President Donald J. Trump spoke today with President Mauricio Macri of Argentina. The two leaders underscored their continued commitment to expanding trade and investment between the United States and Argentina. President Trump praised President Macri’s economic reform efforts. They also discussed the ongoing crisis in Venezuela and agreed to continue to work together to help the people of Venezuela restore democracy in their country.
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
2:49 P.M. EDT
MS. SANDERS: Good Afternoon. I know it's been a few days since I've been up here. I'm sure that you have all missed me as much as I've missed you.
As many of you will recall, one of President Trump's core campaign promises was to defeat ISIS. With the stunning fall of Mosul in June, and now with ISIS nearly eradicated from Raqqa, it is clear that ISIS's so-called caliphate is crumbling across Iraq and Syria.
This eminent victory by the global coalition and our brave servicemembers comes at a high cost, particularly to the Syrian Democratic Forces who suffered many casualties as they fought to liberate their own country from the oppression of ISIS.
of caring for the urgent humanitarian needs of Raqqa's residents, ISIS utilized the money it stockpiled to finance terrorist attacks across the world, including against many Muslims.
As coalition and our partner forces closed in around them, ISIS used civilians as human shields and killed those who attempted to flee. ISIS’s barbaric acts have left many scars across the region, and we remain committed to supporting stabilization efforts and local security forces in liberated areas through a political transition in Syria.
Unfortunately, the Syrian regime and its supporters hinder the efforts to liberate Raqqa. Instead of focusing on fighting ISIS, the pro-regime forces attacked our partners and attempted to block them from liberating the Syrian people from the brutality of ISIS.
While we know ISIS and its destructive ideology will remain a threat, the liberation of Raqqa will mark the beginning of a new phase in the Syrian conflict. As we and our partners take away the ability of ISIS to plot and carry out attacks from territory they control, we will continue to seek the de-escalation of violence in other battlefields across Syria.
Looking ahead to tomorrow, we will be welcoming Governor Rosselló of Puerto Rico to the White House to talk about the ongoing recovery and rebuilding efforts. We will continue working hand-in-hand with local leaders in all areas of our country that have been impacted by several natural disasters in recent months. And as President Trump has repeatedly said, we stand with our fellow citizens; we're here to help and get them back on their feet.
And with that, I will take your questions. Quiet.
Q Sarah, the President stated earlier today that he would not allow insurance companies to pad their pockets with money from the federal government. The White House has some concerns about the Alexander-Murray bill. Can you articulate what those concerns are?
MS. SANDERS: Look, we've said all along that we want something that doesn't just bail out the insurance companies, but actually provides relief for all Americans, and this bill doesn't address that fact. So we want to make sure that that's taken care of. We think that this is the step -- a good step in the right direction. This President certainly supports Republicans and Democrats coming to work together. But it's not a full approach, and we need something to go a little bit further to get onboard.
Q Can you articulate specifically what the White House is concerned about and -- something about outreach dollars and making sure that the money doesn't go to insurance companies?
MS. SANDERS: Some of the things that the President has stated before: He wants to lower premiums, he wants to provide greater flexibility, he wants to drive competition, he likes the idea of block grants to states. Those are a lot of the ideas that he'd like to see in a healthcare plan.
Q Thanks, Sarah. Let's go to the President's tweet this morning, if we can. What proof does President Trump have when he says Congresswoman Wilson is not telling the truth? Are there recordings of his phone call with Myeshia Johnson?
MS. SANDERS: No, but there were several people in the room from the administration that were on the call, including the Chief of Staff, General John Kelly.
Q The President also said that he has called every family of someone who has died. Is that true? There are reports that --
MS. SANDERS: The President has made contact with all of the families that have been presented to him through the White House Military Office.
Q There have been families that have since come forward to the Associated Press -- the names are in these reports -- who say they've not actually heard from this White House in any capacity.
MS. SANDERS: All of the individuals that the President has been presented with through the proper protocol have been contacted through that process.
Q Sarah, just to follow up on the healthcare question. Is it correct, then, to say that President Trump does not support this deal in its current form?
MS. SANDERS: Correct. I think he stated that pretty clearly today.
Q And then just as a follow-up on another issue. He had a conversation today with Governor Reynolds of Iowa. Can you tell us a little bit about what they discussed? And then, did he make any assurances about the renewable fuel standard during that discussion?
MS. SANDERS: They didn't make any assurances on that specific issue. It was discussed, and they're going to continue to look at that process. But no definitive decision was made on RFS on today's call, but it was discussed.
Q Today, Secretary Mnuchin was talking about the tax framework, and he said it was "very hard not to give tax cuts to the wealthy" as part of a framework that cuts rates across the board. It seems like an acknowledgement of the realities -- math and sort of the independent analysis -- of the President's tax plan. But as recently as a month ago, the President said that this plan would not benefit the wealthy.
MS. SANDERS: That's not the focus of the tax plan. That focus, as we've said, time and time again -- the focus and the priority of the framework that the White House has laid out is to benefit the middle class, and that's what the priority is.
Q But you would agree with Secretary Mnuchin, then, that --
MS. SANDERS: That there may be some people that receive tax cuts that are also in the wealthy bracket? Yes. But the fact is, the priority again remains that middle-class Americans are the ones that are most impacted, and that's where the priority and the focus lies.
Q Sarah, what is the criteria that the White House Military Office uses for presenting names of families to the President after there's been casualties in combat?
MS. SANDERS: So there's a process that is a standard protocol. Once a person is killed in action, the first steps -- the process begins with a DOD Casualty Assistance Officer making next-of-kin notifications. After that, they create a package that's sent to the White House Military Office. That package is then reconfirmed. All of the details and the contents of the package have to be confirmed by the White House Military Office. Once that process is completed, the President or other members of the administration can engage in contact.
Q Just to follow up on that: So are you saying that if the President hasn’t contacted the family members of every servicemember who's been a casualty since he came to office, it's because of the protocols of that office?
MS. SANDERS: That's my understanding. If there's a specific case, I'd have to look into it. But as a whole, and generally speaking, that's my understanding.
Q And just to follow up on this week: Why did the President wait 12 days to speak publicly about the Green Berets in Niger?
MS. SANDERS: As I just said -- I walked you through that process. So the DOD package that was sent to the White House arrived on Thursday of last week. The White House Military Office confirmed the contents of that package on Monday. And the letters that had been drafted over the weekend, they were sent once that confirmation was completed, and calls were scheduled on Monday to be made on Tuesday.
Q But I wasn’t just asking about the families. I was asking about why he didn’t make public remarks.
Q So, separate from this controversy about contact, is the President satisfied he has learned everything he wants to know about the situation itself in Niger? Pentagon sources have described it as what was interpreted to be initially as a low-risk mission. The ambush was a big surprise. There was no air cover; 30 minutes for French air cover to arrive. Questions about the speed of the evacuation and having, perhaps, that something to do with whether or not these military personnel survived or not. Is the President satisfied -- he knows everything he needs to know about this particular raid, rules of engagement, and everything about it?
MS. SANDERS: I believe they're still looking into the details of that, but I don’t think that the President can ever be satisfied when there's loss of life from men and women in the uniform.
Q Is there anything he wants to know more about this that he's learned so far?
MS. SANDERS: I can't get into the specifics in terms of --
Q Because some of these issues have been raised with him by the families he's contacted.
MS. SANDERS: Right. I can't get into the specifics of the details of the raid at this point. But again, I don’t think you can ever use the word "satisfied" with the process when there's a loss of life for someone in the military.
Q Sarah, and on tax reform, because Secretary Mnuchin said yesterday --
MS. SANDERS: I'll come back. Deborah.
Q I have a Las Vegas question. Is the administration looking at having the ATF ban bump stocks? Or does the President think that Congress should do it?
MS. SANDERS: We're certainly still looking into, and having a review done, of that process. And when there's an official policy position, I'll make that announcement.
Q Thank you, Sarah. Two questions. When the Alexander-Murray bill came up at the scrum in the Rose Garden on Monday, there were questions about whether it would contain federal funding for abortions. And these concerns have been raised by several pro-life lawmakers on Capitol Hill. Will the President rule out signing any kind of measure that includes funding for abortion?
MS. SANDERS: The President stated that he would like to see a healthcare bill that does not include funding for abortion.
Q Will he rule out signing one that does?
MS. SANDERS: I believe that that is probably something that would be a priority for him. But in terms of negotiating
what that healthcare package would look like, I’m not going to do that from the podium today.
Q My second question --
MS. SANDERS: I’m going to try to take one question today to get to everybody.
Q Thank you, Sarah. A question about the NFL. Roger Goodell, the commissioner of the NFL, earlier today said that all players should stand during the playing of the national anthem. Earlier this week, there was no change in policy as it relates to the NFL mandating that all players in the NFL stand for the national anthem. Does the President believe that he’s winning this argument, or has won this argument, as it relates to what he said about whether players should stand for the playing of the national anthem?
MS. SANDERS: I think it’s certainly a step in the right direction. As we've said many times before, the President supports standing for the national anthem, saluting the flag, and honoring those men and women in uniform that fight to protect it.
Q Sarah, does the President feel as a matter of principle that it is not adequate to simply send a letter of condolence to the family of a slain serviceperson as President Bush and President Obama typically did? And does he feel that it was not adequate for President Obama to have sent a letter to General Kelly but not call General Kelly on the death of his son?
MS. SANDERS: I don't think that there’s anything that any President can do. There’s never going to be enough that a President can do for the families of those that are killed in action. The point the President was making is that there’s a different process. Sometimes they call. Sometimes they write letters. Sometimes they engage directly. The comments were certainly, I think, taken very far out of context by the media. And if there’s any frustration, I think that's where it should be focused.
Q Let me ask you about something Steve Mnuchin had said, since you guys talk about the stock market a lot and the President does, as well. He said, and I quote here: “There’s no question in my mind that if we don't get it done” -- meaning tax reform -- “that you're going to see a reversal of significant amount of these gains.” Essentially saying if tax reform doesn't happen, there could be a major correction on the corner of Wall and Broad. How concerned is the President at this point of that possibility?
MS. SANDERS: We're confident that we're going to get tax cuts done, and so that's what we're focused on. And we're going to continue pushing forward until we get there.
Q And on the healthcare bill, if you don't mind, what changed --
MS. SANDERS: I’m sorry. I’m just going to take one question today.
Q The President tweeted about the California wildfire situation. Does he have any plans at this point to visit California and to survey the damage in person? And if he doesn't, does that speak to a lack of interest in helping the state recover from the wildfires?
MS. SANDERS: Not at all. Again, the administration has been very engaged throughout this process. We're going to continue to be there. We're continuing to talk with state and local officials on the ground and work with those individuals to make sure that whatever aid is needed, that we can help provide that process.
Q Is he going to go to the state, though?
MS. SANDERS: There’s not a trip planned at this time, but it certainly hasn’t been ruled out either.
Q Thank you, Sarah. Can you please clarify the President’s position on Kurdistan, especially -- on Iraqi Kurdistan -- especially given the takeover of Kirkuk? And does the President see Kurdistan as an ally in general?
MS. SANDERS: As we've said before, that position hasn’t changed. I know I’ve talked about it a couple times. We urge all sides to avoid escalating this further. We oppose the violence from any party, and we’d like for them to be focused on helping continue in the fights against ISIS and Iran. And that's where we’d like to see their energy focused.
Q Does that mean that they're keeping the status quo?
MS. SANDERS: Sorry, I’m going to keep to one question.
Q Thanks, Sarah. It’s been more than two months since the President said that he would declare the opioid epidemic a national public emergency. On Monday, he said he’d get it done next week, but that to get to that step a lot of work had to be done, and called it time-consuming work. Can you explain why it’s taking so long, and detail some of what this time-consuming work is and what players are involved in this process?
MS. SANDERS: There’s a very in-depth legal process that goes with declaring a national emergency. We’ll make further announcements on that next week, but there have been multiple people -- it’s an interagency process. A lot of different stakeholders have been involved, and we’ll have further announcements on that next week like the President said.
Q Can you talk about that? Is there --
MS. SANDERS: Sorry, I’m going to stick to the one question.
Q Just following on the tax reform meeting today, can you just sort of talk about the strategy from the White House going forward on this? I know that Marc Short had told us before that Democrats were a must-have on this bill or on tax reform. Is that still where things are?
MS. SANDERS: I think it's pretty simple: The strategy is to get enough votes to pass tax cuts.
Q Okay, but can you just elaborate a little bit on the Democratic -- getting Democrats onboard?
MS. SANDERS: Look, we'd love to see them get onboard. We don’t why any Democrat would want to be against providing tax relief and tax cuts, specifically to middle-class America. I don't know why anybody wouldn’t want to get onboard with that.
Q Thank you, Sarah. It's been almost a month since Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico. Almost 80 percent of the island is without power, and about a million Americans -- a third of the population there -- still don't have reliable drinking water. Does the administration consider the current state of affairs in Puerto Rico acceptable? And when it comes to Puerto Rico, does the buck stop with President Trump?
MS. SANDERS: Look, we're continuing to do everything that we can to help the people of Puerto Rico. It's one of the reasons that the governor will be here at the White House tomorrow, to continue those conversations, to talk about how best the federal government can help aid state and local governments, and help in the rebuilding and recovery efforts.
Q Thank you, Sarah. On the Fed Chair search, the President once said that he considers himself to be a low-interest-rate guy. Does he still consider himself to be a low-interest-rate guy? And will that have any bearing on who he selects to run the Fed?
MS. SANDERS: As the President said yesterday, he's interviewed a number of very qualified individuals and he'll make that announcement in the coming days, and we can deliberate all of the details of that once that happens.
Q Days not weeks?
MS. SANDERS: I'm sorry?
Q Days not weeks?
MS. SANDERS: Days do add up to weeks, so -- (laughter) --
Q Are you signaling anything there, Sarah? That's all I'm trying to get at.
Q Can I clarify -- back on the phone call real quick. What exactly is the President denying? Is he denying that he ever spoke these words to the widow, "that he must have known what he signed up for"? Or is he just saying that she took it the wrong way and it was taken out of context, his words?
MS. SANDERS: The President's call, as accounted by multiple people in the room, believe that the President was completely respectful, very sympathetic, and expressed the condolences of himself and the rest of the country, and thanked the family for their service, commended them for having an American hero in their family. And I don't know how you could take that any other way.
Q So it was context. It wasn't that he didn't say those words. It was that the context -- he felt that she put it in the wrong context. Is that it?
MS. SANDERS: I'm not going to get into the back-and-forth. I think that the sentiment of the President was very clear. He took the time to make a call to express his condolences to thank the family for this individual's service. And I think it, frankly, is a disgrace of the media to try to portray an act of kindness like that and that gesture, and to try to make it into something that it isn't.
Q Sarah, did the President speak to his Chief of Staff, General John Kelly, before invoking his son's death in what has become a political argument?
MS. SANDERS: I know he's spoken to General Kelly multiple times yesterday and today.
Q On this very topic? In other words, did General Kelly know he would be raising the issue of his son's memory when talking about the outreach?
MS. SANDERS: I'm not sure if he knew of that specific comment, but they had certainly spoken about it, and he's aware. And they've spoken several times since then.
Q So can you describe how General Kelly feels about it? Is he comfortable with the way his son's memory has been --
MS. SANDERS: I think that General Kelly is disgusted by the way that this has been politicized and that the focus has become on the process and not the fact that American lives were lost. I think he's disgusted and frustrated by that. If he has any anger, it's towards that.
The House, a few weeks back, passed the ban on (inaudible) abortions. (Inaudible) has said that the President would sign this legislation. Is the White House putting pressure on the Senate to pass the Lindsey Graham bill that would ban the 20-week --
MS. SANDERS: I'm sorry, what was the last part of the question?
Q Is the White House putting pressure on the Senate to pass the Lindsey Graham 20-week ban?
MS. SANDERS: I know that there have been conversations about that, and the administration supports that policy. But beyond that, I don't know if there have been further conversations or pressure applied, but certainly support that effort.
Q Sarah, Congresswoman Wilson -- I talked to her a couple of hours ago, and she says that this is the President's Benghazi. She says that Jackson was -- and his Green Berets were -- in Niger trying to find out information and doing a mission about Boko Haram. And she said that his transmitter was still emitting for two days -- emitting a signal when he was located. And she says that makes no sense why he wasn't located.
What say you about that? And also, what do you say about her comment that he did not know, and the wife, the widow, said that the President did not know his name? He kept saying, "Your guy, your guy."
MS. SANDERS: Just because the President said "your guy," I don't think that means that he doesn't know his name. As the President stated, the hardest job he has is making calls like that. I think it is appalling what the congresswoman has done and the way that she's politicized this issue, and the way that she is trying to make this about something that it isn't.
This was a President who loves our country very much, who has the greatest level of respect for men and women in the uniform, and wanted to call and offer condolences to the family. And I think to try to create something from that that the congresswoman is doing is, frankly, appalling and disgusting.
Q What do you say about what she said about Boko Haram in Niger? What do you say about what she said about the mission and then comparing it to Benghazi?
MS. SANDERS: As I said to Major before, I'm not going to get into the details of that action at this point.
Q Was she right? Was she right?
MS. SANDERS: As I said before, I'm not going to get into the details of that action at this time. And when we have further information, I'll be happy to discuss it with you.
Q Thank you. I just want to -- setting aside the congresswoman, setting aside the discussion about the politicization of this, the woman who raised Sergeant Johnson spoke to the Washington Post and said she felt like her son had been disrespected. And again, I'm not asking you about what Congresswoman Wilson had to say. I'm not asking you about any of that.
But given that somebody who -- as you rightly note, making these phone calls is probably one of the hardest things a Commander-in-Chief has to do. Given that, is the President at all reconsidering the way that he communicates with these families? Has General Kelly counseled him on, perhaps, how he might want to choose or change his words in the future?
MS. SANDERS: General Kelly was present for the call and thought it was completely appropriate. He thought the call was respectful, and he thought that the President did the best job he could under those circumstances to offer condolences on behalf of the country.
Q Thank you, Sarah. On NAFTA, Canadian and the Mexican negotiators have rejected the U.S. proposals -- proposals that were described as unconventional and troubling. Is NAFTA dead?
MS. SANDERS: Not yet. But as the President said, it's a bad deal and he wants to make sure that we have a deal that benefits American workers. That's what this administration is focused on. We're going to continue to push forward, and if we can't get there then we'll let you know what the changes are.
Q Thank you, Sarah. In a tweet this morning, President Trump said that former FBI Director James Comey had lied, leaked, and totally protected Hillary Clinton. He also asked, "Where is the Justice Department on this?" What exactly does the President want the Justice Department to do? Is he calling for a prosecution of James Comey? What's he asking for here?
MS. SANDERS: Look, the White House hasn't and won't offer a legal opinion on Comey's conduct. But, in fact, to the contrary, the White House has actually deferred, as it should, any and all legal questions regarding Director Comey to the Department of Justice. That's the appropriate venue for those things to be dealt with.
Q So what's he asking the Department of Justice to do, though, in his tweet this morning? That's what I'm asking.
MS. SANDERS: We refer any legal action to the Department of Justice. Anything on that front would be handled by them.
Q Sarah, normally when the President is upset about something, we hear from him pretty quickly about it, whether it's an issue with a senator, whether it's an issue with the NFL. So why did it take nearly two weeks for him to say something about this ISIS ambush -- not to reach out to the families, necessarily, but even to offer public condolences or to explain to the American public what happened and how the deadliest combat mission involving American troops went so wrong?
MS. SANDERS: As I said before, there is a protocol for that. But there's also -- we did make public remarks from the administration. I know I did, in short order after that happened, from the podium, at the direction of the President. And I speak on his behalf. And I did that on behalf of the President and the administration.
Q Sarah, you've brought up politicizing a couple of times, in relation to Congresswoman Wilson. But did the President politicize General Kelly's son's death by bringing it up as a defense for his claims about what past Presidents did or did not do with fallen soldiers?
MS. SANDERS: He was responding to a question and stating a fact.
Q Just to clarify your earlier answer, you're not denying that in some point in the conversation the President used the words, "it's what he signed up for"?
MS. SANDERS: I spoke specifically to the sentiment that was offered by the President. I didn't get into the details of a personal call because I don't find that to be that appropriate.
Q Thank you, Sarah. You opened up at the top discussing the liberation of Raqqa. So my question for you is: How does the President envision future U.S. involvement in both Syria and Iraq, post-ISIS?
MS. SANDERS: We want to continue to work with our coalition forces to completely destroy and defeat ISIS. Right now, that's the priority and that's the focus, and that's what we're going to continue to be focused on at this time.
Thank you, guys, so much for today. And we'll see you tomorrow.
3:13 P.M. EDT
On Wednesday October 18, 2017, the President signed into law:
S. 178, the “Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act,” which establishes certain requirements for the Department of Justice with respect to investigating and prosecuting elder abuse crimes; and amends Federal criminal law to expand telemarketing fraud to include “email marketing” fraud;
S. 652, the "Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Act of 2017," which reauthorizes and modifies two Department of Health and Human Services programs for early detection, diagnosis, and treatment regarding deaf and hard-of-hearing newborns, infants, and young children; and
H.R. 1117, which requires the Federal Emergency Management Agency to submit a report to the Congress on plans to improve the administration of disaster assistance during the response to an emergency or disaster.
Washington, DC--Today, Second Lady Karen Pence announced the goals she wants to accomplish through her art therapy initiative, on the campus of Florida State University (FSU) in Tallahassee, home to a nationally acclaimed art therapy graduate education program. Mrs. Pence has named her initiative, Art Therapy: Healing with the HeART.
Ann Scott, First Lady of Florida, joined Mrs. Pence for the announcement along with John Thrasher, FSU President; Dr. Donna Betts, President of the American Art Therapy Association; Dr. Sara M. Kass, Retired Navy Captain, and Senior Military and Medical Advisor to Creative Forces: The NEA/Military Healing Arts Network; and Dr. Dave Gussak, Chair of FSU’s Department of Art Education, which houses FSU’s Art Therapy program.
In early May, Mrs. Pence held a brainstorming session at the White House with a group of people with diverse backgrounds and experiences with art therapy, including art therapy practitioners, art therapy clients, academics, and medical experts. The brainstorming session served an important purpose in the development of the Second Lady’s initiative as she gained invaluable insight, ideas, and encouragement from the group to move forward with shining the light on art therapy.
“I chose one initiative to champion, and it is art therapy, which is near and dear to my heart,” said Mrs. Pence. “It is evident when I visit art therapy programs across the United States and world, that art therapy is making a positive difference. From children with cancer, to struggling teens, to grieving families, to people with autism, to military service members experiencing Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, to those with eating disorders, art therapy is changing lives. Unfortunately, art therapy is not well-known, but I hope to change that.”
“Art therapy is a regulated mental health profession that enables people to express themselves through the creative process, especially when words fail them,” said Donna Betts, President of the American Art Therapy Association. “As the Second Lady’s initiative shines a spotlight on art therapy, the American Art Therapy Association serves as the nation’s leading resource for expanding access to art therapy services. It is my personal conviction that Second Lady Mrs. Karen Pence’s initiative is a gift to all Americans and will enrich the profession so that more people can be helped, and more lives can be improved by the power of art therapy.”
The Second Lady wants to achieve three goals with her initiative. They are the following:
1. To elevate the profession so that people understand that art therapy is a mental health profession, and not arts and crafts;
2. To help people understand that art therapy is an option for various conditions, illnesses, and life experiences; and
3. To encourage young people to go into the profession.
As part of Mrs. Pence’s initiative, Art Therapy: Healing with the HeART, she will do the following:
• Continue to speak publically about the benefits of art therapy
• Meet with art therapists
• Visit art therapy programs throughout the United States and world to acknowledge the good work taking place
• Highlight art therapy academic programs
• Meet with current art therapy students
• Meet with art therapy clients
• Share stories of art therapists and clients
• Advocate for the pursuit of more research showing the scientific and medical benefits of art therapy treatment
• Support, in a variety of ways, programs that benefit art therapists, art therapy programs, and art therapy clients
Following today’s announcement, Mrs. Pence toured Florida State University’s art therapy program. There are currently 30 students pursuing a Master’s of Science degree in Art Therapy and four students pursuing the PhD degree in Art Education with a focus in Art Therapy. The university says its innovative art therapy program integrates diverse theories and research-informed practices to foster culturally sensitive graduates who understand and apply the power of the visual arts and therapeutic relationships to promote personal and community wellness.
“We are honored to help Mrs. Pence launch her efforts raising awareness of the power and value of art therapy,” said Sally McRorie, Florida State University Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs. “Florida State is proud to be a national leader in art therapy research and in the educational and clinical preparation of highly qualified art therapists."
After departing Florida State University, Mrs. Pence visited Canopy Cove Eating Disorder Treatment Center in Tallahassee where they provide art therapy for people with eating disorders. Mrs. Pence met with the center’s art therapist and several clients who shared artwork and discussed how art therapy has positively affected their treatment.
To stay updated on the Second Lady’s art therapy program visits and stories shared about the life changing treatment, follow the Second Lady’s Blog Page. To stay updated on her events, follow her on Twitter at, @SecondLady.
For more information about the art therapy profession, visit https://arttherapy.org/
About Art Therapy
Second Lady Karen Pence chose one initiative to champion, and it is art therapy. According to the American Art Therapy Association, art therapy is an integrative mental health and human services profession that enriches the lives of individuals, families, and communities through active art-making, creative process, applied psychological theory, and human experience within a psychotherapeutic relationship. Professional art therapists who are experts in human development, psychological, and counseling theories and techniques facilitate Art therapy.
About Florida State University
One of the nation’s elite research universities, Florida State University excels in the sciences, technology, arts, humanities, and professions, while embracing a philosophy of learning strongly rooted in the traditions of the liberal arts, entrepreneurism and critical thinking. Located in Tallahassee, Florida’s capital city, FSU is a public, fully accredited, coeducational institution with an enrollment of about 42,000 students. Classified as a Carnegie Research 1 university, Florida State is designated as one of two preeminent universities in Florida and has climbed 10 spots in two years to No. 33 in the U.S. News & World Report rankings of national public universities.
President Donald J. Trump had a productive meeting at the White House today with the bipartisan group of Senators from the Senate Finance Committee. The group discussed the historic nature of tax cuts and reform, and stressed the urgent need to deliver tax relief for the middle class by cutting taxes and simplifying the burdensome tax code. The Administration looks forward to continued opportunities to reach across the aisle in an effort to provide tangible quality of life improvements for the American people
11:34 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. I'm honored to welcome Republican and Democratic members of the Senate Finance Committee to the White House. And especially, I'd like to thank Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch -- thank you, Orrin -- and Ranking Member Ron Wyden for joining us today. Thank you very much. Thank you, Ron.
We're here to discuss our plan to deliver historic tax cuts for American families, businesses, workers. It will be the largest tax cut in the history of our country.
Here's some of the highlights from our framework. We are doubling the amount of income that is taxed at the zero bracket. In other words, the zero bracket -- many people will be able to take advantage of that bracket that are not in that bracket.
We're increasing the child tax credit. We will end the estate tax, sometimes referred to as the death tax.
We will cut the business tax rate from the highest in the developed world at 35 percent to no more than 20 percent. According to the Council of Economic Advisers, reducing the corporate tax rate from 35 to 20 percent would increase average household income by $4,000 a year. So each household, on average, would take in $4,000, and they'll go out and they'll spend that money and that will be great for the economy.
We're cutting taxes on small businesses to the lowest rate in more than 80 years. For 30 million Americans who own small businesses, it will be a 40 percent tax cut, and they will thrive and they will expand, and they will be happy.
For at least the next five years, businesses and manufacturers will be able to expense the full value of new equipment in the year in which they buy it -- something which nobody even thought in terms of, and something which will have, I think, one of the biggest impacts on our economy.
We will impose a one-time low tax on trillions of dollars of wealth parked overseas to encourage companies to bring back those profits and bring them back home, and spend the money at home where it belongs. Right now, they can't bring the money back in because of bureaucratic problems, because of certain legislation, and most importantly because the tax rate is so high that only a very foolish company head would bring the money back in. I think the numbers could even hit the $4 trillion mark. People have been saying $2.5 trillion for many years, but we know it’s now much higher than that.
The vast majority of Americans will be able to file their taxes on a single sheet of paper, because not only will these be massive tax cuts, but these will be a big simplification. It’s going to be a very big simplification. So it’s really tax cuts and reform, but I focus on tax cuts because it’s such an important weapon to get our country really moving.
So we’ll go from being one of the highest-taxed nations in the world to the one of the lowest taxed, meaning more jobs, higher wages, and more products stamped with the words: Made in the USA.
This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, in my opinion. This is something that will be really unique. The timing is right. I have had people on both sides -- and I promised not to mention the name of the people on the other sides, or names -- but a lot of people are liking this very much, and I think we're going to have tremendous support.
We're going to restore America’s competitive edge, rebuild America’s middle class -- very much aimed at the middle class -- and renew the promise of the American Dream.
We're going to have companies pouring back into our country instead of leaving our country. And we're not going to have them leave and fire everybody, and make products and sell them back into our country totally untaxed. All we do is end up with lots of people without jobs and no product. It’s not going to happen anymore.
So I just want to thank everybody for being here. It’s a great honor. We're going to have a great discussion today, and I’m sure we’ll have unanimous support. (Laughter.) I have no doubt, right? Right, Ron? I think, right.
So thank you very much, everybody. Appreciate it.
Q Mr. President, what did you say to Sergeant Johnson’s widow on the phone yesterday?
THE PRESIDENT: I didn't say what that congresswoman said; didn't say it all. She knows it. And she now is not saying it. I did not say what she said, and I’d like her to make the statement again because I did not say what she said. I had a very nice conversation with the woman, with the wife who was -- sounded like a lovely woman. Did not say what the congresswoman said, and most people aren’t too surprised to hear that.
Q What was the (inaudible), Mr. President?
THE PRESIDENT: Let her make her statement again and then you’ll find out.
Q She is saying that you said this -- the congresswoman.
THE PRESIDENT: Let her make her statement again and then you’ll find out.
Q Mr. President, on healthcare, where do you stand on the bipartisan healthcare bill?
THE PRESIDENT: We’ll see the bipartisan. We're going to see the bipartisan. And Lamar Alexander is working on it very hard from our side. And if something can happen, that's fine. But I won’t do anything to enrich the insurance companies because right now the insurance companies are being enriched. They've been enriched by Obamacare like nothing anybody has ever seen before. I am not going to do anything to enrich the insurance companies.
Okay, thank you very much, everybody. Thank you very much.
11:40 A.M. EDT
Vice President Mike Pence spoke with Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi by phone today. The Vice President thanked Abbasi for his government's assistance in recovering U.S. and Canadian hostages that were being held captive by the Haqqani Taliban Network in the tribal areas of Pakistan. Vice President Pence noted this effort as an important development in Pakistan's support to the U.S. strategy against terrorism in the region, but highlighted that cooperation against militant groups must be continued and sustained. Just as he did during the meeting the two had in New York last month, the Vice President again discussed ways that Pakistan could work with the United States and others to bolster stability and security for all in South Asia.
Vice President Mike Pence hosted Prime Minister of Greece Alexis Tsipras for a meeting at the White House today. The leaders highlighted the strong and enduring ties between the United States and Greece. The Vice President congratulated Prime Minister Tsipras on Greece's return to economic growth and financial markets, encouraged further reforms to spur investment, and reiterated U.S. support for credible debt relief. The leaders expressed their desire to deepen cooperation in the economic and security spheres, including the visit of a high-level delegation to the 2018 Thessaloniki International Fair, where the United States will be the honored country. The Vice President expressed appreciation for Greece's role as a pillar of stability in the region, and the leaders reaffirmed their support for the Euro-Atlantic integration of Turkey and the countries of the Western Balkans. The Vice President underscored continued U.S. support for a comprehensive settlement to reunify Cyprus as a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation and welcomed Greece's increasing cooperation with Israel, Cyprus, and Egypt in the eastern Mediterranean.
“Lower taxes on American business means higher wages for American workers, and it means more products made right here in the USA.” – President Donald J. Trump
PAY RAISE FOR AMERICANS: The tax relief and tax cuts supported by President Donald J. Trump will boost wages for hardworking Americans.
• The average American household income could increase between $4,000 and $9,000 a year in wages and salary alone by cutting the Federal corporate income tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent, according to an analysis by the Council of Economic Advisors (CEA).
o Developed countries with the low corporate tax rates have seen significantly higher wage growth compared with developed countries with higher rates.
o Reducing corporate tax rates will raise wages for workers of all skill levels.
• Wages and corporate profits used to grow at nearly the same rate, but that is no longer the case. In the last eight years, wage growth has stagnated while corporate profits increased by an average of 11 percent per year, according to an analysis by the CEA.
o Wage growth has failed to keep pace with corporate profits as corporate tax rates in the United States have become uncompetitive.
o More than 70 percent of the corporate tax burden falls on Americans workers, according to an analysis from the Congressional Budget Office.
INVESTING IN AMERICAN JOBS: The Unified Framework for Fixing Our Broken Tax Code supported by President Trump will end the “offshoring model” as companies will bring profits back and invest in American workers.
• In 2016, a Federal corporate tax rate of 20 percent could have brought more than $140 billion in corporate profits back to America, according to an analysis by the CEA.
o Those profits could have helped boost the incomes of U.S. households.
• Our current uncompetitive corporate tax rate encourages U.S. firms to keep profits offshore.
o The United States has the highest corporate income tax rate among the 35 industrialized Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, according to the OECD.
o The U.S. corporate tax rate has been higher than the OECD average for almost 20 years.
• Last year, more than 70 percent of foreign profits earned by U.S. firms were kept offshore, up from 42 percent in 1984, according to an analysis by the CEA.
o Companies hold an estimated $2.8 trillion in earnings offshore, according to Audit Analytics.
• Cutting corporate tax rates will encourage firms to invest back in the United States, creating well-paying jobs for hardworking Americans.
o After President Bush’s 2003 tax cuts, the economy created 7.8 million jobs over five years, based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
o After President Reagan’s 1981 tax cuts, the economy created 14.8 million jobs over five years based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
o After President Kennedy’s tax cuts, the economy created 12.0 million new jobs over five years based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
TAX CUTS AND TAX RELIEF: The Unified Framework supported by President Trump will mean hardworking Americans can keep more of their money.
• Double the standard deduction so that more income is taxed at zero percent.
o The first $12,000 of income for individuals and $24,000 for married couples will be income tax-free.
• Lower individual income tax rates to: 12 percent, 25 percent, and 35 percent.
• Increase the Child Tax Credit and expand it to benefit more middle-income families and eliminate the marriage penalty.
• Create a new $500 tax credit for those caring for an adult dependent or elderly loved one.
Performance Advantage Company
Lancaster, New York
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you, Congressman Collins. Thank you, so much for bringing together a group of great citizens, of great job creators here in Erie County. And I want to express my appreciation to you for your strong support of President Trump’s agenda. And we're here to talk about tax cuts. (Applause.) That all right?
I’m especially honored and grateful that the team here at Performance Advantage Company has opened the doors of this great American success story. I want to thank Dick Young, in particular, and Jim Everett and the whole team for hosting us. The Young family has been in business I’m told for 80 years. But he told me he started this company when he was a little bit more than 60 years old. And it’s been an incredible success story. So thank you me in thanking Dick Young and Jim Everett and everybody here. (Applause.)
I’d also like to take a moment because I know this is a business that has valued customers both in our military but most especially the foundation of this business is the support that you provide for our first responders. And I see many that are in the room. And let me just say on behalf of our President, on behalf of the American people to all the first responders who are here with us today, you are the best of us. We are grateful for your service and your courage every day. (Applause.)
And let me also say just momentarily our hearts are particularly today with the family of Buffalo Police Diver Craig Lehner, who is missing in the Niagra River. We mourn with those who mourn and grieve with those who grieve. And I just want to assure all the members of this community and this region that this courageous officer, a nine-year veteran of the Buffalo Police Department and his family will remain in our prayers. The debt that we owe to men and women who put on the uniform every morning and walk out of their homes, leave their families behind to protect ours, we can never fully repay. But I want to assure all of you that this brave officer and his family are in our prayers today.
Now, I bring greetings today to the leaders of this great business, all the great first responders, all the citizens who are here from a great, great friend of Erie County, the 45th President of the United States of America, President Donald Trump. (Applause.)
The President asked me to be here today with Congressman Collins to talk about his plan to cut taxes across the board for working families, small businesses, and family farms. And I’m anxious to do some listening today. The President has had me traveling around the country, and we've been in states from here all the way to the West Coast hearing from American families, American businesses about the importance of tax relief.
And as I begin, let me just say there are a couple basic elements of the tax cut that the President is proposing and that we're going to be working with your congressman to get advanced in the Congress of the United States.
First and foremost, we're going to cut taxes across the board for working families. We're going to lower tax rates from seven brackets down to three. We're going to increase the standard exemption by doubling it to some $24,000 so that for the average working family, your first $24,000 in income will be tax-free. And we’ll increase the per-child tax credit. So as the President says, this is a middle-class miracle.
This tax cut is first and foremost designed to help American families struggling too often to make ends meet to have more dollars in their pockets.
The President pointed out our tax-cut plan will give the average American family an extra $4,000 a year at least after we sign it into law.
Secondly, the President and I believe that the tax code is too complicated. Maybe some of you agree. (Laughter.) Truth is that the American people spend millions of hours and billions of dollars filling out our taxes every year. And I’m anxious to hear if people around this table have that feeling, as well.
Under the President’s plan, 90 percent of the American people will be able to file their taxes on one piece of paper without professional help. That's a good start.
So tax simplification, lowering taxes across the board are all elements of the plan.
But lastly, sitting here at this great American success story, Performance Advantage Company, this businessman-turned-President believes that it’s also high time that America lowered taxes on American businesses so that companies here in New York can compete with companies around the world and create jobs right here in Lancaster and in Erie County. (Applause.)
The President’s plan is to lower corporate taxes from 35 percent, which is one of the highest in the industrialized world, down to 20 percent, which will be below the international average in Western countries. And we're also -- Dick and Jim, we're going to lower taxes on small businesses that file their taxes as individuals, as maybe some around this table do, as well. Lowering it from the highest rate -- too often small-business owners that file their taxes as individuals pay the highest rate of 39.6 percent. We're going to lower that tax rate to 25 percent for pass-through companies. That will be the lowest tax rate on small businesses since 1931.
So that's a rough outline of where we're headed -- tax cuts for individuals and families, tax cuts for small businesses, and tax simplification for every American.
But that's the rough outline. I thought I’d give a thumbnail. I’m going to turn it over to Jim for his comments, and then I’m just anxious to hear your thoughts. My main question here, Jim, is to each one of you. Tell us your thoughts about President Trump’s tax-cut plan. Tell us what you think is most important because at the end of the day, it really is about helping American families and creating jobs. And I’m here to hear from each and every one of you as the debate begins in Congress in the coming weeks about what’s most important about this plan and how we can advance the kind of policies that will get this county, get this state, and get America growing again.
So thank you, Jim, and thank you for the warm welcome today.
MR. EVERETT: Thank you. Mr. Vice President and Representative Collins, thanks so much for coming here to PAC and for listening to this panel of small-business owners and community leaders. We are all excited to tell you our stories and why we think our country needs tax reform now. (Laughter.)
I think the first person we're going to hear from is Mr. Young here. He’s been doing it longer than any of us in the room so far. So, Dick, we need you to tell about the business.
MR. YOUNG: Well, there’s just no question about it, if you don't have money to spend, you can't buy the tools, the equipment, and put the staff, the people. You have to have that.
And it’s been a very, very tough road because the only way I could build this company, frankly, was to hold back on my pay to hire new people, to buy new machinery. And when New York gets through with you, it eats a lot.
So in any event, if we had an opportunity to grow, we want to expand. We've got business in -- 36 countries around the world depend on us. That's neat. That's neat. And the U.S. Navy. So in any event, any help we can get, I’m sure these other folks have got a lot of their own problems. But in our particular, situation, thank God we're in a profitable business because if we were on edge, we would be in real trouble. We couldn’t grow. We couldn’t move.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, let me ask you a quick question. One of the things the President is proposing is immediate expensing of capital investments, as opposed to being five years. Is that a job-creating move? Tell me why that is.
MR. YOUNG: I think that's a marvelous move because we have a 3D printer upstairs that will make a prototype of the products that we draw. If you can expense that and move on, ultimately that's going to improve, isn’t it? In just a few years, they’ll have a better model. And you have to be on top of it, or you're not going to make it.
MR. EVERETT: Another community leader now who is carrying the family business into their fifth generation is Valerie Duel (ph,) the president of Montgomery Building Supply.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Hi, Valerie. Thanks for coming.
MS. DUEL: Nice to meet you. My family business -- we're a lumber and building supply. We started in 1898, so my family has seen quite a few things change through the years.
In what I see, if people have extra money in their pocket, they’ll spend it. And I’m from Wyoming County, so I’m heavy agriculture county. So when the milk is up, the farmers have money -- extra money to spend. When gas is down the typical homeowner has extra money. And they’ll save each week. Not necessarily will they buy a big-ticket item at one time. They’ll save -- if they've got an extra $20 in their pocket each week, they’ll save up and maybe buy a window in a month.
So my people are savers. So anything that they can make the extra money or save the extra money, it in turn comes to me. So that's where I see extra money helping my business.
And if I have extra money, then I can hire more people. Like Mr. Young said, the owners of the business typically get paid last. So we have to invest in our own companies.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: So the biggest part of this for you is people having more money in their pockets and able to make investments?
MS. DUEL: Yes, yes.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: In building supplies. But the business taxes you file as an individual, I think.
MS. DUEL: I’m a C corp.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: You're a C corp, so you’d see significant tax reduction there. But you would put that second to people having more dollars to spend in terms of the positive impact on the business?
MS. DUEL: Yes, I would see more of a benefit with my customers having extra money.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Yes, that's a great comment. Thank you so much, appreciate you being here. Really do.
MR. EVERETT: David and Colleen Basil are also in a family business. David is the sales manager for a family car dealership here in the Buffalo area, which many of us recognize the name.
MR. BASIL: Thank you for that. I think the most important thing for us in the automotive industry is simplicity. The tax plan has got to be simple so that the people working with us have the ability to control their income every week and every month.
It is so, so important that they can do that so they're not fighting through all this bureaucratic red tape at the end of the year to try to get some of their money back. So I think simplicity is very, very important. We have enough complications to deal with on a daily basis. Taxes are really not something we think should be complicated. So I really like the simplicity of it, and I would say that would be a major strength of it.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: And I want to be clear on that, Dave. It was a great comment. But with regard to the predictability or are you also concerned about compliance? It’s astounding to think of the literally billions of dollars that are spent by Americans every year trying to figure out what they owe the government. So which is it from your standpoint? Just people knowing what they owe, be confident about that, or even the dollars saved, or both?
MR. BASIL: I think it’s a little bit of both. From the business side of things, we have an army of accountants that show up at the end of the year to try to figure out what the taxes are.
And I think from the personnel side, it’s knowing what you owe and being confident in what your paycheck is going to look like on Friday afternoon.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: That's great. How is business?
MR. BASIL: Good, very good. We've grown about double in last 10 years. My grandfather started the company in 1967 with one store. We've got 11 stores and 800 employees.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: That's great. Congratulations on all your success. And yours, Valerie.
MS. DUEL: Thank you.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: These are great, great business owners. Thanks, Dave.
MR. EVERETT: Thank you both for being here today, too. Another family business that needs tax reform is Zipline Golf. The owners, Greg Arnold, and his wife, Kristin, are here to share their story on how they’d benefit from a tax cut.
MR. ARNOLD: My father started Zipline Golf. We're an online supplier of logoed golf balls, which is sort of a random but effective job. It’s a somebody has to do it, and my dad thought it was unacceptable that he couldn’t get two dozen golf balls to pay off a bet with his brother and went out and found a guy who was going out of business with Dick’s and Golf Galaxy getting into the golf marketplace. And just at the time the Internet was getting going, my dad though, hey -- he’s just retired from Dunlop -- why don't I make this my new labor of love. And he started the business, and we've been going since 1998, providing purely Internet-based sales out of Buffalo. But we're a pass-through tax. He runs it off of his own taxes. But we haven’t been doing well enough since the recession that we’d have to worry about the tax implications. We're making enough -- like Dick had said, if I want to bring someone on, I’m going to take a cut and hopefully I can use my free time that a new employee would give to then expand my business and move into another marketplace because golf balls -- they sound surprisingly easy, but take a little work. There’s a reason that the major manufacturers don't want to do the small business that we do. We live in the one- to twelve-dozen area for personal use for gifts and for weddings and things. They're the gift that you can't find someone. They've got everything but a golf ball with your face on it or something like is a surprisingly good gift. (Laughter.)
PARTICIPANT: Send me a dozen. (Laughter.)
MR. ARNOLD: But we're sort of interested in the opportunity that we're sort of catching up with the Internet and the amount of money that it now takes to be visible on the Internet, which 10 years ago was nothing. It was a drop in the bucket, and now it’s a huge portion of our sales to come out to staying relevant in the marketplace. So the opportunity of growing and being able to save some money and expand the business and bring more people in and share what we're doing as a family-owned, veteran-run company, we have a nice family feel there, where we're happy going to work every day. And the fact that we can't share it with anyone else other than our customers is something we’d like to be able to remedy, and we're hoping to do well enough to take advantage of these tax cuts.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: You do business around the country?
MR. ARNOLD: Yes, yes, we ship a lot of Florida and California, but all over. Anywhere that needs a logoed golf ball.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: That's great. Wonderful and vetern-owned company, too.
MR. ARNOLD: Yes, third generation. My father was, yes.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: That's great. Appreciate you. Kristin, any thoughts about what the tax cut means from your perspective?
MS. ARNOLD: Well, I’m actually a relationship manager at Key Bank. I work in the business banking group, so I work hand-in-hand with small-business owners, helping them to secure financing or growth and expansion of their businesses. And I think tax reform is something that is constantly on their minds and what we talk about, especially coming to the end of the year. People are trying to make decisions on if they should make that last investment in their company, can they buy that equipment. Will they have the tax advantage to write it off. And I think the tax breaks would give them an opportunity to hire more employees, expand into different lines of businesses that they've been holding off on because they're not sure if they're going to have funds.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: They have been holding off?
MS. ARNOLD: Yes.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: That's your perception of the businesses locally?
MS. ARNOLD: It's something that they seem to struggle with, you know, every year.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Yeah.
MS. ARNOLD: If they should be reinvesting and what that will do. And having the extra funds would make that decision a lot easier.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Great. Well, thanks for your insights, both of you. And congratulations on your success, it's great. Help is on the way.
MR. ARNOLD: Hoping for more. (Laughter.)
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Help is on the way.
MR. EVERETT: Another couple that know the struggles of starting and growing a business is a Richard and Rachel Budd. They started Goodrich Coffee and Tea because of their love of people, coffee, and business, and in that order.
MR. GOODRICH: Yeah, so we started the business in ‘08, in the summer of July of ‘08. And it was a really great timing to start a business because the stock market -- (laughter) -- so it was a really tough time to start a business. And we did everything we could do to try and start afloat. I didn't take a paycheck for seven months.
Yeah, and you know you're working 80 hours a week and you have to make every dollar count. So we, with diligence, hard work, and we were able to do that. I got my first paycheck -- we started in July -- I got my first pay check February 13th. That was for $200. And I felt like the richest guy in the world. (Laughter.)
And then the next day I asked Rachel to marry me. So I really felt pretty rich. So I know she really loves me because I didn't have any money. So --
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Did she say yes?
MR. GOODRICH: She did, yes. (Laughter.)
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, you had the $200.
MR. GOODRICH: Yeah I had the $200. So, and you fast-forward nearly 10 years late, we still have a lot of struggles. And finances are always an issue. I pay more to the state and federal government than what I take out of business. So I always think of it like, is the federal government waking up at five o'clock in the morning, doing this, doing that -- putting their hand to it.
So that's where I'm coming from. So it would just -- that's my two cents -- our 200 cents.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Rachel, your thoughts on this? What do you -- you've been on this journey with him every step of the way.
MS. GOODRICH: I have been. On a personal level, if we were bringing home more money that the business makes instead of paying to the government, we would invest it in our children’s education. We have three small children who we homeschool. So we pay for that out of our pockets. And we would love to have Richard home to help with educating the children a little more. He works long days. And we'd love to take them on some educational trips -- museums, national parks, that kind of stuff.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Washington, D.C.?
MS. GOODRICH: Yeah. (inaudible)
MR. GOODRICH: So we'd reinvest into our family, into the next generation, on the personal side. And then, as far in our business, we can hire more people, equipment, and grow. We can save up for the second location and put money into our wholesale business that is growing.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Great. You have a wholesale business as well?
MR. GOODRICH: Yeah.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: That's great. That's Goodrich Coffee?
MR. GOODRICH: Goodrich Coffee. (Laughter.)
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Good, rich coffee. (Laughter.)
Well congratulations on your success. But the statement that you offered -- you pay more in state and federal taxes that you take out of the business, than you earn out of the business. And as you look at the President's tax cut proposal, what appeals to you the most? That's a pass-through company. You said you didn't pay yourself.
Like a lot -- I started a business of my own in the basement of my house. So I went through this for seven months. We already had three kids running around upstairs. So I really admire both of you.
But the President wants to make sure we that we lower taxes on companies that file as individuals. I assume that's -- you’re in that category. Is that yes or no?
MR. GOODRICH: We're an S-Corp actually.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: You're -- that would be it. Right. So that would lower the tax rate down from -- whatever rate you end up paying at, could be the highest rate -- down to 25 percent. Big difference for you?
MR. GOODRICH: It's a huge difference. I mean it's just -- I feel like small business often gets forgotten. You know? And so it's nice to be heard.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Yeah. Great. Well thank you, and congratulations. Great run. First 10 years if the hardest on your company. (Laughter.) For the business. (Laughter.)
MR. GOODRICH: Yeah, yeah, that's what I meant.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you both for being here. It means a lot.
MR. EVERETT: Yes, thanks so much for sharing your story and your thoughts. Kelly Culp-Burton, she also knows the struggles of starting of starting a business. She started her business, KCB Architecture, in her home and has grown it now to where she's employing five people.
MS. CULP-BURTON: Thanks, Chuck. Welcome to western New York. Jeff mentioned I have my own architecture firm, which I started out of my home and have grown enough to move into an office. And so, just as many of the people have said here, I go through the same struggles with taxes and, being the business owner, the last one paid. If I want to -- and what I've done is I've grown my business, I've either taken no pay or reduced pay to turn that money back around and put it back into the business. So any type of tax relief would be welcome in growing the business.
But my question is -- part of my business is -- we're one of the area's leading architectural firms that does high-end custom residential homes that are net zero. And net zero being an energy efficient. And something that entices the owners to spend that extra money on the solar, the geothermal systems are incentives that come through the government. So my question is, is there any plan for incentives so these tax savings don't just stay in the bank or somebody's pocket, that it gets reintroduced into the economy because, basically, that's what keeps all of our businesses going is a healthy economy. So if we're saving money and the economy dips, it's not that much of a help. So is there something that's going to be in place to make sure that the money keeps flowing?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Chris, do you want to take a swing at that?
REPRESENTATIVE COLLINS: Well, to me, the easy one is, people spend pretty much every incremental dollar they have. And they're going to spend it either on golf balls with Vice President Pence's face on it -- (laughter) -- or they're going to buy doors and windows, or they're going to be doing things in the architectural world. It's all about growth, but it's about the incremental dollar that's now in someone's pocket. It's not going to Washington, D.C. It's all about growth.
And what I'm hearing is every small business is looking for more people to come in with more discretionary income, whether -- and I go to your place, it's only a mile down the street. You know, I meet people there, and we have our breakfast sandwich and our coffee. The incremental dollars, the discretionary dollars are going to churn through our economy. That's how we're going from the 1.8 percent to 3 percent, 3.1 percent, 3.5 percent growth.
Everyone at this table benefits from growth, and it's the money churning. And so I think the answer to your question is everything we do to save money for small businesses, individuals is going to churn back into your business. It's pretty much that simple.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I do think, Kelley, the President's outline here, that, actually, we've worked with the leadership in the Congress to come to a broad-base agreement on the outline is a starting point for the debate and the discussion within the Congress. And there's tax simplification and lowering rates on businesses and individuals, but those incentives that are in the tax code today, tax credits that are in today will remain in effect unless we've addressed them in the plan that we've outlined.
So if there are those energy credits and things that you currently work with some of your customers on, the President does want to eliminate some of the big loopholes that have benefited the wealthy over the years, even while we lower marginal rates at every level. We want a flatter, fairer tax-rate system. But other than that, some of those historic energy incentives, I expect to remain in place unless Congress decides otherwise. But we'll carry that back into the debate. Okay?
So five employees? And how long have you been in business?
MS. CULP-BURTON: We just hit six years.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: That's great. Congratulations.
MS. CULP-BURTON: Thank you.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: That's really outstanding. Really outstanding. Thanks for being here, Kelley.
MS. CULP-BURTON: Thank you, and thank you for your time.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: You bet.
MR. EVERETT: And finally, the Marchettas. Their family is one that has known so hardship with the sickness of their child, Jack. Still, Chuck and Colleen persevered, and Chuck started the engineering firm, Engineered Thermal Solutions.
MR. MARCHETTA: Thank you. Thank you. Yeah, so Engineered Thermal Solutions is a -- we're a sales representative company. And we generally sell large industrial cooling equipment to the industrial markets, such as oil and gas, power, mining, petrochemical, pulp paper. So we're very heavily dependent on -- generally, the industrial markets to do well.
Now, we're a new company. We're only -- this is our -- we're almost two years. We've been in business -- will be two years in January. So, I left a very large company that was previously a small privately held company but was bought out. And I decided to go off on my own because I think that the risk versus reward there was just -- the environment changed and I wanted to kind of not take the risk on my own.
But there's a lot of expenses that you don't realize -- (laughter) -- when you first go into this world of business ownership. And one of the things I had to do right away was hire an accountant because we did our taxes on our own, Turbo Tax or something like that -- essentially on our own. But the first thing I had to do was hire a tax professional because, how do we set up the company? Do we set up an LLC? Do we set up an S corporation? And it was all based on how we're going to be taxed, what's going to be our least -- our most efficient tax burden.
And even right now, we're set up as an LLC, but as we do better here -- it's just two of us right now -- but as we do better, we want to hire people. We need to bring more sales people in. But we think that we're probably going to have to change the structure of the business based on what the income ends up being. We're not to that point yet, but still it's -- I think that if the tax code could help us with that part of the business, understanding that maybe -- simplifying to the point where we understand what our tax rate is going to be, you know? And we don't have to necessarily hire a professional to tell us, well, you should have this type of company and this, so on and so forth.
It would allow us to focus on hiring people, which is what we need to do right now. We need more people to get out -- boots on the ground, go calling these plants, find the maintenance people and assess the equipment.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Colleen.
MS. MARCHETTA: I was just from the spousal standpoint when he started the business, the biggest expense, just from the beginning, was he lost his healthcare at this job, and we were paying that out of pocket. So when you're starting your own business, you're hit with a ton of expenses. And obviously healthcare was very important to us because my son happened to be diagnosed with a rare disease right around the same time Chuck started his business. Actually, Jack is here today with my daughter, Madison. They're behaving themselves, so that's good. (Laughter.)
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Where's Jack?
MS. MARCHETTA: They're -- Jackson.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: We'll meet them in a minute.
MS. MARCHETTA: Okay. So -- say, "Hi, Mr. Vice President."
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Jack. (Laughter.)
MS. MARCHETTA: Jack is doing very well now, so now he looks like a very healthy-looking boy. He's doing great.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: He looks great -- beautiful boy.
MS. MARCHETTA: But that was one of the reasons why I went back to work as a teacher. We couldn't take that much of a risk starting our business -- with Chuck starting his business. But a child tax credit would be fantastic. So thank you for that. And just more money in the business's pocket -- they can do what they want to do. Open up an office. Hire more employees. That's what you've been talking about for the past six months.
MR. MARCHETTA: That's exactly where we're at right now.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: How many employees do you have at this point?
MR. MARCHETTA: Two -- myself and a business partner right now.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Great.
MR. MARCHETTA: And we've been doing it for two years. We're actually -- we're staying even. We don't owe too much money at this point.
MS. MARCHETTA: You'll be traveling less, so you can spend more time --
MR. MARCHETTA: But I travel a lot. So to chase the energy markets, you're on a plane a lot. We go down to the Gulf Coast, Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana a lot because the industry -- those industries around here, around Buffalo, don't really exist as heavily as they do down there.
MS. MARCHETTA: And also, the time he spent on accounting, he should be spending that time growing his business. He should be learning more about what he's doing. He should be pushing growth, not figuring out loopholes in the tax code and how to handle all of this that's so new to him right now.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: You couldn't have said it better. I mean, you put the numbers on what the American people spend in terms of time and money filling out their taxes. There's an opportunity cost to that; that when you're not working on your business, when you're not our creating, that's costing. So, Colleen, that's just especially well said, I thought.
And with regard to tax relief and tax simplification, number one, I want everybody who is here to be clear, the President is talking about doubling the family exemption so that literally -- run a calculator, the first $24,000 a year that you earn is completely tax-free. So that's an enormous benefit to families in terms of just planning.
That's why President points out -- says the average family will have $4,000 more a year in your pockets, largely owing to that and increasing the per-child tax credit. But by lowering the rate on pass-through corporations -- because right now you're figuring what's my income, so what's my bracket -- one of the seven brackets. Now we can give you the one option of planning on, well, we'll pay the 25 percent rate.
I was just in California about this time last week and I met with a small business tech firm -- had about 50 employees. And they literally had told me that they asked their employees if they could look at their tax returns, their tax filings. And they looked at the business tax filings and they took President Trump's plan and laid it on top of it, and they found out the average tax savings for their 50 employees was 40 percent, and the average savings for their company was 25 percent because they were a pass-through company.
So that's the kind of savings and the kind of predictability that you're talking about. And you plow that right -- you want to grow. You know, one of the misnomers about tax codes is that people think, well, Chuck and Colleen just -- you know, if you get a tax break then you keep it for yourself. What I hear from small business people saying is, how do I grow? How do I open up the second coffee shop? How do we expand, hire more people?
MR. MARCHETTA: That's where I want to get to -- we have an office. We can afford to have people there, and I can have a secretary answer the phone. You know, that would be great right now.
MS. MARCHETTA: I pretend to be his secretary sometimes. (Laughter.)
THE VICE PRESIDENT: That's pretty funny. I know those days are coming, Chuck.
MR. MARCHETTA: Thank you.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I can see it. I can see it. So congratulations.
MR. MARCHETTA: Thank you.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: You're in a good place, got a good start, but help is on the way. Okay?
MR. MARCHETTA: Appreciate it.
MR. EVERETT: Thank you all very much for sharing your stories about your business. (Applause.)
And Mr. Vice President and Representative Collins, thank you very much for listening. We know that if there's anyone that can get this done for America, it's you and our President. Thank you.
* * * * *
REPRESENTATIVE COLLINS: Well, I too want to thank everyone for coming. And, Jim, thank you for moderating this. Dick Young, always, thank you for hosting us here today and all of our panelists.
It's about growth. Growth is what's going to grow our way out of the problems with our deficit, with our debt. It's going to get businesses growing with -- everyone here said the same thing: We want more business. We're going to hire more employees.
So that's the simple message. And, Mr. Vice President, thank you for coming to western New York. The streets were lined, we had 200 people at the airport to greet the Vice President. This is a big day and a big deal for western New York. And you made a lot of people rethink where we are in government, and you've got a lot of supporters here, certainly, in the 27th Congressional District. That's ground zero for Trump support. So, thank you for coming. Thank you for all you do for America.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Chris. Thank you very much, Congressman. (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you.
It's been a great day, and I just -- I want to thank all the business owners and job creators, including our hosts who helped engage this conversation. I found it very illuminating. I look forward to carrying it back to the White House, filling the President in a little bit later today and using a lot of your arguments to sell Congress on tax cuts. I'm going to use it. This is a great concept.
I want to thank Performance Advantage Company. Dick and Jim, thank you again for your hospitality and for your great example of American success. I told Dick Young, he's a lot like Colonel Sanders. (Laughter.) Didn't start his business until he was 61 -- (laughter) -- and now look at him. Give these guys another round-of-applause, would you please? (Applause.)
And, Dick, I appreciated your comments about the President's plan. At the very beginning, we outlined -- this is a plan about lowering tax rates, lowering all the marginal rates from seven brackets down to three. The first $24,000 in income will pay zero taxes going forward for working families. There will be an increase in the per child tax credit.
As President Trump says, "This is a middle-class miracle." And that's right where this is focused because the President wants to bring the kind of tax relief that, as Valerie said, is going to just put more money in people's pockets. People come into the building supply company because they've got dollars to put in a new window, put in a new door.
And this is first and foremost, it's about bringing the kind of tax relief that puts more money in your pockets, more money for those homeschool kids that you're raising, and more money to be able to invest in your business.
Secondly, it's about tax simplification. I appreciate what Chuck and Colleen said about a tax code that you've taken a tremendous amount of time off the road, tremendous amount of time out of growing your business, whether that be selling cars or selling coffee, trying to figure out what you owe the government. Well, that's going to change because we're going to have real tax simplification here. And nine out of ten Americans are going to be able to file their taxes on a single sheet of paper.
And lastly, it is about lowering taxes on businesses. I was very struck -- I had mentioned it before, but Dick Young mentioned it -- the idea that companies can write off the cost of new equipment in the first year instead of over a five-year period of time or longer period of time, this is a great benefit to businesses. And it also allows businesses to continue to modernize, continue to move into the newer equipment that's going to let you be competitive.
It's interesting to me that our host today here at Performance Advantage Company pointed out that they do business in -- did you say, 68 countries?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thirty-six countries. I transposed it -- 36 countries around the world. I mean, the truth is, and it's probably true selling golf balls, you're doing business all over the world. People here across Erie County are competing with companies around the world. And so making sure that we have a tax code that takes that into account and encourages investment is very, very significant.
And I just have to tell you, having started a business in the basement of my home, I'm just incredibly inspired by the entrepreneurs gathered around here. And I just want to tell you that we're going to work our hearts out in the days ahead. I said it before to a couple of you, but I'll make a promise to you: Help is on the way, okay? We're going to roll our sleeves up, we're going to work with this congressman, with all the members of the House and Senate, and we're are going to pass the largest tax cut in American history, and we're going to pass it this year. (Applause.)
So thank you for the warm welcome. It's an honor to be with you today. Special thanks, again, to the first responders who are with us today. My uncle was a police officer in Chicago. My cousin is married to a firefighter in the Chicago Fire Department. We know what it is when you have a job where your job is to run in when others are running out. And so we thank you and we admire you greatly.
So to each and every one of you, I just say, from the bottom of my heart, on behalf of President Donald Trump, thank you for your time today and thank you for your support of the President's agenda. I'm just absolutely confident, with great leadership in the Congress and a great President in the White House and with God's help, we will make America prosperous again. We will make America safe again. And, to borrow a phrase -- (laughter) -- we will Make America Great Again. Thanks everybody and God bless you. (Applause.)
1:46 P.M. EDT
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Thank you very much. I just want to make an initial comment that the stock market just hit an all-time record high. It broke, for the first time ever, 23,000. So we're very happy about that. I hope that Greece is going to be doing the same thing very soon. (Laughter.) I think they will.
But I'm honored to welcome Prime Minister Tsipras of Greece, and he's a special man who's done a very special job. We're grateful to the Prime Minister and to his entire delegation for visiting us today at the White House.
Greece is a cradle of Western civilization -- so true -- of democracy, literature, philosophy, science, and so much else. America looks on that glorious heritage with wonder and with awe. You do indeed have a tremendous heritage, Mr. Prime Minister.
Perhaps for this reason, America’s friendship with the Greek people has been long and enduring. Thomas Jefferson wrote at the dawn of the modern Greek state that “no people sympathize more” with Greek patriots and “none offer more sincere and ardent prayers to heaven for their success” than the American people.
Jefferson’s words are true to this day.
Mr. Prime Minister, I'm proud to report that this past March, we celebrated Greek Independence Day right here at the White House. And that was great.
America and Greece draw on this common history and heritage and on our peoples' abiding commitment to freedom and sovereignty in working together on great challenges and opportunities now before us. There are tremendous opportunities before us in so many different ways.
The Prime Minister and I have just concluded a very productive discussion on the cooperation between our two countries, including on matters of defense, energy, commerce, and trade.
I want to thank the Prime Minister and the Greek people for serving as gracious hosts to our U.S. naval forces at Souda Bay. I also commend Greece for being one of the few NATO countries currently spending at least 2 percent of GDP on defense.
My administration has also informed Congress of a potential sale to Greece to upgrade its F-16 aircraft. This agreement to strengthen the Hellenic Air Force is worth up to $2.4 billion and would generate thousands of American jobs.
We also are making great strides in our economic cooperation. The American people stand with the Greek people as they recover from the economic crisis that recently afflicted their nation. I have encouraged the Prime Minister in his continued implementation of reform and reform programs, and I have totally reaffirmed our support for a responsible debt-relief plan.
A strong and flourishing Greece provides immense opportunity for American trade, investment, and job creation. I thank the Prime Minister, his predecessors, and the Greek people for their efforts to return stability and prosperity to Greece.
On energy, we appreciate Greek contributions to European energy security through its support of the Trans Adriatic Pipeline, the Greece-Bulgaria Interconnector, and liquefied natural gas facilities that are capable of transporting diverse sources of energy to Europe, including potential liquefied natural gas exports from the United States, of which that particular route -- and business is getting bigger and bigger and bigger, as you know. These initiatives make both our people safer and create good jobs for our hardworking citizens.
Finally, I am also very proud that the United States will be the “Honored Country” at next year’s International Fair in Greece. This historic business and trade exhibition will showcase American technology, enterprise, and innovation on the world stage. We look very much forward to sending a high-level delegation to attend this wonderful event.
Mr. Prime Minister, thank you again for being here today and for your partnership in addressing critical issues facing our countries. I look forward to having many productive discussions with you, and to having a very close and warm cooperation on a wide range of shared objectives. We will build upon our foundation of shared history and shared values to pursue a future of security, prosperity, and peace for both your nation and ours.
Mr. Prime Minister, thank you very much.
PRIME MINISTER TSIPRAS: (As interpreted.) I would like to warmly thank the President of the United States for his hospitality and for these very productive discussions we had today.
The friendship between our two countries is very strong, and it’s based on our common democratic principles, on the values that we jointly share as peoples.
It is correct that the founders of the United States were inspired by Ancient Greece, and the Greek revolution was inspired by the American revolution for independence. At the same time, our relationship is based -- is also based on a very dynamic diaspora of Greek people here in the U.S., which offers many -- has many to offer for both countries.
As we underlined earlier, the Greek-U.S. relationships may be at their best compared to the past since the Second World War when our peoples worked together and fought together shoulder-to-shoulder against fascism. And I do believe that there are many reasons for this.
Today, our strategy is based on mutual respect, and it is fed by the significant support provided by the U.S. to Greece and to the Greek people during the hard times of the economic crisis, support for the exit of Greece from the crisis. And at this point, I would like to just focus a bit.
Greece today fulfills three basic objectives which do not only relate to Greece, but I would say that are of special significance at an international level.
First, it's dynamic coming out of a crisis, noting wonderful growth rates, and it’s beginning to attract investments and increase its exports, as we see as well from the Greek-U.S. balance of trade. And it’s leaving behind not only a crisis, but it’s leaving behind the economic model that led to the crisis.
Second, Greece today is the most significant pillar of security cooperation in one of the most important but, at the same time, unstable, sensitive areas of the planet: a country with a dynamic, multi-dimensional foreign policy; a country which is a reliable partner and ally of the United States, which fulfills its NATO obligations. And it is in close cooperation in the defense sector with the United States. It’s a country which maintains the dialogue with Turkey despite the difficulties that we face and the challenges, but knowing the very important European course of Turkey.
It’s a country, also, that promotes cooperation with the Middle East and the Balkans, which contribute to the security and the growth of the area.
And third, Greece, being already pretty strong in maritime and tourism, is gradually becoming a significant crossroads for transportation and energy. I would like to mention the completion of the TAP pipeline and the EastMed pipeline; the agreement for a floating -- for an LNG station in Alexandroupolis, which is northeast Greece, and the prospect that Alexandroupolis will be an area where we can receive exports -- imports from the United States of fracking.
And I would like to mention our ports from Athens and Thessaloniki, and the promotion of strong and fast rail connections with the rest of the Balkans. And in this context, it’s very clear that our strategic cooperation with the United States is becoming more important than ever.
First of all, we look forward -- because we look forward -- and this is a significant message of my visit here and my meeting with economic representatives -- we look forward to attracting U.S. investments and the more substantial support of the U.S. in our effort to exit this horrible crisis.
The fact that the United States will be the honored country in 2018 in the International Fair of Thessaloniki will play a significant role in this effort.
Second, because Greece can develop dynamically in creating a pillar of stability and security only if it is freed from the fundamental national concerns in the areas of security and defense.
The United States have a significant role to play in this matter, not only in the diplomatic but also in the defense sector. And we look forward, in this context, in the fair and viable solution in this separate issue based on the decisions of the U.N. Security Council, a solution for the benefit of all Cypriots without guarantors or occupying military forces that will give a new perspective to the area. But at the same time, we are underlining that the dangerous intervention-type presence of Turkey in the Aegean must end. It undermines on a daily basis the relationship between two NATO allies in a broader unstable and sensitive area.
Greece is a country that's always open to dialogue, but I want to be very clear: It will always protect decisively its sovereignty rights against illicit claims and disputes.
And with these thoughts, I would like to warmly thank President Trump for his -- for the wonderful discussions we held, which I believe will give a very substantial push to the existing dynamic cooperation. And I believed and I said we created a work group between the ministers of economy, the secretaries for the economy so we can monitor the ability to have a substantial cooperation in investment, in economy, and in all sectors.
Thank you very much, sir.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: We'll take a few questions. John, go ahead, please.
Q Thank you, Mr. President. Good to see you out in the Rose Garden again. We seem to be
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Thank you.
Q You seem to do this on occasion.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: It's a nice place.
Q I have a question for the Prime Minister in a moment, if I could. But first, sir, you said just a short time ago that Obamacare is virtually dead. Your plans for Graham-Cassidy have not been able to get off the ground in the Senate. There is no idea whether or not it will in early 2018. You've been picking around the edges, to some degree, with the executive orders, some of which critics say are helping to destroy Obamacare. So I'm wondering at this point, what is your healthcare plan, sir?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, if you look at insurance companies and you take a good, strong look at the numbers, you'll see, since the formation of Obamacare, they're up 400 percent, 450 percent, 250 percent, 300 percent. They've made a fortune, the insurance companies.
So when I knocked out the hundreds of millions of dollars a month being paid back to the insurance companies by politicians, I must tell you, that wanted me to continue to pay this, I said I'm not going to do it. This is money that goes to the insurance companies to line their pockets, to raise up their stock prices. And they've had a record run. They've had an incredible run, and it's not appropriate.
Obamacare is a disaster. It's virtually dead. As far as I'm concerned, it really is dead and I predicted that a long time ago. It's a concept that doesn't work. And we are very close.
We feel we have the votes, and as soon as we're finished with taxes, John -- we really feel we have the votes to get block grants into the states, where the states can much better manage this money and much better take care of the people, rather than the federal government. The state block grants -- we'll do massive block grants into the various states so that the states can run the program.
So we feel we have the votes. We’re going to be doing that after the taxes. In the meantime, we're involved with a budget and then after the budget -- hopefully that gets approved -- and after the budget, assuming we have the support of all the Republicans -- because we'll have no support from the Democrats or almost no support, because they've really become just obstructionists. They have no good policies, and frankly, they're not good politicians but they're very good obstructionists. And that's what they do well -- obstruct.
The number of nominees that I have approved by the Democrats are about half of what President Obama had. And when you look at that -- and you can look at judicial appointments, look how slow that's going. I'll have 145 ultimately, which is a tremendous number. We'll have 17 court of appeals appointments. But they're not getting approved. They're being slow-walked by Schumer and the group of Democrats that really -- it's really disgraceful. Even people that they know they're going to approve, they take it right out to the end. They use every single minute, and I think it's a very disgraceful situation.
But Obamacare is everything but dead. The people aren't going to take it. They're not going to take it. Alaska, they had over 200 percent increase. In Arizona, they were 116 percent -- and I hear going up even higher. And the people aren't going to take that any longer.
So I think we're in great shape. I think we have the votes. And we'll be doing that right after the largest tax cuts in the history of our country are approved, hopefully sometime in the very near future.
Q So is Graham-Cassidy still the plan, sir?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Yeah, essentially that would be the plan. Yes, block grants.
Q And, Mr. Prime Minister, with respect to the President, in March of 2016 you said, at the potential for a Donald Trump presidency, "I hope we will not face this evil." And I'm wondering if, after spending time with the President, you have changed your mind or if you're of the same mind.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: I wish I knew that before my speech. (Laughter.)
PRIME MINISTER TSIPRAS: (As interpreted.) The meeting I had with the President -- his approach and the way he addresses most publics -- the U.S. is a very strong power and their ability to intervene for good are very, very important.
I want to confirm that the meeting that we had was very productive. Not a moment did I feel threatened at any time. I saw that there is a very fertile outlook here. In order to set aside any differences that we may have to find the common ground, the common ground which is really important for the relationship between our two peoples that are traditional and historical, and for our common objectives.
We need common values -- we have common values, excuse me. Don’t forget that the value of democracy and freedom was born in Greece, and it's one of the basic values that traverses the American culture and American tradition.
President today, of the U.S., continues this tradition. And I think our collaboration will be very substantial, and I'm very optimistic after our meeting that we had today.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Thank you, Mr. Prime Minister. I might just add that a number of countries were a little bit nervous at the beginning. And I have very good relationships with the leaders of virtually every country I've dealt with. But the reason they were concerned was because I will not allow our country, the United States of America, to be taken advantage of by so many other countries all over the world.
If you look at our trade deficits -- massive trade deficits with virtually every country. If you look at our jobs moving out to certain countries, and the companies are leaving and they're firing the people, and the product is made elsewhere, and then it's sold back into the United States. I'm not going to be allowing that.
So I can understand how certain countries and the leaders of certain countries may feel. But we're just not going to allow the United States to be taken advantage of by other countries anymore. And there's nothing we can do about that.
you have a question.
Q (Inaudible) with the Greek Public TV. Mr. Prime Minister, how do you plan to attract long-term foreign direct investments in Greece? And if you can elaborate, please, on the steps that Greece is making to tackle bureaucracy and over-taxation in order to ensure investors around that world the Greece is ready for business.
And, Mr. President, if I may: Why would you encourage the U.S. companies to invest in Greece? And how can the U.S. support the Greek efforts to fully turn the page, attract investments, and manage its debt? Thank you.
PRIME MINISTER TSIPRAS: (As interpreted.) First of all, one thing is to intervene legislatively to attract investment. And it's different to work on a daily basis to implement these intentions in a stable environment.
We opted to conflict with the basic illnesses of Greek public administration and to create a friendly environment for foreign investment, because this is our priority today. Investment means jobs. Jobs means less unemployment. And it means return of young people that have left Greece -- educated Greeks that have left Greece to go to other countries -- to come back to Greece.
So what did we do? We passed a law in parliament that provides a stable tax environment -- a fixed tax rate for 12 years for investments of high value. We simplified the procedures to provide licenses to investments. We introduced the fast-track process for strategic investments. And we also made significant changes to hit and combat bureaucracy through digitization of administrative procedures in public administration. And our vision is to have a digital public administration, but that we really want to make it practice.
I, personally, have created a taskforce in the Prime Minister's office for investments so we can see whether laws are being implemented, whether there is effectiveness. And we are sending out a strong signal of political will to promote these projects.
The President asked me earlier what is happening with the Ellinikon, with the old airport, where years ago, he, himself as a businessman in the past was interested in it. And he saw, himself, the weaknesses and the illnesses of Greek public administration. I informed him it's moving along, and very soon we will see this area being formed to a very, very large real estate project in Greece, which we're hoping it will be an attraction for other investments from abroad.
I'd like to also say that Greece, for the first time, from the last country, is the first country in absorbing European funds investment capital from European structural funds. So we find ourselves at a turning point -- a point where investments can provide the ability to exit, finally, the crisis.
And the message I want to pass on to U.S. investments is that Greece is not just a tourist attraction, the best maybe in the world, but it's also an investment attraction -- and investment destination as well.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: I can say that we have a great confidence in Greece. I think it's a land of tremendous potential. I know many people are looking to invest in Greece. A lot of the problems are behind it. They've had some very good leadership. They've really made done a lot of -- they've made a lot of difficult decisions.
We are helping, as you know, with a massive renovation of their air force and also of airplanes, generally, going to Greece. They're looking at buying additional planes from Boeing. And we are helping -- we're very much involved with Greece and with helping Greece get back on its feet. We have a tremendous Greek population in this country, people whose heritage is Greece. And we love that country, special country, one of the most beautiful countries in the world. So I think it's got great potential, and we are helping it along.
Okay. Jennifer, you want to go?
Q Thank you, Mr. President.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Sure.
Q I have a question for both of you, but let me start with you, Mr. President. Let me give you a quick question about the Federal Reserve. Do you have any other candidates that you're looking at other than Powell, Yellen, the five that have already been named? Are you looking at anyone besides those folks?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: I would say within those five you'll probably get the answer. And I'll be making this decision over the next fairly short period of time.
Q Can you say who your favorite is at this point?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Honestly, I like them all.
Q (Laughter.) Okay.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: I do. I have a great respect for all of them. But I'll make a decision over the next very short period of time.
Q Can I ask you a quick Obamacare question as well, even though John Roberts asked as well?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Sure.
Q Apparently, Lamar Alexander has said he's made a deal with Senator Patty Murray to stabilize Obamacare. Has the White House been involved in those negotiations? And will you support that deal?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Yes, we have been involved. And this is a short-term deal because we think, ultimately, block grants going to the states is going to be the answer. That's a very good solution. We think it's going to not only save money but give people much better healthcare with a very, very much smaller premium spike -- and you look at what has gone on with that -- also, much lower deductibles so they can use it.
Lamar has been working very, very hard with the Democratic -- his colleagues on the other side, and Patty Murray is one of them, in particular. And they're coming up and they're fairly close to a short-term solution. The solution will be for about a year or two years, and it will get us over this intermediate hump because we have -- as you probably know, we have -- we either have the votes or we are very close to having the votes. And we will get the votes for having, really, the potential of having great healthcare in our country.
So they are indeed working, but it is a short-term solution so that we don't have this very dangerous little period -- including dangerous periods for insurance companies, by the way. For a period of one year, two years, we will have a very good solution. But we're going to have a great solution, ultimately, for healthcare. And they are working together and I know very much what they're doing.
Q Mr. Prime Minister, on Turkey, do you still regard Turkey as a democracy? And should Turkey remain a member of NATO?
PRIME MINISTER TSIPRAS: (As interpreted.) I have to say that despite our concerns regarding Turkey, despite the concerns that are also based on the daily Turkish intervention in the region, nevertheless we continue to support the Turkish course towards Europe. We respect it as a regional power and we believe that it must stay oriented toward the European perspective, oriented to its collaboration with the West, and stably oriented towards NATO. We do believe that the European outlook -- perspective of Turkey can also be a lever of pressure so that we can have those reforms towards the democratization of the domestics of the country.
So my answer to your question is relatively easy. Yes, we do believe that Turkey must remain within NATO and its European course. But on the other side, we have to ensure -- and we must make it clear to this ally of ours and to its government that the road to Europe, and this day and the collaboration with the West, carries with it certain conditions and certain responsibilities.
One of the most necessary conditions is to respect international law, to collaborate, and not promote tension with allied countries such as Greece. This is our basic direction. And I do believe -- I had the opportunity to go in detail on this matter with President Trump to explain the need for the fulfillment of these conditions so that there are clear messages. Also, toward the Turkish administration.
Q Mr. Prime Minister, how do you, as Greeks, like to hear about the -- strategic importance of Greece and the region? What is your government planning to do to enhance this role for the benefit of the bilateral relationship? And for specifically in Souda Bay, are there any plans you have for it?
Mr. President, you praised Greece's role in NATO with the contribution and in Souda Bay amid the volatile region of the Eastern Mediterranean. What do you see as the potential of Greece being as a pillar of stability in the region? And what would the U.S. like to see happening in order for Greece to achieve its potential? Thank you.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, I'd just start by saying that I think it has a great role in stability in the area. We have a feeling that it will get stronger and stronger. Very stable people. It's got the potential to be -- once it gets over this tremendous financial hurdle that it's in the process of working out, we think that there will be great stability in Greece, and militarily and in every way we look at it as very important, and very important to the United States.
We have great confidence in Greece as a nation. We have great confidence in what they're doing relative to their military, because I know they have plans to do some terrific things. And we know they will be an ally for many, many years to come. You know, they've always been a very reliable ally, and we've always been very reliable to them. So we look forward to that for many years. We're going to be friends for many, many years, and stability is very important. And we look upon that, with respect to Greece, as being a key.
PRIME MINISTER TSIPRAS: (As interpreted.) As regards the initiatives that we're going to be taking, but also regarding the initiatives that we have taken to broaden the strategic role of Greece as a reliable partner, both in the EU and NATO, I’d like to say that from the first moment we took over the administration, we moved -- we proceeded to a new dogma through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but as a basic aim to enhance the role of Greece as a country that is a pillar of security and stability in a very sensitive and unstable area -- region.
We enhanced our collaboration with two significant partners in the area -- Egypt and Israel, and Greece Cyprus with Israel and Greece Cyprus with Egypt, and with other countries in the area such as Jordan, Lebanon. Our goal is that, through these multilateral collaborations, to ensure the collaboration, stability, peace, and joint development, joint growth in this area.
Of course, Greece for a number of years has been playing, as underlined earlier -- it plays the role of a reliable ally of the U.S., but it also has a unique different feature. Greece may be talking with the Arab world, with other countries in the East. So it’s not just a NATO member. It’s a useful ally for the United States of America.
Now, as regards Crete and Souda Bay, we all know it is of special strategic importance, and we evaluated it -- jointly evaluated it, and I think that we’re doing good work there. And it can, and it must, be upgraded and enhanced.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, I want to thank everybody. And the Prime Minister came out here and he said, this is so beautiful. I said, this is the Rose Garden. And I think even the media likes the Rose Garden. (Laughter.) That's hard to believe, but even the media likes it.
Mr. Prime Minister, it’s been a great honor having you, and we look forward to many, many years of friendship, working together. And keep up the good work.
Thank you very much.
PRIME MINISTER TSIPRAS: Thank you very much. Thank you. (Applause.)
2:19 P.M. EDT
Today’s dangerously flawed district court order undercuts the President’s efforts to keep the American people safe and enforce minimum security standards for entry into the United States. The Department of Justice will vigorously defend the President’s lawful action. The proclamation restricting travel was issued after an extensive worldwide security review by the Secretary of Homeland Security, and following consultation by the President with members of the Cabinet, including the Secretaries of Homeland Security, State, and Defense and the Attorney General. The entry restrictions in the proclamation apply to countries based on their inability or unwillingness to share critical information necessary to safely vet applications, as well as a threat assessment related to terrorism, instability, and other grave national security concerns. These restrictions are vital to ensuring that foreign nations comply with the minimum security standards required for the integrity of our immigration system and the security of our Nation. We are therefore confident that the Judiciary will ultimately uphold the President’s lawful and necessary action and swiftly restore its vital protections for the safety of the American people.
12:32 P.M. EDT
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Mr. Prime Minister, it's great to have you in the United States. This is the Cabinet Room, a very well-known place. A lot of things happen here.
And we will continue our discussions with respect to Greece and the relationship that we have. It's been an outstanding one, a long-term relationship. You've gone through a lot.
I commend you on what you've been able to do in a short period of time. I know your tourism is coming back very strongly. You had a record number of tourists, which we have to give you a lot of credit for that. But it's a beautiful place. Many, many friends from Greece. And we are with you. We are with you.
And thank you. It's an honor to have you.
PRIME MINISTER TSIPRAS: Thank you, Mr. President. It's an honor for us to be here at the discussion with you. I am looking forward -- this discussion and cooperation. I think that it's a unique moment to enhance our strategic partnership and cooperation.
Greece is a pillar of stability in the region. It's not only maybe the most beautiful country in the region, but also the most stable country in the region.
So we're looking forward to enhance our cooperation because we have common views and common interests in the area.
I want to thank you very much for -- first of all, for your hospitality. And I think that sometime you have (inaudible) to visit Greece. You are always welcome to visit Greece.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Thank you.
PRIME MINISTER TSIPRAS: Because I think that you have a lot of Greeks that love -- the majority of the Greek people, all the Greek people like the U.S. and love your country. But you have a lot of Greeks here in the United States --
PRESIDENT TRUMP: It's true.
PRIME MINISTER TSIPRAS: -- that plays a crucial role in economy, in politics, and you have a lot of supporters here in the United States.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: I know that. That's true. One-hundred percent. Great supporters.
PRIME MINISTER TSIPRAS: So, thank you very much.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you, everybody. Thank you very much. Thank you.
END 12:35 P.M. EDT
12:07 P.M. EDT
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Thank you very much, everybody. It's an honor to have Prime Minister Tsipras of Greece with us.
As you know, Greece has gone through a lot over the last number of years, but they are doing a terrific job of coming back. And they will be back. We're working with them on many different things. They're upgrading their fleets of airplanes -- the F-16 plane, which is a terrific plane. They're doing big upgrades. And we're doing trade with Greece, and we're going to have some meetings right after this.
We're having meetings with the staff. We're having a luncheon with the staff also. And we'll be talking about additional ways where Greece will help us and we will help Greece.
But we've had a long-time relationship with Greece. They have been great friends and loyal friends and allies. And we look forward to our discussion today. Thank you, Mr. Prime Minister.
PRIME MINISTER TSIPRAS: Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you for the invitation and the hospitality. I am sure that we'll have a very fruitful discussion today.
I think that this is as a very important moment for our positive cooperation, and I'm sure that we'll do whatever it takes to enhance this cooperation.
Greece is a terrific partner in a very sensitive region -- but every time was a reliable partner for the United States.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: That's true. That's true.
PRIME MINISTER TSIPRAS: And we share common values. Don't forget that when Greece was born, freedom -- the values of freedom and democracy that we all share all together.
So I'm very happy to be here. It's an honor for me.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: It's my honor. Thank you.
Q Mr. President, if Obamacare is dead, aren't you trying to keep it alive in some ways?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Obamacare is virtually dead. At best, you could say it's in its final legs. The premiums are going through the roof. The deductibles are so high that people don't get to use it. Obamacare is a disgrace to our nation, and we are solving the problem of Obamacare. Okay?
Thank you all very much. Thank you. Thank you.
END 12:09 P.M. EDT
In coordination with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), First Lady Melania Trump has issued a public service announcement asking Americans to take action in support of disaster survivors following Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria.
The severity and impact of the storms in Texas, Florida, Louisiana, Georgia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico have led to recovery efforts that will continue for months and years to come. It will take the combined efforts of Federal, State, tribal, territorial, and local agencies working together with non-profit, voluntary, faith-based, and private sector organizations to recover from these devastating storms, rebuild stronger than before, and help make these areas more resilient.
As Mrs. Trump stated, “[w]e have certainly seen the unforgiving side of Mother Nature these past few weeks, and my thoughts and prayers continue to be with the families so deeply affected by the hurricanes. I will continue to lend my voice, time, and resources to help those in need.”
The Public Service Announcement (PSA) is available to watch or download here:
A transcript is below:
“The President and I have witnessed firsthand the compassion and commitment of Americans as friends, neighbors, and strangers continue to volunteer time and money to help one another following the recent hurricanes.
Your help is still needed.
Donate to an organization of your choice, and volunteer to help your fellow Americans.
If confirmed, Tara Sweeney of Alaska will serve as an Assistant Secretary of the Interior, Indian Affairs. Ms. Sweeney is the executive vice president of external affairs for Arctic Slope Regional Corporation (ASRC), the largest locally owned and operated business in Alaska, owned by approximately 13,000 Iñupiat Eskimo members and 12,000 employees worldwide. Ms. Sweeney grew up in rural Alaska and has spent a lifetime advocating for responsible Indian energy policy, rural connectivity, Arctic growth, and Native American self-determination. Ms. Sweeney served as chair of the Arctic Economic Council from 2015-2017. In 2013, Ms. Sweeney served as the co-chair of the Alaska Federation of Natives, and 2003, Ms. Sweeney served as special assistant for rural affairs and education in Governor Frank Murkowski’s administration. Honored in 2008 as a “Top Forty Under 40″ business leader, Ms. Sweeney was also inducted into the Anchorage ATHENA Society in 2017. A graduate of Cornell University, Ms. Sweeney currently lives in Anchorage with her family. Ms. Sweeney is tribal member of the Native Village of Barrow and the Iñupiat Community of the Arctic Slope.
Dear Mr. Speaker: (Dear Mr. President:)
Section 202(d) of the National Emergencies Act, 50 U.S.C. 1622(d), provides for the automatic termination of a national emergency unless, within 90 days of the anniversary date of its declaration, the President publishes in the Federal Register and transmits to the Congress a notice stating that the emergency is to continue in effect beyond the anniversary date. In accordance with this provision, I have sent to the Federal Register for publication the enclosed notice stating that the national emergency declared in Executive Order 12978 of October 21, 1995, with respect to significant narcotics traffickers centered in Colombia declared in Executive Order 12978 of October 21, 1995, is to continue in effect beyond October 21, 2017.
The circumstances that led to the declaration on October 21, 1995, of a national emergency continue to exist. The actions of significant narcotics traffickers centered in Colombia continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States and to cause an extreme level of violence, corruption, and harm in the United States and abroad. For this reason, I have determined that it is necessary to continue the national emergency declared in Executive Order 12978 with respect to significant narcotics traffickers centered in Colombia.
DONALD J. TRUMP
- - - - - - -
CONTINUATION OF THE NATIONAL EMERGENCY WITH RESPECT TO
SIGNIFICANT NARCOTICS TRAFFICKERS CENTERED IN COLOMBIA
On October 21, 1995, by Executive Order 12978, the President declared a national emergency with respect to significant narcotics traffickers centered in Colombia pursuant to the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701-1706) to deal with the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States constituted by the actions of significant narcotics traffickers centered in Colombia and the extreme level of violence, corruption, and harm such actions cause in the United States and abroad.
The actions of significant narcotics traffickers centered in Colombia continue to threaten the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States and to cause an extreme level of violence, corruption, and harm in the United States and abroad. For this reason, the national emergency declared in Executive Order 12978 of October 21, 1995, and the measures adopted pursuant thereto to deal with that emergency, must continue in effect beyond October 21, 2017. Therefore, in accordance with section 202(d) of the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1622(d)), I am continuing for 1 year the national emergency with respect to significant narcotics traffickers centered in Colombia declared in Executive Order 12978.
This notice shall be published in the Federal Register and transmitted to the Congress.
DONALD J. TRUMP
THE WHITE HOUSE,
October 16, 2017.
The United States strongly condemns the senseless mass murder that targeted innocent men, women, and children in Mogadishu, Somalia on October 14. The two attacks targeted a public, commercial area of the capital and resulted in the death and injury of hundreds of civilians, including United States citizens.
The United States extends our deepest condolences and sympathy to the victims, their families, and all those who have suffered from terrorism.
Terrorist organizations are the enemies of all civilized people. The United States stands with the people and government of Somalia in their commitment to defeating these groups, ensuring the security of their people, and rebuilding their country.
NOMINATIONS SENT TO THE SENATE:
Stephen Akard, of Indiana, to be Director General of the Foreign Service, vice Arnold A. Chacon, resigned.
Alex A. Beehler, of Maryland, to be an Assistant Secretary of the Army, vice Katherine Hammack.
Brock D. Bierman, of Virginia, to be an Assistant Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development, vice Thomas O. Melia.
John Edward Dupuy, of Virginia, to be Inspector General, Office of Personnel Management, vice Patrick E. McFarland, resigned.
Gail S. Ennis, of Maryland, to be Inspector General, Social Security Administration, vice Patrick P. O'Carroll, Jr., resigned.
James C. Ho, of Texas, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Fifth Circuit, vice Carolyn D. Randall, retired.
James E. McPherson, of Virginia, to be General Counsel of the Department of the Army, vice Alissa M. Starzak.
Barry Lee Myers, of Pennsylvania, to be Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere, vice Kathryn D. Sullivan, resigned.
Kirstjen Nielsen, of Virginia, to be Secretary of Homeland Security, vice John F. Kelly, resigned.
Yleem D. S. Poblete, of Virginia, to be an Assistant Secretary of State (Verification and Compliance), vice Frank A. Rose.
John C. Rood, of Arizona, to be Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, vice Christine E. Wormuth.
Preston Rutledge, of the District of Columbia, to be an Assistant Secretary of Labor, vice Phyllis Corinne Borzi, resigned.
Jon J. Rychalski, of Montana, to be Chief Financial Officer, Department of Veterans Affairs, vice Helen Tierney, resigned.
Hannibal Ware, of the Virgin Islands, to be Inspector General, Small Business Administration, vice Peggy E. Gustafson.
Kathleen Hartnett White, of Texas, to be a Member of the Council on Environmental Quality, vice Nancy Helen Sutley.