Press Gaggle by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre
Aboard Air Force One
En Route Albuquerque, New Mexico
1:08 P.M. EDT
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Hello! All right. Today, we're headed to Albuquerque, New Mexico, where President Biden will visit Central New Mexico Community College to provide an update on our work to provide extra breathing room to borrowers as they prepare to restart loan payments next year.
Central New Mexico Community College is a Hispanic-serving institution where 37 percent of the students are Pell Grant recipients. Under our plan, Pell Grant recipients who meet the income requirements are eligible for up to $20,000 in debt cancellation. And almost half of student loan debt held by Latino borrowers is expected to be cancelled under our plan.
As the President announced this morning, close to 26 million people have provided their information to the Department of Education to have their student loans reduced or forgiven under our plan. Of those, more than 16 million are on track to be approved for relief this week.
But if state Republican officials get their way, tens of millions of borrowers will be robbed of their opportunity to get this extra breathing room as they prepare to restart loans pay- -- loan payments next year. Remember, Republican members of Congress at the same time are calling for a $3 trillion handout to Big Pharma, corporations, and the ultra-wealthy.
While at the community college, the President will be joined by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham; Senator Ben Ray Lu- -- Lu- -- sorry -- Luján; Congresswoman -- Congresswoman Melanie Stansburg- -- Stansbury; Central New Mexico Community College President Tracy Hartzler, and additional community leaders and students.
Later today, the President will also participate in a political event with Governor Lujan Grisham and other state and local officials.
This evening, we're traveling on to San Diego, where the President will participate in a political event with Congressman Levin -- Mike Levin.
Tomorrow morning in San Diego, the President will join Congressman Levin for a visit to an American technology company that will benefit from passage of the President's CHIPS and Science Act and more chips being made in America. The company also has a focus on hiring veterans, as they transition from military to civilian life.
Today we're seeing a resurgence of American manufacturing driven by passage of CHIPS, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and the Inflation Reduction Act. In recent weeks, the President has traveled to New York and Ohio to highlight historic investments in manufacturing semiconductors, AI, and quantum computing technology in the United States.
These events highlighting the President's commitment to building more in America and -- stand in stark contrast to congressional Republicans who have spent the last several weeks talking about ripping away the progress we've made, raising costs for working people, and putting Medicare and Social Security on the chopping block.
And tomorrow evening, the President will travel on to Chicago, Illinois, through Saturday morning, before heading to Philadelphia on Saturday afternoon for a political rally with former President Barack Obama and other officials.
Finally, the State Department just confirmed that U.S. embassy officials in Moscow were able to visit Brittney Griner today. We are told she is doing as well as can be expected under the circumstances.
As we have said before, the U.S. government made a significant offer to the Russians to resolve the current unacceptable and wrongful -- wrongful detentions of American citizens Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan.
I can also tell you that in the subsequent weeks, despite a lack of good-faith negotiation by the Russians, the U.S. government has continued to follow up on that offer and propose alternative potential ways forward with the Russians through all available channels. This continues to be a top priority.
With that, Aamer, you want to kick us off?
Q: Yeah. First, just -- you mentioned Chicago. Any further details on his itinerary while he's in Chicago on Friday night and Saturday?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I don't have anything more to share. When we have more, certainly we will preview -- preview what to expect on Saturday.
Q: Okay. And can I -- just broadly, with New Mexico, Chicago, California, he's spending a lot of time in very blue places in these last days before the midterms. Generally thinking -- and he's not just making political speeches, as you point out; there's a lot of policy speeches happening -- why is the President spending so much time in blue strongholds?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, a couple of things. I -- as you know, I can't weigh too much on the electoral process, as you know, as we've been all saying for the past couple of weeks.
But I do want to note: As you mentioned, he was just in Florida just this past Tuesday, and we're currently en route to New Mexico, as you know all, as just laid out, and several other states.
He has been traveling all across the country. He has been talking to the American people about the choice that's in front of them -- a stark choice -- and will continue to do that. It's important -- he believes that it is an important conversation, a real conversation that he -- that he believes is important to have with the American people.
So, you know -- and his conversations and his remarks has been that his plan and the congressional Democrats' plan is to lower -- is lower costs for the American people -- lower healthcare -- including lowering healthcare, prescription drugs, energy costs -- and to create manufacturing jobs, and bring investment to our shores, which is what you'll hear from him in the next couple of days, which he is continuing to do.
And as the New York Times reported on the front page this morning how the GOP wants to go after Medicare and Social Security, how they want to codify a national abortion ban, and do away with the Inflation Reduction Act, and raising drug prices for seniors. So, there's a stark contrast that we will -- we will continue to make.
And, you know, Republican officials are working also to block student loan debt, which is what I just laid out for you at the beginning.
Look, as we -- as you've laid out, we've done a lot of travel. The President has been nonstop. But you know this and we all know this, because you travel with the President, he has a very big bully pulpit. And so, when he speaks, you guys write about it, the American people read it. There's TV coverage of it. And so, it goes beyond -- just beyond just the state that he's in. It goes beyond to, then, just the people who he's speaking in front of. And we think that matters.
Q: Karine, could you provide the name of the company that President Biden is visiting tomorrow in California?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: We'll have more to share on that. We'll have more to share.
Q: And just on the economy, you said in a television interview this morning that the White House is not preparing for a recession. The bond market is forecasting a 48 percent chance of a recession within the next year, according to Evercore ISI. Isn't it imprudent to not be planning for something that there's a 48 percent chance of, you know, especially given how, you know badly the White House misjudged the inflation persistence?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Why were you up at 4- -- 5:40 in the morning? My goodness, I don't know wh- -- I don't know how I made it up that early.
Look, I just want to be really clear here, and I've heard this from other economists, even this morning, answering your very question or ask- -- when they were asked about potential recession, if we're in a pre-recession. And it's not just us saying this, I'm only laying that out. Because it's not just us at the administration, but it's other economists that are saying that the strength of our labor market is just not consistent -- it really isn't -- with a recession or with even a pre-recession. We believe our economy is incredibly resilient, as we have been seeing under this administration, because of the work that this President has done, because of his economic policies.
So, we continue to believe that, thanks again to the President's economic policies, we can bring inflation down, which he has been working on almost every day these past several months, without giving up historic gains that we have made. And so that's what we believe. That's how we see the current economic situation.
Q: And just one quick -- just one quick follow-up on numbers. Jen O'Malley Dillon said at the Axios event yesterday that you guys don't believe the polls on where you guys are in terms of midterms. Could you talk a little bit more about why that is? Is that intuition, or is there more happening there?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, I -- you know, I'm not going to -- I used to play a political pundit on TV not too long ago. I'm not -- certainly not going to do it here, so I'm going to be very careful.
Look, the President -- and I said this a little bit yesterday when we talked about democracy and the direction of our country and why he's talking about that and why it's so important to lay that out for the American people. We're opti- -- you know, we're optimists too.
And we have to -- you know, we're going to continue to make our message very clear. We're going to continue to make the argument in front of the American people, which is that contrast that we have been talking about -- that stark, stark contrast -- the choice that's in front of them.
And let's not forget the issues that we are talking about -- when you think about Medicare, when you think about Social Security, when you think about lowering costs right now -- are issues that the American people really care about. They are popular issues. And even if you think about democracy, protecting our democracy, that is something that a majority of Americans agree with us on. And so, that's how we see the situation ahead.
Again, I'm not going to get into punditry, political punditry on the midterms. It's not my place to do that from here. But that is how we see what we have been doing the last several months -- actually, the last 20 months -- and how the President is going to continue to deliver for the American people.
Q: Karine, can you talk on the recession question real quick? Because it's not -- you know, I know you were saying some economists are suggesting that there is a -- you know, signs that -- there are economic signs that overall the economy is doing well. But we saw even in the Fed chair's comments yesterday a suggestion that, you know, moving towards a soft landing is going to be a challenge.
We are seeing a growing chorus of economists suggest that it's going to be very difficult to avoid a recession. And to follow on Trevor's question: Given that that chorus is growing louder, are you all preparing? And are you really not preparing for it at all, even given what the Fed said yesterday?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, I -- I'm not going to comment to what the chair -- the chairman said yesterday. It's not my place.
We believe that the Fed is independent, and we respect that independence. And the President has made clear that we will give the chair -- Chair Powell the space needed to make decisions on monetary policy without political interference, unlike many of his predecessors. So I leave that there.
But, look -- but what we have seen the last 20 months is a strong labor market. And that matters as we're -- as these conversations are happening about the future of our economy.
We have a strong labor market. We have an unemployment rate that is at the lowest that it's been in 50 years; it's 3.5 percent. And we have created 10 million jobs. That shows a strong economy.
Again, I'm not going to speak to the monetary pieces. And we -- we understand -- right? -- inflation is an issue for Americans. That's why we have done the work to lower costs at all -- at every -- every way that we can, whether it's Inflation Reduction Act, lowering costs on healthcare premiums, whether -- you know, energy cost as well.
And the gas -- and lowering gas prices, which is something the President has worked on. The gas prices have gone down by $1.25 for the past several weeks since its highest peak back in June. And so, that matters, and it will continue to go down.
So, we're going to focus on that. That's where we believe we need to focus on, which is dealing with that inflation, dealing with lowering costs.
But as we see the economy as a whole, we do not see it going into a recession. Secretary Yellen has said similar as well. She is, as you know, a renowned economist, who is clearly the Secretary of Treasury -- of U.S. Treasury and a respected economist.
And so, I'll just leave it there. I just don't have much more to add to that.
Q: And just staying on jobs for a second, I know Jobs Day is tomorrow. Economists are expecting pretty low numbers. What is the White House expecting internally? And what will be your response?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, as you know, we don't have -- we don't know what the job -- the Friday jobs numbers are going to be as yet. But as we have been saying for months, we are in a transition to stable and steady growth. That's what we're -- that's where we believe the economy is headed.
And during this transition, instead of adding a record-breaking number of jobs every month, in the realm of 500,000 to 600,000 jobs on average per month, we'd expect to add closer to an average of 150,000 jobs per month. And that's similar to the average monthly job gains we saw back in 2019 before the pandemic.
That would actually be a sign of the success of this transition that we've been laying out for all of you, as kind of the job growth is consistent with a low unemployment rate and a healthy -- healthy economy.
So, that's -- that's how we see tomorrow.
Q: And just one more on student loans. Obviously, the President is going to talk about student loans today. Last week he said that he expected relief to go out in two weeks. Is that something you guys are still tracking?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, you know, we're prepared for various scenarios, and we'll be ready to move quickly as soon as receive a decision. This is to -- as we know, it's -- it's being held up right now.
As we have said from the start, we expect relief to be processed within four to six weeks of a borrower submitting an application. The timeline the President provided was consistent -- was consistent with that.
So, again, we're going to be ready to go. We just laid out: 26 million people have signed up, 16 million people are approved, and -- and we will be ready to go as soon as -- as soon as we can.
Q: The President spoke again on democracy last night. And like the Philadelphia speech from a little while back, he mentioned that both the Republican Party is made up of a minority of voters that he calls "MAGA Republicans" -- those who he considers a threat to democracy. But he also said that democracy will be on the ballot this November as well.
I'm wondering, then: If it's a minority, what races is he mentioning specifically? What candidates are a concern to him?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah. So, I want to be really careful because you're asking me about candidates and --
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: -- races and so -- which is something that I can't speak to from here.
Look, the President was very clear. When he -- when we are talking about democracy and the threats to democracy, it's something that he has been talking about for some time now, as you know. He has been clear democracy is under assault, and we cannot pretend otherwise.
We're seeing mega MAGA Republican officials who don't believe in the rule of law. They've refused to accept the results of free and fair elections. And they -- they fan the flames of political violence through what they praise and what they refuse to condemn.
And as the President said last night in his speech many times: Before you -- before you can love your country, you can't -- I'm sorry, you can't on- -- you can't love your country only when you win. That is not how this works. That is not how democracy works.
And let's not forget, political violence -- we have seen political violence, in particular in the wake of the attack of targeting Speaker Pelosi's husband, who was seriously injured. And we should be seeing Republican leaders willing to step up and call it out. Instead, they're making jokes about it.
The President has been empathetic and optimistic that American -- that Americans care about protecting our democracy. He has consistently talked about that. America has emerged stronger from some of the darkest moments that we have gone through.
And he believes that a majority of Americans -- yes, a majority of Americans believe that our democracy should be protected. We have seen that in poll after poll after poll.
But, again, we're seeing an increase of rhetoric. We're seeing an increase of political violence. And he believed that it was -- it was the right moment to use, again, his bully pulpit to make that choice and to make that very clear to the American people and have that honest conversation and direct conversation with them as well.
Q: Does the President still support the nomination of Mayor Eric Garcetti to the ambassadorship of India? Is that something that you guys are tracking? Do you expect him to get a floor vote in the Senate? If so, when?
And then I have a second.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So -- so, first of all, yes, we -- we do. And as Secretary Blinken has said, we have a crucial and consequential partnership with India.
We continue to seek the expeditious confirmation of Mayor Garcetti -- that is important to this President, a priority to this President -- who was voted out of committee with strong bipartisan support to serve as Ambassador to India.
We have -- clearly, we don't have any updates at this time. But, yes, this remains -- continues to be a priority for us.
Q: Okay. And a second question. Can you talk a bit about the deleted tweet from -- I think it was last night?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah.
Q: Why was the tweet deleted?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So I spoke to this yesterday in the briefing room. Happy to kind of share what -- what I laid out in the briefing room.
The tweet was incomplete. In the past, we have pointed out that for the first time in over a decade, as it relates to the incomplete tweet, seniors -- seniors' Medicare premiums will decrease even as their Social Security checks increase. This means that seniors will have a chance to get ahead of inflation due to -- due to the rare combination of rising benefits and falling premium.
And -- and that's what we wanted to make sure was completed in the -- was included in the tweet. And so -- and that's why you saw that action.
Q: Okay, thanks.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yes.
Q: Karine, does the President feel like his message on threats to democracy is undermined by Democrats who spend millions to elevate election-denying Republicans in the primaries? And will he call out those Democrats if some of those election-denying Republicans win on Tuesday?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Again, I -- I've been asked that question many times, and I'm just not going to get involved in any political strategy that's related to the midterms. I'm not going to do that from here.
I hear you. I'm just not going to answer that question because we're -- I'm not going to get -- there's the Hatch Act, and you're talking about a po- -- a specific election strategy. And so I'm not going to comment from that -- about that.
Again, the President believes a majority of Americans want to protect our democracy, want to strengthen our democracy, believes in having that freedom.
And so he -- like I said, there's only a minority of folks who -- who are -- you know, who are -- who believe in the election deniers, and -- and so -- but -- and so, the President -- again, with the uptick of rhetoric that we're seeing, with days away from the midterms, with the political violence -- he used his bully pulpit yesterday to make that very, very clear.
Q: One more for you on Twitter. I know you were asked this yesterday. You said it hadn't gotten to the President's desk yet. Any decisions about whether the White House or the President would continue to pay $8 a month to remain verified?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: It was just 24 hours ago! And --
Q: No, I was just wondering if it came up.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: -- (inaudible) out West. (Laughs.)
Q: And then, just more broad- -- but, Karine, more broadly: With the changes coming at Twitter, does the President still feel like Twitter is going to be an effective way to reach the American people?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, I'm -- I'm just not going to comment on a company's decision. I've said that before.
As it relates to your -- the first part of your question, again, I mean, the President just laid out why democracy is so important and put that in front of the American people last night in a very strong and powerful way. That is what is important at this time.
There are important choices that the American people are going to have to make. There are stark choices on how congressional Democrats and the President are going to continue to deliver for the American people -- as we talk about lowering costs, as we talk about, you know, what we've been able to do with the Inflation Reduction Act -- and what congressional Republicans want to do, which is take that away and actually increase costs. And let's not forget how they want to really take our economy down to a spiral by holding Medicare and Social Security hostage by using the debt ceiling, which is -- which is, you know, unheard of.
And so, we're going to continue to talk about that. I'm not -- just not going to get into the internal, I guess, politics or changes -- policy changes over at Twitter.
Q: Was the President briefed on the assassination attempt on Imran Khan? And does he have -- is there any sort of general feeling on the volatility of the political situation in Pakistan at the moment, based on today's incident?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I'll say this: The United States strongly condemns the attack on Imran Khan and his supporters, and hopes for the swift recovery of all who were injured. Violence has no place in politics. We call on all parties to remain peaceful and refrain from violence.
Q: Does the President have any thoughts about Bibi Netanyahu's success in Israel and the ultra-nationalists who propelled him to victory there?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, we are pleased -- and I was asked about this in the briefing room as well, yesterday -- we're pleased to see such strong voter turnout for the Knesset election.
It's too early to speculate on the exact composition of the next governing coalition until the votes are counted. And so, we look forward to continuing to work with the Israel -- Israeli government on our shared interests and values, but I'm not going to get ahead of the count -- the votes being fully counted.
Q: One more for you on scheduling. Do you have any idea what the President will be doing on actual Election Day?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: What's -- as you know, you guys have been -- have been through -- on this rodeo for many, many years with -- with different administrations. You know, it's -- we'll get to -- we'll share what he's doing on Election Day once we have it. It's a few days away. A few days away.
Q: Karine, can I just also -- I mean, I know you were talking about the President going to New Mexico, going to California and Chicago. We're going to two really important states. We're going to bypass, I'm sorry, two important states -- Arizona, Nevada -- that border this all. We're going out so far west. Can you articulate why we're not going to those two states?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I mean, look, we've had the President out there talking directly to the American people. We've had the Vice President out there talking and traveling across the country and talking to the American people. We've had also the First Lady and the Second Gentleman, the Cabinet secretaries.
This is a -- this is a, all-of -- if you will, all-of-government, you know, kind of process here. And -- and we're -- and we are -- you know, we're going to continue to be out there doing just that. I'm trying to be careful and not talk about politics here as I'm -- as I'm answering your question. And -- and the President has been to many of those states in the past several months as well.
So, look, we think that and we believe -- and you all prove this -- is that when the President speaks, it is covered widely and broadly.
And what we believe is important strategy for us and an important thing to do is to continue to make the choices for the American people at -- in front of them very, very clear. And so we have done that. We're going to do that in California. We're going to do that in New Mexico. We did that in Florida just two days ago. And, you know, we've done that in Pennsylvania; as you all know, in New York.
So, we're -- we have traveled across the country making that very, very clear and laying that out to the American people.
Again, not just us. We have Cabinet secretaries out there, and you have, clearly, congressional Democrats in their own districts and states, and you have the principals as well.
Q: We are hopefully about to land in New Mexico where the town of Clovis is voting today on banning abortion altogether and making it a "sanctuary city for the unborn," in their terms. Does the White House have any thoughts about that?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I mean, look, we have been very clear about what MAGA extreme Republicans are trying to do when it comes to a woman's rights to choose. It is -- they're trying to take that away, clearly, and in the most extreme ways. And it -- what it's doing is it's putting women -- women and girls' lives at risk.
And so the President believes that we need to protect a woman's rights to choose. This is, as well, what this election is all about, what this will -- the choice in front of the American people is all about. And we've made that very, very clear. Like, the choice is clear: Freedom and -- people's freedoms and rights will be taken away if -- you know, if they don't make their voices very loud and clear.
And so, you know, it is -- it is something that you've heard from this President; it is something that you've heard from this Vice President. It is important that we continue to fight for those freedoms, and it's important that we continue to fight for those rights -- in particular to your question, Trevor, important to fight for a woman's right to choose.
So what we will do, what the President will do -- and he's spoken about this -- he wants to codify Roe v. Wade. He believes that the protections in Roe v. Wade should be -- should -- you know, should be protected.
And -- and so that's going to be our focus, and that's what you're going to continue to hear from this -- this President.
All right. Thanks, guys.
1:34 P.M. EDT
Joseph R. Biden, Press Gaggle by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/358668