This is the most important Presidential election of our life times: the next President will have a chance to change the direction of the world. I am seeking the Democratic Party's nomination for President because I have worked with fellow Democrats and across the aisle to accomplish the goals of the American people. From the Crime Bill that put 100,000 more cops on the street to the Violence Against Women Act, from leading the way to end the war in Bosnia to the Biden plan to end the war in Iraq, I've tackled the most important issues of the day. My first order of business will be to end this war in Iraq. The war has hurt our standing internationally, and the billions spent in Iraq have prevented us from resolving critical issues here at home. My plan would allow our troops to come home without leaving chaos behind. At home, my number one domestic priority will be education. We must fund high quality preschool programs like Head Start and ensure every child has two years of preschool. And we must fund two years of college. Last year, 400,000 kids who qualified for college were unable to attend because they could not afford it. College cannot be a luxury. You will have the opportunity to vote and stand up for what you believe in. You know where I stand. I stand with you.
Joseph R. Biden, Jr. was born on November 20, 1942 in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Senator Biden lives in Wilmington, Delaware and commutes to Washington, DC when the Senate is in session. He is married to the former Jill Jacobs, and is the father of three children: Beau, Hunter and Ashley. The Bidens also have two daughters-in-law, Kathleen and Hallie, and four granddaughters: Naomi, Finnegan, Roberta Mabel and Natalie. Senator Biden lives in Wilmington, Delaware and commutes to Washington, DC when the Senate is in session.
Syracuse University College of Law, J.D. 1968
University of Delaware, B.A. 1965
(Double Major: History/Political Science)
Archmere Academy 1961
Prior to his election to the Senate, Biden practiced law in Wilmington, Delaware and served on the New Castle County Council from 1970 to 1972. Since 1991, Biden has been an adjunct professor at the Widener University School of Law, where he teaches a seminar on constitutional law.
New Castle County (Delaware) Council 1970-1972.
He was first elected to the United States Senate in 1972 and re-elected in 1978, 1984, 1990, 1996 and 2002. He is currently serving his 6th term.
As the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Biden is widely recognized as a leading expert on national security. He's also been a leader in the effort to secure the homeland. Senator Biden's "Kids 2000" legislation, signed into law by the President in October of 2000 establishes a public/private partnership to help provide computer centers, teachers, Internet access and technical training to young people across the nation, particularly to low-income and at-risk youth.
Senator Biden supports the Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade that protects a woman's right to choose. Believing family planning could help prevent many unwanted pregnancies, Senator Biden has consistently supported Title X -- the nations' family planning program -- that provides information, services, support, and research for family planning.
Source: biden.senate.gov/issues (04/22/2008)
Senator Biden supports the Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade that protects a woman's right to choose to terminate a pregnancy. Believing family planning could help prevent many unwanted pregnancies, Senator Biden has consistently supported Title X -- the nation's family planning program -- that provides information, services, support, and research for family planning.
Source: www.joebiden.com (12/01/2007)
Recognizing that America's 25 million small businesses employ nearly half of the private work force, generate more than half of the nation's gross domestic product, and are the principal source of new jobs in the U.S. economy, Sen. Biden helped secure an upgrade of Delaware's Small Business Administration branch office to full district office status. Prior to this announcement, Delaware was the only state in the nation without a district office.
Source: Candidate Website (01/19/2008)
He would protect laws requiring executives to attest to the accuracy of a company's financial statements and to the soundness of internal controls. He was proud to fight for those safeguards in the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. A company that cannot or will not institute and maintain the internal controls necessary to meet the high standards of financial integrity and corporate accountability should not go public in the United States.
Source: www.joebiden.com (11/30/2007)
Joe Biden believes that shareholders have a critical role to play in corporate accountability. He would allow shareholders to have a vote in setting executive compensation
What made me run for the Senate 35 years ago? Civil rights. I wanted to end the discrimination I saw. Thirty-five years later we have changed America and moved closer to our ideals, but new and more subtle sins are still there. It's still my call to end the injustices I see.
Joe Biden knows how important it is to patients that their personal medical information be kept private. He supports: making sure individuals' medical information is not used against them or unknowingly sold for commercial profit, and ensuring that as we move toward more efficient, cost-saving electronic medical records, privacy interests remain a priority.
Joe Biden has fought to prohibit employers and insurance companies from collecting or using genetic information when making decisions about hiring, providing health coverage, or discriminating in the pricing of an insurance policy.
As a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Joe Biden has been a voice of opposition to the Reagan and two Bush Administration's attempts to pack the federal courts with judges committed to a narrow view of the Constitution that denies women equal protection under the law.
In 1986, Congress established a draconian sentencing scheme that punished the crack form of cocaine far more severely than the powder form. Currently, mere possession of 5 grams of crack triggers a five-year mandatory minimum sentence, while it takes distribution or manufacture of 500 grams of powder cocaine to trigger that same sentence. The assumptions that led Congress to establish this disparity -- that crack is inherently more dangerous and addictive than powder, that crack would devastate communities, and that prenatal exposure to crack was far more damaging than exposure to powder -- have proved unfounded. Joe Biden has proposed legislation to implement the US Sentencing Commission's recommendation to eliminates the 100:1 disparity between the two forms of the drug. He also supports increasing funding for prison- and jail-based drug treatment programs. Senator Biden is opposed to being soft on drug traffickers -- he supports stiffer penalties for major drug traffickers and additional resources for the investigation and prosecution of them.
Senator Biden has been a major voice of opposition to the Reagan and two Bush Administration's attempts to pack the federal courts with judges committed to a narrow view of the Constitution that denies women equal protection under the law.
Joe Biden has written legislation that provides funds to states for building prisons if they agree to keep their violent offenders behind bars for at least 85 percent of their sentence, currently state prisoners serve only 40 percent of their sentences behind bars on average.
The recent Supreme Court term proves that judges and justices can undo decades of progress on civil rights. That's why Joe Biden has a well-earned reputation of being tough on judging judicial appointments. As chairman of the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee, he kept Robert Bork off the Supreme Court. More recently, as a senior member of the Committee, he strongly opposed putting Bush nominees John Roberts and Samuel Alito on the Supreme Court, fearing what unfortunately has proven true -- they want to erase decades of progress for minorities and women. As the Bush Administration continues to try to pack federal courts with judges committed to a narrow view of the Constitution that denies minorities and women equal protection, Senator Biden will remain the voice of opposition.
Joe Biden is a strong supporter of the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act to expand federal and state coordination to fight hate crimes. Every year more than 7,000 hate crimes are committed. Joe Biden believes these acts not only hurt victims, they damage the values that are America. The Act would enable the Justice Department to assist local agencies in investigating and prosecuting crimes, and would expand the definition of hate crimes to include offenses based on sexual orientation, gender, or disability. He also supports the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act which would dedicate resources at the Department of Justice and FBI to re-open unsolved murders from the civil rights era.
Joe Biden recognizes that corporate criminals at corporations like Enron that wipe out families' savings through fraud and other criminal activity should be subject to stiff penalties. He has sponsored legislation requiring top executives to certify financial statements for public companies and imposing criminal penalties if those certifications are false.
Fighting crime is like cutting grass. In the summer I cut my grass on a Saturday and it looks great. I let it go for a week, it looks a little shaggy. Let it go for two weeks, I notice it. Let it go for a month, I have the weeds back.
Sen. Biden has dedicated his career to protecting families. Biden's historic 1994 Crime Bill helped reduce crime nationwide by allowing local police departments across the country to hire 100,000 new police officers through the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program. He recently introduced a bill to extend the life of the successful COPS program that would add up to 50,000 more officers nationwide.
The Crime Law has allowed states to hire more than 92,000 officers nationwide. In Delaware, it is providing $32 million in grants to hire 210 cops, more than $12.5 million to aid in Delaware's prison bed expansion project, over $1 million to create and expand prison-based drug treatment programs, combating domestic violence, and helping to build new Boys and Girls Clubs.
Joe Biden has often said the Violence Against Women Act is his proudest achievement in the Senate. The law strengthened the national network of shelters so that abused women had a place to go and provided funding for a national hotline that has served over 1.5 million women. Domestic violence rates have dropped by 50 percent since the implementation of the Violence Against Women Act, and rape has dropped by 60 percent. Joe Biden continues to be committed to this cause and is now working to provide legal services to women in need.
Joe Biden has worked over the last two decades to help parents protect their kids from sexual predators. In 1994, he required every state to establish a registry for convicted sexual offenders; in 1996, he helped create the national registry of sexual predators, so these criminals could not move from state to state to avoid being tracked. In 2003, he increased funding for Child Advocacy Centers with the Victims of Child Abuse Act. And in 2006, he authored the Adam Walsh Act to ensure convicted sex offenders can't slip through the cracks by establishing registration requirements.
Biden Crime Bill added 100,000 cops to America's streets, helping to bring down murder and violent crime rates eight years in a row. But with cuts to the program crime is on the rise again, as are threats of terrorism, so the Senator wants to put an additional 50,000 cops on America's streets and add 1,000 FBI agents.
Senator Biden introduced an omnibus crime bill that carefully sets forth his comprehensive crime plan. The Biden Crime Control and Prevention Act (the CCPA) will make American communities safer again by re-establishing a Federal, state and local partnership to implement effective prevention programs; to hire, train, and equip more law enforcement officers; and to reform prisons to safely house offenders and prepare them to reenter society as productive, law-abiding citizens.
In Delaware, the Biden Crime Bill has provided more than $33 million in grants to hire more than 462 officers, more than $10 million in grants for crime-fighting technologies, and more than $22.5 million to help the state's prison projects. The Crime Law has also provided over $1 million to create and expand prison-based drug treatment programs, helped combat domestic violence, and helped build new and expand existing Boys & Girls Clubs.
Source: biden.senate.gov/issues (04/21/2008)
For more than two decades, Joe Biden has been a strong advocate in the struggle against crime as he believes safe streets and neighborhoods are fundamental to our nation's safety and security. Joe Biden knows that it won't be a marine with night vision goggles who stops the next attack -- it will be a local cop in the right place at the right time. He has worked to restore billions of dollars in funding to state and local law enforcement the Bush administration has cut. As president, Joe Biden would invest $10 billion a year for five years to keep America safe.
Offenders reentering our communities lack sufficient monitoring, job skills, and housing. Two-thirds of people released from state prisons are re-arrested for a felony or serious misdemeanor within three years. Joe Biden authored the Second Chance Act to provide ex-offenders with housing, drug and alcohol treatment, job training, and other life skills, providing them with the skills they need to rejoin their families and communities.
Senator Biden wrote the ground-breaking Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in the 1990s that set the national agenda on criminalizing violence against women and holding batterers truly accountable. It encouraged states to set up coordinated community responses to domestic violence and rape; was the catalyst for passage of hundreds of state laws prohibiting family violence; and provided resources to set up shelters so battered women abused by husbands and boyfriends had a place to go. The law also established the national hotline that over 1.5 million abused women have called for help. By empowering women to make changes in their lives, and by training police and prosecutors to arrest and convict abusive husbands instead of telling them to take a walk around the block, domestic violence is down 50 percent and rape is down 60 percent nationwide.
The Violence Against Women Act of 2005 contains over 40 programs to be administered by either the Department of Justice or the Department of Health and Human Services. These programs range from policies to encourage the arrest and prosecution of abusers, to victims' services like shelters, to education that can prevent violence against women from happening in the first place.
To ensure that federal Department of Justice remains dedicated to tackling domestic violence and sexual assault crimes, Senator Biden fought tenaciously for an independent and empowered federal Office on Violence Against Women. The Senator's law requires that the Director be nominated by the President, confirmed by the Senate and report directly to the Attorney General.
Senator Biden's National Domestic Violence Volunteer Act would infuse 100,000 new volunteer lawyers into the justice system to represent domestic violence victims. To enlist, train and place lawyers, the Act creates a new, electronic National Domestic Violence Attorney Network and Referral Project to be managed by the American Bar Association.
In the 1990s, the Biden Crime Bill added 100,000 cops to America's streets. As a result, murder and violent crime rates went down eight years in a row. George Bush's cuts to the program have put America at risk and crime rates are back on the rise. Joe Biden wants to put 50,000 more cops on the street and add 1,000 more FBI agents to address the rise in crime and threats of terrorism.
Joe Biden fought to make our schools safer by providing funding for school resources officers to work in public schools to keep gangs, drugs, and alcohol out of schools.
Since 2000, some 100 people have died in campus-related fires -- and many of the tragedies could have been prevented with proper safety measures. So Joe Biden annually introduces a resolution declaring September Campus Fire Safety Month. It encourages college administrators and local elected officials to implement educational programs, evaluate living conditions on and around campuses, and increase the use of fire detection systems.
Senator Biden has a long history of sponsoring bills to combat drug use. His legislation has enabled schools to provide drug education and prevention programs, like DARE; and he was instrumental in classifying steroids a drug and funding programs to deter its use by students.
As the father of the Violence Against Women Act, he helped fund grants for colleges to combat sexual assaults, rape, and stalking on campuses.
Source: biden.senate.gov/issues/ (04/22/2008)
Education starts at birth. If there is one thing we know, a child who goes to preschool with books, structure, and activities starts school better prepared. She has a better shot of making it to middle-school with grade-level reading and math skills, graduating high school, and going to college. Senator Biden wants to make two years of high quality pre-school available to all parents and expand early childhood development programs. He supports doubling the number of students in Head Start and quadrupling the number in Early Head Start.
In addition to extending the number of years of public education available to all students, Joe Biden supports states and districts that expand educational time either by extending school days or school schedules. Such programs encourage innovation in curriculum and provide students with more time for enrichment activities like art, music, drama and computer science. He would provide states and local districts with grants to assist in developing expanded educational time programs.
Joe Biden would build a 21st century education system by: 1. Move Toward A Sixteen Year System 2.Focus on Retaining And Training Teachers 3.Reduce Class Size
Joe Biden has been a leader in the fight to combat drug use for decades. He helped provide funding for DARE and other drug education programs, and has worked hard to deter the use of steroids in schools.
The average starting salary of engineers is $53,000, while the average starting salary of a public school teacher is $32,000. To attract the best and brightest to teach our children, we have to pay them better. Joe Biden would: -Provide bonuses to teachers who teach in high-need schools. Teacher attrition is twice as high at high-poverty schools than low-poverty schools. Poor and minority students are more likely to inexperienced teachers. As President, Joe Biden would reward teachers who take on these challenging, yet critical jobs. -Provide new teachers with a bonus in exchange for a commitment to teach in the same school for five years. About half of all new teachers leave the profession within five years. The average starting salary of teachers is $32,000 a year. Joe Biden would increase the salaries of new teachers to provide the incentive to stay in the field -- and in their schools -- by providing them with bonuses in exchange for a five- year commitment. Funding would be targeted to high-need schools to alleviate the teacher attrition problem where it is most severe. -Provide incentives to reward professional development like National Board Certification. Joe Biden believes that teachers who have completed this rigorous, high quality, and effective certification process should be compensated in a manner fitting their new credential. He would supplement salaries of teachers who attained National Board Certification. -Assist teachers with student loan repayment. Joe Biden would help teachers defray the costs of education in exchange for a four-year commitment to teaching -- particularly in a high need school.
Senator Biden co-sponsored the original Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which has enabled millions of children with disabilities to have equal educational opportunities.
He has worked to get more federal resources to help states and local communities repair existing schools and build new ones.
Senator Biden's on-gong membership in the After School Caucus speaks to the vital importance of these programs to children and working families. He has continually supported programs that provide safe, supervised after-school activities.
Joe Biden would provide a $3,000 refundable tax credit -- equivalent to a $12,000 deduction -- that would cover the average cost of tuition and fees at a two-year college and cover half the average tuition cost at four-year public universities. He would consolidate two existing tax incentives -- the Hope Scholarship Credit and the tuition and fees deduction -- and replace them with a single refundable $3,000 tax credit. Currently, the tuition and fees deduction has a maximum value of $1,120 -- about 20 percent of the average cost of tuition and fees at a public four-year college. The Hope Scholarship Credit is more valuable, with a maximum value of $1,650 -- about 28 percent of the average cost of tuition and fees at a public four-year college. Simplifying the existing higher education tax incentives would make it easier for families to understand and navigate the existing maze of incentives. Currently, families must choose between the Hope Scholarship Credit, Lifetime Learning Credit, and the tuition and fees deduction. Unfortunately, many families are not aware of the different eligibility criteria, much less the varying values of each based on a family's economic status. In fact, the Government Accountability Office found that the complexity of postsecondary tax provisions was one of the principle reasons why 27 percent of eligible tax filers claimed neither the tuition deduction nor an education tax credit. Joe Biden would also expand eligibility for refund to families making up to $166,000 a year. Recognizing that the cost of college rises each year, both the income limits and phase-out range for the credit would be adjusted annually for inflation. Furthermore, families could claim a credit for more than one eligible dependent in a school year. In pursuing their education, individuals will be eligible for credits totaling up to $12,000 toward an undergraduate degree, associate's degree, certificate, or continuing education as well as credits totaling up t [Response was truncated to maximum response length of 2000 characters.]
Recognizing the role technology plays in the 21st Century, Senator Biden pushed legislation to close the digital divide. He was a major force behind KIDS 2000, establishing a public/private partnership to provide computer centers, teachers, and Internet access to young people.
With a wife who has taught for almost 30 years and a part-time professor himself, Senator Biden knows: teachers are the single most important factor in a child's education. Attracting and retaining great teachers has become a national problem. We lose 250,000 teachers every year, half are leaving within five years of entering the profession, and we have difficulty keeping teachers in high-poverty schools. The Senator would work to ensure that all beginning teachers participate in a high quality mentoring or induction program, and would also provide scholarships to those who commit to teaching in high-needs schools. He also believes reducing class size and paying teachers more -- as they do in many countries -- are steps America should be taking.
Senator Biden co-sponsored legislation for the National Writing Project, a professional development program for teachers of all ages -- from kindergarten through college. The program trains teachers over the summer on writing instruction.
The importance of a college degree has never been greater, yet over the next decade 2 million students will not attend college because of costs. Not wanting college to become a luxury good -- unmanageable for middle-class families -- in 2007, Senator Biden introduced his College ACCESS legislation. It would provide a $3,000 refundable tax credit -- equivalent to a $12,000 deduction -- that would:
Fully cover the average cost of tuition and fees at a two-year college.
Cover more than half the cost of tuition and fees at a public four-year college.
It achieves this by consolidating two existing incentives -- the Hope Scholarship Credit and the tuition and fees deduction -- and makes the credit available to families regardless of tax liability. It would make it easier for families to understand the maze of existing incentives, and make 4 million more families eligible by increasing current income limits.
Senator Biden's ACCESS plan would also increase Pell Grants to $6,300 -- guaranteeing that, together with the ACCESS credit, low-income students could receive up to $9,300 toward tuition each year.
"Title IX has had an enormous influence on all aspects of education, but particularly in the realm of women's and girls' sports," continued Biden. "Since enactment, the number of female college athletes has increased nearly five fold from fewer than 32,000 prior to enactment to over 150,000 today. At the high school level almost 3 million girls are playing competitive sports today compared to fewer than 300,000 prior to passage. But this isn't just about the numbers. Girls who participate in sports are less likely to take drugs, drink alcohol, smoke or become pregnant than their non-participating peers. They are also more likely to graduate. Through their participation in sports, women and girls are provided opportunities for leadership, teamwork and competition, gain a more positive body image, and are accorded contact with adult role models in their communities. And yet, even with gains and achievements, more needs to be done. We've come a long way, but we should not turn the clock back now."
Source: www.joebiden.com (12/10/2007)
A long-time proponent of education reform, Senator Biden wants to see the No Child Left Behind law improved by giving schools greater flexibility in evaluating student performance and by fully funding education. President Bush has under funded the program by $85 billion.
In 1975, the maximum Pell Grant covered 84 percent of the cost of tuition, fees, room, and board at a four-year public college. The maximum Pell Grant this year covered 33 percent of the average cost of tuition, fees, room, and board at a public four-year college. Joe Biden would increase the maximum Pell Grant to $5,100 for 2007-08, followed by increases of $300 per year for the next five years, for a maximum Pell Grant in 2011-12 of $6,300.
Currently, most students find out whether or not they will receive a Pell Grant during their senior year of high school. Starting the financial aid process earlier would allow families and students to plan ahead for college and develop an expectation that the future includes higher education. Joe Biden would fund an Early Pell Grant Commitment Demonstration Program in four states, each of which would commit Pell Grants to two cohorts of up to 10,000 8th grade students, one in school year 2007-2008, and one in school year 2008-2009. Participation would be contingent on students' 8th grade eligibility for free or reduced-price meals under the National School Lunch Program. Participants would qualify for the Automatic Zero Expected Family Contribution on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), guaranteeing them a maximum Pell Grant ($4,310 for 2007-08). The Early Pell Grant Demonstration Project would provide funding for states, in conjunction with the participating local education agencies, to conduct targeted information campaigns beginning in the 8th grade and continuing through students' senior year. These campaigns would inform students and their families of the program and provide information about the cost of a college education, state and federal financial assistance, and the average amount of aid awards.
Joe Biden would hire 100,000 new teachers to reduce the average class size to 18 students, particularly in the early grades. Students in small class sizes in kindergarten - 3rd grade are as much as half a year ahead of students from larger classes in reading, math and science by the time they get to 5th grade. Smaller classes will provide teachers with the resources they need to create the opportunities for learning that our students deserve. Joe Biden would provide $2 billion a year in grants to states and districts to help them hire more teachers and provide incentives to attract new teachers.
He would start education earlier so that every parent who wants to can send their child to two years of preschool. The earlier a child begins to learn, the better prepared she will be for life. Children who go to preschool with books, structure and activities have a better shot of reading at grade-level in middle school, graduating from high school, and going to college. As President, Joe Biden will add two years of pre-school to our public education system by: -Providing grants to states to expand high quality state-funded preschool programs: Building on the current groundswell of support for preschool across the states, Joe Biden would provide $5 billion in grants to states to expand high quality public preschool programs. -Starting education and nutrition at birth: Joe Biden believes that education begins at birth. He would expand programs that provide home visitation to new parents to help them understand their role as their child's most influential teacher. These programs provide parents with guidance and support on how parents can best support their child's development, from advice about health to school readiness.
Investing in education is one of Sen. Biden's top priorities. To better prepare today's students to meet the technology challenges of tomorrow, he has undertaken bold initiatives in the Senate to close the "digital divide" and ensure that all students have access to the on-ramp of the information super highway. Senator Biden's successful "Kids 2000" legislation, signed into law by the President in October of 2000, establishes a public/private partnership to help provide computer centers, teachers, Internet access and technical training to young people across the nation, particularly to low-income and at-risk youth.
"My mother has an expression, children tend to become that which you expect of them. I want a country where we expect much from America's children. Every child must graduate from high school. Every child should go on to higher education. Today, just two-thirds of students entering high school graduate, and about two-thirds of those go on to college. We are losing too many children in this country, wasting too much talent, leaving so much potential untapped. We know what we need to do: First, stop focusing just on test scores. Second, start education earlier. Third, pay educators more. Fourth, reduce class size. Fifth, make higher education affordable."
Today, there are more than 9,000 black and 6,000 Latino elected officials, largely due to the Voting Rights Act that put an end to literacy tests and poll taxes in the 1960s. In the early 1980s, Senator Biden helped expand the Act, and last year was an advocate for the Act's successful renewal. Senator Biden believes that more must be done to stop misleading voters, and to ensure votes are counted. He would: put a stop to deceptive practices -- like passing out fliers telling people to vote on the wrong day; require electronic voting systems to have a paper trail; and make sure states adequately train poll workers. He also supports giving voting representation to the 600,000 residents in the District of Columbia who now have no voting members in Congress.
Today, there are more than 9,000 black and 6,000 Latino elected officials, largely due to the Voting Rights Act that put an end to literacy tests and poll taxes in the 1960s. In the early 1980s, Joe Biden helped expand the Act, and last year worked hard to get the Act renewed. Joe Biden believes that more must be done to stop misleading voters, and to ensure votes are counted.
Senator Biden believes that more must be done to stop misleading voters, and to ensure votes are counted. He would: put a stop to deceptive practices -- like passing out fliers telling people to vote on the wrong day; require electronic voting systems to have a paper trail; and make sure states adequately train poll workers. He also supports giving voting representation to the 600,000 residents in the District of Columbia who now have no voting members in Congress.
Senator Biden supports giving voting representation to the 600,000 residents in the District of Columbia who now have no voting members in Congress.
Senator Biden believes that more must be done to ensure votes are counted. He would require electronic voting systems to have a paper trail; and make sure states adequately train poll workers.
Set a national renewable portfolio standard of 20 percent to require that at least 20 percent of the country's electricity comes from clean, renewable sources like wind, solar, biomass and geothermal -- just 2.3 percent of our power comes from these sources today.
There is no question our oil dependence is threatening our national security. It helps fuel the fundamentalism we're fighting. Our oil dependence limits our options and our influence around the world, because oil rich countries pursuing policies we oppose can stand up to us, while oil dependent allies may be afraid to stand with us. If we don't change our policy, oil will further empower the countries that produce it, restrict our options, and undermine our economic and physical security.
After ending the war in Iraq, a comprehensive energy and climate change policy should be our top national security priority. More than any other factor our oil dependence limits our options and influence around the world, insures that the price of oil remains high, and fuels the fundamentalism we are fighting. To restore our place in the world we must become an energy and environmental leader.
The market for lithium ion batteries -- those needed for super-efficient plug-in hybrids which can get 100 mpg -- is dominated by foreign competitors like the Japanese, Koreans and Chinese. That is because these countries have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in developing and supporting the technology. Senator Biden believes the United States needs to make an equal investment in new technology like lithium ion batteries. He has proposed legislation that would double investment in the development of advanced lithium ion batteries needed for plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles -- increasing it from $42 million to $100 million a year for five years.
Senator Biden would require the federal government to purchase 10 percent renewable electricity by 2010 and 20 percent by the end of the next decade.
Joe Biden wants to improve fuel efficiency by upgrading to a better system that combines protection for U.S. automobile manufacturing jobs with predictable increases in fuel efficiency standards for cars, SUVs, and light trucks. The new system would set fuel economy standards based on vehicle elements such as size and weight, with individualized fuel economy targets that increase by about one mile per gallon each year -- reaching a 40 mpg average by 2017.
Raise fuel economy standards so that the U.S. reaches a 40 mpg average by 2017 (the current average is 27.5 mpg) and cuts greenhouse gas emissions by more than a 100 million tons a year. Authorize NHTSA to develop an attribute-based fuel economy model to increase fuel economy for individual vehicle models by 4 percent per year increase - approximately 1 mile per gallon each year.
Senator Biden cosponsored and pushed legislation to combat inflated gas prices by both integrated oil companies and retailers. This measure would crack down on abuses by giving federal and state regulators new authority to prosecute price gouging in the wake of national energy emergencies, as well as put in place measures to ban price manipulation and enhance the transparency of our nation=s fuel markets.
Senator Biden supports incentives for research into carbon capture and sequestration technologies that will allow us to use coal cleanly.
Joe Biden wants to increase the number of vehicles that can use ethanol and alternative fuel. He wrote legislation directing automakers to gradually increase the number of flexfuel vehicles -- those able to use both regular gasoline and blends of up to 85 percent ethanol (E85). His legislation also requires major oil companies to install E85 pumps at gas stations, and would boost the use of homegrown fuels in our national fuel supply by raising the renewable fuel standard benchmarks. Joe Biden also recognizes that renewable energy -- like wind, solar and geothermal --use energy more efficiently, and he supports using and developing these types of energy. Require all new cars to be flexible fuel vehicles by 2017 that can run on regular gas or home-grown fuel like ethanol. Currently just 5 million cars can do that -- every new car in America should be able to. Require big companies - those that operate more than 4,500 gas stations - to add alternative fuel pumps so that at least a quarter of all gas stations nationwide have them by 2017. Increase the amount of ethanol and biodiesel included in the nation's fuel supply by extending and increasing the renewable fuel standard. Currently the renewable fuel standard sets a benchmark of 7.5 billion gallons by 2012. (U.S. gasoline consumption is 140 billion gallons/year). Senator Biden would increase the benchmarks to: 10 billion gallons by 2010; 30 billion gallons by 2020; 60 billion gallons by 2030.
When a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing highlighted the unprecedented profits enjoyed by the oil industry - the highest by any business in history - at a time when consumers are saddled with high prices, Senator Biden confronted the executives of six major energy companies, and asked them if they needed any part of the billions in tax giveaways they got in the 2005 energy bill. When they acknowledged that they did not, he worked to repeal those special subsidies.
The United States spent $325 billion on imported oil last year -- when the average price of a barrel of oil was $65 a barrel. This year, with oil prices at $90 - $100 a barrel, we will spend far more. Experts estimate that there is a $30 a barrel security premium because of instability in the Middle East. We pay more for gas because the price of oil now takes into consideration the extra risk -- that a new conflict in that part of the world will interrupt the supply of oil. This administration's saber rattling -- its policy of ratcheting up tension with Iran -- is counter productive and self-defeating. How the Untied States conducts its foreign policy directly impacts the prices we pay at the pump. And the profits go right into the coffers of the Iranian government and big oil. It's hard to think of a more self-defeating policy.
Senator Biden would increase federal building energy efficiency by requiring a 30 percent reduction in energy use over the next ten years.
Global competition over oil is going to intensify. The United States imports about 14 million of the 21 million barrels of oil we consume daily. We have less than 2 percent of the world's oil reserves. The extraordinary growth of China and India insures that demand in the world will outpace the discovery of new supplies. China alone is expected to add 120 million vehicles in the next 5 years. Unless we develop a realistic and effective energy policy our nation will become even more vulnerable to oil price increases, more dependent on oil imports and less able to pursue our national interests.
Require the federal government to purchase 10 percent renewable electricity by 2010 and 20 percent by the end of the next decade.
Increase federal building energy efficiency by requiring a 30 percent reduction in energy use over the next ten years.
Create the Flip-to-Save program to provide $50 million in funding to states to administer programs to educate consumers on efficient technology and distribute highly efficient compact florescent light bulbs which use a quarter of the energy of regular bulbs. If every family across the US replaces just one regular incandescent bulb with a CFL, we can reduce carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 7 million tons per year.
Expand the "Energy Star Program" to include standards for more appliances and commercial systems.
Support local updates to building codes to capture cost-effective energy efficiency opportunities in new residential/commercial construction
Increase incentives for energy efficient commercial buildings and manufacturing sector
Senator Biden supports more than $5 billion in new incentives for research into: alternative fuel and energy sources, renewable energy and carbon capture and sequestration technologies that will allow us to use coal cleanly.
Only around 700 gas stations nationwide offer E85 to customers. Major oil companies (those that own 4,500 stations or more) should offer alternative refueling capability at 50 percent of stations they own by 2016. The Lugar-Harkin-Biden biofuel legislation would require large oil companies to install E85 pumps at their stations, increasing by five percent annually over the next 10 years.
Make Federal Buildings More Efficient. Senator Biden would increase federal building energy efficiency by requiring a 30 percent reduction in energy use over the next ten years.
Support Green Building Codes. Senator Biden would support local updates to building codes to capture cost-effective energy efficiency opportunities in new residential/commercial construction
Create Incentives To Go Green. Senator Biden supports increasing incentives for energy efficient commercial buildings and manufacturing sector
Since his early days in the Senate, Senator Biden has championed funding for this vital program that has allowed low income families, disabled individuals and senior citizens living on fixed incomes to offset some of their high heating bills.
Biden has proposed legislation directing automakers to gradually increase the number of flex-fuel vehicles -- those able to use both regular gasoline and blends of up to 85 percent ethanol (E85). This bill also requires major oil companies to install E85 pumps at gas stations, and would boost the use of homegrown fuels in our national fuel supply by raising the renewable fuel standard benchmarks. Senator Biden is also a strong supporter of increasing use of renewable energy -- like wind, solar and geothermal -- and using energy more efficiently.
Senator Biden would require all cars marketed in the US be capable of running on E85/flex fuel by 2017 (cost estimated to be $100/car). Together with Senators Lugar and Harkin, Senator Biden has proposed legislation which directs automakers to gradually increase flex-fuel vehicle (FFV) production, increasing ten percentage-point increments annually, until nearly all vehicles sold in the U.S. are flex fuel vehicles within 10 years. At this rate half of all vehicles sold in the US would be flex fuel vehicles in five years. Currently, flex-fuel vehicles -- those able to use both regular gasoline and blends of up to 85 percent ethanol (E85) -- make up only about ten percent of vehicles on the road today (7 million).
Senator Biden co-authored the plan that provides debt relief to developing nations in exchange for protecting tropical rainforests that are critical to the global climate.
Senator Biden has been at the forefront of successful efforts to:
* Secure White Clay Creek for future generations as a federally-protected Wild & Scenic River.
* Transfer from the U.S. military nearly 1,200 acres of the most beautiful beach on the east coast to Cape Henlopen State Park.
* Protect Pea Patch Island and Fort Delaware from devastating coastal erosion.
* Control flooding long the Little Mill Creek in Elsmere.
* Designating the first federal scenic byways route in Delaware, Brandywine Valley Scenic Byway.
Senator Biden has opposed those determined to roll back environmental safeguards and threaten the quality of water. He fought the Administration's plan to gut the New Source Review standards by allowing power plants to avoid their obligations to install modern pollution controls.
Recognizing the global nature of the climate change crisis, Joe Biden wrote a plan that provides debt relief to developing nations in exchange for protecting tropical rainforests that are critical to the global climate.
Joe Biden wants tougher standards for power plant emissions. He supports the Clean Power Act which would require power plants to achieve specific reductions in emissions of sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and mercury. Joe Biden has opposed and will continue to fight attempts to roll back environmental safeguards and threaten the quality of our air and water. He fought the Administration's plan to gut the New Source Review standards by allowing power plants to avoid their obligations to install modern pollution controls. Joe Biden also supports limiting exports of mercury to stop the harmful pollution of our oceans with mercury.
For many years, Senator Biden has co-sponsored legislation to permanently protect from oil and gas drilling one of the world's last great wilderness areas -- the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. The uncertain oil recovery does not justify the risk of potentially great harm to this rich environment.
Senator Biden has been a strong support of efforts to combat the problem of invasive species -- plants and animals improperly brought to U.S. shores. Senator Biden feels that non-native species have the potential to be one of the largest economic and environmental threats in the 21st century. Non-native species alter vegetation, compete with native species, introduce new diseases and interfere with maritime commerce. Conscious of these dangers, Senator Biden continues to support programs aimed at preventing the importation of non-native plants and animals to the United States.
Senator Biden has opposed those determined to roll back environmental safeguards and threaten the quality of our air.
Addressing Climate Change: Senator Biden is continuing his strong environmental record by co-sponsoring the most aggressive bill in the Senate to reverse global warming -- the Global Warming Pollution Reduction Act. The Act would implement aggressive policies to limit greenhouse gas emissions and help avert the major problems warming of our planet could cause -- such as altering growing seasons; redistributing natural resources; and lifting sea levels.
Leading The World: Global warming requires a global solution. As Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Biden has made returning the US to a leadership role in international climate treaty negotiations a top priority. He co-authored a bipartisan resolution directing the President to return to international negotiations and reclaim a leadership role for the United States in the fight against global warming.
Climate change poses a similar security threat. The Center for Naval Analysis recently concluded that we are only beginning to understand the threat that climate change poses. If temperatures rise 3-5 degrees, oceans could rise nearly 3 feet. By one estimate, 200 million people could be permanently displaced. Droughts and changes in resources in other parts of the world can also lead to conflict. Joe Biden would establish a comprehensive Energy and Climate Change Security Plan to transform the nation into a world leader on energy and climate change by: 1. Establishing A Responsible Policy Toward Iran 2. Restoring US Leadership On Climate Change 3. Increasing Fuel Efficiency and Use of Renewable Fuels 4. Investing In New Energy Technology 5. Expanding Renewable Energy 6. Requiring the Federal Government To Use Energy More Efficiently 7. Encouraging Americans to Use Energy Efficiently 8. Creating Green Jobs in the Technology of Tomorrow.
Source: biden.senate.gov/issues/;www.joebiden.com (04/22/2008)
We should not have to worry that a grandfather taking his grandchild to a favorite fishing hole is exposing her to dioxin contamination; or that when students turn on a faucet at school, they swallow arsenic; or that acid rain is showering us -- especially when corporate responsibility could prevent it.
Senator Biden has been an ardent supporter of efforts to reinstate the Superfund fees so that polluters pay for the cleanup of toxic sites, not taxpayers. Restoring these funds will speed up clean-ups.
Reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050 by imposing a cap and trade system.
Senator Biden has been a long and strong supporter of affordable child care. He pushed to expand the Head Start program, that now serves 900,000 children; and he voted to expand many successful childhood programs such as the Child Care and Development Block Grant, Title I preschool, and the Early Learning Fund. He also has advocated for more resources for the Women, Infants, and Children program that provides food, nutrition counseling, and access to health services to pregnant women, new mothers, and their infants.
While the federal government cannot ensure that children have a father at home, it can help ensure those children have their father's financial support. As Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Joe Biden worked to steer two major child support initiatives into law -- one made it a federal crime to cross state lines to avoid paying child support; the other ensured that state courts honor the child support order of other states.
For two decades, Senator Biden has fought to crack-down on deadbeat dads. The federal government cannot ensure that children have a father at home, but it can help ensure those children have their father's financial support. As Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, he helped steer two major child support initiatives into law -- one, makes it a federal crime to cross state lines to avoid paying child support; the other ensures state courts honor the child support order of other states.
Joe Biden fought against George Bush's tax cuts that have resulted in turning a record budget into record deficits.
Joe Biden worked with President Clinton to help eradicate the deficit and create 20 million new jobs.
Joe Biden grew up in a middle-class nieghborhood and learned that if something is really important, you have to find a way to pay for it. That's why he wants the government to adopt a Pay-As-You-Go budget. If you want to spend money in one area, you have to pay for it by reducing spending elsewhere or rasing new revenue. It just makes sense.
My dad had an expression, "show me your budget, and I'll show you what you value." We need to end the War in Iraq that costs more than $100 billion a year, and end $85 billion a year in tax breaks for the wealthiest among us, and start valuing the middle class who built this country.
Delaware agriculture has a rich history and a promising future. Sen. Biden has worked hard to ensure that the federal government does its part to help Delaware's farmers remain competitive and productive. He's also used his position on the Foreign Relations Committee to ensure that foreign markets remain open to Delaware exports.
Biden is one of the Senate's leading proponents of the idea that the future of American agriculture lies in exports. In 2000, he voted to give Delaware's farmers unprecedented access to China's market of 1.2 billion consumers for U.S. farm products and services. Biden argued for a bilateral trade agreement to enhance opportunities for Delaware's farmers, workers and businesses to compete successfully in China's market.
In an effort to improve our lead in agricultural productivity and efficiency, research investment is necessary so that U.S. producers can continue to serve a global marketplace and meet the demands of a growing world population. To help American farmers remain the most productive in the world, Senator Biden has worked with his Senate colleagues to increase federal funding available for competitive grants for agricultural research.
Senator Biden has been a long-time advocate of funding for the Farmland Protection Program. Under this system, landowners are encouraged to voluntarily convey the development rights of their land to the state while retaining the right to use the property for agriculture. This gives family farmers added protection from development while preserving the farmers' way of life for future generations.
From providing farmers with timely weather and crop information, to informing expectant mothers about nutritional needs, to developing new disease-resistant types of lima beans, Delaware's Extension Service provides the agricultural community with a variety of important assistance. Senator Biden knows that the returns from these programs far exceed their costs, and he has consistently fought against short-sighted attempts to cut funding to the Extension Service.
The last few years have seen farmers all across America hit with one natural disaster after another. Senator Biden has consistently voted to increase funding for disaster relief for farmers and ranchers in order to address these needs. He also supported initiatives to target relief for drought victims and maintain crop insurance payments and assistance for dairy farmers.
When the Cold War ended and new democracies emerged in Eastern Europe, Joe Biden led the effort to expand NATO to include Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic, and he's been a strong supporter of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
Sen. Biden is a forceful and dedicated advocate for arms control. Nuclear arms pose a grave threat to humanity and Senator Biden has worked tirelessly to curtail nuclear proliferation. To advance the cause of peace and stop the spread of nuclear weapons, Sen. Biden successfully fought for continued funding of the International Monitoring System to detect any illegal nuclear weapons tests.
Senator Biden has spent much of his career advocating for smarter arms control. He has led efforts to stem the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction expertise from the former Soviet Union, and has supported the Nunn-Lugar program and related efforts to secure nuclear material in the former Soviet Union and around the world, so that we do not have to take military action to disarm or respond to a nuclear-armed terrorist.
Joe Biden has been a strong supporter of UN funding and fought to pass groundbreaking legislation providing for payment of U.N. arrears based on organizational reform.
This Administration has dug us into a very deep hole internationally. We need to end the war in Iraq and to restore our place in the world.
Joe Biden knows that the Bush Administration has left the next president with virtually no margin of error diplomatically. With decades of experience on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and now its chairman, Joe Biden is the most qualified candidate to clean up the mess George Bush has made. Russia is rising on the world stage using oil as a weapon and China is becoming a greater force, both politically and militarily. Democracy is struggling in Latin America and oil has empowered dictators around the world who hold us hostage with their high prices. We need to end the genocide in Darfur as well as check Iran and North Korea's progress on nuclear weapons and prevent them from increasing their nuclear arsenal. America needs a president with Joe Biden's experience to address these global challenges. As president, Joe Biden's foreign policy will draw upon all of America's strengths, including our ideas and our ideals, as well as our military might.
Immediately send to Darfur the U.N. "Heavy Support Mission" (Phase 2) -- 3000 police and soldiers to bolster the African Union and prepare the way for the full U.N. peacekeeping mission (Phase 3). Press other countries to immediately provide the needed helicopter and ground vehicles. If they won't, the U.S. must.
Set a deadline for Khartoum to accept the full U.N. peacekeeping force (Phase 3) -- 23,000 peacekeepers -- and secure commitments from other countries to take part. If Khartoum rejects the full force, impose and enforce additional sanctions, impose and enforce a No Fly Zone over Sudan and commit U.S. forces to help the African Union protect civilians and ensure access for humanitarian groups. Put all parties on notice -- including Khartoum, the militia and rebel groups -- that they will be held accountable for failing to ensure the access and safety of humanitarian workers. Launch a sustained, coordinated diplomatic offensive with the U.N., the A.U. and leading countries to bring the rebel groups together and negotiate a political settlement between them and Khartoum . In the Darfur region of Sudan, a methodical and relentless genocide has taken place.
To meet our national security objectives, any final agreement must deal comprehensively and verifiably with the north's nuclear weapons facilities and programs, including its efforts to develop the ability to enrich uranium. To meet North Korea's objectives, any deal must provide meaningful security assurances, preserve the right to peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and also lay the foundation for North Korea's economic and political integration into the community of nations. Within these boundaries, the United States should remain flexible and continue to work closely with our friends and allies -- especially with South Korea -- to accomplish our common objectives.
Joe Biden believes that democracy cannot be forced on any people and he will work to help build the political infrastructure to support democracies and prevent extremists from taking hold of weaker, growing democracies.
When Joe Biden sees atrocities in the world, he acts to put a stop to them. As president, Joe Biden will continue his record of promoting peace and justice as he did when he called for U.S. intervention in the Balkans in the 1990s. Joe Biden's efforts to bring US intervention helped Bosnians and Kosovars find and keep peace.
The legitimate outcry over the proposed takeover of six American ports by Dubai Ports World, a company controlled by the United Arab Emirates, was dismissed in a News Journal editorial as unjustified "chest-thumping jingoism." I disagree. Members of Congress from both parties reacted because this deal, approved alarmingly fast, raises some real security concerns. The White House has come around to this view. It convinced Dubai Ports World to submit to a full assessment of the security implications of the proposed buyout.
Senator Biden believes legal recognition should not be denied same-sex couples. He advocates for re-examining federal laws, including the tax code, to ensure our national laws are not unfair to same-sex couples, and that committed adults who are adopting are not discriminated against because of sexual orientation. He supports letting states determine how to recognize civil unions and define marriage.
Civil Unions are OK.
Source: Meet the Press (04/29/2007)
According to recent polls, 3/4 of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan said that they had no problem serving with openly gay people. 24 of the nations serving alongside US forces in Iraq permit open service which has had no negative impact on these forces or the morale of our brave soldiers. Finally, the US does not have enough troops to fulfill our current missions--it is ridiculous to turn away brave and patriotic Americans who volunteer to serve solely because of their sexual orientation--especially in light of the Defense Department's recent decision to extend tours of duty in Iraq. Sen. Biden believes that we should treat everyone serving in the military by the same standards regardless of orientation.
Source: HRC/LOGO debate--written questionnaire (08/09/2007)
Joe Biden believes legal recognition should not be denied same-sex couples. He advocates for re-examining federal laws, including the tax code, to ensure our national laws are not unfair to same-sex couples, and that committed adults who are adopting are not discriminated against because of sexual orientation. He supports letting states determine how to recognize civil unions and define marriage.
Joe Biden supports ending the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell Policy. Twenty-four of the nations serving alongside U.S. forces in Iraq permit open service, and it has no negative impact on their forces or the morale of the soldiers. Joe Biden believes turning away patriotic Americans who volunteer to serve solely because of their sexual orientation is wrong.
I don't think the government can dictate the definition of marriage to religious institutions. But government does have an obligation to guarantee that every individual is free of discrimination. And there's a distinction. I think government should not be able to dictate to religions the definition of marriage, but on a civil side, government has the obligation to strip away every vestige of discrimination as to what individuals are able to do in terms of their personal conduct.
Senator Biden supports letting states determine how to recognize civil unions and define marriage.
The United States spends more money than any other nation on health care--currently around $2.2 trillion--but does not have the expected health outcomes to show for it. Obesity rates have doubled over the last two decades and we currently spend 75 cents of every health care dollar on patients with chronic diseases. Senator Biden wants to bring health care costs under control and increase the quality of care by:
Placing a greater emphasis on prevention and wellness to contain health care costs associated with chronic diseases like diabetes, hypertension, asthma, osteoarthritis and heart disease.
Establishing a Comparative Effectiveness Panel to evaluate treatment protocols, medical devices and new technology, and establish best practices for management of chronic diseases.
Continuing support for and increasing investment in health information technology like electronic medical records.
Urging the adoption of uniform billing and claims processes to reduce administrative costs.
Senator Biden was at the forefront of the fight against Avian Influenza when it was discovered in two flocks of chickens in Delaware in 2004. The presence of avian influenza is a major threat to the poultry industry and at the time, over 50 countries banned US poultry exports. Senator Biden immediately requested funding to respond to and prevent the spread of avian influenza in Delaware, Maryland and other surrounding states. In addition, Senator Biden requested and received assistance from the United States Department of Agriculture to help Delaware and their poultry businesses recover
Continue robust funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), building on the successful effort that doubled NIH funding over five years.
Adopt the NIH guidelines on federal funding for stem cell research.
Joe Biden, through his efforts to promote early detection and quality treatment, has been a leader in fight against this deadly disease that that afflicts more than 200,000 women every year. His efforts include:
Working to create and provide continued support for breast and cervical cancer prevention programs which ensure mammograms are available to low-income women and those without health insurance and then expanding the program beyond screening to one that also offers reliable treatment.
Originating legislation to recognizing National Mammography Day every October since 1993 to encourage women to have mammograms each year.
Supporting authorization of a special postage stamp to raise additional money for breast cancer research.
Sponsoring legislation to expand Medicare to include coverage of mammograms.
Working to ensure that insurance companies cover reconstructive surgery for breast cancer survivors.
There are several reasons for the nursing shortage. First, the nursing workforce is rapidly aging. The average age of the RN population in March 2004 was 47 years old. Second, the population of RNs is growing at a slower rate. Third, many nurses feel burdened by heavy patient loads, stressful working conditions and long hours and subsequently leave the nursing profession. Fourth, nursing schools are unable to educate more RNs at the rate they are needed. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing's (AACN), U.S. nursing schools turned away 42,866 qualified applicants in 2006 due to an insufficient number of faculty, clinical sites, classroom space, clinical preceptors, and budget constraints. Joe Biden will help train and put 100,000 new nurses in the workforce in the next five years by:
Increasing yearly loan amounts available in the Nurse Student Loan Program.
Explicitly including accelerated degree nursing students--those who already have an undergraduate degree in another field who have gone back to school to get a degree in nursing--in the Nursing Student Loan Program.
Providing funds for academic institutions to establish doctoral nursing degree programs in states that currently lack even one such program.
Establishing doctoral nursing consortia pilot projects to allow academic institutions to share faculty and other resources to better teach nursing students. Establishing pilot projects between health facilities and academic institutions to allow nurses to stay in their jobs while also attending school to earn a graduate degree and eventually teach.
The path to universal health care starts with making sure that the most vulnerable, our children, have health insurance. Today 9 million children are uninsured.
Source: www.joebiden.com (11/28/2007)
Public health officials are crucial in reacting to public health emergencies and they are critical to the safety of our communities. Joe Biden will help train the next generation of public health workers by: -Establishing the Public Health Workforce Scholarship Program to provide eligible students with scholarships to study public health. -Establishing the Public Health Workforce Loan Repayment program. -Creating a catalogue to publish federal health employment opportunities.
Senator Biden has led efforts to detect, treat and prevent breast cancer by:
Helping to enact the breast and cervical cancer prevention program to ensure mammograms are available to low-income women and women without health insurance, and then expanding the program to offer treatment.
Originating legislation passed in the Senate each year since 1993 recognizing National Mammography Day every October to encourage women to have mammograms. Sponsoring legislation to expand Medicare to include coverage of mammograms.
Fighting to guarantee insurance companies do not deprive breast cancer survivors of reconstructive surgery.
Source: www.joebiden.com;biden.senate.gov/issue (04/22/2008)
No health reform plan will be able to work without addressing the high costs associated with chronic disease. In order to contain health care costs associated with chronic diseases, Joe Biden would: -Increase funding for existing programs that promote awareness and prevention of chronic diseases and obesity. -Require insurers participating in federal programs to cover preventive care. -Establish chronic disease treatment programs in Medicare and other federal programs to better manage care, especially when a patient has multiple conditions. -Support research on the best approaches to coordinate chronic disease care. -Waive copayment requirements under Medicare for screenings for cervical, breast and colon cancer, as well as other high cost chronic diseases.
Biden has worked hard to ensure the federal government does its part to help Delaware's farmers remain competitive, productive and financially secure. To restore fairness and help more farmers receive health benefits, Senator Biden has been a long-time advocate of legislation to increase the self-employed healthcare deduction to 100%.
Joe Biden will establish a Comparative Effectiveness Panel to: evaluate treatment protocols, medical devices and new technology and establish best practices for management of chronic diseases.
The potential for a significant improvement in the delivery of health care when healthcare providers and consumers have access to complete health and treatment histories is enormous: -Improved quality of care: When a health provider or hospital has information about a patient's prescription medications, medical history, treatment history and allergies, he/she can make better clinical decisions, which result in better health outcomes for the patient. -Improved patient-provider communication: When a patient has access to more information, he/she is more likely to engage his/her health care providers in communication about treatment options and wellness opportunities. As a result, the patient is more involved in treatment decisions, improving compliance and overall health outcomes. -Reduced duplication of services and treatments: Two of the most significant cost drivers in the health care industry are prescription drugs and high technology diagnostic and testing services, such as MRIs and CT scans. Compounding these costs is the potential for duplication of these treatments or tests. A quick check of an electronic medical record can show a provider the results of tests already performed and stop duplicative tests and procedures from being performed.
The potential savings to the health care industry from full adoption of electronic medical records is substantial. In fact, researchers at the RAND Corporation estimated that full adoption of electronic medical records could save $77 billion annually. RAND also determined that by 2004, 15 to 20 percent of U.S. physician offices had adopted electronic medical records systems. To get to 100 percent Joe Biden would: -Invest at least $1 billion dollars per year in moving to electronic health records systems. -Provide grants to states to develop electronic medical records and other health IT systems. -Assist hospitals, medical facilities and doctors in upgrading to electronic record systems and implementing them in their pra [Response was truncated to maximum response length of 2000 characters.]
The US spends far more per capita on health care than any other industrialized nation; but the increased spending does not result in better health outcomes. In addition, the United States is the largest consumer of medical devices in the world.
Senator Biden understands the important role the federal government plays in finding cures for cancer and other diseases by supporting important biomedical research. He is working to strengthen these efforts by:
Continuing robust funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), building on the successful effort that doubled NIH funding over five years.
Adopting the NIH guidelines on federal funding for stem cell research.
Establishing a biotechnology coordinator in the Executive Branch.
Developing vaccines and other effective responses to potential biological weapons.
Physicians are the backbone of our health care system, and Joe Biden will continue to support the training of physicians by: -Continuing support for Graduate Medical Education. -Supporting initiatives to prepare physicians to practice in specialties to meet impending needs of Americans, especially geriatrics, family medicine and emergency care.
Senator Biden has long cosponsored legislation to ensure that the limitations on health insurance coverage of mental illness be no more restrictive than the limitations on coverage for other medical and surgical disorders.
A co-sponsor of the original Ryan White CARE Act, Senator Biden has maintained his commitment to funding research and treatment for people with HIV/AIDS in the U.S., while also supporting international efforts to reduce the scourge of HIV/AIDS in Africa and developing countries around the world.
Source: biden.senate.gov/issue (04/22/2008)
One of the challenges facing our health care system, especially with the aging of the population and the health care resources older Americans consume, is controlling the amount of money we pay for treatment. While it is tempting to control Medicare costs by simply reducing payments to providers, that approach does not address the issue of volume of services used-- and also creates an access problem, as many providers drop out of publicly-run programs when reimbursement drops too low.
Our current system reimburses providers on the volume of services used, without truly examining what services work best. We need to establish a mechanism to examine what methods work better than others.
Senator Biden recognizes the vital role of the National Guard in protecting the homeland. He successfully led the fight to keep Delaware's Air National Guard Base open by making clear to Base Realignment and Closure Commissioners the value of the missions, the organizations, and infrastructure at the base. He has also successfully led the way in finding ways for citizens with much needed information security experience to help the government track terrorist financing and protect our information systems through Guard service.
The real question we should be asking is: what does it take to make all of America safer? The 9/11 Commission gave us a blue print. To be sure, implementing it will cost more. But we can easily afford it - if we change our priorities. This year, the budget for the Department of Homeland Security is $35 billion; at $60 billion, the tax cut for millionaires is nearly double that amount. Senator Biden would take back one year of the tax cuts for Americans who make over a million dollars a year, and put this money in a dedicated Homeland Security and Public Safety Trust Fund to implement the 9/11 Commission recommendations and invest in law enforcement. For $10 billion a year over the next five years we could: - screen 100 percent of cargo containers coming into our ports, - better protect our chemical facilities, - improve air cargo screening, - make sure that our first responders can talk to one another in emergencies, - hire 1,000 more FBI agents, - hire 50,000 more local cops, and create local counter-terrorism units in our large cities to stop home-grown plots
Joe Biden was an early supporter of the SAFER Act, which has helped 400 local departments -- large and small -- hire additional fire fighters. When President Bush attempted to eliminate the program, Joe Biden worked to restore it and increased federal support for hiring both paid and volunteer first responders. But more needs to be done, as two-thirds of our fire departments are still understaffed and many first responders are overworked. Joe Biden's Homeland Security Trust Fund Act, includes $500 million to fund the SAFER program every year for the next five years
America's first responders still cannot easily communicate with the military, police and other first responders in the event of an emergency or natural disaster. Joe Biden supports giving first responders the equipment they need, so if there is a Katrina or a 9/11, the dedicated professionals or volunteers can do their jobs. He is also a strong supporter of establishing a hard date for broadcasters to return their analog spectrum.
Senator Biden has co-chaired the Congressional Fire Services Caucus from 2005-2007 and continually advocated numerous measures to honor fallen fire fighters. He has repeatedly fought for better enforcement of the Hometown Heroes Act. Senator Biden wrote a letter to the Department of Justice asking for vastly improved response time when it was revealed that families of fallen firefighters were not receiving their due compensation in a reasonable amount of time.
Since 2000, some 100 people have died in campus-related fires -- and many of the tragedies could have been prevented with proper safety measures. So Senator Biden annually introduces a resolution declaring September Campus Fire Safety Month. It encourages college administrators and local elected officials to implement educational programs, evaluate living conditions on and around campuses, and increase the use of fire detection systems.
More than a year ago the 9/11 Commissioners graded homeland security improvements since September 11th; their report card was riddled with D's and F's. Joe Biden supports implementing the 9/11 Commission Recommendations in their entirety; we must work to make our ports, chemical plants, railways, and infrastructure more secure.
Protecting Rail Systems: Our rail systems are also vulnerable to terrorist attack. Rail systems are the most widely targeted systems in the world, and our intelligence communities have found evidence that terrorists have targeted our rail systems. While we can't protect every inch of track, we can protect the critical infrastructure -- stations, tunnels, bridges, hazardous shipments -- most likely to be targeted.
The Rail Security Act: Recognizing the vulnerability of our nation's rail systems, Senator Biden introduced legislation to dramatically increase rail security just one week after September 11th. Senator Biden's rail security proposals became law as a part of the "Implementing the Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007."
Re-routing hazardous materials: The Naval Research Laboratory has estimated that a 90-ton rail tanker carrying hazardous materials such as deadly chlorine could kill or injure up to 100,000 citizens if targeted by a terrorist in an urban area. Senator Biden led the effort to pass legislation requiring the federal government to work with the rail industry to route those shipments along the safest routes available where they are less vulnerable to terrorist attack.
Establishing a Federal Rail Police Department: Each rail company employs a private rail police agency. These agencies have varying authorities under federal and state law and, many times, function as a security force to protect against vandalism rather than focus on counter-terrorism efforts. The Amtrak Police Department has made great strides since September 11th, however, it is limited by funding and authority. Because security efforts must be coordinated across state lines, Senator Biden has proposed the establishment of a National Rail Police to ensure that rail passengers are safe and hazardous shipments are protected.
Terrorist attacks on rail systems in Mumbai, following similar attacks in London and Madrid, killed hundreds of innocent civilians. Our British allies disrupted a plot to blow up airliners bound to the United States underscoring our vulnerability in the sky. Yet the Department of Homeland Security cut by forty percent funds for known terrorist targets like Washington, DC and New York City. Our ports, chemical plants, railways and other critical infrastructure are not secure. Our local police agencies are stretched too thin, and our first responders still cannot talk to each other in the event of an emergency of natural disaster. This Administration and the Republican led Congress have refused to make the necessary investment. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff has even argued that shortchanging homeland defense is justified because Al Qaeda's strategy is to weaken America by forcing us to invest in futile homeland security efforts.
Joe Biden knows that the most effective way of fighting radical fundamentalists is working with our allies around the world. Joe Biden will rebuild alliances in international law enforcement, intelligence and financial circles, strengthening our forces in the fight against radical fundamentalism and restoring America's standing in the world
Today, only 5 percent of cargo entering our seaports is scanned, even though our ports are among America's most vulnerable targets. Should a terrorist attack and we have to suspend operations at every port, as we did after 9/11 at every airport, it would cost this economy $58 billion in 12 days. Senator Biden wants 100 percent of containers to be scanned to prevent radiological and other dangerous materials from being smuggled into America and has offered a plan to do so.
Joe Biden knew before 9/11 the threat extremism posed to Americans and urged the Bush Administration to refocus efforts on terrorism he predicted would come "in the belly of a plane." As president, Joe Biden will continue efforts to secure American ports, rails, chemical plants and infrastructure.
Develop vaccines and other effective responses to potential biological weapons.
Joe Biden knows loose nuclear weapons in the former Soviet Union and other weapons of mass destruction pose a grave threat to the United States if they fall into the hands of extremist networks. As president, Joe Biden will work to disrupt these extremist networks and improve detection systems to seek out these weapons before they harm the United States or our allies.
Joe Biden has dedicated his career to eliminating the threat of nuclear weapons. He pushed for the SALT II treaty, the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, and the convention banning chemical weapons. As president, Joe Biden will continue his efforts to reduce nuclear arsenals around the world and secure stockpiles of dangerous weapons in the former Soviet Union.
Senator Biden is well known for his work to curb drug use in America. He created the Drug Czar's office in the White House to coordinate federal programs in the war against drugs; he wrote the Biden Drug Free Schools Zone law, imposing special penalties for dealing drugs within 1,000 feet of a school, and enabling schools to provide drug education and prevention programs, like DARE; and he was instrumental in classifying steroids a drug and funding programs to deter its use by students.
Under George Bush's watch, Afghanistan has gone from producing about 10% of the world's opium to producing 93%. The Taliban were able to bring drug production nearly to a halt by the end of their reign--there's no excuse for a superpower failing so markedly in the same effort.
The Administration's preferred strategy is guaranteed to make things even worse. For years, the White House has been trying to force the Afghan government to accept aerial spraying of crops--a policy rejected by the Afghans, by our NATO allies, and by the U.S. military. For good reason: such a plan would alienate the populace, conjure up memories of Soviet-era air strikes, and provide the Taliban with a flood of new recruits.
Instead, we should be providing Afghan farmers with alternate livelihoods. We should helping create a judicial system capable of taking down the drug barons. We should be trying to root out the corruption in the Afghan government that lets the druglords operate with complete impunity. We should be taking out refining plants where the narco-barons turn the opium into raw heroin.
The Administration wants to target dollar-a-day Afghan farmers. That's dead-wrong: We should be going after the other end of the food chain. There may be a place for aerial eradication in the future--but first we should be targeting the multimillionaire drug kingpins who are helping fund the Taliban.
As Co-Chairman of the International Narcotics Control Caucus, Sen. Biden has a long record of accomplishment in passing bills to combat drug use and help drug addicts kick their habit. He wrote the 1988 law creating the nation's "Drug Czar," who oversees and coordinates national drug control policy. Today, Senator Biden continues to work to stop the spread of new drugs such as Ecstacy, Rohypnol, and Methamphetamines.
Senator Joseph R. Biden, Jr. is a leader in Congress on combating drug use and stemming the flow of drugs into our country. Each year illegal drug use and violence from drug trafficking costs our country billions of dollars and thousands of lives. Using the bully pulpit of the Drug Caucus, Senator Biden has chaired hearings, solicited expert testimony, authored legislation, and released reports on domestic and international narcotic trafficking. Senator Biden's comprehensive legislative solutions reflect his understanding that drugs in America are a multi-billion dollar international criminal enterprise, a major cause of crime and gang activity, and a tragic addiction that tears apart families and neighborhoods.
"Meth abuse is a serious public health issue," said Biden, the Co-Chairman of the Senate Drug Caucus. "Our local communities need federal help dealing with the meth problem exploding in their towns. They need money for law enforcement, prevention programs, treatment resources. This caucus will help us focus on those needs and devote more resources to reducing methamphetamine use."
Senator Biden has been at the forefront of national policy on methamphetamine for nearly 15 years, issuing reports in the early 1990s warning that meth would make its way across the country and negatively impact rural America; writing major meth legislation in 1996 and 2000; and cosponsoring legislation this year to regulate cold medicines containing pseudoephedrine, the active ingredient in methamphetamine.
Today meth use and production is growing at an unacceptable level: the number of people entering drug treatment for meth addiction has increased almost sixfold in the last decade; Drug Enforcement Administration seizures of meth increased more than fivefold in that time frame; and more than 300,000 people began using meth last year, joining more than 11 million other Americans who have tried meth.
"Meth abuse is creating chaos in small town America. We are witnessing large-scale proliferation of small meth labs in homes, trailers, and garages where about $100 worth of materials from the local drug store can be cooked into about $1,000 worth of meth," said Biden. "These labs present an incredible danger to law enforcement who raid them, they are an environmental nightmare, and most importantly, they present an unbelievable hazard to kids."
Biden noted that between a third and a quarter of all of these drug labs are in homes with children. As many as 80% of the children found in these labs test positive for meth after living in the lab and breathing in the dangerous fumes produced in the process of cooking the drug.
Biden's Anabolic Steroid Control Act adds 18 substances to the list of banned anabolic steroids, including androstenedione (also known as "andro") and tetrahydrogestrinone (THG). Biden's measure also provides $15 million for education programs to teach kids about the dangers of steroids. It also calls for criminal penalties for those caught making, selling, or possessing these substances.
"Steroid use by young people is a serious health issue. A lot of kids don't know harmful this stuff really is," said Biden, Co-Chairman of the Senate Drug Caucus. "This new law sends a strong message about andro and other steroid precursors -- we are calling them what they really are: drugs, performance enhancing drugs. They should be labeled as such, they should be treated as such, and now, thanks to this new law, they will be controlled in the same manner as other anabolic steroids."
"It's not only a health issue but also a values issue," Biden continued. "If kids think that all of the best athletes are 'on the juice,' what does that teach them? I think it teaches them that they should use steroids or steroid precursors to get ahead and win the game; that cheating is OK. This offends me to my core. The United States is the ultimate meritocracy and it is absolutely un-American to take a performance-enhancing drug to get an unfair competitive advantage."
Steroid precursors, or "pro-steroids," are chemically related to the substances scheduled in the 1990 Controlled Substances Act that made trafficking in steroids illegal. When ingested, these substances metabolize into testosterone or other illicit steroids. The United States Anti-Doping Agency, the group in charge of testing Olympic athletes for performance enhancing drugs, has called these products "the functional equivalent of steroids." Many physicians, parents and coaches have called for action against these dangerous products.
In 1986, Congress established a draconian sentencing scheme that punished the crack form of cocaine far more severely than the powder form. Currently, mere possession of 5 grams of crack triggers a five-year mandatory minimum sentence, while it takes distribution or manufacture of 500 grams of powder cocaine to trigger that same sentence. The assumptions that led Congress to establish this disparity -- that crack is inherently more dangerous and addictive than powder, that crack would devastate communities, and that prenatal exposure to crack was far more damaging than exposure to powder -- have proved unfounded. Senator Biden has proposed legislation to implement the US Sentencing Commission's recommendation to eliminates the 100:1 disparity between the two forms of the drug. He also supports increasing funding for prison- and jail-based drug treatment programs.
Joe Biden believes that to compete in a global economy we must become an Online Nation where every community, business and school has access to high-speed Internet connections. Expanding the nation's high-speed Internet infrastructure will create hundreds of thousands of jobs over the next decade and increase the gross domestic product by as much as $180 billion. Simply put, becoming an on-line, high-speed nation will create jobs and grow the economy.
Although we led the world into the Internet age, the United States has now slipped to 16th in the world in high-speed Internet connections. In Japan, for example, connections are 8 times faster than in the United States. Millions of Americans -- particularly in rural and low-income urban areas -- do not have access to high-speed Internet connections. Less than 5 percent of towns of 10,000 or less have access to high-speed Internet connections. Just 12 percent of Internet users in rural areas have them. There is a digital divide between communities with access to high-speed Internet connections and those without.
The US should lead the world in access to the Internet. Access to high-speed Internet connections can open a world of opportunities and even save lives through tele-medicine and instant access to electronic medical records. It spurs economic growth, opens doors to high quality jobs and new markets, and expands educational opportunities.A farmer in Iowa should be able to hold a video-conference with buyers in China over the Internet. A student in a rural community should have a real-time connection to a college class hundreds a miles away. A grandmother in a small town should be able to watch live video of new grandchild. Without high-speed connections, none of this is possible. Joe Biden would develop a comprehensive national high-speed broadband policy that expands access to high-speed Internet connections
President Bush does not have a strategy for victory in Iraq. His strategy is to prevent defeat and to hand the problem off to his successor. As a result, more and more Americans understandably want a rapid withdrawal, even at the risk of trading a dictator for chaos and a civil war that could become a regional war. Both are bad alternatives. There is a third way that can achieve the two objectives most Americans share: to bring our troops home without leaving chaos behind. The idea is to maintain a unified Iraq by federalizing it and giving Kurds, Shiites and Sunnis breathing room in their own regions.
Increase economic aid but tie it to the protection of minority rights and the creation of a jobs program and seek funding from the oil-rich Gulf Arab states. The new, central reality in Iraq is deep and growing sectarian violence between the Shiites and Sunnis. In last December's elections, 90 percent of the votes went to sectarian lists. Ethnic militias increasingly are the law in Iraq. They have infiltrated the official security forces. Massive unemployment is feeding the sectarian militia. Sectarian cleansing has forced at least 250,000 Iraqis to flee their homes in recent months. At the same time, Al Qaeda is now so firmly entrenched in Western Iraq that it has morphed into an indigenous jihadist threat. As a result, Iraq risks becoming what it was not before the war: a haven for radical fundamentalists.
We need more troops--but not many. A single brigade would make an enormous difference. The real need is for the right kind of troops: we desperately need more Special Operations Forces, more civil affairs and intelligence specialists, more Foreign Area Officers. We also need more hardware: more fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters for mobility, more surveillance drones, more satellite tasking, more MRAPs for troop protection.
We've got to do a better job of building up the security resources of the Afghan government. We need to train the Afghan National Army so that it can take on the missions now performed by American troops. We've got to train the Afghan police, so that they can bring security to every village. We've got to root out corruption in these forces, professionalize them, and pay the soldiers and policemen decent wages.
We've got to deny the Taliban and Al Qaeda their safe haven across the border in Pakistan.
We need more money for reconstruction in Afghanistan: We spend about $1.5 billion per year, which on a per capita basis is far, far less than we've spent on reconstruction efforts in the Balkans and East Timor, or just about any other post-conflict zone. We need a Special Investigator-General for Afghan Reconstruction.
Under George Bush's watch, Afghanistan has gone from producing about 10% of the world's opium to producing 93%. We should be providing Afghan farmers with alternate livelihoods. We should helping create a judicial system capable of taking down the drug barons. We should be trying to root out the corruption in the Afghan government that lets the druglords operate with complete impunity. We should be taking out refining plants where the narco-barons turn the opium into raw heroin.
Responsibly Drawdown US Troops. U.S. military should withdraw most U.S. troops from Iraq by the summer of 2008, with a residual force to keep Iraqis and their neighbors honest. Direct U.S. military commanders to develop a plan to withdraw and re-deploy almost all U.S. forces from Iraq by the summer of 2008. Maintain in or near Iraq a small residual force -- perhaps 20,000 troops -- to strike any concentration of terrorists, help keep Iraq's neighbors honest and train its security forces
We've got to deny the Taliban and Al Qaeda their safe haven across the border in Pakistan. Six years after 9/11, it's outrageous that Osama bin Laden is still a free man. He's hiding out in the wild territory of the Pakistani tribal areas--and his Taliban allies are using this as a base for attacks on Afghans and Americans. I have proposed a Plan for Pakistan, that aims in part to eliminate this safe haven and bring security to Afghanistan.
Reconstruction is central to the war against the terrorists. As the former commander of U.S. troops in Afghanistan put it, "where the road ends, the Taliban begins."
Under George Bush's watch, Afghanistan has gone from producing about 10% of the world's opium to producing 93%. The Taliban were able to bring drug production nearly to a halt by the end of their reign--there's no excuse for a superpower failing so markedly in the same effort. There may be a place for aerial eradication in the future--but first we should be targeting the multimillionaire drug kingpins who are helping fund the Taliban.
Sen. Biden favored removing Saddam Hussein from power but he believes the Administration rushed to war and didn't have a plan to win the peace. As a longtime member of the Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Biden knows that no foreign policy may be sustained without the informed consent of the American people. And of all the mistakes the Bush Administration made in Iraq, perhaps the biggest was they never leveled with the American people.
Here is my conviction: in 2006, American troops will begin to leave Iraq in large numbers. By the end of the year, I believe we will have redeployed at least 50,000 troops. In 2007, a significant number of the remaining 100,000 American soldiers will follow. But the real question is this: as Americans start to come home, will we leave Iraq with our fundamental security interests intact or will we have traded a dictator for chaos? By misrepresenting the facts, misunderstanding Iraq, and misleading on the war, this Administration has brought us to the verge of a national security debacle. As a result, many Americans have already concluded that we cannot salvage Iraq. We should bring all our forces home as soon as possible.
NATO forces in Afghanistan are necessary, but far from sufficient. Most of the nations involved in the effort place burdensome restrictions on the use of their forces: some troops can't operate at night, others are forbidden to venture to the Taliban heartland, and fewer than half a dozen nations let most of their soldiers participate in sustained combat. The NATO effort is starved for helicopters and other key resources.
Maintain a unified Iraq by federalizing it and giving Kurds, Shiites and Sunnis breathing room in their own regions. The central government would be responsible for common interests, like border security and the distribution of oil revenues. The plan would bind the Sunnis - who have no oil -- by guaranteeing them a proportionate share of oil revenues. It would convene an international conference to secure support for the power sharing arrangement and produce a regional nonaggression pact, overseen by a Contact Group of major powers.
Joe Biden believes that all employees should be covered by regulations that ensure a safe working environment and their personal safety on the job. He has been a supporter of OSHA regulations since his early days in the Senate and time and time again he has voted to extend OSHA regulations and have vigorously opposed efforts to restrict the application of OSHA coverage.
Since his earliest days in Washington, Senator Biden has advocated making the American workplace the safest in the world. Time and again he has voted to extend OSHA regulations, and vigorously opposed efforts to restrict the application of OSHA coverage.
Joe Biden understands the difficulties of balancing work and family. He supports the Family and Medical Leave Act and knows how important it was to help the 50 million Americans who have taken advantage of up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for sick family members. We can do more though, and that's why Joe Biden is co-sponsoring the Healthy Families Act--a bill that would make it mandatory for employers of 15 or more workers to provide seven days paid leave for their own or their families' health care, providing millions of Americans with the flexibility they need to both take care of their families and remain working.
Senator Biden fought to block new federal regulations that undermine the basic employee safeguards and threaten to deny overtime rights to broad categories of American workers such as teachers, nurses, and salespeople.
While workplace discrimination is not as obvious as when the Senator Biden's ancestors faced "No Irish Need Apply," signs, today minorities, women, and gays hear excuses like, "she won't fit in," or "he's too qualified," as employers pass on them. It may be subtle, but it's hate in the heart, nevertheless. So Senator Biden supports the Employment Non-Discrimination Act to prohibit job discrimination of any kind. He also supports the Fair Pay Restoration Act to overturn a Supreme Court decision that makes it more difficult for women to bring pay discrimination cases.
Joe Biden always has been a strong supporter of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). He has long championed efforts to allow Medicaid to provide home- and community-based support services needed by disabled individuals to remain out of institutions. He also fought to allow low-income families with disabled children to buy into the Medicaid program.
Joe Biden has been a strong supporter of affirmative action. He fought Republican attempts to ban affirmative action in federal contracts and to bar funds to administer affirmative action programs.
As president, Joe Biden will work to create the new jobs that come with a new world. Green-collar jobs will make homes and businesses more energy efficient. Joe Biden has been a leader in the senate, co-sponsoring a worker training program that could help create 3 million new jobs as the U.S. builds a new energy future.
Joe Biden has been a strong supporter of Trade Adjustment Programs. He opposes taking resources from the trade adjustment assistance program and believes that we need to make the assistance more substantive for those who qualify. Joe Biden believes we should ensure that all workers who are displaced by technological and economic change have access to resources and opportunities.
As the country moves to new energy technologies, Senator Biden is a strong supporter of efforts to help attract and train workers for new green-collar jobs that make homes and businesses more energy efficient. Senator Biden is a co-sponsor of a worker training program that would help U.S. workers get good jobs in an industry that could employ 3 million people if the U.S. launches an ambitious program to build a new energy future.
Administrative costs account for roughly 30 percent of all health care expenditures in the United States. One of the reasons for high administration costs are the numerous insurance claims forms that providers must fill out to get paid for their services. The State of Utah recently tackled this problem by getting all insurers and providers to use a standardized, electronic claim form designed to eliminate claim disputes and loads of paperwork. Every procedure on the form is listed the same way and patients no longer receive notices titled "This is Not a Bill."
When the Utah Health Information Network (UHIN) was created in 1994, health officials there estimated the state could save $100 million to $200 million per year by switching to a common system for medical billing. UHIN created a computer system that allows the many different billing systems used by doctors, insurers and hospitals to communicate with one another. But the network also required substantial cooperation from Utah's competing insurers. They agreed, for example, to cut a list of 900 codes for accepting or denying medical claims down to 90 and also agreed on common definitions.
The cost of health insurance has remained flat in Utah while it has increased an average of 13 percent per year in the rest of the United States. Several states are already studying what Utah was able to accomplish. Like federal investment in health information technology, the federal government should help states in their efforts to reduce administrative costs in medical billing.
To support the movement to a uniform billing system, Joe Biden will:
Provide federal funding to support state initiatives to adopt Utah-like insurer agreements to create one claim form used by all insurers with a goal of moving to a uniform system on a national level.
Require insurers participating in federal programs to shift to "paperless" uniform billing and claims forms.
Expand the State Children's Health Insurance Program to at least 300 percent of the federal poverty level ($61,950 for a family of four). More than 80 percent of uninsured children are in families below 300 percent of the poverty level:
Under 100 Percent of FPL ($20,000) -- 2.9 million or 31.8 percent
Between 100 and 199 percent of FPL ($40,000) -- 2.9 million or 32.1 percent
Between 200 and 299 percent of FPL ($60,000) -- 1.7 million or 18.4 percent
Over 300 percent of FPL ($60,000+) -- 1.6 million or 17.6 percent
Allow all families to buy into SCHIP with sliding scale premiums and co-payments based on family income.
Extending coverage to at least age 21 (as states can choose to do in Medicaid)
Automatically enroll eligible uninsured children at birth, school registration or through other income-tested programs like WIC
Politicians need to understand what it's like for people on Medicare, who are lying in bed staring at a ceiling wondering if they are going to be able to pay the bills. We need to understand their concerns and aspirations if we are going to reshape Medicare in the 21st Century.
Joe Biden will allow people between 55 and 64 to buy in to the Medicare program. Like the FEHBP buy-in proposal, the federal government will provide a subsidy for low-income individuals in this age group to afford to purchase early coverage in the Medicare program.
While the federal government would invest money now to allow uninsured individuals between 55 and 64 to buy into Medicare, this proposal could save money for the Medicare program in the long run. By the time people become eligible for Medicare at age 65, many are already dealing with numerous chronic health conditions. Only 59.3 percent of uninsured near-elderly manage to be able to see a doctor, compared to 87.7 percent and 84.2 percent of privately and publicly insured near-elderly respectively. Giving the uninsured near-elderly the opportunity to enroll in Medicare at an earlier age can improve the number of people able to see a doctor and treat any medical conditions they have that would be more expensive to treat if they had to wait until they were 65 to enroll.
Senator Biden wants to stabilize the way Medicare determines reimbursement rates for physicians and other providers. As such, the Senator wants the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission to study and report to Congress on replacing the use of the sustainable growth rate as a factor in determining the update for such payments with a factor that more fully accounts for changes in the unit costs of providing physicians' services.
When the future of Medicare came under attack and was threatened with its gradual demise, Senator Biden stood steadfast in defense of Medicare.
Joe Biden knows from caring for his own parents how important home care workforces can be in providing stable, experienced care to the growing number of senior citizens who wish to stay in their homes. Joe Biden supports expanding access to home healthcare and hospice services and co-sponsored the Community Choices Act, which would help disabled Americans get Medicaid coverage for at-home care.
Senator Biden has worked to:
Allow disabled patients in Medicaid to receive care in the least restrictive setting possible and to direct their own treatment plan.
Support increased federal Medicaid funding when states are faced with a fiscal crisis.
He also fought to allow low-income families with disabled children to buy in to the Medicaid program.
Joe Biden has supported numerous measures to allow federal civilian and military retirees to pay TRICARE health insurance on a pre-tax basis; and has supported extending TRICARE coverage to Reservists who have no other source of health insurance.
Joe Biden's highest priorities -- along with ending the war in Iraq -- are universal health care and education. He will convene a national gathering of key health care stakeholders from labor, business, health care and government within the first 90 days of his administration to seize the historic opportunity created by the recognition from organizations ranging from Fortune 500 companies, the Business Roundtable and the AMA to the labor movement that the time has come for universal, affordable health care.
Too often the debate over health care centers around whether we're spending enough on health care in this country -- when the reality is that the US spends more on medical services than any other developed nation, including those countries that provide health insurance for all. We can afford to provide universal health care in this country -- and we can help pay for it with a national agenda of sensible steps to get skyrocketing health care costs under control.
Joe Biden would establish a federal reinsurance pool to reimburse employers, insurers or associations (including voluntary employee benefit associations) for 75 percent of catastrophic health costs (those exceeding $50,000 per individual) for active and retired employees and their families.
To participate in the rebate program, employers would have to cover all employees and apply best practices to chronic disease management.
Private insurers in the individual market would have to demonstrate that they operate an effective high cost case management system.
Emphasizing wellness and prevention by eliminating co-payments for physicals, vaccinations, vision and hearing screenings and preventive dental check-ups for children of any income level.
Senator Biden has consistently fought to ensure an adequate supply of physicians and other Medicare providers for our nation's seniors by opposing arbitrary caps on reimbursement and working to reform the provider payment system. He also has worked to preserve Medicare indirect medical education payments to teaching hospitals, as many of these facilities provide crucial care to Medicare beneficiaries.
Joe Biden wants to stabilize the way Medicare determines reimbursement rates for physicians and other providers. As such, he wants the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission to study and report to Congress on replacing the use of the sustainable growth rate as a factor in determining the update for such payments with a factor that more fully accounts for changes in the unit costs of providing physicians' services.
To ensure Medicare beneficiaries received proper treatment, Senator Biden fought to prevent arbitrary monetary limits on Medicare coverage of physical, occupational, and speech therapy services.
Joe Biden supports treating mental health services the same as other health services and increasing the amount the government pays from 50 percent to 80 for outpatient psychiatric services under the Medicare program.
By creating a federal reinsurance system for catastrophic costs, the risk and burden of covering all patients are spread among the general population, instead of smaller subgroups of employees.
In addition to helping families and business avoid financial disasters, a catastrophic coverage plan (often times called a stop-loss plan) can help lower administrative costs and reduce the variation in health care costs. Ken Thorpe, a professor at Emory University, has estimated that a stop-loss plan that pays 75 percent of claims above a catastrophic threshold would, on average, reduce the variance in claims costs by more than 50 percent. Reducing the risk factor for health plans would translate into lower health insurance premiums.
Providing this type of coverage is not a new role for the federal government in the private insurance market. Indeed, the federal government currently assumes the risk for high-cost cases in several other private markets. For instance, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) plays a key role in providing financial assistance for the private sector (households and businesses) facing catastrophic losses.
Senator Biden would allow uninsured Americans to buy into an insurance program that mirrors the Federal Employee Health Benefit Plan (FEHBP) -- the program that provides health insurance to members of Congress, their staff, and federal employees.
While the program will contain the same carriers and the same plan offerings, the new program will have its own insurance pool. Carriers in the FEHBP program would have to offer plans in the universal buy-in plan, but would have access to reinsurance to help with catastrophic costs for enrollees with greater than usual health costs. The buy-in program could also have an age-adjusted "payment" or "bonus" for plans that enroll older and less healthy people to help carriers avoid the effects of adverse selection.
People would be permitted to buy-in on a sliding scale based on income.
Small businesses would be allowed to participate in the program to help provide insurance for their employees. For companies that buy into the plan, employers, employees and the government would share the cost of the premium. Firms with a high proportion of low-wage workers would get a larger subsidy from the federal government than would firms with higher-wage workers.
Insurance companies often discriminate against people who need insurance the most --those with pre-existing conditions and those with high-risk factors for certain diseases. For individuals who do not have access to employer-sponsored insurance, the high cost of individual insurance policies simply forces them to go without health insurance.
Joe Biden would allow insurers that offer individual policies to access the reinsurance pool if they agree not to turn people away because of pre-existing conditions or risk of them. And to protect against genetic discrimination by prohibiting employers and insurance companies from collecting or using genetic information when making decisions about hiring, providing health coverage, or discriminating in the pricing of an insurance policy.
Most Americans, 60 percent, receive health insurance through their employers. But employers are scaling back benefits as the cost of health insurance and health care rises. Millions of workers no longer receive insurance from employers -- 70 percent of the uninsured are employed. Around 5 percent of people with the greatest health care costs account for half of health care spending in this country. Just one employee with high medical expenses can push premiums up for all and make insurance unaffordable. The top 1 percent of spenders -- those with expenses above $50,000 a year -- account for 22 percent of health care spending. In contrast, the 50 percent of the population with the lowest expenses accounted for only 3 percent of overall U.S. health care spending with annual expenses of $664 per person. Those in the top 5 percent of costs spend on average 17 times as much as the bottom 50 percent of spenders. In addition, 57 percent of the top 5 spenders are under the age of 65: 18 percent between the ages of 55-64, 15 percent between 45-54, 10 percent between 35-44, 9 percent between 19-34 and 5 percent 18 and younger.
Sen. Biden believes that families and their doctors should make medical decisions, not insurance companies. That is why he has taken on HMOs to prevent them from limiting needed treatment options or prescriptions. He has also supported stopping hospitals and banks from profiting on personal information. Medical records should be kept private between doctors and patients, not sold to salesman and marketers.
While insuring all children must be our top priority, it is also important to offer uninsured adults access to health care. Only 59.3 percent of uninsured near-elderly manage to be able to see a doctor, compared to 87.7 percent and 84.2 percent of privately and publicly insured near-elderly respectively. Giving the uninsured near-elderly the opportunity to enroll in Medicare at an earlier age can improve the number of people able to see a doctor and treat any medical conditions they have that would be more expensive to treat if they had to wait until they were 65 to enroll.
Senator Biden knows how important it is to patients that their personal medical information be kept private. He supports:
Making sure individuals' medical information is not used against them or unknowingly sold for commercial profit.
Ensuring that as we move toward more efficient, cost-saving electronic medical records, privacy interests remain a priority.
Preventing the use of predictive genetic information, such as whether someone carries the gene for breast cancer, from being used to discriminate against persons in decision-making related to employment or health insurance.
Senator Biden believes that we must have a military large enough to deal with multiple threats around the world and here at home. Only with a larger military can we increase the size of Special Operations forces. In addition, a larger military is needed for sustained operations. We must be able to complete military missions without breaking the force and we must make sure that we do not contract out our security.To keep our military strong and ready for multiple missions, Senator Biden has supported and co-sponsored legislation to increase the size of the military. He has also co-sponsored legislation to give active-duty military personnel a minimum of the same time at home as the time they are deployed.
Senator Biden has always believed that the military should benefit from American innovation and expertise. He has been a strong advocate of making sure that small businesses with cutting-edge technology are able to work with the Department of Defense.
Senator Biden fought hard to get Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicles (MRAPs) into Iraq faster. The military said that MRAPs would reduce American casualties from Improvised Explosive Devices by 67-80%. In the beginning of 2007, the Administration had only planned to spend $1.795 billion for these life-saving vehicles. By the end of 2007, Senator Biden successfully pushed to ensure that $22.4 billion was being spent, which exponentially increased the production and fielding rate.
Senator Biden understands that strategic airlift (C-5s and C-17s) is critical to America's ability to get to the fight and stay in the fight. It is also critical to being able to help those in need. He has long fought to make sure the nation has enough modern airlift capability to meet its needs. He has also fought to make sure there is adequate infrastructure needed to support the airlift fleet, including at Dover Air Force Base.
Our soldiers and their families deserve a high quality of life. Senator Biden believes that we must pay close attention to the needs of military families and ensure that they have the support they need. Adequate child care, educational benefits, job assistance, and counseling are all essential to helping military families deal with the stresses of military life.
A strong National Guard, properly equipped, is essential to homeland defense and to fighting international threats. Senator Biden believes that America's citizen-soldiers bring critical civilian skills and expertise into national security operations. They are also a vital link to communities where there is often no other military presence. As Iraq and Katrina have shown, America needs to continue to have a National Guard that is ready to help in war and in natural disasters at home.
Military personnel must get adequate rest between deployments for both their mental health and to maintain strong families. Senator Biden has co-sponsored legislation to give active-duty military personnel a minimum of the same time at home as the time they are deployed.
Washington Post exposed delays in care that soldiers face and highlighted horrible living conditions that many endure while they are receiving outpatient treatment for their wounds. Senator Biden supports legislation that takes specific actions to ensure a similar situation won't happen again, and that readies our hospitals for the new, special needs of our troops for decades to come, by:
Prohibiting public-private competitions of maintenance services at military medical complexes while the Nation is at war to prevent the backlog of maintenance orders that plagued Walter Reed.
Stopping budget cuts to military medical facilities while the Nation is at war.
Requiring the Secretary of Defense to establish uniform standards for military medical treatment facilities, specialty medical care facilities, and military quarters housing patients, and requiring robust inspections.
Requiring the Department of Veterans Affairs to report on long-term care needs for the next 50 years, since hundreds of thousands of additional veterans with multiple care needs will be coming into the system, and we must be ready to help them.
Sen. Biden has worked hard to ensure that our Armed Forces are adequately funded and efficiently utilized so they can protect our nation. He's working hard to ensure that our soldiers and their families have a high quality of life. Sen. Biden has also strongly supported measures to address readiness problems, aging equipment and recruitment and retention difficulties. He has also been a champion of Dover Air Force Base and the vital strategic airlift capability that it provides our military. Today, Senator Biden continues to work to further modernize our military to make it more effective and efficient.
We must spend military dollars smarter, with greater accountability. Today's enemies are flexible and adaptive. Our military must be able to respond quickly to new threats. Senator Biden wants to get rid of mismanagement and waste in military procurement so that we can quickly get warfighters the best equipment available.
Joe Biden has fought to prohibit an issuer of a Medicare supplemental policy, on the basis of genetic information, from denying or conditioning coverage, or discriminating in the pricing of the policy, including the adjustment rates, for an eligible individual.
Senator Biden fought for years to expand the Medicare program to cover prescription drugs with a plan that would provide valuable coverage, be easy to use, and affordable to most seniors. Senator Biden supports improving the plan by:
Allowing the federal government to directly negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies, which could help lower drug prices for consumers.
Eliminating the benefit gap in coverage, otherwise known as the "donut hole."
Speeding up availability of generic drugs.
The Medicare Part D prescription drug program was created in the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003. Medicare covers more than 40 million seniors and disabled Americans who are projected to consume $1.8 trillion worth of prescription drugs over the next decade. However, instead of using the purchasing power of 40 million Americans to get the best prices possible for prescription drugs, the Medicare and Modernization Act of 2003 expressly forbids the federal government from interfering in drug negotiations between pharmaceutical companies and the numerous private insurers spread out across the country that offer Part D coverage. Simply put, this "noninterference clause" dilutes Medicare's bargaining position. The federal government successfully uses its bulk purchasing power to keep costs low in the Veterans Administration health system--why not allow it to do the same for our nation's seniors who rely on Medicare?
In order lower prescription drug prices in the Medicare Part D program, Joe Biden will remove the prohibition against the federal government negotiating prices for prescription drugs for enrollees in Medicare Part D to allow the federal government to use its bulk purchasing power to reduce costs for Medicare beneficiaries.
In an effort to improve our lead in agricultural productivity and efficiency, research investment is necessary so that U.S. producers can continue to serve a global marketplace and meet the demands of a growing world population. To help American farmers remain the most productive in the world, Senator Biden has worked with his Senate colleagues to increase federal funding available for competitive grants for agricultural research. Senator Biden's hard work and commitment to ensuring healthy and profitable flocks led the Congress to provide $3.5 million in federal funds toward the construction of a state-of-the-art poultry disease research facility at the University of Delaware. This laboratory facilitates nationally important research and testing services, and provides growers with timely disease prevention information.
Senator Biden has long been a strong advocate for the growth of renewable and alternative energy sources such as hydropower, wind energy, ethanol, biodiesel, solar and geothermal, and has supported the scientific research and policies needed to develop these sources, help stabilize energy prices, and to do so in an environmentally sensitive way.
Establish a biotechnology coordinator in the Executive Branch.
Senator Biden opposes plans to privatize Social Security that would shift risks to workers and cut benefits to all future retirees.
Joe Biden would require retirement plan administrators to disclose fees and clearly identify the name, risk and investment objective of investment options. He would direct the Department of Labor to review compliance with these disclosure requirements and refer violations to the SEC and other enforcement agencies.
Joe Biden is working to protect workers from pension bankruptcy by strengthening the government backstop and insisting that pensions are adequately funded.
Raise the cap on income subject to the Social Security tax so that the most wealthy shoulder their fair share ($97,500 is the maximum for 2007). This approach worked in1983 when a bipartisan group of senior leaders from both parties put politics aside to fix Social Security.
Require Employers That Don't Provide Retirement Plans To Allow Employees To Contribute To Individual Retirement Accounts. In 2006, 40 percent of workers did not have any form of pension coverage -- that's around 75 million workers who have no access to an employ-provided retirement plan. Joe Biden would require employers who do not adopt a 401(k) or other retirement plan to offer employees the ability contribute to an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) by payroll deposit making it easier to save small amounts on a predictable, regular basis.
Most retirement contributions are excluded from taxable income until they are distributed. Higher income taxpayers disproportionately benefit from tax deductions that promote savings because the value of tax incentives depends on what bracket the taxpayer is in -- the higher the tax rate, the more the subsidies are worth. Those in lower tax brackets who most need to save have less benefit. Joe Biden would extend the Savers' Credit to make it a 50 percent refundable credit of up to $2,000 and index it to inflation to provide incentives to low-income households. Families with incomes below $50,000 that deposited $4,000 into a retirement account would receive a $2,000 match through the refund.
Social Security does not face an immediate crisis. With no changes, Social Security can pay full benefits through 2041. After that it can pay 74 percent of benefits. Joe Biden would bring Democrats and Republicans together to agree on options for keeping Social Security solvent
Expand Automatic Enrollment in 401(k)s. Defined contribution retirement plans do not cover workers unless they sign up. Only about 1 in 4 eligible employees participate in such plans -- missing out on tax advantages of saving and employer matching contributions. Automatic enrollment requires employees to opt-out of such plans -- instead of requiring them to opt-in. Automatic enrollment has been shown to raise participation rates. Joe Biden would expand automatic enrollment in 401(k)s by increasing automatic enrollment by small and mid-sized employers, by expanding automatic enrollment to existing employees, and by increasing automatic contribution amounts.
The average worker can expect to change jobs several times which can result in navigating and managing several different retirement plans and investments. Joe Biden would make rollover of 401(k)s automatic so that accounts follow individuals.
Executives should not have better pension protections during bankruptcy than workers. Joe Biden would tighten restrictions on "Key Employee Retention Plans" which are used to give executives bonuses while companies walk away from employee pensions. He would make any increases in executive pay and benefits up to two years before bankruptcy subject to special scrutiny by the court. Joe Biden would require that a company's foreign and domestic assets must be considered by the court when it considers voiding employees' contracts. Management should not be able to move assets overseas when they get into financial trouble and renege on their obligations to workers.
Invest $500 In A Kids Account For Every Child Born After December 31, 2008. Joe Biden would create individual Kids Accounts for every child endowed with an initial contribution of $500 from the government. Kids Accounts would be redeemable for education expenses, home ownership or retirement beginning at age 18. Unused funds can be automatically rolled over into Individual Retirement Accounts at age 18.
Parents and Grandparents Could Contribute $1,000 A Year. Joe Biden would permit parents and grandparents to make a $1,000 after-tax contribution into Kids Accounts. Earnings in the account would be tax free.
Match Contributions For Low-Income Children. To encourage saving and investment Joe Biden would provide a dollar-for-dollar match on the first $500 contributed to the account for children in households earning below the national median income.
Kids Account Holders Would Repay Initial Deposit At Age 30. Joe Biden would require children who receive Kids Accounts to repay the government's deposit when they reach 30.
Senator Biden supports strengthening the government backstop against pension bankruptcies.
He backs efforts to make it easier for workers to save for retirement years.
Senator Biden understands that after working hard your whole life, you should not have to worry about losing your retirement income.
He opposes plans to privatize Social Security that would shift risks to workers and cut benefits to all future retirees.
He has authored tough new criminal penalties to prevent the kind of fraud that cost 15,000 Enron employees their retirement savings.
He supports strengthening the government backstop against pension bankruptcies.
The war in Iraq is costing this nation over $100 billion a year. Tax cuts for the wealthiest one percent -- those who make an average of $1.4 million a year -- are costing more than $85 billion a year. Joe Biden believes it is time for new priorities. By ending the war and repealing the George Bush's tax cuts for the top one percent of Americans, we will gain an additional $185 billion a year in revenue that Joe Biden would put to better uses by investing in education and making preschool available to all, improving health care, extending tax breaks for college tuition, doubling investments in alternative energy technology, upgrading neglected infrastructure and improving homeland security.
Joe Biden voted for tax reforms that would fix the Alternative Minimum Tax providing relief to millions of middle-income Americans.
Joe Biden confronted oil executives at a 2006 Senate hearing, asking them if they needed the billions in tax breaks George Bush and the Republicans gave them in 2005. Joe Biden then worked to repeal those special subsidies that even the oil executives acknowledged that they did not need.
Joe Biden voted for tax reforms that helped millions escape poverty with the Earned Income Tax Credit.
Senator Biden voted against trade agreements, such as CAFTA, that rolled back standards for labor protections. It failed to guarantee American workers the security they deserve and Central American workers the promise of improved working conditions.
When done right, expanding international trade -- and expanding markets for American products -- can be good for the United States. However, with the rise of new economies the global workforce has doubled, and we compete directly with countries like China that can be simultaneously low-wage and high-tech. Unless our trade policies protect basic labor standards, we risk the loss of jobs in this new global economy. That is why Senator Biden voted against trade agreements, such as CAFTA, that rolled back standards for labor protections. It failed to guarantee American workers the security they deserve and Central American workers the promise of improved working conditions.
Earlier, in the mid-90's, immediately upon learning that Russia threatened to stop importing American poultry products, Biden led the Senate effort against this ban. He also has fought to maintain a competitive marketplace at home for America's farmers. For example, during the 1980's, Senator Biden defended the interests of small growers on the Delmarva peninsula and challenged foreign subsidies. When several countries were paying their chicken growers an 11 cent-per-pound subsidy to export their products, and American trade negotiators were dragging their feet, Senator Biden authored a key amendment passed by the Senate to pressure the European Economic Community and Brazil to reduce unfair subsidies.
Delaware is home to major Amtrak facilities in Bear and Wilmington, providing over 1,000 jobs for hard-working Delawareans dedicated to keeping Amtrak a viable national rail system. Nationally, Amtrak carries 25 million passengers a year. It deserves the type of federal commitment we have already given to the highway and aviation systems. In every other advanced industrial economy, and in most developing nations as well, passenger rail receives more funding and support than in the United States. Senator Biden believes that we should give Amtrak the support it deserves.
Supporting Amtrak, its commuters, and its workers.
For three decades Joe Biden has worked to get veterans of Vietnam who were exposed to Agent Orange and other toxins access to the care and benefits they deserve. He has pressured the VA to resolve claims, expanded compensation for veterans injured by exposure, extended eligibility for inpatient and outpatient care and worked to make sure that children suffering from Spina Bifida because of parent exposure to Agent Orange are eligible for disability benefits. He will continue to fight to make sure our Vietnam veterans receive adequate care and benefits and ensure that the best available medical and scientific evidence is used by the VA when determining disability claims.
Unfortunately, a series of articles in the Washington Post exposed delays in care that soldiers face and highlighted horrible living conditions that many endure while they are receiving treatment for their wounds. Joe Biden would ensure a Walter Reed situation won't happen again and that our hospitals and military medical facilities are ready for the new, special needs of our troops for decades to come by: Prohibiting private contracting of maintenance services at military medical complexes while the nation is at war to prevent the kind of backlog of maintenance orders and maintenance breakdown that occurred at Walter Reed. Stopping budget cuts to military medical facilities while the nation is at war. Requiring the Secretary of Defense to establish uniform standards for military medical treatment facilities, specialty medical care facilities, and military quarters housing patients, and requiring robust inspections. Requiring the Department of Veterans Affairs to report on long-term care needs for the next 50 years. Hundreds of thousands of additional veterans with multiple care needs will be coming into the system and the VA must have a plan in place to ensure they receive adequate care.
Senator Biden believes there is no reason for one payment to reduce the other. He has repeatedly co-sponsored legislation to authorize full concurrent receipt, allowing disabled military retirees to receive full military retirement pay in addition to VA disability compensation.
A grateful nation needs to always, always, always honor and celebrate our veterans. And we must fulfill our solemn obligation to as Lincoln said, "care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow and his orphan."
Senator Biden is committed to taking care of the men and women who have put their lives on the line to protect our country through military service. Ensuring that all veterans have top-notch medical treatment in a fully-funded VA health care system is a key priority, as is strengthening the GI Bill's educational benefits. Those who have been injured in action, as well as the survivors of those who made the ultimate sacrifice, must continue to have ready access to the benefits they have been promised.
We owe our troops and veterans the highest quality care. To ensure that they receive it Joe Biden would:
Direct the DOD/VA Interagency Program Office to develop and implement a joint electronic health record keeping system.
Increase the number of caseworkers and prevent the ratio of case managers to patients from exceeding 1 to 20.
Require that case managers be property trained in assisting their patients in navigating the VA system.
Authorize medically retired service members to receive the active duty health care benefit for 3 years.
Streamline and revise the Physical Disability Evaluation System by bringing it all under one command, creating injury specific PDES procedures, making it accessible entirely online.
Require the creation of a single manual for outpatient care services, including PDES, family support, personnel processing and finance requirement, which is available online.
Establish a board to review disability determinations of service members separated between September 11, 2001, and December 31, 2009, with a disability rating of 20% or less.
A top priority of veterans groups, and one Senator Biden has consistently supported, is to change the budget for the Veterans Administration, so they are guaranteed a proper budget, and do not have to fight every year for money. He would have a mandatory formula for allocating money to the VA, instead of having their budget be a discretionary item that can be cut. The Administration grossly underestimated the number of Iraq veterans requiring care, but Senator Biden helped to pass a double-digit funding increase, as recommended by several veterans' service organizations.
Too many American children lack family ties to the military. Senator Biden wants to better educate America's youth on the accomplishments of our veterans. Every year he has introduced a resolution designating National Veterans Awareness Week, the week of Veterans Day. Senator Biden co-sponsored the legislation to build the World War II, Korean, and Vietnam War Memorials, and throughout his career has supported numerous measures to honor the service and dedication of the country's soldiers and veterans. He also co-sponsored legislation several times to grant a federal charter to the Korean War Veterans Association.
The backlog of pending claims and the delays in the appeals process is simply unacceptable: at the end of the 2006 fiscal year, rating-related compensation claims were pending an average of 127 days and appeals resolutions took an average of 657 days to resolve. In order to reduce these backlogs and the hardship they impose on veterans and their families Joe Biden would:
Update and simplify the disability determination and claims processing system. Building on the recommendations of the President's Commission on Care for America's Returning Wounded Warriors, periodic reviews of veterans' disability status should be undertaken to ensure proper compensation.
Establish a lawyer corps that represents veterans free-of-charge during the adjudications process. Based on a JAG model, these lawyers would receive loan forgiveness and be paid a monthly stipend while agreeing to guide veterans and their families through the adjudication process.
Allow survivors to step in and pursue undecided claims or those under appeal that were pending at the time of a veteran's death. This would prevent claims from having to start over again and delaying benefits for the surviving family members.
Require the VA to review educational and training requirements for claims adjudicators. With an increasing number of veterans citing more disabilities in their claims, the claims are becoming more complex and the claims processors may need more training to complete the claims process in a timely fashion.
Require the VA to publish the number of claims that are rejected each year in each region. This could help bring transparency to the claims process and explain variations in disability ratings in different areas of the country.
Require the Department of Veterans Affairs to report on long-term care needs for the next 50 years, since hundreds of thousands of additional veterans with multiple care needs will be coming into the system, and we must be ready to help them.
Believing we owe our returning troops the highest quality care for they have made every kind of sacrifice for us, Senator Biden has sponsored legislation that would:
Direct the DOD/VA Interagency Program Office to develop and implement a joint electronic health record.
Increase the number of caseworkers and requiring that the ratio of case managers to patients must not exceed 1 to 20. Senator Biden would also require that case managers be properly trained so they can better assist their patients in navigating the VA system.
Senator Biden knows how important it is for Delaware's veterans to be able to access needed health care services in their own state. As such, the Senator fought to ensure that the VA hospital in Elsmere remained open and did not suffer cutbacks in services during the Capital Asset Realignment for Enhanced Services (CARES) review of VA facilities around the country. Senator Biden is currently fighting for outpatient facilities to be opened in Kent and Sussex counties.
When our service men and women return from Iraq they will need jobs, and Senator Biden has always championed efforts to increase job opportunities for members after they leave the service. He co-sponsored legislation to establish the Troops to Nurse Teachers program, encouraging nurse veterans to become nurse teachers.
Senator Biden voted in favor of H.R. 4986, the National Defense Authorization Act, which included provisions to extend special eligibility coverage for OIF/OEF veterans from 2 to 5 years of VA health care.
Soldiers returning from Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom are suffering traumatic brain injuries (TBI) at much higher rates than past wars and many also suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). To address the growing demand for TBI and PTSD services and other needs of our Armed Forces and veterans, Joe Biden would:
Establish a protocol for pre-deployment assessment and documentation of cognitive function of members that can be used for comparison after deployment to assist in the diagnosis of TBI.
Require the Secretary of Defense to establish two centers of excellence - one for TBI and one for PTSD -- to develop the best treatment and screening practices.
Authorize the use of non-VA facilities for the implementation of rehabilitation and community reintegration plans for veterans with TBI, allowing veterans to get the care they need, wherever they live.
Establish a pilot program for assisted living services for veterans with TBI.
Senator Biden is a co-sponsor of the Employee Free Choice Act, a bill to ensure workers can form, join, or assist labor unions without interference from employers.
The minimum wage has been stagnant for too long in this country, no one should work a full time job and be too poor to meet their basic needs. Joe Biden supported raising the minimum wage to $7.25 from $5.15 --where it had been stuck for 10 years. As president, Joe Biden will continue to fight hard for better pay for all working Americans, beginning with the minimum wage.
Joe Biden has fought to level the playing field for women at work through legislation punishing sexual harassment and working to end pay inequity. Today, women still face pay inequality, earning on average 77 cents for every dollar a man makes doing the same work. In an effort to address this discrimination, Joe Biden is a strong supporter of the Paycheck Fairness Act and the Fair Pay Restoration Act which works to prevent pay discrimination by strengthening penalties should it occur and fixing a Supreme Court decision that makes it more difficult for women to bring pay discrimination cases. Joe Biden also supported increasing the federal minimum wage from $5.15 where it had been stuck for 10 years to $7.25 an hour, giving more than 7 million women a pay raise in 2007.
Senator Biden joined the successful protest against the plan to waive prevailing wage requirements for workers hired to help rebuild the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina.
Today, with women still earning 77 cents for every dollar a man makes doing the same work, the Senator is a strong supporter of the Paycheck Fairness Act. It would help prevent pay discrimination by strengthening penalties should it occur.