With less than a month away from the November 8 midterm elections, the major political parties in Michigan are trying to energize their voting blocs. Several high-profile officials are arriving in the state to help campaign for them.
That includes Vice President Kamala Harris, who travels to Metro Detroit this weekend for a fundraiser, a meeting with students and to tout a law boosting semi-conductor chip production in the U.S.
Harris told WDET reporter Quinn Klinefelter that Democrats need the kind of big turnout among voters that Detroit saw in 2020.
Ed. note: The following interview has been edited and condensed.
Vice President Kamala Harris: People stood in line in Detroit for hours. They took time out of their very busy lives at the height of a pandemic. And they went to vote saying that we should deal with working families and a tax cut for the cost of raising children. And they got it. We passed a tax cut for the cost of food and medical supplies and school supplies of up to $8,000 a year. Folks stood in line, they voted in 2020 and they said handle the student debt crisis. It’s a big deal. It’s delaying people’s ability to start a family or buy a home or even pay rent. And we just announced that there’s a $10,000 relief of student loan debt. And if you received a Pell grant it’s $20,000.
People said they wanted us to focus on maternal health and black maternal mortality. And we elevated the issue and have extended, for example, Medicaid coverage for postpartum women from two months to 12 months. People said we want a United States Supreme Court that represents the country. And let’s have the first black woman serve on that court. And now we have Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson. So these are just some of the things that people stood in line and basically put in their order for in 2020. And because people made the effort and took the time, these things happened. Elections matter. We need two more senators and the president will sign into law the Women’s Health Protection Act, to undo what the United States Supreme Court just did when it took a constitutional right away from the people of America and from the women of America.
The Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade really does seem to have energized the Democratic base. But there’s also a measure on the ballot here in Michigan that would enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution. Will it really matter who gets elected to Congress if the right to an abortion winds up being in the state constitution anyway?
I’ve been traveling the country meeting with local leaders, state legislators, governors. I’ll be in Michigan, actually, this weekend with Governor Whitmer. And one of the things that I can tell you is that even in those states where access to reproductive health abortion is protected, allowing a woman to make her own decision about her own body and not having the government do it for her, even in those states you’re seeing a huge impact from the Dobb’s decision. Because women are leaving the states where they live, if they’re criminalizing doctors and health care providers and punishing women. They are going to those states where it’s not illegal. So it affects every state, regardless of what the law of a particular state is. We need a national commitment to protecting a woman’s right to make decisions about her own body. We don’t want to have this patchwork. I encourage each state to protect the residents of their own state. But what we need is a federal law that protects it across the country, just as Roe v. Wade did until it was overturned by this court.
People stood in line in Detroit and basically put in their order for 2020. And because people made the effort and took the time, things happened. Elections matter. – Vice President Kamala Harris
Republicans here and across the country have been countering oftentimes with ads about the economy. And elections typically do seem to be about pocketbook issues. Are you confident in candidates that are running on the economic performance of the Biden administration?
I absolutely am. Listen, there’s still more work to do. But look at where we are. We have record low unemployment, a record number of small businesses have grown in the last year. We passed a tax cut for working families, which means they get up to $8,000 more money in their pocket to pay for medicine and food and school supplies for their kids. And let me just tell you, not only did we do that. In the most recent bill that we passed, we have lowered health care costs such that people with diabetes now will not pay more than $35 a month for insulin.
You look at the impact in Detroit. African Americans are 60% more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes. Latinos are 70% more likely. It’s a very big deal in terms of what it will do to bring down the cost of living. And for all of these things that I’ve talked about, not one Republican voted for any of them. So I think this is a moment where you got to really look at who’s complaining and then contrast it with what have they done by way of solution. And what you’re going to see not many solutions on that side. Sadly.
You’re going to be in the metro region this weekend. In particular, you’re scheduled to talk about the CHIPS Act. Former President Trump was here not too long ago along with some Republican candidates. And they said despite the CHIPS Act, the supply chain and other things are still based in China. They claimed the push towards electric vehicles was going to hurt many people with jobs in the auto industry because their current positions won’t be safeguarded anymore. They could be lost by industry moving to these new technologies. They said it’s just going to zap workers’ income. What would you say to people that have those kinds of concerns?
We wrote and designed the CHIPS and Science Act to reinforce and invest in the American workforce and American manufacturing. In fact, just a couple weeks ago, I was over in Japan and Korea, meeting with some Japanese corporations in particular, to encourage them to invest more in the United States. And some of the complaints that we get from our allies in other countries is, “You guys are focused so much just on Americans and American jobs and American manufacturing.” And there’s some criticism, frankly, about whether we’re doing enough for our allies.
But our bottom line, and the President has been very clear about this, is that we are focused on ensuring that the American workforce can grow and can be strong. And we are also, proudly, one of the most pro-union administrations you’ve seen, believing that while we grow the workforce, let’s allow people the ability for collective bargaining. Let’s allow people to ensure that their wages and benefits are commensurate with the value of their work and their contribution.