La Crosse Municipal Transport Company
La Crosse, Wisconsin
12:58 p.m. CDT
THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon. Thank you, Laurie. Please, please, please sit down. I said that once to a large crowd; it was in the evening. I said, "Please, sit down." And there was no seating. They were out on a soccer field. (Laughter) And the press pointed out, "Biden is losing it." (Laughter) Well, I see you all have seats. (Laugh.)
Laurie, thank you very much. I said to Laurie when she showed me the bus she now drives: When I was still studying law, I drove a school bus in the summer to get pocket money. And from one bus driver to another, Laurie, I want to thank you for everything you do to get this city up and running and to help people get where they need to go. And you do it in ways that are sometimes not always easy.
I am excited to be with great leaders from Wisconsin here. Gov, I guess I landed at the airport a few minutes before you. Thank you for making the effort to be here. And my good friend, Tammy Baldwin – Senator Baldwin is here. And Congressman Ron is child – and, mom, thank you for raising a good child. (Applause.)
And Mayor Reynolds. I told the mayor – he just won re-election – he won the election. And I said, "You know, I always wonder why everyone is running for mayor" because they – this is the toughest job in American politics. You know where you live. You can't go to the supermarket. "Why is the pothole still there?" I get it. You don't even control it.
But anyway, Mr. Mayor, thank you very much for your service. Thank you for being ready to serve.
I'm here in Wisconsin to celebrate a step forward for my country – our country – to talk a little about what this will mean for working families here in Wisconsin and across the country.
When I was sworn in five months ago, I made a promise to put all of my soul into bringing America together. I said I was running for three reasons, the last one I said to unite America.
I admit it is difficult, and I think some of my friends in the press thought it was impossible. I still don't think it is, but – because I believe there is nothing we can't do when we get together – as a nation, Democrats and Republicans. And we're really divided on a number of things.
However, if you look back on our history, from the Transcontinental Railroad to the creation of the Internet, you can see the truth in this idea of coming together. Because America – America has always been driven into the future by pioneering national investments – investments that only the government can make; only the government that works together could do.
Today is coincidental – coincidental – but today is the 60th (65th) anniversary of one of those significant investments to change the nation. 65 years ago today, President Dwight Eisenhower signed the law creating the Interstate Highway System. Sixty-five years ago today. That was the last infrastructure investment on the order and scale of what – the deal I'm going to talk about today.
It is time for us to write a new chapter in this story. After months of careful negotiation, listening, compromising in good faith, moving together, with ups and downs and a few dropouts, a bipartisan group of senators got together and they forged an agreement to advance my American's top priorities on Jobs Plan – and one sits in front of me.
As a result, this is a generational investment – a generational investment to modernize our infrastructure and create millions of well-paid jobs – and it's not mine; that comes from Wall Street – millions of well-paying jobs that will enable America to compete with the rest of the world in the 21st century – because China is far ahead of us in terms of infrastructure.
And it will make all the difference for families here in Wisconsin. Here's what it will do: This deal will get American workers into high paying jobs, not minimum wage jobs, not $ 15 an hour jobs. Dominant wage job, well paid jobs, repairing our roads and bridges.
You all know why this is important. One in five miles of freeway and roads in America are in poor condition. One out of five miles. In some states, it is worse when the weather is harsher. Five percent – 50 years – 50 (40) percent of our bridges are over 50 years old. Engineers classify more than 1,000 bridges here in Wisconsin as structurally deficient. A thousand alone in Wisconsin.
And it's not me – that doesn't make Wisconsin any better or worse; it is – across the country is like that. The Bridges – America's 10 busiest bridges need repair, and some need to be rebuilt from scratch. More than 600 bridges – more than 600 here in the state of Wisconsin – have weight restrictions to prevent trucks from crossing. That means long detours for the farmers on the way to the market.
It's more than an inconvenience; it's also about safety. In November 2019, a school bus in Arcadia, Wisconsin, overturned while cornering and drove into a ditch with 20 students on board. It wasn't snow or ice; it was just an old country road. Conditions were rough. At that point, thank God no one was seriously injured.
But that also puts a strain on our economy. Typically American – Typically American – and it varies slightly from state to state – but the typical American pays a hidden tax of over $ 1,000 a year in wasted time – wasted time and fuel due to traffic jams.
The more rural areas, the less traffic jams. But it creates other difficulties.
You all know this feeling: losing time, standing in a traffic jam or being rerouted because the bridge is not wide enough or the road is poorly maintained.
This deal will push Americans to put all that and well-paying jobs back on their feet. This deal will also get Americans to replace 100 percent of our nation's lead water pipes. You know it's 400,000 – well, I'm not going to go into the numbers; I get carried away a little – but it's really dangerous. Every single American child, at home or at school, will soon be able to turn that faucet on and their mothers and fathers will know that the water they drink is clean and safe.
I'll give you an example of why this is important. Just look at the city of Milwaukee. Milwaukee has more than 160,000 water supply lines. More than 70,000 of them, nearly half, have lead service lines.
And by the way, I don't – it doesn't hack Wisconsin, Gov. Every state is like that. But just to know what you're going to be doing here for the state of Wisconsin.
You know, we know that exposure to lead in drinking water can cause a number of serious problems. Even low levels of lead can cause behavioral and learning problems in children and affect their growth.
There are up to 10 million households with lead pipe connections and pipes. Children in up to 400,000 schools – 400,000 schools – and childcare facilities are at risk from lead. This deal includes the largest investment in clean drinking water and wastewater infrastructure in American history.
This offering also offers something that you are very familiar with on the island. It provides funds to remove hazardous chemicals known as PFAs or "Forever Chemicals" from our water systems. This is a problem across the country and I know you are feeling it right here – right here.
Here in La Crosse County, the state had to provide free bottled water to thousands of people on the French island just this spring because they were concerned about the chemicals in groundwater that have been linked to cancer and other diseases. We will pay for it. We will take care of that.
We're also going to increase federal funding to fight the chemicals forever, not just here but across America. Unfortunately, Wisconsin is not unique on this issue.
This deal will also get Americans to build transmission lines – the largest investment in clean energy transmission in American history. Blackouts cost the US economy up to – now it is – now we know, but until you add it up it doesn't seem like that big of a deal. It's costing the economy, Congressman, $ 70 billion a year. You hear me? At the national level, $ 70 billion annually.
And with climate change increasingly triggering extreme weather events, we need to invest in building a more resilient network to transport this electricity.
Most of the national power grid is aging. Some components are over a century old. And 70 percent of the transmission and distribution lines are already in the second half of their service life. You saw what happened in Texas this winter: the entire state system collapsed. The whole system.
So we have to act. This agreement will modernize the power grid to be more energy efficient and resilient – and more resilient to extreme weather; resilient to bad actors trying to hack and attack the web. Because I just spent a lot of time in Europe working on it.
And it will strengthen and revitalize our natural infrastructure such as our coasts and dikes, while preparing our physical infrastructure for forest fires, floods and other extreme weather conditions.
Everyone thinks you would – you hear – turn on the news and it will say it was 116 degrees in Portland, Oregon. One hundred and sixteen degrees. “But don't worry, there is no global warming. It does not exist. It's an invention of our imagination. ”Seriously.
If a severe storm comes along, like you had recently in some parts of the state, the power will be less likely to fail, urban water systems will be able to withstand what happens if we – once we make these investments.
And all of that – as you all know, America has one of the highest road death rates in the industrial world. Let me say that again: the highest traffic death rates of any industrialized nation in the world. I've lost a wife and a daughter and almost lost two sons.
Look, our per capita death rate is twice that of Canada. I bet any of you here can tell me what the most dangerous intersections are in your town. I put eight to five, no matter what city. You might not have many, but everyone knows which intersections are the most dangerous.
What do you do when you teach your child to drive? You tell them, "No, don't go this way when you get home." I'm dead serious. "When you come home, come home the other way around."
Guess what? We reached an agreement to invest $ 11 billion to help cities and towns reduce accidents and deaths in the community – especially for cyclists and pedestrians, who are becoming increasingly important.
This agreement will more than double funding for state and local programs that improve the safety of people in vehicles, including highway safety, truck safety, pipeline and hazardous materials safety.
I'm not even going to go into that now, but you know we have – we have thousands of miles of pipeline. The vast majority of these pipes are 60 years or older – some of them over 80 years old. Many of them are leaking.
This is the United States of America, for God's sake. What are we not doing
This agreement will also help ensure high-speed Internet access and ensure it is available to every American household, including 35 percent of rural families who are currently without it.
Last spring, more than 82,000 children here in Wisconsin, which prides itself on its education, did not have reliable internet access at home. Think about this year – distance learning a year from now. When so many of our needs and connections went online, tens of thousands of Wisconsin children were left behind.
Have you ever thought, here in America, that kids would have to sit in a fast food parking lot just to do their schoolwork and homework because they could connect online? No joke. Ask any mother who has children in school or a father who looks after them. No child should have to do that.
And no farmer here in Wisconsin should lose business because he doesn't have a reliable connection to the Internet – knowing when to buy, when to sell, and knowing what's going on.
You know, in 1936 the federal government was powering almost every home and farm in America and expanding the opportunities for cities in every part of the country. It changed the lives and fortunes of thousands and thousands of homeowners, thousands of hometowns, and millions of American families. And it set the stage for a massive, sustained economic boom that would follow World War II.
High-speed internet is the equivalent of that today. It's a similar one – it's an equivalent. It's not a luxury; it is now a necessity, like water and electricity. And this deal would make it possible for everyone while reducing the cost of Internet services across the board.
This deal also prompted Americans to install charging stations for electric vehicles nationwide for the first time – 500,000 charging stations nationwide along our highways and also in rural and disadvantaged communities.
Think about what this can mean for American auto workers and the future of electric vehicles. China is in full swing. They provide more electric vehicles than any other nation in the world. You know, it was before I first got into the United States Senate, actually a couple – actually in the 60s when I got out – in the late 60s when I finished law school, what happened? We have invested more in research and development, investment and production than any other nation in the world.
Now we are number eight in the world. China used to be number nine; now they are number two in the world.
And when you build a charging station, it spurs even more investment and more infrastructure – the local grocery store, the local hamburger shop. You know, remember – nobody's old enough, but my dad used to tell me – because he used to work for the American Oil Company – they came up with that – the internal combustion engine. You had to be able to put the throttle on the engine. I mean in the car – the tank. Guess what? They had to build gas stations.
One of my father's and my Grandpop Biden's jobs was traveling from town to town and convincing them that it was okay to bury those big big tanks of gasoline in them. And whole churches have sprung up around him.
That is exactly what we have to do with electric vehicles. This deal will also help our cities, our cities, and our school districts adopt electric buses. Thirty-five thousand electric school buses being billed. And there are around 475,000 school buses in this country, 95 percent of them like the ones you had here –
(A child falls off the chair.) Is he okay, honey? Are you sure? He fell a little.
95 percent of them run on diesel. More than 25 million children and thousands of bus drivers breathe polluted air every day on their way to school.
Diesel air pollution has been linked to asthma and other health problems. It harms the communities. It causes students to get sick and miss out on time in school.
We owe it to our children to clean up the school buses and this deal will help.
I know the town of La Crosse is getting two electric transit buses this fall – I think I saw them both. I've been down in the Carolinas checking out the bus company you'll be buying them from – charging stations to power them.
That bipartisan deal – by the way, you had half the Republicans and half the Democrats come along and come up with that deal and negotiate that deal. It will help advance that effort.
This deal also modernizes our outdated airports, ports and waterways. That means fewer delays that pull so much money away from families and businesses. There's no good reason why that zero-zero of the 25 best airports in the world is in America. Zero. Not one in the United States of America.
This deal will get Americans to conduct long overdue national cleanups. That means well-paying jobs, covering hundreds of thousands of abandoned oil and gas wells that need to be cleaned up and plugged – methane leaks – to protect the health of our communities. Earning the same money it took to dig this well. And there are thousands of them.
Not to mention, this transaction marks the largest investment in American passenger and freight transportation since Amtrak was founded.
Now I know that I am "Mr. Amtrak. “I've covered over 2 million miles with Amtrak. I commuted every day. I get it. I know you think i'm crazy But after my wife and daughter were killed, I decided to commute to Delaware. It was a 257 mile round trip.
I'm telling you a really short story. I shouldn't bore you with this. But you know, the Secret Service – they are the best in the world – don't like you taking Amtrak because it stops too often – the train. They want me to fly home in the little jets that were available as Vice President. And that cost a lot of money, so I went home on a Friday, you know, because my mother died. I would go home with Amtrak. And they published – they keep accurate records of the miles you cover on an airplane – on an Air Force plane as President and Vice President.
And towards the end of my tenure, a headline appeared in all the newspapers: "Biden travels …" – I think it was 1.3 or 1.7 million miles on Air Force planes. And so this Friday I get on the train and these guys who all became my family – all of them – the conductors. And a guy named Angelo Negri came up and said, "Joey, baby!" Grab my cheek like that. (Laughter) And I thought they were going to shoot him. I really did. (Laugh.)
I said, “No, no, no, no, no, no, no. He's a friend. "He said," What the hell. " And he said, “Big deal, Joey. A million … "- whatever it was -" … three hundred thousand miles. Do you know how many miles you drove on Amtrak, Joey? "And I said," No, Ang. I don't. "And he said," At that retired dinner we calculated it. We estimated 127 days a year, 250 miles there and back, ages 3-36, then Vice President. Joey, you've traveled more with Amtrak. "(Laughter)
Well, me – and when they named a station after me in my town, someone complained that Biden was using his influence. I said, "Damn it, you should name the whole Northeast Corridor after me." I have – (Laughter) – more than anyone.
Joking aside, studies show that if you get to your destination in the same amount of time or less than the car, people take the train. And Gov, you know this better than anyone. Imagine getting from Chicago to La Crosse in two hours instead of four and a half hours. This will enable us to build the capacity for this.
And besides, not only will it make your travel easier, not – I don't know why you should go to Chicago, but – you know, kidding aside – it would reduce America's biggest source of pollution: road trips.
We're not just tinkering around the edges here. We will be investing $ 66 billion in rail transport to clean up residues and bring world-class rail services to areas outside the Northeast.
Here in Wisconsin, we're adding new stops in Green Bay, Madison, and Eau Claire.
This deal is also the largest public transportation investment in American history. Lots of people here in Wisconsin rely on public transportation, like the bus system here in La Crosse, to get to work, school, and getting around. Because of this deal, it becomes safer, faster, cleaner, more frequent, and more available – more reliable.
More transportation means more people have access to good jobs – good jobs too. One study found that this leads to higher wages for workers as companies use the railroad to attract more customers.
This bipartisan breakthrough is a big thing for the American people – not just the people of the cities, not just red or blue states, but everyone.
And this job – these jobs – the jobs that are being created here – mostly for workers, most of whom don't have to have a college degree to have these jobs.
Many of these people are left behind now. The boys I grew up with in Scranton and Claymont are being left behind. That's the answer to well-paying jobs. Jobs are jo- jobs not only in our largest cities on our coasts, but also in small towns across the country so that families in their rural hometowns can build wealth and opportunity and not have to leave them when they grow up.
We have said it all along: this is a blueprint for rebuilding America. And well in advance, families in Wisconsin will see the benefits firsthand.
Look, I always quote my dad because he was smart and I loved him. My father always said, “Joey, a job is about a lot more than just a paycheck. It's about your dignity. It's about respect. It's about your place in the community. ”I mean, he would really say that. When he lost everything in Scranton and we had to move to Claymont, Delaware – a little steel town.
And he said – and the deal will be breathable. He just said, “All you want as a middle class person is to have some air to breathe. Not – just a little air to breathe. "
So we need to build this economy from the bottom up, not trickle down – creating well-paid jobs with dignity and jobs that cannot be outsourced.
Most importantly, we'll do anything without raising taxes for a single American who makes less than $ 400,000. Well, you all make over $ 400,000, I love you guys, but I don't mind if your taxes go up a bit.
Joking aside, I've made a commitment: Nobody – I wouldn't support anything that earns a penny in taxes on someone who earns less than 400 grand. And that means there is no gas tax in this bill. Working families have already paid enough.
Instead, we will partially pay for that investment by providing the Internal Revenue Service with the funds it needs to collect taxes from the richest Americans who are in debt but are not currently paying under existing tax rules.
And that's not being done, by the way – it's being done by conservative economists and liberal economists. It's crackdown on tax evaders, not just hard-working middle-class Americans.
And there are many major investments in this deal that are long overdue. Economists of all stripes agree that it will create good jobs and dramatically strengthen our economy in the long term. It makes it easier for companies to move their goods smoothly (seamlessly) and makes it easier for workers to access employment opportunities.
But the reason this agreement is so important – it's about what it represents. This deal is not just the sum of its parts; it is a signal to ourselves and to the world that American democracy can come through and deliver for all of our peoples. We can be united.
I just met with the G7. I've just met with all of NATO. And I just met with Putin. The autocrats think that democracy cannot keep up with the autocrats. No joke.
But it is living proof that in this country we can still come together and achieve something great and disruptive.
I know that neither the Democrats nor the Republicans are getting everything they want in this deal. It's not all I suggested. But that's what our economy is about. That means compromise and consensus. And everyone is – at the heart of every democracy.
And we can't give up what we're doing – keep finding ways to come together. Because every time we negotiate in good faith and come together to achieve something great, we break a little more of the ice that too often freezes us and prevents us from solving the real problems that people face are.
To be clear, there is much more to be done. And I'll keep fighting for more I will continue to work with Congress to kick off even more of my economic agenda so we can continue to build an economy from the bottom up.
When we bring home key pieces of my American employment plan, I will take the case – and I have told the negotiators so – I will be – I will continue to take the case there – critical. Investments still need to be made, including those on my family plan – American Family plan.
Perhaps the most important of these is the expansion of the child tax credit, which will benefit the middle class and working population significantly. Let me explain what that is.
Soon, American taxpayers will get a major check back from the IRS. For example, if you – if you – have to pay taxes and have a good income, you can deduct $ 2,000 per dependent child – per child. And that comes from the bottom line of your taxes, and you probably owe even more after that is cut off.
But for families – for families who don't actually have such a high tax bill, they don't get any of it. So this year we changed the law and it reduced child poverty by 40 percent. And here in Wisconsin we're going to start on July 15th – they're going to pick up the phone and call you to say, "Thank you, Governor." And they'll get checks from the IRS.
Here's what's inside: Get $ 3,600 for every child you have under the age of six. And for every child under – between – over 12 years of age, you will receive $ 3,000. So you're actually getting a cash payment instead of just offsetting your taxes because you don't pay as much in taxes if you – if you earn – if you are earning the minimum wage or are making $ 20,000, 30,000 or $ 40,000 a year again. And people say, "Well, that's a giveaway." Guys, I think it's time to give ordinary people a tax break. The rich are fine. (Applause) No, I'm serious. I mean it that way.
Why is this not a tax break for workers when the things we give to the super-rich are called "tax breaks"? Look, important measures on clean energy, housing, care, child and paid vacation, universal preschool, free community college. The human infrastructure is intertwined with our physical infrastructure. It will help us to create more good jobs, relieve working families and strengthen our economy in the long term.
And I'll go out – I'll be – I'll be out there standing up for the American people until that job is done; until we bring home this bipartisan deal; until our human infrastructure also meets the needs; until we have a fair tax system to pay for it all.
Und übrigens, wovon ich im Familienplan spreche – lassen Sie mich Ihnen sagen, wie ich dafür bezahlen werde. Und das amerikanische Volk unterstützt es in den Umfragedaten mit überwältigender Mehrheit. Wenn wir nur die Körperschaftsteuer auf 28 Prozent erhöhen – früher waren es 35 Prozent. Es sollte auf 28 herunterkommen; jetzt sind es 21. Wenn Sie es auf 28 % erhöhen, wissen Sie, wie viel Geld das bringt? 1,4 Billionen Dollar. Wenn Sie eine globale Mindeststeuer haben, der wir in Europa zugestimmt haben – das bedeutet, dass Unternehmen die Steuern nicht zu Hause zahlen können – würde das in Amerika 385 Milliarden US-Dollar einbringen. Wenn Sie die Abzüge für ausländische Unternehmen beenden, die ihre Gewinne aus den Vereinigten Staaten liefern, bringt das 260 Milliarden US-Dollar in diese Steueroasen.
Wissen Sie, es gibt in Amerika 30 Unternehmen der Fortune 500, die Milliarden verdienen – ich bin – ich komme aus der Unternehmenshauptstadt der Welt, Delaware. Kein Witz. In Delaware sind mehr Unternehmen eingetragen als alle anderen in Amerika zusammen. Okay?
Und rate was? Fünfzehn der Fortune-500-Unternehmen im letzten Jahr zahlten – ich meine, 30 – entschuldigen Sie – zahlten null Steuern und machten Milliarden von Dollar. Keinen Cent Steuern bezahlt, keinen Cent.
Ich versuche niemanden zu bestrafen. Ich sage nur: "Lass uns fair sein." Wenn Sie nur eine Mindeststeuer einrichten würden – Sie müssten mindestens 15 Prozent Ihres Einkommens als Unternehmen zahlen – würde das allein 230 Milliarden US-Dollar einbringen.
Der Punkt ist, ich hatte nie den Ruf, jemand zu sein, der versucht, die Leute einfach zu überfordern. Aber hier ist der Deal, Leute: Ich denke, es ist an der Zeit, dass das Steuergesetz gerecht wird. Ich möchte nicht, dass du mehr bezahlst als deinen Anteil.
Aber die Steuersenkung, die unter Trump beschlossen wurde – die 2 Billionen Dollar, von denen kein Cent bezahlt wurde – wo ist sie geblieben? Über 80 Prozent davon gingen an das oberste Viertel von 1 Prozent. Ich denke, du solltest Milliardär werden können. Ich denke, du solltest Millionär werden können. Aber um Gottes Willen, zahlen Sie wenigstens. Zahlen Sie Ihren gerechten Anteil. Zahlen Sie Ihren gerechten Anteil.
Leute, es liegt eine Menge Arbeit vor uns, um den Job zu beenden, den ich gerade skizziert habe. Es wird mehr Meinungsverschiedenheiten geben, die gelöst werden müssen, mehr Kompromisse müssen auf dem Weg geschmiedet werden.
Aber heute kann das amerikanische Volk stolz auf Demokraten und Republikaner sein; Familien hier in Wisconsin können stolz sein; Der Kongress kann stolz sein, denn dieses Land ist zusammengekommen, hat einen parteiübergreifenden Deal geschmiedet – was viel mit Ihrem Staat – Ihrem Senator – zu tun hat, der für alle gilt. Wir haben der Welt gezeigt und, was genauso wichtig ist, wir haben uns selbst gezeigt, dass die amerikanische Demokratie durchkommen kann. Es gibt nichts – nichts, nichts – jenseits unserer Kapazitäten, wenn wir als eine Nation zusammenkommen.
Also, danke, Wisconsin. Ich danke Ihnen allen für das, was Sie sind und was Sie tun. Möge Gott Sie alle segnen und möge Gott unsere Truppen beschützen. Danke, Wisconsin. (Beifall.)
13:31 Uhr CDT