Eisenhower Executive Office Building
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Hi. Good morning, everyone. Please, have a seat. Good morning. I’m here to applaud you. I’m truly here to applaud you and to thank you all and, of course, Mitch, our dear friend.
You know the President and I both started out our careers in local government. As you know, I held a — I was count- — I was the country DA, a state AG, and then in the Senate.
And the work that we’ve been doing in the last 20 months was and is work that was motivated and informed by all of you who have feet on the ground, ears to the ground.
You know what the people need. You know what we need to accomplish as a country. And you all then, from the very beginning of our administration, helped informed our priorities. You told us what Michigan needs. You told us where people were hurting. You told us what would help.
You know, recently I find myself talking a lot, especially these days, about, you know, real leaders can’t only be about talking about problems; participate in the solution. And that’s what you all have done. You’ve helped with what solves problems.
And so we’ve been able to then do the work that we did — with everything we did from the beginning around relief during the height of the pandemic; to a once-a-generation investment in our infrastructure; to, most recently, what we did with the Inflation Reduction Act, which directly impacts so many issues that are immediate and need an investment now for the long-term benefit.
And so I am here to thank you all for, one, helping to inform all of the work we’ve done so far, but then to make it real Because, you know, I often say to our folks: You know, it’s not about sitting around here and patting ourselves on the back when a bill gets passed. It means nothing until it hits the streets. And that, again, is where you all come in to make sure that we see it through and that the people actually feel it. It’s not just about a press conference; it’s about making sure that people feel it. And so that’s what you all have been doing.
When I look at what we have done, in terms of — I have some numbers here — in particular about what it — how it has benefited Michigan: The Infrastructure Bill is $2.9 billion for 120 projects in Michigan, which is going to have a huge impact when we look at roads, bridges.
One of my particular favorites about what we did with the Infrastructure Bill was an investment in public transportation, which I know is a big issue for Michiganders.
When we look at what we did around lead pipes — and it is our intention that, in the next 10 years, to rid our entire country of those pipes and service lines. (Applause.)
And you all — you all were some of the first in the country to be the loudest, in a way that was forceful and powerful, to say, “Our country needs to deal with this” — you all in Michigan.
We’re talking for generations — and the grandparents, the grandmothers, the grandfathers, the parents. Sadly, for generations talking about the fact that our babies should not be drinking that toxic water and what it does to impact their health and their ability to learn.
And finally, we’re having a nationwide investment that’s going to see what you all have been demanding to see it through. I look at Great Lakes — some of the most beautiful great lakes in the world — and what we need to do in terms of restoration. And so, we’ve got $1 billion going into that. We’ve got $80 million going into the Detroit Metro Airport. Right?
And — and all of that is because, again, of you all helping to inform where the priorities should be in a way that impacts the most people and the people who are most in need, which can often be a different set of folks.
So I want to thank you for that.
Electric vehicles. You know, I just was in — in Korea and Japan a couple of weeks ago. And I was there actually representing our country at the funeral of the former Prime Minister of Japan. But while I was there, I met with Japanese CEOs and separately met with the Koreans around their investments in the United States and our encouragement that they do more, because that means American jobs and contributes to what we need to do in terms of U.S. manufacturing — manufacturing in our country.
And as you know, some people have been critical of what we did — right? — with the CHIPS Act and the Science Act. Our administration focusing on what we need to do in terms of homegrown investments.
And we’ve been very clear that is part of our policy, is to invest in our country and in our people and in our workforce, while we — while we — not to the exclusion — while we work with our allies on the issues that we know are to our mutual benefit. And we often talk about it in the context of our mutual benefit as it relates to prosperity and security.
But what we are doing in Michigan in particular on this issue is quite extraordinary, where we are so proud of what we intend to do to invest in the American workforce, to invest in American manufacturing around some of the most exciting technology when it comes to elite electric vehicles, both in terms of automobiles and buses, trucks, but doing it in a way that we are and will continue to maintain standing as a world leader around doing some of the best work.
All of this has happened because of you all.
The work that we did around the most recent Inflation Reduction Act, it was focused — you might — some might ask, “Well, what was the title about?” It was about dealing with the fact that life shouldn’t be too expensive for working people. People work hard. They should be able to afford to pay their bills and feed their children and take a vacation from time to time. And so, we focused on that by doing the kind of work you all talked with us about.
Let’s focus on the fact that too many people in our country are dealing with medical debt. Literally, debt that is weighing them down because the cost of relieving their pain and extending the quality of their life is too expensive.
And because of the conversations that we all had, we said, “You know what? We’re done with the fact that for too long in this town, the big pharmaceutical companies have gotten away with setting the prices without fair negotiation.” And so, for the first time, our administration, with your support, has accomplished the ability to allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices with Big Pharma for 60 million people. (Applause.) Sixty million people.
You know, a lot of us come from a labor background. We understand what this means. It’s about allowing the collective to bargain. Because if you’re requiring that one person who needs medication to bargain against the big corporations, and if you agree that the outcome of the negotiation should be fair, unlikely that outcome is going to be fair, given the disparity of power in that negotiation. So, we’re changing it up.
We said, “Hey, the issue of diabetes in our country — big issue.” And then when you look demographically, Black folks are 60 percent more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes; Latinos, 70 percent more likely. And the cost of insulin, which saves lives, is far too expensive. And so, we have now capped the cost of insulin at $35 a month.
Again, it’s about dealing with the daily needs that folks have to get through the day and move on, and a certain quality of life to which all Americans should be entitled — and addressing the details.
And so that brings me back to where I started, and it’s all of you — because you keep us focused on the details, and you followed through on the details. And there’s nothing that we could do, in this town, without all of you informing the work and then seeing it through.
So, with that, I thank you all. Welcome. I’ll actually be in Michigan on Saturday, and I’m looking forward to being there. (Applause.) And with that, Mayor, back to you.
MR. LANDRIEU: Thank you.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Okay. Take care, everybody. (Applause.)