Sixty-seven years after he moved out of Scranton, Pa., and 47 years after he began working in Washington, D.C., Joe Biden seems to have trouble remembering that there’s an economy outside of political subsidy programs. In a Thursday night “town hall” on CNN, the former vice president was asked several times in different ways about encouraging job creation and economic growth. Each time his answer involved federal schemes to redistribute wealth.
Appearing in Moosic, Pa., with CNN host Anderson Cooper, Mr. Biden couldn’t resist proposing more taxpayer subsidies even when a questioner had just finished describing a problem created by taxpayer subsidies. Here’s an excerpt from CNN’s transcript in which a registered nurse named Sheila Schaufler was given a turn at the microphone:
SCHAUFLER: Thank you. And Good evening and welcome back. There are many frontline workers who are making much less than people on unemployment, who have benefited from the extra $600.00 in stimulus payments. I have personally spoken to people who refuse to even look or apply for jobs because of the extra money. What is your plan to get Americans back to work and off the government payroll?
BIDEN: First of all, I have a plan to deal with the need for additional healthcare workers and pay them a wage that is a living wage that’s real. So they don’t have to live hand to mouth, for real. I won’t bore you with the detail, but — I’ll get your name, we’ll send you the material…
Mr. Biden’s campaign website informs:
Under the Senate Democrats’ “Heroes Fund” proposal, the federal government would step in and give essential workers a raise, with additional funding to attract workers to serve as health and home care workers and first responders.
In April Senate Democrats rolled out this plan, which includes “giving each essential frontline worker $13/hour premium pay on top of regular wages” during the pandemic. Allowing the pay for actual work to rise above the pay for not working is surely a good solution. But the former vice president didn’t explain why simply removing the original taxpayer subsidy–rather than creating a new one to offset it–wouldn’t solve the problem.
Mr. Biden continued his answer and made a series of points that were increasingly distant from the issue raised by Ms. Schaufler. The former vice president seemed to suggest that Mr. Trump needs to enact additional relief for people struggling to make rent or mortgage payments.