Remarks by President Biden on the Build Back Better Agenda
1:43 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon. Last week, we had good news on job growth: 943,000 jobs created in July — the seventh-largest month of job creation in U.S. history — making the administration the first ever to add 4 million jobs in the first six months in office.
And then, in the past 24 hours, we’ve seen the Senate advance two key pieces of my economic agenda: the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the budget resolution that is the framework for my Build Back Better plan.
Today, I’m pleased to share more good news with the American people: The latest report on consumer price shows — prices show that we’ve expanded some easing — excuse me, the expected easing we thought was going to come has increased — that we are — we’ve seen a good monthly report.
The monthly core consumer price index is down by nearly two thirds from its pace over the past three months.
And when you take out the goods directly impacted by the pandemic, like cars and airplane tickets and month — the monthly core consumer price index has — is less than two tenths of 1 percent.
So, here’s where we stand: Jobs are up, and monthly price increases have come down. Economic growth is up to the fastest in 40 years, and unemployment is coming down.
So, I was — argued our — the Biden economic plan is working. And historic investments are on the way as well.
This isn’t accidental. It is the result of our strategy to get shots in arms, grow the economy from the bottom up and the middle out. And it’s the rest of the — the result of the American Rescue Plan and everything else that we’ve done. And it’s a result of the grit and determination and really hard work of the American people.
But even with all this progress, a lot of families are still feeling the pinch. Family budgets remain tight, and paychecks don’t go as far as they need to. That has been a reality in the millions of households all across America for too long.
That’s why I want to talk today about what we’re going to do to try to ease the burden on families right now and what we need to do to help them succeed over the longer term.
First, for millions of families, help is on the way right now, thanks to the American Rescue Plan. On Friday, about 40 million families will receive their second monthly payment
as part of our tax cut for families with children: three hundred and — $300 for each child under the age of 6, and $250 for every child 6 through the age of 17. That’s money for diapers, food, rent, school supplies, fees and equipment for a child to join sports teams and dance class. Most of all, as my dad used to say, it just gives a parent a little bit of breathing room.
The money is a game changer. And so, I would argue, for — for some, it’s literally a lifesaver.
Economists also tell us that those kinds of tax cuts boost test scores, college attendance, and lifetime earnings for children — a win-win.
And that’s why I’m glad that, early this morning, Congress took an important step to make sure that this tax cut for families with children does not expire next year.
So let’s keep this tax cut going and not raise taxes on middle-class families.
The second point I’d like to make is: We’re talking about taking action that alleviates global supply chain challenges that keep prices higher than they should be.
For example, we’re — we’re tracking congestion at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach — the largest ports in United States — where increased shipping traffic, and the challenges of operating safely in a pandemic are creating disruptions. Those disruptions impact everything from how much our food costs to when deliveries arrive.
So, my administration is bringing together the port operators, shipping lines, the labor unions, trucking companies, railroads, and others to speed up the port’s operations.
Right now, our experts believe — the major independent forecasters agree as well — that these bottlenecks and price spikes will reduce as our economy continues to heal.
And while today’s consumer price report points in that direction, we will keep a careful eye on inflation each month, and trust the Fed to take appropriate action if and when it’s needed.
Third, I’ve directed my administration to crack down on what some major players are doing in the economy that are keeping prices higher than they need be.
Take your groceries bill: When big agriculture operations consolidate, they put a squeeze on small and family farms, making them pay more for seed, paying them less for what they produce, and raising prices on what your groceries — what you pay for your groceries at the grocery store.
My executive order opens up competition in the agricultural business, gives more farmers a chance to compete, which will give Americans more food choices at lower cost.
Fourthly, we are taking action to address gas prices as well. Today, gas prices are lower than they were early in this decade. But they’re still high enough to create a pinch on working families.
One key thing about the infrastructure bill that just passed the Senate is there are no gas tax increases. No gas tax increases. I made that absolutely clear that I would not raise gas taxes, and I’m glad everyone in the Senate seemed to agree with that. But that’s not enough.
Recently, we’ve seen the price that oil companies pay for a barrel of oil begin to fall, but the cost of gasolines at the pump for more American people hasn’t fallen. That’s not what you’d expect in a competitive market.
I want to make sure that nothing stands in the way of oil price declines, leading to lower prices for consumers. So today, my Director of the Economic — the National Economic Council has asked the Chair of the Federal Trade Commission to use every available tool to monitor the U.S. gasoline market and address any illegal conduct that might be connect- — that might be contributing to price increases at the pump while the cost of barrel oil is going down.
We also made clear to OPEC — the major oil-exporting nations of the world — that the production cuts made during the pandemic should be reversed as the global economic — there as the global economy recovers, in order to lower the prices for consumers.
The Child Tax Credit, stepping in to address supply chain challenges, my competition order, the FTC investigation into price gouging — these are some of the immediate steps we are taking to put more money in your pocket and make that money go further.
But we also need to do more to bring down the costs that are squeezing families month after month and year after year. We need to make this economy work better for working families in the long run.
These challenges were with us long before the pandemic and before I took office. But as we recover from this crisis, now is the moment to put in place a long-term plan to build back America better — a plan that will increase opportunities with better jobs and with higher wages; a plan that will lower the everyday costs that strain our budgets and our nation’s families today and long into the future.
It starts with making investments that we know will make the economy more productive and lead to more growth over the long run.
Bringing down the costs — everyday costs that have been taking a bigger and bigger bite out of middle-class families’ incomes — the expenses that parents — that keep parents up at night and rob seniors of their dignity: healthcare, prescription drug costs, childcare, education, housing, or caring for an elderly relative or loved one.
For those who get their health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, the American Rescue Plan allowed us to cover more people at lower premiums — and lower premiums by an average of 40 percent. In my Build Back Better plan, we want — we want to build on that progress.
Or prescription drugs. Right now, we pay the highest prescription drug cost prices of any developed nation in the world — the highest.
My Build Back Better plan is going to lower predi- — prescription drug costs by finally giving Medicare the power to negotiate the prices of drug they purchase for the American people, saving Americans hundreds of billions of dollars.
On top of that, my plan would add hearing, dental, and vision benefits to Medicare.
Right now, there are hundreds of thousands of Americans who need home- and community-based care services. My plan expands homecare for older Americans and people with disabilities while improving jobs and the pay for the workers who care for them.
My plan will also provide access to quality, affordable childcare, with new and upgraded childcare facilities all across the country. Middle-class families will pay no more than 7 percent of their income for highly qualified care for children up to the age of five. The most hard-pressed working families will not pay a dime.
Today, my Council of Economic Advisers and the Office of Management and Budget released a report showing clearly how my Build Back Better plan will lower out-of-pocket expenses for families.
For example, a family with two parents who together earn $85,000 per year. They have an adult daughter who lives with them and attends a community college. They care for an elderly parent who needs arthritis medicine, which costs $5,500 out-of-pocket each year, and an eye exam to get a new pair of glasses.
Under our Build Back Better plan, their daughter would be eligible for two years of community college free. That will save them $2,400 a year. That’s like a $2,400 tax credit. In addition — and I should say “tax cut,” not just “credit.”
In addition, my plan would cap out-of-pocket expenses and costs for their mom’s and dad’s prescription drugs, saving that family another $2,400 a year.
And this new vision — and the new vision benefit under Medicare would pay for that eye exam and new glasses and lenses, saving $450 a year.
All told, my plan would save that family making $85,000 a year $5,250.
And the Build Back Better plan is going to save your family a lot, as well.
Now, there are a number of — there’s been a lot of misleading talk — which is no surprise, I guess — about what I’m proposing in my Build Back Better agenda. It’s not a short-term stimulus; it’s a long-term investment in American families.
My Republican colleagues have argued that long-term investments in physical infrastructure will grow the economy and reduce inflationary press- — pressures. And I thank them for that. They’re exactly right. We agree on that.
And the same time, it’s true that long-term investments
that bring down the biggest costs that families face — housing, childcare, education, and healthcare — these investments will lower out-of-pocket expenses, not raise them. They will spur more people to work by helping ease the burdens of childcare and senior care that parents, especially mothers, bear — keeping them out of the job market.
And they’ll spread out over the decade. They’ll make a huge difference for families, but they’ll only make up around 1 percent of our economy’s — of our economy each year over the next decade. And they’re going to be fully paid for.
This isn’t going to be anything like my predecessor, whose unpaid tax cuts and other spending added nearly $8 trillion in his four years to the national debt. Eight trillion dollars. They didn’t even purport to try to pay for their tax cuts, which went straight to the largest corporations and the wealthiest Americans.
The investments I am proposing will be fully paid for over the long term by having the largest corporations, including the 55 corporations that paid zero federal tax last year, and the super wealthy begin to pay their fair share. They’ll still make a lot of money, but pay their fair share. That means it will actually reduce the national debt, improve our fiscal position over the long run.
My Build Back Better agenda is fiscally responsible — the fiscally responsible way to reduce costs for families.
In fact, we’re hearing economists across the board confirm this. Moody’s has said that, quote, “worries that the plan will ignite” — and this is Moody’s now — ” will ignite undesirably high inflation and an overheating economy [is] overdone.”
Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz said of my plan, and I quote, “There is no conceivable way that they [will] have any significant effect on inflation.”
Jason Furman of Harvard University has said, quote, “I don’t think the infrastructure bill or reconciliation plan would materially impact inflation over the next decade.”
So, if your primary concern right now is the cost of living, you should support this plan, not oppose it. Because a vote against this plan is a vote against lowering the cost of healthcare, housing, childcare, eldercare, and prescription drugs for American families.
So, let me close with this: We’ve brought this economy back from a cold start. And there is going to be — there are going to be some ups and downs. But I am committed to making sure that our historic economic recovery reaches everyone — this time, it reaches everyone — and eases the burden on working families not just this year, but for the years to come.
So, thank you. God bless you. And may God protect our troops. Thank you.
1:59 P.M. EDT