Former Vice President Joe Biden defended Wall Street bailouts at the Democratic debates in Washington, D.C Sunday, saying, “This was about saving an economy.”
Biden discussed with rival Sen. Bernie Sanders whether they would support bailouts for industries crushed by the coronavirus.
Sanders noted that he voted “against the bailout” during the 2008 financial crisis. (RELATED: Biden Starts Coronavirus-Centered Debate With A Cough)
“I voted against the bailout,” Sanders said. “Because I believed that illegal behavior being done by the people on Wall Street should not be rewarded by a bailout. And today, those banks are more prosperous and own more assets, by and large, then they did back then. They are bigger now.”
“We need to stabilize the economy, but we can’t repeat what we did in 2008,” he added. “Joe voted for that. I voted against it. Because we have got to do more than save the banks or the oil companies.”
“Our job right now is to tell every working person in this country, no matter what your income is, you are not going to suffer as a result of this crisis of which you had no control,” the Vermont senator continued.
Biden responded by saying that had the banks gone under, “all those people would be in deep trouble. Deep, deep trouble.”
“All those little folks, we would have gone out of business,” Biden said. “They would find themselves in a position where they would lose everything they had in that bank. Whether it was $10 or $300 or a savings account.”
“This was about saving an economy,” he continued. “And it did save the economy. And the banks paid back. They paid back with interest.”
“I agree with Bernie,” the former vice president added. “Someone should have gone to jail. That was the big disagreement I had. But the question was they paid back.”
“In addition to that, it also part of that was bailing out the automobile industry,” Biden said. “Saving thousands of jobs. Tens of thousands of jobs over time.”
“He voted against that as well,” Biden said, referring to Sanders, who responded, “I did not vote against that. That bailout money was used later on by bush to protect the automobile industry.”
Biden also added that if the banks “all but had gone under, we would be in a Great Depression.”
“How do you get out of that,” he asked. “Bernie is saying that he’s going to do a wealth tax or something a at the top 1% could pay for everything. And they should pay for everything that occurred. We are talking about tens and hundreds of billions of dollars.”
“That’s what this was about. And the fact was that it saved the economy from going into a depression. After we passed the recovery act, which was the one that got the three votes to get it changed, that had $900 billion in it and was the thing that kept us from going into a great Depression.”
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