Remarks at an Oregon State Democratic Party Grassroots Organizers Event in Portland, Oregon
[The President entered the room carrying a box of doughnuts.]
The President. Hello, Oregon! I assume you're clapping for the doughnuts. Which table?
Thank you for what you're doing. No, I really mean it. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
I've been around—I know I don't look it, but I've been around a long time. [Laughter] And this is, I think, the most important off-year election that we've had in—since Roosevelt's time—I mean that sincerely—because so much is at stake. If we are able to keep the House and keep the Senate, we can continue to do the things we've been doing, which are really going to make—change the country.
We're at a real inflection point in this country. What happens in the next 4 to 6 years is going to determine what happens for the next three or four generations. Not a joke. It's not just America, but it's across the world that's happening the same way.
And so—but I'm here because Ron Wyden has been such an incredible chairman. [Applause] No, I'm not joking.
You know, when I was running for office—and thank you; some of you who helped me here. Gosh, it was nice winning by 16 points. God Almighty. [Laughter] This is the only State he didn't contest.
But all kidding aside, what—we ran on the notion that, you know, Big Pharma continued to abuse the American—we pay more for drugs than any country in the world. I mean, the same exact drug, the same exact prescription sold here, sold Canada, sold in Germany, sold in South Africa is significantly cheaper than here.
And so we've tried—trying to take on Big Pharma for a long time. And we got two things going for us this time. One, American labor, which was 100 percent by—SEIU, I love you. But the other one was Ron. You know, you may remind—my talking about how, you know, 55—53 American corporations made 400—$40 billion, didn't pay a single penny in taxes, and we couldn't get anything moving. Ron got it done. [Applause] No, Ron got it.
And one of the things that—the reason why it's so important we win this off-year election—because a lot of what we've done doesn't kick in until January, so people don't even know it yet. For example, no senior—because of these two guys right here—no senior in America on Medicaid will have to pay more than $2,000 a year for their prescriptions, no matter how much they cost. [Applause] No, really.
That is—by the way, that's a staggering note. Because some of these cancer drugs are 13-, 14,000 bucks a year. I'm telling you, I had a son—anyway. I—but you know, it's expensive. And imagine all those folks who don't have the capacity beyond Medicare to pay for what they have, what they need.
Thirdly, you know, it cost—you know—you don't have to say whether you do. Do you know anybody who needs insulin for diabetes?
Audience member. Yes.
Audience member. Yes.
The President. Okay, well, guess what? Because of these guys and the Congresspeople that—where are all my Congress friends? They're—[applause].
But this is really important. You know how much it makes—it costs to make one vial of insulin? Ten dollars. T-E-N.
By the way, it's her birthday today.
[At this point, the President put his arm around Rep. Suzanne M. Bonamici.]
Rep. Bonamici. It's a birthday I'll never forget.
The President. And by the way, she is—just turned 30. So it's—[laughter]—it's a—but all kidding aside, it costs 10 bucks—$10—$10 to make that vial and package it. And people are charging—they're charging 30, 40 times that amount, monthly cost.
So guess what? Because of your congressional delegation, no one has to pay more than $35 for a prescription. Nobody.
That's a—by the way, just imagine—I was telling my colleagues in the Senate—I still think of myself as a Senator; I was there for 36 years. [Laughter] But I was telling them that I was down in Virginia at a town hall. This woman stood up and was very emotional. She had her two daughters. She said: "Both of my daughters have diabetes, and I can't afford the insulin. I can't afford it. I can't afford it."
Imagine being a parent and have your dignity stripped of you when your child you know needs it to stay healthy and maybe alive, and you can't do a damn thing about. But your guys here changed that for people. You changed that.
And there's a little thing called the environment. When I introduced that bill called Build Back Better, everybody went "Oh, no one's going to do that."
[The President intentionally grumbled into the microphone.]
[Laughter] Well, Oregon saved me. Because what did you do? You stepped up and you made sure—we have little things called "tax credits" that will fundamentally change people's lives. Ordinary middle class folks are going to be in a position because of folks like this one here.
[The President clasped hands and stood with Oregon Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tina Kotek, who waved to the audience.]
No, I'm—[applause]—because guess what? What a Governor does matters. It matters. It matters, it matters, it matters.
And it does.
Ms. Kotek. [Inaudible]
The President. And look, folks—anyway, I'm taking too much of your time; you should be on the telephones. [Laughter] But all kidding aside, there's so much that, if we get by this election, we can change—we can begin to change the world.
I know, you know, I'm a little bit of a cockeyed optimist. I realize that. But the truth of the matter is, I've never been more optimistic about America's prospects. I really mean it, from the bottom my heart. Never, never, never, never. And there's two reasons for it.
Because of these—we're the only country in the world that has—only country—that has come out of crises stronger than we went in. Not just returned to where we were—stronger than we went in.
There's so much. We've done an infrastructure bill. So much we've done in—for example, dealing with burn pits, the veterans. All these poor sons of guns who lived next to these burn pits, which are football-sized, 8 to 10, 12 feet deep, burning everything from fuel to human waste to—I mean, it just—and a lot of them died.
More people came back with cancer than any war in American history. More people exposed to these toxic—but guess what? We've—because of what these guys did, we were able to pass that burn pits legislation. And now—and now—those who lost someone—lost someone—their families are being compensated by helping their—the kids' educations, by helping with monthly payments, and so on. It's a big deal. It's a big deal.
And those who are still alive are getting treatment that they don't have to prove their illness was because of the burn pits.
And so, anyway—and the reason I'm excited—and I'm going to stop—I know, I can see the looks on your faces here—[laughter]—because we've got to get back to work.
But here's the deal—I know, don't worry.
Audience member. They're on me.
The President. I know they are.
Audience member. And it's your fault. [Laughter]
The President. I know. But here's the deal: The reason I'm basically optimistic about America is because of those folks between 18 and 35 years old. It's the most educated generation in American history, the most open generation, the least prejudiced generation, the most—I'm being literal—most volunteering generation in all of American history.
There's nothing—nothing, nothing, nothing—that America can't do if we set our mind to it. I've spent more time with Xi Jinping of China than any world leader has, when I was Vice President all the way through to now. Over 78 hours with him alone, 8, 9 of those hours on the phone and the others in person, traveling 17,000 miles with him around the world, in China and the United States.
And here's the deal: He asked me, when I was in—when—in the Tibetan Plateau. We each had an interpreter—simultaneous interpreter. He said, "Can you define America for me?" I said: "Yes, one word. One word: possibilities." There's nothing beyond our capacity. Nothing. Nothing, nothing, nothing. So let's get this election underway, and let's finish the job.
God love you all. Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you. And let's have some doughnuts!
NOTE: The President spoke at 7:11 p.m. at the Service Employees International Union Local 49. In his remarks, he referred to Sen. Ronald L. Wyden, in his capacity as chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance; former President Donald J. Trump; Sen. Jeffrey A. Merkley; and President Xi Jinping of China. The transcript was released by the Office of the Press Secretary on October 15. A portion of the remarks could not be verified because the audio was incomplete.
Joseph R. Biden, Remarks at an Oregon State Democratic Party Grassroots Organizers Event in Portland, Oregon Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/358396