Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a roundtable discussion with veterans, Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020, at Hillsborough Community College in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a roundtable discussion with veterans, Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020, at Hillsborough Community College in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

In his first official trip to Florida as the Democratic nominee, Biden focuses on fixing veterans’ health care.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden met with veterans in Tampa, Florida, where he said America needs to better support members of the military and their families. 

Biden opened by saying America has “a truly sacred obligation to prepare and equip our troops that we send in harm’s way and to care for them and their families when they return.” He said protecting veterans starts with supporting the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), especially when it comes to restoring trust in VA hospitals. 

“The VA must be the premier provider of healthcare services to promote our veterans overall well being,” Biden said. “We have a responsibility to ensure that we’re providing veterans with world class health care they deserve in every situation.” 

To improve the VA hospital system, Biden wants pay doctors and medical personnel competitive salaries, imrpvoe and increas funding for programs that to aim to prevent veteran suicide, and provide rural hospitals with doctors and specialists so vets don’t have to travel far from home for care.

Biden’s discussion with veterans in Florida was his first campaign visit to the state as the Democratic nominee, and comes on the heels of news that support for Trump within the military is slipping. 

A Military Times poll conducted in August found that about half of military members surveyed had an unfavorable view of the president and 42% said they strongly disapprove of Trump’s time in office. Trump also drew controversy in early September when a report alleged that in 2018 Trump refused to visit an American cemetery for soldiers killed in action and called the soldiers “losers.” 

The VA has been plagued with problems under President Donald Trump’s administration. Although the president promised to fix problems within the department, the VA still faces claims of sexism, ineptitude, racism, and retaliation against whistleblowers, according to the New York Times. 

Biden pledged during the discussion to look into creating more flexibility in veterans’ programs that help cover the cost of education and starting small businesses. He also explained in detail how Trump’s move to defer payroll taxes, which fund Social Security, is the wrong move for veterans. 

In early September, Trump ordered that the payroll tax be deferred for federal workers and active military service members until January. That means they’ll get a slightly larger paycheck now, but Biden explained that as of now, they will have to pay the deferred taxes back early next year.

In addition to that, Biden pointed out that the payroll tax funds the Social Security, which many veterans rely upon. A prolonged tax cut would mean the program would run out of money completely in a matter of years. 

“[It’s] not a bad idea theoretically…but what people don’t know is that you’re going to have to pay back twice as much money as was taken out before,” he said. “I doubt that a lot of people will be able to take that tax cut and put the money into savings because they have urgent needs so it’s going to be chaos. It makes no fiscal sense.”