Biden was speaking at the White House on the occasion of signing four executive orders that, he claimed, would address racial “equity.”

With Vice President Kamala Harris — the country’s first African and Asian American woman in that role — looking on, Biden said:

We have never fully lived up to the founding principles of this nation, to state the obvious, that all people are created equal and have a right to be treated equally throughout their lives. And it’s time to act now, not only because it’s the right thing to do, but because if we do, we’ll all be better off for it.

Biden did not explain why he believes Americans are not “treated equally” under the law, or who is mistreating them. The Civil Right Act of 1964 has been in effect for nearly six decades — only slightly longer than Biden’s own political career.

The idea that America has never lived up to its founding principles was a repeated theme throughout Biden’s presidential campaign. Last October, for example, he told an interviewer that “America was an idea,” past tense:

America was an idea, an idea. “We hold these truths to be self-evident.” We’ve never lived up to it, but we’ve never walked away from it before, and I just think we have to be more honest. Let our kids know, as we raise them, what actually did happen. Acknowledge our mistakes, so we don’t repeat them.

On Tuesday, Biden also claimed that former President Donald Trump’s 1776 commission was “offensive” and “counter-factual.” He did not specify what, exactly, he found “offensive” in the commission’s report, nor what factual claims he disputed.

The report states:

Of course, neither America nor any other nation has perfectly lived up to the universal truths of equality, liberty, justice, and government by consent. But no nation before America ever dared state those truths as the formal basis for its politics, and none has strived harder, or done more, to achieve them.

Biden deleted the report from the White House website within moments of taking office.