Biden 'damn sophisticated' on middle class

 

Vice President Biden on Wednesday looked to bolster his middle class status and political experience when speaking to a crowd of millennials.

"I am pretty damn sophisticated about what's happening to the middle class," Biden told young adults gathered at the Generation Progress national summit in Washington, D.C.

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Last month at a White House summit on working families, Biden contrasted himself from Hillary Clinton amid questions surrounding her wealth. The vice president and potential 2016 hopeful said he did not have a savings account and struggled as a single father after the car crash that took the life of his first wife.

"Folks at the top — I don't envy their wealth like our friends on the right say," Biden said Wednesday. "They should be rewarded. But they also have a responsibility not only to their shareholders but to their communities, to their country.

"Folks in the middle — they need to be cut in on the deal, not cut out," he said.

Biden touched on a variety of topics including climate change, LGBT issues and his own commitment to a "no-tolerance" policy on campus sexual assault, calling it "savagery" and anyone who engages in it a "pariah."

He also spent a chunk of his speech discussing the need for comprehensive immigration reform and calling for greater collaboration among those of different ideologies.

"We've got to get past this period of pettiness and relentless cynicism," he said to the young attendees, later noting, "You're an incredibly important group. You're an incredibly important constituency — and I'm not being solicitous."

The vice president took a shot at his predecessor Dick Cheney, who said at a Politico luncheon earlier this week that support for the military should be the government's top priority, ahead of food stamps and highways.

"I don't take a backseat to anyone when it comes to defending our nation and taking care of our troops," Biden said, adding the U.S. should care for troops coming home. "I don't take the backseat to anyone, including Vice President Cheney, [on] the issue of our military."

Other speakers at the summit included Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who hit Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on student loan debt, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who promoted the House Democrats' economic agenda to jumpstart the middle class unveiled earlier in the day.