Remarks at the SK Siltron CSS Manufacturing Facility in Bay City, Michigan
The President. Hello, Michigan! Hello, hello, hello, hello!
I'll tell you what: I—if I'd—my mom is looking down from Heaven and saying, "Apologize to these people because you have their—you have their back to them." I apologize—[laughter]—because I'm going to be talking that way. But thank you very, very much.
And I told Jeffery that I went to a school that had these colors. The—you guys will recognize these colors. Well, they—you know, my college football coach played at Michigan. And he became a—he made it to the Hall of Fame as a coach. And—but the thing was that he always—here's what he did to—I have to admit it front end. I told this to Kildee on the way up. [Laughter] We stole Michigan's uniforms. [Laughter] Same exact uniforms. So that's why the blue and gold.
Many of you who are State folks, just remember——
Audience members. Go green!
The President. Just remember, for all of you who are looking at the tie, it's Delaware, okay? [Laughter] If you're from the University of Michigan, it's Michigan.
Hey, it's great to be here. It really is. Jeff, thanks. Thank you, Jeffrey, for your introduction. I really mean it. It's a big deal. And you're a big guy. [Laughter] And as I told you, if I had you running in front of me when I was playing flanker back, I could have been an All-American, man. [Laughter] It could have been big. It could have been big.
Look, Governor Whitmer, thanks for inviting me back to Michigan. And congratulations on your historic victory. Historic. You stood for jobs. You stood for dignity. You stood for the American worker. You stood up for women's fundamental rights. You insisted on democratic values. And we're seeing here today business leaders, at home and abroad, recognize the importance of your leadership. And it's not a small item. It's a significant item.
And Senator Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters, both close friends, had to be in Washington today. But I want to say thanks to them because we wouldn't have gotten half the stuff we passed, passed. And they're true leaders in the Senate and tireless fighters for the State of Michigan.
Representative Dan Kildee—we rode up together—he's the most—one of the most effective members in the United States Congress and a good friend. [Applause] No, he really is. And thanks for your partnership over the past couple of years, pal. I really mean it. And you're doing a lot to revitalize American manufacturing in Michigan and across the country.
And Representative Slotkin, who came up on the plane with me. Where—is she here today? There you are. I'm—I love her. I'm very careful with her because she's former CIA. I'm really worried. Yes. [Laughter] She—[laughter]—good to see you. Thanks for your—your work on so many important issues in this State and everything you do to support service women and men and our veterans all over the world. And all those issues that, as my dad used to say, we used to talk about at the kitchen table, they're the bread-and-butter issues, and you work like hell on all of them. And I appreciate it.
And I also want to thank the leaders of SK Siltron CSS. And I met with the—some of their folks as well in Korea. They're a first-rate operation, and they're going to create a lot of good-paying jobs here, Rev. They're going to do that pretty soon.
I recently got back from a trip literally around the world. You know that "around the world in 80 days"? Well, I did in 6. [Laughter] And I started off in Egypt and ended up in Guam and coming on home. And we ended with a meeting in Indonesia with the G-20, the 20 largest economies in the world.
And it was clear in those meetings—and I mean it sincerely—that the rest of the world views the United States as better positioned than any other nation—any major nation—in the world to lead the world economy in the 21st century. And that's not a joke.
Here we have a strong sense—our strong sense of what all the leaders in the world and—look to us about. And they see resilience in the American economy. And we're seeing that here at home as well with investments like we're going to talk about today.
Together, with the help of your elected leaders here today, we had an extraordinary 2 years of progress. We passed the American Rescue Plan. Now, everybody knows that the—we did so much; no one knows the effects of it yet. We're just—they're just coming into play.
What that little plan did—with the billions of dollars we spent—is, it kept tens of thousands of cops, firefighters, teachers, first responders on the job in 50 States because they lost income because of the significant reduction in employment in those States. And it provided them the money to be able to keep everyone employed.
We fully vaccinated—when I came to office, there were 2 million people vaccinated. We vaccinated 220 million people, saving thousands of lives.
And we're rebuilding our infrastructure. And, Governor, we're fixing the damn roads. When I came and campaigned for the first time she ran for Governor, she ran on the platform of "fix the damn roads." Well, it stuck in my mind. I kept my promise. We're going to fix your damn roads in a big way, to the tune of billions of dollars, bridges and airports as well.
And we're lowering prescription drug cost. Anybody—a senior citizen on Medicare, the fact—I mean, the fact is that—and it won't take effect until January 1, but from that point on, you'll pay $35 for your insulin, not $400 a month for your insulin.
And we're strengthening American manufacturing. We've created more jobs in the first 2 years of any Presidency: 735,000 manufacturing jobs. Manufacturing jobs. And we're still counting.
And Michigan will once again become the manufacturing hub of the Nation, and that's not a joke. Because when I got to the United States Senate as a 29-year-old kid—I had to wait a couple days to be sworn in—but when I got there, this was the—one of the epicenters of manufacturing.
And we're addressing the climate crisis as well. The climate plan we just passed is going to reduce emissions by 1 billion metric tons by 2030.
And because of our policies, gasoline prices are coming down. And what's most exciting about it: People are starting to feel a sense of optimism and the impact of these legislative achievements in their own lives.
It's going to accelerate in the months ahead. And so many things—you're going to find out what we've already done that we haven't been able to actually implement yet. We're in the process of doing it.
And it's part of a broader story about the economy we're building that works for everybody—you know, one of the—one that grows from the bottom up and the middle out, not from the top down.
When it grows from the bottom up and the middle out, the wealthy do very well—they don't get hurt at all—but working people—poor folks get a shot and a ladder up, and middle class folks get a shot, as my dad would say, just to have a little breathing room. A little breathing room. And that positions America to win the economic competition of the 21st century.
My dad used to have an expression, and I mean it sincerely. Matter of fact, it was quoted to me today by one of the Congressmen. He used to say: "Joey, a job is about a lot more than a paycheck. It's about your dignity. It's about your place in your community." Literally. Not a joke. Think about it. It's about being able to look your child in the eye and say, "Honey, it's going to be okay."
That's what a job should be about. And thousands of Michiganders are going to be able to look their child in the eye and say: "Honey, it's going to be okay. It's going to be okay."
Back in July when the chairman of SK, who is here today, came to the White House, we talked about a $50 billion investment SK is making in the United States. At the time, they wouldn't let me come down from the third floor because I was exposed to COVID. I didn't have it yet, but they were worried about me exposing other people.
And so, as he said, it was like "Alice in Wonderland." I'm up on the third floor in that balcony and waving to the chairman of SK, saying, "You are coming, aren't ya?" [Laughter] "You are coming, aren't ya?"
But look, they produce everything from semiconductors to electric vehicle batteries to chargers, pharmaceuticals.
And part of the investment is coming right here in Bay City to produce semiconductor materials for the small computer chips that power our everyday lives: smartphones, washing machines, hospital equipment, automobiles—just to name a few.
They're especially critical for powering electric vehicles, which you can use 2- to 3,000 chips per vehicle just to—and by the way, think about it: General Motors, Ford, Stellantis, all manufacturing electric vehicles made by the UAW here in Michigan.
And by the way, if you can hold for a second, my—the person who introduced me—everybody thinks, because I've been so pro-union my whole career—everybody—and I talk about it, and I talked about this with SK in Korea and here: You're the best workers in the world. You're the most—I'm not just—I'm not being nice. You're the most qualified workers in the world.
What most people don't know: This man here did not 4 years of college—5 years learning this trade. Five years working at it. They're the best in the world. I mean it. Most people don't know it. Most people, you think, "I want to be a pipefitter"—and you show up and they give you a wrench. [Laughter] Come on, man. I'm serious. We have the best workers in the world. The most qualified workers in the world.
And by the way, you know, I wanted—the middle class built America, and unions built the middle class. That's a fact. That's a fact. And that's coming from the boy who grew in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and Claymont, Delaware.
But I really mean it. We sort of forgot. We forgot how critically important the skill of the labor force we have in the United States of America. We need these chips to make vehicles. SK said—excuse me—SK came along and is making the material that goes into these computer chips. So instead of relying on chips made overseas in places like China, the supply chain for those chips will be here in America, in Michigan. It's a game changer.
America invented—I reminded the chairman of SK, who's become a good acquaintance, we invented the chip in America. We invented the chip in America. Then we got lazy.
Federal investment helped reduced the cost of creating a market and a higher—an entire industry that America led. As a result, over 30 years ago, America produced 30 percent of all the chips in the world. Then something happened.
American manufacturing, the backbone of our economy, got hollowed out. Companies began to move jobs overseas instead of products overseas, because it was cheaper for them. That's why it happened.
I come from the corporate capital of the world. There are more corporations incorporated in Delaware than every other State in the Union combined. And guess what? A lot of businesses got greedy, go to the cheap labor overseas.
Well, now we're sending good products overseas made by first-class labor.
Folks, as a result, today we're down to producing only around 10 percent of the world's chips despite leading the world in research and design of new chip technology.
Why does this matter? I had a long meeting with Xi Jinping at the G-20. We have met for over 80 hours over the last 10 years. We know each other well. And he's a little upset that we're deciding we're going to, once again, be—you know, and so are our European friends. They're talking about the supply chain. We're going to be the supply chain. And the difference is going to be, we're going to make that supply chain available to the rest of the world, but we're not going to be held hostage anymore. I mean it.
We saw it during the pandemic when overseas factories that make these chips shut down because of the pandemic, the global economy comes to a halt, driving up costs for families. In fact, one-third of the core inflation last year is because of the price of automobiles. They couldn't get the computer chips so they couldn't make the automobiles, so the price of the fewer automobiles that are being made went way up. They had to shut down. Workers on the shop floor got laid off. Prices went up because cars were in short supply.
The reason I pushed for the passage of the CHIPS and Science Act is because I knew we could turn things around. I've never been more optimistic about America than I have been in the last several years. And I mean that sincerely.
Not just here in Michigan, but all over the country, semiconductor companies are investing literally several hundred billion dollars over the next 10 years. Several hundred billion dollars in a "field of dreams" right outside of Columbus, Ohio. Thirteen thousand employees; five thousand full-time. You don't need a college degree for 80 percent of the jobs there, and the average salary is $126,000.
Look, a record amount of money to bring chip production back home—that's what that legislation did. And we're bringing other key parts of the supply chain back to—supply chain back to America as well.
Think about it: Ten years ago, how many of you knew what the hell a supply chain was? [Laughter] No, I'm serious. It's a phrase—when I started talking about supply chains, people were going, "Supply"—no reason why they should have been. It's not because they weren't smart; we didn't have to rely on the rest of the world.
We—we—led the world. And because of the IBEW and I got elected, we're going to lead it again. I mean it. Companies in every part of the country are expanding factories, building new ones to make electric vehicle batteries and chargers, creating thousands of jobs in the process. Folks, where is it written that America will not lead the world in manufacturing again? Where's that written?
Now the United States is a top destination for companies across the globe looking to make investments in manufacturing again. They see what I see, what you see: We have world-class, high-skill, highly committed workers. Union workers.
Union workers are the most highly trained, highly skilled workers in the entire world. That's not a joke, that's a fact. That's a fact. They're building these factories. They're working in them as well. This wasn't built. This was here. But many of the other places where these investments are taking place for semiconductors are building from scratch. The factories we're in are going to a make big difference.
And now, I know many of you who are watching at home are like the folks I grew up with in Scranton—in Pennsylvania and in Claymont, Delaware. You felt left out for a long time. Used to be a really thriving economies. The economy left you behind. The industry that's rapidly changing—you were left out.
I understand it. My family understands it. That's why when coal died in Scranton, we moved down to Claymont, Delaware, which is a steel town. It used to have thousands of workers—6,000 steelworkers. They're all gone now. Delaware used to have the largest percentage of autoworkers of any—any State in the Nation. The largest General Motors plant outside of—they're all gone. It's gone.
But hear me: We're going to leave nobody behind this time around. Nobody. We're going to make sure all American workers with college degrees and without college degrees are prepared to compete with anyone in the world. We're working with companies and community colleges, technical schools, union-led apprentice training—and training programs to make that happen.
In fact, a few months ago, I announced a $52 million grant from the American Rescue Plan, which we passed 20 months ago, with the help of your congressional leaders here today. It's a partnership right here in Michigan, including the Big Three and the United Auto Workers to train our workers, upgrade our factories for the electric vehicle revolution.
You know, we were talking on the way up in the plane. We had a little event that your Congressman came to—I put together on the South Lawn of the White House. And in the process, I had the CEOs of all the American auto companies. And Mary Barra, the chairman of General Motors, was suing the State of California because they had a higher air quality standard than any other State. And these—arguing it couldn't be higher than the national standard.
And we had a little talk. I'm not saying she did this because of our talk, but I asked her what was going on. And about 2 weeks later, she gave me a call. She said, "I dropped the suit against California, and I commit to you we're going to go all electric at General Motors." Every other auto company did the same thing. They all stepped up.
So, just like over the last century, American workers built carburetors, now American workers are going to build vehicles, batteries in the new clean energy economy.
My approach to building the economy of the future is working because of the strong support of your delegation. Our economy grew at 2.6 percent the last quarter while inflation started to slow and unemployment stayed low.
Here's what that means for folks here at home. We've added jobs every single month of my Presidency—10 million total new jobs, more than any other administration in history in the first 20 months—more than 735,000 of them manufacturing jobs.
Exports is up—are up. And I mean this. We're making things here in America, that I said early, and we're shipping them overseas instead of shipping jobs overseas. Look, like we've been doing for much too long. Like we were doing before I got elected President.
Inflation at the grocery stores—thank God—is beginning to slow. Prices for things like clothes, television, and appliances are going down. That's good news for the holiday season. Earlier this month, we saw that the growth—price businesses pay for goods and services is also down.
And here's the really good news: They're not down enough in Michigan, but gas prices are now back to where they were before Russia invaded Ukraine. They've dropped $1.50 from their peak this summer. And in Michigan, they dropped $1.60 from their peak this summer. If you're a Michigan family with two cars, you're saving an average of $170 a month compared to what you were paying in the summer. That's real money.
And across the country, the common price at the pump is $2.99 a gallon; it's much higher here. And the prices continue to go down. This isn't accidental. We've been on this for months.
Remember, I got criticized? In the face of Putin using energy as a weapon, I took some decisive action. I ordered the largest ever release of—from the Petroleum Reserve: 180 million barrels of oil. And I rallied our international partners to come up with their fair share as well.
That helped put pressure—downward pressure on prices because we were producing more gasoline. That helped stabilize crude oil markets. It reduced prices at the pump.
Now I've been calling on energy companies who had the biggest years they've ever had in all of their history to begin to pass on those savings to the American people at the pump, where they're going to be coming to them. And while these prices are lower, they're not low enough. I continue to call on the producers to invest their record profits in America for Americans.
In America, we can do two things at the same time: We can increase production and lower prices for American consumers and businesses in the short term while accelerating our investment and transition to a clean energy future. And I—we're going to do that. We're doing it.
It's going to take time to get inflation back to normal levels as we keep the job market resilient. And we could see setbacks along the way, but we're laser-focused on this. I promise you: We're laser-focused on this.
In the meantime, for the first time in a long time, we're investing in America, and we're investing in ourselves. I signed a once-in-a-generation investment on our Nation's roads, bridges, railroads, ports, airports, lead-free water systems, high-speed internet, and the biggest investment in American infrastructure since Dwight Eisenhower's Interstate Highway System. Nothing has been as big since then.
We're building 500,000 electric charging stations across the country. We have the money to do it. The great American road trip will be fully electrified when you're driving costs—along the I-10 or I-75 from here to—in Michigan.
We just announced funding for Michigan Tech to help develop technology to recycle batteries in a way that uses less energy and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.
We're making the single largest investment ever—$1 billion—to clean up and restore areas around the Great Lakes, including—including the Detroit River, the Kalamazoo River, Torch Lake. This is going to matter. It's going to matter for your kids and your grandkids in a big way.
Mitch Landrieu, the head of our infrastructure program, was just down the road in Saginaw announcing hundreds of millions of dollars of funding to clean up drinking water across the state of Michigan and replace lead service lines. We're making sure: No more Flints ever again. I mean it. No more Flints ever again.
We're increasing capacity at the Port of Detroit, rebuilding platforms to handle dry-bulk cargo, improving the connection for rail lines so companies making things here in Michigan can get their products to market faster and cheaper.
And when you see these big projects in your hometown and cranes going up, shovels in the ground, workers with hardhats, I want you to feel the way I feel: pride—pride in what we can do when we do it together.
So let me close with this: It's been a rough few hard years for hard-working Americans. For a lot of families, things are still tough. But there are bright spots where America is reasserting itself, and this is one of those bright spots. I also—it's also happening in places like New York, Idaho, Arizona, Ohio.
I asked the CEOs of the Fortune 500 companies a question: When the United States decides to invest considerable resources in new industries that we need to build up, does that encourage or discourage them to get in the game and invest? And the universal answer was, it encourages them to get involved and invest.
Federal investment attracts private-sector investments. It creates jobs and industries. It demonstrates we're all in this together. And that's what today is about. I've said for a long time: If we invest in America, we can change this country.
We used to—one of my staff is—anybody is tired of hearing me saying it. You know, we used to invest 2 percent of our GDP in pure research and development. The Federal Government invested in that. That got down to .7 percent. Well, we used to rank number two; now we rank number eight in the world. What the hell is going—what's going on? [Laughter]
No, I'm serious. Think about it. We can change this country's future. That's what we're doing. And the whole world is looking now to invest here in America again. Again.
I've been determined to make things in this country again, to build American manufacturing capacity, and to make sure that we're never again in a position where we were during the pandemic. Some folks didn't believe we could do it, but I made no bones about it. I've never been more optimistic about America's future than I am today.
We're building a better America. We just have to keep it going. I know we can. We're proving it's never been a good bet—it's never, ever, ever been a good bet to bet against America. Never, never, never. I mean it. It's never been.
We're the only country in the world where every crisis we've come into, we've come out stronger than we went in, because it's who we are. We're just remembering—you need to remember who the hell we are. We're the United States of America, and there's nothing—nothing, nothing—we can't do if we do it together. So let's keep this going.
God bless you all, and may God protect our troops. Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you.
NOTE: The President spoke at 3:19 p.m. In his remarks, he referred to Jeffery Dukes, apprentice pipefitter, United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry (UA) Local 85; Jianwei Dong, chief executive officer, SK Siltron CSS; Jae-won Chey, executive vice chairman, Tae-won "Anthony" Chey, chairman, SK Group; President Xi Jinping of China; President Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin of Russia; and Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act Coordinator Mitchell J. Landrieu.
Joseph R. Biden, Remarks at the SK Siltron CSS Manufacturing Facility in Bay City, Michigan Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/358937