May 3, 2021
Joe Biden & Jill Biden American Families Plan Speech Transcript Tidewater Community College May 3
President Joe Biden & First Lady Jill Biden gave speeches about the American Families Plan at Tidewater Community College on May 3, 2021. Read the transcript of their speech remarks here.
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Jill Biden: (00:49)
Oh gosh. Sit down, please.
Jill Biden: (00:55)
Hello, everybody. So nice to see everybody. And it’s great to be back in Southern Virginia and really special to be here at Tidewater Community College. And now most people call me First Lady, but to one group of students at Northern Virginia Community College, I am first foremost and forever, their writing professor, Dr. B. So no matter where I go, I think I feel most at home at community colleges. And so thank you to President Conston for your warm welcome. And yeah. Yes.
Jill Biden: (01:38)
And as a military mom, I’m grateful for how much Tidewater is doing to support veterans and other military connected students. Actually, I just met one of the veterans that was in the lab there. And to my colleagues and my fellow educators, how many are professors here? How many people teach here? So a couple of people. Okay. So thank you for joining us and happy Teacher Appreciation Week.
Jill Biden: (02:09)
So like the students here at Tidewater, my community college students don’t take anything for granted. So I don’t get too many late papers or missed exams. Of course, although there are, as you know, a few exceptions.
Jill Biden: (02:28)
But I have to tell you a few semesters ago, it was early in the morning and I got this text and it said, and I quote, “On my way to the hospital to have my baby. My research paper’s going to be late.” To which I replied, “Excuses, excuses.” Now this woman in my class, she served as an interpreter for our military in war zones. And she had come to America to start a new life with her family and I couldn’t believe it, but in the midst of labor, here she was worried about getting in her paper on time.
Jill Biden: (03:09)
Now I know that she’s a special example, but her commitment, and you know this, is certainly isn’t unique. And veterans and single parents, first-generation students, refugees, my students like all the students here, I’m sure, come from every walk of life. They show up, they don’t complain. And all they ask is for one thing in return, the chance to work hard and build a good life for themselves and their families. And that’s exactly what community colleges like Tidewater give them. Our schools except everyone, regardless of age, or race, or income, or family legacy. And they offer classes that are flexible. So students don’t have to choose between work and school. They trained for real world jobs like I just saw in the lab. They tailor to the communities they serve. Or they provide a strong foundation for those students who want to go on to do a four year degree.
Jill Biden: (04:22)
Community college graduates provide more security for their families. They invest in their local schools and businesses, and they bring needed skills to our workforce, helping us to meet the challenges of the 21st century. That’s why we need two years of free community college. Thank you, Mr. President. And when we give all Americans the chance to learn from preschool to community college, it will create a ripple effect that is felt by every single one of us. There is no greater investment than we can make than in education, as we all know, and we must provide support and resources so that our students can make it across the finish line. Joe knows that. He saw it in his classes when he taught law school. And he’s heard it from me every single day when I finished teaching my classes. But it’s not enough to know it takes action. And what drew me to Joe all those many years ago was his strength. And beneath his kindness, and his charm, and his good humor, is a man who keeps his promises. He does the necessary work and shows up when it matters. And today the American Rescue Plan, the American Jobs Plan, and the American Families Plan, will work together to deliver the future we need. He’s going to deliver on our promise for an opportunity for all Americans, with universal preschool quality, public schools, and free community college. Our country is going to rise together.
Jill Biden: (06:23)
And we see that in the story of our next speaker, [Jayden Williams 00:06:28]. And when she was a senior in high school, she started taking classes at Tidewater. And today, she’s part of the TCC STEM Promise Program, whose mission is to create a large and diverse STEM workforce. So as you all know, here at the community college, it’s all about good paying jobs. And Jayden has made the President’s List and the Dean’s List, and is well on her way to a career she loves. Jayden, we are all so proud of you. So please help me welcome Jayden Williams.
Jayden Williams: (07:25)
Hello, everyone. I’m just so honored to represent Tidewater on this day because of what this school means to me. Tidewater Community College has equipped me to become a well-rounded student and professional. TCC has provided me numerous opportunities to intern, volunteer, and also earn professional development. TCC’s Women’s Center is very integral in my story of my success. TCC Women’s Center had actually offered me a scholarship that has eased my financial burden completely. So I…
Jayden Williams: (08:03)
That has eased my financial burden completely. So I am on a full ride scholarship. Thank you.
Jayden Williams: (08:10)
But the thing that is so special about TCC is the specialized support that we receive and also the smaller class sizes, which I think is a plus. I think that TCC’s mission, from here, go anywhere, is essential just everywhere in our daily lives. TCC has ingrained this in us, and I believe that from here, I can go anywhere. Thank you.
President Joe Biden: (08:53)
My name is Joe Biden and I’m Jill’s husband. And just like the lovely lady in blue over here is a professor at community college, my wife also works for your husband. And thank you for the warm welcome today at the airport. I appreciate it very, very much.
President Joe Biden: (09:21)
And Tim Kane, one of the great Senators and a great, great friend, and a guy I’ve relied on most of my career when I was in the Senate. We worked together as Vice President, and now is Bobby Scott. Bobby, thank you for everything you do. And Congressman [inaudible 00:09:40], we got to meet when you were in uniform I think, if I’m not mistaken. And you’re doing a great job and thank you for being here, and all the faculty and the management and the folks here at community college. One of the things that that I really found interesting, Jayden, is the major use of cybersecurity. We’ve spent a lot of time, as my colleagues in the Congress and the Senate can tell you, worrying and dealing with cybersecurity, and it’s really important that we get this under control. We have the best trained people in the world and you’re going to be among them.
President Joe Biden: (10:31)
I’m here today at Tidewater Community College to talk about America’s Family Plan that I announced last week, a once in a generation investment in our families, in our children, that addresses what people care most about and most need, the investment we need to win the competition, the competition with other nations in the future. Because we’re in a race. We’re in a race. It all starts with access to good education, as you all know.
President Joe Biden: (10:58)
When America made 12 years of public education universal in America in the early 1900s, it made us the best educated nation in the world and you saw the benefits that came from that, but the rest of the world has caught up to us. The rest of the world has caught up to us. They’re not waiting, and 12 years is no longer enough to compete with the world in the 21st century and lead the 21st century.
President Joe Biden: (11:25)
That’s why my American Families Plan guarantees four additional years of public education for every person in America starting as early as we can. We were at an elementary school the other day, and what we’re talking about here means universal high quality preschool for three and four-year-olds. Not daycare, preschool. And the research has shown here at the great universities in this state and others that children of that age who go to school, they are far more likely to graduate from high school and continue their education beyond that, rather than start off behind the eight ball if they come from families that don’t have educations, college educations. A lot of kids start kindergarten hearing a million fewer words that have been spoken in other families, and it’s an unfair disadvantage, but every child is capable. Every child is capable of learning.
President Joe Biden: (12:21)
We just visited, by the way, a fifth grade classroom in Yorktown earlier today where the students are back together with their classmates and teachers in school. And we saw what being in school means for those kids. Safely reopening the majority of the K through 8 schools was one of my top priorities in my first 100 days because there’s so much that happens when they don’t have the certitude and the companionship and the familiarity, being with their friends. There’s an awful lot of need in this pandemic for mental health facilities and counseling.
President Joe Biden: (13:01)
And we met that goal by working with the Governor here to get educators and school staff vaccinated, and to get them the resources they needed to open up safely.
President Joe Biden: (13:14)
And I often said that children are the kite strings that keep our national ambitions aloft. We say all those kids, well, they’re all our children. They’re all our children. And they are the kite strings that literally lift our national ambitions aloft. So we’ve got to invest in them, invest in our children to invest in the future.
President Joe Biden: (13:31)
We can’t stop there. We’re going to add two years of community college on top of that. You just heard Jill talk about community colleges and how it can change lives. Well, students here at the community college across the country know why. For some, it’s two years of community college to earn enough credits to transfer to a four year university, which is available in almost every single state, to become a teacher or an entrepreneur or anything else. For some, it’s getting an extra training through a certificate program to get a good paying job and a business in town.
President Joe Biden: (14:03)
We just met with students at the HPAC workshop, ambitious, talented students who are up to taking the next step in their lives and with the skills they’re learning here. And some of the students will go on to be plumbers or members of pipefitters, Local 110, electricians. Look, it means higher union wages with guaranteed healthcare and pensions. And it’s kind of amazing.
President Joe Biden: (14:29)
One of the things I don’t know if you know, the First Lady of this state understands, she does and I’m positive, that an awful lot of folks who even get an opportunity to go to community college still can’t get there because of food, transportation, and those other costs. And so we’re going to increase Pell grants so they’re qualified. It will make a gigantic difference. It will make a gigantic difference.
President Joe Biden: (14:57)
By the way, I have to admit, if I didn’t have these positions, I’d be sleeping in the Lincoln bedroom rather than the President’s bedroom. But it really is how to start to transform the life and family and community and our economy by investing, investing in people here. Every child has the capacity to learn.
President Joe Biden: (15:18)
And if I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard from Jill a thousand times, “Joe, any country that out-educates us will outcompete us.” And that’s a fact, and she’ll be deeply involved in leading this effort as well.
President Joe Biden: (15:31)
The second thing, the American Families Plan is going to provide access to quality, affordable childcare, helping parents go back to work, providing a lifeline of benefits for children as they do better in school throughout their lives. It guarantees low and middle income families pay no more than 7% of their income for high quality care for children up to the age of five. And that makes a gigantic difference. There’s millions of women out of work today, not because they’re not qualified for the jobs they have-
President Joe Biden: (16:03)
… millions of women out of work today, not because they’re not qualified for the jobs they have, but that they can’t take care of their children and do their job. And the cost of childcare is extraordinary. I was a single father when I first got elected to the Senate. I had two young boys raised after their mom and sister were killed, and had I not had the family I had, I’d never been able to do it. And I’m not joking about that. And I was a Senator, I was making a decent salary. The most hard-pressed working families won’t have to spend a dime if in fact my plan works. If you’re low-income folks, you’ll be able to get childcare for free.
President Joe Biden: (16:39)
Third, the American Families Plan is going to finally provide up to 12 weeks of paid family medical leave. We’re one of the few industrialized countries in the entire world that doesn’t have this feature. No one should have to choose between a job and a paycheck, or taking care of themselves, their parent, their spouse, or a child that’s ill. They should have that opportunity. The fourth piece of the plan, the American Families Plan, puts money directly in the pockets of millions of Americans. In March, we extended the tax credit for low and middle-income families with children. Now, if I could hold a second here. If you make enough money and you’re paying taxes, you end up in a situation where you get to deduct $2,000 per child as a tax benefit. You don’t get it back, but you get to deduct it.
President Joe Biden: (17:30)
Well, if you’re a minimum wage worker, you’re not paying much tax. And if you’re making less than that, which many people are, you’re not paying any federal tax, so you get no benefit. So we put in place, and a number of my Republican colleagues share the view too, although none ended up voting for it, but I think they share it as well. That is, up to $3,000 per child six years and older, and $3,600 for a child that is under six years of age. That means two parents and two young kids, they get a check back from the government for $7,200 in their pockets, which they’re doing now, which can help them take care of your family, and it will benefit more than 65 million children, and all the data shows will cut child poverty in half this year. Cut it in half.
President Joe Biden: (18:23)
My plan extends the tax credit at least through the year 2025, because what’s going to happen in 2025, as the press knows, is the tax cuts of the last president expire, that put us $2 trillion in debt. Then we’re going to compete as to what tax credits there are. I think it’s about time we start giving tax breaks and tax credits to working-class families and middle-class families instead of just the very wealthy. And here’s what the American Families Plan doesn’t do. It doesn’t add a single penny to our deficit. It’s paid for by making sure corporate America and the wealthiest 1% just pay their fair share. I come from the corporate capital of the world. More corporations are incorporated in the State of Delaware than all the rest of the nation combined.
President Joe Biden: (19:14)
And I’m not anti-corporate, but it’s about time they start paying their fair share. It’s about making a choice. You know, we have out there this year, you have 50 corporations making $40 billion and didn’t pay a single penny in taxes. Not a single penny. I don’t want to punish anybody, but everybody should chip in, everybody should pay something along the road here. The choice is about who the economy serves, and so I plan on giving tax breaks to the working-class folks and making everybody pay their fair share. Here’s an example of that choice. If you ask the top 1% to pay the same tax rate they paid in 2001 when George Bush was president, that would generate $13 billion a year.
President Joe Biden: (20:02)
Now that’s enough for us to take around 11 billion of that 13 billion and provide for two years of community college free for every student in America. So what’s fair? Go from 36 to 39.6% like it used to be and be able to take care of … Just think about it in terms of what’s better for America, not Democrat, Republican. What’s going to grow America more? What’s going to grow America more? What’s going to make us more competitive, stronger? What’s going to make us better educated? So for folks at home, I’d like to ask a question. Do we want to give the wealthiest people in America another tax cut, or do you want to give every high school graduate the ability to earn a community college degree on their way to good-paying jobs, or on the way to four years of school in industries of the future, healthcare, IT, cybersecurity, you name it?
President Joe Biden: (20:59)
Look, another example. For too long we’ve had a two-tier tax system. Working families pay taxes they owe on the wages they earn, while some of the wealthiest Americans avoid paying anything close to that fair share. My plan revitalizes the capacity of the IRS to crack down on … There’s a number of studies from the former secretary of treasury on, that millionaires and billionaires are able to avoid taxes and cheat in avoiding those taxes because we have so few agents in the IRS. The consensus is, if you increase the disclosure requirements for banks and financial institutions on accounts of the wealthiest Americans to reduce tax cheating, you will have two steps. Two steps would recover $70 billion per year that currently goes unreported and unpaid.
President Joe Biden: (21:55)
Now, we’ve been hearing about this for the last 10 years. Instead of cutting the number of agents we should be increasing the number of agents. Not hounding anyone, just being able to get access to information, and shut down all the tax havens from the islands to … Anyway, I won’t go into it. I get a little carried away with this. But look, and we can take this money and pay for universal pre-K for every three and four year old in America. So what is better, making people just pay their fair share, paid family leave, childcare cost of working families maximum of 7% of their income? Again, it’s a choice. It’s more important to shield millionaires from paying their fair share, or is it more important that every child gets a real opportunity to succeed from an early age and ease the burden on working families?
President Joe Biden: (22:47)
Third, we have a loophole in our tax system called stepped-up basis. It’s also known as a trust fund loophole. For example, if I had a million dollars in stock that I bought, and it made a million dollars and I was going to cash it in, I’d have to pay capital gain on that million dollars. But if, God forbid, on the way … I go back to where I was, on the way to where we’re talking about, on the way to cash in my stock, I got hit by a car and got killed, I can leave it to my daughter and she pays no tax. A tax that was owed two seconds earlier.
President Joe Biden: (23:24)
It’s not an inheritance tax. It was a tax that was owed two seconds earlier. But that’s what stepped-up basis means. It’s a person passes away and leaves the stock in their son or daughter, son or daughter don’t have to pay anything on that multi-million dollar gain, and then they sell that stock, and that’s worth a lot of money. Look, it may be decent and honorable people they are, but the last thing Americans with their amount of wealth needs is another tax break. We need to make a choice from eliminate the loophole, for people only the gains above people making $2 million a year-
President Joe Biden: (24:02)
Only the gains above people making $2 million a year, or excuse me, a couple. A raise of the capital gains rate for people making more than a million dollars a year, which by the way, it would affect three-tenths of 1% of all taxpayers. Three tenths of 1% of the top 1%.
President Joe Biden: (24:18)
And close another loophole like the real estate investment, the wealthiest simply paying the same rate on their wages and investment income, that raises $40 billion a year for the next 10 years. The reason I’m bothering to do this is I keep hearing on the press, “Biden’s going to raise your taxes.” Anybody making less than $400,000 a year will not pay a single penny in taxes. And we will not increase the deficit either, unlike the last gigantic tax cut, which increased the deficit by $2 trillion.
President Joe Biden: (24:50)
It’s about balancing the system and growing the economy. It means wealthy investors will no longer pay lower marginal tax rates than their secretary pays, the secretary in their office. Do you want to know what that would do?
President Joe Biden: (25:04)
That would take that money and extend the life-changing middle-class tax cut and put it in place for the American Rescue Plan to expand childcare tax credit I mentioned earlier. That’s $1,700 in the pockets of a family with two kids for now through 2025.
President Joe Biden: (25:21)
Look, just closing these loopholes by taxing investment income at the same rate as wages for the wealthiest Americans would have enough to extend this again through 2025.
President Joe Biden: (25:34)
So, I ask again is the more important you keep these tax loopholes for millionaires? They’re good people. They’re not bad folks. Or would we rather put $7,200 in the pockets of working moms and dads every year if they have two children?
President Joe Biden: (25:48)
Folks, trickled down economics has never worked. For too long, we’ve added an economy that gives every break in the world to the folks who need it the least. It’s time to grow the economy from the bottom up and the middle out. We can choose to give hard working families a break, a tax break in effect. We can choose to invest in our students. We can choose an economy of rewards work, not just wealth.
President Joe Biden: (26:14)
And that chooses the choice I’m making and the vast majority of American people’s support is, let’s give people a shot. Given even half a chance, the American people have never, ever, ever let their country down. Imagine if we give them a full chance. Imagine what it would mean for them and their families and for our country.
President Joe Biden: (26:34)
We’re the United States of America. There’s nothing, nothing we’ve been unable to do when we do it together. So, let’s get together. Let’s get this done because the truth of the matter is that we can do this and grow the economy.
President Joe Biden: (26:49)
I won’t go off on all the other statistics, but the plan is estimated to grow the economy another trillion dollars. This will grow the economy. Everybody would be better off. So, I want to thank you all for doing your part here to make sure that not only you’re educating and giving people a real shot at a real life consistent with their talents and their capacities, not limited because they don’t have the money. And we’re going to give it to a lot more people.
President Joe Biden: (27:21)
I promise you. I promise you, America will be much stronger for it.
President Joe Biden: (27:26)
Because like I said, we’re setting out a universal education that wouldn’t just be 12 years anymore. It would be those 14 years, 16 years I’m talking about. Two to start and two at the other end. And as your state has done under your governor and your senator and your congresspersons, your state, if you get two years out of here, it’s two years towards a state university. You cut tuition in half for four year degrees, as well.
President Joe Biden: (27:55)
So, there’s an awful lot of possibilities, an awful lot of hope.
President Joe Biden: (27:59)
And the good news is, I think there’s overwhelming bipartisan support for this. If you look at the polling data, Republican voters overwhelmingly support it. Now I just got to get some of my Republican colleagues to support it.
President Joe Biden: (28:10)
So, thank you all, God bless you. And thank you for the work you’re doing. And may God protect our troops.
President Joe Biden: (28:16)
Thank you so much.
Speaker 1: (28:17)
Mr. President, [inaudible 00:28:23]
President Joe Biden: (28:28)
I think by the end of the summer, we’ll be in a very different position than we are now. As you know, I’ve worked very hard to make sure we have over 600 million doses of vaccine. We’re going to continue to make sure that’s available. We’re going to increase that number across the board as well, so we can also be helping other nations once we take care of all Americans.
President Joe Biden: (28:49)
And what’s happening now is, all the talk about how people were not going to get shots, they were not going to be involved. We were told that was most likely to be among people over 65 years of age.
President Joe Biden: (29:02)
But now people over 65 years of age, over 80% have now been vaccinated and 66% fully vaccinated. And there’s virtually no difference between White, Black, Hispanic, Asian American, because what we’ve done under some criticism is we have expanded access to vaccinations, to familiar places: 40,000 drug stores now, also all of the community health centers that are available all across the nation, mobile units going out.
President Joe Biden: (29:39)
And it’s getting better and better and better. And so that’s why we’re leading the world.
President Joe Biden: (29:44)
When I got elected, I said in the first 100 days, we’d get a hundred million people vaccinated. I was wrong. We got 230 million vaccinated, I think.
President Joe Biden: (29:51)
It’s interesting. I’ll end with this. There’s a debate into what constitutes herd immunity. Is it 70% of the population? Is it 68%? is it 81%?
President Joe Biden: (30:05)
The point is that right now, every single person, 16 years or older, doesn’t have to wait in line, can show up and get a vaccination.
President Joe Biden: (30:17)
Now, I plead everyone, get vaccinated now, please.
President Joe Biden: (30:22)