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President Biden Delivers Address in New Jersey. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired October 25, 2021 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development ranks America 35 out of 37 countries when it comes to investing in early childhood education and care, 35 out of 37.
We cannot be competitive in the 21st century global economy if we continue to slide. My wife, who's a community college professor, says, any nation that outeducates us will outcompete us. Say it again. Any nation that outeducates us will outcompete us. And that's a fact.
That's why I resolved that we have to once again build America from the bottom up in the middle out. I have never seen a time in American history when the middle class did well and the wealthy didn't do very well.
But I'm tired of trickle down. Trickle down hasn't worked so much for the last 15 years for working-class and middle-class folks. That's why I proposed two critical pieces of legislation being debated back in Washington right now.
These bills are not about left vs. right, or moderate vs. progressive or anything that pits an American, one American against another. These bills are about competitiveness vs. complacency, competitiveness vs. complacency.
They're about expanding opportunity, not opportunity denied. They're about leading the world or continuing to let the world passes by. First, the infrastructure bill, it's about rebuilding the arteries of America. And the Portal Bridge project is showing why investments like this are so important.
When the Portal Bridge was built, it was state of the art, and it really was, but 110 years ago. Today, it's been called something different, a choke point, a bottleneck, an Achilles' heel of the Northeast Corridor.
Since the Portal Bridge was built, it has become the busiest rail span in the entire Western Hemisphere. Let me said that again. It's the busiest rail span in the entire Western Hemisphere.
At peak use, 450 trains pass over it every day, 200,000 Amtrak and New Jersey transit passengers, but ships and barges also need to get under it. And many can't fit. That means the bridges need to swing open and closed again, a process that stops road traffic and causes other problems.
The bridge opens over 100 times a year. And 15 percent of the time, something goes wrong, 15 percent of the time. For example, if the rails don't lock back in place exactly right, the bridge closes. And, sometimes, you know what fixes it in the 21st century? A sledgehammer. Come out with a sledgehammer, and align the tracks, literally a sledgehammer to knock it back into place in the year 2021?
One report a couple years ago found that the Portal Bridge was particularly responsible for 2,000 hours of delays between 2014 and 2018. You know the old expression time is money. As one commuter said, if you're on the train, and they say Portal Bridge, you know you're better make other plans.
Aging infrastructure like this is more than an inconvenience or a nuisance. It's an impediment, impediment to America's global competitiveness. We're in a worldwide race. Things have changed. Take a look. That's why what's happening right now is so important.
Today, we're moving forward on a new bridge that will be higher over the water so it won't need to open and close, allow us to increase speed, safety and efficiency and capacity. That's going to make life a lot better for New Jersey's commuters. It's also going to create nearly 8,000 construction jobs in this area alone, this area's workers, 8,000 union jobs, union.
BIDEN: It was pointed out to me not long ago that I said I'm a union president, that I apparently used the -- someone calculated I use the word union more than the last seven presidents combined.
BIDEN: Because, guess what, it's a decent way. It's about to make rail transportation, which is a cleaner, greener way to travel, the better choice for a lot of New Jersey residents, but not just New Jersey, everybody up and down the East Coast.
If I can pause for a second -- and I apologize because some have heard this -- I commuted every single day 263 miles a day on Amtrak from the time I got elected United States senator. As a matter of fact, when I was vice president, I used to like to take the train home because my mom was very sick and dying.
And I would come home every weekend to make sure I take the train home. And Secret Service -- and I'm not criticizing them -- legitimately would rather be fly, because it's safer, because too many people can get on and off, et cetera.
I'm getting on one Friday. And then one of the senior guys on Amtrak, Angelo Negri -- I got to know all the conductors really well. They became my friends, I mean, really my genuine friends. I would had them in my home in Christmas and during the summer.
And Ang walks up to me. He goes, "Joey, baby." He grabs my cheek, and I thought the Secret Service was going to blow his head off.
BIDEN: I swear to God, true story. I said: "No, no, he's a friend."
I said: "What's up, Ang?"
And he said: "Joey, I read in the paper, I read in the paper you traveled 1,000 -- 1, 200,000 miles on Air Force planes," because they keep meticulous tabs of it.
I said: "Yes?"
He said: "Big" -- I won't say the whole thing -- "big deal."
BIDEN: He said: "You know how many miles you traveled on Amtrak, Joey?"
And I said: "No."
He said: "The boys and I figured out the retirement dinner. You see, you traveled two million" -- I think it was 180 -- but 2, 200,000 miles.
I said: "How did you get that, Ang?"
He said: "Well, 267 miles a day. We figured you traveled 119 days a year for 36 years. And then you traveled as vice president."
He goes: "So, Joey, I don't want to hear this about the Air Force anymore."
BIDEN: I'm a train guy, because it also is the single most significant way we can deal with air pollution, single most significant way we can deal with global warming.
It's going to help the region's vital maritime industry as well by making -- making the movement of ships and bridges safer and more efficient.
Look, with my infrastructure bill, we're going to make sure projects like this are just the beginning. Across the country, there are 45,000 bridges in disrepair, some of them dangerously so; 173,000 miles of roads are in poor condition. We're going to create them, totally new. We're going to fix them.
This is going to be good union jobs, prevailing wage you can raise a family on, jobs that can't be outsourced. We're going to make the largest investment in public transportation in the history of America, replacing transit vehicles that are past their useful life, and make the most significant investment in rail since the creation of Amtrak 50 years ago.
During peak periods when railroads are congested and rail carriers have more passengers, rail is up to 10 times more energy-efficient than a person driving, 10 times. We have a huge opportunity here to provide fast, safe, reliable and clean transportation in this country.
All -- every study shows -- I won't bore you with them all because I have been working it my whole life. Every study shows, if you can get from point A to point B faster on rail than you can drive your automobile, you take the rail.
The Northeast Corridor, we're talking about a $30 billion investment in major projects like the Hudson River Gateway tunnels and the Portal Bridge, which it feeds into.
Look, we're going to create jobs replacing lead water pipes, so families can drink clean water, something New Jersey and Governor Murphy have been leading on. We're going to make sure high-speed Internet is affordable available everywhere in America, including the nearly one in three New Jersey families that don't have an Internet subscription.
How many times you see people pulling up to McDonald's sitting outside during the pandemic so they could do their homework because they can get off of their line?
We're going to create jobs laying thousands of miles of transmission lines to bill modern, resilient -- an energy grid. And we're going to invest in strengthen our infrastructure against the impacts of climate change. The governor and I were talking a little bit earlier.
Just this year, we have -- global warming has caused over $1 trillion -- excuse me -- $100 billion, $100 billion in damage. I visited New Jersey, as governor mentioned, after the Hurricane Ida came through. The governor and several of you were with me. In Manville, we met people who had been put out of their homes by flooding.
It was devastating, water marks over people's heads. They'd show me where the water had gotten to. I told them that help us on the way. Since then, FEMA processed assistance applications for nearly 30,000 New Jerseyans and approved $150 million in repairs, replacement and rental assistance and other needs.
Between 2010 and 2020, this state has had 24 extreme weather events, 24. Nationally, extreme weather, as I said, cost taxpayers over $100 billion a year. Our plan is going to build our roads higher, our levees stronger, our power grids more durable, all to withstand the ever-increasing ferocity and intensity of extreme weather.
And with my Build Back Better plans, we're going to address the root cause of ever-increasing extreme weather and destruction, the climate crisis. We have a climate crisis. I have flown all over this nation this year in helicopters going from
Lake Mead -- more land, Gov, has been burned to the ground in the West, to the ground, forest homes, than the entire state of New Jersey, from all the way down to Cape May all the way up to the Hudson. That's how much has burned to the ground.
My infrastructure bill is also part of Americans' work from long overdue national environmental cleanups, like cleaning up Passaic River, the nation's most expensive Superfund site.
We're going to invest $42 billion in modernizing and electrifying our ports and airports, like the Port of New York and New Jersey, Newark Liberty International Airport, reducing congestion and emissions, creating thousands more good-paying union jobs.
It's going to help us meet the moment of the climate crisis in a way that creates good jobs, make us more economically competitive, and we can read.
Look, we haven't passed a transformation -- a transformative infrastructure bill for a decade. Think about this. How many times been under the former guy did we have -- we had infrastructure week? Not a single thing happened. We need to get this done.
And it isn't enough just to invest in our physical infrastructure. Also have to invest in our people. That's what my second bill, the Build Back Better plan, does.
I just had the opportunity to visit a preschool in -- East End Elementary in North Plainfield. North Plainfield provides access to preschool for all kids 4 years and above. My plan is going to make it possible for the district to expand that program to 3-year-olds all across America.
The earlier our children began to learn, the better for themselves, their families and for the nation. Studies show that children who have attended high-quality preschool are 50 percent more likely to finish high school and get a two- or four-year degree after high school.
But, right now, we're lagging behind. Today, only about half of 3- and 4-year-olds in America are enrolled in early education. In Germany, France, the U.K. and even Latvia, that number is over 90 percent. Over 90 percent of 3 and 4-year-olds are in school. My Build Back Better plan gets us back on track.
We will make two years of high-quality preschool available to every child in America. An average two-parent household in this state spends $15,000 to care for just one young child every year. Everybody says how, do you know? I know about this. When I got elected the United States Senate, my wife and daughter were killed. I had two little boys.
I was making a lot of money as a U.S. senator, $42,000 a year, and I could not afford -- that's why I started commuting every single day. I couldn't afford to have two houses and to have day care. Thank God I have a sister, who's my best friend, a brother, my mother and my father, who helped out.
My Build Back Better plan is going to cut child care costs more than in half for low- and middle-income New Jersey residents. Under my plan, no middle-class family will spend more than 7 percent of their income on child care.
We also extend historic middle-class tax cuts for parents by expanding the child care tax credit. Everybody talks about children. And Josh has heard me say it. I view it as a tax cut for middle-class families, a tax cut. We never have an argument when we talk about the wealthy.
This is a tax cut. It changes the lives of the American people.
BIDEN: As many people here in New Jersey understand, it means you get $300 a month for every child under the age of 6 and $250 for a child between 6 and 17.
That money is already a life-changer for so many working families. It is projected to cut child poverty New Jersey by 36 percent. These bills are going to change the lives of millions of people in areas and hundreds of millions of people across the country for better and for years to come.
So, everyone here today, especially Governor Murphy and other dedicated officials here today, thank you for showing us what's possible, because when we make these investments, there's going to be no stopping America. We will own the future.
This initiative is about betting on America, about believing in America, about believing in American people.
If You look at the history of the journey of this nation, what becomes clear is this. Given half-a-chance, the American people have never, ever, ever let their country down. So let's get this done. Let's move.
Folks, we have the most talented work force in the world. What are we doing? What in God's name are we doing? And, by the way, you hear these numbers, $3.5 trillion. You hear $1.75 trillion. We pay for it all. It doesn't increase the deficit one single cent.
BIDEN: So let's get to work. Let's put people to work. And let's once again reestablish America as the most advanced country in the world.
God bless America, and God bless our troops. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone. I'm Alisyn Camerota. Thanks for joining me on NEWSROOM.
You have been listening to President Biden making another sales pitch of his sweeping economic and social agenda, as Democrats say that they are on the cusp of a deal. You heard President Biden there say, let's get this done. Let's get to work.
He's pushing to lock this up before he heads overseas at the end of this week.
So, joining us now is CNN senior White House correspondent Phil Mattingly, CNN congressional correspondent Jessica Dean, and CNN White House correspondent M.J. Lee, who is with President Biden in New Jersey.
So, Phil, the president said we need to get this done. He also, I thought, more specifically than he has in the past told the audience there exactly what's in it for them.
So, how close really are they to a deal being done?
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and I think those were very intentional remarks, of not getting stuck necessarily in the state of the negotiations, or maybe even in the weeds of some of those negotiations, but instead talk about the top- line effect that a lot of these proposals, even those that may have been scaled back over the course of the last couple of weeks, will actually have on people if they're implemented.
In terms of whether or not there's going to be a deal, look, Alisyn, two things can both be true. They can be on the cusp of a deal can, be 90 to 95 percent of the way there, and that last 5 or 10 percent is by far the thorniest and most complicated.
I think that's the moment they're in right now. And it's -- they have made no bones about it. The president said this morning that he would like to have an agreement and potentially a vote on the first part of his domestic agenda, the infrastructure bill, as soon as the middle of this week, certainly before he leaves for his trip to Europe.
Right now, that's not necessarily possible, given where things stand. But given the number of outstanding issues right now that need to be resolved, very real work and intensive work is under way right now to try and figure those out.
Alisyn, it's not a new story. The two senators that they're most targeting right now, Senator Kyrsten Sinema, who has got a big issue on the revenue side of things, how to pay for this proposal, and Senator Joe Manchin, who has made very clear, whether it's Medicare expansion, Medicaid expansion as well, the paid leave proposals, he wants them scaled back or potentially eliminated entirely.
That's at the core of the negotiations right now, the president saying about three or four issues. Senator Schumer on the Hill saying same thing. Those three or four issues matter and are complicated, but they are certainly pressing to have votes and an agreement this week.
So, Jessica, speaking of Senator Joe Manchin, he had said that Democrats should be able to have a framework on the social safety net this week. So where do things stand with Senator Sinema and Senator Manchin and both Progressive Caucus members?
JESSICA DEAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, as Phil was just talking about, Alisyn, we're now down to these thorny issues that they have got to untangle and sort out in order to move forward on this.
They are hoping to have this framework done by the end of the week. But what's holding them up? Well, when you -- when it comes to Senator Kyrsten Sinema, it really comes down to taxes. She has indicated she is not open to raising taxes either on individuals or corporations, which was a big part of how they planned to pay for this massive package.
So they have had to go back to the drawing board now. And what is coming up is a billionaires tax. Now, that's complicated. They have talked about this for years, but in terms of actually sorting through how this would work, how it would be enforced, they're trying to do that as we speak.
Aides are trying to come up with all of this. They are working through that with Senator Sinema. Senator Joe Manchin has indicated, Alisyn, that he is open to that billionaires tax. So that's something that they're trying to work on.
And in terms of the issues, one big one right now, Medicare expansion. Senator Bernie Sanders and progressives have been hard-line on exactly what that means to them. They want to see dental, vision and hearing expanded for all on -- or for Medicare.
And, right now, it sounds like dental is off the table. And can they get vision and hearing in there? That's what's being talked about right now. Senator Manchin has indicated that he's not really for a lot of that.
He is very concerned about the solvency of Medicare and doesn't want to expand it before they shore up funds for that. But we did hear from him just a little bit ago. He was talking about these issues.
But, again, Alisyn, looking toward the end of the week for this framework. We will continue to watch those two key senators.
CAMEROTA: OK, M.J., so all of this, of course, is happening against the backdrop of some statewide elections, very important statewide elections that are being watched closely.
So the president is there to pitch his agenda, but also to try to help Governor Phil Murphy.
M.J. LEE, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: That's right.
There are two reasons, essentially, that he is here today, right? One is to use the state of New Jersey to try to rally support around his two top legislative priorities. Earlier today, you saw the president visit a local elementary school.
This is where he talked about the huge investments in early education that he hopes will get through in the sweeping economic package. And then, here, we are literally at a transit depot where the backdrop for his speech were trains. He spent a good deal of time talking about how the economic package could better the lives of New Jersey people and the commuters, if they are able to make these kinds of investments on trains, on roads and bridges.
He really wanted to stress the point that it is New Jersey residents and voters who will be affected. And speaking of voters, I think it's important to talk about the political calculation here, right? The White House and President Biden clearly deciding that it is time for him to sort of hit the road and actually explain what is in these legislative bills, not just talk about sort of the negotiations and the top-line numbers, but try to bring home the point that these spending bills could really make a difference for voters.
And that is important ahead of next week. We know that there are Democrats who are hoping that they could get a bit of a last-minute boost as they had -- as voters had to the vote, the polling places next week. We know Governor Phil Murphy is someone who is on the ballot next week.
They are certainly hoping that, if a deal can be reached in the next couple of days, that they can get a boost as they head into Election Day next week. And, of course, the timing is also so critical, because President Biden is hoping that a deal could be reached before he actually leaves the country for his foreign trip.
This is something that could show global leaders that he has his national affairs in order before he meets with global leaders next week -- Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: It's a very important week.
Phil, Jessica and M.J., thank you all very much.
OK, let's bring in CNN's chief political analyst, Gloria Borger.
So, Gloria, as we have just said, it's an important week. Do you think that this is the week that defines the Biden presidency, for better or worse?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, let's just say it's defining. I'm not sure it's all-encompassing.
But, yes, it's incredibly important, Alisyn. I mean, this is when Joe Biden gets to prove and the Democrats get to prove that they can actually have a governing majority here. The majorities are slim. We know that. We have we have spent a month talking about it at least.
And we have talked about Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, and what a difference they're going to make because of the slim majority in the Senate. But the Democrats have to prove that they can deliver, that they can get things done, and that they can actually agree with each other.
And for most of these last months, the country has watched them wrangling with each other, criticizing each other, talking about these large price tags without really defining what's inside these infrastructure bills.
And so, as M.J. was saying, they're really trying to get the president out there to say, here's what's important. Here's why infrastructure matters. Here's why pre-K matters to you and to your family and child care tax credits. This is why they matter.
So I think they're trying to put some meat on the bones here, help these candidates out in the state of New Jersey, in the state of Virginia, and allow Biden to get a big victory, which is something that he really needs right now, given his dropping poll numbers.
CAMEROTA: Yes. So a couple things.
CAMEROTA: You heard him say many times there, let's get this done.
Was that to an audience of two? I mean, was he telegraphing his desires there to Senator Sinema and Joe Manchin? And, also, do you think that voters in Virginia and New Jersey are focused on the haggling between Democrats? Or do you think that they're focused on their other personal issues?
BORGER: Well, let me talk about the voters in New Jersey and Virginia.
I mean, Terry McAuliffe, who's running for governor, Democrat in Virginia, has been talking about Democrats getting these bills done, but he's been criticizing Democrats, and saying, I don't know why they can't all get together. When I was governor last time. I managed to get everyone together in my state, Democrats and Republicans.
And in New Jersey, there's also a sense that you Democrats have to deliver. I mean, Governor Murphy's poll numbers have dropped considerably. He had a 26-point. It's now down to six points. Terry McAuliffe is in a virtual tie.
So they kind of need to look to the national Democrats to say, yes, I agree with them, because we're on the right side of these issues and because we can make government work again. I think that is so important. That's part of Joe Biden's message, which is, government can work for you. Democracy works. Authoritarianism does not work. We don't want that.
And so I think this is part of a larger theme out there that's kind of run all the way into the midterm elections.
CAMEROTA: When I say these other issues that voters are -- may be interested in, it's some of what former President Obama touched on this weekend.
CAMEROTA: He was on the campaign trail. He was in New Jersey. And he talked about the culture wars, and not to put too much energy into that.
So listen to him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Here we are trying to recover from a global pandemic that has killed more than 700,000 Americans, put millions in harm's way.
We don't have time to waste on phony culture wars or fake outrage that the right-wing media are peddling just to juice up your ratings.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: I don't know, Gloria. I mean, when I heard that, I felt like that was a little bit of wishful thinking from President Obama.
Anybody who has a child in K-12 school right now knows that these aren't phony culture wars. You might not think they're legitimate or founded on facts, but they're happening.
But, look, the country is so polarized that people, school board meetings are hand-to-hand combat right now. And it's over issues -- and you will see it in the state of Virginia. Should you tell your teachers what they should teach? Remember, Terry McAuliffe, I would argue, made a big mistake on that when he was talking about that issue.
And so, yes, there are the -- they're wedge issues. They have been with us forever. They have been different issues sometimes, right? Now they're different.
But they're always going to be there. And what I think Obama was saying is, look, we got to get everyone vaccinated, we got to get everyone healthy, we got to think about issues like inflation, perhaps, and other things. And these things are distractions from the larger issues that we need to think about.
I think he has a point, but I think you will never get that out of politics. It's just that, right now, Alisyn, I think the problem is that sometimes these issues are dominating, when they should not be first tier. What he is saying is that people have larger issues to worry about right now, which is women in the work force. How are your kids going to be safe at school, for example? Are they vaccinated? Are they unvaccinated?
All these big issues we're dealing with. I think that's what he's saying. But I think, on a local level here, you're right. CAMEROTA: Gloria Borger, great to get your analysis. Thank you.
CAMEROTA: OK, so newly leaked documents paint another damning picture of Facebook, and they provide new details on their role in fueling the January 6 insurrection.
Plus: new eyewitness accounts of the deadly shooting involving Alec Baldwin, including what the actor was doing in the moments before the gun went off.