Biden on the Record: Progressive Governance Conference

And we seek to modernize, thirdly, our education system to foster economic growth and competitiveness now and into the future. Among the things that the budget does is build in the Recovery Act expanding the size of what we call Pell grants that provides access to college for the poor. We also support funding and support — renew initiatives at state and local levels to help low-income students and the like.

And the one thing I can say, if I could wave a wand, beyond providing food and sustenance for all of those in the world under pressure now, it would be to educate the world’s public. (inaudible) — a lot of us have good education systems, but quite frankly, access to those systems even in some of your countries, I respectfully suggest, is not as accessible as it should be. But that’s for you to decide, not us. We know in our country it has to get better.

So, in conclusion, let me say that be assured that we are aggressively attacking a full set of challenges that are facing our economy. We expect the recession to end later this year. But as President Lula pointed out to me last night — and all of us, and we all know — is that employment will lag far behind. We’re still going to have a very, very difficult circumstance in our country — and most of our countries — even when the GDP begins to grow again, as it hasn’t in our country. We’re technically in — not technically, in fact in recession. So unemployment is likely to continue rising.

However, thanks to our recovery package, we expect it to rise less than it otherwise would. And at the same time, the most important thing we can do during this whole process — and it’s going to begin at the G20 — is to reset the rules of the road; to have common sense oversight that keeps us from getting back into the same spot we’re in 10 years from now. And that’s an effort that we look forward to joining all of you, our global partners, in doing.

So let me conclude by saying that we — President Obama and I sought these offices because we had a fundamental disagreement with the policies of the last administration. We don’t question the motive of the last administration; we question seriously their policies. And it’s a little bit like that old metaphor — it takes a while to turn around a super-tanker. We are moving as rapidly as we can to change the direction of our country and our policies, but we’re going to have to ask — and we don’t expect to get it, but we have to ask for a little bit of patience as we move forward.

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