PREPARED FOR DELIVERY
Remarks of Vice President-Elect Joe Biden
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Thank you, Governor Rendell and Governor
And Governor Palin, your being here today
sends a powerful
message that when campaigns end, we are all partners in progress.
I always love events where seating is done by when your
state entered the union. That’s when it’s good to be a
Delawarean, and it’s good to see
Governor-elect Jack Markell here.
Over the course of the campaign, I had the opportunity to
travel through many of your states.
Often, I’d be on a bus, and one of you –
local official – would point out local landmarks.
And the commentary was almost always, “This
This “used to be” a steel mill. This town
“used to be” the ceramics capital of America.
This factory “used to” employ 1,200
people. A company “used to have” their headquarters here.
We’ll know we’ve turned the corner when we hear
a lot less “This used to be…” and a lot
more “this is
going to be.”
In order to get to “This is going to be” we need
to build a partnership with you – that is much more robust and much
And in doing that, the partnership we’re
able to build
with all of you is crucial.
Eric Sevareid once told President Kennedy that:
"It doesn't make much sense when two people are sitting in a boat for
of them to point a finger accusingly at the other and
say `your end of the boat
Our nation can’t succeed unless our states
Barack and I recognize this.
And we recognize that you’ve all been
hit by this economic crisis.
Already 41 states are looking at budget shortfalls this year
That is why help for you – everything from direct aid,
to countercyclical investments, to benefit programs, to infrastructure
investment – will be key parts of our economic plan.
On infrastructure specifically, we have a huge
opportunity. China invests 7-9 percent of its GDP in
projects. We invest just 1 percent. There’s a reason
they have a mag-lev train that can go over 200 miles per hour.
I may have a bit of a pro-rail bias, but think of the jobs
we could create – in both construction and
innovation – if we made
similarly bold investments here.
We should fast-track funding for the thousands of ready-to-go
projects across the country that can quickly put people back to work and lay
the foundation for long-term growth.
In the longer term, we are calling for the creation of a new
National Infrastructure Reinvestment Bank that will help us make the
we need to build a 21st century transportation system –
creating jobs and taking the politics out
of infrastructure spending. And
it has the added benefit of making American business more competitive
We believe that, together, we can make this country again,
in the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, a place “of beginnings, of
of vast designs and expectations.”
Despite all of our challenges, I’m struck by how
hopeful our nation remains...
… People understand the serious challenges we face
– but they also believe that with leadership in Washington and in your
states that gives people the chance to succeed – there’s nothing we
We should view this moment of challenge as a moment of great
Perhaps most importantly, Barack understands that change is
a means, and not an end. And together, we can change “this used to
be” into “this is going to be.”
It is now my pleasure to introduce a man who has inspired
this nation, and who I am honored to join
as a partner in leading this
Please join me in welcoming President-elect Barack Obama.
of President-elect Barack Obama
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
It always feels like a bit of a homecoming when I meet with
governors. Because while I stand here today
as President-elect, I will never
forget the eight years I served in the state Senate in Illinois. It is
and local government that the rubber hits
the road. Of all our elected leaders,
you are the ones people count on most to solve the problems in their
communities and to help them get by in
difficult times. And it’s your
state governments that bear some of the toughest burdens when an
That is what we’re seeing today.
Every one of you is struggling to come up with a budget at a
time when you’re facing great and growing
needs. More and more people are
turning to you for help with health care or affordable housing – even
tightening credit markets and falling tax
revenues make it more and more
difficult to provide that help.
Forty-one states are likely to face budget shortfalls this
year or next, forcing you to choose between reining in spending and raising
taxes. Jobs are being cut. Programs for the needy are at risk.
parks, and historic sites are being
closed. Right here in Philadelphia, over
two hundred workers are being laid off – and
hundreds more unfilled
positions are being eliminated.
Meanwhile, virtually all of you are facing the additional
challenge of a state constitution that requires you to balance your
leaving you with the impossible choice of either helping families at
of violating your constitution or upholding your constitution at the
To solve this crisis and to ease the
burden on our states,
we need action – and action now. That
means passing an economic recovery
plan for both Wall Street and Main Street
that jumpstarts our economy, helps
save or create two and a half million
jobs, puts tax cuts into the pockets of
hard-pressed middle class families, and
makes a down payment on the investments
we need to build a strong economy for years to come.
But we also have to recognize that any true solution will
not come from Washington alone. It will come from all of you. It will
the White House and the State House
working together every step of the way.
That is the kind of strong partnership I intend to build as President
Today is our chance to lay the foundation for that
partnership. Over the next few hours, I look forward to hearing about
problems you’re facing, learning about the work you’re doing, and
discussing some of the ways we can work together to reduce health care
rebuild our crumbling roads, bridges, and
schools, and ensure that more
families can stay in their homes.
But the partnership we begin here must not – and
not – end here. As President, I will not simply ask our nation’s
governors to help implement our economic
recovery plan. I will ask you to help
design that plan. Because if we’re listening to our governors,
we’ll not only be doing what’s right for our states, we’ll be
doing what’s right for our country. That’s how we’ll grow our
economy – from the bottom-up. And that’s
how we’ll put
America on the path to long-term prosperity.
Make no mistake: these are difficult times, and
going to have to make hard choices in the months ahead about how to
precious tax dollars and how to save them
– hard choices like the ones
you’re making right now. I won’t stand here and
tell you that
you’ll like all the decisions I make. You probably won’t. But I
promise you this – as President, I will seek your counsel. I will
to you, especially when we disagree. And
we will once again be true partners in
the work of rebuilding our economy, strengthening our states, and lifting up
our entire country.
To our Republican colleagues, let me just say a special
word. I offer you the same hand of friendship and
cooperation that I offer our
Democratic governors. We have a strong and vibrant democracy. We compete
vigorously during an election. But with the end of that season comes
to govern together – and that time is now.
It was Justice Brandeis who said, during a period of far
greater turmoil in our markets, that one of the blessings of our
that – and I quote – “a single courageous
state may, if its citizens
choose, serve as a laboratory,” experimenting with innovative solutions
to its economic problems. That is the spirit of courage and ingenuity that so
many of you embody. And that is the spirit
I want to reclaim in this country
– one where our states are testing new ideas, where Washington is
investing in what works, and where you and I are working in partnership to move
this country forward. Thank you.