Biden defends unions against conservative ‘social agenda’

Unions are not the cause of the country's economic woes, Vice President Biden said Wednesday.

“Public employees are not the problem. The problem is much deeper,” Biden said during a fundraiser in New York for Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.).

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Rather, Biden said, unions are part of the reason the country has a middle class.

Biden said the Republicans are trying to use the bad economy that their policies created to push a conservative social agenda.

“We are going to see the economic conditions they created used as an excuse to fundamentally go after the social agenda that the far right has been trying to accomplish for a long time,” Biden said.

Biden's comments in New York are the most direct pro-union statements he has made since protests broke out in Wisconsin in response to a bill which would curtail collective bargaining rights of public employees in that state.

The bill, pushed by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), has resulted in strong resistance on the left, as demonstrations gripped the state capital of Madison and Wisconsin Senate Democrats fled the state so that Walker’s bill cannot be voted on.

The absentee Democrats say they won't return until the bill is permanently killed. Gov. Walker is threatening massive layoffs if the Democrats do not return and permit the legislature to function.

Last week President Obama came out against the Wisconsin proposal.

"Some of what I've heard coming out of Wisconsin, where you're just making it harder for public employees to collectively bargain, generally seems like more of an assault on unions," Obama said last week.