Remarks at a Democratic National Committee Reception in Middletown, New Jersey
The President. Please, sit down. Well, I want to thank the Governor and Tammy.
This is the second time they had me back. And you know, sometimes people make a mistake and ask you once, and you know, you can't be blamed for it. When they ask you back, that gets tough for them. But thank you very much.
And thank all of you for the help. Look, there is a—there's an election coming up. And as the Gov said, he listed all the folks up. But you know, there really is a lot at stake.
And you know, it's on—based on statistics, the Democrats are running up hill because of the fact that, with only a couple exceptions, the first term of an incumbent President on the off-year election has been not a good deal most times.
But so far, we look like we're doing pretty well. So far, it looks like we'll—again, I don't count the polls at—this early, but so far, it looks like in the Senate we not only will hold but maybe pick up a couple seats. "God willing and the creek not rising," as the old saying goes.
And secondly, the House is—we have—we don't have that many seats to have to defend—I mean relative to where we are, but you know, a lot of gerrymandering in the House across the country, because a lot of Governors aren't Democratic Governors.
And so it's going to—but we're—there's some real surprises that have been going on. We've—for example, up in Alaska; in New York State, where I had—Upstate New York, where I just was. I mean, so there's a lot going on.
And there's a lot at stake. And that's not hyperbole. We're at a state where, if you look at all the polling data, generally—I don't mean about Democrat, Republican, but just what are people concerned about—there's an overwhelming concern, literally, about democracy. I mean, not a joke. I mean, these are polls being conducted by the networks. And: "What are the greatest concerns?" There's concerned about inflation. There's concern about—the next big thing is democracy.
Because we're in a situation where this is an unusual election in that this is not your father's Republican Party. This is a different deal. And not all Republicans are so-called MAGA Republicans—[inaudible]—but a lot are.
You've got a hundred and—don't hold me to the number. The press is here; they'll correct me. I mean, they should correct me. But I think it's something like 156 candidates for the—in the House of Representatives say the election was stolen. They think that it's been an illegal election, notwithstanding every court in the Nation appointed by Republicans say differently.
But—so it's just a different time. But think what's at stake here. If in fact the present leadership of the Republican Party takes over—and I refer to them—and not all Republicans are MAGA Republicans; I'm not making that case. But there's a good 35 percent that are really hard, hard, hard Trumpites. And I'm not making a personal attack on them; I'm stating a fact.
If in fact we lose the Senate and the House, it's very likely that—I'll be able to veto it, but it's very likely they're going to pass legislation to eliminate the States'—any State's ability to allow for choice and privacy issues.
You know, they've been very clear about it, as we've been clear. If in fact we succeed, we're going to try very hard to—with the Supreme Court Dobbs decision, it says the States make the decision—and so we'll try to get passed Roe v. Wade as law that would be able to be held up as a national law passed by the Congress, signed by the President.
We're also in a situation where we're dealing with the—the whole issue of inflation. Inflation is real. But a lot of it is able to be dealt with by things that are happening, including—we're in a situation now where—my dad used to say—my dad was a well-read man. His greatest regret was, he never went to college. But he was a real gentleman. My dad used to say, "Everyone is entitled to a little bit of breathing room."
Inflation for the average person out there is whether or not when they pay their monthly bills, if there's anything left—do they have any breathing room. And we're trying very hard to give them some breathing room, and we've been able to do that.
For example, it's one thing to have inflation go up because of the price of gasoline—even now, it's still coming down—but you know, beyond the basic things, what are the things that really matter to people? Well, how much they pay for their prescription drugs. You know, how much they pay for school. How much they pay—I mean, a whole range of things that are just basic things that we were able to move with.
You know, the whole idea of gun safety. You know, you pick up the paper every—I don't have to tell the Governor this; he's forgotten more about this than most people are ever going to know. But you know, you have these constant, constant examples of gun violence.
And we've been able to be in a situation where we—we got some gun safety laws passed, but we did not get passed what I feel very strongly about: banning assault weapons. I was able to do that years ago as a Senator when I was chairman of the Judiciary Committee. And if we hold the Senate, I think we will do that. We'll get that done.
We also—I mean, it sounds strange, but the very survival of the planet is at stake. One of the things that I have observed is that we no longer are arguing whether there's global warming. No matter what one's economic interests are, people understand.
I have been—I often quote this, and hope the Governor doesn't mind—but I've been to every major disaster since I've been President. And you know, there's more timber burned to the ground, more homes destroyed, and—out West. And I've flown over them all in helicopters with the Governors of Oregon, Washington State, Idaho, California, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah. And more land has burned to the ground, been totally wiped out and everything in its way—in its path than the entire State of New Jersey. If you took the entire State of New Jersey, burned it to the ground, that's what's already come down.
You're out West and you have enormous problems with water. The Colorado River is running like a creek. You know, the—I mean, I can go on and on.
So the bad—I just got back from Fort Myers, Florida, and Sanibel Island. It's a literal disaster. We use that word loosely, but it is a disaster. And a lot of people died.
And so the point is, everybody around the country is trying to—you know, hurricanes and tornadoes, floods in New Orleans. I mean, just—there's no denying anymore that there is something fundamental changing, even those who are—who didn't want to acknowledge that we have a problem.
You know, we're also in a situation where the—literally, the right to vote is at stake—literally at stake. And this Supreme Court—some of you are first-rate lawyers; you know that it's a—it literally is on the—it's going to be in the docket this time around: Can local officials make judgments about whether or not the vote counted and who won and ran? The whole—they're turning it upside down. Whether the Federal Government has any authority—[inaudible]—relative to vote.
You know, and as I said—you know, the safety—our kids are going to school. And the first thing when they show up this year, they're learning how to duck and cover rather than read and write. I mean, not a joke.
I've been to every one of those shootings from Uvalde to up in Connecticut. I mean, 11 of them, I believe it is. Met with all the families. I mean, I've stayed 4½ hours up there the last time around.
They're scared to death to go back to school. The psychological damage done to these kids is just serious. I mean, it's serious.
There's a lot going on, but there's a lot we can do about it. So, you know—and I believe we're at a real inflection point in this country where the decisions we make the next 3, 4, or 5 years are going to determine what the country looks like for the next 30, 35 years. We reached this point in American history probably once every five, six generations. It doesn't—but things are changing. There are fundamental things changing. And the climate is one of those things changing, and a whole range of issues.
You see the debates going on around the world now, in terms of whether or not—what constitutes democracy. You see what's happening in Hungary. A—you know, it happens to be a NATO member. I could go on and bore the hell out of you. You all know it.
But the point is that there's a lot, in my view, that we can do about it. So, when I got elected, I started off with a—with an agenda that was declared "dead on arrival." But we've gotten almost all of it passed in the sense of—this summer.
Started off with talking about whether or not we were going to be in a position where the Governors of the country can—are able to keep—because they lost all the tax revenue early on in this campaign—the campaign, the only—the beginning of—at the end of Trump's term.
And so we passed the—the American Rescue Plan. What it allowed Governors to do was keep, you know, docs on the job; hospitals open; police and firefighters and social workers, school teachers—keep them—I mean, that's where the money came from to keep everyone—keep it going.
And in the process, we also were able to go from 2 million shots for COVID to 240 million and moving beyond that. And that's where all that money came from. And we didn't get a single, solitary Republican vote. Not one single Republican voted for that legislation.
And then we came around, and we're in a situation where we passed the infrastructure law. And thankfully, for a couple of Republicans who are leaving—really good people. And there's a lot of good ones, by the way.
I've had—the press has heard me say this—six different Republicans in the first half of this year came to me separately, and said: "Joe, I agree with you, but I just can't afford to vote with you. If I do, I'll lose my seat because I'll lose the primary." Not very—doesn't sound very brave, but it's the reality that they—so these guys are—you know, I had a reputation in the United States Senate for being someone who was able to walk—work across the aisle and get a lot done. And—but it's—a lot of it's changed.
And you saw some of it recently, in terms of the desire to defeat legislation—they support it—because it may make us look better. I mean, that's the state we're in, and it hadn't happened in a long while.
So the point is that we're finding a situation where we finally got—not "finally"—we got some help from—I guess it was more than a dozen Republicans to vote for the infrastructure law.
You know, we used to have the best infrastructure in the world. We ranked number one. Now we rank—we go—we dropped all the way into the mid-20s, in terms of our infrastructure, the quality of it.
And you're all successful people. A lot of you are active business men and women. You know, where are you going to open your company? Where you can get something out to the market quickly, whether it's overseas and from a port, or whether it's on a railroad, or whether it's on a highway.
And you know, but things are—we have a lot of investment. There's a program now that is a billion, two hundred million—a trillion, two hundred million dollars over the period of the next 10 years to rebuild the system so we can go from being—you know, back toward number one in the world in terms of having an infrastructure, including rail.
So there's a lot of stuff we've done in spite of the arguments that nothing could happen—we wouldn't get anything done. In that case, we got some Republican help.
And so we've—you know, the economy is starting to come around. We're in a situation where we created more jobs in the first 18 months I was President than any President in American history: 10 million new jobs. Ten million new jobs.
And the good news is that—and I don't know where it's written that says we can no longer be a manufacturing mecca of the world. We're now—we've created 675,000 manufacturing jobs—and a lot more to come, which I'll speak to in a second, in terms of the— legislation we just passed relating to CHIPS and Science law.
And you know, we're—well, I might as well go to that. We're in a situation where, you know, you have investments that are now significant, in the hundreds of billions of dollars—hundreds of billions of dollars.
We're going to start—I was—just came down from Upstate New York, in the Hudson Valley. And you know, in Poughkeepsie, you have IBM investing $20 billion in the new facility—chips.
We invented the chip. We, the United States, invented the chip, the semiconductor. It's needed for everything. You all know it. You're a sophisticated crowd. For—I mean, literally, for everything, from your smartphone to your automobile to, you know, our weapon systems.
And guess what? We used to be—we invented it, and we used to have—even 30 years ago, we had over 30, 40 percent of the market. Now we virtually have nothing. But we're coming back. So we're able—I was able to—we were able—businesses decided, when we passed the CHIPS legislation and infrastructure legislation, that, in fact, they were going to invest considerable dollars.
So you have everything from IBM to—I was out in Ohio not long ago, with Intel. Twenty-billion-dollar construction project; it's going to go to a hundred billion, they think, over a period in the next 6, 8 years. They talk about—you know, there's a whole—anyways.
Well, they're going to create—and creating thousands of good, longtime, good-paying jobs, a lot of it in the construction facilities. Some of these facilities they're building, by the way, are as big as—under roof—as big as six football fields combined.
And some there's a lot going on, and we're making some significant progress. And we're going to—we have more investment in manufacturing than any time in American history except immediately after World War II.
So there's a lot to be—you know, to be, I think, positive about. And you know, as I said, we—in the Inflation Reduction Act—well, it has a nice name to it, but what it's designed to do is bring down basic costs for people. When you—right now, it's lowered prescription drug cost, health care, energy costs, you know, across the board.
For example, we're in a situation where you have—and no senior by—within the next year will have, no matter what their—no matter what their costs, nobody on Medicare will have to pay more than $2,000 a year for their drugs, no matter what, even if you have cancer drugs that are $14-, $15,000 a year. And we—because they're allowing Medicare to, in fact, negotiate those prices.
We're in a situation as well where you see that—for example, some of you may be in the business. You know that insulin for type 2 diabetes—and a lot of seniors are suffering from that, as well as 200,000 kids. And it costs somewhere between $500 a month to $1,000 a month in most places.
Well, guess what? It costs $10 to make it—no patent on it—ten bucks—and to package it. And so we passed a law saying that you cannot charge more than $35 for the insulin. They're still making three and a half times the cost. But you know, it's—and it's going to save a lot of lives.
I was in Virginia, for example, at a function about—this was back, I guess, in July. And a woman stood up and said—she had two kids with her—"My kids have type 1—type 2 diabetes, and we have to share the medicine. We can't afford it. We can't afford it. We don't have the insurance, and it's not covered."
Well, guess what? Our MAGA friends knocked that out. They—when they didn't vote for this legislation at all, but they were able to defeat the ability to provide the drug for non-Medicare recipients.
And so I guess what I'm saying is, there's a lot of things that we've done. And in that bill, we have a lot of other things that are—we've invested more money—the biggest amount of money for climate investment in the history of the United States ever—as a matter of fact, in the history of the world—over $369 billion. And there's massive, massive changes that are going to be made.
Because you all know as well as I do: If we don't do something about everything from the quality of our water to reducing the environmental impact of the cutting—anyway, I won't go into it all. But it's just a significant amount of money, but a significant amount of good that is going to come from it.
Because if we don't maintain below 1.5 degrees—increase in the Celsius—it's an existential threat to humanity. That's not hyperbole. I mean, it's real. It's real. It's real.
And so, you know, I'm trying to figure out how I can shorten this for you all quickly. But you know, the—and you know, the talk about how we're spending all this money and all this social spending—the irony is that we have reduced the deficit in my first year by $350 billion. We still have a gigantic accumulated debt overall, but we've reduced the actual yearly deficit by $350 billion; this year, by a trillion dollars. And the Medicare provision will reduce it over 10 years by another $300 million.
So we're not being fiscally irresponsible. We're paying for what we're spending. We're paying for what we're spending. We still have significant accumulated debt over the last two centuries, but it's real.
But we—unlike our friends, they have provided a $2 trillion tax cut and didn't pay for a penny of it, just flat increased the debt $2 trillion when the last guy was in charge.
And so, you know—and whether or not it's—on choice, you know, I—as I've said when this decision was handed down, you know, it's not going to just be the issue of abortion. It's going to be contraception. And you're already seeing that debate taking place in States where they're trying to outlaw the ability of people—there was a famous case, Griswold v. Connecticut, where, in the late sixties—that the Supreme Court said, in the privacy of their own bedroom, a man and woman should be able to choose whether or not they can use contraception and is—it's not the government's business, because they had outlawed the use of contraception.
Well, you know, that's what's—they're heading that way in some of the States right now.
And the idea—I happen to been a practicing Catholic. I've—I support Roe v. Wade because it meets the medium of every major confessional faith, which says that, you know, in the first trimester, it's between you and your doc. You know, they go through it.
Well, the question is, when does a human life in being? That's been debated among religious scholars from all faiths for a long, long time. So it's about as happy a medium as you can get. It's been there for 50 years, and now—and now it's going away—it's gone away, I should say, in some States.
And—but the idea that people are making the case that there is no ability to—for a young woman raped or an old woman raped, doesn't matter—raped, incest. It's no exception. In some cases, the life of the mother is not an exception. And some of you are docs or have sons or daughters that are docs, and they're worried as hell of what they can do without them being criminally liable for anything.
So there's a whole lot going on is the point I'm making. And we're in a situation where I think that, if you take a look at the record, we've actually made some genuine progress.
You know, the—and you know, as I said, my—dad used to have an expression. He'd say: "Joey, don't compare me to the Almighty. Compare me to the alternative." Well, this is an alternative here.
Think about it. They've been straight out and said what they're for. They said the first thing they want to do is get away—get away from—they want to repeal the Inflation Reduction Act. They flat want to repeal it. The Majority—the Minority Leader of the House said that's what he wants to do; if he gains power, they're going to repeal that act. Just knock it out.
They also want to make sure that—we're in a situation where they want to codify the Supreme Court decision in Dobbs so it becomes the law of the land no matter what State you're in. You have no choice. You have no choice.
Also, you're in a situation where they want to—for example, the—Senator Scott of Florida and Senator Johnson up in Wisconsin, they both have put forward—and I've—should have brought a copy of it. I'm going to—I'll send you each a copy. They put it out—not me—of what their platform is.
The platform is, they want to make sure that—in the case of Scott in Florida, that every 5 years you have to vote again on whether or not to keep Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid. Every 5 years, you either vote—you have to vote on it. You can vote to amend it, you can vote to keep it the way it is, or you can vote to reduce it, or you can vote to eliminate it.
The funny thing is that the—every single paycheck you guys got from the time you were 16 years old, you had Social Security taken out. It doesn't mean Social Security is paid for all the way, but it does mean—it's the idea you're going to turn around and they want to literally put that on the chopping block every year, including everything from Pell grants to everything—I mean, it's just—this is not your father's Republican Party. These are a different breed of cat.
And if I said this stuff and it was only a couple of people—and by the way, the distinguished Senator from Wisconsin says he didn't want that every 4 years; he wants it every year. Every year, you have to affirmatively decide to keep these programs.
Now, what do you think is going to happen? What do you think is going to happen if they control? They may not eliminate it, but you—anybody think it's going to be increased or maintained? And these are basic, fundamental—basic programs that has overwhelming support from the American public.
So I guess what I'm trying to say to you is, there's a whole lot going on, a whole lot that we can both do if we maintain control. For example, I promise you, if we maintain control—you may not like it—but we're going to eliminate assault weapons again. If you maintain control, we're going to see to it that kids don't have—their parents who don't have insurance don't have to pay, you know, 3- to 500, 700 bucks for insulin for their kids for their diabetes.
We're going to make sure there's a lot of things. For example, all the studies show that—and there was a major study done between—I think it was Harvard and Stanford about—about early education.
If you have a kid start in third grade—third grade—I mean, 3 years old—excuse me—not in daycare, but schooling, learning to read and write, you increase—no matter what the background they come from, no matter where they come from—a broken home, a single mom who has a drug problem, or whatever that is—it shows that they have a 56-percent better chance of getting through all 12 years and going on to something—apprenticeship or community college or college—beyond to 12 years.
I met—when I was Vice President—and I'll end with this: When I was Vice President, Obama asked me whether or not I would try to find out what the Business Roundtable was most concerned about and what the Fortune 500 companies were most concerned about.
So I, with the former Secretary of Commerce—we met with 348 members of the—CEOs of the major—the Fortune 500 companies. You know what they asked, almost to a person, what they most needed? A better educated workforce.
Except you all don't making—you're not educating your workforce. I come from the State of Dupont. You know, we have more corporations incorporated in my State since I've been elected President—I'm sorry, since I was elected to the Senate than every other State in America combined. So I understand corporate America, and I still won all those times. And I'm not anticorporate; I'm not antibusiness.
But guess what? The idea that we're in a situation where you're going to be in a position that you're just not going to have—I mean, think about what it is that—how you're going to educate these folks.
Dupont, when they hired new people, opened up a new—now, they're very different—they're the eighth largest corporation in America when I got elected. They're now, you know, 87 or so. I don't know what the number is.
But imagine—you know, what they do, they open up a new enterprise. They'd hire—they'd educate their employees that they hired. They'd put them through the education they needed to be able to deal with the problem.
Well, you know, it seemed—and I—so I met with the Business Roundtable as well. I said, "What do you guys think?" They said, "Well"—they kind of—everyone nodded their heads and said, "Yes, yes, we should be educating." Not we, corporations—we, the country, should be educating—investing more in education.
There's so many things that we can do that are totally within our reach and our capacity that can make us stronger, more coherent, and more united.
I'll conclude by saying: When I ran for President, I said I was running for three reasons and rightly—was roundly criticized by the vast majority of my colleagues who supported me for laying out what I was doing as well as the press legitimately criticizing me.
I said there are three reasons I'm running. One, to restore the soul of this country—just basic decency and honor and the way we deal with one another. It's so changed so drastically—so drastically.
Secondly was to, you know, restore the middle class. And the—and you all do extremely well when the middle class does well and the poor have a way up. They're never—I've never seen where the top 2 percent has gotten hurt by that. You benefit. Well, guess what? They're in trouble. They're in trouble. And we're bringing them back, but they're in trouble.
And the third reason I said I ran was to unite America again, because that's what I was known for the Senate. The press has rightly pointed out that Biden who—didn't understand how things have so drastically changed, in terms of the ability to cooperate. Well, the truth is, I think, over time, I'm proving to be right—that we can bring the country together. But it's really hard.
And so I think there's enough—if we maintain control of the House and the Senate, and makes some slight increases, I think you're going to see the ability of a lot of the MAGA Republicans to—they're not going to change. But an awful lot of the mainstream Republicans, which still, I think, a majority of Republican voters across America are going to say, "Okay, let's see if we can get together."
We're still going to argue like hell. We should. I mean, we have—you know, liberal, conservative, moderate. We should argue about substance. But the idea of saying that there's nothing we should be doing—we shouldn't be doing any of these things—I think, is just counterintuitive or counterproductive.
There's a lot more to say to bring you up the date, but I probably already said too much. But why don't I, as my mother would say, "hush up" and maybe take some questions.
I think we're to—the press is going out swimming in the—[inaudible].
Governor Philip D. Murphy of New Jersey. Mr. President, before the press leaves, I just want to give—what do they say at church?—a testimonial.
As a frontline Governor, the American Rescue Plan, the bipartisan infrastructure law, the CHIPS Act, the IRA, the legislation you signed for veterans—I could go on—those are somewhere between game changers and lifesavers. And we're living it.
And God bless you. That—none of that stuff happens with you.
NOTE: The President spoke at 4:34 p.m. at the residence of Gov. Murphy and his wife Tammy. In his remarks, he referred to Gov. Katherine Brown of Oregon; Gov. Jay R. Inslee of Washington; Gov. Bradley J. Little of Idaho; Gov. Gavin C. Newsom of California; Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico; Gov. Douglas A. Ducey of Arizona; Gov. Spencer J. Cox of Utah; Midlothian, VA, resident Shannon Davis and her sons Joshua and Jackson; House Minority Leader Kevin. O. McCarthy; former Secretary of Commerce Penny S. Pritzker. The transcript was released by the Office of the Press Secretary on October 7. Audio was not available for verification of the content of these remarks.
Joseph R. Biden, Remarks at a Democratic National Committee Reception in Middletown, New Jersey Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/358249