Press Gaggle by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre En Route Philadelphia, PA

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Aboard Air Force One
On the way Philadelphia, Pa

9:00 a.m. EDT

MRS. JEAN-PIERRE: All right. Hello folks. OK, so good morning. Thank you for joining us to – sorry – thank you for joining us so bright and early. I have a quick thing on top.

As you all know, today I’m going to – I’m going to put this on so you can hear me. Today, at the 29th AFL-CIO Conference in Philadelphia, the President will contrast his economic vision that works—that works from Scranton—that emanates from Scranton with a vision that looks down from Wall Street.

The President’s economic vision builds the economy from the center out and bottom up, not top down. The President will outline the strength of the economy, including historically low – low unemployment rates as a result of his US bailout plan and bipartisan infrastructure bill. And he will say there is more to be done and tackled – and fighting inflation is his top priority.

He’ll make the stark choice: ask the rich to pay their fair share, as he proposes, or chop Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid every five years, which congressional Republicans are proposing.

As you all know, Representatives Brendan Boyle, Mary Gay Scanlon and Donald Norcross are traveling with us today. And the President will be welcomed by the Mayor of Philadelphia, Jim Kenney.

OK. With that, Darlene, are you kicking us out?

Q Yeah, it doesn’t sound like there’s – from your topper, it doesn’t sound like there’s any news in the President’s speech today. Will there be any news in the comments?

MRS. JEAN-PIERRE: I don’t want to get ahead of the President. He’ll be – like I said, he’ll be the stark contrast. He will continue to speak about the work he has done for the American people.

As we have said before, his priority in relation to the economy is fighting inflation. But I won’t overtake him. I’ll let him – I’ll let him speak to what he’s going to discuss today or in his remarks.

Question: In a statement earlier today announcing the trip to Saudi Arabia and Israel, the White House statement made no mention of meeting with MBS, while the Saudi statement did. Is there a reason the White House hasn’t mentioned this?

MRS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, just for people who don’t know, yes, a statement was made – I made a statement this morning.

Just for a little bit – to give you a little bit – folks, a little bit of what the statement says. I won’t read through everything, of course, but President Biden will visit the Middle East region July 13-16 to reaffirm the United States’ ironclad commitment to Israel’s security and prosperity and attend a summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council plus Egypt, Iraq and Jordan, known as GCC+3.

He will also meet with counterparts from across the region to advance US security, economic and diplomatic interests.

The visit to the Middle East region is the culmination of months of diplomacy and follows the President’s meeting with ASEAN leaders at the White House, his trip to the Republic of Korea and Japan, and the Quad Summit, his hosting of the Summit of the Americas in the Los Angeles last week and his visit to Europe next week for the G7 and NATO.

But to your question, you see, you know, the President is going to see over a dozen leaders on this trip, including King Salman and our Saudi hosts’ leadership for the GCC+3 summit. Yes, we can expect the President to see the Crown Prince as well.

Q Karine, just a quick question on the S&P which went bearish yesterday. I mean, there are growing fears that the economy is going into recession. I wonder how concerned the President is about the growing fears that the US economy is slipping into recession?

MRS. JEAN-PIERRE: You know, we’re watching closely. We know families are concerned about stock market inflation. We are aware of that.

But we know that what we are seeing now faces global challenges: Putin’s price hike, inflation, the end of a once-in-a-generation global pandemic.

We believe the American people are well placed to face these challenges because of – because of – because of what the President has done in the last year and a half dealing with the economy – a historic, economic – economic place that we” with more than 8 million jobs since President Biden took office. Seventeen states have historically – historically low unemployment.

So all these things are important. But yes, we’re watching it closely, and we understand what that is — how that makes the American people feel.

Q Does he – does he maybe have meetings to discuss things like this – the – the growing forecasts that are coming out of – you know, economists about the economy?

MRS. JEAN-PIERRE: I don’t have any reviews to read to you at the moment. This President has clearly made inflation a priority — an economic priority. You’ve heard from him in the last few months. You will hear from him about it today. So that’s something that comes to the fore.

Q The market collapse has caused a huge loss of wealth. Is the president more concerned about wealth loss or inflation?

MRS. JEAN-PIERRE: So we know that higher prices, in turn, have a real impact on people’s lives. And that’s important, and that’s something the President is really interested in. And we’re incredibly focused on doing everything we can to make sure the economy works for the American people.

You’re going to hear him talk specifically today about how I read the topper. But you know, the economy — once again, his economic plan resulted in the strongest job market in American history. And that’s – thanks to the US bailout, unemployment is at an all-time low.

So these are global challenges that we face. We believe we are in a good place to fight inflation. We know how the American people feel. Again, this is a — a top economic priority for the President.

Q Regarding the Saudi part of the trips, if I may, I wanted to ask you about it. Is this a last ditch effort, a Hail Mary attempt to bring down the oil and gas prices we are facing right now?

MRS. JEAN-PIERRE: I mean, look, we had – I was asked this question – a similar question yesterday –

(A nearby interior door opens.)

Q Take care of yourself.

MRS. JEAN-PIERRE: All right.

You see, while energy security is an important issue, it’s not the only one. As you all know, Saudi Arabia is the leader of OPEC Plus and the largest exporter.

Of course we are discussing energy with Saudi – the Saudi government, and we applaud their – their leadership in building consensus in the group of – to increase planned supply by 50 percent last week.

But look, Saudi Arabia has been a strategic partner of the United States for almost 80 years. And there is no question that important interests are intertwined with Saudi Arabia, most notably Yemen’s recent ceasefire extension, which has saved countless lives.

So there’s a set of agendas, a long list of things that need to be talked about – to have a conversation that’s going to be on the agenda.

But as the President has said many times, he is — he looks forward to discussions between leaders and — in terms of a strategic partnership.

Q Karine, if the President sees MBS on his trip, does he plan to address Khashoggi’s murder directly with him?

MRS. JEAN-PIERRE: The President – as you know, human rights are always part of the conversation in our foreign engagements. So it will always be like this. It doesn’t work – it works – no matter who he meets.

We’re not – what we’re – I mean we don’t overlook pre-presidential behavior. We issued a detailed report on khashoggi and issued a kha – the so-called khashoggi ban.

So it’s important to also emphasize that while we work together – restoring relationships, we don’t seek to break relationships.

But human rights — you know, human rights issues, human rights talks, it’s something that the President is addressing with a lot of leaders and plans to do.

Q. Karine, this morning there was a report in Axios that the President is in favor of removing tariffs on consumer goods – Chinese – from China. I wonder if you can confirm if that’s true, but talk about it too – I mean he’s going to be meeting today with unions who have been pretty staunchly opposed to lifting the tariffs. Will he be here discussing tariffs and his decision-making process with the members of the Union?

MRS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I’ll say this: We’ve said from the beginning that some Trump tariffs are irresponsible and don’t advance our economic or national security and instead increase the cost to families and businesses. And I’ve said many times that we discuss and work to reconcile these arbitrary tariffs and our priorities to protect the interests of our workers and critical industries; promoting American workers, wages and job creation; ensuring the resilience of our supply chains; maintaining our technology lead; and the advancement of our national security.

I have nothing to share about what – where the President – what the President’s decision has – is at this point. As you know, this is something we are discussing internally. I have nothing new.

Q Just a quick note on housekeeping: We’ve had a few incidents in groups, including today under the wing where staff touched camera equipment and microphones. So I was just wondering if we can get a commitment for you to talk to people about how that can’t happen during this time.

MRS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yes. I mean absolutely. Look, we want to make sure there’s transparency, that you – you are – you all are able to hear the president directly from the president. We know that this is not only important for you, but also for us.

When the plane lands – I – I wasn’t out – I wasn’t out when – to – to what you’re discussing or addressing. But we understand how important it is for all of you to hear directly from the President. Thank you for letting us know.

All right guys. Many Thanks.

9:10 a.m. EDT

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