Mar 2, 2023
President Biden Delivers Remarks at the House Democratic Caucus Issues Conference Transcript
President Biden delivers remarks at the House Democratic Caucus Issues Conference on his Administration and Congress’ historic investments in America. Read the transcript here.
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Hakeem Jeffries (00:00):
Good evening, good evening. Good evening, House Democrats. What an honor, what honor to be together with all of you here in Baltimore.
I’m so thankful for the leadership of Chairman Pete Aguilar, who has brought us together in such a phenomenal way, and for your kind words, to Vice Chair Ted Lieu, that partnership, they’re doing a tremendous job in getting this conference off to an incredible start. Thank you, Governor Moore, for your amazing words and for your incredible, patriotic, centered, authentic leadership. It certainly is always wonderful to be with and inspired by and stand on the shoulders of the greatest speaker of all time, Nancy D’Alesandro Pelosi, in her home city of Baltimore. We’re so thankful to you and to Steny and to Jim, these incredible legislative giants. It’s my honor to present someone who, of course, really needs no introduction. He is a leader for such a time as this, who’s been able to, in two short years, turn things around in the United States of America, in an incredible way. Doesn’t just happen by accident, it requires leadership and intentionality and focus, particularly given the extreme nature of the opposition that we all have to confront.
But the Biden track record is a phenomenal track record of accomplishment. The Biden economy has produced more than 12 million good paying jobs, here in the United States of America. The Biden economy has produced an unemployment rate that is at a 50-year low, here in the United States of America. The Biden economy has increased wages for everyday Americans, the Biden economy has experienced record small business creation, and the Biden economy has reduced the deficit by a record $1.7 trillion. We don’t just talk about fiscal responsibility, we are about, under the leadership of President Biden, fiscal responsibility. The track record, that doesn’t just happen by accident, it requires leadership and intentionality, and certainly partnership. Partnership with House Democrats, partnership with our Senate colleagues, which led to one of the most successful Congresses in American history.
Together, we continuously put people over politics. Not a soundbite, that was a way of life, for us as we govern together, under the leadership of President Biden and Speaker Pelosi, in partnership with House Democrats and Senate Democrats. Together, we enacted the American Rescue Plan, which saved the economy from a deep recession. Together, we put shots in arms, money in pockets, and kids back in school. Together, we enacted the historic Child Tax Credit, that in 2021 cut child poverty in America in half, and will lay a foundation for us to bring it back to life. Together, we enacted historic infrastructure to invest in our crumbling bridges, roads, and tunnels, our airports, our water and sewer systems. Together, we will create millions of good paying jobs in fixing that infrastructure. Together, we will ensure that every single community in America has access to high-speed internet. Together.
Together, we enacted gun safety legislation that will save lives for the first time in 30 years. Together, under the leadership of President Biden, $500 million in grant assistance will be available to address mental illness in America. Together, millions of good paying jobs will come back to the United States of America, beginning with the historic CHIPS and Science Act. Together, we are investing in the education of our young people, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, to make sure that those young people have the skills to succeed in the 21st century economy. Together, under the leadership of President Biden, we were able to enact the Inflation Reduction Act. Together, we’ve struck a dramatic blow against the climate crisis. Together, we’ve set our planet on a sustainable trajectory forward. Together, we are standing up a clean energy economy. Together, we strengthen the Affordable Care Act. Together, we’re driving down healthcare costs, and together, we are driving down the high price of lifesaving prescription drugs for millions of Americans.
A historic track record of accomplishment to build upon because of the leadership of President Biden, in partnership with all of you, to put people over politics and deliver big results for the American people. Together, an economy that is being built from the middle out and the ground up. And together, with the leadership of President Biden, we are going to finish the job for the people. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the 46 President of the United States of America, Joseph Robinette Biden.
Joe Biden (06:53):
Hello, hello, hello. Good to see you all. And it’s good, it’s good to be almost home. Leader Jeffries, thank you for your partnership and your leadership. And Pete, thanks for organizing this retreat and having me here. She couldn’t be here tonight, I know with Katherine Clark, who I spoke to before I came up, is here in spirit. Also want to recognize the greatest speaker in history of the United States of America, I think I coined that phrase because it’s true, because I worked with her for so long, Nancy Pelosi. Nancy stand up.
All the years I was a senator, which were 270, all those years I was a senator, every time I needed something done on the East Coast, I called Nancy. She’s out in San Francisco, but Nancy has incredible, incredible power here in the East, particularly in Maryland, particularly in Baltimore. And so I just want to thank you for everything you’ve done for me as well, Nancy. It’s great to be here with an incredible caucus, such a strong and diverse group of leaders, and it is strong and diverse. I ran for President, literally, not figuratively, to build the economy from the middle out and the bottom up. Not a joke. I was so sick and tired, to talk about trickle-down economics. I know, in my household, not far from here, a little further north on 95, in Wilmington, not a whole lot trickled down on our kitchen table. Now, I’m serious, now that you think about it, not a whole lot.
But working together, we made historic progress toward that vision of building from the middle out and the bottom up. And the people
Joe Biden (09:00):
On this rumor, the reason for that, it’s been one of the most successful united caucuses we have ever seen, and you all stick together, thank God, and look what’s already happened. And all these off year elections, these state legislative races, and by the way, we got a new congresswoman in Virginia.
Well, look, I can’t see, but I know you’re out there. Look, we stuck together. We really did, and it’s because of folks in this room like Jim and Stenny who just have always been there for all of us, no matter where, no, I really mean it. Been there for all of us. By sticking together, we got a lot done. By sticking together, we’re back in the house and we’re going to finish the job. Look, let’s take a look at what we’ve done, and some has already been mentioned.
We came in, the economy was in ruins. We had so many lost jobs and it went beyond the pandemic. It started before that, but we can see it on your districts. Those 12 million new jobs, they’re real jobs, man. It means we created more jobs in two years than any presidential term in American history. Not just created, but you created it. You did it. The unemployment rate of 3.4%, as I said, is a 50-year low. 800, 000 manufacturing jobs. Where in the hell is it written that we can’t lead the world in manufacturing again? I don’t buy it. I don’t buy it. There’s no reason why we will not lead the world in manufacturing again.
Inflation has fallen seven straight months. Gas prices down a dollar 65 since the peak, and we’re going to keep pushing. Our economy’s growing at a solid clip, but it’s not an accident, it’s because we’ve all worked together and we have worked together. We’ve worked tightly together. We passed the American Rescue Plan, which bailed out a whole hell of a lot of Republican governors. They still don’t even want to acknowledge it, but it doesn’t matter. I said, and you’ve all said, I didn’t run to be president for all the Democrats. I ran to be president for all Americans, and regardless of whether they…
But really and truly think about it, you saw the effects firsthand. We put cops back in the beat because they didn’t have the budgets to pay for them, kept teachers in the classroom in each of your districts. In addition to that, we did so much more. We passed the largest investment in infrastructure since Eisenhower’s interstate highway system. And we’re getting money out the door quickly, shovels in the ground, cranes in the air. And as a matter of fact, right here in Baltimore, we’re rebuilding a tunnel I went through, they told me I travel 1,200,000 miles in that track, well I’m probably the only guy that’s been through that Baltimore tunnel, literally walked through it, walk through because it’s in such bad shape about 15 years ago when I was the US Senator, pushing. It’s a 100-year-old tunnel. It’s going to change transportation, not only on the northeast corridor, but in cities. Instead of 30 miles an hour, it’s going through there at 100 miles an hour and it’s a $4 billion investment, and guess what? We’re going to let everybody know you did it. These are the signs we’re going to put up. We’re going to name it the Frederick Douglass Tunnel. Look, I was telling the guys backstage, if we did nothing, nothing but implement what we’ve already passed and let the people know who did it for them, we win. But we’re way beyond that. It’s not just about winning. I’ve joined many of you on the ground breakings, there’s over 20,000 projects already, that have already been funded. Bridges that are a billion, 200 million. I mean it’s big, big, big deals. And as I told my Republican friends, we’ll even do their districts too and I’ll be there for the ribbon cutting.
But all kidding aside, look, we replaced the Inflation Reduction Act. We passed it, taking on powerful special interest, cutting the cost for working families, and tackling the climate crisis. There’s more than one way, by the way, to deal with inflation. It’s not just food and gas, which is critically important, and housing, but it’s so many other things. My dad used to say, no kidding, and Stenny knew this, I think he even knew my dad, my dad used to say, “Joey,” and my dad was around a long time, it wasn’t that long ago. Stenny and I have been partners for a long, long time. I kid Stenny, I said he represents Western Delaware, the eastern shore, but all kidding aside, it’s just about at the end of the month, do you have anything left over after you pay all your bills? Do you have anything left over? Do you have a little bit of breathing room?
Well, that’s what we’ve been about. There’s more than one way to deal with family inflation, and that’s to deal with the things that fundamentally affect their everyday cost beyond the traditional measures of inflation. By making a $369 billion investment, we are moving in a direction to fundamentally change the way in which, literally to save the planet. In addition, we’re finally giving Medicare the power to negotiate lower drug prices, bringing down the cost of prescription drugs.
Nancy and I have been fighting to do that for years and years, and we finally beat big pharma because we stuck together. We stuck together, and by the way, this had a byproduct. I love your Republican colleagues you have to work with, the mega Republicans, they’re amazing. They’re really amazing in their calculations. They say, “Biden and the Democrats, because they brought down the price of drugs, they’re increasing inflation.” Well, it has the advantage not only of people being able to live longer and better and be able to afford their prescription drugs, but guess what? It reduces a deficit of $158 billion. Don’t forget that part to tell people. It’s not just that you pay less for the drug, it means that the federal governments won’t be paying for those drugs for Medicare. Almost $160 billion saved, reduction in deaths.
We passed the CHIPS and Science Act, which has led to a commitment of over $300 billion in investments in manufacturing in the United States. When the Korean company SI said, I was in Korea, South Korea asked them, why were they investing in America? You know what they said? For real, the CEO, “Because you have the best workers in the world and it’s the most secure investment I can make anywhere in the world.” Don’t forget that, folks. That’s why people are coming here. They’re coming here because of who we are. We made it clear to folks, if you want to participate in the CHIPS program, you also have to provide for childcare for your employees.
It matters. That saves money in the long run. That saves money. And folks, y’all know how much we’ve gotten done, but a lot of the country still doesn’t know it. That’s why the big job in front of us is implementing the laws we passed so people start to see it in their lives, all the benefits that are there because you produced it for them. You stepped up and got it done. Remember, everybody told us there’s no possibility of us doing these things. Remember that? Everybody. I promise to partner with you and coordinate with you to make sure the implementation of these laws are done efficiently and effectively and let the American people know who did it, as they feel the benefits of the investment. You did it. You tell us what you need to help us understand the impact that it’s having on all of your district and your folks. And we’re going to get it done.
That’s why I created the Invest in America Cabinet, took my cabinet members, all of them and subset that focused on just implementing what we’re doing. Secretary of Commerce, Labor, Transportation, Treasury, Energy, Health and Human Service, Environmental Protection,
Joe Biden (18:00):
They’re the ones who were working together and meet regularly. And I wanted to meet with your guys. You put together a group, I’m not mistaken, Stan, to be able to work together because we got to get it done. Plus, I hired two senior advisors. Both of them were pretty damn good. Mitch Landrieu, the former mayor down in Louisiana, and John Podesta in charge of carrying out the bipartisan infrastructure law and the Inflation Reduction Act.
They’ll be here tomorrow, both of them and the bulk of my cabinet members to discuss with you exactly how we’re coordinating this. And it really is important how we do it. And we get it out, we get shovels in the ground, we’ll let people know what’s happening and we change their lives. And they know it when they see it, and they’ll see it and they’ll know why we did it.
Now we’re going to bring together every element of the federal government to invest wisely and quickly in the process. It’ll attract more private sector investment as well to get the best possible results for American workers and American families. And we’re going to let people know we’re going to get this done. We’re going to let them know though. We’re going so far as to print signs as indicated that let people know who’s bringing to this project, why it’s happening and standing… Thanks for the work you’re doing in this coordination as well. We just really have to make this sing.
Some of it’s happening already. Factories are opening all across your districts to build semiconductor chips, electric vehicles, advanced battery technology. Those are going to power these vehicles. And that means more jobs. Thousands and thousands of jobs. By the way, remember, remember we all were talking and a lot of you as well with me going around talking about how we used to be the most advanced country in the world, investing in science and research and development. Well, we dropped to number eight. We used to be number one.
That’s where this CHIPS and Science Act comes in. There’s $300 billion in investment committed, 300 billion. And you know what? Like the plant outside of Columbus, Ohio and that what I call the field of dreams. There are a thousand acres there. Intel’s building a facility. They’re going to spend a total of, I believe it’s 12 million bucks or 13 I think it is, billion, billion. And they’re going to build two fabs they call them, factories.
Well, guess what? The prevailing wage for the 7,000 construction workers is going to make a big difference because it generates a whole different economy as well that’s there, number one. But number two, there’s jobs in the factories. They’re going to pay an average of $130,000 a year. And for the bulk of them, you don’t need a college degree. You don’t need a college degree.
And folks might not know what the trench you’re digging around your community is. We’re going to let them know ahead of time. It’s for broadband, high speed broadband that’s affordable. And all that’s going to create hundreds of thousands of good paying union jobs. And by the way, I want to be clear, I make no excuse. Some of you maybe are uncomfortable with my talking about unions all the time.
Well, I not only talk to unions to union people, I talk unions to the business roundtable when I talk. Keep this in mind. You all know what I’ve been saying to the unions. It’s presumptuous of me to tell them what they should do, but I’ve been telling them they should let people know what it takes to become a union member. Everybody thinks you show up and say “I want to be an electrician,” and in six months you got a job as an electrician.
You’re talking about four to five years apprenticeship before you can get your card. Four to five years. Every one of these unions, every one of them have apprentice programs that range four to five years. It’s like going back to college. You get paid part of your salary, but you don’t get it all till you finish your apprenticeship and become a full- blown member. And what I said to the business, I think it was a business roundtable I was talking to in Washington, and they asked why I was so pro-union. I said, “For you. It’s cutting your cost.” They looked at me: “How’s that happening?” They happen to be the best trained workers in the world. That’s a fact. And when the union plumber puts it in, it lasts. It lasts. And so, folks, we shouldn’t make any excuses. It’s going to save businesses money as well and the American public.
Now, seniors in district are getting shingles vaccines for free now because of you, instead having to pay a hundred bucks to go and get that shot. And we took on big pharma, as you well know. You took them on. You got beat up doing it too. So many of them, so many. Now, so many people get insulin. But guess what? Instead of four to five hundred bucks a month, they’re going to pay $35 a month.
Here’s the deal. I called on the prescription drug companies to bring down the price of insulin to $35 to everyone, not just seniors. And today, Eli Lilly, the largest manufacturer of insulin in the United States of America, agreed to do just that. Thirty-five bucks. But guess what that means? Every other company making insulin’s going to have to lower their prices to 35 because they can’t compete.
Folks, look, folks are going to understand what you’ve done and we’re going to make sure of it. But as much as we’ve done, we have a lot of unfinished business as well to finish the job that needs to be done. We can’t stop working to restore the child tax credit permanently. I know I may make some of you uncomfortable, but that little state above me, in Delaware, has one of the highest rates of gun ownership. But guess what? We’re going to ban assault weapons again come hell or high water. And high capacity magazines.
When we did it last time, it reduced mass death. Nobody, including the people who make a very good salary, for example, think the tax system is fair. Go ask anybody. Ask your friends or acquaintances, they’re making 2, 3, 4, 500,000 bucks a year, “Is it fair?” They don’t think it’s fair. For example, when this administration started, there were a little over 600 billionaires in America. Now there are about a thousand. They should be paying a higher tax rate than a school teacher, a police officer, someone who works as a nurse. It’s about 3% they’re paying.
And by the way, the reason we were able to do all we did and still reduce the debt 1.7 trillion dollars is a simple proposition. There were 500 and, I guess, thirty-five or fifty companies that made over half a billion bucks a year in the Fortune 500. And guess what? They paid zero in federal taxes. And we did an awful thing. We said you’re going to have to pay 15%. God forgive me. Fifteen percent. Minimum fifteen percent. And that was enough to do what we’ve done so far and still reduce the debt.
There’s so much more to do though. We need to come together on police reform and immigration reform. We need to protect voting rights and the right to choose. Ladies and gentlemen, we got to reinstate Roe v. Wade and pass it nationally. We really do. And, look, I know as well as you, the MAGA Republicans are not going to get on board for most of these things, but that leaves a lot of Republicans that are still left.
Oh, by the way, watch. I predict – watch. Watch what happens. Republicans can help make a significant majority in some of these things. Remember when I ran for office, I said – when I announced, I said I was doing it to restore the soul of America, bring back some decency, build the middle class, the backbone of the country; and unite the country. And everybody said, “You’re never going to get anything done bipartisanly.” They told me you couldn’t get anything done in a bipartisan way over the past two years. But we did.
The infrastructure bill. The CHIPS and Science Act. The PACT Act. The Gun safety. The Marriage Equality Act. All bipartisan. It’s hard as hell, I acknowledge, but it’s there. And a little bit of more Marjorie Taylor Greene and a few more,
Joe Biden (27:00):
You’re going to have a lot of Republicans running our way. Isn’t she amazing? Oof.
I was the reason, she was very specific… I shouldn’t digress, probably… I’ve read she was very specific recently saying that a mom, a poor mother who lost two kids to fentanyl, that I killed her sons. Well, the interesting thing is, that fentanyl they took came during the last administration.
Look folks, anyway, I don’t want to get started. Look, so what we did in the past two years, whenever possible, we should work on both sides of the aisle, get as much done as we can. We got to bring the country back together again. There are areas where we should be able to agree, like protecting Medicare and Social Security, cutting the deficit, paying America’s bills. That’s why during the State of the Union, I was pleased to see so many Republicans stand up when I asked them to join us in rejecting cuts to Social Security.
I’ve been to a lot of State of the Unions and never quite saw one like that. But they all stood up. But the interesting thing is they won’t be able to forget, it’s all on camera. But all kidding aside, it was amazing. And then there’s Senator Rick Scott, the guy who’s been saying for a year he wants to cut Social Security and Medicare now says, nevermind. That’s what he’s saying. And he says, he actually agreed with us all along. He really didn’t mean what he’d been saying. Well, like I said, I believe in conversion. Maybe they found religion. I sure hope so. But I’ll believe it when I see it.
While Republicans talk about the deficit, we’re doing something about it.
Speaker 1 (29:08):
Joe Biden (29:11):
Really and truly. I mean, if… Anyway. Working with all of you, we cut the deficit by 1.7 billion in two years. The largest deficit reduction in American history. And when I introduce my next budget, which is going to be on the 9th, you’re all going to see it. We’ve been working with your leaders on various aspects of it. We’re going to cut the deficit by more than $2 trillion over the next 10 years.
So look, we’re not going to sit here and be lectured by those folks about fiscal responsibility. Nearly 25% of the entire national debt, which took over 200 years to accumulate, nearly 25% was added by my predecessor in four years. 25% of the 200-year debt. When you add it all up, all the proposals our MAGA Republican friends have offered so far, it would actually add another $3 trillion of debt over the next 10 years if they stick with what they’re saying.
So folks, look, they’re sure not acting like the party that cares about fiscal responsibility. Because the truth is, if you look at their record, it’s clear they’re not the party who cares about fiscal responsibility. Especially not when they’re threatening our economic recovery by manufacturing a crisis over whether we’re going to pay our debts, our 200-year accumulated debt.
When I met with the new speaker, it was a decent meeting, he seemed like a decent guy, he made it real clear how he wants to proceed. He says he won’t raise taxes on anyone, on the wealthier, big corporations, he just wants to cut programs. And what I suggested was instead of making threats about the debt, which would be catastrophic, and let’s just lay out our budgets.
So I agreed that I’d lay down mine on March the 8th… on March the 9th, I should say. And he should do the same thing. And we should sit down. It’ll be interesting to see what they want to cut and what their numbers add up to. Are they going to cut Medicaid? Are they going to cut Affordable Care Act? Are going to cut Medicare, veterans benefits, aid to rural communities. Well, we’re going to see what they’re going to do.
But here’s how I see it. Under my predecessor, Republicans in Congress voted three times to keep paying America’s bills without preconditions, without a crisis. They paid America’s bills then, so why won’t they pay them now? Well, they didn’t throw the country into crisis then, and they shouldn’t do it now. And if they wouldn’t inflict pain on the American people then, why would they do it now? Well, the answer’s real simple. Politics. Politics. But I’m not going to be part of it. They’ve got no business playing politics with people’s lives in our economy. Working with all of you, we’re not going to let them either.
Look, the question that the MAGA Republicans have to answer is this. Are they going to pay America’s bills that are already accumulated, not what we’re proposing to spend, already accumulated, or are they not? Are they going to pay the debt or are they going to default? It’s pretty simple. So let’s be real clear about one thing, there is no actual crisis here. This is entirely a crisis of their making, if it occurs. Democrats believe in paying America’s bills. So the American people can rest assured the Democrats will stick together on this.
And folks, here’s the bottom line. Our plan is working. It’s growing the economy. It’s reducing the deficit. It’s fiscally responsible, but we got more to do. We made a lot of progress. But families across the country are starting to breathe just a little bit easier, my dad would say, just a little easier. We just got to keep going, folks. And folks, working together, I know we will.
Again, to quote my dad, he used to say, “Joey, a job’s about a lot more than a paycheck. It’s about your dignity. It’s about respect. It’s about being able to look your kid in the eye and say, ‘honey, it’s going to be okay.'” I’m not making that up, that’s what he would actually say. And we weren’t poor. My dad was a middle class wage earner. He didn’t go to college, his great regret, but he managed a dealership. My dad, we lived in a three bedroom house and as things were being… suburbia was being filled in with new developments, we had four kids and a grandpa living with us. We thought we were just fine. But my dad used to talk just about a little bit of breathing room, a little bit of breathing room. Well, that’s what you’ve done. You’ve provided breathing room for an awful lot of people like my dad and the house I grew up in.
So I want to thank you all, and I really mean this from the bottom of my heart. Thank you for sticking together. That is our answer. Ladies and gentlemen, love you all. Thank you very much. I’ll turn it back over to the [inaudible 00:34:19].