Brushing off a disappointing August jobs report, President Biden on Wednesday promised that the American economy is “making progress” as he gave a speech honoring the nation’s union workers.
The country’s bounce-back has been slowed by the ongoing threat of the delta variant, but Biden noted that unemployment has sagged during his administration and that the economy has grown at its fastest rate in decades.
And, in a not-so-subtle dig at Donald Trump, his Wall Street-obsessed predecessor, Biden said: “The stock has gone up exponentially since I’ve been president — you haven’t heard me say a word about it.”
President Joe Biden speaks during an event to celebrate labor unions, in the East Room of the White House, Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021, in Washington, D.C. (Evan Vucci/)
“America wasn’t built by Wall Street,” Biden said in the 21-minute speech. “They’re not all bad people on Wall Street; I’m not suggesting that. But they didn’t build America. It was built by the middle class. And unions built the middle class.”
Video: President Biden addresses disappointing data from August jobs report (CNBC)
Excitement over the U.S. economy’s furious growth has been tempered by headwinds generated by COVID’s summer resurgence.
After coronavirus case rates increased tenfold between the beginning of July and the end of August, the University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index tumbled to its lowest level since 2011. And the monthly jobs report published by the Labor Department last week showed that hiring fell sharply.
Biden’s administration has struggled to reach Americans reluctant to get vaccinated, which has hampered the country’s efforts to squash the pandemic. After the release of the data, the president acknowledged that the U.S. is not “where we need to be” in the recovery.
But Biden, who is pushing a $3.5 trillion budget blueprint and a bipartisan $1 trillion infrastructure bill, said Wednesday that the “next stop” for the nation’s economy is the passage of the twin planks of his domestic agenda.
He said the proposals would amount to “once-in-a-generation investments in our people” that would improve pay and benefits for legions of workers.
Before his remarks, the president was introduced by Labor Secretary Marty Walsh. The former Boston mayor called Biden the “working person’s president,” and Biden — who backed a unionization effort by Amazon workers in the winter — launched into a sermon on the value of America’s unions.
“When unions win, workers across the board win,” the president. “That’s a fact. Families win. Communities win. America wins. We grow.”