Biden tells Friedman he will focus on rural America
President-elect Joe Biden told New York Times columnist Tom Friedman in a column published today that rural America will not be left behind in his economic plans.
Apparently asked by Friedman what he would do for rural America, where Democrats are losing almost every county, Biden said, “You know, it really does go to the issue of dignity, how you treat people. I think they just feel forgotten. I think we forgot them.”
“I respect them,” Biden added, and said he plans to prove it by “tackling the virus” in “red and blue areas alike.”
We have “got to end the rural health care crisis right now by building on Obamacare, assuming it survives at all, with a public option [and] automatically enroll people eligible for Medicaid. There’s strong support for that — and particularly [from] people in rural states, like Texas and North Carolina –that reject expansion. We can boost funding. I visited 15 rural hospitals, and the biggest problem is there’s not enough reimbursement for them to be able to keep open. … And they are often the biggest employer in that town or city.”
A lot of these rural hospitals and clinics could benefit from telemedicine, but they don’t have the broadband connectivity, Friedman wrote. “We should be spending $20 billion to put broadband across the board,” Biden said. “We have got to rebuild the middle class,” but “especially in rural America.”
In general comments, Biden started off saying, “I want to make sure we’re going to fight like hell by investing in America first.” He ticked off energy, biotech, advanced materials and artificial intelligence as areas ripe for large-scale government investment in research.
And he said no one should expect any action on trade early in the administration.
“I’m not going to enter any new trade agreement with anybody until we have made major investments here at home and in our workers” and in education, he said.
–The Hagstrom Report
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