Sep 24, 2021
Joe Biden Speech Transcript: Condemns Border Patrol Treatment of Haitian Migrants
President Joe Biden gave a speech on September 24, 2021. He condemned Border Patrol’s treatment of Haitian migrants on the southern border. He also discussed COVID-19 vaccination updates. Read the transcript of the speech briefing here.
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President Joe Biden: (00:00)
Of course, millions of Americans got the Moderna and Johnson and Johnson vaccines. My message for you is this, you still have a high degree of protection. Our doctors and scientists are working day and night to analyze the data from those two organizations on whether and when you need a booster shot and we’ll provide updates for you as the process moves ahead. Again, the bottom line is if you’re fully vaccinated, you’re highly protected from severe illness, even if you get COVID-19. In fact, recent data indicates there’s only one confirmed positive case per 5,000 fully vaccinated Americans per day. You’re as safe as possible. You’re in good shape and we’re doing everything we can to keep it that way, which is where the booster comes in.
President Joe Biden: (00:55)
So let me be clear. Yes, we’ve made incredible progress in vaccinating Americans, with over 182 million people being fully vaccinated as of today, but this is a pandemic of the unvaccinated and it’s caused by the fact that despite Americans having an unprecedented and successful vaccination program, despite the fact that for almost five months free vaccines have been available in 80,000 locations, we still have over 70 million Americans who have failed to get a single shot and to make matters worse, there are elected officials actively working to undermine with false information the fight against COVID-19. This is totally unacceptable. The vast majority of Americans are doing the right thing. Three quarters of the eligible have gotten at least one shot, but one quarter has not gotten any and in a country as large as ours, that 25% minority can cause an awful lot of damage. And they are causing a lot of damage.
President Joe Biden: (02:04)
The unvaccinated overcrowd our hospitals, over running emergency rooms and intensive care units. Leaving no room for someone with a heart attack or a cancer operation needed to get the saving care because the places where they would get that care are crowded. They are not available. The unvaccinated also put our economy recovery at risk, causing unease in the economy and causing our needs around the kitchen table. I can imagine what’s going on in the conversations this morning and a lot of parents wondering what’s going to happen. What’s going to happen? Those who have been vaccinated, what’s going to happen? Potentially slowing economic growth, costing jobs.
President Joe Biden: (02:48)
The refusal has cost all of us. The refusal to get vaccinated has cost all of us and I’m moving forward with vaccination requirements wherever I can. These requirements will cover two thirds of all workers in America. And I’m pleased to see more businesses and organizations instituting their own vaccination requirements. I’ve had business leaders call me and thank me for setting the policies to allow them to do the same thing. They are able to do it, anyway, but it gives them the ability to move forward. We’re making progress. For example, United Airlines, which required vaccines about seven weeks ago, now has 97% of their employees vaccinated. Just four weeks ago, the Department of Defense required vaccinations for the military and already 92% of our active duty service members are vaccinated. And we’re on track to administer 24 million shots in arms in September.
President Joe Biden: (03:47)
So, please, do the right thing. Do the right thing. And I understand there’s a lot of misinformation you’ve been fed out there, but try to look through it, get to people you trust, the people who’ve been vaccinated. Ask them, ask them. So get vaccinated, but don’t just take it from me. Listen to the voices of the unvaccinated Americans who are lying in hospital beds, taking their final breath saying, and literally we’ve seen this on television, “If only I’d gotten vaccinated. If only, if only.” They’re leaving behind husbands and wives, small children, people who adore them. People are dying and will die who don’t have to die. It is not hyperbole to suggest it’s literally a tragedy. Please don’t let this become your tragedy. Get vaccinated. It can save your life, it can save the lives of those around you. You know, text your zip code to 438829, 438829 or visit vaccines.gov to find a vaccination location near you now.
President Joe Biden: (05:02)
Let me close with this. We also made so much progress during the past eight months in this pandemic and now we face a critical moment. We have the tools, we have the plan, we just have to finish the job together as one nation. And I know we can, I know we can.
President Joe Biden: (05:22)
God bless you all and please look out for your own self-interest and health here. Get vaccinated. May God protect our troops. Thank you.
President Joe Biden: (05:35)
President Joe Biden: (05:35)
ABC. Rachel Scott.
Rachel Scott: (05:36)
Thank you, Mr. President.
Rachel Scott: (05:38)
You said on the campaign trail that you were going to restore the moral standing of the US, that you were going to immediately end Trump’s assault on the dignity of immigrant communities. Given what we saw at the border this week, have you failed in that promise? And this is happening under your watch, do you take responsibility for the chaos that’s unfolding?
President Joe Biden: (05:56)
Of course I take responsibility, I’m president, but it was horrible what you saw. To see people treated like they did, horses nearly running them over and people being strapped. It’s outrageous. I promise you those people will pay. They will be… An investigation underway now, and there will be consequences. There will be consequences. It’s an embarrassment, but it’s beyond an embarrassment, it’s dangerous. It’s wrong. It sends the wrong message around the world. It sends the wrong message at home. It’s simply not who we are. Thank you.
President Joe Biden: (06:31)
Peter Alexander: (06:33)
Mr. President, thank you.
Peter Alexander: (06:34)
You came into office on a message of competence and unity. We’ve witnessed what’s happened in the country over the course of the last several months. We’ve seen the chaotic troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, the threat of a government shut down right now and Democrats, members of your own party are still divided over your agenda going forward. So what do you say to Americans who say that you have not delivered on that promise?
President Joe Biden: (06:57)
Remember I said it’s going to take me a year to deliver everything I’m looking at here. That’s number one. Number two, take a look at what I inherited when I came into office. When I came into office, the state of affairs and where we were. We had 4 million people vaccinated, we had no plan, I mean, I could go down the list. So, part of it is dealing with the panoply of things that were landed on my plate. I’m not complaining. It’s just a reality. It’s reality, number one. Number two, I think that part of what has to happen here as well, for example, let’s talk about my economic plan. The economic plan, you all are always, and understandably, legitimately citing polls. Every element of my economic plan is overwhelmingly popular, overwhelmingly popular, but the problem is with everything happening, not everybody knows what’s in that plan.
President Joe Biden: (07:53)
For example, all those women out there who are not able to go back to work because they have a dependent, a grandparent or a parent, or they have a dependent child who needs help or they can’t find daycare, or they can’t find a, I mean, look at what’s happening. Well, there’s a solution. There’s a solution in the proposal that I put forward and the plans we’re now debating among ourselves and they’re grading in Congress is the essence of the plan that I laid out in the beginning. And so I’m confident that at the end of the day, we’re going to be able to get that done.
President Joe Biden: (08:33)
The second point I’d like to make, we talk about price tags. It is zero price tag on the debt we’re paying we’re going to pay for everything we spend. So they say, it’s not, people understandably, “Well, you know, it started off at 6 trillion.,Now it’s 3.5 trillion, now it’s going to be 2.9.” It’s going to be zero, zero. Because in that plan that I put forward, and I said, from the outset, I said I’m running to change the dynamic of how the economy grows. I’m tired of trickle down. The trillionaires and billionaires are doing very, very well. You all know, you’ve all reported it, and in the middle of this crisis, but hardworking people and middle-class people are getting hurt. And so I provide for, for example, a tax cut. If you have a child, you get a refundable tax credit. It’s reduced hunger in America by 40%, literally for children. You have the whole notion of being able to provide for daycare for your children, getting people back to school, et cetera, it’s all paid for. It’s all paid for. But a lot of these are flat tax cuts that exist within my proposal and they’re being calculated as if the cost of the childcare tax credit is a cost to the government. It’s not, it’s reducing taxes. Reducing taxes, not increasing taxes.
President Joe Biden: (10:07)
Now, part of the problem is I had hoped, I hadn’t planned on, although I kind of anticipated might happen. I hadn’t planned on the 178 mile top winds, hurricanes going to Louisiana and 20 inches of rain in New York and New Jersey and, and an area as big as the state of New Jersey burning down in the west. And so what I had hoped I would be doing, but I do what I did in the campaign. I’d be out making the case about what my plan contained, and it’s been very much curtailed by a whole range of things.
President Joe Biden: (10:43)
And so I think that it’s understandable, I think it’s understandable, people being frustrated. I think they’re frustrated, as well, by the fact that not just members of Congress, Democrats and Republicans, frustrated by I thought this was going to be better. I thought everything was working out. We were moving along on COVID-19 and now we have all these people who refuse to get a shot and now look at the people dying. Large numbers of people dying.
President Joe Biden: (11:19)
So I guess I think it’s a totally legit, obviously it’s a legitimate question you’ve asked, but I think putting it in context here, it’s going to take some time here and I know I always kid you when you all ask me about, “Well, what about, are you going to get A done, B done, C done?” Well, I say you want to negotiate. I’m being a bit facetious obviously, but here’s the deal. This is going to end up, I believe, we’re going to end up getting both the pieces of my economic legislation. The first piece, the 1.9, fundamentally change the structure and the nature of the economy in this country. Even though remember it got clobbered, it was this, all this terrible thing, no Republican voted for it. Well, we got real economic growth. Now we’re at this stalemate at the moment and we’re going to have to get these two pieces of legislation passed. Both need to be passed, and they’ll have a profound impact, according to not Joe Biden, but according to Wall Street, according to the IMF, according to international organizations. And then there’s, you know, I’m going to be having a meeting today with the quad, with the leader of India, Japan, and Australia and we’re going to be talking about Afghanistan, which is a legitimate thing for people to talk about.
President Joe Biden: (12:45)
But the truth of the matter is, the end of the day is, we were spending $300 million a day for 20 years. There is no easy way to end that and we’re now still getting people out, but it’s, really, there is no picture book way to say, “Okay, the war is ended, let’s get everybody out and we’ll go home.” No war’s ever ended that way other than there’s been a surrender and it’s a totally different circumstance.
President Joe Biden: (13:10)
So anyway, there’s a lot, I’m sure, along the line that there are things I could have done better, but I make no apologies for my proposals, how I’m proceeding and why I think by the end of the year, we’re going to be in a very different place.
Peter Alexander: (13:26)
Just a follow up on COVID if I can quickly.
President Joe Biden: (13:29)
Peter Alexander: (13:29)
What do you say to Americans who disregard the new CDC guidance and get a booster shot anyway?
President Joe Biden: (13:37)
Well, I’m not sure how they’d get it, but-
Peter Alexander: (13:45)
There are people who go into stores right now and just to have got it without any high-risk situation or underneath that age limit, it happens around the country as we speak.
President Joe Biden: (13:50)
Well, I think what’s going to happen is you’re going to see that in the near term where we’re probably going to open this up anyway. There’s constant, we’re looking at both Moderna and J and J and we’re both, as I said in the speech, in addition to that, we’re also looking to the time when we’re going to be able to expand the booster shots, basically, across the board. So I would just say it’d be better to wait your turn in line, wait in line, wait your turn and to get there.
Peter Alexander: (14:24)
Thank you, sir.
President Joe Biden: (14:26)
Thank you, Mr. President.
When you met with congressional leaders this week, you told them to try to find a number less than 3.5 trillion on the reconciliation package that they could live with. What is that top line number in your mind as you deliberate these considerations? And then separately, you mentioned how you’re going to pay for some of these provisions. Senator Wyden has a proposal on annual taxes on billionaires, unrealized gains. Is that a proposal that you support?
President Joe Biden: (14:57)
Yes, I do. Look, I support a lot of these proposals. We don’t need all the things I support to pay for this, but I do support that. Look, if you file a W2 form, the IRS has access to your bank account and your bank tells you how much you made, what you have in there, and they estimate your tax. Well, if you have no earned income and it’s all investment income, it’s hard to figure out what the hell, excuse me, what the heck you have. And that’s why we have to, and I know some people don’t like this, that’s why we have to rehire some IRS agents and not to do anything, not to try to make people pay something they don’t owe, just say, “Hey, step up, step up and pay like everybody else does.”
President Joe Biden: (15:50)
Look, I really mean this and if you look at at my whole career and I come from the corporate state of America. I just think it’s about just paying your fair share for Lord’s sake. Now, we can argue whether or not the corporate tax should go back up to 26.5% Or 28 or 24. But the idea that 50 major corporations in America making a sum total of $40 billion pays zero. Come on, come on. It’s just wrong, it’s just not fair. And I think it’s beginning to sink through the ether a little bit here on the part of people. So I think there clearly is enough from a panoply of options to pay for what ever it is that folks decide to pay for.
President Joe Biden: (16:43)
And let me finish by answering the initial part of your question, if I may. The way I look at it is, what I’ve been telling my colleagues, and it surprises them sometimes when we’re in those rooms, and I don’t know whether you heard, but both meetings went very well. I mean, they were collegial, there wasn’t, no one’s hollering, everybody’s, you know, and people were hanging out afterwards in the Oval and anyway, both the progressive’s as well as the moderates. And one of the things that I think is important, and I’m trying to get people to focus on, is what is it you like? What do you think we… Forget a number. What do you think we should be doing? Is it appropriate, in your view, to cut taxes for working class people, by providing for daycare, providing for early education three and four years old? Is it appropriate to do something about a free community college? Or do you want to means test it? And I’m telling them, “What are your priorities?”
President Joe Biden: (18:02)
And some of them, when they go through their priorities, it adds up to a number higher than they said they were for, because I think this is, we’re getting down to the hard spot here. People are having now to go in and look in detail as to what it is specifically they’re for. It’s a little bit like when we went through and I’ll end with this, there’s a little bit like when we went through the issue of the bipartisan deal on infrastructure. There were a lot of negotiations on that, and it wasn’t until people were forced to look at what are you for? Are you for taking care of that highway or bridge in your state or your region? Are you for doing something about environmental degradation? Are you for something that deals with allowing us to provide for monies to states so that they can, in fact, deal with things like what happened in states where the major utility lines come down? What do you do to build those back better to prevent that from happening?
President Joe Biden: (19:13)
And, and as sort of a… And you all speak to all these folks, so you speak to as many as I do, I find that they’re going, “Hmm, I’ve never really thought that through before. I think it makes sense.” And that’s how we finally got to a bipartisan deal on what is a serious infrastructure proposal that really does a number of things, including things where people said, “I don’t want to do anything on the environment.” Then they start thinking, “Well, wait a minute. I have all these diesel buses at home. It would be a hell of a lot better if we had electric buses that would change the circumstance on boom, boom, boom.”
President Joe Biden: (19:54)
So I think this is a process. That’s what I said at the front end, that although we got off to a very fast start with the first piece of legislation, I don’t expect this to be done and us being in a position where we can look back and say, “Okay, did we get it done?” Until basically the end of the year. I don’t mean the vote on the two pieces of legislation relating to the economy, but I think it’s just going to take some time. And look, you know, my guess is we all come from similar backgrounds. Remember you used to sit around the kitchen table in the morning if you had the chance to do that or dinner at night with your mom and dad and your brothers and sisters, what did people talk about? They talked about, “Are we going to be able to pay the mortgage?” At least my house.
President Joe Biden: (20:44)
I mean, “What’s going to happen if we have another one of those floods? And it blows through here, like it did in Queens, what’s going to happen? What am I going to do?”
President Joe Biden: (20:54)
“By the way, I don’t, I’m just not sure that I want my son or daughter to be going into school when so many people are not vaccinated.”
President Joe Biden: (21:08)
It’s just, “I’m not sure I want Kenny to be there doing this,” but these a practical things people are talking about, and they’re looking down the road and they’re looking at cost of living issues as well. And so what’s the cost of living issues? Well, it’s because we’re in a position where the ability to have the product, the elements of the production of a product that in fact need to go into the production of that product are hard to get ahold of because people are in trouble, they’re not able to produce them. They’re not able to get it, or they’re being hoarded. It’s like what we have with, and we’re making progress, but like what we’re doing with regard to making sure we have the computer chips to be able to keep, as in the vernacular, to keep, build automobiles.
President Joe Biden: (22:06)
I mean, I think everybody was kind of surprised when I… I think if I had said to you, I may be dead wrong, but if I had said to you in say April, that I was going to get all three major manufacturers of American automobiles saying they’re going to go electric, I doubt whether you’d have thought that could be done. Well, we’re out here in the back lawn. They’ve all of a sudden figured it out. They’ve had a bit of an epiphany and they’ve realized, “Whoa, wait a minute, man, China’s investing billions of dollars. China is getting battery technology. We’re going to build blah, blah, blah. And this is going to happen anyway.”
President Joe Biden: (22:47)
And again, I’ll just conclude by saying this is a process and it’s going to be up and down. That’s why I don’t look at the polls, not a joke, because it’s going to go up and it’s going to go down, it’s going to go up and hopefully at the end of the day, I’ll be able to deliver on what I said I would do. One, bringing the country together on a few and very important things like on infrastructure, getting us in a position where we can have some coherent policy relative for foreign policy, where there’s agreement, moving us in a position where we’re able to actually generate the kind of change in the dynamic of how we grow the economy. Not eliminate the super wealthy, not at all, but allow the working class and middle-class to be able to build out and up, and that can be done and, like I said, every time I hear, and I drive my staff crazy, every time I hear this is going to cost A, B, C or D, the truth is, based on the commitment that I made, it’s going to cost nothing, because we’re going to raise the revenue.
President Joe Biden: (24:06)
Raise the revenue to pay for the things we’re talking about, and we’re going to give, and right now, if you take a look at the reconciliation piece, a trillion dollars of that is tax cuts, not raising anybody’s taxes, it’s tax cuts. People are going to be paying less taxes, but the people paying less taxes are going to be working class folks. It’s going to put women back to work, It’s going to put people in situations where they have, as I know you’re tired of hearing me saying, but I remember my dad’s constant refrain, “Just give people a little breathing room, a little breathing room.”
President Joe Biden: (24:45)
Thank you, guys.
Speaker 5: (24:46)
Speaker 5: (24:46)
Mr. President, how come you’ve never been to the border, Mr. President?
Speaker 6: (24:46)
Sir, the debt limit.