Oct 15, 2021
Joe Biden Child Care Investment Speech Transcript
President Joe Biden spoke about the importance of investing in child care on October 15, 2021. Read the transcript of the speech briefing here.
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Barbara Jo Warner: (00:02)
Tell me when I can start now.
President Biden: (00:04)
We’re ready to go.
Barbara Jo Warner: (00:06)
Thank you all for coming. Hi, my name is Barbara Jo Warner, and I’m the executive director of the Capitol Child Development Center. So first, I would like to start by thanking the president for the ARPA funding.
President Biden: (00:27)
Thank them, they all voted for it.
Barbara Jo Warner: (00:27)
And also, by recognizing that the Connecticut state’s Office Of Early Childhood did an amazing ability to allocate the funds in a timely manner. This center has been here since 1987. We were created by two legislators who wrote a special act to start a childcare center for legislative employees, and one of those congressmen is here with us today. Congressman John Larson. Thank you. One of our founders. At the beginning of the pandemic, when everything closed and our income dried up, things looked very grim. But thanks to steps taken by the Office Of Early Childhood and the ARPA stabilization grants, we’re still here.
Barbara Jo Warner: (01:18)
I also want to thank you for understanding that the one-time infusion of funds didn’t solve the underlying problem, which is that most parents can’t afford to pay the true cost of the high-quality care that every child deserves. For years, that has meant that women who care for children have subsidized the system by working for poverty wages. We can’t charge more tuition because the cost of care is already prohibitive for many families. We aren’t able to raise wages for our teachers, and this makes recruiting nearly impossible. And it’s not just us. Childcare programs all across Connecticut are facing the same dilemma. But Mr. President, the real story today is what you aren’t seeing. You aren’t seeing a fully-enrolled center. You’re only seeing a fraction of what we have the capacity for. We’re licensed for 70 children, and our total roster right now is 20 children.
Barbara Jo Warner: (02:25)
This is why we’re so excited that the Build Back Better program supports children from birth through age five. If we want to get parents back to work, we must solve the childcare crisis. We need a system of care for children from birth to school age that works for families, provides competitive wages for qualified and experienced staff. Because in the absence of quality childcare, our youngest population are missing the critical learning experiences needed for higher-order thinking, executive function, and language skills. And now, Mr. President, on behalf of myself and Lisa, the teaching staff, and the children, we are so honored to have you at Capitol Child Development Center.
President Biden: (03:14)
Thank you. Thank you [crosstalk 00:03:17]. As my colleagues have heard me say in a different venue, if my mother were here, she’d say you’re doing God’s work, and you really are. I know that a lot of people are in desperate need of a facility like this, and childcare. I didn’t fully appreciate it as a young member of the county council when I was 27 years old. But when I got elected to the United States Senate… And I was 29. I wasn’t old enough to be sworn in yet. Between the time I got elected and the time I actually ultimately went to the Congress, I turned the eligible age of 30. But also in the meantime, there was an automobile accident. My wife was Christmas shopping, and my daughter was killed. My wife was killed. And my two young boys, Beau and Hunter, were very badly injured and hospitalized for a long time.
President Biden: (04:21)
And so I thought, “Well, I’ll get some help.” And I was making a decent salary as a US Senator, $42,000 a year. That was a decent salary. And I could not afford the childcare. Everybody wonders why I commuted every day, 265 miles a day, to be back and forth with my children. I could afford the train. It was cheaper to be able to take every day so I could kiss my boys. It wasn’t Ozzie and Harriet , but we’d have breakfast in the morning. And when they got a little older, get them off to school. And I’d get in the train, and come home and time to… If I got home in time to have dinner… It was seldom I’d get home in time to have my dinner, and they’d save their dessert. And I got to see them, kiss them goodnight, and get in bed with them.
President Biden: (05:12)
And so it made me realize how difficult it is for the vast majority of people who need help. I was lucky. I had a mother who’s nearby, a sister who’s my best friend, who quit her job temporarily and moved in with her husband to help me raise my kids. But most people don’t have that option. So I’ve been conscious of the concern and the lack of access and the lack of financial ability to have childcare for a long time. And I want to thank the team here at the Capitol Development Center for welcoming us today. I want to thank the excellent Connecticut leaders you have here. Ned, you’re one of the best governors in the United States of America. You really are, because you stand up for what you believe in, and you don’t back down.
President Biden: (06:07)
And Mr. Mayor, Luke, as a Afghan war veteran… We were talking about all the work he’s done with the former governor of Delaware, Jack Markell, now who’s placing Afghan refugees coming out of Afghanistan. And we’re continuing to get people out. Thank you for what you do. I really mean it. And Richard Blumenthal, who was back in those days the attorney general when my son Beau was still alive. And he was attorney general, and not a joke, but he looked to Richard for help. And thanks for the way you took him under your wing. I really mean it, Richard. It made a difference. You know what he thought of you. And Chris Murphy, who has been not only a real soldier, but he has stood up and stuck up for me. And Chris, it matters. It matters when things are tight, and you stand up and make the case, and I do appreciate it.
President Biden: (07:03)
And John and I, John Larson and I go back a long way. And Joe, you can’t deny me. There’s no way out. And Rosa DeLauro, who is… I don’t have time want to keep you, but the first time I came up this way, my son was going to Yale Law School, and her mother was a committee… Was it committeeman?
Speaker 1: (07:28)
President Biden: (07:28)
Alderwoman. And I was up on a ladder helping him paint the place he had just rented. And this knock on the door, and this lovely woman came and said, “Where’s Biden? Where’s Joe Biden?” And I was up on a ladder, and I had paint all over me. And I was a US Senator. And I said, “I’m here.” She said, “No, where’s Biden? Where’s Biden?” And she brought the chief of police over to let him know that everything was going to be taken care of. But your mother was something else. But that old expression, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Rosa-
President Biden: (08:03)
That old expression, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Rosie. You’ve been an incredible leader in all things having to do with the health and wellbeing of children and women. And we would not have had the legislation we’re now trying to continue were it not for you. And Jim you’re the real deal, as well as Johanna, the comment I got from Johanna, I get from everybody. Where’s Jill? Where’s Jill? I’m Jill Biden’s husband. She is now in, I think she’s either in New Jersey or Virginia, I’m not sure after teaching 15 credits this week at the community college. And she is out there making the case. I’m here today to talk about what’s fundamentally at stake right now, in my view, for the families, not only of Connecticut, because you’re ahead of the curve and some of which you’ve done on your own, but for our country. For a long time, America set the pace across the globe.
President Biden: (09:03)
For most of the 21st century, we literally led the world by significant margin in investments, we invested in our own people, in our people. Not only our roads, our highways, our bridges, but on our people and on our families. And we didn’t just build the interstate highway system and invest to win the space race. We also were among the first to provide access to free education beginning back at the turn of the 20th century. It was a distinction and a decision to invest in our children and our families. And it’s a major reason why we were able to lead the world in the 21st century. One of the few nations of the world at universal education for everyone beginning and for what was then first grade. But somehow along the way, we sort of stopped investing in our people. Our infrastructure’s fallen from the best in the world.
President Biden: (09:53)
According to the World Economic Forum, our infrastructure ranks 13th in the world, roads, bridges, a whole range of things. But just as important is the organization of economic opportunity and cooperation now ranks America 35 out of 37 major countries when it comes to investing in early childhood education and care.
President Biden: (10:15)
Say another way, the world’s catching up and beginning to pass us. Jill has my community college, Dr. Biden has an express she’s used for real; any country that out educates us will outcompete us. Any country that out educates us will outcompete us. We cannot be competitive in the 21st century in this global economy if we fail to invest. That’s why I propose two critical pieces of legislation being debated in Washington right now. They’re both bills that are not about left versus right. They’re not about moderate versus progressive or anything else that pits one American against another. These bills in my view are literally about competitiveness versus complacency, about opportunity versus decay, and about leading the world or continue to let the world move by us. Folks, a lot of folks know what’s at stake in the infrastructure bill.
President Biden: (11:09)
It’s about rebuilding the arteries of our economy, putting people to work in good paying jobs, the estimates in Wall Street it will create up to 16 million new jobs over time. Good pay paying jobs, union jobs, not five bucks an hour, seven, 15, but 40, $50 an hour, prevailing wage. You can raise a family on. You can live with some dignity and pride. Bringing our roads and bridges up to speed, replacing lead water pipes. There’s over 40,000 schools schools across America where you got to be worried when you go to the water fountain, whether there’s lead in the water and the children are being poisoned. You can turn on the faucets so that every place in America will be sure the water is clean and able to be drunk. Laying transmission lines for a modern and resilient energy grid. Making high speed internet affordable and available everywhere in America from urban, suburban, rural. There’s parts of the country that are just being left behind.
President Biden: (12:09)
And they’re parts of the country in states that are economically prosperous that are being left behind. Meeting the moment on the climate crisis and in the process creating millions of good paying jobs. I’ve had a couple conferences already held. I’m going to COP26 in Scotland shortly. And what I had, I guess I had 71 heads of state on the first one I did in the white House. And I said, and people are starting to talk about it now. Not about me, about the idea. When I think climate, I think jobs, good paying jobs, union jobs. This is an opportunity. We’re the only country in the world that has consistently turned difficulty into opportunity. We have a chance to not only make this world more livable, but to actually create greater opportunity for people. Making landmark investments in public transit and rail and increasing efficiency, reducing emissions. There’s millions of kids getting on diesel school buses and inhaling the air, getting asthma.
President Biden: (13:14)
They should be electric buses, electric buses. This could happen. So look, I’m going to have a tendency to say more than I need to say because y’all understand it. But the bottom line is I wanted to come here today because too many folks in Washington still don’t realize it isn’t enough just to invest in our physical infrastructure. We also have to invest in our people. And that’s what the second bill does, the Build Back Better Initiative. Seeing children and educators here at this center is a perfect reminder what our families need and our economy needs so badly to be able to thrive. You all know the statistics, particularly the teachers here, a child coming out of a single parent house where there’s real difficulty will hear literally a million fewer words spoken, not different words, spoken, than the child coming out of middle class household.
President Biden: (14:06)
And so no matter what you say, you start them at the same age at age six or seven, five or six in school, they’re already behind the curve, already behind the curve. How can we compete in a world of millions of Americans parents, especially moms, can’t be part of the workforce because they can’t afford the cost of childcare or elder care I might add. Elder care. They’re the sandwich generation getting crushed. Here in Connecticut, the average annual cost to bring your toddler to a quality childcare center is about $16,000 a year. That’s what it is around the country. Some places more, some places a little less. A lot of money. And 16,000 after taxes, after you pay your taxes. So the average two parent family with two young kids spends 26% of their income on childcare every year. My Build Back Better plan is going to change that. It’s going to cut the cost of childcare for most Connecticut families in half. No middle class family will pay more than 7% of their income on childcare. None. Period.
President Biden: (15:13)
And that’s going to help parents get back into the workforce and make ends meet, or maybe care for that, we have to do the same, I’m not going to talk about it today, but the other piece of it, you all know, and deals with elder care. You got 80,000 people waiting to qualify under Medicaid and there’s no spaces. We can afford to do this. But at any rate, we also have to provide businesses with tax credits to build on site care facilities. Look, you and the legislature were way ahead of the curve. You decided that for people working in legislature, there should be a place for their children. Well, what we want to do is make sure that we encourage businesses to do the same, to get a significant tax cut, to be able if they have an onsite facility to take care of their workers children when they show up. So you go to work with your child and you have a serious facility.
President Biden: (16:03)
… So you go to work with your child and you have a serious facility on-site. Well, studies show that when you have on-site care for children’s center businesses, businesses, the business itself have less employee turnover, less absenteeism and higher productivity. We can show you all those studies. It’s real. We can’t afford to lag behind other countries where they’re invested in. When America made 12 years of public education universal more than a century ago, it gave the best educated, best prepared workforce in the world to the rest of the world.
President Biden: (16:35)
But if we’re designing public education today, we all of a sudden we had none and we said, “Okay, what are we going to do? We need free public education.” Does anybody think we’d think 12 years was enough in the second quarter of the 21st century? The fact is today only about half of three and four-year-olds in America are enrolled in early education childhood education like what you’re doing here. In Germany, France and the UK, even Latvia, the number of children in those countries enrolled is 90%, 90%. My plan gets us back on track, provides two years of high-quality preschool for every child in America. It also makes investments in higher education by increasing Pell grants. I don’t know if I can get it done, but I also have proposed this free community college like you’ve done here in the state of Connecticut to help students from lower-income families attend community college and four-year schools. And invest in historically black colleges and universities to make sure young people from every neighborhood have a shot at good paying jobs in the future.
President Biden: (17:44)
We also extend this lady’s child tax credit, which is finally a tax cut for the middle-class. My friends on the other side never had any problem for adding $2 trillion in tax cuts for the very wealthy. Look, I don’t think you shouldn’t be able to make a million or a million dollars. I’m a capitalist, but guess what? I’m also listed for 36 years as the poorest man in the Congress. But I make big money now, I’m the president. But all kidding aside, I don’t think we should punish anybody, but just pay your fair share, just pay your fair share. You know the issue that has been championed by Roosevelt for years, in the past if you paid your taxes and had an income high enough that you were able to take a $2,000 per child deduction, you could actually write it off your taxes. But how many families do you know of cops and firefighters and schoolteachers in life that don’t pay that much in tax? Because they pay a tax. If you say you’re going to get 4,000 back for your kids. Well, it’s not refundable, either comes off your tax bill or you don’t get it at all.
President Biden: (19:08)
In the American Rescue Plan, which these folks voted for as well and I’m very proud of is a real game changer, it started our economy moving again. Recognize that people of lower incomes don’t get the benefit of that tax break because they don’t have that much to deduct. So we make it refundable, make it permanently refundable. So you get that back over the years. If you only had $1,000 in taxes and you had three kids, you’d end up in a situation where you get $5,000 refundable to you, they would pay you, the government would pay you. And we increase that amount in the near-term to $3,600 for every child under the age of six and $3,000 for dependence between the ages of six and 17.
President Biden: (19:52)
The money’s already a game changer for working families. It’s projected to cut child poverty in Connecticut in one of the wealthiest states like Delaware and Connecticut, by 40%, if we don’t pass the bill, we fail. It’s a life changer. The Build Back Better Act says that you get the first half of it paid to you and then the second half you get paid on a monthly basis. Hard-working families are getting a check in the mail on the 15th. Today’s the 15th, isn’t it? Or in their bank account just like you get your Social Security check, but it’s for your children. It’s for being able to raise your kids.
President Biden: (20:32)
That monthly tax cut for parents is going to end in just a couple months. It’s going to impact families of 61 million kids right at the holidays when the winter heating costs are going up when we need to keep the taxes for families going down. The bottom line is this. When you give working families a break, we’re not just raising their quality of life. We’re positioning our country to compete in the future. And I when I talk to all your folks out in the playground, as I joked inside, everybody knows I like kids better than people. Fortunately, they’re like me and that’s why maybe I like them.
President Biden: (21:10)
But all kidding aside, you all talked about, all talked about what it means to the families of these children. And granted, you had to cut way back and because of a lot of things happening, things aren’t the same as they were. But these bills are about strengthening the economy for decades to come. Both of these bills spend out over 10 years. Take the infrastructure bill, all those investments in roads, bridges, highways, high-speed internet, water, clean water, everything represents less than one half of 1% of our economy each year if you add it all up over these years.
President Biden: (21:45)
And the cost of the Build Back Better bill in terms of adding to the deficit is zero. So when I hear people say it costs 3.5 trillion, and to be honest with you, we’re probably not going to get 3.5 trillion year. We’re going to get something less than that, but I’m going to negotiate, I’m going to get it done with the grace of God and the goodwill of neighbors and the creek not rise as my grandpa would say. But all kidding aside, we’re going to keep coming because the more we demonstrate it works, the more we can do. It’s paid for because big corporations and the very wealthy ought to start paying their fair share.
President Biden: (22:20)
Let me be clear. Nobody and since I got elected when I was campaigning, nobody who makes under $400,000 a year which is a lot of money will see their taxes go up one single penny, nobody, not one. That’s why in the highway bill, I didn’t add gas tax. So I keep that commitment. In fact, this plan cuts taxes for working people. There’s no reason why, as I said, billionaires they should pay a lower tax rate, literally a lower tax rate than a school teacher and a firefighter or a couple. That’s what’s happening now. And it isn’t right that 55 of our Fortune 400 companies, the largest companies in America last year, 55 of the Fortune 500 paid zero in taxes and they made $40 billion in profit.
President Biden: (23:14)
I’m glad they made a profit. I mean that sincerely, but pay your fair share. Just pay a decent portion of what we lay out in this piece of legislation. And by the way, I’ve had a number of Fortune 500 companies come to me and say, “You’re right. We can pay a higher tax than we’re paying now.” Because they understand the impact if we don’t invest like we have to on their long-term health and well-being. This needs to change. Working folks understand it. That’s why despite the attacks and misinformation, my plan still is the overwhelming support of the American people when they’re told what’s in it. They understand that when families have a little more breathing room, America has a lot better shot. My dad used to say-
President Biden: (24:03)
… America has a lot better shot. My dad used to say, for real, my dad was a well-read, well-bred man who regretted his whole life he never got a chance to go to college. And he worked like heck, he’d always come home for dinner and then go back to work. And I remember we lived in a four bedroom split level home with four kids and a grandpa. And my bed was against the wall where my parents’ bed was against the adjacent wall. I remember one night I could tell my dad was just so restless, I was in high school. The next morning I asked my mom, I said, “What’s the matter with dad, mom?” She said, “Well, honey, his company just told him they were going to do away with health insurance, no health insurance.” Well, you know what? We weren’t poor.
President Biden: (24:54)
My dad made it probably an average in those days, 22, $25,000 a year, which is decent salary. But he used to say, “Everybody’s entitled just a little bit of breathing room, just a little bit.” A little bit of breathing room. They know this is about dignity and respect. It’s about building this economy from the bottom up and the middle out. I’ve never seen a time, and some of you may have beyond my colleagues in the Congress, in the press may have your masters or doctorate degrees in economics. Name me a single time in American history. When the middle class was doing well, that the wealthy didn’t do very, very well? Name me a time, one single time in American history. So we’re not hurting anybody, we’re just making sure everybody gets a shot. Let me close with this. This is not hyperbole, the world is watching.
President Biden: (25:50)
Autocrats believe that the world is moving so rapidly, that democracies cannot generate consensus quickly enough to get things done. Not a joke. I’ve had hours and hours and hours of meetings and personal conversations with Xi Jinping. I spent more time with them I believe, than any other world leader has, when I was vice president and now on the phone. Every time he calls and we talk, it’s a conversation between an hour and a half and two and a half hours. Not a joke, my word.
President Biden: (26:25)
But he doesn’t think democracies can compete, because they can’t react quickly enough. In my summit with Putin, Switzerland, they’re betting democracies can’t compete. We can’t move quickly enough. I’m into the G20, came back from the G7. You know how they measure? They don’t measure us based on the size of our military. They don’t measure us on how much power we have that way. They want to know, can we get anything done? Not a joke. And many of you travel internationally. Can we get anything done? Can you put anything together to get something done in America? So folks, they’re betting that we won’t respond to this inflection point in, history. But I’ve always said, I mean it, some of you guys are working with me know this. I said it a thousand times, it’s never a good bet to bet against American people. Never a good bet.
President Biden: (27:31)
So it’s time for us to invest in ourselves. Show the world that American democracy works. We’ve always led the world, not by the example of our physical power, but by the power of our example, that’s why the world has followed. And given half a chance, there’s not a single solitary thing that we can’t achieve if we do it together. So I’m hopeful, there’s a lot of questions the press is going to want to ask me, I know about how are the negotiations going and how we’re going to get this done, and so on? Well, I told you before what my neurosurgeon years ago said when I had that aneurysm. He said … And that was in the Senate. “Your problem Senator is your congenital optimist.” But I’m convinced we’re going to get this done. I’m convinced we’re going to get it done. We’re not going to get 3.5 trillion.
President Biden: (28:29)
We’ll get less than that, but we’re going to get it and we’re going to come back and get the rest. So I want to thank you all, and God bless you. And I know you’re asking about President Clinton, I’ve been exchanging calls. He seems to be, God willing, doing well. And so when I talk to him, I’ll let you all know. But in the meantime, thank you for taking time to be here. And I say this again, the press heard me say it. For all you elected officials, this is like a Busman’s Holiday for you. Come to have to listen to another politician speak. But I am really, and I mean this without exception, I’m so proud to be associated with each one of you. You’re honorable, decent, smart women and men, and there’s a lot we can get done. So thank you very much. Thank you.