U.S. President Joe Biden highlighted the funding his administration has provided to counties and localities in a speech to the National Association of Counties on Tuesday in Washington, D.C. Speaking to the group, Biden said, "I know when we empower you directly, you get the job done." Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo
Feb. 14 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden touted the funding his administration has provided to counties and localities in a speech to the National Association of Counties on Tuesday in Washington, D.C., saying their efforts have created millions of jobs.
The president, who got his start in politics as a county official in Delaware before being elected to the Senate in 1972, celebrated the benefits that the American Rescue Plan has delivered to counties throughout the country.
"I had the great honor of being a county councilperson in New Castle County," Biden told the group. "And one of the things I found out early on was we always did better when there was direct funding for the things that related to the county."
During his speech, Biden highlighted that the American Rescue Plan has provided relief funds to every county in America compared to the CARES Act, passed under President Donald Trump, which provided funds to just 120 counties.
"I used to be in your shoes. Only 120 counties in the United States of America got help in that CARES Act. There was a lot of money but only 20 -- 120 counties. When I signed the American Rescue Plan, it sent $350 billion for the first time in history to every state, city and county in America," Biden said to applause.
"Over 3,000 counties got direct funding because I know when we empower you directly, you get the job done," Biden added.
"I've always had enormous respect for the job you do," Biden told the county leaders gathered at the Washington Hilton Hotel. "You -- you're the ones who make people -- make sure everything gets fixed; the libraries stay open late so kids can do their homework; the sewer system isn't backing up into the creek and their basement."
"You make sure that your public health department runs smoothly, that your communities are meeting the needs of a growing and changing population, that your residents have access to affordable housing, and that you're investing in public safety," Biden added.
As he applauded the county leaders, Biden also credited the government's county funding for helping to create more jobs throughout the country, which has led to record low unemployment.
"Because of you, we have created 12 million jobs," Biden said. "We have now created more jobs in two years than any administration has ever created in a four-year term. And folks, the unemployment rate is 3.4%, at a 50-year low."
"We urged you to use the Rescue Plan money to make communities safer, invest in affordable housing, get small businesses back on their feet, train your workforce, and you did," the president said.
Biden discussed the need to rebuild infrastructure, such as fixing roads, using more fuel-efficient buses, and making high-speed Internet available for everyone through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
"No parent should have to sit with their kid in a McDonald's parking lot just to be able to do their homework," Biden said. "We've already added 16 million more households with affordable Internet. We're just getting started."
Biden also talked about inflation and the work being done to lower prices.
"Today's report on inflation shows that the good news is that inflation in America is continuing to come down. It's fallen seven straight months. There's more to go," Biden said. "Food prices at the grocery store are coming down. Gas prices are down $1.60 since their peak."
The president also alluded to the upcoming fight over the debt ceiling. He said he recently met with Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, who told him he would not raise taxes on anyone.
"If you add up the proposals my Republican friends in Congress have offered up so far, they would add another $3 trillion to our debt over the next 10 years," Biden claimed.
"When I introduce a budget three weeks from now, a few weeks from now, I guess March 9th, you're going to see we'll cut the deficit by another $2 trillion in the next 10 years. And I'll lay it out in detail," Biden promised.
Before his speech Tuesday, Biden began by addressing the mass shooting at Michigan State that killed three people Monday night.
"We have to do something to stop gun violence ripping apart our communities. There is no rationale for assault weapons and magazines that hold 50, 70 bullets," Biden argued.
"It's a family's worst nightmare and it's happening far too often in this country. Far too often."