May 9, 2024

CNN Asks Biden About Economy and Pausing Weapons to Israel

Biden CNN INterview
RevBlogTranscriptsCNNCNN Asks Biden About Economy and Pausing Weapons to Israel

CNN sits down with President Joe Biden in an exclusive interview discussing the economy, the Middle East, and his plans for a second term. Read the transcript here.

Speaker 1 (00:00):

Mr. President, thank you so much for being with me.

President Joe Biden (00:02):

Well, thanks for having me.

Speaker 1 (00:03):

So Trump attended a groundbreaking here, where we are, for Foxconn. He promised 13,000 jobs. And only about 1,000 of those actually exist right now. So I know you’re promising more than 2,000 union construction jobs, and that 100,000 people are going to get trained in AI here. Why should people here believe that you will succeed at creating jobs where Trump failed?

President Joe Biden (00:28):

He’s never succeeded in creating jobs, and I’ve never failed. I’ve created over 15 million jobs since I’ve been president. 15 million in three and three quarter years. And, secondly, Microsoft is a serious player. And they’re very much engaged in making sure that they pick this area as the home base for their AI initiative in the nation. And they’re going to do it, just like… And by the way, well, I shouldn’t go into it, but Trump is… He started off with golden shovels.

Speaker 1 (01:08):

For the groundbreaking here?

President Joe Biden (01:09):

For the groundbreaking. And talked about this being the eighth wonder of the world. When has he ever done anything he said? I’m not being facetious. Think about it. He started off, he lost. Other than Herbert Hoover, he’s the only other president who lost more jobs than created in his four-year term. And the way he managed the end of his last year, when we were dealing with COVID. A million people died. He’d tell people to inject bleach, that that may do it. Wasn’t it a real problem when he did an interview with one of your colleagues, where he just flat-out acknowledged he knew how dangerous it was but he didn’t want to speak to it?

And look at what he says he’s going to do if he gets elected. He says he’s going to do away with what I’ve done on Medicare, reducing the price of Medicare drastically. He said he’s going to do away with the Affordable Care Act. He’s says going to do just down the line. So we have a very different view. I look at it from a position, not being facetious, from a Scranton perspective. He looks at it from Mar-a-Lago perspective. He wants to give more significant tax cuts to the super wealthy. Now, we got 1,000 billionaires in America. You know what their average federal tax is? 8.3%. He talks about it. I want to raise it to 25%, that would raise $400 billion over 10 years. I can further reduce the deficit, which I’ve been able to reduce. It’s just a completely different perspective on how we should proceed.

Speaker 1 (02:45):

When it comes though to the 100,000 jobs specifically that we’re talking about here, people training in AI, the actual jobs, when are they actually going to have jobs, those 100,000 people that are being trained?

President Joe Biden (02:57):

Beginning probably the first tranche in three to four years. The community colleges, the one we’re at, we’re going to provide for 2,000 folks to be able to be trained, 200 a year. And the whole pipeline goes all the way throughout to high schools and training facilities. It used to be that, when I was in high school, and even at the very tail end before you went to high school, most public high schools had shop and home… You learned to work with your hands. It doesn’t exist anymore. And so it allows people who have skills and be able to train technical skills to be able to make a decent living without a college degree. And it’s what we need.

Speaker 1 (03:50):

So when we talk about the bet on AI and what it means, I don’t know if you saw this weekend, Warren Buffett had his annual meeting, and he talked about AI. So the first thing he said was, “Okay, it’s got enormous potential for good.” But then he likened it to the development of nuclear weapons in the US, and he said it scares the hell out of him. He always says it like he sees it. And then he says he, “Doesn’t understand a damn thing about it.” And that may capture how many Americans feel. Does AI scare you?

President Joe Biden (04:26):

AI has enormous potential and enormous downside potential. That’s why, three years ago, I got together the major architects of AI from the different operations around the world. I met with them in Europe and here in the United States. And it ranges all the way from one of the leaders saying, “It’s going to take over human thinking,” all the way to those folks who say, “No, it’s not a problem.” And so that’s why I set out certain standards. It can do no harm. And we have to make sure we know how to do that. We have to make sure it’s controlled and how it… It’s the most significant, I think, technological development in human history.

Speaker 1 (05:09):

The most significant in human history?

President Joe Biden (05:11):

Yeah. And not in terms of war and peace, but in terms of being able to… One leader in the AI community said to me, “It’s going to overtake human thinking,” which is frightening. But the other, most think it can be used for everything from finding cures for cancer to significantly increased productivity.

Speaker 1 (05:33):

So when you talk about the economy, of course, it is by far the most important issue for voters. It’s also true right now, Mr. President, that voters, by a wide margin, trust Trump more on the economy. They say that in polls. And part of the reason for that may be the numbers. And you’re aware of many of these, of course. The cost of buying a home in the United States is double what it was, when you look at your monthly costs from before the pandemic. Real income, when you account for inflation, is actually down since you took office. Economic growth last week, far short of expectations. Consumer confidence, may be no surprise, is near a two-year low. With less than six months to go to election day, are you worried that you’re running out of time to turn that around?

President Joe Biden (06:17):

We’ve already turned it around. Look, you look at the Michigan survey. For 65% of the American people think they’re in good shape economically. They think the nation’s not in good shape, but they’re personally in good shape. The polling data has been wrong all along. How many of you guys do a poll at CNN? How many folks you have to call to get one response? The idea that we’re in a situation where things are so bad, the folk that… We’ve created more jobs. We’re in a situation where people have access to good-paying jobs. And the last I saw, the combination of the cost of inflation and all those things, that’s really worrisome to people with good reason. That’s why I’m working very hard to bring the cost of rentals down, to increase the number of homes that are available. Let me say it this way. When I started this administration, people were saying, “There’s going to be a collapse in the economy.” We have the strongest economy in the world. Let me say it again, in the world.

Speaker 1 (07:21):

Although GDP last week was far short of expectations.

President Joe Biden (07:23):

Oh, was it? Look, GDP is still great. Look at the response of the markets. Overwhelmingly positive, overwhelmingly positive. And one of the reasons why people feel good about it not being as strong as it was before is they believe that the Fed’s going to respond.

Speaker 1 (07:38):

They hope they’re going to get a rate cut.

President Joe Biden (07:40):

Yeah. But no president’s had the run we’ve had in terms of creating jobs and bringing down inflation. It was 9% when I came to office, 9%. But, look, people have a right to be concerned, ordinary people. The idea that you bounce a check and you get a $30 fee for bouncing the check, I changed that. You can’t charge more than eight bucks for that. Or your credit card, your late payment, $35. There’s corporate greed going on out there and it’s got to be dealt with.

Speaker 1 (08:15):

But there’s real pain. Grocery prices are up 30%, more than 30%, since the beginning of the pandemic. And people are spending more on food and groceries than they have at any time, really, in the past 30 years. That’s a real day-to-day pain that people feel.

President Joe Biden (08:31):

No, it really is, and it’s real. But the fact is that if you take a look at what the people have, they have the money to spend. It angers them, and angers me, that you have to spend more. For example, the whole idea of this notion that Senator Casey talked about, shrinkflation. I think that was on your program.

Speaker 1 (08:54):

Same price for a smaller bottle of juice or something.

President Joe Biden (08:54):

Yeah, right. For example, a Snickers bar, they did a thing, and it’s 20% less for the same price. That’s corporate greed. That’s corporate greed. And we’ve got to deal with it. And that’s what I’m working on.

Speaker 1 (09:06):

I want to ask you about something happening as we sit here and speak. And that, of course, is Israel striking Rafah. I know that you have paused, Mr. President, shipments of 2,000 pound US bombs to Israel, due to concern that they could be used in any offensive on Rafah. Have those bombs, those powerful 2,000 pound bombs, been used to kill civilians in Gaza?

President Joe Biden (09:31):

Civilians have been killed in Gaza as a consequence of those bombs, and other ways in which they go after population centers. And I made it clear that if they go into Rafah, they haven’t gone into Rafah yet, if they go into Rafah, I’m not supplying the weapons that have been used historically to deal with Rafah, to deal with the cities, to deal with that problem. We’re going to continue to make sure Israel is secure in terms of Iron Dome and their ability to respond to attacks, like came out of the Middle East recently. But it’s just wrong. We’re not going to supply the weapons and the artillery shells used, that have been used to-

Speaker 1 (10:13):

Artillery shells as well?

President Joe Biden (10:15):

Yeah, artillery shells.

Speaker 1 (10:17):

So just to understand, what they’re doing right now in Rafah, is that not going into Rafah as you defined yet?

President Joe Biden (10:25):

No, they haven’t gotten into the population centers. What they did is right on the border. And it’s causing problems right now in terms of with Egypt, which I’ve worked very hard to make sure we have a relationship and help. But I’ve made it clear to Bibi and the war cabinet, they’re not going to get our support if, in fact, they go into these population centers. We’re not walking away from Israel’s security. We’re walking away from Israel’s ability to wage war in those areas.

Speaker 1 (10:53):

So it’s not over your red line yet?

President Joe Biden (10:56):

Not yet. But we’ve held up the weapons. We’ve held up the one shipment, as an old shipment, that was designed for them. We’ve held that up.

Speaker 1 (11:08):

And I want to ask you one more thing, if I may. The images that people see out of Gaza are horrific. The UN’s talking about some of these mass graves, and the summary executions that there’s been evidence of, torture, the images of children. It breaks anyone’s heart to look at it. And, obviously, we’ve seen that frustration here in the US on college campuses. And, Mr. President, there were signs at college campuses. Some say, “Genocide Joe.” Any of us that have gone to those campuses, sometimes, we hear that chant. Do you hear the message of those young Americans?

President Joe Biden (11:45):

Absolutely, I hear the message. Look, two things. First of all, there’s a legitimate right to free speech and protest. There’s a legitimate right to do that. And they have a right to do that. There’s not a legitimate right to use hate speech. There’s not a legitimate right to threaten Jewish students. There’s not a legitimate right to block people access to class. That’s against the law. That’s against the law. And if you look at the data, these demonstrations are real, but they’re not nearly… Look, and everybody’s… I made a speech on the Holocaust the other day. And I pointed out that it took seven decades to get to the place where after the Holocaust occurred, and there’s still anti-Semitism. Look what’s happened in seven weeks, 70. What’s happening? Everybody’s forgotten about what happened in Israel. Those 1,200 young kids murdered. I saw pictures. Oh, I went over there shortly after, a mother and a daughter being roped together and in kerosene plant and burned to death. Nothing’s like that to happen to the Jewish community since the Holocaust.

So when I went over, immediately after that happened, I said to Bibi, “Don’t make the same mistake we made in America.” We wanted to get Bin Laden, and we’ll help you get some more. But we went into Afghanistan to… It made sense to go get Bin Laden. Made no sense to try to unify Afghanistan. It made no sense, in my view, to engage in thinking that, in Iraq, they had a nuclear weapon. Don’t make the same mistake. And we’ll help you focus on getting the bad guys. But then we got to think through. What is happening after Gaza, after this is over? Who’s going to occupy Gaza? I’ve been working with the Arab states, I won’t mention them because I don’t want to get them in trouble, but five leaders in the Arab community who are prepared to help rebuild Gaza, prepared to help transition to a two-state solution.

Speaker 1 (14:03):

To govern it?

President Joe Biden (14:04):

Well, to maintain the security and peace while they’re working out a Palestinian authority that’s real and not corrupt.

Speaker 1 (14:12):

Right, well, Mr. President, thank you very much. I appreciate your time today.

President Joe Biden (14:15):

Thank you.

Speaker 1 (14:17):

So, obviously, we’re here in Wisconsin. It was a crucial state for you. One of the ones that put you over the top. It was the same for Trump when he won in 2016. And he was actually here last week on his day off from the Stormy Daniels trial. He told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Mr. President, “If everything’s honest, I gladly accept the results of the election.” And then he continued though with this, “If it’s not, you have to fight for the right of the country.” How seriously do you take that threat?

President Joe Biden (14:48):

Seriously, just like I did on January 6th. The guy is not a Democrat with a small d. He is the idea. Look, you can’t only love your country when you win, number one. How many court cases do they have, Supreme Court cases? They all said, “This is a totally legitimate election.” This is Trump. It’s the same whether he… And he may not accept the outcome of the election. I promise you he won’t.

Speaker 1 (15:21):

Promise that he won’t?

President Joe Biden (15:22):

He won’t. Which is dangerous. Look, I travel around the world with other world leaders. You know what they all say? Not a joke. 80% of them, after we have a major meeting, will go, “We got to win,” for my democracy to stay, their democracy to stay. Because when you think of the things he’s saying, he’s saying, “If I’m reelected…” If he’s reelected the president, he’s going to make sure his attorney general prosecutes those he tells them to prosecute. And if he doesn’t, he’s going to fire them.

Speaker 1 (15:53):

On the first day?

President Joe Biden (15:53):

On the first… Not just the first, no, no. He said this about prosecution across the board. He’s going to… “I am your retribution.” What president’s ever said anything like this stuff? But he means it. Going to wipe out the changes we made in Medicare, changes we made in terms of drug prices, changes we made… Wipe it all out. And then he is going to put in a 10% tax, which is going to increase everybody’s cost, the average American cost, 1,500 bucks a year. Listen to what he’s saying.

Speaker 1 (16:28):

So when you look at your campaign at this moment, it’s tight, it’s tight. And Barack Obama, your predecessor, of course, he has said that this is an all hands on deck moment. That’s how he described it. So he believes your rematch with Trump is going to be incredibly close. It certainly looks like it will be. What’s his advice to you when you talk to him?

President Joe Biden (16:50):

Keep doing what I’m doing and to make sure… What his advice-

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