Iraq: A Way Forward
President Bush does not have a strategy for victory in Iraq. His strategy is to prevent defeat and to hand the problem off to his successor. As a result, more and more Americans understandably want a rapid withdrawal, even at the risk of trading a dictator for chaos and a civil war that could become a regional war. Both are bad alternatives. Senator Biden has a comprehensive plan to end the sectarian violence in Iraq and bring our troops home.
Afghanistan and Darfur
If we should be surging forces anywhere, it is to Afghanistan. That country is not lost, but it is on the brink of a major comeback by the Taliban, Al Qaeada, warlords and drug traffickers. Our necessary investment in blood and treasure risks being squandered -- we need an infusion of military and economic assistance and a plan to wean that country away from drugs.
This administration rightly called what's going on in Darfur geneocide, but it has failed to match its words with deeds. Joe Biden has been calling for NATO to declare and police a "No Fly Zone" over Darfur; for an international peacekeeping mission we should impose if Khartoum says no; and serious sanctions against the regime which is aiding and abetting the slaughter of innocents.
Joe Biden believes that domestic energy policy is at the center of our foreign policy and economic policy. Most of the world's oil is concentrated in nations that are either hostile to American interests or vulnerable to political upheaval and terrorism. Our oil dependence undercuts the advance of freedom and limits our options and influence around the world because oil rich countries pursuing policies we oppose can stand up to us and undermine the resolve of our allies. Profits from the sale of oil help fuel the fundamentalism we are fighting. High energy prices hurt business' bottom line.
Joe Biden's first priority is energy security. He believes we can strengthen security by reducing our oil consumption by increasing fuel efficiency, transitioning to farm-grown fuels like ethanol and biodiesel, and expanding the use of renewable energy. But we cannot stop there. Joe Biden would make a substantial national commitment by dramatically increasing investment in energy and climate change research and technology so that that United States becomes the world leader in developing and exporting alternative energy.
To protect jobs, compete in a global economy and strengthen families Joe Biden believes the next President must first address two things: energy security and health care. This is not our father's economy - America now competes in a global economy.
The price of energy is set by the global marketplace. Developing our own sources of energy aren't enough to protect us from high prices that cost businesses and families -- we must invest in using energy more efficiently and become the leader in energy innovation.
By 2008, the average Fortune 500 company will spend as much on health care as it will make in profit. In other countries their competitors will not have to bear these costs.
Joe Biden believes America will continue to dominate the global economy by putting energy security and health care reform at the top of the agenda.
Joe Biden believes that to protect jobs, compete in a global economy and strengthen families we have to have to address out-dated health care system. The next president will have to deal with two challenges: containing the growing costs of health care and providing access to the 47 million Americans who don't have health insurance.
Joe Biden believes we need to take three steps to contain the cost of health care: modernize the system, simplify the system and reduce errors. He supports the transition to secure electronic records so that people can provide their doctors and nurses with vital medical information in real time. He believes there should be a uniform, efficient system to submit claims.
Joe Biden believes the path toward a 21st century health care system starts with the most vulnerable in our society. He would expand health insurance for children and relieve families and businesses of the burden of expensive catastrophic cases. He supports states that are pursuing innovative alternatives to make sure that everyone has access to health care and believes we should use data from these states to evaluate what works best in providing affordable access to health care for all.
Access to Higher Education
Joe Biden believes that every American should have access to higher education. In order to compete in a global economy the American workforce has to protect its edge in education. A college degree is more valuable than ever - and more expensive.
As a parent, Joe Biden knows how tuition costs drain family savings. He would expand help for families by increasing the tax deduction for tuition payments. He would expand Pell grants to cover the average tuition at public colleges for low income families.
Joe Biden believes that high school students should be engaged in planning and saving for college earlier in their careers so that students in their senior year are not overwhelmed by the process of applying to college and figuring out how to pay for it. He would expand national service programs to high school students so that they can earn money for college by participating in public service while they are in high school.
Preparing for College
Over the past two decades we have made incredible strides in updating our education system. Fifteen years ago it would have been hard to imagine students linked through a high-tech video and high-speed internet network to other students and teachers across the country or teachers interacting with parents via email. New technology holds promise for our education system that we're only beginning to discover. But nothing is more essential than quality educators and engaged parents. Joe Biden believes that to fulfill the promise to leave no child behind we have to direct adequate resources to update schools, reduce class size and school size, reward quality educators, and improve teacher pay.
This Administration and the Republican led Congress have refused to make the necessary investment in our homeland security. Our ports, chemical plants, railways and other critical infrastructure are not secure. Our local police agencies are stretched too thin, and our first responders still cannot talk to each other in the event of an emergency of natural disaster.
The 9/11 Commission gave us a blue print for what we need to protect against terrorist attacks here at home. To be sure, implementing it will cost more. But we can easily afford it - if we change our priorities. This year, the budget for the Department of Homeland Security is $35 billion; at $60 billion, the tax cut for millionaires is nearly double that amount.
Joe Biden would take back one year of the tax cuts for Americans who make over a million dollars a year, and put this money in a dedicated Homeland Security and Public Safety Trust Fund to implement the 9/11 Commission recommendations and invest in law enforcement.
Joe Biden is the author of the most innovative and far-reaching criminal justice proposals in recent history including the Violence Against Women Act which established that national domestic violence hotline and the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act which was responsible for putting more than 100,000 police officers on the streets. Joe Biden has fought to protect support for state and local law enforcement. But the Bush administration and Republicans in Congress slashed billions in federal assistance for state and local law enforcement and completely eliminated the COPS hiring program. Cities have been forced to reduce the size of their police forces. Joe Biden predicted crime rates would go up because of these cuts - and they did. The most recent reports from the Federal Bureau of Investigation show the largest increase in violent crime in 15 years.
Joe Biden's priority is restoring the nearly $2 billion dollars that has been cut from state and local law enforcement.
The United States, as the strongest nation in the world, must return to a leadership role to solve global warming. Containing greenhouse gas emissions within our own borders is a necessary and important start - but it is not enough. Joe Biden has led a bipartisan coalition calling on the President to return to negotiations for a new climate change treaty. Developing countries - China, India, Mexico, Korea and Brazil - will soon be the greatest source of greenhouse gas pollution. They must be a part of the solution.
But we cannot exert pressure on these countries until we take meaningful action to limit greenhouse gas emissions here at home. Joe Biden supports a "cap and trade" approach to regulating emissions and investment in technologies that can significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.