ALLENTOWN, Pa. — President Joe Biden visited Mack Truck’s Lehigh Valley Operations assembly plant in Macungie, Pennsylvania, on Wednesday, July 28, to promote his administration’s infrastructure, jobs and clean energy goals.
While there, Biden met with Mack employees, including those represented by United Auto Workers Local 677, and toured the facility to learn about the manufacturing process, the supply chain and Mack’s production of battery-electric trucks, including the Mack LR Electric battery-electric refuse vehicle, the manufacturer’s first fully electric Class 8 truck.
“We are honored that President Biden chose to visit Mack Trucks,” said Martin Weissburg, president of Mack Trucks, adding that the manufacturer is celebrating its 121st anniversary this week. “Mack is part of the only heavy-duty truck manufacturing group to assemble all of its trucks exclusively in the U.S. for this market.”
While at the plant, Biden addressed Mack employees and state and federal government representatives, including Pennsylvania’s Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, state Rep. Susan Wild (D-District 15) and U.S. Sen. Bob Casey Jr. (D-Pa).
“Well, I’m not going to say anything; I just came to drive a truck, and I’m not sure which one I want to drive,” Biden said, gesturing to the Class 8 tractors positioned behind the podium and drawing a few laughs from the crowd “There’s one back in the corner you can’t see. It’s the biggest damn pick-up truck you ever saw in your life.”
While this quip drew friendly chuckles from the crowd, another statement, captured by a local media outlet, has spurred less-kind laughter.
Joe Biden, a career politician who has been in politics for 48 years, claims he "used to drive an 18 wheeler.” pic.twitter.com/eOXI9pwF2g
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) July 28, 2021
“I used to drive an 18-wheeler, man … I got to,” Biden can be heard saying as he toured the Mack plant in a video posted to Twitter Wednesday.
According to FOX News, there is “scant evidence that Biden has ever driven an 18-wheeler truck.”
When FOX News reached out to the White House for confirmation of Biden’s claim, a spokesperson referred to a 1973 article from the Wilmington Evening Journal that stated Biden had ridden in an 18-wheeler on a 536-mile haul to Ohio.
Following his opening statement at the Mack plant, Biden reiterated his goal to strengthen American companies and manufacturing through changes to the Buy American Act.
“It’s a straightforward solution: support and grow more American-based companies. Put more Americans to work in union jobs. Strengthen American manufacturing and secure critical supply chains. And confront the climate crisis, which is all about jobs,” he said. I can sum it up in two words: Buy American.”
Currently, any vehicles purchased by the U.S. federal government must be “substantially all” made in America, Biden said.
However, because many products are assembled in the U.S. using foreign-made components, that goal can be difficult to meet..
“But because of loopholes, over time, you know what ‘substantially all’ means today?” he continued. “If 55% of it was made in America, you can go ahead and get all of the rest of it purchased other places. To me, 55% is not “substantially all” — it’s barely half.”
The proposed solution is to boost the required percentage of American-made components.
“Today, I’m directing the budget office to issue a rule to raise the amount of domestic content required to be considered Made in America from 55% to 75%,” Biden stated. “‘Substantially all’ is going to mean substantially all.”
Biden’s remarks also touted the administration’s goals for a bipartisan infrastructure plan, which he hopes to expand to include clean energy, as well as new jobs, child care and elder care, and more.
“You may have heard that, in Washington — and I was just on the phone — it looks like we reached a bipartisan agreement on infrastructure — a fancy word for bridges, roads, transit systems, high-speed Internet, clean drinking water, cleaning up and capping the orphan wells — over thousands of them abandoned, and abandoned mines — and a modern, resilient electric grid to build,” he said.
Part of the Biden administration’s focus is on protecting the environment by converting much of the nation to electric vehicles, including both private and commercial transport.
“I just saw the work you’re doing on the heavy-duty electric vehicles here, like electric garbage trucks,” he said, referring to Mack’s LR Electric battery-electric refuse vehicle, which is assembled at the Lehigh Valley plant.
“Right here, on this factory floor, you’re making a product that are fighting climate change,” he continued. “That’s why when I hear ‘climate change,’ I think jobs.”
In closing, Biden exhorted the nation’s political and business leaders to set a strong example of equality and inclusion for the rest of the world.
We’re the most unique nation in the history of the world. … By that I mean: Every other nation was put together based on ethnicity or religion, geography — but not America,” he explained. “An idea is what formed America. And the idea was — and it sounds corny, but it is absolutely true — no other nation has this as their organizing principle: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men and women are created equal…endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights … life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.’
“We believe it. We’ve never accomplished it, but every generation that moved us closer and closer and closer to inclusion,” he concluded. “That’s why America’s real power is not in the exercise of a military power, but people follow us because of our example. That’s why the rest of the world follows us.”
Linda Garner-Bunch has been in publishing for more than 30 years. You name it, Linda has written about it. She has served as an editor for a group of national do-it-yourself publications and has coordinated the real estate section of Arkansas’ only statewide newspaper, in addition to working on a variety of niche publications ranging from bridal magazines to high-school sports previews and everything in between. She is also an experienced photographer and copy editor who enjoys telling the stories of the “Knights of the Highway,” as she calls our nation’s truck drivers.