2012 Presidential Election
Video exploring critical thinking and how it leads to great citizen involvement

Joe Biden

Democratic Vice Presidential Nominee

47th US Vice President



Positions & Statements on the Issues
Biography
Joe Biden's Positions & Statements on the Issues
Positions are categorized as Pro, Con, Not Clearly Pro or Con, or None Found.

Abortion "Should abortion remain a legal option in America?"

Pro: "I remember vividly the first time, in 1973, I had to go to the floor to vote on abortion. A fellow Senator asked how I would vote. 'My position is that I am personally opposed to abortion, but I don’t think I have a right to impose my few on the rest of society. I’ve thought a lot about it, and my position probably doesn’t please anyone. I think the government should stay out completely. I will not vote to overturn the Court’s decision. I will not vote to curtail a woman’s right to choose abortion. But I will also not vote to use federal funds to fund abortion.'

I’ve stuck to my middle-of-the-road position on abortion for more than 30 years. I still vote against partial birth abortion and federal funding, and I’d like to make it easier for scared young mothers to choose not to have an abortion, but I will also vote against a constitutional amendment that strips a woman of her right to make her own choice."
Promises to Keep, 2007
Abortion "Should parental consent be required for pregnant minors to have abortions?"

Con: Joe Biden, then US Senator (D-DE), on July 25, 2006, voted against the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act (S 403). The Congressional Research Service summary of the Act, available at thomas.loc.gov, states the following:

"Amends the federal criminal code to prohibit transporting a minor child across a state line to obtain an abortion (deems such transporting to be a de facto abridgment of the right of a parent under any law in the minor’s state of residence that requires parental involvement in the minor’s abortion decision). Makes an exception for an abortion necessary to safe the life of the minor."
"S.403 CRS Summary," thomas.loc.gov (accessed Sep. 5, 2012)
China "Is China an economic or military threat to the US?"

Con: "Let me be clear - let me be clear: I believed in 1979 and said so and I believe now that a rising China is a positive development, not only for the people of China but for the United States and the world as a whole.

A rising China will fuel economic growth and prosperity and it will bring to the fore a new partner with whom we can meet global challenges together. When President Obama and I took office in January of 2009, we made our relationship with China a top priority. We were determined to set it on a stable and sustainable course that would benefit the citizens of both our countries. Our Presidents have met nine times since then, including very successful state visits in Beijing and Washington, and have spoken numerous times by telephone...

We often hear about Chinese exports to the United States, but last year American companies in America exported $110 billion worth of goods and services to China, supporting hundreds of thousands of jobs in America. The American people and the Chinese people are hopefully - are becoming aware that it’s in our mutual interest in each of our countries to promote that exchange.

A more prosperous China will mean more demand for American-made goods and services and more jobs back home in the United States of America. So our desire for your prosperity is not borne out of some nobility. It is in our self-interest that China continue to prosper."
"Remarks by Vice President Biden on US-China Relations," iipdigital.usembassy.gov, Aug. 21, 2011
Criminal Justice "Should nonviolent drug users be jailed"

Not Clearly Pro or Con: "While we have made clear that the Obama administration does not support legalization or decriminalization of drugs, we welcome the opportunity to discuss the issue and work with partners in the region [Latin America] to ensure that our response to the challenges of the organized crime that affects so many lives in the region is the best...

As part of fulfilling our shared responsibility in this effort, we are committed to take steps to continue to reduce the consumption of illegal drugs in the United States.

As a result of our sustained efforts, the overall rate of drug use in America has fallen by more than a third in the last three decades. To ensure that the trend will continue and accelerate, President Obama and I have asked our Congress for another $10 billion for education and treatment programs for next year."

"Biden: 'We Can Create a More Secure and Prosperous Honduras,'" www.laprensa.hn, Mar. 6, 2012
Cuba "Should the US continue to support the embargo against Cuba?"

Pro
: Joe Biden, then US Senator (D-DE), on Mar. 5, 1996, voted in favor of the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act of 1996 (HR 927). The Congressional Research Service summary of the act, available at thomas.loc.gov, states the following:

"...Title I: Strengthening International Sanctions Against the Castro Government - Expresses the sense of the Congress that: (1) the acts of the Castro government, including systematic human rights violations, are a threat to international peace; (2) the President should instruct the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations to seek within the Security Council a mandatory international embargo against the Cuban Government..."
"HR 927 CRS Summary," thomas.loc.gov (accessed Sep. 5, 2012)
 
[Editor's Note: In Mar. 2009, while attending the Progressive Government Summit in Chile, Joe Biden, 47th US Vice President, was asked by a reporter if the United States was planning to lift the Cuban embargo. According to a Mar. 28, 2009 article "Biden: No Plans to Lift Cuba Embargo," available at www.cbsnews.com, he responded "No" to the reporter's question.]
Death Penalty "Should the death penalty remain a legal option in America?"

Pro: "As the author of two major federal crime laws that extend the availability of the death penalty to sixty additional crimes, I support capital punishment as a crime-fighting technique. But we must implement the death penalty in a way that is consistent with our values as Americans. Just as we would not execute a 12-year-old, I have long argued that we should not execute a mentally retarded person whose mental capacity might be far more limited. That's why I led the fight in 1990 to oppose the extension of the federal death penalty to mentally retarded persons."
"Biden Statement on Supreme Court Decision on the Execution of Mentally Retarded Individuals," biden.senate.gov (accessed at www.web.archive.org), June 20, 2002
Economy "Should the US federal government have bailed out US private financial corporations like AIG, Bank of America, Citigroup, etc.?"

Pro: Joe Biden, then US Senator (D-DE), on Oct. 1, 2008, voted in favor of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (HR 1424) which was the piece of legislation that bailed out private financial corporations like AIG, Bank of America, Citigroup, etc. The Congressional Research Service summary of the Act, available at thomas.loc.gov, contains the following text:

"...Authorizes the Secretary of the Treasury (Secretary) to establish the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) to purchase troubled assets from any financial institution, in accordance with terms, conditions, policies, and procedures the Secretary develops..."
"HR 1424 CRS Summary," thomas.loc.gov (accessed Sep. 6, 2012)
Economy "Should the US federal government have bailed out General Motors and Chrysler?"

Pro: "Let me tell you about how Barack saved more than 1 million American jobs. In our first days in office, General Motors and Chrysler were on the verge of liquidation. If the President didn't act immediately, there wouldn't be an industry left to save.

We listened to Senators, Congressmen, outside advisors, even some of our own advisors say - we shouldn't step in, the risks were too high, the outcome too uncertain. The President patiently listened. But he didn't see it their way. He understood something they didn't. He understood that this wasn't just about cars. It was about the Americans who built those cars and the America they built...

When I look back now on the President's decision, I also think of another son of an automobile man--Mitt Romney. Mitt Romney grew up in Detroit. His father ran American Motors. Yet he was willing to let Detroit go bankrupt. It's not that he's a bad guy. I'm sure he grew up loving cars as much as I did. I just don't think he understood - I just don't think he understood what saving the automobile industry meant to all of America."
"Transcript: Vice President Joe Biden's DNC Speech," www.abcnews.go.com, Sep. 6, 2012
Economy "Should Congress have increased the debt limit on Aug. 2, 2011 to prevent default?"

Pro: "There's not many people out there who think we can deal with our long-term economic stability without more revenues, as well as structural changes in entitlement programs. Those two things have to occur. They just have to occur. And sometimes it takes the kind of brinksmanship that was employed here [in the debt ceiling negotiations], which I think was extremely dangerous...

How can you explain the fact that grown men and women are unwilling to budge up till now, and still some of them are still unwilling to budge, by taking an absolute position: 'My way or no way.' That's not governing. That's no way to govern. You can't govern that way...

...I predict to you that a lot of those new members who came here with 'my way or the highway,' they'll either be on the highway or they'll learn that they have to have compromise."
"Biden on Debt Limit Plan: People Are Angry," www.cbsnews.com, Aug. 1, 2011
Economy "Should the government continue to fund Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac?"

Not Clearly Pro or Con: "The [Obama] Administration will work with the Federal Housing Finance Agency ('FHFA') to develop a plan to responsibly reduce the role of the Federal National Mortgage Association ('Fannie Mae') and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation ('Freddie Mac') in the mortgage market and, ultimately, wind down both institutions. We recommend FHFA employ a number of policy levers – including increased guarantee fee pricing, increased down payment requirements, and other measures – to bring private capital back into the mortgage market and reduce taxpayer risk. As the market improves and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are wound down, it should be clear that the government is committed to ensuring that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have sufficient capital to perform under any guarantees issued now or in the future and the ability to meet any of their debt obligations. We believe that under our current Preferred Stock Purchase Agreements (PSPAs), there is sufficient funding to ensure the orderly and deliberate wind down of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, as described in our plan.

Successful reform will require more than just winding down Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and reducing other government support to the housing market."
"Housing Finance Market: A Report to Congress," www.treasury.gov, Feb. 2011

[Editor's Note:  On July 26, 2008, Joe Biden, then US Senator (D-DE), voted in favor of the Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2008 (HR 3221).  In an Aug. 3, 2008 editorial, "OP-ED: Bill Would Help Shore up Foreclosure Crisis," published in the Delaware State News, Senator Biden explained why the act was necessary:

"As foreclosures grow, and housing values continue to weaken, they undermine the strength of our financial system — they become cracks in our country’s economic foundations. To shore up our economy, to strengthen essential financial institutions and to keep families in their homes in Delaware and across the country, the Congress has passed a housing- reform bill. It will protect families and communities and start to restore confidence to the institutions that finance our nation’s housing...

To shore up the essential financial institutions that keep our economy moving, we strengthen oversight of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and extend them a helping hand. Our bill provides the U.S. Treasury with temporary authority to loan them money — but only if they need it. In exchange, it puts those institutions under a tough new regulator. If the federal government is going to promise to back them up, it needs to have the power to be sure they are acting in the American people’s best interests."]

Economy "Should the United States return to the gold standard in which coin and currency are backed by gold?"

None Found: No position found as of Sep. 12, 2012 
Economy "Do most labor unions provide an overall benefit to their workers in the US?"

Pro: "Romney and Ryan don't think that much about you guys... They view you, the working women and men of America as the problem. We view you as the solution. Look folks, we know who built this country and we know who is going to rebuild it. It's you. Instead of vilifying you, we should be thanking you. We owe you...

Ladies and gentlemen, you, organized labor, are one of the reasons why this country is coming back. Folks, let me make something clear and say it to the press: America is better off today than they [the Bush Administration] left us when they left."
"Joe Biden to Labor Unions: We're with You," www.huffingtonpost.com, Sep. 3, 2012
Economy "Has the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) had an overall benefit for the US?"

Con: "OLBERMANN: All right. To continue with this in a 30-second fashion, Senator Biden, scrap NAFTA or fix it?...

BIDEN:  Hey, look, the president’s job is to create jobs, not to export jobs. And the idea that we are not willing to take the prime minister of Canada and the president of Mexico to the mat to make this agreement [North American Free Trade Agreement] work is just a lack of presidential leadership.

I would lead. I would do that. I would change it."
AFL-CIO Democratic Primary Forum, Chicago, IL, www.msnbc.com, Aug. 7, 2007
 
[Editor's Note: On Nov. 20, 1993, Joe Biden, then US Senator (D-DE), voted "Yea" on the passage of HR 3450 the North American Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act (NAFTA).]
Economy "Should the federal government continue to subsidize big oil companies?"

Con: "Instead of spending four billion dollars subsidizing the oil comapines, we should be putting that in alternative energy."
Interview with WAVY News's Andy Fox following speech in Norfolk, VA, "One-on-One Interview with VP Biden," www.wavy.com, Apr. 3, 2012
Economy "Is outsourcing jobs to other countries good for America?"

Con:  "The president and I are determined to replace the word 'outsourcing' for our children's generation with the word 'in-sourcing.'"
"Biden to Detroit Union Workers: 'It's Because of You We're Coming Back,'" www.mlive.com, Sep. 3, 2012
Education "Should sex education in our schools be based on abstinence only?"

Con: "Education is key in prevention and treatment; that is why I support comprehensive and age appropriate sex education that includes science-based prevention methods. Abstinence-only programs are not enough; we have to provide well-rounded education which includes information about contraception and avoidance of STIs (sexually transmitted infections)." 
2007 AIDSVote.org Presidential Candidates Questionnaire, as quoted in "McCain-Palin vs. Obama-Biden on HIV/AIDS Issues," www.thebody.com, 2008
Education "Has the No Child Left Behind Act been effective at improving public education?"

Con: "It was a mistake [voting for No Child Left Behind]. I remember talking with Paul Wellstone at the time. And quite frankly, the reason I voted for it, against my better instinct, is I have great faith in Ted Kennedy, who is so devoted to education.

But I would scrap it - or I guess, theoretically, you could do a major overhaul. But I think I'd start from the beginning.

You need better teachers. You need smaller classrooms. You need to start kids earlier. It's all basic.

My wife's been teaching for 30 years. She has her doctorate in education. She comes back and points out how it's just not working.

The bottom line here is that I would fundamentally change the way in which we approach this."
Democratic presidential debate, Charleston, SC, July 23, 2007
 
[Editor's Note:  Joe Biden, then US Senator (D-DE), on June 14, 2001, voted in favor of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (HR 1).]
Education "Is the use of federally mandated standardized tests improving education in America?"

Not Clearly Pro or Con: "We're losing too many children in this country, too much talent is being wasted, too much potential untapped.  We know what we need to do, and it is not No Child Left Behind, we need to do a... heck of alot more.  First of all, we have to stop focusing on just test scores... children need more than just test scores."
"Biden on Standardized Tests," YouTube.com, Dec. 26, 2007
Environment "Are humans substantially responsible for global climate change?"

Pro: "Well, I think it [climate change] is manmade. I think it's clearly manmade...

If you don't understand what the cause is, it's virtually impossible to come up with a solution. We know what the cause is. The cause is manmade. That's the cause. That's why the polar icecap is melting."
Vice presidential debate, St. Louis, MO, www.cnn.com, Oct. 2, 2008
Gun Control "Should most adults have the right to carry a concealed handgun?"

Not Clearly Pro or Con: "It's important that people be put in a position where their Second Amendment rights are protected, but that they also don't, as a consequence of the laws [Florida's Stand Your Ground law], unintendedly put themselves in harm's way...

The idea that there's this overwhelming additional security in the ownership and carrying concealed and deadly weapons... I think it's the premise, not the constitutional right, but the premise that it makes people safer is one that I'm not so sure of."
"Biden: Trayvon Case Could Spur Fla. Gun Law Debate," www.cbsnews.com, Mar. 31, 2012
Gun Control "Are more federal regulations on guns and ammunition needed?"

Pro: "I'm the guy that first passed and wrote the assault weapons ban and also tried to pass legislation relative to the size of magazines, that is those clips that hold all the bullets that get shoved up into the rifle... I as a Senator and I as an elected official have been on record as supporting, and we did originally have an assault weapons ban in place... but here is what’s going on right now in the Administration, there are a number of proposals coming forward that are going to be looked at by the Justice Department and the President will speak to as he takes a look at what some of the suggestions are relative to how to deal with what is deemed by most Americans as, you know, not appropriate or consistent with the 2nd amendment - which we strongly support."
"PBS News Hour Joe Biden and Jim Lehrer Discuss 'Gun Control' After Tucson,"  YouTube.com, Jan. 27, 2011
Health Care "Are the March 2010 federal health care reform laws ("Obamacare") good for America?"

Pro: "I understand the Republicans talking about Obamacare. I get that. They have been against it from the beginning, but you know, you go out there and take a look, Bob. Everywhere I go in the country, there's millions of people out there that are benefiting now. There are - there are those people with chronic diseases like cancer that don't have to worry about getting a phone call saying you're cut off, your insurance has run out. There are tens of thousands, several million kids who are on their parents' insurance policies that wouldn't be there before."
"'Face The Nation' Transcript: April 1, 2012," www.cbsnews.com, Apr. 1, 2012
Health Care "Should there be a federal mandate for individuals to have health insurance?"

Now Not Clearly Pro or Con: "Everywhere I go in the country, there's millions of people out there that are benefiting now. There are - there are those people with chronic diseases like cancer that don't have to worry about getting a phone call saying you're cut off, your insurance has run out...

We think - we think the mandate and the law is constitutional."
"'Face The Nation' Transcript: April 1, 2012," www.cbsnews.com, Apr. 1, 2012
 
Con:  On Oct. 25, 2007, Joe Biden, then US Senator (D-DE), was questioned about his Health Care Reform Plan during the Health Care 2008 Presidential Candidate Forums sponsored by the Federation of American Hospitals and Families USA, available at YouTube.com:

"I do not have mandates in my [health care reform] system... One word American’s don’t like, mandate, they don’t like the word mandate... I don’t want to make this hard, I want to make this simple, and not susceptible to what some of the insurance companies and the right wing will argue this is: a mandated socialistic system."
"Health Care and the 2008 Presidential Election," presidentialforums.health08.org (accessed at web.archive.org), Oct. 25, 2007
Health Care "Should all Americans have a right (be entitled) to basic health care?"

Pro: "...I would insure every single, solitary child in America and make sure catastrophic insurance exists for every single person in America, while we move toward a national health care system covering anybody."
"AFL-CIO Democratic Presidential Forum," www.msnbc.com, Aug. 7, 2007
Marriage "Should gay marriage be legal?"

Pro: "Who do you love? Who do you love and will you be loyal to the person you love? And that's what people are finding out is what all marriages at their root are about. Whether they're marriage is of lesbians or gay men or heterosexuals...

I am vice president of the United States of America... The president sets the policy. I am absolutely comfortable with the fact that men marrying men, women marrying women, and heterosexual men and women marrying another are entitled to the same exact rights, all the civil rights, all the civil liberties. And quite frankly, I don't see much of a distinction - beyond that."
NBC's Meet The Press, "May 6: Joe Biden, Kelly Ayotte, Diane Swonk, Tom Brokaw, Chuck Todd," www.msnbc.com, May 6, 2012
Medical Marijuana "Should marijuana be a medical option?"

Con:  "We have not devoted nearly enough science or time to deal with the pain management and chronic pain management that exists. There's got to be a better answer than marijuana. There's got to be a better answer than that. There's got to be a better way for a humane society to figure out how to deal with that problem." 
"Your Guide to the Candidates' Views on Medical Marijuana: Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE)," granitestaters.com (accessed at www.web.archive.org), May 12, 2007
Religion "Should creationism and Intelligent Design be taught as science in schools along with evolution?"

None Found:  No position found as of Sep. 13, 2012 
 
Taxes "Do lower taxes incentivize employers to hire more workers?"

Not Clearly Pro or Con:  "...[Romney] talks about another $2 trillion in tax cuts for the very wealthy. You're going to create jobs, is that how he's going to do it?...

He goes out there and he says, well, here's what we've got to do. We need another $2 trillion in tax cuts in the next 10 years? He proposes a tax cut in addition to continuing the Bush tax cut. For people making over a million bucks, they'll get another $250,000 a year in a tax cut...

...[I]f these guys would get out of the way - for example, had they passed our jobs bill, all the experts said it would create two million more jobs. Two million more jobs. These guys wouldn't even let us put back to work 400,000 teachers, firefighters and cops by a 0.5 percent tax on the first dollar after the first million you made. Come on, man."
NBC's Meet The Press, "May 6: Joe Biden, Kelly Ayotte, Diane Swonk, Tom Brokaw, Chuck Todd," www.msnbc.com, May 6, 2012
Taxes "Should any federal taxes be increased?"

Pro: "Everything is about priorities, so here are the choices, and it is not even a very hard choice, these guys came up with a solution, if you add a one-half of one-percent surtax on the 1,000,0001th dollar — in other words it doesn’t affect anybody who makes $999,000, it doesn’t affect anybody making $999,999 — and if you want to find the guy who make $1,000,0001, it only affects that $1. That’s the only thing the rate goes up on.

So let me put this in perspective, if you make $1.1 million, when god-willing this passes, you would pay next year, $500 more in taxes, you got that...

The millionaires know we should do this, they don't oppose it, they know it is the equatiable thing to do...

Ladies and gentlemen this is so simple...

Are you going to put 400,000 school teachers back in classrooms; are you going to put 18,000 cops back on the street, and 7,000 firefighters back into firehouses? Or are you going to save people with average income over $1 million a one-half of one-percent increase in tax on every dollar they make over a million."
Speech at the Russell Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, "VP Joe Biden Explains the Back to Work Act," YouTube.com, Oct. 19, 2011
Taxes "Should the wealthiest 1% of Americans be taxed more heavily?"

Pro: "Imagine what we could do if we had a president who had the nerve and the wisdom to understand that rich folks are just as patriotic as poor folks - you just have to ask them. I spoke to a group of millionaires about taking away their tax cut, and when I explained how I’d use it, they gave me a standing ovation.

Imagine if we eliminate the tax cut just for those people in the top 1%. The average income in that group is $1,485,000 a year. You’ve got to make $435,000 minimum to get into that bracket. You know what their tax cuts are gonna cost over the next 10 years? $600 billion.

Imagine you put that tax cut into homeland security and healthcare. For $26 billion, we could provide healthcare for every one of the 9 million uninsured children in the US... For $10 billion we could implement every one of the 9/11 Commission recommendations."
International Association of Fire Fighters presidential forum, Washington DC, "IAFF Presidential Forum Catches National Spotlight," www.iaff.org, Mar 14, 2007

Joe Biden's Biography

Title(s): 47th US Vice President
Personal Information:
Full Name: Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr.
Marital Status: Married
Birthdate: Nov. 20, 1942
Children: Three
Birthplace: Scranton, PA
Religion: Roman Catholic
Involvement:
  • 47th US Vice President, Jan. 20, 2009-present
  • President, US Senate, 2009-present
  • US Senator (D-Delaware), 1972 - Jan. 15, 2009
  • Chairman, Ranking Member, and Member, Senate Foreign Relations Committee, early 1990s - Jan. 2009
  • Chairman, Ranking Member, and Member, Senate Judiciary Committee, 1981 - Jan. 2009
  • Former Co-Chairman, Senate NATO Observer Group
  • Former Co-Chairman, Senate National Security Working Group
  • Former Vice Chairman, NATO Parliamentary Assembly
  • Former Co-Chairman, Congressional Fireman's Caucus
  • Former Co-Chairman, Congressional International Anti-Piracy Caucus
  • Former Member, Senate Democratic Steering and Coordination Committees
  • Former Member, Congressional Air Force Caucus
  • Former Member, National Guard Caucus
  • Former Member, Senate Auto Caucus
  • Former Member, Senate Biotechnology Caucus
  • Former Member, Congressional Port Security Caucus
  • Councilman, New Castle County, 1970-1972
Education:
  • JD, Syracuse University College of Law, 1968
  • BA, History & Political Science, University of Delaware, 1965
  • Archmere Academy, 1961
Affiliations and Memberships:
  • Adjunct Professor, Widener University School of Law, 1991-2009
  • Attorney, Private Practice, 1968-1972
Other:
  • As Vice President he was tasked with implementing the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
  • Ran for President in the 2008 election dropping out on Jan. 3, 2008
  • Ran for President in the 1988 election
Select Publications:
  • Promises to Keep: On Life and Politics, 2007
Contact Information:
Obama Campaign:

Phone: 312-698-3670
Fax: None listed
E-Mail: Contact form
Web Site: Biography at barackobama.com
Twitter: twitter.com/JoeBiden
Facebook: www.facebook.com/joebiden

White House:

Phone: 202-456-1111
Fax: 202-456-2461
E-Mail: Contact form
Web Site: White House biography

 

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