Washington Marriott Wardman Park Hotel
2:21 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you very much. I feel like home. Realtors. (Applause.) Realtors. Great business. We love that business. I love that business. Every time I go down in this incredible Beast — you know what the Beast is? The world’s most expensive car. (Laughter.) It’s really not a car; it’s an army tank that rides better. But it’s something. But I look at the real estate. I’m always looking at the real estate. I don’t know, I’ll never get it out of my blood. It’s in our blood, right? (Applause.) Please, sit down. Sit down, if you want. Sit down.
You know, I tell you to sit down because otherwise they’ll say he got no standing ovations. (Laughter.) It’s true. The fake news, they’ll say, “The crowd didn’t like his performance. They gave him no…” I had that the other day. They just wouldn’t sit down. So they said, “It wasn’t one of his better speeches. He got no standing ovations,” because they never sat down. It was one. (Laughter.)
But we love you people, and I know — they were just telling me, John, that it’s a record. They have people here. They have people in all the ballrooms all over this beautiful hotel. And they have people outside, in closed circuits. Somehow you people know real estate, so you know you have the best location, right? (Applause.)
But I’m honored to be here with the hardworking men and women who help millions of families live the American Dream. And that’s so true. The incredible members of the National Association of REALTORS — a name I know very well.
I want to thank my friend. He was my friend — my competitor for a while, but he was still my friend — Secretary Ben Carson for his tremendous leadership. (Applause.) Where are you? Stand up. He’s a great guy. When I put him in charge of HUD — first of all, he’s a very smart guy, very adaptable. I said, “Ben, what do you know about real estate?” “Not much.” “How would you like to head HUD?” (Laughter.) And you know what? Within a — it didn’t take you long, did it, Ben? And he got some of the smartest people in the business, and they’re doing a great job. And everybody is talking about it. Thank you, Ben. Great job. (Applause.)
And I also want to thank the President of the National Association of REALTORS, John Smaby. (Applause.) Where is he? Where is he? Hi, John. Please, stand up. Thank you, John. Great job. Thank you, John. (Applause.) Popular.
Where is CEO Bob Goldberg? Bob. Thank you, Bob. (Applause.) Respected guys. Vice President Tracy Kasper. (Applause.) Vice President. I just met Tracy. (Applause.) Great family. Thank you, Tracy, and your entire team for everything that you do to support realtors around the country. I guess that includes me. (Laughter.) I took a little sabbatical for eight years. You know — (applause). But I miss you. But I miss you. But we got you one hell of a tax cut, didn’t we? Didn’t we do it? (Applause.)
And the regulation cut may be more important. You know, we did regulation cutting, where you couldn’t build jobs, you couldn’t build anything. You’d have a puddle on your land and they considered it to be one the Great Lakes of the world. (Laughter.) It’s true. You’d have a puddle, and if it formed more than twice a year — a puddle. We used to call it a “puddle.” They called it a “lake.” It came in lake restriction. I actually had it happen to me in Bedford, New York. I was building a development. I was going to build some really luxury, beautiful houses. A very great area. And it kept —
AUDIENCE MEMBER: New York!
THE PRESIDENT: That’s right. New York, New York. I’ll tell you, they might be screwing up New York. We got to be careful, right? (Laughter.) The taxes are going high. They’re doing a mansion tax now. You know what that is, right? They want to be your partner. That’s not good — the mansion tax. I just heard about that one.
But, you know, the environmental stuff was very tough. It was getting worse and worse every year. And I actually had this beautiful piece of land — 216 acres — and I was going to do something with it, and then I decided to do this. I’m glad I did this, because I can help more people. But, Tracy, they had a little area where water would sort of form when it rained. And all of a sudden, I found out that I can’t build on the land. Does that make sense to you? I can’t build on the land because it was considered, for all intents and purposes, a lake. And how did people find out about the lake? My consultant told them. Because, this way, you have to use your environmental consultant longer, pay them more money to get you out of the jam. Isn’t that nice? (Laughter.) I fired his ass so fast. (Laughter and applause.) True story. It’s a true story. A true story.
I’d see them up in Albany. “What are you doing here?” And they were making it more and more difficult, so you had to hire a lot of people. But that’s what we’re getting rid of. We’re getting rid of a lot of the regulations. And, frankly, I’ve had some great business leaders talking to me. And if they had their choice between — we have the biggest tax cut bill in the history of our country, and we also, in that bill, got included ANWR — one of the great oil sites in all of the world, in Alaska.
And we got rid of the individual mandate, which is, by far, the biggest problem with Obamacare — the individual mandate — — (applause) — where you paid a lot of money for the privilege not to pay a lot of money for healthcare. How about that one? This is the only thing: You paid not to have it. You paid a fortune not to have it. And we got rid of it.
So — but we are doing regulations. And I think regulations, frankly, maybe are a bigger reason for our tremendous success as a country over the last two and a half years. Maybe even bigger than the tax cuts. I mean, it’s incredible what’s happening.
I just left Louisiana, and we’re building — (applause) — oh, wow. Well, then you know what I’m talking about. Building a tremendous LNG terminal — LNG refiner. It’s $10 billion. One of the biggest in the world. It must be a mile long. I’ve never seen anything like this. It’s a building, but it’s all pipes inside. All pipes. There’s no space. It’s all pipes. They didn’t use any space, Ben. And I’ve never seen anything — it’s incredible. Ten billion dollars. Ten thousand jobs. Louisiana. And now they’re going to do more of them.
And if you look over the last 40 years, I don’t think we built a refinery, or certainly we built very few of them. And now we have a lot of refineries going up in great locations, and it’s really — it’s really incredible. Nobody thought they’d ever see a refinery built. But we worked with the EPA and we worked with people that were really stopping them.
These people were in — they were in the process of getting permits for many, many years, and we helped them and we got them very, very quickly, and they’ve invested tremendous amounts of money. And it’s sold out. It’s sold out. For 20 years, it’s all sold out. See, that’s no different than an office building. You sign a lease and you get your financing, right? These people, they sign with countries and they get their financing. But I think it’s bigger and probably even better, if you want to know the truth. And they’re happy, and it’s a lot of people that are working. And we did that, but we did many of them.
We did the pipeline, as you know. The big pipelines. The Keystone XL pipeline. We did the — (applause) — right. And that was dead. Forty-eight thousand jobs. And the Dakota Access pipeline. And these are tremendous things, and, frankly, environmentally great. Better than tracking it down. Better than putting it in trains. Better than doing any other way. And it goes to the various parts of the country that need it. They’re fantastic.
These are things that would never have happened if other people got into office. I can almost say if almost anybody else in the world got into office, I don’t think it would’ve happened — (applause) — including Republicans. (Applause.)
But before I begin, I’m pleased to announce that we’ve just reached an agreement with Canada and Mexico, and we’ll be selling our product into those countries without the imposition of tariffs or major tariffs. Big difference. (Applause.)
As you know, Canada has been, for years — and we have a great relationship with Canada and the Prime Minister. We have a great relationship. But they’ve been charging us extremely high tariffs — as much as 285 percent or more — for our agricultural products, which is an absolute barrier. It’s essentially a barrier. In other words, when you pay 285, guess what? You know what they’re saying? “We don’t want your business.” So it was a barrier to our farmers being able to do business with them, to our farmers being able to sell product in there.
So that deal is going to be a fantastic deal for our country. And hopefully Congress will approve the USMCA quickly. And then the great farmers, and manufacturers, and steel plants will make our economy even more successful than it already is — if that’s possible, which it is possible. (Applause.)
We could have the greatest economy in the history of our country. We could have — if you look at the unemployment numbers — the best since 1969. (Applause.) And in a very short period, it’ll be — assuming we just go a little bit further — it’ll be the best in history.
The unemployment numbers are great, but the employment numbers are even better. We have the most people working today than at any time in the history of our country. We have almost 160 million people working. (Applause.)
And many of those people are going to go out and buy a house. Right, Tracy? They’re going to use you as the broker. (Applause.) They’re going to call — “Tracy, I want to buy a house. And I won’t pay you 6 percent, Tracy. I won’t.” (Laughter.) “I’ll pay you 1 percent.” I was famous for that. (Laughter.)
AUDIENCE: Booo —
THE PRESIDENT: No, no. Don’t worry. Nobody accepted it. Don’t feel — (laughter) — but I tried like hell, I’ll tell you. (Laughter.) No, but I’d get it down to 4 or 5; that’s not so bad.
I had one case in Palm Beach — believe it or not — a hundred-million-dollar house. Can you believe it? And the broker did a fantastic job. But I told the broker, “I’m paying you more than you’re supposed to get.” He got millions. He sold the house for a hundred million dollars. You believe it? Bought it for 39. Then I sold it for a hundred. It wasn’t immediate. Took a couple of years. That’s okay. (Laughter.) I had to paint it inside a little bit — a little paint. (Laughter and applause.) A little fix-up. A little fix-up.
I call it a “turnaround.” (Laughter.) Because I had nothing to — you know, I had a beautiful house — Mar-a-Lago — and I said that was — this was one that came onto the market through a — really, a tragedy. A very sad situation with the — the owner had a tremendous problem. And so, anyway, it was put up, and I got it. And I sold it. I flipped it.
But I had a great broker. Two good brokers, actually. But I paid them more money than they actually asked for. I made a deal with them and I paid them more. And I’ve done that a lot. I’ve also done it the other way, where I’m not so happy. (Laughter.) Then I do a little — but I won’t talk about that today. We’ll save that for another time. (Laughter.)
But, really, there’s nothing like a good broker. I mean, you’re no different than a great surgeon, a great anything. I mean, it’s true. (Applause.) It’s true. And you’re not all brokers; you’re realtors, and you build, and you rent, and you lease. But you sell.
And, honestly, I’ve seen cases where you give it to the wrong person, and you just sit and you just die with it. And then the right person comes along and it’s like genius. It’s like genius. And you have to remember those people. Those are great people. And you have to reward them properly. I really mean it; you have to reward them properly. (Applause.)
So you are really, truly, fantastically talented people. There are some, probably, in this room that don’t have such great talent. You know who I am and you know who they are. (Laughter.) But you have some tremendously talented people in this room. I know this business so well. I love this business. And you have people that can really do a job that very few people can do.
And, frankly, if you went into another business, you’d do great with that too. But there’s something about the real estate world that’s — it’s incredible. You just love it. It’s in your blood. It’s in your blood. (Applause.)
So, even as President — and that’s why I tell you — even as President, I ride down those streets, and I say, “Wow, is that place nice. Wow, what could you do with that? Look at that site.” And then I said, “Wait a minute. I have to deal with China. Forget about this now.” (Laughter and applause.)
So I love your business, and we’re here today because realtors play a special role in the American economy. And that’s true. I would think it’s the largest business in this country, when you add it all up. You add up all the family firms and the big real estate firms, and the single-family homebuilders, and the ones that do a lot of homes — I mean, thousands and thousands.
But you add it all up, and it’s the biggest business. There’s nothing close. It’s bigger than oil and gas, which is big. It’s bigger than cars. Bigger than anything. You know, as a group — as a group, you’re a tremendously big business and a very powerful business, politically, because you have numbers. Numbers is power.
When a young family needs room to grow; when a new job sparks a new adventure in a brand new, beautiful city; when parents want to find the right neighborhood and schools for their children, Americans put our trust in you — our great realtors. And that’s true. Very important. (Applause.)
I mean, I’ll just tell you one little thing. In what business do you have where you’re selling your home — your home is very important to you. You may not sell it. Maybe you’ll only sell it if you get the right price. And you leave the key under the mat so the broker can take anybody they want, even though you’re going to be away for three weeks, right? (Laughter.) How many people trust people — you would only trust a great realtor to do that, right? (Applause.) It’s true. A lot of truth to that. (Laughs.) (Applause.)
See, I have a speech and I have great speechwriters, but they don’t know this kind of stuff. So this is all — (laughter). So far, this is all off cuff. (Laughter.) But they don’t know what I know, and they don’t know what you know because they write speeches and — “Our economy is great. Our…” But you’ve heard that before, right? (Laughter.) But they don’t know these kind of little things, right? And these are the little things that make you great.
Home is where our hearts are. And all of you, as Americans, you find a home for the ones that you love the most. So today, I want to thank all of you. This is a time of extraordinary opportunity for our country. And as I said, I think our country is doing better now than we’ve ever done before, as an economy. And I think it’s going to get even better. (Applause.)
We’re the envy of the world. There’s only — truly never been a better time, in my opinion, to build and break ground in America. People are making a lot of money and they’re doing well. And jobs are so good. And so many positive things are happening.
We’ve added nearly 6 million jobs since my election, including more than 120,000 real estate jobs. You believe that? (Applause.) See, I view that as a negative. I say, “120,000 more people that we have to compete with.” Right? (Laughter.) What do we need that for?
We’ve also gained more than 650,000 new construction jobs. (Applause.) And, you know — and if you remember, when I first came here — and if you remember three years ago, four years ago, five years ago, it wasn’t so good. But right now, America really is, once again, a nation of builders. We’re building again. (Applause.)
More than 5 million Americans have been lifted off food stamps, and we’re getting Americans off of welfare and back into the workforce. That’s a great thing. (Applause.) Great thing. That’s a great thing. I mean, you think of that: Five million people off of food stamps. You know what that costs? First of all, it’s a tragedy. But you know what that costs? So they’re off and now they’re working. So they’re actually paying taxes instead of — really, it’s costing a lot of money. Food stamps is very expensive.
And very importantly, women filled more than 60 percent of all of the new jobs created over the past year. Sixty. (Applause.) So I think the men should sue the women for discrimination. (Laughter.) They should sue. Get a great lawyer. (Laughter.)
And after years of stagnation, wages are rising fast, with the quickest growth for blue-collar workers. The best statistic of all — and people don’t know. Everyone is doing great. The rich are doing great. The not-so-rich are doing great. The middle income is doing the best. But the best of all: The blue-collar worker has the biggest percentage increase of anybody. And that’s beautiful. (Applause.)
And these things didn’t just happen by accident. They happened because we are taking out this power out of Washington — these bad people — and returning it to the American people, where it belongs. Just think about Comey and these characters. Think about Comey and the gang. (Applause.) Drain the swamp. Drain the swamp.
Comey, Brennan, Clapper — we’re draining the swamp, folks. (Applause.) And you think it’s easy? It’s not easy. It’s not easy, but we’re doing it. We’re getting rid of a lot bad ones.
At the heart of America’s revival are the massive tax cuts that I signed into law a year ago. And they are like rocket fuel for America’s economy.
The typical family of four earning $75,000 is now saving more than $2,000 on their income taxes — money they can put toward anything they want to put it, including save it.
Many small business owners are here today. And you can now deduct up to 20 percent of their business income, one of the most significant small business tax cuts in American history. (Applause.) Thank you.
It’s so good that you see that because a lot of people — you know, they’re all getting these tremendous tax cuts, and a lot of people don’t know they are getting them and sometimes they’re taken out by the business. So, you know, they’re getting checks and they notice they’re a little bit bigger but they don’t really notice.
You people — many of you have your own businesses and you see the kind of money that you’re making. Much more money. And you’re investing much more money. But it’s great that when you see it, you know, you’re very entrepreneurial people; real estate people are. If you’re not, you’re in deep trouble. (Laughter.) If you’re not, you don’t want to be in this room very long because you won’t last.
But it’s pretty amazing. And the other thing that’s amazing is one-year expensing. How about that? I mean, one-year expensing, I think, is one of the biggest things. And nobody talks about it, really, but it’s a tremendous — (applause) — you write it off in one year. And nobody thought we’d ever see the day when you get that. But it spurs growth, and it’s been fantastic.
And we’ve also done something that, for this room, and for farmers, and for ranchers, and for, you know, small businesses — fairly big businesses, actually — we’ve virtually eliminated the very unfair estate tax, also known as the death tax. So — — (applause) — so, if you want to leave your real estate company to your child or your children — they like real estate, they have an aptitude, and you love them, and they love you; otherwise don’t do it. To hell with them. (Laughter.)
I’ve seen parents that are so badly treated by their kids. And the parent comes to me, “Oh, I love my child.” And I’m saying to myself, “Man, that child treats them badly.” So I would tell him, “You know, your child is not a good child. Don’t leave him anything.” (Laughter.)
But for those of you in the room, and I would say that includes probably 90 percent — I’d say there’s 10 percent — who does not love your child or children? Anybody want to raise your hand? (Laughter.) No, I can’t believe that guy raised his hand. (Laughter.) I’m not going to ask your name. I’m not going to get you. (Laughter.)
But what we have now is you don’t have to pay any estate taxes. You know what that is? That’s a big deal. Because a lot of times — and it happened with the farmers, where in some cases, they’re land rich, but not income rich, but the farm has been in the family for 150 years, and they love it, and they do well, and that’s what they do, and they love it. They wouldn’t want to do anything else. And they die and it would taxed on the value of the land, and all sorts of things happened. Then they go to the banks and they borrow money. And then they have a little down spell and they end up losing the farm, losing the business. You have no tax to pay anymore. And nobody talks about it, but to me that’s a big thing. That’s a big thing. (Applause.)
And thanks to the Opportunity Zones — where Ben Carson has been working so hard — (applause) — right? — made possible by tax reform, we’re making enormous investments in distressed communities. Tremendous.
I will tell you this — and, Ben, I think you can agree with me. He has to agree. (Laughter.) By the way, if he doesn’t, he will tell me. I guarantee. He’ll stand up and say, “Sir, I disagree with you there.”
It’s amazing the way it’s worked out. Do you agree? I had no idea. Tim Scott was very much involved. And we did it. And, you know, I’ve been hearing about these things for 40 years. “Oh, we’re going to do this; we’re going to do that.” Nothing works. These things have become tremendously successful. Tremendously successful in areas where money was never invested.
Very, very big, powerful, rich people are spending tremendous amounts of money. They have certain tax advantages, but we’ve got them to open their wallets, and the jobs that are being created in neighborhoods where people wouldn’t go before.
The Opportunity Zones — and it’s starting to be seen, and it’s starting to be written about — it’s a great achievement for Tim Scott. It’s a great achievement for Ben Carson. It’s really a — some of the people that those — the early people, Ben, that worked. Who else would you say, Ben? Four or five people that really were in the front — the forefront. But you two, I’d say, in particular. I’m going to get myself in trouble with the other three, but I’m not going to bother because you people don’t care who the hell they are. (Laughter.)
But they know they did a good job. Right, Ben? (Laughter.) They know they did a good job. (Applause.)
So we’re honored to be joined today by one of the patriots leading the charge on Opportunity Zone development. A fantastic man. A fantastic football player, by the way, for those of you that remember. He’s still young. A longtime member of the Association, Bob Turner. Bob, come on up. Let us know. Come on, Bob. (Applause.) Let us have a little information, please. How are you, Bob?
MR. TURNER: Thank you, Mr. President. What an honor to be here today.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Yeah, Bob!
MR. TURNER: (Laughs.) Thanks. Thank you so much for this great economy. When you were elected, in Memphis, the cloud lifted off of Memphis and the economy took off. It really did. (Applause.) And the Opportunity Zones are creating so many opportunities for everybody across this country. And you came to Millington, Tennessee, a couple of years ago.
THE PRESIDENT: That’s right.
MR. TURNER: About a mile from where you landed, we own 47 acres that are in the Opportunity Zone. We’re developing 247 units of apartments, and we’re building 71 single-family home lots on this 47 acres. We will create about $40 million of economic development in Millington, Tennessee. (Applause.)
Millington has not seen any new developments for over 10 years. No new apartments, very few houses, and it’s home of the naval air station — naval base — with your fine patriots. And it’s going to make a change in that town.
We’re also developing a large development in Memphis. It’s 1,500 apartments, a hotel, and about 3,500 square-foot of retail space that will create about $400 million in economic development. It’s not in an Opportunity Zone, but it’s creating a tremendous amount of jobs in Memphis. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Great. Great place.
MR. TURNER: Yep. So, as realtors across this country, we’ve been talking about this all this week, and I’ve told them they are the catalyst for this Opportunity Zone with Mr. Carson and President Trump. And without it, we would not be able to revitalize these communities that need help.
I had the opportunity to come to the White House and represent our realtors in your economic summit for the Opportunity Zone, and I thought it was all about real estate. But it’s about workforce, it’s about housing, it’s about every kind of economic development you can do in these zones. And it’s really going to make a difference.
As you said, the money is flowing. The day that you all released those rules, the faucet turned on. There is hundreds of millions of dollars looking for a place to invest in your communities. And this group here, Mr. President, is in the center of it. (Applause.)
Our realtors are going to create this situation in every city and town across the country and be the catalyst for building these Opportunity Zones out to put people to work and put people in homes, and revitalize our nation. And we — on behalf of the realtors, we want to thank you. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much.
MR. TURNER: And I want to say one more thing. (Applause.) Thank you, Mr. President, for making America great again. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Bob. Wow. That’s from the heart. No notes, no nothing. That’s from the heart.
And I have to tell you, a man who just — well, I introduced him, but I’m going to ask him to take a little bit of a stand — your President — because, John Smaby, you really wanted Trump. And look how you turned out. (Laughter and applause.) Right? Stand up, John. Will you, please? (Applause.) He wanted — he wanted Trump. (Applause.) He wanted Trump. Thank you. Thank you, John. Great job, John.
So as our economy booms like never before, we’re lifting millions of our citizens from welfare to work, dependence to independence, and poverty to prosperity.
But as everyone in this business knows, nothing kills economic growth faster than government bureaucrats, regulation. With all that power and not enough common sense, lots of bad things can happen quickly. And that’s why we’re waging a historic deregulation campaign that especially affects the real estate business. And that’s liberating our citizens from bureaucracy and freeing our economy to soar higher than ever. And it can continue to go up.
To see the disastrous results of over-regulation, you take a look at what’s going on in California. Housing costs are among the highest in the country. Development restrictions make it sometimes impossible to build. What they do — I mean, years and years of turmoil. I have one job, it’s called the Coastal Commission. Oh, they’re fun to deal with. (Laughter.) If you’re really good, you’ll have your permits within 20 years, or not have them within 20 years. “We vote no.” “Wait a minute, we’ve been looking at these things for 20 years.” “We vote no.” How about that?
How about when you’re looking at a permit, you’ve devoted millions and millions of dollars, and you go into that hearing, after years, and you have no idea if they’re going to vote yes or no? And oftentimes, they vote no. So we’re trying to end that.
State and local regulations can easily add $200,000 to the price of a single home. And it’s no surprise that in California — and I don’t want to single them out, but they have a train going up now — you know, this fast train? You heard about this disaster? (Laughter and applause.) I mean, you people know how to build on time, on budget — preferably ahead of time and under budget, right? This is a train that’s not working out so well. It’s a fast train, but not a bullet train. So it’s not that fast. (Laughter.) And it was going to go from San Francisco to Los Angeles. And then, a thing called cost overruns happened. And many of you know about it — well, it’s in the thing today because I said, “We’re not paying any more money for it. California has lost control.”
And it’s an incredible thing. It’s got to be a straight run. And they build a section, and then they build another section way away, and then another section. And then they want to hook it up; it doesn’t work. (Laughter.) “You can’t hook it up.” (Laughter and applause.) “You can’t. Doesn’t hook. It’s a little crooked.” (Laughter.) “The train doesn’t go good that way.” (Laughter.) So they say, “Let’s rip the sucker down; we’ll start all over again.” This is like a catastrophe. It’ll — like hundreds of millions over budget. Totally out of control. And we told them we’re not going to do it. I mean, we’re not going to — it’s been under construction forever. (Applause.)
So think of this — think of this: It was going from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Now, the price had to be very, very high — much more expensive than Southwest Airlines, which goes in one-third the time. (Laughter.) So I said, “What a minute, what are they doing? You got an airline that goes from San Francisco to Los Angeles much faster, and it’s less money. So how does this work?”
And again, it’s not that really fast train; it’s just a fast train. (Laughter.) Meaning, it’s slow. (Laughter.) Meaning — meaning, it’s obsolete, right? You know, it’s obsolete before — if you’re going to do it, you do the bullet train. You do the really fast deal. So it’s obsolete before they start.
But they had a way of doing it. They were going to show me — the Governor — a nice guy. A nice, young guy. (Laughter.) Talking about forests — clean up your forests; you won’t have forest fires. Clean them up. He blames it on global warming. I said, “No, try cleaning the floor of the forest a little bit so you don’t have four feet of leaves and broken trees that have sit there for 25 years.” (Applause.) “Try cleaning the floor of the forest. You won’t have forest fires.” (Applause.) And I got killed for that. It’s called “forest management.” I got killed for that. And then, about three weeks later, they announced I was right. (Laughter.) Because I was out there last year and what I saw was so horrific with some of the fires — so many people killed. The fire was — you talk about bullets, the fire was like a bullet.
So, on the train, they have a solution. The solution was: “We’ll make it shorter.” (Laughter.) So instead of going from San Francisco to Los Angeles — beautiful; right in the middle — they cut all of that out. They cut all — and now you go from this tiny little town to another tiny little town. (Laughter.) For billions of dollars. And they think they can do it for just billions of dollars more than the original projection. These people are crazy. (Laughter and applause.)
So I told the great Elaine Chao, Secretary of Transportation — doing a fantastic job — I said, “Elaine, it’s over for them.” This has been going on for many — it was long before I got there. I would have told them — I would have said, “Listen, if an airplane is much faster, what are we doing? No, what are we doing?” And I also would have done the super-modern thing, and we would have had it built on time and we would have had it built on budget. And it just didn’t work out that way. It’s a mess. And we’re not paying any more money into that one. That’s a disaster if you’ve ever seen it. (Applause.) “Make it shorter.” How do you like that? John, is that a good idea? “Cut the big cities out. A little too much, too expensive. Let’s make it, like, real short.” You’ll have three people on it a day. (Laughter.)
So we’re reversing years of calamitous trade policies that gutted the American middle class. Nearly two decades ago, politicians in Washington placed China into the WTO — the World Trade Organization — one of the great catastrophes in the history of our country as far as trade is concerned — between that and NAFTA, you had two real beauties — allowing it to largely do whatever they want to do to the American marketplace.
During that time, we lost nearly one in four manufacturing jobs and racked up trillions and trillions of dollars in trade deficits. But those days are now over, folks. (Applause.) And we’re taking action.
And you see what’s happening; I don’t have to talk about it. But it’s expensive for them and it’s going to have to be. It’s going to have to be. We actually had a deal and they broke it. Okay? I mean, I’m used to that. I’ve done it many times myself. (Laughter.) But we had a deal and they broke it. But I tried to do it a little bit nicer. (Laughter.) Then I try and take the lumps out, you know? Try nice and easy. Just, “Let’s have dinner. Let’s talk about it.” (Laughter.) “I want to re-trade you. Let’s talk about it.”
But they took out a lot of the things that we negotiated that were done, and I said, “Can’t do that. Sorry, you can’t do that. You’ve been doing that too long to our poor Presidents that had no clue what was happening. And you can’t do that.” So we’re putting tariffs — we have 25 percent tariffs on $250 billion. And they’re paying it. And believe me — you know, so many people say our people pay. They’ll pay a little bit. But it’s worth it. It’s really worth it. But, you know, China subsidizes these big plants so it’s not really coming. And they keep the price the same and they subsidize it.
And also, you take a look at what’s happening: If we build here, there are no tariffs. You know, people don’t realize that. If we build here — you know, right now we’re — you become dependent on buying things from outside. If we put a little factory or whatever, to make whatever product they’re buying — and a lot of people are now looking at it. And the other alternative: You buy from another country where they’re not tariffed, where they’re treating us more fairly and we don’t tariff them.
So it’s hundreds of billions of dollars. And out of that, we’re going to give a portion of it to our farmers, because these are great patriots. These are people that don’t want anything. They just want a fair playing surface. And our farmers are doing — going to do really well. I mean, they’re doing well, but they’re going to do really well. (Applause.)
Between that and the USMCA, our farmers are going to be very happy, very shortly. But you’re talking about maybe $15 billion to our farmers, out of $125 billion. And they’re really — you have to understand: They’ve taken the brunt because China, to negotiate with us, said, “Well, we’re not going to buy any of your farm products.” So I called Sonny Perdue, our great Secretary of Agriculture, and I said, “Sonny…” — (applause) — I said, “Sonny, what’s the biggest amount they’ve ever spent in this country?” He said, “About $15 billion. People could say 18, 19. But basically $15 billion.” And I said, “So let’s take $15 billion, set it aside out of the 100 or 125 billion, whatever it may be, and what we’ll do is, the farmers will sell at a lower price because of competition. And what we do is we make up the difference. We have a little bit of a difference. We make up the difference.”
So they do great; we do incredibly great. But you have to understand, they use the farmer because the farmers were all for Trump. And the farms — what people don’t realize: You go back 18 years; the farms have been going like this. Been going steady. It’s not just — you know, I’m here two and a half years.
But you can go back 18 years, and you see what’s happened. How has it worked out? NAFTA has been bad for the farmers. A lot of people don’t realize it. They get stuck on it, out of habit. But we’re taking care of our farmers, and everybody is happy about it. I’ve never heard a complaint, literally.
But these are patriots. I watched some people on television today, because some of them don’t even know what I just told you. They said, “Yeah, we’re hurting, but I know that China is doing terrible things to us for many, many years. And we want our President to fix it, and this is the only President that’s had the courage or the guts to fix it. And we’re behind our President all the way.” (Applause.) That’s the farmers say that. That’s the farmers. That’s the farmers. Farmers are incredible.
I don’t know, they may even be better than the realtors, as far as I’m concerned.
THE PRESIDENT: I think they’re better than the realtors.
I’ll tell you a quick story about farmers, though. I had — recently, I had about 22 of them in my office, in the White House, in the Oval Office, the room right next to a beautiful conference room. And we were sitting there, and they’re explaining how, you know, they’re not doing the business with China; they’re, frankly, not doing the business with Canada, Mexico. Because immediately, you know, in order to negotiate, they stopped buying from the farmer, right? Because that puts political pressure. You know. They think it’s very unique. It’s not unique at all.
But I said to them, “So, how’re we doing?” They said, “Well, we’re not going well.” I said, “Well, we’re going to help you, and we’re going to give you subsidy. I’m going to try and get you subsidy.” And one of them looks at me and says, “Sir, we don’t want subsidy. We don’t want a handout. We don’t want that.” I said, “You got to be kidding. You’re the only group that’s ever said that to me.” (Laughter.) Countries come in, they want help. Everybody wants help. They want free.
“What do you mean by that?” “We don’t want that. We want to produce — I’ve been on this land with my family for 150 years.” He said, “My family has been here for 152 years,” or something. He said, “We just want a fair playing field. It’s not fair what they’ve done to us with Canada charging us 285 percent tariffs.” We took care of that.
With all of the things that happens — and then China, every time they want to negotiate with the United States, they stop buying farm product. And China is massive. You know, they can buy a lot or stop buying a lot. And they use the farmers to negotiate — and especially with me, because they know I love the farmers. And they know the farmers — you look in the middle of this country; that whole thing is beautiful Republican red. That whole thing. (Applause.) So they use them.
But I thought it was incredible. They said, “We don’t want subsidy. We don’t want a handout, sir. We don’t want this. We want just a level playing field. Let us do what we do better than anybody in the world.” I said, “Man, is that nice.” And every single person in that room agreed with him. It was great. So I had to tell you that story. It’s not a real estate story, but it’s a — (applause).
I found it to be pretty amazing, because I’m on the other side all the time. Every day, people come in and they all want something. Countries want military protection. Really? You want it? Wealthy countries. “You’re going to pay for it?” “No, no, we would think you’d pay.” “Oh, really?” Those days are over too, folks. (Applause.) Those days are over. That’s almost as bad as trade, if you want to know the truth. But we’re getting it all fixed up.
After years of building up other countries, we’re finally building our country. (Applause.) And I’ve directed federal agencies — thank you. (Applause.) Thank you.
AUDIENCE: USA! USA! USA!
THE PRESIDENT: You just — you know — smart people. (Laughter.) Aren’t we — hey, seriously, aren’t we tired of being ripped off? (Applause.) We’re being ripped off by everybody.
You know, I tell people about NATO — NATO is fine. But I got them to spend $100 billion more. We were paying, essentially, for most of NATO. I got them to pay $100 billion. And believe it or not, that’s not nearly enough. You know, it’s big stuff.
But the European Union treats us, I would say, worse than China. They’re just smaller. Can you believe it? They have trade barriers. They don’t want our farm products. They don’t want our cars. They don’t want — they send Mercedes Benzes in here like they’re cookies. (Laughter.) They send BMWs here. We hardly tax them at all, John. We hardly tax them at all. Yet, you want to send our cars over there? Forget it. You want to send our agricultural products over there? “Oh, I’m sorry. We don’t want them. We have our own farmers.” It’s a very unfair situation.
Medical equipment is a big business, believe it or not. You know, all the big equipment — medical stuff. They — we make the best in the world. Well, they changed the standard so that our equipment doesn’t qualify. They made it not a higher standard, just a different standard, so that our equipment now doesn’t qualify without these companies going and spending a fortune to make equipment that’s not as good. So it’s a very unfair thing.
So we protect them. We spend hundreds of billions of dollars protecting them. And then they take advantage of us on trade. It’s not — it’s not fair. We lost $180 billion with the European Union. And we all love Europe. We love Europe. I think they got to be careful with Europe, frankly. But we all love Europe. But it’s not fair the way they treat us. So I just tell you that.
I’ve directed federal agencies to drastically accelerate the approval process for new roads and bridges so that our families can get where they want to go, safely — (applause) — and our economy can keep running full speed ahead.
I mean, highways that were taking 21 years to get an approval. There’s a highway in a state not so far away — took 20 years to get it approved. And they had an opening, fairly recently — not a big road — it’s, sort of, not even a highway. It’s less than a highway. But by the time it ended up, it was 20 years late. They spent tens of million dollars on environmental impact statements. The road was a dead-straight road — the first road, dead straight — so that, if you had a rough night, you can go straight. (Laughter.)
Now it’s a road that goes this way — (laughter) — because of nesting — different things. Nesting. Who the hell knows what’s nesting? But whatever it is — (laughter). So the road ends up being twice as long and curving like hell. And unless you’re 100 percent sharp, you’re in deep trouble. (Laughter.) They got these barriers, right? You know, the barriers? These — bwah, wah. (Laughter.)
So my father and I would have built that thing for nothing. For nothing. And it cost, I mean, hundreds of millions of dollars and just years. And you look at the environmental impact statements. I actually brought one to one speech. I brought one. And it was — literally, it was this high, and there were like three other sections. It was just — just nonsense, okay? Just total nonsense.
So we’re stopping that. We’re trying to get it down. It takes 17, 18 years to get a highway approved. We’re trying to get it down to one. We have it down to two. We think we can get it down to one. (Applause.)
And we’re getting rid of the quadruples. You know, you have many quadruples. You have some where you need 10 agencies to approve the exact same thing. So let’s say you’re doing really well; you get Carson to approve it, you get all these different people to approve it. And then you have one agency you can’t get. That’s the end of that project.
So we’re simplifying it. And we’ve done, I think, Ben, a great a job on that. And we have it down to a much lower number. Probably two years. We’d like to get it down to one.
And it may get rejected. You know, if it’s not environmentally good, if it’s not good, we’re going to get — we’ll reject it very quickly. But at least you know.
So we have — we’ve done a good job with that. A very good job. I think, again, a lot of jobs are being created. A lot of people are doing things that they never thought they could do before.
We’ve freed local lenders from the heavy-handed regulations also — you know what was going on there — (applause) — that were crushing community banks and threatening the housing market. Pocahontas had an agency that was — (laughter) — I mean, she was a disaster. She was — she enjoyed destroying these local lenders. I mean, I think she got pleasure out of destroying beautiful local lenders who have been lending to your clients, and probably yourselves, for years. And they were going out of business and they were living in fear. Pocahontas — that’s another beauty. (Laughter.) She’s doing really well so far, isn’t she? Her and her beer commercial. (Laughter and applause.)
How about the kid? Did you see the way she got the kid? Did anybody see that? Did anybody see? Where she wanted the child brought in front of her. “Fwah!” (Laughter.) Boy, that kid moved quickly. (Laughter.) Nah, she’s got a lot of pent up anger. She’s an angry person. But you know what? Making it very tough on people that you know. You know exactly what I’m talking about. And now we have that running beautifully and they’re loaning, and they’re nice people. You know, they’re nice people again.
By some estimates, under the previous administration, CFPB regulations cost credit unions a stunning $6 billion. Well, that’s what we’re talking about. That was her baby. And she had the man that was in charge of that running in the great state of Ohio.
But Mike did a good job, and I did good job. We fought, and your current governor came from behind and he was down by six or seven points with a couple of days left. We went out, we made a rally like you wouldn’t believe, in the great state of Ohio. And he ended up winning by six or seven points. (Applause.) And that was a great day for Ohio. We love Ohio. That was a great day.
Last year, we rolled back the Dodd-Frank regulations that were crippling local banks — (applause) — that millions of homebuyers and small businesses rely on. I didn’t know this was a banking convention. I thought this was — this is a real estate convention.
But, you know, you know what was happening to bankers, right? John — I mean, you know what was happening to bankers. The bankers were being crushed and they were being threatened. And these are people that were phenomenal. They were being destroyed.
Now, small lenders are once again thriving. They’re free to invest in our communities and help more families experience the joy and the pride of homeownership. And I’ll never get credit for this. The press doesn’t give me any credit for anything, no matter what I do. (Laughter.) No, it’s true. Doesn’t matter. Look, who cares. The people know. The people know. That’s why I have to go through a different source. It’s called: Do speeches and go with our social media stuff, which is quite powerful, I must say. (Applause.) But they’re very dishonest.
And, you know, we’re right now dealing with Iran. And they put out so many false messages that Iran is totally confused. I don’t know, that might be a good thing. No, they put out — the fake news — they put out messages — these people right back here. (Laughter.) They put out messages that I’m angry with my people. I’m not angry with them. I make my own decisions. But I’m “angry with my people.” I’m “not angry with my people.” I’m “worse than they are; they’re worse than we are. They’re more militant.”
Mike Pompeo is doing a great job. Bolton is doing a great job. (Applause.)
But they make it sound like it’s a conflict. And the good news — I was thinking today, I said, “Gee, what must our adversaries think?” And then I look and I say, “You know, it’s probably a good thing because they’re saying, ‘Man, I don’t know where these people are coming from.'” Right? (Laughter.) But they put out false — you know, they say, “confidential sources.”
Do you ever notice they never write the names of people anymore. Everything is “a source says…” There is no source. The person doesn’t exist. The person is not alive. It’s bullshit. Okay? It’s bullshit. (Laughter and applause.)
“Three people who were at that meeting” — you know, a meeting of like seven — “three people have confirmed that this happened and that happened.” There were no three people. They make it up. These are bad people. These are people — that’s why I came up with the term “fake news.” It’s a good term. I’ve had better, but that’s a good term. “Fake news.” (Applause.) It’s a hoax.
My administration is also committed to reforming our housing finance system. So important. More than a decade after the financial crisis, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are still in conservatorship. Fannie and Freddie still dominate the market with no real competition from the private sector. And taxpayers are still on the hook if another crisis should happen.
And this is a pretty urgent problem. We’re doing well with it now. It’s well managed now. We have great people, but it’s a pretty big problem. And it’s really a problem that other than government should be doing, so we’re looking at different alternatives. We have many geniuses looking at it and we’ll figure something out. But Fannie and Freddie can do a lot better than they’re doing, although now they have some very good people running it.
And that’s why I recently directed the Department of Treasury and HUD — Ben — to develop a framework for a modern housing finance system. And you’re working on that, Ben. I know you have some incredible talent from Wall Street coming in. (Applause.)
We actually call on very smart people. You know, somebody said, “Why are you using Wall Street?” I said, “Because I want to get very smart people.” I want to get people that do this and one that welcomes the private sector, competition, protects taxpayers, and preserves homeownership for future generations to come. (Applause.)
So we will be working closely with Congress to pass these critical reforms, and we will consider taking other administrative actions to modernize our housing programs and to ensure more affordable housing to get rid of ridiculous regulations so you can build and build quickly and build beautifully. Actually, you’ll put more money into the house, because instead of spending on a ridiculous paperwork, you’ll be able to buy better lumber and better flooring and better windows. (Applause.)
And just as we believe that every American should have the chance to own a home if they work hard and follow the rules, we’ll also believe that every American should have the right to choose their own healthcare. We’re going to become, really, the party of healthcare. (Applause.) That includes our newly created “association health plans” that a lot of you are using. (Applause.)
And just very quickly, with us today is Teresa Beth McKee, Chief Executive Officer of Nevada — I love Nevada — Nevada REALTORS. (Applause.) Come on up. Please, Teresa. Please. Thank you. Please.
MS. MCKEE: Thank you, Mr. President Trump. It’s such an honor to be here. And we thank you for the work with the Department of Labor to open up association health plans for our members.
In Nevada, we have statewide association health plans offered with — for our members from Nevada and Las Vegas. We cover, currently, over a thousand lives in just the last couple of months that we’ve had this open. Twenty-seven percent of those people were uninsured before our plan — completely uninsured. For those that were insured, they are saving an average of $150 to $300 a month. (Applause.)
It’s saving an estimated $2 million in Nevada this year. And that money goes right back into their businesses and right back into their communities, helping our economy. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: That’s great.
MS. MCKEE: I have one member who could not afford to insure his family. He let his health lapse, needing urgent hip and back surgery. When he was able to finally get this affordable, full-coverage care in Nevada, under the association health plan, he was able to, in his words, get back on track, be the breadwinner for his family again, and make himself great again. (Applause.)
Another really critical part of association health plans is what it’s done for our rural communities. Before association health plans, our rural communities had one choice — one product, one plan. Through HomeTown Health, we have — they have offered multiple insurance products to the rural areas. That gives our rural realtors a choice now of their health plans — a choice of the products that they use to insure themselves and their families.
We recently went — a couple of colleagues and I went and met at the White House with the Department of Labor because association health plans are under attack. And we’re working with the Department of Labor to ensure that this critical need for our realtors is allowed to continue. It’s critically important to our realtors to have choices to fully affordable and full-coverage health plans.
Thank you again, Mr. President. It’s a great honor. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thanks, Teresa. It’s a great state, too. Great. And it is under attack — you know, these health plans are — because they want to keep the public deal going. And it’s a shame. And they’re fighting it so hard. But we’re going to win, and we are winning. And it’s saving a tremendous amount of money for firms, but it’s also getting great healthcare like you haven’t had before. And we also have to protect the 180 million people with private healthcare. They want to destroy that.
I must tell you, we have an election coming up that’s going to be very important for you people, because they want to take it away. They want to bring your taxes up to 80 or 90 percent. They started, a couple of months ago, at 70. But they really mean 80 or 90 or 95 — and that won’t pay for it, by the way. That won’t — you’d need twice that. So you have to be very careful. But we’ll always be defending America’s rights to have low-cost, high-quality healthcare of your choice. So important.
And sadly, when you look at what’s going on with Washington, you see a lot of positives, but you also see people that are fighting very hard. They have 25 people now running for the Office of President. And some of these people are stone-cold crazy. (Laughter and applause.)
I mean, they’re promoting the biggest socialist takeover in the history, really, of the world. Because, if you think — I mean, this is the United States. And they have a hundred-trillion-dollar Green New Deal. Nobody has any idea what the hell it is. (Laughter.) They know that you can’t take a plane anymore; you have to take a train to Hawaii. Train. (Laughter.) A train to Australia and a train — hey, if they can’t build from San Francisco to Los Angeles — (laughter and applause) — what’s going to happen when they say, “Let’s build a train to Europe”? “Let’s build one up to Europe. We’ll do a fast train.” (Laughs.) A hundred miles an hour. Let’s see. Well, a plane goes six [hundred], so you got a long trip on a train, I’ll tell you.
This is crazy. This is crazy. But I don’t want to hit it too hard. I want to save it for the election, because I don’t want them to change. (Laughter and applause.) You know? I don’t want them to change. I don’t want them to have time to pivot. I want them to go with this stuff.
But we still have to be careful. And it’ll never happen as long as I’m President, so you can bet on that. (Applause.)
So, just to finish up — you’re friends of mine; I know a lot of people in the room. And homeownership and what you do as realtors and as real estate people, this is a part of Americana. This is a great, great thing you do. You work hard. You love people. You love this land. You love this country. You take care of employees. In some cases, you are employees, and you love the person that takes care of you. But you’re very, very special people.
I know so much about what you do because I did the same thing. Can you believe it now? It’s almost three years. Can you believe this? Who knew this was going to happen? (Applause.) It just shows how smart you are when you can go and do this. And they say, “But he doesn’t have any experience.” But, you know, intelligence is a very, very good substitute sometimes. (Laughter and applause.)
And I’m gaining a lot of experience very fast. I have a lot of experience. And I had a lot of experience because I was in your business. And you do everything. You build, you lease, you rent, you negotiate, you deal with foreign people, you deal with people that live right next door — you do everything. You’re very smart and you love your business. And I loved being here. And John and everybody, thank you. And Ben Carson, thank you. (Applause.) And this was great.
And go and enjoy your lives and keep building, and we’ll keep the economy strong so that you will go on and on and on. (Applause.)
Have a great time. It’s been my great honor. Thank you very much, everybody. Thank you.
3:29 P.M. EDT