James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
1:06 P.M. EDT
MS. DALTON: Good afternoon. It’s great to see all of you here. And today, I am thrilled to have someone else making their briefing room debut. (Laughter.) We have the Director of the National Economic Council, Lael Brainard, here with us at the podium for the first time.
Lael, as many of you may already know, brings a tremendous amount of experience to the President’s economic team, having previously served as a vice chair of the Federal Reserve, undersecretary at the U.S. Treasury, and a deputy director of the NEC.
Lael has been a tremendous asset to our team as we’ve navigated the past few months. And today, she’s here to talk with you about Bidenomics, which is the word of the day, word of the week, word of the month, word of the year here at the White House. And Bidenomics is rooted in the belief that we grow the economy when we grow the middle class.
So, Lael, with that, I will turn it over to you for a few remarks.
MS. BRAINARD: Well, thank you very much. And good afternoon. As you know, the President is traveling to Chicago tomorrow to deliver a major address on the U.S. economy. When the President came to office, the economy was reeling and supply chains had broken down. But instead of going for a short-term fix, the President recognized that many of the challenges in our economy had been developing over a longer period of time.
He rejected trickle-down economics, the theory that tax cuts at the top would trickle down, that all we needed was for government to get out of the way. That failed approach led to a pullback of private investment from key industries, like semiconductors to solar. It led to a deterioration of the nation’s infrastructure. And it led to a loss of a path to the middle class for too many Americans and too many communities around the country.
So, the President vowed to put in place a very different approach — a approach that grows the economy from the middle out and the bottom up and that is very focused on growing our middle class.
The President will outline the three key areas that are at the heart of that strategy.
First, we’re making smart investments in America in sectors that are critical to our economic and national security — focusing on infrastructure, clean energy, and semiconductors — and doing it in a way that catalyzes more private investment, not less.
The President’s historic legislation has already catalyzed about $500 billion in private-sector commitments. And, I think it is on this chart that you can see, we’ve seen a boom in private-sector spending on manufacturing construction since the President’s investment agenda was enacted.
And we’re doing it in partnership with friends and allies around the world. And we’re doing it in a way that achieves our climate goals.
Secondly, the President has prioritized policies to empower and educate American workers. The President will highlight the historic labor market recovery and what it’s meant for workers and families that were too often left behind in previous recoveries.
He’ll talk about the steps that his administration is taking to educate and empower American workers with a focus on developing skills for the jobs of the future, including those that don’t require four years of college, by supporting unionization and creating apprenticeships, among other steps.
And finally, the President is going to talk about the importance of promoting competition, both to lower costs and to provide a level playing field for small businesses by doing things like getting rid of noncompete clauses, bringing down costs from insulin to hearing aids, and focusing on junk fees.
And he’ll note all the ways that his plan is working. Since the President has taken office, 13 million jobs have been created. The unemployment rate is near historic lows — below 4 percent for the longest stretch in nearly 50 years. And we’ve received record low unemployment for groups that too frequently have been left behind.
The share of working-age Americans in the workforce is higher now than it has been for 15 years, showing that decisive policy and a strong economy can bring more people into the workforce. And you can see that here.
Real incomes are up, especially for lower-income workers. Small-business applications are at record high. And today, while we have more work to do, inflation has been coming down for 11 months in a row.
So, with that, let me wrap up, and I’ll take a few questions.
MS. DALTON: Okay. Thanks, Lael. Who has a question for Lael?
Q Thanks so much. So, in the memo that the White House released, you pointed to a stronger economic recovery from the pandemic compared to other major economies, lots of good jobs, and putting the middle class in a better position than it was pre-pandemic. But which of the policies — the President’s policies — specifically led to those outcomes?
MS. BRAINARD: So, I think the sum total of the President’s policies — the four historic pieces of legislation that he’s passed, along with a slew of administrative actions together — are leading to investments in industries of the future. They’re leading to great new job opportunities.
And we see those in places like Weirton, West Virginia, where we’re seeing an iron-air battery plant opening on the site of an old mill that, when it shut down, lost jobs in that area.
And, of course, we’re also seeing it in the steps that are being taken to increase competition and to create better opportunities for small businesses.
So, it’s really the sum total of all three prongs of his policies that are working to create a strong economy but also an economy that will be resilient for the long term because we’re investing in infrastructure.
And just yesterday, as you know, the President announced over $40 billion in investments in high-speed Internet as part of an overall program over two different laws that is going to lead to every household in America having access to high-speed Internet, which is very similar to the approach that we saw in the Rural Electrification Act undertaken by Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
MS. DALTON: Andrea.
Q Yeah, I — thank you for being here. I wanted to ask you about this boom in construction manufacturing and whether you think that, in combination with the new housing starts that we saw when the numbers also went up in May, would lead to some relief on the housing price issue that could help with inflation.
And then, I — I want to ask you about the overall outlook for the economy, whether you’re more confident now that there will be a soft landing and that a recession can be avoided.
MS. BRAINARD: Yeah, so, I think it is going to be important over a medium term of several years to see greater housing supply, and that will help to provide longer-term solutions.
But even in the short run, if you look at the data on rent, for instance, the average rent is projected to come down for Americans over the second half of this year, providing really important relief to a lot of American families.
What was the second part of your question?
Q Can a recession be avoided if —
MS. BRAINARD: So, in terms — yeah, where we are on the economy, what has been interesting is, you know, there have been these reade- — repeated predictions. And yet, what we’ve seen in the actual data has been a lot of resilience.
So, again, we’re continuing to see strong labor market, low unemployment. We’ve actually seen that stretch of a strong labor market im- — improve due to the very large increase we’ve seen in participation of working-age Americans.
And so, there are reasons to think that we are going to continue to see resilience against a backdrop of what we have referred to as more stable economic growth.
MS. DALTON: Kelly O.
Q Thanks for being here. When you look at the overall picture with respect to office space in cities and how that has been an issue with the changing way people work, do you see that as having an impact on the economy if those buildings, you know, can’t be susta- — sustained, the companies and the banks that are involved there?
And with the kinds of projections you’re doing for the infrastructure building and the broadband and all of that, when we have such a tight labor market, where do you foresee that pool of workers to be? And can it be satisfied?
MS. BRAINARD: Yeah. So, in terms of commercial real estate, this is obviously an area that we’ve been tracking closely. Within commercial real estate, it’s really that segment that you referred to. It’s office space only. Some of the other areas of commercial real estate have actually been doing quite well, like industrial and even retail has been doing better. Multifamily has been doing very well.
But, yes, some areas, office is now adjusting to different patterns of working, more remote work, potentially. So that needs to work its way through. And, of course, we’re very attentive to where those financial risks may lie.
And so far, they seem to be being managed pretty well. But we’re going to stay focused on that.
And the second piece was matching workers with jobs. So, the President’s agenda includes a lot of initiatives that are intended precisely to make sure that our workforce in the places where we’re seeing those investments is skilled and is connected to those jobs.
And so, we talk about registered apprenticeships. The President just traveled to North Carolina to participate in meetings at a community college that was part of a consortium that resulted from his legislation. And those — those students are being connected directly to these jobs associated with investments in our manufacturing sector. And in some cases, going back to high-school-level curricula.
And that’s very much what he has in mind when he talks about how skilled the workers that are involved in some of these very complicated industries of the future are, and the pathways that might include apprenticeships, might include community college, but need not include a four-year college.
MS. DALTON: I know your time is limited. Thank you so much for —
MS. BRAINARD: Thank you.
MS. DALTON: — joining us here in the briefing room today, Lael.
MS. BRAINARD: Thank you very much.
Q Come back anytime.
MS. DALTON: Yes, please come back anytime.
So, I just have one piece of brief news at the top before we get to questions. Today, the Biden-Harris administration is announcing a new security assistance package for Ukraine, as we continue to stand with the people of Ukraine as they defend themselves from Russia’s brutal invasion.
This package includes key capabilities that will support Ukraine’s counteroffensive operations, such as mine-clearing equipment, armored vehicles, and artillery rounds. It will also strengthen air defenses to help Ukraine protect its people from rocket attacks and prov- — provide Ukraine with ant- — additional anti-armor systems and ammunition for the HIMARS rocket systems that Ukraine has — is using so effectively on the battlefield.
This is the 41st drawdown of equipment from the DOD inventories using presidential drawdown authorities for Ukraine that Congress approved last year with strong bipartisan support. And as President Biden told President Zelenskyy on Sunday, we continue to support Ukraine as it defends its sovereignty and territorial integrity from Russian aggression.
Q Congratulations on your first time in the briefing room, officially.
So, two questions. Can you offer more details about the lunch with President Obama and President Biden today? Is it just kind of a fun check-in thing? Or do they have a specific agenda?
I think President Obama has been doing a lot on the issue of democracy. Is that something that’s — they’re going to touch on during the lunch today?
MS. DALTON: Well, as you know, the two leaders, the two Presidents stay in touch regularly. They most recently spoke in early June when President Obama called President Biden to congratulate him on reaching the bipartisan budget agreement, which I believe we read out to you all at the time.
And, certainly, they’ve seen each other regularly in the months before that. But, you know, President Biden is happy to be hosting President Obama here at the White House this afternoon for lunch. I’m not going to detail their — or speculate on what their private conversations might detail or might involve — but to say that they always look forward to seeing each other and having a chance to sit down in person.
Q Is it safe to say it’s more like a social meeting — or any specific agenda?
MS. DALTON: I wouldn’t — there’s no specific agenda to this meeting. They meet — meet regularly. This is part of that regular cadence of — of meetings, and I’m sure it will continue.
Q And on the student loan decision that we expect from the Supreme Court — I mean, I know the administration has said over and over that you’re confident in your legal — in your legal argument before the Justices, but does that mean you have no plan B in case this is struck down? What is your alternative if the Justices don’t rule the way that you want a rule?
MS. DALTON: Well, look, I think what we’ve consistently said is that we have been very confident in the legal argument that the Solicitor General put before — argued before the Supreme Court, and we’re not going to get ahead of what the Supreme Court’s outcome is here.
But let’s also be clear about the stakes. The whole reason the President pursued the student debt relief program is because of what — the importance of the breathing room that this will provide, potentially, to millions and millions of Americans who just needed a little bit more breathing room as we came out of this pandemic.
And so, while we won’t get ahead of the decision, we know that the stakes couldn’t be higher for student borrowers right now. And certainly, we’re watching along with the millions of people who desperately need that student debt relief to see what the court will do here.
Q And just one follow-up. So, I was going ask Director Brainard this: While we’re focused on the can- — the fate of the cancelation program, obviously, the student loan payment — the repayments will resume shortly. And I’m wondering if the administration has done any sort of research or has any projections on what kind of a drag that would be on consumer spending and subsequently the economy?
MS. DALTON: Well, first of all, with respect to the — the lifting of the student loan pause, the Department of Education is going to be in touch directly with student borrowers to make sure that they have what they need and the information that they need as that prepares to resume.
But with respect to the economy, I would say part of the reason that we did this is because, you know, you heard Lael just talk about the idea of Bidenomics — the idea that we grow the economy by growing the middle class, that we grow the economy by empowering and educating workers, by giving low and — you know, growing from the bottom up and the middle out here. And certainly, the student debt relief program fits into that idea.
The idea that coming out of this pans- — pandemic, a once-in-a-generation pandemic, the challenges that student loan — student borrowers faced as a result — certainly, the idea of giving folks a little bit more breathing room to get out from under mountains of student debt so that they can, you know, do things like start a small business or buy a home or save for, you know, their — their kids’ college education. These are the kinds of things that we think will have a significant impact and a benefit to the economy over the long term.
Q Sure, but if on the repayments, when you’re actual- — wouldn’t they have less money to spend? I mean, does that concern the administration at all about the impact that would have on consumer spending?
MS. DALTON: Again, I’m not going to get into hypotheticals about what the potential outcome of the Supreme Court decision might be.
What I will say is that we feel that this is an incredibly important program for the — the student borrowers across the country who just need a little bit more breathing room.
Q Polling continues to show this pretty large disconnect between the economic successes that you all are touting and highlighting this week and the way Americans are actually feeling about the economy, the way they’re feeling about their own wallets. Inflation and recession fears continue to be a pretty big pull on the President’s popularity. So, why do you think that is? And is this big rebrand going to be enough to bridge that divide and turn things around?
MS. DALTON: Well, what I would say is that the President’s economic policies are incredibly popular when you ask people what they think about investing in our roads, bridges, and airports; what you — when you ask people what they think about educating and empowering workers; when you ask people about how they feel about reshoring manufacturing jobs and investing in America. Those things are incredibly popular.
And we find that when we go out and we talk to people about it, they support Bidenomics.
And so, that’s exactly what the President is going to be doing in Chicago tomorrow. And that’s exactly why we’re — we’re talking to Americans about everything that he’s doing to make sure that we grow the economy by growing the middle class — give people the — the support that they need to — to grow our economy for us.
Q And yet, despite those numbers that you just cited, I mean, according to our last poll, 54 to 36 percent say Donald Trump did a better job handling the economy when he was president than Biden has done so far. You aren’t announcing anything new necessarily this week; you are just, you know, sort of highlighting and touting what you’ve done. Is that enough?
MS. DALTON: Well, what I would say to you is look at where we were when we came into office when, after four years of Donald Trump, unemployment was over 6 percent.
And today, we are standing here at a time where unemployment has — is at historic lows. We’ve seen inflation come down for — by 50 percent over the last year. Eleven months straight, inflation has come down. We’ve recovered — our economy has recovered faster than any major economy in the entire world.
And that’s happening because of President Biden’s leadership, because of the economic agenda that he’s put forward. Two and a half years into this administration, we’re just seeing the — the first impacts of all the historic legislation that he was able to achieve in the first couple of years.
We’re seeing shovels in grounds. We’re seeing — we’re seeing private investment come back to our country. We’re seeing millions of jobs created.
And so, now is the time where, with all of those accomplishments, the President can take this message to the American people and say, “This is what Bidenomics is and here’s what we have to show for it. Let’s put our foot on the gas and keep moving forward instead of returning to these failed trickle-down policies that never seem to ever trickle down.”
Q And on one other topic, United Airlines is calling out the FAA for failing the traveling public, saying the FAA staffing and inexperience are crippling air travel. What’s your response? And are there any steps — you know, emergency steps, priority steps that — that can be taken to manage some of this chaos out there?
MS. DALTON: Well, I think — look, across the country over the last couple of days, we’ve seen some really severe weather. Millions of people have been impacted by that, seen it up close. I know I know people who had multiple canceled flights — flights yesterday as a result of the extreme weath- — weather that we’re seeing.
The people at the FAA — the men, women of the FAA — are always wor- — willing to work collaboratively with companies to solve the problem. And I — and I would just say that I know that the FAA is speaking to this and — and stands ready to work with companies to address any issues they’re facing.
Q I want to go back —
MS. DALTON: Ed.
Q — to two subjects that have just come up here. First, on the economy, you and this White House continues to point out that on individual issues that have been passed and that are being implemented, they are popular with the American public. Why does the White House think consistently, however, that Americans grade the President so poorly on his handling of the economy?
MS. DALTON: Well, look, I just said that we’re just starting to feel the impact of the President’s economic agenda over the last couple of years. I mean, we — he, in the span — span of two years’ time passed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Inflation Reduction Act, CHIPS and Science Act.
And now we’re starting to see — we are reaching the implementation phase where people are seeing 35,000 infrastructure pro- — projects and shovels in grounds across the country; where we are seeing $490 million — billion in private-sector investment coming back to the United States and reshoring of hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs in cities that had been hollowed out for generations.
So people are just starting to see the impact of — of all of the successes of the last couple of years under this President’s economic agenda. And now is when we’re able to not only talk about what the President’s agenda is but point to the results and the fact that we have to keep our foot on the gas, as I said, to keep ourselves moving forward here.
Q Some version of what you just said has been said by this White House, though, most of the year. So, at what point does — are the American people going to see this? Or are they just not paying attention to what’s being done and they’re not being patient enough?
MS. DALTON: Look, I think that pe- — people all across the United States of America are starting to see shovels in grounds in their communities. They’re seeing the President announce, as he did on Monday, a commitment to connecting the entire country through broad — high-quality, affordable broadband access, which is going to make a difference in the lives of millions of people.
And so, you know, as we get farther into implementation, people are going to continue to feel that; they’re going to continue to see — see that; and they’re going to continue to hear from this President about how we are going to continue to make progress for them.
Q Real quick —
MS. DALTON: Kevin.
Q — on student loans, though. Do you have a — to those Americans who have those student loans that are waiting for the forgiveness or have enjoyed the forgiveness or to those that are perhaps opposed to the program at all, what would be your message to those, especially with — with loans, who are waiting as anxiously as the White House is for a decision?
MS. DALTON: That President Biden has fought for you every step of the way. You know, the Student Debt Relief Plan he announced to give millions of student borrowers who were buried under mountains of debt a little bit more breathing room coming out of this pandemic.
And in the face of that, we saw Republican lawmakers in Congress and special interests try to defund this program. We saw them introduce legislation that the President had to veto to try and gut this program. And we saw them go all the way to the highest court in the land to try to rip away student debt relief from millions of student borrowers who desperately needed it.
And this President, the DOJ, Solicitor General went to the court and fought hard to protect this program. Now, we are confident in the legal arguments that we’ve made. We certainly hope the Supreme Court agrees, because we know all too well what the stakes are for millions of students.
Q Just circling back to the FAA, why hasn’t the President nominated someone to lead that agency on a permanent basis? It seems as if the airlines are losing confidence somewhat in their ability to manage these travel problems.
MS. DALTON: You know, as you know, we have fought to swiftly confirm an FAA nominee. I don’t have any personnel announcements with — to — to share with you today. But we do have capable leadership in place at the FAA who are making sure that our — our skies remain safe for air travelers in the meantime and are doing the hard work of making sure that we meet the needs of consumers in this busy travel season.
Q Okay. And was the President able to listen to that tape of his predecessor that was released yesterday talking about classified documents, and if you have any particular reaction to it?
MS. DALTON: I am simply just not going to go here and refer you to the DOJ on anything related to — to this matter.
Q Yeah. I just want to ask you about Russia and Wagner. What actions, you know, can you take as an administration to hold Wagner accountable for — for their — for what we just saw over the last few weeks? And are you starting to — you know, to what extent are you concerned about a destabilization of Russia and the impact that that would have on the global economy, but also on the conflict?
MS. DALTON: So, with respect to your first question, we — we have taken action against Wagner — the Wagner Group in the past. I’m not going to forecast any future action against Wagner or even speculate on what the future might hold.
As you know, we are continuing to monitor the situation closely and stay in close coordination with allies and partners across the globe. You saw the President, Secretary Blinken, Secretary Austin, doing that across the weekend, into Monday. And certainly, the President continues to be briefed on this situation and is monitoring it very closely.
We don’t have a perfect picture right now of what is happening. But we want to continue to make one thing very, very clear, and that is that we resolutely stand by and support Ukraine.
You just heard me a moment ago announce yet another drawdown for Ukraine to make sure that they have what they need to defend their territorial sovereignty and integrity. And, you know, you saw the President speak to President Zelenskyy on Sunday to reinforce that directly. So we’ll continue to make that clear. We’re continuing to watch the situation.
I’m not going to have much more to say on — on — on this today, unfortunately. We just are in a place of waiting and watching and working with our partners to make sure we have an accurate assessment of what’s going on.
And did I miss the second part of your question?
Q No, I have another one, actually, though, on China. What — you know, we — we’ve seen reports that Janet Yellen will be going to China next — next week, and I’m wondering about what, you know, your plans are, your thinking is, about having the President speak with President Xi after the whole dustup at the last campaign — you know, sort of announced via whatever the — the “dictator” remark — (laughter) —
MS. DALTON: Whatever you’d like to call it.
Q Just to call it — call it out.
MS. DALTON: So, I don’t have any travel to preview for — for Secretary Yellen. Certainly, would refer you to Treasury — the Treasury Department to make any announcement of that nature.
With respect to the President, I also don’t have any call to preview. I think you — you heard him the other day say he hopes to speak to President Xi in the near term. But beyond that, I don’t have anything to — to add on that front.
What I would say is that, as you heard Secretary Blinken say during his travels in the region and on — upon his return, we continue to feel it’s really important that we have multiple channels of communication with Beijing and that that is critical to the relationship in a time where our increased competition — we want to make sure that doesn’t veer into conflict.
And so, have those multiple layers of communication to avoid any sort of miscalculations, misperceptions, tension — manage — manage the tensions in a responsible way.
Q Given the situation that we saw unfold this weekend in Russia, is it — are you reaching out to your Chinese counterparts through all these different discussion channels to ask them particularly to take any particular action in the context of the divisions in Russia?
MS. DALTON: I don’t have anything specific to read out to you on that.
Q Thank you very much. Do you have anything on the slightly mysterious conference that took place in Denmark on Saturday? I mean, I say a little “mysterious” because it was a — it was a big conference. There were countries from around the world, including some of the Ukraine-skeptic ones — if you can call them that — like India. But very little has come out of it. Do you have anything on what did come out of it? And could it lead to something more concrete and visible?
MS. DALTON: So you’re referring to a meeting that happened — it was organized by Ukraine in Copenhagen over the weekend. And on Saturday morning, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan participated in that meeting virtually. NSC Senior Director for Europe, Amanda Sloat, participated in that meeting in person.
Again, it was convened by Ukraine. They had a positive and productive discussion about, you know, that — about what principles for peace could look — look like and how we could achieve a just and durable peace in Ukraine.
And the attendees broadly agreed that we want to see this war — you know, this war end swiftly and we want to ensure that everybody continues to respect the fundamental principles of the U.N. Charter, and that includes the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Beyond that, I don’t have anything to read out to you. This was a meeting convened by Ukraine, and I would refer to you — refer you to them for other participants and details.
Q Thank you, Olivia. I have two questions for you. I would like to follow up on Andrea’s question. There are — alarm bells are ringing in Poland and Baltic states that — because of the movement of Wagner Group troops to Belarus. And the Polish President just today called it a relocation of Russian forces.
So is it at all possible that the whole mutiny was just a cover for moving Wagner’s troops to Belarus? And what’s your reaction to those concerns in — on the eastern flank of NATO?
MS. DALTON: So I’m not going to get into any sort of speculation about this situation. We’re continuing to monitor it closely. And all I’ll say is that, you know, rhetoric around nuclear weapons is, you know, from the — we’ve seen coming from the Russians is highly irresponsible.
And that said, we’ve seen no change, no reason to assess that their nuclear posture has changed, and no reason to change our own nuclear posture.
With that said, we comai- — remain committed to the collective defense of the NATO Alliance, which, of course, includes — which, of course, includes Poland. And we are going to stay in close touch with our partners and allies to make sure we continue to monitor — monitor this closely and responsibly.
Q And to follow up on nuclear weapons: President Lukashenko said today that a significant part of the nuclear weapons have been brought to Belarus. Can you confirm that and — that, in fact, it happened? And if true, why the U.S. is not changing its nuclear posture in response to Russia’s — Russia changing nuclear — their nuclear posture? And John yesterday sounded, like, a little bit dismissive about this — this movement.
MS. DALTON: Yeah, I — I can’t confirm that for you.
Q You’ve talked a lot today on — back on the economy — about what the President has already done in the last two and a half years. But, of course, a lot of the President’s agenda was left on the table: childcare, ending Trump tax cuts, that kind of thing.
At what point — obviously, it’s not this speech, but — but at what point does the President have to pivot to be talking about specific proposals for new things that he wants to do in a potential second term or even in the latter part of this term?
And why isn’t — you know, if this — I think Karine yesterday called it a “cornerstone speech” or something like that. Why not use this opportunity — you’re obviously building up the speech — to do some of that, to talk a little bit about new, specific proposals?
MS. DALTON: Well, look, part of what we’re doing right now is implementing so much of this legislation, right? I mean, if you — right now, I mean, we launched a couple of weeks ago Invest.gov, where you can go and you can actually see where all the private investment that’s coming into the United States, where all of these 35,000 transportation projects are springing up across the country. That is now underway.
And we’re focused on implementing the incredible pieces of historic legislation this President has gotten done over the last two and a half years and making the case that this is the kind of strategy we need to continue to put the — you know, put the pedal to the metal on so that we can continue this economic progress and not risk undercutting all of that.
Because as we’ve seen, House Republicans continue to try to repeal the IRA and the progress that we’re making in investing in clean energy and manufacturing, reshoring jobs in America. They’re continuing to push for unpaid-for extensions of the Trump tax cuts, which would add $3 billion to our deficit, send jobs overseas, and undercut the progress that we’ve made.
So this President is laser-focused on, you know, the historic progress that we’ve made, the historic legislation we’ve made over the last two and a half years, and making sure that we implement that right now successfully so that we can continue to keep our foot on the gas, as they say.
Q But is that — but is that — does this administration think that’s enough? Or at some point, do — does the administration think he has to lay out his — his next vision?
MS. DALTON: Well, today we’re focused on tomorrow and laying out Bidenomics and talking to the American people about what that is, how it’s taken shape, and how it’s made a meaningful impact in their lives. That’s what we’re focused on for the — for the moment. I don’t have anything to preview for you in the way of future economic announcements.
But, look, we believe there’s really substantial progress to be proud of here: 13 million jobs, 12 million new small business starts, wages that are rising now as — to where they were at the beginning of this — this administration. They’re — wages are rising now, even when adjusted for inflation.
There are a lot of reasons to see positive signs in this economy as a result of what the President has done, and we want to keep that going.
Go ahead, Jared.
Q Thank you. So, on that speech tomorrow, is Bidenomics kind of like a — the message here that, as it relates to inflation, as it relates to a lot of the — the issues that you guys were dealing with over the last few years, that the worst of it’s over? Is that what we’re getting here from President Biden?
MS. DALTON: I am definitely not a — an, you know, economic forecaster. I’m not going to get out my crystal ball. I think, as you’ve heard Lael just lay out really clearly, however, we’ve seen a lot of positive signs about inflation moderating, inflation coming down by 50 percent over the last year, declining for 11 months straight.
Certainly, when you look at where other major economies in the world are, the United States has a lower rate of inflation right now than any other major economy. And so, that tells us that we are on the right track here and we’ve got to continue to keep our foot on the gas.
Q But does the administration share the baseline view of the Federal Reserve that 2 percent inflation is the goal?
MS. DALTON: I, as you know, cannot comment on the — the independent monetary policy set forward by the Federal Reserve, so I’m just going to leave that there.
Ed, go ahead.
Q Thanks, Olivia. So, the Federal Reserve says inflation is double what the Federal Reserve would like to see, and they believe the unemployment rate will go to 4.1 percent. So, how is Bidenomics not an era of high inflation and a rising unemployment rate?
MS. DALTON: Well, take a look at where we started and where we are now. That’s the easiest answer to your question.
When we came into office with the global economic headwinds of — of COVID that were then compounded by the disruptions we faced when Russia invaded Ukraine and disrupted global food supply chains, global fuel supply chains, sent inflation soaring around the world.
Right now, the United States is in a better position on inflation than any other major economy. And why is that? It’s because the President took a number of swift and decisive actions to make sure that we got our economy on track, that we got ourselves open and chugging along again.
And today, as a consequence of that, we see record low unemployment; record new small business starts; inflation that, again, is lower than any other major economy in the world. And we’re — we’re making progress.
Q But we’re seeing layoffs, specifically talking about the auto industry. For example, Ford is saying they’re laying off workers to afford the cost of the transition to EV. The first quarter of this year, Ford lost $700 million on their EV program, lost $600 million last year.
So, is that what we can expect with Bidenomics, then?
MS. DALTON: Well, I would just say, looking across the economy broadly, we’re seeing signs of progress. We’re seeing, as I said just a moment ago, record low unemployment, record small business starts, jobs that are coming back by the hundreds of thousands overseas as a result of private investment in clean energy manufacturing in our country.
And so, certainly, we believe that, broadly, we are on the right track here, that Bidenomics is having a tremendous impact. And we want to continue to see that progress move forward.
Q Does the White House have a response to Ron DeSantis’s proposal to use lethal force against drug cartels trying to cut through the border wall along the southern border?
MS. DALTON: I’ve got to be really careful from here in talking about a 2024 — declared 2024 presidential candidates as — as a result of something that you all know — it’s called the Hatch Act; it prevents me from doing so.
But what I will say, broadly, is that with respect to — with respect to immigration, you know, this President came into office introducing a comprehensive immigration reform; sought and received and was able to obtain record border security funding; was able to put in set — put in place a series of policies that expanded legal pathways for migration that dealt with our border situation and has now resulted in a significant decrease in unlawful border crossings since the lifting of Title 42. And he’s done all of that without the help of Republican governors around the country or Republican lawmakers in Congress.
And so, we think that this is a serious issue that demands leadership and that, you know, the President is providing that leadership. And we just hope that, you know, Republicans will find their way to the table.
Q But on the policy itself, do you think — putting aside Ron DeSantis’s proposal of it, do you consider that the use of lethal force against — you know, he said “drug cartels” — do you consider that draconian, going too far?
MS. DALTON: I haven’t seen the details of this policy, and I’m not going to speak to it specifically, also given my Hatch Act concerns. But I’m happy to take it and come back to you, if I can say anything about it.
Jacqui, go ahead.
Q Thanks, Olivia. What message is the President trying to send the American people when he invites his son to the state dinner and Camp David, as we saw this past weekend, amid everything he’s going through?
MS. DALTON: Every president of the United States has invited their family to a state dinner. This President also has a family. He is no different. And beyond that, I’m just not going to engage on this.
Q The former White House Press Secretary, Jen Psaki, acknowledged that optically that might not have been easier for the White House. Can you elaborate on that at all — the decision to — to invite the President’s son amid everything that he’s going through and what challenges that poses for — for this White House to explain?
MS. DALTON: Like every other administration, like every other president, this President has a family, and he did exactly what many prior administrations have done. And beyond that, I really don’t have any comment on this.
Go ahead, Catherine.
Q Thanks. You’ve mentioned a couple times the idea that people are just starting to feel the impact of the President’s economic policies. Does the administration have an assessment of how long it will take for these policies to sink in, and will it be before the next election?
MS. DALTON: Well, look, I’m not going to speak to future elections from here. But this President is — as I’ve said, we have already seen the strongest and fastest economic recovery of any major economy in the world. So, we’ve already seen — I just talked about the millions of jobs that have been created, the millions of new small business starts. So, we are on — on track. We are making progress.
All I’m saying is that the President is really laser-focused on making sure that we implement his Invest in America agenda and continue to, you know, as I said, acc- — keep — make sure that we keep accelerating forward.
Q And I just want to try once more on the layoffs at Ford. I want to know if you have any comment on the layoffs themselves. And is the administration comfortable with the idea that jobs could be lost in this process of transitioning to electric vehicles?
MS. DALTON: Well, look, certainly anytime somebody loses a job, loses a paycheck, that’s something we’re concerned about. The President knows that deeply and personally — what that is like for a family. And so, certainly anytime we’re hearing about layoffs in the economy, we’re concerned about that and monitoring that and looking at that.
But what I will say more broadly is: Part of the reason why the clean energy investments that the President has made in our economy are so important is because we are simultaneously moving his ambitious climate agenda forward but also bringing clean energy jobs and manufacturing jobs and supply chains back to the United States by the hundreds of thousands.
So, you know, again, anytime we hear that somebody has lost a job and a paycheck, that is something we take very seriously and don’t want to diminish. But we’re making progress here, and we think that’s important to lift up too.
Q Thank you. On childcare, the Commerce Department is requiring certain recipients of CHIPS funding to provide childcare to their workers. I know you’ve been talking about different infrastructure investments today; Lael was talking about that as well.
Looking at — I know the White House is also looking at other ways to replicate that idea to expand childcare when it wasn’t put in the Inflation Reduction Act. Can you talk about where you are on that, in terms of attaching legislation — childcare legislation you already passed?
MS. DALTON: I — I’m going to have to take that. I just don’t have an update for you today on that.
Q Thank you, Olivia. I’ve got a quick question about the lunch and then a couple of follow-ups from last week. About the lunch, President Obama reportedly told President Biden ahead of 2020, quote, “You don’t have to do this, Joe. You really don’t.” Can you say if a similar message was shared today?
MS. DALTON: I can’t, and I don’t know what you’re referring to.
Q Regarding whether he should continue to serve in public life.
MS. DALTON: I — I don’t know what you’re referring to, and I don’t have any comment on it.
Q And to follow up on last week: Does the White House believe Attorney General Garland committed perjury when he testified under oath that Delaware U.S. Attorney David Weiss could bring charges outside of his district?
MS. DALTON: I don’t have any comment on this.
Q And —
MS. DALTON: Go ahead.
Q — and within 10 days of —
MS. DALTON: Steven, I’m moving on. Anita?
Q I have a China question and also a Ukraine question. First of all, on China, can you just lay out the expectations for Secretary Yellen’s trip? And is this possible executive order on outbound investment on the table?
MS. DALTON: I’ll leave it to the Treasury Department to discuss any potential travel that Secretary Yellen has.
Q Great. Then, on Ukraine: Today’s package — I didn’t see it mention long-range missiles, which Ukraine has asked for. They want them to take back territory. Are those not on the table? Why are they not there? And are they going to be considered in future packages?
MS. DALTON: Look, our focus has always been on making sure that Ukraine has what it needs to defend itself and defend its territory and its sovereignty.
What I would just say to you on your specific question is, you know, you should feel free to reach out to Department — Department of Defense about all of the specific contents of this package. I think they may have some more detail to lay out.
AIDE: Olivia, we can do one or two more.
MS. DALTON: Okay.
Q A follow on Ukraine?
MS. DALTON: Go ahead.
Q Thanks. Thanks, Olivia. I just wanted to get a comment on the Supreme Court decision today on Moore vs. Harper.
MS. DALTON: Sure. So this morning at the Supreme Court, there was a critical decision with respect to voting rights. As you know, this has been an enormous priority for the President and the Vice President since the day that they entered office,
to strengthen and shore up voting rights in this country.
And so we’re pleased that the Supreme Court rejected the extreme legal theory presented in this case, which would have interfered with state governments, which would have opened the door for politicians to undermine the will of the people and would have threatened the freedom of all Americans to have their voices heard at the ballot box.
Again, as you just heard me say, the President and the Vice President have made this a significant priority since they first entered office. And they will continue to fight to make sure that — to fight to urge Congress to pass critical voting rights legislation in Congress as we go forward to ensure there are fair congressional maps and that people have access to the ballot box.
Q A quick follow-up on inflation, real quickly, please. So you mentioned that the White House believes inflation is moderating. The Bank of America CEO, Brian Moynihan, said in an interview today that “We think it’ll take [Fed officials] all of this year and all of next year into 2025 before they get inflation in line with their long-term target.” Does the White House agree with this assessment?
MS. DALTON: I certainly am not going to make any predictions from here and ec- — economic forecasts from here. All I can say is what Lael said a few moments ago, which is that we’ve seen inflation come down significantly over the past year — 50 percent of the last year, 11 months straight.
And, you know, we’re going to continue to do everything in our power to keep lowering costs for the American people and continue making all that progress.
Q Olivia, following up on the President’s call with President Zelenskyy: He had said that there would be a second one. So it sounds like that hasn’t happened yet, though. Do you expect that to happen —
MS. DALTON: I don’t have any —
Q — today?
MS. DALTON: — call to read out to you today.
Q Okay. And then in the call that they did have, did the President encourage President Zelenskyy to attend the NATO summit next month in Lithuania? And does President Biden expect to meet with President Zelenskyy in person at that summit?
MS. DALTON: I don’t have any news to share with you on that front. Certainly, this is going to be a really important NATO summit with a lot on the table, an opportunity for the President and other NATO Allies to gather and talk about so many things, including Ukraine.
You know, as we’ve said many times, you know, one thing that is quite remarkable today is how NATO is stronger, it’s larger, it’s more purposeful than ever before. Of course, we’re looking forward to welcoming our newest member in the NATO Alliance, Finland, in a couple of weeks.
And certainly this is going to be an important summit on a number of fronts. But I don’t have anything respect- — respective to a particular bilateral meeting to read out to you today.
Q Follow-up on Ukraine.
Q I have one.
MS. DALTON: Let’s just do one — we have one more.
Q Follow-up —
MS. DALTON: Go right here.
Q Thank you. The Russian Defense Minister is in Cuba today. He’s meeting there with his counterpart. And they both agreed to strengthen the relationship, investing more military (inaudible). Is the White House watching this? Do you have anything on this?
MS. DALTON: This is not something — I — I need to take this one back and see what my NSC colleagues might have to say about it.
All right. Thanks all. Have a great afternoon, and I’ll see some of you in Chicago tomorrow.
1:54 P.M. EDT