Joe Biden slammed Republicans on social spending concerns in popular retirement destination Florida on Tuesday, as the US president made his final plea before next week’s midterm elections.
Faced with the prospect of a “red wave” that may sweep the opposition Republicans to power in the House and Senate, Biden positioned himself as “middle-class” Joe as he attempts—with mixed success—to woo the blue-collar vote.
Speaking in the coastal city of Hallandale Beach, about 20 miles (30 kilometres) north of Miami, Biden said, “You’ve been paying for Social Security your whole life.”
“You earned it,” he said, referring to the benefits program for retirees. “Now these guys want to take it away. Who in the hell do they think they are?”
He warned against Florida Republican Senator Rick Scott’s proposal to put Social Security (which began in the 1930s) and Medicare (state-funded health insurance for anyone over 65, which has been in effect since the 1960s) up for a five-year vote in Congress.
Biden has been promising to go to Florida, a traditional “swing state” that has gone more strongly into the right column in previous cycles, and where 21 per cent of citizens are over the age of 65.
“Those are more than government programs,” he added during the speech.
“They are a promise. A promise we made as a country: if you work hard and contribute when it comes time to retire, we’re going to be there for you.”
Wrapping up his speech, the Democratic leader said, “God bless you all; God protect our troops, and God give some of our Republican friends some enlightenment.”
Speaking at Florida Memorial University in Miami, Biden outlined his administration’s changes on medicine and hearing aid costs, airline hidden fees, and student debt forgiveness, while blasting Republicans for being in the grip of “Big Pharma” and the rest of corporate America.
If Republicans seize control of Congress, “many of the biggest corporations will go back to paying zero taxes,” Biden said.
“It’s reckless, it’s irresponsible, it will make inflation worse, (and) it will badly hurt the working class and middle-class Americans.”
Biden played up his blue-collar roots, reminding attendees that “like many of you I come from a normal middle-class family. We know what it’s like when hard times hit,” he said. “We get it.”