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Joe Biden on Jobs

Vice President; previously Democratic Senator (DE)


We can & will get unemployment under 6%

Q: Can you get unemployment to under 6%, and how long will it take?

BIDEN: I don't know how long it will take. We can and we will get it under 6%. Let's look at where we were when we came to office. The economy was in free fall. The Great Recession hit. Nine million people lost their job, $1.6 trillion in wealth lost in equity in your homes & in retirement accounts. We knew we had to act for the middle class. We immediately went out and rescued General Motors. Romney said, no, let Detroit go bankrupt. We moved in and helped people refinance their homes. Governor Romney said, no, let foreclosures hit the bottom. But it shouldn't be surprising for a guy who says 47% of the American people are unwilling to take responsibility for their own lives. [Rep. Ryan] recently said 30% of the American people are takers. These people are my mom and dad, the people I grew up with, my neighbors. They pay more effective tax than Governor Romney pays in his federal income tax

Source: 2012 Vice Presidential debate , Oct 11, 2012

A job is about more than a paycheck; it's about dignity

I was a kid, but I can remember the day that my dad sat at the end of my bed, and said, things are going to be tough for a while. I have to go to Delaware to get a new job. But it's going to be better for us. The rest of my life, my dad never failed to remind me--that a job is about a lot more than a paycheck. It's about dignity. It's about respect. It's about being able to look your children in the eye--and say honey, it's going to be okay, and believe it was going to be okay. When Barack and I were growing up, there was an implicit understanding. If you took responsibility, you'd get a fair shot at a better deal. The values behind that deal--were the values that shaped us both. And today, they are Barack's guiding star.
Source: 2012 Democratic National Convention speech , Sep 6, 2012

We value working class; Republicans value privileged class

We believe there are clear, stark differences between us and our opponents and what's at stake for the middle class. Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich--these guys have a fundamentally different economic philosophy than we do. Our philosophy is one that values the workers in the success of a business. It values the middle class and the success of our economy.

Simply stated, we're about promoting the private sector, they're about protecting the privileged sector. We are for a fair shot and a fair shake. They're about no rules, no risks, and no accountability.

There's no clearer example of these two different views of the economy than how we reacted to the crisis in the automobile industry. It's sort of a cautionary tale of how they would run the government again and the economy again if given a chance.

Source: Automotive Industry speech in Toledo Ohio , Mar 15, 2012

Extending unemployment benefits is the American way

We've got to extend unemployment insurance for Americans who have lost their jobs in a tough economy. Without unemployment benefits, families can't spend on basic necessities that are grown, made, and sold by other Americans.

Denying two million Americans unemployment insurance will wind up costing us more jobs. It just isn't smart. And, cutting unemployment insurance is not only not smart, it's not right either. It would mean telling millions of our neighbors who are out of work today through no fault of their own, that they're on their own.

We all know someone who's hit a rough patch. When that happens in America, we help him get back up on his feet. That's who we are. That's the American way.

So I just don't agree with the folks who've said we can't afford a lifeline for Americans who lost their jobs during the worst recession in generations, but we can afford to extend tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% of Americans. That's bad economic policy, and it's also just simply wrong.

Source: Weekly White House Radio address , Dec 4, 2010

No job discrimination by sexual orientation

Q: Currently, there is no federal law protecting individuals from job discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. As president, would you support and work for passage of a federal bill that would prohibit job discrimination based on sexual orientation an gender identity?

A: Senator Biden opposes employment discrimination of any kind--including race, religion, gender, disability or sexual orientation. He has consistently supported the Employment Non Discrimination Act to prohibit employment discrimination on basis of sexual orientation.

Q: Many gay & lesbian people serve in the federal government but do not receive the same health insurance and other employee benefits of married couples. Do you support domestic partner coverage for gay and lesbian employees of the civilian federal workforce?

A: Senator Biden believes that federal employees in legally recognized, committed relationships should not be discriminated against on the basis of sexual orientation.

Source: 2007 HRC/LOGO debate--written questionnaire , Aug 9, 2007

Implement current recommendations on job safety

Q: What will you do to improve the health and safety in our coal mines and all of our workplaces across America?

A: I would implement every one of the recommendations that have been already made and have not been implemented.

Source: 2007 AFL-CIO Democratic primary forum , Aug 8, 2007

FactCheck: His AFL-CIO rating of 85% is not best of all Dems

Sen. Biden claimed to have the best labor record of all the candidates present that evening: Biden said, “Look at our records. There’s no one on this stage, mainly because of my longevity, that has a better labor record than me.”

Actually, the opposite is true. All the candidates on the stage had a better “lifetime” labor record than Biden, as measured by the AFL-CIO’s ratings of Senate and House votes. The AFL-CIO’s latest listings show Biden voting its way 85% of the time over his entire Senate career--the lowest lifetime rating of all the candidates on the stage that night.

Despite this, a Biden spokeswoman said, “Sen. Biden enjoys comparable ratings to his opponents during comparable periods of time.” And in any case, the AFL-CIO’s “ratings do not equal a track record of getting legislative & practical results for labor.”

In 2005 Biden’s record was 93%, Clinton’s 86%, and Obama’s 100%. In 2006 Biden tied Clinton & Obama, with all of them voting with the AFL CIO 93% of the time.

Source: FactCheck on 2007 AFL-CIO Democratic primary forum , Aug 7, 2007

Couldn’t afford living at minimum wage; advocates raising it

Q: If you’re elected to serve as president, would you be willing to do this service for the next four years and be paid the national minimum wage of $7.25 per hour?

A: My net worth is $70,000 to $150,000. That’s what happens you get elected at 29. I couldn’t afford to stay in the Congress for the minimum wage. But if I get a second job, I’d do it.

Source: 2007 YouTube Democratic Primary debate, Charleston SC , Jul 23, 2007

Bush tries to strip away 100 years of labor progress

Bush is waging a war on labor. There is a middle class in America for only one reason: organized labor. If not for organized labor, where would you find a job where you had some sense that you had a shot of leaving behind something better than you inherited?

This administration is lined up 10 deep to strip away 100 years of labor progress. They focus on tort reform, court reform, and labor reform--the only three things that stand between the giants & average people. It’s time to say “no more.”

Source: 2007 IAFF Presidential Forum in Washington DC , Mar 14, 2007

Voted YES on overriding presidential veto of Farm Bill.

OnTheIssues.org Explanation:This bill was vetoed twice! Congress passed an identical bill in May, which Pres. Bush vetoed. Congress then discovered that a clerical error. A replacement bill was passed; then vetoed again by the President; and this is its "final" veto override.Congressional Summary:Provides for the continuation of agricultural and other programs of the Department of Agriculture through FY2012. Revises agricultural and related programs, including provisions respecting:
  1. commodity programs;
  2. conservation;
  3. trade;
  4. nutrition;
  5. credit;
  6. rural development;
  7. research and related matters;
  8. forestry;
  9. energy;
  10. horticulture and organic agriculture;
  11. livestock;
  12. crop insurance and disaster assistance;
  13. socially disadvantaged and limited resource producers; and
  14. miscellaneous programs.
President's veto message:I am returning herewith without my approval H.R. 6124. The bill that I vetoed on May 21, 2008, H.R. 2419, did not include the title III (trade) provisions that are in this bill. In passing H.R. 6124, the Congress had an opportunity to improve on H.R. 2419 by modifying certain objectionable, onerous, and fiscally imprudent provisions [but did not].

This bill lacks fiscal discipline. It continues subsidies for the wealthy and increases farm bill spending by more than $20 billion, while using budget gimmicks to hide much of the increase. It is inconsistent with our trade objectives of securing greater market access for American farmers. [Hence] I must veto H.R. 6124.Proponents argument for voting YEA:We had a meeting this morning with the Secretary of Agriculture to talk about implementation. So [despite the two vetoes], the work has been going on within the department of agriculture to get ready for implementation.

This is a good bill. It has wide support in the Congress. It does address all of the issues that have been brought to the Agriculture Committee.

Reference: Veto Override on Food, Conservation, and Energy Act; Bill HR6124 ; vote number 2008-151 on Jun 18, 2008

Voted NO on terminating legal challenges to English-only job rules.

CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY: To take $670,000 used by the EEOC in bringing actions against employers that require their employees to speak English, and instead use the money to teach English to adults through the Department of Education's English Literacy/Civics Education State Grant program.

SUPPORTER'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING YES:Sen. ALEXANDER: Let me begin with this story. In March 2007, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued the Salvation Army for allegedly discriminating against two employees in a Boston area thrift store. What had the Salvation Army done to earn this lawsuit from the Federal Government? Well, it had required its employees to speak English on the job. The English rule was clearly posted, and the employees were given a year to learn it. But this lawsuit means that a small business in Missouri would have to hire a lawyer in order to make sure they have a clear business reason to require their employees to speak our common language on the job.

So I have an amendment to bring some common sense to this subject. It would be to take $670,000 used by the EEOC, which it is using to bring actions against employers who require their employees to speak English.OPPONENT'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING NO:Sen. KENNEDY: Let's look at what the law is and what the Alexander amendment provides. The law currently says that if there is a need to speak English on the job, fine; employers can require that. But employers cannot use English-only rules as an excuse when they want to fire minorities who are performing the job correctly. In this fact situation, those employees had performed the job correctly for 5 years.

In addition, this amendment reduces the EEOC's ability to fight all forms of discrimination because it cuts the entire budget. That means race, age, religion, and disability cases will be harmed. I hope the amendment will be defeated.LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Amendment passed, 54-44

Reference: Bill S.Amdt.4222 to S.Con.Res.70 ; vote number 08-S058 on Mar 13, 2008

Voted YES on restricting employer interference in union organizing.

    To enable employees to form & join labor organizations, and to provide for mandatory injunctions for unfair labor practices during organizing efforts. Requires investigation that an employer:
    1. discharged or discriminated against an employee to discourage membership in a labor organization;
    2. threatened to discharge employees in the exercise of guaranteed collective bargaining rights; and
    3. adds to remedies for such violations: back pay plus liquidated damages; and additional civil penalties.

    Proponents support voting YES because:

    The principle at stake here is the freedom that all workers should have to organize for better working conditions & fair wages. There are many employers around the country who honor this freedom. Unfortunately, there are also many employers who do not. These employers attempt to prevent workers from unionizing by using tactics that amount to harassment, if not outright firing. In fact, one in five people who try to organize unions are fired. These tactics are already illegal, but the penalties are so minor, they are not effective deterrents.

    Opponents support voting NO because:

    Democracy itself is placed at risk by this bill. The sanctity of the secret ballot is the backbone of our democratic process. Not one voter signed a card to send us here to Congress. None of us sent our campaign workers out to voters' houses armed with candidate information & a stack of authorization cards. No. We trusted democracy. We trusted the voters to cast their ballots like adults, freely, openly, without intimidation, and we live with the results. But here we are, poised to advance legislation to kill a secret ballot process.

    Let's be clear. Every American has the right to organize. No one is debating that. This is a right we believe in so strongly we have codified it and made it possible for workers to do so through a secret ballot.
    Status: Cloture rejected Cloture vote rejected, 51-48 (3/5ths required)

    Reference: Employee Free Choice Act; Bill H R 800 ; vote number 2007-227 on Jun 26, 2007

    Voted YES on increasing minimum wage to $7.25.

    Increase the federal minimum wage to:
    1. $5.85 an hour, beginning on the 60th day after enactment;
    2. $6.55 an hour, beginning 12 months after that 60th day; and
    3. $7.25 an hour, beginning 24 months after that 60th day.

    Proponents support voting YES because:

    We have waited for over 10 years to have a clean vote on the minimum wage for the poorest workers in this country Low-wage workers had their wages frozen in time, from 10 years ago, but when they go to the supermarket, the food prices are higher; when they put gasoline in the car, the gasoline prices are higher; when they pay the utility bills, the utility bills are higher; when their kids get sick, the medical bills are higher. All of those things are higher. They are living in 2007, but in their wages they are living in 1997.

    Opponents support voting NO because:

    This bill is marked more by what is not in the bill than what is in it. Small businesses are the backbone of our economy. They create two-thirds of our Nation's new jobs, and they represent 98% of the new businesses in the US. What protection does this bill provide them? None whatsoever.

    We can do better. In the interest of sending the President a final measure that provides consideration for small businesses and their workers, the very men and women who are responsible for our economy's recent growth and strength, we must do better.

    Reference: Fair Minimum Wage Act; Bill H.R.2 ; vote number 2007-042 on Feb 1, 2007

    Voted YES on raising the minimum wage to $7.25 rather than $6.25.

    Vote to increase the minimum wage from $5.15 per hour to $7.25 per hour, over a two-year time period, in three incremental stages. Without the amendment, the minimum wage would increase to $6.25 per hour.
    Reference: Amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938; Bill S AMDT 44 to S 256 ; vote number 2005-26 on Mar 7, 2005

    Voted NO on repealing Clinton's ergonomic rules on repetitive stress.

    Vote to pass a resolution to give no enforcement authority to ergonomics rules submitted by the Labor Department during the Clinton Administration. These rules would force businesses to take steps to prevent work-related repetitive stress disorders
    Reference: Bill S J Res 6 ; vote number 2001-15 on Mar 6, 2001

    Voted NO on killing an increase in the minimum wage.

    The Kennedy (D-MA) Amdt would have increased the minimum wage by $1 an hour over two years, to $5.65 an hour beginning Jan. 1, 2001. The Kennedy Amdt would have also provided $9.5 billion in tax cuts over five years.
    Status: Motion to Table Agreed to Y)50; N)48; NV)2
    Reference: Motion to table Kennedy Amdt #2751; Bill S. 625 ; vote number 1999-356 on Nov 9, 1999

    Voted NO on allowing workers to choose between overtime & comp-time.

    This bill would have allowed workers to choose between overtime and compensatory time.
    Status: Cloture Motion Rejected Y)53; N)47
    Reference: Motion to invoke cloture on a Committee amdt to S. 4; Bill S. 4 ; vote number 1997-68 on May 15, 1997

    Voted YES on replacing farm price supports.

    Replaces farm price supports with seven years of annual fixed payments.
    Status: Bill Passed Y)64; N)32; NV)4
    Reference: Agriculture Market Transition Act of 1996; Bill S. 1541 ; vote number 1996-19 on Feb 7, 1996

    Protect overtime pay protections.

    Biden signed a letter from 43 Senators to the Secretary of Labor

    To: Labor Secretary Elaine Chao

    Dear Secretary Chao:

    We write to express our serious concerns about the Department's proposed regulation on white collar exemptions to the Fair Labor Standards Act. These sweeping changes could eliminate overtime pay protections for millions of American workers.

    We urge you not to implement this new regulation that will end overtime protections for those currently eligible. Under current law, the FLSA discourages employers from scheduling overtime by making overtime more expensive. According to a GAO study, employees exempt from overtime pay are twice as likely to work overtime as those covered by the protections. Our citizens are working longer hours than ever before – longer than in any other industrial nation. At least one in five employees now has a work week that exceeds 50 hours. Protecting the 40-hour work week is vital to balancing work responsibilities and family needs. It is certainly not family friendly to require employees to work more hours for less pay.

    Overtime protections clearly make an immense difference in preserving the 40-hour work week. Millions of employees depend on overtime pay to make ends meet and pay their bills for housing, food, and health care. Overtime pay often constitutes 20-25% of their wages. These workers will face an unfair reduction in their take-home pay if they can no longer receive their overtime pay.

    We urge you not to go forward with any regulation that denies overtime pay protections to any of America's currently eligible hard-working men and women.

    Source: Letter from 43 Senators to the Secretary of Labor 03-SEN4 on Jun 30, 2003

    Rated 100% by the AFL-CIO, indicating a pro-union voting record.

    Biden scores 100% by the AFL-CIO on union issues

    As the federation of America’s unions, the AFL-CIO includes more than 13 million of America’s workers in 60 member unions working in virtually every part of the economy. The mission of the AFL-CIO is to improve the lives of working families to bring economic justice to the workplace and social justice to our nation. To accomplish this mission we will build and change the American labor movement.

    The following ratings are based on the votes the organization considered most important; the numbers reflect the percentage of time the representative voted the organization's preferred position.

    Source: AFL-CIO website 03n-AFLCIO on Dec 31, 2003

    Allow an Air Traffic Controller's Union.

    Biden co-sponsored allowing an Air Traffic Controller's Union

    OFFICIAL CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY: Federal Aviation Administration Fair Labor Management Dispute Resolution Act of 2006: Prohibits the FAA from implementing any proposed change to the FAA personnel management system in cases where the services of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service do not lead to an agreement between the Administrator and FAA employees, unless Congress authorizes the change during the 60-day period. Requires binding arbitration if Congress does not enact a bill into law within the 60-day period.

    SPONSOR'S INTRODUCTORY REMARKS: Sen. OBAMA: Because what air traffic controllers do is vital to our safety, I became very concerned by a letter I received from Illinois air traffic controller Michael Hannigan. He wrote that "the air traffic controllers are not being allowed to negotiate in good faith with the FAA."

    What was clear in Michael's plea was the sense that he and his colleagues felt that they were being treated unfairly. I looked into it and came to the conclusion that if we did not restore a fair negotiation procedure, it would threaten agency morale and effectiveness.

    The problem is this: the FAA Administrator currently has the extraordinary authority to impose wages and working conditions on her workers without arbitration. In order to do that, she merely has to declare an impasse in negotiations and if Congress does not stop her from imposing her terms and conditions within 60 days, the Administrator can go ahead and act unilaterally. That authority denies air traffic controllers and all other FAA employees the opportunity to engage in and conclude negotiations in good faith.

    It is in the best interest of the agency and public safety to have management and labor cooperate in contract negotiations.

    EXCERPTS OF BILL:

    LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Referred to Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation; never came to a vote.

    Source: FAA Dispute Resolution Act (S.2201/H.R.4755) 06-S2201 on Jan 26, 2006

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    Page last updated: Jan 05, 2014