During the speech, Biden argued that both components of his Build Back Better agenda — a $1.2 trillion infrastructure package and a larger $3.5 trillion bill to expand the social safety net — are essential to the country’s economic growth, particularly to support middle-class and working families.
Biden said he feels the country is at a historic turning point and that the country needs to make the kind of large-scale investments that competitors like China are making in order to kickstart the economy. The President highlighted China’s spending in education — particularly on early and higher education — and argued the US needs to make similar investments.
“We risk losing our edge as a nation. Our infrastructure used to be the best in the world, literally not figuratively,” Biden said. “Today, according to the world economic forum, we rank 13th. … All those investments that fueled a strong economy, we’ve taken our foot off the gas. The world has taken notice, by the way, including our adversaries and now they’re closing the gap in a big way.”
The trip to Howell, Michigan, came after the President met virtually with Democratic members of the House to discuss the two economic packages. Senior White House officials were up on Capitol Hill last week trying to broker an agreement but were unsuccessful in hammering out a framework that enough members would sign on to, which forced Democrats to punt on the agenda.
In a statement Tuesday afternoon, the White House said the meeting was a “productive discussion about how each of these economic growth packages, both physical and human infrastructure, are central to how we ensure our economy delivers for the middle class and secure our competitiveness in the world.”
Biden spoke at the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 324 training facility in Howell, and received a tour ahead of his remarks.
A nonprofit advocacy group trying to help build support for Biden’s policy agenda announced it was launching a televised ad campaign in Michigan, as Biden headed toward Michigan.
Build Back Together posted on Twitter: “We are launching a six-figure TV investment in Michigan, ahead of @POTUS trip to Howell, to highlight how the #BuildBackBetter agenda will create jobs and lower costs for everyday families, while making the ultra-wealthy finally pay their fair share!”
Howell is located in a key swing district to watch ahead of the 2022 midterm elections. The district, which stretches from the heavily Democratic state capital of Lansing through more Republican rural parts of southeastern Michigan toward the edge of the Detroit suburbs, is the home of moderate Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin, who was first elected in 2018. Slotkin will be on site for Biden’s visit, per a White House official, but will not be traveling aboard Air Force One, as she is already in the district.
Former President Donald Trump bested Biden in the 2020 presidential election in Livingston County, which is where Howell is located, by 60.5% to 37.9%. In 2016, Trump led Hillary Clinton 61.7% to 32.2%. Slotkin won Michigan’s 8th Congressional District, which includes Livingston County, 50.9% to 47.3%.
Biden focused on how his plans would reform the tax code and how he plans to tax the wealthiest corporations and Americans in order to pay for his plans, the official said. He will stress the needs for his economic plan is urgent and will greatly benefit Americans all across the country.
The President’s speech comes as the deadline to raise the debt ceiling to avoid the US defaulting for the first time ever is less than two weeks away. Congress has until October 18 to increase the country’s borrowing limit, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned lawmakers last week, or there could be catastrophic consequences.
Biden said on Monday he couldn’t guarantee the debt ceiling would be raised in time because of “hypocritical, dangerous and disgraceful” Republican opposition. Congressional Republicans are steadfastly refusing to supply any votes to raise the debt limit, and Biden said they should vote on a bipartisan basis to pay for bills for which both parties are responsible.