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Biden touts recovery

BY ALEKSANDRA VUJICIC | FEBRUARY 13, 2015 5:00 AM

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DES MOINES — Vice President Joe Biden and the Obama administration may be entering the home stretch of their time in the White House, but Biden says the Obama strategy needs to stay.

The vice president spent roughly an hour and a half addressing the Drake University community in the Sheslow Auditorium on Thursday.

He touted the Obama administration’s ability to take the country from “crisis” to “recovery” and now on the path to significant resurgence and re-establishing the middle class, urging Democratic hopefuls to follow Obama’s footsteps.

Outlining the 2016 presidential race, Biden said those seeking leadership roles should “own what we have done. Stand for what we have done. Acknowledge what we have done. And be judged on what we have done.”

Biden highlighted the stark differences between GOP’s “top-down” approach to economics and the Democratic working “from the middle out,” which he said the country has been built on.

He asked the audience, “Are we going to continue resurgence, focus on growing the middle class” or “return to policies that, I would argue, have failed the country”?

He said the opposition focuses on lowering taxes on the wealthy while placing less emphasis on sustaining social programs. He noted that the country hasn’t seen a greater concentration of wealth in the top 1 percent since the 1920s.

“I hope you all end up being millionaires and billionaires, but the last thing somebody making more than $1 million a year now needs is another tax cut,” he told the crowd, made up mostly of Drake students. “They’re OK. They’re doing just fine.”

Drake junior and political-science major Ben Verhasselt said the speech was about apolitical as it could’ve been heading into election season, but he also acknowledged Biden’s attacks on Republican opponents.

“There were also a lot of very charged statements and trying to instill confidence in their economic policies of the last five six years,” he said.

Biden gave credit to the Obama administration for changing the economic dynamic and putting wealthy families on a level playing field with the rest of the country, while touting new programs and tax incentives rolled out in Obama’s newly released budget.

The programs include tax cuts for working-class families and higher tax rates for the wealthiest Americans.

Biden also promoted two free years of community college.

“Six out of 10 jobs now require more than 12 years of education,” he said. “What allowed us to lead the world from the late 1890s to today? We’re the first nation in the world that had universal education, free education for 12 years. Does anybody think that’s enough?”

Drake University senior and student-body President Joey Gale, who introduced Biden, said the vice president’s speech was well-received by the audience, especially because college students want to hear about finances surrounding higher education.

“Getting to college, especially a private institution, it’s definitely a challenge for students,” he said. “It seems to be one of the biggest roadblocks for students these days, especially for their families, so I’m glad he touched on those.”

The announcement of Biden visiting Iowa, a key caucus state, sparked speculation about a 2016 run for president, but Jennifer Konfrst, a political-communication assistant professor at Drake, said it didn’t seem to be a tightly scripted speech of somebody who’s running for office.

“It was certainly the kind of speech that didn’t seem to be tight-messaged focus-group speech, so if an announcement is impending, this speech wasn’t a part of that big-picture strategy,” she said.


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