President-elect Joe Biden candidly spoke on his plans for the future in an interview with The New York Times published on Wednesday, stating that his immediate goals are to pass a coronavirus stimulus package and build unity within the United States.
“I feel like I’ve done something good for the country by making sure that Donald Trump is not going to be president for four more years,” Biden told reporter Thomas L. Friedman. “But there’s been no moment of elation.”
Biden compared the feeling to what young Americans forced to attend virtual graduations across the country due to COVID-19 might be experiencing, mentioning his granddaughter, Naomi Biden — a recent graduate of Columbia Law School. He stressed that “these kids are graduating with no parties,” and that there was a tremendous amount to be done before America could return to any semblance of normalcy.
Chief among such work is ending the monthslong deadlock in Congress over a coronavirus relief bill, and helping Americans return to the workforce and to school.
“Let me put it this way,” Biden said, in what Friedman noted was a “careful” appraisal of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who has been at odds with Democrats under House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on a COVID-19 relief bill. “There are a number of things that when McConnell controlled the Senate that people said couldn’t get done, and I was able to get them done with [him].”
Biden added that working with McConnell would surely involve trade-offs, but that the Senate majority leader was a familiar opponent. “He knows me. I know him. I don’t ask him to embarrass himself to make a deal.”
The president-elect warned, however, that congressional lawmakers who continuously attempt to derail his upcoming administrative policies run the risk of affecting their chances for reelection in 2022.
“When you have cops and firefighters and first responders across the board being laid off, when you’re not getting the kind of distribution of vaccines out to rural America, it has to have some consequences,” Biden said.
Biden also said that he was going to “fight like hell by investing in America first,” emphasizing industries like biotech and energy. He added that he would pay close attention to rural Americans by boosting rural health care services, including telemedicine and Obamacare.
“I think they just feel forgotten. I think we forgot them,” Biden said. “We have got to rebuild the middle class … especially in rural America.”
Read the full interview here.