Miami Beach, Florida
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Hello, hello, hello. Please have a seat. Please have a seat. Well done. You finally got to every woman in your life. (Laughter.)
But I want to thank Alex and Tiffany yet again for hosting me and all of us. You two are really quite selfless in terms of what you do for the party, what you do for our country. And I have, yes, stood in this very spot, maybe sometimes over there, many times before and with many of the people who are in this room.
And so, I do want to start by thanking you all. Because as I was mentioning to a couple of the friends while we were taking the photographs, there is nothing that we as an administration, that the President and I can accomplish were it not for the support of the American people in the various ways that people express their love of our country.
And with all that everyone has going on and the many other obligations in your life, that you make the effort, and often the sacrifice, to be so engaged is what really is one of the most important ingredients to the strength of our country.
So, for all of those reasons, I thank everyone — the host committee, and the Hecklers in particular, for the work that you have done. And your daughters — where are they? Those rock stars. And the play is going to be magnificent tonight. (Laughter.) I know that.
And I do want to also thank, Chris. The last time I saw Chris was just a couple days ago, it feels like — at the end of last week, actually, when we were together in the Bay Area, in California. You are traveling the country, Chris. I know you’re home today. I’m glad to know that. But you have been traveling the country, fighting for all that we hold dear and all that we stand for. And you keep doing it.
I have met with Chris over the years, and always, you are giving up so much for the sake of the benefit of all of us. And so thank you to Chris Korge. If we can please applaud him. (Applause.) Thank you.
So, we have a lot to talk about. And I started by, yes, thanking everyone here for years and years of what you have each done. But I want to thank you most recently for what you did in 2020 and in 2022.
And I’m going to just start with 2020 because that’s when the President and I were elected. And as we reflect back on that moment in time, we’ll all remember that it wasn’t easy. The challenges that our country was facing, the stakes that were so high in that election. And you all worked so hard, often driven by pure faith in what was possible and a belief in our country.
And because of that work in 2020, we now find ourselves with a whole lot of good material to talk about — material that is about the work that we have accomplished that in so many ways, on so many subject areas, is historic and, therefore, transformational.
Just think about what we have accomplished in just two short years, through hard work and a belief in what is possible.
Yes, I’m here to speak at the Aspen Ideas Conference, to talk about the significance of the work we must do and the challenges we face as it relates to the climate crisis being experienced around the globe.
Our administration has just made, because of your support, because of your desire, because of your demands — when you total up the infrastructure bill with what we are doing with the CHIPS Act, with what we have done with the Inflation Reduction Act, by my calculations, we’re looking at about a trillion dollars hitting the streets of America on the issue of the climate crisis. Transformational. Because as we all know, it’s long overdue. And we lost some years.
But what we must do to infuse a meaningful amount of resources to get where we need to be and what we have accomplished in two short years to get there, it’s historic, and it is transformational.
Just a couple of weeks ago, I was in Munich, at the Munich Security Conference. I gave a speech there, and it was mostly about Ukraine. But then after, I was asked to take some questions on the stage, in front of world leaders and in particular those who are our allies in the transatlantic partnership that we have in the context of NATO.
And one of the things I was very proud to talk about on that stage, representing the United States of America, is what we have accomplished on this subject.
Because of this investment, we are looking at jumpstarting a whole new economy: a clean energy economy. What this means in terms of job creation; what this means in terms of climate resilience and adaptation; what this means in terms of the infusion of resources to invest in innovation, and how that will benefit not only our country — because, yes, we have been so bold as to say, yes, we have decided to invest in our country, we have decided to invest in our workforce, we have decided to invest in American-based manufacturing for a number of reasons that include everything that the pandemic, at its height, tossed us, in a very costly way, about supply chains.
But by doing this investment, it is not only about increasing our workforce, upskilling our workforce, investing in innovation. As a result of what we’ve done, the global impact, as I said on the stage at the Munich Security Conference, is going to include bringing down energy costs for the world. Because we’re going to be increasing the supply of clean energy.
What we are doing by investing in innovation, which, as many of you here know, will mean also a surge in private investment to match what we are doing. And the innovation that will come from that, that will then be used by the world in a way that gets us closer to all of the goals that we have set collectively around greenhouse gas emissions, this is transformational stuff — because you guys were so active, and you believed that an administration and elected leaders could actually get it done.
Because of the work that you all did, we addressed America’s infrastructure and said, hey, a lot of this stuff is like 150 years old and it’s breaking down — roads, bridges — and it’s time to upgrade. Why? Well, let’s relate it to working folks who often cannot afford to live where they work and have to commute in their car and drive over potholes, which results in flat tires. And for everyone here, we know insurance doesn’t pay for a flat tire. And a flat tire is going to cost — at least the lowest grade is going to cost about $100. And we know that most working families are $400 away from bankruptcy, in terms of an unexpected expense.
Just on a micro level, but that is substantial, what it will mean to upgrade America’s infrastructure. What it will mean — because we have now invested billions of dollars to say, hey, the pandemic made clear, if everybody didn’t understand, we have real inequity in our country based on who has access and/or can afford access to high-speed Internet. Because we have too many children who lost crucial, critical phases of their education because they simply didn’t have access.
The pandemic showed us that our seniors who didn’t have access to high-speed Internet had to go to a public library to take their telemedicine appointment as opposed to having the privacy of being in their own home to talk with their doctor about their needs.
Because of the work that this group did, we are on track that, by the end of the next several years, everyone in our country will have access and be able to afford high-speed Internet.
We took on, because of your work, an issue that grandmothers and grandfathers in various areas of our country have been shouting about for generations: the issue of lead in pipes. Telling us for years, “I may not be a scientist, but I know what that toxic water is doing to the health of my children. I know how that water coming out of those pipes is impacting my child’s ability to learn.”
Talking about it for years, saying, hey, guys, we know that lead in pipes was not exclusive to low-income communities and communities of color, but here’s the thing: In communities that could afford it, because they own their home and maybe could take out some of the equity, they got rid of the pipes. But in these other communities that couldn’t, the pipes remained.
And it’s a public health issue. And it’s an education issue. And it’s an equity issue.
And because of the work of the people in this room, we are now going to get rid of lead in all the service lines and pipes in America, because of your work. (Applause.) Because of your work.
And I’ll go back to the point about the Munich Security Conference; I was there last year. I spoke — actually, it was five days before the invasion of Ukraine. I actually had a meeting with President Zelenskyy — very tough meeting — talking about what our intelligence community knew and what we knew was about to happen.
And then, I was there again this year talking about what we need to take seriously in terms of crimes against humanity. And I guess for many of you — you probably saw the prosecutor in me came out — (laughs) — about why we need to take that seriously.
Joe Biden, being President of the United States in a time of war in Europe, and what our President and our administration has had the skill and the ability to do to bring together the allies and extend it —
So I even was having a meeting with the heads of state of Finland and Sweden, who are now about to join NATO. Think about this. Because many of us remember it was only a few years ago — a couple years before we came in — that leaders, in Europe in particular, were questioning the reason for NATO’s being. That’s where we were just a few years ago. “Does NATO have any significance?” they were asking.
And now look at where we are. And I will tell you, I have met with over 100 world leaders at this point in my vice presidency — prime ministers, presidents, kings, chancellors. I’ve hosted them in my home. I talked with them most recently in Munich. And to a one, they thank us for the leadership that we, as the United States of America, have provided to bring the coalition together and strengthen it. Because we are there, and we have the will, the desire, and the capacity to do it.
This is because of the work you all did. Elections matter.
And I will say then, being here in Florida, that I think it’s really important for us as Democrats to be openly proud about the fact that we stand for and fight for American values, including the values and foundational principles of freedom and liberty — so that when we see the highest court in our land take a constitutional right, that had been recognized, from the people of America, from the women of America, we must continue to stand firm, as proud Americans, defending foundational principles and saying this is a violation of some of the most important values that we hold dear, like freedom and liberty.
When we look at where we are now and the fights still ahead, that is one of them.
We still have so much more work to do to show how the work that we fight for as Democrats really is the work of believing in and loving our country and really, really caring about the things that we know that make us strong as a people and as a democracy.
There is still so much work to be done. But again, we’ve got a lot of good material to work with too. And we’ve accomplished a lot, but we still have more to do.
And so I’m here yet again to say thank you to everyone — Jon, everyone here — for all that you do. Let’s keep it up.
We are modeling, I think, for the world some of the most foundational principles about what is a democracy and what is reflective of a people that cares about the integrity of our systems, our government, and our future.
So I thank you all very much. Thank you. (Applause.)