Hilton Philadelphia at Penn’s Landing
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

12:41 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  (Applause.)  Please.  Thank you very much.  Thank you.  Please, sit down.  Please.  I’ve been to enough Senate caucuses and Democratic retreats to know that when the last speaker is up, you want to get the hell out of here — (laughter) — no matter who it is.  But thank you.

Look, folks, let me begin by saying that when I ran — and a lot of you helped me; a lot of good people ran — I made it clear I was running for three reasons, and — because I had no intention of running for office again when I left the vice presidency.  But when I saw those folks come out of those fields down in Charlottesville, carrying torches and singing Nazi slogans and carrying swastikas, and white supremacists, I decided to get engaged. 

The point is this: I had a message, which I didn’t consult with anybody about generating, to begin with, which was not viewed as being very saleable.  The first was that I thought it was essential to literally restore the soul of this country — a sense of decency and honor, a sense of — a sense that you could trust one another — just restore the soul of the country, because what we were seeing was not who we are.  And among some of our Republicans, what they’re saying is still not who we are.

The second thing I wanted to do that has been the essence of my whole career, from the time I ran 20 miles from here — a 29-year-old kid for the Senate — was that I wanted to rebuild the backbone of the country.  And the backbone of the country is the working class and middle class.  I’m so sick and tired of trickle-down.  When the middle class does well, the poor have a way up and the wealthy do just fine.  They do just fine.  

And third thing, which a lot of you didn’t like — I know — I thought we had to unify the country, because, ultimately, we are a democracy.  And there needs to be — for it to work, there has to be consensus.  In a consensus, you got to get a majority.  We’ve not been able to do that for a lot of the important things.  That’s why we have to continue to maintain our majority. 

This off-year election, in my view, may be the most important off-year election in modern history.  Because we know what happens: We know the fundamental change that shifts if we lose the House and the Senate.  The only thing I’ll have then is a veto pen. 

And so, folks, I want to thank Nancy for the introduction, for your friendship all these years, Nance.  And, Paul, thank you as well. 

And I want to thank — the extraordinary job you’ve done delivering the omnibus, just like you delivered so many critical pieces of legislation last year.

And Hakeem and Steny and Jim and Emanuel Cleaver and Pete, Congresswoman Katherine Clark and all of you out there: Let me first say that — I want to say thank you — thank you for the support you’ve provided Ukraine.  

I was on the phone today for a better part of an hour with — with Zelenskyy, who I speak to almost daily.  The people of Ukraine have demonstrated a remarkable source of bravery and courage.  But the security assistance that you’ve provided has been absolutely critical — critical in their defense. 

Second, I want to thank you for showing a unified front to the world.  When Putin unleashed his assault, he thought he could divide NATO.  He thought he could literally divide this country, the West — the United States — in terms of the parties.  I know a former ambassador knows that out there.  He thought he could divide Democrats and Republicans at home.  But he failed.  He failed. 

For months, the United States has worked tirelessly to keep our Allies and partners together.  As our former ambassador — who you see on television a lot, thank God — will tell you I’ve spent literally hours and hours and hours and hours keeping the Alliance together — the EU, NATO, and all of our allies, including our Asian allies. 

As a result, we’ve been able to ramp up our economic pressure on Putin and further isolate Russia on the global stage.

This morning, along with the G7 nations — in Germany, Canada, France, Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom — we moved — which I know you wanted to do initially — and Nancy, I drove her crazy — on most-favored-nation status — as we call it in the United States, “permanent normal trade relations” — and eliminate them.  (Applause.)

But, folks, I know I’ve occasionally frustrated you, but more important than us moving when we want to is making sure all of NATO is together — is together.  They have different vulnerabilities than we do.  Just like in the oil embargo, a lot of them could not — the only way I was — it took, I think, you know, weeks to work out.  I said, “We’re going to block oil — Russian oil energy and energy.” 

We consume 15 percent of it; they rely totally on it.  Without Russian oil, they’re going to find themselves in a position where they get choked off in a way that far exceeds anything we do — anything we do.  

So it took a long time sitting with my counterparts and saying, “Look, we’re going to block oil, but I’m not going to ask you to do it.  I’m going to say to you, ‘You do what you can.  I’m going to explain why it’s not rational for you to do the same thing.  In the meantime, we’re going to help you get energy through liquefied natural gas and a whole range of other things.’”

The point is: Revoking PNTR for Russia has made it harder for Russia to do business with the United States.  But in doing it with unison with our Allies that, kept together, make up half the global economy — half of it — is a crushing blow to Russia. 

Along with our partners and Allies, we’ve stepped up pressure on corrupt Russian billionaires.  We’re increasing — we’re increasing coordination among the G7 countries and — to target, capture the ill-begotten gains — the yachts.  You see some of these yachts — 450 feet long.  No, I’m serious.  Hundreds of millions of dollars in value.  Their luxury apartments. 

The totality of our economic sanctions and export controls are crushing — crushing the Russian economy.  The ruble has lost — and I know many of you know this in detail — lost more than half its value.  You know what the value of a ruble is versus a dollar?  You need 200 rubles to equal 1 dollar today — 200. 

The Moscow stock exchange is closed for a simple reason.  I get asked, “Well, why is it closed?”  Because — for the last two weeks — because the moment it opens, it will be disbanded.  You hear me?  It will blow up.

Credit-rating agencies have downgraded Russia’s government to “junk” status — “junk” status.  And the list of private businesses and international corporations leaving Russia is growing day by day by day.

I want to be clear though: We’re going to make sure Ukraine has the weapons to defend themselves from invading Russian force.  (Applause.)  And we will send money and food aid to save Euro- — Ukrainian lives.

We’re going to welcome Ukrainian refugees with open arms if, in fact, they come all the way here.  (Applause.)  And as we provide — as we provide this support to Ukraine, we’re going to continue to stand together with our allies in Europe and send an unmistakable message that we will defend every inch of NATO territory –- every single inch — with a united, galvanized NATO.  One movement.  

That’s why I’ve moved over 12,000 American forces along the borders with Russia — Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Romania, et cetera — because they move once.  Granted, if we respond, it is World War Three, but we have a sacred obligation on NATO territory — a sacred obligation — Article 5.  And we will not — although we will not fight the third World War in Ukraine.  Putin’s war against Ukraine is never going to be a victory.  

Democrats [Democracies] are rising to meet the moment, relying — rallying the world on the side of peace and security.  We are showing a strength, and we’ll never falter.  

But, look, the idea — the idea that we’re going to send in offensive equipment and have planes and tanks and trains going in with American pilots and American crews, just understand — and don’t kid yourself, no matter what you all say — that’s called “World War Three.”  Okay?  Let’s get it straight here, guys.  That old expression — “Don’t kid a kidder.”

Now, I’d like to speak to our broader purpose here today to remind everybody where we were a year ago, where we’ve gotten since, the direction we’re headed in.  And all of you know that today is the anniversary, as Nancy said, since we passed the American Rescue Plan within the first month in office, thank God.  Thank God you did it.

Was it anybody’s thought we’re going to pass a bill that’s 1 trillion 900 billion dollars?  We’re going to do that?  Yeah, you did it.  I asked, and you did it.

Few pieces of legislation — no hyperbole — in American history have done more to lift this country out of a crisis than what you did.

It took about 2 million Americans before I was — before I was sworn in — 2 million Americans had been vaccinated.

Today, because of the efforts you’ve — what you’ve voted for, we have more than 215 million Americans fully vaccinated.

You all remember the lines of cars — you remember?  Nice-looking cars, stretched for hours and hours to (inaudible) just to get a box of food.  Well, guess what?  Stretching those miles and miles no longer is happening.  That box of food is not only in the table — in the trunk.  Because of that law, 41 million people put food on their table and are putting it on the table who wouldn’t have been able to.  (Applause.)

Because of that law, we helped to keep a roof over 4 million people’s heads who were about to be evicted.  (Applause.)  And we gave families what my dad used to call “just a little breathing room.”  Just a little bit of breathing room.

Because we took action, we created — we created 6.7 million jobs last year — more than any other time in American history.  

And we haven’t stopped.  Last month, we created over 7- — 678,000 jobs in February to get us well over 7 million jobs.  (Applause.)

Unemployment is down [to] 3.8 percent.  The economy grew 5.7 percent — the best economic growth in the last four decades.  And the leading financial firm on Wall Street, Moody’s, estimates that because of the Rescue Plan, 4 million more jobs were created, unemployment is 2 percent lower than it would have been and — had we failed to act.  And it didn’t cause the inflation. 

Look, there’s more to the story than that.  Many of you remember when we went through the last financial crisis in 2008.  I had the dubious distinction of the President standing before all of you and said, “And Sheriff Joe is going take care of the Recovery Act.”  (Laughter.)  Well, guess what?  The economy recovered, but underneath the recovery, just like the re- — like every other recovery in our history, there was a lot of pain — a lot of pain.

Republicans in Congress refused to give President Obama the additional Recovery funds he asked for.  And the truth is, a lot of folks never got back on their feet.  A whole lot of young people saw their futures dimmed, diminished.  They didn’t get back on track.  

And what’s — economists called the “economic scarring” that occurred as a consequence of that recession: the chronic pain when an economy comes back but some of the folks who were left behind were left behind almost permanently, trapped in long-term unemployment, evictions and foreclosures.

Study after study showed that when you’re stuck in that cycle, it has the worst impact on your emotional health and that of your children and your family members that you can imagine.  And that’s serious. 

So when I came to office in the midst of this crisis, I was determined not to let that happen.  Together, we made the choice to ask for all that we needed, to leave nobody behind, to minimize the pain and the hopelessness and the despair that so many had just lost their jobs, lost everything through no fault of their own.  

And look what happened.  It isn’t just that the unemployment rate has dropped at a record pace.  We’ve also seen the biggest drop in long-term unemployment ever recorded in American history.  (Applause.)  Nearly 2.5 million Americans have got to break out of that cycle of long-term unemployment.

We’ve seen the most significant drop in Black and Hispanic unemployment ever recorded.  Black [un]employment fell by more than 30 percent.  Hispanic fell — Hispanic employment — unemployment fell by 9 percent to 4.4 percent.

We’ve seen the lowest child poverty rate ever recorded — 40 percent decline in child poverty.  (Applause.)

The lowest num- — the lower number of harm forcl- — home foreclosures ever recorded, down to less than a third of what they were we were before the pandemic.

Record low credit card delinquencies because families had money in their pockets.

The list goes on.  We’ve got a long way to go, though.  I’m not saying we’re over; we’re just getting going.  And a lot of work to do.  But never forget what we’ve accomplished together so far.

And, by the way, the American people just trying to stay above water don’t understand this.  You tell them what the American Recovery Act was, and they look at you like, “What
are you talking about?”  Understandably.  They’re like my family: mom, dad, four kids, grandpop living in the house in a three-bedroom split-level home.  Just every single day figuring out how you put enough food on the table even when things are okay.

Well — and on this one anniversary of the American Rescue Plan, let’s be clear: We did it alone, without one single, solitary Republican vote.  (Applause.)

The American economy was flat on its back.  It was the Democrats — it was you that brought us back.  And you didn’t stop there.  You invested in America.

In fact, you passed the biggest investment of rebuilding the nation in history.  Now, it’s true we got some Republicans friends — to help on their for — on the Recovery — on — excuse me, on the Infrastructure Act.  But we’re talking how many in the House — 12, 13, 14, or something?  Whatever it was.

PARTICIPANT:  Thirteen!

PARTICIPANT:  Thirteen.

THE PRESIDENT:  Thirteen.  I mean, come on.  I mean, I was happy for them, don’t get me wrong.  (Laughter.)  And then every one of them got attacked. 

Look, have — but have you noticed that every new bridge, every trench dug put in the — to take out lead pipes, every trench dug, there’s a Republican standing there saying, “This is a great thing.”  (Laughter.)  Wonderful.  We did it.  Even Mitch McConnell, for God’s sake.

You know, as we say in my outfit, “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned.  There has been so much since our last confession.”

Look, the simple fact is: This Infrastructure Bill is going to transform America.  I mean, not figuratively, literally transform America.  And it’s already starting. 

Instead of having “Infrastructure Week,” we have an “Infrastructure Decade” we voted for.  Okay?  (Applause.)

We got 4,000 projects all across the country, including 1,500 bridges in disrepair that are starting to be repaired this year.  This year.  People back home need to know what’s happening.

By the way, where’s my Pittsburgh group?  Where are you?  They’re in Pittsburgh.  (Laughter.)  Anyway, I just out — was out in Pittsburgh.  That — that bridge — you saw that bridge; it was devastating.  I stood there about that bridge that had gone down an hour before I got there.  Over a hundred-foot fall.  Only a couple folks on that bridge.  And if it had been two hours later, school buses would have been filled, children would have died.  I mean, it was — you saw the pictures in the paper.  You ought to stand there and lean over and look at it.

Look, we need to tell the American people this law is going to create millions of jobs rebuilding roads and bridges, airports and ports, Internet, and a whole range of other things.  Because that’s what it’s going to do.  

And that’s why — I’m not going to get into it right now, but that’s where we have to make sure we have our education system up and running so we can produce the kind of workers we need, et cetera.

But it’s going to start to get rid of the poisonous lead pipes as well so our kids and families can drink clean water.  There’s 10 million homes with lead pipes in America.  And some of you on the Health Committee know the incredible studies done on the impact of lead on the brain of children and children’s development.  Four hundred thousand schools.

We’re going to invest $65 billion to deliver affordable high-speed Internet everywhere in America: urban, suburban, Tribal, city.  (Applause.) 

And, by the way, we can’t be — this is the United States of America.  We can’t be the country where for a mom to get her kid on the Internet to be able to do their homework has to pull into a McDonald’s parking lot.  I mean, for real, that’s what was happening. 

This law is going to put an end to all of that.  It’s going to put people in a much different position to be able to determine their own — their own judgments about when to sell their cattle, when they should — I just — just — we’re going to change things. 

But look, we all know that despite the progress we’ve made, families are still struggling.  They’re struggling with higher prices.

As I said, I grew up in a family — when the price of gas went up, everybody felt it.  You talked about it.  It mattered.  It mattered.

But let’s be absolutely clear about why prices are so high right now.  They’re very high for two reasons, notwithstanding what the Republicans say: COVID, number one.  What happened was, the glo- — the way the global economy works: If a factory in Taiwan makes computer chips shuts down because of COVID, it causes a ripple effect that can slow down the manufacturing in Detroit, which it did.  One hitch can hold up everything.

Because of the pandemic, we’ve had disruptions in our supply chain materials and important materials.

At the same time, the strength and speed of our economic recovery and families making more money still kept up.  So here you had an unusual situation that, during a pandemic, people had money to spend.  But what they didn’t do is they didn’t want — they didn’t want to go to restaurants.  They didn’t want to go out and go on vacations.  They didn’t spend money on leisure activities.  So they wanted to spend it on other things — on hard goods, home improvements, televisions, additions to their homes — the very products that slowed down by disruptions in the supply chain, because there weren’t people cutting two-by-fours.  Because of COVID, they were shut down. 

I could go on a list.  You all know this.  I’m preaching to the choir here. 

So what happened?  Prices went up exponentially. 

Just take a look at automobiles last year.  One third of all the inflation in America last year was because of the price of automobiles.  People had the money to buy automobiles, finally.  But because the companies couldn’t get semiconductors, they couldn’t make the automobiles.  

The result: The price of automobiles skyrocketed. 

And used cars — the reason used cars went up is because when the — when the COVID hit and the leisure industry shut down, the rental cars sold all their stock.  So people were in real trouble. 

The second big reason for inflation is Vladimir Putin.  From the moment he put his over 150,000 troops on the Ukrainian border, the price of gasoline in [since] January went up 75 cents.  

Then Putin began amassing troops along the border.  And guess what?  The world took notice.  And those of you who work in the business know that the market anticipated and pricing went up more.  And then Putin invaded.  

Make no mistake, inflation is largely the fault of Putin.  I love — you know, the Republicans are saying it’s “Biden’s gas pipeline.”  “Biden said he’s going to stop the Keystone Pipeline…” — and I did — “…and that’s the reason prices went up.”

Folks, let’s get something straight here: The Keystone Pipeline was two years away.  It had been 2 percent finished.  Give me a break.  (Laughter.)  Give me a break.  

Headline fact checker in the New York Times: “Republicans Wrongly Blame Biden for Rising Gas Prices.”  And it goes on to explain why gas prices are so high.

Washington Post op-ed by — by Dana Milbank, “Opinion: Biden Heeded Republicans’ Plea to Ban Russian Oil.  They Pounced.”  And it goes on to talk about why it’s got — don’t let anybody tell you anything you did supporting the idea that we block Russian oil coming into the country, which is g- — and I said at the time prices are going to go up for gasoline.  It wasn’t anything we did.  

And, by the way, you’re in a situation right now where if you take a look, the idea can we — “can we pump more oil?”  There are now — now five — there are 172 gas and oil rigs running.  Now we have — there were 519 in operation before this all began.  

But guess what?  They have over 7,000 permits to dig oil if they want.  Why aren’t they out pumping oil?  Why aren’t they out pumping oil?  Because they’ve said and they’re very clear — Wall Street bankers have made it very clear — not a joke, check it out.  And I recommend these two articles to you, just as a little bit of a primer.  You probably already know it.  

What’s happened?  Well, the oil companies and executives, they don’t want to pump more oil, although they have every capacity to do so.  Nothing is slowing them up from doing it if they want to.

Why?  Rather than spend the profits on the increased price of gasoline, they would rather take those profits and buy back stock — buy back their own stock, rather than take that money and invest it in pumping new oil.  Not a joke.  Not a joke.

So don’t tell me gas prices rose because I’ve slowed down the American energy production.  In my first year in office, American production grew by 9.7 million barrels a day to 11.6 million while we still made a major, major effort to deal with global warming and changing the way in which we shift to renewable — renewable energy.  

And don’t tell me gas prices rose because of the American Rescue Plan.  The San Francisco Reserve — Federal Reserve analyzed this and other outfits confirm: The Rescue Plan contributed to 0.3 percent of inflation — 0.3 inflation.  

They’re the facts.  Democrats didn’t cause this problem.  Vladimir Putin did.

And we’re — and we are working on it to fix it.  Because of the work we did, this country is vaccinated and start building the economy from the bottom up in the middle out. Something incredible is happening.  

We’re seeing a manufacturing revival I don’t think even those of you from the Midwest thought would occur.  The pride that comes from stamping products “Made in America.”  Intel came to see me — the CEO.  He said he wants to invest $20 billion to build factories in eastern Ohio — manufacture computer chips, semiconductors that will power the world and everyday lives, smartphones, intel, technology that doesn’t exist today.

And they’re prepared to increase their investment from $20 billion now to $100 billion now, as soon as you get final passage of the innovation bill headed to conference now.  

This bill will invest another $200 billion to make us competitive, including $52 billion in computer chips.  We invented these damn things.  We, the United States — everybody forgets — we invented the computer chip, in going to the moon.  And we have made — every single, solitary part of modernizing the technology in a computer chip has been American made.

But we stopped making them in America, and now we’re going to make them again.  That’s going to help bring down the price of automobiles, appliances, and so much more.  

And it’s not just Intel.  Take a look at what Ford and General Motors did.  Ford committed $11 billion to build electric vehicles in America — its biggest investment ever.  General Motors committed $7 billion to build electric vo- — vehicles.  

Remember when General Motors — Mary Barra — was suing California — suing California because there’s a higher standard — mileage standard?  I talked to her.  And I’m not saying she changed because of me.  I talked to her.  She came to — called me and said she’s no — she’s going to drop her suit and that she’s going to commit that 50 percent of all General Motors vehicles by the year 2030 are going to be electric vehicles.  And everybody started following suit.

Just a few years ago, companies might have built these factories elsewhere, but now they’re building them in America.  We’re coming back.  We’re coming back stronger than ever before.  

And, by the way, one of the things I’ve done — you know, I didn’t know — maybe you all knew it; I didn’t know when I was in the Senate; I should have — that there’s law in the books.  It’s called “Build America.”  You’re allowed to insist I get to spend, as your President — allocate spending of $600 billion — everything from the decks of aircraft carriers to a whole range of fleet of automobile, all the things we spend money on in the government.

Well, the law says that the President of the United States can say all those products have to be made in America.

Well, what happened?  Initially, we just got really lax — Democrats and Republicans, I might add — and said, “Here’s the deal: If it has 55 percent American-made product and 45 is from foreign sources, that’s okay.”  Not in my book.  

So I just signed an executive order saying it’s got to be a minimum of 75 percent to start; it’s going to go up.  (Applause.)  And I think it’s the third executive order I signed that no — no department can give a waiver for a non-American-made product in any American product we’re buying without my permission, without coming to the White House to determine whether or not that’s justified.  

And know what’s happening now?  A lot of minority businesses, small businesses getting in on the deal.  It gets posted — there’s an office in the White House — that says, “This is a product being built.  We can’t find — we can’t find contractors for this.  We’re an American product.  Here’s what we need.”  And guess what?  It’s increasing the number of small businesses.

We also know there’s no one — no one way to increase the standard of living.  Putin’s gas tax has pushed prices up higher; it’ll take American manufacturing to bring prices of cars down.  But in the meantime, we can save people money in a big way by reducing the cost of childcare, of insulin, of caring for mom and dad and their energy bills.  Because that’s another way to fundamentally impact on inflation for a family.  

And it gets down to what’s the total amount of money you have to spend to meet your basic needs.  So guess what?  If you — instead of the 200,000 folks with kids with Type 1 diabetes, if instead of spending an average of six- — $647 a month for that insulin, as high as $1,000, you’re only paying $35, and you’ve saved a hell of a lot of money.  (Applause.)

Think about — think about your parents, particularly single parents, particularly women out there — the cost of childcare.  Look, when I got here, as Nancy and some of you know, I had lost my family with an automobile accident.  I got a call saying my wife was dead and my daughter was dead and my two boys were very badly injured.  And I hadn’t been sworn in yet.

And make a long — an awful lot of help from a lot of senators saying, “Come and stay just six months.  Help us organize.”  Boy, was I stupid.  (Laughter.)  Six months.  But they saved my sanity.

And so I came.  And everybody says, “God, that — ain’t that Joe Biden a wonderful guy?  He commuted every single day, roughly 300 miles a day, four hours a day, just to be home with his kids.”

It’s true, I did.  I tried to hit over 2 million-some miles on Amtrak.  But here’s the deal: I did it because I could not afford childcare.  I couldn’t even begin to think of it.  And I was making — I was making, at that time, as a United States senator — I was making more money than I made before.  I couldn’t afford it.

So I think it’s — anybody making 100,000 bucks a year — single person — or $120,000 as a family should have childcare capped at 7 percent of their income.  Period.  (Applause.)  Period.
We can do that.  That’ll cut the cost of childcare in half.  And a family is paying 14 grand a year in San Francisco, Philadelphia — all the big cities of the country — for just one child.  And look, that extra 7,000 bucks in their pocket will make a difference in what they can do.

There’s so much we can do.  Let me be clear: None of this is going to increase inflation.

Seventeen Nobel laureates spontaneously, a month and a half ago, wrote to me — seventeen Nobel laureates in the economic –in economics wrote me a long paper saying this will have — this will help ease inflationary pressures over time — not increase it.  Ease.  And we can do this without raising one single penny on taxes on anybody making less than 400 grand a year.

Let me say that again, be crystal clear: No one making less than $400,000 a year will pay a single additional penny in tax for all these things that were in the — in the Build Back Better plan.  

We have to do this.  We have to do this.  We have to ask — easy: Ask the biggest — those of the biggest corporations who pay very little to raise their hand.  Everybody in here, raise your hand if you think the existing tax structure is remotely fair.  I’m not being so- — I could do this at a Republican meeting, privately — (laughter) — and they’d say that — no one would raise their hand.

But look, we have — in 2020, 55 of the biggest corporations in America — the Fortune 500 — paid zero in taxes and they made $40 billion in profit.  Forty billion.

You know it, I know it, the American people know it: It just isn’t right.

Look, I’m a capitalist.  This isn’t about punishing anybody.  I love Bernie, and I really do.  He’s a great friend.  But I — I’m not Bernie.

If you can make a billion dollars, make a b- — for God’s sake, pay your fair share for — damn it.  (Applause.)  Right now.

But why are teachers and firefighters paying a higher percentage of taxes than billionaires and corporations, which is literally true?  Literally true.  (Applause.)

And we can fix this.  We can raise the standard of living for hardworking people without raising taxes, without raising inflation, and without raising the deficit. 
And for all those folks out there that like to tack us for, you know — let me remind them: Last year, because of what you all did, we reduced the deficit by $360 billion — (applause) — we, the Democrats — while the economy grew.  

We’re on track right now — I’m on track to be the first President in history to lower the deficit by over $1 trillion in one year.  (Applause.) 

So, I’m sick of this stuff.  We have to talk about it because the American people think the reason for inflation is the government is spending more money.  Simply not true. 

I don’t think we need any lectures from our friends on the other side about fiscal responsibility, for God’s sake.  Look, we have an ambitious agenda.  So let’s go get it done.  That includes standing up for and not giving an inch on core Democratic values.  

We’re going to continue to stand up to meet the great challenges of our time: voting rights, climate change, gun violence, criminal justice, immigration, and so much more. 

Coming out of the State of the Union — why I think we’re in a strong position — we have a record to be proud of, an agenda that will lower costs for American families and lift this nation up, and a message that resonates.  We’re building a better America, a fairer America, a more decent America.  A country that’s been through a lot these past few years. 

And I mean what I said — I meant what I said at the State of the Union: We’re stronger today than we were a year ago.  And we will be stronger next year than we are today. 

I’ve long said — and I mean this sincerely.  I’m not — I’ve spent a lot of time with Xi Jinping.  Over 36 hours of private meetings with him.  He asked me — we were in the Tibetan Plateau and he asked me if I could define America for him.  Just me and a simultaneous interpreter, him and an interpreter.  And, by the way, I turned all my notes over.  Okay?  (Laughter and applause.)

But seriously, he said, “Can you define America for me?”  He’s a tough guy.  And I said, “I can.”  And I said, “In one word.”  And he looked at me.  I said, “Possibilities.” 

We’re the only nation in the world — it’s the reason why we’re looked at as sometimes being arrogant.  We think anything is possible.  Anything is possible if we act together. 

Look, we’ve taken every crisis we ever faced and turned it into an opportunity.  Think of one that hadn’t that way.  Whatever the crisis was, we’ve come out of it better than we were in before it occurred, every single time.  But we’ve got to stick together.  We got to stick together.  We can do this again.  We can do it. 

Look, I — I’m going to get going.  I shouldn’t — I’ll stop here.  I know you all have questions, and I’m supposed — anyway, thank you, thank you, thank you.  And I’ll be back here for questions.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

1:18 P.M. EST

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