Joe Biden

Press Gaggle by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre

November 01, 2022

Aboard Air Force One
En Route Fort Lauderdale, Florida

1:24 P.M. EDT

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: All right. So, today, the President travels to Florida, where he'll lay out two contrasting visions for the American people.

He will be joined by Democratic officials in Broward County to discuss how he's lowering costs for the American people.

Through the Inflation Reduction Act, the President and congressional Democrats have taken on Big Pharma to allow Medicare to negotiate prescription drug costs for the first time, capping seniors' drug costs at the pharmacy, the cost of insulin, and lowering health insurance premiums for people who got -- who get coverage through the Affordable Care Act.

Republican officials, Florida's own -- with Florida's own Senator Rick Scott at the helm, have a very different and very bad vision.

Under their plan, millions of Americans would lose healthcare coverage, benefits, and other long-held protections. They have promised to deliver Big Pharma a win and strip Medicare of the right to negotiate drug prices.

And if it couldn't be any worse, Rick Scott has championed a plan to put Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security on the chopping block every five years.

The President will de- -- will drive that contrast today, as he has been doing almost every day for the past several months. He will be introduced by a Florida resident and Medicare recipient who will benefit from the Inflation Reduction Act Medicare drug pricing provisions. He'll also reaffirm his and Democrats' committed -- commitment to strengthening Medicare and Social Security.

Before I turn -- turn it over to questions, you may remember that the last time the President was here, he committed to supporting the people of Florida as they recover and rebuild from Hurricane Ian. To date, the administration has provided more than $1.74 billion in federal grants, disaster loans, and flood insurance payments to the state and people of Florida to help jumpstart their economy -- their recovery, pardon me.

These resources are providing temporary housing for thousands of households and supporting initiatives like Operation Blue Roof, through which he -- we have installed over 17,000 roofs. We will continue to do everything we can to support the people of Florida at each step of the way as they recover and rebuild from the devastating storm.

With that, Zeke, you want to take us -- take us away?

Q: Thanks, Karine. A couple for you. First, has the President spoken with Speaker Pelosi since the other conversation over the weekend? Has he been receiving updates on the investigation into the -- into the attack on her husband? And has he considered any -- whether he has any authority to step up security for lawmakers or taking any steps to address the nation's threat level as a result of that attack?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, a few -- you're right, that was a few questions. The first thing is: As you all know, this President spoke to -- to the attack on Speaker Pelosi's husband, Paul Pelosi, a couple times this weekend. He has spoken to Speaker Pelosi, as you all know -- he said this himself -- about the horrific attack on her husband and let her know -- and let her know his prayers are with Paul and their entire family.

And so, we're grateful that Paul is expected to recover. I don't have any -- any new phone conversations to share at this time.

I think he spoke to this just -- just --

Q: Saturday.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Saturday, right?

So the attack was simply unconscionable, and we all have a responsibility to call out this kind of political violence.

Law enforcement -- they have spoken to this and have held press conferences, as you all know. And they've been very clear and transparent in the details they've released about the attack. We'll let them speak to the facts.

Clearly, the President has been kept up to date on the facts. And he's, you know, watching just like all of you, and has clearly kept up to date, as I just mentioned.

As it relates to extra protection to lawmakers, I would -- I would send you to the Capitol Police. They're the ones who provide any protection to congressional members. I would point you to the specific candidates that you all may have in mind and talk to them about what they're doing for -- for their own candidate as far as it relates to protection. I just don't have anything else to share on that piece.

Q: (Inaudible) briefed the President on the investigation. And the President has talked a lot about political violence -- we're a week out from the midterm elections -- another instance now of political violence against the husband of the Speaker of the House of Representatives. Why isn't the President taking a more urgent tone? Why hasn't he received more briefings on this? And why are you deferring us to agencies and Capitol Police?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Because that's not -- I mean, that -- the Capitol Police is known to protect congressional members and campaigns. That is -- and candidates, right? They're -- they are their own campaign, right? So, they're not -- some of them are not elected officials. And so, it is up to their campaign to provide that protection.

I think the President has spoken about this very forcefully. At the beginning of his speech in Philly, it was the first thing that he talked about in a very forceful way. And just -- just condemning all types of political violence is something that the President has done very consistently.

And he has spoken about this. If you guys go -- if you go back to Charlottesville and the soul of a nation and talking about what he saw. And we all saw this in Charlottesville and how -- how there was a mob that marched down a street and a young woman died, and how -- how political -- how that political violence has no place in any type of political discourse.

And we -- and he also has talked about the importance of protecting our democracy, the importance of strengthening our democracy. He's spoken about that many, many times -- multiple times over the past couple of years.

So this is something that the President is taking very seriously. It's one of the reasons, when you think about our democracy, when you think about what we saw -- what we all saw, not -- back in -- a few years ago, back in 2017, it is about this. It is about speaking against this.

It is about continuing to work with Congress to figure out how can we -- how can we deal with this issue in a real way. And it doesn't matter if you have a "D" or "R" behind your name, he's going to continue to call this out.

Q: One last one -- one last one from me just on the same topic. What's the President's message to voters who may have seen incidents of political violence, threats against election poll workers, concerns surrounding the midterms? You know, when -- you know, if they have concerns about their own safety going to the polls, should they feel comfortable casting -- you know, going (inaudible)?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I have to be very careful, because you're asking me about midterms, you're asking me about voting. And I just want to be -- put that out there. So I don't want to speak specifically to that.

But the -- clearly, the President cares about and believes in the sacred right to vote and Americans being able to -- to be able to, you know, have that -- have that right. I don't want to get too far into -- into the question.

But he has -- one thing that I can say is that he is taking that very seriously, even with putting out an executive order, on -- back in -- back in his first year of this administration, on the anniversary of Selma, on all -- everything that he can do from the federal government on how we expand the right to vote and also protect the right to vote.

But I don't want to get too far into it. I understand the question. He's going to continue to condemn political violence. You're going to hear that from him. Anytime there's an opportunity to do that, he has done that -- about three times since we heard about the awful, horrific attacks on Paul Pelosi.

Q: Just a quick question.

Q: But, Karine, did he --

Q: Sorry. Thank you. Just a quick question on the President's remarks yesterday on oil and gas companies paying higher taxes or facing other restrictions if they do not help lower prices. Is the White House envisioning kind of more of an -- sort of an ad hoc tax here or something that is perhaps a more permanent fixture of the tax structure? And how do you sort of -- how does the administration plan to get such a tax passed if Republicans control the House?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, so I don't want to get ahead of what may happen in a couple --

(An inner door on Air Force One opens.) Okay. That's -- all right. Okay. Sorry, the doors are opening.

But the President was very clear yesterday. He -- if oil companies do not change their behavior, he will engage with Congress to hold them accountable.

Those who -- who needed to hear this message heard it loud and clear. I don't have any additional meetings or -- or calls to read out or any -- any specifics on what will happen next, but he wanted to make sure, as he has done many times, to call that out.

Of course, the President's team has been meeting regularly with the industry -- as it relates to meetings, I know folks tend to ask that question.

So in response to the letter the President sent to oil executives in June, Secretary Granholm convened a meeting with oil companies to work through solutions and encourage them to increase output. And you heard from those oil companies and they themselves said it was -- it was a -- it was a beneficial, effective meeting.

Since then, the Department -- Department of Energy has held multiple meetings and calls, and White House officials have participated in many of those conversations.

But what the President wants to see is action from oil companies. And if he doesn't see that, he will engage directly with Congress. I don't have anything else to share.

Q: What kind of talks -- tax was he talking about, though, yesterday? I mean, you know, he spoke about windfall --


Q: -- you know, a tax. But like what -- what structure, what form --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I'm not -- I'm just not going to --

Q: -- will that take?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Once -- once the President is ready to -- to speak to that, I'm going to let him lay that out -- what his vision and what his -- his thinking is on that. Certainly not going to get ahead of him.

But, again, he wanted to send a very clear message, as he has done many times and has said if he -- if he does not see action or change, accountability, he's going to work with Congress.

Q: And one on the trip today, you know, just in terms of -- last time, the President was there assessing damage from Hurricane Ian, you know, he -- he said he worked really well with Ron DeSantis.

You know, the -- all the material we've seen from the White House kind of talks about how he plans to contrast his plans with congressional Republicans -- you know, talk about Rick Scott -- but we're not hearing anything about Ron DeSantis.

I mean, is he -- is he planning to mention DeSantis in his speech? Is he planning to sort of draw a contrast with him?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I'm not -- I'm just not going to get ahead of what the President is going to say. He's going to -- you guys are going to hear directly from him. I gave you a little bit of flavor of what -- of why we're here. And, look -- and I also want to be very careful in not getting into the politics here.

But, look, he's coming to Florida today, as I just laid out, to talk about the two contrasting visions for the American people, whether they be in Florida or any state around the country. And so, you've heard him do that for -- for, you know, almost every day for the past several months.

One side -- and he's been very clear, you know, and I'll say this again -- the President is focused on, which is the President and congressional Democrats are focused on lowering costs for the American people through the Inflation Reduction Act. And he's taken on Big Pharma and won, which lowered drug prices and more.

Meanwhile, on the other side, with Rick Scott at the helm, as I said at the top, they want -- the first thing that they want to do is repeal the Inflation Reduction Act, which will increase costs for when -- when you look at healthcare, when you think about energy costs, and also put on the chopping -- on the chopping block Medicare, Social Security. And that is something that will hurt American people and so he's going to make that contrast today. I'm going let him speak to it more -- in more detail. But that's what you're going to hear from the President today.

Q: Karine, on Haiti: The Secretary of State spoke with his Chinese counterpart and visited Canada recently, where Haiti was at the top of the agenda. Is the President personally involved in trying to corral members of the Security Council around a resolution for a multilateral force? What does he want to see? And what kind of timeline are we looking at, given everyone has been saying it's an urgent matter?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, as you know, the President -- the security -- when it comes to what you've seen, the action by our U.N. ambassador at the U.N., of course, that is something that the President signed off on. Right? That is something that the President believes as we- -- as a way forward with Haiti.

Look, we are -- we remain committed to supporting the people of Haiti. We are devastated as well at what we're seeing in the country. Conversations are ongoing with partners on the U.N. Security Council to advance the draft solution authorizing under Chapter 7 -- as you know, the U.N. non- -- the non-U.N. mission. We recently delivered Haitian government-purchased security equipment, including tactical and armed vehicles and supplies that will assist the Haitian National Police in their fight against criminal actors.

And USAID staff is on the ground now, working alongside Haitian health workers and NGOs to respond to the -- to the outbreak and deliver care to those who need it.

We will also continue to engage the international community on additional actions we can take at the United Nations. Clearly, this is something that the President supports. It is his direction that you're seeing this action at USAID and also as you've heard from the -- our U.N. ambassador there.

And so, again, we're going to -- the conversations are ongoing, and we're going to play our part in doing everything that we can for the people of Haiti.

Q: To follow up on what Zeke was asking earlier, is the administration worried about increased violence and threats of violence in the next week? And what are they doing to protect democracy, as you said, which the President so values? Like, what steps are being -- is the federal government taking?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, it's fundamentally important that people exercise their right to vote. That is something that I can say and will say here.

The federal government is committed to working with our state and local partners to ensure the security of our election system from voter registration all the way to vote tabulation.

So, you know, the administration takes the issue of threats to the safety of election officials very seriously. Last week, the agencies tasked with protecting the security of our elections, including the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, the Department of Justice, and the Capitol Police issued a notice to ensure that local law enforcement is -- is alerted to the threat posed by domestic violent -- violent extremists so they can deploy their resources accordingly.

Look, we have faith in the efforts of these agencies that are all involved and all hands on deck to work alongside state and local election officials to take necessary steps to keep people safe. Any specifics I would certainly refer you to those individual agencies.

But again, this is a President that fundamentally believes in the importance of American people exercising their right to vote.

Q: And will the President do a press conference the day after the midterms, as several previous presidents have done?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I am very sure that you will -- that you will be hearing from the President after -- after the -- he'll be delivering remarks after the -- after Tuesday, after the elections. I don't have anything else to share.

Q: Karine --

Q: Will he take questions?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I don't have more to share on that. Go ahead.

Q: On the policy differences that the White House has been highlighting, how does the President see that message resonating with one week to go?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I mean, if you think about all of -- all of the issues that I've just laid out, what we're trying to do -- right? -- we are trying to protect Medicare, we are trying to protect Social Security, we are trying to lower costs for the American people.

These are issues -- again, and you guys, you know, ask me about polls all the time. You guys see this over and over again. These are issues that are important to the American people, that are critical to the American people. And so that's what we're trying to do. That's what the President has been working on practically every day with congressional Democrats and, hence, the Inflation Reduction Act, which will help with healthcare and energy costs.

And you, literally -- I mean, just look at Rick Scott's 12 Point Plan. That 12 Point Plan says it will sunset, after five years, Medicare and Social Security. These are -- these are -- if you think about it, these are programs that are helping American people, helping our seniors. And so, the contrast could not be starker, and the choice could not be more clear.

Q: And do you think the message is getting through? That's the question.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: We believe the message is getting through. You -- you just have to hear and see what -- you know, the President when he's in these different states. We do. When you see -- when you see that the American people react to these programs are important to them, yes, we do. We do think this it's getting to them.

Q: Karine, can you -- we got a Fed decision coming up tomorrow, but on inflation broadly -- putting aside the Fed -- what is the administration's reading of the current situation on inflation? Has it peaked? Are you hopeful? How do you see the lay of the land?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, last week, the new economic reports, as you know -- I know you follow this very closely -- including GDP and PCE showed we are making progress on our economic plan: lower inflation, higher incomes, higher wages, and solid economic growth.

In the last quarter, we saw 2.6 percent economic growth as it relates to the GDP. Inflation slowed in the -- in the third quarter, as I just mentioned. With energy prices coming down, gas prices have declined over $1.20 since the summer's peak.

AIR FORCE ONE CREW MEMBER: So sorry. Sorry, I'm going to have to ask you to (inaudible) seat.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Okay, thank you.

And so we know we have more work to do. The President understands that the American people are feeling that squeeze, which is why he's worked every day, especially during the summer, to lower those gas prices. And that's why the Inflation Reduction Act is so critical as well to lower prices.

Q: Do you have any view on addressing the debt limit in the lame duck? This is one of the tools with Social Security and Medicare.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah, and I know you guys have asked me this question. We're not going to get ahead of -- of next week. But, certainly, stay tuned.

All right guys, we got to sit. Thank you, everybody.

1:42 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

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