Remarks by President Biden on the April Jobs Report
12:00 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon. It's exactly 12:00. I want to -- I want to put today's jobs report in perspective. And -- look, when we came to office, we knew we were facing a once-in-a-century pandemic and a once-in-a-generation economic crisis. And we knew this wouldn’t be a sprint; it would be a marathon.
Quite frankly, we are moving more rapidly than I thought we would. This morning, we learned that our economy created 266,000 jobs in April. It hadn't been adjusted again yet, but that's what it says: 266.
And listening to commentators today -- (laughs) -- as I was getting dressed, you might think that we should be disappointed. But when we passed the American Rescue Plan, I want to remind everybody, it was designed to help us over the course of a year -- not 60 days, a year. We never thought that, after the first 50 or 60 days, everything would be fine.
Today, there’s more evidence that our economy is moving in the right direction, but it’s clear we have a long way to go. All told, our economy has added more than 1,500,000 new jobs since I took office. That's the most number of jobs created in the first three months of any presidency in our history.
And just for perspective, in these three months before I got here, the economy added about 60,000 jobs a month, not half a million. In the three months since I’ve been here, the economy has added 500,000 jobs per month.
And this is progress. And it’s a testament to our new strategy of growing this economy from the bottom up and the middle out. And it's a clear testament to why it's so needed.
Some critics said that we didn’t need the Ameriscan -- the American Rescue Plan, that this economy would just heal itself. Today’s report just underscores, in my view, how vital the actions we're taking are. Checks to people who are hurting. Support for small businesses, for childcare, and school reopening. Support to help families put food on the table. Our efforts are starting to work, but the climb is steep and we still have a long way to go.
Today’s report also puts some -- some truth to some loose talk that we’ve been hearing about the economy lately.
First, that we should stop helping workers and families out for fear of “overheating” the economy. This report reinforces the real truth: For years, working people and middle-class people -- the people who built this country -- have been left out in the cold, struggling just to keep their heads above water while those at the top have done very well. We're still digging out of an econ- -- an economic collapse that cost us 22 million jobs. Let me say that again: It cost us 22 million jobs.
When we came in, we inherited a year of profound economic crisis and mismanagement on the virus. And we proposed a -- and what we proposed is -- is going to work. We're going to get to 70 percent. But at any rate --
But, look, it’s going to take focus, commitment, and time to get the economy moving again as we want it to move. We’ve got work to do, and the st- -- and the -- to state the obvious, we have work to do.
But, look, let's keep our eye on the ball. That's why the American Rescue Plan is so important.
I said we built it as a yearlong effort to rescue our country. It’s already working. Eight weeks later, we passed -- it was -- after it was passed, but parts of the bill are still getting underway.
Here’s one example -- I know you all know this, but it’s worth repeating: State and local governments have to balance their budgets. As a consequence of this pandemic, revenues are way down in cities and states. State and local governments had to have -- had to lay off 1.6 million employees. That’s an awful lot of firefighters, police officers, sanitation workers, essential workers.
But later this month, we’re going to be distributing the first tranche of the state and local assistance from the American Rescue Plan. We won’t get all 1.6 million of those jobs back in one month, but you’re going to start seeing those jobs and state and local workers coming back.
Starting this month, we’ll also deliver assistance to tens of thousands -- and this -- I notice every Republican is up in their home state, talking about this being a good idea -- tens of thousands of restaurants and bars across the country.
And by the way, the majority of the jobs that have come back have been in the entertainment indu- -- in the -- in those industries, in the -- and so, you know, we’re going to help schools, and children in child centers across the country as well, accelerate reopening, and that’s underway. So, look, this is going to -- this is going to continue to improve.
Today’s report makes clear: Thank goodness we passed the American Rescue Plan. Help is here, and more help is on the way, and more help is needed.
Second, today’s report is a rebuttal to the loose talk that the Americans just don’t want to work. I know some employers are having trouble filling jobs. But what this report shows is that there's a much bigger problem, notwithstanding the commentary you might have heard this morning. It is that our economy still has 8 million fewer jobs than when this pandemic started.
The data shows that more -- more workers -- more workers are looking for jobs, and many can’t find them. While jobs are coming back, there are still millions of people out there looking for work.
And the idea that they don’t want to work -- most middle-class, working-class people that I know think the way my dad did. He used to say -- and I know I'm repeating myself, but I'm going to continue to because I think it’s critical. “A job is a lot more than a paycheck,” he'd say. “Joey, it’s about your respect, your dignity, your place in the community." More than a paycheck. It’s people’s pride. It’s about being able to look at your child in the eye and say, "Honey, it’s going to be okay.”
I’ve never forgotten that. I’ve never forgotten those folks I grew up with. I think about them every day as President. They didn’t have a lot of money, but they busted their necks their whole lives to take care of their families. And all they ever wanted was a shot -- a fair shot at making it.
Last month, there were 266,000 more Americans with the dignity that comes from the job.
And there are millions -- millions of Americans out there who, through no fault of their own, have been knocked flat on their back this past year. The virus stole their jobs, and I’m determined to give them a fighting chance. That’s why I’ve been so focused on vaccinating the nation and getting our economy running again. That’s why we fought so hard to pass the American Rescue Plan.
And again, the American Rescue Plan was for the whole year. It plays out over a year, and it’s working. But we can’t let up. This jobs report makes that clear, and we’ve got too much work to do.
And the American Rescue Plan is just that: a rescue plan. It’s to get us back to where we were. But that’s not nearly enough. We have to build back better. That’s why we need the American Jobs Plan I proposed: to put us in a position where we can build back better, to reclaim our position as the leading and most innovative nation in the world, and win the future -- the 21st century.
We need to rebuild the nation’s roads and highways and bridges and ports and airports.
We’ve got water systems all over the country that need repair. There are over 400,000 schools and daycare centers with lead pipes that -- where the -- the water goes through. Ten million homes.
I saw a water project system yesterday in New Orleans that was over 80 years old. It’s in need of major, major overhaul. And, by the way, if they don’t get it fixed, New Orleans itself is in real trouble.
They need reliable, affordable, high-speed Internet throughout this country.
Our businesses need to compete worldwide. Our rural communities need to be able to compete and make their own judgements as to when to buy and sell.
And our kids need to succeed in school. As my wife Jill says, “Any nation that out-educates us is going to outcompete us.”
We also need to up our game in our education system. Twelve years of education in the 20- -- in 2021 is not enough to compete in the 21st century. In my view, we need 16 years of public education guaranteed in this country from preschool for three- and four-year-olds at the early end, to two years of community college after high school.
We have some serious decisions to make and fundamental choices. And think about it: How much better off is the country if we have tens of thousands of graduating seniors from high school and beyond going to get two years of community college? Doesn’t that increase our capacity significantly?
This month’s jobs numbers show we’re on the right track. We still have a long way to go. As I said, my laser focus is on growing the nation’s economy and creating jobs. My laser focus is on vaccinating our nation. And we’re making continued progress.
My laser focus is on one more thing: making sure working people in this country -- hardworking people -- are no longer left out in the cold. They’re going to get a share in the benefits of a rising economy. It’s been a long time since that happened.
I’ve called my plan the "blue-collar blueprint for America," and that’s exactly what it is. So, let’s not let up. We’re still digging our way out of a very deep hole we were put in. No one should underestimate how tough this battle is.
We still have a job to do here in Washington. The American people are counting on us. So, let’s get it done. Let’s build an economy that delivers dignity and gives everybody a chance.
I’m confident we can do this because there is nothing beyond the capacity of the American people. I want to thank you. And God bless you. And may God protect our troops. Thank you very much.
Q Mr. President, do you believe enhanced unemployment benefits had any effect on diminishing a return to work in some categories?
THE PRESIDENT: No, nothing measurable. Thank you.
Q Mr. President, on CDC mask-wearing, I noticed you walked out to the podium with your mask on. Why do you choose to wear a mask so often when you’re vaccinated and you’re around other people who are vaccinated?
THE PRESIDENT: Because I’m worried about you. No, that’s a joke. It’s a joke.
Why am -- why am I wearing the mask? Because, when we’re inside, it’s still good policy to wear the mask. That’s why. When I’m outside -- and the problem is: Lots of times, I walk away from this podium, you notice, I forget to put my mask back on because I’m used to not wearing it outside.
Q Mr. President, are you at all concerned about Vladimir Putin amassing troops on the border of Ukraine? Do you see that as a message to you? And could it impact your desire to have a one-on-one meeting with him?
THE PRESIDENT: It does not impact my desire to have the one-on-one meeting. And, you notice, he had more troops before. He’s withdrawn troops. There's still troops amassed, but significantly less than he had a month ago.
Q Mr. President, do you believe that the Iranians are serious about negotiation in Vienna?
THE PRESIDENT: Yes. But how serious and what they’re prepared to do is a different story. But they’re -- we’re still talking.
Sir, you had a question. I had to cut you off.
Q Do you have any update on whether you’ll be able to meet Vladimir Putin in June? Is that going to happen?
THE PRESIDENT: I’m confident we’ll be able to do it. We don’t have any -- a specific time or place. That’s being worked on.
Statement by Press Secretary Jen Psaki on the Occasion of the United States Joining the Christchurch Call to Action to Eliminate Terrorist and Violent Extremist Content Online
Today the United States announced that it will join the Christchurch Call to Action to Eliminate Terrorist and Violent Extremist Content Online, a global pledge by member governments and technology partners to work together to address terrorist and violent extremist content online.
Countering the use of the internet by terrorists and violent extremists to radicalize and recruit is a significant priority for the United States. Joining the coalition of governments and companies that have endorsed the Christchurch Call to Action reinforces the need for collective action.
The United States applauds language in the Christchurch Call emphasizing the importance of respecting human rights and the rule of law, including the protection of freedom of expression. In joining the Christchurch Call, the United States will not take steps that would violate the freedoms of speech and association protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, nor violate reasonable expectations of privacy.
The United States looks forward to participating in the Christchurch Call Second Anniversary virtual summit on May 14.
Press Briefing by White House COVID-19 Response Team and Public Health Officials Via Teleconference
10:37 A.M. EDT
MR. ZIENTS: Good morning, and thank you for joining us. Today, Dr. Walensky will provide an update on the state of the pandemic, Dr. Fauci will highlight the latest science, and Dr. Murthy will share an update on our efforts to strengthen confidence in the vaccines.
First, I want to provide an update on the progress we are making on vaccinations and our all-out efforts in the next phase of getting more vaccinations to Americans.
After delivering an unprecedented 220 million shots in the President's first 100 days and successfully getting shots in the arms to the bulk of those most at risk and those most eager to get vaccinated, we are far ahead of where anyone thought we would be in our war against the virus.
Importantly, as we continue to vaccinate more people, cases, hospitalizations, and deaths continue to fall. This vaccination campaign is curbing the spread of COVID-19, saving tens of thousands of lives, and allowing millions to start living life more normally once again. That's why it's so important that we keep pushing for continued progress.
In this next phase, we're implementing a strategy that uses all the resources at our disposal to reach those who still need protection from this virus. Our approach and the pace of progress will look different as we reach deeper into communities and take an even more localized approach.
Earlier this week, the President set a new goal for this next phase of the vaccination program: 70 percent of adult Americans with at least one shot and 160 million Americans fully vaccinated by July 4 -- Independence Day. That's roughly 100 million shots in 60 days between May 4th and July 4th.
As you can see on our vaccination report, 57 percent of adult Americans now have at least one shot. So to meet the President's goal of 70 percent of adult Americans with at least one shot, we need to vaccinate at least another 13 percent of adult Americans by July 4th.
Overall, by the end of today, we will hit two significant milestones in our vaccination program: 150 million Americans with at least their first shot and 110 million Americans fully vaccinated. Our wartime effort is mobilized to meet the President's goal, and we’re in all-out implementation and execution mode.
We're focused on three key areas: First, improving access and making it even easier for everyone to get vaccinated. Second, building confidence -- vaccine confidence -- by empowering every American with facts and answering their questions. And third, ensuring equity is at the center of everything we do.
To improve access and make it even easier and more convenient for Americans to get their shot, this week the President directed our Federal Pharmacy partners to start making no-appointment walk-up vaccinations available. Soon, Americans will be able to get vaccinated without an appointment at the vast majority of nearly 40,000 local pharmacy locations nationwide.
Already, CVS, Rite Aid, Walmart and Sam's Club, Meijer and Hy-Vee, Southeastern, and H-E-B have announced that they're offering walk-up vaccinations at all of their locations nationwide -- more than 20,000 stores in communities across the country.
And to reach people where they are, FEMA is shifting from the high-volume vaccination sites that have served so many Americans so well to smaller, community-based sites and expanding the number of mobile clinics.
This week, we also made significant investments to get Americans the information they need on vaccines. Dr. Murthy will discuss this progress in his remarks. And we advanced equity by taking important steps to bolster our response for Americans living in rural communities, including by sending vaccine doses directly to an even greater number of rural health clinics and deploying almost $1 billion of American Rescue Plan funding to enhance and expand vaccine access and education and COVID-19 testing and mitigation in rural America.
The President also announced that should the FDA issue in emergency use authorization of the Pfizer vaccine for individuals ages 12 to 15, we already have in place the operational public education plan to immediately hit the ground running.
Over 15,000 local pharmacies will be ready to vaccinate 12- to 15-year-olds. And we are working to get more pediatricians and family doctors to offer vaccinations in their offices to make it as easy and convenient for adolescents to get vaccinated.
To be clear, across all fronts, we're doing everything we can, bringing every resource to bear to reach Americans who need more convenience or more information. And we're enlisting every American -- every organization, every healthcare professional, every business and employer -- to help Americans get the facts they need and to encourage vaccination.
Businesses across the country have stepped up and answered the President's call to offer paid time off for their employees to get vaccinated.
Sports leagues are also joining the vaccination effort. In Indiana, INDYCAR has worked with the state to transform the Indianapolis Motor Speedway into a vaccination site that gives vaccine getters the unique experience of getting vaccinated in an actual F1 garage and the chance to drive through the main race tunnels. That's pretty cool.
And in communities across the country, Americans are going above and beyond to encourage vaccinations and get people vaccinated -- like in Alaska, where workers are delivering vaccine to deep-sea fishermen using a contraption called a “man basket” -- a bucket suspended in the air that swings from one ship to a neighboring vessel, vaccinating more than 100 people on each ship. Now, that's what I call meeting people where they are.
We're also in a new phase of our work in the global front. As the President has said, the pandemic knows no borders, and he has committed that the United States will become an arsenal of vaccines for other countries. We’re taking steps to execute on this strategy.
First, on Wednesday, because of the extraordinary circumstances of the pandemic call for extraordinary measures, U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Tai announced our support for the waiver of intellectual property protections for COVID-19 vaccines.
Second, driven by the aggressive actions we've taken together to accelerate vaccine manufacturing and production lines in the U.S., both Pfizer and Moderna have executed well and have now increased their capacity to produce vaccine for countries around the world.
Third, we’ve committed to sharing vaccines with other countries, including approximately 60 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine by the end of June.
These steps build on the actions we took in our first 100 days to support global pandemic response and vaccination efforts, including rejoining the World Health Organization, providing the most funding to COVAX of any country in the world, working with our Quad partners to help expand vaccine manufacturing facilities in India, and helping India respond to its ongoing outbreak.
We know we have more work to do, and we know it will not be easy, but we've already seen what America is capable of when we come together and all of us do our part. That's how we delivered 220 million shots in our first 100 days. And that's how we will meet the President's new goal of 70 percent of adult Americans with at least one shot by July 4th: each of us doing our part.
So, please, if you're already vaccinated, share your story and encourage your family, friends, and neighbors to get vaccinated.
If you haven't gotten your shot yet and have questions, talk to your doctor or pharmacist. And when you're ready to roll up your sleeve, visit Vaccines.gov, or text your ZIP Code to 438829 to find a vaccine near you. Let me repeat that: Text your ZIP Code to 438829. It's free, it's easy, it's convenient, and it's how we save lives and return to a more normal lifestyle.
With that, over to you, Dr. Walensky.
DR. WALENSKY: Thank you so much, and good morning to everyone. Let's begin again with the state of the pandemic.
Yesterday, CDC reported over 41,900 new cases of COVID-19. Our seven-day average is about 45,800 cases per day, a decrease of about 13 percent from our prior seven-day average and another hopeful sign that we are on the right track.
The seven-day average of hospital admissions is 4,640. Again, an 8 percent decrease from our prior seven-day average.
And the seven-day average daily deaths is now at 656 per day. We have still recorded over 700 deaths these last two days.
I am enormously proud of the work put forward by so many towards vaccinating our entire country. It's truly been a remarkable feat, and I am so thankful to the millions and millions of Americans who have rolled up their sleeves.
As you heard from Andy on Wednesday, there's power in hearing the reasons why each of us are rolling up our sleeves and getting vaccinated. The decisions of where, when, and why to get our vaccines are unique and they're personal. We need to share these stories in encouraging others to do the same to follow what we've done and to join us in the community in this effort.
As you all know, I'm a physician and a researcher. But my most important job is as a daughter, a wife, and a mother of three sons. And when it came to vaccinating my family, we all leaned in. My husband is a pediatric oncologist. He did, of course, get vaccinated to protect himself and to protect our family, but also to ensure he could minimize the risk of transmitting disease to his very vulnerable patients.
As for my boys, my older two -- 19 and 21 -- really wanted to get vaccinated. They did so having much -- lost much of their college experience this past year, and they wanted to be sure they could get back that college experience next year.
My youngest son, 16, is now, just recently, fully vaccinated. And I am happy to say that tonight he is having two fully vaccinated friends over to watch a movie. It's been a long and coming, seemingly mundane, but now very luxurious event, and he can do so because he's fully vaccinated.
And I rest easy knowing my family will be safe and that is simply the best Mother's Day gift I could get this year.
We have a long way to go to get young Americans vaccinated. Only about one fifth of 18- to 29-year-olds and less than one third of 30- to 39-year-olds are fully vaccinated.
By contrast, more than two thirds of people over the age of 65 are already fully vaccinated. Our country, our families, our children have been through so many challenges. If you haven't been vaccinated, now's the time; it's easier than ever. And you -- if you have kids, 16 or older, who still haven't vaccinated, talk to them. Please, encourage them to roll up their sleeves because the COVID-19 vaccines will help protect those who we clo- -- hold closest to our hearts.
To all of you mothers out there, I wish you a very Happy Mother's Day. Please stay safe.
And now to you, Dr. Fauci.
DR. FAUCI: Thank you very much, Dr. Walensky. I’d like to spend the next couple of minutes talking a bit about the striking effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines not only in the United States, but in those countries which have the capability of administering it.
I've spoken to you on previous press briefings about the real-world effectiveness of the vaccines here in the United States, but I want to share with you some examples of recently published data.
Can I have the next slide?
Yesterday, published online in the Lancet, is an important paper from Israel, which is an observational study using their national surveillance data. And I'm going to show you a couple of slides that are really striking and I hope you pay attention to.
This slide, though it looks busy, is really a very important message. If you move from the left of the slide to the right, you see what was going on in Israel from November the -- 2020 to April 3. They launched their vaccine campaign on December the 20th, with the red arrow, but they were having a surge of cases, which -- on the second arrow, which is blue -- prompted them to begin an initial lockdown. The cases continued to surge. They added an additional lockdown on January 8th while still administering on a daily basis, the way we are doing, vaccines. Then they got to that interesting turning point that I have referred to multiple times in different briefings.
So take a look at right around February the 1st. What they did is they began to reopen, and one would expect you might see a surge to reopen. But as they reopened in Phase One, the cases continued to come down. In Phase Two, on February 21st, the cases continued to come down. And then when they were fully reopen with a substantial proportion of their population vaccinated -- the way we want to be -- they went down to practically no cases.
Put in a more simple form, this is what happened: The red line are the number of cases, which, as you can see, continued to go up in the beginning of their vaccine program. But they reached that critical crossroads that you've heard Dr. Walensky and I talk about in the past, where the vaccine doses kept on coming up and the cases came down to literally minimal number, with new cases on a seven-day rolling average of 63; new deaths, 1.3; and hospitalized, 164.
Now let's take a look at how impressive the data are. Israel has predominantly the B117, which is the dominant variant in our own country.
Take a look at the effectiveness on the righthand part of the slide of every type of infection. Infection in general, everything over 90 percent -- asymptomatic, symptomatic, hospitalization, severe hospitalization, and death -- with numbers ranging from 91 to 97.5 percent.
All ages are favorably involved. Take a look at this slide. Every age from 16 to 44, up to greater than 85, have anywhere from a 94 to a 96 effectiveness.
So one can make, from this study, which the authors' reported, that these findings are of international importance as vaccination programs ramp up across the rest of the world, suggesting that other countries can similarly achieve sustained decline if they achieve a high vaccine uptake.
And indeed, let's take another country: In this case, Qatar, which looked at over 385,000 people in a mass vaccination campaign. The effectiveness, not only against B117 -- which was close to 90 percent -- but even the very problematic variant that we've spoken of in South Africa, the 351, which shows a 75 percent effectiveness.
If you look at severe, critical, or fatal disease with both the 117 and the problematic 351, both had 100 percent efficacy after two doses.
And so, on the final slide, what we've all been saying: Let's go for the 70 percent of adults vaccinated with at least one dose by July 4. And I'm confident that we can mimic the pattern that I've just showed you on the previous slide.
I'll stop there, and over to you, Dr. Murthy.
SURGEON GENERAL MURTHY: Thanks so much, Dr. Fauci. I appreciate it. And it's great to be with all of you again this morning. I want to say a few words about our public education efforts and our broader confidence campaign.
We’ve continued our public education and engagement campaign, and we continue to see positive movement toward our vaccination goals. There's new data out this week that shows vaccine confidence and vaccination continue to increase.
The proportion of adults who either received the vaccine or are planning to get it rose to 64 percent. And just for perspective: This number was 34 percent in December, and it has increased each month since then.
Additionally, at least 50 percent of every major adult demographic group across age, race, gender, education, and political leaning now has already gotten vaccinated or wants to. That is real progress.
With that said, there is no doubt that many people still have questions about the vaccines, and that's why we will continue to work hard to ensure people get science-based information from voices they know and trust.
But it's also true that vaccine confidence is only one piece of the puzzle. The barriers to getting vaccinated fall into three main categories: vaccine confidence, motivation, and access.
And we see this reflected in this week's data, which found that a substantial portion of unvaccinated people cited other reasons other than confidence for not yet getting their shots, and those reasons included: not enough time, conflicts with work hours, uncertainty about eligibility, lack of information about where to get the vaccine, and feeling the vaccine may be unnecessary, among other reasons.
The good news is that our COVID-19 Community Corps is working hard to address all three challenges of vaccine confidence, motivation, and access. And today, I want to share a few stories about their work.
One of our members, PrepareSTL, is engaging communities of color in St. Louis through peer-to-peer outreach. They're hosting small-group conversations of 10 or fewer people. And they ultimately aim to share vaccine information with over 6,000 community members.
The Congdon Street Baptist Church and other churches in Providence, Rhode Island, have been using their existing phone trees to call community members about getting vaccinated, even offering to drive them to vaccination sites when they're ready.
And finally, I want to highlight BAPS Charities, a Hindu-American organization that has turned their temples into vaccination centers. For elderly members of these temples, it's been easier to get vaccinated at their own temple, surrounded by trusted friends and familiar settings, than it may have been for some of them to get vaccinated at an unfamiliar location.
So, from California to Missouri to Rhode Island, these organizations are showing us that we need a strong, people-powered movement to address these three main barriers to vaccination: vaccine confidence, motivation, and access. And that's why we're also making significant federal investments towards these goals.
We've dedicated $250 million for community organizations to provide vaccine information, help make appointments, and assist with transportation to those appointments. We also, this week, announced an additional $130 million, which will support equity efforts for hard to reach and high-risk communities; and another $100 million will support rural health clinics in their education and outreach efforts in rural communities. On top of this, nearly $250 million will be available to states and other jurisdictions to power the next phase of their outreach efforts.
This is also why the administration this week rolled out additional tools to make it even more convenient to find a vaccine. So you can now enter your ZIP Code on Vaccines.gov, which is in English and Spanish, and get locations where you can get vaccinated around you.
And you can also text your ZIP Code to the number, 438829, which spells "GetVax"; or to 822862, which spells "Vacuna", and you'll receive these vac- -- three vaccination sites near you. It's really quick and easy to do. I find myself doing it a few times just to see what comes up and make sure everything is still working. And everything is great and it's a tool that we've had a lot of good feedback on so far. So I encourage you to use that text tool, use the website. It makes it easy to find out where to get vaccinated.
I lastly just want to speak directly to the people who are wondering in this moment if it's still important for them to get vaccinated: Please do get vaccinated. It really does matter. Because even if you're not at high risk for severe illness from COVID-19, we know that you can still get infected even without symptoms and spread the virus to others who are at higher risk of hospitalization and death. We saw that time and time again over the past year, and that is in fact how many people acquired the virus and ultimately passed away from it.
When you get vaccinated though, you break that chain of transmission by giving the virus one less place to hide in your community. The only way to get cases to come down and stay down is for everyone to get vaccinated. That's how you can protect your community and help all of us return to the activities and the life we love.
I know it's been a difficult year and that everyone in our country has been asked to step up and sacrifice in a big way. And I want to be clear that this pandemic will end. The faster we get vaccinated, the faster that day will come.
And finally, I just want to wish everyone out there a Happy Mother's Day. I particularly want to recognize all the moms out there who have shouldered often a disproportionate amount of the challenge of COVID-19 of having to manage children and telework, as well as manage virtual learning. Moms and dads have shared in that burden, but I know it has disproportionately followed -- fallen on moms. And one of the most powerful things I -- we think we can do for moms out there is to help end this pandemic quickly.
That's why vac- -- getting vaccinated is so important. It's our quickest way to ending the pandemic.
Thank you for your time. I'll look forward to your questions.
Back to you, Jeff.
MR. ZIENTS: Thanks, Doctors. Let's open it up for a few questions.
MODERATOR: Thanks, Jeff. Reminder: Keep your questions to one question so we can get as many through.
First, let's go to David Lim at Politico.
Q Hi guys. Thanks for taking the question. Nancy Messonnier, who was among the first to warn Americans of the threat that COVID-19 posed last year, announced this morning she is resigning from the CDC.
This question is for Dr. Walensky: Can you explain why she was reassigned two weeks ago away from the agency's COVID-19 vaccine taskforce? And why is she now leaving the CDC?
DR. WALENSKY: Thank you very much for that question. As you note, Nancy has -- Dr. Messonnier has been a true hero. And through her career, in terms of public health, she's been a steward of public health for the nation. Over this pandemic and through a many-decade career, she's made significant contributions, and she leaves behind a strong, strong force of leadership and courage in all that she's done.
I want to wish her the best in her future endeavors. And I have no other comment. Thank you.
MODERATOR: Issam Ahmed, New York Public Radio.
Q Hi, this Issam Ahmed with AFP. No, my question was on vaccinating with Pfizer -- when it becomes -- when it -- if it gets full approval, will that mean it's then a standard of care? And will trials be able to continue with a placebo or not after that?
MR. ZIENTS: So, I'll go first and then maybe, Dr. Fauci, you can also chime in if I -- if I miss anything here.
Pfizer announced today that it's applying for full approval from the FDA. It's important to start with: Nothing changes right now. The vaccine -- the Pfizer vaccine is still authorized under emergency use authorization. So Pfizer has announced that it has initiated its application for full approval. And we anticiplate -- anticipate that it will complete that application across the coming weeks.
These reviews generally take a few months, is our understanding. This is all over at the FDA, of course. Given the nature of the pandemic, FDA will move as expeditiously as possible without compromising its gold standard for safety.
Our focus remains on getting 70 percent of Americans -- adult Americans at least one shot by July 4th, as the President has laid out that goal. And it will certainly be an important day if full approval is granted, but the process will be fully led and run by the FDA.
Dr. Fauci, anything to add here?
DR. FAUCI: Well, the question was about placebo. Right now, given the availability of vaccines, you'd have to have a really very good reason to do a placebo-controlled trial right now. Most of the trials that they -- when they do occur, would likely be of non-inferiority or superiority trials, where you would have to compare it to another product, as opposed to giving a placebo.
You give a placebo-control trial in a country in which there is no access whatsoever so that if the people in the trial were not in the trial, they still would not have access to a vaccine. That's not the situation in the United States.
So regardless of whether it's an EUA or it's a BLA -- the same thing -- you don't want to do a placebo right now.
MR. ZIENTS: Thank you Dr. Fauci. Next question.
MODERATOR: Shira Stein, Bloomberg.
Q Hi. Thanks. What impact would a TRIPS waiver have on U.S. production, and could it undercut supply? And in addition to TRIPS, does the White House have any plans to push for broader international manufacturing capabilities?
MR. ZIENTS: Yeah, I think -- let me start with: The right thing to do is the waiver. We are in unprecedented, once-in-a-hundred-year pandemic, and that calls for extraordinary measures in an extraordinary times.
You know, experts agree that the waiver alone won't result in the scale and speed we need to make enough vaccines to end this pandemic, and that's why we will continue to ramp up our efforts -- working with the private sector and all possible partners -- to expand vaccine manufacturing and distribution around the world and increase, as you point out, the important supplies, the raw materials, the equipment needed to make the vaccines.
MODERATOR: Tommy Christopher, Mediaite.
Q Hi, can you hear me now? Hello?
MR. ZIENTS: Yes.
Q All right, good. Yes, thank you. My question is, I guess, for all of you. There's a new IHME report out that says the true death toll in the U.S. from coronavirus is over 900,000. And I've been wondering this for a while -- I know the CDC tracks excess death figures and I've been wondering if there's been any discussion of or plan to incorporate those figures into the official death toll, which, I guess, currently, is just confirmed deaths.
MR. ZIENTS: Dr. Walensky?
DR. WALENSKY: Yeah, thank you for that. So that's a study that just came out from the IHME, where they're now adding their excess deaths into their -- their attributable deaths directly from COVID-19.
As you know, we have been collecting not only -- and we've known that the toll of this pandemic is not necessarily just those who've passed from COVID-19 specifically, but excess deaths relating to access to care, not presenting to care, and many other things.
So, we will look at this carefully, and then we will work with -- within the CDC to make decisions as to whether to count them as excess or to count them as COVID-specific.
Regardless, I think we need to understand that the death toll of this disease has been attributable directly from COVID, as well as -- as the collateral damage, I would say, of what has happened from COVID-19. And that, in my mind, is just more and more reason to continue to get vaccinated.
MR. ZIENTS: Next question.
MODERATOR: Zeke, AP.
Q Thanks for doing this. We heard the President say that he wants to turn the U.S. -- the U.S. sharing vaccinate -- vaccines around the world to the arsenal of democracy. Now, a couple of weeks into this -- this phase, I was hoping, Jeff, you might have some more guide -- outlines on where the -- on what criteria the White House will use to determine how to share vaccines with the rest of the world. Will it only be with allies? Will it be through COVAX, sort of, on a need basis? Is it a tool of foreign policy or is it a tool of philanthropy and public health?
MR. ZIENTS: So, Zeke, at -- you know, at the moment, there are no AstraZeneca doses that completed and cleared the process to send to other countries. We expect there will be approximately 10 million doses that could be released in the coming weeks, after FDA concurrence. There’s an estimated 50 million doses, in addition, that are in various stages of production that could be completed across May -- or should be completed across May and June.
So, in sum, we're talking about about 60 million doses of AstraZeneca in the U.S. that cou- -- that could be shared -- will be shared with other countries over the next couple of months. As these doses become available, the plans will be finalized as to where they go.
MODERATOR: Last question. Let's go to Jeremy Diamond at CNN.
Q Hey, thanks so much. Just to follow up on what Zeke was asking: Do you have any metrics currently that you can share about how you're going to determine which countries receive the doses? And do you have an update on the status of the FDA’s quality control review? And then, just secondly, according to this Kaiser Family Foundation poll, we now see that 18- to 29-year-olds are the most hesitant demographic. What do you guys see is the best way to move numbers with that age group?
MR. ZIENTS: Well, let me start with handing it over to Dr. Murthy on 18- to 29-year-olds.
DR. MURTHY: All right. Thanks, Jeff. I -- so I appreciate that -- the question about 18- to 29-year-olds. One of the reasons I specified that there are three distinct reasons that we think, at this point, people may not want to take a vaccine is because we've got to -- we've got to assume that everybody has doubts about the vaccine. We know some people have questions. We know some people just may not feel motivated, may not think it's important, and other people have access issues.
For 18- to 29-year-olds, what we know is that there's some combination of these three things going on. And so what -- our approach is, number one, make sure that people can get accurate information from trusted messengers. Eighteen- to twenty-nine-year-olds may listen to very different messengers than I would or perhaps some of us on this panel.
So part of our work through the Community Corps has been mobilizing, engaging those messengers.
The second thing that we're also doing is we're making sure that it's easy to get a vaccine. What you heard today from the President -- or rather earlier this week from the President -- was that a number of steps were being taken to set up mobile units, pop-up options for getting the vaccine, and walk-in options in pharmacies now to make it -- again, lower the barriers to getting vaccine.
And finally, just remember this -- that we have to continue to -- to help, you know, people across the country understand why it's important to get vaccinated, even if you yourself may be at lower risk of complications.
Dr. Walensky mentioned her own children, you know, who are -- who -- two of whom were eager to get vaccinated, one of whom, you know, will likely get vaccinated soon.
And the point is: Now they can do things with their friends that they otherwise wouldn't -- weren't able to do. They can go back to college, potentially feel much safer, you know, about not only their own risk of getting sick, but potentially the contribution they may make to other people getting sick by being transmitters.
So these are the messages we're going to continue to take to young people. And we're seeing more young people step up to want to carry this message, because, again, I believe strongly that young people are not just interested in staying healthy themselves, but they are the leaders in building a better future. And we are going to need them to step up to help spread this message and to get other young people vaccinated as quickly as possible.
MR. ZIENTS: On AstraZeneca, you know, the timing -- as I mentioned earlier -- for the first 10 million doses, we expect that across the coming weeks, all pending FDA concurrence.
And as those doses become available, the specific plans as to where they go will be announced at that point, and also the -- you know, the framework for -- for future decisions will also be articulated. So, no further news on that front.
With that, let me add my well wishes to all the moms out there: Happy Mother's Day. And we look forward to seeing everybody next week. Thank you.
Remarks by President Biden on the American Jobs Plan
Lake Charles Sea Wall Lake Charles, Louisiana
1:07 P.M. CDT
THE PRESIDENT: Well, Mr. Mayor, Governor, thank you. It's good to be back in Lake Charles. I've been here a number of times over the years as Senator and then as Vice President.
The first time I came down here -- with a guy named Russell Long, who I served with -- I was 29 -- please, sit down, everybody.
I was 29 years old when I got elected, and I went to see Russell Long. And he said, "Son…" -- I'd made my stops to all the senior senators, which was what you do in those days -- and I -- he said, "Son, sit down. Sit down." And he pounded at his desk.
And I sat down, and he said -- he said, "How much money did you spend on your campaign?" And I said, "Well, sir…" -- and this is going to shock you. I said, "About…" -- I said, "A little over $285,000, but then I had to borrow some money and -- to get through it. And I just won, barely, by less than -- less than a half a percentage point."
And he said, "Well…" -- he said, "It's a good thing you won." And I said, "How is that?" He said, "Well…" -- he said, "You got yourself a $38,000 deficit." (Laughter.) And I said, "Yes, sir." And he said, "Well, if you hadn't won, you'd just have a plain old deficit. Now you can have a deficit party." (Laughter.) God, I miss -- he was amazing. An amazing guy.
And both of you are amazing. Mr. Mayor, you've got a great city. And as I said, I've been here -- I've been here more than once, and it's good to be back. And I -- it's hard to believe that -- that you got -- you got hit as badly as you have within the timeframe you have. And I used to spend some time with Randy; he got hit a little bit, but not like you did -- not like you have. And, Gov, you know, we have to build back. We have to build back better.
One of the things that -- that I'm proud of is, in the first 100 days that I became President, we have created more jobs in that period of time than any administration in history. But the way I look at that, that's just the down payment getting us back with the AmericanRecovery Act [Rescue Plan]. Just getting us back and getting people -- a lot of that had to do with getting people vaccinated, getting 600 million doses of the -- of the vaccine, and getting people in a position where it was available.
But now it's about rebuilding America -- rebuilding in a way that it has resilience. And the folks who are going to rebuild it are those folks right over there: unions. They're going to rebuild it in a way that we're going to provide good jobs. (Applause.)
Well, look, it's -- as I said, it's good to be back, Governor Edwards and Mayor Hunter. And I also want to thank President Reine -- the union president of AFL-CIO, head of the -- head of the -- there you are. I couldn't find you.
And, folks, there's a -- when it comes to bridges and roads and the like, I've never seen a Republican or a Democrat road. I just see roads.
And, Mayor -- I mean, you're a Republican. You wrote a newspaper article suggesting that we -- along with the governor -- the Democratic mayor of Shreveport, Mayor Perkins -- as to why we need the American Jobs Plan and -- which is what I’m here to talk about today: a once-in-a-generation investment in American -- America itself -- to create jobs, to modernize our bridges, our roads, our highways, our ports, our airports, our water pipes, our water projects, high-speed Internet, transmission lines, and sustainable housing -- sustainable housing -- jobs rebuilding the foundations of a strong, fair, and resilient -- resilient, competitive economy.
You know, I know the times have been tough here. The damage of the hurricanes has been devastating. The governor has already spoken to me; we're talking with OMB and with our folks in -- Republican and Democrats -- in the Congress, because I believe -- I believe you need the help. I believe you need the help. We're going to try to make sure you get it.
But the people of Louisiana always have picked themselves up, just like -- just like America always picks itself up. There's no -- there's no quit in America. There's no quit in Louisiana, as I've observed.
But that doesn’t mean the federal government -- because it was local, doesn't mean it shouldn’t help. I promise you, we're going to help you build back better than ever and more resilient. And build back in a way that all we build is better able to withstand storms and -- that are becoming more severe and more frequent than ever.
I think we have to -- you might have noticed I promised I would have a -- I would have a climate forum for the world in Washington within 100 days. Well, 40 heads of state showed up, from the largest countries in the world to some of the smallest. We can't deny it: There is a real change in the -- in the weather. And if we go 1.5 degrees warmer, we're going to be in real trouble -- at the point of no return.
Matter of fact, a lot of what we're going to have to build back now -- in terms of infrastructure, we got to build back to a different standard, not to what it was. It's got to be better because the climate has changed enough now that it's still going to rise two feet when the -- when it rains. It's still going to -- we got to build for what is needed now.
And I promise you, we're going to do that. And we're better prepa- -- so we're better prepared to withstand storms and -- becoming more severe and more frequent.
We’re standing here in the shadow of the I-10 bridge, which I've gone over several times myself in the past. And it's a perfect example of how we’ve neglected, as a nation, to invest in the future of our economy and the future of our people.
You know, when the bridge was built in 1952, it was built to -- there was nothing there -- it was built to make sure that we, in fact, are able to -- it was going to last for 50 years; that was 20 years ago. It was built for 50 years.
The I-10 bridge was built to handle a daily traffic load of 37,000 crossings. Well -- but, today, every day, more than 80,000 -- more than 80,000 cars and trucks cross over that bridge. And it doesn’t have the modern safety features that bridges need to have now.
You know, six lanes of the interstate narrow into four lanes of a bridge. That's a -- that's a recipe for disaster. And that's what -- I'm sure you don't need to tell the drivers around Lake Charles that it means traffic bottlenecks and delays, and that they'll -- at the last inspection, this bridge was characterized as in "poor” condition. And after decades of politicians studying it and talking about it, Governor Edwards is the one finally moving forward with a project to actually replace the bridge: one with six lanes, new interchanges, that’s safer and reduces congestion.
And it shouldn’t be as hard -- it shouldn’t be this hard to takes -- or take so long to fix a bridge that's this important. It makes no sense.
But the truth is, across the country, we have failed -- we have failed to properly invest in infrastructure for a half a century. The last four years, how many times did you say, "This is going to be Infrastructure Week"? Well, I got so tired of hearing "Infrastructure Week" and nothing -- nothing happened. Nothing has happened.
And across America, there are more than 45- -- hear me now -- 45,000 bridges that are structurally deficient. Structurally deficient. Every day, Americans cross these bridges 178 million times. And they are structurally deficient.
We’ve seen what happens when they deteriorate. Remember a few years ago? Two counties over in Mississippi had to shut down more than 60 bridges that were in poor condition. Sixty bridges. People in those communities were rerouted from 40 to 50 mile of detours with half-hour to hour delays.
One of the areas, when I was doing this with our last major plan that -- when Barack was President -- was in Pennsylvania. There was a large shopping center, a school, and the rest, and it was just across a crick, as we say up in that -- that way.
And -- and the bridge across it was deficient. But there was a fire station just within eyesight -- from here to -- to the others- -- the parking lot. But guess what? When there was a burn, when there was a fire, it took them -- they had to go up nine miles to find a bridge, come back, and by that time, a hell of a lot of damage was done.
Well, there are bridges all over America -- big and small -- like that.
A few years ago, as I said, we found ourselves in a position where it’s not just more -- more inconvenient, like in the situation in Mississippi, it is also a matter of life and death. Keeping firefighters, paramedics from getting people help they need. Cutting off hurricane evacuation routes.
In addition, more than one in five miles of our highways in the United States of America -- major roads in America -- are in poor condition. One in five miles. That’s more than a safety hazard. That is a drain on our economy.
The typical American pays -- I know this is going to sound wonky, but it’s real and it affects ordinary Americans' lives, like the neighborhoods I come from -- the typical American pays a hidden tax of more than $1,000 a year in the time it wastes and the fuel wasted due to traffic congestion because of the nature of our infrastructure.
We rank eighth in the world in terms of our infrastructure. We used to be the leader in the world. All told, those delays cost our country -- according to economists -- an estimated $160 billion a year in waste -- extra fuel, extra time, and the like.
And that’s due to congestion. And folks in Louisiana know, there are much greater threats than just congestion. When the road or the bridge is washed out, or when it can’t stand up to a hurricane, people can’t get to their jobs, can’t get to their schools. Families can’t get to the hospitals safely.
This is about creating jobs and also saving lives. You know, my mother used to have an expression, Gov, she’d say, “Out of everything bad, Joey, something good will come if you look hard enough for it.” Well, one of the things that this -- this crisis, in terms of the health crisis of COVID, has shown us is that -- that we have to -- we have to build back better in a whole series of ways.
It’s about building a strong foundation for the American people. So, when I think about the threats of hurricanes and global warming and -- and the -- and then the poor condition of our economy as it relates particularly to infrastructure, I think of one thing: I think of jobs. Jobs. Jobs.
Everything we’re -- we’re gone through is now the, sort of -- the blinders have been taken off the American people. They know how bad of shape things are in. But it creates -- if we move -- all the economists, including the liberal as well as conservative think tanks, point out what we'll create when we pass this Jobs Plan -- we’ll create up to 16 million good-paying jobs. Not $8 an hour or $12, not $15 -- prevailing wage jobs. Wages you can raise a family on. You have a -- my dad would say just a little bit of “breathing room” after everything is paid.
And so, you know, your -- this state is working to rebuild the I-10 bridge. But we can put America to work in every state, fixing roads and bridges that are in desperate need of repair.
My plan is a one-time, $115 billion investment above and beyond business as usual -- what we usually do, everything in the Highway Trust Fund -- this is above what we have spent in the past, so we can modernize bridges and roads and highways that need it most, putting people to work in good-paying jobs.
Now, I know a lot of you watching at home are thinking that -- well, you know, if these jobs are for you. Well, you know, all you folks who feel left out as the economy is moving so rapidly, everything is changing, and you’re wondering whether what you did before -- is it going to be available to be done in the future? Well, let me tell you something: If you feel left out and forgotten in a rapidly changing economy, let me speak directly to you.
Nearly 90 percent of all the infrastructure jobs that this is going to create won’t require a college degree. Seventy-five percent of them won’t even require an associate’s degree. These are jobs that can’t be outsourced. Can’t be outsourced. They just require something we’ve got in good supply here in Louisiana -- in Louisiana: hard work, grit, and sweat. Like the workers that are here today, and like all of the people you know and grew up with.
The American Jobs Plan is a blue-collar blueprint to rebuild America. A blue-collar blueprint to rebuild America, to supercharge our economy so we can move goods, get to work, become more competitive around the world.
You know, it will shorten our commutes to give us back the lost time with our families, to make our commutes safer, save lives. All told, the American Jobs Plan is going to modernize 20,000 miles of highways and roads.
It will fix the nation’s 10 most economically significant bridges that require replacement -- they’re just not safe anymore, which this bridge could be one of them -- and repairs 10,000 bridges that desperately need to be upgraded. Bridges that get kids to school, people to market.
And, you know, when you build better roads or extend the train line over to the next town or install reliable, high-speed Internet, it sparks new life and investment in communities. It gives people hope.
Business picks up at the local convenience store, at the seafood market, at the hardware store where center -- centers of people locus in -- in their jobs and their economies. Better jobs start coming to town. We haven’t seen that in a long time. Suddenly, young people don’t have to make the decision whether they have to leave to have a better opportunity. They stay where they are.
That’s what infrastructure does. It has a rippling effect. And when it makes all -- when we make all these investments, we are going to make sure of one thing: that we buy American.
Now, I know I’m being accused, when I say I’m only going to buy American as President, that somehow I’m going to violate trade agreements. No.
Since the 1930s, you’re allowed to -- a President could just decide to buy only American. It’s not -- it’s just -- I’m going to get to spend somewhere in the order of $600 billion this year -- everything from building an aircraft carrier, new decks, and all. And I guarantee you one thing, and I’ve said it in place: Every single thing -- from the deck of an aircraft carrier, to a railing in a new building -- is going to be built by an American company, American workers, American supply chain so that we invest American tax dollars in American workers. And that’s what we’re going to do. (Applause.) I promise you.
Because right now, that law exists, but you’re allowed to have exceptions. So what do you do?
The last Presidents have come along and said, “Well, we have a little trouble making sure we can find somebody who is able to put the railings in this new building and the stairwells.” Well, guess what? There’s a whole hell of a lot of Americans who make that. So, we’re going to have a spot -- you just call the White House. We’ll find you any company that makes those railings, for example -- as one concrete example -- rather than going abroad to purchase those. It’s going to create jobs and is going to generate economic growth.
And, look, this is all about making a choice -- a choice between giving tax breaks to the super wealthy and to corporations, and investing in working families, who are going to build the country.
I look at this as -- what I’m talking about -- as giving, essentially, tax breaks to hardworking middle-class and working people who built this country.
In my view, it’s an easy choice: invest in workers wearing hard hats and doing the hard work of rebuilding the country, and putting lineworkers -- for example, to put lineworkers and electricians to work laying thousands of miles of transmission lines to build a modern energy grid; to put engineers and construction workers to work building modern roads and bridges, weatherizing homes and buildings, and setting new standards where they have to be built with better material and that have to be built to withstand heavy winds and hurricanes and the like, and to withstand the impact of the changing weather; to put plumbers and pipefitters to work replacing 100 percent of the nation’s lead pipes and service lines that are delivering poisoned water to our kids in the --
There are over 400,000 -- 400,000 schools in America that have lead pipes leading -- I mean, 400,000 -- yes, that’s right -- 400,000 have lead pipes going to the schools right now. And you have over 10 million homes where their water source is fed by lead pipes that were laid years and years ago.
We’re going to rip it all up -- all up -- and make it safe all across America. And it’s going to provide millions of jobs -- thousands of jobs. And it’s going to provide much more security. It’s going to put plumbers and pipefitters to work replacing this, so every child in America can turn on a faucet and not worry about drinking polluted water.
I’m going to be visiting a water plant in New Orleans today to get a closer look at what’s needed to modernize the city’s water system because it needs modernization and they need it repaired.
Look, these are the highest-value investments you can make as a nation, and they last the longest. Economists -- left, right, and center -- agree that these are the investments we need to make to generate historic economic growth that's maintained -- maintained -- not just bringing jobs back, but creating new jobs.
And together, with the American Rescue Plan, the American Jobs Plan is going to help the economy create, as I said, estimated over 16 million good-paying jobs.
And, folks, we can’t afford to not do it. We can’t afford to not spend the time and effort and money.
Now, let me explain how we pay for this, because I’m not a deficit spender. Because, you know, we had a tax cut the other team put in back in 19- -- in 2017, and it created a $2 trillion deficit, with the vast majority of that going to the top 1 -- top one tenth of 1 percent of the wage earners.
I don’t want to punish anybody. You’re entitled to be a millionaire or a billionaire, just pay your fair share. Just pay -- for example, if we just were to make sure that we had the tax rate for the top rate in America for income tax -- what it was in the Bush administration -- it would go from 36 to 39.6 percent.
Well, guess what? That would raise a minimum of $10 billion a year. No one is hurt. Someone making that money is still going to have two homes or a jet plane -- or these are mostly millionaires; they’re not going to be hurting a little bit. But we’re going to be able to put tens of thousands of kids in preschool and in free community college.
What’s going to help America more? Increase the educational standard of all Americans so they have 14 years of school, from two years of -- three- and five-year-olds -- three, four, and five years old -- we show that that happens if they get -- not go to daycare, they go to school. No matter what the background or the home they come from, they catch up. Fifty-eight percent of them will go on to go to college; we know that now.
We also know that if you give two years -- two years of free community college -- if you’re in a situation where -- you’re in a position that you’re going to have -- in your state and every other state in America, you’ll allow to go in the last two years -- all of those credits are available to your state universities, and you can get a four-year degree for half the cost. And/or you get the two-year degree, and you’re able to do what you needed it to do.
It’s estimated it’ll increase the average income by over 20 percent for someone in America for the rest of their lives.
So, folks, you know, the fact is that I'm -- as I was saying, I’m not looking to punish anyone. You know, I come from the corporate state of the world, Delaware. More corporations are incorporated in the state of Delaware than every other state in the union combined.
But guess what? You know, I’m sick and tired of corporate America not paying their fair share. Their taxes used to be 38 percent -- 36 percent. We all thought that was too high, even in our administration, and we wanted to reduce it to 28 percent -- make it more competitive. Some thought 24 [percent]. But it got reduced to 21 percent. And do you know what the result is? Of the largest corporations in America, 50 don’t pay a penny in tax. They made $40 billion, and don’t pay a penny in tax.
If you’re a construction worker and your wife is a schoolteacher, you’re paying at a higher tax rate than corporate America is paying. Not a joke. Not a joke. I don’t want to punish them.
And, by the way, they used to do a lot more research and development. Major corporations, now, because we’ve changed the law -- in fact, it used to be that a corporate CEO got paid 36 times as much as the average employee in their corporation in the Fortune 500; now, it’s 456 times. My mother would say, “Who died and left them boss?”
Well, 56 percent of all -- 53 percent of all of the money they made -- excuse me -- of a trillion dollars over 10 years -- what did it do according to a major study? It went to buying back their stock. Now, why are you buying back the stock? Because CEOs now get paid in stock purchases -- stock options. It used to be they got paid in direct salary. And they get paid in stock options. So, if you have 10 shares of stock, you sell 5, the 5 left are worth more. You get paid in stock, you get -- it’s better.
The remaining 37 percent goes to dividends, which makes sense. But it leaves 9 percent -- 9 percent for everything, according to the study out of the University of Massachusetts -- everything from salaries, employment, research, and development -- 9 percent.
So, folks, you know, we used to invest in research and development in this country in about 2.4 percent of all -- all that we did, making us the leading country in the world in change and research and development. Well, we now do 0.7. The Chinese are eating our lunch. They're eating our lunch, economically. They're investing hundreds of billions of dollars in research and development.
That's why, right now, if it keeps their way, they're going to own the electric car market in the world. They're going to own a whole range -- we got to compete. We got to compete. And it doesn't cost anybody anything and deprive anybody of anything they have earned or deserve.
As I said, we're now at a place where, when they used to pay 35 percent, it's now 21. The way I can pay for this is the $40 billion -- for example -- just making sure the largest companies don't pay zero. And -- and reducing the -- the tax cut to between 25 and 28, it's a couple hundred billion dollars. We can pay for these things.
I'm not talking about deficit spending. I'm talking about paying for it. And I won't go -- and I'm realizing getting too wonky, sharing and giving you too much detail. But the point is, what I'm proposing is badly needed, and able to be paid for and still grow -- trickle down ain't working very well, man. We got to build from the bottom and -- up, and the middle out. That's how we build America. That's how we built it so well back in the '60s.
And so, folks, look, a middle-class family, as I said, and a construction worker with a kid -- with two kids is paying more in federal taxes than a multimillion-dollar -- billion-dollar corporation that's making billions of dollars, in terms of the rate at which they pay.
And, look, here we go. You know, it's still -- the fact is that the plans that I put forward meets the middle class and raises the corporate rate. It also lowers it where -- lower than any point that it was since World War Two. And it's going to generate $90 billion each year, hundreds of thousands of jobs. We're going to put a lot of folks to work.
And, by the way, how many of you are veterans or know -- or have a brother, a sister, a mother, father who is a veteran? Well, here in Lake Charles, you got a new veterans clinic. It was built a few years ago, beginning when Barack and I were in office. But most VA hospitals, for example, are 50 years old or older. Ask your buddies. Ask your buddies.
When they -- we have more people, more veterans, and more active military committing suicide every week than are killed in all our wars. Why? Pick up a phone. We have more people coming back with post-traumatic stress than anything else.
I carry in my pocket my schedule. On the back of my schedule I have updates -- U.S. troop updates: how many people have died in Iraq and Afghanistan. Not "generally over 6,000" -- six thousand, as of this morning, nine hundred and twenty-seven, because every single, solitary one of those fallen angels left an entire community behind. Wounded: 53,196 -- not "roughly 53,000."
Well, guess what? Ask your people -- ask around in your state and any other state. You've got a husband, a wife calling, saying she's having -- she -- she has post-traumatic stress and she's stress -- "I need to get there -- in there right away." "Well, we can't see you for three weeks. We don't have enough docs." And the buildings are 15 years old -- 50 years old.
We have a sacred obligation to invest in that infrastructure. Better docs -- not "better docs," more docs; more psychiatric nurses in order to take care of these things.
Look, folks, the bottom line here is -- and I’m going on too long -- the American Jobs Plan puts people to work upgrading VA hospitals and put -- for our veterans and our servicemembers and military families.
And let me ask you: What's better for America -- a tax cut that makes corporations richer and CEOs richer, or investments that are going to make our country stronger, more competitive, and lift up the standard of living for everybody?
And, by the way, this is not punishing anybody. All those folks are still going to have two homes or three homes and their jets and it won’t matter. Not going to change their standard of living one little bit.
Not surprisingly, critics say they're worried that I'm going to stunt economic growth by raising taxes on corporations and the wealthy. There's just one problem with their argument: the facts.
Experts have looked at it. The last time taxes were around the rates I'm proposing was in the '90s and the economy boomed. America created 20 million new jobs in eight years when these were the tax rates. And the fact are the American economy has had a record job creation and growth under the same kind of plan I’m proposing. And here's why: Our economy has always done best when everyone pays their fair share.
Again, I'm not looking to punish anybody. I’m looking to rebuild America as a world leader. I’m going to look to make sure we have the best and most significant infrastructure in the world. It’s time to grow this economy from the bottom up and the middle out.
Let me close with this: Infrastructure has historically been a bipartisan undertaking. There’s no reason it shouldn’t be that way again, as the mayor is evidence of and others are. It’s about coming together to create jobs to make a more competitive world.
What’s the first thing that anybody asks you when they want to put a new facility here in your city? "How close is the interstate? And what -- how -- you know, what's the access to the lake? What's going -- I mean, what's the water supply?" They want to know you have the best infrastructure. Companies and corporations go where they can get their product made the quickest and get it to market the fastest.
And we're doing everything we can to win the competition for the 21st century. I'm willing to hear ideas from both sides. I'm meeting with my Republican friends up in the -- up in the Congress to see, number one, how much they're willing to go for, what they think are the priorities, and what compromises we -- I'm ready to compromise.
What I'm not ready to do: I'm not ready to do nothing. I'm not ready to have another period where America has another "Infrastructure Month" and doesn’t change a damn thing.
America is more competitive, better, and more capable than any nation in the world. There's not a damn thing we cannot do when we do it together. It's about time we start working together -- like mayors and local officials do, like governors do.
I find more support from Republican governors and mayors and Democratic governors and mayors around the country because they got to -- they got to answer the question, “Is life better in this town, this city, this state than it was before I got elected?” And we can make it better. We can make it better. It shouldn't be controversial.
So let me conclude by saying: God bless you all. And may God protect our troops. Thank you. (Applause.)
White House Releases Fact Sheets to Highlight Nationwide Need and Impact of the American Families Plan
Today, the White House released fact sheets that highlight the need for and impact of the investments proposed by President Biden in the American Families Plan in states and territories across the country. The American Families Plan is a once-in-a-generation investment in the foundations of middle-class prosperity: education, health care, and child care.
The fact sheets highlight how many families would benefit from free community college and universal pre-K, the high costs of child care, the number of workers who lack access to paid family leave, and the thousands of dollars families and workers would save in tax cuts and credits.
Individual fact sheets for each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and other territories are linked below.
These fact sheets are the latest in a series from the White House highlighting the benefits of the American Families Plan for communities, in addition to a series of fact sheets on the American Jobs Plan. Fact sheets on how the American Families Plan advances racial equity and supports rural America have been released in recent weeks.