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Joe Biden warned of ‘welfare mothers driving luxury cars’ in 1988

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Former Vice President Joe Biden warned of “welfare moms driving luxury cars” and leading wealthy lifestyles in a 1988 newspaper column to highlight Congress’s success in passing a welfare reform package.

The Daily Beast first reported the comments, which surfaced from a column the leading 2020 Democratic presidential candidate wrote over three decades ago for the Newark Post.

“We are all too familiar with the stories of welfare mothers driving luxury cars and leading lifestyles that mirror the rich and famous,” the column read. “Whether they are exaggerated or not, these stories underlie a broad social concern that the welfare system has broken down — that it only parcels out welfare checks and does nothing to help the poor find productive jobs.”

Read more: Don’t buy into the hype that Joe Biden is necessarily the most electable Democrat

The language Biden employed mirrored conservative stereotypes of people on welfare — which usually singled out black Americans — abusing government assistance programs to live out luxurious lifestyles.

“It certainly was a racist narrative,” executive director of BlackPAC Adrianne Shropshire told the Daily Beast. “That was obviously the sort of outrageous and untrue stereotype that emerged certainly during the era of Ronald Reagan, this notion of fraudulent undeserving women … I was a kid. And I remember that being the image — an image that, as a child, I knew was inaccurate.”

Biden campaign national press secretary Jamal Brown pointed out the caveat “Whether they are exaggerated or not,” which leads the column. Brown suggests the then-Delaware senator had expressed some doubt the stereotype was true.

“As he wrote in 1988, we as a society have an obligation to help the less fortunate out of poverty through job training and educational and other opportunities,” Brown told the Daily Beast.

Biden’s half-century of public life has drawn attention to his record on race and civil rights in the 2020 Democratic primary. In mid-July, old comments resurfaced where Biden warned that non-“orderly” racial integration policies would cause his children to “grow up in a racial jungle.”

Read more: Joe Biden worried in 1977 that certain de-segregation policies would cause his children to grow up ‘in a racial jungle’

Biden also drew substantial criticism earlier this summer when he fondly remembered working with segregationists in Congress. He later apologized.

The former Veep and 2020 frontrunner, however, has been buoyed by his substantial support among black Americans. Biden extolled their support in a recent interview with a group of black journalists.

“The bad news is that I have a long record, but the good news is that I have a long record, Biden said, according to The New York Times. “People know me, or at least they think they know me, after all this time. They have a sense of who my character is and who I am — warts and all.”

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