Government

Biden in Cedar Rapids calls his plans 'significantly progressive'

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks to a pack crowd during a community event at the
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks to a pack crowd during a community event at the Roosevelt Creative Corridor Business Academy in Cedar Rapids on Saturday, Feb. 1, 2020. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)
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CEDAR RAPIDS — On the stump, Joe Biden never criticizes the Democrats running against him for the party’s 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

In fact, he doesn’t mention them except in oblique “some folks say” sorts of references.

However, in a Gazette interview Saturday, there were a few cracks in Biden’s speak-no-ill rule. Some of his rivals in the Feb. 3 Iowa caucuses, he said, are proposing dangerous agendas and lack preparation for the job they are seeking.

He also seemed to bristle at a suggestion that unlike those progressives in the races, some supporters see him as the “safe” choice.

“I’ve never considered myself a safe choice,” Biden said after speaking to more than 500 people at a Cedar Rapids middle school Saturday afternoon.

Biden, who served 36 years in the Senate before eight as vice president, pushed back at the notion that his agenda is not “significantly progressive.”

“If what I’m proposing becomes the law of the land, I guarantee you that 10 years now, I think they’ll be writing that we were the most progressive administration in American history,” he predicted.

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The difference between his plans and those of the so-called progressives in the race is that he can make good on his promises, Biden insisted.

“You know, the AOCs of the world and the Bernie Sanders of the world who are talking about spending $60 trillion in 10 years and they’re acknowledging they don’t know how they can do that,” Biden said, referring to New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who appeared in Iowa City last weekend on Sanders behalf.

Those candidates are well intentioned, “but I think the most dangerous risk for the Democrats going against Trump is to come across with something that we’re proposing that allows him to point out that it’s not authentic,” Biden continued. “God love even Bernie, who initially said Medicare for all plan was going to cost, you know, five, five-and-a-half percent, and now says, ‘I don’t know how much it’s going to cost. We’ll all find out.’

“He’s a good man. They’re good people. I just think it’s going to be important that whoever our nominee is, be viewed as having leveled with the people in our party.”

Biden doesn’t believe that Sanders and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who also is proposing a Medicare for All plan, “can convince even the Democrats who sit in the Congress now that these things make sense.”

Not only will he tell voters what his plans will cost, Biden said, “I’m going to get it done.”

“Look at my record of getting big things done in United States Congress,” he said. None of the other Democrats in the race can match his experience or his record.

“You know, Pete Buttigieg was always talking about how, you know, ‘Well, that’s old-Washington we need new-Washington,” Biden said about the former South Bend mayor. If Buttigieg can accomplish all he’s proposing, “It would be a bit of an epiphany. I mean, you know, not everybody’s Barack Obama.”

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Biden said he doesn’t want to sound presumptuous, but with what the country has been through during the three years of the Trump administration — including the ongoing impeachment saga, he believes he is “the most ready at the moment to be able to see to it that he isn’t president again.”

Later Saturday, Biden rallied in Waterloo. Sunday, he will be in Dubuque before heading to Des Moines where he’ll stay through Monday night.

Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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