The Citizen: Biden Parades Through Franklin
By VICTORIA GUAY
U.S. Senator Joe Biden, D-Del., visited the city Saturday, kicking off the day by taking part in the Community Day Parade along with area Democrats.
Biden, who chairs the Senate's Foreign Relations Committee, took some time before the parade to talk about two issues on many American's minds the situation Iraq and a burgeoning health care crisis.
Speaking at the home of state Rep. Jim Ryan, D-Franklin, Biden said one of his top priorities as president would be to restore the United States' position in the world.
He would begin such an undertaking by ending the war in Iraq.
"It's like a boulder sitting in the middle of the road," Biden said of U.S. involvement in Iraq.
Second, Biden said that U.S. has to do more listening and less lecturing if its wants cooperation.
Third, Biden said, he would do things such as close the Guantanamo Bay containment camp where torture has reportedly occurred, and not extradite suspected criminals to countries where torture is commonplace.
He said he would also make the U.S. the leader in arms control and environmental initiatives.
"We need to live up to the image the rest of world had of us, as being not only the physical leaders but the moral leaders of the world," Biden said.
On Iraq, he said the only lasting solution is to help Iraqis establish three regional governments which would have significant local control in matters such as education and marriage; however, in matters of national defense and the equitable distribution of oil profits, a central government would be in place.
"That way we can leave Iraq without having traded a dictator for chaos," Biden said.
Biden said that the flaw with the Bush Administration's current course in Iraq as well as in some of his fellow candidate's solutions to the situation is that their plans call for the establishment of a strong central government with little or no local control.
Biden said a bill President Bush vetoed this week, which he helped author, called on the president to begin redeploying troops out of Iraq and to change the mission of the remaining troops.
The U.S. troops there should step back from playing enforcer between the different groups to an increasingly advisory role, as well have a timetable established for getting out entirely.
Switching gears to domestic issues, Biden said making sure every American has affordable health care coverage is at the top of his agenda.
Biden said he would make sure every child has health care coverage and that adults had access to catastrophic health care aid in times of crisis.
"So people don't loose their homes or livelihoods," Biden said.
Biden said he is in favor of the country eventually having a universal health care system; however, he said the switch must happen gradually.
As president, Biden said he would encourage and offer incentives to states to develop their own universal access systems. Programs in the poorest states would be underwritten by federal dollars.
"It's the best way to get a national consensus on health care," Biden said. "If we have 35 states who already have universal health care plans, we just choose the best one (for a national system)."
After marching in Franklin's Community Day Parade with area Democrats including Ryan, Biden visited Golden Crest Assisted Care Facility before going to a gathering in Canterbury.
Biden said he enjoys his visits to New Hampshire because it reminds him in many ways of the close-knit feel of his home state.