Joe Biden in September Democratic candidates debate

On Drugs: Addicts should go to rehab & expunge records, not prison

Q: You have a plan to release many nonviolent drug offenders from prison. Sen. Booker says that your plan is not ambitious enough. Your response?

BIDEN: We're in a situation now where there are so many people who are in jail and shouldn't be in jail. The whole means by which this should change is the whole model has to change. We should be talking about rehabilitation. Nobody should be in jail for a nonviolent crime. [Under Obama] we released 36,000 people from the federal prison system. Nobody should be in jail for a drug problem. They should be going directly to a rehabilitation. We build more rehabilitation centers, not prisons. I'm the guy that put in the drug courts to divert people from the criminal justice system. And so we have to change the whole way we look at this. [People] who got in prison for marijuana--they shouldn't be in there; that should be a misdemeanor. They should be out and their record should be expunged. Every single right should be returned.

Source: September Democratic Primary debate in Houston Sep 12, 2019

On Free Trade: Either we make up trade policy, or China will

Sen. Bernie SANDERS: Joe Biden and I strongly disagree on trade. I helped lead the opposition to NAFTA and PNTR, which cost this country over 4 million good-paying jobs.

BIDEN: Yeah, well, look, we're either going to make policy or China's going to make the rules of the road. We make up 25 percent of the world economy. We need another 25 percent to join us. And I think-Senator Warren is correct: At the table has to be labor and at the table have to be environmentalists. The fact of the matter is, China--the problem isn't the trade deficit, the problem is they're stealing our intellectual property. The problem is they're violating the WTO. They're dumping steel and dumping agricultural products on us. In addition to that, we're in a position where, if we don't set the rules, we, in fact, are going to find ourselves with China setting the rules. And that's why you need to organize the world to take on China, to stop the corrupt practices that are underway.

Source: September Democratic Primary debate in Houston Sep 12, 2019

On Government Reform: Immediate focus on health care, education, climate change

I refuse to postpone one more minute spending billions of dollars on curing cancer, Alzheimer's, and other diseases which, if we invest in them, we can find cures. I refuse to postpone giving single child in America, no matter their zip code, pre-K all the way through high school and beyond. I refuse to postpone any longer taking on climate change.
Source: September Democratic Primary debate in Houston Sep 12, 2019

On Gun Control: I'm the only candidate who beat the NRA with the Brady bill

Q: You have pointed to your ability to reach across the aisle to get things done, but four months after Sandy Hook, a measure to require expanded background checks died on the Senate floor. If you couldn't get it done after Sandy Hook, why should voters give you another chance?

BIDEN: Because I got it done before. I'm the only one up here that's ever beat the NRA --only one ever to beat the NRA nationally. I'm the guy that brought the Brady bill into-into focus and became law.

Source: September Democratic Primary debate in Houston Sep 12, 2019

On Health Care: My plan builds on Obamacare; adding $740B for public option

Q: Are single-payer plans such as those by Senators Warren and Sanders pushing too far?

BIDEN: I think we should have a debate on health care. I think Obamacare worked. I think the way we add to it, replace everything that has been cut, add a public option, guarantee that everyone will be able to have affordable insurance, number one. Number two, I think we should look at cost. My plan costs $740 billion. It doesn't cost $30 trillion, $3.4 trillion a year, it turns out, is twice what the entire federal budget is. How are we going to pay for it? Thus far, Senator Warren has not indicated how she pays for it.

Sen. Elizabeth WARREN: Pres. Obama transformed health care. Now, how best can we improve it? I believe the best way we can do that is we make sure everybody gets covered by health care at the lowest possible cost. How do we pay for it? Those at the very top, the richest individuals and the biggest corporations, are going to pay more. And middle class families are going to pay less.

Source: September Democratic Primary debate in Houston Sep 12, 2019

On Immigration: Yes, we did deportations, but we also did DACA & asylum

Q: The Obama administration deported 3 million people. Did you do anything to prevent those deportations?

BIDEN: What Latinos should look at is comparing [Obama policy to Trump policy]. We didn't lock people up in cages. We didn't separate families. [Obama] came along with the DACA program. No one had ever done that before. [Obama] wanted to find a pathway for the 11 million undocumented. This is a president who's done a great deal. So I'm proud to have served with him.

What I would do as president is several more things, because things have changed. I would, in fact, make sure that there is-we immediately surge to the border. All those people who are seeking asylum, they deserve to be heard. That's who we are. We're a nation who says, if you want to flee, and you're freeing oppression, you should come.

I would change the order that the president just changed, saying women who were being beaten and abused could no longer claim that as a reason for asylum.

Source: September Democratic Primary debate in Houston Sep 12, 2019

On Principles & Values: Deal with loss by finding purpose in what you do

Q: What did you learn from your most significant professional setback?

BIDEN: I think the most critical setback that can occur to anyone is to lose family. [The philosopher Soren] Kierkegaard said "faith sees best in the dark." Right after I got elected, my wife and daughter were killed in an automobile accident. And I lost my faith for a while. I came back.

And then later, when my son Beau came home from Iraq with a terminal disease, and a year later, losing him was like losing part of my soul.

But the fact is that I learned that the way you deal with it is you deal with finding purpose, purpose in what you do. We've all been through that, in some form or another. And for me, the way I've dealt with it is finding purpose. And my purpose is to do what I've always tried to do and stay engaged in public policy.

But there's a lot of people been through a lot worse than I have who get up every single morning, put their feet one foot in front of another, without the help I had.

Source: September Democratic Primary debate in Houston Sep 12, 2019

On War & Peace: Can't put Afghanistan together: it's 3 different countries

Q: Was it wrong to pull out of Iraq quickly, as you did in the Obama Administration, and then had to return troops? What are the lessons for pulling out of Afghanistan?

BIDEN: I've been in and out of Afghanistan, not with a gun--and it's an open secret that I was opposed to the surge in Afghanistan. The whole purpose of going to Afghanistan was to not have a counterinsurgency, meaning that we're going to put that country together. It cannot be put together. Let me say it again. It will not be put together. It's three different countries. Pakistan owns the three provinces in the east. They're not run it. I will go on and on. But here's the point. The point is that it's a counterterrorism strategy. We can prevent the United States from being the victim of terror coming out of Afghanistan by providing for bases-insist the Pakistanis provide bases for us to air lift from and to move against what we know.

Source: September Democratic Primary debate in Houston Sep 12, 2019

On War & Peace: I shouldn't have voted for Bush's AUMF; he did it wrong way

Q: Obama turned to you to bring the troops home from Iraq. There was a major drawdown, but you then had to send thousands of troops back in. Was it wrong to pull out of Iraq that quickly?

BIDEN: No, it wasn't wrong to pull out. The fact of the matter is that, you know, I should have never voted to give Bush the authority to go in and do what he said he was going to do. The AUMF was designed, he said, to go in and get the Security Council to vote 15-0 to allow inspectors to go in to determine whether or not anything was being done with chemical weapons or nuclear weapons. And when that happened, he went ahead anyway without any of that proof. The big mistake that was made, which we predicted, was that you would not have a circumstance where the Shia and the Kurds would work together to keep ISIS from moving in.

Sen. Bernie SANDERS: The truth is, the big mistake, the huge mistake, and one of the big differences between you and me, I never believed what Cheney and Bush said about Iraq

Source: September Democratic Primary debate in Houston Sep 12, 2019

The above quotations are from ABC News and Univision Democratic candidates debate.
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Page last updated: Oct 19, 2019