Hyatt Regency Washington
Washington, D.C.

12:39 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  I want to pick up her speech because I think I can sell it for a lot of money.  Here, Juanita.  (Applause.)  Ah.  You’re going to see that tonight.  Right?

Thank you very much, Juanita.  You have been fantastic, and your kind words.  This is truly an incredible organization.  Thanks also to the members of NFIB’s Board of Directors who I’ve spent time with.  Just took some wonderful pictures with good-looking group, I have to tell you.  And Board Chairman Steve Schramm.  Thank you.  Thank you, Steve.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Together, you’ve been a powerful voice for America’s small businesses.  And now you have a true friend and ally in the White House.  You know that.  You know that.  (Applause.)

I’m honored to be with you today for, really, this historic celebration.  This was something when they asked me to do, I didn’t think about it for more than about a second.  I said, I’ll do it.  You are very special people.  (Applause.)  And let me officially say, on behalf of the American people, happy 75th anniversary to the National Federation of Independent Business.  I tell you, you deserve a big “happy.”  (Applause.)

Joining us today are some terrific people who work very, very hard.  And actually, they are starting to get a lot of credit.  In fact, we had our highest poll numbers today.  Can you believe this?  So they’re doing a good job.  Our highest.  (Applause.)  You know the old story — when I was campaigning, I only mentioned that when we were doing well in the polls.  When we’re not doing well, I don’t talk about it.  (Laughter.)  Like all of you.  You do the same thing.

Secretary Mnuchin.  Steve, thank you very much.  Doing a great job.  (Applause.)  Secretary Acosta.  Alex.  (Applause.)  And Administrator Linda McMahon.  Thank you, Linda.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  They are fighting hard for small business and for large business.  They’re fighting hard for our country, frankly, each and every day.  And they’re doing a terrific job.

Most importantly, I want to thank all of you, the small business owners, who are the engine of American prosperity.  And, you know, I’ve been saying it for a long time, but you really are.  You look at even the stats and you look at the numbers.  You look at the taxes that are paid.  You look at the jobs.  It’s all about small business.  So small businesses, really — I say this to Linda McMahon all the time — head of Small Business.  But small business is really big.  Right, Linda?  It’s really big.

For many years, Washington tried to hold you back and tear you down, crushing the American small business with crippling taxes and oppressive regulation.  But all that has changed starting in November 2016.  (Applause.)  The Trump administration is with you, and we are with you 100 percent.  And always will be.  (Applause.)

Instead of punishing entrepreneurship, we are now promoting entrepreneurship.  (Applause.)  Especially that guy in the corner.  (Laughter.)

Main Street is thriving and America is winning once again.  You know, we’re respected again.  This country is respected again.  (Applause.)

Before going any further today, I want to take a moment to address something you’ve been reading a lot about: the illegal immigration crisis on our southern border.  It’s been going on for many, many decades and many years.  And it has its ups and its downs.  And all we need is good legislation, and we can have it taken care of.  And we have to get the Democrats to go ahead and work with us.  Because as a result of Democrat-supported loopholes in our federal laws, most illegal immigrant families and minors from Central America who arrive unlawfully at the border cannot be detained together or removed together, only released.

These are crippling loopholes that cause family separation, which we don’t want.  As a result of these loopholes, roughly half a million illegal immigrant family units and minors from Central America have been released into the United States since 2014 at unbelievably great taxpayer expense.  Nobody knows how much we’re paying for this monstrosity that’s been created over the years — legislation that nobody has any idea what they’re doing.  They don’t even know what it means.  And you have to see this; it’s a mile high.

Child smugglers exploit the loopholes, and they gain illegal entry into the United States, putting countless children in danger on the perilous trek to the United States.  They come up through Mexico.  Mexico does nothing for us.  You hear it here: They do nothing for us.  They could stop it.  They have very, very strong laws.  Try staying in Mexico for a couple of days.  See how long that lasts.  Okay?  (Laughter and applause.)

They do nothing for us, and I see it through NAFTA.  I see with $100 billion-plus that they make on trade through NAFTA — one of the worst deals ever made by this country.  A disaster.  And we’re trying to equalize it.  And it’s not easy, but we’re getting there.  It’s not easy.  (Applause.)

And we’re going to take care of our American farmers, and we’re going to take care of our manufacturers, and our manufacturing jobs.  But they’re making unbelievable amounts of money, and that’s not including the drugs that are flowing through our border, because we have no wall and we have no protection.  The drugs that are coming in from Mexico and through the southern border is disgraceful.

So we’ll see whether or not we can make a reasonable NAFTA deal or deal — doesn’t have to be called NAFTA.  We can do one-on-one with Mexico; one-on-one with Canada.

And, by the way, Canada — they like to talk.  (Laughter.)  They’re our great neighbor.  They fought World War II with us.  We appreciate it.  They fought World War I with us.  And we appreciate it, but we’re protecting each other.

There was a story two days ago, in a major newspaper, talking about people living in Canada, coming into the United States, and smuggling things back into Canada because the tariffs are so massive.  The tariffs to get common items back into Canada are so high that they have to smuggle them in.  They buy shoes, then they wear them.  They scuff them up.  They make them sound old or look old.

No, we’re treated horribly.  Dairy.  Dairy.  Two-hundred and seventy-five percent tariff.  So basically that’s a barrier without saying it’s a barrier.

And I told them, if they don’t change their ways — and we have a tremendous deficit.  People say, “Well, there’s really not that much of a deficit.”  Well, they’re not including two things: energy and timber.  And those are the two big things when it comes to Canada.

No, we have to change our ways.  We can no longer be the stupid country.  We want to be the smart country.  (Applause.)

So hopefully, we’ll be able to work it out with Canada.  We have very good relationships with Canada.  We have for a long time.  And hopefully, that will work out.  But Canada is not going to take advantage of the United States any longer, and Mexico is not going to take advantage of the United States any longer.

And when I campaigned, I said I will either renegotiate NAFTA or I’ll terminate it and we’ll start from an even base.  And people are afraid of that.  You know, I’ve had so many people — they come up, they say, “Oh, please don’t terminate NAFTA.”  I said, “But it’s no good.”  “Yeah, but we know what we have.”  It’s true.  (Laughter.)  People are worried because they know what they have.

If you look at — I love the American farmer more than anybody.  They have backed me.  I love the American farmer.  (Applause.)

And by the way — I’ll tell you in a little while because it’s in one of my notes — the American farmer virtually will not have to pay any more estate tax on their farms when they pass away and they want to leave it to their children.  (Applause.)  And that goes for almost all small businesses.  You won’t have the estate tax to pay anymore, which was crippling.  That was in our bill.  (Applause.)

See?  A young guy is standing.  Now, he’s too young to be leaving it, so that means he’s a beneficiary.  I don’t know.  (Laughter.)  Don’t act to happy.  There’s a wealthy father there.  Don’t act too happy.  (Laughter.)  Is that your father?

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  (Inaudible.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Oh, wow.  The answer is yes.  Okay.  And you know what?  You’re both happy.  Okay?  You’re both happy.

And I’m honored to have done it, because it was destroying — the estate tax — small businesses and farms.  Destroying them.  People were mortgaging them to the hilt to pay the tax, and then they couldn’t pay the interest on the mortgage, and the banks would take them away.

You don’t have to pay the estate tax any longer.  (Applause.)  In most cases.  In other words, loopholes — if your farm is really big, you start to pay.  It’s a pretty big level, you know that.  Pretty big.  That would have to be a pretty big farm.

These loopholes have created a massive child smuggling trade.  Can you believe this?  In this day and age, we’re talking about child smuggling.  We’re talking about women smuggling in this day and age.  The worst it’s been in history — because the Internet has led to this.  You think back 200, 500, 1,000 years ago — the worst it’s ever been.  Women smuggling, child smuggling.

Since last year, child smugglers — who are very, very sophisticated — they’ve learned the loopholes in this horrible, rotten system that the Democrats have to help us fix because we need the votes.  We could have the Republican votes, 100 percent.  We still don’t have enough votes.  People don’t understand that.  We need Democrat votes to get it fixed.

These smugglers know these rules and regulations better than the people that drew them.  As a result, there’s been a 325 percent increase in minors, and a 435 percent increase in the smuggling or attempted smuggling of families and minors into our country.  We’re stopping them all the time by the thousands.  But they still get through.  We have no wall.  We have no border security.  Without a border, you don’t have a country.  You don’t have a country.  (Applause.)

Under current law, we have only two policy options to respond to this massive crisis: We can either release all illegal immigrant families and minors who show up at the border from Central America, or we can arrest the adults for the federal crime of illegal entry.  Those are the only two options.  Totally open borders or criminal prosecution for law breaking.  And you want to be able to do that.  We don’t want people pouring into our country.  We want them to come in through the process, through the legal system.  And we want, ultimately, a merit-based system where people come in based on merit.  (Applause.)

Keep in mind, those who apply for asylum, legally, at ports of entry, are not prosecuted.  The fake news media back there doesn’t talk about that.  (Laughter and applause.)  They’re fake.  They are helping — they are helping these smugglers and these traffickers like nobody would believe.  They know it.  They know exactly what they’re doing and it should be stopped — because what’s going on is very unfair to the people of our country.  And they violate the law.  People that come in violate the law.  They endanger their children in the process.  And frankly, they endanger all of our children.

You see what happens with MS-13, where your sons and daughters are attacked violently.  Kids that never even heard of such a thing are being attacked violently, not with guns, but with knives because it’s much more painful.  Inconceivable — here we are talking about business — inconceivable that we even have to talk about MS-13 and other gangs.  They attack violently, the most painful way possible.  And a bullet is too quick.  And we’re allowing these people into our country?  Not with me.  We’re taking them out by the thousands.  (Applause.)  We’re taking them out by the thousands.

So what I’m asking Congress to do is to give us a third option, which we have been requesting since last year — the legal authority to detain and promptly remove families together as a unit.  We have to be able to do this.  This is the only solution to the border crisis.  We have to stop child smuggling.  This is the way to do it.

And ultimately, we have to have a real border — not judges.  Thousands and thousands of judges they want to hire.  Who are these people?  When we vet a single federal judge, it goes through a big process.  Everybody that’s ever met her or him — they come, they complain, they don’t complain.  They say he’s brilliant; she’s brilliant; he’s not smart enough to be a judge.  Now we’re hiring thousands and thousands.  What country does this?  Judges.  (Laughter.)  I won’t say it.  I refuse to say it.  I hope they picked that up back there.  (Laughter.)  They won’t.

No, what — seriously, what country does it?  They said, “Sir, we’d like to hire about five or six-thousand more judges.”  Five or six-thousand?  Now, can you imagine the graft that must take place?  You’re all small business owners, so I know you can imagine a thing like that would happen.  But here’s a guy — they say, “Could you please be a judge?  Come on, get it.”  They line up to be a judge.  It’s horrible.

We don’t want judges; we want security on the border.  We don’t want people coming in.  We want them to come in through a legal process like everybody else that’s waiting to come into our country.  (Applause.)

And it got so crazy that all of these thousands — we now have thousands of judges — border judges — thousands and thousands.  And, by the way, when we release the people they never come back to the judge anyway.  They’re gone.  They’re in your system.  That’s it.  If they’re good, that’s great.  And if they’re bad, you’ll have killings, you’ll have murders, you’ll have this, you’ll have that, and you’ll have crime.  You’ll have crime.

And remember, these countries that we give tremendous foreign aid to in many cases, they send these people up and they’re not sending their finest.  Does that sound familiar?  (Laughter.)  Remember I made that speech and I was badly criticized?  “Oh it’s so terrible, what he said.”  Turned out I was 100 percent right.  That’s why I got elected.  (Laughter and applause.)

We want a great country.  We want a country with heart.  But when people come up, they have to know they can’t get in, otherwise it’s never going to stop.  Whether it was President Bush, President Obama, President Clinton — same policies.  They can’t get them changed because both sides are always fighting.

This is maybe a great chance to have a change.  But one of them says we want to hire 5,000 more judges.  I don’t want judges.  I want border security.  I don’t want to try people.  I don’t want people coming in.  Do you know, if a person comes in and puts one foot on our ground, it’s essentially “welcome to America, welcome to our country.”  You never get them out, because they take their name, they bring the name down, they file it, then they let the person go; they say show back up to court in one year from now.  One year.  But here’s the thing: That in itself is ridiculous.  Like 3 percent come back.

The other thing they have is they have professional lawyers.  Some are for good, others are do-gooders, and others are bad people.  And they tell these people exactly what to say.  They say, “Say the following:” — they write it down — “I am being harmed in my country.  My country is extremely dangerous.  I fear for my life.”  “Say that.  Congratulations.  You’ll never be removed.”  This is given to them by lawyers who are waiting for them to come up.  And they’re not all bad people.  They’re impractical people.

But, in a way, that’s cheating because they’re giving them statements.  They’re not coming up for that reason.  They’re coming up for many other reasons and sometimes for that reason.

There’s been a 1,700 percent increase in asylum claims over the last 10 years.  Think of that.  Think of that.  We’re a great country but you can’t do that.  Smugglers know how the system works.  They game the system; they game it.  It’s so easy for them.  They’re smart.  They didn’t go to the Wharton School of Finance.  (Laughter.)  But you know what?  They’re really smart.

The United States has just surpassed Germany as having the most asylum seekers of any nation on Earth.  Can you image that?  Can you image?  And Germany — we talk about Germany — they allowed millions of people in.  And, by the way, their crime, from the time they started, is up more than 10 percent.  And that’s one of the reasons it’s at that level is because they don’t like reporting that kind of crime, so they put it down as different kind of crime.  But their crime is up more than 10 percent since they started taking them in.

I heard somebody said that Crooked Hillary Clinton was questioning that statistic.  She said, “It’s not true.  It’s not true.”  Didn’t she already have her chance?  I mean, I’ve — (laughter and applause).  I’ll tell you what, when you read the IG report with these really dishonest people — and I was never a deep-state guy, but let me tell you, we got some bad people that are doing bad things.  But when you read that IG report about how she got away with what she got away with, it’s a disgrace.  It’s a total disgrace.  (Applause.)

And you ought to see the hearings that are right now on television but that folks are being — you know, they’re going on to the mainstream, fake news media.  They want to focus on immigration because they want to keep the cameras away from the hearings because those hearings are not good for them.  In fact, they’re a disaster for them.  The whole thing is a scam.  It’s a scam.  And what’s happened is a disgrace.

So we have a House that’s getting ready to finalize an immigration package that they’re going to brief me on later, and that I’m going to make changes to.  We have one chance to get it right.  We might as well get it right, or let’s just keep it going.  But let’s do it right.  We have a chance.  We want to solve this problem.  We want to solve family separation.  I don’t want children taken away from parents.  And when you prosecute the parents for coming in illegally, which should happen, you have to take the children away.  Now, we don’t have to prosecute them.  But then we’re not prosecuting them for coming in illegally.  That’s not good.

We want to end the border crisis by finally giving us the legal authorities and the resources to detain and remove illegal immigrant families all together and bring them back to their country.  We have to bring them back to their country.

Now, think of all that aid that we give some of these countries.  Hundreds of millions of dollars we give to some of these countries, and they send them up.  Well, I’m going to go, very shortly, for authorization that when countries abuse us by sending their people up — not their best — we’re not going to give any more aid to those countries.  Why the hell should we?  Why should we?  (Applause.)

So this is a responsible, commonsense approach that all lawmakers should embrace — Democrats and Republicans.  And remember, we need the Democrats.  People say, “Oh, you have the majority.”  Well, in the Senate, we have 1, but you need 60.  So we’ll be at — if we get 100 percent, we’ll be at 51.  A hundred percent, we’ll be at 51.  So we need nine votes.  We need 10, 12, 13 votes.  We have to have Democrat support because we need to go not just a majority, unfortunately, which we could get.  We need to go to 60 — 60 out of 100.  We need Democrat support.

They don’t want to give it, because Democrats love open borders.  Let the whole world come in.  Let the whole world.  MS-13 gang members from all over the place, come on in — we have open borders.  And they view that possibly intelligently, except that it’s destroying our country.  They view that as potential voters.  Someday they’re going to vote for Democrats.  Because they can’t win on their policies, which are horrible.  They found that out in the last presidential election.  (Laughter and applause.)  In fact, their only policy was that Donald Trump is a bad guy, he’s a bad person.  Vote against Trump.  And they said it so many — hundreds of millions of dollars of negative ads.  Nobody has ever been hit like that.  I used to go home — I started disliking myself.  It’s true.  (Laughter.)  I said, “Man, am I that bad?”  (Laughter.)

The problem is they never told anybody what they’re doing.  They didn’t talk about tax cuts.  By the way, they want to take away your tax cuts, and they want to substantially increase your taxes.  They didn’t talk about crime.  All they talked about was Trump.  So when people got to the booth, they said, “Ah, we’re going to vote Democrat.  We’re going to vote” — but then they get up, they said, “But what does she stand for?  What do they stand for?”  They just hate Trump.  “No, I’m going with Trump.”  And that’s what happened.  (Laughter.)  We got tremendous Democrat support.  It was a beautiful thing.  That was a beautiful night.  Do you agree?  That was a beautiful night.  That was some night.  (Applause.)  That was some night.

But you have to stand for something, and you have to stand for safety and security of our country.  We can’t let people pour in.  They’ve got to go through the process.  And maybe it’s politically correct, or maybe it’s not.  We got to stop separation of the families.  But politically correct or not, we have a country that needs security, that needs safety, that has to be protected.  (Applause.)

So we’re here today to talk about small business and the incredible progress we’re making as a country.  We really have made unbelievable progress.  And we’re making with the help and support of our wonderful friends at the NFIB.  (Applause.)

And you’ve heard these numbers.  And if I would have said these numbers during the campaign, the fake news would have said this is the most ridiculous — I wouldn’t have said these numbers; I would have said half.  Who would have known?  (Laughter.)

But things have kicked in better.  And as an example, you saw the poll that was recently taken — small-business poll.  The most optimistic in history, in the history of the poll.  (Applause.)  That’s why I figured that probably this would be a friendly crowd.  (Laughter.)

But nobody would have believed these numbers if I said them during the campaign.

We have created more than 3.4 million new jobs since Election Day.  3.4 million.  (Applause.)  Think of what that means.  And, by the way, we do need people coming through the border.  We do need people.  And again, we want people — you know, I have a lot of companies moving in, big companies.  If you look at Foxconn in Wisconsin, they’re coming in.  They need thousands and thousands of people.  Chrysler is moving from Mexico back into Michigan.  (Applause.)  Many car companies are coming back into our country.  Many companies are coming back.  They’re coming back from where they went.  Now they’re coming because of all of the things we’ve done with regulations, with tax cutting.

But we need people to take care.  We have the lowest unemployment rate — 3.8 percent.  We need people.  So we want people to come in, but they have to be people that can help us and can help these companies fulfill what they want to fulfill.  (Applause.)

Unemployment claims are at a 44-year low.  That’s a great number.  (Applause.)  Maybe the one that makes me happiest is this — because I remember I’d go around, I’d say, “What do you have to lose?  Vote for me.  The Democrats have always been with you.  Vote for me.”  They’ve — you know, bad education.  The most unsafe parts of the country.  All of these different — I’d say to the African Americans, I’d say, what you have to do — “What do you have to do?  Vote for me.  What do you have to lose?”

Unemployment for African Americans is at the lowest level in history.  (Applause.)  It’s like, what do you have to lose?  I would go around and talk, and some people would say, don’t say that, it’s not nice.  I’d say, look, it’s true.  So badly treated.  And now the lowest level of unemployment in history for African Americans.  And for Hispanic, the lowest level of unemployment in history.  And for women, the lowest level of unemployment in 21 years.  Soon it will be history.  (Applause.)

Just like I promised during the campaign, our economic policy can be summed up in three very beautiful words — words that you probably know better than anybody in this country: jobs, jobs, jobs.  (Applause.)

And I shouldn’t say this to the people in this room, because you’ll end up not having liked my speech — (laughter) — but wages for working people are finally, after 22 years, rising again in our country.  I’m sorry to do that.  (Applause.)  It’s the only thing you can hold against me, but I think you’re also very happy about it, actually.  I know you well.

According to the NFIB’s latest survey, the share of small businesses raising worker and benefit pay has just set a new all-time record.  So it’s a new all-time record.  We’ve broken many records.  (Applause.)  I could go on and on.

Business optimism is the highest it’s ever been in our country.  That means more hardworking Americans are able to support their family, contribute to their community, and live the American Dream.

At the center of America’s resurgence are the massive tax cuts that Republicans passed and that I signed into law six months ago this week.  Not one Democrat voted for the tax cuts, and they are suffering now because they’re going to lose a lot of races that they thought they were going to win.  They wish they had that vote to do over again.  We have numerous states for Senate where I think they’re going to be in big trouble.  It’s the biggest tax cut and reform in American history.  (Applause.)

And you know the story: Not since Ronald Reagan have they done any major tax cutting.  And they’ve wanted to many, many times.  I tell this story all the time.  I said, “I don’t understand it.”  Cutting taxes should not be hard to sell.  Right?  Is there anything easier?  “We’re going to cut your taxes.”  And you can’t get it through.

So the leadership came to my beautiful Oval Office.  It is a beautiful office.  Great office.  And they talked about the tax reform.  I said, “What’s the word ‘reform’?  What does that mean, ‘reform’?  Does that mean you’re going to raise taxes?  What does it mean?”  “No, sir.  We have the Tax Reform Act of 2017.”

I said, “No, I don’t want to go ‘reform.’  Nobody knows what reform means.”  Then I looked back at all of the times they tried to pass tax cuts.  They don’t use the word “tax cuts”; they use the word “tax reform.”  I said, “Nobody knows what reform means.”  They want to know about tax cuts; they don’t want to know about tax reform, where we’re going to raise your taxes, where we’re going to take away your businesses, you’re going to take away because tax reform.  We’re going to take away your farms.  They don’t want the word “reform.”  They want the word “tax cuts.”

“Sir, could you give us a name?”  “I’ll give you the name.”  (Laughter.)  “I’ll give you the name.  It’s called the Tax Cut, Cut, Cut, Cut, Cut Bill of 2017.”  (Laughter and applause.)  That’s what it’s called.  Right?

That’s a true story.  Right, Steve?  (Laughter.)  That’s such a true story.  But even I thought that it was maybe a little bit hokey with all the “cuts.”  So we just called it “Tax Cut Bill.”  (Laughter.)  Got rid of some of the “cuts.”  They got the word.  And we got it passed.  But think of it: Not one Democrat vote.

At the heart of our plan is tremendous relief for working families and small businesses.  A typical family of four earning $75,000 a year will see an income tax cut of more than $2,000 — in some cases, much more than that — slashing their tax bill in half and more.  (Applause.)

We delivered a historic victory for American small businesses by allowing you to deduct 20 percent of your business income.  People were shocked.  (Applause.)

Capital investment is soaring on small businesses and big businesses, because you can now immediately deduct — this, to me, is the greatest of them all — every single penny spent on new capital equipment.  One year.  Boom.  Deduction.  (Applause.)  I think that’s going to be the star.

As you know, we’re also bringing back trillions of dollars from offshore that we couldn’t bring back.  The companies were unable to do it.  From a tax standpoint, the amount they had to pay — and almost more importantly, it was just very hard to do.  You had to see the forms that had to be filled out.  It was virtually impossible.

So we had anywhere from $3 trillion to $5 trillion, and now it seems as though, Steve, we’re hitting the higher side.  Companies are pouring money back into our country, bringing it back from overseas, investing it here.  Apple just announced recently they’re going to spend $350 billion on an incredible campus and new facilities all over the country.  They’re bringing money back and like nobody ever thought before.  (Applause.)

And you’ve heard me say, when they said $350 billion, I said, “You mean $350 million.”  Because $350 million builds a nice plant.  I know how to build under budget and ahead of schedule.  (Laughter and applause.)  I can build a beautiful plant for a lot less than $350 million.  So when I heard “billion,” I said, “No, no.  You mean $350 million, right?”  They said, “No.”  Think of what that is.  I think of the total amount — they’re bringing back about $230 billion, and the rest they’re putting in.  Tremendous investment in our country.  And ExxonMobil is doing the same thing and so many other countries [companies] are doing the same thing, different numbers.  It’s incredible what’s happened.  I still say, however, expensing — one year — expensing will be the star of what we’re doing.

We exempted more small business owners from the alternative minimum tax, which you know very well was an enormous waste of your precious time and your very hard-earned money.  That was a disastrous tax.  And from now on, most small-business owners will be spared from the deeply unfair estate tax that I talked about.  And it’s so — I’m so proud of that, because you’re all keeping your businesses.  The family, the farms, you’re keeping your businesses.

As a result of all of these taxes and all of these tax cuts, American businesses now are on a level playing field with your competitors from other countries who have so many advantages, including subsidy by governments.  You see what’s happening with China.  We have no choice.  This should have been done many years ago.  We have no choice.  China has been taking out $500 billion a year out of our country and rebuilding China.  I always say, “We have rebuilt China.”  They’ve taken so much.  It’s time, folks.  It’s time.

So we’re going to get smart, and we’re going to do it right.  And we’re actually getting a lot of support.  But we have to do something about it.  Now, maybe something happens where they come and they say, “We agree, it’s been unfair for the last 25 years.”  But somehow, that doesn’t seem to work so easily.  (Laughter.)  But we’re going and we’re going to make it fair.  We’re going to make it fair with other countries, both our friends and our enemies.  And I have to say this: In many cases, our friends, on trade, have treated us much worse than our enemies.  Pretty amazing, isn’t it?

But we know that when the rules are fair, and you can compete, you will win against anyone anywhere in the world.  There’s nobody like you.  You’re going to win anywhere.  But you have to bring it down to a level playing field.

More than 6 million workers — (applause) — have already received a bonus — some by your people — or a pay raise, or retirement account contribution, or a new job thanks to these tax cuts.  A lot of new jobs.  And people now are able to go around and look for jobs.  They’re just not taking a job and they hate it.  They hate to wake up in the morning.  They don’t want to go to work.  Now they’ve got their choice.  They have jobs that they can look and they can love.  And if you don’t love it, you’re not going to be good at it.

Millions of Americans are now saying, and really saying to everybody, that they’re saving money on their monthly utility bills.  As a result of our business tax cuts, over 100 utility companies have lowered their prices, saving Americans an additional $3 billion a year.  (Applause.)

Our historic tax cuts also ended one of the most unfair taxes imaginable — Obamacare’s individual mandate.  (Applause.)  Government will no longer punish you if you cannot afford Obamacare’s sky-high premiums.  Think of this: You pay a lot of money to the government in order not to have to buy in health insurance.  Think of that.

So you’re paying money so that you don’t — that’s a penalty.  Incredibly, it was allowed.  But you’re paying money so that you don’t have to buy healthcare.  That was a beauty.  It’s over.  It’s gone.  It’s done.  (Applause).

And we actually thought we had the votes, and then one man, very early in the morning, went thumbs down.  So that was that.  But we almost got rid of Obamacare without him.  And that was a very sad day for the Republican Party.  That was a very sad day for the country when that vote was cast — that final vote was cast.  A thumbs down.  I remember it well.  (Laughter.)

Obamacare has been especially brutal for small businesses.  You know that better than anybody.  It caused premiums and deductibles to explode, and healthcare options to plummet.

As a result of Obamacare, many small businesses, small-business employees, sole proprietors have no good or affordable options.  But now they do, because we’re opening up our system.

I’m proud to announce another truly historic step in our efforts to Americans from Obamacare and the Obamacare nightmare, and provide high-quality, affordable healthcare to every American.  This is low-cost, great healthcare.  You know, before Obamacare, there were many people very happy.  They had no problem.  But then you got thrown to the wind.

Alex Acosta is here.  Stand up, Alex.  This is so important.  This is his baby.  (Applause.)  Secretary of Labor.  Alex and the Department of Labor are taking a major action that’s been worked on for four months now — and now it’s ready — to make it easier for small businesses to band together to negotiate lower prices for health insurance and escape some of Obamacare’s most burdensome mandates through association health plans.  (Applause.)

You’re going to save massive amounts of money and have much better healthcare.  It’s going to cost you much less.  It’s going to be, I think, fantastic.  And it’s very comprehensive.  I will tell you, a lot of people — big, big percentages of this country — are going to be doing that.  In fact, while you’re in the room together, shake hands, form an association.  Good luck.  (Laughter.)  And in theory, the bigger the association, the better the deal you’re going to make.  You’re going to save a fortune, and you’re going to be able to give yourselves and your employees tremendous healthcare.  I’m really honored by that.  Believe me, that’s great.  (Applause.)

With this action, businesses in the same state or businesses in the same industry — not just the same state — anywhere in the country — remember I used to say during the debates, “Cross state lines so you can negotiate.”  You now can cross state lines so you can negotiate.  (Applause.)  So if 20 or 30 of the businesses in this room get together — you get together as a group, an association — you pick the meanest, most vicious manager owner to — (laughter) — right?  Right?  (Laughter.)  To negotiate your healthcare — and I know a few of the people in here that are going to do very well.  (Laughter.)  They are — they’re wild.  You will end up with better insurance for far less money.  You will end up so great.  And, Alex, that’s ready as of when?

SECRETARY ACOSTA:  Today.

THE PRESIDENT:  Oh, that’s not a bad answer.  Today.  Today.  (Applause.)  Stand up, Alex.  (Applause.)

I call our Secretary of Labor, and they say, “Sir, he’s very busy.”  I say, “Wait a minute.  I’m President of the United States.  What do you mean?”  They said, “He’s working on healthcare.”  I said, “Well, Department of Labor.  That’s interesting.”  And that is some great plan.  We love it.  Thank you, Alex.  Very committed to it.  And he’s now working on an expansion of that, including even larger groups of people.  So that’s really something that’s also going to be very exciting.

For the first time ever, sole proprietors will be able to come together and buy lower-cost group insurance instead of getting ripped off by this disaster that we all know as Obamacare.

These actions will result in very low prices, much more choice, much more freedom, including in many cases new opportunities to purchase health insurance.  You’ll be able to do this across state lines.

That was such a big thing.  I’d say, “Alex, I want to cross state lines.”  He said, “Don’t worry about it.”  And nobody else — you know, this is something we were able to do within the confines of the existing laws.  It’s a fantastic thing.  So it’s all set to go.  Get going.  Make your deals.  (Applause.)

And the insurance companies — and some people are forming their own — but the insurance companies are so excited about this.  It’s going to be very competitive.  Let them go — and they’ve made so much money off Obamacare, folks.  They got so rich with Obama.  Take a look at what happened to our premiums.  You know, everyone hears about Obamacare being a disaster, except for the insurance companies.  So they’re going to have to give a little bit of that money back.  Negotiate tough, please.  (Laughter.)

Every American who owns a small business plays a vital role in creating a safe, strong, and prosperous America.  And my administration will never forget that truth.  (Applause.)  Every day you turn ideas into action, you turn vision into creation — I know you well — and you turn dreams into reality.  That’s what you do.  You don’t even realize that’s what you do.  That’s what you do.

You embody the spirit of independence and adventure that turned America from 13 colonies into the most incredible republic in the history of humankind.  See, I don’t mankind anymore; I say humankind.  (Laughter.)  Do the women understand that?  (Applause.)  I don’t know.  They want me to be politically correct.  What —

Oh, look, a couple of women are having the thumb up.  Right?  You like that?  You like that.  Okay.  That’s okay.  Now I’m happy about it.  (Laughter.)

It’s the same spirit that inspired previous generations to cross the plains and tame the wilderness, and to build shining cities that touch the sky.  We stand on the shoulders of American patriots who built the great highways and railroads; who dug out the Panama Canal; who won two world wars; and who put a man on the face of the moon.

And if you see what I did yesterday with NASA, right?  And you have the Air Force, and now you will soon have the Space Force, because that’s where it’s at — space.  (Applause.)  That’s where it’s at.  We’ll be the leader.

Together, there is nothing Americans can’t do, because we are one people and one family saluting one great American flag.  (Applause.)  Thank you.

Our future has never looked brighter and that’s because of the hardworking Americans like you and millions of small-business owners who took the chance to do what they love: to follow their hearts and to chase their very beautiful dreams.

You are the ones who are shaping our industry.  You are the ones who are shaping and restoring our prosperity.  We are restoring our prosperity.  You’ve seen GDP.  You see what projections are — who knows — but numbers that nobody ever thought possible.  I look so forward to seeing some of those numbers.

But you see what projections are.  People are projecting numbers like nobody thought even possible, numbers that I would likewise — like I wouldn’t have said on jobs, I wouldn’t have said on growth — I wouldn’t have said.  Let’s see what happens.  But we’re doing well as a country.  And you’re the ones, truly, who are making America great again.

So happy anniversary.  God bless you.  And God bless the United States of America.  (Applause.)  Thank you very much.  Thank you.

END

1:31 P.M. EDT