1 of 5 | U.S. President Joe Biden touted his efforts to support U.S. manufacturing and promote unions in remarks before North America's Building Trades Unions Legislative Conference. Photo by Shawn Thew/UPI | License Photo
April 25 (UPI) -- Speaking over the chants of "four more years" at one point, President Joe Biden told labor leaders in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday that he was proud to be considered a pro-union president and will continue to push policies that will produce more union jobs.
Biden, who announced earlier in the day that he will run for re-election to the White House next year, chastised Republicans for not voting for the American Rescue Plan, the Inflation Reduction Act and other initiatives, which he said will cut the debt while supporting jobs that will construction and other jobs that boost the middle class.
"Wall Street did not build America, the middle class built America and unions built the middle class," Biden said to applause from attendees at North America's Building Trades Unions Legislative Conference, which represents 14 unions and nearly three million workers.
Biden said other developed countries have passed the United States in infrastructure where America was ranked the best for decades. He said computer chips made in the United States, manufacture only 10% of the critical devices today, down from 40% at one time, despite leading the world in research and design.
"These small computer chips, the size of a fingertip, affects nearly everything in our lives," Biden said. "We saw what happened during the pandemic. The global economy came to a halt. The overseas factories that made these chips shut down ... now the private sector at home and abroad are investing over $400 billion in advance manufacturing and clean energy here in America."
Biden said those investments will lead to union jobs in construction and manufacturing that will re-energize the middle class, calling the investment "transformative."
He asked the audience to allow his administration to "finish the job" by bringing down inflation and prescription drug costs. Biden said he plans to approach Congress again to allow the government to negotiate prices with pharmaceutical companies for all Americans like insulin.
"The law we passed, capped the cost of insulin at $35 per month for seniors on Medicare," Biden said. "That is still a 300% increase for what it cost to [make it]. It's not like they're being cheated. That's $35 for something that costs you $10 to make. We lost a couple of Democratic votes and we didn't get it for everybody. Well, I'm coming back to make sure every single American who needs it only has to pay $35."
Biden went on to criticize the efforts by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., to negotiate the rise in the debt ceiling, saying the brinksmanship has the potential of wrecking the economy and costing jobs.
The remarks came as Biden received a key endorsement Tuesday from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, which issued a statement calling Biden's Cabinet "the most pro-union administration of our lifetime."
"Throughout his first term, President Biden has been a steadfast ally of unions and American workers. I am confident that support will continue in his second term," IBEW President Kenneth W. Cooper said in a statement before Biden's speech.
Biden and other administration officials have been touring the country for several weeks to highlight the ongoing impact of the president's agenda, including the expansion of federal infrastructure projects and electric vehicle manufacturing during his term.
The nationwide tour, which kicked off in North Carolina in late March, has called attention to job growth, improved supply chains, and infrastructure upgrades that have emerged as a result of Biden's initiatives, which include billions of dollars in funding from the Inflation Reduction Act, the CHIPS and Science Act, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and the American Rescue Plan.
Biden's signature achievement was the $1.2 trillion infrastructure law of 2021, which included $550 billion in new federal spending to repair the nation's roads, bridges and other interstate components -- actions that had long eluded Congress.
The package included the largest federal investment in passenger rail and public bridges, among other benchmarks, and is forecast to create 1.5 million jobs a year over the next decade.
The CHIPS and Science Act, signed into law in 2022, has also led to the "largest investment in manufacturing in the history of North Carolina," Biden said in March, referring to a new semiconductor manufacturing plant that was being built in the state.
At the time, the president took credit for bringing jobs and technology back to America after the COVID-19 pandemic exposed weaknesses in U.S. manufacturing due to dependency on foreign suppliers.
Vice President Kamala Harris delivers remarks during a state lunch for South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol at the State Department on Thursday. Photo by Jemal Countess/UPI | License Photo