Biden wants to talk to Trump about lessons from past crises | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Biden wants to talk to Trump about lessons from past crises

In this image from video provided by the Biden for President campaign, Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a virtual press briefing Wednesday, March 25, 2020. (Biden for President via AP)
April 02, 2020 - 2:53 PM

WASHINGTON - Joe Biden said Thursday that he wants to speak with President Donald Trump in the hope that the president can “learn some lessons” from the Obama administration on how to deal with the coronavirus outbreak.

“We’ve been through this in a slightly different way in the past, and I hope they can learn some lessons from what we did right and maybe what we did wrong,” the former vice-president said during a virtual press briefing.

Biden’s aides have said they’re working to arrange a phone call with Trump to address his coronavirus response. The president said Wednesday that he would “love” to speak with Biden.

The prospective Democratic presidential nominee has touted his work in addressing the Ebola crisis that unfolded in 2014 as a possible model for how the federal government should deal with the current pandemic. But the current coronavirus outbreak has sickened and killed exponentially more individuals nationwide, with the infection rate topping 1 million on Thursday.

In recent weeks, Biden has offered his own proposals for dealing with the outbreak, which include expanding health care access, bolstering banks' lending ability and pushing out supplies to hospitals faster. Biden said on Thursday that he hoped, in particular, that Trump would expand the use of the Defence Production Act, which would shift U.S. manufacturing capabilities to focus on creating urgently needed medical supplies. But he also said if he spoke with Trump, he wouldn't try to claim credit for the president's moves.

“I think there’s things that the president can use early on from the experience we had before and take a look at it, and if he did, I wasn’t going to be out there saying he took my idea," Biden said. "It’s a matter of the president doing what can most effectively get things done now.” As he addressed reporters, Biden mentioned previous conversations with Trump, calling them “respectful” and “straightforward” without offering details. Trump and Biden would have encountered each other between Trump's 2016 election victory and Inauguration Day. A Biden press aide confirmed after Thursday's briefing that the two men have not spoken since the former vice-president launched his presidential bid last April.

Separately, Biden dismissed efforts from his last-remaining primary rival, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, to turn the pandemic into a new justification for his “Medicare for All” government insurance plan. Biden praised Sanders as “passionate” but said Medicare for All wouldn’t “make a difference” in the nation’s ability to combat COVID-19.

Biden maintains that his proposal to add a government plan –- a “public option –- to existing private health insurance markets would allow the U.S. to reach universal coverage without disrupting the health care delivery system as much as a single-payer overhaul. And he said Thursday that a government-run system would also face challenges in responding to the pandemic.

“The idea that this would have stopped the virus from occurring, the idea it would have been able to be implemented earlier, the idea it would have fundamentally changed anything — it’s just not accurate,” he said.

Sanders has made his renewed push for Medicare for All a theme of his new virtual campaign as he, like Biden, holds online town halls and makes the rounds on cable news and late-night talk shows.

“People are asking, ‘How does it happen where we spend twice as much per person on health care as any other nation, and yet our public health system is so weak?'” Sanders said on NBC's “Late Night with Seth Meyers” earlier this week. “A Medicare for All system is designed to provide quality care for all, to do preventative work in order to prepare for some types of pandemics, not simply to make huge amounts of money for the insurance companies and the drug companies.”

Sanders’ plan posits an entirely government-financed model displacing private insurance and ending individuals’ premiums, co-pays and other out-of-pocket costs. Biden’s approach expands subsidies for private insurance and the proposed “Medicare-like” public plan for certain middle-income Americans, with cost-free enrolment in the public plan for low-income residents.

Biden was also critical of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s stated opposition to a fourth coronavirus response package. Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have discussed a massive infrastructure plan, with the president floating a $2 trillion price tag.

“The majority leader of the Senate was wrong and slow last time around,” Biden said, referring to the most recent $2.2 trillion economic aid package that Trump already signed, “and he’s wrong and slow this time around.”

Even as Biden insisted he wanted a good-faith call with Trump and would be happy for the president to take his recommendations on dealing with the crisis, he continued to criticize Trump's response to the crisis as too slow and suggested it was difficult for Americans to trust him.

Implementing a relief package like the one Trump signed last week, Biden said, “takes more than tweets and press conferences. It’s hard. It’s painstaking work.”

“He hadn’t had a great record so far when it comes to delivering real help to the American people in a timely fashion," he added. “I hope this time is different.”


Barrow reported from Atlanta.

News from © The Associated Press, 2020
The Associated Press

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