Vice President Joe Biden said on Monday that the proposed Republican budget favors the rich and will devastate the middle class—telling around 350 students packed into the George Washington University’s Marvin Center Grand Ballroom, “This is not your father’s Republican Party.”
Mr. Biden condemned the 2015 GOP budget proposal, authored by Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., during an event hosted by the GW College Democrats, Program Board and the Student Association.
For a long period of time, Mr. Biden said, the U.S. was able to grow based on “the most basic of bargains,” shared by both Democrats and Republicans, which assumed that the people who “contributed to the prosperity of the nation got to share in that prosperity as well.”
The vice president pointed to a past generation of Republicans, such as President Dwight Eisenhower who built the interstate highway system and President Richard Nixon who invested in cancer research. In contrast, Mr. Biden said, the current proposed GOP budget—commonly referred to as the “Ryan plan”—calls for trillions of dollars in new tax breaks for the wealthy and proposed cuts to programs that middle class families depend on, essentially breaking the “basic bargain” that the growing middle class would benefit from their hard work.
“This massive shift is being largely driven by this incredibly narrow mindset that presumes that wealthy investors are the sole driver of the economy—that all employers work solely by the grace of the shareholders’ capital gain,” Mr. Biden said.
The budget plan would take funding away from Medicaid, education, research and infrastructure, said the vice president.
The GOP proposal to cut Medicaid would eliminate health coverage for families that rely on the program to cover medical expenses for the treatment of children who have disorders like Down syndrome or autism spectrum disorder.
"If you have a child with Down syndrome or autism, you rely on Medicaid," he said. "Twenty-one million people, including families like these, will lose their Medicaid if in fact the budget law passes."
Further, Mr. Biden said, the proposed GOP budget also calls for a $4.5 billion cut from the National Institutes of Health and a $1 billion cut to the National Science Foundation, at a time when researchers are “on the very brink” of finding cures and treatments for diseases that are claiming thousands of lives. If the Ryan plan passes, it would mean fewer clinical trials offered to sick patients and a reduction in research funding.
“An entire generation of brilliant young scientists will be lost,” Mr. Biden said. “Those of you who are science majors, those of you who want to go on to graduate school, you go into this research area only if you can afford to get a grant.”
The GOP budget also calls for cuts to the Pell Grant program and early learning services like Head Start.
Finally, Mr. Biden warned that the Republican Party is refusing to invest in infrastructure, which could put the U.S. behind other countries that are making major investments in that area.
The vice president ended his speech with a message of hope, telling students that the ability “to challenge orthodoxy” is “stamped in the DNA of every American,” and the country is positioned to create a future of “unlimited prosperity”—once earned income is rewarded over inherited wealth.
“Never, ever bet against the American people. It’s always been a bad bet,” Mr. Biden said.
He challenged the GW students to not give into cynicism or think, “none of this really matters.”
GW College Democrats President Omeed Firouzi, who introduced Mr. Biden on Monday, said after the speech that he has admired the vice president for a long time and was impressed by his remarks.
“I was happy, because it reaffirmed our values and core principles that progressives have long subscribed to,” Mr. Firouzi said.
He added that he was pleased that the vice president “personalized” his remarks for the college audience, making reference to how the budget plan would influence higher education and research.
“The popular perception, at least in some corners, is that young people are apathetic about politics,” Mr. Firouzi said. “He kind of shot back at that and really highlighted how it’s important for us to pay attention to these issues that do affect us.”
Following Mr. Biden’s remarks, the audience flocked to the front of the Grand Ballroom where the vice president chatted with students and took photographs. Eric Estroff, a sophomore in the School of Media and Public Affairs, managed to snag a selfie with Mr. Biden.
“It was one of the most incredible experiences I’ve had at this school,” Mr. Estroff said. “I’m just in shock. It’s really ‘Only at GW’…it’s amazing.”