Biden discusses health care, housing, sexism
Ahead of his Saturday rally in Kansas City, former Vice President Joe Biden took questions from The Kansas City Star. Biden will face Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in Tuesday’s Missouri primary. Biden’s conversation with The Star covered housing, health care and gender among other issues.
Star: Can you tell us how your housing plan will protect low-income tenants from landlords who sometimes take advantage of housing vouchers and leave their properties in disrepair?
Biden: The truth is, No. 1, we’re going to make sure we invest $100 billion over time in housing across the board. The idea of what’s happening now is people are going into neighborhoods and gentrifying them, leaving people without a home. So we’re going to provide legislation, we’re going to provide-- (House Majority Whip) Jim Clyburn has with my strong support-- to make sure that they provide credit representation, No. 2. No. 3, provide first-time home ownership by providing a $15,000 tax credit, so anyone who wants to purchase a home, a first-time buyer, would be able to borrow the money to do that. And also the other piece of this is making sure minority business persons can get the ability to start new businesses in neighborhoods where they can build a structure, allow them to be able to accumulate wealth. It’s all about accumulating wealth.
Star: So when it comes to tenants who live in— for example, in Kansas City there’s an apartment complex called Nob Hill. There’s several dozen tenants who are having to leave because the local housing authority pulled vouchers for there.
Biden: We increase significantly the number— nobody should have to pay more than 30 percent of their income for housing. So we go back into the business of HUD trying to provide housing vouchers to all these folks, so they don’t have to leave in the first place.
Star: For people worried about health coverage why is a public option under your plan a better solution than Sen. Sanders’ Medicare for All legislation?
Biden: Because we can get it done. And it’s not going to raise taxes on middle class people and it’s just taking Obamacare and restoring all the cuts in Obamacare, No. 1. No. 2, making sure we’re in a position that we provide the wherewithal to bring down drug prices, no hidden costs, no hidden bills that you’re not going to know about. Making sure that you’re in a position, as well, that pre-existing conditions will still be covered for 100 million people. And maybe equally important, all those who negotiated a health care plan with their employer, if they like it you can keep it. Under the plan that Sen. Sanders has, you must give it up. There’s no private insurance whatsoever. And as well as making sure that we can afford it-not $35 trillion.
Star: What role, if any, did sexism play in this race and in hurting Sen. Warren’s candidacy, in particular?
Biden: Well, look, I think there is— you’re not telling the truth if you didn’t acknowledge there’s sexism across the board. It exists just like racism. But Sen. Sanders and I are the two guys left standing and we’re supposed to be explaining the sexism that occurred. I can’t make that judgment. All I know is there’s a number of very qualified women who ran, like Amy Klobuchar as well and Kamala Harris and a whole range of folks. And I guess a lot it has to do with the moment and the nature of the campaigns.
Star: And why do you think young voters have started to flock to Sen. Sanders’ campaign, while older voters have embraced your campaign?
Biden: Well, I’m not sure that’s true. If you notice, the only increase in turnout has been my campaign. We had turnout we increased by close to 70 percent the number of people who showed up in Virginia. The same number— not the same number— a big number from South Carolina and throughout all the early primary states. And what we’ve done is we’ve generated real momentum. And it includes young people, as well as it includes millennials, who are not always young people like we’re talking 18 to 25 when they talk about young people. And I think you’re seeing things begin to change.
Star: Moving onto foreign policy, you have called your 2003 vote for the invasion of Iraq a mistake. Why would you make a better commander-in-chief than Sen. Sanders who voted against the war?
Biden: Well, the fact is that I took the word of a president (George W. Bush) who said he wasn’t going to use the authority to go to war, just use the authority to get inspectors in. And once we got elected, notice the president (Barack Obama) turned to me to end the war. I’m the guy who got the 156,000 troops out of there. That was my responsibility. I have extensive— if you want to compare foreign policy judgments, I’m happy to do that with regard to Castro and Russia, and a whole range of other things. But it was a mistake. I acknowledged that 15 years ago. Because I took the word of a president who said he wasn’t going to use that authority for any reason other then to go in to determine whether or not Saddam Hussein was producing chemical or biological and/or nuclear weapons. And that’s why the rest of the nations voted for it (UN inspectors), and then we went to war anyway, which I think was a big mistake.
The Star’s Bryan Lowry contributed from Washington.