Vice President Joe Biden talks jobs and the middle class at AFSCME convention in downtown LA

Joe Biden

Andres Aguila/KPCC

Vice President Joe Biden gives a speech to members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) at the Los Angeles Convention Center on June 19, 2012.

AFSCME convention

Andres Aguila/KPCC

New York City resident Anette Brown takes a photo of Vice President Joe Biden as he gives his speech to the members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) at the Los Angeles Convention Center on June 19, 2012.

aFSCME convention JOE BIDEN

Andres Aguila/KPCC

A Secret Service agent watches the crowd as Vice President Joe Biden speaks to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) at the Los Angeles Convention Center on June 19, 2012.

AFSCME convention

Andres Aguila/KPCC

Members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), listen to Lee A. Saunders, Secretary-Treasurer of AFSCME, speak.

AFSCME

Andres Aguila/KPCC

Members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME).

AFSCME

Andres Aguila/KPCC

Members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) clap as Vice President Joe Biden gives a speech to the crowd.

aFSCME convention Lee Saunders

Andres Aguila/KPCC

Lee A. Saunders, secretary-treasurer of AFSCME, speaks to members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.


Vice President Joe Biden Tuesday spoke to thousands of labor union members at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

AFSCME delegates, most of them wearing green T-shirts, applauded and chanted “four more years” as Biden delivered the keynote address at the group’s 40th annual international convention.

Referring to Republicans, Biden emphasized what he called “the greatest assault on working class people and their unions” that he’s seen in his lifetime.

“They hear labor and they think enemy," Biden said. "They hear labor and they see an opportunity to try to scapegoat labor for the problems they created."

Biden said GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney wants to cut more than $800 billion out of Medicaid — which Biden said will leave 19 million people in the cold.

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney has said he opposes more federal spending – and has maintained that most public sector jobs are created at the local and state level. His plan to cover the nation's uninsured proposes allowing states to handle federal Medicaid dollars their own way.

The vice president emphasized that most uninsured want the best for their families, like getting a quality education for their kids.

"That’s what being a middle class person is," said Biden. "That’s not asking too much. That’s who we are. That’s what we believe. That’s what you’re about. That’s what you’ve built.”

He also spoke to the labor union members themselves, saying that "we owe [them]."

"You shouldn’t be vilified," he said. "You provide the safe neighborhoods. You provide the good schools. You provide the school lunch programs. You provide the day care centers. You provide the hospitals. You provide the roads. You provide the ability of people to live a decent middle class life. We owe you."

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