Remarks by President Biden at a Democratic National Committee Reception
New York, New York
4:32 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: I pulled out a note card here and I realized it’s to your granddaughter’s teacher, Mrs. Giddin [ph]. (Laughter.) It explains why she’s late. I got the wrong note card here. (Laughter.)
Well, first of all, thank you — thank you very much, Henry and Marsha. This is — and Eric as well. This is a magnifi- — I don’t know if there’s a better view in New York than here. I really don’t. This is magnificent. And thank you for opening your home to us and — and all of you for helping out.
Look, you know, if it wasn’t for — who’s counting? What, 47 days or thereabouts to the next election? And there’s a lot — there’s a lot up for grabs, a lot — a lot at stake, from choice to — to Social Security, to gun violence, to global warming, to the right to vote, to democracy itself.
And it’s not hyperbole, in my view. And I look around this room, and some of you have been helping me since we were the grandkids’ age. (Laughter.) No, I really mean it. Some of you have been helping me for a long, long time. And I really do appreciate it. And I appreciate your support — your financial support, but also appreciate your moral support.
You know, I think — and you’ve maybe heard me say this before — but I think we’re at — as a country, at an inflection point. And it occurs not on any schedule, but anywhere from every three to five generations where what happens in the next four to five to six years is going to determine what this country looks like for the next 30 to 35 years. And I don’t think that’s hyperbole. I think that’s literally — literally true.
And it’s not one man’s fault, although there have been contributors to this dilemma, but the world is changing. To quote an Irish poet, “All has changed, changed utterly. A terrible beauty has been born.”
The world is changing. And we can either shape it or we can be shaped by it. And I really, honest to God, believe we have an enormous opportunity — enormous opportunity to build back a country that is even better than it was before we got into the pandemic and before we got into this position.
And one of the things that I think is really important is that — you know, the press is here, and they sometimes, legitimately — legitimately criticize me a lot, legitimately. But one of the things they talk about — when I talk about MAGA Republicans, I’m not just talking about Trump, I’m talking about those folks who have a different view of how the institutions should function.
They’re very much up for grabs right now, the institutions — whether or not the Supreme Court — what legitimacy it has, what it should have; what the Congress can and can’t do.
And, you know, we ta- — when I talked about there are some extremes within the other party — and this is not your father’s Republican Party. This is a different party than when you started helping me years ago. It’s a very different party.
And, you know, when you — when you defend people who broke down doors in the Capitol and tried to turn around an election and ended up with some police being dead, and when you defend them as patriots, there’s something different about what’s out there.
When you hear Republicans talking about “if certain things happen, there’ll be riots in the street and there’ll be blood on the streets,” it — it’s just — it’s not consistent with who we are as a democracy.
And when you see the continuation of the notion of failing to recognize the legitimacy of an election when there’s not a single thread of evidence to suggest it was anything other than legitimate, it’s — it’s a dangerous trend. And the fact of the matter is that, you know, the MAGA Republicans have a very different view of where they want to take the country.
And so I think there’s a lot of stake — a lot of stake in this election. And — but I feel quite confident about how — what we’re going to be able to do.
You know, I’ve had — and the press has heard me say this before — six of my former Republican co- — my Republican colleagues in the Senate that I knew, that are still there, have come to me. And I’ve promised I would never mention their names, and I will never. And they’ve came separately to tell me they agree with me on a lot of things but they just can’t vote with me because they’ll lose their election — they’ll lose the primary.
And it’s not like there is — there’s almost a — it seems as though a bit of a fear factor that if you don’t support the position of Mr. Trump and the MAGA Republicans, that you are not — you can’t get the nomination to run for office.
And — but, you know, it’s interesting that we’ve been able to get a fair amount done, and we have to keep the momentum going, instead of, you know, dealing with the anger and — and division that is being preached. I’m optimistic. I genuinely am optimistic about the prospects for —
We’re the only nation in the world, in my view, that has come out of — come out of crises stronger than we went into them. I think it’s not just getting back to where we were before the pandemic; it’s to get back to a place much better than we were, to “build back better.” I know that’s a phrase I get criticized for using, but I legitimately mean it. We have a chance to make things significantly better.
And one of the things that — so we started. Early on, I was — I was — made it very clear that I — what I wanted to do. And, for example, we — the first recovery plan we put forward was designed to deal with COVID and to also provide the opportunity for governors and mayors across the city to keep employment going. The reason why you still had cops in the street and — and firefighters and ambulance drivers is because of that money coming out of that — because the tax base was — was lost.
We also — when I first got elected, there were 2,000 [sic] people who had been vaccinated. And after 15 months, there were 228 million people. 2 million people had been vaccinated. 228 million vaccinated. And we’ve — and the science community has done a great deal to find vaccines and the like.
And so things have gotten better because we’ve invested.
We also found ourselves in a position where we — we created, in the process, 10 million jobs — 10 million jobs. That’s not hyperbole. It’s more jobs created in the first term of a President — in the first 18 months than — less than 18 –about — than any time in American history because people were ready to come back and ready to go to work when they’re able to because of the COVID crisis.
We also passed an infrastructure bill that was not just designed to deal with the reality of climate change and the need for us to modernize infrastructure.
We used to invest — in the United States of America, we used to invest 2 percent of our GDP in research and development. We now do less than seven tenths of 1 percent. And the rest of the world has caught up. China and other countries are investing significant amounts in research and development.
We’re finally getting back in the game so that we can — and we — a good friend and I, we talked about the CHIPS bill and other things a little bit earlier.
But my generic point is we’re finally getting back in the game of competing with the rest of the world. You know, no one would argue we used to be — have — rated the — the second-best infrastructure in the world. And we ended up being viewed, in many cases, as low as 20 — and just barely in the top 20. Our ports, our railroads, our — a whole ra- — our highways, our bridges. I mean, we need enormous change.
But again, we’re finally getting underway. We got some bipartisan support to get that done.
And then, in addition to that, we — it’s created literally millions of jobs and — you know, from clean water to broadband, to eliminating lead pipes. I mean, a whole range of things it’s doing.
The idea that you would ride by, in the middle of pandemic, and see a bunch of cars in a parking lot of McDonald’s just so they can get on the Internet because their kids couldn’t do — no, I’m serious. Think — think of this. The United States of America, for God’s sake.
And so we find ourselves in a position that we — we’ve decided to reinvest the CHIPS and Science Act. You know, we — we invented the chip here in the United States of America when we went to the Moon. We — we used to own it, basically. Well, guess what? We didn’t anymore.
And the reason why — part of the reason for inflation was the fact that everything from your cellphone to your appliances to your automobiles, they need these chips. When they’re not available, we don’t supply — and probably the phrase that I never thought anyone would ever publicly learn what it meant is “supply chain.” Who the hell ever thought of a supply chain when you — if you stand up in front of an audience two years ago and say, “Well, the supply chain…” They’d look at you like, “What, are you nuts?” But they all know it, because we lost control of the things that we had invented; we weren’t making any more in America. And it’s not just chips. I won’t bore you with the detail, but you all understand it.
So my point is that we finally came along and we — and we passed the CHIPS Act, and it’s creating — going to create literally tens of thousands of good-paying jobs. We broke ground in Intel for construction of (inaudible) — an Intel facility in — outside of Columbus, Ohio. Well, there’s seven- — there’s 13,000 jobs: 7,000 jobs constructing the facilities, and then the rest are jobs that are going to be paying an average salary of $128,000 to $138,000 a year you don’t need a college degree for; you need training.
My generic point is there’s so much we can do. No country is as well prepared and capable of doing what we’re able to do.
And then, by the way, we finally — you know, I spent my career taking on the NRA — and I hope I don’t offend anybody by saying this — but also taking on Big Pharma. We finally won. We finally beat the NRA and had to pass the — a gun bill that was significant — the first time in 30 years.
But I promise you, as long as I’m your President — before I leave, whether it’s in four years or eight years, it is going to — we’re going to have the assault weapons ban again. The idea — (applause) — no, I’m serious.
And so, the idea of taking on these interests is not beyond our capacity.
We also work very hard to deal with what I — what we ended up calling the PACT Act. You know, there are an awful lot of –just, you all know here in New York, in 9/11, all those firefighters that came down with cancer after being exposed to toxic waste, right? Well, guess what? In Afghanistan and Iraq and around the world, where we are — where we, the United States, have troops stationed, there are 8- to 10-foot pits that are as large as a football field, where everything from toxic waste to jet fuel to human waste to some — and in some cases, bodies — they’re burned.
Well, you know, I don’t want to make this personal because my son wasn’t the only one, but my son Beau, who some of you know and helped — who should be the one standing here, not me — he was — you know, he was one of those — he was — he volunteered. He was a — he was a major in the United States Army. He won the Bronze Star, the Conspicuous Service Medal. His what they call “hooch” and — outside of — in Iraq was literally from here to the first — not — wait a minute — it was about 600 yards from where he slept every night. And they’re burning this toxic waste. Well, there are thousands of people coming back with cancer and other diseases.
When we finally — finally got even our Republicans to vote for it to make sure we cared for — we have one sacred obligation. We have a lot of obligations and one sacred obligation, and that’s to equip those who we send to war and care for them and their families when they come home.
We finally got it passed, and we’re going to take care of those who are still alive and compensate the families of those who lost someone.
And so we’ve done some — some good things. And, you know, even if there’s a slight tick, but we’ve — you know, gas prices have come down over $1.38. We’re in a situation where in some states there are (inaudible) — more gases under $3.00 a gallon again. So — because we’ve tried to work with other countries, and we’ve changed the way in which we are going to deal with the production of and the allocation of gasoline.
So my point is that these are all things I talked about when I ran, including what used to be called — we don’t want to call it anymore because it becomes a political consideration — but the Build Back Better initiative; that’s the Inflation Reduction Act.
You know, we pay, as many of you know, the highest drug prices of any nation in the world — in the world. I’ll say it again: in the world. And guess what? The idea — we’re the only nation where you have an outfit like Medicare not able to negotiate drug prices. Well, we finally got that passed without a single, solitary Republican vote. And guess vote? Drug prices are coming down. They haven’t seen the benefit yet; it’ll start — in January, you’ll see it.
For example, no — no senior, no one on Medicare will have to pay — ever pay more than $2,000 a year for the drugs they need, including those whose bills are sometimes as high as $80,000 a year because of certain cancer drugs and the like. And so we’re — you know, but it’s going to change people’s lives. Going to literally change their lives.
And we’re also in a situation where we’ve provided for healthcare that — and there are — we’re able to reduce the cost for a family of four $2,400 a year for those who quali- — they could not afford insurance but were able to get the Affordable Care Act. And we gave them a option to buy a better option. And it costs $400 a person. And so, you know, we’re — I mean $800 a person.
And so we’re able to reduce and people will be able to pay for their — their healthcare and to get healthcare, including what we did with regard to insulin. You know anybody who needs insulin for Type 2 diabetes? Or — anyway, if you know anybody who needs it, well, in some places you pay as average of $620 a month.
I was in Virginia making a speech, and a mother stood up and said she had two children, and they had Type 1 diabetes and they couldn’t afford — they couldn’t afford the insulin, knowing that if they didn’t get the insulin, they’re in real trouble; the kid may — may be in desperate shape.
Well, imagine being the parent of someone, of a child, who needs insulin, and you don’t have the money to pay for it, you can’t possibly pay for it. I mean, literally, just put yourself in the position of that. Well, guess what? You know how much it cost to make that insulin? Ten dollars to make it and package it. Ten dollars. T-E-N. Ten dollars.
The idea you pay 35, 40 times in price doesn’t make any sense to me. And so we were able to get that changed for the elderly, but we — the Republicans kicked it out of the legislation for everybody else, so I’m going to come back at it later. And I don’t mean in speaking, I mean in getting it done. (Laughter and applause.)
And — and so, folks, without going much further — because I guess what I’m trying to say is: I had a clear agenda; I’ve been around long enough to know what I wanted to do. And I’ve gotten 85 percent of it passed. We’ve got it done, but not with the help — with notable exception, only with Democrats in the United States Congress.
And we’re up this — this election is going to be tight — very tight. And if we lose the House and the Senate, it changes the trajectory of much of what we do.
But, for example, in the meantime, all the talk of the money that I’ve gotten the government to agree to spend, notwithstanding that, we reduced the deficit last year by 350 billion dollars — (applause) — billion dollars. This year, the reduction is 1 trillion 500 billion. (Applause.)
And because of the legislation relating to allowing Medicare to negotiate, we reduce the federal debt by another $300 billion over 10 years.
And so the idea — and, by the way, the last time the last outfit was in shape — in place, they had almost a $2 billion tax cut, not a penny which was paid for. Not a penny which was paid for.
And so, look, folks, the point I’m trying to make is that this is going to — my dad used to have an expression. He’d said, “Joey, don’t compare me to the Almighty, compare me to the alternative.” (Laughter.) Well, you know, the alternative is we got to make this a choice. What’s the alternative to the Democratic positions that we’re voting on and the Republican positions that are being proposed?
The Speaker — the Minority Leader of the House is about to lay out the equivalent of the plan — what the Republicans are for? Can anybody here — and I’m not joking — can anybody here tell me what the Republican platform is?
Q (Inaudible) not existent.
Q Lower taxes.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, no, it’s not. They want to increase taxes for everybody over a hundred thou- — under $100,000. Because what Johnson said is that everyone should pay tax, no matter what — no matter what. So you got a whole hell of a lot of people — whether it’s what we used to call “welfare” that are getting government aid — they think should be paying taxes no matter what. There is no further reduction.
What they want to do is they want to make sure, number one, that they — and they’ve made it clear — the head of the — head Republican reelection campaign, Senator Scott from Florida, has laid out what their platform is. And I wish I’d brought a copy. But look it up. As they say, “Google it.”
And what it is — he says that he wants to make sure that Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid are on the chopping block every five years, meaning, if you don’t reauthorize them, they go away — or alter them. Every five years you have to vote on whether it continues and/or to amend it.
All those things. Social Security — which I know we still are making sure we can pay for it — but Social Security, which every pay check you had from the time you’re a kid you take out money to pay for. Well, guess what? And then along comes a guy named Johnson, from Wisconsin, a senator. He didn’t think every five years is enough. The Republican position is every year. Every — (audience member laughs) — no, I’m not joking — including everything from student aid — a whole range — it should be up for consideration every year, de novo.
And so, folks, you know — and McCarthy is going to put out his position. He said the first thing they’re going to do is get rid of my — my legislation — well, the law I just signed on dealing with the — you know, the Inflation Act. You know, and that means they’re going to raise the cost of Social Security. They’re going to raise — I won’t go through the whole thing. I won’t bore you with it. You’ve got to — you’ll figure it out. It’s a very different, different view. A very different view.
And so, you know, in addition, you know, you have Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and others talking about how they’re going to, you know, make sure that Roe is forever gone and Dobbs becomes the national law, national legislation. Well, the good news is — for me, anyway — I’m going to be around at least for another two years, so he can pass or it not, I’m going to veto it. It’s not going to happen. (Applause.)
But the point is, think about what these guys are talking about. And I’m talking about no exceptions — rape, incest — no exceptions, regardless of age. You saw that was — that 13-year-old girl that got raped. They said, “Well, that’s just the way it is. You know, you got to deal with it.”
My generic point — and I happen to be a practicing Roman Catholic — my church doesn’t even make that argument now. And so we’re in a situation where things have changed a lot. But they’ve gotten more extreme in their positions.
And so, you know, we have a lot more to do. And I think — one of the things I’m disappointed I was not able to get reauthorized — I got it passed for a year, but I couldn’t get it reauthorized — was the — on the Child Care Tax Credit. That brought down child poverty by 40 percent. Hear me? Forty percent. Reduced child poverty by 40 percent.
And, folks, you know, if you had — I’ll conclude with this: When I was the Vice President, I was asked to see what the Fortune 500 companies most needed. And interviewed, along with the Secretary of Commerce, who was — was a very successful woman, a billionaire herself — we introduced — we intro- — we interviewed three hundred- — I think it was — -forty-seven CEOs and what do they most need. And they said, “A better-educated public.” A better — “A better-educated workforce.”
But I come from the state of corporate America. More corporations are incorporated in Delaware than every other state in the Union combined. And so, I’m not anti-corporation. I — I have — I think they have responsibilities to step up and pay their fair share.
But — and, you know — and in the process of — of all of this, you know, we found ourselves in a situation where I pointed out when I met with the Roundtable — the Business Roundtable — that they used to pay for that education. When the DuPont company came up with a new product, they educated their public on their employees. They took responsibility. Well, very few corporations do that anymore.
Now, is it — and I’ve asked this — I’ve asked this question to the Roundtable, for real. Isn’t it in the interest of corporate America if we have a better-educated public? It — doesn’t that make sense? Does anybody think that we, in the United States of America — one of the reasons we became the leading country in the world is because we had mandatory education, free education from ages — grades 1 through 12 at the turn of the last century — the turn of the 20th century.
We had other — other states and countries that had better schools, but not universal by any stretch of the imagination. Well, the world has caught up and passed us. Guess what? We found out from the studies done the last 10 years by East Coast and West Coast universities — I think it was Harvard and Stanford — that if you have a child, no matter what their background — whether they come from a broken home, no books, where there’s drug abuse, et cetera; and a child who comes from a middle-class or upper-income home where they’ve heard a lot of words spoken as well as have parents who are literate and books on the shelf, et cetera.
Well, if you have them go to schools — school, not — not — not daycare, school — beginning age three, you have — 56 percent of those kids will graduate, no matter what their background, from high school and go beyond high school.
Now, I say, isn’t it better — wouldn’t you rather have a better-educated workforce? If we were starting off to set up public education today, how many of you would say 12 years is enough in the second quarter of the 21st century to compete? I don’t know anybody who thinks that. And yet, it’s — we can do it, and we can afford to do it, and we can do it not cheaply, but we can do it well.
My generic point is that we’re not thinking ahead enough. We’re not thinking ahead enough. And this is an enormous opportunity for the country to not only be in good shape but better shape than when we went into the crisis we faced, when we got — when you got me elected. And so that’s what this is all about, in my view: to put America in a position where it leads the world again.
And I haven’t even talked — and I’m not going to now because of the time — but I haven’t talked about foreign policy. I haven’t talked about any of the crises we face internationally. But we’re also — the rest of the world is looking to us. They’re looking to us.
I’ll end by saying, when I — I’ve known every major head of state for the last 25 years because of the nature of my job. I was Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, and then I was Vice President. As you know, the — President Obama had me do a significant portion of American foreign policy.
And so I went to the first G7 meeting in England, and I sat down with the leading heads of state and of the seven most prosperous countries in the world. And I said, “America is back.” And my word — the comment from one of them and then echoed by three others was, “For how long?” “For how long?”
And then one of them said — I think it was Macron who said to me, “Imagine if we left this meeting, turned on the television…” — I think it was Macron. Don’t quote me on that. I’m not positive if it was. (Laughter.) And turned — one of them said, “…turned on the television and saw that there are a crowd of close to 1,000 people running down the halls of the Parliament and breaking down the doors of the — of the House of Commons. People being killed and end up dying to try to overthrow the outcome of an election. What would you think in America?”
All kidding aside, think about it. What would you all think if they did same thing in the Bundestag? I’m serious. We’d wonder whether or not it was still a relevant country, whether it was still a democracy.
And then, on top of that, if you had defended — defended these people as patriots for doing that, what would you think?
So, my point is that we have an obligation. Because I’ve always known that the United States, as Madeleine Albright has said it, of the last — at least the last 100 years, 70 years for certain — is the essential country. And I’ve known that because that’s been my —
But now I realize when I walk in a room, every other world leader looks at me like, “Are we going to be okay?” Not because of me. But I’m the President of the United States of America. They’re looking for America to lead. And we have all the tools to do it. We have all the tools. I’ve never been more optimistic about the prospects for the United States in the world than I am today.
We have such enormous opportunities to better the lives of not only our people, but people around the world. You’ve heard too much from me. I’ve gone 20 minutes beyond what I wanted to do. (Laughter.) And I didn’t even talk about what I know you’re going to go back to and — you see that tie? That tie is Ukraine. And he’s in and out of there — anyway.
So, I’m going to, as my mother would say, “Hush up, Joey. Take some questions.” And I’m going (inaudible). (Applause.)
5:02 P.M. EDT