Remarks on the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act in Detroit, Michigan
Hello, Detroit. It's great to be back.
Before I begin, I just want to mention three pieces of good news today. First, two of the leading rating agencies on Wall Street confirmed today—not a liberal think tank, two Wall Street outfits—that the economic proposals we put forward for the Nation—the infrastructure law we just signed and the Build Back Better plan are being considered this week in Congress—will not add to inflationary pressures in the economy.
And at one—and here's what one of the agencies said, and I quote, "The bills do not add to inflation pressures." Let me repeat that: "do not add . . . inflation pressures." The reason? Because the policies I proposed, quote, "help . . . lift long-term economic growth via stronger productivity . . . labor force growth," as well as taking "the edge off inflation."
A second point I want to make: We've learned today that job growth in the Nation has been even stronger than previously reported. Every month since I've been President, I stand—the Bureau of Labor Statistic reports the estimated number of jobs created or lost in the country of that month. Then they go back, and they look at more information and check their estimates against what actually happened and give us an updated final number.
What we found out today is, when they looked back at the last 4 months, we actually created 710,000 more jobs in the country than previously reported, on top of the 5.6 million we already had created and had been counted that we knew about. So it's good news that Americans are working, and wages are up as well.
Thirdly, with holidays coming—but by the way, all, sit down, man, if you have you a seat. [Laughter] I'm not used to being President and everybody standing. I'm sorry. [Laughter]
But Walmart and Target have made public today what they told me about a week ago: that they're stocked up for the holiday season, their inventories are up, and they'll have all the toys, food, and other items that shoppers are looking for in the holiday season. That's going to happen.
So, now, let me begin. God, it's good to be back in Detroit. And that Hummer is one hell of a vehicle, man. [Laughter] Yo!
As we used to say in the Senate—and some of my Senator colleagues will know, like Debbie—"Excuse the point of personal privilege." I came up in an automobile family. My dad ran the largest automobile dealership—he didn't own it, just ran it—for 30 years in Delaware. And so I was raised on cars. And I have a 1967 Corvette that I got as a wedding gift when my deceased wife and I got married. My dad could afford the payments. [Laughter] He couldn't afford to buy it.
But the point was, I thought that was the hell's bells, man—[laughter]—327/350, 0 to 60 in 5.3 seconds. This truck—three times heavier, 0 to 60 in 3 seconds. Whoa! [Laughter] And besides, there's a beautiful red Corvette—maroon Corvette I'm driving home over here. [Laughter]
Yolanda, thank you for the introduction. And, President Ray Curry, thank you. No one does more to look out for American autoworkers than Ray Curry. And it's great to be with you today, pal. And happy birthday.
And I want to thank the team here at GM, and especially to your chairwoman, Mary Barra. Mary, you are a—you're an incredible leader. You really are. Thank you for hosting us at the very same facility where you once served as a plant manager. I believe Mary has gotten a promotion or two since then. [Laughter]
I know a lot about that as a son of a car guy. Thirty years ago—40 years ago, my dad managed those dealerships back home. I used to work with my dad's operation. Drive up to the Manheim automobile auction and bring back automobiles. And I guess I got a promotion too. [Laughter]
Look, I got a chance to drive a pretty incredible machine back then. I thought I—but I never could have imagined vehicles like the ones that I just took for a spin: the first-ever all-electric Hummer, which I first got to check out back in August when GM brought one of the White House—one to the White House lawn—in the South Lawn, along with the electric Ford 150, and the electric Jeep Wagoneer [Wrangler].* Masterpieces of modern manufacturing. Built by union workers. And proof—and proof—that America has what it takes to win the competition of the 21st century.
I want to thank your Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist, who's become a friend.
As well as I want to thank Representative—I—where's Representative Tlaib? I want to thank her for the passport into the city—into your district. Thank you. I appreciate it very much.
And I want to thank my Secretary of Labor, Marty Walsh, for joining me here today as well.
But let me tell you: The infrastructure law I signed on Monday would not be possible without the Michigan congressional delegation. That's not hyperbole. Debbie Stabenow—once again, Debbie delivered for Michigan autoworkers. She was the driving force to make sure this law included a national network of electric vehicle charging stations.
And Gary Peters—Senator Peters was instrumental in securing a mere $65 billion for high-speed internet in this law so families in rural Michigan will finally have broadband infrastructure they need to get connected and expand their possibilities for them and their children.
And Elissa Slotkin—she can't be here today, but she knows that the competitive edge around the world depends on the strength of our industrial base here at home and the people who run that base.
And Dan Kildee continues to be the leading voice for investing in infrastructure in small towns and communities but—so folks in every part of the state can compete. And Dan and Debbie are responsible for the additional tax credit of $4,500 for union-made vehicles.
And Haley Stevens, she ran for office to fix Michigan's roads and bridges. Well, you're delivering, kid. You are delivering.
And Andy Levin, a former union organizer—Andy fought like hell to make sure that this law allowed us to start replacing lead pipes in Michigan and all across America.
And Brenda Lawrence was a key fighter in clean drinking water as well. And we're lucky to have her leading the Democratic Women's Conference and serving in the leadership of the Congressional Black Caucus. Thank you.
And Debbie Dingell, a great friend who—whenever I'm in trouble, I call her for advice first. Now, that—when I don't—when I screw up, it doesn't mean I followed her advice; it means I may not have followed it. But, Debbie, thank you for being such a good friend for so long. Debbie helped drive us across the finish line with this legislation.
Folks, it's not hyperbole to say that this delegation is laser-focused on your needs—the needs of the people of Michigan and the American people—and your concerns. The kind of conversations that take place around your kitchen tables, conversations as profound as they are, are ordinary: "How am I going to get to work on time if I-75 is flooded again?" "How can I be sure that my job at the auto plant is still going to be here a few years down the line?" "How can I afford to get my child degree—a degree beyond high school if they don't start with the same opportunity?"
And more broadly, "How do we emerge from this pandemic not just with a little breathing room, but with a real fighting chance to get ahead?" They're the things that take place at the kitchen tables I grew up in.
For most of the 21st [20th]* century, we led the world by a significant margin because we invested in our people, we invested in ourselves. But something went wrong along the way: We stopped. We risked losing our edge as a nation, and China and the rest of the world are catching up.
Well, we're about to turn that around in a big, big way. We're going to be building again. We're going to be moving again. And, folks, when you see these projects starting in your hometowns, I want you to feel the way I feel: pride in what we can do when we're together as the United States of America.
And it starts here in Detroit. In the auto industry, Detroit is leading the world in electric vehicles. You know how critical it is? Mary, I can remember talking to you way back in January about the need for America to lead in electric vehicles. And I can remember your dramatic announcement that by 2035, GM would be 100-percent electric.
You changed the whole story, Mary, wherever you are. There you are. You did, Mary. You electrified the entire automobile industry. I'm serious. You led—and it matters—in drastically improving the climate by reducing hundreds of millions of barrels of oil that will not be used when we're all electric.
You know, up until now, China has been leading in this race, but that's about to change. Because this law—because of this law, next year, for the first time in 20 years—in which American infrastructure investment will be far greater [faster]* than China's—the first time in 20 years.
We're going to put IBEW members and other union members to work installing a national network of charging stations along our roads and highways in our communities, over 500,000. And Governor Whitmer has already announced a proposal to expand electric charging stations along key travel routes across the State. And a few weeks ago, GM announced it's going to install 40,000 public charging stations, as we're going to unleash a lot more than that.
Look, we're going to make sure that the jobs of the future end up here in Michigan, not halfway around the world. You know, that means that here in Detroit you're going to set a new pace for electric vehicles. This is not hyperbole, this is a fact.
With this infrastructure law, along with my Build Back Better plan, we're going to kickstart new batteries, materials, and parts production and recycling; boosting the manufacturing of clean vehicles with new loans and new tax credits; creating new purchase incentives for consumers to buy American-made, union-made clean vehicles, like the electric Hummer. Folks—or the Silverado or any other of the 20 or more vehicles that GM is going to come out with in the near term that are electric; and spurring demand by covering Federal Government's enormous fleet of vehicles, as I'm going to do.
I pledged when I ran—we have hundreds—we have thousands and thousands of vehicles in the Federal fleet. They're going to all go electric—all of them—down the road, supporting electric transit systems, electric schoolbuses.
And of course, that's not all the law will achieve. This law is going to start to replace 100 percent of the Nation's lead pipes and service lines. As I stated earlier, every child in Michigan and across America can turn on the faucet and drink clean water.
Ten million homes have those lead pipes going into them and 400,000 schools. Tens of thousands of plumbers and pipefitters are going to get to work in good-paying jobs and help make the Nation healthier.
Folks—and there's an additional $10 billion nationwide to eliminate the dangerous forever chemical, PFAS, which is an incredibly dangerous chemical.
Look, this law is going to make high-speed internet affordable and available everywhere in America, create jobs laying down that broadband line. Today, 14 percent of Michigan households don't have an internet subscription, nearly 400,000 people in this State. A lot of places, there's no broadband infrastructure at all. This law is going to make high-speed internet affordable, available everywhere in Michigan—urban, suburban, rural—going to create jobs laying down broadband lines.
And in the 21st century in America, no parent should have to do what a lot of you did—and they did in my State and all over America—should ever have to sit in a parking lot of a fast-food restaurant again just so their child can use the internet coming from that fast food restaurant. This is the United States of America, for God's sake.
This law makes the most significant investment in roads and bridges in 70 years, fixing so many of those 1,200 bridges, 7,300 miles of roads here in Michigan that are in poor condition—so when a family drives the car you built right here, they'll be a whole lot safer, and they'll get there a hell of a lot faster.
The law includes the most significant investment in passenger rail in the past 50 years and, again, in public transit ever.
I remember Mayor Duggan, who's not here—he's on a honeymoon. He's a good guy—love Duggan. He helped pull this city out of a real tough spot.
And he used to talk about—we—you know, we—I found out—I didn't know it beforehand—that we didn't have—most of the jobs are outside the city, significant—60 percent of the people who had those jobs outside the city didn't have vehicles to get out, didn't have cars to get outside the city. So he provided buses, transit. And guess what? Things began to change. Well, now we're going to change that again.
Here in Michigan, that means replacing nearly one-fifth of the transit vehicles that are past their useful life. That means jobs for folks making the upgrades: good-paying union jobs, jobs you can raise a family on, jobs you can't outsource.
Folks, this law will modernize our airports, freight rail, our ports on—along the Great Lakes, making it easy for companies to get goods to market, reducing supply chain bottlenecks, and lowering costs for families.
This law also builds up our resilience against extreme weather events. Here in Michigan, you know the cost of extreme weather. You remember the flooding this summer that shut down parts of I–75 and I–95 [I–94],* the power outages and tornado warnings. They are costing this State billions of dollars.
Nationally, last year—listen to this: Nationally, last year, the extreme weather cost the United States of America $99 billion—$99 billion—from hurricanes in Louisiana to 20 inches of rain in the Northeast, to the fires in the West that literally consumed more land than the entire State of New Jersey, from Cape May to New York. That's how much has burned to the ground.
This law builds back our bridges, our water systems, our powerlines, our electric grid better and stronger so fewer Americans will be flooded out of their homes or lose power for days and weeks at a time when a storm hits.
This bill also rewards companies for paying a decent wage, for buying American, sourcing their products right here in America, not abroad. This will help the United States export clean energy technologies, including electric vehicles made here in Michigan, to the entire world.
There's so much more in this law. But most of all, this law does something truly historic. This law is going to help rebuild the backbone of this Nation. When I ran for office, I said there were three reasons I'm running: one, to restore the soul of this country and decency; two, to restore the backbone of this country—working class and middle class folks, they were the ones that built America; and three, to unite the country.
To rebuild the economy from the bottom up and the middle out is the way I look at the world. The blue-collar—this is a blue-collar blueprint to rebuild America, and it leaves no one behind. The same goes for my Build Back Better Plan; it's for our people.
If you're paying, for example, $14,000 or $15,000 a year for childcare so you can work—a lot of families in America are doing that—my Build Back Better plan is going to make a gigantic difference in your life because childcare costs will be limited to 7 percent of your income—7 percent.
Look, my Build Back Better plan is going to provide access to better education. You know, one of the reasons we went ahead of the rest of the world at the turn of the 20th century is, we were the first nation in the world that had universal education for 12 years, not based on any background or income. That pushed us ahead, but the rest of the world has caught up and, in many cases, passed us.
If we were sitting down for the first time today and saying, "We want universal education in America," would anybody say we'd only make it 12 years to compete in the 21st century? I don't think so. So what we're doing is, we're going to make sure that every 3- and 4-year-old in America has access to quality preschool. School, school, school.
And by the way, all of the data shows that will increase by 56 percent the possibility of them going through—all the way through 12 years of school and onto after school—after high school.
And young people graduating from high school will have access to education beyond high school. We're increasing Pell grants, we're providing apprenticeship programs, and we're going to make a huge difference for those 2 million women in America who can't get back into the workforce right now because they can't afford childcare. Look, my Build Back Better plan is going to help solve that.
If you're one of the millions of Americans who is paying around $1,000 a month for your insulin, for example, my Build Back Better plan will make sure that we change that too, because it means that no one will pay more than $35 a month for their insulin. And under my plan, we're going to lower costs for prescription drugs across the board, allowing them to negotiate prices.
Lowering the cost of daycare, eldercare, housing, and health care, prescription drugs—that's what the plan does. My plan meets the moment on climate change as well.
And one more thing: It's fully paid for. Fully, fully paid—it doesn't increase the deficit 1 single cent. As a matter of fact, it will reduce the deficit, according to the experts. And again, no one in America earning less than $400,000 will pay a single penny more in Federal taxes. No one.
And you'll say, "Well, how're you doing that, Joe?" Well, I'll tell you what, real simple: I come from the corporate capital of the world. More corporations incorporated in my State of Delaware than all States combined. And guess what? They ain't paying enough. Sorry, Mary. [Laughter]
But here's the deal: Look, I'm a capitalist. If want—if you want to—if you're able to make a million or a billion dollars, have at it. That's good for everybody, except pay your fair share. We have 55 corporations—55 of the largest corporations in America, the most successful—paid not a single penny in Federal taxes the last several years. And guess what? They made $40 billion. I want them make money. That's good, but pay a little. Pay a little.
And that's how we pay for it—for real. It doesn't cost a cent. We all talked—the program has $1.75 billion—guess what? It's paid for. Paid for. And folks, from now on, they're going to have to pay their fair share—not an exorbitant number, just a fair share.
Let me close with this: Throughout our history, we've emerged from previous crises stronger than we were before the crisis. We're one of the few nations in the world who have done that. Every major crisis that has occurred in American history—every one—we've come out stronger after it than before it happened because we invested in ourselves.
During and after the Civil War, we built the transcontinental railroad, uniting us, east and west; creating jobs; and opening up America in a way that had never occurred before. During the cold war, we built the interstate highway system, transforming how Americans lived their lives, allowing us to spread out across the Nation. And now, as we work to put the COVID-19 pandemic behind us, we will build the economy of the 21st century. It matters.
On Monday, I held an important virtual meeting for 3½ hours almost with President Xi Jinping of China. Years ago, when I was Vice President, I was in China with him. We were near the Tibetan Plateau, and we had over 25 hours of private meetings: me and an interpreter, and he and an interpreter. We got to know one another.
Well, guess what? He turned to me one day—this is the God's truth, my word as a Biden—and said, "Can you define America for me?" And I said: "Absolutely. In one word—possibilities." Possibilities. We're the only nation in the world that believes everything was in our ambit. There's nothing impossible once we set our mind to it. It's never been a good bet, as more world leaders have had to heard me—hear me say, "It's never been a good bet to bet against America. Never."
And there's no limit to what the American people can do. No limit to what our Nation can do. Because, folks—[applause]—and this is just not a political speech; I believe this is a fact of history: no limit. Given half a chance—just half a chance—the American people have never, ever, ever let the Nation down. Never. Because of this—this Michigan delegation—this new law gives our people a chance—more than half a chance.
We're at an inflection point in world history. Things are changing, not just here, across the world. And the question is: How do we respond to it? What do we do?
I truly believe—and I give you my word as a Biden—I truly believe that 50 years from now, historians are going to look back at this moment—the last 2 years, and the next 4 or 5 years—and they're going to determine whether or not in that moment: Did America win the competition for the 21st century, or did we lose it? Because that's where we are. All the pieces on the globe are changing.
But we've got to get back in the game, folks. We don't have to hurt any other nation. We've got to get back in the game, though. Because, by the way, if we don't get back in the game and able to do it, who else is going to deal with the crises in the Middle East? Who else is going to deal with the Israeli-Palestinian issue? Who else is going to deal with all those issues that affect—who else is going to be the Nation that decides—that decides—that we have to have a plan to deal with the next pandemic and lead the world so we're not where we are now, because there will be others.
Folks, I'm betting on America. I'm betting on the American people. We've got to focus on what made the Nation great. I have no problem with people on the—Wall Street bankers and others—fine—but they didn't build America. The middle class built America, and unions built the middle class.
May God bless you all, and may God protect our troops. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
NOTE: The President spoke at 5:18 p.m. at the General Motors Co. Factory ZERO. In his remarks, he referred to Yolanda Passament, UAW communications coordinator, Factory ZERO; and Ray Curry, president, United Auto Workers (UAW).
* White House correction.
Joseph R. Biden, Remarks on the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act in Detroit, Michigan Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/353433