Vice President Joseph Biden appeared in Detroit to kick off the Motor City's Labor Day celebration in the company of union members and labor leaders such as James Hoffa. The latter is the son of controversial Teamsters leader Jimmy Hoffa who disappeared from a Detroit restaurant in the 1970s, and whose body was never found.
Speaking to a visibly appreciative crowd on September 1, Biden said "The American people have not stopped dreaming. The American people have not walked away from what they believe they are entitles to. Just give them a chance! No hand out - just give them a chance!" He gave assurances that America is coming back. "There is a war on organized labor that must be reversed," said Biden, dressed in a dark blue golf shirt. See here.
Opining on the national economy, Biden said it is not growing because "ordinary people have no money in their pockets." He said also, "You know there is an outfit called Standard and Poors, the leading financial services group. It says, 'You want U.S. income inequity has reached levels not seen since 1928.' That means the very, very top 1 percent are making so much more disproportionate to the rest of the public. So a lot of the wealthy guys say 'So what?' Well they want on to say, and I quote, 'Extreme levels of income inequity lead to sustained harm to economic growth and other, over a long period of time' -- it says, 'the U.S. is approaching the threshold.' One of the reasons we're not growing is because ordinary people have no money in their pockets for their wages! They are not being rewarded!"
The venue for the Labor Day celebration is a vacant field, surrounded by a chain-link fence, where there was once Detroit's famed Tiger Stadium. Once they listened to Biden and other politicians, celebrants marched in solidarity with workers down Woodward Avenue. The vice-president was preceded by remarks by James Hoffa, retiring Democratic Senator Carl Levin, as well as fellow Dems Mark Schauer and Gary Peters. Schauer is running for governor and Peter for senator.
The folksy Biden asked the crowd, “Why in God’s name does someone who makes hundreds of millions managing a hedge fund pay only 15% in taxes, while the average GM worker pays 25% in taxes.” He said to cheers, “America has always done best when we act as one America. When we do, the nation succeeds.”
“A million people who voted in 2008, didn’t vote in 2010 and you know what we’ve got now,” said Teamster president Hoffa. “If we stay home we lose. We’ve got to have trunout. That’s how we turn this country around.”
Senator Levin, a veteran who is stepping down this year, said “I’ve got a personal reason for why we need Gary Peters as my successor. I want to sleep better at night.”
Schauer promised, “As your governor, I will value the Labor movement and all that it’s done to build our middle class,” adding, “And I will repeal right to work for less.”
Peters, who currently represents a wealthy suburb of Detroit, denounced his Republican opponent former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land. Land is reportedly receiving substantial financial help from wealthy donors, despite trailing in the polls. “We’ve got millions and millions in spending against us,” Peters said. “ That is why this election is so important. Our democracy is on the line. I will stand up for middle class families.”
"Unions did in fact build the middle class and the United States of America as we know it. If the middle class is doing fine, everyone is doing fine,” Biden said to appreciative listeners at the labor rally. “A consensus used to exist between Republicans and Democrats, that if you contributed, you got to benefit from that contribution. We’ve got to restore that bargain, if we don’t America is in real trouble.”