Biden on the Record: Progressive Governance Conference

And we hope and believe it will create or save 3.5 million jobs by the end of the year. Because as our folks understand, if people don’t have jobs — to make the President’s point — they don’t have income. If they don’t have income, they cannot purchase anything. If you cannot purchase anything — and the list — the cycle goes on.

The Recovery Act, as we call it, provides a necessary jolt to our economy to implement what we refer as “shovel-ready” projects, meaning projects that were on the books that were needed in the municipalities and the states that would improve the quality of life for our constituents, the competitiveness of our businesses, but were unable to be funded. Because we wanted to get the money and we were attempting to get the money — it’s my personal responsibility — I learned something about you Presidents — don’t send you long memorandums suggesting how we should proceed without being ready for the President to turn to you and say, okay, go do it. So I’ve been given that responsibility to marshal and account for $787 billion. I guess that’s easier than trying to raise it. (Laughter.) But the fact of the matter is it is a Herculean task.

And so we hope it provides a necessary jolt to the economy. And we’ve done countercyclical measures. I won’t bore you with the detail of the plan, that’s not particularly relevant. But we’re going to use this money to create mostly — the vast majority of which create private sector jobs, not public sector jobs. Over 80 percent are private sector jobs. And we’ll be doing that by rebuilding our infrastructure, beginning the process.

And we’re going to construct — and at the same time, we hope that in this package we have picked those — funding of those projects that will lay the foundation for a stronger and sustained economic growth for the 21st century — constructing wind turbines, solar panels, a new energy grid, laying broadband and expanding mass transit, investing in health information technologies to save health care costs.

The stimulus makes a real commitment to renewable energy, energy efficiency, and a stronger energy infrastructure in the name of reducing carbon emissions and reducing our dependence on foreign oil, but in addition to that, creating jobs immediately — good-paying, sustainable jobs. Now, above all, as I said, it’s about jobs.

Our next element of our plan, in this sort of three-legged stool here, is that we believed that it was necessary, although it is the most politically painful part of the process, and that is — that is restoring our financial institutions.

Now, I don’t know about your constituency, but mine believes that it’s all the problem of those financial institutions. To use the popular jargon, were they not so greedy, were they not so this or that, we wouldn’t be in this problem; why are we saving them? Why are we helping them? It’s not an easy answer, in a political context, to provide. But we all know it is necessary. We need to get credit flowing again.

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