Vice President Joe Biden reminded a crowd of Tennessee Democrats on Friday that the Obama administration inherited the financial mess the nation is digging its way out of.
“Republicans moralizing about deficits is like an arsonist moralizing about fire safety,” Biden told the Tennessee Democratic Party Jackson Day audience at Belmont University in Nashville.
Biden hit the Republicans hard on the economic woes of the nation, making his jabs days before President Barack Obama is expected to sign the financial regulation bill meant to crack down on practices in the financial industry that Biden said put the nation in its current condition.
The vice president repeatedly hit the administration of President George W. Bush reminding his listeners that the Obama administration inherited the problems.
“Throughout the Bush administration, they decided to let Wall Street be the cowboys of the East,” Biden said. “Wall Street made outrageous profits, enticing people with mortgages they couldn’t afford, with no downpayments, teaser interest rates, forcing millions of Americans to face foreclosure on their homes.
“Next week, President Obama will sign a bill ending the outrageous practices taking place on Wall Street in the last eight years, and we did it with virtually no Republican help.”
Biden addressed the Democratic Party in a state that went for Republican Sen. John McCain in the 2008 presidential election and saw its state House reach a Republican majority, making for the first Republican state Legislature since Reconstruction.
The Democrats brought out all their party heavyweights, including former Vice President Al Gore, who introduced Biden. Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen, who is in his eighth and final year after two four-year terms, introduced Mike McWherter, the party’s presumed nominee for governor in the Aug. 5 primary.
Democratic state Sen. Roy Herron, who will face the Republican primary winner in the 8th Congressional District, addressed the crowd, and 4th District U.S. Rep. Lincoln Davis spoke in tribute to retiring Democratic congressmen Bart Gordon and John Tanner.
But the man who seemed to gain the most attention of speakers throughout the evening was former governor Ned McWherter, whose popularity is seen as one of the greatest assets for his son Mike’s gubernatorial campaign. Country music singer/songwriter Rodney Crowell performed for the crowd.
Gore, making a major public appearance beyond recent tabloid stories including his split with wife Tipper, reminded the crowd of the economic conditions when he and President Bill Clinton left the White House.
“You know the story,” Gore said. “When President Clinton and I left office we had the biggest surpluses the country ever had in our history. And in eight years’ time, that was all squandered, and we ended up with the biggest deficits and the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.”
Biden spoke of how former Sen. Al Gore Sr. helped Biden in his run for the Senate in 1972, and he said Gore Jr. is “making as significant a contribution to the world as any man in the United States,” a reference to Gore, a Nobel Prize winner, working on environmental issues including a fight against global warming.
Biden spoke of the economic condition of the nation when President Obama and he were sworn in in 2009.
“Now, Republicans are claiming to be worried about spending and debt,” Biden said, making his arsonist analogy.
“These guys have zero credibility. They put trillions of dollars on our kids’ credit cards.”
Biden said the last administration “gave us a Ponzi scheme masquerading as a vision.”
“Let’s get the facts straight,” Biden said. “We were a nation on the verge of a depression, and we had a foreign policy that consisted of a simple proposition: Either you’re with us or against us, led by a group of neoconservatives who have been wrong on virtually every issue.”
Still Biden said he considered himself an optimist. He said the nation has historically responded to crises it faced.
He said the Obama administration had to act boldly on the economic front and did, and he pointed to positive results from steps the administration has taken, saying the nation is not losing jobs like it was in the last six months of the Bush administration and pointed to financial stabilization and an automobile industry on a rebound.
“We’ve gone from among the most disrepsected nation to the most respected again, like we were under Al Gore and Bill Clinton,” Biden said.
Biden said he and Obama understand government cannot guarantee economic growth but that it can lay a foundation where businesses can expand and government can support the vision of entrepreneurs.
“The Republican Party today is the party of repeal and repeat,” he said. “Repealing everything positive that has been done and repeating the policies of the previous eight years of the Bush administration.”
He said the Democrats had four months to make their case before the election on Nov. 2.