump. And Donald Trump is now looking at us and saying, ‘Hey, guys, trust me. I’m not going to give you my tax returns like everybody has done.’ Even Richard Nixon produced his tax returns. If you can’t meet the ethical standard of Richard Nixon, I mean, God help you, folks. God help you. God help you.
Again and again and again, Donald Trump has said, ‘Trust me,’ and the people who have have gotten hurt. And he’s saying the same thing to the voters this time. I mean, an election’s like a job interview. You walk in and you say to the American public, ‘I want to be your president, and here’s why. Here’s what I’m going to do.’ And then you’re entitled to ask some questions. But Trump’s walking into the job interview, and when you say, ‘Okay, show the tax returns so we can see if you pay taxes or if you’re stiffing veterans and military, show us the tax returns so we can see if your charitable or you’re stiffing charity, show us your tax returns so we can see if you’re in hock to banks on Wall Street or in hock to the Bank of China,’ and he’s just basically saying, ‘No, I’m not going to give you that, but just trust me,’ you wouldn’t hire somebody for a summer job who wouldn’t answer your questions in a job interview. And he wants you to hire him to be president of the United States? He thinks we’re chumps. Donald Trump thinks he can blow this by us, that we’re gullible. But I’ll tell you, Pennsylvanians are not gullible. Virginians are not gullible. Americans aren’t gullible. He thinks he can blow us by, but he’s going to learn something very, very different – very, very different on November 8.
Listen, and I’m not asking for you to just believe me on this. There was a study done of the Hillary Clinton plan that I talked about and the Donald Trump plan by a nonpartisan firm, Moody’s, and here’s what they said. If the Hillary Clinton plan that I described goes into effect, at the end of four years our economy will have grown by 10 and a half million jobs. And if the Donald Trump plan goes into effect, by the end of a first term we will have lost 3 and a half million jobs. That difference, the difference between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, is 14 million jobs. Do you want a ‘you’re hired’ president or a ‘you’re fired’ president?”
AUDIENCE: “You’re hired!”
TIM KAINE: “You’re hired. And that’s why it’s so important. That’s why it’s so important that we work so hard for Hillary Clinton. I bet virtually all of you are already volunteering. But in case you’re not, in case you are not, all you have to do is text ‘together’ to 47246, ‘together’ to 47246, or go by 216 North Highland Avenue right here, and you can get – it’s like the scene at the end of E.T., where they walk – I mean, Close Encounters, where they walk up into the big spaceship. If you volunteer, we will just sweep you in and we will have you signed up for so many shifts to call and talk to people. But you know, labor knows so well, that’s what it takes. In American campaign today, the negative guys run millions of ads on TV, but voters don’t even believe them anymore.
Poor Katie McGinty has just had the kitchen sink, five kitchen sinks, thrown at her from these ads where some group – a billionaire can set up something. They can call it Citizens for Apple Pie. They can run negative ads that aren’t even true. There’s nothing that can be done about it. But our citizens, thank goodness, are tuning it out a little bit. But I’ll tell you what they don’t tune out. I’ll tell you what they still want. They want a word from somebody they trust – a friend, a coworker, a parishioner, somebody in school with them. They want a word from somebody they trust.
And that’s what labor has done in so many elections. That’s what you grassroots activists have done in so many elections, talked to and shared with people who do want answers and they do want to talk because they’re patriotic. And you know what? Even if you don’t know them, if you call somebody or knock on their door and you say, ‘I’m a volunteer for Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine,’ what they hear is ‘volunteer.’ They didn’t have to do this. They’re doing it on their own. Must be important to them. I’d kind of like to know why. You open a door where you can have a discussion and persuade somebody, and that’s what we need you to do.
So thank you so much for all you do. What a great day to be out with you to celebrate organized labor and its contribution to our society.
Now, I have got a great pleasure, and that’s to bring up somebody that Pittsburgh knows very, very well and organized labor knows very, very well. And I mean,, I’m going to – I’m a modest person, but I’m going to say this: I kind of – one of the reasons I love Joe is I feel like we got some similarities: Irish Catholic families, and our faith is very, very important to us. Working class families, and hard work and making ends meet, and the discussions around the kitchen table about how to do that. These are things we’re really, really familiar with. We are people who don’t shy away from challenges or fights, who don’t sugarcoat when there are tough issues ahead.
But we’re fundamentally upbeat, positive, can-do, patriotic people. That’s the spirit of this country, not the doom and gloom you’re seeing from the other side. But no, Joe Biden is the quintessential definition of a happy warrior who won’t sugarcoat challenges, but he always comes at it with a patriotic spirit. He and I are both also Blue Star dads, our children in the military. His son Beau served with distinction and honor. And my son’s in the Marines, deployed overseas right now.
I am very close to President Obama. His mother and grandparents and I are from the same town, El Dorado, Kansas. And I’m real close to the President. And I can tell you, when I talk to the President and he talks about Joe Biden, what he says is this: ‘Next to the decision to ask Michelle to marry me, the best decision I ever made in my life when I was embarking on the hardest challenge of my life was to ask Joe Biden to be my partner in it for eight years.’
And at every step along the way, domestic issues, dealing with foreign challenges, Joe Biden has been there, making us proud, helping our President be a great President. Pittsburgh, please give it up for the Vice President of the United States and your great friend, Joe Biden!”
JOE BIDEN: “It’s not going to be long if it’s this hot. Boy, I tell you what. My name is Joe Biden and I work for Hillary Clinton and whatever the hell this guy’s name is. Well, Mr. President, Rick Bloomingdale, thanks for bringing me almost home. I’ve been in and out of Pittsburgh so many times in my career over the years as Senator and as Vice President, I kind of consider it a second home. And I mean it. Gov, you’ve done a hell of a job. But Pittsburgh was well on its way before you became governor.
I told you, the reason why I fell in love with Pittsburgh back when I was a senior in high school, only two really big schools looked at me for a scholarship to play football. One was Pitt, so I thought it had to be a hell of a school. I thought it had to really be a good school if they’d – but I went to Delaware. And the first time I came here as a young man, Katie, I was – I announced for the United States Senate when I was 29 yours old. And there was a big old boy named Emory Woodard who represented what used to be Worth Steel in Claymont, Delaware, my home town, and had somewhere between 5-, 6,000 workers we had back in those days. And he wanted to endorse me. But no one gave me a chance of possibly beating the most popular guy in the history of the state of Delaware, an 82 percent favorable rating. And I was running with a great guy, but he only got, I think, 32 percent of the vote in Delaware, a guy named George McGovern. And had I been elected, which I was, I was going to be the first Senator I ever knew.
And so it wasn’t endearing a lot of confidence that I was going to be able to win. But old Emory wouldn’t take no for an answer. He used to have a rep in Pennsylvania – excuse me, in Philadelphia – Hugh Carcella. And Hugh could not take any more from Emory. Emory was about 6’6”, 300 pounds, big old boy. And he said, ‘I’m telling you, I’m not leaving till we endorse Joe.’ He said, ‘Why don’t you go see Abel about that?’ All I could think of was Cain when he said Abel; I didn’t know who the hell he was talking about.
And he came out to – this is a true story – came out to Pittsburgh, so the story goes, and sat in front of I.W. Abel’s door and would not leave. I got an invitation to come to Pittsburgh the second time, first to go to Pitt, second to meet with I.W. Abel. He was a fine man. Sat in front of me, said, ‘Son, I don’t think you have a chance of winning.’ But he said, ‘We’re going to endorse you. What the hell difference does it make?’ And so the first outfit to endorse me, Leo, was your outfit. You’ve been with me my entire career, and I hope I’ve been as loyal to you as you’ve been to me.
Mary Kay’s here with the – excuse me – Mary Kay’s here with the SEIU. I just want to tell you a little secret. She loves me even more than she likes Hillary. She loves me more than anybody in the world. She pretends she doesn’t. I just told her, thank God for her I didn’t run; she’d have been the most guilty-feeling woman in the world. But all kidding aside, you’re wonderful. You’ve been wonderful to me, Mary Kay, and again, I hope I’ve been loyal to you.
And Randy, the AFT’s been doing a great job. By the way, I sleep with a teacher every night. Same one. Same one. As a matter of fact, she’s in class again tomorrow. Still teaching full-time. I said, ‘What are you going to do, Jill, after we’re out of here and I have to be gainfully employed?’ She says, ‘Hell, I’m going to have to keep a job so we can live.’ So she’s going to continue teaching, thank God.
Gov, I’ve never been really gainfully employed, so I have to talk to you about what I’m going to do after this. Maybe you could use a Southeast Pennsylvania rep or something. I may be able to – I may be able to help you a little bit.
And I know one person that I want to help. And that old joke: When I first got elected, I ran against – oh, my God, I came out of the civil rights movement. And so, as Monica would say, I was labor from belt buckle to shoe sole. I was labor, the war in Vietnam, and at the time, the civil rights movement. And I got there. There were still – the old segregationists were there in the Democratic Party, Stromboli Thurmond and – he wasn’t a Democrat by then – but James O. Eastland of Mississippi. He talked at you like this, you know what I mean? And all those good – John Stennis. And so I got to be – I got to know them.
And I was running for reelection in 1978. And I walked into the Senate dining room when we were trying to wind down everything. We had no appointments, just voting around the clock. And I walked in, and Herman Talmadge and James O. Eastland were having supper at 3:30 in the afternoon. And I walked in – true story – and I got – old Eastland looked at me. He never called me Senator. He always called me ‘son.’ He says, ‘Son, come over here and sit down a minute.’ And I went over and sat down. And he asked me, why did I look – I was flunking what I call – you can always tell who’s winning. You ask the woman who’s running, ‘How’s the race going?’ She says, ‘I don’t know. It’s really a tough race.’ Or you ask somebody else, you ask a guy, ‘How you doing?’ ‘Well, we’re really doing well.’ Look at the shoulders, man. If the shoulders are back, they’re winning, and if they’re sloped, they’re losing. I must have been flunking the slope of the shoulder test.
So Eastland looked at me and he said, ‘What’s the matter, son?’ And I would not support a constitutional amendment to ban busing. And I was getting the living hell kicked out of me with the most extensive busing order in America in Delaware. And he said, ‘Well, hell,’ he said, ‘what’s the problem?’ And old Herman Talmadge looked at me, and he said, ‘Black folks don’t like busing. White folks don’t like – just go home and demagogue the hell out of it.’ And so I looked at Eastland. He said, ‘What can old Jim Eastland do for you in Delaware?’
And I say this to you, Katie. He said – I said, ‘Mr. Chairman, some places you’d help and some places you’d hurt.’ He said, ‘Well, I’ll come to Delaware and campaign for you or again you, whichever will help the most.’ Katie, I’m all in. This race in Pennsylvania matters to me. You matter to me. And I’ll come back. She owns Philadelphia. Now we got to work – go up to my home town of Scranton, nail that down, and get out here in Pittsburgh and work it out. You’re going to make a great Senator, Katie, and I really am happy to be with you.
And Tim, these are your kind of folks. I know Tim. I work with Tim. We worked on the Foreign Relations Committee. Two things you got to know about Tim. One is, he has more experience in every branch of government than anybody who’s ever stepped into this job as vice president. And two, Hillary is going to really need him, not because she’s not the smartest person to seek that office – she is – but because the plate is so full. If you notice, with Barack, everything’s dropped on his desk except locusts. No, I really mean it. These days you got to have confidence in the woman or man who’s your vice president, say, ‘Here, take this responsibility and do it, and you don’t have to check with me.’
I get overwhelming credit that I don’t deserve for being a Vice President with a lot of authority. I only have authority because the President said I have authority. All the power of a Vice President is reflected. It all comes from the President. And when I talked to Hillary about Tim, my view was she couldn’t have a better pick. He’ll have her back. He’ll be there for her all the time. And there’s nothing, including major foreign policy issues, he cannot handle.
So folks, let me get to it. No one has to tell Tim who built this state. And I mean this sincerely. No one has to tell Tim who built this country. No one has to educate him to why, why non-union workers have a decent wage, why non-union workers are not discriminated against, why non-union workers have safe working places. It’s all because of you. Unions. Unions. And this guy understands. He knows how to pronounce the word ‘union.’ Remember for a while there, we had old Democrats who’d talk about ‘organized labor.’ Union. Union. Union. Not a joke. Unions have built this country, Congressman. Nobody knows it better than you. They have literally, not figuratively, built this country.
The sacrifices unions have made, all the dues you’ve paid, all the picket lines you’ve marched in, all of that has benefitted not only you, it’s benefitted every American worker. Every American worker. You’ve done more for non-union labor than any other entity in the world, and that’s not hyperbole. Non-union workers have all the benefits they have because you have taken risks for them. Does anybody think there’d be a minimum wage without union workers?”
JOE BIDEN: “Without American – no, I really mean it. Not a joke. It would not exist, guys. Where’s it come from?”
JOE BIDEN: “It comes from people who understand what it’s like to look across the table in a bargaining room and know that the guy on the other side really doesn’t respect you. Know that there’s so many people like Trump who look at us like we’re not their equal. I’m sick of it. I’ve had it up to here. Back 10 years ago when I spoke to the AFL-CIO convention, I said, and I meant it, the American Chamber of Commerce has declared war on labor’s house. It’s been an unrelenting war. They see their success, and so does he, in your demise. Not a joke. It’s about time we all woke up.
The idea that – let me give you an example. Everybody assumes that I have been pro-labor for so long because of my background. Well, that’s true. But it’s also intellectually why I’ve been pro-labor. Here’s the deal, guys. A recent study – and I can name a hundred of them but I’ll just give you one – a recent study that just came out, the Economic Policy Institute, a 50-page study – 57 pages, to be precise – came out 10 days ago. Here’s the headline: ‘Union Decline Lowers Wages for Non-Union Workers.’ Notice it didn’t say union decline lowered wages for union workers. For non-union workers. It goes on to point out that when I spoke here, and I think I did, in 1979, if we had the same number of organized labor in America as we did then, the average wage for a non-union worker, blue and white collar, would be $2,750 a year more than it is today. Non-union workers.
So ladies and gentlemen, it’s about time we stop apologizing for anything, for anything at all. I am so tired, so tired, of the fact that the Chamber of Commerce, even some Democrats, sort of tiptoe around labor, organized labor, unions. Because guys, look. I’m not joking. Think about where we are. When the recession hit, this guy and I spent a lot of time in Wisconsin with Scott Walker, in Missouri, all across the country. Who – no, no, think about this – who did they successfully blame for the recession? Successfully blame? They won. They won. They convinced, in the state of Wisconsin, that the reason why their schools were in trouble was because of teachers. They said it was because of the union movement. You can boo; there’s no joke about this. We got to break the back of this.
Ladies and gentlemen, look. Here we are. We got a guy running for president of the United States. We have a case in the Supreme Court that, but for one vote, will fundamentally limit your right to organize. Fundamentally limit. What has this all been about? Go back and look at everything you’ve dealt with over the last 12 to 15 years. It’s about inching away at your rights as a union. Why we couldn’t get card check – they scared the hell out of a bunch of Democrats who didn’t have the guts to stand up and be counted. They scared the hell out of them because they convinced people. And by the way, the union movement wasn’t very smart in how it handled it, to be very blunt about it. We didn’t do a very good job. We didn’t do a very good job.
Guys, we are going to move into an area over the next 25 years where white collar workers are going to need us badly. Going to need us badly. We’ve got to think of a different way and a different intensity with which we organize because the jobs of the future are the jobs in the high tech industries. They will be manufacturing. They will be nursing. They will be health care, but traditionally, areas where we haven’t organized before.
And so, folks, the reason I bother to tell you this is that – the reason why we got in trouble is corporate America. The reason we got in trouble was the greed of Wall Street. But if you think about it, if I had told you we were going to be in this much trouble early on in our administration and that they were going to be able to pin it on you guys, you’d have told me I was nuts. But they did. Go back and look at those polls. Go back and look at the polls. So demand, demand anybody you vote for to speak up. Demand they do what Hillary is doing, I mean across the board, what Katie’s doing. Make sure, folks, that we’re waking up.
As I said, we’re in a position where it’s not just Joe Biden. I’m going to end by citing a few more boring, wonkish points. But you should remember them, with all due respect. You should keep them in mind. So when anybody argues that you have the ammunition to argue back.
The Harvard Business Review published a study at the turn of the year. It looked at 444 Fortune 500 companies who have stayed in the Fortune 500 for all 10 years from 2003 to 2013. It calculated they made $2.7 trillion in income. That’s a good thing. But here’s how they spent that $2.7 trillion in profit. They spent 54 percent of it buying back their stock. Before Reagan, they weren’t able to buy back their own stock. The reason they do that is they buy back the stock to drive up the price of the stock. If you have a company worth $10 and there’s 10 shares of stock and you buy back five of them, then the five that are left are worth almost twice as much as the 10 were. And guess how corporate entities get paid, how CEOs get paid? They get paid in stock options. I think it’s 78 percent of all salary – all salary – that in fact is paid to CEOs is in stock options, okay? That’s why they do that.
Number two, they spent 37 percent of it to give back to, quote, ‘their investors,’ the so-called job creators. I don’t know when the hell that term came about. But the people who own stock – all short-term pay it back. Leaving 9 percent for everything else – for expanding the enterprise, for hiring new people, for raising wages, for research and development. It’s gotten so bad that I got a phone call that I never thought I’d get, Tim, from the leader of the – a guy named Branson you see on television, a guy who heads up DOW Chemical, a guy who heads up the biggest container operation in the world, a billionaire, the head of the Fortune 500 company organization. They all came to my house. You know what they wanted to talk to me about? They said, ‘We think you can help us get rid of this crazy way in which corporations operate now.’ They call it short-termism. All they do is want to know what the next quarter is going to be. Gov, you’ve forgotten more about this than most people know. So what they’re saying is we’ve got to change the way corporations do business in America. We’ve got to make sure they’re thinking long term so they’re able to not pay out all this money and invest in new plant and equipment, buy new employees, bring on new employees, raise salaries.
Folks, the only outfit – what’s happening now is everybody is getting it. Last thing – this Republican – it’s not just a left-leaning think tank or Joe Biden. The single greatest threat to growth worldwide according to Standard & Poor’s and the World Economic Forum, big outfits that have nothing to do with either party, is the concentration of wealth. The concentration of wealth. It’s obscene. It’s obscene. But it’s not just a matter of fairness. It’s a matter of growing the whole economy. Everybody growing.
So if I make all the money and I’m the widget-maker, and you have no money to buy my widgets, eventually, guess what, I’m in trouble. We’re eating our own seed corn. Hillary not only understands it, she gets it intellectually, emotionally, and she knows how to deal with it with this guy.
So, guys, there’s a lot of work to do. I’ll conclude by saying that there used to be a basic bargain in America. Everybody signed on to it; Democrats and Republicans signed on to it. And the bargain went like this: if you contributed to the profitability of the enterprise you worked with, the business or whatever you did, you got to share in the benefits – not the same as the owner, but you got to share in the benefits. That is not happening today because of obscure tax policy, because of the way we treat corporate short-termism and short-term earnings, a whole range of reasons I won’t bore you with but they get completely. Until we get rid of the vestiges of the eight years – the eight years of the Bush administration that we haven’t been able to get rid of yet – we got the truck out of the ditch, we got it up on solid ground, the tires are inflated, the engine has been reworked, it’s going 40 miles an hour, but it’s capable of going 70 miles an hour. What has to happen in the meantime, we’ve got to change the signs along the highway. We’ve got to get rid of those things that are left that most people don’t understand, understandably, in order to be able to get people back in the game where they get a fair share here.
And by the way, do you think the man who said American workers make too much money agrees with that bargain? This – I mean, for real. I mean, look, to me this is about values. The fundamental difference between where the Republican Party is today and where we are is what we value. I really mean that sincerely. My dad used to have an expression. Someone would come up and tell my dad – he said, ‘This is what I value, Joe.’ My dad would look at him and say, ‘Show me your budget and I will tell you what you value.’ Show me your budget, I will tell you what you value.
We have a completely different values system right now. Do you think the man who – literally, this is – how do you make decisions about your friends, who’s going to be your friend? How do you make decisions about who you trust in your neighborhood or your workplace or at school? How – I really mean it. This is not complicated. How do you make decisions about who you’re going to marry, who you’re going to love? It’s ultimately based on trust, and you watch how they act and how they treat other people. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist. All politics is is a logical extension of personal relationships with a little less information to go on. Look at the man’s behavior – personal behavior, personal behavior. He really does believe that workers make too much. He really does believe that the problem is American workers are lazy. He – no, I mean, really. For real. Everything – he really does believe that he does not have an obligation to his subcontractors. For real. He thinks that’s an appropriate way to do business. You’re out there – what’s he say? The purpose is to make a profit. The purpose is to make a profit – fairly to make a profit. It’s not to make a profit.
And so, guys, the fact of – do you think the automobile industry would be selling 17 million vehicles this year had Donald Trump been president instead of Barack Obama? Do you think for a minute he’d appoint – he’s going to appoint a Supreme Court justice to fill the vacancy to the Supreme Court to uphold the long history the Court has protected in terms of collective bargaining, which is at stake? It’s a four-to-four vote right now. Do you think for a minute – think he has any idea of the conversations that went on at your kitchen table this morning, or the one I was raised at, or the one that Katie and Tim were? He doesn’t realize that people making – husbands and wives making eighty, ninety, a hundred thousand dollars a year are having real trouble. They’re making a tough decision. How many conversations took place at the kitchen tables in the neighborhoods I’m from and you’re from that went like this: ‘Honey, I – we need a new set of tires.’ ‘We’ve got to get another 10,000 miles out of those tires. We don’t have the money right now.’ ‘Honey, who’s going to tell Mary she can’t go back and live on campus at Penn State, she’s going to have to go to one of the satellite campuses.’ ‘Who’s going to tell the kids that this year, again, we can’t take that vacation we always took for a week.’ ‘Who is going to tell your mom I don’t know what we’re going to do. We don’t – I’m not sure we can keep her here. I’m not sure.’
These are conversations taking place in the neighborhoods I grew up in and you grew up in. He has no notion of that. None. Zero. And ladies and gentlemen, it matters. What distinguishes us as a country – and this is what Tim and I were talking about in the garage – the American values set at its core, everybody kind of gets it. It’s about a fair bargain. And what every one of you know and what every one of your children know is the most difficult thing for a parent to have to deal with is to look at their child who has been diagnosed with a disease, look at their child who has fully qualified to go to college, look at their child who has a real opportunity, and know there’s nothing they can do to help that child. It’s not just about whether or not a qualified young person gets an education; it’s about the dignity and the respect of the parent.
Ladies and gentlemen, as I said, I was a pretty good athlete in high school and I remember my dad ran an automobile agency. He didn’t – he was high school – he didn’t own it, he just ran it. And one great thing about having a dad who runs an agency is that you got to take a relatively new car to every prom. And I had a – for 150 bucks I bought a ’57 Plymouth convertible, candy-apple red with beach towels as seat covers. And after my – one of my games in Claymont, baseball games, I jumped in the car, which was the standard practice, took off my spikes and I drove 22 miles down to Newark, Delaware, where the university is, where he managed the dealership. I pulled my car into the same parking space in the back of the used car lot and ran in in my uniform to see Mary, the one who ran his office, and said, ‘Mary, where’s dad?’ Because he was picking out a car I could take for that night that was all simonized and polished. And she said, ‘He’s out, honey, by the lanes going into the repair shop.’ My dad was a very graceful man, very well-dressed man, and I walked out and my dad was pacing back and forth – true story. Hillary gets this. And he looked up and he looked at me and he said, ‘Joey, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.’ I said, ‘What’s the matter, dad?’ I honest to God – my word as a Biden, this is a true story – I honest to God thought something happened to my sister or my brothers or my mom. I said, ‘What’s the matter, dad?’ He said, ‘Joey, I went to the state bank’ – it was the Farmers’ Bank, and they used to finance the loans in the company he worked for – he said, ‘I went to see Charlie Delcher, the guy at the bank, to borrow some money to get you to school, honey.’ He put his head down and he said, ‘And they wouldn’t lend me the money, Joey. I’m so damn ashamed. I’m so ashamed, honey. I’m so ashamed.’
It’s about my dad. It’s about the moms and dads all across America whose pride and dignity is stripped of them when they’re making a decent living working like hell and still can’t afford to do the basic things, and it goes for women too, the basic things their family needs. That’s who we are. That’s who you are. That’s what labor is.
And folks, if there’s ever a time we need that, it’s now. So folks, we can’t let this happen. We can’t elect a man who belittles our closest allies and embraces Vladimir Putin, a man who seeks to sow division among our allies for his own gain and disorder around the world. I’m supposedly an expert on foreign policy. I chaired the committee he was on, and I’m going to say something outrageous – I know as much about American foreign policy as anybody living just because I’ve been doing it so long. I just got finished coming back from Europe. You know why I was sent over? Tim knows. To reassure the Baltic states, Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania, that if they were attacked, we mean what we say by NATO – we don’t mean what Donald Trump says, he’s not sure he’d respond.
Folks, we can’t let it happen. Let me tell you what I literally tell to every world leader, and I wanted you guys to be reminded of it. It’s never, never, never, ever been a good bet to bet against the American people. Not one single time. America not only has the finest fighting force in the history of the world, we have the largest and strongest economy in the world today. We have the most productive workers in the world, and that is a fact. And given a fair shot, they have never, ever, ever let their country down – not once, not one single – just given a fair shot.
So look, folks, when unions are strong, America is strong. Everybody gets a fair shake. We grow. In America, we never bow. We never bend. We never break when confronted with crisis. We endure and we overcome, and it’s because of you we’ve been able to do it. It’s time to get up and holler. It’s time to get up and get back. I am more optimistic about the prospects of America today than I ever have been in my whole career. It’s time we get out of our own way and get Trump out of the way and elect this guy and Hillary Clinton president and vice president of the United States of America.
God bless America and may God protect our troops, including his son in harm’s way.”