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President Joe Biden visits Mack Trucks

In a short, sleeves-rolled-up-visit to the Mack Trucks assembly plant in Lower Macungie July 28, President Joe Biden took his economic plan to the country.

He joked with the group of supporters saying, “We’re not here to say anything. I just came here to drive a truck,” as he eyed the five Mack Trucks arrayed behind him in the cavernous warehouse stocked with truck parts.

After acknowledging some of the political leaders present (PA Gov. Tom Wolf – “You’re one of the best governors in the country, a good friend” and to 7th District Congresswoman Susan Wild – “You’ve been a tireless champion for the men and women of the Lehigh Valley”), Biden quickly got into the business of delivering his message.

On COVID-19, Biden said, “We have a lot of people not vaccinated. The pandemic we have now is a pandemic of the unvaccinated. So please, please, please, please, please protect yourself and the children out there. It’s important.”

“I said I was running [for President] for three reasons,” Biden said when talking about the economy. “To restore the soul of this country, to restore decency and respect and to rebuild the backbone of this country.

“It was hardworking middle-class folks who built this country,” Biden said. “It was unions who built the middle class.

“That’s why I moved to pass the American Rescue Plan after I got elected, because we needed to act quickly and boldly to save jobs, save businesses and save lives,” Biden said. “We added more than 600,000 jobs per month since I’ve taken office. That’s over three million jobs.”

He said the economy is experiencing the fastest growth of any administration on record.

“We brought the economy back from the brink,” he said. “Checks in people’s pockets, shots in people’s arms, tax cuts for working families with children. And we designed our strategy not only to provide a temporary boost, but to lay the foundation for a long-term boom that brings everyone along.

“Things have been great for corporations and for the very wealthy, those at the top,” Biden said. “There are 55 major corporations that for the past three years have paid zero in federal taxes, making over $40 billion.

“They have no complaints.”

He said he pledged to “change the paradigm, so working people can have a fighting chance again: get a good education, get a good job and a raise, take care of their elderly parents and afford to take care of their children, stop losing hours of their lives stuck in traffic because the streets are crumbling and to stop waiting on an Internet that is slow and spotty.

“That’s what the economy we’re building is all about,” Biden said.

“We’ve just reached a bipartisan agreement on infrastructure, a fancy word for bridges, roads, transit systems, high speed Internet, clean drinking water, cleaning and capping orphan [abandoned gas] wells and mines, and a modern resilient electric grid.”

When discussing bipartisanship, Biden said, “While there is a lot we don’t agree on, I believe we can work together on the few things we do agree on.”

Part of his “Build Back Better” plan includes education. “I can make sure we’re going to educate your kids so we’re the best educated population in the world. What do you think would most impact on the growth of America? You’d be the most educated nation in the world.

Biden supported free kindergarten and free two years of community college.

“Folks, we need more affordable child care.” Biden said. “There are a lot of women not working today because they can’t get ... go back to their jobs because they have no one to take care of their children; they can’t afford it.”

“Men and women nurses are angels,” Biden said about caregivers. “Doctors help people live; nurses help them want to live.”

When discussing elder care, Biden said, “We are working to expand home care for seniors. We must provide better pay for caregivers.” Biden thanked PA Sen. Bob Casey, who did not attend, for supporting elder care.

“We’re one of the only industrial countries in the world that you don’t get paid leave if you have a sick son, daughter, mother, father, wife, husband, to have some time to take care of that,” Biden said. On the trickle-down theory of economics, he said, “We know that trickle-down economics has never worked. But when working families do well, everybody does well, including the wealthy.”

On the Buy American Act, Biden said he has ordered his budget department to make “the biggest change in the 70-year-old” existing Buy America Act to change the way the federal government buys equipment such as trucks.

Biden said the current law requires that products the federal government buys to have “substantially, or 55 percent American made components.”

He said over the years “loopholes” have weakened compliance with the law to the point he needs to boost the current 55 percent to 75 percent components for products purchased by the federal government.

“And this is actually a double whammy,” Biden said. “First, 55 percent is not high enough. And second, contractors don’t have to tell us the total domestic content of their products, they just have to tell us that they hit the threshold. Nobody checking. Well, they got a new sheriff in town. We’re going to be checking.”

Currently, the head of the procuring agency can determine if compliance with the act is inconsistent with the public interest or the cost of acquiring the domestic product is unreasonable.

Biden said he has added a new White House office which will review waivers approved by the head of the purchasing agency to ensure waivers are justified.

On the supply chain, Biden said, “We will keep trading with our allies, but we need to have a resilient supply chain of our own so that we’re never again at the mercy of other countries for critical goods ever again. Ever.”

On the shortage of computer chips, he said, “We’re investing $50 billion to have the best chip manufacturing in the world come and build factories in the United States of America. And it passed the senate. It’s called the CHIPS Act and it’s part of my Build Back Better plan. And it is bipartisan [because] as many Republicans are concerned about it as [are] Democrats.

“With this rule, we’ll be able to buy medical products from companies like OraSure.”

“I just saw the work you’re doing on the heavy-duty electric vehicles here, like electric garbage trucks. You know, there are more than 600,000 vehicles in the federal fleet, including the majority of ... the largest portion of which are at the post office.”

Biden wrapped up his remarks touting the resilience and productivity of the American worker. “And if you give American companies and communities the chance, there’s nothing they can’t build.”

Among other local business people and political leaders in attendance were Lehigh County Executive Phillips Armstrong, Northampton County Executive Lamont McClure, Lehigh County Commissioner Geoff Brace, PA Rep. Peter Schweyer, D-22, and Richard Masters, chairman and CEO of MCS Industries, Inc. He was accompanied by his wife, Susan.

Also attending were Seventh Generation Charter School teachers Megan Ramirez and Mandy Suro who brought two of their students, Evalise Vargas and Madison Beck.

Mack Trucks is a subsidiary of AB Volvo which purchased Mack along with Renault Trucks in 2000. AB Volvo, in turn, is controlled by a major stockholder, Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co., Ltd, commonly known as Geely. It is a multinational automotive company headquartered in Hangzhou, Zhejiang in China. The company is privately held by Chinese billionaire Li Shufu.

“If you give American companies and communities the chance, there's nothing they can't build,” President Joe Biden tells a crowd at Mack Trucks July 28. PRESS PHOTOS BY DOUGLAS GRAVES
PRESS PHOTO BY DOUGLAS GRAVES “We designed our strategy not only to provide a temporary boost, but to lay the foundation for a long-term boom that brings everyone along,” President Joe Biden says during his speech at Mack Trucks.
Seventh Generation Charter School teachers Megan Ramirez and Mandy Suro escort two of their students, Evalise Vargas and Madison Beck to see President Joe Biden.