THE PRESIDENT: Hello! (Applause.) Hello, IBEW! (Applause.) Please, sit down if you have a seat. (Laughs.)
Well, thank you, Travis, for that introduction.
I want to thank Kenny Cooper, President of the IBEW, who is doing a great job for this Union and — all American workers. Not a joke.
And you got a hell of a new governor in Wes Moore. (Applause.) He’s the real deal. And the boy looks like he can still play. (Laughter.) He got some guns on him. (Laughter.)
And of my great friends and one of the best senators I ever served with, Ben Cardin, who’s here. (Applause.) Ben. Ben was first elected to the Maryland state house two years ago. (Laughter.) I don’t give the dates anymore, Ben. (Laughter.) But an incredible U.S. senator and advocate for Maryland.
And Congressman Glenn Ivey is here. (Applause.) The thing is, Glenn is married to a woman who has a tougher job than he does. (Laughter.) She’s the councilwoman. (Applause.)
I — I used to be on the county council. You know what? Nobody knows the difference between — whether there’s a pothole in front of your house that’s the county’s problem, it’s a state problem, it’s the city’s problem. And guess who they go to? They go to the county. And that’s why I ran for the Senate. It’s too hard. (Laughter.)
He was just elected in November and is already hard at work delivering for working families of this — district.
And, look, last week, I reported on the state of the Union. (Applause.) It is — it’s strong. And as they say up in Scranton, “That’s no malarkey.” It’s the soul of — because the soul of this nation is strong. The backbone of this nation is strong. And the people of this nation are strong like all of you here today. And you never give up. (Applause.)
As you have heard me say, Wall Street didn’t build America. No, they didn’t produce — they didn’t. The middle class built America. (Applause.) And unions made the middle class. (Applause.) Not a joke.
And one of the reasons I’m standing here as your President is because of the IBEW, and that’s no malarkey either.
For the past two years, we’ve been carrying out my economic plan that grows the economy from the bottom up and the middle, not the top down.
Look, I — this trickle-down economy, I never watched much trickle onto my dad’s kitchen table. When the poor have a ladder up, and the middle class does well, the wealthy still do very well. It’s not a problem. We all do well.
My economic plan is a blue-collar blueprint that tells you how we will grow this country. And I mean that sincerely. You all have important skills. You know, you get up every morning, do your jobs, bust your necks trying to make an honest living.
As my dad used to — I’m sorry to keep repeating it; it’s worth saying. My dad used to have an expression, for real. He’d say, “Joey, a job is about much more than a paycheck. It’s about your dignity. It’s about respect. It’s about being able to look your kid in the eye and say, ‘Honey, it’s going to be okay,’ and mean it.” And he meant it.
Because of you, my economy is working. It’s in stark contrast to our Republican friends who are doubling down on the same failed politics of the past: top-down, trickle-down economics. There’s not much “trickle down,” as I said, to most kitchen tables in America.
I’m looking forward to that debate because we’re going to debate with the facts.
In the last two years, we’ve created 12 million new jobs. That’s more jobs than any President has produced in four years. (Applause.) Twelve million new jobs.
The unemployment rate is 3.4 percent. That’s a 50-year low. During my first two years in office, we created 800,000 new manufacturing jobs. Eight hundred thousand. (Applause.)
And where is it written that says America can’t lead the world again in manufacturing? Gas prices are down $1.60 a gallon, which will come down further from their peak. And inflation is coming down. Take-home pay for workers has gone up over the past several months. We got more to do, but I’m telling you, the Biden economic plan is working because of you all. (Applause.) And I mean it.
And the IBEW workers here in Maryland and across the country see it firsthand. I signed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, a once-in-a-generation investment putting Americans to work rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure.
There’s no possibility — there’s no possibility of us being the leading country in the world with a second-rate infrastructure. I’m not joking. It’s true. It’s true.
And we’ve already funded over 20,000 projects across the country since we passed the bill.
Two weeks ago, I was in — where the Biden family hailed from back in the 1950s — Baltimore — (applause) — and announced an investment of $4 billion to replace the 150-year-old Baltimore and Potomac Tunnel.
I’m one of the few guys who walked through that tunnel. And the reason I did: I — I’ve traveled over a million miles on Amtrack, no joke, every day, going through that tunnel. And, man, it is in bad need of repair — bad need of repair. And it will lead to 20,000 good-paying construction jobs to reconstruct that tunnel. (Applause.)
When that project is done, the new trains we’re building — and we’re going to rename it the Frederick Dou- — Doug- — the Frederick Douglass Tunnel — (applause) — instead of traveling through that tunnel at 30 miles an hour, they’ll go through at 110 miles an hour. (Applause.)
We will continue to invest in rail and make it easier for people to use it because it can take thousands of vehicles off the highways, save millions of barrels of oil, and reduce pollution. And that’s a fact.
Look, because if you — this is — I’ve been pushing this for 25 years. If you — if a person can get from point A to point B faster on rail than in their car, they take rail. Simple as that.