A Positive Vision To Replace Trickle-Down Economics July 1, 2023July 1, 2023 “You butter your pizza?” marveled my astonished friend. “I do.” “Is that a thing? Does anyone else do that?” “Not that I know of.” “Can I tell people?” “Hey, in Joe Biden’s America, people are free to butter their pizza if they want!” I said. “And, yes, you can tell people.” Of course, it was “fake butter.” (And thin-crust bacon-chicken-topped pizza that I wouldn’t have bought myself, but couldn’t resist once offered.) It’s about freedom! Speaking of which . . . Isn’t it interesting how, when it comes to gender-affirming medical care, Republican governors and legislatures across the country — who claim to believe in personal freedom — have felt the need to overrule the wishes of minors and their parents and doctors and psychologists? These are tough, very personal decisions that Republican officials believe they should make. Never mind what the American Medical Association says, or what the families want, or what their doctors advise. Fortunately, federal judges have been stepping in. Some of them, Trump-appointed. All over the country. Republicans suck. (Not Republican voters; the hundreds of Republican governors and legislators who have imposed these bans.) I have to say I don’t think it’s nearly as clear-cut whether a web designer should be forced to design a website celebrating something she believes defies God’s will. The couple should surely be free to marry, with all the rights and responsibilities that entails — that’s the big deal here and a million times more important. Unlike Dobbs, or the Court’s gutting of the Voting Rights Act, this week’s decision didn’t strike me as indefensible or particularly consequential. Also a million times more important is what the President had to say in Chicago Wednesday, abridged here: [Here’s my] economic vision for this country: an economy that grows from the middle out and the bottom up instead of just the top down. When that happens, everybody does well. The wealthy still do — (applause) — everybody does well. The poor have a ladder up, and the wealthy still do well. We all do well. This vision is a fundamental break from the economic theory that has failed America’s middle class for decades now. It’s called trickle-down economics — fundamental economics, trickle-down. The idea was — it’s the belief that we should cut taxes for the wealthy and big corporations — and I know something about big corporations; there’s more corporations in Delaware incorporated than every other state in the union combined. I want them to do well, but I — I’m tired of waiting for the trickle-down. It doesn’t come very quickly. Not much trickled down on my dad’s kitchen table growing up. And it’s a belief that we should shrink public investment in infrastructure and public education — shrink it; that we should let good jobs get shipped overseas. And we actually have a tax policy that encourages them to go overseas to save money. We should let big corporations amass more power while making it harder to join a u- — a union. I meant what I said when I said I’m going to be the pro- — the most pro-union president in American history. And I make no apologies for it. (Applause.) My predecessor enacted the latest iteration of a failed theory. Tax cuts for the wealthy. It wasn’t paid for, and the estimated cost of his tax cut was $2 trillion. Two trillion dollars. Now Republicans are at it again, pushing for tax cuts for large corporations and the wealthy and adding trillions of dollars to the deficit. Trillions. Folks, let me say this as clearly as I can: The trickle-down approach failed the middle class. It failed America. It blew up the deficit. It increased inequity. And it weakened our infrastructure. It stripped the dignity, pride, and hope out of communities one after another, particularly through the Midwest, Western Pennsylvania, and heading west. People working as hard as ever couldn’t get ahead because it’s harder to buy a home, pay for a college education, start a business, retire with dignity. The first time in a generation, the path of the middle class seemed out of reach. And I don’t think it’s hyperbole; I think it’s a fact no matter whether you’re a Democrat, Republican, or an independent. I knew we couldn’t go back to the same failed policies when I ran, so I came into office determined to change the economic direction of this country, to move from trickle-down economics to what everyone in the Wall Street Journal and Financial Times began to call “Bidenomics.” I didn’t come up with the name. (Laughter.) I really didn’t. I now claim it, but they’re the ones that used it first. I got asked by a press person this morning, getting on the helicopter in Washington, why — “When I asked you about Bidenomics a long time ago, you said you didn’t know what it was.” I said, “I didn’t name it Bidenomics. I didn’t realize the economists in the Wall Street journal did.” But I think it’s a plan that I’ll — I’m happy to call it “Bidenomics.” (Laughs.) (Applause.) And guess what? Bidenomics is working. When I took office, the pandemic was raging and our economy was reeling, supply chains were broken, millions of people unemployed, hundreds of thousands of small businesses on the verge of closing after so many had already closed — literally, hundreds of thousands on the verge of closing. Today, the U.S. has had the highest economic growth rate, leading the world economies since the pandemic. The highest in the world. (Applause.) As Dick said, with his help, we created 13.4 million new jobs. More jobs in two years than any president has ever — (applause) — made in four — in two. And, folks, it’s no accident. That’s Bidenomics in action. Bidenomics is about building an economy from the middle out and the bottom up, not the top down. And there are three fundamental changes that we decided to make with the help of Congress and been able to do it: first, making smart investments in America; second, educating and empowering American workers to grow the middle class; and third, promoting competition to lower costs to help small businesses. Here’s what I mean by all this. Under trickle-down economics, it didn’t matter where you made things, as long as you helped the company’s bottom line, even if that meant seeing jobs and industries go overseas for cheaper labor. Supply chains and key products moved overseas. Entire towns and communities were shut down, hollowed out. I mean literally hollowed out. All over the country, parents have to say to their — and many of you and all elected officials heard people tell you this — had to say to their children, “Honey, I lost my job. We can’t live here anymore. We’ve got to move.” Trickle-down also meant slashing public investment on things that helped drive long-term growth and helped America lead the world in innovation. We used to invest 2 percent of our gross domestic product in research and development. By the time I came to office, that was down to 0.7 percent. We used to be number one in the world in research and development. That’s what we were known for. Now we rank number nine in the world. China, decades ago, was number eight in the world. Now it’s number two in the world. And other nations are closing in fast. We used to have the best infrastructure in the world — roads, bridges, et cetera — but then we fell to 13th. How can you have the best economy in the world without the best infrastructure in the world? How do you get product from one place to another? I was out in Pittsburgh recently, the “City of Bridges” — bridges collapsing all over the nation. You’ve seen on television railroad bridges collapsing. Bidenomics. We’re turning this around. We’re supporting targeted investments. We’re strengthening America’s economic security, our national security, our energy security, and our climate security. I designed and we signed a Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. It’s already announced — I heard some of the speakers before touting some of it. It’s already announced 35,000 projects across the country. Think of it this way: Nearly a century ago, Franklin Roosevelt’s Rural Electrification Act brought electricity to millions of Americans in rural America. Seventy years ago, Dwight Eisenhower launched the Interstate Highway System. That’s what the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law does. It will be for our kids and grandkids, only bigger. Just last week, we announced our plan to bring affordable high-speed Internet to every home in America, every small business in America. And to no one’s surprise — (applause) — and to no one’s surprise, it’s bringing along converts. People strenuously opposed, voting against it when we had this going. They were — this was going to “bankrupt America.” Well, there’s a guy named Tuberville — a senator from Alabama — who announced that he strongly opposed the legislation. Now he’s hailing its passage. Here’s what he said: Quote, “It’s great to see Alabama receive critical funds to boost ongoing broadband efforts.” (Laughter.) (The President makes the sign of the cross.) (Laughter.) We’re replacing every lead pipe in this country . . . fixing crumbling bridges, upgrading our power grid, renovating our airports and ports. Made in America. Not a slogan; it’s actually happening. We’re now investing in key industries of the future, making targeted investments to promote domestic production of semiconductors, batteries, electric cars, clean energy. Under the trickle-down, the theory was that public investment would discourage private investment. Give me a break. (Laughter.) We went to see a whole lot of major corporations and said, “Are you more or less likely to invest if the government invests?” Overwhelmingly — they had it backwards — they said, “No, we’re more likely to invest if the government invests.” Biden economics means the industries of the future are going to grow right here at home. At home. (Applause.) I mean it. Not a joke. Under Bidenomics, we’ve already had over $490 billion in private investment commitments — $490 billion — from U.S. companies and companies around the world coming to the United States of America. Working with our global partners, America’s investments in clean energy technology are going to reduce carbon emissions. Wind and solar are already significantly cheaper than coal and oil. And we used to be the center of building these solar panels. We’re coming back and doing it again. America is going to lead again. (Applause.) Look, it’s a win for the United States and a win for the world that builds on my decision to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement on the first day I came to office. The first day. (Applause.) Remember “Infrastructure Week”? Infrastructure Week became Infrastructure Week and week and week and week and week. It never happened. (Laughter.) We got Infrastructure Decade done right off the bat. (Applause.) But in reality, construction of manufacturing facilities here on U.S. soil grew only 2 percent on my predecessor’s watch in four years. Two percent. On my watch, it’s grown nearly 100 percent in two years — 100 percent — (applause) — with the help of all the members of Congress who are here. And I’m not being solicitous. Look — Weirton, West Virginia: It used to — where a steel mill closed in the beginning of this century — in 2001 or -02, in that range. It employed thousands — it had thousands of good-paying jobs that were lost. But today, with the help from the Inflation Reduction Act, a new plant is being built, building iron-air batteries, which are going to help store energy. These batteries are going to help store energy. And it’s being built on the same exact site, bringing back 750 good-paying jobs, bringing back a sense of pride and hope for the future, for all the people or Weirton and surrounding areas. The second big part of Bidenomics is empowering American workers. When I took office, unemployment was over 6 percent. With the American Rescue Plan, we’ve provided relief and support directly to working-class families. Our economy came roaring back. Unemployment’s been below 4 percent for the longest stretch in 50 years in American history. (Applause.) Pay for low-wage workers has grown at the fastest pace in over two decades. Job satisfaction, based on every poll, is at a 36-year high. More people are satisfied with their jobs than any time in 36 years. And the share of working-age Americans in the workforce is the highest it’s been in 20 years. And we’re going to continue this progress by making sure every American has the training and education to participate in this new economy. We’ve increased Pell Grants and made landmark investments in historic Black universities. We’ve invested more in registered apprenticeships and career technology education programs than any previous administration in American history. I’m determined to keep fighting for universal pre-K and free community college. We’re also fighting to make childcare more affordable because we know one benefit is that it opens up significant opportunities for parents to be able to go back and join the workforce. (Applause.) The third part of Biden economics is promoting competition. The cops are back on the beat enforcing anti-trust laws. My administration is working to crack down on “non-compete agreements.” These prevent 30 million Americans — from security guards to retail workers — from walking across the street to a same kind of business and getting a higher pay — getting 5 bucks more a week or 10 bucks more a week. Non-compete agreements. It’s one thing to have non-compete agreements when you’re dealing with trade secrets. It’s another thing when you’re doing the same thing of flipping a hamburger, and you’re going to get five cents more by walking across the street to a different place. Competition also means lowering costs for consumers. Bringing down inflation remains one of my top priorities. Today, inflation is less than half what it was a year ago. We finally gave Medicare the power to negotiate lower prescription drug prices. (Applause.) Seniors on Medicare who were paying $400 a month for insulin last year are now paying $35 a month. (Applause.) Because guess what? You know how much it costs to make that insulin? Ten — T-E-N — dollars. Package it, maybe 12 total. And the guy who invented the insulin didn’t even ask for a patent because he wanted everybody to have access to it. We’re just finishing the first round of negotiating drug prices, and we’ll save the taxpayers this year $160 billion. (Applause.) That’s like a tax cut. It lowers the cost of prescription drugs, and it lowers the federal deficit as well. We’re expanding healthcare coverage for more Americans building on Barack’s Affordable Care Act. (Applause.) You know why we’re doing that? I’m proud to strengthen that act, saving average families $800 a year on their healthcare premiums. We’re also fighting to end junk fees. One of the leading bank presidents — God love him, he’s passed away — but he had a yacht. The name of the yacht was “Overdraft.” (Laughter.) I swear to God. Well, guess what? There are going to be no more overdraft fees. (Applause.) Folks, we’re doing this — we’re doing all this, reducing the deficit at the same time. You know, reversing 40 years of Republican trickle-down economics that helped few but hurt the middle class, it’s going to take some time. But we’re moving in the direction where people will see it. It takes time for them to see it. And I’m not here to declare victory on the economy. I’m here to say we have a plan that’s turning things around incredibly quickly. But we have more work to do. For example, does anyone here think the federal tax system is fair? Raise your hand. No matter how much money you make. We’re going to make it fair by eliminating loopholes for crypto traders, hedge fund managers. Big Oil made $200 billion last year and got a $30,000 tax break — $30 billion tax break. We’re going to get billionaires to pay up a little bit, at least a minimum tax. You know, when we began, there were 750 — before the pandemic — 750 billionaires in America. Now there are a thousand. You know how much their average federal tax is? Eight percent. No billionaire should pay a lower tax rate than a schoolteacher, a firefighter, or a cop. I made a commitment when I got elected: No one in America making under $400,000 would ever have to pay a single penny more in federal taxes as long as I’m president. (Applause.) And I’ve kept that promise. And $400,000 is a lot of money where I come from. I ran on the promise I was going to build an economy from the middle out and the bottom up. We’re not going to continue down the trickle-down path as long as I’m president. Here’s the simple truth about trickle-down economics: It didn’t represent the best of American capitalism, let alone America. It represented a moment where we walked away — and how many in this country — from how — how this country was built, how this city was built. Bidenomics is about the future. Bidenomics is just another way of saying: Restore the American Dream because it worked before. It’s rooted in what’s always worked best in this country: investing in America, investing in Americans. Because when we invest in our people, we strengthen the middle class, we see the economy grow. That benefits all Americans. That’s the American Dream. Forty years of trickle-down limited that dream except for those at the top. I was on the Tibetan Plateau with Xi Jinping. I traveled 17,000 miles with him. I’ve spoken with him more than any other head of state because it started when I was vice president and he was the vice president. We knew he was going to be successful. I met alone with him, just he and I and a simultaneous interpreter, 68 times — 68 hours — 68 times, more than 68 hours. By the way, I turned in all my notes. (Laughter.) But — and this is the God’s truth — he asked me — we were on the Tibetan Plateau, and he asked me — he said, “Can you define America for me?” I said, “Yes, in one word” — and I meant it — “possibilities. Possibilities.” We’re a land of possibilities. And I told him: It’s never been a good bet to bet against America. Never. (Applause.) And I can honestly — I can honestly say I’ve never been more optimistic about America’s future. I swear to God. I’ve never been more optimistic. We just have to remember who we are. We are the United States of America. There is nothing — nothing beyond our capacity if we work together. Have a great weekend!