Earlier today President Trump lead a discussion forum at the State Department library with cabinet members and corporate CEO’s to discuss ongoing economic policy and hear about the challenges.
One of the main challenges communicated by the business group was… wait for it.., yep, ObamaCare. This concern is directly connected to any tax reform plans, and cuts to the heart of President Trump’s earlier economic strategy.
ObamaCare is, at the core, a massive tax program; and it becomes more difficult to navigate tax reform, with the anchor of ObamaCare dragging down opportunity for economic growth and the revenue growth that accompanies expansion.
[Transcript] 10:55 A.M. EDT – THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all for being here. Very much appreciate it. I want to thank Steve Schwarzman for putting together this very incredible group of world-class business leaders. That’s what you are.
Also, joining us are Secretary Betsy DeVos, Secretary Wilbur Ross, Secretary Elaine Chao, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, and my budget director, Mick Mulvaney. That’s an easy job. Where’s Mick? (Laughter.) Such an easy job. It’s the easiest job of anybody in the government — right, Mick?
At the top of our agenda is the creation of great high-paying jobs for American workers. And we’ve made a lot of process. You see what’s going on; you see the numbers. We’ve created over 600,000 jobs already in a very short period of time, and it’s going to really start catching on now, because some of the things that we’ve done are big league and they are catching on.
Already, we’ve created more than almost 600,000 jobs. And yesterday, Toyota just announced that it will invest more than $1.3 billion — it’s probably going to be $1.9 billion — into its Georgetown, Kentucky plant, an investment that would not have been made if we didn’t win the election.
We have a lot of work to do. In the last two decades, our nation has lost a third of its manufacturing jobs, and our business tax is one of the highest in the world. It actually is, of developed countries, the single highest tax anywhere in the world.
For too long, we’ve punished production in America and rewarded companies for leaving our country. And we’re going to reverse that. We would reward companies, give them incentives to leave. NAFTA is a disaster. It’s been a disaster from the day it was devised. And we’re going to have some very pleasant surprises for you on NAFTA, that I can tell you.
My administration has already taken historic action to unleash job creation. We’ve signed dozens of bills and executive actions to reduce federal overreach and expand domestic production.
On the environment, we’re going to be very, very careful on the environment. It’s very important to me and the administration. But we’ve allowed a lot of companies to go back to work. They were being restricted; their jobs were being restricted. We’ve unleashed a lot of companies, especially right now in the energy sector — you see what’s going on there. It was impossible for people to do what they had to do, and now they can do it. It’s all done.
We’re also working to modernize our economy and harness the full potential of women in the workforce, which is crucial to our economic success. Economic confidence is sweeping the nation. You saw the new survey that came out. It’s at 93 — which is the highest it’s ever been — 93 percent of manufacturers are optimistic about the future. It was a 27 percent increase over two months ago when it was also high because of the administration, and much higher than it’s ever been — 93 percent. Highest it’s ever been.
This is just the beginning. We’re going to reduce taxes. We’re going to eliminate wasteful regulations, which we’ve already done — probably 25 percent. You can take a look at Dodd-Frank. For the bankers in the room, they’ll be very happy because we’re really doing a major streamlining and, perhaps, elimination, and replacing it with something else. But that will be the minimum. But we’re doing a major elimination of the horrendous Dodd-Frank regulations, keeping some obviously, but getting rid of many.
And we’re going to put many millions of people back to work. The banks will be able to lend again. So many people come to see me, I see them all the time — small businesses — they’re unable to borrow from banks. They never had a problem five, six, seven, ten years ago. They had great bankers. They had great relationships. Now they can’t borrow. And we’re going to let the banks loan them money, and they can build their businesses.
So with your help and insights, we will use the private sector innovation to drive job creation and reform government. A lot of reform. We have a computer system in this country that’s 40 years old. So when you hear we’re hacked and we’re this, that — we’re like easy targets. And one of the things we’re doing, in fact — we’re working with a very, very wonderful woman from IBM, and others — and others, okay? (Laughter.) Many others. It’s like when I said to Lockheed, I like the F-35 fighter jet, but then I said, but I also like the Boeing F-18. Okay? (Laughter.) So I love your computers, but we’re also looking at others, all right?
But we are. We’re going to have a massive program to modernize our equipment — ideally get brand-new equipment. The cost of maintaining our computers is a number that is so high that it’s not even a believable number. Now, I’ve heard anywhere — is this possible? — from $39 billion to $89 billion a year. Is that even possible? That’s for keeping our computers updated and running. And I think we can buy a whole new system for less money than that, wouldn’t you say? I mean, I hope so. We’ll give you $10 billion right now — modernize it. (Laughter.)
So I want to thank everybody for being here. I know most of you. You really are the top. And I want to thank my friend, Jack Welch, for being with us too. I’ve known Jack so long. We did deals together, right? Trump International — a big success — and the other one on Park Avenue. We had great success together with your real estate group who are terrific people. Dale Fry and everybody — right? Terrific. And John. So I just want to thank you. You’ve been a special guy for a long time.
And we’ll get down to business. Maybe before the media leaves, we can go around the room, and we’ll just introduce. We all know Steve, and I want to thank you, Steve, for putting the group together.
MR. SCHWARZMAN: Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Would you like to say something while all those cameras are running?
MR. SCHWARZMAN: I think we should say that we’ve had a really interesting day so far. What we did is we divided into five groups, meeting with each of the five Secretaries that the President mentioned. It’s an open discussion. The Secretaries presented what they were trying to achieve, and we had several people from the forum meeting with them and making comments on what they were doing to hopefully make their jobs better.
We’ve been looking at trade, education and workforce development, energy and the environment, regulatory reform, and infrastructure. All these things are really important, and we’re focused. The people in the administration are also focused. And working together, hopefully we’ll have a bunch of really good outcomes.
THE PRESIDENT: We will.
MR. LESSER: Rich Lesser, Boston Consulting Group.
MR. COSGROVE: Toby Cosgrove, Cleveland Clinic.
MS. ROMETTY: Ginni Rometty, IBM.
MS. BARRA: Mary Barra, General Motors.
MR. ATKINS: Paul Atkins, Patomak Global Partners.
MR. YERGIN: Dan Yergin, IHS Markit.
MR. PRUITT: Scott Pruitt, EPA Administrator.
MR. FINK: Larry Fink, BlackRock.
MR. WARSH: Kevin Warsh, Stanford University.
MR. WEINBERGER: Mark Weinberger, EY.
MR. MCNERNEY: Jim McNerney, Ex, Boeing.
MR. MCMILLION: Doug McMillon, Walmart.
MS. NOOYI: Indra Nooyi, PepsiCo.
MR. ROSE: Matt Rose, BNSF.
MR. HOWARD: Philip Howard, (inaudible).
MR. OGUNLESI: Bayo Ogunlesi, Global Infrastructure Partners.
THE PRESIDENT: Okay. Thank you very much. Thank you very much. Thank you. [media excused]