The Good of the Nation

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The Good of the Nation
by Joe Biden
Delivered at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science in Denver, CO on 17 February 2009, followed by these remarks by Barack Obama.

Governor, thank you. Governor, thank you very much. It's a genuine honor. It's an honor to be here with the President. And my name is Joe Biden. I used to work for -- I used to work for Ken Salazar -- (laughter) -- in the United States Senate. And it's good to see you here, Ken. I guess you got -- you're going to hitch a ride home with me, right?

He rode out on the big plane. He's going back on the little one. And I also want to acknowledge Senator Michael Bennett, who I had an opportunity to meet. (Applause.) And Congresswoman DeGette is here, as well. There she is. And Mayor Hickenlooper, I want you to know how much we appreciate the hospitality. And also, I believe Congressman Perlmutter was at the -- there you are, Congressman. I wasn't sure you were -- he greeted us when we got off the plane. (Applause.)

Mr. President, it's a slight diversion, but I think we got to be nice to him. The Chairman of the Finance Committee, Max Baucus, is here. (Laughter.) And so we got to make sure -- Max, just remember, when we call, I call, just say "Yes, Joe," okay? (Laughter.) All kidding aside, thanks for your great help in this, Max.

You know, you don't need to be an economist to know that jobs are the engine of our economy. And without jobs, people can't earn. And when people can't earn, they can't spend. And if they don't spend, it means more jobs get lost. It's a vicious cycle. And that's the vicious cycle we're in today. And it's one of the reasons that this bill is so desperately needed. We have to reverse that cycle.

But everyone knows that jobs are more than just about a job. They're about dignity. They're about respect. They're about being able to get up in the morning, look your child in the eye and say, "Everything is going to be okay; everything is going to be okay."

Last year -- last year our economy lost 3 million jobs; 600,000 more just this last month. There are an awful lot of mothers and father who had to walk up those stairs to the bedroom of their children and tell them that, "I'm out of work, honey. We may not be able to stay here. You may not be able to stay in this school. It's a tough, tough conversation. And many -- too many times it's already occurred in this country. We're here today -- we're here today to start to turn that around. (Applause.)

But folks, we're not just going to help the economy recover. We're going to start building the economy for the future. I'm particularly pleased that this bill includes investments in areas I've worked my whole political career. Thanks to the Recovery Act, thousands of additional police officers will go on the streets of America, and hundreds and hundreds of fire stations will be built, making the people of Denver and every other city in America safer.

Thanks to this act, we're going to see an unprecedented investment in improving America's rail system coast to coast. (Applause.) In Denver -- right here in Denver, your light rail will be affected all the way to the Northeast Corridor where I come from. We should have the best transportation system in the world. (Applause.) And we don't.

But ladies and gentleman, it's not only that this will help create jobs in the rail sector -- it's also good for the environment. So there's a double bang for the buck in a number of the investments we're making in this legislation.

Starting today, our administration will be working day and night to provide more aid for the unemployed, create immediate jobs, building our roads and our bridges, make long-term investments in a smarter energy grid, and so much more. And as we turn the economy around, we've got to make sure of one more thing. Last time an economic recovery occurred after a deep recession, the middle class got left behind -- the middle class got left behind. And that's why the President has set up a White House Council on the Task Force on the Middle Class, which he's asking me to chair.

So as we go through this process, we're also going to make sure that America is -- as we recover, that American middle class is not left behind. But before we start on the way, there is much more to be done in the weeks to come. I want to say something about what got us to this point. I remember having the meetings of the transition team with President-Elect Obama and Vice President-Elect Biden in Chicago, and meeting in those offices knowing we were about to inherit a very, very bad economic situation.

And we started to put together the President's leadership, the blueprint for our recovery. Faced with a swirl of options and uncertainties, then-President-Elect Obama was as clear and as firm then as he is today about what is needed. He said, and I quote: "We have to be bold… we have to act fast… and we have to think of the future that we wish to build." Well, I believe that's what the President delivered. He never lost sight of those goals that he set back in November and December of last year.

Over the weeks that followed, I watched him reach out, asking senator and congressmen from both parties to put the good of the nation above the disagreement over one particular of this significant package.

The President showed a willingness to compromise on specifics, but he never compromised on the principles he set out in that room in Chicago back in November. And so, folks, he showed a willingness to work with others to get things done, but he never bent in his determination to put us on a road to recovery and reinvestment.

So today, less than a month -- think of this, less than a month into his presidency, the President is about to sign into law what is I believe a landmark achievement. Because of what he did, America can take a first, very strong step leading us out of this very difficult road to recovery we find ourselves on.

So on behalf of our country and its people, Mr. President, let me presume to say, thank you. We owe you a great deal. (Applause.)

To introduce the President, it's my pleasure to introduce Blake Jones, President of, now, Namaste -- I told him if I didn't say it right, he could call me "Biddin" -- (laughter) -- but Namaste Solar. In four years, this company has grown from three people to 60 owner-employees, and have become one of the leading installers of photoelectric panels here in the state of Colorado. And I expect they have ambitions to go beyond that, and I hope they succeed.

In fact, Bill Ritter isn't just the governor, he's a customer. Namaste installed, as he mentioned, the solar panels on the governor's mansion. And despite Namaste's success, without the Recovery and Reinvestment Bill that the President is about to sign, I think your President would tell you he was a little worried he might have to take other action in spite of all the progress that had been made -- that may have included layoffs.

But with this bill -- with this bill, he's going to be looking to hire -- not fire, hire. And that's the difference between -- that this investment is going to make and why we're so happy to be here today.

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).