Detroit, Michigan – September 14, 2022 – Huntington Place Convention Center
2:15 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Hello, Detroit! (Applause.) You have chairs? They’re going to say you’ve been standing a hell of a long time if you don’t have any chairs there. (Laughter.) Well, please sit down.
You’ve — you’ve probably heard twice already everything I’m going to say. (Laughter.) But I want to say —
AUDIENCE MEMBER: (Inaudible.)
THE PRESIDENT: (Laughs.) By the way, I drove all three of these vehicles — (applause) — in other places. On the back lawn of the White House, there’s still tire marks. Anyway — (laughter).
It’s great to be back at the auto show. And I want to thank you, Ryan, for that introduction. And I say to your wife, “Child, no purgatory for you — straight to Heaven — being married to Ryan.” (Laughter.) I tell you. (Laughs.)
Governor Whitmer, thank you for the invitation today. (Applause.) Where is the Gov? There you go, Gov. As my mother would say, “God love you, dear.” You’re the best. You’re the best.
And that short guy next to you on your right — I don’t know, man. Get up for your Lieutenant Governor. (Applause.)
And I shouldn’t do this — we’re going to take a long time — but you got the best mayor in the United States of America, right here, in Duggan. (Applause.) He had to spend more time with me — never thought, during the — during the last — not last — two administrations ago.
We were sitting one day in the Oval Office — I swear to God — and President Obama turned to me. He said, “Joe, go fix Detroit.” I said, “Oh, no problem. None.” (Laughter.) And I put my hand — I put myself in the hands of your mayor. And I know every single neighborhood of most homes in your state — in your city.
But, anyway, thanks, Mike. You’re a good friend.
And so many other people that are here.
I just — you heard most everybody else speak so far. My colleagues in the Senate, in the House. You’ve — you’ve heard from Commander Dingell. (Laughter and applause.) I tell you what, I don’t screw around. Whatever she says, I do. I just — (laughter) — and by the way, as everyone will tell you, she’s — “Over here, Mr. President. No, no, no.”
But guess what? She’s always right. Debbie, I love you. Thank you. Debbie is like my sister; just tells me what to do, and usually she’s right.
So, anyway, I want to thank everybody for being — look, and, Mike, thanks a lot for the passport into the city.
Our Infrastructure Law, by the way, as we get off the airport today, you know — and I’m — this is not what this is about — we’re investing $80 million in your airports — $80 million. (Applause.) Everything from the restrooms in the stations to — (applause). A little bit like the governor is doing, fixing all your roads and everything else around here.
But anyway, look — and my friend, Ray Curry, is here. Where are you, Ray? (Applause.) Ray — there you are. And as the saying goes in Claymont, the city I moved to in Delaware when I was in third grade, “The UAW brung me to the dance.”
And I got elected in 1972 as a 29-year-old kid to the United States Senate. And — and it’s because we used to have a highest percentage of autoworkers of any state in the nation — higher than here — because we had such a small population.
And we had about — 14 percent of our entire population was — was autoworkers. We’re the largest Chrysler plant outside of Detroit, outside — and we had the largest GM plant. And we had an awful lot of carriers as well.
So, anyway, I want to thank you all. I also want to thank the CEOs of all the major auto companies that are here today for leading the way. They’ve stepped up.
You know, you all know I’m a car guy. I’m here because the auto show and the vehicles here give me so many reasons to be optimistic about the future. And I really mean it. Just looking at them and driving them, they just give me a sense of optimism, although I like the speed too. (Laughter.)
And — and for most of the last century, we led the world — and it’s by significant margin, and — because we invested in our people, we invested in ourselves.
And something went wrong along the way here. Something went wrong. We risk losing the edge as a nation, and China and the rest of the world are catching up.
We used to invest almost 2 percent of our entire GDP in research and development; now 0.7 percent. And the rest of the world is catching up.
But not anymore. Now we’re choosing to build a better America — (applause) — an America that’s confronting the climate crisis, with America’s workers leading the way.
And we’re rebuilding an economy — a clean energy economy, and we’re doing it from the bottom up and the middle out. I’m so tired of trickle-down; I can’t stand it. (Applause.)
And by the way, remember: When the middle class grows — when the middle class grows, everybody does well. The poor have a way up, and the wealthy do very well.
And by the way, don’t forget: The middle class built America, and unions built the middle class. (Applause.) That’s a fact.
And nowhere is that more evident than right here in Michigan, where you’re building the future of the electric vehicle. We’re bringing back U.S. manufacturing jobs — 680,000 jobs just since I took office — good-paying jobs, union jobs, middle-class jobs, jobs that give you a sense of dignity and a fair shot.
My dad used to say, “All I want is just a little bit of breathing room. Just — a family should have just a little bit of breathing room and be treated with dignity.”
It used to be — used to be that to buy an electric car, you had to make all sorts of compromises, but not now. Thanks to American ingenuity, American engineers, American autoworkers, that’s all changing.
Today, if you want an electric vehicle with a long range, you can buy one made in America. (Applause.) If you want one that charges quickly, buy American. You want one that’s fast in the quarter mile, buy American. (Applause.)
So — by the way, while we’re here in Detroit building in America, we’re making it easier for folks at home to buy it here in America. Companies have announced new investments of more than $36 billion in electric vehicles and $48 billion in batteries manufacturing in the U.S.
And we’re just getting started. I signed into law the Inflation Reduction Act. It gives tax credits to new electric vehicles — fuel cell vehicles made in America.
And for the first time, you can get a tax credit if you buy a used electric vehicle. That’s all coming.
As part of the Infrastructure Law, we’re investing $7.5 billion to build electric vehicle charging stations all across America. So, today — (applause) — I’m pleased to announce we’re approving funding for the first 35 states, including Michigan, to build their own electric charging infrastructure throughout their state. (Applause.)
And you all are going to be part — part of a network of 500,000 charging stations. (Applause.) Five hundred thousand throughout the country installed by the IBEW — (applause) — who I owe a special thanks to for the last election.
Look — look, folks, you know, the great American road trip is going to be fully electrified. Whether you’re driving coast to coast along the I-10 or on I-75 here in Michigan, charging stations will be up and as easy to find as gas stations are now. We’re also going to be investing $7 billion to make American car companies and have the batteries and other critical materials they need.
The auto companies, like Ford, GM, Stellantis — I still — I’m still inclined to say that other word, Chrysler — my dad worked for them for a while — (applause) — are all our partners here. They’ve made commitments and are investing billions of dollars in themselves to go electric.
And we’re lucky to have the most skilled autoworkers in the world and that’s not hyperbole. The single-most skilled autoworkers in America are right here today, the UAW. I’m not joking. (Applause.)
You know what I tell people? What I tell business — and I’m not joking. Whether I’m speaking to the Chamber of Commerce at the Business Roundtable or any of the major organizations — why am I so pro-union? They don’t give you the credit — the American people don’t understand. For you to get to be — go through the apprentice program and in other trades, you’ve got to do four, five years. It’s like going to college. You’re getting paid a little bit, but not a lot. But you’re working like hell before you get certified.
And it’s cheaper, long term, to hire you because you do it the best, it lasts the longest, and, in fact, you do it with everybody. (Applause.) No, I really mean it.
And by the way, we don’t tell people that. People don’t know that. Neighborhoods I come from, they know it, but they don’t know that. It’s not that they’re mean about it; they just don’t understand. They think one day, you show up and you’ve got a trade, man. You’re all set. But you work like the devil to get there, and your work product shows it.
I recently signed the CHIPS Act — the CHIPS and Science Act, investing billions of dollars in research and development, workforce training, manufacturing incentives, to bring semiconductor manufacturing back to America.
We invented that little computer chip. We invented it here in the United States of America. We don’t have to rely on other countries to power our smartphones, washing machines, automobiles, and so much more.
Last week, I was in Ohio to break ground on a multi-billion-dollar semiconductor manufacturing plant at Intel — 7,000 construction jobs. By the way, Davis-Macon [Bacon] wage. Nothing less. And folks, 3,000 thousand fulltime jobs, making an average of $135,000 a year. And you don’t need a college degree for all those jobs. It’s skilled workers. (Applause.)
So, folks, all told, my administration is investing more than $135 billion to advance America’s electric vehicle future.
Our infrastructure law is also helping to make it in America and win the economic race of the 21st century — a once-in-a-generation investment in our nation’s roads, bridges, railroads, ports, airports, lead-free water systems, high-speed Internet. It’s the biggest investment in American infrastructure since President Eisenhower’s Interstate Highway system.
It’s a little bit like what your governor does, filling all those potholes and building all those roads. (Applause.) No, you came through. You said you’re going to do it, and you guys did it.
And folks, look, we’ve awarded $25 million to upgrade two miles of Michigan Avenue connecting Downtown and Corktown Detroit. (Applause.) Well, that’s because of the leadership of the mayor and the governor.
You all know the neighborhood where the Tigers used to play — you know, on the corner at Michigan and Trumbull? Well, I’ll tell you what, this funding will help restore Michigan Avenue to its former glory and make improvements in the future as well. (Applause.)
And, folks, with the governor’s leadership, we’re spending $1 billion — $1 billion to clean up and restore areas around the lakes, including at the Detroit River, Kalamazoo River, Rogue [Rouge] River, as well as Torch Lake. And that goes to your folks sitting here — right here in front of me. (Applause.)
And they’re big deals. That’s going to make a significant impact on the economy of this state and, by the way, the entire Great Lakes system.
It really is. I don’t know if people — I wish I had time — well, I don’t want to take your time, but there’s so much to explain that people would — when they go, “Whoa, I didn’t know it would do that.”
But you see these two ladies sitting in the front here? Don’t get in their way. (Laughter.) Because they want to make sure that it gets done. And we’ve got a Secretary of Transportation and a Secretary of Energy and a Secretary — who all are with us — and they want to make sure it gets done, too.
Folks, look, when you see these big projects in your hometowns — cranes going up, shovels in the ground, workers with hard hats on — I want you to feel the way I feel. And I really mean it. Pride. Pride in what we can do when we do it together. There’s nothing we can’t do.
Working with so many of you here today, my economic agenda has ignited a historic manufacturing boom here in America.
Where is it written that says we can’t be the manufacturing hub of the world? Where is that written? Well, we are now. We’re way far away.
What happened? Where does it say the most advanced nation in the world can’t — and, by the way — I won’t go into that. (Laughter.)
But no, I know many of you watching at home are like the folks I grew up with in Scranton and in Claymont, Delaware. You feel left out and left behind in an economy and an industry that’s rapidly changing. You wonder: Where is my place going to be in that economy?
I understand. I really do. One of the reasons why my dad moved from Scranton: When coal died, everything died. Had to find new ways to do — learn new skills, new work.
Well, but hear me: We’re going to leave nobody behind. We’re going to be working with companies, community colleges, technical schools, union-led apprenticeship and training programs to make sure American workers are prepared to compete and outcompete anybody in the world. And I’m not joking. (Applause.) I am not joking.
Earlier this month, I announced a $52 million grant for the American Rescue Plan. That’s a partnership right here in Detroit, including the Big Three and United Autoworkers, to train our workers and upgrade factories for electric vehicle revolution.
For example, just like they used to be building carburetors — you’re not going to be doing that much anymore with electric vehicles. But we’re going to have to build an awful lot of vehicle batteries. And the first people that’ll get those jobs, the first people to train for those jobs, the people that are going to be able to do those jobs? Anybody displaced. Anybody displaced.
You know, I worked with the longshoremen back in my state and around the country. And, you know, when we got all this new, modern equipment to deal with the supply chain, to speed up product coming in — well, we put all these new cranes and equipment in. But I made a deal with the — I was — I shouldn’t say “I made” — I suggested — (laughter) — that the business side of that equation was: Anybody displaced by any modernization, they got to get the jobs to run those cranes. They got to get the jobs to be trained on every new thing that was going on.
And the same thing is going to happen with autoworkers — anybody displaced because they’re not (inaudible). (Applause.)
I ran for office to build a better America, not just to get us back to how things were before the pandemic. So we launched a one-in-a-gen- — once-in-a-generation effort to invest in America. We’re working to deliver an economy that finally works for working families.
We started with the American Rescue Plan. That’s taken us from economic crisis to economic resurgence. Jobs are up. Incomes are up. People are back to work.
And this is a governor who knew how to take that money and use it to keep cops, firefighters, ambulance folks — (applause) — you did. (Applause.)
Some of the governors literally pocketed the money. They put it to reduce — they wanted to reduce taxes with it. But you used it to keep people employed, keep schools open, keep it all running. You’re a great governor. You’re a great governor. (Applause.)
And, by the way, American manufacturing is roaring back. Just since I’ve been in office, we’ve already created 10 million new jobs — more jobs in that time period than any time in American history. (Applause.) The unemployment rate is 3.7 percent, near a 50 percent [sic] low — a 50-year low.
But there’s more to do. But the American people should have confidence that we are on the right track. We’re doing all this while cutting the deficit at the same time. I used to always hear it from my friends on the other team, “Yeah, they spend a lot of money, and maybe some of it is worthwhile, but they’re just increasing the deficit.”
Guess what? First year in office, we reduced the deficit by $350 billion. (Applause.) And guess what? This year — this year, we’re on track, at the end of the fiscal year, to reduce the deficit by over $1 trillion. (Applause.)
And we’ll cut — and we’ll cut it by another hundreds of billions of dollars more over the next decade because of the Inflation Reduction Act. Because Medicare is going to be able to negotiate lower drug prices, it means taxpayers pay out less money.
Look, these investments are also tools — tools to fight against climate change: building cars with zero tailpipe pollution, running on a cleaner grid, making and inventing the technologies that are going to power the future.
Let me close with this. When President Obama and I took office back in 2009, the auto industry was on its back. We were told, as you remember — and this was one —
And, by the way, as I said — all kidding aside — my state used to have the highest percentage of autoworkers of any state in the nation. They’re all gone now. It’s all gone now. But used to have the highest percentage.
And guess what? We were told, when the automobile industry was going belly up, that it would never recover. And the answer: We weren’t going to be able to sell American-made cars at the same rate as we did before.
But we didn’t listen. And this is the God’s truth. Because the debate we had internally was — and I made the case, so did the President: We bet on the UAW to bring it back. (Applause.) Swear to God. You brought it back.
No, I’m not joking. Think about it. The UAW brought it back. (Applause.) And that’s who we bet on.
And we’re betting on you again. (Applause.) You got a lot of help from American engineers, from American innovation.
We extended a lifeline, and we stepped up and we saved more than a million jobs. Because of that work, the U.S. auto manufacturers are in a position today to drive full speed ahead.
I believe we can own the future of the automobile market. I believe we can own the future of manufacturing.
American manufacturing is back. Detroit is back. America is back. And, folks, we’re proving it’s never, ever, ever a good bet to bet against the American people. Never, never, never. (Applause.)
We just got to remember who we are. We are the United States of America. (Applause.) We are the United States of America. And there literally — I mean this sincerely — there’s not a damn thing we can’t do — nothing, nothing, nothing — if we do it together. (Applause.)
God bless you all. And may God protect our troops. Thank you, thank you, thank you. (Applause.)
2:35 P.M. EDT