Remarks on Infrastructure and Jobs Legislation and the National Economy
The President. Good morning. What a good morning.
Yesterday the United States Senate took the additional step toward passing the bipartisan infrastructure bill. It's a bill that would end years of gridlock in Washington, and create millions of good-paying jobs, and put America on a new path to win the race for the economy in the 21st century; a historic investment in roads and rail, in transit and bridges, in clean energy and clean water. It will enable us to not only build back, but build back better than before the economic crisis hit.
I want to thank the bipartisan group of Senators for working together and the committee chairs for raising their ideas and concerns with me and Vice President Harris and members of our Cabinet.
As we did with the transcontinental railroad and the Interstate Highway System, we'll soon, once again, transform America and propel us into the future.
This bill makes key investments to put people to work all across the country: in cities, in towns, in rural communities, small towns, big towns, coastal—along the coastlines, out on the plains. It covers the Nation. And it's going to put America to work in good-paying union jobs, building and repairing our roads, bridges, ports, airports.
And you know, once this bill passes the Senate, I know that body will move toward establishing a framework for the remainder of my Build Back Better agenda—in giving tax cuts to the middle class by investing in childcare and home care for seniors, critical investments to combat climate change and to build a clean energy future—vital steps needed to bring down the cost of health care and so much more.
And we're going to do it without raising taxes by even 1 cent on people making less than $400,000 a year.
And here's another important part of the bill: Ninety percent of the jobs created by this legislation will not require a college degree. Ninety percent. It's a blue-collar blueprint to rebuild America.
Which brings me to another piece of good news this morning: We learned that the economy created 943,000 new jobs in July—943,000. And the unemployment rate fell by a half a percent to 5.4 percent.
Now, while our economy is far from complete and while we have—doubtlessly, we'll have ups and downs along the way as we continue to battle the Delta surge of COVID, what is indisputable now is this: The Biden plan is working, the Biden plan produces results, and the Biden plan is moving the country forward.
We're now the first administration in history to add jobs every single month in our first 6 months in office and the only one in history to add more than 4 million jobs during the first 6 months. Economic growth is the fastest in 40 years. Jobs are up. The unemployment rate is the lowest since the pandemic hit. Black unemployment is down as well.
Why? Because we put in place the necessary tools early in my Presidency—the COVID vaccine—the COVID-19 vaccine plan, the American Rescue Plan—to fight the virus and fight the economic mess we inherited. As a result, we've been able to make progress on both fronts against grave challenges. And we have—we put in place the tools to prevent this Delta variant wave of COVID-19 from shutting down our small businesses, our schools, and our society.
You know, when we first got to office, the COVID-19 crisis and economic crisis were unrelenting and devastating for people. And as a nation, we didn't have to the tools to deal with either. Nearly 4,000 Americans were dying each and every day to the virus. Four thousand a day. The economy had been wiped out. We were down 10 million jobs from where we were before the pandemic. We were in a dark winter with real concerns about what spring would bring.
But then, we got to work. We passed the American Rescue Plan shortly after I was sworn in. That gave us the tools to fight the pandemic and rebuild our economy, and it produced results.
To beat the pandemic, we ramped up testing and protective equipment. And we bought it—we brought—we actually went out and bought enough vaccine so that every single, solitary American could be vaccinated.
And because of the help of everyone, from the military to civilian efforts, we carried out one of the most difficult logistical challenges in our Nation's history: to get 220 million shots into people's arms in first 100 days in office. Two hundred and twenty million.
Over the past 7 months, we've cut COVID-19 deaths by 90 percent. As of today, 193 million Americans have gotten at least one vaccination shot, including over 70 percent of adults over the age of 18. A hundred and sixty-five million Americans are now fully vaccinated.
Because of our success with the vaccination effort, this new Delta variant wave of COVID-19 will be very different—be able to deal with than the one that under—that we under—was underway when I took office.
And yes, cases are going to go up before they come back down. It's a pandemic of the unvaccinated. I know I've said that constantly, and others have as well. The vaccination of the unvaccinated. You know, and it's needless—taking a needless toll on our country.
You know, we have, roughly, 350 million people vaccinated [doses administered]* in the United States and billions around the world, and virtually no one has died because of that vaccinations. But even so, the impact is going to be very different than what happened last January.
Today about 400 people will die because of the Delta variant in this country, a tragedy because virtually all of these deaths were preventable if people had gotten vaccinated.
But 7 months ago today, almost 4,000 people died on that very day from COVID-19. Four thousand versus four hundred. That shows how much our vaccination progress has already done to protect us from the worst of the new Delta COVID-19 wave.
Likewise, the American Rescue Plan has given us the economic tools we need to protect our recovery against the worst impacts of the Delta virus: 1,400 checks into the pockets—$1,400 checks into the pockets of millions of American; help to keep the folks in their homes; help to put food on the table.
Remember those long lines we used to talk about? People lined up in their cars for hours just to get a box of food put in their trunk.
Help to small businesses so they could keep the lights on, their doors open, and their employees on the job. Because States were losing revenue. They were having to lay off essential workers. Well, the aid to States and cities and counties and Tribes, it kept essential workers going—police officers, firefighters, educators on the job.
Funding for schools to reopen, and ventilation systems, sanitation services, protective equipment to keep students and staff safe.
And as we vaccinated America, we developed our economic tools to help our economy recover. As a result, in the past 3 months, we've created, on average, 832,000 new jobs per month since sworn in. That's compared to five thousand—50,000 jobs in the last 3 months of the previous administration.
Look, even so, my message today is not one of celebration. It's one to remind us we've got a lot of hard work left to be done, both to beat the Delta variant and to continue our advance of economic recovery. We all know what it starts with. As I've said again and again, this is a pandemic of the unvaccinated. So we have to get more people vaccinated.
I said well over—what's the number again? I have to remind myself—350 million Americans have already been vaccinated [doses have been administered].* They're doing fine.
I'm pleased to report that, the past week, we've seen the first-time vaccinations in America go up by 4 million people getting—4 million shots. That's more than we've seen in a long time.
I want to thank the Governors. I listened to the Governor of Maryland today on the television. He's doing a heck of a job. Democratic Governors as well, Republican Governors, they're getting the word out.
Look, as you all know, I've put in place new incentives and requirements to encourage vaccinations. For example, Federal workers will be asked to attest to their vaccination status. Anyone who does not attest or is not vaccinated will be required to wear a mask no matter where they work, test one or two times a week, socially distance, and generally will not be allowed to travel for work.
There will be more to come in the days ahead. And once again, I want to thank the local leaders and the private-sector leaders who are imposing vaccine requirements.
America can beat the Delta variant, just as we beat the original COVID-19. We can do this. So wear a mask where recommended. Get vaccinated today. All of that will save lives, and it means we're not going to have the same kind of economic damage we've seen when COVID-19 began.
But we aren't stopping there. The American Rescue Plan was built knowing the recovery would take time and that there'd be ups and downs.
So let me outline today six specific actions people will see over the next few weeks to make sure that we fight the Delta variant and wait for new vaccinations to be finished and keep our economy strong.
First, thanks to the latest middle class tax cut in a long time, the next monthly check—that is the child tax credit—in the next month—next 9 days, checks are going—all going out to almost 40 million families with children—in 9 days, beginning next month—the middle of this month, I should say.
On August 15, for example, a family with two young kids under the age of 7 is going to get a check for $600 paid immediately. And they'll get a check next week—next month for $600, et cetera. If you're a family with two kids between the ages of 7 and 17, you're getting a check for $500, $250 per child. And that will continue month after month.
Second, I've looked ahead—we've looked ahead, and now schools have the resources they need to safely reopen as schoolyear starts again so that every child can be in school full time, safe, and this year.
Third, we provided, months ago, States and localities with $45 billion in their coffers—the State and localities—to help renters and landlords to keep people in their homes and keep their local economy strong. That money has to get out now. I'm urging all local officials to get that money out.
And we're going to send more help to small businesses on Main Street so the Delta variant doesn't cause them to lay off employees and shutter their doors. There's something called the Paycheck Protection Program. It's a loan program, forgivable if a small business kept their employees on the job and their doors open. We're now in the process to forgive those loans for small businesses who are doing the right thing, putting them in a better position to keep their businesses going.
Fifth, if anyone is worried about getting health insurance during the pandemic, there's help today. For those who get their health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, we're covering more people with more extensive benefits, with premiums that average 40-percent lower. If you don't have insurance, you can still sign up under the Affordable Care Act through August the 15th. Just go to healthcare.gov today.
And sixth, we're going to lower the prices on everything from prescription drugs to hearing aids by allowing businesses to compete, which will give them more choices at lower cost. For example: You're not going to have to go to a doctor to get a prescription to get a hearing aid. You're going to go right to the counter of the store and buy it over the counter.
The bottom line is this: What we are doing is working. But don't take my word for it. Forecasters on Wall Street project, over the next 10 years, our economy will expand by trillions of dollars and will create 2 million more jobs a year, good-paying jobs.
But we just have to keep going. And it's simple. That means: Get vaccinated, please. It's safe. It works. It will save lives and maybe save your life. As I've said before, this is a pandemic of the unvaccinated. So, please, get vaccinated.
We can get this done. We just have to stay the course. And we just have to remember who we are. You've heard me say it before: We're the United States of America. There's not a single thing—nothing—beyond our capacity when we do it together.
God bless you all, and may God protect our troops. And have a good weekend. Thank you.
Q. Mr. President——
Q. Mr. President, would you take a few questions?
Q. Mr. President—[inaudible]—Federal staffs to increase vaccinations?
Q. Mr. President, to what extent is the economic recovery at risk if the Delta variant continues to spread?
NOTE: The President spoke at 11:22 a.m. in the East Room at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan, Jr., of Maryland. He also referred to H.R. 3684.
* White House correction.
Joseph R. Biden, Remarks on Infrastructure and Jobs Legislation and the National Economy Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/352242