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Remarks by Vice President Joe Biden in Warren, Michigan

September 09, 2020

As prepared for delivery.

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen.

Thank you Secretary Curry and President Rocha.

It's great to be here in Michigan with the United Auto Workers.

Earlier this week we celebrated Labor Day, and here in the heart of the American auto industry we can't ever forget everything that we owe to unions.

Unions built the middle class. Unions built this country. And unions built the economic engine that drove American manufacturing dynamism throughout the 20th century, literally, in the case of the United Auto Workers.

So thank you again, to UAW Region 1 for hosting me today.

It's great to see Senator Stabenow here. We worked together on so many issues that matter to workers and their families in the Senate.

And she was a great partner to me when I was Vice President. We worked in lockstep to get the people of Michigan back on their feet.

And we're joined today by one of the best, brightest, and hardest working Governors around – my friend, Gretchen Whitmer.

If you're wondering what responsible, strong leadership during COVID-19 looks like — it's right here in Michigan.

Governor you've done an incredible job steering the people of Michigan through this turbulent time.

You've been rock solid. You've listened to the experts, and you've led with science. And you've put the needs of people who are hurting first – helping them get through this crisis.

Meanwhile – on the day that we hit 190,000 people dead in the United States, we've just learned from the Washington Post columnist Bob Woodward – that the President admitted on tape in February – that he knew that COVID-19 passes through the air. He knew how much more deadly it was than the flu. He knew and he purposefully down played it.

Worse, he lied to the American people. He knowingly and willingly lied about the threat it posed to our country. For months.

He had the information. He knew.

And while a deadly disease ripped through our nation, he failed to do his job — on purpose. It was a life or death betrayal of the American people.

Experts say that if we had acted just one week sooner, 36,000 lives would have been saved. If we'd acted two weeks sooner, 54,000 lives could have been spared in March and April alone.

His failure to act not only cost lives – it sent our economy into tailspin that cost millions more Americans their livelihoods. This is a recession created by Donald Trump's negligence – and unfitness for this job.

How many schools aren't open right now?

How many kids are starting a new school year the same way they ended the last one – at home?

How many parents feel abandoned and overwhelmed?

How many frontline workers are exhausted and pushed to their limits?

How many families are missing a loved one at their dinner table — because of his failures?

It's beyond despicable. It's a dereliction and a disgrace.

Today, I want to ask a simple question: What is the value of a promise? What is the worth of a woman or a man's word, of a president's word, if it is not matched with action?

In 2016, then-candidate Trump came here to Warren, just days before the election and said this:

"If I'm elected, you won't lose one plant. You'll have plants coming into this country. You're going to have jobs again. You won't lose one plant. I promise you. I promise you."

Donald Trump makes a lot of promises.

He promised that he alone could stop the offshoring of jobs.

He promised that he would bring back jobs, and stop companies from leaving — that "nobody else could do it."

He promised that his Administration would enforce "every last Buy American provision on behalf of the American worker."

He makes wild claims and hopes that we won't notice or won't remember when he doesn't follow through — or when he does the exact opposite.

He doesn't give us much credit. But the American people are smart. We're honest and decent. Hardworking. And we expect our president to be straight with us – to do what he or she says they are going to do.

So let's look at the reality of Donald Trump's economy and what exactly his promises to the American workers are worth.

He's on track to be the first president since Herbert Hoover and the Great Depression to see the number of jobs in our economy go down, not up.

Our economy is down 4.7 million jobs since he took office.

Even before President Trump's failed response to COVID-19 crashed our economy, his tariff war with China had thrown American manufacturing into a recession — it was already contracting in 2019.

Even before COVID-19, Trump was creating on average 500,000 fewer jobs per year during his first three years in office than in the last three years of the Obama-Biden Administration.

And when the GM transmission plant here in Warren closed last year, I bet the folks around here weren't all that comforted by Trump's empty promises.

Under Donald Trump, Michigan lost auto jobs even before COVID hit.

And what about offshoring? Has Trump delivered on stopping companies from shipping American jobs overseas?

You already know the answer to that. Of course not.

The rate of offshoring by federal contractors — big companies being paid with U.S. taxpayer money — more than doubled under President Trump.

He invited companies to the White House to make a "Pledge to America's Workers." He couldn't even keep those firms from outsourcing. Many were given lucrative federal contracts. But, then some of them turned around and shipped more than 7,000 American jobs overseas.

Under President Trump, the U.S. trade deficit in goods hit an all-time high. An all-time high.

And President Trump's answer to all of this is the same as his answer for everything — corporate tax giveaways that actually reward offshoring. You heard that right.

His 2017 tax bill slashed taxes for companies that send production and jobs overseas. These corporations then make huge profits by exporting their goods back to the United States to sell to American consumers.

And no industry has taken greater advantage of the Trump offshoring tax loophole than pharmaceutical companies. Big Pharma lobbied Trump for a hand out and that's exactly what they got.

They are building factories overseas, skipping out on taxes, and exporting drugs back to American consumers, all while raising their prices for the prescription drugs that union families and working people rely on.

During a pandemic, we're seeing not only the inequity of this policy – it's exposed the enormous vulnerability this creates for our own health security to have the supply chains of necessary drugs based overseas during times of crisis.

And what about Trump's commitment to "Buy American"? Like the rest of President Trump's promises — it's nothing more than hot air.

In fact, contracts awarded by the U.S. government to foreign companies, using your taxpayer dollars, are up 30 percent.

So to recap:

1.Trump hasn't stopped companies from closing plants and sending jobs overseas.

2.He's rewarded companies that have cut jobs and failed to invest here at home with billions in tax breaks. And

3.He's awarding more and more federal contracts to foreign companies.

President Trump has broken just about every promise he's ever made to American workers and he has failed our economy and our country.

But look, would we really expect anything different from someone who has called those who have served this nation in uniform – those who have given their lives for our country – "losers" and "suckers"?

Let me tell you something – my son who served for a year in Iraq was no loser or sucker.

No one who served this nation was a loser or sucker. They're heroes.

Would we expect anything different from someone who could stand next to the father of a fallen soldier and say, "I don't get it. What was in it for them?"

Donald Trump doesn't understand what it means to serve something bigger than yourself. He doesn't understand "Duty. Honor. Country". He lives by a different code. "Lies. Selfishness. Greed."

Yes, Donald Trump and I have a pretty different philosophy when it comes to giving our word.

Mine means something.

When I tell the American people I'm going to do something — I follow through.

And here in Michigan, you know that's true.

When Barack Obama and I took office in 2009, the economy was crashing, and millions of Americans – including so many right here in Michigan – lost their jobs, their homes, their savings.

President Obama put me in charge of the Recovery Act and I spent a lot of time out here working with you, and thinking every day about folks on the factory line, busting their neck just trying to put food on the table.

A lot of folks were ready to count Detroit and the American auto industry out.

But I knew then what I've always known: it's never a good bet to bet against the American worker.

So when we promised to stand by the American auto industry — we delivered.

We didn't do it to help wealthy investors or pad the bonus checks of CEOs, we did it to save an iconic American industry — a testament to the skill and ingenuity of American manufacturing — and the jobs of hundreds of thousands of American workers and the lifeblood of communities across the midwest.

When Detroit declared bankruptcy, I was right here, working alongside city leaders to get the lights back on and revitalize the future of Detroit.

While nearly 20,000 auto manufacturing jobs have been lost in Michigan under Trump, nearly 80,000 were created during the Obama-Biden Administration.

I've got a long history of not just talking about what I'm going to do, but delivering results for Michiganders.

And now we need to do that again. We need to do the hard work not only to recover, but to build the economy of the future once more.

That's what my Build Back Better agenda is all about.

And it starts with folks like you in union halls all across America.

Back in July, I made the first plank of my agenda a plan to mobilize American manufacturing and technology to ensure that the future is made in America, by all Americans — by you.

And today, I'm announcing some additional steps to make this plank even stronger.

First, we're going to impose a tax penalty on companies that offshore jobs and manufacturing to avoid paying U.S. taxes only to sell their goods back to American customers.

If your big corporate strategy is to boost your shareholders' profits and your CEO's bonuses by moving jobs out of America — we're going to make sure you not only pay full U.S. taxes on those profits, we're going to add an extra 10 percent Offshoring Penalty Surtax to your bill.

And no more deductions or writing off expenses for the cost of sending jobs overseas that could be done here at home by qualified American workers.

I'm not looking to punish American businesses but there's a better way.

Make it in Michigan. Make it in America. Invest in the communities and the workers in places like Warren.

The UAW workers and steel workers and IBEW workers — the best craftsmen and women in the world – are right here.

And if you're ready to make it in America, then, just like there will be consequences for offshoring, there will be rewards and incentives for creating good-paying jobs here at home.

Today, I'm also announcing my new "Made in America" tax credit — a 10 percent, advanceable tax credit for companies that invest in the United States and American workers to help accelerate our recovery under the Build Back Better agenda.

So, if your company revitalizes a closed or closing facility here in the United States — like that transmission plant that closed last year — we'll take care of 10 percent of the investment.

If you retool your manufacturing facility to make it more competitive – for example, shifting to help build a new fleet of clean American vehicles, made by UAW members — we'll make that more affordable for you.

If you reshore jobs that you previously sent overseas, expand your operations in the United States, or increase wages for manufacturing jobs — we'll make sure that's an even smarter strategic decision for your company.

These two steps are on top of my plans to close each and every one of the Trump loopholes that he created in 2017 to reward companies with big tax breaks for offshoring.

And you're going to want to build things here in the United States, because a Biden-Harris administration is going to deliver on the promise to "Buy American."

It's been the law for close to a century, but we've never lived up to it.

The idea is simple:

Today, the U.S. government spends about $600 billion of our taxpayer dollars on federal contracts annually, and that money should go to support American jobs and American businesses.

But President Trump has only ever treated it like a weak suggestion. Agencies can waive the requirement without explanation, and Trump doesn't bother to push back.

That will change when I am president. In my first week, I will sign a series of executive actions

to make sure we enforce Buy American and direct the full purchasing power of the federal government to fulfill its promise — starting by closing those waiver loopholes.

I will use the full power of the Defense Production Act to enforce Buy American and tighten the rules for public infrastructure projects.

And I will crack down on companies that label products as Made in America even if they're coming from China or elsewhere.

We've found out that, on Trump's watch, a company selling deployment bags to active-duty troops falsely claimed its products were Made in America, when they really came mostly from China.

Trump didn't do anything to respond. That won't happen on my watch.

We're going to have an office at the White House dedicated to making sure everyone is playing by the same Made in America rules.

And one more thing.

When I say we're going to use the purchasing power of the federal government to reinvigorate domestic manufacturing — we're going to do that with the American auto industry as well.

The United States government owns and maintains an enormous fleet of vehicles,

and we're going to convert those government fleets to electric vehicles, made and sourced right here in the United States of America.

With the government providing the demand and support to re-tool factories that are struggling to compete, the U.S. auto industry will step up, expanding capacity so that the United States – not China – leads the world in clean vehicle production.

I can't wait to get behind the wheel of an all-electric Corvette. Last year a converted Corvette set the new speed record for electric vehicles – 210.2 miles per hour. So don't tell me we don't still make the best cars in the world right here.

And we're going to make it easier for American consumers to switch to electric vehicles, by building a network of 500,000 charging stations across the country and by offering rebates and incentives to swap older, fuel inefficient vehicles for new, clean, American-made models, saving hundreds of millions of barrels of oil annually.

Together, this will mean one million good new jobs in the American auto industry, its supply chains, and the associated infrastructure.

We can do this. We can revitalize our industrial jobs base as the heart of the American middle class.

I think about the worker in Warren who, when the transmission plant closed, told a reporter:

"Getting a job at GM 23 years ago, for me, it was like winning the lottery. I was trying to start a family…I was able to buy a house. We went to Disney World — all of that."

Think about that. A job that felt like winning the lottery. Because it opened the door to the life you wanted for yourself. Because it gave you dignity and allowed you to provide for your family.

Getting a good job in 2020 right here in America shouldn't be a lottery. It should be the expectation.

I do not accept the defeatist view that the forces of automation and globalization mean we can't keep good-paying union jobs here in America — and create more of them.

I do not buy for one second that the vitality of American manufacturing is a thing of the past.

American manufacturing was the Arsenal of Democracy in World War II, and must be part of the engine of American prosperity now.

And we can make it happen with American grit and American determination — and American union workers.

That's my promise to you.

Thank you all, and may God protect our troops.

Joseph Biden, Remarks by Vice President Joe Biden in Warren, Michigan Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/345133

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