7:17 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Hello, everybody. (Applause.) Well, good evening.
Thank you, Kamala, for that introduction and for your partnership — and it is a partnership. And Doug — he’s been a fantastic Second Gentleman, and he also — he’s a first-rate lawyer. (Applause.) And Jill, the amazing First lader [sic] — Lady. I — I don’t know how she does it; I can’t keep up with her. (Laughter.) She teaches, she does all the job as a First Lady.
And I also want to thank Nancy Pelosi, who’s been a good, close friend for a long, long time. I think she may be the best Speaker we’ve ever had. (Applause.)
Congressman Jim Clyburn. Jim, are you here? I don’t know whether Jim is here or not, but if he — I tell you what: Tammy Duckworth, I’m told, is here. Incredible leaders in Congress.
And we see so many friends as we close out the first year of office and head into a new year. And I want to thank you all.
I have to admit to you, I have one serious regret — and we talked about this, Jill and I, and so did we talk with the Vice President and the
First [Second] Gentleman: I had hoped by now each one of you, who helped us get to where we are, would have had full access to the White House. I mean that sincerely. We would — we had all kinds of plans; we thought we were going to be in a position because of the change — we hoped people had moved on to getting all their vaccines. We would have been in a position to change the way in which this takes place. But next year — and this year, before it’s over: in the White House. In the White House. (Applause.)
It’s a genuine regret we haven’t had a chance to personally thank so many of you who broke your neck for us — broke your neck for us when things didn’t look good at all.
And, folks, a little over a year ago, we were all part of the most consequential presidential election in American history — not because we won, but it was the largest turnout in American history: 81 million people showed up to vote — (applause) — 81 million. In the middle of a pandemic, 81 million people showed up. (Applause.) And it is because of all of you.
Now, a year later, we have a lot to be proud of. We’ve passed two historic pieces of legislation.
The American Rescue Plan delivered immediate relief to millions of people and rescued the economy from the brink. We’re growing faster than any other nation in the world, in terms of our growth rate. Since its passage, we have a record number of jobs. We’ve created over 6 million jobs since January 20th. (Applause.)
No — no new presidency ever created that many jobs this quickly.
And we’ve seen the extraordinary drop in unemployment. It’s at 4.2 percent nationally, and we’re heading towards below 4 percent unemployment. (Applause.)
And, look, economic experts had predicted it would take another two years before we’d see a drop in unemployment rate at that level.
And we have gone from just 2 million Americans [fully] vaccinated to over 203 million Americans — (applause) — [fully] vaccinated, and 240 million with at least one shot.
And what is probably the thing I’m most proud of: We’re on track, as was mentioned earlier, to end child poverty by 40 percent. (Applause.) Think of what that means. Think about what that means.
No matter what their — anyway, I — I don’t want to get going on — (laughter) — look, that’s with the refundable —
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Keep going, Joe!
THE PRESIDENT: — tax credit, No, I really mean it, man. (Laughter.)
I — look, I told you all I ran for one reason: Not to do anything other than do what I thought was the right thing to do, come hell or high water.
The refundable tax credit helped us accomplish that. And that’s why we’re fighting so hard to make sure the tax credit is extended.
And after year one of “Infrastructure Week” — now, by the way — (laughter) — I tell you what: I don’t know how many times did we hear “Infrastructure Week. Infrastructure Week.” Holy God, I couldn’t stand another. (Laughter.)
But, look, we passed the most important piece of infrastructure legislation that’s ever been passed — or since the — at least, the Eisenhower administration that built the Interstate Highway System.
This legislation is going to rebuild our nation’s roads, bridges, highways, ports, airports.
It’s going to remove lead pipes, as you’ve heard before, all over America so our kids and families can drink clean water.
It’s going to make high-speed Internet a reality in every part of the country.
Never again are you going to have to sit out in front of a McDonald’s in a parking lot to be able to tap into their Internet so you — your child can do your homework. (Applause.)
Look, this is the United States of America, for God’s sake. And this law is going to create millions of jobs — good-paying jobs you can raise a family on — union jobs, not paying $17 an hour. (Applause.)
And the Build Back Better plan — people ask me why I’m so insistent on the elements of that plan. Here’s the deal: I’m not worried about me. I’m worried about young people — whether they can get kids daycare — can they do that.
You know, a lot of you are paying 14,000 bucks a year for childcare. The cost is crushing. Under our plan, the cost will be cut in half.
I’m worried about families and elderly grandparents and what — their lives at stake. Every one — every one — every one is a little harder. So, you know — so mom can — grandmom can walk out without having — out of her porch — without worrying about falling, can take care of herself, can be left alone. They’re going to keep working to pay the bills.
Look, my plan is simple: We’re going to make sure we take care of mom, we’re going to take care of the child. You — those of you in the sandwich generation, you’re dealing with both. You’re dealing with both.
Look, and families can save money. They have — just to have, as my dad used to say, “just a little piece of mind.” Just a little piece of mind.
I’m worried about that mom whose daughter has diabetes and don’t have insurance. And that insulin, it costs 10 bucks to del- — to make, and they’re charging up to $1,000 a month.
Guess what? Imagine being that parent, looking at a child who can’t get the insulin they need. Deprived of her health and your dignity, what do you do? That’s outrageous. What the hell are we doing? We’re going to make sure that’s no more than $35 a month. (Applause.)
We just saw one of the most devastating tornados in the history of this country. Our weather is getting more extreme, more destructive. Look at the lives being destroyed.
I proposed a way to deal with this in the biggest investment we’ve ever proposed in our country’s history.
I worry about the next town that’s destroyed, the next family that loses a home, the next person who drowns in a once-in-a-century flood.
These are the people I’m worried about. This is why we all got engaged.
We can’t affo- — we can afford to do all this without raising taxes — not a single penny — on anyone making less than $400,000 a year.
And experts acknowledge if we do this, we’re going to reduce inflation, not increase it. Reduce inflation.
In fact, I got — unsolicited — a letter from 17 Nobel laureates in economics who looked at our plan and said they see long-term inflationary — they — they will — it will save and serve against long-term inflationary pressures.
The bottom line is: We’re helping working-class and middle-class people spend less money on the things they badly need. So if you’re worried about rising cost, nothing will cut costs for American families more than the Build Back Better plan. That’ll give them a shot. (Applause.)
And, folks, as my partner said, we have to focus on the single-most sacred right we have: the right to vote. (Applause.) The right to vote.
Today, the right to vote and the rule of law are under unrelenting assault from Republican governors, attorney generals, secretaries of state, state legislators. They’re following my predecessor deep into the abyss. The struggle is no longer just who gets to vote or making it easier for eligible people to vote. It’s about who gets to count the vote and whether your vote counts at all. It’s a sinister combination of voter suppression and election subversion. It’s un-American, it’s un-democratic, it’s unpatriotic. And, sadly, it is not unprecedented now.
The Vice President has been leading our administration’s effort, and we’ve supported Democrats pressing to enact critical voting rights bills since day one of this administration, making sure we have unanimous support.
Look, but each and every time, Senate Republicans have blocked the way. They’re afraid even just to debate the bills in the United States Senate, even on a bill that includes provisions that have traditionally been supported by a Republican.
This battle is not over. This door is not closed. We have to keep up the fight and get it done, because our democracy depends on it. (Applause.)
And, folks, there’s so much more to do: police reform, criminal justice reform, immigration, gun violence, the
courts, protecting a woman’s right to choose. All these critical issues.
And as we fight to make progress on all of them, I hope you remember what got us to the White House in the first place. In 2020, we won as a unified Democratic Party — more unified than ever. (Applause.) Now we look at 2022. I want to tell my Republican friends: Get ready, pal. You’re going in for a problem.
And we need to stay unified. Jaime Harrison is here and he’s doing an outstanding job as the DNC chair. And I also want to thank the DNC vice chairs and the leadership as well.
The DNC has been a critical partner in all of our work this year. As Democrats, we know what we’re for, while Republicans don’t seem to be for anything. Name me something they are for. They’re against everything.
I just mentioned that we’d reduce the cost for American families. We have to keep making the case. And if we do, I believe we’re going to win. Let me say this again for the press: We’re going to win in 2022. (Applause.) I really mean it.
But we’ve got to explain to the American people what’s in each of these pieces of legis- — what have we done for them. That’s where the DNC comes in. That’s for all of you who support the DNC, for all of you who allow to give them the wherewithal to go out and make the case, the advertisements, and all the things we’re doing. We have to let people know what we’ve done.
So let me close where I began: by thanking you. You were with us when we were behind, when we were ahead, and every moment in between. It’s been an incredible journey. But it’s not about Jill and I or Kamala and — it’s not about us. It’s about America and the immense possibilities within our reach as a nation.
I’ve now met with almost every major world leader, many of whom I knew in advance. I say this for everybody to listen: I don’t know a single, solitary world leader who wouldn’t trade the problems the President of the United States has for their problems. I don’t know a single one. Not one. (Applause.)
And, folks, that’s why, as difficult as the work is, I can honestly say I’ve never been more optimistic about America’s future. There’s not a single thing we’re unable to do when we do it together as the United States of America. That’s who we are. (Applause.)
So, Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays. God bless you all. And let’s go get them and win in 2022! Thank you. (Applause.)
I just said to Jill, “You guys should have walked off this stage.” She said, “You were so scincila-…” —
THE FIRST LADY: Scintillating. (Laughs.)
THE PRESIDENT: Yeah. Can you — what do you think? Eh? (Applause.)
All right, anyway, maybe we get a chance to hang around a little bit. Thank you all so, so, so very much. Thank you. (Applause.)
7:29 P.M. EST