Remarks at a Democratic National Committee Reception in National Harbor, Maryland
The President. Hello, folks! Jaime, thanks for the introduction. Folks, thank you all for being here. And thank you, Jaime, for your leadership.
Death of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom
Before I begin, I want to say a few words about Queen Elizabeth. I just stopped by the British Embassy to sign the condolence book in her honor. I had the opportunity to meet her before she passed, and she was an incredibly gracious and decent woman. And the thoughts and prayers of the American people are with the people of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth in their grief.
2022 Congressional Elections
Now—now, let me talk about why we're all here. Sixty days——
Audience members. Yeah! Woo!
The President. ——60 days from the midterm elections. So I want to be crystal clear about what's at stake in the ballot.
Your right to choose is on the ballot.
Audience member. Yeah!
The President. No, this is a fact. These are not—it's not hyperbole, any of this. Your Social Security that you paid for is on the ballot. Look at what they put out—they want to do away with. They want to, every year, to have to make it—decide whether or not it continues or not.
Your safety of your kids from gun violence is on the ballot. The survival of our planet is literally on the ballot. Your right to vote—even our democracy—is on the ballot. Are you ready to fight for these things? Not to—I really mean it. We need to do everything we can to get folks organized, mobilized, and vote, vote, vote, vote!
Look, folks, I believe America is at an inflection point, one of those moments that—where everything changes. America has to choose: Are we going to move forward or backwards? Are we going to build the future or obsess about the past? To be a nation of unity and hope and optimism or a nation of division, violence, and hatred?
You know, I want to be very clear up front. Not every Republican is a MAGA Republican. Not every Republican embraces the extreme ideology. I know because I've worked with them—and the mainstream Republicans that are still a few of them left. But the extreme set of MAGA Republicans has chosen to go backwards, full of anger, violence, hate, and division. And that's what their game is.
And together, Democrats, Independents, and mainstream Republicans can choose a different path forward to a future of unity and hope and some optimism, and choose—we choose, the Democrats—to build a better America. And we have such an opportunity to do it. There's no question it's been a hard few years, but we've come a long way. And it didn't just happen. It took a lot of hard work on your part. It took Democrats delivering, even in the face of unrelenting attacks and powerful special interest.
And now, even as our critics are forced to acknowledge real progress, a record of big accomplishments matched by few administrations in American history: 10 million more new jobs, more than ever created before at this point in a Presidency; 3.7-percent unemployment rate, near-record low in history of this country.
Last year, more people applied to start small businesses than any year in the history of the United States of America. A 15-percent drop in child poverty compared to two years ago. More than 220 million—220 million—people vaccinated.
A big reason for all this is the American Rescue Plan that I signed shortly after we took office, with only Democratic votes, because not a single Republican—not a single one, House or Senate—voted for that legislation.
We also passed once-in-a-generation investment in our Nation's roads, highways, bridges, railroad, ports, airports, water system, high-speed internet. We got a little help from Republicans, but not a lot, but enough to get it passed.
But the truth is, there are a lot more Republicans taking credit for that bill than we—actually voted for it. [Laughter] I see them out there: "And now we're going to build this new bridge here. We're all for it." [Laughter] "And by the way, there's new road, and we're going have an internet that's going to be all the way"—[laughter].
I love them, man. They ain't got no shame. They don't have any shame. [Laughter]
And we passed the CHIPS and Science Act. It's a groundbreaking law. We'll once again manufacture semiconductor chips that power our everyday lives, from our smartphones to our dishwashers, automobiles. But we're going to do it right here in America. This law is going to create—mark my words: This law is going to create tens of thousands of jobs, and it's going to bring billions of dollars—billions, not millions; I didn't misspeak—billions of dollars in investments to American—revitalize American manufacturing.
Folks, it means we're going to build a future here in America, with American workers and American factories, using American-made products. And, folks, we took on the NRA, and we beat them. We flat beat them.
I signed the first significant new gun safety law in nearly 30 years. But I want to make it clear to you: I'm not stopping here. I'm determined to ban assault weapons. I did it once before, and we're going do it again. We're going to do it for those families in Buffalo and Uvalde, in Newtown, El Paso, Parkland, Charleston, Las Vegas, Orlando.
I've met with those families, virtually every one of them over these years. It's devastating what happened to them. Ladies and gentlemen, we're going to do it all for those kids who are—got gunned down in the streets every single day and never get recorded.
Folks, we're going to do it for your kids who are learning how—instead of learning how to read and write, are learning how to duck and cover. Think of the kids going back to school in those places. You saw what happened. They're scared to death. It's just wrong. It's just wrong.
So, this November, we have to ask every candidate, "Are you for banning assault weapons? Yes or no?" If they say "no," vote them out of office.
Look, in my State of the Union Address, I put forward a unity agenda that included taking care of veterans who were exposed to those burn pits. These pits are the size, literally, of football fields—8, 9, 10 feet deep—in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere. They're—that incinerate the wastes of war—tires, poisonous chemicals, jet fuels, and so much more—in some cases, bodies. And guess what? Too many of our soldiers are sleeping in quarters within 200 to 500 yards from these toxic pits. My son was one of them. They're inhaling this—these poisonous fumes. They came home with headaches and numbness and dizziness and cancer—highest cancer rates ever. I just signed the PACT Act—it's called—to take care of these veterans.
They need medical assistance to provide compensation. And we also have to provide compensation for those families that lost—lost—a soldier as a consequence of these burn pits. Folks, this is the least we could do for them.
I believe the Nation—this Nation has many obligations, but we only have one truly sacred obligation—I've been saying this my whole career—it's to prepare those we send into harm's way and care for them and their families when they come home. It's a sacred obligation.
And we're making progress on global inflation caused by the pandemic and Putin's war in Ukraine. Gas prices are down over a dollar since we started this effort.
I just signed into law the historic Inflation Reduction Act. It wasn't easy. Wasn't easy. We had to take on big drug companies, and we did.
You know, we pay for—more for prescription drugs—excuse me——
[At this point, the President cleared his throat.]
——than any other developed nation in the world—than any other developed nation in the world. And for years, back when I was a Senator and when I was Vice President, many of us tried to fix this problem. But for years, Big Pharma blocked Medicare from negotiating for lower drug prices, but not this year. We beat them. We won. Big Pharma lost for the first time. Now Medicare will have the power to negotiate lower prescription drug prices.
And seniors in America will see their out-of-pocket costs for drugs limited to $2,000 a year no matter how much they have to spend, whether it's for cancer drugs or any other disease. And if you're on Medicare and you have diabetes, the cost of insulin will be capped at $35 a month rather than $1,000 a month.
One more thing. We wanted to cut insulin costs for everyone, including the hundreds and thousands of young people with type 2 diabetes. I was in Virginia a couple of months ago, meeting with a family, and it was a—at an event. And I stood up, and this mother with two kids, and had type 1—type 2 diabetes, paying 675 bucks a month for their insulin. She said: "I can't do it anymore. We've got to cut the dosage. You've got to skip."
Imagine—I mean this sincerely. Think about this. Imagine being a parent, looking at your child, knowing they have two—type 2 diabetes, knowing they need this insulin, and you don't have the money to pay for it. You don't have the insurance, and you don't qualify for anything. Imagine. It costs them $10 to make this insulin and package it. Ten. Drug companies charge families at least 30 times that.
My God, being that parent, not having the insurance. What the hell. Just imagine. But guess what? The Republicans knocked that out of the—my legislation. They said we weren't going to pay for it—they weren't going to pay for it. I'm committed to coming back and getting it done, dammit.
And for decades, climate deniers have blocked any meaningful progress dealing with the climate crisis. But guess what? Unfortunately, what's happening now, nobody denies we have a climate crisis.
You know, I've traveled all around the country, from California to Idaho, up all—you know, more land is burned to the ground, more forest is burned to the ground than the entire State of New Jersey—from New York all the way down to Virginia. Think of that—more land.
Look at the temperatures: over 125 degrees some places—the Great Salt Lake, the Dead Sea. I mean, this is—things are changing. But guess what? Even in spite of that, where are these guys? These climate deniers have blocked any meaningful progress dealing with the climate crisis, but not this year. This year we won. $362 billion to deal with climate.
The climate deniers lost. We're taking on the most aggressive action to confront the climate crisis ever in our history. It's going to create 1 million good-paying jobs, for real. It's going to triple wind and solar power, unleash American manufacturing to own the global market in electric vehicles.
Look, that's a future that's made in America. For decades, the biggest corporations, the wealthiest Americans have fought to block fairer a Tax Code. Under Donald Trump, the Republicans had no problem enacting a $2 trillion tax cut, basically going to the top 1 percent. It mainly benefited big corporations. Fifty-five corporations in 2020 made $40 billion and didn't pay a single, solitary penny in Federal taxes.
But this year, the biggest companies in America flooded Capitol Hill with lobbyists and money, and they lost, and American won. Because now corporations will pay a minimum tax of 15 percent—just 15 percent, but they'll pay it. The days of billion-dollar companies paying zero taxes is over.
And by the way, while we're doing all this—I'm not going to take all your time because you're standing, but while we're doing all this—[laughter]—guess what? You know, Republicans talk about being fiscally responsible. We are reducing the deficit while all this—things we're doing to spend money. Not a joke.
Last year, I reduced the deficit $350 billion. You know how much this year, not counting the Medicaid changes? One trillion seven hundred billion dollars. So I don't want to hear it from Republicans about fiscal responsibility. I don't want to hear it. I mean it. I—these—ugh. [Laughter] I don't want to get going here.
You'd think if they really cared about inflation, reducing it, they would have voted for the Inflation Reduction Act. But every single Republican, House and Senate—every single one—every Republican in the House, every Republican in the Senate, they voted against it. Every one.
Look, hear this, America: Every single Republican voted against lowering prescription drug costs—every one—every one; against lowering health care costs—every one; against tackling the climate crisis—every one; against lower energy cost; against creating good-paying jobs; against a fairer tax system—every single one. Now every single American needs to return the favor and vote them out of office.
Look, every election is a choice. My dad used to say: "Don't compare me to the Almighty, Joey. Compare me to the alternative." [Laughter]
Well, just take a look at what's happened since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. In 14 States, abortion is not available beyond 6 weeks of pregnancy, when most women don't even know they are pregnant. In most of these States, there is no exception for rape or incest. In the coming weeks and months, another 13 States may ban abortion depending on the outcome of this election in November—another 13.
That means, in just weeks and months, more than half of America will have banned abortion if we don't win this off-year election. And they're not going to stop there. If they win control of the House and Senate, they've made it clear: They're going to try to pass a national ban. But as long as I'm President, they ain't going to get it done, because I'll veto it.
Look, if they had their way, it won't matter where you live in America, women won't have a right to choose anywhere—anywhere. I'm not going to let that happen. I really mean that.
If they had their way, they'd come after the contraception and marriage equality, the whole right to privacy. They were very straightforward when this passed. They didn't kid about it. We can't let that happen either. Democrats won't let that happen—not today, not tomorrow, not ever.
Look, Republicans—[applause]—Republicans awakened a powerful force in this Nation: women. [Laughter] W-O-W—no, I'm not joking. I'm not joking. Those of you who are lawyers, read the decision. And the Court says that women have a right to vote to change this if they don't like it at the State level.
Well, guess what, pal? Here you come. Here you come. Republicans don't have a clue about the power of women. Not a clue. Let me tell you something: They're about to find out. They're about to find out. I mean it.
And when you think—I'm talking about radical Republicans coming—look, they're coming at your Social Security. You think I'm kidding.
Look, just go read the only election year plan that Republicans have put out this year. Rick Scott from Florida, who's the guy who's in charge of the—electing Republicans to the United States Senate wrote it in black and white and did it also in the Wall Street Journal article. He wants to require Congress to vote on the future of Social Security every 5 years, which means that if you don't affirmatively vote for it, it is out of existence. Not a joke, now. Check it out. I'm not making it up.
I spoke to a large labor crowd a couple—a month ago, and they didn't believe it, so I put it up on a big board: exactly what they said. Think about it. I mean, think—I mean, every 5 years, the Congress has to vote to change, cut, reduce, or entirely eliminate Social Security. If they do nothing, it goes out of existence. How does that make you feel, knowing that some of our MAGA Republicans are going to be moving hard?
And it's not just Social Security. Senator Scott—Senator Scott—he wants everything in the Federal budget voted on every 5 years. That includes veterans benefits, Pell grants, everything else.
And then comes along—along comes Ron Johnson of Wisconsin. God love him. [Laughter] He thinks 5 years is too long—[laughter]—to take to savage the programs that the people depend on. He wants to put Social Security and Medicare on the chopping block every year. And let me remind you all: You pay for your Social Security in every paycheck. You pay for your Medicare. It's not like this a gift. It's taken out of your paychecks.
This is the same guy who said that if Republicans get control the Congress, they're going to go back at getting rid of the Affordable Care Act, which is the only thing that guarantees people who have a preexisting condition can get insurance.
Folks, they tried over 20 times to do it. And the last time—the—when the last guy was there—what was his name? I can't remember. [Laughter] This guy never stops. And we'll never stop either, because we can't let this happen. Folks, Democrats offer a vision for a better America. It's within the reach—our reach. It's in our hands if we just get out and vote.
And again, that's not hyperbole, because we're not finished. Imagine if we just elected two more Democrats to the Senate and keep the House of Representatives. Imagine. We'll codify Roe v. Wade. We'll ban assault weapons. We'll protect Social Security and Medicare. We'll pass universal pre-K. We'll restore the childcare tax credit. We'll protect voting rights. We'll pass election reform. We'll make sure no one ever tries to steal an election again in America. As we'll continue to build economy—build an economy—from the bottom up and the middle out, not the top down.
Because we understand something Republicans don't: Wall Street did not build this country. Working people, the middle class built this Nation. And I got news for you: Unions built the middle class. And we're not going to let anyone or anything tear America apart.
I'm going to close with this. We're at a serious moment in this nation's history. And again, to use the word three times: That's not hyperbole. We're literally in a battle for America's soul. I know I've been saying it for a year and a half, but I mean it.
Extreme MAGA Republicans just don't threaten our personal and economic rights, they embrace political violence. Think about it. They refuse to accept the will of the people. They threaten our very democracy. They—and that's not hyperbole. To this day, they defend the mob that stormed the Capitol on January 6.
Look, I've known every major world leader because of the nature of my job as the head of the Foreign Relations Committee, then doing foreign policy for Barack, and now. I've known them all.
Imagine if we leave here tonight and you turn on the television and you found out that, whether it's the Bundestag in Germany or in the Parliament in Great Britain, a couple thousand people stormed those buildings, broke down the doors of the Parliament, killed some cops, beat the hell out of people to try to change the outcome of the election of a woman who just got picked to be Prime Minister. Imagine what you'd think. Not a joke now. Think about it. I'm being deadly earnest. Think about what you'd think, what kind of confidence you'd have in our European friends.
Look, folks, I went to the first what they call a G-7 meeting of the major economic powers. And I sat in that meeting in England. And I said the following—I used the following phrase—they all know me because I've known them for years. I said, "America is back."
Audience member. Yeah!
The President. And they looked at me, and they said, "For how long?" No, no, I'm not joking now. I give you my word. I'm not kidding. This is deadly earnest. They said, "For how long?" And look what they see on television in their countries every single day: what Trump is doing and the Trumpers are doing.
Audience member. Lock him up!
The President. Well, let me tell you something. They're looking and wondering.
We have to win this off-year election for more reasons—for more reasons—than just being able to move our agenda forward. We have to. And it doesn't do a whole lot to show the new polls showing me beating Trump by six or eight points, whatever the hell the numbers are.
Audience member. Yeah!
The President. No, no, no, but it really doesn't matter very much now, in this off year. Folks, you can't be pro-insurrection and pro-democracy. Not a joke. I'm being deadly earnest now. You can't be pro-insurrection and pro-democracy. You can't support law enforcement and call the mob that attacked the police on January 6 in the United States Capitol "patriots."
And heard what he recently said? He said if he gets elected again, he'll pardon them all. He'll pay their legal fees. How can you call yourself a democrat with a small "d"? How can that be?
Folks, that's why those who love this country—Democrats, Independents, and mainstream Republicans—have to be stronger, more determined, and more committed to saving American democracy than the MAGA Republicans are to literally destroying American politics.
You just have to vote. We have to vote. You have to organize, mobilize, get out the vote. You just need to remember who we are. We are the United States of America. And there's nothing—nothing, nothing—beyond our capacity if we do it together. So let's get moving.
God bless you all, and may God protect our troops. Please, please, please, vote. Vote. Vote. Thank you all very much. And thank you for volunteering your services as you do. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
NOTE: The President spoke at 7:28 p.m. at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center. In his remarks, he referred to Jaime R. Harrison, chairman, Democratic National Committee; President Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin of Russia; Midlothian, VA, resident Shannon Davis and her sons Joshua and Jackson; former Presidents Donald J. Trump and Barack Obama; Sen. Ronald H. Johnson; and Prime Minister M. Elizabeth Truss of the United Kingdom. The transcript was released by the Office of the Press Secretary on September 9.
Joseph R. Biden, Remarks at a Democratic National Committee Reception in National Harbor, Maryland Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/357730