Sep 6, 2022
Biden speaks at Labor Day event in Pittsburgh Transcript
Biden speaks at Labor Day event in Pittsburgh. Read the transcript here.
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President Biden: (00:00)
Well, I’ll tell you what, this is a pretty critical election to state the obvious. Before I start, I want to say a word about a few good friends that we lost. A guy named Jack Shea, some of you knew, and Pat Gillespie, both good friends. People I worked with my whole career. They had an attitude that could be summed up in one word in my view, a little bit like my dad would say, “Everybody, everyone, no matter what your background, is entitled to be treated with dignity.” With dignity. With respect. I want to thank the elected officials here today. Bobby Casey’s been a close friend of mine for a long time. His dad and I are friends, as well. Matter of fact, we are ages split. His dad was much older than him and me than I am to Bobby. We raised in the same neighborhood in Green Ridge, about five city blocks away. Went to the same grade schools.
President Biden: (01:07)
I’ve moved, because when Cole died in Scranton, there weren’t any jobs. My dad was in sales, not in mining, but we moved back down to Delaware where he was from. Moved to a little steel town called Claymont, Delaware. Claymont used to have [inaudible 00:01:25] steel. Used to have almost 5,000 steel workers. Whole community was built. It was a company town literally. And steel died, was dying, and there’s not a single steel worker left. But we know what happened was about midway through my … I got elected. I got very engaged, in my case, in the civil rights movement. As a kid, I worked a lot in the movement and worked, and I got deeply involved in the Democratic Party because the Democratic Party in Delaware was a Southern democratic party then. We were more a southern state than a northeastern state. And I got involved and one thing led to another. And one day a group came to me of the senior members of the party and said they wanted me to run for the Senate.
President Biden: (02:16)
I said, “I’m not old enough.” And I wasn’t. I was only 29 years old. And a former chief justice whose family had more United States senators than any family and American history looked at me and he said, “You obviously didn’t do very well in law school, Joe.” He said, “You don’t have to be 30 to be elected. You have to be 29. You can be 29. You just can’t get sworn in until your 30.” One thing led to another and I ended up deciding to run. But I was having great difficulty getting support, even though people liked me or at least the labor guys liked me. They didn’t think I could win. Until I got brought up to Pittsburgh by the local leader, the steelworkers in Delaware. And into Pittsburgh, and came to here and met with the then president of the steelworkers. He endorsed me about nine weeks out and I won by 3,100 votes.
President Biden: (03:12)
The fact is you guys own me. You’ve been with me from the beginning. And look folks, Bobby, Representative Boyle Represent Lamb, Mayor Gainey, your county executive who is a hell of a guy, and John. If I have to be in the fox hole, I want John Fetterman in there with me. I’ll tell you what, I want John in there with me. I mean that sincerely. Look, there’s a whole lot of folks here. I don’t want to keep you standing much longer, but let me just say a couple things.
President Biden: (03:49)
Number one, I started my campaign because Tom jumped in and convinced me … didn’t convince me, made the case, I should run. Because that train ride, I wasn’t running. I was campaigning for Democrats. I was out of office and I was campaigning for Democrats. But you know what? This is not your father’s Republican Party. This is a totally different party, man. These guys are different. I’ve worked with a lot of Republicans, conservative Republicans, I worked with. Got a lot done, but there was always something decent about the work. But then we moved to this place where all of a sudden, the reason it made me run I decided was when you saw those people coming out of the fields down in Virginia, carrying torches, literally coming out of the fields, carrying torches was swastikas, chanting the same antisemitic bile that was chanted in literally the same antisemitic bile chanted in Germany in the thirties, accompanied by the Ku Klux Klan.
President Biden: (04:51)
The guy that I beat in this last election, and when they asked what he thought, he said, “There were really fine people on both sides.” I said, “Something’s really wrong. Something’s changing.” That’s when I talked to Tom and others about helping me out. They decided to help me out, because look folks, here’s where I think we are. And I’m going to be brief. The fact is that I think there are periods in history where we reach certain inflection points. Where everything is going to come after is going to change what’s been before for the next generation. We’re in one of those points. It happens every six or eight generations. Things are changing. They’re changing rapidly. You see everything from what’s happening in Europe and India. From Russia, China. Things are changing. The United States has to regain its footing and remember who we are.
President Biden: (05:46)
One of the things that I concluded was that those inflection points are the places where you look back two, five, 10 years later and realize it’s just not what it was before. It’s either better or worse than it was before. Not the same. You’re not going to go back to the same. I’m absolutely convinced, and I mean this, no one’s ever doubt I mean what I say, the problem is I sometimes say all that I mean. But all kidding aside, one of the things that was clear to me is that this new group headed by the former president, the former defeated president, we found ourselves in a situation where we either going to look forward or look backwards. It’s clear which way he wants to look. It’s clear which way the new MAGA Republicans are.
President Biden: (06:37)
They’re extreme and democracy’s really at stake. You can’t be a democracy when you support violence when you don’t like the outcome of election. You can’t call yourself a democracy when you don’t in fact, count the votes that people legitimately cast and count that as who you are. You can’t be a democracy and call yourself one if you continue to do what they’re doing. And so folks, look, we have a choice. When Trump and the MAGA Republicans made their choice. We can choose to build a better America or we can continue down this sliding path of oblivion to where we don’t want to go.
President Biden: (07:17)
Under the American Rescue Plan, and I’m not going to go through all these things, but just to give me an example. We created nearly 10 million jobs in my first 16 months. 10 million new jobs in America. That American Rescue Plan also created and saved millions of jobs. Why? Because here in the state of Pennsylvania and almost every state didn’t enough have enough money to keep teachers on the payroll, to keep firefighters in the job, to keep police on the job, to keep people, nurses and docs on the job. What did we do? We in fact gave them the money to make sure they did it. This governor, your governor, spent it well. Hiring thousands of firefighters and the like.
President Biden: (08:08)
What happened was we found ourselves because of the greed of some companies. We found that an awful lot of union members were about to lose their pensions. We did something that hadn’t been done in 50 years, significantly for labor, we passed the Butch Lewis Act. The Butch Lewis Act. They told me I couldn’t do it. They told me … They really did. Remember, we didn’t and we didn’t get any Republican votes for it, but we got it done. We got it done because it’s just about basic decency and fairness. Look, every single Republican voted against that. Every single one. The bipartisan infrastructure law. We’re building roads and bridges and ports. Matter of fact, I’m going to be back here, not too long from now because we got 60 million to rebuild that bridge that collapsed the day I came here, not long ago.
President Biden: (09:00)
Folks, the money’s going to go to expanding a nearly 100-year old failing lock and dam outside Pittsburgh. It’s costing us millions, but it makes a big difference in terms of the economy. We’re going to build a new terminal at the Pittsburgh airport. We’re doing this all over the country. All over the country and it’s creating good decent jobs. But the reason why I talk about unions is not just because it’s where I come from. It’s more than that. It’s more than that. I said, I spoke to the business round table, the CEOs of the largest companies in the United States, the National Chamber of Commerce. I’ve been straightforward with them. I said, “Look, I’m a union guy. I support them for one reason, because in your interest.” They look at me like, what are you talking about? You are the best trained, the most skilled workers in the world.
President Biden: (09:52)
I’m not just saying it. Most people don’t realize to join a lot of the trade unions you have to have four or five, six months, six years of training. It’s like going to college. You get paid now you’re there, but not very much, but it is you’re the best in the world. And it makes a hell of a lot of sense for America to spend and companies to spend a little more money to have something going to last a whole hell of a lot longer than it is to do something on the cheap. Look, you’ve heard me say it before. Wall Street, didn’t build the middle class. Wall Street didn’t build America. The middle class built America and unions built the middle class. That’s just a fact.
President Biden: (10:36)
And by the way, the other thing that I found out, I haven’t been in the Senate a long time, and vice president. I didn’t realize there was a law passed in the early thirties under Roosevelt and the press is looking at me like, “What’s he going to say now?” I’m going to tell them. That in fact said, “Buy American” That any money a president spent that was appropriated, he could insist that the money could only be spent on American products. Well, guess what? We’re buying American. And I get to spend of your money as president, I get to allocate over $600 billion. $600 billion every year. And there are American made products made by American workers in America. That’s why we’re moving. Where is it written to say that we can’t be a great manufacturing facility hub in America, in the world again?
President Biden: (11:34)
We’ve made sure that we have now over 640,000 new manufacturing jobs. Where would it say we can’t do this? I start off with the proposition that it’s about just basic decency. I’m not going to go on much longer, I promise. Here’s what’s happened. We don’t have a tax system that’s fair at all. It’s not even close. That’s why, for example, I’ve been pushing for tax fairness for a long, long time. But guess what? They told me, I couldn’t do that either. Well, there were 55 corporations in America in 2020 that made over $400 billion and didn’t pay a single penny in income tax. Not a single penny. Now they’re paying a minimum of 15% in their income tax.
President Biden: (12:21)
And guess what? To talk about the Inflation Reduction Act. I’ve been fighting when I was a Senator for a long, long time, fighting the pharma-companies. Fighting so the Medicare could set the price they’d pay for Medicare drugs and negotiate for those drugs. Well guess what? Anybody of you, you don’t have to raise your hand, but any of you have a child who has type two diabetes and needs insulin every day? Once a week? Well guess what? It costs those outfits 15 bucks to make and package it. That’s all it takes. You know what they charge? They charge somewhere between 625 bucks a month and a thousand bucks a month. It’s wrong. It’s simply wrong. They can make three and a half times the profit that cost them to do it. Well, they said it couldn’t be done. Well, guess what? We were able to change it. So allowing what’s been working for a long time, allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices.
President Biden: (13:20)
We pay the highest drug prices of any nation in the world here in the United States of America. And guess what? There’s no rationale for it. We finally passed. Medicare’s now negotiating. No senior because of what we did in the Inflation Reduction Act, no senior, no matter how big their drug bills, if they’re fighting cancer or any other serious problem, and they’re spending thousands and thousands of dollars on treatment, guess what? They’ll not have to pay more than $2,000 a month, no matter what their bill is. No matter what their bill. They need insulin, they won’t have to pay more than $35 a month. No matter. I’ve been fighting pharma for my entire career. My entire career. And we finally beat pharma. We finally beat pharma. Not a single Republican vote, not a single vote.
Speaker 2: (14:20)
We respect you for it.
President Biden: (14:21)
Well, I tell you what, the fact is that there’s a lot more we have to do. Like I said, we built 650,000 manufacturing jobs in America. Today, unions in this country have now had the support, whether union members or not, of over 60% of the American people. Never before has unions been that popular. Labor. Unions. Unions. Over 60% of the American people think it’s important because they’re figuring out you are the bulwark against excess. You’re the ones. You’re the ones.
President Biden: (14:56)
By the way, all of you, I shouldn’t say all, like many of you, I wasn’t raised poor, but we weren’t wealthy. We lived in a three bedroom split level home in a little town, little area called Mayfield in Delaware with four kids a mom and a dad and a grand pop living with us. But we were all right. We were all right. But you could always tell when the things were going rough. You could hear in the wall … We had two sets of bunks in one room. You could hear my dad when he was restless and hear the headboard move. Remember asking my mom one day, what’s the matter with dad? She said, “Honey, we just lost our insurance.” People shouldn’t have to face that reality in America. That shouldn’t be the case.
President Biden: (15:41)
Unions have made sure you didn’t have to face that, but the rest of the country still is struggling. And finally, we are making significant changes in healthcare. We now are in a situation where we’ve been able to put another $2,400 bucks for a family of four to reduce the price of insurance for under the Affordable Care Act. And by the way, these guys are still going after the Affordable Care Act. They want to get rid of it. The only reason anybody with a preexisting condition that isn’t wealthy and can afford a very expensive policy has any coverage is because of the Affordable Care Act. The only reason. And they’re still going after it.
President Biden: (16:19)
And social security. Since your first paycheck you’ve been paying for social security. Well guess what? The guy heading up the Republican campaign committee for the United States Senate, Senator Scott from the south and the guys whose home state I just left in Wisconsin, these guys don’t even think social security should be guaranteed. They want it on the ballot box on the ballot every five years. Every five years it has to be reauthorized. You paid for it. The guy in Wisconsin, he concluded that it should be every single year. Every single year should have to vote on whether or not you keep social security. Whether you keep it or cut it or change it or alter it. What’s going on here, man? This is not the country that most of you, this is not the country most Republicans who represented this state supported for the longest time.
President Biden: (17:10)
Folks look, the fact is that when you have social security that’s under attack, when you have Medicare that’s under attack, when the refusal to stick with finding, making sure that you’re in a circumstance where you have some access to healthcare, this is again … We can change things. And we’re going to change it for the better. Here’s the deal. As I said, Wall Street didn’t build this country, the middle class built it and unions built the middle class.
President Biden: (17:40)
Let me close in a serious note. When I announced and I meant it, I got roundly criticized with good reason, it was legitimate to criticize me on it. I said I was running for three reasons. One to restore the soul of America. By that I meant decency, honor, meaning what you say. Literally treating people with some respect. Second reason I said I was running, is I was so sick and tired of trickle down economics. I wanted to build the economy from the bottom up in the middle out because when that happens, the wealthy do very, very well. They do very well.
President Biden: (18:13)
And everybody’s got a shot. Everybody’s got a shot. The third reason I said I was running because I wanted to unite the country. Because you can’t maintain a democracy without being able to reach a consensus. I’ve spent a lot of time with foreign leaders from the leader of China, Russia, et cetera. Leader of China, Xi Jingping just tells me straight up, I’ve spent more time with many other head of state, over 76 hours. And guess what he said? Democracies can’t be sustained in the 21st century because they require consensus and things are moving so rapidly you can’t get consensus. That’s why autocracies are going to succeed. Well, I reject that notion. I reject it. I think we can come out of what we got into stronger than we got into it. Stronger than before we started.
President Biden: (19:00)
And folks look, all of us love the country, but you can’t love the country and say how much you love it, when you only accept one or two outcomes from an election. Either you won or you were cheated. It doesn’t work that way. You can’t love the country when you refuse to maintain just the basic democratic principles that were set out that we all learn from the time we were kids in school. That you accept the outcomes of elections. You can’t say you love the country, when in fact you either win or you have been cheated. That’s where we are now, and there’s much more to say, but I’ve already said too much to you, but here’s the deal. I am absolutely convinced. I’m absolutely convinced. I mean this from the bottom of my heart, there’s not a thing we can’t do in America.
President Biden: (20:01)
I mean it. Not a single solitary thing we can’t do if we do it together. I mean it. It’s about time we stand up and remember who in God’s name we are. We’re the United States of America. There’s nothing beyond our capacity. Let’s go out and demand and it’s an easy proposition. We’ll win if people vote. So just remind everybody vote. Go out and vote. We vote, we win, and reestablish this country and make it even better than it was before. Thank you all for standing so long. God love you. I went way beyond. Thank you. What am I doing? I’m going out here?