Biden hosts news conference as he marks 1st year in office

President Joe Biden held a rare solo news conference Wednesday, recounting his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, the economy and the legislative agenda.
4:19 | 01/19/22

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Transcript for Biden hosts news conference as he marks 1st year in office
- Tomorrow will mark one year since I took office. It's been a year of challenges, but it's also been a year of enormous progress. We went from 2 million people being vaccinated at the moment I was sworn in to 210 million Americans being fully vaccinated today. We created 6 million new jobs, more jobs in one year than any time before. Unemployment dropped. The unemployment rate dropped to 3.9%. Child poverty dropped by nearly 40%, the biggest drop ever in American history. Still, for all this progress I know there's a lot of frustration and fatigue in this country. And we know why, COVID-19. Omicron has now been challenging us in a way that it's the new enemy. But while it's cause for concern, it's not cause for panic. We've been doing everything we can, learning and adapting as fast as we can and preparing for a future beyond the pandemic. Well, I know that after almost two years of physical, emotional, and psychological weight of this pandemic and had-- the impact it's had on everyone, for many of us, it's been too much to bear. We're in a very different place now, though. We have the tools, vaccines, boosters, masks, tests, pills, to save lives and keep businesses and schools open. 75% of adults are fully vaccinated. We've gone from 90 million adults with no shots in arms last summer and down to 35 million with no shots as of today. And we're adding about nine million more vaccinations each week. Now, the second challenge we're facing are prices. COVID-19 has created a lot of economic complications, including rapid price increases across the world economy. People see it at the gas pump, the grocery stores, and elsewhere. So here's what we're going to do. A critical job in making sure that the elevated prices don't become entrenched rests with the Federal Reserve, which has a dual mandate-- full employment and stable prices. Third thing we're going to do, promote competition. Look, in too many industries a handful of giant companies dominate the market in sectors like meat processing, railroad shipping, and other areas. This isn't a new issue. It's not been the reason we've had high inflation today. It's not the only reason. It's been happening for a decade. But over time, it has reduced competition, squeezed out small businesses and farmers, ranchers, and increase the price for consumers. We end up with an industry like the meat-processing industry where four big companies dominate the markets, pay ranchers less for their cattle they grow, charge consumers more for beef, hamburger meat, whatever they're buying. Prices are up. Look, I'm a capitalist, but capitalism without competition is not capitalism. It's exploitation. So I signed an executive order to tackle unfair competition in our economy. We have faced some of the biggest challenges that we've ever faced in this country these past few years-- challenges to our public health, challenges to our economy. But we're getting through it. And not only are we getting through it, we're laying the foundation for a future where America wins the 21st century by creating jobs at a record pace. Now we need to get inflation under control. We have developed extraordinarily effective booster shots and antiviral pills. Now I need to finish the job to COVID-19 under control. I've long said, it's never been a good bet to bet against the American people or America. I believe that more than ever today. We've seen the grit and determination in the American people this past year, but the best days of this country are still ahead of us, not behind us.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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