State Dining Room
10:41 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. I’m sorry I’m a few minutes late. We’re getting ready to head down to Louisiana and I had a few things I had to do.
Look, we — as we head into Labor Day weekend, we have more evidence of the progress of our economy from last year’s economic calamity.
Today, we learned the economy created 235 new — thousand — new jobs in August. And the unemployment rate fell to 5.2 percent, the lowest it has been in 18 months.
But despite the impact of the Delta variant — and I’ll talk a little more about that in a minute — what we’re seeing is an economic recovery that is durable and strong.
The Biden plan is working. We’re getting results. America is on the move again. And today’s revision of previous month job gains, with the revision of the July numbers — this report means that we have been adding an average of 750,000 jobs per month, on average, during the past three months.
And in the three months before I became President? Well, we were adding 60,000 jobs a month.
The total job creation in the first seven months
of my administration is nearly double — double any prior first-year President.
While I know some wanted to see a larger number today, and so did I, what we’ve seen this year is a continued growth, month after month, in job creation. It’s not just that I’ve added more jobs than any first-year President — in the first year of any President — it’s that we’ve added jobs in every single one of my first seven job reports. And wages are going up.
Some more jobs — some — some mo- — some months are fewer, some months more, but always adding jobs.
This is the kind of growth that makes our economy stronger and consistent progress, and not boom or bust.
Our economy grew the first half of this year at the fastest rate in about 40 years.
We’re the only developed country in the world — I’ll say that again — we’re the only developed country in the world whose economy is now bigger than it was before the pandemic.
Because of the groundwork we laid with the American Rescue Plan, our vaccination — and our vaccination strategy, we’re seeing an economy and a job market that can weather the ups and downs of the Delta variant and anything else that comes our way.
You know, we have a lot more work to do, as I will discuss shortly. But the facts speak for themselves. Think of where this country stood on the day I was sworn in as President, and compare it to where we are today.
The number of people filing new claims for unemployment each week is down 57 percent. Down 57 percent.
Child poverty is down nearly 50 percent. We’re no longer seeing long lines of people waiting for boxes of food to be put in their trunk after waiting for hours, or sometimes up to two hours.
The unemployment rate is down, from 6.3 percent to 5.2. And I believe it’s going to continue to go down.
And it’s no wonder that last week’s Gallup poll found that 72 percent of Americans think that now is a good time to find a quality job. At this time last year, that number was 30 percent. And that’s the mark of an economy where regular people can see a place for themselves in the economy.
You know, the holidays we celebrate this weekend — the holiday, Labor Day, is about honoring the dignity of work, honoring the American worker. And that’s what our economic strategy is all about as well.
It’s about growing our economy from the bottom up and the middle out, providing some extra breathing room for families — and my dad would just say, “Just a little breathing room” — creating an environment where employers have truly com- — have to compete — compete for workers by providing higher wages and better benefits.
That’s what’s happening. Wages are up, especially for working-class Americans.
Even so, even with the progress we’ve made, we’re not where we need to be in our economic recovery. There are two critical tasks ahead this month to get us closer to our goal and to take the next steps in our recovery.
The first: We need to make more progress in fighting the Delta variant of COVID-19. This is a continuing pandemic of the unvaccinated. Since becoming President, I’ve ramped up testing, secured enough vaccine for every single American, and gotten 175 million Americans fully vaccinated.
Still — still, too many have not gotten vaccinated. And it’s creating a lot of unease in our economy and around our kitchen tables.
Today’s report shows that the steps we’ve taken, passing the Rescue Plan and vaccinating 175 million people, make our economy capable of growing and adding jobs even in the face of this continuing Delta surge. A strength in our economy very different from the way things were last winter.
There’s no question the Delta variant is why today’s jobs report isn’t stronger. I know people were looking, and I was hoping, for a higher number.
But next week, I’ll lay out the next steps that are going to — we’re going to need to combat the Delta variant, to address some of those fears and concerns.
I want to talk about how we’ll further protect our schools, our businesses, our economy, and our families from the threat of Delta. As we continue to fight the Delta variant, the American Rescue Plan we passed continues to support families, businesses, and communities. Even as some of the benefits that were provided are set to expire next week, states have the option to extend those benefits and the federal resources from the Rescue Plan to do so. Not more federal taxes, state taxes, but they have the federal money to be able to do that.
States continue to have access to a wide array of support, like help for schools that are reopening, help for childcare centers to make them available and affordable, and other resources to help our economy get back to normal.
The measures we’ve taken so far have brought America out of an economic freefall, steadied us, and enabled us to grow our economy even as we combat — continue to combat COVID.
We are adding jobs, not losing them.
The fight against COVID today is far different from the fight we were waging last winter.
The second thing that has to happen in September is for the Congress — the House and Senate — to finish the job of passing my economic agenda so that we can keep up the historic momentum we’ve been building these last seven months. It’s about investing in America’s future, not about short-term stimulus; that’s not what we’re talking about.
These are long-term prosperity we’re talking about — about lowering the cost of living for families, creating millions of good-paying jobs for hardworking Americans. It’s about reducing bottlenecks in our economy, reducing long-term price pressures. It’s about helping more people to work by helping ease the burden that parents bear, especially mothers, keeping them out of the job market.
Both the Senate and the House have taken important steps forward to pass my bipartisan infrastructure plan. This bill is going to end years of gridlock. We used to — remember when we had — we always had — you know, the whole notion we had, I guess, was every week was going to be infrastructure week?
Well, both literally and figuratively, it’s going to change things on our streets across the country and, figuratively, as it relates to Washington.
We’re going to create millions of good-paying jobs. We’re going to ease inflationary pressure and allow us to win the competition of the 21st century in a global economy where the competition has become more intense.
Look, it’s historic investment in roads, in rail, in transit and bridges, in clean energy, in clean water, universal broadband. It’s going to modernize our energy grid. You need not go any further than look what’s happening across the country now in terms of the energy grids. It’s about resilience. Make our roads and highways safer. Make us more resilient to the kinds of devastating impacts from extreme weather we’re seeing in so many parts of the country.
And, look, this is about good-paying jobs for ordinary people, blue-collar workers. Jobs at prevailing wage — not $15 an hour, or $20 or $30. But for the carpenters and pipe-fitters, plumbers, electrical workers, and so many other Americans, about 90 percent of the jobs we’ll create with this plan won’t require a college degree. It will fundamentally transform the lives of millions of people. It’s going to transform America and propel us into the future, just as we did when we built the transcontinental railroad or we electrified the country — the TVA.
Look, at the same time, the House and Senate have to advance my Build Back Better agenda. That bill contains critical investments in childcare to make it easier for families to be able to go to work and assure their child is being taken care of, and home care for seniors. The polling data shows: Among your generation — all of you out here — your greatest concern is caring for your elderly parent, even more than your child.
It’s about paid leave — allowing people with a new child or a sick spouse at home to take care of them without risking losing their paycheck — not indefinitely, but for a time period they can actually make a difference.
Universal pre-K and community college — making us significantly better educated and increasing our competitive edge globally, around the world, over time.
And we’ll combat climate change by building our clean energy future, creating — the experts point out — millions of jobs and building windmills and solar panels all around the country, and transferring that energy — transmitting it to parts that don’t have that capacity.
We’re going to bring down the cost of prescription drugs by allowing Medicare to finally be able to negotiate drug prices with producers. Look — and so much more.
Here’s the thing you need to know: We’re going to deliver these investments without raising taxes one cent on anyone making less than $400,000 a year.
How are we going to do that? We’re going to do it by leveling the playing field; by just having a fair system where we ask the largest corporations and the wealthiest Americans to begin to pay their fair share, not more.
They can still make millions of dollars. The super wealthy are still going to be able to have three homes. It’s not going to affect anything.
The fact of the matter is, though, it’s about time they begin to pay their fair share.
For example — you’ve heard me say it before and I’ll say it again, but it’s the best example to make clear to people a very complicated notion: Fifty-five of the largest corporations in America last year paid zero — zero in federal taxes.
I don’t care what your position is. It just seems to me it’s time they start to pay their fair share like everybody else. Just pay a little bit here, and it comes out to billions of dollars if they pay it.
The irony of ironies is: During the recession and the pandemic — you’ve heard me say this before; I apologize for repeating it — when the vast majority of Americans were struggling just to hang on, the number of billionaires in America actually grew.
(Laughs.) Now, I want to hold here for just a second. If — you know, there have been so many records the stock market has hit under my presidency. Imagine if the other guy was here: “We’re doing great. It’s wonderful. The stock market is surging. It’s gone up higher under me than anybody.” But that doesn’t — that doesn’t mean that it’s the best for the economy.
Look, the stock market has set 40 record highs just this year. They can afford to pay just a little bit more.
But, folks, right now, the House and Senate are working on my plan to generate a fairer tax system and close loopholes that big corporations and the super-wealthy use to pay less.
To give you one example, there’s a group of experts — left, right, and center — who estimate that, right now, we lose more than $100 billion a year in tax revenue owed from the top 1 percent of taxpayers alone — not because of low tax rates, but because wealthy people aren’t paying the taxes they owe.
We’re going to change that so they pay taxes just like typical hardworking Americans do right now. We’re going to use the money we collect from the tax cuts for — to give tax cuts to middle-class families, to make it easier to raise kids, to take care of your aging parents, and so much more.
But what’s going on in Congress? Not a single Republican supports this plan. They support the bipartisan plan, but not this plan. Not one.
And some big corporations are spending millions of dollars in — legitimately — I mean, they — they’re lobbying — to try to escape their obligation to pay the taxes they owe, leaving working families to pay a larger share of the burden.
Somebody has got to pay. And when those who can afford to pay aren’t paying anywhere near their fair share, it means you all pay more.
You know — and this has worked in the past, with significant lobbying efforts, but I don’t think it’s going to work with me.
For those big corporations that don’t want things to change, my message is this: It’s time for working families — the folks who built this country — to have their taxes cut.
And those corporate interests doing everything they can
to find allies in Congress to keep that from happening, let me be — as the old expression goes — perfectly clear: I’m going to take them on.
We’re going to pass these measures. We’re going to build an economy from the bottom up and the middle out, not from the top down.
And when corporations and the wealthiest start to pay their fair share, it’s going to put millions of people — according to all the estimates — millions of people to work in jobs that are going to help them punch their ticket to the middle class and stay in the middle class. And everyone will do better, including corporate America.
Look, just think about it: Throughout our history, when the middle class has done well, when it prospers, has there ever been a time the wealthy and corporate America doesn’t do well? I can’t think of one.
Our country needs these investments. I’m not asking anything other than some fairness being injected into the system. Like I said, to hold here, the fact is that, you know, the very wealthy will — they’re still going to have three homes or four homes, if they want. It’s not going to change what schools they can send their kids to. It’s not going to change their standard of living. But just pay a fair share.
Corporate America — it’s going to continue to do very well. I’ve seen no evidence to suggest that it’s going to cost jobs or cost — I mean, you know, it’s just — and now we need Congress to finish the job, to come through for the American people and ensure that the economy continues to gain strength and stability as we move forward.
Now, finally, the third thing we need to do, all of us, is to stick together. We have to put ourselves on track to accomplish extraordinary things: a strong, inclusive, historic economic growth; landmark investments to create even more good jobs and deliver breathing room to millions of families; a giant step forward in the fight against climate change — the crisis made more evident than ever by the death and destruction caused by extreme weather just these past few days.
My agenda, I believe, is one that every American, if they understand it, they can get behind. And because of the work we’ve all put in — not just here in Washington, but in communities across the country — every one of those goals is now within our reach.
Coming together has always been part of the DNA of Americans. And if we can summon that instinct within us to unite as one people, one nation, there is nothing beyond our capacity.
So, let’s keep going. Let’s stick together. And let’s remember who we are. You’ve heard me say it time and again: We’re the United States of America. And the rest of the world is looking to us to — because we’re — we are the most prosperous nation in the world right now. We’re growing. And there’s a fairness to what we’re doing. A fairness.
We’ll still have millionaires. We’ll still have billionaires. We’ll still have corporations that do incredibly well and CEOs that make a lot of money. But everybody has to start paying their fair share.
Thank you very much.
Q Mr. President, on abortion rights in Texas, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: Pardon me?
Q One question on abortion rights in Texas, sir. What would be your message to women in Texas? And what can your administration do to protect abortion rights on the federal level?
THE PRESIDENT: I’m late for going down. I’m going to talk about these things from Louisiana. But I have been — continue to be a strong supporter of Roe v. Wade. Number one.
And the most pernicious thing about the Texas law: It sort of creates a vigilante system where people get rewards to go out to — anyway.
And it just seems — I know this sounds ridiculous — almost un-American, what we’re talking about — not to debate about —
And I under- — I respect people who think that — who don’t support Roe v. Wade; I respect their views. I respect them — they — those who believe life begins at the moment of conception and all. I respect that. Don’t agree, but I respect that. I’m not going to impose that on people.
But what I was told — and I must tell you, I am not certain — I was told that there are possibilities within the existing law to have the Justice Department look and see whether there are things that can be done that can limit the independent action of individuals in enforcing a federal sys- — a state law.
I don’t know enough to give you an answer yet. I’ve asked that to be checked.
Thank you all very much.
11:00 A.M. EDT