President Trump delivers remarks during a full cabinet meeting earlier today. (fourth full cabinet meeting in December) While celebrating passage of the historic tax reform bill, the President asked HUD Secretary Dr. Ben Carson to lead the cabinet in prayer.
[Transcript] 11:37 A.M. EST – THE PRESIDENT: Okay, thank you very much. I appreciate everybody being here — Cabinet meeting. And this looks like it will probably be our last Cabinet meeting until the new year. But who knows, you never know what happens with Cabinet meetings. We’ve had some really great and productive ones, and this will be one of celebration because of what took place last night.
We had a historic victory for the American people. It will go through final passage today in the House. Then the congressmen and women and the Senate will be coming over — the Republican Senate. Unfortunately, the Democrats don’t like to see tax cutting, they like to see tax increases. And they like to complain, but they don’t get it done, unfortunately. But they complain a lot.
So we’re going to have the Republican senators come over, we’re going to have the Republican members of the House come over. And we’re going to have a news conference. And people are starting to see how great this historic victory was.
The passage of the massive tax cuts and reform — it’s a lot of reform in there — but the tax cuts supersede — and I said very specifically, use the word “tax cuts.” You know, for 34 years, they’ve been trying to do this, and they haven’t. And they used the word “reform.” Well, there is reform, but I said, we’re going to be talking about tax cuts.
The heart of our bill is a tremendous amount of relief for the middle class, including a doubling of the child tax credit and a nearly doubling of the standard deduction. That’s going to be tremendous for people. They’re going to start seeing the results in February.
This bill means more take-home pay. It will be an incredible Christmas gift for hardworking Americans. I said I wanted to have it done before Christmas; we got it done.
I want to thank all of the leaders. I want to thank Mitch McConnell, I want to thank Paul Ryan, and so many other people. And we’ll go through the official ceremony in a little while when they come over to the White House. But we have a tremendous amount of talent in the House; a tremendous amount of talent in the Senate — I can tell you that. And they love this country.
The bill also includes a new family tax credit for dependents. It makes the vast majority of family farms and small businesses exempt from the estate tax. The estate tax was killing the farmers. They were forced to sell farms at bargain-basement prices. They don’t have to do that anymore.
And it brings overseas corporate profits back to the United States. Our plan also lowers the tax on American business from 35 percent all the way down to 21 percent. That’s probably the biggest factor in this plan. We’ve become competitive all over the world. Our companies won’t be leaving our country any longer because our tax burden is so high because now we’re down toward the lower end of the spectrum, as opposed to being the highest. We were the highest.
And it’s really, above all else, it’s a jobs bill because these corporations that are already coming into the country, but they’re going to start pouring into the country. It’s about jobs. And they’re going to build some really great companies and a lot of jobs.
We’ve already created over 2 million jobs since the election. The stock market, as you see, it’s at an all-time high yet again. I think that’s 86 times since I got elected — 86 times. We’re at an all-time high. Unemployment is at a 17-year low. We’ve liberated the American economy from Washington overreach, cutting twenty-two regulations for every one new regulation — the most in history by far.
We’ve cut hundreds and hundreds of regulations, allowing people to have their businesses, work their businesses, and hire people. And we still have plenty of regulation, don’t worry. We have plenty of regulation. Regulation is not the worst thing. But overregulation is. We’re stifling in our country. Couldn’t do anything.
We’ve unleased U.S. military might on ISIS. And today, the coalition to defeat ISIS has recaptured nearly 100 percent of the territory once held by the terrorists in Iraq and Syria. We’re close to 100 percent. We’ll be finished pretty soon with the ISIS situation in those two countries. And we’re making it very difficult for them to come here, believe me. We’re fighting it very hard — Homeland Security and our great military.
We’re restoring immigration enforcement at levels that our country has never seen before, and taking the fight to the criminal gangs like MS-13, where we’re decimating those animals. They’re animals. What they do is horrible, horrible. And we’re making the immigration system work for Americans. But we’re cleaning out towns of those MS-13 gangsters.
That’s why we’re calling on Congress to fund the border wall, which we’re getting very close to. We’re working on that. We’ll have a great wall. We put up, as you know, six different varieties of walls. We want to be able to see through. We have a lot of help from the Border Patrol and from the ICE agents. We’re getting their input on the wall because they — who knows better than them?
But we want vision; we want to be able to see through who is on the other side of the wall. And we have some wonderful prototypes that have been put up. And I may be going there, very shortly, to look at them in their final form.
And we’ll be building the wall and we’ll be doing lots of other things. We will, very importantly, be funding and closing the loopholes that undermine our enforcement. And we will get rid of chain migration and the visa lottery program. We have the lottery program, where we take — in a lottery — people from other countries. In some places, we are bringing in some very bad, bad people.
And through chain migration and through the lottery, the man that ran over people on the West Side Highway in Manhattan a month ago — two months ago — he came in through the visa lottery. We don’t want this group of people anymore. People met him in the neighborhood. They all said he was horrible — nasty, mean, wouldn’t talk to people. They could see it coming. They could actually see it coming. When they went back to his area where he lived, they could see it coming. They said, what’s he doing here?
Well, when we take people that are lottery — they’re not putting their best people in the lottery. It’s commonsense. They’re not saying, oh, let’s take our best people and let’s put them into the lottery so that we can send them over to the United States. No. They put their worst people into the lottery. And that’s what we get, in many cases. So that’s not going to be happening anymore. We’re going to end it.
So we’re ending the lottery. We’re ending the chain migration where, in his case, they say he might have had up to 24 people come in with him, indirectly — aunts, uncles, cousins, grandfathers, grandmothers. And they come in because one guy gets in. Then you bring the whole family. And not a lot of jobs there either, I want to tell you. Not a lot of working jobs.
We’re rebuilding our nation, we’re rebuilding our confidence, and we’re standing in the world as a different country. We’re being respected again. Today, the entire world can see that America is coming back, and America is coming back rapidly and strongly. They see that with what’s going on economically. This is even before the tax cuts have been approved.
And I have to say that a lot of people thought the tax cuts have been approved. I heard a couple of our folks — Steve and Gary and a few others — this morning, and they’re thinking that the market hasn’t fully digested what they’ve got here. I don’t think the market has even begun to realize how good these are. Like, for instance, full expensing and other things. We have things in there that are so incredible.
One of the great things is bringing back, perhaps, $4 trillion back into our country; $4 trillion of money that we couldn’t get back because of our tax code and because of regulation. We were unable. That money now can flow back into our country and produce jobs and go into our companies where they want to spend it. They want to spend the money here. They weren’t allowed to.
Americans are filled with excitement for the future. Optimism like they haven’t seen. You’ve seen all the charts. And enthusiasm for the incredible possibilities that lie ahead for our country. At this wonderful time — it’s a blessed season and we have a blessed country — we’re renewing our bonds of loyalty to each other and to this nation. This nation is a nation with tremendous spirit again.
You see that. Housing confidence is the highest its been in many years. Just came out. Manufacturing — the highest level of confidence they’ve had since they started doing it many years ago. And business — it has the highest level of confidence. So we’re doing a lot of things.
So we’ll be meeting again — the Cabinet will be meeting again shortly. But we have done a job like no administration has done. When we get the final passage, and we are waiting for that final passage. As you know, we do have to go through one more vote in the House. And that’s being done virtually as we speak. So when that’s done, you add all of that to what we’ve done in terms of regulatory, in terms of military.
We’ve — as you know, we’re going $700 billion for our military. We’re rebuilding our military. We cannot have a weak military in this time and age. So we’re rebuilding our military.
But when you add it all up together, and then you add two things — the individual mandate is being repealed. When the individual mandate is being repealed, that means Obamacare is being repealed because they get their money from the individual mandate. So the individual mandate is being repealed.
So in this bill, not only do we have massive tax cuts and tax reform, we have essentially repealed Obamacare and we’ll come up with something that will be much better. Whether it’s block grants or whether it’s taking what we have and doing something terrific. But Obamacare has been repealed in this bill.
We didn’t want to bring it up. I told people specifically, be quiet with the fake news media because I don’t want them talking too much about it because I didn’t know how people — but now that it’s approved I can say, the individual mandate on healthcare, where you had to pay not to have insurance — okay think of that one, you paid not to have insurance — the individual mandate has been repealed.
The other one is ANWR. So a friend of mine who was in the oil business said, “I can’t believe it, ANWR, they’ve been trying to get it for 40 years.” Forty years, and I didn’t know that. We have ANWR. We’re going to start drilling in ANWR — one of the largest oil reserves in the world — that for 40 years this country was unable to touch. That by itself would be a massive bill. It will be one of our biggest — one of our biggest oil reserves. It’s one of the biggest in the world. Puts us at a level that we’re not even at now, and we’re doing very well in terms of, as you know, energy. But ANWR by itself would be a big bill.
But that’s when it hit me, when he said, “you know, they’ve been trying to get that,” — the Bushes, everybody all the way back to Reagan. Reagan tried to get it. Bush tried to get it. Everybody tried to get it. They couldn’t get it passed. That just happens to be here. And we did that at the request of the two great senators from the state of Alaska, which is a very special place. But I will tell you, ANWR is a big, big deal. It’s not ever mentioned by the press, and that was fine until now. Now you can mention it. (Laughter.) So we’re going to have tremendous energy coming out of that part of the world. And people have wanted to do it for 40 years.
So with that, I’m going to ask, Ben Carson — you can stay if you want to because you need the prayer more than I do, I think. (Laughter.) You may be the only ones. Maybe a good solid prayer and they’ll be honest, Ben. Is that possible? So, Ben, we’ll ask you to say grace. Thank you.
SECRETARY CARSON: Our kind Father in Heaven, we’re so thankful for the opportunities and the freedom that you’ve granted us in this country. We thank you for a President and for Cabinet members who are courageous, who are willing to face the winds of controversy in order to provide a better future for those who come behind us.
We’re thankful for the unity in Congress that has presented an opportunity for our economy to expand so that we can fight the corrosive debt that has been destroying our future. And we hope that that unity will spread even beyond party lines so that people recognize that we have a nation that is worth saving, and recognize that nations divided against themselves cannot stand.
In this time of discord, distrust, and dishonesty, we ask that you would give us a spirit of gratitude, compassion, and commonsense. And give us the wisdom to be able to guide this great nation in the future. We ask in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Ben. Beautiful. Thank you very much.
Mike, would you like to say a few words?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I appreciate it Mr. President. As I told you last night, shortly after the Senate vote — I know I speak on behalf of the entire Cabinet and of millions of Americans when I say, congratulations and thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you for seeing, through the course of this year, an agenda that truly is restoring this country. You described it very well, Mr. President. From the outset of this administration, we’ve been rebuilding our military, putting the safety and security of the American people first.
You’ve restored American credibility on the world stage. We’re standing with our allies. We’re standing up to our enemies.
But you promised economic renewal at home. You said we could make this economy great again, and you promised to roll back regulations, and you’ve signed more bills rolling back federal red tape than any President in American history. You’ve unleashed American energy. You’ve spurred an optimism in this country that’s setting records.
But you promised the American people in that campaign a year ago that you would deliver historic tax cuts, and it would be a middle-class miracle. And in just a short period of time, that promise will be fulfilled.
And I just — Im deeply humbled, as your Vice President, to be able to be here. Because of your leadership, Mr. President, and because of the strong support of the leadership in the Congress of the United States, you’re delivering on that middle-class miracle.
You’ve actually got the Congress to do, as you said, what they couldnt do with ANWR for 40 years. You got the Congress to do, with tax cuts for working families and American businesses, what they havent been able to do for 31 years. And you got Congress to do what they couldnt do for seven years, in repealing the individual mandate in Obamacare.
I know you would have me also acknowledge the people around this table, Mr. President. I want to thank the leaders in Congress once again for their partnership in this. I want to thank your outstanding team, your Secretary of the Treasury, Steven Mnuchin, for Gary Cohn, for Ivanka Trump, for your great legislative team — all the members of this Cabinet who partnered to drive your vision forward over the past six months after you laid out that vision for tax reform.
But mostly, Mr. President, Ill end where I began and just tell you, I want to thank you, Mr. President. I want to thank you for speaking on behalf of and fighting every day for the forgotten men and women of America. Because of your determination, because of your leadership, the forgotten men and women of America are forgotten no more. And we are making America great again.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Mike. That’s very nice. I appreciate that.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Mr. President, and God bless you.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Well, I also want to thank all of the members of the Cabinet, and I think we have a fantastic team. And next year, we’re going to go onto really some amazing things. We’re going to — we’re making ourselves very strong again? Right, General?
SECRETARY MATTIS: We are, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: Strong. He was not so happy that first week when I met him. He was saying, its really depleted. Well, we’re building it up rapidly, and well be at a level like never before.
But the members of the Cabinet, you’ve been outstanding. I like the message that Nikki sent yesterday at the United Nations for all of these nations that take our money and then they vote against us at the Security Council, or they vote against us potentially at the assembly. They take hundreds of millions of dollars and even billions of dollars, and then they vote against us. Well, we’re watching those votes. Let them vote against us, well save a lot. We don’t care.
But this isnt like it used to be where they could vote against you, and then you pay them hundreds of millions of dollars and nobody knows what they’re doing. So, Nikki, that was the right message that you and I agreed to be sent yesterday.
And Ive had a lot of good comment on it, believe me. People are tired of the United States — the people that live here, our great citizens that love this country — they’re tired of this country being taken advantage of, and we’re not going to be taken advantage of any longer.
Thank you very much. Thank you all very much. Thank you, appreciate it. Thank you very much, everybody. Thank you.