Former us vice-president Joe Biden, who has been on the trail of the campaign in Iowa this week, sat down with CNBC’s John Harwood on Thursday to discuss a range of topics, including trade, health care, taxes and the president’s position Donald Trump among the world leaders.
Biden has fallen behind its rivals democrats for the presidency, mayor Pete Buttigieg, and senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders in the recent polls of voters in Iowa, which will hold the first competition for appointment in the nation in February. However, it has always been at the head of the national surveys.
Here is a transcript of the interview with Biden and Harwood.
John Harwood : Mr. vice president, thank you for joining us.
Joe Biden: Thank you for being here.
John Harwood : How is this bus tour ? I had an exchange crazy this morning.
Joe Biden: well, actually, it was a bit of fun. The fact is that we have a great bus tour. We have about 660 miles. We are going on the sixth day. A few thousands of people have arisen. They are enthusiastic about it. It was interesting the response from the crowd when that guy took the word.
John Harwood : Let me ask you a question a bit on how you manage your program. You have argued that Trump is an aberration. If you beat it, you can then return things to normal, implement your economic agenda of the middle class the way we are accustomed to. We are in a situation now where the republican senators repeat what is known to be propaganda Russian, including the propaganda of your subject. How do you come to normal ?
John Harwood: But to the point of not the republican Party of your father, some of the things on your program of tax and spending are things that republicans have blocked you when you were the vice-president, before Trump.
Joe Biden: Yes, I agree. But now, we had Trump. There are two ways in which people are inspired by, John. They are inspired by people inspiring as John Kennedy and they are inspired by very bad people, bad presidents such as Donald Trump.
And what people have seen now, is that his tax policy has been a disaster for the middle class and a disaster for them, and that there is plenty of room to be able to do things that have a lot of sense. I’ve always been of the opinion that tax policy is not to punish people. This is to give everybody a chance, to give everybody a perspective equal. And so, when I asked, for example, there is overwhelming evidence now that the idea is that the tax on capital gains favors the growth is simply not the case. We should charge people the same tax for their capital gains tax rate. And I think we should bring back the tax rate to, for example, I hark back to what it was before it was reduced.
It could go higher, but at 39.5%, 40%, mainly if you have capital gains, which raises, I brought, I’m not going to bore you with it, but you’ve seen it, I brought a chart is how much money each of these things raise.
John Harwood : I saw this graph.
Joe Biden: But I think they are all realistic now. I think that the ability to say to people: “Look, we should begin to reward work as much as we do well.” And you have a significant number of republicans who are not multi-millionaires, thinking that this makes a lot of sense.
John Harwood : Let me return in the divisions. A few years ago, after the adoption of the Affordable Care Act, I’ve interviewed president Obama and asked him if he feared that we are divided not only by party and by ideology but also by race.
Joe Biden: No. John, I think that it happened. Look at the election of 2018. I went in 24 States with more than 65 candidates on health care. The thing about Barack was, I used to always tell him, “We should take a tour win on what has happened in Obamacare.”
He said : “We don’t have the time.” Everything except locusts have landed on his desk. It is only when the republicans began to remove all of a sudden the people said: “Whoa, I didn’t know that this is where I got that from.”
And look at what we did. We won 41 seats, the seats the republicans in the areas of purple and red. You have not heard republicans say , “I’m going to remove your cover for pre-existing.” Because they have understood. The only thing that Trump has done, he removed the bandage and said: “This is who I am. This is what we have done.
This is, for example, the idea that we are in a position where there is no minimum tax on companies that pay nothing, make billions and billions of dollars. Where I come from in Delaware, a lot of republicans do, they think, Whoa, it doesn’t work. It is not fair. Other companies do not think it is fair. There are so many things that have been exposed now.
John Harwood : Let me ask you about another aspect of the divide. What we have seen, it is a geographical divide on the economic plan. And cities more diverse, better educated and more focused on the digital make the best income. Places such as the county of Chickasaw here in Iowa is lagging, lower levels of education and growing levels of resentment and cultural, which was to the advantage of the republican Party. That is what you do about it?
Joe Biden: well, it is also moved. The president said Trump has said that he will take care of the man forgotten. He has been elected and has forgotten. Look at what the county of Chickasaw here now. Basically, an area conservative in the past, but now all of a sudden they realize that its foreign policy is to kill them, kill them. Its inability to invest in the education of the kills. Being able to bring the teachers, the attitude towards rural hospitals kills.
John Harwood : But we have seen farmers say : “I don’t like the president. It is on my side. It helps us to compensate.
Joe Biden: there will be people who hold on to them. Remember, we lost by about 172 000 votes. agree? So, you don’t have to retake, you do not have to fundamentally change anything. But you need to let people know that all the meetings that I had, I spoke of the incredible opportunity in rural America, leading America through the 21st century, for real.
We are the only country in the world to have been able to do in the face of severe crises and turn them into real opportunities. The agriculture of global warming will be the epicentre of the first, and I predict, the first zone of zero net, zero-carbon because of the way the technology is evolving, where farmers can make a lot of money not only growing and selling their crops , but with the cover crops, with the treatment of the absorption of carbon. with the implementation.
I know that it’s not going to sound good on television, but you know that there is a lot of chicken manure in Delaware because it was a large region. There are a lot of pig manure and cattle. Well guess what? We learned how to pelletize it. Pull out the methane gas, use it for energy and be able to sell this pure substance that is not damaging to the environment abroad. We are going to see small plants spring up in all corner. Or, for example, ethanol. Ethanol, the salaries of the ethanol plants are not 15 dollars an hour, $ 45 per hour. They have generated important economic revenue.
John Harwood : Let me ask you questions on an agricultural issue in particular.
Joe Biden: of course.
John Harwood : agricultural exports have been affected by the trade war. He has had grants to compensate. If you become president, these rates are-they cancelled the first day?
Joe Biden: These duties are in terms of farmers, but other duties may continue in terms of the violation of the theft of intellectual property, violating the WTO.
John Harwood : So, for all those who say that the rates create uncertainty and undermine the economy, you think that some of them are justified?
Joe Biden: well, for example, on the dumping of steel, it is justified. It is justified. The excess of steel, they discharge at a lower cost. It is in fact designed to reduce our market of steel and our steel production. But the idea to make us pay the farmer for what they have worked like hell to do so, to provide and to have a market in China, has no meaning. It is not about the deficit (trade). This is what they do, unfairly, to change the rules of world trade.
It is 25% of the global economy. When we were ready to bring our allies with us, China should listen to. But this time, we need to have a job and the environmentalist at the table, to the table. And then what happens, is that we can begin to set once again the rules of fair trade at the international level.
John Harwood : In relation to the gap we’re talking about, Sanders and Warren have argued that they were in favour of the reduction of the gap with the large universal programs that everyone enjoys. Given the popularity of medicare and social security as universal programs, why were they wrong?
Joe Biden: well, because they are not honest about how much it will cost. If you take a look at where the democratic Party is and where the american people are, they are not supporting Medicare for all. First of all, it’s going to take their own admission for four to 10 years for that to happen, number one. It will cost between $ 30 trillion and $ 40 trillion dollars over 10 years. This is not realistic, will raise taxes on the middle class people. This is exactly the opposite of what we need to do.
I have a plan to be very bold. I take it that Obamacare, by adding a public option to it, which means Medicare for the people who want to buy in this, or if they are already eligible for Medicaid, they automatically enroll. I am also cross-subsidize the plans that exist under Obamacare, so that the largest deduction that you would have to pay for a copay would be $ 1000 in a plan that is gold and you are allowed to keep your insurance if you like it.
John Harwood: Nancy Pelosi says Medicare for all is not an idea that she is in favor of. You say that this is not a good idea, even if you can do without ?
Joe Biden: well, I think that this is not a necessary idea. Theoretically, this is logical on the bottom. But the fact is that there is no way to do it. Our entire budget for a year, every thing is not in addition to what it would cost for health insurance for a year. It is a question of whether we can do something great that can be done and benefit the people. The only thing I don’t like about the health insurance for all, there are about 160 million people who have negotiated and take pay cuts to get a better insurance coverage with their companies, and they love it.
John Harwood: do you Think that it is a problem economically, politically, even morally for the democrats to be in a position to offer a lot of free stuff?
Joe Biden: I think that there are important things that we have to offer for free for people who need basic health care, basic education, to basic needs that relate to the way in which they can live their life. I think that for many people who must be free. Listen, it comes to reduce the right food, for the love of God, for Christmas.
John Harwood : That is correct. But you have seen the objection. People say, “Oh, these democrats, they promise just this and this.”
Joe Biden: It is necessary to straighten a little the market here. If you have all the tax breaks, essentially all the tax breaks, all the benefits that go through the top one-10th of 1% there has never been such a large concentration of wealth, including return to the Great Depression, ever.
One of the things that worries me the most about this, John, is that the middle class gets killed. The middle class is currently in a position where more than half of them do not think that children will ever have the same level of life than them.
John Harwood: But it is there that the tax on capital Sanders and Warren enters into force. It polls quite well. The criticisms of the republicans, as some democrats eminent say two things about this, two objections. First, this is not feasible. And two, it is punitive. Do you agree with these two objections?
Joe Biden : Some parts of the plan, these objections apply. But here’s the deal: my point of view is that you have to reform the whole tax code, not just have a single tax on a single group of people. For example, if, in fact, we are able to do so and I think we can make you to pay on the capital gains, coupons to cut, your money to make money, the same rate that you pay your regular taxes. If, in fact, you eliminate a thing called base increased, which is not an estate tax.
John Harwood: This is one of the things that you guys tried and could not do under Obama.
Joe Biden: No, but we can now. Once the show carny arrives with the guy with the pea in the shell, three shells and no pea under any shell the second time it comes around, they understand.
They know that there are a number of things that have no meaning in the tax code, which punish the working class, the middle class and benefiting unduly to the people who, in fact, do not need these tax cuts.
And that’s the purpose, John. This is a dynamic policy that allows the demagogues to spread and divide the country in two. It is not that we need a middle class. This is not fair. It is removing the argument that he has so well used. “The reason for which you do not have your job is not to pay as much because of all these immigrants. The reason why is …” and so on. And we must put an end to it. And there is a way to do it. It is in our wheelhouse to be able to do.
John Harwood: The secretary of the Treasury Mnuchin said today that it opposed a tax on financial transactions, as some in the race supported, because it would destroy the financial markets. It is for this reason that you have rejected this idea ?
Joe Biden: No, I still think we should do it. I think we should have a tax on financial transactions. But I focused on what I think that I could do, to get it done quickly and to pay for all of what I’m talking about, Because look, the president has increased with his income tax reduction profligate for the very wealthy to the deficit of $ 1 trillion, $ 900 billion. It can’t be supported. It can’t be supported.
And the argument that I use when he has adopted it if, when I was up against, I was asked to go to the Room and talk in the steps of the Capitol and what I pointed out is that everything is designed to be able to justify the eliminate all of the safety net. “The reason why we need to reduce the safety net now is that we have this terrible deficit. “When they controlled the Congress before 18, what was the first thing that the budget committee was doing ? They move to raise taxes on the health insurance of more than $ 500 billion.
John Harwood: But now, here’s what some democrats are saying. They say that we have seen that the deficits policies do not have much importance. On the economic front, this has in fact helped the economy Trump short-term. Taking all this into account, would it be okay with you spending more than the amount that you could raise taxes to pay for it?
Joe Biden: It depends on the circumstances in which we find ourselves when we are elected. Look at what we had to do. To get out of the financial recession, that has been the great recession, a sort of depression in american history, the president asked me to chair the recovery act, which was $ 900 billion, and we have done it. Most of the economists and conservatives have recognized that we were probably saved from a depression. But what we have done at the same time, it is because we have been able to invest in things that, in fact, have made to grow the economy at the same time.
This is exactly the opposite of what Trump has done. What he did was not to grow the economy. He did not grow the economy. There are circumstances where it is necessary to spend to generate economic growth, but it is necessary that there is a way to make up for the delay. Otherwise, you find yourself in a situation where you have to make terrible choices, terrible.
John Harwood: Is it that you are always in favor of the amendment on the balanced budget for which you have voted for in 1995?
Joe Biden: No, because we are in a different place now. I hope that this is not true, but we’ll end up probably in a recession, at least of a major economic slowdown. It boggles the mind.
John Harwood: do you Think that this vote was a mistake?
Joe Biden: No, not then. Everything is the context. One of the reasons why I like to give an interview with you, is that you know the context. I’m not a guy wise. 1995 was a very different place from what we find today.
It is a matter of knowing how to grow the economy. For example, it is very logical that we said that okay, why is it that if you give a contribution to a charity, I will not say to you, I want to say that you, éditorialement, someone in the tax bracket of 20 per 100 can take a break of 20 per 100 for this. Well, someone who is in the tax bracket of 40%, they actually have the chance to deduct 40% of it. Why is it that ? What is it made of ? I limit, for example, no tax relief you get. No deduction can you take it is more than 28%.
John Harwood: another thing Obama tried to do, could not do.
Joe Biden: But we’re going to do it. Because things have changed.
Joe Biden : This is a big economic problem. And one of the things that I said I’d do as president is put in place within the department of Justice a new entity to go back and watch the mega mergers that have taken place and those that are proposed to occur. There is a lot of concentration of power. And judge whether or not it was logical for that to happen.
One of the things that is always happening from one administration to another, even within the same party, it is that you go back and you look at the consequences and what has been done. There is too much concentration of power. And I’m not disagreeing with the point Elizabeth how we’re going to make this judgment remains to be seen. I don’t think you go and make judgment in choosing a particular company. I think you speak of what happened when we focused the power.
John Harwood: do you Think that you guys would have had to do more in the Obama administration?
Joe Biden: Look, remember, everything has landed on the plate of the presidents, but the locusts. We finally arrived at the place where we got not only the car out of the ditch and kept going over the cliff, we put new tires on it. We have started to tune the engine. He was running at 40 miles an hour. We were ready to make it run faster. It has been lost. The democrats have lost the election.
We are thus facing a different problem now. How can we go back and regain the momentum that we obtained in class. There are many things that you can return in each jurisdiction and say: “well, may-be would have done something different.” But for the moment, there was not much else to do at this time.
John Harwood: The president, Trump has been very strong in tearing up the president of the Fed Powell. Do you think that Powell is doing a good job, and is he the kind of person that you would retain or put on the Fed?
Joe Biden: I’m not going to get into personalities, but I say this: the president should not try to put pressure on the Fed. We have not done it. It is supposed to be an independent entity here. It’s like the way he makes pressure on the army, and is involved in the chain of command. It is his way to abuse the power. This is a big mistake. A big mistake, and I would not do it.
John Harwood: well, here is the related issue that if he knows, and the issue is it cares?
This is what I request. First of all, you may remember John Kerry who has helped you today, mocked in 2004 as being too French. A couple of people in these videos where Emmanuel Macron and Justin Trudeau. Do you think that as an elite, non-elite question, he does not care?
Joe Biden: I do not think that it is to be elite. I think he is being smart or not so smart. I think that it is to be wicked, or not wicked. It is a question of coddling Russia is trying to break with Europe and NATO or to stick to our friends.
John Harwood : this is what I was going to say. These people in this video were leaders of NATO. Vladimir Putin wants NATO to be weakened and divided. Nancy Pelosi today, when she announced the drafting of articles of impeachment stated that, essentially, the Russia of 2016 scandal and the scandal of the Ukraine are different pieces of the same story, that all roads lead to Putin. You see things like that yourself ?
Joe Biden: Yes, in Europe. Absolutely, positively. I know Putin. I spent time in private with Putin. I looked him in the eyes, as they say. This is a guy who had a desire important : break up NATO and to withdraw the America of Europe, the Alliance’s euro-atlantic. Because it is the only thing that it can’t penetrate if it is strong.
But if you have 28 nations who are all in their own way, it becomes much more powerful. And what happens when you live next to the bear, and that you don’t have someone who protects you, and that you don’t have this gun to make sure that the bear won’t have you ? And then, in fact, you begin to make accommodations.
John Harwood: And why do you think that the president Trump wants to help?
Joe Biden: I do not think that the president of the United States today has an idea of the geopolitical concerns. I remember that he said, seriously, a few months into his administration, “You know that this job is more difficult than the management of a real estate empire.” He knows nothing of foreign policy. He knows nothing of nuclear deterrence. He does not know anything. In fact, in private, I have encouraged a number of generals, senior officials of the department of State, foreign policy experts to remain in the administration. Don’t leave. Look at what happened.
John Harwood: But your judgment, then, that it is the ignorance, that he does not understand the geopolitical, as opposed to it is deliberately help Russia and Putin because he is compromised in some way?
Joe Biden: All I know is that the results are the same. I can’t read his thoughts. He has done things that seem to me to be totally contrary to the reality. When he stands in front of in the world to a meeting of the G-20 and said that I believe that Vladimir Putin has not interfered in our elections and the 18 intelligence agencies who work for us, in fact, do. They think he did, but I think they are wrong. What is it ?
John Harwood : That is the question.
Joe Biden: I don’t know. But the result is the same. It has considerably weakened our position in the world. Survey was released not long ago, Gallup and Pew showing that we ranked just below China in the respect and just above Russia. What’s going on there? Listen, when we’re not in the lead, we led the world by example, not only of our power but the power of our example.
There are three things that I have learned. I learned that Vladimir Putin does not want me to be president. This is why he spends a lot of money for these bots trying to lie on me. I learned that Kim Jong One thinks I’m a mad dog should be beaten to death with a stick, and he receives a love letter from Trump. And I learned that Donald Trump doesn’t want me to be the best candidate.
This president is the politician’s most unusual that I have worked with. And it does not seem to have the slightest idea who we are. It rips the heart and soul of this country. It really is. I sit down sometimes and I ask myself: “Whoa, I don’t know if …” – well, I shouldn’t speculate because I don’t know, to be honest.
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