“It’s not about his family and my family. It’s about your family, and your family’s hurting badly,” he said. “If you’re a middle-class family, you’re getting hurt badly right now. You’re sitting at the kitchen table this morning deciding, Well, we can’t get new tires, they’re bald, because we have to wait another month or so. Or are we going to be able to pay the mortgage? Who’s going to tell her she can’t go back to community college? They’re the decisions you’re making.”
This was boilerplate Biden—he even mentioned Scranton—but it was just the start. Later in the debate, Biden criticized Trump for not passing economic-stimulus measures. The moderator, Kristen Welker (who far more ably corralled the candidates than Chris Wallace managed to do in the previous debate), asked why Biden hadn’t pressured Democrats to push a deal. The former vice president pointed out that the House passed a large bill in May, but that the GOP-led Senate has not taken it up.
“I have, and they have pushed it. They passed that back, all the way back at the beginning of the summer. This is not new. It’s been out there,” Biden said. Republicans “have not done a thing for them. And Mitch McConnell said, ‘Let them go bankrupt. Let them go bankrupt.’ Come on. What’s the matter with this guy?”
A moment later, Trump dismissed the idea of raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, an increase that Biden and two-thirds of Americans support. Again, Biden pounced.
“No, no one should work two jobs, one job, and be below poverty,” he said. “People are making, $6, $7, $8 an hour—these first responders we all clap for as they come down the street, because they’ve allowed us to make it. What’s happening? They deserve a minimum wage of $15. Anything below that puts you below the poverty level.”
Trump wasn’t out of the woods. The next question was on the administration’s policy of separating migrant families intercepted at the border. While a judge ordered the families reunited, the government said in a court filing this week that it cannot find the parents of 545 children. Trump cycled through a few answers, (justifiably) assailing the Obama administration’s immigration policy while (falsely) claiming that the children were brought by smugglers. Biden, in his response, seemed genuinely furious.
“Coyotes didn’t bring them over,” Biden said. “Their parents were with them. They got separated from their parents. And it makes us a laughingstock and violates every notion of who we are as a nation.”
Trump again tried to turn the conversation back to Barack Obama’s handling of migrant children, but unlike in the first debate, Biden wasn’t rattled.
“Let’s talk about what we’re talking about,” Biden replied. “What happened? Parents were—their kids were ripped from their arms and separated, and now they cannot find over 500 sets of those parents and those kids are alone. Nowhere to go. Nowhere to go. It’s criminal. It’s criminal.”