It was a good night for President Joe Biden and the American People.
For the first time in four years, the residents of this nation were treated to a President of the United States who was relatable, empathetic, warm. knowledgable of the facts, and grandfatherly towards a town hall audience in Wisconsin.
In his first interaction with voters, President Joe Biden answered CNN’s Anderson Cooper’s and Wisconsin resident’s questions on a whole range of current event issues ranging from COVID to how does it feel to be President.
The most moving part of the little over hour-long event were when Mr. Biden reassured a second-grade child not to worry about the Coronavirus, saying:
“Don’t be scared. You’re going to be fine and we’re going to make sure your Mommy is going to be fine too.”
Please click here to see the full exchange.
The President also offered to discuss assisting a mother of a son with a preexisting health condition find vaccination help for her son after the town hall. He also asked a small business owner to talk about the Biden/Harris Administration’s plans to help aid small businesses during the Coronavirus Pandemic.
The issues that were discussed included:
Vaccines: The President said that they should be available for everyone by the end of July. He also said:
- There should be priority groups to vaccinate in case of early supply lapses.
- COVID 19 Variants like the UK and South African ones: No evidence that the vaccines do not work against other strains. There may be some that do not work as well but they still have an effect.
School Reopenings: Mr. Biden made several points here. Those were:
- The goal is to open the majority of K-8 five days a week close to the end of the first 100 days of the Biden/Harris Administration. The President admitted to a communications error made by his Administration.
- It would be harder to open up high schools because of the higher contagion factor.
- Summer school opportunities to help children catch up on learning are a strong possibility.
- The new CDC guidelines show how schools can reopen safely.
- Large classes are not recommended.
- Teachers and school staff should be on the preferred lists across the country ro receive vaccinations.
Impact of COVID 19 on the Vulnerable, Blacks and Hispanics and vaccination disparity: The President outlined several reasons for the disparity including:
- Blacks feel they are guinea pigs and concern about what the vaccines will do to them.
- Physical access to getting the vaccine.
- Difficulties to use computers to schedule vaccination appointments, especially in rural areas and for the elderly and impoverished.
Mr. Biden also explained several of the steps the Biden/Harris Administration was taking to reduce the disparity. Those included:
- Giving one million doses of the vaccines to community health centers.
- Expanding vaccine access by supplying to close to 7000 pharmacies across the country and mobile van units that travel to neighborhoods hard to get to or for people to travel.
- Public education outreach to inform people on registering for vaccines. Mr. Biden blamed Trump for not setting up this outreach. Said the previous Administration wasted so much time.
When will it be back to normal?
Biden prefaced by saying he did not want to speak in absolutes and that we need to have herd immunity of 70 percent (those that have had COVID 19 or been vaccinated.)
Saying “I don’t want to overpromise you,” he suggested everything could be back to normal by next Christmas.
He then said that it was vital that people continue to wear masks, social distance, and wash hands.
American Rescue Act? Is the Final Number negotiable?
Biden reminded the audience that this is about the first time there is a “consensus among the right, center, and left economists that now is the time to go big and spend more.”
He later said, “Bigger is better now.”
He also said that the American Recovery Act from 2009 was too small and this was not the time for a bill like that.
The President also said:
“If we pass American Rescue Act, the estimates are that we will be creating about seven million jobs this year.”
He also emphasized that the people needed the following components contained in the legislation:
- Increased unemployment insurance.
- Assistance to combat food insecurity.
- Help people with rental and mortgage assistance
- Small business aid.
- Health care access and aid. Remember the Obamacare/Affordable Care Act Marketplaces are now open for an extra three months.
Increasing Minimum Wage and Softening the blow on Small Businesses.
The President maintained that as the minimum wage increased, there was no negative impact on employment. He said the increase had to be done gradually like say for example between now and 2025 to $12 and $13 an hour to help small businesses cope.
Mr. Biden reaffirmed that no one should live in poverty by only earning a minimum wage.
On the Republican Senators who voted to acquit Donald Trump and should the Justice Department prosecute him:
The President said he was not interested in calling any of the 43 Republican Senators who voted to acquit Trump names.
With regards to whether or not to prosecute Trump, Biden said he was “not to going to tell Justice Department who they should prosecute.”
He finished by stating:
“For the last four years, all the news was about Trump. For the next four years, All the news should be about the American People.”
White Supremacists and Domestic Terrorists
Biden called the rise of White Supremacy and Domestic Terrorism “a real problem,” saying “they are demented and dangerous people” and “the greatest threat to America.”
The President also said that there should be a focus/study on the rise of white supremacy and how former military and police have contributed to that growth.
Bridge gap between communities and police.
Mr. Biden proposed three ideas to bridge this gap. They include:
• Public defenders should be paid the same as prosecutors.
• Law Enforcement reform
• Deal with systemic racism as a society.
Defunding the Police: How do we not overdo it.
The President said we do not overdo it by not doing it. He then suggested several other ideas for criminal and law enforcement reform that include:
• We need to put more money into police work and community policing.
• No more going to jail for drug offenses; rehabilitation should be emphasized.
• Need to train prisoners to succeed after serving their time.
• Much more serious and thorough vetting of aspiring law enforcement officers.
• Need to hire more black and Hispanic police officers.
• Every cop needs to be able to go home safe and not every kid wearing a hoodie is part of a gang.
• Also racial equity on things to insurance hikes in minority communities.
• Hopeful for the new generation as shown by advertising showing more biracial couples.
Repair divisions exacerbated by COVID 19
Mr. Biden maintained that the nation is not as divided as some think, citing 65 percent support his COVID relief proposals. He did say there are fringes on both ends (of the political spectrum) but we can bring the country together, saying:
• “You can not function without consensus.”
• “There are so many things we agree on that we don’t focus on.”
• “We have to be more decent and treat them with respect.”
Mr. Biden said that many illegal immigrants in the United States are expired visa holders. He said any immigration reform bill he signs should include:
• A reasonable pathway to citizenship.
• An increase in the number of refugees.
He also said that we must speak up for human rights around the world like the situation between China and the Uyghurs Muslim Population they are putting in concentration camps.
Student Loans Forgive $50,000 debt instead of $10,000
The President was very blunt here. He will not unilaterally forgive $50,000 of student loan debt. He wants to do just $10,000. He also proposed helping families with post secondary education goals by promoting legislation that would:
• Allow everyone to go to community college for free.
• Allow families making less than $125,000 to attend State University for free.
• Provide debt forgiveness for people who go into social justice professional areas like teaching and community health centers.
What it’s like to be President?
Mr. Biden said it:
• Feels like four years instead of four weeks because of all the issues he is facing.
• Feels different to have all your needs waited on by the White House staff.
• Feels a sense of history by being in the office.
• Has communicated with all the living former Presidents except one (Trump.)
(UPDATE) Please click here to read the CNN fact check of Biden’s responses at the Town Hall.