Remarks by Vice President Harris At Oakland Generation Fund Event
11:33 A.M. PDT
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Good morning, everyone. (Applause.) Good morning. Good morning. Good morning. (Laughs.) Oh, it’s good to be home! (Applause.) My goodness. Thank you all. Thank you all. Please, have a seat.
Stella — Oakland girl power! (Laughs.) (Applause.) Oh, my goodness. I’m telling you, when I see our young leaders, I just know we are in good hands and we’re going to be okay. I just know that. I feel it. I know it.
So it is so good to be home. I want to thank everyone who made this day possible. I’m going to talk in a minute about our mayor. But I want to thank Attorney General of California, Rob Bonta, for his leadership. (Applause.) There he is.
We were talking — we were actually together yesterday. He’s been such an extraordinary leader on some of the biggest challenges facing our country and as is the longstanding tradition of the California Department of Justice. Rob, you’ve been an extraordinary not only California leader, but a national leader. (Applause.) Truly.
And Assemblymember Mia Bonta, thank you for your leadership. (Applause.) Individually and collectively, the Bontas are really doing their thing. (Laughter.)
Oakland Promise CEO, Sandra Ernst, thank you for your leadership. (Applause.) We have with us the Superintendent of Oakland Unified, Dr. Kyla Johnson-Trammell — (applause) — and my dear friend, Mayor Libby Schaaf. (Applause.)
As the mayor said, she and I have known each other for such a long time. We have been on this journey together. And I do want to say, standing here at this event, that as mayor of Oakland, Libby, you have been such a fighter.
And I’m telling you — like, Libby will be on a beeline to D.C. to bring money back to Oakland. She will be in different cities talking about how Oakland is a model and can inspire other cities. She is always fighting for this beautiful city of Oakland, California, and always fighting for its future, which, of course, starts with fighting for the children. Thank you, Mayor Schaaf. (Applause.) Thank you.
And I know that our First Partner — California’s First Partner — where are you, Jennifer? — Jennifer Newsom is here. I want to thank her for her friendship.
So before I start to talk about the wonderful occasion of this visit, I do want share a few words about the news from Washington, D.C.
This morning, as everyone knows, the House of Representatives will vote on the Inflation Reduction Act. And let’s thank Congresswoman Barbara Lee for being in Washington, D.C., today to make it happen. (Applause.) Another extraordinary fighter and always bringing the conscience of Oakland to the conscience of the country.
And so, what’s happening in D.C. is that, soon, President Biden is going to sign into law another major component of our agenda to bring down costs for the people of America. And that means we will cap the cost of insulin for seniors at $35 a month. (Applause.) Long overdue.
That means we will reduce health insurance costs for 13 million Americans by an average of $800 a year. (Applause.)
And we will finally allow Medicare to negotiate the price of prescription drugs — (applause) — which is going to bring down the cost of medication for millions of Americans.
And to bring down energy costs, we will give working families as much as $8,000 to upgrade their H-VAC system in their home, which means, of course, lower energy bills and cleaner air.
And we will also make new and used electric vehicles thousands of dollars cheaper so that more people can afford to plug in a hybrid or electric car. And that, of course, means paying less or even nothing, in terms of gas. (Applause.) Right?
The investment on the climate crisis is extraordinary and will literally be the largest that our nation has ever made to address this crisis. The leaders of California and in this Bay Area have been national and international leaders. And these investments then, as we all know, are about what we need to do to really take on with vigor and serious resources the issue, but also, in the process, create millions of good-paying jobs, including good union jobs.
So this is the work that we are doing. And you know, if anybody asks anybody here, “Well, how do they plan on paying for it?,” please let them know: As we promised, we will not raise taxes on families making less than $400,000 a year. But this will be paid for because our nation’s largest corporations will now start to pay their fair share. (Applause.)
So, all of this represents a very important step forward for our nation. But President Joe Biden and I know that there is still more work to be done, and that is why I am here today.
The great Thurgood Marshall once said that every child has a right to, quote, “an equal start in life and to an equal opportunity to reach their…potential.”
However, we all know, in communities across our nation, deep disparities hold back so many children from that promise of equal opportunity — disparities in education, disparities in economic opportunity, disparities in housing and healthcare and more, disparities that have existed and persisted for generations, and disparities that the leaders here in Oakland are fighting to address.
In the coming years, thanks to the vision of Mayor Libby Schaaf and so many who are here today, leaders from both the public and the private sector. Soon, this beautiful city will give every graduating Oakland public school student from low-income families a $1,000 per year scholarship to attend college or learn a trade.
And Oakland will also deposit $500 into a college savings account for every single baby born into a low-income family in Oakland, which means, from birth, thousands of children in this city will be given a nest egg. And as they grow, so will that investment. When they turn 18, this will help them as a down payment on their education and on their future, which, by the way, is our future. And it will help. (Applause.)
And in the process of maximizing our collective future, this will also help our nation by example to do what we must do to close the wealth gap in our country, the education gap in our country, and the opportunity gap that still exists in far too many communities.
This work, of course, is grounded in the concept of equity, which we all know and understand equity is — it’s about understanding that the reality is not everybody starts out on the same base. So when we talk about equality — well, that’s a good goal. But let us not presume that because everyone should be treated equal, that they start out on equal footing.
So equity, as a concept, says: Recognize that everyone has the same capacity, but in order for them to have equal opportunity to reach that capacity, we must pay attention to this issue of equity if we are to expect and allow people to compete on equal footing. (Applause.)
And Oakland has always been a leader on that point. And I’m proud to stand with and by President Joe Biden as we make equity one of the cornerstones of our vision for our administration.
With your help, we are fighting to build a future in which every child in America has an opportunity to live up to their God-given potential.
In our first year in office, we extended the Child Tax
Cut [Credit]. The Child Tax Credit cut child poverty in our country in its first year by 40 percent. (Applause.)
We also passed a tax cut to give parents up to $8,000 a year for the cost of raising a child. So what does that mean? That means putting more money in the pockets of a person who is parenting a child for the cost of food, medication, school supplies for their children.
When we took office, millions of children were still attending school virtually. The teachers of our nation — some of the most dedicated people that we could ever know and meet — the teachers of our nation were doing heroic work in the face of incredible challenges. Even so, so many of our children were falling behind.
So our administration invested $100 billion to help reopen our schools as safely and quickly as possible. And we invested $30 billion to address learning loss and to meet the social and emotional needs of students disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, including of course — (applause) — including of course, on principles of equity, paying attention to the disproportionate impact on our students of color, English learners, and students with disabilities.
So, together, we have made real progress over the past 18 months to address the disparities facing our nation. But there is still more work to be done.
And so, I will close with this: I was born just up the street at Kaiser Oakland. (Applause.) I am a proud Kaiser baby. (Laughs.) And I stand before you today as Vice President of the United States. (Applause.)
This journey was possible because I, growing up in this community, had the blessing and good fortune of being in a place that believed in investing in the potential of its children. I grew up in this community that told us we could be anything we dreamed of being.
I grew up in this community that said, “Dream with ambition. Lead with conviction.” I grew up in this community that said, “Don’t you ever hear the word ‘no.’ Don’t you ever hear that something is not possible because no one like you has done it before.”
This is that community that is doing that work still today — to lead by example in understanding that the promise of America is only made real when we invest in the capacity and the dreams and the potential of her people.
Oakland has always been a model of doing just that work. And that work is happening today. And that work we celebrate on this occasion, knowing that it remains up to us — all of us — to continue this work because young leaders like Stella are counting on us. And soon, we will count on them.
May God bless you. And God bless America. Thank you all. (Applause.)
END 11:49 A.M. PDT