Editor’s note: During an exclusive post town-hall interview on Monday with former Vice President Joe Biden, the Herald had the opportunity to ask a few other questions regarding his veteran’s policies and a few other topics.
• Why are you so devoted to veterans issues?
I often say and I have been saying it on the floor of the Senate since I got there, America only has one sacred obligation and that is to care for those we send to war and when they come home with their families. Right now there is an enormous number of young women and men, who are in their late 30s, early 30s and they are coming home with post traumatic stress and serious mental problems the suicide rate is very high. Over 20 a day in some estimates. One of the things we are finding out is that they VA cant handle the volume. I think it’s literally a national emergency that we provide the service that are available.
• Tell about your plan for an Iowa Veterans Steering Committee, consisting of 30 men and women that have served in the military that were chosen for their knowledge of the service.
[They are] people who know about the service, know about the problems and believe as I do that it’s a sacred obligation to respond to them.
• Why do you disapprove of Pres. Trump’s United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement?
I’m not satisfied with the enforcement mechanisms. We went down this road before with NAFTA, they said it would be enforced. That there was a mechanism, but the mechanisms weren’t strong enough to enforce it.
The only reason I voted for it is because we said we could enforce it, so that in fact if you were selling automobiles, but you were polluting the air while doing it because you could do it cheaper and you didn’t collect all the stuff, like we put smoke stack on our paint shops.
Well the fact is that I want to know that it is able to be enforced and I want to make sure of that. If I’m President, no deal is going to be made anywhere in terms of trade, without environmentalist sitting at the table and labors sitting at the table. It’s so we know their getting the fair shake.
• What are your plans for expanding rural infrastructure, if elected?
There’s a number of things. First of all, it goes all the way from if you’re a child a business and or a farmer in rural Iowa and you don’t have access to high speed broadband, you’re behind the curve and you got a problem, number one.
Number two, if you don’t have access to transportation when these roads are being wiped out because of global warming and flooding. If we’re not rebuilding roads in a way that they can be susceptible to the changes that have already took place in the environment and build new green infrastructure, then you’ve got a problem.
The other thing is, for example, 60 percent deaths from trauma occur in rural America, they can’t get to a hospital, they can’t get there in time. You have a lot of hospitals at the brink of shutting down in this state and a lot of other states, because of the way in which we’re not refunding them. And we’re limiting them to the Medicare reimbursement charge and that’s not enough to keep the hospital going. That’s why I have a problem with Medicare.
So we have to deal with that as well. In addition, one of the things that I think is going to make a big difference is, if you allow rural America, particularly, for example out here, to deal with renewables, to deal with the whole idea of whether or not we can use corn stock for ethanol, as a transition to cut down environmental pollution. It provided about $2 billion in wealth to the state of Iowa. Just like when the President and I were pushing wind energy and solar energy, it was, “oh, no, no, no.”
Well look at what it’s doing now here in Iowa. You’ve got to provide for the ability of farmers to be able to make it. I think we should have kept the agreement that President Obama and I made, and take on the oil industry. We put about 100 million dollars in providing for gas pumps that could pump ethanol as a blend.
And we should be doing a lot of research on being able to get farmers in a position where they’re going to be able to make money and not hurt the environment by improving the environment. Become the folks who use everything from switchgrass on to be able to produce energy that does not pollute, and in fact, be used as a transition to a complete clean energy position.”
Following the Oskaloosa Town Hall and Herald interview, former Vice President traveled to Grinnel, Iowa for another town hall with CNN.