Community Leaders Briefing with Seniors

Uploaded by whitehouse on 16.07.2012

Vice President Biden: Hey, everybody.
How are y'all doing?
Mom, let her read her book.
Let her read the book, Grandma.
I tell ya, there's a beautiful young child down here looks to
be about 16, I think 6, maybe -- (laughter) -- 7,
8 -- how old are you?
Oh, 7 years old.
Well, honey, you are so -- please,
all have a seat -- you are so good to be here,
somebody owes you a big surprise -- (laughter) -- for having to
sit through all this.
And it's OK by me if you read your book while I'm
speaking, OK?
(laughter) It really is.
You're such a good girl.
Hey, everybody.
How you all doing?
Nice to see you.
Welcome -- welcome to Washington.
Now you all know -- I know a lot of you are from Washington,
but I'm told some of you are from out of town.
Now you know why -- I was told -- I think this is true -- I was
told that back in the '20s and '30s,
and actually earlier than that, any diplomat representing Great
Britain in the -- in Washington, D.C., got tropical duty pay.
(Chuckles) You understand why that's the case now.
But although the places you came from,
those of you who came into town, probably almost as hot as we are
here, and so -- but I thank you all for being here.
Let me start by -- by quoting my dad,
a phrase my dad used to always use.
Whenever you would say something, someone would say,
well, this is what I value, this is what I support,
this -- my dad would go like this.
He'd say, look, don't tell me what you value;
show me your budget, and I will tell you what you value.
(laughter) Seriously.
Show me your budget, and I will tell you what you value.
Don't tell me you value women in your office space in -- in your
corporation if you have a budget where you don't have any women
that are being paid like men.
Don't tell me that you value and are deeply concerned about
seniors if, in fact, you eviscerate the things
that you know they rely on, not only for their well-being,
but -- I'll return to this -- for their dignity,
for their dignity and their pride.
Rock bottom, where Joe Biden starts,
I come at retirement security from a different angle than is
usually discussed in this town, or anywhere, for that matter.
I had the great privilege, like many of you,
of having my mom and dad live with me in their last years.
My dad would only move in with my mom when hospice
was necessary.
And it turned out, God love him, he beat the odds -- as he always
did -- and instead of being six weeks, it was five months.
And I had the great pleasure, like all of you and like every
child who wants to take care of his parents,
of being able to kiss him good morning every morning and kiss
him goodnight when I came home.
My mom, after that, moved out.
She insisted she was going to stay in her home,
because we always had a parent, an uncle, an aunt,
someone living with us the entire time,
but for three years, that I was in my parents' household from
the time I was born.
She said she never wanted to do that.
Finally we convinced Mom to come and move in,
move on to where we lived.
And she lived for a number of years, till age 92.
The reason I mention that to you,
you all understand better than most people in this town
understand that this is about more -- this is about more --
than just whether or not there's going to be the financial
wherewithal to care for people; obviously,
that's the core of the debate, but about preserving their
dignity, preserving their pride, preserving their sense of being
able to care for themselves, even if a little bit of it's a
fiction, for as long as they can.
Because they know something you know,
that again we don't talk about.
They know there's very few children out there and
grandchildren who, if their Medicare, Medicaid,
Social Security were to be cut, that those children won't step
in and fill the void.
And they know what a burden that is on the children,
that sandwich generation trying to help Mom and Dad,
trying to take care of their kids in the middle of this
god-awful recession that we inherited.
So I view this -- I come at this from a very different place.
Doesn't mean I'm right or wrong, but I just view it differently.
I view this as a family affair.
I really mean that.
I view this as a family affair.
And quite frankly, I resent when I see on television -- usually
the other team, but every once in a while someone on our team,
not in the White House, but a Democrat -- will say something
like, well, we have to cut it to preserve it for the
other generation.
There's a tendency -- I'm not even sure it's intended -- to
pit one generation against the next.
That's bizarre.
I don't know anybody I grew up with in my neighborhood who
isn't going to do whatever it takes to make sure their mom has
her prescription drugs.
I don't know anybody -- I don't know anybody in my neighborhood
that I grew up with who isn't going to do all they can to make
sure Mom has a place to live, no matter how much pressure it puts
on my children or your grandchildren.
Do you guys know any people like that?
I don't.
I don't know these guys who sit there, young people, and say,
hey, you know, let's -- let's cut it now so we're
going to have it.
So I want to be up-front with you all.
I view this literally as a family affair.
I view this as a value set.
I view this as about people's dignities,
people who built this country.
People who gave us everything we have.
My siblings and I, as I said, we couldn't separate the
security from my mom and dad from our own well-being,
and we were well off.
You pay me a lot of money as vice president of the
United States.
(Scattered laughter.) As the president said when we had our
first Cabinet -- our first meeting a couple of weeks after
we were all sworn in.
He thanked everybody for the sacrifices they made,
and then he looked and caught my eye, and he said, except Joe.
He got a pay raise.
(laughter) And I have successful brothers and sisters,
and it still was a stretch.
I don't know how people do it.
I don't know how they do it.
But I'll tell you what, no matter what their income,
they'll try to do it.
I think that what's really missing in this whole debate is
that we really are in this together.
I don't see any automatic separation based on generations.
So there's no question -- to state the obvious -- that there
are new pressures on Medicare and Social Security,
and they're real.
You can't play a game that these aren't real.
The question, in my view as vice president of the United States,
getting to be the last guy in the room with the president --
and I can say the president shares my view,
or I share his view on this; this is where I can speak for
him without worry that there's any space between what I'm
saying to you and what he believes in his gut.
See, I trust it most when it starts in your gut and goes to
your heart, and then is articulated by your intellect.
They're the guys, they're the women who don't change their
minds under pressure, if it starts here.
With my president, with your president, it starts here,
in his gut.
And it goes to here.
So, question is, what do we do to strengthen and sustain these
programs now and for the future?
Question also is, are we going to let other -- others use this
challenge -- and it's a real challenge -- as a pretense to
dismantle these programs?
I was speaking about a year ago in Florida to a group,
and I pointed something out.
It's not accidental that the other team from the beginning on
every one of these issues has been either, yeah, me too,
or -- but not as much -- or, we shouldn't have done it in
the first place.
Let's just be -- look, when you get to be our age -- and I know
a lot of you are a lot younger -- you can smell it.
You don't have to wonder; all of a sudden the guy who has been
against Social Security or against -- or wanting to make
massive changes or not happy about Medicare in the first
place, or not thinking Medicaid -- they're thinking it's too
much of a burden, and all of a sudden they get religion?
And tell you how they're going to save it for you?
This is not our first rodeo.
(laughter) Take Medicare.
No matter what the other side says,
we know we can fix Medicare without gutting it.
We've already started it.
In our health care law, we extended the life of
Medicare by eight years, until 2024; not nearly enough.
What did we do?
We asked hospitals to take steps to help ensure that seniors who
leave a hospital don't come back, don't have to come back.
You know the studies.
I'm preaching to the choir here.
With fundamental changes in the way hospital care is delivered,
without fundamentally altering the cost of delivery of that
care, actually saving it, hundreds of millions and,
over time, billions of dollars can be saved.
We cut $100 billion in payments to insurance companies that
independent studies said were excessive.
We stepped our efforts against fraud, and we've already,
since the effort's begun in earnest,
have recovered $10 billion.
I won't bore you with more of the details,
but there's a whole lot more we can do and there are more ideas.
Right now, for example, drug companies give discounts on
drugs for people on Medicaid.
We've been pushing and continue to push the ability to save a
hundred billion dollars just by getting drug companies to give
those discounts to just the most vulnerable of the seniors on
Medicare, the so-called dual eligibles.
But we need real partners.
We need real partners on the other side to get it done.
I've been here a long time.
I was a senator for -- I got elected when I was 29 years old
in the Senate.
I was elected seven times in the Senate.
As vice president, I've never quite seen it this way before,
where the obstruction is so endemic in terms of the process.
But we're prepared to sit down and work out with our Republican
friends, which I started to do, as you remember that -- that --
that -- that Biden committee where we met with 40 hours with
the leaders, appointed leaders by the House leaders and the
Senate leaders, Democrat and Republican.
There's nothing easy about it, but there are solutions that can
save the program -- programs.
But we need to start from the premise that Medicare as we know
it is preserved.
That's the premise we're not prepared to yield on.
(applause) Unfortunately, the other side has staked out
a very different position.
And by the way, these are decent, honorable men and women.
I'm not playing the game, you know, these guys are bad guys.
They just have a different value set as to what is the most
important thing that we should be doing.
Just look at Congressman Ryan, a bright, bright guy,
an honorable man.
His budget, which has been embraced by, I believe,
every member in the Republican side in the House of
Representatives -- you might remember the first Ryan budget
last year.
There was nothing subtle about it.
It dismantled Medicare and would've turned it into a
voucher program over a 10-year period.
The independent report found that out-of-pocket health care
costs for the typical 65-year-old would have doubled.
That's $6,400 a year more than being paid now.
Again, my mom and dad had four kids who could help,
but that's all my mom and dad had.
They had no -- my dad worked his whole life.
Pension did not exist.
Social Security and Medicare and putting four kids through
college and graduate school -- we're the legacies.
Another $650 matters.
You also probably remember that this plan was overwhelmingly
rejected by the American people.
It passed -- every House member voted for it.
Didn't get through the Senate, and you all started talking
about it, and the public overwhelmingly rejected it.
They say, well, how do you know that, Biden?
Well, they didn't come back with the same plan this year.
(laughter) They got a new one.
This year, they came back with one that's more subtle,
but it really didn't change.
It didn't change the core of what they want to do.
They're still pushing Medicare vouchers;
it's a plan that would still mean higher cost for almost
everyone who depends on Medicare.
And that goes for Medicaid too.
Folks, you know how important this program is to seniors.
Medicaid pays 40 percent of the long-term care spending in this
country, not only by bringing peace of mind to seniors,
but to their children and grandchildren as well who
otherwise would have the burden.
And if I could digress for just one second here.
The vast majority of folks in long-term care are women,
and the overwhelming majority depend on and are there only
because of Medicare.
And it helps about 5 million seniors who can't cover their
Medicare premiums or cost sharing on their own to get
the health care they need.
House Republicans propose cutting the funding by more than
a third, taking away 19 million -- taking 19 million Americans
on Medicare off the rolls -- 19 million.
Because they want to -- they have other priorities,
and they really believe if these priorities are promoted,
the whole economy and everything will be better
and everything will grow.
I'm not sure how it's going to help seniors immediately,
but that's the thesis.
And what's it based upon?
Well, it starts off with insisting on extending the tax
cut for people -- not just but primarily for people making over
a million dollars.
It costs $800 billion to keep the Bush tax cut just for people
making over a million (dollars).
I want to put this in perspective.
Of the total trillion-dollar cost of the entire Bush tax cut
for making 250(,000 dollars)
, you know how much of that goes to 120,000 families in America?
Five hundred and fifty billion dollars to 120 families.
Let me say this again.
Maintaining the top tier tax cut costs over 10 years
a trillion dollars.
Maintaining for just people making a million or more costs
800 billion (dollars) of that.
Maintaining it for people with an average income of $8.4
million a year, which comes out to be 120,000
families in America, cost $550 billion over the
next 10 years.
That's a fact.
They've made a clear choice: lower the standard of living for
those on Medicare and Medicaid rather than ask anything of the
wealthiest among us.
And by the way, I come from a wealthy state of Delaware.
I think it has the highest per-capita income still.
The wealthy in my state are as patriotic and as caring
as the poor.
I've never seen any distinctions between patriotism or generosity
coming from a poor folk and a wealthy guy.
But we're not asking anything of them.
They're the only group in this entire recession we've not asked
anything of.
We launched two wars, one necessary and one not necessary,
and on the way at the same time gave a multitrillion-dollar tax
cut over that period of time.
I don't get it.
And on top of maintaining the Bush tax cut -- and we want to
maintain it for middle-class people -- on top of that and on
top of what it will do to all the other benefits that seniors
have that they want to undo, the House Republicans voted to
repeal the health care law last week.
We must not forget what that means, what they voted against.
But let me go back to taxes for just a second.
There is the 800 billion (dollars)
that's set aside over here for people with a million dollars or
more; of that, 550 billion (dollars)
to 120,000 families.
In addition, Paul Ryan introduced a new budget which
calls for almost -- calls for an additional $2 trillion in tax
cuts, almost $2 trillion in tax cuts over the next 10 years for
people who make an -- a minimum of a million dollars.
So over the next 10 years we're going to spend 2 trillion
(dollars) -- roughly $2.8 trillion on people who make over
a million dollars because their tax burden apparently
is too high.
So you wonder, how could these guys come out with
a Ryan budget?
I mean, it doesn't seem logical, does it?
Well, they're honest guys, to this extent.
They've got to.
They've got to eviscerate everything else to come up with
another $2.8 trillion.
And with the health care law that they voted to repeal -- our
health care law closed the doughnut hole for 5.3 million
individuals, Medicare -- in the Medicare doughnut hole,
saving those folks, those 5.3 million,
$600 a year already on their prescription drugs.
And the health care law provides more preventative services,
checkups, bone mass measurements, mammograms,
which you now got to pay for -- you had to pay for,
but no copay.
We want to keep you healthy, it makes sense long term.
It costs the government less money to make sure you go in
when you feel something, when you have something you're
worried about and get it taken care of front end than it does
waiting till it happens.
They want to repeal all that.
Folks, we'd be much better off if we spent a lot less energy
fighting off efforts to dismantle Medicare, Medicaid,
get rid of the Affordable Health Care Act,
and more time working to figure out how to provide better health
for the American people and preserve Medicare and Medicaid.
We'll all have to make tough decisions to do that.
But look, they have the same deal on Social Security.
Doesn't affect y'all.
They're going to come back and they do the generation thing in
reverse this time.
They say, oh, don't worry; we're not going to affect
anybody on Medicare now or on Social Security.
And they're right; they're not going to do that.
But guess what they do?
They got this great idea.
Republicans have come up with a -- come up with another approach
for Social Security that they claim saves Social Security,
solely, though, by cutting benefits.
What do they do?
What they do is they say somebody who is now 42 years old
or 45 years old, we're going to cut your Social Security,
so when it comes time for you to get it,
you ain't getting anything like your parents got.
That's how they're going to save it.
So I love how they do this shell-on-the-pea game.
Don't worry; you should not worry about it;
you should be for these changes; Social Security's going to
preserve you, but it's going to really nail your kids.
(laughter) I'm serious!
That's the reality!
I know I have a bad reputation of speaking plainly.
(laughter) I'm going to continue to speak plainly.
It's served me well my whole life.
(applause) I don't like people who don't speak plainly to me.
I don't understand -- actually, I do understand them.
So folks, we can resolve the challenges of Social Security
and we can do it in good faith.
I did it before.
I was part of a relatively small group back in 1993 -- '83,
as a U.S. senator, that extended the life
of Social Security well into the 20th century --
the 21st century.
Social Security was about to run out of money.
So we sat down, we worked with Republican leaders,
real leaders -- Bob Dole; my colleague from Delaware,
conservative as can be, but a great friend, Bill Roth,
chairman of the Finance Committee;
Ronald Reagan -- Tip O'Neill, Pat Moynihan.
And we literally sat down, together and separately,
in smaller groups, and we made what was a difficult decision.
People didn't like it.
No one wants any change.
We said gradually, months over years,
you're not going to able to retire at 65 -- very, very,
very, very unpopular decision.
Nobody wanted to change it, except we knew it had
to be done.
So what did we do?
We joined hands -- never forget what Bob Dole said after getting
up from a meeting.
He said -- he had a great sense of humor; he still does.
And he said, we all got to get out -- he stood up in his chair
-- and we all got to get up and put one foot together in a
rowboat at the same time and then all together put two feet
in, so it doesn't tip, so we're all in the boat together.
Getting in that boat together with leaders like Reagan and
O'Neill, what did we do?
We preserved the system -- (applause) --
preserved the system.
Again, this conversation we're having here -- nobody's saying
there are easy answers to this, and any of you who go, oh,
there's no problem; just keep everything you
want -- you're wrong.
You're wrong.
But there are solutions.
In democracy, solutions come when people of good faith,
wanting to resolve and save a specific thing make
hard decisions.
But when the team -- one team says let's preserve it and the
other team says let's basically get rid of it,
do something different, there's not much room to compromise.
Look, folks, you know in your gut what I know -- it's about
putting politics against -- I mean,
it's about putting the country and the seniors against your
political interest just for a moment,
to preserve one of the most significant government
initiatives in the history of the United States of America.
And that's what we need today.
That's what's missing this time.
Today, our Republican friends are fixated on one thing:
additional tax cuts for the wealthy.
They won't budge an inch on this.
They have a very different value set than we do.
As I said, my father used to say,
don't tell me what you value, show me your budget and I'll
tell you what you value.
And what they value is different than what my team values.
That's not to say they don't care about the elderly.
I believe they do.
They just have a different way.
But it's always basically been this way.
They've never initiated any of these changes we're
trying to preserve.
Folks, it's simple math.
You either preserve Medicare and Medicaid,
fix Social Security and draw down the deficit or you spend
another several trillion dollars in tax cuts for the wealthy and
you make nearly -- and you make more room for another $2
trillion tax cut proposed by Congressman Ryan and his
Republican colleagues.
But you can't do both.
You can't do both now.
And the president and I refuse to shift the burden,
particularly of this God-awful recession we have,
on the backs of the people who worked so darn hard their whole
life, who earned their retirement and had nothing to
do with this collapse that we inherited of the
economy, nothing.
But now the other side argues that cutting is the only way to
save the programs for the next generation.
As I said, they just don't understand.
They just don't understand that retirement is multigenerational.
As I've said, it matters to you, it matters to your children,
it matters to your grandchildren,
because if you don't go, they won't step up.
I'll tell you one story in conclusion.
My mom was a very proud lady.
And my mom, God love her, was in great health till close
to the very end.
And my mom moved in with us, and she actually moved in -- there
was a piece of property I bought and built a house,
and it had a little tiny barn on it.
I mean, it was a -- like a big garage,
and it was at the top of the driveway.
And I sort of -- my brother would say ginger breaded it up.
I put nicer doors on it and put, you know,
shutters on the windows so it didn't look like an old
dilapidated barn when you walked in.
I couldn't get my mom to move in with us even though the whole
downstairs I had built for my mom and dad -- there was a
walkout, it was glass, it looked out on a nice view.
And she wouldn't move in, particularly after
my died there.
She said -- she -- she -- she just wasn't going to do that.
(laughter) So one day we were walking -- driving down the
driveway at Christmas time.
She said, Joey -- I'm a frustrated architect -- she
said, build me a house there, a cottage.
I said, mom, I don't -- you don't have any money to build
a cottage, honey.
I built the house here.
She said, no.
She said, sell my house, and you go ahead and build a house right
there for me, a little cottage.
The humorous part was, by the way,
I designed this great little cottage.
It had one bedroom, and -- so I had the architect come in with
me and I laid it out on its dining room table.
She said, it only has one bedroom, Joey.
I said, well, honey, you -- is there something you want to tell
me about I don't know?
(laughter) She said, no, Joey, she said,
when the children -- when my grandchildren and great
grandchildren -- I want them staying with us.
I said, Mom, it's 500 feet to the house.
I've got five bedrooms.
She said, Joey, they're not my bedrooms.
The generic point is -- my mom drove until the very end,
and so she used to go up to what used to be called Happy Harry's.
It's a chain of drugstores in Delaware.
Now it's Walgreens.
And so my sister suspected that Mom wasn't -- and do you know
anybody who's a senior who doesn't have -- especially an
octogenarian over 85 -- who doesn't have six, seven,
eight prescriptions they take?
And for a child, one of the hardest things to do is
literally get it right and make sure you have it.
You know.
And so my sister Valerie is smarter than I am.
She said, Joey, I don't think Mom's getting
all her prescriptions.
So I followed her up one day.
This was before I got elected and I didn't have to have the
Secret Service take me.
(laughter) I followed her up.
It's only about a mile and a half.
And I went into Happy Harry's.
And there's a blood pressure machine.
There's aisles, and the blood pressure machine at the end,
so I sort of hid behind the blood pressure machine,
because people lined up to get their prescriptions at the
window; you know, the pickup window.
And there was a beautiful lady, beautiful personality,
who was the druggist there.
And what happened is my mom went up and she got, like,
you know a deck of cards or chips handed to her,
all these prescriptions.
And she very politely -- she said, oh, I don't need
this one, Honey.
I don't need this one.
My mother was ashamed to tell me.
I could easily afford it.
My sister could easily afford it.
My brothers could easily afford it.
And we all did.
But Mom was too proud, too proud to say,
I'm short getting this prescription.
That's why this country's so great,
because of people with pride and dignity, like my mother.
That's what made this country.
And the idea at the end of their lives,
we're going to do this is beyond my comprehension.
We need your help.
You all have impact in your communities.
You're parts of large organizations,
and some not so large.
But please go out.
As they say -- as I say, speak plainly.
Speak plainly to the people you know.
You influence people.
They respect you.
It's not just the organization.
You wouldn't be here if you weren't leaders.
We've got to go out and make this a fight.
Some things are worth fighting for, folks.
And this is worth fighting for.
God love you all.
Thank you very, very much.
And may God protect our troops.
(applause) Thank you.