Joe Biden

Remarks at Democratic National Committee Headquarters

October 24, 2022

Audience members. Let's go, Joe! Let's go, Joe! Let's go, Joe!

The President. Whoa, whoa, whoa.

Audience members. Let's go, Joe! Let's go, Joe! Let's go, Joe!

The President. Thank you.

Audience members. Let's go, Joe! Let's go, Joe! Let's go, Joe!

The President. Please have a—take a seat, if you have one.

I came today for two reasons. The first, and maybe most important, to say thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you. If we get people out to vote, we win. If we get people out to vote, we win. And you're getting them out to vote.

There's a little babe over there who's not so sure about all this. [Laughter] But she seems okay so far. [Laughter]

Any rate—and what I want to talk about—I want to make what I think is the most important closing argument to make: I've been in to about 30, 31 districts—or 31 places, going to a bunch between now and the election day. And you know, I can't think of a more consequential election that I've been involved in and we've been involved in.

You know, whether we maintain control of the Senate and the House is a big deal. And so far, we're running against the tide, and we're beating the tide. But we just have 15 days until one of the most important elections in our lifetime. And it's going to shape the way this country looks like for the coming decade, for real.

Now the polls have been all over the place. First of all, if you speak to most pollsters, they're not sure anymore—not about the outcome, but about polling. [Laughter] No, I'm not being facetious. It's awful hard to do it these days. It's awful hard to do it these days. "Republicans ahead." "Democrats ahead." "Republicans ahead." But it's going to close, I think, with seeing one more shift: "Democrats ahead" in the closing days.

So, look, the last couple weeks—I don't pay attention to anything having to do with the polls, I just pay attention to what's happening on the phone, and we're knocking on doors.

I'm here to deliver what I believe is a closing argument about what we need to do in the next 15 days to make a victory assured and make it clear that this election is a referendum—it's not a referendum, I should say; it's a choice. Everybody wants to make it a referendum, but it's a choice between two vastly different visions for America—significantly different.

Democrats are building a better America for everyone with an economy that grows from the bottom up and the middle out, where everyone does well. Republicans are doubling down on their mega MAGA trickle-down economics that benefits the very wealthy, failed the country before, and will fail it again if they win.

Democrats are lowering your everyday costs like prescription drugs, health care premiums, energy bills, and gas prices. Folks, Republicans have made it clear—at least they're being honest around this time; they're telling exactly what they want to do if they win—they're going to increase everyday cost.

Democrats are making sure the biggest corporations begin to pay not their fair share, but at least a bigger share than they've been paying. Fifteen percent is not a fair share, but it's a bigger share. And Republicans will allow some of the biggest corporations to go back to paying zero—zero—in Federal taxes, after having made $40 billion, leaving the burden to teachers, nurses, firefighters, working folks to pay more of their fair share to keep things going.

We, the Democrats, are the ones that are fiscally responsible. Let's get that straight now, okay? We're investing in all of America, reducing everyday costs while also lowering the deficit at the same time. Republicans are fiscally reckless, pushing tax cuts for the very wealthy that aren't paid for, and exploiting [exploding]* the deficit that is making inflation worse.

Look, folks, Democrats are going to protect Social Security and Medicare. Republicans have been very clear: They've stated boldly that they want to cut Social Security and Medicare and to the point that they'll shut down the Government, they say, and send the Nation into default, which raises prices for everyone, if we do not cut Social Security and Medicare. I ain't gonna do it.

We're going to protect—[applause]. Democrats are going to protect the fundamental rights and freedoms like the right to choose, the right to privacy, the right to vote—our very democracy. Republicans have already introduced legislation that will ban abortion with no exceptions to rape or incest or the life of the mother, in many places.

At the same time, Republicans are threatening to take away the constitutional right to marry the person you love. Just look at the facts. You don't need to imagine anything this time around. Look at what they're saying. And they're saying it out loud, for everybody to hear.

Now, let's go back and see what we inherited from Trump and the MAGA Republicans when we won the election that—when we came to office. We inherited a nation in crisis, the pandemic with no end, an economy on the brink, a national debt that increased—they increased in their short time by $8 trillion [$2 trillion],* and because of the inaction of incompetence of—the COVID was running and—ruining American lives.

Look at how far we've come. Twenty months ago, COVID ruled our lives. Today, infections are down 80 percent from when we took office; deaths are down 90 percent. And we did it together, one of the biggest public health efforts ever undertaken in the United States of America. We went from 2 million to 633 million shots administered in people's arms.

And something that's going unnoticed, but I'm going to keep reminding people: Republicans in Congress are still preventing funding we need to stay vigilant and ahead of the next virus. They've refused the funding. But we not—we're not going to relent. We're not going to relent. We haven't relented. We won't do it.

Together, we carried out one of the biggest public health efforts in the history of this country. Twenty months ago, the economy was in ruins. Trump is the first President since Herbert Hoover—this is a fact—since Herbert Hoover to lose jobs over the course of his Presidency. Fewer jobs when he left than when he came to office. We created, with your help, 10 million new jobs so far.

When Trump and the Republicans left office, unemployment was 6.4 percent. We got it down to 3.5 percent, a 50-year low.

On his watch, literally hundreds of thousands of small businesses were closing. They make up 50 percent of the economy, these small businesses. Today, we have the highest number of people applying to start small businesses than ever during an economic recovery—ever, ever, ever.

And you all know I was determined, with your help, to bring back manufacturing, back to the United States, instead of companies going overseas for cheaper labor. On Trump's watch, American manufacturing was hollowed out.

On my watch, "Made in America" isn't just a slogan, it's a reality. A reality. Seven hundred thousand manufacturing jobs in advanced technologies, with companies like IBM and Intel investing billions of dollars to build industries of the future here in America.

Later this week, I'm going up to Syracuse, New York, where I went to graduate school and my deceased wife was from; you know, where the little company called Micron is investing $100 billion to build semiconductors, the biggest investment of its kind in our history.

We passed the most consequential infrastructure bill since Eisenhower Interstate Highway System. We're building our roads, bridges, ports, airports; delivering clean water, high-speed internet to every American. And we're just getting started.

You know, we had—we had Infrastructure Week, and it kept—kept having it and having it, and nothing happened. [Laughter] Now we've got Infrastructure Decade. We've got enough money to do this for a decade. We're going to create tens of thousands of jobs and making our companies more competitive worldwide.

At the same time, we know—we know—a lot of folks are struggling with inflation driven by Putin's war in Ukraine and the global pandemic. It's a little solace, but we have a lower inflation rate than most any nation in the—any other nation in the world. That's why I'm determined to reduce the burden on working and middle class folks by bringing down the costs of everyday things they have to work their families through.

It's not just food and energy, which is critical—and we brought down the cost of energy—but prescription drugs, health care costs, and so much more. We finally did something with these things, even without receiving a single, solitary Republican vote. Not one. Not one.

After decades of trying, we finally gave Medicare the power to negotiate for lower drug prices. In the United States, we pay more—we pay more—for prescription drugs than any advanced nation in the world for the exact same prescription made by the same company. For years, many of us have been trying to get this done, but Big Pharma had scores of lobbyists and spent hundreds of millions of dollars to block us. We tried and tried, but finally we beat Big Pharma. We beat them. And that's a big deal. I've been trying to do that since your age. [Laughter] Finally.

And the results are consequential. We're putting—for example, some of you have grandpops and grandmoms and moms and dads who have serious health care problems and need prescriptions that cost a lot of money. Well, guess what? We're placing a $2,000 cap—this is for Medicare—anybody on Medicare. You're not going to ever have to pay—even if your bills are $20,000 for prescription drugs—you don't have to pay more than $2,000 a year. And some of the—some of the cancer drugs—as much as $14,000.

And you know, no one—no one on Medicare—no one on Medicare is going to have to pay more than $2,000, no matter what their expense is, no matter how much their prescriptions cost. Look, $2,000 is a limit you're going to have to pay. Imagine what burden that takes off of people. Imagine the people who are rationing what they have to do because they have family obligations.

And our—for our seniors on Medicare with diabetes, we've capped the cost of insulin—get this—at $35 a month instead of 30 times that amount. There are tens of thousands of Americans with diabetes struggling to pay for the insulin and badly need it to stay alive and to stay healthy, including hundreds of thousands of young children with type 2 diabetes.

But you know how much it costs to make that insulin? Ten—T-E-N—dollars. Ten. It's outrageous. So we wanted to cap it for everyone, including—not just for those on Medicare, for everyone.

I'll hold up a second here. I was in Virginia not long ago, talking about the—capping the costs. And a lady stood up and said she had two children; both had type 2 diabetes. They had to share their insulin. They couldn't afford it because it was costing—I forget the number they had; I think it was 600 bucks a month. She had no insurance.

How do you look at your child—not a joke. My dad used to say, "Everybody is entitled to have dignity." How do you look at your child knowing you can't afford—can't afford—something that's basic to their health because it costs so much money?

We wanted to cap that cost for everyone, including the hundreds of thousands of children with type 1 [type 2]* diabetes, but Republicans blocked it. We got the Medicare piece through, but they blocked it for everybody else. But guess what? We're going to get it next time out. No, we are.

We also locked in savings on health insurance premiums for the Affordable Care Act. Because of what we did earlier, in the first piece of legislation we passed, a family of four—it would reduce their costs to $2,400 a year if they were on Medicare—excuse me, on the—Obamacare. Well, guess what? We were able to only do it for 800 bucks a family now, but it's still a lot of money. That's the limit. That's gone as well if Republicans get their way.

As a matter of fact, they wanted to get rid of the entire Affordable Care Act. They're making it again. And by the way, anyone with a preexisting condition who can't afford expensive insurance, the only reason you have coverage is because of the Affordable Care Act. Only reason.

You know, I know it doesn't matter to an audience—a young audience like you all, but we passed the biggest investment in climate ever to save the environment. And by the way—[applause]—because of your talking. I really mean it. Not only are we going to save homeowners thousands of dollars a year because they're going to get these tax credits for what they're doing and weatherizing their homes and a whole range of other things, but more efficient appliances, more efficient vehicles, working with utility companies to produce more low-cost, home-grown energy, like solar, wind, and clean hydrogen, which will mean lower utility bills for tens of millions of Americans.

Look, folks, let me say it again: We're doing all of this in a fiscally responsible way. Every time I talk about the cost of these things, they—"There goes that big-spendin' Democrat Biden again." [Laughter] Well, guess what the big-spendin' Democrat Biden did? The deficit fell by $1.4 trillion this year. Cut the deficit in half. And that follows a drop last year of $350 billion.

And by the way—and because we're finally ensuring corporations begin to pay their fair share, we're giving Medicare the power to negotiate drug prices, we're going to reduce the deficit over the next 10 years by another $250 billion.

Look, folks, a big part of that is because we're finally making the biggest corporations begin to pay their fair share.

In 2020, 55 of the wealthiest corporations in the Fortune 500 paid zero in Federal taxes, and they made $40 billion. Well, thanks to Democrats in Congress, I signed into law a 15-percent corporate minimum tax. Just 15 percent. And by the way, I'm keeping my campaign commitment I made when I ran. No one earning less than $400,000 a year will pay a single additional penny in Federal taxes. And they haven't.

And because of the number of actions I've taken, we've taken—and it's going to take too long to go into detail—but guess what? Gas prices are coming down despite the—despite Putin's invasion of Ukraine. They're down $1.20 since this summer, and just this week, they fell another 10 cents. And we're going to continue to insist the oil companies pass on the savings from lower price of a barrel of oil to a lower price for consumers at the pump.

Folks, I've said from the beginning that my objective is to build an economy from the bottom up, giving everyone a fair chance. When we do that, everybody does well. The poor have a ladder up, the middle class gets ahead, and the wealthy still do very, very well.

Now, ask what's the Republican plan. Not a joke. When you're on—if you're with a friend who has a different point of view, say: "Okay, you don't like what we're for. Tell me what the Republicans are for. What's their platform?" Not a joke. What are they running on? If they win, what do they say they'll do?

Well, I have to hand it to it. As I said, they're saying it out loud. They're so confident they're going to win they're saying this without an ounce of shame. Just listen to—and let's name names. Kevin McCarthy, Republican leader of the House, and fellow—and his fellow MAGA Republicans say their number-one priority if they win control of the Congress will do the following: give the power we just gave to Medicare for lower drug packs—for lower drug prices back to Big Pharma and raise drug prices.

Audience members. Boo!

The President. No—by the way, I know this sounds like it—it's almost like they're making it up. But this is what they're saying. This is what will happen: the $2,000 cap on prescription drugs for seniors—gone. Gone. The $35-a-month cap on insulin for seniors that we passed in the Inflation Reduction Act—gone. Savings on health care premiums of $800 a year for millions of Americans under the Affordable Care Act—gone.

And of course, they're still determined to repeal the entire Affordable Care Act. That means an end to the protections for tens of millions of people who can't afford health insurance because they have a preexisting condition. That's gone as well if the Republicans get their way. The most aggressive action to deal with global warming—gone. The corporate minimum tax I just signed into law—gone.

Look, you know Republicans love to call Democrats "big spenders" and claim that we are—we are for—and they claim they're for less Government spending. Well, give me a little break here. Just look at the facts. The Federal deficit went up every single, solitary year in the Trump administration. Went up every year. It went up before the pandemic. It went up during the pandemic. It went up every single year on his watch.

And one big reason for that is, he—they voted for a $2 trillion Trump tax cut, which overwhelmingly benefited the biggest corporations and the wealthiest Americans. And it racked up significant deficit because not a penny was paid for.

Now Republicans in Congress are doubling down on their mega-MAGA commitment to implode the deficit again. Just last week, Republicans' leaders said if they get their way, they're going to extend the Trump tax cuts, which go out of existence in 2 years.

Folks, put the entire Republican plan all together and they would add $3 trillion to the deficit. Three trillion. That's their plan. Massive deficits are reckless and irresponsible.

The Republican plan is to make inflation—will make inflation worse, not reduce it.

Let's talk about Senator Rick Scott, the Senator from Florida——

Audience members. Boo!

[At this point, the President raised his eyebrows and smirked at the audience.]

The President. ——[laughter]who's in charge of electing Republicans to take control of the United States Senate. His plan is to put—and he put it out in writing—Social Security and Medicare on the chopping block every 5 years. That means every 5 years, Congress will have to vote to cut, reduce, completely eliminate, or make no changes in Social Security and Medicare. But they're going to have to vote every 5 years.

Then along came—there used to be a song. Anyway. [Laughter] Then along came Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin.

Audience members. Boo!

The President. He thinks 5 years is too long to wait. Not a joke. He wants to put Social Security and Medicare on the chopping block every single year. If Congress doesn't vote to keep the program, it goes away. It goes away. Not just Social Security and Medicare; he wants to put veterans' benefits and everything else on the same budget at risk.

Hear this closely: The Republicans have made it clear that if they win control of the Congress, they will shut down the Government, refuse to pay our bills, and it will be the first time in our history America will default unless I yield and cut Social Security and Medicare. Flat-out saying that.

In order to cut Social Security and Medicare, they're threatening to default on the Federal debt. There's nothing—nothing—that will create more chaos, more inflation, and more damage to the American economy than this.

Think about it: Republicans are determined to hold the economy hostage. Either give in to their demands on Social Security and Medicare, which millions of Americans rely on and earned and paid for, or Republicans are going to crash the economy. Let me be clear: I will not cut Social Security. I will not cut Medicare. No matter how hard they—I'm never going to give in. It's outrageous.

And by the way, I know from experience, in our last administration, even when they threatened—even though I was asked to settle on New Year's Eve day—settle this—a similar deal with the last Republican leader, we were able to succeed and not default. But guess what? Our credit rating went down anyway because we were risking and playing with the debt. It's irresponsible.

Here's one more thing: I kept my commitment to help ease the burden on student debt for working and middle class families—exactly 1 year ago. And 1 week ago, we launched applications where folks could apply. Twenty-two million of you applied for this lifesaving—22 million in 1 week. In 1 week.

And the Republican response? "Sue the Federal Government and block that relief."

Audience members. Boo!

The President. No, that's what they've done. I mean, think about this. That's mega MAGA trickle-down politics in the extreme.

I'll never apologize for helping working- and middle-class folks and Americans as they recover from the pandemic, especially not the same Republicans officials who voted for a $2 trillion tax cut that mainly benefited the wealthy that wasn't paid for. I don't want to hear it. I don't want to hear it from these guys.

Look, folks—and by the way, if I can divert for another second, the same people in the Congress who are really hollering at me, saying I'm wasting money allowing you, if you had a student—if you had a Pell grant, to get another, you know, debt relief from your—debt up to—and by the way, the average person getting this debt relief makes less than 75 grand a year, okay? They say that's "outrageous."

But you know the program where you allowed people—the PPP program—to get money back if their business were in trouble? Well, you have—I think it's four or five Republicans who are published in the print, in the paper, who ranged—got from $2.1 million of relief to $187 million—I forget the exact number—for—and they made no apologies for that. They thought it's okay for them to get that relief for their business, but you breaking your neck and getting caught in the middle of crisis, you can't get any relief for the debt. And guess who's going to grow the economy more? An educated public or those guys? [Laughter]

Folks, look, I don't know who they think they are. You know, that's the whole mega-MAGA trickle-down policies: Give Big Pharma the power to increase drug prices. Cut taxes for the wealthy, but cut Social Security—I mean, and cut Social Security and Medicare for seniors. That's—[inaudible]—trade on cuts. Threaten the very foundation of the American economy—that if we don't meet their demands, they're going to shut the place down. And then, they talk about inflation. Everything they'll do is going to make inflation worse.

Folks, 15 days. Fifteen days. The choice couldn't be clearer. The stakes couldn't be higher. I know we can meet the moment.

And on—the young people of this Nation, all of you in this room, let me say: I've always believed your generation—and I've said this from the beginning, and the reason I ran—represent the best educated, most talented, least prejudiced generation in American history; and that we face an inflection point, one of those moments that comes along everywhere from two to six generations, where there is so much change happening technologically, politically, socially, environmentally that the decisions we make today are going to determine the future of our Nation and the future of your generation for the next 30 years. Not a joke.

But your generation is not going to be ignored. You're not going to be shunned. You're not going to be silent. Just look at what happens when you speak out. Two years ago, perhaps many of you voted for the first election ever in your life.

You understand the choice and the stakes. And because you exercised your vote, Donald Trump was the defeated former President of the United States. And you elected the highest ranking Black, Indian—with Indian background—woman in American history to be Vice President.

And since then, with your help, you've delivered enormous progress to the Nation. The most significant gun safety law in nearly 30 years. And by the way, I'm coming back; I'm going to ban assault weapons again. I mean it.

Because of you all, we confirmed the first Black woman to ever serve on the Supreme Court of the United States of America. We've confirmed more appellate Federal judges who are Black women than all other Presidents combined.

Let me be clear: Republicans are going to pass a national ban on abortion if they control the Congress. I'll veto it right away, but—but—if we elect more Senate Democrats and keep control of the House, we're going to codify Roe v. Wade in January for all the Nation. You have that power with your vote.

Let me close with this. Over the last few years, we've faced some of the most difficult challenge in our history, and we're making real progress, despite opposition from powerful special interests and extreme Republicans.

And by the way, I served a long time in the Senate with a lot of conservative, decent, honorable Republicans who played by the rules. Sometimes they won; sometimes they lost. But they're decent, honorable people. And there's still some of them there. But this is a different breed of cat, this mega-MAGA Republican group. I really mean it.

Fifteen days—15 days, we're going to make a choice about whether we go forward or backwards. It's that practical. The power is in your hands. I mean, you—it really is. You can do this. We just need to vote. Get out the vote. And if we do, I truly believe we're just getting started.

And that's because I've never been more optimistic about America's future than I am today, and that's not hyperbole. I give you my word, I believe that. We have to remember who we are, for God's sake. We are the United States of America. There is nothing—nothing, nothing—beyond our capacity when we set out mind to it. Not a joke.

You know, I was with Xi Jinping in the Tibetan Plateau—I spent more time with Xi Jinping than any other leader in the world—over 78 hours' worth on the—8 or 10 of those on the phone and the rest in person over the last 12 years. And he looked at me and just had a simultaneous interpreter; he had one, and I had one. By the way, I turned in all my notes, by the way. [Laughter]

But all kidding aside, he looked at me and he said—and I give you my word to this—he said, "Can you explain America to me?" I said, "Yes, I can." And I meant it, what I said. I said, "Yes, one word: possibilities." It's the reason why we're sort of the—viewed as the "ugly Americans." We believe anything is possible when we do it together. Not a joke. Think about it.

Anything is possible for us. There's nothing we've ever said, "No, no, no, we can't do that." We're the only nation in the last 400 years that's come out of crises stronger than we went into the crisis. And our diversity is one of those reasons.

Folks, look, I really mean it: There's nothing beyond our capacity. And one of the things that I'm—worry about—and that's why I'm so counting on your generation, and I mean it from the bottom my heart; I give you my word as a Biden, I believe it—is that a lot of Americans began to wonder whether we can still do anything, whether we're still who we've always been.

We are. And everybody thought I was nuts when I—when I had asked the question, if I could do one thing, what would you do? I'd do something that didn't answer any of the real questions we just had, but just demonstrate we can still do anything. If I could wave a wand, I'd cure cancer. Why? Because no one believes it can be done. But we're starting to do it.

There's nothing beyond our capacity. I mean it. Not a joke. Not a joke.

So, folks, look, you are the key, not just in what you're doing here on the phones, but your whole generation. You're the key whether we're going to get through all this.

And if we get through it, we're going to be owing you for a long, long time. You will be able to tell your grandkids you did it. [Laughter] Y'all think I'm kidding; I'm not. [Laughter]

More is going to change in the next 10 years than changed in the last 50 years because of technology, because of a whole range of things. Things are moving so rapidly.

So, every time I'd walk out of my Grandpop Finnegan's house up in Scranton, Pennsylvania, he'd yell, "Joey, keep the faith." And another voice would come out of the house—my grandma—who said, "No, Joey, spread it."

Go spread the faith. Let's get this done. Vote. Vote. Vote.

NOTE: The President spoke at 1:32 p.m. In his remarks, he referred to former President Donald J. Trump; President Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin of Russia; Midlothian, VA, resident Shannon Davis and her sons Joshua and Jackson; Sen. A. Mitchell McConnell; Supreme Court Associate Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson; and President Xi Jinping of China.

* White House correction.

Joseph R. Biden, Remarks at Democratic National Committee Headquarters Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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