Earlier today President Trump held the first cabinet meeting of 2018. [The cabinet met four times in December.]
[Transcript] 12:00 P.M. EST – THE PRESIDENT: Welcome back to the studio. Nice to have you. (Laughter.) Good morning, and welcome to our first Cabinet meeting of the New Year. 2017 was a year of tremendous achievement — monumental achievement, actually. I don’t think any administration has ever done — has done what we’ve done and what we’ve accomplished in its first year, which isn’t quite finished yet. You never know what’s going to happen over the next few days. And the achievements for our country, our people, and for our standing in the world have been very monumental.
We confirmed an incredible new Supreme Court justice and more circuit court judges in our first year than any administration in the history of our country, and we have many more coming.
We’ve set a new record on reducing regulation and all forms of stopping growth and stopping jobs that were crippling America’s economy. Again, the records that we’ve set — 22 to 1 — nobody has ever come close. And the amount of regulations that we’ve cut is a record also in our country’s history, as reported by many newspapers, in particular The Wall Street Journal did a big story on it.
And before Christmas, we passed the largest tax cut and reform in American history, including ANWR and including the fact that the individual mandate was terminated, which was a tremendously important thing and a very popular thing, I must tell you. People are supposed to pay for the privilege of not having healthcare; that was not good. Unfortunately, the courts didn’t cut it, but we cut it.
So, in addition to the largest tax cut and reform in history, we have one of the great oil sites that’s now been approved. They’ve been trying to approve ANWR — I don’t know if people know this — for over 40 years. Ronald Reagan tried to get it approved for exploration and for drilling. And for 40 years, they’ve been trying to get it approved. That was in the bill — an individual mandate in the bill.
Since that tax cut was enacted, more than 1 million workers have already received a tax cut bonus — something that, frankly, nobody even thought about. We didn’t think about it. Nobody thought about it. We just knew a lot of good things were going to happen.
And I must say, AT&T was the first one and they did it — $1,000 per employee; they have hundreds of thousands of employees. And many companies followed immediately thereafter, and now they’re following — I guess, the employees are saying, “What about us?” And millions of employees in this country are getting a thousand dollars and more, in some cases, tax bonuses because of the tax cuts.
Hardworking American families will receive tremendous tax relief. We lowered our tax rates, nearly doubled the standard deduction, and doubled the child tax credit, which Ivanka Trump was pushing very, very hard, I will tell you that, and so was Marco Rubio.
And I will tell you that the Republican Senate — we had no Democrat support. Zero. They didn’t want tax cuts. They want tax increases. They want to raise your taxes; they don’t want to cut your taxes. But the child tax credit has become very important to the American family, and they’re very happy about it.
Our historic reductions to the business tax will raise annual household income by an average of $4,000. That’s a tremendous number. The amount of money that’s going to be brought in — we think it’s going to be close to $4 trillion because of our tax reform — will be a number that this country has never seen pour into our country. And that’s going to create more jobs and more investment.
The stock market is shattering one record after another. Unemployment is at a 17-year low. And I’m very proud of this: African American unemployment reached its lowest level in history. Think of that. And on the campaign trail, remember I said, and would constantly say, “What do you have to lose?” Meaning, what do you have to lose if you vote for Trump? And now, it was just reported, African American unemployment is at its lowest level in history. I’m very proud of that.
We’re also making America safe again. Yesterday, we had a bipartisan meeting with House members and senators on immigration reform — something they’ve been talking about for many, many years. But we brought them together in this room, and it was a tremendous meeting. Actually, it was reported as incredibly good. And my performance — you know, some of them called it a performance — I consider it work.
But it got great reviews by everybody other than two networks, who were phenomenal for about two hours. Then, after that, they were called by their bosses for saying, “Oh, wait a minute.” And, unfortunately, a lot of those anchors sent us letters saying that was one of the greatest meetings they’ve ever witnessed. And they were great. For about two hours, they were phenomenal. And then they went a little bit south on us, but not that bad. It was fine.
They probably wish they didn’t send us those letters of congratulations. But it was good. I’m sure their ratings were fantastic; they always are — which is why I think the media will ultimately support Trump in the end, because they’re going to say, if Trump doesn’t win in three years, they’re all out of business. (Laughter.) You guys will be out of business. But the boom holders are still going to be there, so that’s good. (Laughter.) Those are the people I like.
We agreed to pursue four major areas yesterday of reform: securing our border, including, of course, the wall — which has always been included, it never changed; ending chain migration; canceling the visa lottery; and addressing the status of the DACA population. We want to see something happen with DACA. It’s been spoken of for years. And children are now adults, in many cases. The numbers are very different, very varying. A lot of people say 800,000; some people said — yesterday, first time I heard 650 [thousand]. I also heard 3 million. The fact is, our country was such a mess, nobody even knows what the numbers are. But we’ll know what the numbers are.
But above all else, any bill we passed must improve jobs, wages, and security for American citizens. The people who elected us, all of us — the people that elected us, we have to take care of them. We have to have a strong military. We can’t play games with our military. Whether we’re Democrat or whether we’re Republican, we have to have a strong — that’s not a point of negotiation. We can’t say, oh, we’re going to give you money for your military but you have to give us money for something that, frankly, is much less important than security.
And we have to keep our country strong. And our military was badly depleted over the last long period of time, beyond President Obama, I will say — beyond President Obama. Our military was very, very badly depleted.
I just spoke to President Moon. He’s very thankful for what we’ve done. They’re having talks with North Korea. We’ll see how that happens. He felt that the original — that the initial talk was extremely good. Had a lot of good comment. Rex was on the phone, and Nikki has been totally briefed.
But we had a very, very good conversation, and we’ll see where it goes. He’s very thankful for what we’ve done. It was so reported today that we were the ones — without our attitude, that would have never happened. Who knows where it leads. Hopefully, it will lead to success for the world — not just for our country, but for the world. And we’ll be seeing over the next number of weeks and months what happens.
On a separate front, we are going to take a strong look at our country’s libel laws so that when somebody says something that is false and defamatory about someone, that person will have meaningful recourse in our courts. If somebody says something that’s totally false and knowingly false, that the person that has been abused, defamed, libeled will have meaningful recourse.
Our current libel laws are a sham and a disgrace, and do not represent American values or American fairness. So we’re going to take a strong look at that. We want fairness. You can’t say things that are false — knowingly false — and be able to smile as money pours into your bank account. We’re going to take a very, very strong look at that. And I think what the American people want to see is fairness.
Finally, as we begin the new year, I want to thank my Cabinet for working tirelessly on behalf of our country. Every single day, every hour, I’m on the phone with almost all of them all the time. And we have a lot of exciting things to go.
I’m just looking at Alex Acosta. What a job you’ve done with our healthcare. He’s Secretary of Labor, but he’s very much involved in healthcare, and I think those rules and regulations will be out around February 1st, Alex, as I understand it. And this is healthcare through association and associations. And I think that millions and millions and millions of people will be signing up. It will be highly competitive. He has been able to totally get rid of state lines so there will be tremendous competition. And that will be a phase of healthcare that people don’t talk about.
But I think, ultimately, you’ll have more people than you actually had even in Obamacare, and it’s just a segment of what we’re doing. So I just want to tell you, I read a lot of those papers last night, and it is really great work, brilliant work. I think it is something that people don’t talk about, but it’s something that’s going to be very exciting and very great. It will be great healthcare at a very competitive price. There will be tremendous competition, and it will cost the United States absolutely zero. So we’re very proud of that. Thank you, Alex.
And with that, I just — we’ll start our Cabinet meeting. And we appreciate your being here, and you’ve gotten very familiar with this room. I appreciate your nice comments yesterday. Thank you all very much. Thank you. Thank you very much.