Sep 16, 2021
Joe Biden Economy & Tax Update Speech Transcript September 16
President Joe Biden gave updates on the economy and his plans to increase taxes for the wealthiest Americans on September 16, 2021. Read the transcript of his speech briefing here.
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President Joe Biden: (00:00)
Just look at the facts. CEOs used to make about 20 times the average worker in the company that they ran. Today, they make more than 350 times what the average worker in their corporation makes. Since the pandemic began, billionaires have seen their wealth go up by $1.8 trillion. That is, everyone who was a billionaire before the pandemic began, the total accumulated wealth beyond the billions they already had has gone up by $1.8 trillion. Simply not fair. And how is it possible that 55 of the largest corporations in this country paid $0 in federal income taxes. They made over 40 billion in the year 2020, and they paid zero. Think about that. $0 in federal taxes on 40 billion in profits. How is it possible that the wealthiest billionaires in the country can entirely escape paying income tax on what they’ve made? How is it possible for millionaires and billionaires that can pay a lower rate of tax than teachers, firefighters, or law enforcement officers?
President Joe Biden: (01:22)
Here’s the simple truth, for a long time this economies were great for those at the very top. Ordinary, hardworking Americans, the people who built this country, had been basically cut out of the deal. And I’ve said this from the time I announced I was going to run. I believe this is a moment, a potentially great change. This is our moment to deal working people back into the economy. This is our moment to prove the American people that their government works for them, not just for the big corporations and those at the very top. When I was sworn in as president, the nation was struggling to pull out of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Job growth was anemic with just over 60,000 new jobs per month in the three months before I was sworn in. Then we went to work and passed the American Rescue Plan back in March, and it worked and still working.
President Joe Biden: (02:21)
Over the last three months, we’ve been creating on average 750,000 new jobs per month. Our economy is growing at the fastest rate we’ve seen in nearly 40 years. Our recovery is unique in the world. We’re the only developed country in the world whose economy is now bigger than it was before the pandemic. While this is all good news, I know many Americans are still struggling to make it through each and every day. For too many it’s harder and harder to pay the bills, food, gas, rent, healthcare. I get it. We still have a long way to go to get the economy where it needs to be. As I’ve said for a long time, coming out of this economic crisis as deep as the one we’re in was never going to be easy, but we’re doing it and we can continue to do it. COVID supply chain issues, bad actors seeking to profit off the pandemic are all contributing to the challenges we’re facing.
President Joe Biden: (03:26)
That’s why I’ve made getting COVID under control my top priority from my first day as president. Everything, everything from our public health or our economy depends on this. We’ve made enormous progress against the virus through the summer. And now we put ourselves in a strong position to battle this Delta variant. That’s why the actions I proposed on vaccines last week are so critical. From requiring federal workers to get vaccinated, requiring healthcare workers to be vaccinated, requiring employers with over 100 employees to institute vaccine and or test protocols calling on for them to be able to know what their employees are doing before they walk through the door. Calling for vaccine or test requirements to enter big venues. And a whole series of steps I posed to protect our kids in schools. Wall Street firms have analyzed the impact of these plans, and they’re projecting that these new requirements will help 12 million more Americans get vaccinated, which will help more businesses stay open and more Americans back to work.
President Joe Biden: (04:38)
The data shows that overwhelming majority of Americans agree with my proposal, there’s no surprise given that 76% of American adults have already gotten at least one shot. But we’re facing a lot of pushback, especially from some of the Republican governors. The governors of Florida and Texas are doing everything they can to undermine the life saving requirements that I proposed. And some of the same governors attacking me are in states with the strictest vaccine mandates for children attending school in the entire country. For example, in Mississippi, children are required to be vaccinated against measles, mumps, rubella, chicken pox, hepatitis B, polio, tetanus and more. These are state requirements. But in the midst of a pandemic that has already taken over 660,000 lives, I proposed requirement for COVID vaccines, and the governor of that state calls it quote, a tyrannical type move, a tyrannical type move. This is the worst kind of politics, because it’s putting the lives of citizens of their states, especially children at risk, and I refuse to give into it.
President Joe Biden: (05:56)
These policies are what the science tells us we need to do. They’re going to save lives. They’ll protect our economic recovery as well and allow the economy to continue to grow. We’re also going after the bad actors and pandemic profiteers in our economy. There’s lots of evidence that gas prices should be going down, but they haven’t. We’re taking a close look at that. Taxpayers in this country also have paid for extraordinary effort to keep our country going over the past year or so. Unlike the last administration, which resisted oversight and allowed tax payers to be victimized by fraud, we’re working hard to protect vulnerable Americans from having their identity stolen. As a consequence, their unemployment checks stolen as well. And we’re going to go after organized criminals that defraud America or misused COVID funds. Look, we’re also taking a closer look at places in our economy where fewer and fewer corporate giants are controlling more and more of the marketplace in the area they work.
President Joe Biden: (07:01)
Just look at agriculture and the food industry. A very small number of giant corporations now dominate the market, which gives them the ability to drive up prices because they face so little competition. As we work to build healthier competition in our economy and crack down on bad actors, the American Rescue Plan, which we passed in March, is still working to give hardworking Americans, hardworking people some relief. One of the best examples of that relief is the expansion of the Child Tax Credit, which in effect is essentially a historic tax cut for families with children. Just yesterday, 39 million working moms and dads got their direct payment. That money’s going to help cover groceries, the mortgage, new pairs of shoes, all the things that kids need. It’s a tax cut for working families. So we’re working to provide as much relief as we can right now to American families.
President Joe Biden: (08:04)
But here’s the truth. Yes, the pandemic has caused a lot of economic problems in the country, but the fact is our economy faced challenges long before this pandemic struck. Working people were struggling to make it long before the pandemic arrived. Big corporations and the very wealthy were doing very well before the pandemic. That’s why I’ve said starting back in my campaign for president, that it’s not enough to just build back, we have to build back better than before. And that’s how it all begins. Big corporations and super wealthy have to start paying their fair share of taxes. It’s long overdue. I’m not out to punish anyone. I’m a capitalist. If you can make a million or a billion dollars, that’s great. God bless you. All I’m asking is you pay your fair share. Pay your fair share, just like middle class folks do. But that isn’t happening now. Today in this country right now, the top 1%, for example, evade an estimated a 160 billion in taxes that they owe each year.
President Joe Biden: (09:19)
Not new taxes, taxes that they owe. The way it works is this. If you’re a typical American, like I suspect most of the press people sitting in front of me here, you pay your taxes. Why? Because you get a W2 form. It comes in the mail every year. The IRS gets that information as well. Your taxes get deducted from your paycheck and you pay what is owed beyond that. That’s why 99% of working people pay the taxes they owe. But that’s not how it works for people with tens of millions of dollars. They play by a different set of rules, and they’re often not employees themselves. So the IRS can’t see what they make and can’t tell if they’re cheating. That’s how many, the top 1% get away with paying virtually nothing. It’s estimated by serious economists that that number is about $160 billion collectively owed each year that doesn’t get paid.
President Joe Biden: (10:29)
It’s not an even playing field. My plan would help solve that. For example, it would give the IRS the resources it needs to keep up with the lawyers and accountants of the super wealthy. It would ask just for two pieces of information from the banks of these folks, the amounts that come into their bank accounts and what amounts go out of their bank accounts, so that the wealthy can no longer hide what they’re making and they can finally begin to pay their fair share what they owe. That isn’t about raising their taxes. It’s about the super wealthy finally beginning to pay what they owe, what the existing tax code calls for, just like hardworking Americans do all over this country every tax day. Look, and like I said just a few minutes ago, 55 most profitable corporations in America paid zero in federal income taxes on what amounted to 40 billion in profit. Not a penny.
President Joe Biden: (11:37)
That’s not right. My economic plan will change that. Not punish anybody, just make them pay their fair share. But my Republican friends in Congress don’t want to change the law. So what are they doing? They’re attacking me and my plan, which is fine. But if you’re going to have a debate, let’s have an honest debate. My Republican friends are attacking my plan saying it’s big spending. Let me remind you, these are the same folks who just four years ago passed the Trump tax cut totaling almost 2 trillion in tax cuts, a giant giveaway to the largest corporations in the top 1%. And listen to this, almost none of that $2 trillion tax cut was paid for, it just ballooned the federal deficit. In fact, the unpaid bills racked up by the last administration are projected to increase the national debt by more than $8 trillion over time.
President Joe Biden: (12:41)
What I’m proposing is totally different from that approach for three reasons. First, my plan is paid for. It’s fiscally responsible. Because our investments are paid for by making sure the corporations and wealthy Americans pay their fair share. Second, we’re not going to raise tax on anyone making under $400,000. That’s a lot of money. Some of my liberal friends are saying it should be lower than that. But only corporations and people making over $400,000 a year are going to pay additional tax. And third, not only will no one making under $400,000 see their taxes go up, the middle class are going to get some tax cuts, some breaks. My plan benefits ordinary Americans, not those at the top who don’t need the help.
President Joe Biden: (13:34)
It’s a historic middle class tax cut, cutting taxes for over 50 million families. My Republican friends are making a different choice though. They’d rather protect the tax breaks of those at the very top than give tax breaks to working families. It’s that simple. But let me ask you this, where is it written all the tax breaks in the American tax code go to corporations in the very top? I think it’s enough. I’m tired of it. For me it’s pretty simple. It’s about time working people got the tax breaks in this country. That’s what my plan does. And here’s what it also does, by asking big corporations and very wealthy to pay their fair share, it makes it possible to invest in America, to invest in the American people. According to leading economist, forecasters like Moody’s and major international financial institutions, my plan will create jobs, make us more competitive, and grow our economy, and lessen, not increase inflationary pressure.
President Joe Biden: (14:46)
I don’t know what’s been handed out today, but by the way, 15 Nobel laureates in economics released a letter yesterday arguing that exact same point. They said, and I quote, and this is from 15 Nobel laureates in economics, quote, “because this agenda,” the one I’m talking about, mine, “because this agenda invests in long term economic capacity and will enhance the ability of more Americans to participate productively in the economy, it will ease long-term inflationary pressures.” It will ease it. Let me highlight just a few provisions in my plan. I know this is long and I apologize, but it’s important, I think. My plan lowers the cost of daycare, and childcare and elder care for families. And the added benefit of millions of people, mostly women who are not able to go back to work because of very young family members or elderly people they’re taken care of, allow them to go back to work. It’s estimated in the millions can’t go back.
President Joe Biden: (15:55)
It lowers healthcare premiums for millions of families. It lowers prescription drug costs by giving Medicare the power to negotiate lower drug prices. And it strengthens Medicare by adding dental, vision and hearing coverage if you’re on Medicare. It also extends a tax cut for families of kids that we passed in the American Rescue Plan in March. All of this will mean thousands of dollars in savings for the average American family on some of the toughest and most important bills they have to pay every month. My Republican friends talk a lot about inflation, but if you want to talk about actually lowering the cost of living for people in this country, my plan does just that. By strengthening the capacity of our economy, will also reduce inflationary pressures over the long run. Here’s something else my plan does, it confronts the crisis of extreme weather events that we’re seeing all around us and around the world, but just here in America. We see it everywhere. We know it’s real.
President Joe Biden: (17:03)
In just the past few weeks, and there’s more to come, I’ve seen the destruction of hurricanes in Louisiana, where winds got up to 100 gusts, 179 miles an hour, a deadly toll from flooding New York, where 20 inches of rain in New Jersey, more than 11 inches of rain in some areas, more than 5 million acres of our lands and communities have burned to the ground in wildfires just this year alone. That’s more than the size of the entire state of New Jersey burned to the ground. When I was out in California, I flew over some of these areas. In addition, there’s a severe drought in the West and the Midwest. There’s a blinking code red out there for the nation. We can’t wait to act. Extreme weather just last year cost the American public $99 billion in damage. $99 billion in damage last year. And unfortunately, we’re likely to break that record this year.
President Joe Biden: (18:16)
And the evidence is overwhelming that every dollar we invest in resilience saves $6 down the road, when the next fire doesn’t spread as widely, or the power station holds up against a storm. We need to rebuild with resilience. With resilience in mind so roads are built higher, levies are built made more stronger, transmission lines are better protected and so much more. I hope we’re past debating climate change in this country. Now we have to act and we have to act fast, and my plan does that. Let me end with this. This pandemic has been God awful for so many reasons. The lost lives, I said over 660,000, the jobs, the businesses lost, the lost time in school for our kids. But it does present us with an opportunity. We can build an economy that gives working people a fair shot this time. We can restore some sanity and fairness to our tax code. We can make the investments that we know are long overdue in this nation.
President Joe Biden: (19:36)
That’s exactly what my bipartisan infrastructure plan does. I should say our bipartisan infrastructure plan does. Investments in roads, bridges, highways. Clean water in every home, in every school. Universal broadband. Quality, affordable places for families to live. And we can invest in our people, giving our families a little help with their toughest expenses, like daycare, childcare, elder care, prescription drugs, healthcare. Preparing a young people to compete against any country in the world with preschool and community college. We can confront this crisis of extreme weather and climate change, and not only protect our communities, but create new opportunities, new industries and new jobs. In short, this is an opportunity to be the nation we know we can be, a nation where all of us, all of us, not just those are the top, are getting to share the benefits of a growing economy in years ahead.
President Joe Biden: (20:41)
Let’s not squander this moment trying to preserve an economy that hasn’t worked too well for Americans for a long time. Let’s not look backward, just trying to rebuild what we had. Let’s look forward together as one America. Not to build back, but to build back better. Thank you all very much and God bless you all. May God protect our troops. Thank you.
Speaker 2: (21:05)
Mr. President. Mr. President, what kind of impact does it have when celebrities like Nikki Minaj share dubious claims?