“I know your Legislature is working to raise the minimum wage, but I think it’s long past $12. I think it’s long past time it should be $15 an hour across the United States of America,” Joe Biden said in Henderson Tuesday.
The former Vice President spoke to a wall-to-wall crowd of people at the Union of Painters and Allied Trades Local 159 Union Hall in Henderson with a stump speech tailored toward America’s workers with a focus on corporate greed and income inequality.
It was the second time in as many days that a presidential candidate characterized a bill in the Nevada Legislature to raise the minimum wage to $12 by 2023 as inadequate. “It’s not enough,” New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said Monday when asked about Nevada’s proposal.
Biden, making his first visit to Nevada since officially announcing his candidacy for the presidency April 25, ticked off a number of priorities. In addition to raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, Biden supported affordable housing, closing tax loopholes, and rolling back the tax cuts Trump and Republicans passed in 2017 that Biden said overwhelmingly helped the wealthy and corporations.
In a 30 minute speech, the 76-year-old also said that corporations have broken their “basic bargain” with American workers, explaining that workers who contribute to the success of an enterprise should get a share the benefits
“Wall Street, bankers, hedge fund managers, they did not build this country, you built this country,” Biden said.
“The only people who benefit when a company does well are CEO’s and the shareholders.”
Biden was scheduled to attend a fundraiser later Tuesday hosted by MGM Resorts International CEO Jim Murren. MGM is in the process of laying off a thousand employees as part of its “MGM 2020″ plan, which Murren has described to shareholders as “aimed at leveraging a more centralized organization to maximize profitability.” The layoffs have prompted the D. Taylor, the president of the Culinary union’s parent union UNITE HERE, to chide MGM.
“We will not stand by silently if the benefits of casinos and casino jobs are imperiled by the financial engineering of hedge funds and other Wall Street firms trying to extract value by cutting service levels, slashing wages and benefits, and reducing capital reinvestment,” Taylor wrote to Murren in an April 9 letter.
In Henderson Tuesday, Biden said companies act in the interest of maximizing profits, adding that it was the government’s “moral obligation” to rebuild the middle class, which he called “the backbone of the country.”
Biden also called for investing in green energy infrastructure and praised the Nevada Legislature “for leading the way” in renewables and increasing Nevada’s renewable portfolio standard to 50 percent by 2030.
“Cleaner, safer, faster infrastructure,” Biden said, mentioning that he had proposed to former president Barack Obama the construction of “recharging stations all along every interstate highway in the United States of America.”
On healthcare, Biden said he supported allowing people to buy into Medicare, stopping well short of many of his Democratic rivals who have advocated for “Medicare for all.” He railed against Republican efforts to overturn the Affordable Care Act and called for the continued coverage of preexisting conditions in insurance plans.
Biden criticized the tax bill passed by Republicans in 2017, which he said did not help everyday workers. It is time to “reward work not just wealth,” Biden said, pledging to reverse the tax cuts to the wealthy while getting rid of loopholes.
“I’m going to change it so the super wealthy pay their taxes,” Biden said.
Biden also attacked President Donald Trump throughout his speech, whom he said has acted only in the interests of his political base, adding that defeating Trump was equivalent to a “battle for the soul of American.”
“This is about a lot more than politics this is bigger than a political decision,” said Biden adding that “all that makes America, America” is at stake.