"To support these investments is to create a rising America, America that’s moving," Biden said. "And to oppose these investments is to be complicit in America’s decline."
PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: I’m here today to try to set some things straight if I can.
I want to talk about what’s fundamentally at stake for our country now, at this moment.
I know it’s an overused phrase, but I’ve been using it a lot: We’re at an inflection point. Every -- anywhere from 40 to 80 years in America, there’s an inflection point where we have to choose what direction we’re going to go, what we’re going to do. Not -- not Democrat/Republican, but what are we going to -- who are we going to be?
For a long time, America set the pace across the entire globe. For the better part of the 20th century, we led the world by a significant margin in investments in ourselves, in our people, in our country.
We invested in our infrastructure -- in our roads, highways, bridges, ports, airports -- in the arteries of the nation that allow commerce to function smoothly and swiftly and allow us to generate significant income.
We’ve invested in our people, in opportunity. We’re among the first to provide access, for example, to free education. It’s the reason why, in the 20th century, we began to take off.
It was back in the late 1890s we decided, among the first countries, that we were going to be the first nation that every single American, regardless of their background -- and it wasn’t, at the time, regardless of their background, but based on income -- would have free 12 years of education.
We invested to win the space race. We led the world in research and development that led to the creation of the Internet.
And, you know, but then something happened. We slowed up. We stopped investing in ourselves.
America is still the largest economy in the world. We still have the most productive workers and the most innovative minds in the world. But we risk losing our edge as a nation.
Our infrastructure used to be the best in the world -- literally, not figuratively. Today, according to the World Economic Forum, we rank 13th. Our infrastructure -- 12 nations have a better infrastructure than we do, which means they can move product, they can do so many things better than we can do it.
We’re among the first in the world to guarantee access to universal education. Now, the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development ranks America 35th out of 37 major countries when it comes to investing in early childhood education as a percent of GDP.
Think of that. Think of that. Of all the industrial nations in the world, the instinct Americans would say if you asked them 25 years -- they would say, “We’re number one.” We are not. There’s only two industrial nations that are lower than us.
All those investments that fuel the strong economy, we’ve -- we’ve taken our foot off the gas. We’ve taken -- we just -- I don’t know what’s happened. The world has taken notice, by the way, including our adversaries. And now they’re closing the gap in a big way.
So it’s essential that we regain our momentum that we’ve lost. And work our -- you know, the work of our time, it seems to me -- those of us who hold public office -- is to prepare ourselves to be more competitive and to win the fast-changing 21st century and -- the global economy.
Things are changing incredibly quickly. That’s why I proposed two critical pieces of legislation being debated back in Washington right now. The first, a bill to invest in our physical infrastructure. And the second is a bill to invest in our human infrastructure. I’ll talk about both of these bills in just a moment.
But first I want to set one thing straight: These bills are not about left versus right or moderate versus progressive or anything that pits Americans against one another. These bills are about competitiveness versus complacency. They’re about opportunity versus decay. They’re about leading the world or continuing to let the world pass us by, which is literally happening.
To support these investments is to create a rising America, America that’s moving. And to oppose these investments is to be complicit in America’s decline.
To support these bills is to pursue a broader vision of our nation. And to oppose them is to accept a very cramped view of our future.
This isn’t about two pieces of legislation; it’s about the inflection point I mentioned earlier we are in our history -- the world history.