The pandemic has only made things worse. Twenty million Americans lost their job in the pandemic, working- and middle-class Americans. At the same time, roughly 650 billionaires in America saw their net worth increase by more than $1 trillion, in the same exact period. Let me say it again. 650 people increased their wealth by more than $1 trillion during this pandemic and they’re now worth more than $4 trillion. My fellow Americans, trickle-down, trickle-down economics has never worked. It’s time to grow the economy from the bottom and the middle out.
You know, there’s a broad consensus of economists left, right and center, and they agree what I’m proposing will create millions of jobs and generate historic economic growth. These are among the highest-value investments we can make as a nation. I’ve often said our greatest strength is the power of our example, not just the example of our power. My conversations with world leaders — and I’ve spoken to 38, 40 of them now — I’ve made it known, I’ve made it known, that America is back.
You know what they say? The comment I hear most of all from them? They say: “We see America’s back, but for how long? But for how long?” My fellow Americans, we have to show not just that we’re back, but that we’re back to stay, and that we aren’t going to go alone. We’re going to do it by leading with our allies. No one nation can deal with all the crises of our time, from terrorism to nuclear proliferation, mass migration, cybersecurity, climate change, as well as what we’re experiencing now, pandemics.
There’s no wall high enough to keep any virus out. And our own vaccine supply, as it grows to meet our needs — and we’re meeting them — will become an arsenal for vaccines for other countries, just as America was the arsenal for democracy for the world. And in consequence, influenced the world. Every American will have access before that occurs, every American will have access to be fully covered by Covid-19 from the vaccines we have.
Look, the climate crisis is not our fight alone. It’s a global fight. The United States accounts, as all of you know, for less than 15 percent of carbon emissions. The rest of the world accounts for 85 percent. That’s why I kept my commitment to rejoin the Paris Accord, because if we do everything perfectly, it’s not going to matter. I kept my commitment to convene a climate summit right here in America with all the major economies of the world: China, Russia, India, European Union. I said I would do it in my first hundred days.
I want to be very blunt about it. I had — my intent was to make sure that the world could see that there was a consensus, that we are at an inflection point in history. The consensus is, if we act to save the planet, we can create millions of jobs and economic growth and opportunity to raise the standard of living of almost everyone around the world. If you’ve watched any of it — and you were all busy, I’m sure you didn’t have much time — that’s what virtually every nation said, even the ones who aren’t doing their fair share.
The investments I propose tonight also advance a foreign policy, in my view, that benefits the middle class. That means making sure that every nation plays by the same rules in the global economy, including China. In my discussions with President Xi, I told him we welcome the competition. We’re not looking for conflict.