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Biden stumps region, promises national economic turnaround



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Brian Smith Joe Biden, Democratic vice presidential candidate, speaks before a large crowd in Jeffersonville last Wednesday. (Photo by Brian Smith)
October 01, 2008
Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden had a crowd that some estimated to be more than 2,000 revved up at Jeffersonville's Warder Park last Wednesday in a speech that blasted the Republicans on the economy, the budget deficit, home foreclosures, unemployment and deregulation.

Juanita Sneed, a 50-year-old mother of two from Pekin, took the stage first, and before introducing Biden, told her story of being laid off when the Colgate plant in Clarksville closed in December.

"When I went to work there, 23 years ago, a thousand people worked at Colgate," Sneed said. "Now, Colgate has closed the plant and moved to Mexico. And after working there all those years, I still didn't qualify for a pension. And what really scares me is that I know far too many people who are in the same situation. I see a crisis in the United States. The rug is being pulled out from under us. People are losing their homes. How can this happen to hard-working Americans? The Bush Administration has been disastrous for working people."

Biden came on stage, and after hugging Sneed and commenting on the Ryder Cup, which was held in Louisville recently, got down to the business at hand — criticizing the Bush policies which Biden said led to the problems on Wall Street that "rivals that of the Great Depression."

"Eight years ago, a man running for president claimed he was different," Biden said. "He said he wasn't your typical Republican, and he promised to work with the Democrats. You saw how that story has ended. But it's time to bring honor back to the White House.

"We've had eight months of job losses and the highest unemployment in years. There are 46 million Americans without health insurance. The average income is stumbling. The cost of gasoline and groceries are through the roof. Our military is stretched almost to the breaking point and the nation is more polarized, more than at any time since I've been in the Senate. This must change."

Biden went on to say that eight years later, another man has promised to "reach across the aisle, and change the Republican party."

"We've seen this movie before," Biden continued. "But the sequel is always worse than the original."

On the bailout proposal now being considered in Washington, Biden commented that "every penny should come back to the American people if Wall Street makes money."

"And the American people should not spend one dime to award CEOs on Wall Street," Biden said. "It's not sufficient to just get out of this crisis. We need policies that will assure that we don't go there again. We can't go back to the way the Bush Administration is doing things. We have a culture in Washington where very few — the wealthy and powerful — have a seat at the table, and the rest of us are on the menu. Ladies and gentlemen, this must change."

Ron Day, a retired business owner who drove from Madison to hear Biden, said the country couldn't stand another four years of Republican policies.

"Even though I was a Hillary supporter, I think Biden should be the one running for president," Day, 73, said. "But I firmly believe Obama and Biden will get in. Things are worse than I've ever seen in this country. If we ran our private businesses like the Bush Administration is running this country, we'd have been broke a long time ago.

"And we now have people on Wall Street who are buying and selling oil for a profit and jacking the prices up at the pump. Some call them speculators, but I call them thieves. I bought a motorhome so my wife and I could do some traveling, but now, I can't even afford to drive it. It's a shame, we've worked hard all our lives, hoping to one day retire and enjoy life a little while, and Bush took that away from us. It's sad."

Peggy Metzger, CEO of the Ted McCain Company in Louisville, came to hear what Biden had to say.

"I worked hard for Bill Clinton when he ran for president," Metzger said. "And I've been a Hillary fan for a long time, and I'm a little disappointed that she lost. But I believe Biden is up to the task. And I think Sarah Palin is an embarrassment. Surely John McCain could do better than that. I used to like McCain — and there was a time I would have voted for him. But the Republicans have run this country into the ground. We can't stand another four years of this. And my children — one is 33 and the other is 25 — can only remember either a Bush or a Clinton as president. It's time for a change."

Biden, who was focused on the economy, brought the crowd to its feet with his assessment of the housing crisis.

"There's 8,000 to 10,000 Americans a day going into foreclosure," he said. "How does a family say to their son, 'You can't go back to our old neighborhood'? And how do they tell him he can no longer play on the same ballfield? And there's been over 604,000 who lost their jobs this year alone. And just imagine what it would be like now if John McCain and George Bush had succeeded in privatizing Social Security.

"Barack Obama and I will fight for change. The middle class needs to get back into the game. My father used to say, 'Don't tell me your values — show me your budget.' Barack Obama and I will cut taxes on 95 percent of Americans who earn a paycheck. And senior citizens who earn less than $50,000 a year will not pay a penny in income taxes. We value their ability to stay independent. We will invest in America to keep jobs in America.

"We can create two million jobs in this country by investing in our infrastructure. We need to lead by example, but not an example of power. We need to speak to America's hope, not fear, and we must have faith in the American people, who are ready to take back this country."

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