Apr 7, 2021
Joe Biden Speech on Infrastructure, American Jobs Plan Transcript April 7
President Joe Biden gave a speech on the American Jobs Plan to improve U.S. infrastructure on April 7, 2021. Read the transcript of his remarks here.
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Joe Biden: (00:00)
That’s my plan to rebuild what I refer to as the backbone of America, through the American Jobs Plan. It’s not a plan that tinkers around the edges, it’s a once in a generation investment in America. Unlike anything we’ve done since we built the interstate highway system and won the space race decades ago. It’s the single largest investment in American jobs since World War II. And it’s a plan that puts millions of Americans in the work to fix what’s broken in our country, tens of thousands of miles of roads and highways, thousands of bridges in desperate need of repair. But it also is a blueprint for infrastructure needed for tomorrow, not just yesterday, tomorrow. For American jobs, for American competitiveness.
Joe Biden: (00:51)
Last week, I said that once congress is back from recess, I’d get to work right away because we have no time to lose. So here we are, Democrats, Republicans will have ideas about what they like and what they don’t like about our plan. That’s a good thing. That’s the American way. That’s the way democracy works. Debate is welcome. Compromise is inevitable, changes are certain. And the next few weeks, the vice president and I will be meeting with Republicans and Democrats to hear from everyone. And we’ll be listening, we’ll be open to good ideas and good faith negotiations. But here’s what we won’t be open to. We will not be open to doing nothing. Inaction simply is not an option.
Joe Biden: (01:41)
Now, since I announced this plan, I’ve heard from my Republican friends, many of them say it’s too big. They say, why not focus on traditional infrastructure. Fix what we’ve already got, the road and the highways that exists, and the bridges. I’m happy to have that debate but let me tell you my view. We are American. We don’t just fix for today, we build for tomorrow. 200 years ago, trains weren’t traditional infrastructure either until America made a choice to lay down tracks across the country. Highways weren’t traditional infrastructure until we allowed ourselves to imagine that roads could connect our nation across state lines. The idea of infrastructure has always evolved to meet the aspirations of American people and their needs, and it’s evolving again today.
Joe Biden: (02:48)
We need to start seeing infrastructure through its effect on the lives of working people in America. What is the foundation today that they need to carve out their place in the middle class to make it. To live, to go, to work, to raise their families with dignity. To ensure that good jobs will be there for their kids, no matter who they are or what zip code they live in. That’s what infrastructure means in the 21st century. It still depends on roads and bridges, ports and airports, rail and mass transit. But it also depends on having reliable high-speed internet in every home. Because today’s high speed internet is infrastructure. It depends on the electric grid, a grid that won’t collapse in a winter storm, or be compromised by hackers at home or abroad. It depends on investing in made in America goods from every American community, including those that have historically been left out, Black, Latino, Asian American, Native Americans, rural communities. Talk to folks around the country about what really makes up the foundation of a good economy. Ask a teacher or a childcare worker if having clean drinking water, non contaminated drinking water in our schools, in our childcare centers, is part of that foundation. When we know that the led in our pipes slows a child’s development when they drink that water.
Joe Biden: (04:30)
Ask the entrepreneur, who small business is destroyed by the second 100 year flood in the last 10 years in Iowa or wildfires in the west that burned five million acres last year, an area roughly the size of the entire state of New Jersey, more fires than ever. Or the devastating damage seen more frequent, more intense hurricanes and storms on the east and Gulf Coast. Ask all those farmers and small business owners and homeowners, whether investing in clean energy to fight the effects of climate change is part of infrastructure.
Joe Biden: (05:13)
Ask folks in rural America, were more than the 35% of the people lack of reliable high-speed internet limiting their ability to conduct business, or engage in remote learning for their schools. Ask them whether investing in internet access will lead to better jobs in town, new markets for farmers and better opportunities for their kids. And I’m serious about this. Ask the moms and dads in the sandwich generation, the folks carrying enormous personal financial strains trying to raise their children and care for their parents, their elderly parents, or members of their families with a disability. Ask them what sort of infrastructure they need to build a little better life, to be able to breathe a little. It’s expanded services for seniors, it’s home care workers go in and cook their mail, help them get around and live independently in their home, allowing them to stay in their homes and I might add saving Medicaid hundreds of millions of dollars in the process. It’s better wages and benefits and opportunities for caregivers who are disproportionately women, women of color and immigrants.
Joe Biden: (06:33)
Ask our wounded warriors and military families. To my Republican colleagues in congress, should we modernize VA hospitals, update them? Many of them are more than 50 years old. How about the estimate 450,000 post 9/11 veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder. When they make that emergency call or their husband, wife, son, daughter makes that call to the VA hospital, dad needs help we have to bring him in, and they hear you have to wait. We don’t have room now. Call me back in eight days, 10 days, 12 days. More suicides in the military then people getting shot. Is it really your position, my friends, that our veterans don’t deserve the most modern facilities, that can catch that cancer diagnosis quicker with access to better roads, cleaner water, high speed internet that delivers information faster and more of it.
Joe Biden: (07:44)
Above all infrastructure is about meeting the needs of a nation and putting Americans to work and being able to do and get paid for having good jobs. Plumbers and pipe fitters replacing those literally thousands of miles of dangerous led pipes. They’re still out there. Everybody remembers what happened in Flint. There’s hundreds of Flint’s all across America. How many of you know, when you send your child to school, the fountain they’re drinking out of is not fed by led pipe? How many of you know the school your child was in still has asbestos in the walls and lacks the ventilation? Is that not infrastructure? Line workers and electricians, main transmission lines for a modern grid. Over 500,000 charging stations on the highways we are going to build to accommodate electric vehicles, so we can own the future. Construction workers and engineers building modern hospitals and homes for American families. Healthcare workers, steel workers, folks who were I work in the cutting edge labs.
Joe Biden: (09:03)
90% of the infrastructure jobs created by our American Jobs Plan can be filled by people who don’t have a college degree. 75% don’t need an associate’s degree. As I said last week, this is a blue collar blueprint for increasing opportunity for the American people. It also includes the biggest investment in non-defense research and development on record. It’s not part of my speech, but I promise you, you’re all going to be reporting over the next six to eight months how China and the rest of the world is racing ahead of us in the investments they have in the future. Attempting to own the future. The technology, quantum computing, investing significant amounts of money in dealing with cancer and Alzheimer’s. That’s the infrastructure of a nation.
Joe Biden: (10:09)
There’s a new book out about how we fallen behind. America’s no longer leader of the world because we’re not investing. It used to be we invested almost 2.7% of our GDP in infrastructure. Now it’s about 0.7%. When we were investing it we were the leader in the world. I don’t know why we don’t get this. One of the only few major economies in the world whose public investment in research and development has declined as a percentage of DGP in the last 25 years, declined. The United States of America that led the world.
Joe Biden: (11:06)
Why does this matter? Investing in research and development help lead to lithium batteries, LED technology, the internet itself. It helped lead to vaccine breakthroughs that are helping us beat COVID-19. To the Human Genome Project, which has led to breakthroughs in how we understand and fight cancer and other diseases. Government, meaning the taxpayers, funded this research. Government. We stopped investing in the research, we stop investing in the jobs of the future and we give up leading the world. When we do invest in research, what we’re really doing is raising the bar in what we can imagine. Imagine a world where you and your family can travel coast to coast without single tank of gas, or in a high-speed train, close to as fast as you can go across the country in a plane. Imagine your children growing up to work in innovation, good paying jobs and fields that haven’t even been invented yet. Like the parents of every computer programmer, every graphic designer, every renewable energy worker once did imagine. We invest today so that these jobs will be here in America tomorrow. So America can lead the world that is as it’s historically done. That’s why I brought back scientists into the White House.
Joe Biden: (12:51)
We need to think. Look, do we think the rest of the world is waiting around? We’re not going to make those kinds of investments the rest of world’s saying. Take a look. Do you think China is waiting around to invest in this digital infrastructure or in research and development? I promise you they are not waiting. But they’re counting on American democracy to be too slow, too limited, and too divided to keep pace. You’ve heard me say before, I think this generation can be marked by the competition between democracies and autocracies because the world is changing so rapidly. The autocrats are betting on democracy not being able to generate the kind of unity needed to make decisions to get in that race. We can’t afford to prove them right. We have to show the world. Much more importantly we have to show ourselves that democracy works. That we can come together on the big things. It’s the United States of America for God’s sake.
Joe Biden: (14:17)
Of course, building the infrastructure of tomorrow requires major investments today. As I said, last week, I’m open to ideas about how to pay for this plan. With one exception, I will not impose any tax increases on people making less than $400,000 a year. If others have ideas out there on how to pay for this investment without violating that rule they should come forward. There’s all kinds of opportunities just list all tax breaks that I find difficult to explain. Wealthy deductions, $360 billion if you cap them, top rate of 39% which it used to be for years, all the way to the Bush administration, almost a quarter of a trillion dollars corporate minimum tax and the fossil fuel giveaways of $40 billion, et cetera. I could go on.
Joe Biden: (15:18)
Let me tell you what I proposed, how to do it. We’re going to raise the corporate tax rate, it was 35% for the longest time, which was too high. Barack and I thought it was too high during our administration. We all agreed five years ago, as should come down somewhat. But the previous administration reduced it all the way down to 21%. What I’m proposing is that we meet in the middle 28%. 28% will still have lower corporate rates than any time between World War II and 2017. It will generate over a trillion dollars in taxes over 15 years. New independent study put out last week, found that at least 55 of our largest corporations use the various loopholes to pay zero federal income tax in 2020. It’s just not fair. It’s not fair to the rest of the American taxpayers. We’re going to try to put an end to this. Not fleece them. 28%. If you’re a mom and dad, a cop, firefighter, police officer, et cetera you’re paying close to that in your income tax.
Joe Biden: (16:46)
I’ve also proposed a global minimum tax, which has been proposed around the world for US corporations of 21% percent. Let me tell you what that means. It means that companies aren’t going to be able to hide their income in places like the Cayman Islands and Bermuda, in tax havens. We’re going to also eliminate deductions used by corporations for offshoring jobs and shifting assets overseas. They offshore the job shift the assets overseas and then don’t have to pay taxes and all they make. There. We’ll significantly ramp up IRS enforcement against corporations and the super wealthy who either fail to report their income or under reported estimated that would raise tens of billions of dollars. And it adds up to more than what I proposed in just 15 years.
Joe Biden: (17:37)
It’s honest, it’s fair, it’s fiscally responsible and it pays for what we need and reduce the debt over the long haul. And by the way, I didn’t hear any of our friends who were criticizing this plan, say that the corporate tax cut which added $2 trillion to the debt, the Trump tax cut, two trillion, $1.9 trillion in debt, wasn’t paid for. The vast majority of which went to the top 1% of the wage earners. I didn’t hear anybody hollering in this recovery, the so-called, before I became president. This K-shaped recovery, where billionaires made 300 billion more dollars during this period. Where’s the outrage there? Not trying to punish anybody, but dammit. maybe it’s because I come from middle-class neighborhood, I’m sick and tired of ordinary people being fleeced.
Joe Biden: (18:40)
Let me close by saying this. Whatever partisan divisions there are around other issues, there don’t have to be around this one. The divisions of the moment shouldn’t stop us from doing the right thing for the future. These aren’t Republican bridges, democratic airports, Republican hospitals or democratic power grid. Think of the transcontinental railroad, interstate highway system or the space race, we’re one nation united and connected. As I said last week, I’m going to bring Republicans to the White House, I invite them to come. We’ll have good faith negotiations and any Republican who wants to get this done, I invite, I invite them. We have to get this things done. We’re at an inflection point in American democracy. This is a moment where we prove whether or not democracy can deliver. Whether it can lay the foundation for an economy built from the bottom up in the middle out, not trickle down economics from the very top. Whether it can lay a good foundation for good jobs in the 21st century economy.
Joe Biden: (19:56)
Tell the kids, the young people that work for me, I told my kids, when I go on college campuses, they’re going to see more change in the next 10 years then we’ve seen the last 50 years. We’re going to talk about commercial aircraft flying at subsonic speeds, supersonics speeds. Be able to figuratively, if we decided to do it traverse the world in about an hour, traveled 21,000 miles an hour. So much has changed. We have got to lead it.
Joe Biden: (20:38)
I believe democracy can come through when the American people come together. We saw it in the American Rescue Plan. We’re seeing it with the jobs plan. The American Rescue Plan, which got so badly criticized, how many of my Republican colleagues you’ve seen gone on your stations or your newspapers and say boy, people in my state really like it, because it would be improper, haven’t asked for permission. The number of Republicans and Democrats who were hesitant to call me saying, God this really works. Overwhelming majority of the American people, Democrats Republicans, and Independents support infrastructure investments that meets the moment. So I urge the congress, listen to your constituents and together we can lay a foundation for an economy that works for everyone, allows America to remain the world leader. When we do that, I believe as I said last week, that in 50 years from now, when people look back, they’ll say this was the moment, together, that we won America’s future. I really believe that. Thank you all. And God bless you. And may God protect our troops. Thank you.
Speaker 2: (22:03)
Mr. President, are you willing to go lower than the 28% corporate tax rate?
Joe Biden: (22:08)
I’m willing to listen to that. I’m wide open to, but we got to pay for this. We got to pay. There’s many other ways we can do it, but I’m willing to negotiate that. I’ve come forward with the best, most rational, way in my view, the fairest way to pay for it. But there are many other ways as well, and I’m open.
Speaker 2: (22:27)
Will you have failed on your promise of bipartisanship if you don’t get Republicans on board with this plan, your first plan passed along party lines?
Joe Biden: (22:34)
Look, what I said was I would try to work with my friends on the other side. There are things we’re working on, together. Some of which we passed and some we will pass. But the last plan I laid out what was available, what I was suggesting and how I’d deal with it and a bi-partisan group came to see me. And then a Republican group came to see me and they started off at $600 billion and that was it. If they come forward with a plan that did the bulk of it, it was a billion, three or four, two or three, that allowed me to have pieces of all of this in there, I would have been prepared to compromise. But they didn’t, they didn’t move an inch, not an inch.
Joe Biden: (23:31)
But for example, I am dealing with a bipartisan group that came to see me. That was about what three, four weeks ago, when they came about computer chips. They said, look, we have to have our own supply. We have to work together. We’re working on that. Chuck Schumer and I think McConnell are about to introduce a bill along those lines. So I’m prepared to work, I really am. But to automatically say that the only thing that’s infrastructure is a highway at bridge or whatever, that’s just not rational. It really isn’t. I think the vast majority of Americans think everything from the sewer pipes to the sewer facilities, to the water pipes, I think their infrastructure.
Joe Biden: (24:20)
Anyway, thank you all so very much. [crosstalk 00:24:25].
Speaker 3: (24:24)
What are you going to do on guns, Mr. President?
Joe Biden: (24:26)
I’ll be talking to you about that, I think, the day after tomorrow.
Speaker 3: (24:30)
Speaker 4: (24:31)
Can you tell us what you told the King of Jordan, Mr. President? Are you concerned about the situation there.
Joe Biden: (24:36)
No, I’m not. I just called to tell him that he has a friend in America. Stay strong.