Watchwoman on the Wall

August 23, 2011

Joe Biden

Top Republicans on the campaign trail and Capitol Hill denounced Vice President Joseph R. Biden on Tuesday for saying during a visit to China that he “fully understand[s]” Beijing’s one-child policy, which critics say has led to forced abortions and forced sterilizations.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said in a statement that Mr. Biden’s words “should shock the conscience of every American.”

“Instead of condoning the policy, Vice President Biden should have condemned it in the strongest possible terms. There can be no defense of a government that engages in compulsory sterilization and forced abortions in the name of population control,” Mr. Romney said.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, one of Mr. Romney’s principal rivals for the 2012 Republican White House nod, said Mr. Biden’s “refusal to ‘second-guess’ this horrendous policy demonstrates great moral indifference on the part of the Obama administration.”

“Americans value life, and we deserve leaders who will stand up against such inhumanity, not cast a blind eye,” Mr. Perry said.

Mr. Biden’s comments, according to a transcript put out by the State Department, came Sunday during a question-and-answer session with students at Sichuan University in Chengdu in the context of discussing long-term U.S. budget woes.

The vice president said the U.S. is starting to feel the impact of the huge retiring baby-boomer generation and lower fertility rates, which means the U.S. retirement system soon may have too many retirees and not enough workers.

“You share a similar concern here in China. You have no safety net. Your policy has been one which I fully understand [-] I’m not second-guessing [-] of one child per family,” Mr. Biden said. “The result being that you’re in a position where one wage earner will be taking care of four retired people. Not sustainable.”

The Republicans on the hustings were joined by House Speaker John A. Boehner, who said he was “deeply troubled” by Mr. Biden’s remarks.

“No government on earth has the authority to place quotas on the value of innocent human life, or to treat life as an economic commodity that can be regulated and taken away on a whim by the state,” the Ohio Republican said.

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