Biden: Administration's multi-front approach necessary

By David Sedore, Palm Beach

vp joe biden portraitWASHINGTON — Vice President Joe Biden defended the Obama administration’s attention to broad spectrum of issues, saying that to delay moving on any of them would be costly.

Critics have been critical of the administration’s attention to health care reform, energy policy, education and other matters, arguing that the broad approach has delayed action on nation’s No. 1 problem: the economy.

“We really have no choice,” Biden told reporters during a conference call/news conference Wednesday. “There’s not a single issue that could have been put aside.”

Beyond immediate need, Biden said action on health care, energy policy and eduction reforms are necessary in order to move the economy forward. Those three areas continue to be the administration’s policy priorities.

Biden cited a list of the administration’s accomplishments during it first 100 days in office that included passage of the stimulus package, expansion of health care coverage for children, the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the move to shut down Guantonamo, and shift troops out of Iraq.

“We moved to breath some life bak into the housing market,” Biden said. “We’re working like the devil to get out industry back on track.”

In other matters, Biden:

— Expressed confidence in the ability of both Chrysler and GM to reorganize successfully even if bankruptcy is involved. Chrysler filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization Thursday after signing an alliance with Fiat.

— Called Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter “absolutely independent” and declined to speculate on Specter’s switch from Republican to Democrat might affect the administration’s ability to pass legislation. The switch gives the Democrats 59 seats in the Senate, and 60 if and when Al Franken is seated.

Biden did say that Specter would feel more comfortable philosophically on the Democratic side of the aisle.

— Said the administration still supports Employee Free Choice and so-called card check legislation, which would give employees the option to unionize short of an election. “The present system is tilted against what was intended,” Biden said.

— Said the administration hopes to take on immigration reform before the end of the year but says it falls somewhere south of health care, education and energy reforms on its list of priorities.

“I don’t know if we can complete it this year, but we’ve got to start,” Biden said.

— Declined to embrace a single payer system as the most cost-effective way to provide universal health insurance. Biden did say some combination of budget cuts and revenue increases would be necessary to accomplish universal coverage while maintaining a private system.

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APRIL 30, 2009 click to go home
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