Dec 8, 2021
Joe Biden Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Speech Transcript Missouri
President Joe Biden gave a speech on the bipartisan infrastructure law in Kansas City, Missouri on December 8, 2021. Read the transcript of the remarks here.
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President Joe Biden: (00:13)
Well, I tell you what, I don’t know where that phrase, “It’s a big deal” came from. If anybody remembers that, which you seem to all remember, after the president spoke and I spoke after, well, then President Obama, he was back to my right. And I went back and I made sure I was talking on his left ear because it was all he was down the hallway. And I whispered what I said.
President Joe Biden: (00:45)
How in God’s name anybody heard it, I have no idea. And I shouldn’t waste your time and tell you this. But we were going to go from there over to the department of transportation. No, excuse me, the department of education. And I walked out the back and got in the presidential limo on the driver’s side in the backseat. The president, he was already in there and he was laughing like the devil. He was almost hysterical. I said, “What’s so damn funny?” And he told me. And I said, “You’re just lucky my mother’s not alive. I’d be one dead man.”
President Joe Biden: (01:23)
Look, before I began, I would like to say a word about a friend of mine, who we lost this weekend. Man, a few hours west of Russell, Kansas came from not far from here, Russell, Kansas. A lot of Americans today remember Bob Dole as a presidential candidate, but for families, he represented across the border. He represented Kansas for 36 years.
President Joe Biden: (01:51)
And for those like me, who had the honor of calling him a friend, Bob Dole was an American giant, a man of extraordinary courage, both physical and moral courage. A war hero who sacrificed beyond measure. Who nearly gave his life for our country in World War II. Among the greatest of a great generation. A leader of honesty, decency, and good humor, the same qualities that made him such a cherished friend to me and my wife, Jill, and so many others through the years. We didn’t agree in everything, but I always admired and respected him in his willingness to work with anyone, any party, when it mattered most. And our nation owes Bob Dole a debt of gratitude for the remarkable service and a life well lived.
President Joe Biden: (02:54)
And being here this week reminds me of another great American giant, or rather an American Monarch. Buck O’Neil, the Kansas City Monarch. A great ball player, a first black coach and the majors, one of the games greatest ambassadors. And finally, finally, a Hall of Famer. Now, if the sun shining a little brighter on Kansas City this week, is because Bob and Buck are up there sharing a laugh with one another.
President Joe Biden: (03:32)
I also want to acknowledge Mayor Quinton Lucas. Mayor Q, you’ve done an amazing job, both in terms of economic justice, as well as economic progress. And I want to thank county executive Frank Wright. He lived the life I had hope to live. He started off as a laborer. He helped build the Royals Stadium. As a player, he’s one of the best ever played there. And now, he is a county executive in Jackson County, resident and a business as well. I mean this guy’s done it all. I thought maybe I could make in the pros, but look what the hell.
President Joe Biden: (04:21)
I actually was foolish enough to ask Floyd Little, he was a friend of mine in Syracuse, if he could get his agent to see if I could walk on. You know every year, they allow 50 folks to walk on. Well, guess what? He came back to me laughing, he said, “My agent said they’re afraid if they let you walk on, they’d have to just carry off.”
President Joe Biden: (04:46)
Look. The infrastructure law is signed Thanksgiving would not be possible, and this is not hyperbole, without the leaders here today. Congressman Emanuel Cleaver was a great mayor, a significant leader in the house. Before he is both those things, he was a pastor. And he saw a highway cut through the neighborhood, many of his congregants call home. He knows that we need to build our infrastructure the right way, not just build it, but build it the right way. He also is a big reason Kansas City is adding electric buses to this fleet. Zero fare, zero emissions. Congressman, great idea. Great idea.
President Joe Biden: (05:40)
And congresswoman Sharice Davids, there is no stronger advocate for infrastructure investment in the United States Congress, that I have ever met anyway. And as vice chair of the house transportation infrastructure committee, your leadership was key in getting this passed. I want to thank you. There you are. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
President Joe Biden: (06:04)
And I also want to thank somebody else, Roy Blunt. He couldn’t be here today, but he was an important part of the bipartisan effort to get the infrastructure passed. And that’s what we’re here about. We’re here talking about rebuilding America, investing in America, building a better America. In the coming weeks, I’m going to be traveling all over the country and so will Vice President Harris, my cabinet and folks throughout our administration. Our Building a better America tour is going to give us a chance to meet people where they work, where they work and hear what the communities that they live in, what they need. Hear first hand. And showcase how our bipartisan infrastructure law, which has changed their lives for the better, came about because we work together. We can learn more about this law and what it means for a community, go to build.gov.
President Joe Biden: (06:57)
Look, the better part of the 20th century. We led the world by significant margin and our willingness to invest in ourselves. In ourselves. We invested in our infrastructure. We invested in research and development, in our roads, highways, bridges, ports, airports. The arteries of the nation allowed commerce to function smoothly and move swiftly.
President Joe Biden: (07:23)
And we invested in our people. We gave opportunity. We were among the first to provide access to universal education and high school education in the beginning of the 20th century, which put us in the forefront of leading the rest of the world. We invested to win the space race, and we won it. We led the world in research and development, led the creation of the internet. But we know that China and the rest of the world are catching up. And in some respects, actually moving beyond us.
President Joe Biden: (07:54)
We are also going to reinvest our country and our people to reclaim our leadership, to create millions of jobs by building a better America, with the best infrastructure in the world. Built overwhelmingly with prevailing wage union, union, union. There’s a lot of good and decent people in the financial industry, but they didn’t build the middle class. Unions built the middle class. Now not a joke, not a political statement. It’s a reality. It’s a reality.
President Joe Biden: (08:38)
And look, this infrastructure bill without the union’s support behind me to get this done, would’ve never gotten done. It starts with the most significant investment in roads and bridges in America in 70 years. Fixing many of those 3,500 bridges, nearly 10,000 miles of roads in Kansas and Missouri in poor condition. Like the central-
President Joe Biden: (09:03)
… Missouri in poor condition, like the Central Avenue Bridge which was closed earlier this year for fear of failure. A similar bridge, not far from here, going to Kentucky, there was fear of failure and it collapsed killing a whole heck of a lot of people. But this created a whole lot of headaches, waste of time for 8,500 people who used to drive it every single day. The decaying roads cost Missouri and Kansas drivers more than $500 per person per year, the drivers and additional gas and repairs and longer commute times. A more than $500 hidden tax on Kansas and Missouri families.
President Joe Biden: (09:46)
And speaking of the cost of living, two weeks ago, I announced the largest ever release of the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve to increase the supply of oil to help bring down prices. And I met with our friends around the world. Other countries joined us and those savings are starting to reach drivers. Now today, the average price you’ll paid here in Kansas City is below $2 a gallon, $2 or $3 a gallon. It’s down to $2.90 a gallon, 20% down from a month ago. Nationally, prices are down 7 cents a gallon, continuing to fall. We’re making progress. We’re going to keep at it to ensure the American people are paying their fair share for gas, not being gouged for gas.
President Joe Biden: (10:39)
Look, we’re in a situation where we’ve known that our infrastructure had problems for a long, long time. I don’t think I could take one more phrase, it’s going to be infrastructure week, but guess what? It’s going to be infrastructure decade now, man. No more talking. Action. It will also include the most significant investment in passenger rail in 50 years, $66 billion for passenger and freight rail.
President Joe Biden: (11:22)
I was talking with members about improving cross state, interstate passenger rail, something I know a little about. I’ve been doing it for a long time. The fact is that you’re looking at Mr. Amtrak here. I’ve traveled over a million, 250,000 miles on Amtrak. Everybody thought… Anyway, because I went home every single night after my wife and daughter were killed because I couldn’t afford a home in Delaware and in Washington. So I commuted every day. I remember one day, as vice president, the government keeps fastidious records of how many miles you travel on government planes. And so, there’s a big headline, Biden travels. I forget what it was, a million miles on Air Force II and so on and so forth.
President Joe Biden: (12:16)
And I’m getting on the train to go home, which the Secret Service, they’re great. They’re with me here today, all 800 of you, but all kidding aside, they’re wonderful. And I was getting on the train because they didn’t like me getting on the train, Congressman, because its more dangerous circumstance. You can stop people from fixing on tracks, et cetera.
President Joe Biden: (12:35)
But I was going home to see my mom who was sick. And one of the conductors I know for years walked up and Greg said, “Joey baby, grab my cheek.” And not a joke. And I thought that he was going to get shot. True story. And I said, “No, no it’s okay. We’ve known each other.” He said, “Joey, big deal, a million miles or wherever. It was a million miles on Air Force II. Come on, Joey. You know how many miles you travel on Amtrak?” I said, “No, I don’t know how many miles.” He said, “We calculated it at the retirement dinner.” He said, “36 years, 119 days a year back and forth. Then as vice president, we figure you’ve done X number of trips. It adds up to 1,200,000 miles on Amtrak.” And I said, “If my dad were here, he’d call it a misspent adulthood.” But all kidding aside, back in the early 70s, probably ’74, I think it was or was a guy named Charlie Wheeler, talked about this, your mayor. Seriously.
President Joe Biden: (13:55)
And there’s no reason why it should be two hours faster to drive from Kansas City to St. Louis than take a train. No reason. All the data shows that if you get from point A to point B at a faster rate, by rail than by automobile, you’ll take the rail and guess what that does? First of all, it’s safer. But secondly, it’s going to save over millions of barrels of oil, millions of barrels of oil, because it’s electric.
President Joe Biden: (14:29)
Look, folks. We’re the largest investment in public transit ever in this legislation. Imagine replacing buses that are past the useful life. Switching from diesel to electric, getting more people where they’re trying to go more safely, faster, cleaner, like what you’re doing here with your zero fare and zero emission buses. Electric buses, you added to the fleet. It’s a win, win, win. They’re manufactured here in America, creating good union jobs. They’re good for the environment and they’re making them free for all riders. Mayor, they’re helping regular riders save about $2,000 bucks a year. That’s a big deal for someone making $50, $60 grand a year.
President Joe Biden: (15:24)
Our infrastructure law means more projects like the extension of the Kansas City street car. So you can connect Union Station with UMKC and everything in between. It means students can easily get to internships and jobs in downtown core. It means families can get to restaurant, stores, the Plaza, to the riverfront, to catch the Kansas City current game at the new stadium. The first stadium, by the way, I might specifically point out specifically built for women’s soccer.
President Joe Biden: (15:59)
I was able to see and win the Olympic. Anyway, it’s a long story, but it means more jobs, opportunity, economic development. The law invests $42 billion to modernize our ports and airports in America. Like the new terminal you’re building in the Kansas Union International or improvements to the Island Port in the Missouri River, helping get agricultural products from the Midwest to the rest of the nation. And this bill has $16 billion in it to improve ports like yours. These investments make it easier, easier for companies to get their goods in marketing, reducing supply chain bottlenecks, lowering cost for families.
President Joe Biden: (16:43)
Here in Kansas City, the possibilities are unlimited. You got the fastest growing port in the Midwest here in the heart of the Heartland for freight rail, for transforming your airport. You’re building a national hub, create a cycle of jobs and growth that’ll be felt for decades making the right investments and you have the money to do it now.
President Joe Biden: (17:06)
Of course, that’s not all the law achieves. Under the leadership of mayors like our mayor here, KC Water is going to replace all known service lines is Kansas City, but there’s more work to be done in the region. The law starts by replacing all 100% of the nation’s lead pipes and service lines. So every child in Missouri and Kansas and across America can turn on that faucet in the 4,000 schools, you can’t do it. 44,000, I should say, and drink clean, decent water. They’re going to need tens of thousands of plumbers and pipefiters, making a union wage to undo this. You get paid a prevailing wage with benefits, with ability to build a middle class life. I grew up like a lot of you did. I grew up in a nice three-
President Joe Biden: (18:03)
I grew up like a lot of you did. I grew up in a nice three bedroom split level home in a development of about 70 other homes like it with four kids and a grandpa living with us, but I remember every time something would happen, my dad, I remember when he lost his health insurances company, you could tell, the walls were thin how upset he was that night just rolling in bed.
President Joe Biden: (18:25)
… matter. He said, we don’t have health insurance for a while, honey. And my dad used to say, everybody deserves just a little bit of breathing room, a little bit of breathing room. This law is going to make high speed internet affordable and available everywhere in America, creating jobs, deploying those broadband lines across the high speed internet access to high speed internet unlocks opportunity everywhere. It allows farmers in Kansas to use precision agriculture to improve their yields or a doctor in St. Louis every a remote checkup with a home bound cancer patient. Today, roughly one of every Missourians, one out of every three six in Kansas don’t have high speed internet in their home. In some places, there’s no broadband infrastructure at all. This law will make high speed internet affordable and available everywhere in Missouri and Kansas, urban, suburban, and rural. In the 21st century in America, no parent should have to do what many had to do last semester and that is sit in the parking lot of a fast food restaurant, so their children could use the internet to get their homework done. This is the United States of America for God’s sake.
President Joe Biden: (19:39)
This law also builds out a resilience against extreme weather events fueled by climate change. Last year, extreme weather events cost this country $99 billion and I toured most of it. I was out in California. More forest burned to the ground, burned to the ground than the entire square mileage of the state of New Jersey from cape all the way up to New York City and Long Island. That’s how much we lost and it goes on.
President Joe Biden: (20:12)
Missouri and Kansas are no strangers to these effects. In fact, Missouri and Kansas were both in the top 10 states in the US last year for power outages. Then Texas saw the massive black outs last winter, because you’re on the Southwest power grid, you lost power too. This summer, you saw heavy storms closed roads in Waverly, Kansas, caused flooding in St. Joseph’s to Columbia to Jefferson City. And when you think about the impact of more intense weather, more severe storms, none of us are ever going to forget the devastation in Joplin. In 2014, I went there to help reopen to rebuilt Joplin High School … of Joplin. We never break. We never stop. We Americans always rebuild and we will rebuild this country.
President Joe Biden: (21:12)
This law builds back our bridges, our water systems, our power lines, electric grids, better, stronger, and more resistant to the negative effects of climate change because by the way, it used to be as the elected officials here can tell you, if you had storm damage and you qualified for federal aid, you got them just enough amount of money to get you back to exactly what it looked like before, but you can’t do that because now that highway gets flooded out. It’s never going to go back to less rain because of global warming. Pray God, it won’t get worse. So you got to build that highway a couple feet higher. It costs more money. You got to build back better, and there’s so much more in this law.
President Joe Biden: (21:59)
Most of all, the law does something truly historic. The law helps rebuild, when I announced for office, I said I was running for three reasons. One to restore the soul of this country, a sense of decency and honor. Two to rebuild the backbone of this country, working class and hard work and middle class people, that’s the backbone of this country. And thirdly, to unite the country, which is turning out to be one of the most difficult things, but we’re going to get it done.
President Joe Biden: (22:26)
Look, the fact of the matter is that we’ve been able to do an awful lot. We built America and we’ve left behind so much for so long. We’re going to help rebuild the economy this time from the bottom up and the middle out. This bill is a blue collar blueprint for working Americans. 95% of the jobs created in the infrastructure bill don’t require a college education. The only way this works is blue collar Americans do the building, and the only way it ever worked, we’re going to do it again, mark my words. We’re going to do this again. And the same goes my plan to build back better for our people.
President Joe Biden: (23:12)
This bill’s going to deliver, for example, universal pre-K for every three and four year old in America. One study. A great university have done a lot of studies on this in the last decade. One study shows that low income children from poor homes participating in preschool are 47% more likely to go on to earn an associate’s degree or higher after high school. They start off at a great disadvantage because their mom or their dad, their single parent doesn’t have the education, doesn’t have the training, but at three years old, the brain is rapidly developing so quickly. It matters. We have to build that foundation for the future for success.
President Joe Biden: (23:59)
My wife, Jill, is a full-time teacher. And she says any nation that out educates us is going to out compete us, that’s simply a fact, and guess what? Hold it here. Every nation of the 38 most advanced nations, we rank 34 in the world, 34 in the world in early education for children, the United States of America. My Build Back Better plan, which is passed in the House of Representatives, thanks to my two colleagues here today. Representatives will also ensure that parents can afford childcare. Childcare gets workers a raise and childcare workers get a raise they deserve.
President Joe Biden: (24:43)
Folks, look, in Missouri and Kansas, the average annual cost to send a toddler to childcare is $6,500 a year. If you live in Chicago, it’s more like $22,000 a year for a child. Okay? It means that the average family with two young children is spending roughly 20% of their after tax income on childcare, $20 out of every $100 they have. Our Build Back Better bill is going to make a giant difference in life because your childcare cost will be capped at 7% of your income, period. That’s 7% of your income. It’s going to make a huge difference for millions of workers who have had to drop out of the workforce, not because they didn’t want to work, but because they couldn’t find affordable care. Look at all the women who are totally qualified, who had to drop out of the workforce because they can’t afford the childcare and still work.
President Joe Biden: (25:50)
Look, folks, it’s not the same, but I started about commuting. One of the reasons I started commuting was when I got elected, my family was killed. My wife and daughter were killed. I couldn’t afford to leave Delaware because I had a sister, my best friend, my brother, my mother, my father helped me raise my kids. I was making good money. I was making $42,000 a year as a Senator. I could no more afford full-time childcare than fly.
President Joe Biden: (26:22)
We’re going to make college more for affordable. Right now, the cost of a two year degree in Missouri is over $4,000 a year. In Kansas, it’s over $3,000 a year. There are about 140,000 students in these two states that rely on we call Pell grants and make less than 50 grand a year, Pell grants, to help cover the cost. This plan I have also is going to increase Pell grants by $550 a year. It makes it easier to stay in school. It makes a big difference. We’re also going to lower prescription drug prices. This week.
President Joe Biden: (27:03)
Is going to lower prescription drug prices. This week I spoke to a young woman who told me the cost of insulin for her diabetes, she’s type one diabetes, meant having to choose between rent, groceries, and medication. She said relentlessly without relief every day, so she couldn’t do it. So she began to ration her supply of insulin. She ended up in a coma and almost died. Think about that, the difference between nearly dying and thriving is the cost of one drug that cost $10 to make years ago, nothings changed it. That can cost consumers now $1,000 a month. Well, so if you’re one of those Americans who’re paying too much for insulin, my Build Back Better Plan’s going to change that too, because you’re going to guarantee you pay no more than $35 a month. It’d be different if they invested another 1500 bucks in research, that did nothing to change it. They’ll make sure parents of the 200,000 children in America with type one diabetes the parent to have the ability to say to a child, honey, it’s going to be okay. Can you imagine the dignity you’ll be deprived as a parent, knowing your child has type one diabetes and you can’t afford their insulin. You can’t afford it because you don’t have insurance and your state doesn’t have Medicare.
President Joe Biden: (28:43)
Look, it’s all about what working in middle class people have to pay to get by, to get ahead, to get, as my dad said, that little bit of breathing room. My whole plan is designed to bring down the cost you face. For example, lower cost for childcare making you don’t pay more than 7% of your income. Means the family making 50,000 bucks a year will save $3,000 a year on child cost. Lowering the cost of prescription drug, making sure you’re paying no than 35 bucks a month, for instance, not a 100, not a 1,000 a month. Saving $600 per person per year for healthcare premiums. The list goes on, elder care, housing, meeting the moment of climate change. That’s what this plan does.
President Joe Biden: (29:27)
All in study found that my plan with me the equivalent of $7,400 in tax cuts and savings for the typical family of four with two kids. And guess what? Let’s talk about inflation, it’s real, there’s inflation. 17 Nobel winners of the economics have written a letter just about three weeks ago to me affirming that this bill would ease long term inflationary pressures in the economy. Two of the leading rating agencies in the world, the Wall Street Journal confirmed my plans do not add to inflationary pressures. Not liberal think tanks, Wall Street, Moody’s.
President Joe Biden: (30:11)
Look, what I proposed is in a way to lower some of the difficult costs families that to pay every month by asking corporations and the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share for change. Look, right now, everybody talks about the price tag for this legislation, a trillion, 750 billion dollars. It will not cost the taxpayers a penny. If you’re making less than 400 grand a year, you’re not going to have your taxes go one single penny, not a cent. And guess what else? It also means that there is no increase, no increase in your taxes, and people are going to just pay a fair share. For example, there are 50 corporations in America the last three years of the Fortune 500 that made 40 billion that didn’t pay one single solitary penny, not one single penny in taxes. Come on folks.
President Joe Biden: (31:21)
It used to be during the last Bush administration, the top rate, top 1% paid 37.5%. It got lowered to 36%. It doesn’t any impact, it just means whether or not they’re going to have an extra swimming pool at the extra home. But all kidding aside, if you just take it from 36 back up to 37.5, it pays for every bit of preschool and it pays for every bit of we’re talking about in terms of insulin. Now what’s better for American corporations? What’s better for the wealthy? For a healthier nation, everybody being better educated or having that extra amount of money that they already have a great deal of. I’m a capitalist. I’m a good friend of Bernie’s, but we disagree. I’m not a socialist, I’m a capitalist. You should be able to make a million or a hundred million bucks if you can, but pay your fair share. Folks look, there’s so much we can do, so many things that are within our power. If you went to the average is American family making 60 to 70 grand, or you went to a family where dad was a teacher and mom a police officer making 120. They’re paying it a higher tax rate than someone making a billion dollars, for real. How can that be fair? Look, one of the reasons I feel so firmly in the proposals is because I know what this country can be. We’ve always been a nation of possibilities, we didn’t become this nation by thinking small, we’ve always thought big. Throughout our history we’ve emerged from crisis by investing in ourselves, in our people. During the Civil War, before it was over, Lincoln started to build a transcontinental railroad, was built at the end of it during the Civil War. During the Cold War, Eisenhower built the interstate highway system, transforming the way Americans lived. And now we’re at work beginning and building an economy the 21st century, to build a better America.
President Joe Biden: (34:03)
I truly believe, and I promise you this, I believe that 50 years from now, when historians look back on this moment, they’re going to say this was the moment that America won the competition for the 21st century. Think about it. Most of you who are over 40, remember us always having the number one infrastructure in the world, the best education, et cetera. We ranked now number eight in the world in terms of investment in research and development, 14th in infrastructure, the United States of America. And if you’re a business man out there or you work or you’re a union person working for a business, where’s the business going to go where they can get the products to market fastest, safest, where they have access to get in and out, where they have access to move? That’s why we’re losing. That’s why we’re losing. We’re not going to lose anymore, I promise you. The time of losing is over. It’s over, over, over, over.
President Joe Biden: (35:10)
God bless you all and may God protect our truth. Thank you for your patience. I appreciate it. Thank you.