Vice President Joe Biden issued a fiery call for a more equitable tax system as he marched with union workers Monday, diagnosing fairer taxes as a solution to a growing disparity between the wealthy and middle class.
“I hope everybody in America has a chance to become a millionaire. And we need some billionaires,” Biden said at a Labor Day gathering in Pittsburgh. “But let me tell you something, man. The tax code’s not fair. It’s simply not fair.”
Biden’s every public utterance is being heavily scrutinized of late amid questions of if, and when, he might enter the 2016 presidential race. For those who are looking for hints about how he might lean, there were surely signs that he relishes a campaign fight over the middle class.
He pointed to statistics that show American worker productivity has gone up 73% in recent decades, but wages only 9%.
“Something’s wrong, folks,” he said. “This is not politics, this is real.… We can’t let it stand.”
There were also signs that at least some in his audience would be receptive to his candidacy.
“Run, Joe, run,” some in the crowd shouted as Biden marched with Steelworkers union members in the Labor Day parade.
Biden touted the Obama administration’s plan to send Americans to community college tuition-free and took on critics who call the plan a government giveaway.
“Everything’s a choice,” he said, before describing a more than $10-billion-a-year tax break for “so-called trust fund babies” that benefits only 0.8% of the population. The administration’s community college plan, he said, would cost $6 billion.
“We could eliminate that tax cut, put everybody in community college who wanted to go and cut the deficit by $4 billion a year,” he said.
After just 10 minutes of remarks, Biden said he would cut his comments short on a hot holiday morning, prompting a crowd reaction egging him on.
“I’m hot. I’m mad. I’m angry,” he said.
Biden’s march in Pittsburgh’s Labor Day parade is the first of several events this week sure to keep the spotlight on him. The vice president hosts top Jewish leaders at his official residence in Washington this week for a Rosh Hashanah reception.
Thursday he travels to New York for official events and to appear on “The Late Show” with new host Stephen Colbert.
So far, however, he’s offering no new clues on whether he’ll get into the race. “You gotta talk to my wife about that. I gotta talk to my wife about that,” he said in response to one man’s shout that he should run.
Biden said last week that he was not sure his family had the emotional stamina for a campaign after the death of his son Beau this summer.
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