Dec 4, 2020
Joe Biden Speech on 2020 Job Numbers & Economy Transcript December 4
Joe Biden gave a speech on 2020 job numbers and the state of the economy on December 4. Read the transcript of his press conference remarks here.
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President Elect Joe Biden: (08:30)
Good afternoon, folks. Thanks for being here. Earlier today, the November jobs report was released and it was grim. It shows an economy that’s stalling and we remain in the midst of one of the worst economic and job crises in modern history. But it doesn’t have to stay that way. If we act now. Now, I mean now, we can begin to regain momentum and start to build back a better future. There’s no time to lose.
President Elect Joe Biden: (09:09)
Millions of people have lost their jobs or had their hours slashed. They’ve lost their health insurance or are in danger of losing their health insurance. One in every six renters is behind in rent. One in four small businesses can’t keep their doors open. And there’s a growing gap in Black and Latino unemployment and the gap remains much too large.
President Elect Joe Biden: (09:33)
And it’s deeply troubling that last month’s drop in overall unemployment was driven by people who were dropping out of the job market, not because more people were being hired. Dropping out of the job market altogether. They’ve lost hope of finding a job or they’ve taken full-time caregiving responsibilities as child centers remain closed and their children learn remotely.
President Elect Joe Biden: (09:57)
Over the past three months, 2. 3 million more people are long-term unemployed, meaning for 23 weeks or more. By far the largest increase on record. This is a dire jobs report. It’s a snapshot, I might remind you, up to mid-November. Before the surge in COVID cases many predicted and the deaths rise that we’ve seen in December, as we head into a very dark winter ahead. For example, since October, cities are down 21,000 educators, just as schools need more help in fighting against the pandemic. A couple of days ago, I spoke with a school crossing guard, a server, a restaurant owner and a stagehand. Good people. Honorable people. Decent, hard-working Americans from across the country. It reminded me of my dad, who lost-
President Elect Joe Biden: (11:03)
… across the country. It reminded me of my dad who lost his job in Scranton and eventually moved our family to Delaware, just outside of Wilmington, a place called Claymont. He used to say, you’ve heard me say it before, “Joey, I don’t expect the government to solve my problems, but I expect them at least to understand my problems.” The folks I’m talking about, the folks out there aren’t looking for a handout. They just need help. They are in trouble through no fault of their own. Nothing they did caused them to have hours cut or lose their job or drop out of the market. What they need, they need us to understand. We’re in a crisis. We need to come together as a nation. We need the Congress to act and act now.
President Elect Joe Biden: (11:49)
If Congress and President Trump fail to act by the end of December, 12 million Americans will lose their unemployment benefits they rely on. Merry Christmas. The unemployment they rely on to keep food on the table, keep the lights on and the heat on, pay their bills. Emergency paid leave will end. Moratorium on evictions will expire. States will lose the vital tools they need to pay for COVID testing and public health. Put yourselves in that position, anybody listening, laying awake at night, wondering what’s going to happen tomorrow. It’s going to be harder for states to keep children and educators safe in schools, to try to provide assistance to keep small businesses alive. States and cities are already facing large, large budget shortfalls this year. Again, through no fault of their own. They’ve already laid off more than a million workers. Even more teachers, firefighters, cops will lose their jobs unless federal government steps shut up now. All of this weakens our ability to control the virus if we don’t step up now.
President Elect Joe Biden: (13:06)
Emergency paid leave reduces the spread of COVID because it allows people to stay home when they’re sick. States and cities need funding to direct their COVID response, which is the only way we’re going to end the economic crisis as well, the only way we’re going to get people back to work. I’m not alone in saying this situation is urgent. If we don’t act now, the future will be very bleak.
President Elect Joe Biden: (13:36)
Americans need help and they need it now. And they need more to come early next year. But I must tell you, I am encouraged by the bipartisan efforts in the Senate around $900 billion package for relief. It’s a bipartisan effort. When Congress, as they work out the details of this relief package, they’re going to have to focus on resources for direct public health responses to COVID-19. We need meaningful funding for vaccines now. So don’t lose time and leave people waiting for additional months. We need serious funding for testing now. We need to ramp up testing to allow our schools and business to operate safely.
President Elect Joe Biden: (14:22)
The sooner we pass the funding, the sooner we can turn the corner on COVID-19. In the week since this election ended, there were questions about whether Democrats and Republicans could work together. I know many of you are skeptical about my view that they will and can. Right now, they are showing they can. Congress and President Trump have to get this deal done for the American people. But any package passed in the lame duck session is not going to be enough overall. It’s critical, but it’s just a start. Congress are going to need to act again in January.
President Elect Joe Biden: (15:04)
Earlier today, I consulted a number of my economic team, most of which have been announced by now, and Vice President Harris and I announced that team last week. As we inherit the public health and economic crisis, we’re working on a plan that we’ll put forward for the next Congress to move fast to control the pandemic, to revive the economy, and to build back better than before. We hope to see the same kind of spirit of bipartisanship and cooperation as we’re seeing today. Our plan is based on the input from a broad range of people the Vice President Elect and I have been meeting with since winning this election last month, labor leaders, the leading CEOs in the country, mayors and governors of both parties, parents, educators, workers, small business owners. There’s a consensus that as we battle COVID-19, we have to make sure the businesses and workers had the tools, the resources, and the guidance and the health and safety standards to keep businesses and schools open safely. It can be done. Because here’s the deal, the fight against COVID won’t be won in January alone. To truly end this crisis, Congress is going to need to fund more testing as well as a more equitable and free distribution of the vaccine. We need more economic relief to bridge through 2021 until this pandemic and economic crisis are over. And then we need to build back better. I’ve said it before. An independent analysis by Moody’s, a well-respected Wall Street firm, projects that my bill bag better plan would create 18.6 million good paying jobs. It’s based on a simple premise. Reward work in America, not wealth.
President Elect Joe Biden: (17:03)
We’re going to invest in infrastructure, clean energy and manufacturing, and so much more. We’ll create millions of good paying American jobs and get the job market back in the path to full employment. This will raise income, reduce drug prices, advance racial equity across the economy, and restore the backbone of this country, the middle-class.
President Elect Joe Biden: (17:26)
Look, the bottom line, it’s essential. We provide immediate relief for working families and businesses now, not just help them get to the other side of this painful crisis, but avoid a much broader economic cost due to long-term unemployment and businesses failing. By acting now, even with deficit financing, we can add to growth in the near future. In fact, economic research shows that with conditions like the crisis today, especially with such low interest rates, not taking action, the action I’m proposing, will hurt the economy, scar the workforce, reduce growth and add to the national debt.
President Elect Joe Biden: (18:12)
Look, I know times are tough. The challenges are daunting. But I know we can do this. We can create an economic recovery for all, for everybody. We can move from crisis to recovery and to resurgence. For Lord’s sake, this is the United States of America. We’ve done it before and we’ll do it again. We will. I promise you. So I thank the bipartisan group that is trying to put something together right now. We’re going to need more bipartisanship as we move on. God bless you guys and the women are doing this. God bless our country. And may God protect our troops. I’ll stop there and I’d be happy to take some questions.
Speaker 2: (19:07)
Mr. President Elect, one of the biggest tasks that you will have when you enter office is distributing a vaccine. Your team has started to meet with the Trump Administration to learn of their plans as you are set to inherit this task. Are you satisfied with the current plans that are underway for distributing that vaccine? Do you feel that the federal government is doing enough at this point? And what steps do you think need to be taken between now and when those first vaccines go out?
President Elect Joe Biden: (19:37)
Well, there’s a lot more that has to be done. They’ve clued us into their planning on how they plan to distribute the actual vaccine to the various states. But there is no detailed plan, that we’ve seen anyway, as to how you get the vaccine out of a container into an injection syringe into somebody’s arm. And it’s going to be very difficult for that to be done and it’s a very expensive proposition. For example, we agree with their priorities that they’ve laid out so far. I do, at least. My team is looking at it, of dealing with first responders and those in nursing homes and in home care, the first people on the list. But we also have to realize that we’re in a situation where there has to be some equity in the way this is distributed.
President Elect Joe Biden: (20:35)
And that requires, for example, right now we’re in a situation where you have the leading cause of death for all Americans this week is COVID-19. Well, blacks and Latinos are three times as likely to die if they get COVID-19. And so the communities of color, it’s a mass casualty event. And so we got to figure out how we make sure we get the vaccine to those communities, delivering large amounts of the vaccine to the Walmarts and other major drug chains does not get you into a lot of these neighborhoods. And it doesn’t guarantee that it gets around. So we got a lot of work to do. And the equity side of this has to be important part of distribution.
President Elect Joe Biden: (21:23)
In addition to that, the cost of actually getting the serum into an injection, into a needle into somebody’s arm costs a lot of money. It takes a lot of people. It takes a lot of folks to be able to get that done. And we have to have a much better way than we’ve seen thus far as to how it’s distributed. In some states, like the governor of Utah said, “Just deliver to the Capitol. I can take care of it,” in our conversation. Well, that could be true. But in large states like California, Texas, Illinois, Florida, et cetera, it’s just not that easy. There has to be an overall plan. That’s what we’re working on right now. And that’s why I-
President Elect Joe Biden: (22:03)
… Overall plan. That’s what we’re working on right now. And that’s why I asked Dr. Fauci to stay on and to be my chief advisor on this issue, but also to be part of the COVID team.
Speaker 2: (22:14)
And on your cabinet, you are facing a lot of pressure to add more diversity to your administration. You have civil rights groups and lawmakers pushing you to do this, to make sure that you make good on your promise. And you look at your cabinet announcement so far, and they have included some diverse figures. But I specifically want to hone in on those big four. And so far when it comes to secretary of state and treasury, you have nominated a white man and a white woman. So looking at attorney general and the department of defense, would you commit to nominating a person of color for those positions?
President Elect Joe Biden: (22:48)
Look, it’s each one of these groups’ jobs to push their leaders to make sure there’s a greater diversity. What I can promise you is when this is all said and done, you see everyone that I’ve announced and it was going to be in the next several weeks, we’ll have it all out there, you’re going to see significant diversity. I’m not going to tell you now exactly what I’m going to do in any department, but I promise you it will be the single most diverse cabinet based on race, color, based on gender, that’s ever existed in the United States of America.
Speaker 2: (23:21)
So no commitment on those spots?
President Elect Joe Biden: (23:23)
Commitment of what I just said. It’ll be the most diverse cabinet in the main spots in both White House, as well as the cabinet positions.
Speaker 2: (23:31)
Speaker 3: (23:36)
Thank you, Mr. President Elect. You just said a couple of minutes ago that there’s no time to waste when it comes to economic stimulus. But Democrats and Republicans have been in a stalemate for several months as they have been negotiating and trying to talk about what kind of stimulus to put together. You were elected by more than 80 million people to try to break that log jam. Can you talk about specifically what you have done over these past several weeks to actually work with Democrats and Republican speaking to congressional leaders to get them to agree on a stimulus package. And what do you say to people like Senator Sanders on the left flank of your party who have come out against this stimulus program already? They have said that this $900 billion deal is not good enough.
President Elect Joe Biden: (24:26)
Well, it would be kind of stupid for me to tell you what I did, wouldn’t it? Because it’d be kind of hard to do it again. I told you all that I was confident I can get a bipartisan agreement on this stuff. And I think we will not just on this package, but I think beyond. And the last thing I’m going to do is tell you strategically how I go about this. I remember I used to get asked the same thing when I was putting together significant deals between Democrats and Republicans when I was a Senator and vice-president. It’s just not a very smart thing for… It’s like me asking you, “Tell me how you get your sources and how’d you get those sources you’ve got in order to get that story?” That would be ridiculous for you to tell me or your colleagues how you did it.
President Elect Joe Biden: (25:11)
All I can say is I’m confident there are a sufficient number of Democrats and Republicans in the United States Senate, along with significant votes coming out of the House of Representatives, to put together a serious package that will keep us from going off the edge here, provide the kind of resources have needed immediately. It’s not going to satisfy everybody, but the option is if you insist on everything, we’re likely to get nothing on both sides. And so I think they’re on their way to being able to come up with a package that meets the basic, immediate needs that we have. But I’ve made it real clear, it’s just a down payment. This is not the end of the deal. So I’ve been relatively good at negotiating over my career because I never, number one, reveal something somebody doesn’t want me to in the deal, and number two because I’m always keep my word.
Speaker 3: (26:10)
There are a number of progressives, including Senator Sanders, who have criticized this deal. In part, because it does not include the $1,200 checks that were in the last deal. What do you say about that? They say that the American people who are hurting, maybe not the small businesses, but just the everyday families, they don’t have anything in this deal. They’re not getting any of the stimulus that’s in this $900 billion package.
President Elect Joe Biden: (26:32)
Well, that’s not what I understand, but I think it would be better if they had the $1,200 and I understand that may be still in play. But I’m not going to comment on the specific details. The whole purpose of this is we’ve got to make sure people aren’t thrown out of their apartments, lose their homes, are able to have unemployment insurance they can continue to feed their families on as we grow back the economy, be in a position where we provide for help to localities so they’re not continuing to lay off school teachers and firefighters, et cetera, first responders, and to make sure we’re in a position that we’re able to generate the kind of growth that is a consequence of this by allowing…
President Elect Joe Biden: (27:14)
It costs a lot of money to keep schools and businesses open on the COVID side of the equation. They’re all pieces that should be in there. There’s much more if I were writing it, I think the proposal that quite frankly, the HEROES act that the house passed, that’s what I would support. But this is a democracy and you’ve got to find a sweet spot where you have enough people willing to move in a direction that gets us a long way down the road, but isn’t the whole answer.
Speaker 3: (27:43)
President Elect Joe Biden: (27:43)
Speaker 4: (27:51)
Thank you, Mr. President elect. You are describing this compromised bill as a down payment, that you’ll push Congress to do more once you’re in office. But this bill is already more than Republican leaders want to spend. What if this isn’t a down payment? What if this bill is it? What are your options then to get Americans additional relief?
President Elect Joe Biden: (28:10)
I never start off thinking that way. I always start off, “We can get it done and we’ll get it done.”
Speaker 4: (28:16)
But it’s been more than six months this fight has been going on. Mitch McConnell still hasn’t even signed off yet on this compromised bill. What makes you so confident that you will be able to get Republicans to go big once you’re in office?
President Elect Joe Biden: (28:28)
Well, because the country is going to be in dire, dire, dire straits if they don’t
Speaker 4: (28:34)
Have you reached out to leader McConnell? Have the two of you spoken yet?
President Elect Joe Biden: (28:39)
We’ll be in dire trouble if we don’t get cooperation, I believe we will.
Speaker 4: (28:43)
Speaker 5: (28:52)
Thank you, Mr. President elect. You noted today that one in six renters are behind in their rent, millions of Americans remain unemployed, you say the situation is urgent. When you come into office, you expect to pass executive orders dealing with those specific issues. And also, do you at all plan to pass trillions of dollars of aid? Is that what you have in mind when you say we need to go big? Or are we looking at billions of dollars?
President Elect Joe Biden: (29:19)
We’re looking at hundreds of billions of dollars. And look, again, I’ve learned after hanging around in this business for a while, the last thing you do before you begin a negotiation is lay down a drop dead marker. “And if it’s not this, I’m not going to talk to you.” I think there’s a lot we can get done and I think people are going to see the overwhelming necessity. What’s going to start to happen is a lot of folks who represent Republican districts are going to find their Republican neighbors are in real trouble as things get worse. They’re going to find that a there’s an overwhelming need as these numbers skyrocket. You remember my saying that I believe the experts, we’d have at least another 250 dead before the end of the year? And they went, “Oh, no.” Guess what? Look what’s happening.
President Elect Joe Biden: (30:12)
It’s going to get much worse. It’s going to get much worse. And so I believe that there are enough Republicans who will join enough Democrats in the United States Senate to get a majority along with the House to get it done. But we’ll see. We’ll see, this is a step at a time.
Speaker 5: (30:30)
And on executive orders?
President Elect Joe Biden: (30:32)
Well, [inaudible 00:30:34] executive orders that are totally within the purview of an executive. But one of the things I don’t like is I don’t like people saying that I can, by executive order, to do the following things, which there is no basis in the constitution suggested can be done. So there are certain things I can do. I can issue executive orders, pulling back some of the executive orders that Trump put forward. But I can’t issue an executive order saying, “We’re going to spend X billion dollars on this issue,” without getting the Congress appropriates and who’s responsible for distributing that money.
Speaker 5: (31:09)
And then quickly on the coronavirus vaccine, you talked about getting it into African-American and vulnerable populations. You said yourself that you’re willing to get the vaccine publicly to get people to feel safe, but there are people already telling me, “Well, president elect Biden has good healthcare. If there’s some complications, he might have better healthcare than me, African-Americans around the country.” What more can you do to convince people that the vaccine is safe for them? And does that mean you’ll at all lean on any existing members of the corona task force? I know that you have committed to keeping Dr. Fauci, but is there Dr. Birx? Is there anyone else that you might be leaning on to convince people?
President Elect Joe Biden: (31:45)
There are a lot of people I’m looking to convince people in the task force and the task force will continue to be expanded with really fine people. And look, I think actions of presidents matter, and I’m going to say something that I think the African-American community, Latino community have known, and I’ve never misrepresented anything to them. And that if, as you all keep pointing out, I’m the oldest president ever elected, although I’m actually only 47. But all kidding aside, I think that my taking the vaccine and people seen me take that vaccine is going to give some confidence. But I said early on, you may remember, I think you may have asked me the question, I may be mistaken. But I said early on that I think one of the things that bothers me the most is by the wild assertions the administration is making about how this was going to go away and inject bleach and all those kinds of things. It was diminishing confidence across the board and the American people overall. But particularly in this administration with the African-American and Latino community, what I hear from my friends in the community and-
President Elect Joe Biden: (33:03)
… the African-American Latino community. What I hear from my friends in the community, not but blocks from here as we stand, is that we’re not going to be the guinea pigs. We’re not going to be the guinea pigs. Well, the fact of the matter is that they won’t be.
President Elect Joe Biden: (33:14)
You’re going to see tens of millions of Americans taking the vaccine, and you’re going to see the President of United States and three of the four living former Presidents doing it publicly as well.
President Elect Joe Biden: (33:26)
It’s going to take some effort to rebuild confidence in science, because it’s been so diminished in this administration thus far. But I will. And by the way, in the meantime, I’m going to make sure that the vaccine is both free and available, and that any follow up on the vaccine is free and available that relates to any health complications from it. So there’s ways we can deal with some of these issues. Biden has good healthcare, but I don’t have good healthcare. That’s another thing we’re working on from day one. I’ve been working on it at this moment. And so my hope is that we can reinstill some confidence and be able to believe the President of the United States when he or she speaks.
Speaker 6: (34:22)
President Elect Joe Biden: (34:23)
Thank you very much.
Speaker 7: (34:23)
Mr. Vice President, Michael from [inaudible 00:34:27].
Thank you, Mr. President-elect. A lot of people are wondering what your inauguration is going to look like considering-
President Elect Joe Biden: (34:36)
So am I.
… considering that we are still in the middle of the Coronavirus pandemic. So I’d like to hear what you envision for the inauguration. Do you expect a scaled-down event? You still planning to take the oath on the West front of the Capitol? Will there be a parade, will there be balls? What do you envision for your integration?
President Elect Joe Biden: (34:55)
Well, first and foremost thing is we’re going to follow again, the science and the recommendation of the experts on keeping people safe. So it is highly unlikely there’ll be a million people on the Mall, going all the way down to the Memorial.
President Elect Joe Biden: (35:15)
I think we’ll see. We’re in discussion with the House leadership and the Senate leadership as to what they plan for the inauguration, particularly those 200,000 spots they control. But I think you’re going to see something that’s closer to what the convention was like than the typical inauguration.
President Elect Joe Biden: (35:38)
First and foremost, my objective is keep America safe, but still allow people to celebrate. To celebrate and see one another celebrating. And so we’re in consultation. My team is in consultation with folks who help us put on the convention as well as with our colleagues, Republican and Democratic colleagues in charge of the inauguration.
President Elect Joe Biden: (36:02)
My guess is there probably will not be a gigantic inaugural parade down Pennsylvania Avenue. But my guess is you’ll see a lot of virtual activity in states all across America, engaging even more people than before. But that’s in train now. And I’m not in a position to give you an example of exactly what it will look like. But I promise you, it’ll be available either virtually or in person for many. And my guess is it’ll still be some, there’ll still be a platform ceremony, but I don’t know exactly how it’s all going to work out. The key is keeping people safe.
President Elect Joe Biden: (36:48)
I can’t do a super version of the President’s announcement in the Rose Garden nationwide. So it’s going to have to be more imaginative. But I think, like I said, I think the convention we put on really opened up avenues that we never thought existed.
President Elect Joe Biden: (37:12)
And I doubt whether there’ll be another democratic, at least the democratic convention, that it’s a straight like it always has been. I think we include more people. People want to celebrate. People want to be able to say, we’ve passed the baton. We’re moving on. Democracy has functioned. I wish I could tell you more, but as those decisions are made, they’ll be announced.
Okay. And I also wanted to ask you about your relationship with Senator McConnell. I know the two of you have a long history of actually working together on various deals.
Have you talked to him since the election, and given the partisan nature of Congress right now, how do you convince him that it’s in America’s best interest to work with you going forward?
President Elect Joe Biden: (37:56)
I don’t think I have to convince him of that. He knows me. He knows I’m as straight as an arrow when I negotiate. He knows I keep commitments and I never attempt to embarrass the opposition.
President Elect Joe Biden: (38:16)
There are some things that I think are just ready for the kind of compromise that Democrats and Republicans are prepared to engage in absent the present President of the United States’ attitudes on some of these issues. Infrastructure, dealing with health issues, dealing with the fight against cancer, dealing with education. I think there’s a number of things.
President Elect Joe Biden: (38:46)
As I said before, we’ve got to take the vitriol out of politics. I know there’s a lot of people on both sides who want to continue to go after and punish the opposition. I get that. I get the fact that an awful lot of Americans are disappointed I was elected President.
President Elect Joe Biden: (39:08)
Fortunately, there’s 7 million more that were happy than disappointed, but I get that. And there’s a lot of Democrats who are angry and want to strike back at republicans. What I’ve said from the beginning, and I think I’ve conducted myself this way throughout my career. I learned that early lesson. It’s always appropriate to question other man or woman’s judgment, but never their motive.
President Elect Joe Biden: (39:34)
Once you question their motive, then in fact, there’s no way to get to go. You’re in the pocket of the cement industry, let’s do a deal on highways. With no possibility. And so when I’ve dealt with Mitch McConnell in the past as a Vice President or as a Senator, we haven’t engaged in that activity. It doesn’t mean we can get to an agreement.
President Elect Joe Biden: (39:57)
I’m not asking anybody to abandon their principles, but I do think it makes no sense to engage in vitriol and trying to get the place where I can’t believe that a majority of the Republicans don’t understand we need a new infrastructure in America.
President Elect Joe Biden: (40:13)
If there was nothing to do with jobs or a green economy, there’s too many bridges that are going to collapse. Too many roads in disrepair. Too many Republican states that every time it floods, their water systems are polluted. These are common problems and I’m confident, it’s going to be hard, but I’m confident we can get to agreement on a number of things that will be of consequence. Thank you all so very, very much.
Speaker 8: (40:42)
President Elect Joe Biden: (40:42)
Is that it? Thank you. Appreciate it. Thank you. [crosstalk 00:40:47].
Speaker 8: (40:42)
[inaudible 00:40:49]. Do you think the COVID vaccine should be mandatory?
President Elect Joe Biden: (40:50)
No, I don’t think it should be mandatory. I wouldn’t demand it to be mandatory, but I would do everything in my power, just like I don’t think mass have to be made mandatory nationwide, I’ll do everything in my power as the President of United States to encourage people to do the right thing.
President Elect Joe Biden: (41:05)
And when they do it, demonstrate that it matters. That’s why I said in my inaugural speech, I’m going to ask people to commit for 100 days to wear a mask. Not because I’m asking it for any reason to punish. This is not a political issue. It’s become one.
President Elect Joe Biden: (41:23)
But if people do it for 100 days in the middle of what will be still a raging crisis, and the vaccine is able to be distributed, they are going to see deaths drop off the edge. They’re going to see hundreds of thousands of people not getting sick.
President Elect Joe Biden: (41:39)
And my hope is they’ll be then inclined to say, okay, it’s worth the patriotic duty to go ahead and protect other people. Thank you all so very much. Thank you.