Joe Biden

Remarks During a Virtual Roundtable Discussion With Business and Labor Leaders on Legislation To Combat Inflation, Promote Clean Energy Production, and Reduce Prescription Drug Costs

August 04, 2022

The President. Good afternoon, folks. I'm here with leaders from some of the—America's largest companies and labor organizations: Kaiser Permanente, General Motors, Cummins, Carrier, Ameren, you know, we—the United Auto Workers, the AFL-CIO.

They're all here because they believe that the Inflation Reduction Act meets the needs of working families now and what our economy needs now for stronger, sustained economic growth in the years ahead.

Let me tell you a few things about what this bill does. First, it will lower health care costs for millions of Americans who buy coverage from the Affordable Care Act, locking in the health care premiums that save 13 million people an average of $800 a year.

This comes on top the news that we have the lowest percentage of Americans who are uninsured than ever before in our history, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, as well as the American Rescue Plan that I signed into law last year that saved families an average of $240—$2,400 in premiums—$2,400 in premiums.

The Inflation Reduction Act is also going to deliver on a promise Washington has made for years: give Medicare the power to negotiate prescription drug prices. This bill will save the American people and Medicare hundreds of billions of dollars. It's going to cap the amount of money seniors pay for prescription drugs at $2,000 a year—period—whether it's for cancer or for other diseases and the treatments they need. Maximum $2,000 a year. That's a Godsend for so many families.

Second, we're going to invest $369 billion to address the climate crisis and bring down family energy bills by an average of $500 a year. We're going to do this providing—by providing working families rebates to buy new and efficient appliances, weatherize their homes, and tax credits for everything from heat pumps to rooftop solar to wind energy.

It also provides tax credits to spur the construction of energy projects all across America, projects that will deliver new, clean energy and strengthen our country's grid. We also—it's going to—there are also manufacturing tax credits as well in this bill to make products like solar panels, wind turbines, battery storage—make it right here in the United States of America.

And this is going to create thousands of good-paying jobs, apprenticeship opportunities, and manufacturing jobs for clean energy construction projects, solar projects, wind projects, clean hydrogen projects, carbon capture projects, and so much more.

And along with the CHIPS and Science Act that I'll be signing into law next week, the Inflation Reduction Act will mean we are making the largest investment ever in clean energy and American energy security—the largest in our history. It will be the largest investment American manufacturing—in American manufacturing as well.

Joining me today are the CEOs of some of the most iconic American manufacturing companies and the union leaders who represent America's manufacturing workers. They see how, already, because of our work over the last 18 months, American manufacturing is coming back stronger than ever. Where is it written that America can't lead in manufacturing in the world? Six hundred and thirteen thousand manufacturing jobs created just since I took office, the most created in three decades.

And with the investment in this bill, we are going to supercharge that recovery; make sure that the manufacturing, innovation, and jobs that come from this bill are made in America.

And third, this bill is going to reduce the deficit by another $300 billion. That's beyond the record $1.7 trillion we're on track to cut the deficit by just this year—this fiscal year.

And we're going to help pay for those critical needs from working families and our economy by asking corporations earning more than a billion dollars a year to pay a minimum tax of 15 percent. That's less than a schoolteacher and a auto worker pay.

Let me be clear: Despite what some folks are saying, the Inflation Reduction Act makes sure that no one earning less than $400,000 will pay a penny more in Federal taxes, notwithstanding all these ads you see on television.

But don't take my word for it. Nearly 130 economists, 7 Nobel laureates in economics, former Treasury Secretaries, the Federal Reserve Vice Chair, former Director of the Congressional Budget Office wrote that this bill will, quote, "fight inflation and lower costs for American families while setting the stage for strong, stable, and broadly-shared long-term economic growth." End of quote. So, you know, look at the facts.

So let me close with this: The Inflation Reduction Act lowers prescription drug prices, lowers health insurance premiums, invests in clean energy that will create jobs and economic opportunity for business and labor, reduces the deficit, and makes commonsense reforms to our corporate Tax Code. These are the facts.

One more thing. The Inflation Reduction Act has bipartisan support among the people of this country. Look at the polling data: The vast majority of people in America support what's in the Inflation Reduction Act. So my message to Congress is this: Listen to the American people.

This is the strongest bill you can pass to lower inflation, continue to cut the deficit, reduce health care costs, tackle the climate crisis, and promote America's energy security, all while reducing the burdens facing working class and middle class families.

Pass it. Pass it, and get it to my desk. Pass it for the American people. Pass it for businesses and workers. Pass it for America.

I'm going to stop here and turn this over to Brian Deese to start the meeting. But thank you. And thank you all for participating in this meeting. I really appreciate it.

National Economic Council Director Brian C. Deese. Thank you, Mr. President. And let me echo my thanks to all of you for joining us and for offering your perspective today. I just want to—we'll start right in and ask Jennifer, you, to start us off.

First of all, congratulations on the new role, and would really appreciate your perspective on the—from the manufacturing lens. Cummins, obviously iconic and long-serving American manufacturing company. And I'm told—you can confirm if this is true—that half of the diesel trucks on U.S. highways today are powered by Cummins engines.

And so we'd really just love to start off with your perspective on how this legislation, as well as the other efforts that we're working on together, affects your thinking about how to grow American manufacturing and, importantly, stay on the cutting edge of manufacturing innovation here.

Cummins Inc. President and Chief Executive Officer Jennifer Rumsey. Great. Well, thank you, Brian. And thank you, Mr. President, for the opportunity to be here today and speak in support of the Inflation Reduction Act and, in particular, the clean technology focus within that bill.

[At this point, Ms. Rumsey continued her remarks, concluding as follows.]

So we think these provisions make these new and low-carbon technologies more affordable, accelerating infrastructure development and deployment throughout the economy. And by reducing some of the cost gap between traditional power and these newer solutions, we can advance their viable—viability and make them a reality.

So thank you again for the opportunity to be here and to support the Inflation Reduction Act, which is good for the economy and the environment.

The President. Well, thank you. Is it all right if I ask a question, Brian? [Laughter]

Director Deese. Of course, Mr. President.

The President. The—first of all, you got me back and forth to Wilmington, Delaware, to Washington, DC, for a long time on Amtrak. Thank you.

Ms. Rumsey. You're welcome.

The President. Look, where we're going to make a big investment in clean technology manufacturing facilities, like the facilities that make electric vehicles—how important will this investment be in building out the electric vehicle supply chains? Because it seems to me that's one of the—I mean, everybody is looking at doing that. We seem to—I think we have enormous opportunity here.

Ms. Rumsey. Yes, I agree, Mr. President. There's a lot of work to build out those supply chains, to build out the infrastructure, to move to these new and a variety of different fuel and technology types. And we see a significant opportunity to increase U.S. manufacturing capacity and grow jobs here in all these different technologies that support our strategy—destination zero—to decarbonize our industry.

So we're excited for the opportunity to bring some of those solutions here to the U.S., export those technologies globally, increase America's economic competitiveness, as we focus on this.

And Cummins has done this before. We actually made diesel technology viable for commercial trucking applications. And we see the Inflation Reduction Act as one key piece of accelerating our journey and really transitioning our applications to technologies of the future like battery, fuel cell, electric, and green hydrogen.

The President. Well, I think you can do it. I really do. And I hope this is as helpful as we think it is, because you've always been in the forefront here.

And you know, the idea—it just—we—I keep trying to remind people, and I don't think I have to remind anybody on this Zoom—that there's not a damn thing we can't do when we set our mind to it. We have never failed in trying to break through, no matter what—I mean, over the last hundred years.

And I think this presents an enormous opportunity for a healthier environment, a cleaner environment, a cheaper environment for people to get by on.

And—any rate, I am really optimistic. And I want to thank you very much, Jennifer, for being willing to come and talk to us about it. Because we'll be talking——

Ms. Rumsey. My pleasure.

The President. If this passes, we'll be talking a lot more. [Laughter]

Ms. Rumsey. Yes. Thank you, Mr. President.

Director Deese. So, Mr. President, I was going to ask—we'll go from heavy-duty commercial to light-duty vehicles.

And, Mary, thank you for being here. And just wanted to get your perspective on, you know, broadly, the automotive sector and the manufacturing opportunity that you see here, and how this bill and the other things we're working on will affect your perspective on where we can take the sector in this country.

The President. Am I on mute?

General Motors Co. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Mary T. Barra. Great. Well, Brian, thank you. And, Mr. President, thank you as well. I, today, am at one of——

The President. Hey, Mary, by the way——

Ms. Barra. ——our manufacturing——

The President. ——we owe you big. You started all this. I remember our conversation. [Laughter] No, I'm serious. I am serious.

Ms. Barra. Yes, well, we're working hard. And I'm actually at one of our manufacturing facilities in Ohio today. And I'm very pleased to participate on behalf of GM and to have the opportunity to add GM's voice in support of the Inflation Reduction Act as currently proposed.

And, Mr. President, I also want to thank you for your leadership. Your engagement with congressional leaders and a broad set of stakeholders over the last year, I believe, has really helped us get to this point.

At GM, we believe we are at an inflection point and one that, as we take these steps, we could create a much brighter future for America. You know, as we talked about the transition to an all-electric future, Mr. President, you saw what General Motors saw and continues to see. And it's the opportunity to create and maintain good-paying American jobs and the opportunity for America to lead in electrification and innovation.

General Motors is committed—we've already announced historic investments in the United States. This bill will help drive further investments in American manufacturing and sustainable, scalable, and secure supply chains. And all that comes with that is a stronger economy and job growth.

So we deeply appreciate also the inclusion of the EV provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act. While some of the goals cannot be achieved overnight, we are confident that the significant investments GM is making in manufacturing, in the workforce, in our infrastructure, in supply chains, and in clean energy will establish the U.S. as a global leader today and in the future.

So, once again, thank you for the opportunity to voice our support for the Inflation Reduction Act.

Director Deese. Thank you, Mary.

And I wanted to just bring Liz, you, in here too. You said recently that this bill was—your focus here was on real solutions for working families, and I'm hoping you could give us your perspective from the—kind of, the ground-level view, from the families and workers that you're talking to and engaging with, how you see this piece of legislation intersecting with their needs and their priorities.

AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler. Absolutely. Thank you, Brian.

Hello, everyone. I, too, want to start by thanking President Biden and the administration for your commitment to American manufacturing and, of course, for inviting us to be a part of this conversation today. I think it's a great mix of labor and business leaders, and it shows how important and historic the Inflation Reduction Act is.

[Ms. Shuler continued her remarks, concluding as follows.]

So we are united in support for this legislation. We urge Congress to move it quickly, get it passed, and signed into law. Get it to the President to sign.

Thank you.

The President. Can you unmute me?

White House aide. You're unmuted.

The President. Hey, Liz, thanks. And Mary. You guys are a hell of a team—what's going on.

You know, one of the things that—and you heard me say this before: My dad used to have an expression. He'd say: "A job is about a lot more than a paycheck. It's about your dignity. It's being able to look your kid in the eye and say, 'It's going to be okay. It's going to be okay.'"

The only way we're going to be able to do that for American workers is to make sure that we continue to grow and create good-paying jobs. And that's what you're doing, and that's what the AFL-CIO is doing with Liz, making sure that we can talk about the impact this relief is going to have on American workers.

In addition to—and by the way, I'm looking at a card here, reminding myself that it's going to cut energy costs and unlock $500 on average annually for energy savings; 30-percent tax credit for home energy systems like rooftop and solar and efficient windows; $7,500 tax credit for new electric vehicles and $4,000 tax credit for used ones; $14,000 for consumer rebate for high-efficiency appliances, like electric heat pumps.

It's going to do an awful lot beyond what is the overall piece here about lowering inflation. And you know, in addition to the new jobs it's going to create in this bill, the Inflation Reduction Act is also going to bring down energy and health care costs for all Americans, and it's going to impact on—this relief it will have on the American workers is real.

Liz, do your folks talk about that? Do we talk about how it's going to actually, you know, reduce health care costs, prescription drug costs, et cetera?

Ms. Shuler. Absolutely, Mr. President. I would say that that is what's most on people's mind, is, you know, can they afford to pay their health care premiums; can they afford to put food on the table for their families. And so bringing down costs for workers is exactly what we need in this moment, and that's what this bill does.

And so I know Ray Curry is on here with me. That's exactly what we're trying to do, is get the message out there. Because as you know, there's often a disconnect in what happens in Washington to what happens at the grassroots and community level. So that's our job as, you know, leaders in the labor movement and working with our members and working people every single day to make sure people recognize what this bill is going to do and—so that they see the impact in their communities and in their wallets.

The President. And, Mary, what General Motors is doing I find absolutely amazing. Your commitment to moving toward clean energy and commitment to electric vehicles, about being able to meet the 2050 international standard, et cetera. And you're going do it before then.

And I just think that General Motors is—can play a gigantic role, and other companies around the world are going to follow, because you're going to be leading the world.

One of the things that I did, I must admit in total disclosure: I've spoken to the chairwoman about the possibility of my being able to buy one of those Corvettes that are electric vehicles that—you know, when they come out. And I'm not going to be able to do it because I can't drive a vehicle while I'm Vice President—while I'm President any more than I could when I was Vice President.

But I think we can change the face of the country with this legislation and reduce inflation, not increase it.

Mary, do you have any closing comment you want to make?

Ms. Barra. Just that, Mr. President, I completely agree with you. I couldn't be more excited about the EV portfolio that General Motors is in the midst of launching. Our first battery plant is coming online in a matter of weeks in Ohio. We have another plant next year and the following year, both in the U.S.—and we're about ready to announce our fourth—as well as converting plants and making sure that we maintain and grow the jobs that we have in this country.

So, you know, it is happening. We're at this critical juncture right now. And I think this Inflation Reduction Act will be part of the catalyst that helps us move forward. So thank you.

The President. Well, you guys are doing a heck of a job. I really mean it. I want to thank you very, very much.

I know there's—more people that want to speak, and we're going to hear more. But I just can't tell you how much I think you have collectively moved—this whole movement of getting to clean energy, creating jobs—jobs that are increasing environmental protection, and reducing everything from drug prices on, matters.

This is one of those inflection points in history. And you all are at the forefront of it, all of you on the screen. We haven't gotten even to most of you yet.

But again, thank you both very, very much. Appreciate it.

Director Deese. And, Mr. President, on the topic of drug prices and health care prices as well, I wanted to bring Greg Adams in.

And you're serving, actively now, I think, 12 million patients and close to 2 million Medicare beneficiaries. And so we'd love your perspective on the health care elements of this, particularly in light of what both the President and Liz Shuler said about it being top of mind to people—health care premiums, drug pricing. And I want to get your perspective.

Kaiser Permanente Chair and Chief Executive Officer Greg A. Adams. Thank you, Brian. And thank you, Mr. President. I join my colleagues in saying it's a pleasure to be here today, to have the opportunity to discuss the importance and the urgency of the Inflation Reduction Act.

[Mr. Adams continued his remarks, concluding as follows.]

So, as one of the Nation's largest not-for-profit health plans and care delivery systems, each of these issues have a direct impact on our members, our patients, and our communities, and are critical to our ability to carry out our mission to provide high-quality, affordable care, and to ensure that we're helping improve the health of the communities that we—with which we're in and we serve.

So we join our colleagues in encouraging Congress to act without delay to bring the benefits of this important legislation to the American people.

Thank you, Mr. President.

The President. Brian, are you going to——

Director Deese. Yes.

The President. I've got a question, unless you—why don't you go ahead first?

Director Deese. Well, Mr. President, I was going to just turn briefly, before we get to our other speakers, to just ask Secretary Yellen to offer——

The President. Before you do, can I ask a question?

Director Deese. Sure, of course.

The President. I'd like to ask a question. First of all, Greg, thank you very much. You—it's astounding the number of people you service every day. And one of the goals of this bill is to keep drug prices and—while still allowing drug manufacturers to be rewarded appropriately and for providing real innovation.

Mr. Adams. Right.

The President. Do you think it—do you think this meets that balance of both? Because, look, the last thing I want to do is—I don't want to see there be a disincentive by drug companies to not seek answers to some of the diseases that they're trying to deal with. And so they have to be compensated, but they're being incredibly well compensated now. And from my perspective, I don't think that this upsets the balance of making significant profit, at the same time providing breakthroughs and innovation. What's your sense of it?

Mr. Adams. Yes, thank you, Mr. President. I do—I think it does maintain the balance. The bill looks at the high costs of specialty drugs. Specialty drugs are a key component of the high drug costs. They actually account for a small percentage of prescriptions, but they are now at a point where they make up over half of our pharmacy costs, impacting the whole population.

So the bill looks at a limited number of specialty drugs, actually calls for a negotiation of prices at a point after these drugs have been on the market.

I, as the CEO of Kaiser Permanente, will still be responsible and committed to using market forces to help keep the majority of other drugs affordable and accessible. So I don't see this as interfering. I think it carefully frames the balance that's needed.

So I think the answer to your question is: Yes, I think the balance is here, and I think there's plenty of room for innovation and for market forces to be at play.

The President. Thank you very much.

Brian, back to you.

Director Deese. Great. Thank you, Mr. President.

And before we get to Ray and David and Warner, I just wanted to ask Secretary Yellen to just zoom out for a minute and give us your take of the overall economics, particularly at the moment we find ourselves in the recovery.

Secretary of the Treasury Janet L. Yellen. Thank you, Brian. And thank you, Mr. President. I'm really excited to be here today to talk with leaders from both business and labor about how important it is for Congress to pass the Inflation Reduction Act.

Actually, I convened business leaders myself yesterday to discuss this important legislation. It will address the cost of prescription drugs and health care for millions of Americans, lower energy costs, bolster our energy security so we don't have to rely on autocrats like Putin.

This would be the biggest investment in fighting climate change in our country's history. And this isn't just going to protect us from global energy shocks, like we've seen from Russia's illegal invasion. It's also going to create good-paying jobs across our country to power that work.

I also think it's important to talk about the revenue streams that make these investments possible. And that means adequately funding the Internal Revenue Service so they can enforce our existing tax laws.

The vast majority of businesses and workers are playing by the rules, but some aren't. And estimates show that the tax gap from the top 1 percent of earners alone is as much as $160 billion each year. Making sure we have the resources to ensure the wealthiest among us can't avoid paying the taxes they owe, that's about restoring basic fairness and ending a two-tiered system. It's about making sure we can invest in addressing those key household expenses and making our economy stronger.

I think it's important to underscore that this legislation is fiscally responsible. It will actually reduce the deficit by hundreds of billions of dollars over time. And by reducing deficits, we'll be complementing the work the Federal Reserve and the administration is doing to combat inflation, even as we address these cost pressures like health care, prescription drugs, and energy.

So that's why I hope Congress will pass this bill as soon as possible. And it's why you saw five of my predecessors of the Treasury Department—Secretaries who served under Democrats and under Republicans—call for the same this week.

Thank you, Mr. President.

The President. Thank you, Janet.

Director Deese. Thank you. Thank you, Janet.

And, Mr. President, we're going to conclude the open press portion of this event and shift into the next section here.

[Reporters exited, and the discussion continued; no transcript was provided.]

NOTE: The President spoke at 1:53 p.m. via videoconference from the Treaty Room at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to Alan S. Blinder, Gordon S. Rentschler Memorial Professor of Economics and Public Affairs, Princeton University, in his former capacity as Vice Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System; and Douglas W. Elmendorf, dean of faculty and Don K. Price Professor of Public Policy, Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, in his former capacity as Director of the Congressional Budget Office. He also referred to H.R. 4346. Ms. Schuler referred to Ray Curry, president, United Auto Workers. Secretary Yellen referred to President Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin of Russia; and former Secretaries of the Treasury Timothy F. Geithner, Jacob J. Lew, Henry M. Paulson, Jr., Robert E. Rubin, and Lawrence H. Summers. Director Deese, Secretary Yellen, and Deputy National Climate Adviser Ali Zaidi participated in the discussion from the South Court Auditorium of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Executive Office Building, with Ms. Rumsey, Ms. Barra, Ms. Shuler, Mr. Adams, Mr. Curry, David Gitlin, chief executive officer of Carrier, and Warner L. Baxter, chief executive officer of Ameren, joining via videoconference.

Joseph R. Biden, Remarks During a Virtual Roundtable Discussion With Business and Labor Leaders on Legislation To Combat Inflation, Promote Clean Energy Production, and Reduce Prescription Drug Costs Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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