Remarks by President Trump on Tax Reform
Bismarck, North Dakota
3:20 P.M. CDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, everybody. Thank you. I was just with our governor. He said, you know, Mr. President, we could have had 25 times the number of people, but for policy speeches, they like to keep them just like this. But I appreciate -- this is tremendous. And this is truly a tremendous state. And we appreciate it very much. We appreciate you being here. Thank you. (Applause.)
And the policy we're talking about is cutting your taxes. Do you like that policy? (Applause.) Well, you're the hardworking people who provide the energy that makes this country run, and we are finally getting the government out of the way so you can do your jobs. Finally happening. (Applause.)
Prior to leaving the White House, I had a great bipartisan meeting with Democrat and Republican leaders in Congress, and I'm committed to working with both parties to deliver for our wonderful, wonderful citizens. It's about time. We had a great meeting with Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, and the whole Republican leadership group. And I'll tell you what, we walked out of there -- Mitch and Paul, and everybody, Kevin -- and we walked out and everybody was happy. Not too happy -- because you can never be too happy -- but they were happy enough. And it was nice to see that happen for a change because that hasn't happened for a long time in this country -- for a very long time.
I want to take a moment to send our thoughts and prayers to the people of Texas and Louisiana who have truly suffered through a catastrophic hurricane. (Applause.) One of the worst hurricanes in our country's history. And guess what? We have another one coming. You see that.
But our hearts are heavy with sadness for those who have lost everything. They have also filled us with hope because you watched and you witnessed the unyielding strength and resilience of the American spirit. You looked at that in Texas. You looked at Louisiana. You saw the spirit; you saw the spirit of so many other people coming from all over. It was a great thing. I was there twice, and I will tell you the people were absolutely incredible. What they've gone through -- you would not believe this could have happened.
And I know you have a little bit of a drought. They had the opposite. Believe me, you're better off. You are better off. They had the absolute opposite.
The compassion of our citizens and the courage of our first responders makes us all very proud to be an American. (Applause.) I can tell you that I was deeply inspired by the faith and perseverance of those who I met and by all of the people that were there -- so many people.
And unfortunately, now we're getting ready to respond to Hurricane Irma. And these incredible people that we have at FEMA and the other groups, they thought they'd get a night of sleep -- one night, just one night. They're not getting anything. They're right now going to Florida, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands, and they're already there. And they're being hit with some very, very strong and powerful winds. The winds coming now -- Irma, they're saying, is the largest one in recorded history in the Atlantic Ocean -- coming out of the Atlantic, which gets big ones.
So I just want to thank everybody and all of the people that are going down. And they're really now, again, in harm's way. We'll work together to help save lives, protect families, and support those in need. Together, we will recover and we will rebuild.
I also want to tell the people of North Dakota and the Western states who are feeling the pain of the devastating drought that we are with you 100 percent -- 100 percent. (Applause.) And I've been in close touch, numerous times, with our Secretary of Agriculture, who is doing a fantastic job, Sonny Perdue, who has been working with your governor and your delegation to help provide relief. And we're doing everything we can, but you have a pretty serious drought.
I just said to the governor, I didn't know you had droughts this far north. Guess what? You have them. But we're working hard on it and it'll disappear. It will all go away.
I want you to know we'll always stand strong and unified with our farmers and our ranchers -- the backbone of America -- that I can tell you, 100 percent. (Applause.)
So we're here today to talk about our plan to create a new age of American prosperity by reducing the crushing tax burden on our companies and on our workers. The taxes are crazy -- the highest-taxed nation in the world. We're going to turn that around very quickly. (Applause.)
This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity, and I mean that. I think this is one time you're going to get. And I'm honored to be joined by some of the fantastic leaders who share this goal with us.
Senator Hoeven. Where is Senator? Senator, stand up, Senator. (Applause.) Doing a fantastic job. Come on up, Senator. Come on up here. Get up here. Fantastic job. Thank you, Senator.
Governor Burgum. (Applause.) Come on up, Governor. Beautiful job. Come on.
Lieutenant Governor Sanford. (Applause.) The Governor told me he's the best lieutenant governor in the country. So I don't know. We'll check it out.
Congressman Cramer. (Applause.)
Senator Heitkamp. Senator, come on up. (Applause.)
And I have to say, they -- you are all in favor of tax cuts, aren't you? Come on up, Senator. These are great people. They work hard. They're for you 100 percent. And we just want their support because we need support. You see that with what's happening in Congress. Nobody can get anything through Congress. We need support.
So thank you, Senator. Senator Heitkamp. Everyone is saying, what's she doing up here? But I'll tell you what -- good woman, and I think we'll have your support. I hope we'll have your support. And thank you very much, Senator. Thank you for coming up. Senators, thank you. Thank you. (Applause.)
They're all in good company together. By working together, we're going to restore America’s competitive edge by passing tax cuts and reform that makes America the best place in the world to hire, invest, and to grow. We love our country, we love our people, and we want to create more jobs in America, for Americans.
I want to welcome a great friend and a true American visionary who has created thousands of jobs in North Dakota and all around the country, and he's been a friend of mine right from the beginning. He said I should do this; absolutely you have to do it. A great, great American success story -- Harold Hamm. Where is Harold? Where is Harold? Come here, Harold. (Applause.) Thousands and thousands of jobs.
You know, Barry Switzer was up at my office. And I never heard this -- you probably have heard this, but Harold was a little bit late and Barry was talking to me. And Barry is a great guy, great football coach. I think he won a Super Bowl and a college number one, right?
And we were talking about Harold, who is a great friend of his. And he said, "You know that guy, Mr. Trump?" That was before I was President. He said, "That guy -- these companies spend billions of dollars and they're looking for oil and they don't find anything. Harold Hamm, he puts a straw in the ground and oil flies out." (Laughter.) That's why he's rich, I guess. Anyway, Harold, thank you very much.
You want to say something? Go ahead.
MR. HAMM: You find oil in North Dakota, in the Bakken! (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Harold.
North Dakota is an inspiring example of the amazing things that are possible when we unleash the genius of American innovators, unite the red tape, and I’ll tell you -- and we have to unite everything. And all that red tape becomes beautiful when you get rid of it. And we're getting rid of -- are we getting rid of a lot of red tape, by the way? (Applause.) And we unlock the extraordinary potential of our great American workers.
North Dakota chose to embrace American industry and the American worker even when many in Washington wanted to tax and regulate your industries totally out of existence. And you knew that. And you've seen what’s happened over the last number of eight months. You've seen what’s happened. Big difference.
Today, families have new jobs and new hope because of the vast energy wealth that you brought to life right here. You understand the vital truth: Washington has no right to shut down energy production because America’s energy wealth doesn't belong to the government, it belongs to the people. (Applause.)
It belongs to hardworking patriots like you because of the North Dakota energy miracle -- and I call it a miracle. Today, this state has the lowest unemployment rate of any state in America, nearly half the national average. (Applause.)
I want all of America to be inspired by what’s happened in North Dakota and the North Dakota example. This state is a reminder of what can happen when we promote American jobs instead of obstructing American jobs -- which has been happening, believe me. (Applause.)
And, by the way, Ivanka Trump -- everybody loves Ivanka. (Applause.) Come up, honey. Should I bring Ivanka up? (Applause.) Come up. Sometimes they’ll say, "You know, he can't be that bad a guy." Look at Ivanka. (Laughter.)
Now, come on up, honey. She’s so good. She wanted to make the trip. She said, Dad, can I go with you? She actually said, Daddy, can I go with you? I like that, right? Daddy, can I go with you? I said, yes, you can.
Where you going? North Dakota. Said, oh, I like North Dakota. Hi, honey. (Applause.) Say something, baby.
MS. TRUMP: Hi, North Dakota. (Applause.) We love this state, so it’s always a pleasure to be back here. And you treated us very, very well in November and have continued to, so we like sharing the love back. Thank you. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, honey. Thanks, baby. Come. (Applause.)
And she means it, believe me.
Since my very first day in office, I’ve moved at record pace -- and really we have gone at a record pace -- to eliminate the barriers that have been holding back our economy. You've seen it -- so many jobs, the stock market is at new highs. We're getting rid of one job-killing regulation after another. We've lifted the restrictions on shale oil. We've lifted those restrictions on energy of all types. We're putting our miners back to work. We've cancelled restrictions on oil and natural gas. We’ve ended the EPA intrusion into your jobs and into your lives. (Applause.) And we're refocusing the EPA on its core mission: clean air and clean water. (Applause.)
That's what I want -- clean air. Think of it. We talk about the -- I want beautiful clean air, and I want crystal-clean water, right? That's what we want.
In order to protect American industry and workers, we withdrew the United States from the job-killing Paris Climate Accord. Job killer. People have no idea. (Applause.) Many people have no idea how bad that was.
And right here in North Dakota, the Dakota Access Pipeline is finally open for business. (Applause.) Now, what other politician, if elected President, would have done that one? They would have stayed so far away. And I did it immediately, and I didn't even do it in that case for jobs. It was the right thing to do. And that is flowing now beautifully. So it was the right thing to do. (Applause.)
We opened it despite so many people that were on the other side calling and asking for this not to happen: Please, we don't want it to happen. I said, why? They didn't know. There was no -- they just didn't want it to happen.
So I did that. I also did Keystone. You know about Keystone. (Applause.) Another other one, big one -- big. First couple of days in office, those two -- 48,000 jobs. Tremendous thing. I think environmentally better. I really believe that -- environmentally better.
So I’m keeping my promises to the American people. I do what’s right. That's all. I just do what’s right. I don't think about it. I do what’s right. (Applause.)
We're seeing the results all across the country. Already, unemployment is near a 16-year low. African American unemployment is at its lowest point since almost the turn of the millennium. Wages are rising. Optimism among manufacturers is at an all-time high. That's something I’m very proud of. And they're moving back. (Applause.) I tell you, the companies are moving back. The car companies are coming back. They're going back into Ohio and Michigan and Pennsylvania, and lots of places -- Kentucky. Car companies -- they are moving back. They got to move back, because why should we be allowing other countries to make it -- sell their cars, no cost, just put them right through our borders, cause us unemployment? It's not happening that way, believe.
And it's going to be more and more so, because, you know, like you have to cut through red tape to do things? Hard to believe, I have to cut through red tape to do things too. They have it set. And I'll tell you, America is back -- and it's back right on track, where it should be. And it's happening day after day after day.
And we have certain areas where you have to give notice of 90 days before you can touch an act or before you can touch an executive order. Then you have to wait another 30 days, and then another 90 days. Well, believe me, all of those days are coming up and tremendous numbers of regulations have been cut.
But soon, you're going to see even more. And we're going to have regulation because regulation is not bad, but you don't need 25 times what you're supposed to have. So we're going to have sensible regulation. (Applause.)
But our country and our economy cannot take off like they should unless we reform America’s outdated, complex, and extremely burdensome -- I mean, this is so complicated and so burdensome -- our tax code.
Our painful tax system has become a massive barrier to America’s economic comeback. It really is; we're penalized. It costs us millions of American jobs, trillions of dollars, and billions of hours wasted on paperwork and on compliance. Our tax code is a giant self-inflicted economic wound.
In the last 10 years, our economy has grown at an average of only around 2 percent, and some would say less than that. When I talk to the leaders of other countries -- I speak to them all the time -- they're unhappy about seven or eight points of growth -- GDP. I spoke to a leader of a major, major country recently --big, big, country -- they say our country is very big, it's hard to grow. Well, believe me, this country is very big.
"How are you doing," I said. Because I have very good relationships -- believe it or not -- with the leaders of these countries. I said, "How are you doing?" He said, "Not good. Not good at all. Our GDP is 7 percent." I say, "7 percent." Then I speak to another one, "How are you doing?" "Not good. Not good. Our GDP is only 9 percent."
Our -- if you look at our number when we first got in, we were hitting one-percent numbers and nobody even talks about it. Well, last quarter, we hit 3 percent GDP. (Applause.) And I'll tell you what, a lot of that had to do with the cutting of the regulation, and I think a lot of it had to do with optimism. There's a lot of optimism now. People are starting business that they had no idea they were going to start a year ago.
If we sustain 3 percent growth instead of 2 percent -- only one point; and I think we have a long way to grow; I know we have a long way to grow -- that means 12 -- think of it, one point -- 12 million new jobs and $10 trillion of new economic activity over the next decade. Think of it -- $10 trillion. (Applause.)
And if we ever went to 4 percent, think of that, or 5 percent, or 6 percent -- let's see what happens. They were all sort of smiling when I said 3 percent. I must say, we came -- we hit the number faster than I thought, but we hit 3 percent last quarter.
If we want to renew our prosperity, restore our opportunity, and reestablish our economic dominance -- which is what we should be doing -- when we need tax reform that is pro-growth, pro-jobs, pro-worker, pro-family, and, yes, pro-American. (Applause.) And anybody that is going to vote against tax cuts and tax reforms -- whether it's in North Dakota or anybody else, or anyplace else -- you got to vote against them and get them out of office because it is so bad. (Applause.) This is not a close one.
My administration is working with Congress to develop a plan that will deliver more jobs, higher pay, lower taxes for businesses of all sizes and middle-class families all across the nation. So it's not only business taxes, it's middle-income families, it's families at every level -- every level, tax cuts.
Our tax plan represents a sharp reversal from the failed policy of the past. America’s high tax rates punish companies for doing business in America and encourages them to move to other countries. That's why you see in so many states, including here for a period of time -- now people are starting to stay and companies are staying -- they'd leave for Mexico and for other places, just routinely.
Well, we've stopped it and we are stopping it. We're not going to let it happen. There has to be a price to pay when that happens; when they let our people go and that happens, and they think they can sell the product right back into the USA. There is going to be a big price to pay, and there has been, and that's why you're seeing a big change.
These Washington policies have pushed industries and companies offshore, who then import their goods back into America and lay off their workers in the process. We end up with nothing. Not going to happen.
My administration strongly rejects this offshoring model, and we've embraced a new model -- it's called the American model. Very simple: The American model. (Applause.)
Under the American model, we're reducing the burdens of our businesses -- as long as they do business in our country. We want them to do business -- made in the USA -- we want them to do business in our country. We want our companies to hire and grow in America, to raise wages for American workers, and to help rebuild our American cities and towns. That is how we will all succeed and grow together -- as one team, one people, and one American family. It's love. One American family. (Applause.)
We're going to go get into great detail over the next two weeks, but we're working on it with Congress now, and coming up with very exacting numbers. But here are my four basic principles for tax reform:
First, we need a tax code that is simple, fair, and easy to understand -- unlike what we have. (Applause.) Our tax code has gotten ridiculously complex. This complexity leads to massive frustration, wasted time, and wasted money. Lots of wasted money.
Today, the average taxpayer has to wade through 241 pages of instructions to file a basic tax form. Does anyone know that? Two hundred and forty-one pages. A staggering 94 percent of the families need professional help to do their taxes -- they have to get it -- which is why the tax preparation industry generated $10 billion in revenues last year. That's one business I want to drive down. Sorry. (Laughter and applause.) H&R Block will not be supporting Donald Trump, I can tell you. (Laughter.)
Taxpayers spend 6 billion hours each year complying with the tax code. That's why we are proposing dramatic tax simplification. Under our plan, 95 percent of Americans will be able to file their tax returns on a single page without having to keep receipts, fill out schedules, or track endless paperwork. We're giving hardworking Americans their time back, and we're giving them their money back. (Applause.)
Second, we will cut taxes for middle-class families. This is a major, major tax cut -- the biggest since Ronald Reagan. (Applause.) The pipefitters and plumbers, and nurses, and police officers -- all the people like you who pour their hearts into every penny earned in both the offices and oilfields of America -- you're the ones who carry this nation on your back, and it's time for you to get the relief that you deserve. It's enough. It's enough. (Applause.)
That's why our tax plan will reduce taxes for our middle class, and allow them to keep more of their own money -- keep that hard-earned money where you can spend it the way you want to spend it, or guess what? You can also save it. Nothing wrong with that. But it's your money, not the government's money. (Applause.)
So we will provide tax relief to middle-income families through a combination of benefits, such as raising their standard deduction, increasing the child tax credit, and lowering tax rates substantially. (Applause.)
Third, we need a tax code that restores our competitive edge so we can create more jobs and higher wages for American workers. Our plan will provide tax relief to businesses of all sizes. And we will cut the business tax rate as much as possible. Ideally, we would like to bring our business tax rate down to around 15 percent. That's a tremendous drop. (Applause.)
All told, it will be the greatest tax reduction in the history of our country. Greater than ever before. So that's going to be something. You'll see a rocket ship. You will see something happen like you've never seen.
But we'll also dramatically reduce the tax rate for America’s small businesses which have created more than 60 percent of new private-sector jobs in the recent past. Tax relief is on the way for millions of sole proprietors, LLCs, and partnerships who report their income to their personal -- and they do this -- they put it on their personal tax returns. People think of it as a business, but it's on their personal tax returns. Those people, with those businesses, will be tremendous beneficiaries. (Applause.) Sounds like many of you have those businesses.
Tax reform will also benefit mid-sized businesses, like North Dakota Guaranty and Title Company in Mandan. You know that company, anybody? (Applause.) President Nick Hacker -- where's Nick Hacker? Hello, Nick. How are you, Nick? How's business? All right? Getting better all the time.
He says that he spends a fortune on accountants to navigate our complicated tax system. We know the feeling; everybody here knows the feeling. Like millions of other American businesses, he would much rather spend that money on higher wages for his 140 employees.
Workers in the energy sector -- thank you. You have a lot of friends here, Nick. (Laughter.) The workers in the energy sector will benefit enormously as well. North Dakota State Senator Jessica Unruh -- where's Jessica? Where's Jessica? (Applause.) Hello, Jessica. Congratulations. Doing a good job, right? That's what I hear -- who is also an environmental specialist says lower business taxes will be a catalyst for energy companies to hire countless of new American workers. So important.
We’ll also protect small businesses and family farmers here in North Dakota and across the country by ending the death tax. (Applause.) Tremendous burden for the family farmer. Tremendous burden.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Thank you, Donald Trump!
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, appreciate it. But a tremendous burden for small businesses and businesses that aren't necessarily liquid, but they're great businesses -- where you're forced to sell and terrible things happen.
Here with us today is Julie Ellingson, a fourth-generation cattle rancher and a mother of five from Bismarck. Where is Julie? Hello, Julie. (Applause.)
Like many family ranchers, Julie worries about the death tax shutting down her family business and keeping her from passing it on to her children. It’s a devastating tax. Julie: We are not going to allow the death tax or the inheritance tax or the whatever-you-want-to-call-it to crush the American Dream. Not going to let it happen, so -- fighting hard. (Applause.) Thank you, Julie.
Ronald Reagan proved that cutting taxes on American businesses helps American workers win in the world marketplace. When President Reagan lowered taxes, American businesses beat out our foreign competition. Our economy boomed, the middle class thrived, and median family income increased.
But then Washington stood by while other countries adopted our playbook. But they did it even better than us. They lowered their tax rates and reformed their tax systems to be more competitive substantially than that of the United States of America. And America went from leading the pack to following way behind.
Now our business tax rate is the highest in the developed world -- 60 percent higher than our foreign competitors. Pretty bad. Puts us at a big disadvantage. We’re behind France, behind Germany, behind Canada, Japan, Ireland, Mexico, behind South Korea. We’re dead last.
Our high business tax is nothing more than a crushing tax on every product made in America. We have totally surrendered our competitive edge to other countries. But we're not surrendering any more. (Applause.)
We’re going to reduce the tax rate on American business so they can keep our jobs in America, create jobs in America, and compete for workers right here in America, meaning higher wages and greater profits for companies. (Applause.) It’s finally time to give the American worker a pay raise. That's what we're going to do. (Applause.)
And finally, we must bring back trillions of dollars in wealth that's parked overseas and just can't come back. Our tax system penalizes companies that bring wealth they have earned overseas back to America. As a result, corporations have parked trillions of dollars in foreign countries -- money that could be and should be brought back into the United States where it can be invested in America companies, in American jobs, and American workers.
Our tax plan will give these companies a chance to bring back these funds -- and bring them back and spend it in cities and towns all across our country. The numbers you're talking about are staggering. (Applause.)
The numbers we're talking about are probably between $3.5 trillion and $5 trillion that cannot come back into our -- and think of it, the Democrats want it to come back. The Republicans want it to come back. They have for years, and nothing gets done. We're going to get it done. (Applause.)
We’re going to be switching from a worldwide tax system that encourages companies to keep their funds offshore to a territorial system that encourages companies to bring their profits back home to America where that money belongs. It is our time to invest in our country. We want to build our communities, and we want to build beautiful new ones. And we want to rebuild the old ones. And we want to hire -- and you may have heard the term once or twice before -- the fact is we want to -- just like that beautiful man’s hat -- we want to make America great again. Good hat. (Applause.)
This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reform taxes, rebuild our economy, and restore America’s competitive edge. History has proven time and time again that there is no power on Earth more awesome and unstoppable than the will of the American people. You saw that on November 8th. Believe me, you saw that on November 8th. (Applause.)
If you demand it, and if you call up people in Congress -- good people, sometimes maybe not the right intention, but good people -- Congress will deliver on it because they have no choice. So you have to call your congressmen. You have to call your senators. You have to make sure that they do what they have to do. And believe me, we haven’t given up on healthcare. We haven’t given up on healthcare. We never give up. (Applause.)
One vote. One vote. Think of it -- one vote. Terrible. A terrible situation took place that night. We can't let that happen again. We cannot let that happen again. But we’ll get it done one way or the other. But only if you demand it, only if you, the American people, tell Congress to stop putting party first and start putting America first. Only then will it happen. (Applause.)
You can remind them that both of the Reagan tax cuts were passed by a Democratic majority in the House, a Democratic Speaker, and a vast majority of Democrats in the Senate, including a Democratic senator from the great state of North Dakota. So it can happen. (Applause.)
You listening, Heidi? Yes, Heidi is listening. Yeah, she heard that. Thank you, Heidi. We're not going to put her on the spot. I'm not putting her on the spot. (Laughter.)
If Democrats don't want to bring back your jobs, cut your taxes, raise your pay, and help America win, voters should deliver a clear message: Do your job to deliver for America, or find a new job. Do something else. Just do something else. (Applause.)
I'm asking all Americans -- Republican, Democrat, and independent -- to join with me, with each other, to demand tax cuts and tax reform that will put America first. We're going to put America first. It's time. (Applause.)
We no longer have to accept a tax code that lets special interests win at the expense of the middle class. We no longer have to accept a rigged system -- you know all about rigged systems; we talked about that plenty of times in the campaign. You think anything is so different? But we're going to make it different. We're going to get that straightened out too -- that rewards companies for shipping jobs overseas, and punishes them for investing in America. They actually get punished under the tax code for investing in our country.
It's going to all change. We can heal this self-inflicted wound and we can reestablish our economic dominance all over the world. We can give our workers the level playing field they deserve, and they will win. Because if the fight is fair, no one on Earth can beat the American worker or the American company -- nobody, nobody. (Applause.)
When we do, store shelves all across the country -- those shelves, they're going to be so packed -- all around the world will be lined once again with products proudly bearing the words: Made in the USA.
So do you remember, when we were growing up, it was either "Made in America" or "Made in the USA"? What do you like better? Ready? "Made in America." "Made in the USA." What do you like? (Applause.)
You like "Made in the USA"? (Applause.) Seems to be. We should pick one or the other, probably. (Laughter.) But we want to have one or the other. I think "Made in the USA," right? "Made in the USA." (Applause.)
There was such pride in that label, such incredible pride. And it's coming back again. Believe me, it's coming, because the quality of what we do is second to none.
If America comes together, if the people speak with one voice, we will bring back our jobs, we will bring back our wealth, and for every citizen across our great land, we will bring back the American Dream. Bring it back.
I want to thank the people of North Dakota who have been so incredible to me. I have so many friends here. I have so many people that I respect from this incredible state. I want to thank you. I want to say God bless you, God bless the American worker, and God bless the United States of America. And I appreciate you being out here today. (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you very much.
4:00 P.M. CDT