Biden: Americans want 'everything' in relief plan

President Joe Biden meets labor leaders in the Oval Office as part of his campaign promoting a $1.9 trillion proposed response to the coronavirus pandemic. "I think we have an incredible opportunity to make some enormous progress," Biden said. (Feb. 17)

Video Transcript

JOE BIDEN: Every once in a while as president, you get to invite close friends into the Oval. I was kidding these guys before, this is American labor. And I said from the beginning of my campaign, throughout my whole career, the middle class built this country and labor built the middle class. And I think we have an incredible opportunity to make some enormous progress in creating jobs, good-paying jobs, Davis-Bacon prevailing wage jobs, to rebuild the infrastructure of this country in a way that everybody knows has to be done.

I promise-- and a lot of these folks have been my friends for a long, long, long time. As they say in parts of my state, these are the folks that brung me to the dance. And I appreciate their friendship. and as I said, when some of you were in here when I was in the business community, I said I want to make it clear, I'm a labor guy. And there's no reason why it's inconsistent with business growing, either.

So what we're doing here today, I asked them to come in. We want to talk about the Recovery Act we have here, that we're trying to pass. I think it's going to get done. And building infrastructure in this country. We are so far behind the curve. We rank something like 38th in the world in terms of our infrastructure. Everything from canals to highways to airports, to everything we can do and we need to do to make ourselves competitive in the 21st century.

And so the Vice President and I are looking forward to this meeting. And we're going to have a good conversation. And I think, you know, American workers and the whole economy is going to grow, in a way that we haven't seen it grow in a long time. This is a time for us to move, so any rate, I'll let you know, we're going to have a long conversation here. I don't know how long, but we're gonna have a conversation as long as they're willing to put up with me and talk about how we're going to get this done. So thank you all for coming in.

- Mr. President, what did you learn from Americans last night about what they want in this plan?

JOE BIDEN: I learned, based on the polling data, they want everything that's in the plan. Not a joke. Everything that's in the plan. The fact is that I like to-- I asked a rhetorical question. Those who oppose the plan, what don't they like? What particular program don't they like? Don't they want to help people with nutrition? Don't they want to help people be able to pay their mortgages? Don't they want to help people get their unemployment insurance? Don't they want to make sure that people are able to stay in their homes, without being thrown out of their homes in the middle of this god-awful pandemic? What don't they like?

And the truth of the matter is, the polling data from last night and all the polls you've all done, they come from you guys. Not you personally, but your networks and your organizations. Show that somewhere between 64% and 69% of the American people think we have to do this. And it's not about the money. It's about, in order to do everything from open schools as we should, to make sure that we're generating income for people who are in real trouble, it's about how much it costs. The federal government has to chip in, make sure we get this done.