Southwest Florida International Airport
Fort Myers, Florida
THE PRESIDENT: (In progress) right now. And they’re under construction, and then we’ll make — then we’ll make a decision as to which one we want to use. We pretty much have a pretty good idea. But we are looking for extreme border security and surveillance, everything else.
We also have to get the wall. It doesn’t have to be here, but they can’t obstruct the wall — whether it’s in a budget or something else — when we’re ready —
Q Are you open to citizenship for DREAMers over time?
THE PRESIDENT: No, we’re not looking at citizenship. We’re not looking at amnesty. We’re looking at allowing people to stay here. We’re working with everybody — Republican. We’re working with Democrat. I just spoke with Paul Ryan, he’s onboard. Everybody is onboard. They want to do something. We’re not talking about amnesty. We’re talking about — we’re talking about taking care of people, people that were brought here, people that have done a good job and were not brought here of their own volition.
But very importantly, what we want — we have to have a wall. If the wall is going to be obstructed when we need the funds — at a little bit later date, we’ll be determining how much we need — then we’re not doing any —
Q What do you say, Mr. President, to Steve King who says that your promises can’t be believed? And what do you say to Senator Charles Grassley who said you undercut what he’s doing in the Judiciary Committee by talking with Pelosi and Schumer last night about all this?
THE PRESIDENT: No, what we’re doing is we’re doing it in conjunction with the Republicans. We have a very, very good relationship with a lot of people. A lot of people want this to happen. They expect it to happen, and we’ll see if it happens.
But we’ll only do it if we get extreme security, if we get not only surveillance, but everything that goes along with surveillance. And ultimately we have to have the wall. If we don’t have the wall, we’re doing nothing.
Q Why did the Democrats say there was a deal at dinner?
THE PRESIDENT: There was no deal and they didn’t say they had a deal. In fact, they just put out a statement they didn’t say that at all.
Q Mr. President, if Republicans aren’t able to get something in six months, will you continue the DACA program on your own?
THE PRESIDENT: We’ll talk about that. But I think a deal will be made before six months.
Q So no relief for DACA recipients unless you get the wall, is that what you’re saying?
THE PRESIDENT: The wall — at some point, they’re going to have to — they cannot obstruct the wall. The wall, to me, is vital. If I don’t get the wall, then we will become the obstructionists.
Q What has to come first — wall, agreement on the wall?
THE PRESIDENT: We have to have an understanding that whether it’s in the budget or some other vehicle in a fairly short period of time, the wall will be funded. Otherwise, we’re not doing anything.
Q On tax reform, Mr. President, can you clarify what you said yesterday when you said that the wealthiest Americans will stay the same, maybe pay a little more? Some people interpreted that to say that you may actually raise rates on them.
THE PRESIDENT: So the wealthy Americans are not my priority. My priority are people in the middle class, and that’s where we’re giving the big tax reduction to. It’s about the middle class, and it’s about jobs. And it’s about bringing jobs back to the country, bringing back — the companies back so that companies can get a reduction.
Right now we’re paying the highest tax rate in the world. We want to bring that to around 15 percent. That would make us competitive with China and other countries. So my priority is bringing companies back, bringing money back into the country. There’s trillions of dollars outside of our country that we could bring back, but the taxes don’t allow it to happen.
Q But would you possibly —
THE PRESIDENT: Just so you understand, my priority is jobs — very simple, it’s jobs and it’s the middle class. Taking care of both.
Q Would you possibly raise rates on the wealthiest Americans?
THE PRESIDENT: I don’t think we’ll have to do that, but this is not to benefit the wealthy. This is to benefit the middle class and to benefit companies where they’re going to be producing jobs. We want to produce jobs in this country. We want factories coming back, and they’re already coming back. But we want factories coming back into our country.
Right now they’re leaving our country. They’ve started since I’ve been in, as you know — you look at Michigan, you look at Ohio, you look at — they’re starting to come back. But to really bring them back, we have to reduce our tax rate. So we’re trying to bring it down to around 15 percent.
Q But if you reduce — it will bring taxes down on the wealthy.
THE PRESIDENT: What’s going to happen is the individual rate coming down will be substantial for the middle class. We want to take care of the middle class. We want to take care of jobs. The way we’re going to get jobs is to make our companies more competitive. And don’t forget, a lot of these companies are public companies owned by the public, owned by pension funds, owned by vehicles such as that, so they’ll get a big benefit.
Our priority is jobs and the middle class. Okay, now let’s go and see how we’re doing because I think we’re doing a good job in Florida.
Q Thank you, sir.