Jul 28, 2021
Joe Biden American Manufacturing Speech Transcript July 28
President Joe Biden gave a speech on American manufacturing and infrastructure on July 28, 2021 in Pennsylvania. Read the transcript of his speech remarks here.
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President Joe Biden: (00:00)
I’m not sure which one I want to drive. That one? There’s one back in the corner you can’t see. It’s the biggest damn. Pickup truck you ever saw in your life. I tell you what. Please, everybody have a seat. Everybody have a seat. Carlo, thank you. And Carlo, I’m sorry about your mom. I really am so many, so many people, well over 630,000 Americans have lost their lives because of COVID. And the press keeps wanting me to talk about COVID, but I’m going to mention this one thing: we still have a lot of people not vaccinated. The pandemic we have now is a pandemic of the unvaccinated. So please, please, please, please, if you’re not vaccinated, protect yourself and the children out there, it’s important. And Carlo, having been a significant consumer of healthcare, myself, my family I’ve often said this, and I mean it from the bottom of my heart, thank your daughter for me. If there are any angels in heaven, they’re male and female nurses, that’s the God’s truth. Doctors let you live, they make you want to live. I spent a lot of time in ICU with my son on the table. Tell her thank you, thank you, thank you. I really mean it.
President Joe Biden: (01:27)
And I want to thank Congresswoman Wild for the passport into a district, where are you? Stand up. As they say up in Scranton, she’s bragging on y’all. Don’t say, “Y’all” up there, they say that in Delaware. You do because you got family from Alabama, and you’ve been a tireless champion for the working men and women and Lehigh Valley, helping us pass the tax cuts for families with children. People are seeing now in their bank accounts, showing up in their bank accounts every month and working with our administration to expand home care for seniors, we’ve got a generation that’s a sandwich generation between the child and a mom or dad needing help. And they need help. Provide better pay for caregivers. And I want to particularly thank Bobby Casey, he’s a great friend of mine who champions this cause in the United States Senate; elder care.
President Joe Biden: (02:32)
John Mack started this iconic American company in 1890, but things really didn’t get off the ground for four years later when he brought his brother, William now from a Scranton. So it goes to show, you want to get things moving, bring a guy from Scranton to get it going.
President Joe Biden: (02:56)
Mind if I take my coat off? I’m going to take my coat off. And folks, we’re getting things moving. We really are, you are. When I started my campaign for president and the Gov’s still right there., Gov, I didn’t introduce you. I apologize. No, you’re the governor of this state and you’re one of the best governors of the country. Thank you. You’re a good friend. When I said I was running, when I announced my campaign, not many people took it seriously. I said I was running for three reasons, one to restore the soul of this country, a sense of decency and honor. But secondly, to rebuild the backbone of the country; hard working middle class folks who built this country, and I’m going to point out unions built the middle class. It’s not a joke. Unions built the middle class. By the way, in case you regret anything, I just want you to guys and women in the union know that it weren’t for the UAW in 1972, I never would have won. You think I’m kidding? We’re the largest percentage of union workers in any state in the nation in Delaware back then, including Michigan, because we’re a small state, and we hadn’t big plants. So before you get upset, remember you’re to blame. Oh, I got you.
President Joe Biden: (04:36)
Look, folks, I think a lot of us come from similar backgrounds, moms, dads, brothers, sisters, family, people who get up every day, work hard, raise their families, paid their taxes, serve their communities and serve their country. And that’s why I moved so quickly to pass The American Rescue Plan shortly after I got elected. Because we needed to act quickly and boldly to save jobs, save businesses and save lives. And we did. We added more than 600,000 jobs per month since I’ve taken office. That’s over 3 million jobs, all told. It’s the fastest growth at this point in any administration on record, because of you all. We brought this economy back from the brink, checks and people’s pockets, shots in people’s arms, tax cuts for working families with children.
President Joe Biden: (05:43)
And we designed our strategy not only to provide a temporary boost, but to lay the foundation for a long-term boom that brings everyone along. Because when I arrived in office, it’s been long time since the federal government had worked hard for working people. Things have been great for big corporations, great for the very wealthy, folks at the top, those 55 major corporations for the past three years paid zero in federal taxes, making over $40 billion. They had no complaints. But when I put my hand in that Bible and January 20th took the oath of office, I made a commitment to the American people; we’re going to change the paradigm.So working people good to have a fighting chance again, to get a good education, to get a good job and a raise, to take care of that elderly parent, and afford to take care of their children and stop losing hours of their lives stuck in traffic because the streets are crumbling, or waiting for a slow, spotty internet to connect them to the world.
President Joe Biden: (06:58)
That’s what the economy we’re building is all about, because given half a chance, and think about this, I mean this is the bottom of my heart, given half a chance, ordinary Americans, the American people have never, ever, ever, ever let their country down. Just given half a chance. I mean it. You may have heard that in Washington now, just on the phone, it looks like you reached a bi-partisan agreement on infrastructure, a fancy word for bridges, roads, transit system, high speed internet, clean drinking water, cleaning and capping the orphan wells, over thousands of abandoned, and abandoned mines, and a modern, resilient electric grid to build. And guess what? A lot of those abandoned wells are leaking methane. And guess what? The same union guys had dug those wells, they can make the same union wage capping those wells. And I’m working with Democrats and Republicans to get this done because while there’s a lot we don’t agree on, I believe that we should be able to work together on the few things we do agree on. I think it’s important.
President Joe Biden: (08:23)
In addition to the physical infrastructure, I also put forward a thing called Build Back Better Plan with investments that are going to really… If I said to you, you could have the following: we’re going to be build you a lot of new roads and bridges, or I can make sure we’re going to educate your kids who are the best educated population in the world. What do you think would most impact on the growth of America? It’d be the most educated nation in the world. So I’m assisting the way of universal pre-kindergarten, two years of free community college. All the studies show, no matter what-
President Joe Biden: (09:03)
All the studies show, no matter what background the kid comes from, whether they’re a single mom or a single dad who was on what we used to call welfare or in trouble, or come from a middle-class household, the kid who comes in the background that’s deprived is going to hear by the time they get to first grade a million fewer words spoken, a million fewer spoken. What that means is they’re behind the eight ball from the start, and a lot more. But we found out you put kids in not [inaudible 00:09:39] but in school at age three, four, and five, it increases by 58% the chance, no matter what their background, they’ll make it through high school and qualify to go on to community college.
President Joe Biden: (09:53)
Folks, we need more affordable childcare. There are a lot of women not working today because they can’t go back to their jobs because they have no one to take care of their children. They can’t afford it. I was a single dad for five years when my wife and daughter were killed in an automobile accident and my two little boys were badly banged up. I commuted back and forth to Washington because I couldn’t dare leave and move to Washington because I didn’t have my family to help me take care of my kids. I was making a good salary, $42,000 a year then. What? I couldn’t afford daycare for my children.
President Joe Biden: (10:42)
Elder care. How many of you know somebody as a mom or dad that needs help just because they’re getting older and maybe still has their home, would rather stay in their home, increase their mental state, put them in a position where it’s better for their health, but you can’t figure out how to keep mom home alone, how to do it, or dad? Well, elder care is a big piece of this. Paid leave. We’re one of the only industrial countries in the world you don’t get paid leave if you have a sick son, daughter, mother, father, wife, husband, to have some time to take care of that. Bring more people into the workforce, enhance our productivity, raise wages, and bring down the cost for working families.
President Joe Biden: (11:36)
I was born up in Scranton and my dad worked up in Scranton. He was actually from Baltimore, but he worked in Scranton and met my mom, [inaudible 00:11:46] moved there. And when Cole died, everything died in the valley. So we had to leave, look for a new job. My dad used to have an expression when we got down to Wilmington. First thing he did, he got a job scrubbing the inside of boilers for [inaudible 00:12:06] called The Kyle Corporation. We finally got to the place where we get to the place after five years we could afford to buy a small house, actually six years. My dad used to say, “Remember, Joey, a job is about a lot more than a paycheck. It’s about your dignity. It’s about respect. It’s about your place in the community. I give my word,” is what he’d say. “And it’s about being able to look your kidney eye and say, honey, it’s going to be okay, and mean it.” Because we know the trickle-down economics has never worked, but when working families do well, everybody does well, including new wealthy. Everybody.
President Joe Biden: (12:59)
Today, I’m here to talk about a commitment that’s sacred to me, and central to our efforts to keep things moving. It’s a straight forward solution: support and grow more American-based companies. Put more Americans to work work in union jobs. Strengthen American manufacturing, and secure critical supply chains, and confront the climate crisis, which is all about jobs. I can sum it up in two words: buy American. Buy American. Most people don’t know, no matter how informed they are, most people don’t know that for literally almost a century, there’s been a law on the books in America called the Buy America Act. It’s supposed to make sure that when your government spends your tax dollars and buying goods, that they have to be goods that were built, purchased in America. But the previous administration didn’t take it so seriously, and previous ones, not just the last one. They were quick to say, “We have a lot of money to spend. We got to buy. The government’s going to buy everything from buildings to aircraft carriers, to trucks, to whatever it is. But we can’t find an American company that can do it all, so we’re going to have to issue a waiver. We’ll hire the American company, but that mirror a company is going to have a subsidiary overseas where Americans don’t work where it’s much cheaper, they can make more money, and they’re going to say, we have to have that as part of the chain of building the product.”
President Joe Biden: (15:11)
The result has been tens of billions of dollars didn’t go to jobs and businesses and communities like this one. In recent years, buy America’s become a hollow promise. But my administration is going to make buy American a reality. And I’m putting the weight of the federal government behind that commitment. Within the White House itself, we put in a made in America office to oversee, not in an agency, in the White House, to itself oversee these efforts. My first cabinet meeting, I told all the cabinet members, if their agency wants to issue a waiver, the forest department is buying trucks or hoses or whatever they need, they got to buy something that’s all of it that has been made in America.
President Joe Biden: (16:07)
And you can’t give exceptions. You can say, we can’t find one that has… They get their nozzles overseas because they don’t have anybody here can make them et cetera. I said, “If you’re going to give an exception, you got to tell the White House specifically why the exception. If they still want to waiver, they have to post the request publicly.” So American manufacturers all over the United States and businesses have a chance to look up now in a new facility and say, “Hey, they’re looking for companies that make nozzles. They’re looking for companies that make the following whatever. We make that. We make that.” And contact us. Then they can’t take the job overseas.
President Joe Biden: (16:53)
And today, we’re going to go further. We’re going to make the biggest enforcement changes to the Buy America Act in 70 years. Right now, if you manufacture a vehicle, I suspect you guys know about that, that gets purchased by the federal government, the law says that that… And there’s about 600,000 vehicles the federal government owns, by the way, and replaces and buys. That substantially all the vehicle, substantially all, should be made in America. Because of loopholes over time, you know what substantially all means today? If 55% of it was made in America, you can go ahead and get all the rest of it purchased to other places. To me, 55% is not substantially all. And this is actually a double whammy. First, 55% is not high enough. And second, contractors don’t have to tell us the total domestic contents of their products. They just have to tell us that they hit the threshold. Nobody’s checking.
President Joe Biden: (18:02)
… tell us that they hit the threshold. Nobody checking. Well, they got a new sheriff in town. We’re going to be checking, and I’m serious. I am deadly earnest. Today I’m directing the Budget Office to issue a rule to raise the amount of domestic content required to be considered made in America from 55% to 75%. Substantially all is going to mean substantially all, and starting with critical products. Instead of taking contractors at their word that they’ve hit the threshold, we’re going to start making them give us the details so that we can do more to support American manufacturing. We want to be the ones making the innovative parts of every product, the ones that will support more jobs and more small businesses.
President Joe Biden: (18:58)
For example, I had a tour today, a lovely lady showing me the parts, were the second stop we made. She said, “Well, we’re having a little problem. We’re finding we don’t have the computer chips that we need to go into the engine, et cetera.” We basically don’t make them anymore in America, so I got together with a group of 20 Republicans and Democrats. We passed a new piece of legislation providing that South Korea and Taiwan open up plants here in the United States hiring American employees to make those computer chips, so we’re not held hostage.
President Joe Biden: (19:39)
In case you haven’t noticed, not only you, but Ford Motor Company said they’re going to have to stop producing certain vehicles. They couldn’t get the chips, couldn’t get the wafers, and so I’m directing my Budget Office to create new rules for critical product products, where we know we need stronger, more resilient, domestic supply chains. We’re talking about components like semiconductors, pharmaceutical ingredients, advanced batteries, among other things.
President Joe Biden: (20:15)
We saw during the early days of the pandemic that the supply chain disruptions can put Americans’ lives and livelihoods at risk. When we needed it the most, we were short on protective equipment, were short on ventilators, and other essential health equipment. We couldn’t get the job done. We couldn’t take care of people. We were short on basic equipment. I know a lot of you in this factory stepped up to make PPE at the time. That was a noble service, but it’s not a longterm solution. Yes, we’ll keep trading with our allies, but we need to have a resilient supply chain of our own so that we’re never again at the mercy of countries for critical goods ever again, ever.
President Joe Biden: (20:57)
You know exactly what I’m talking about right here. You’ve seen production slow down, as I said. You’ve had your hours cut because of the shortage of computer chips and semiconductors. These chips are more than just vehicles. They enable so much of our modern lives, our smartphones, our televisions, our medical equipment. That’s why we’re investing $50 billion to have the best chip manufacturing in the world come and build factories in the United States of America. It’ll pass the Senate. It’s called The CHIPS Act, and it’s part of my Build Back Better plan, and it is bipartisan, as many Republicans are concerned about it as Democrats. It’s not just semiconductors. With this rule, we’ll be able to buy medical products from companies like OraSure. They’re down the road in Bethlehem, or up the road in Bethlehem, I should say. I’m used to thinking from Scranton. Their COVID-19 tests are being made right here, bringing good jobs along with a meaning that we’re developing a home-grown capacity to respond to this pandemic, and help prepare for the next one.
President Joe Biden: (22:11)
By the way, when I say buy in America, I mean all America. You know, we’re going to include communities that have historically been left out of government procurement, when more contracts are going to go to black and brown communities, Native American, small business, every state and territory, every industry, to services and manufacturers, and also agriculture. Part of the problem is a lot of companies don’t even know these opportunities exist to be part of this, and we got to know …
President Joe Biden: (22:40)
I used to have a great friend, a friend who’s a great friend, who used to play for Providence College back in the days when they had great teams. His name was Pete McLaughlin, and he used to have an expression. God love him, he passed away. Needed a heart [inaudible 00:22:55], but anyway. The point is that what Pete used to say, and academics weren’t his thing, he used to say something very, very streetwise. Said, “Joe, you got to know how to know. You got to know how to know.”
President Joe Biden: (23:09)
You can walk into the Library of Congress, one of the greatest libraries in the world, and if you don’t know how to use the card catalog, figuratively speaking, it’s just all happenstance. You got to know how to know, so we started a new manufacturing contracting office in the Small Business Administration to help small and medium-sized business bid on these contracts. My Department of Commerce is working helping government agencies connect with new domestic suppliers in every state. That’s how we’re going to build a future that’s made in America.
President Joe Biden: (23:41)
One more reason this is going to make a big difference. Each year, the federal government purchases more than $600 billion in goods and services. The Congress passes laws for purchasing things, and as president, I get to decide where we spend them, and what we … I mean, I had purchased what was called for, and I’m the one who makes the decision, the administration makes a decision on how to spend that $600 billion. If American companies know that we’re going to be buying from them, they’re going to be more inclined to hire and make key investments in the future in their companies, like you’re doing here.
President Joe Biden: (24:28)
My Build Back Better plan has incentives for electric vehicle adaptation for increase the amount of clean energy our government buys, and these buy American rules could help guarantee a reliable market. I just saw the work you’re doing in the heavy-duty electric vehicles here, like electric garbage trucks. You know, there are more than 600,000 vehicles in the federal fleet, including the majority, the largest portion of which, are at the post office. As we work to electrify them, as they run out, electrify them, we’re going to be making a market for vehicles electric, supporting both good jobs being created as well as innovation we need to electrify our transportation sector, and clean up our environment the same time.
President Joe Biden: (25:17)
We’ll be expanding my made in America initiative to help cities, towns, and tribes get a better deal when they buy a made in America product. It helps the towns, the taxpayers, as well as all of you on the floor of this significant place. It really does, but a lot of folks out there who look at how fast and how dramatically the world is changing, and world economies are changing. I mean, who would have thought that 20 years ago you’d be making electric garbage trucks here? Seriously, think about it. But they accept it as gospel that working folks are going to get left behind and not be able to keep up.
President Joe Biden: (25:59)
Just the opposite. It’s the opposite. Hardworking Americans are the ones who are going to make it happen. We got to invest in you. We’re the most productive workforce in the world here. Give it half a chance. There’s not a single thing you can’t do, so I reject out of hand, been criticized for this for some time, but I reject out of hand this defeatist view that the forces of automation and globalization mean we can’t have good paying union jobs in America. Right here on this factory floor, you’re making a product that are fighting climate change. That’s why when I hear climate change, I think jobs, our manufacturing future, our economic future, our solutions to the climate crisis are all going to be made in America, creating good jobs. That’s what it means to build back better. We came out of this economic crisis, the worst since The Depression, stronger than when we went in. America’s one of the …
President Joe Biden: (27:03)
… stronger than when we went in. America is one of the few countries in the world that we get smacked and knocked down, we get up. We come back, and we come back better than we were before we got knocked down. I’m not joking. Think about the course of history in America, and that’s why in the American rescue plan we passed shortly after I took office, we’re investing considerable sums that’ll go to cities and towns looking to build back stronger. For example, towns in the Southwestern part of this state can now apply for funds to cap those wells that are leaking methane, clean up abandoned coal mines, investing in bringing new employers into abandoned factories, and get help attracting them.
President Joe Biden: (27:44)
Let me close with this. Back in 2009, during the so-called Great Recession, the President asked me to be in charge of managing that piece, then President Trump, excuse me, Freudian slip. That was the last president. Anyway, that was president Obama when I was vice-president. The American auto industry, remember was on the rocks and a lot of people, including a lot of Democrats thought it wasn’t worth investing in them because the American worker wasn’t that good, and they were at blah, blah, blah. I remember the heat that I took, some of you may remember as well, when I stood up and stepped into the rescue of American automobile industry. My name was often taken in vain on television shows a lot because why is Biden so committed to the automobile industry? Because the fundamental mistakes that were made weren’t made by the workers. They were made by management.
President Joe Biden: (28:43)
Today, a lot of the folks who said we shouldn’t rescue the American auto industry are the same folks that are saying we don’t need to buy American. What those people never realized is that if you give an American worker just a chance, a fighting chance, there’s nothing they won’t do. If you give American companies and communities a chance, there’s nothing they can’t build. Just look around from the steel that raised our cities to the trucks behind me that are going to carry the economy forward to the workers who are the heart, and soul and spine of this nation. American strength is here. It’s in this region, it’s you. It’s not hyperbole, it’s you, and that’s why I’ve told every foreign leader. I just got back from Europe meeting with heads of state. I said, “America’s back,” and he said, “For how long?” A head of state. I said, “I want to tell you something. It’s never, ever, ever been a good bet to bet against America. We never fail when we decide we’re going to do something.” So today I’m placing my bet on America. I know you all are going to make sure it pays off because it will pay off with good jobs, long-term employment, the ability for American to once again reassert its role as the most powerful economy in the world, and that is as important as the size of our military and as anything else we do. If we think we’re not in a race, guess what? Take a look at China. Take a look at China.
President Joe Biden: (30:23)
I spent an awful lot of time with Xi Jinping, President of China, more than I’m told than any other world leader has, and he’s made it really clear. He doesn’t think democracies can compete in the 21st century, and I spent over 25 hours alone with him over the period of the last five years, seven years, and guess what? Just come back from a conference with Putin. He thinks the same thing. Well, I got news for them. Autocracies will not succeed if we do what we can do as a democracy, democracies. If you notice, not a joke, a lot of the rest of the world is hedging their bets whether to move toward autocracy or stay with democracies.
President Joe Biden: (31:15)
We have it all folks. We have everything that we need in this country to not only today, but for my grandchildren, to be in a situation where we’re still the most powerful physically and most powerful economic nation in the world that treats other nations decently and maintains the peace. That’s who we are. That’s America. We’re the most unique nation in the history of the world, not a joke. By that, I mean every other nation was put together based on ethnicity or religion, geography, but not America. America is the most unique nation in the world and literally we’re based on an idea. An idea is what formed America and the idea was, this sounds corny, but it is absolutely true.
President Joe Biden: (32:13)
No other nation has this as an organizing principle. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men and women are created equal endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness. We believe it. We’ve never accomplished it, but every generation moved us closer, and closer, and closer to inclusion. That’s why America’s real power is not in the exercise of military power, but people follow us because of our example. That’s why the rest of the world follows us. It was about time we get back up and reassert who we are. This is the United States of America. Thank you and God bless you all. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Thanks. [inaudible 00:33:13] Thank you. Thanks.