Kirsten Gillibrand calls Joe Biden on op-ed
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and former vice president Joe Biden went back and forth during Wednesday’s Democratic debate when Gillibrand demanded Biden answer for a decades-old op-ed where the former Senator argued against tax credits for daycare for families he believed could afford to take care of children on their own.
“He believed that women working outside the home would ‘create the deterioration of family,'” she said, partially quoting the headline of the op-ed. “He also said that women who were working outside the home were ‘avoiding responsibility.’
“I just need to understand, as a woman who has worked my entire career as the primary wage-earner, as the primary caregiver — in fact, my second son, Henry, is here and I had him when I was a member of Congress.
“So, under vice president Biden’s analysis, am I, serving in Congress resulting in the deterioration of the family because I had access to quality, affordable daycare? I just want to know what he meant when he said that.”
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In his answer, Biden invoked his late wife, Neila Biden, who died in a car crash in 1972.
“That was a long time ago and here’s what it was about,” Biden said. “It would have given people making, today, $100,000 a year a tax break for childcare. I did not want that. I wanted the childcare to go to people making less than $100,000. That’s what it was about.
“As a single father who, in fact, raised three children for five years by myself, I have some idea what it costs.”
After Biden spoke about a potential present-day tax credit for those needing childcare, Gillibrand immediately answered.
“But Mr. Vice President, you didn’t answer my question,” she said. “What did you mean when said a woman working outside the home, it’s resulting in ‘the deterioration of family?’”
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Biden tried to interject, but Gillibrand cut him off.
“These are quotes,” she said. “It was the title of the op-ed. That just causes concern for me because we know America’s women are working. Four out of 10 moms have to work. They’re the primary or sole wage-earners. They actually have to put food on the table. Eight out of 10 moms are working today. Most women have to work to provide for their kids. Many women want to be working to provide for their communities and help people.
“Either you don’t believe it today, or what did you mean when you said it then?”
Once again, Biden invoked the memory of his late wife. Then he started to tout his policies and more recent takes on women’s rights. He ended with a story between himself and Gillibrand.
“You came to Syracuse University with me and said, ‘It was wonderful. I’m passionate about the concern, making sure women are treated equally,'” he said, speaking to Gillirband.
To applause, he said, “I don’t know what’s happened, except you’re now running for president.”
The senator from New York continued to press Biden even after moderates tried to move on to Sen. Kamala Harris.
“I never believed it,” Biden said, referring to Gillibrand’s accusations.