Discovery World
Milwaukee, Wisconsin 

12:25 P.M. CDT

     THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Good —  good afternoon, I think it is now.  Please, everyone, have a seat. 

     Rufus King High School Band — (applause) — what?  You all are killing it.  (Applause.)  Oh, you’re so good.  You’re so good.  Thank you, all. 

     Oh, when I look at our young leaders, I know the future of our country is so bright.  Thank you all very much for being a part of today.  (Applause.)

     MR. HUGHLEY:  I’m — I’m glad to be here with you, Madam Vice President.  I love Wisconsin.  I’m glad to be here when it’s not freezing, so –(laughter) — 

     We have a lot of incredible leaders here.  First off, we’d like to acknowledge — thank you, James Phelps, who did that introduction —


     MR. HUGHLEY:  — where nobody clapped for me.  I appreciate that.  (Laughter.)  That’s great. 

     We have Deputy Secretary Wally Adeyemo.  Could he — is he here?  Is he here?

     THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Yes, he is.  There he is.  (Applause.) 

     MR. HUGHLEY:  Stand up.  Stand up.  You can stand up.  (Applause.)

     We have Acting Secretary Adrianne Todman.  Is she here?  (Applause.)  Stand up. 


     MR. HUGHLEY:  Hey — hey, let’s do this.  Why don’t y’all stay standing until we finish?  All — just stand up.  (Laughter.)  It’s not a raid.  I promise you.  Ain’t nothing going to happen.  (Laughter.)  

     We have Secretary of State Sarah Godlewski.  Is she here?  (Applause.)

     THE VICE PRESIDENT:  She was here earlier.

     MR. HUGHLEY:  There you go.

     THE VICE PRESIDENT:  There she is.  (Applause.)  

     MR. HUGHLEY:  We have County Executive David Crowley.  Is he here?  (Applause.)  There you go. 

     Mayor Cavalier Johnson, what a cool-ass name that is.  That’s dope.  (Laughter and applause.)

     And, of course, Senator Tammy Baldwin is here.  That’s wonderful.  (Applause.) 

     It is so nice to be here with elected officials that are not under indictment.  I tell you — (laughter) — I swear to God, I’m so happy.  (Laughs.)  I’m so happy. 

     You know, I — I’ve always been a huge fan of yours.  You were — you were my senator from California.  I’ve been very proud of what you’re doing.  And it’s — to me, this is an extension of what you did in California.  I’m very proud of the work you’re doing. 

     THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, D.L.

     MR. HUGHLEY:  But this is the third stop of your national Economic Opportunity Tour. 


     MR. HUGHLEY:  Why did you decide to launch the tour, and how is it going so far?

     THE VICE PRESIDENT:  So, first of all, thank you, D.L., for being here.  And your voice is so important.  You always take on the issue of the day.  You give us humor and laughter, but you always talk about serious issues in such a thoughtful way. 

     MR. HUGHLEY:  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.

     THE VICE PRESIDENT:  So, thank you for being on this stage with me. 

     MR. HUGHLEY:  My pleasure.

     THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Can we hear it for D.L., please?  (Applause.)

     Are the Ques in the house?  (Laughter.)

     MR. HUGHLEY:  Ahh — (laughter) –

     Don’t get nervous, white people.  It’s — it’s n- — I promise you, it’s not — ain’t nobody — it ain’t nobody attacking the village or nothing.  It’s fine.  (Laughter.)

     But — but this is — this is —

     THE VICE PRESIDENT:  So — yeah.

     MR. HUGHLEY:  — very important.  And I know from — I know from a very — that — from our very lengthy conversation —


     MR. HUGHLEY:  — not only how important it is the work you’ve done but to let people know about it —

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  That’s right.

MR. HUGHLEY:  — and what’s available. 

     THE VICE PRESIDENT:  That’s right.  So, as you and I have talked about, first of all, we all know that we are a nation that was empowered and continues to be empowered by the aspirations and the ambitions of her people.  And we also know that we don’t lack for talent.  We don’t lack for skills.  We don’t lack for good ideas and innovative thought. 

     But there are those who, with all of that, lack for access to either information or relationships that allow them to then translate all of those skills into something that will actually be real and, by extension, benefit the whole — an entire community and society. 

     MR. HUGHLEY:  Sure, sure.

     THE VICE PRESIDENT:  So, I decided to embark on this Economic Opportunity Tour to travel the country and share with folks what resources are available — and resources that are not just about helping folks get by but get ahead. 

     We know that we all want an opportunity, if that is our life’s calling or ambition, to be able not just to have a job but to create wealth — intergenerational wealth, to contribute to the economy of the neighborhood, of the — the place where you live and, by extension, our country and the world. 

     MR. HUGHLEY:  Right.  Right.

     THE VICE PRESIDENT:  And so, this tour is designed to get that information, because we are doing extraordinary work.  I mean, I look at Mr. Phelps, who introduced you and I, his construction company.  I was talking to him earlier.  He has about 100 employees and — or 50 employees, but — or actually, where is he?  (Laughter.)  There you are.  How many employees as of now?

     MR. PHELPS:  Fifty.

     THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Fifty employees.  And I was sharing with Mr. Phelps that we — the President and I — because of the Inflation Reduction Act, the Bi- — the Infrastructure Act, we are dropping trillions of dollars on the streets of America right now to build back up our roads and our bridges, our sidewalks; to invest in a clean energy economy to deal with the climate crisis in a way that is about building up adaptation and resilience.

     Well, a — a business like Mr. Phelps’s business —

     MR. HUGHLEY:  Sure.

     THE VICE PRESIDENT:  — is going to make what we plan to do out of Washington, D.C., real on the streets of America. 

     And here’s the thing about why I’m focused on small businesses.  One of the reasons is that — do you know that over 90 percent of construction companies in America have 20 or fewer employees?  They’re small businesses doing extraordinary work. 

     When you see the signs around Milwaukee and around our country, “Brought to you by the Biden-Harris administration,” and you see a crane and you see shovels in the ground, it’s going to be with and in partnership with our brothers and sisters of labor, IBEW — who’s doing the great apprenticeship work — and it’s going to be businesses like Mr. Phelps who are doing that work.

     So, we want them to know what is available to them.

     MR. HUGHLEY:  You said something — because I think, communally, we understand.  We were raised to work really hard, and things would happen. Like, mulattos were told we had to work twice as hard to get half as far.  But it isn’t just about hard work.  It is what you alluded to earlier: access, information.

     THE VICE PRESIDENT:  That’s right.

     MR. HUGHLEY:  And so, that — that makes me proud of — all you can say about somebody is that when you are climbing, you can recognize them when they get to the top.  And I can say that’s true of you.  And that’s — that’s something that makes me very proud.

     You are doing those things to expand —


     MR. HUGHLEY:  — access, and we talked about that.  But the ho- — the homeowner aspect —


     MR. HUGHLEY:  — that is a chip in the game.  That’s a big chip in the game.

     THE VICE PRESIDENT:  That’s right.

     MR. HUGHLEY:  That is access to capital, that is sending kids to college, that is —

     THE VICE PRESIDENT:  That’s right.

     MR. HUGHLEY:  — taking vacation.

     THE VICE PRESIDENT:  That’s right.

     MR. HUGHLEY:  But for us, the path is a little curvier than for a lot of people.

     THE VICE PRESIDENT:  That’s right.

     MR. HUGHLEY:  What are you doing to mitigate some of those things?

     THE VICE PRESIDENT:  So, part of how I’m thinking of this Economic Opportunity Tour in general is to acknowledge — speak truth and acknowledge both the opportunities that exist but also the disparities and the obstacles that exist. 

     MR. HUGHLEY:  Right.

     THE VICE PRESIDENT:  So, let’s talk about Black homeownership.  Without spending too much time on a — a history lesson, first of all, nobody got 40 acres and a mule. 

     MR. HUGHLEY:  Right.  Right.  (Laughter.)

     THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Then you look at, for example — and I’ll jump around — what happened with a federal policy initiative that said about the Greatest Generation — those who fought in the wars, that — that established America’s leadership on an — on a global scale — “Let’s invest in that Greatest Generation when they come back.”  And there were substantial federal dollars through grants that then went to those mostly servicemen who were then veterans coming back.

     So, when there was this incredible boost around homeownership — “Let’s invest in their ability to buy homes.”  Incredible boost. 

However, the Black servicemen did not get full advantage —

     MR. HUGHLEY:  Right.

     THE VICE PRESIDENT:  — of those loans.  So, the discrimination occurred there.  So, where there was a boost, some got ahead, and some just didn’t get the benefit of it.

     You look at it in terms of what we know around segregation.  You look at it in terms of redlining. 

And then, most recently, an obstacle that we have been addressing and speaking truth about is racial bias in home appraisals —

     MR. HUGHLEY:  Right.

     THE VICE PRESIDENT:  — which is very real.  (Applause.) 

     So, in an environment where Black families are 40 percent less likely to own homes —

     MR. HUGHLEY:  Right.

     THE VICE PRESIDENT:  — we also have, among those who do own a home, so many examples — and — and, D.L., you have — you can tell the story of how racial bias has undervalued a Black homeowner’s home in such a way that if they rely on that biased appraisal, they will receive less value for their property if they’re trying to sell it or they’re trying to get a second mortgage —

     MR. HUGHLEY:  It’s so ironic you bring that up.

     THE VICE PRESIDENT:  — will receive less.

     MR. HUGHLEY:  It’s so ironic because —

     THE VICE PRESIDENT:  So, tell the — you want to tell your story?

     MR. HUGHLEY:  I was — I bought a house in West Hills.  I had only lived around Black people my whole life.


     MR. HUGHLEY:  I bought a house in West Hills, California, which is the basis of the television show I did called “The Hughleys.”  I go to sell that house because my wife said we had to move.  (Laughter.)  We’d owned that house for a couple of years.  We’d done all these — these improvements.  My real estate broker said, “Well, you got to — you got to take your pictures down and take down, you know, the (inaudible) — you know, take down anything that lets them — you — them know who lives here.”

     And, of course, I’m — I was, you know, I was like, “Nah, I’m not going to do that.”  They came — the appraisal came in so low, the bank contacted us.  And it would have had to been a home in disrepair.  The home that’s on TV.


     MR. HUGHLEY:  Like, I’m on TV with this home.


     MR. HUGHLEY:  They sent another appraiser out, and they gave me $200,000 more.  And it was interesting to me.  I’m like — the fact that — I actually wrote this in my book, and we talk about it on my show all the time, this happens to Black people consistently —


     MR. HUGHLEY:  — where we have to — now I just keep actual pictures of white people in my house just in case.  (Laughter.) 

     You ain’t going to get me twice.  (Laughter.)  I keep them in my wallet, too, just in case the police.  (Laughter.)  I’m just telling you.  This is just me.  (Laughter and applause.)

     But it — but these kinds of things — these microaggressions are things that no — I — I’ve been around a lot of administrations.  I don’t know that anybody has done it as succinctly as you all have.  And — and —

     THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Well, and — because we need to just call it what it is — right? — and then deal with it.  And so, how we’re dealing with it is, one, to tell the truth about it. Because there are countless stories of a Black family doing just that, actually, of — of then talking with a friend who is white and asking them to put in their family pictures —

     MR. HUGHLEY:  Right.  Right.

     THE VICE PRESIDENT:  — and to bring the appraiser in, and a substantial difference around how the home is appraised.

     So, we just need to deal with it, knowing that, for example, one of the problems here is that a very small minority of home appraisers are people of color.  And — because this is about people of color to Black people and other people of color.

     MR. HUGHLEY:  Sure. 

     THE VICE PRESIDENT:  And so, we need to deal with it on that level.  The other piece of it is that we are now requiring that home appraisers be trained on racial bias.  And we have set up a — basically, a report line to let people know there is somewhere to go with this information. 

     Because too often — (applause) — right?  Too often, people who are the — the focus of unfairness know it’s unfair — right? — you don’t need to be taught that it’s unfair — but sometimes just feel like, “There’s nowhere to go with this.  I’m just going to have to accept it.”

     MR. HUGHLEY:  Right.  Right.

     THE VICE PRESIDENT:  And this is unacceptable, and so we have set up a system to make it so that there is somewhere to go with this information.

     MR. HUGHLEY:  We were speaking about expansion of — of wealth and — and those opportunities and homeownership.  But a big impediment to that also is debt.

     THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Huge issue.

     MR. HUGHLEY:  And I think it’s something I hear on my radio show all the time —


     MR. HUGHLEY:  — crushing, crushing debt.  Student loans are a big part of that.

     THE VICE PRESIDENT:  That’s right.

     MR. HUGHLEY:  Thank God I have a GED, so that didn’t cost a lot.  (Laughter and applause.)  So, while you all were studying, I was keeping all my money.  But — (laughter) — it is such a crushing thing to start out with — with a —


     MR. HUGHLEY:  — with a debt that you’re — that’s going to be hard to pay.  Even the interest on that debt is going to be almost impossible.

     THE VICE PRESIDENT:  That’s right.

     MR. HUGHLEY:  What have you done to kind of deal with that — that reality for so many people of color?

     THE VICE PRESIDENT:  That’s right.  So, let’s start with one of — there are two areas, in particular, where we’re dealing with, in terms of the burden of debt, which so many people carry such a burden. 

     So, one is medical debt.  So, a lot of people experience medical debt usually borne out of a medical emergency.  And so, it’s something you obviously, then, don’t plan for.  It is something that happens, and then people have these hospital bills, these doctor’s bills, that can be in the tens, hundreds of thousands of dollars —

     MR. HUGHLEY:  Yeah.

     THE VICE PRESIDENT:  — for an unexpected emergency.  So, we have decided that, well, look, it’s not like that medical emergency happened because you’re financially irresponsible.  That’s a healthcare matter.

     MR. HUGHLEY:  Right.

     THE VICE PRESIDENT:  So, we are now saying medical debt cannot be included in your credit score.  (Applause.)  Right?  Because, after all, your credit — well, first of all, everybody these days knows their credit score like you know how much you weigh, right?  (Laughter.)

     MR. HUGHLEY:  Yeah.

     THE VICE PRESIDENT:  You just — (laughs) — you can get a little app and look at it.  Some people look at it on a daily basis.  And — and —

MR. HUGHLEY:  (Laughs.)  Check my little — check my credit score right now, please.  (Laughter.)

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  And — and we know what that number means in terms of your ability to qualify for a small-business loan, a home loan, a credit card, a car loan.  So, we are saying that cannot be included.

The other thing that we have said about medical debt is that it cannot work against you when you are applying for credit. 

And, again, it’s just what’s morally right, from our perspective, which is people shouldn’t be debilitated around having access to economic opportunity because they experienced a medical emergency or something of that nature.

MR. HUGHLEY:  It — which is why I’m here.


MR. HUGHLEY:  Because I remember growing up, you know, my mother would go to the hospital a lot.


MR. HUGHLEY:  And the debt was so bad, she put everything in our name.  Like, I had a electric bill when I was three.  (Laughter.)


MR. HUGHLEY:  I’m not even trying to — like, these are the things that they had to do to kind of navigate this space.


MR. HUGHLEY:  And to hear someone actually address the concerns that you know are real and that —


MR. HUGHLEY:  — through no fault of your own, exist.  And I just think, when you talk about the medical space, you said something that made me — in addition to all the things I’ve — I’ve thought that you’ve done, when you talk about the disparity of treatment of women of color —


MR. HUGHLEY:  My daughter is — she had my second grandchild.  She was — we were ecstatic, and then she got diagnosed with breast cancer.  And had she not — and women in certain regions of this country, their health outcomes are just disparate, depending on what area of the country they live in —

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  That’s right.

MR. HUGHLEY:  — and what kind of access they have to.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  That’s right.

MR. HUGHLEY:  And the fact that because she’s married to a doctor and we were, you know, fortunate to be able to get her what she needed, it — it is working out for us.  But I know so many people —

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  That’s right.

MR. HUGHLEY:  — in her journey that I heard about that didn’t.  And the fact that you addressed that and have done — you and your administration have taken steps to make sure that that not only is heard, but addressed.  That’s something I’ve heard you talk about a lot too.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Well, and you’re right.  I mean, we could have a long conversation this afternoon about health disparities and the intersection between that and racial disparities. 

I mean, maternal mortality is something I’ve been working on for years.  Black women are three times more likely to be diagno- — well, to actually die in connection with pregnancy; Native women, twice as likely; rural women, one and a half times more likely. 

And when you look into the reasons, yes, it is about availability of affordable care.  It is also about racial bias. 


THE VICE PRESIDENT:  And so, that is something I’ve been working on for years.  In fact, most recently, I’ll tell you — I know it’s off — it’s not on the Economic Opportunity Tour, but I’m going to connect it. 

When I became Vice President, as a continuation of this work, I took a look at which states had extended coverage for women on Medicaid for postpartum care from 2 months to 12 months.  So, I took a look at this.  So, women on Medicaid, only three states had extended it to 12 months.

So, I’m not above shaming folks. 

MR. HUGHLEY:  Right.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  So, I issued a challenge to the states: Extend coverage for women on Medicaid to 12 months.  And as of today, 46 states have done it.  (Applause.)



And these connections are very real in terms of economic health and wellbeing and — and issues like access to affordable —


THE VICE PRESIDENT:  — healthcare. 

The other thing I just don’t want to overlook is the student loan debt piece.  And so — and also — D.L., you know, we’ve talked about this — the things we have achieved have not been without great opposition. 

MR. HUGHLEY:  Right.


So, student loan debt — you all may remember, we actually had a much more ambitious plan, but there were forces working against that. 


THE VICE PRESIDENT:  So, then the President said, “Well, I’m going to go and do it on my own to the extent I can without Congress or without the Court supporting this.”  And so, we have now been — we have now forgiven over $150 billion of student loan debt for over 4 million Americans.  (Applause.) 

And one of the pieces that is — that is particularly important for me, because my — my first-grade teacher, Mrs.  Frances Wilson, God rest her soul, attended my law school graduation.  I love our teachers. 

We made as part of the — the student loan forgiveness plan that public servants — so, nurses, firefighters, teachers — would get double the amount of debt forgiveness — (applause) — because, God knows, we don’t pay them enough as it is, and they have dedicated their lives to service.  And, again, it’s — it’s what’s smart, but it’s also just what’s right.

MR. HUGHLEY:  It’s fair.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  It’s just fair.

MR. HUGHLEY:  I — I think you’re absolutely right.  And I think that it is a shame that we live in a society that separates people like that, where women aren’t making what they — you know, I want women to get all the money that they deserve, and then give us our change back.  That’s what I want.  I want that to start happening.  (Laughter.)  So, if you could do — if you can do that too.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Let me just say, I have talked to D.L.’s wife, and she is so strong and funny and smart.  And I’m just going to just say that you are lucky that you are married to her.  (Laughter.)

MR. HUGHLEY:  Man — yeah.  Did she call you or something?  Did something happen?  (Laughter.)

You — you know, I am here specifically because I remember when we had a conversation at the dinner we had —


MR. HUGHLEY:  — and it was not always — it got contentious.  And I had to apologize to you, because I had let a media narrative co-opt my perspective, and I think that tends to happen with — with women and people of color.  I think that that we oftentimes hear this call, this siren’s call that is so — it’s so mesmerizing that sometimes you believe it.

And I had to apologize to you because — you were a prosecutor.  I grew up in California.  I — I love that state.  And what I saw happen to it — I equated with, you know, elected officials, and I’d lumped you in with it. 


MR. HUGHLEY:  But — but some of the things that I have subsequently come to learn about you not only make me proud of you, but make me be an advocate for you.  I am proud of the things you’ve done.  I’m proud of what you’re trying to do for this country — this administration is trying to do for this country.  And I — and I can say in front of them: I’m sorry that I ever let somebody tell me what I should have known from the beginning.  (Applause.)

And I’m — I’m — and I’ll be — and I’ll use my voice not as a — I’m not a paid — I’m not — I don’t even like politics all that much.  It’s ironic to me.


MR. HUGHLEY:  But I think you have done what you said you would do.  And there was a time that I didn’t believe it, and I have to say that I’m sorry. 

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, D.L.  Thank you.

MR. HUGHLEY:  And I’m going to do what I have to do to make sure you get the word out and make sure that people understand you have done everything you’ve promised.  And I am proud of you.  So — (applause) —

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Oh, D.L., thank you.

MR. HUGHLEY:  I’m very proud.  (Applause.) 

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Four more years!  Four more years!

MR. HUGHLEY:  Wait until everybody else jumps in, all right?  Come on, man.  (Laughter.)  No rhythm, (inaudible) — (laughter) —

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  So, one of — one of the other — thank- — first of all, thank you, D.L. 

MR. HUGHLEY:  You’re very welcome.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  That means so much more than I can say. 

I do want to mention one of the — one of the many other things we’re doing that, again, to your point is about acknowledging the disparities: federal contracts. 

So, for — how many small-business owners do we have here today?


THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Okay, right.  (Applause.)  Right. 

So, a lot of federal contracts go to small businesses.  But what we know is, often who gets the — who even has the information about how to apply for a federal contract is a matter of who you know, not necessarily the — the skill of your work, how well you do your work.  Certainly, you know, it has nothing to do with anything other than often just a lack of information and access to those relationships. 

So, from day one, when the President I came in, we said we are going to increase by 50 percent federal contracts going to minority-owned businesses.  And we are on track to get that done by the end of next year.  (Applause.)

And I mentioned that to say that the work that we have been doing is about creating incentives for folks to apply, but also holding the federal government to account for measuring how we are doing this work and being intentional about it.  And I think that’s so very important. 

And that’s where, look, who’s in the position of power matters.  Because, one, if you don’t even have any level of awareness or interest in these disparities, you’re not going to get anything done on them.  And then, when you become aware, if you actually intend to get something done, you have to hold yourself and the system to account. 

And I will say, that is part of the method of our approach to a lot of this work.  Our work is — is — includes, for example, like — let’s have metrics.  Let’s say, for example, we know the — the history of Black homeownership: We know the history of — of bias and — and laws that prevented equal access to that opportunity. 

We have now proposed that if you are the child of parents who — or you were raised in a family where the folks who raised you were not homeowners, when you want to go buy a home, you will be entitled to a $25,000 grant toward down payment for a home.  (Applause.)

Again, acknowledging the realities of it all.  If your parents owned a home, and then you, as their child, say, “I want to go buy,” then your parents will likely have the opportunity and ability to say, “Honey, you don’t have to go take out that big loan; I’m going to take some equity out of my home to help you with that down payment.”


THE VICE PRESIDENT:  And that’s how intergenerational wealth works. 

But if you start with nothing, how are we going to give people those opportunities? 

MR. HUGHLEY:  Right.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  And so, it’s about acknowledgement and then pushing through the actual policies that are not just about lip service, but actually making a difference.

MR. HUGHLEY:  You seem to be having a — and hearing you talk — you have a different approach.  I think that there are people who think that the top down works best. 


MR. HUGHLEY:  There are people believe that you can build a house with the roof first.  They — there are people — (laughter) —


MR. HUGHLEY:  They do; they believe that.  And any construction man can tell you that ain’t possible.


MR. HUGHLEY:  And there are people who believe that because when you’re — you’re talking consistently about the small-business owners and — and people being entrepreneurial — those are ground up.  Those are foundational kind of things.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  That’s right.

MR. HUGHLEY:  And it really does depend on your life’s experiences, how you view things, and in terms of the way — the way that you lead.  So, tell me a little bit about why you see things that way.


MR. HUGHLEY:  Because this — the politics is — if it’s nothing else, it also is transactional too.  So, why do you see the — the approach of top, of — you know, from the foundation up being the best approach to taking America even into the next centuries and decades?

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  So, in particular, my focus on small businesses, which extends back to my years in the Senate, when I was a part of getting $12 billion more into our community banks — and I know we have many community lenders who are here — is because those lenders are in the community — they know the resources, they know the capacity, they know the desires of the community — and can also, then, assist and support getting people information around things like financial literacy. 

In fact, one of the announcements we’re making today is putting hundreds millions more dollars into advisors and consultants — here in Milwaukee, for example, over a dozen –that will, for free, give people financial literacy information: how to apply for loans.  Community banks give information about — to a small business: This is how you run a payroll; this is how you deal with your business taxes. 

I was talking with one of the CDFIs earlier who has a booth here — there are many booths, so I encourage everyone to go and stop by them; there’s a lot of information — who was — who was telling a young man who’s a small-business owner: You know, there’s a difference between a bookkeeper and an accountant, and you need to know the difference because you got to, you know, keep all that straight, but then also so you can actually create a business model out of what you are doing now that would allow you access to growth. 


THE VICE PRESIDENT:  But a lot of my focus on small businesses, then — it is because small businesses employ over half of America’s working population.

But also, when I grew up, I had my mother, who raised us, and a second mother, Ms. Shelton, who — we lived in the apartment above the nursery school that she owned and ran.  And she was a second mother to us.  She — when my mother was working late, she would take care of us in the evenings and sometimes on the weekends. 

And Ms. Shelton ran this nursery school, and it was a small business.  And, you know, she was from Louisiana but part of that exodus of folks that —

MR. HUGHLEY:  Everybody left Louisiana to Texas or —

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  — moved to California, right?

MR. HUGHLEY:  — California.  Yeah.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  And she was not only a small-business owner and leader, but she was a civic leader.  She was a matriarch of the community.  She counseled young parents.  She hired locally.  She mentored.  And that’s who our small-business leaders are. 

And so, when I think about it — it is about investing in America’s prosperity and — and a broad-based economy, but it’s also about investing in communities and the civic fabric of communities that contributes to the economic health and well-being.  And that’s where my passion comes from and why I do this part of the work that I do.

MR. HUGHLEY:  Hearing you talk, one of the things that I keep — consistently hear you say is “the information.”


MR. HUGHLEY:  And one of the things people of color were denied was the information. 


MR. HUGHLEY:  “We don’t want you to know anything.”  Do what I — and — and —

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  And there’s so much misinformation. 

MR. HUGHLEY:  And — and because — I remember when we grew up — this is — all the men I knew would have newspapers everywhere.


MR. HUGHLEY:  They were read it.  Like —


MR. HUGHLEY:  — it was in your cupboards, and you wrapped your furn- — your glasses in it.  (Laughter.)  The information was everywhere.  Like, you could get — you could get a good whoopin’ for messing with the paper before your daddy finished it.  (Laughter.)  You can mess with them funny papers.  Don’t do nothing else.


MR. HUGHLEY:  Information was important to us.  And I think that —

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Yeah, that’s true. 

MR. HUGHLEY:  — there are people —

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  That’s true. 

MR. HUGHLEY:  — who want to deny us access to information because of the power it unleashes.  That — some of these things have existed but just even highlighting them in a way that makes it more accessible to people, to make it more reasonable, more attainable to people.  And so, having a conversation that not only talks about what you have done but the pathway to showing people what is available to them just — just from accessing things.  And I think that’s an important approach. 

Just — and I know you have to go, but —

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Well, let me just add something to your point.  We could be here all afternoon.  We won’t be, though.

MR. HUGHLEY:  Yeah, yeah.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  This is what’s — this is what is, frankly, facetious and wrong about the bootstrap theory. 


THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Right?  “Just pick yourself up.  If you want to do better, you would do better.  It must be some sign of your character and a flaw in your character that you’re not doing as well as I am doing.” 

Instead of understanding that not everyone has access to the information, but when they do have access, then there’s no — as I said earlier, no lack of ambition, aspiration, good ideas, work ethic.  There’s no lack of any of that. 


THE VICE PRESIDENT:  And that’s why I’m doing this tour.  And that’s why I’m doing this tour.  Because we are now dropping trillions of dollars on the streets of America — Joe Biden and me and our administration, many leaders who you just met.  And I want to make sure — (applause) — that everyone who needs to know how to be a part of this actually has the information to be able to then do the work.

MR. HUGHLEY:  You — I’m proud — like, I remember, you were — when you were talking about the infrastructure and your Depart- — talking about the Department of Transportation.


     MR. HUGHLEY:  Well, you know, like, I remember Sugar Hill was in California.  They started the 10 freeway in a Black neighborhood that had already pulled itself by its bootstraps.

     THE VICE PRESIDENT:  That’s right.

     MR. HUGHLEY:  See, a lot of times, they’ll have a conversation with us after you’ve taken our boots, then you say we never had any.  But — but the Department of Transportation built deliberately through neighborhoods of color. 


     MR. HUGHLEY:  And the fact that you —

     THE VICE PRESIDENT:  They called it “urban planning.” 

     MR. HUGHLEY:  They called it “urban planning.”

     THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Those freeways cutting through neighborhoods —

     MR. HUGHLEY:  On purpose.

     THE VICE PRESIDENT:  — all over the country. 

     MR. HUGHLEY:  And if you read — and if you know the history of it and — and find an administration that is dealing with it and — and — to the best they can, like whole neighborhoods are — in Dallas, a neighborhood — the wealthiest neighborhood owned — was owned by Black man named Bob Jones.  They took it under — with the Army Corps of Engineers and the city planners. 

     So, the fact that —

     THE VICE PRESIDENT:  “Urban renewal,” they used to call it.  “Urban renewal.”

     MR. HUGHLEY:  Yeah.  The fact that through your administration and through the Infrastructure Bill that you guys passed, you are finding mi- — finding ways to not — it’s certainly not reparations, but it is a level of restorative justice, where you say, “We did this; we’re going to try to do this to kind of — to undercut some of the damage we’ve done.”  That’s important too. 

     THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Well, we want to be intentional.  But to your point, for example, it’s something else that we’ve done: The rule has been for a very long time that previously incarcerated people cannot be eligible for Small Business Administration loans.  We have now gotten rid of that.  (Applause.) 

     So, now that — the fact that someone was previously incarcerated will not render them ineligible for a small-business loan.  Because here’s the thing.  We believe in second chances.  I believe in redemption and the ability of all people to be able to come back, and we need to give them the ability and opportunity to do it. 

     Here’s another thing I — that’s very important, and I asked all the leaders here to help us get this information out, which is why we have invited the leaders who are here.  You are — you are business leaders, you are opinion leaders.  Please help us get the word out.  That’s part of why I’m doing that and have asked you all to join us. 

     So, on the student loan debt, let’s think about this.  The inability to be able to pay tuition is why people take out loans.  Okay?  So, then, logically, that also tells us some people who can’t afford tuition drop out because they can’t afford tuition.  But they still have debt. 

     Our policy on student loan debt forgiveness includes people who never graduated being eligible for that — (applause) — forgiveness.  Help us get the word out, because a lot of people are assuming that they are only qualified for student debt forgiveness if they graduated. 

     And again, we know, statistically, whether it be small-business loans or other things that are available to folks — you know, when — when you’ve lo- — when you’ve experienced life in such a way that you’ve — you’ve — you’ve had countless disappointments, sometimes folks are reluctant then to put themselves out there, to apply for something for fear they’ll be denied or rejected.  And that is part of what we see sometimes in terms of somebody not applying for an SBA loan, not applying for student debt forgiveness. 

     And we want to remind people: If you don’t apply, you certainly won’t get it.  And so, again, I ask the leaders here to help us get the word out. 

     MR. HUGHLEY:  You know, education is very — obviously, components of that are very important.  But we talked a lot about student loan and student debt and tuition, even trade schools — like —

     THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Yeah, that’s right.

     MR. HUGHLEY:  — AI is not going to be able to fix your house, it’s not going to be able to be a carpenter, it’s not going to be able to be a cobbler — cobbler.  I think that the way you all talk about — your administration have — the verbiage you use in terms of finding a thing that you do — whether it’s with your hand, your heart — being exposed to things and being able to learn a trade is just as important. 

     Like I’m not — college wasn’t for me.  I have a GED for a reason.  It didn’t mean I wasn’t bright or wasn’t intrigued or I didn’t have passion.  It just meant that there was a different pathway for me.

     Administra- — from your perspective, there are pathways that you are building so people, if they want to go to trade school, if they want to learn —

     THE VICE PRESIDENT:  IBEW is represented here.  They’re doing an extraordinary job with their apprenticeship programs.  I’ve visited many IBEWs around the country.  Four-year apprenticeship programs, usually, where they actually pay the apprentice during those four years, while they’re learning, understanding that they’re going to develop a — a — high, high, high levels of skills but need to be able to get by through the process of learning those skills. 

     I agree with you. 

     MR. HUGHLEY:  I don’t care how rich you are, you’re going to call the plumber one day.  (Laughter.)  I don’t care.  Or — or a craftsman or —

     THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Or an electrician or — right. 

     MR. HUGHLEY:  Yeah.  And I think that’s very important.  I mean, I think that there has been a tendency for these things to play above people’s heads in — to the — to the degree that they feel like they’re — they’re not involved in the conversation.  I know a lot of — a lot of young Black men I talk to feel as if they’re not involved in the conversations. 

     THE VICE PRESIDENT:  That’s right.

     MR. HUGHLEY:  And I think that that’s something that — one of the reasons you’re doing this tour —

     THE VICE PRESIDENT:  No, you’re exactly right.

     MR. HUGHLEY:  — is to address the cynicism that they’re not being involved because — because we know that people — a fulfilled community starts with fil- — fulfilled leaders.

     THE VICE PRESIDENT:  That’s right.

     MR. HUGHLEY:  And if they feel like no one is talking to them, if they feel like nobody is addressing their concerns or their needs, that could be — that’s going to be a problem. 

     THE VICE PRESIDENT:  And everybody wants to be seen as a full human being.  Right?  And that’s part of — that’s part of, in summary, a lot of what this tour is highlighting is the various things that we are doing to acknowledge the various dimensions of — of who we are, but in the context of economic opportunity — be it debt, be it homeownership, be it access to loans, be it access to — to counseling, and the services that help people know how to start a business and — and keep a business. 

     All of — there is a — there is a method to the madness, if you will, which is truly about seeing a whole human being and understanding that when we give people opportunities — you know, this is the beauty of human nature.  When you — when you set a high bar and give people the opportunity to jump for it — I’ve seen it throughout my career and life — people go for it every time.  Every time.  That’s the beauty of human nature. 

     MR. HUGHLEY:  Yeah.

     THE VICE PRESIDENT:  You give people the ability to know that they have the resources to actually grab that thing?  The beauty of human nature: People go for it. 

     MR. HUGHLEY:  It’s all — invariably.

     THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Right?  Yeah.

     MR. HUGHLEY:  One — it’s — it’s one of the — somebody once said that you give information with a spoon and not a hammer.  You know what I mean?

     THE VICE PRESIDENT:  That’s right.

     MR. HUGHLEY:  It has to be digestible.  You have to understand it.  And I think that things like this being accessible, answering some of those questions, having — addressing some of those concerns.  Of course, you’re going to do this a lot.  But, one, I’m glad to be here with you.  I’m glad it’s (inaudible).

     THE VICE PRESIDENT:  I’m glad you are, D.L.  And I’m glad you got some steak last night.

     MR. HUGHLEY:  I’m going to get some today too.  (Laughter.)  And is weed legal?  I’m just playing.  (Laughter.) 

     THE VICE PRESIDENT:  I mean here.  I mean — (laughter) — I mean, you said “steak.”  (Laughter.)  Let’s — I — every time I — I have a conversation — a chance to engage with you, I come away even a more fervent supporter. 

     THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  Thank you.

     MR. HUGHLEY:  I think — I think what you’re doing is only a tip of the iceberg in terms of what you’re going to be able to accomplish.  So, thank you —

     THE VICE PRESIDENT:  I appreciate it.

     MR. HUGHLEY:  — for allowing me to be here.  (Applause.)  Thank you for being here.

     Madam Vice President of the United States of America.  (Applause.)

END                 1:05 P.M. CDT

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