Remarks by President Biden in a Reception for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee
(December 2, 2022)
5:41 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, I’d — I’d have done a hell of a lot better everywhere if I had her introduce me every place I go. (Laughter.)
Folks, look, the reason I’m here is because it’s really important that we reelect a really decent, honorable man who’s running for reelection in two years — just two years ago, in Georgi, and — Reverend Raphael Warnock.
And, you know, when I got elected, I was a kid. I got elected when I was 29 years old to the U.S. Senate. And everybody — and I ran in a year when I defeated a fellow who ended up, quite frankly, endorsing me the second time I ran, but had been the longest officeholder in the state — a guy named Caleb Boggs — a decent, moderate Republican.
And they’d say, “Well, what’s the secret?” If I won, there had to be some special secret. (Laughter.) “And what do I have to know if I’m going to run?”
And I said, “One thing: What are you willing to lose over? Have you figured that part out? If you haven’t figured out what’s so important you’re willing to lose over it rather than compromise on it or give up on it, then you shouldn’t run. You should get involved in another line of work, because you can do a hell of a lot better financially, you can have less pressure — not necessarily less pressure, but less public opinion watching over your shoulder.”
And — and that’s exactly what the woman who just introduced me is all about. She tells you what’s on her mind, she knows what she speaks of, and she understands.
And I also want to point out that I think one of the best people I’ve ever worked with — and I mean this sincerely, I spent — I know I don’t look it, but I’ve been around a long time. (Laughter.)
I spent 36 years in the United States Senate, and I’ve never worked with anybody that I respect more, that I trust more, and that is more on your side when he says it than that senator right there. He’s not a bad guy. He’s hiding under that picture. I don’t know what that painting is. (Applause.) But Ed Markey is the reason why a lot of what we’ve gotten done in this last two years has gotten done.
But, look, why are we all working so hard?
And, by the way, where is Peter — the new senator from Vermont? There you are, Peter. Good to see you. (Applause.)
I remember Peter ran early in — I think it was — what? — ’76 — was it? — with Pat Leahy.
REPRESENTATIVE WELCH: I worked with Pat Leahy.
THE PRESIDENT: You worked with Pat then.
REPRESENTATIVE WELCH: In the first campaign.
THE PRESIDENT: In that first campaign. And I went up to New Hampshire to campaign for Pat. And the issue was: Pat was too young to be a senator. And I was two years younger than Pat, campaigning for him. (Laughter.) And he won in spite of it.
But congratulations, man. I’m really happy you’re going to be in the Senate. (Applause.)
Look, you know, we have — I have nice remarks here prepared by my staff, and they’re good. But the fact of the matter is that — why is it so important, since we have 50 senators already — which means that the Vice President, every time she votes, she wins. Why is it so important?
Well, you know, it’s important because 51 means there’s no longer 51 Presidents. When you have 50 senators, everyone is a President. Everyone can make a judgment on what they want to do or not do and — and they can block whatever is coming up.
And they’re all good people. They’re all good people. Joe Manchin is a good person; he really is. But Joe has a different view, and he represents a different constituency than most of us do, especially on environmental issues. And the same way with the senator from Arizona.
But my point is that — you know, I’ve tried to make a case this la- — I believed — as some of you know, because some of you do know, that — I believed we were going to do just fine this last election. I believed from the beginning we were going to do fine. I thought we were going to win. Matter of fact, but for the fact we had a little change in reapportionment in the state of New York, we’d be up by three, not down.
And the reason I did is because elections are a — not — not a referendum on the individual running; they’re a choice — a choice, a choice.
And the choices that we had to make — we were running against three hundred and, I think, fifty-some people or thirty-some people on the other team who, in fact, were election deniers — did not really respect the institutions, literally.
I know I got criticized very harshly for making a speech in the summer down at Independence Hall about — democracy was under siege. There was a threat to democracy on the horizon, for real. And then I did that again about three weeks before the general election.
But the fact of the matter is — because I went all over the country, and I could tell people were literally worried about whether or not the institutions would hold.
You know, we have three equal branches of government, where there was not — that’s not the way our opposition thinks of it.
And by the way, you know, I — I’ve — when I was the United States senator, I had a reputation for getting things done with Republicans. And I got an awful lot done.
But this is not your father’s Republican Party. This is a different breed — a different breed of cat, for real. There’s still some really decent, honorable men and women in the United States Senate who are Republicans. But there’s also those who really think the institutions are not to be respected that much, for real.
I’m even worried about — and I was chairman of the Judiciary Committee for years and years, and voted on more Supreme Court Justices than any man that’s living today. And the fact of the matter is: The Court has changed — not just in terms of its ideology, but in terms of its politics, the way it deals with things.
You wonder about whether or not the way in which the Republicans want to take a look at the institution of the presidency under the last President and — the once-and-future President, in his view.
You also take a look at what they — the idea they have about the Congress and what their responsibilities are.
And so, we need a little bit of insurance. We need a little bit of insurance for not only the things we’ve done, but so much more we have to get done.
Folks, look, because of the help of your two senators — and I’m not being solicitous — we got a lot done. But the things we got done, people don’t even know yet because a lot of it doesn’t take effect yet.
For example, when you, in fact, decide you’re going to rebuild America — not li- — not figuratively, literally — with a $1 trillion 200 billion infrastructure legislation —
We used to have — be rated the second-best infrastructure in the world. We’re — now we’re rated number 18 in the world, in terms of our infrastructure — trains, planes, buses, highways, Internet, the whole thing, bridges.
I mean, we’re — I went down the list of the number of bridges in your state that are in disrepair; that are — need real help; that haven’t had anything done to them. Go across the country — the same way.
I was at Logan. We’re putting millions of — tens of millions of dollars into Logan just to bring it up to snuff.
I remember when I was — when I was the Vice President, I landed at LaGuardia. And I walked into LaGuardia, and — in Air Force Two and — the small Air Force One. And I landed and I found myself walking in, and there was a sign going through the lobby. The escalator was down. It said, “Will be repaired in four months.” (Laughter.) Not a joke. The United States of America.
If I blindfolded you and put you in an airport in Beijing and in New York, and took the blindfold off and asked you where you were, you would say the opposite. You would think you were in America in Beijing and Beijing in America.
And so, the generic point I’m making is: There’s so much we have to get done, but we have such enormous opportunities. And it’s only starting to kick in now.
And people don’t know that when you — when you take out that intersection that — where more people have been killed because of pedestrian crossings or more — or highways where you have bridges that are collapsing, and so on. They don’t know it until you start to take them down and fix them. And we’re just getting started, because we’ve now had only a portion of that money that has been released.
And those of you who are businessmen and women, you know that people want to build their factories and their facilities where they can get their product to market the quickest.
And so, my point is: There’s a lot to come — a lot to come. The same way with the environmental legislation. Everybody thinks it’s just about generic things we’re doing. Well, guess what? It’s estimated the average person in America will save $1,500 a year if, in fact, they take advantage of the tax credits for their ability to deal with everything from putting new doors and windows on their homes, to having subsidized their solar panels.
And, by the way, windmills don’t kill people. (Laughter.) They don’t cause cancer, like the last guy thought.
But my generic point is: There’s a lot coming with the legislation we passed relative to — to healthcare.
You know, I’ll bet every one of you know somebody who has Type 2 diabetes and needs insulin. Well, the average cost of insulin on a monthly basis was $400 a year — I mean, a month — sometimes as high as $18 — $800 a month, depending on where you live.
Well, it costs — the guy who came up with the insulin didn’t patent it because he wanted it available to anybody and everybody. And the total cost of manufacturing that is $10 — T-E-N — $10. Package it — another $4. So, it costs a maximum of 15 bucks. And — what’s happening.
I was in Virginia, campaigning for a candidate in the early summer. And a woman stood up and asked about insulin, and she started to cry. She said, “I have two daughters with Type 2 diabetes. And I have to split — I have to share the insulin. I don’t have the money. I don’t have the insurance to be able to handle it.” This — for God’s sake, this is the United States of America.
And so, I can go down the list. And so, a lot of this is just going to kick into gear now. The insulin price goes — people are going to, all of the sudden, decide, “Oh my god, Biden was right. I mean, he actually said it only going to cost me 35 bucks.” And they start paying it. And they’re going to go, “Whoa, I didn’t realize that was really true.”
I could go down the list of the other things that these folks helped us pass.
The point I’m making is that elections are a choice. And this is the most — this Republican party today is the most devoid of any serious ideas that I’ve ever dealt with.
And I’m — and I’m not — you know, I got criticized, remember, when I ran for President, saying I’m running for three reasons.
One, to restore the soul of America, decency, and honor.
Two, to rebuild the American — not trickle-down, but from the middle out and the bottom up. When the middle class does well, the wealthy do very well and never get hurt and — and the poor have a shot — and people have a little breathing room, as my dad would say. At the end of the month, they got just a little space — a little space.
And so — but the third thing I said: We’re going to unite the country.
You remember — the press is in the room. They understandably, legitimately, beat the living hell out of me for saying that’s — that’s the — “Biden’s the old guy here. That’s how it used to be. It can’t be that way anymore.”
Well, if we can’t unite this country, we’re in real trouble, we’re in desperate trouble, because democracies only can function when you gather consensus. And so, what we did this last time out and what’s happening down in Georgia right now is that we have to make it clear to people that — what are the other team for?
Not a joke. If I asked you if — and you all — because of your generosity of helping candidates, you’re all in a position to be able to do relatively well. If I said, “I’ll tell you what, I’ll bet you 500 bucks you can’t, in the next 15 minutes, sit down and write out a Repub- — what’s the Republican platform.” (Laughter.) No, I’m not being facetious. I’m being deadly earnest. It’s about whatever we’re for, they’re against.
Look at what they want to repeal. They want to repeal everything. The first thing they said they want to do — the first thing — is get rid of the Affordable Care — excuse me — get rid of the legislation passed that has the environmental money in it and has the money dealing with Medicare being able to negotiate.
Why is Medicare the only outfit in the world, unlike the VA and others, that cannot negotiate prices that they’re going to pay for product, saving the American public?
And, by the way, all the stuff we did — I want to remind you — I love my Republican friends talking about — not Re- — the Republicans in the Congress talking about the “big-spendin’ Democrats.”
I lowered the deficit $1 trillion 400 billion this year. This year. (Applause.) The largest ever occurred in American history. Three hundred and fifty billion last year, after inheriting a disaster of a $2 trillion tax cut, not a penny of which was paid for.
So, I guess my point is: The reason I need, we need Raphael Warnock is we can’t have this hanging on a thread every single vote we have. Every single vote we have on anything consequential hangs on a single thread. And we no longer control the House, by just a handful of votes — literally a handful of votes.
But there’s enough serious-moving Republicans in the House that you’re going to find — they’re going to have a difficulty holding them all together on serious things that we can get passed.
And so, again, there’s so much to — I should just hush up and let you ask me questions. But the bottom line is: There’s so much we can get done. There’s so much we can get done for the American people, and none of it is radical. There’s no — this radical “big-spendin’ Democrats.”
Like I said, the deficit was highest it’s ever been under Trump and was cut the greatest of any — any administration in American history under the Democrats the last two years.
And so — and, look, I know we still have to worry about inflation. And it’s a legitimate concern. And the possibility of some suggesting that we — the Fed may continue to put pretty harsh restrictions on interest rates or increasing them in order to bring — make sure we don’t — but guess what? In the meantime, we’re having — we have the most steady job creation of any administration since Johnson’s administration.
Unemployment is still at a 50-year low. We’re in a situation where the GDP is growing — not exorbitantly but manageable.
It’s a debate whether or not — what we can do, how much more we can do and not have — run into a recession. But so far, a lot of folks have been preaching gloom and doom, and it hadn’t happened yet. Doesn’t mean it won’t happen.
But look at gas prices. Remember how badly I was criticized when I said — and I got the support from Warnock — saying that, “Well, all you’re going to do is going to release several million barrels of oil from a Petroleum Reserve.” Well, guess what? That (inaudible) million barrels of oil — what’s the price of oil now — gasoline at the pump?
For example, down in Georgia, which we’re going to be talking about this, the average family has gone from an average cost of $4.98 or $4.87 — don’t hold me to the exact number — I don’t — I’ll look — look at my notes — but the high — the high 4’s to $2.88. If you have a family with two automobiles, you’re saving yourself 170 bucks a month.
There’s more than one way to deal with family inflation. My dad used to say, “At the end of the day, what do you have left after you pay your — all your monthly bills?” So, if you have a child that needs insulin, it is a significant reduction in inflation for that family if it goes from $400 to 15 — to 35 bucks.
If the gasoline price comes down and stays down, I don’t — I can’t guarantee anything, but it has to continue to come down. And guess what? The major oil industry has made more money than any time in all of history.
Exxon made seven- — nine- — $17.9 billion in one quarter — more than they’ve ever made. They’re not passing it on, because they’re saying they’re not going to, in fact, re- — reignite their refineries because they’re afraid Biden’s eventually going to take us to zero — zero emissions, in terms of — but that’s going to take — no matter what, that’s going to take at least five, seven, eight years before we get there. We’re going to still need — need energy.
My generic point is: There’s so much at stake in this upcoming elec- — this next two years. So much at stake.
Now I can’t — as was I had Re- — well, I don’t want to, with the press here, name the names, but the Republicans who came to see me — the future leadership of the House. And they were telling me what they could do, what they were going to do.
And I said, “Yeah,” and I — I face- — I was sitting at the — at the desk in the room. And I just went like this. (Holds up pen.) (Laughter.) And they said, “What are you doing?” I said, “A pen. Veto.” (Laughter.) “Veto.”
But that not nec- — that can stop bad things, but it can’t start them. It can’t generate them.
And so — and if you’re — if you had Raphael Warnock here, you’d see he’s a man — forget whether he’s a man of faith or not; he is — but he’s a truly decent man. Truly decent, honorable man.
And the fellow he’s running against is — based on just what he’s done and said — is someone who is a very different breed than he is. Doesn’t deserve to be a United States senator. Doesn’t deserve to be a United States senator.
And so, we’re have — we have a race that’s of extreme consequence. That’s the best way for me to put it.
I’m taking too long to talk. But, look, you know, everything we’ve done, from passing the PACT Act — everybody says, “What’s the PACT Act?” Well, you know, there’s about 3 million military people who’ve been breathing that air from those burn pits. My son was one of those. It’s not about my son, but my son was one of those.
My son was the attorney general of Delaware, volunteered to go to Iraq for a year with his National Guard unit, and came home — went one of the — on all the tests they do, one of the fittest guys in the — in his unit, and came back with stage four glioblastoma. Fought like hell. Never complained.
But I’ve visited in and out of Iraq and Afghanistan over 37 times. And he lived within, probably, 200 yards, in Camp Liberty, of the — one of those burn pits.
A burn pit is about the size of football field, 8 to 10 feet deep. And they burn everything in there from fuel to poisonous material to rubber to — I mean, across the board. And it’s just like you all learned about that from 9/11, what happened to those firefighters breathing that toxic air.
And so, we — we had a question of whether or not we were going to get the burn pit legislation passed. Was that going to pass? Were they going to spend the money?
So, all it does is say — just like we did with Agent Orange finally — it’s hard to prove that the reason you have the disability you have is because of Agent Orange, but if you were exposed when it was dropped on your head, it was assumed that there was — that was the reason for your illness.
Well, the same — all this does is say they’re going to provide for — help the families of VA help for — this is someone who comes home having been exposed to a burn pit — have their bills — their medical bills paid for; and if they passed away, have their benefits that flowed for them from — for education, be able to flow to their children.
But my point is: These are things that used to be supported by — overwhelmingly by Republicans as well as Democrats. Now they ended up having enough to vote for it.
But the whole point I’m trying to make is: We have a chance — no, let me — I’ll end it this way. And I apologize to my colleagues; they’ve heard me say this for a while.
I really think we’re at an inflection point in American history, not because I’m President or anybody who’s in office. One of those times in history where the things that we do the previous 4 years or 3 years, the next 5 or 6 years are going to determine what the country looks like for the next 50 years, literally.
And the world is changing. All across the wor- — the world, it’s changing. And what we do matters a great deal. What we do matters a great deal.
Imagine four more years of the last guy coming up. I can tell you, I spent most of my career dealing with foreign policy. The rest of the world doesn’t understand.
I’ll conclude by giving an example. The first G7 meeting of the largest democratic economies in London — in England, after I got elected, in February. And I sat down and I said, “America is back.” And the comment was — only heads of states sitting there — “For how long? For how long?”
And then one of them pointed out, without naming him — pointed out to me, “What would you say, Mr. President, if you went to bed tonight here in southern England, woke up the next morning and find out a couple of thousand people had stormed the British Parliament, crashed through the doors of the House of Commons, two cops were killed in the meantime, to try to overcome the outcome of an election? What would you think?”
And, really, ask yourself: What would you think, sitting here in America? What would you think about the future of England?
Well, you know, a lot of people out there wonder whether or not we’re going to return to what was chaos internationally before. And so, I think that we have not only enormous opportunities but enormous obligations. Obligations.
And one of the things I’ve learned, even though I — for a long time was — I was Pre- — Vice President for eight years and did a lot of foreign policy for Barack — when the President of the United States walks in the room, everybody — everybody raises their head. Not because — I don’t mean me — whoever the President is.
Because as Madeleine Albright said, “America is the indispensable nation.” It is the indispensable nation. And so, we got to continue to be able to lead and lead in a way that takes the world in a direction that is democratic — democratic values that are upheld.
And I know, as I said, I got criticized for talking about the demise of democracy in front of these guys. But it matters. It matters.
And we can straighten this — we can be in a position, if we continue these next two years and nail down what we started, we’re going to be in a position for the next 10 to 20 years where America is going to be in pretty good shape.
Any rate, thank you very much. (Applause.)
END 6:06 P.M. EST