Nov 16, 2020
Joe Biden Speech on Economic Recovery Plan Transcript November 16
President-elect Joe Biden gave remarks about his economic recovery plan on November 16. He said, “more people may die,” if Donald Trump will not cooperate on the transfer of power. Read the transcript of the press conference speech here.
Transcribe Your Own Content
Try Rev and save time transcribing, captioning, and subtitling.
Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris: (00:49)
Good afternoon. President-Elect Biden and I just met with some of our nation’s business and union leaders. Together, they represent millions of workers across our country and some of America’s leading technology, auto, and retail companies. We had an important conversation about the impact that this pandemic has had on workers, especially essential workers, frontline workers who have risked their own health and the health of their families, and many whom have given their own lives to keep us safe and keep our economy running. And we all know that this pandemic and this recession have hit communities of color particularly hard. Black Americans and Latinos are three times as likely to contract COVID as others and more likely to die. Native Americans are more than four times as likely to be hospitalized as others. And last month, the unemployment rate for Black Americans was almost twice the rate of others.
Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris: (01:56)
And we have also had a conversation about the impact this pandemic has had on our economy as a whole, from the Fortune 500 to the small businesses that so many communities rely on. Over the past few months on the campaign trail, the president-elect and I saw that impact firsthand. In state after state, we met with workers who shared their struggles and told us about their pain. Essential workers who have had to stay on the job, even as they worry about their family’s well-being and their own. Small business owners, who are dipping into their own savings to make payroll and keep their doors open. And many others who have had to close their doors and fear never reopening at all. Their stories have stayed with us, and the president-elect and I are focused on building our country back better for them and all Americans.
Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris: (02:59)
And as I said the night we won this election, now is when the real work begins, the necessary work, the good work of getting this virus under control, saving lives, and beating this pandemic and opening our economy responsibly, while rebuilding it, so that it works for working people. And we will do it by protecting the health and safety of our workers and creating millions of good-paying union jobs from auto and construction jobs, to domestic workers and caregiving jobs, to service and hospitality jobs.
Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris: (03:41)
The road ahead, it will not be easy, but the president-elect and I are hitting the ground running because we all know the challenges facing America today are great. The American people deserve no less, and we don’t have a moment to waste. And now, it is my incredible and great honor to introduce our President-Elect Joe Biden.
President-Elect Joe Biden: (04:06)
Thank you very much. Good afternoon. Vice President Harris and I, as she indicated, just met with a group of America’s top business leaders and labor leaders. And I must tell you, it reinforced what I thought from the beginning – we’re ready to come together. The unity was astounding. I want to go back and talk about the people who actually participated in that. I’m going to list all the people, just so you know who we spoke with. Number one, there was Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors, Brian Cornell, CEO of Target, Mr. Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, Rory Gamble, president of the UAW, Mary Kay Henry, president SCIU, Mark Perrone, president of the UFCW, Lee Saunders, president of AFSCME and Sonia Syngal, president of Gap, Richard Trumka president of the AFL-CIO.
President-Elect Joe Biden: (05:23)
It was really encouraging, quite frankly, to get people, business and labor, together agreeing on the way forward, which I’m convinced the American people will rally to do when they hear what we have in mind. And I’m very pleased it all came together around the same table to advance areas of common ground. And we agreed we’re going to continue these conversations. They represent very different perspectives, but I’m convinced that we can all come together around the same table to advance areas of common ground, which are really, I wish you could have all heard the conversation. It was really encouraging, and that’s what we were ready to discuss today.
President-Elect Joe Biden: (06:05)
We all agreed that we want to get the economy back on track. We need our workers to be back on the job by getting the virus under control. We’re going in a very dark winter. Things are going to get much tougher before they get easier. And that requires sparing no effort to fight COVID so that we can open our businesses safely, resume our lives and put this pandemic behind us. It’s going to be difficult, but it can be done.
President-Elect Joe Biden: (06:29)
And they all agreed that means rallying the country behind a national strategy with robust public health measures like mandatory masking, widely available testing with rapid results, scaled up production of life-saving treatments and therapeutics, and safe, equitable, and free distribution of the vaccine. It’s great news that Moderna and Pfizer have each come up with vaccines that are in excess of 90% effectiveness. And getting the vaccine and a vaccination, though, are two different things. Everyone on our call today, in our Zoom today, agreed that the sooner we have access to the administration’s distribution plan, the sooner this transition would be smoothly, move forward.
President-Elect Joe Biden: (07:14)
And you know, as we battle COVID what have to make sure that business and workers have the tools, the resources, the national guidance and health and safety standards to operate safely. And we can do that. We can bring Democrats and Republicans together, work with business and labor to deliver those necessary resources. And for millions of Americans who’ve lost hours and wages, or have lost their jobs, we all agreed on our call that we can deliver immediate relief and it need be done quickly. Affordable healthcare for millions of people who have lost it, or are in danger of losing it. Childcare, sick leave, family leave, so workers don’t have to choose between work and family. Corporate America agreed on this today, the folks on the call.
President-Elect Joe Biden: (08:02)
We need to support small businesses and entrepreneurs that are the backbone of our communities but are teetering on the edge. And we all agreed on the urgent need for funding for States and localities to keep frontline workers and essential workers on the job, vital public services, running law enforcement offices, educators, first responders, like we did with The Recovery Act of 2009, saving literally millions of jobs.
President-Elect Joe Biden: (08:31)
There’s a reason why the federal government is able to run a deficit. Because the States must, must balance their budgets. And they’re in real trouble. You’re going to see hundreds of thousands of police officers, firefighters, first responders, mental health clinics, you’re going to see them going out of business. Right now, Congress should come together and pass a COVID relief package like The Heroes Act that the House passed six months ago. Once we shut down the virus and deliver economic-
President-Elect Joe Biden: (09:03)
… months ago. Once we shut down the virus and deliver economic relief to workers and businesses, then we can start to build back better than before. We talked about how we have an opportunity to come out of this stronger, more resilient than we were when we went in, and I wish you could have heard corporate leaders and the major labor leaders singing from the same hymnal here. Throughout the campaign, I laid out my Build Back Better plan. We laid out a plan that an independent analysis put out by Moody’s, a well-respected Wall Street firm, projected would create 18.6 million jobs. We talked about the need to own the electric vehicle market. We talked about climate a lot, building 550,000 charging stations, creating over a million good-paying union jobs here at home. The need for a federal government to invest more in clean energy research.
President-Elect Joe Biden: (10:03)
It’s based on a simple premise, it’s time to reward work, not just wealth in America. We’re going to have a fair tax structure that makes sure the wealthiest among us and corporations pay their fair share. Our plan will create millions of good-paying union jobs in manufacturing, building the vehicles, products, technologies that we’re going to need for the future to compete with the rest of the world. From autos to our stockpiles, we’re going to buy American. No government contract will be given to companies that don’t make their products here in America. To secure our position as a global leader in research and development, we’re going to invest $300 billion in the most critical, competitive new industries in technologies creating 3 million good-paying jobs. And the corporate American technology firms like Microsoft on the call, they all agreed. We can make sure a future is made here in America. And that’s good for business and it’s good for American workers.
President-Elect Joe Biden: (11:08)
We can also modernize infrastructure, roads, bridges, ports. 1.5 million new affordable housing units. High-speed broadband, we talked about, for every American household, which is more important than ever for remote learning, remote working, telemedicine in 21st century. Building a digital infrastructure to help businesses, healthcare workers, first responders and students. A hundred billion dollars to rebuild our crumbling schools. They talked about the need, the business community, talked about the need to invest in HBCUs and community colleges. Retrofitting 4 million new buildings, our old buildings, retrofitting them and making them new. Weatherizing 2 million homes. Building more climate resilient cities and towns. These investments will specifically target communities of colors so we can break the cycle where in good times they lag, and in a bad times, they get hit first and the hardest and in a recovery, it’s the toughest to bounce back. These are the kinds of investments that are going to strengthen our economy and our competitiveness, create millions of jobs, union jobs, and in doing so, respect the dignity of work and empower the voice of workers.
President-Elect Joe Biden: (12:26)
You’ve heard me say it before. My dad, when he lost his job in Scranton, eventually moved to Wilmington and got a good job. He’d say, Joey, a job’s about a lot more than a paycheck. It’s about your dignity, respect, your place in the community. It’s about being able to look your kid in the eye and say, honey, everything’s going to be okay. When we build back better, we’ll do so with higher wages, including a $15 minimum wage nationwide, better benefits, stronger collective bargaining rights that you could raise a family on. That’s how we build back the middle-class better than ever. That’s how we make sure workers are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve. I can go on. I can tell I was very encouraged by our conversation, but the point is this: there’s so much we can do. The only way we do any of this is if we work together. I know we can do this.
President-Elect Joe Biden: (13:24)
For example, on the call, I made it clear to the corporate leaders. I said, I want you to know I’m a union guy. Unions are going to have increased power. It is not, they understand. It’s not anti-business. It’s about economic growth, creating good-paying jobs. 11 years ago when Barack and I took office during the great recession and implemented the recovery act that saved us from another Great Depression. We didn’t see a map in red and blue states – it was the United States of America. We didn’t care whether the city had voted for us or against us, the state voted for us or against us. We work with everyone and we recovered and rebuilt together as one nation. We can do this again. Refusal of Democrats and republics to cooperate with one another is not due to some mysterious force beyond our control. It’s a conscious decision. It’s a choice that we make.
President-Elect Joe Biden: (14:24)
If we can decide not to cooperate, then we can decide to cooperate. I believe this is in part, a mandate for American people. Part of the mandate they gave us. They want us to cooperate. They want us to deliver results. And the choice that Kamala and I will make is that we’re going to do that. That’s why I’m so pleased today we were able to bring together business and labor leaders to make the choice jointly with us. We’re all Americans. Let’s get to work. As I’ve said, many times. Thank you. May God bless you. And may God protect our troops. I understand now I’m going to take some questions, Megan, fire away.
Speaker 1: (15:11)
Thank you, President-Elect Biden, vice president-elect.
President-Elect Joe Biden: (15:13)
I’m looking in the wrong direction, sorry.
Speaker 1: (15:15)
Good to see you. I’m going to start with a question about your pandemic planning and then a question about your economic plan. You spoke about the need to access the outgoing administration’s COVID vaccine distribution plans. What do you see as the biggest threat to your transition right now, given President Trump’s unprecedented attempt to obstruct and delay a smooth transfer of power?
President-Elect Joe Biden: (15:35)
More people may die, if we don’t coordinate. Look, as my chief of staff, Ron Klain would say, who handled Ebola, the vaccine is important. It’s of little use until you’re vaccinated. So how do we get the vaccine? How do we get over 300 million Americans vaccinated? What’s the game plan? It’s a huge, huge, huge undertaking to get it done, prioritize those with greatest need and working our way through it, and also cooperate with the World Health Organization and the rest of the world in dealing with this. And so they say they have this Warp Speed program that the not only dealt with getting vaccines, but also how to distribute this. If we have to wait until January 20th to start that planning, it puts us behind over a month, month and a half. And so it’s important that it be done, that there be coordination now. Now as rapidly as we can get that done.
Speaker 1: (16:39)
On the economy, the vice president-elect talked about having an economy that works for working people. One thing I didn’t hear you talk specifically about is canceling student loan debt. Does student loan forgiveness figure in your plan, would you take executive action to achieve it?
President-Elect Joe Biden: (16:54)
It does figure in my plan. I’ve laid out in detail. For example, the legislation passed by the democratic house calls for immediate $10,000 forgiveness of student loans. It’s holding people up. They’re in real trouble. They’re having to make choices between paying their student loan and paying the rent, those kinds of decisions. It should be done immediately. In addition to that, as you know, I think that everything from community college straight through to doubling Pell grants, to making sure that we have access to free education for anyone making under $125,000 for four years of college. And there is a program that exists now under the law that forgives student loans for being able to engage in public service. I’m going to institute that fundamental change in that so it’s able to be available to everyone, that in fact, is engaged. It’s not being very well managed right now. So I’m going to do all of those things. Thank you.
Speaker 2: (17:57)
Thank you, Mr. President-elect. You just spoke of some of the dangers of the president’s continued stonewalling of this transition, but it doesn’t appear that the-
… of the President’s continued stonewalling of this transition, but it doesn’t appear that the President is going to come around anytime soon and admit defeat. So what are you going to do? What options do you have to try and ensure that you are ready to go on day one?
President-Elect Joe Biden: (18:14)
Deal with every individual organization in the country, from business, to labor, Republicans and Democrats, to try to pull together a serious and consistent plan so we’re ready on day one. Everything from staffing to ultimately naming the cabinet members, to moving along on coordinating with business and labor, the COVID attack, how we’re going to attack COVID. And, so it would make it a lot easier if the President were to participate. You have a number of Republicans suggesting that. The good news here is my colleague is still on the Intelligence Committee, so she gets the intelligence briefings. I don’t anymore. So that is, but there’s a number of Republicans calling for that. I am hopeful that the President will be mildly more enlightened before we get to January 20th.
And what is your message to Republicans who are backing up the President’s refusal to concede? You clearly need to work with them going forward.
President-Elect Joe Biden: (19:25)
My message is, I will work with you. I understand a lot of your reluctance because of the way the President operates, but I’ve been in contact with and will be in contact with more of them as we move along. And if it has to wait until January 20th to actually become operational, that’s a shame, but maybe that’s the only way to get it done. Thank you very much, Mary.
Speaker 3: (20:01)
Thank you very much, Mr. President-elect. I want to kind of piggyback off of that. I want to get your thoughts on the President’s tweet over the weekend, where he first seemed to acknowledge that you won, then he said he won’t concede, then he said, “I won.” How did you interpret that? And at the end of the day, do you want him to concede?
President-Elect Joe Biden: (20:22)
I interpret that as Trumpianism. No change in his modus operandi, and I think the pressure will continue to build. Look, I’m having a lot of meetings with world leaders on the telephone. I can not get into negotiating with them about things that are going to be done, but they’re calling with some degree of enthusiasm. Everyone from our Holy Father to prime ministers across the globe. And so we’re along knowing what the outcome will be, and as I said earlier, and I probably shouldn’t repeat it, but I find this more embarrassing for the country than debilitating for my ability to get started.
Speaker 3: (21:18)
And then secondly, I want to follow up with you on the vaccine. If the FDA gives emergency authorization to the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine in the coming weeks, will you get vaccinated? And if you’re hesitant, why should any American have confidence in the vaccine?
President-Elect Joe Biden: (21:35)
Well, first of all, we’ll see if that comes forward. And secondly, it’s important that people who are in the greatest need get it. I wouldn’t hesitate to get the vaccine, but I also want to set an example. But I wouldn’t hesitate to get the vaccine if in fact Dr. Fauci and these two organizations, whether it’s Moderna or Pfizer, who have been extremely responsible, conclude that it is safe and able to be done.
President-Elect Joe Biden: (22:14)
Look, the only reason people question the vaccine now is because of Donald Trump. That’s the reason why people are questioning the vaccine, because all of the things he says and doesn’t say, whether, “Is it truthful? Is it not truthful?” The exaggerations. I think we’re on a clear path now. We’re on a clear path with the international community and national leaders in the scientific community have focused on these two vaccines. They appear to be ready for prime time, ready to be used, and if that continues on those roads. I would take the vaccine.
Speaker 3: (22:48)
Speaker 4: (22:48)
Speaker 5: (22:54)
Thank you, Mr. President-elect. You have been urging the American public to continue practicing social distancing and wearing a mask, but with cases skyrocketing across the country, do you think that more governors should be closing non-essential businesses and reinstating stay at home orders?
President-Elect Joe Biden: (23:12)
Look, it depends on the state. What I failed to mention earlier is the enormous respect I have for Republican, conservative Republican governors who have stepped up and issued mandates for wearing masks. In North Dakota. One of the leaders in this area has been the Republican Governor in Ohio. And in addition to the folks who have already been leading, like the governor of Michigan, the idea that the President’s now existing remaining advisor on COVID is saying that they should resist.
President-Elect Joe Biden: (23:59)
What the hell is the matter with these guys? What is the matter with them? Resist? You know, every major individual of any consequence in the health field is saying, “We can save 100,000 lives just between now and January 21 by wearing these masks.” It’s going to take a while for the vaccine to be able to be available, distributed, and get to people. We’re talking about 350,000 to 400,000 people dying. What are they doing? It’s totally irresponsible. Irresponsible. And so I compliment the governors who’ve stepped forward, who have been stepping forward, but also the Republican governors who stepped forward. I left out the Governor of Utah, very conservative state, Governor of North Dakota, and all the Democratic governors who have been doing it all along.
President-Elect Joe Biden: (24:56)
I just ask a rhetorical question. Do you guys understand this? Does anybody understand why a governor would turn this into a political statement? It’s about patriotism. It’s about being patriotic. It’s about saving lives. For real. It’s not hyperbole. It’s about being patriotic. And I think you’re seeing more and more as this god awful virus continues to spread almost unabated that governors are stepping up.
Speaker 5: (25:34)
And just following up on that, especially with many states reporting new highs in terms of the daily number of cases, and a lot of public health officials sounding the alarm over the holidays, what is your message to people who are considering, for example, getting together with their families and others for Thanksgiving? Would you urge people to reconsider their plans?
President-Elect Joe Biden: (25:55)
Well, here’s what I’d do. Let me tell you what the health experts have said to me. And it’s not because I’m unique and President-elect. It’s because of my family. They strongly urge that if in fact we’re going to have Thanksgiving with anyone, that we limit it to a maximum, maximum, they suggest five people, maximum 10 people, socially distanced, wearing masks. And people who have quarantined. So Jill and I spent this morning, like many of you, trying to figure out, “What are we going to do for Thanksgiving? How are we going to do it?” And we’ve narrowed down which family members, and that they were tested, recently tested, within 24 hours. And so I would strongly urge for the sake, not just your sake, for the sake of your children, your mother, your father, your sisters, your brothers, whoever you get together with at Thanksgiving, think about this. There should be no group more than 10 people in one room, I mean, inside the homes. That’s what they’re telling me. They’re telling me they’re making sure-
President-Elect Joe Biden: (27:03)
That’s what they’re telling me. They’re telling me, they’re making sure that that’s the case. And I have the more potent mask behind this one, I took it off when I came out here, I wear it inside this, that to be masked saves lives.
President-Elect Joe Biden: (27:17)
And so, look, I just want to make sure that we’re able to be together next Thanksgiving, next Christmas. It is an international crisis. It’s an international health crisis. And the idea, we’re at war with a virus. And it is, we’re at war, for real.
President-Elect Joe Biden: (27:42)
And all kidding aside, I hope all of you, I’ve watched you all. You all seem to wear masks all the time when you’re… And the group that follows me, that is here… Follows me, that is assigned to Delaware with me, seem to do that. I strongly urge you to do it. There’s nothing much about not wearing a mask.
Speaker 6: (28:03)
Speaker 7: (28:12)
Thank you, Mr. President-Elect, Madam Vice President-Elect. Your plan… My mask is stuck in my earring. Classy. Hold on a second. Demonstrating for America. [crosstalk 00:28:22]
President-Elect Joe Biden: (28:22)
I’ve watched Jill try to take it off. It’s hard. Thank God I don’t have an earring.
Speaker 7: (28:26)
Your plan that you’ve outlined just now about a million union jobs, clean energy jobs, investments in HBCUs, those are things that take time. We have a problem with long-term unemployment that’s growing fast right now. What would you do right away, specifically to address jobs that may not return for months, may not return ever, including in communities of color?
President-Elect Joe Biden: (28:52)
What I would do, I would pass the Heroes Act. It has all the money and capacity to take care of each of those things, now. Now, not tomorrow. Now.
President-Elect Joe Biden: (29:04)
And the idea the President is still playing golf and not doing anything about it, is beyond my comprehension. You’d at least think he’d want to go off on a positive note, but what is he doing? And there’s virtually no discussion. And the Republican were told, I don’t know that it’s true, you may know Senator, but there’s 22 Republicans say they won’t vote for anything.
President-Elect Joe Biden: (29:29)
Well, there ought to be at least a dozen of them have the courage to stand up and save lives and jobs now. We should be doing it now. Keeping those businesses open, providing the PPE, the protective equipment, as well as the PPP, the money that we allow people to get funding to keep their businesses open, everything from separation, to testing, to a whole range of things that allow businesses to open and stay open. That’s what the plan was at the beginning. And by the way, if you notice in the very beginning, when they passed the stimulus program, the first two pieces, what happened? Businesses were staying open. And then when they weren’t open, they were still able to make people able to get paid.
President-Elect Joe Biden: (30:15)
But look where they are now. People are running out of unemployment insurance. What are they going to do? 20 million people are on the verge of losing their home because they can’t make a mortgage payment. You have a larger number being kicked out, and will be kicked out, on the street because they can’t pay their rent.
President-Elect Joe Biden: (30:35)
And by the way, it’s not just the renter, it’s the outfit that owns the building. A lot of them aren’t multimillionaires, they’re running small operations. How can they do it? This is about keeping Americans afloat. Get them through this pandemic, get them through where their business are able to come back. The money’s there. The money is there.
Speaker 7: (31:01)
And also on the economic front, as we fight the pandemic, world trade continues. And there is great debate over world trade agreements, international trade agreements. It seems that, in the last couple of days, 15 countries, Asian Pacific countries, have signed onto a new trade deal, the RCEP. Should the United States consider joining that trade agreement?
President-Elect Joe Biden: (31:27)
I’ve talked with a number of these world leaders. And I told them under the law, I’m not able to begin to discuss with them. There’s only one President at a time, as to who can say what our policy will be.
President-Elect Joe Biden: (31:41)
So I’m reluctant to answer that question now, but here’s what I can say, we make up 25% of the world’s trading capacity, of the economy of the world. We need to be aligned with the other democracies, another 25% or more, so that we can set the rules of the road, instead of having China and others dictate outcomes because they are the only game in town.
President-Elect Joe Biden: (32:09)
But what I’m insisting on, and what I’ve been asked by world leaders, as to what I would do, without getting into detail, I’ve said, “But I want you to know that there are three things are going to happen if I’m elected. One, we’re going to invest in American workers and make them more competitive. Number two, we’re going to make sure that labor is at the table and environmentalists are at the table in any trade deals we make.” And I’m not looking for punitive trade. The idea that we are poking our finger in the eyes of our friends and embracing autocrats makes no sense to me.
President-Elect Joe Biden: (32:46)
But I’m reluctant to get in more detail at this moment. I promise you I have a pretty thorough plan, and I hope you’re prepared to announce that to you on January 21st.
Speaker 7: (32:55)
You have indicated changes you want to make in US International Policy on other fronts, like the Paris Climate deal.
President-Elect Joe Biden: (33:01)
Yes, that’s a generic notion of rejoining, but I didn’t get into the detail of what we will do in that agreement.
President-Elect Joe Biden: (33:08)
The same thing with rejoining the World Health Organization.
Speaker 7: (33:11)
But why not here?
President-Elect Joe Biden: (33:12)
Because you’re asking me about whether I’d join a specific proposal, the details of which are now only being negotiated among those nations. In requiring negotiation.
Speaker 7: (33:23)
President-Elect Joe Biden: (33:23)
Thank you. Appreciate it.
Speaker 8: (33:23)
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you all so much.
Speaker 9: (33:23)
Mr. President Elect, can I have one more?
Speaker 8: (33:23)
Thank you so much.
Speaker 10: (33:25)
Thank you guys.