May 2, 2023

Biden and Harris Deliver Remarks for National Small Business Week Transcript

Biden and Harris Deliver Remarks for National Small Business Week Transcript
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Biden and Harris Deliver Remarks for National Small Business Week. Read the transcript here.

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Isabella Guzman (00:00):

Hello, and happy National Small Business Week and welcome and all of our small businesses to the White House. It’s incredible to be here. It is one of the highest honors to be celebrated here in the White House Rose Garden. And it demonstrates what I see every day, serving as your voice in the Biden-Harris Administration, that this president and vice president are committed to ensuring our economy works for small businesses and startups across the country, and it highlights our unwavering commitment to delivering the American dream of business ownership to more Americans.

I am so excited to have this position. I told President Biden that he gave me the best job leading the Small Business Administration. I grew up in a small business, started small businesses, advised founders, and there’s no place more inspiring than any Main Street, any startup innovation hub, or small manufacturing center, where I get to hear inspirational stories from entrepreneurs like all of you who have overcome obstacles, never given up, and have an outsized impact on our economy.

I know how hard you work to do what you do best, which is create jobs, innovate and deliver products and services to neighborhoods around the world. This National Small Business Week, we are celebrating your resilience. Congratulations SBA Small Business winners of 2023. That’s right. Congrats to you all. When President Biden took office, our nation was still reeling from the pandemic. You all faced unprecedented challenges, made hard choices, and pivoted and adapted to survive. The president took swift action to fight the pandemic, and helped millions of our small businesses survive with the American Rescue Plan, and its critical Covid relief for small businesses. And your perseverance helped drive one of the most historic economic comebacks we’ve ever seen. And now, this president and this vice president are working hard to make sure our small businesses continue to survive and thrive, by investing in America and creating billions of dollars of opportunity. Dollars in contracts and savings for small businesses that they will get from investments in infrastructure, pathways to growth by making more in America with American manufacturing and domestic supply chains, and increase sustainability as we build a clean energy economy of the future.

Investing in America is driving a small business boom like no other in history. Millions of entrepreneurs, with great ideas, are taking that leap of faith to jump in and start up in America. The same leap that each of you took before.

During this National Small Business Week, we will amplify these great success stories, learn and collaborate together to strengthen entrepreneurship in this country and inspire all of our great small businesses across the country to keep going, as we need you all to spur the future economy and our nation’s global competitiveness. So everyone, let the White House kick off of National Small Business Week begin. Thank you.

Speaker 1 (03:48):

The President of the United States, accompanied by the Vice President of the United States, and Ms. Jill Scarborough.

Vice President Kamala Harris (04:21):

Good afternoon everyone. Please have a seat. Good afternoon. Well, happy Small Business Week to everyone. And congratulations to all of you. It is a great honor to be with these extraordinary Americans who are our incredible small business leaders. And, of course, it is great to be with our administrator, Isabelle Guzman. And I thank you for your work and a special thank you to our president, Joe Biden. Our president has long been a leader on this and so many other issues, but he’s quite passionate about this one. And I will tell you, working with him and having the honor of doing that, no matter what room he is in, when the cameras are on or when they are off, President Biden is always fighting for America’s small business owners and entrepreneurs. And so we all thank him, of course, for his leadership in that regard.

Small business owners are the backbone of America’s economy. You are. Through your creativity, tenacity and determination, you help create prosperity and opportunity for millions of people in our country. Our small business owners are business leaders and our small business owners are community leaders and civic leaders. You train young people and hire locally. You support the local softball team. You are role models and mentors. And I’ll tell you, I’ve seen it my whole life.

Growing up, my mother worked long hours and long days, and weekends from time to time. And when she did, my sister Maya and I would go a couple doors over to Ms. Shelton’s house. So Ms. Shelton ran a nursery school, and we actually lived in the apartment above the nursery school, and Ms. Shelton was our second mother. She was a small business owner and I would not be here today without her. Because you see, Mrs. Shelton was a fixture in our community. She gave support and advice to the young parents in the neighborhood and folks who are going through challenges just as so many of you do.

And as District Attorney of San Francisco, in my career, as Attorney General California and United States Senator, and now as Vice President, I have worked with and met with thousands of small business owners. Folks like you who are here, who fight every day to build a better future for the people you love, for the community you call home, and for our country.

You power the ambition and aspirations of our nation and that is why we are fighting every day to make sure you have the resources and the support that you need. For example, we know there are so many small businesses owners who hire employees but want to hire more because your business is growing. Small business owners who want to stock the shelves and make sure you have enough in terms of the supply you need, to do what you need to do in your community. Small business owners who need more capital because you want to design a new product or build a new store,

Vice President Kamala Harris (08:00):

… Store. But who cannot because you don’t have access to capital. And so building on the work that I did as a United States senator, our administration is investing billions of dollars in community banks. Which are the institutions that help provide capital and financial support to small business owners. In particular, those in overlooked and underserved communities, including our rural communities.

What’s more? Last year we built an historic public-private partnership to help address this issue. We partnered with consumer banks, investment firms, technology companies, and philanthropies to combine the expertise and experience of the private sector with the reach and capacity that can only be provided by the government. As a result, we have secured tens of billions of dollars in private sector investment for small businesses and communities across America. And we are just getting started. So with your support, President Biden and I will continue to fight to make sure every small business owner in our nation and every aspiring small business owner has the opportunity to not only survive, but thrive. And with that, please join me to welcome to the microphone, a leader who exemplifies the excellence of all the small business owners who are here today, Jill Scarborough.

Jill Scarborough (09:42):

Hi, my name is Jill Scarborough and my business is Bright Futures Learning Services. I grew up a poor, dyslexic girl in rural southern West Virginia, and it was my family’s passion and commitment to make sure that I got the services that I needed to be able to read. That ignited my passion to help other children with specific learning challenges, get the services that they needed to. So I went to college at Marshall University as a special education teacher, and as tends to happen with girls who go to college, I met a boy who changed my life. He was six years old and his name is Mike McCoy, and I think they’re watching today. So, hi Mike and hi Bev. Mike was born with several health and learning challenges, including a hearing impairment, a mental health impairment, as well as autism spectrum disorder.

But Mike is blessed with an incredible mom named Bev, who did the research to see how she could best help her child. And she, through her research, learned about the power of applied behavior analysis, ABA. And so Bev worked with another small group of moms in West Virginia to fly in experts from California who trained them, who then recruited anybody they can find, so college students like me. And we trained in-home to implement ABA therapy. And so with our hard work, Mike made so much progress. He learned how to communicate at first through sign language and augmentative communication. And then, yes, with his voice. He learned how to play, he learned how to connect, and he learned how to read. And so after seeing what I could help someone like Mike accomplish, I knew that’s what I had to do. And so fast-forward after going to graduate school and back home to West Virginia, we started Bright Futures Learning Services, technically as a private school for Mike in my Granny’s kitchen.

And then a powerful group again of moms and women who worked to pass legislation largely thanks also to the Affordable Care Act. Our children with autism had coverage and then specifically applied behavior analysis coverage. And so with that, Bright Futures was born. And I want to thank the president and the vice president for your small business friendly policies that truly, without the support of the SBA and the resources that were available to us, small businesses like mine would not have survived through Covid. And so because of those resources, we now are employing 48 team members that are the hardest working, most caring people that make a difference in children’s lives every day. And so because of them and the families and the children that we have the immense pleasure to work with, I know that Bright Futures continues to have a very bright future. So thank you.

And now please join me in welcoming a true champion for small business, the President of the United States, Joe Biden.

Joe Biden (13:10):

You are really good.

Jill Scarborough (13:10):

Thank you.

Joe Biden (13:10):

Good afternoon. And before we start, I’m pleased to say that the regulators have taken action to facilitate the sale of First Republic Bank and ensure that all depositors are protected and the taxpayers are not on the hook. These actions are going to make sure that the banking system is safe and sound, and that includes protecting small businesses across the country who need to make payroll for workers and their small businesses. And so let me be very clear, while depositors are being protected, shareholders are losing their investments. And critically taxpayers are not the ones that are on the hook, as I said earlier.

Now going forward, I’ve called on Congress to give regulators the tools to hold bank executives accountable. And I’ve called on regulators to strengthen regulations and supervision of large and regional banks. And folks, we have to make sure that we’re not back in this position again. And I think we’re well on our way to be able to make that assurance. And as I said to my introducer, Jill a moment ago, she’s really impressive, isn’t she?

And the guy sitting next to her, if you disagree with me, it’s her husband, and you’re in deep trouble. Welcome, man. Speaking of small business, you got your own small business, and I want to thank you. Look, folks, we’ve got a lot to do. And most immediate thing we can do is ensure the continued reliance of our economy and the financial system. The most important the thing we have to do in that regard is to make sure the threat by the speaker of the house to default on the national debt is off the table. For over 200 years, America’s never, ever, ever failed to pay its debt. To put in the capital and colloquial terms, America is not a deadbeat nation. We have never, ever failed to meet the debt. And as a result, one of the most respected nations of the world. We pay our bills and we should do so without reckless hostage taking from some of the MAGA Republicans in Congress. And folks, now for the reason we’re here,

Joe Biden (16:00):

We’re all here today because I want to thank Jill and all of you, and Jill was last year’s winner, as you all know, for her introduction and for the hope your business gives so many families that are so badly needed, they really do. My daughter’s a social worker working with abused women in Philadelphia, and it’s her passion, but there’s so much we can do if we just have the wherewithal to reach out. Thanks to Administrator Guzman for leading this historic effort to support small businesses all across America. And I want to thank Vice President Harris, who’s doing such an expanded entrepreneurship, underserved communities throughout America, talking about what impact it has on those underserved communities. And congratulations on the National Small Business Week award winners. Your models of grit and heart and drive and determination, all the virtues. That’s not hyperbole that literally built America.

This week we celebrate that same unstoppable spirit in every entrepreneur nationwide. Small businesses are the engine of our economy, the glue. They really are the glue, the heart and soul of communities, and most citizens don’t know it, is that you small business owners, you account for 40%. Let me say it again, 40% of the gross domestic product of America. Small businesses, not mega corporations, small businesses. You enjoy nearly half, employ nearly half of all private sector workers. I don’t think people know that. I don’t think they understand the consequence, the economic consequence you’re involved in and you’re innovative across every single solitary industry.

Now we saw it here at the White House last month when I hosted the annual Women’s Business Summit to celebrate the critical contributions that women entrepreneurs make to our economy. And we see it here again today in companies like, and I hope I pronounce it right, AMEA Power. Is it AMEA? I believe that’s right. Yeah. AMEA Power, Florida Small Business award winner or Business Week winner. You won.

But it’s a big deal. Founded by immigrants from Latin America, it designed high power energy converters to help fuel our shift to clean energy future. And we’ve see in business like Begin with Therapy, the Illinois winner. Give us a clap for that one too. It started eight years ago in one room in Chicago south side, now provides 20,000 mental healthcare appointments a year, helping change the community for the better. Every business here has a story and the small business administration has helped tell those stories, your stories, and to grow your businesses. And it’s one of the best investments. It’s not hyperbole. One of the best investments America can make. That’s why I supported small business at the heart of my plan to grow our economy from the middle out and the bottom up.

I came from a working class family and not a whole lot trickled down. A trickle-down economy, not a whole lot dropped to my dad’s kitchen table. And so we’re building it from the middle out and the bottom up, and I really mean it. When I took office, our economy was reeling, small businesses were getting crushed. Hundreds of thousands of small, literally hundreds of thousands of small businesses across America had been closed and closed forever. Millions more were hanging by a thread. Many of you remember that fear of not only losing your livelihood but losing your dream, your life savings, your hopes of leaving something behind for your kids.

So we move fast. Within weeks, we reform the paycheck protection program to get game changing help to thousands of small businesses. Some right here on this lawn that had been shut out during the prior administration. I signed the American Rescue Plan and sum total, we delivered $450 billion in relief to six million small businesses including many of yours. And by the way, you generated with your business more of that in revenue than you got help with. You pay your bills, you paid your workers, you kept your doors open, you grew the economy. We gave initial support to 100,000 restaurants and 220,000 childcare centers, which so many working parents rely on. And imagine if we didn’t do that, what the impact in the economy was? How many of those 220,000 women and men would be able to continue to work? And by the way, not a single Republican voted for that bill.

Next I signed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. How can we be the strongest nation in the world without the strongest infrastructure in the world? We’re making intersections safer. We’re making sure communities can connect to the internet affordably and reliably. Making sure the water you drink is safe, protects one of the most important things we can do by eliminating lead pipes in America. So you can assure to the 400,000 schools in America when your kid turns on that faucet to take a drink, they’re not getting sick. Look, we’re making a whole economy stronger for years to come.

We passed the CHIPS and Science Act, one of the most significant investments ever, ever in American history, in manufacturing and research and development. We attracted over $400 billion in less than two years in a private sector investment, creating tens of thousands of jobs now and in the future. We’re going to lead the world again in manufacturing and sales of semiconductors. We invented them, we made them smaller, we made them more technically capable. And we ended up, because of the last 15 years, getting down to having only 10% of the market. It’s building the industries of the future and the small business of supply chains to support them right here at home.

I signed the Inflation Reduction Act, most aggressive action to fight climate ever anywhere in the world, creating new markets for small, clean energy companies. Put all that together and our plan is quite simple. Invest in America. If I could hold a second here, the fact is I want to make something clear. We’re in a situation where back in the thirties, there was a proposal that we could invest any money the President spent of taxpayers money. He can insist to be made by American manufacturers and use American products. But not many people had the willingness to do it. But I changed that. The fact is we’re making it in America, we’re building it in America and we’re using American products and we’re using American work. And that investment is being led by all of you here. America’s small businesses. And it’s led to a small business boom.

Today we’re in the midst of the strongest economic recovery on record. In less than two years, we’ve created 12.6 million new jobs, more jobs in two years than any President has created in his first four years in office. Unemployment is near 50% low, inflation is slowing down 40% since last year. We have more to do. It’s a historic turnaround and it’s giving people confidence to risk starting a new enterprise. And by the way, a record 10.5 million new business applications were filed in my first two years, the largest number ever on record in a two-year period. And we’re tracking it. Every time

Joe Biden (24:00):

Every time someone starts a new business, you know what it is. It’s an act of hope. It’s an act of hope. It really matters. It’s about who we are. One year ago, I unveiled the administration’s Small Business Strategy. Today, we’re releasing the report card on the progress we made, maybe I should say the progress you made, you made.

We’ve set a record for federal contract spending on small businesses, making sure they benefit from the historic investment in the American infrastructure industry and the economy. And we’re working hard to expand access to capital to help promising businesses continue to grow. Small business administration last year provided $43 billion in low-cost loans to many of you here in this lawn and all across America. I finalized new rules to expand credit to rural, minority, women, veterans-owned enterprises by working with non-traditional lenders like nonprofits, and invested $10 billion in state-level small business programs, drawing tens of billions more from private funding for small companies.

We made all this progress while, believe it or not if you don’t listen to the other team, by being fiscally responsible. Unlike the last guy, in my first two years, we cut the deficit $1.7 billion, trillion dollars, not billion, trillion dollars in less than two years. And we’re going to bring it down hundreds of billions more in the decades ahead by making the super wealthy and big corporations begin to pay their fair share, just their fair share. By the way, did you know we have about a thousand billionaires? Do you know what their average tax rate is? Eight, E-I-G-H-T, percent. Yeah, that’s what I think, too. 8%, it’s such a burden, such a burden on them.

By the way, folks, how many of you think, this is a serious question, press can participate if they want to too, how many think the tax system we have today is fair? Notice all the hands that went up. Folks, that’s why we instituted a corporate minimum tax of 15%, 15%. Hell, school teachers pay a hell of a lot more than 15%.

Look. Now small businesses can finally start to compete on a level playing field. And by the way, one of the reasons we were able to keep that debt down to $1.7 trillion and reduce the debt was because all that we did, remember, you got tired of hearing me speaking the last two years about the 550 American corporations that made $400 billion and didn’t pay a penny in taxes. Somehow people thought like me, that wasn’t a fair thing to do. So we got it changed. We set a 15% tax. What a burden. It paid for everything, and now the other team wants to repeal it because they think it’s unfair to them.

Folks, look. All of that is a sharp contrast to our friends and the other side. Last week, Speaker McCarthy passed a partisan bill that would claw back billions of dollars meant for small businesses. It would gut training and support, make it harder for veterans-owned businesses to win federal contracts, slash funding for Small Business Administration Inspector General, who fights fraud and abuse to keep this program on a level. Their extreme MAGA plan would cut critical funding for education, public safety, including cut 60,000 public school teachers, take healthcare and food assistance away from millions of working families. Moody’s suggested it would cost us 780,000 jobs lost if it passed, not me, Moody’s. It would put the entire economy at risk by refusing to pay our nation’s bills.

Let me be clear. Our nation’s debt has taken over 200 years to accumulate. That’s what we’re paying. We’re not paying for what we’re spending right now, the 200 years, 200 years of debt. And by the way, in the previous four years, the last guy increased the entirety of the national debt by 40%. Threatening default now would be totally irresponsible. It would lead to higher interest rates, higher credit card rates. Mortgage rates would skyrocket. Working people, middle class, and seniors would pay the price.

Let me close with this. You’ve made so much progress in the last two years. Now it’s time for us to finish the job, expand opportunities so people with great ideas can launch strong businesses, help grow our economy, and leave no one behind. That’s what entrepreneurs here today do what you’re doing and continue to do. You see the possibilities to make this all real. You’re the big reason why I’ve never been, and I mean sincerely, I’ve never been more optimistic about our future than I am today. We just have to remember who we are. I really mean it. Think about it. We are the United States of America. There’s not a damn thing beyond our capacity if we do it together. We have never, ever, ever failed when we’ve set a goal and done it together. So folks, let’s keep it going. God bless you all, and may God protect our troops. Thank you.

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