Vice President Joe Biden called the U.S. economic figures for March “disappointing” on Friday but said America “remains better positioned than any country in the world to be the leading economy” of the 21st century.
“The economy has now added private sector jobs every month, disappointing this month, but they nonetheless added jobs,” said Biden at the Export-Import Bank conference in Washington.
“Even so we’ve still found that at the time there’s a need for an ambitious affirmative agenda. We strengthened and signed three free trade agreements.”
Biden said he’s not optimistic out of “naivety” but because he knows the history of America.
“I know I’m referred to in the White House as the White House optimist. I read that all of the time like I’m the new guy. As my grandfather would say, ‘like I just fell off the turnip truck yesterday,’” Biden said.
“In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve been there longer than any of them and I hope you all haven’t noticed.”
The private sector added 95,000 jobs and payrolls rose by 88,000 workers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
In response to the jobs numbers, the White House said the economy is “continuing to recover” from the financial crisis.
In Biden’s view, the “affirmative task we have now is to actually create a new world order because the global order is changing again and the institutions of the world that worked so well in the post-World War II era for decades, they need to be strengthened and some have to be changed. So we have to do what we do best. We have to lead.”
He added, “This is not a zero sum game. It’s overwhelmingly in our interest that China prosper, that Mongolia prosper.”
Biden said the global “playing field” needs to be “leveled” so competition is fair and healthy.
With a level playing field, Biden said American ingenuity would compete with anyone in the world.
“I have overwhelming confidence in the competitive capacity of the American worker,” he said.
In the speech, Biden stressed that he makes “no apology” for America when he travels abroad to make sure American companies get an “even shot” in the global economy.
The former Delaware senator also urged Congress to reform the immigration system since many foreign students educated in the U.S. are sent home after graduating.
“Instead of sending them home, we should be stamping a green card to their diploma as they walk across the stage. Literally. I mean this literally,” Biden said.
“If they have a job here, they should be able to stay here. We should want them here.”