1 of 7 | U.S. President Joe Biden gestures while speaking in Chicago, Ill., on Wednesday. Biden touted his economic plan, labeled "Bidenomics," to grow and strengthen the U.S. economy. Photo by Tannen Maury/UPI | License Photo
June 28 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden delivered a lengthy speech Wednesday in Chicago in which he said "Bidenomics," a term used to describe his progressive economic policies, is turning around the U.S. economy.
"The economy grows from the middle out and the bottom up instead of just the top down," Biden said. "When that happens, everybody does well. Everybody does well. The wealthy still do well. We all do well."
Biden blasted the long-held economic theory of trickle-down economics, which he said limited the American Dream for all except those at the top.
Biden said the theory of trickle-down economics has led to tax cuts for the wealthy and big corporations, many of which are incorporated in his home state of Delaware.
"I want them to do well but I'm tired of waiting for the trickle-down," Biden said, echoing his recent comments during his first speech of his 2024 presidential re-election campaign to a friendly crowd of union workers gathered in Philadelphia. "It doesn't come very quickly."
Biden said trickle-down economics comes with the belief that the government should shrink its investment in infrastructure and public education and let good jobs get "shipped overseas."
"My predecessor, God bless his soul, my predecessor enacted the latest iteration of a failed theory, tax cuts for the wealthy," Biden said. "The estimated cost of his tax cuts was $2 trillion. Now Republicans are at it again, pushing tax cuts for large corporations and the wealthy and adding trillions of dollars to the deficit."
Biden said trickle-down economics has failed the middle class as it blew up the nation's deficit, increased inequity and weakened infrastructure.
"People working as hard as ever couldn't get ahead because it's harder to buy a home and pay for college education and start a business, retire with dignity," Biden said. "It's the first time in a generation the path of the middle class seemed out of reach."
The president said that, when he took office, the pandemic "was raging" and "supply chains were broken," with millions of people unemployed and "hundreds of thousands of small businesses on the verge of closing."
"Today, the U.S. has the highest economic growth rate leading the world economy since the pandemic, the highest in the world. We have 13.4 million new jobs. More jobs in two years than any present has done in four years. Folks, it's no accident. That's Bidenomics in action," Biden said.
Biden said the main tenets of Bidenomics are to "make smart investments in America" and to educate and empower American workers to grow the middle class.
The president, taking a populist stance much like former President Donald Trump has on economic issues, said supply chains for key products moved overseas to China and other Asian nations.
"Entire towns and communities, all the way through the Midwest were shut down and hollowed out. There were literally hollowed out," Biden said.
The president said trickle-down economics has also led to decreases in investments into research and development in areas proven to boost the economy, like infrastructure."How can you have the best economy in the world without the best infrastructure in the world? How do you get product from one place to another?" Biden said.
Biden referenced the recent collapse of a bridge along I-95 in Philadelphia that has caused delays in traffic along the major East Coast corridor and touted his investments into infrastructure as a campaign like those of former Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Dwight D. Eisenhower.
"Nearly a century ago, Franklin Roosevelt's Rural Electrification Act brought electricity to millions of Americans of rural America. Seventy years ago, Dwight Eisenhower launched the interstate highway system with the largest infrastructure system to date. That's what the bipartisan infrastructure law does," Biden said.
Biden said his plan to bring affordable high-speed Internet to every home and small business in the United States was met with opposition from Republicans such as Sen. Tommy Tuberville of Alabama, who says the program would "bankrupt America."
In a tweet Tuesday, Tuberville -- who had voted against the passage of the legislation -- said that it was "great to see Alabama receive crucial funds to boost ongoing broadband efforts."
"It's no surprise we got some converts," Biden said, drawing laughs from the crowd.
The president, in his speech, also pledged his support for unions and urged for more products and materials to be produced in the United States -- particularly semiconductors, batteries, electric cars and other clean energy investments.
"Small computer chips the size of your finger affect everything in your life. Whether it's for cell phone functions or automobile functions, refrigerators, it goes on and on -- even sophisticated weapons systems. Without that computer chip, we've got a real problem," Biden said.
"Over time, we went from producing 40% of those chips down to 10%. Not anymore. Bidenomics is going to grow right here at home."
The president said companies around the world are now "coming to the United States of America."
"Wind and solar are significantly cheaper than coal and oil. You will not see anybody building new coal-fired plants in America, not just because I passed a lot to say that, but it's too expensive. It doesn't work anymore," Biden said.
"America will lead again. It's a win for the United States and a win for the world that builds on my decision to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement the first day on the job."
Biden noted that his speech might sound a lot like those of former President Donald Trump, who also "talked a lot about increasing manufacturing" but that his promises "never happened."
"In reality, construction manufacturing facilities on U.S. soil grew 2% under my predecessor's watch under four years," Biden said. "Under my watch, it's grown nearly 100% in two years."
Biden added unemployment was at over 6% when he took office and that it has now dropped to below 4% for the "longest stretch in 50 years in American history" which included "record low unemployment for African Americans" and Hispanic workers as well as for those with disabilities. Meanwhile, he said, job satisfaction is at a 36-year high.
"The other thing I told labor guys 'You got to brag a little bit more about what do.' To get to be an electrician in this town, you got to go to for years college. You have to go through an apprenticeship that takes you four years or you cannot get a job," Biden said.
Biden said his administration has increased Pell grants, made landmark investments in historic Black universities and invested more in registered apprenticeships and career and technology education programs than any previous administration.
"Because of this new economy, we don't need everyone to have a four-year degree," Biden said. "How many of you are member going back to high school they had shop class and classes where people can learn if they were interested in working with their hands? They don't have them all around the country anymore."
The president added he is "determined to keep fighting for universal pre-K and free community college" as well as to make childcare more affordable because those measures would open "significant opportunities for parents" to join the workforce.
"We are cracking down on what we used to call non-compete agreements. These prevent 30 million Americans from security guards to retail workers from walking across the street to the same kind of business to get the higher pay," Biden said.
In his speech, Biden also said it is a priority of his presidency to bring down inflation caused by Russia and the war in Ukraine.
Plus, he said, bringing down the cost of medication would help bring down costs across the board.
"That's why in the Inflation Reduction Act we gave Medicare the power to negotiate lower prescription drug prices like the V.A. does now. We've been trying to get this done for decades. This time, we finally beat big pharma for the first time," Biden said.
He added, "We're just finishing the first round of negotiating these prices. We will say to taxpayers this year, we will save $160 billion. That's like a tax cut. Lower the cost of prescriptions and it lowers the federal deficit, as well."
Biden said what "bothers" him the most is overdraft bank fees for consumers.
"Banks made $7.7 billion per year on overdraft fees. You overdraft a check, you get a penalty," Biden said. Guess what? There will be no more overdraft fees."
Biden pledged to close "loopholes" that let the rich evade taxes and promised to get billionaires to pay a minimum tax.
"No billionaire should be paying a lower tax rate than a schoolteacher, firefighter or cop," Biden said.
"I made a commitment when I got elected, no one in America making under $400,000 should have to pay a single penny more in federal taxes as long as I'm president," Biden said.