Nov 10, 2021
Joe Biden Baltimore Speech Transcript: Inflation, Infrastructure Agenda
President Joe Biden gave a speech in Baltimore on November 10, 2021. He addressed high inflation rates and his infrastructure agenda. Read the transcript of his speech here.
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Tony Rebel, Sr.: (00:34)
Good afternoon. My name is Tony Rebel, Sr. I’ve been a longshoreman at the Port of Baltimore since 1976 with the International Longshoreman’s Association. My father is a retired longshoreman. I currently have two sons that are involved and active in the membership. One is a crane operator, one is a lasher in a container gang over here at [inaudible 00:00:57] Marine Terminal. The waterfront has benefited family and many other hardworking families for centuries. The current ILA leadership, the union employers, local government, and continued investments toward infrastructure will ensure hardworking union members are able to continue to provide for their families and keep the hulk moving. Let’s keep the hulk hope moving. Move forward. If you work on the waterfront you know what keeping the hulk moving means, so you’ll understand greatly. The infrastructure investment will benefit the Port of Baltimore and future generations for many years to come. At this time, I would like to introduce our President of the United States, Joe Biden.
Joe Biden: (01:54)
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. We have an expression, we used to have an expression when I served in the Senate, Senator Van Holland, when they want to make some statement that was personal, they say “A point of personal privilege.” When you’re talking about being a waterman, working on the water, my family’s originally from Baltimore, came in the early 1800s and the entire Biden family worked on the water, were watermen until probably 1906, 7, or 8. My father was raised here in, they don’t say Baltimore, they say Baltimore. Although they never worked at the port, they did work in the bay and along here. This is one of the oldest ports in the country, continuously running and one of the best ports in the country. Tony, thanks for that introduction, and Mayor Scott thanks for the passport into the city, appreciate it very much.
Joe Biden: (03:00)
I want to thank Governor Hogan for being here and members of the delegation. I want to start off with one of my best buddies, and I think one of the most effective people in the United States Senate, Chris Van Holland, you need something go to him, man, he knows how to get it done. Also [inaudible 00:03:16] and the guy who I knew him when he was a kid, he doesn’t remember me, I’m getting so old, knew his dad, Senator Sarbanes and Congressman Sarbanes, Congressman Brown and all this delegation. You got a first rate delegation. I want to thank him for being here today and thank him for all the help in getting the members of the House and getting the legislation passed. It’s a big deal. It’s going to make a big difference.
Joe Biden: (03:50)
The reason I started calling this bill Back Better is we’re the only country in the world and we underestimate ourselves, we’re sort of down on ourselves the last 10 years or so. We’re the only country in the world, it’s a matter of history, that every crisis we’ve faced, we’ve come out better on the other side. We not only beat it, not a joke, think about it. We come out better than we were before we went into the crisis. The economic and political, as well as health crisis we found with COVID, I was determined when we got elected, we got to build it back better than it was, because the world’s changing so rapidly. So rapidly, man. We got to keep up. We’re in competition to determine whether or not we can still remain the most powerful economic force of the world.
Joe Biden: (04:39)
Today, I’m here to talk about one of the most pressing economic concerns of the American people and it’s real and that is getting prices down number one. Number two, making sure our stores are fully stocked. Number three, getting a lot of people back to work while tracking and tackling these two above challenges I mentioned. Today’s economic report is showing under employment continuing to fall, but consumer prices remain too high. Tell us American people in the midst of this economic crisis and recovery is showing strong results, but not to them. They’re still looking out there. Everything from a gallon of gas to a loaf of bread costs more and it’s worrisome, even though wages are going up. We still face challenges and we have to tackle them. We have to tackle them head on. On the good side, we’re seeing the highest growth rate in decades. The fastest decrease in unemployment at this point ever since 1950. Jobs are up, wages are up, values are up, and savings are up, but we got problems too.
Joe Biden: (05:42)
Many people remain unsettled about the economy and we all know why. They see higher prices. They go to the store online or they go to the store or go online and they can’t find what they always want and when they want it. We’re tracking these issues and trying to figure out how to tackle them head on. My administration, with the help of the folks on my left over here, has a plan to finish the job of getting us back to normal from the pandemic and having a stronger economy than we ever had before. Let me explain the part that the ports play and why they’re so critically important.
Joe Biden: (06:17)
It starts with a piece of good news. Infrastructure week has finally arrived. How many times you hear over the last five years infrastructure week is coming? Yeah, anyway, but last week we took a monumental step forward as a nation. We did something long overdue and long talked about in Washington, but almost never actually done. The House of Representatives passed my bipartisan infrastructure bill, along with other plans that I’m advancing, this bill is going to reduce the cost of goods to consumers, businesses, and get people back to work, helping us build an economy from the bottom up and the middle out where everybody’s better off. I’m tired of this trickle down economy stuff. I come from Delaware just across the line up here, and we have more corporations in Delaware than every other nation in the state combined. I understand big business. The fact of the matter is, it’s time they start paying their fair share. The fact is you have 55 corporations last year that in fact made $40 billion, didn’t pay a single penny in taxes.
Joe Biden: (07:28)
Nobody’s going to pay more, if you make less than 400 grand, you’re not going to pay anything more in taxes at all, period, guaranteed, including gasoline tax, not going to, additional, from a federal government standpoint. Look, this is a once in a generation investment to create good paying jobs, modernize infrastructure, turn to climate crisis into an opportunity. When I talk climate to other world leaders, I say, think one thing, when we’re dealing with climate, think jobs, good jobs, because that’s how you beat the climate crisis. Put us on a path to win the economic competition of the 21st century we face with China and the rest of the world. China’s out spending us on research and development. China is outspending, all these other countries are as well. Here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to create good paying union jobs, union, not $12 an hour, not $15 an hour, $45 an hour of up with good benefits so you can raise the family on and build the middle class out and jobs that cannot be outsourced. You can’t outsource these jobs.
Joe Biden: (08:37)
I’m going to transform our transportation system with the most significant investment in passenger rail in the past 50 years. In roads and bridges, the most significant investment in 70 years, and investments in public transit that we’ve done over the period is going to modernize our ports with $17 billion in investment, $17 billion in investment. We’re going to reduce congestion. We’re going to address repair and maintenance backlogs, deploy state of the art technologies and make our ports cleaner and more efficient. We’re going to do the same with our airports and freight rail. We’re going to create jobs replacing lead water pipes that are here in Maryland as well as every other state in the union that are poisoning our kids and others. We’re going to make high speed internet affordable and available to everywhere in America.
Joe Biden: (09:26)
Those of you that had kids in school when we were going to this hybrid thing, some in class, some out of class, how many times if you don’t live in an area where we have high speed internet you can afford, how many times have you driven your kids to the parking lot at McDonald’s and sat there going off the McDonald’s internet so you could hear? No I’m not joking. Think of this, United States of America for God’s sake. Folks, we’re going to build the first ever national network of electric vehicle charging stations, all across the country. IBW is going to put in 500,000 charging stations across the country. Guess what? That’s in the Recovery Act, excuse me, that’s in the Build Back Better Bill, which is not going to raise taxes one single cent. It’s totally paid for, totally paid for by making taxes work for people that make over 400 grand and just do their fair share.
Joe Biden: (10:20)
I’m a capitalist man. You should be able to be a millionaire or billionaire if you can, but pay your fair share, pay something along the line. I’m going to get America off the sidelines on manufacturing, the manufacturing of solar panels, wind turbines, batteries to store energy and power, the electric vehicles from school buses to automobiles. We’re also going to make historic investments in environmental cleanup and remediation, rebuilding resilience against super storms and droughts and wildfires and hurricanes. I traveled all over the country this year. There’s literally $99 billion in losses because of storms this year. $99 billion. Did you ever think you’d hear somebody stand up and say the Colorado River is being drained? Did you ever think you’d see you got more wildfires in the West than the entire, and land lost, homes lost, burned to the ground, I’ve flown over in Marine One, than the entire state of New Jersey from the Cape all the way to New York. That’s how much we’ve lost in America so far. So far.
Joe Biden: (11:32)
According to economic experts, this bill is going to ease inflationary pressures, lowering the cost of working families. 17, excuse me, yes, 17 Nobel laureates in economics wrote a letter to me about 10 days ago saying this is going to in affect bring inflation down, not up. Best of all, the vast majority of these jobs that we’re going to create don’t require a college degree. Don’t require it. This is the ultimate blue collar blueprint to rebuild America. I’m not waiting to sign a bill to start improving the flow of goods from ships to shelves. Yesterday, I announced a port plan of action. It lays out concrete steps for my administration to take over the next three months to invest in our ports and to relieve bottlenecks. This builds on the progress we’ve already made.
Joe Biden: (12:23)
Last month, I reached a deal with two of the largest ports in America, the Port of Los Angeles and Long Beach. I met with you guys, with the longshoreman there, and we worked out a deal between the port owners and the longshoreman to move toward operating those two ports. 40% of everything in the Pacific comes through those two ports. They’re lined up, ships are lined up, 70 some lined up out as far as you could see. They all agreed, they’re going to go 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It’s already paying off. Last week, the number of container ships in the docks for more than nine days fell by over 20%. Now we’re announcing steps to improve ports in the East Coast, to provide support for the Port of Savannah, the fourth largest container port in the country to help reduce congestion.
Joe Biden: (13:19)
With our help, they now have the funds they need to set up five new inland port sites in Georgia and North Carolina so goods could get closer to their final destination more quickly. Other ports across the country we’ll have the resources they need these kinds of meeting investments as well. The challenge we need to meet here, and my plan’s going to help address, has to do with the supply chain. You hear a lot about the supply chains in the news, but frankly not a lot of people are clear, have a clear understanding, whether they have a PhD or they didn’t go to school, about how a supply chain works. It’s easy to talk about it but what’s the impact on the economy, let alone how to fix it? It’s perfectly understandable because supply chains are incredibly complex.
Joe Biden: (14:06)
As long as goods and materials are getting where they need to go on time, there’s usually no need to worry about the supply chains. When global disruptions hit, like a pandemic, they can hit supply chains particularly hard. COVID-19 has stretched the global supply chains like never before. Suddenly, when you go to order a pair of sneakers or a bicycle or Christmas presents for the family, you’re met with higher prices and long delays or they say they don’t have any at all. The reason for that last year has a lot to do with most companies make their product how they make their products today. In simple terms, supply chain is just the journey that a product takes to get to your doorstep, raw materials, plus labor, assembly, shipping, everything it takes to create the finished product. These supply chains are complex, even products as simple as a pencil can have to use the wood from Brazil, graphite from India, before it comes together at a factory in the United days to get a pencil. Sounds silly, but that’s literally how it happens.
Joe Biden: (15:15)
If all of a sudden you got COVID crisis in Brazil, you can’t get the product made because the plant shuts down. That’s what’s happening. Products like smartphones often bring together parts from France, Italy, chips from the Netherlands, touch screens from New York State, camera components from Japan, supply chain that crosses dozens of countries. That’s just the nature of modern economy, the world economy. The global supply chains have helped dramatically bring down price we pay for things we buy, but they also made us much more reliant on what happens in other parts of the world. If a factory in Malaysia shuts down due to a COVID outbreak, which they have, it causes ripple effect that can slow down auto manufacturing in Detroit. Why? They can’t get the computer chips they need. If a climate disaster closes a port in China, it can delay shipment of furniture or clothing, reduce worldwide supply, and driving up prices here in America.
Joe Biden: (16:19)
The irony is people have more money now because of the first major piece of legislation I passed. You all got checks for $1,400. You got checks for a whole range of things. If you’re a mom and you have kids under the age of seven, you’re getting 300 bucks a month. If it’s over 7 to 17, you’re getting $360 a month like wealthy people used to do when they get back tax returns, it changed people’s lives. What happens if there’s nothing to buy, you got more money, you compete for [inaudible 00:16:51] it creates a real problem. On the one hand, we’re facing new disruptions to our supplies. At the same time, we’re also experiencing higher demand for goods because wages are up as well as people have money in the bank.
Joe Biden: (17:07)
Because the strength of our economic recovery, American families have been able to buy more products. Guess what? They’re not going out to dinner and lunch and going to local bars because of COVID. What are they doing? They’re staying home. They’re ordering online. They’re buying product. Well, with more people with money buying product and less product to buy, what happens? The supply chains is the reason, and the answer is you guys. I’ll get to that in a minute, but what happens? Prices go up. We got nearly a 20% more goods coming into the country than we did before the pandemic struck. In 19 days, excuse me, COVID-19 has changed the way we spend our time and our money. More products are being delivered than ever before. That’s because people have a little more breathing room than they did last year. That’s a good thing, but it also means we got higher demand for goods at the same time we’re facing disruptions in the supplies to make those goods.
Joe Biden: (18:06)
This is a recipe for delays and for higher prices and people are feeling it. They’re feeling it. Did you ever think you’d be paying this much for a gallon of gas? In some parts of California, they’re paying $4.50 cents a gallon. That’s why it’s so important that we do everything in our power to stabilize the supply chain. Here’s the good news. Yesterday, I spoke with the CEOs, personally spoke to the CEOs of the major retailers, Walmart, Target, and the leading freight movers, FedEx and UPS. They assured me that the shelves will be stocked in stores this holiday, because they signed on a 24/7 as well. They signed on 24/7. They provide more avenues, they’re getting more of their containers off the ports quicker than ever before because a lot of stuff on the ports that was sitting around staying there. Why? Because it no longer was the product they need at this moment.
Joe Biden: (19:03)
It doesn’t cost them anything to leave them sitting at the port rather than their warehouse. That’s moving as well. Part of the reason why is because my port envoy, John Porcari, who was a secretary of transportation here for two governors. John has worked with the operators, the shippers, shipping companies and unions and retailers to speed commerce so they can get products to stores and to your doors and to get the shells fully stocked this holiday season. Instead of pointing fingers, we’re seeing folks start to work together. Railroads, ocean liners, labor, state and local governments, progress has already begun. Now we passed the bipartisan infrastructure bill, deal, it’s only going to accelerate.
Joe Biden: (19:50)
You’ve heard me say it before. Infrastructure, infrastructure used to be rated in the United States as the best in the world when I got to the Congress. Today, according to the World Economic Forum, you know what we rank in infrastructure? 13th in the world. 12 countries in the world have more modern, efficient infrastructures than the United States of America. By investing in our roads, our bridges, our ports, and so much else, this bill is going to make it easier for companies to get goods to market more quickly. Here in Baltimore, you’ve got a port that’s older than America itself and it’s been operating for 315 years. By the way, we got any Marines here? Any former Marines, raise your hand. Well, if you’re here as a Marine, happy birthday, it’s your 247th birthday, the United States Marine Corps, they deserve some applause.
Joe Biden: (20:44)
Look, this port is connected to the nation’s oldest rail line, the B&O Railroad, which in turn relies on the tunnels that are about 126 years old, those tunnels. Okay? The tunnel has become a major bottleneck to the port. Now, the Port of Baltimore will be getting a $125 million grant to upgrade that tunnel so freight trains can come double stacked through that tunnel, double stacked with these cars, with containers on top of them. Twice as much, move out a hell lot more quickly if they’re going, if they’re imports going out, but if they’re exports going across the ocean. That means in addition to more good jobs being filled, more products on shelves delivered faster and lower prices, it’s about taking a long term view of our economy to deliver lower cost, more jobs, and ensure our shelves are stocked with product. The longer term view means building greater resilience to withstand both the shocks and disruptions that we can anticipate as the world continues to change. Pandemics, weather extremes, cyber attacks, whatever else comes our way and they’re all going to come our way. You know it.
Joe Biden: (22:00)
We need to be ready. We need companies throughout the supply chain to create and support good paying jobs for people that they can grow in, build skills in, join a union, make a decent living so when disruption hits, companies can quickly adapt because they’re invested in their workers, their skills, their training and a strong foundation. When I always think of unions with my family, I think of dignity and respect. That’s what it’s about, dignity and respect. Taking a longer term view also means making Buy American not just a promise, but an ironclad reality. When I got elected, I said, I get to spend $600 billion a year of your money making everything from aircraft carriers to balloons. Guess what? So much of it has been going out and getting foreign contractors to do it.
Joe Biden: (22:54)
Well, this administration has been doing, we set the new rules to strengthen our domestic supply chain with new Made in America office within The White House. Never again should our country be left unable to produce critical goods because we don’t have access to the materials we need. Never again should we have to rely on one company or one country, particularly when the country doesn’t share our values. I’ve said it before, we’re in a competition for the 21st century and who’s going to own it. America still has the most productive workers in the world and those innovative minds in the world. That’s not hyperbole, that’s a fact. Other countries are closing in. We risk losing our edge if we don’t step up now. This bipartisan infrastructure bill is a major step forward. It represents the biggest investment in ports in American history. For American families, it means products moving faster and less expensively from factory floor through the supply chain to your home.
Joe Biden: (23:53)
The bottom line is this, with the bill we passed last week and the steps we’re taking to reduce bottlenecks at home and abroad, we’re set to make significant progress. We’re already in the midst of historic economic recovery. Thanks to those steps we’re taking, very soon we’re going to see the supply chain start catching up with demand. Not only will we see more record breaking job growth, we’ll see lower prices, faster deliveries as well. This work is going to be critical as we implement the infrastructure bill, as we and continue to build the economy from the bottom up and the middle out, by passing the Build Back Better Plan. We need to unlock the full might and dynamism of our economy, guys, and of our people. I really mean it.
Joe Biden: (24:36)
With this plan, we’ve set in motion that’s what’s exactly we’re going to do. We’re going to build a better America, not a joke. We’re going to lead the world again, not a joke. We’re going to be in a position where we once again own the 21st century, because when we own it, everybody does better. Everybody, not only America, but around the world. Sorry to take so long. The sun is down. You don’t have any sweater on, you’re going to freeze. I’m going to stop talking. A man with little as little hair as mine just took his hat off. I’d put it back on. You’re going to get cold if I don’t step down.
Joe Biden: (25:15)
But look, all kidding aside, I want to particularly thank the longshoremen. You guys, there’s an old expression up in Claymont, Delaware where I was from. You all brought me to the dance, man. You stuck with me from the first time I ran, and you’ve stepped up every time you’ve been asked, every time you’ve been asked. I want to personally thank you while I’m standing in front of you. God bless you all and God bless all the workers that keep our economy going and may God protect our troops. Thank you so very much. Thank you.