Former Vice President Joe Biden asserted Wednesday that working-class Americans face losing most of their safety net – notably Medicare, Social Security and the Affordable Care Act – if Republicans keep control of Congress.
The GOP’s aim, he said, was to make up some of the money that they spent with their massive tax-cut package passed in late 2017.
“If they keep the House and Senate, they will emasculate Medicare,” Biden said at a rally for Democratic candidates Wednesday at the Machinists union hall in Bridgeton.
Biden declared that’s why Democrats need to re-elect Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, along with several area Democratic candidates for the U.S. House.
“The middle class is being killed,’’ he said.
The Bridgeton event was the second of two area rallies featuring Biden – a possible 2020 candidate for president.
McCaskill faces Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley in one of the closest Senate contests in the country. She touted the latest Fox News poll that showed the duo tied.
President Donald Trump is slated to make two Missouri stops in the next five days for Hawley: Thursday in Columbia, and Monday in Cape Girardeau.
Biden praised McCaskill as “one of the most unique people of the United States Senate,’’ because of her willingness to work with both parties.
“We’ve got to govern,’’ Biden said. “We need people who are authentic, who don’t bully or belittle people … People who simply tell the truth.”
Biden jabbed at Hawley for being part of a lawsuit to do away with the Affordable Care Act’s protections – including the mandate that insurance companies cover pre-existing conditions — while also promising to protect such coverage.
Biden said that seems to be the playbook for Republican candidates around the country, as well as Trump. “These guys are not telling the truth, or they’re really stupid,’’ he said, igniting cheers from the crowd. A few shouted, “Both.”
Biden said health care was a key reason why Democrat Cort VanOstran – who also is running on that issue – needed to defeat U.S. Rep. Ann Wagner in the 2nd District. VanOstran and Wesley Bell, the Democratic nominee for St. Louis County prosecutor, joined the vice president and McCaskill on stage.
Biden then segued into his broader point, made at both rallies, that Americans need to confront the hatred, divisiveness and violence that seems to be roiling the country.
“Hate will continue to grow if we do not speak up and speak out,’’ he said.
Biden recalled the days when Missouri Republican John C. Danforth – known for working with both parties – was in the Senate. “This is not Danforth’s Republican Party,’’ Biden declared.
He didn’t mention that Danforth now backs Hawley.
Biden stumps for Kelly, Pritzker in Illinois
Biden’s first stop was across the Mississippi River at the Iron Workers hall in Fairmont City. That’s in the heart of the 12th Congressional District, which features one of the most competitive U.S House races between St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly and GOP incumbent Rep. Mike Bost.
Biden urged the crowd to turn out in force Tuesday, saying it was especially important to elect Kelly.
“This election really matters. It really matters,” Biden said. “And the fact of the matter is we’re in a situation where the character of the country is on the ballot.”
Biden said Kelly had more “character in his little finger” than most people have in their whole body. He lamented the spate of violence last week, including the murders of two African-Americans in Kentucky and the massacre at a Pittsburgh synagogue.
“Folks, the words that are being spoken matter,” Biden said. “They’re sinking into the psyche of our children. And our silence is complicity. And folks, we will not be silent.”
Biden also heaped praise on JB Pritzker, the Democratic nominee for governor who is taking on GOP incumbent Bruce Rauner.
“This is a guy you can count on,” Biden said. “Whatever he says he’ll do, he does it.”
Most polls show Pritzker, who has poured an unprecedented amount of his own money into his campaign, with a sizable lead over Rauner.
Winning Illinois’ 12th District is a trickier exercise. Bost captured the previously Democratic district in 2014 and developed a reputation as a hard campaigner.
Bost has credited the president’s tariffs with revitalizing the steel industry in Granite City and Trump was in Murphysboro on Saturday to campaign for him.
In his remarks, Kelly told the crowd he was optimistic that he’ll prevail.
“This election is going to be about your power. Are you ready to grab it?” Kelly said.
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