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Remarks in a Meeting With Republican Members of the House Committee on Ways and Means and an Exchange With Reporters

November 02, 2017

The President. Well, thank you very much. I'd like to thank the Republican members of the House Ways and Means Committee who are here today to discuss the incredible plan to cut taxes. Now, it's reform, and it's lots of other things, but we're cutting taxes. It will be the biggest tax cut in our history. There's nothing more important to our economy. We see what's happening with our economy and how well it's doing. This is going to really bring it to the next level.

Diversity Immigrant Visa Program/Immigration Reform Legislation

Before we begin, I want to make a very brief announcement. I had an excellent meeting today with Chairman Grassley and other lawmakers on immigration reform. Following the terrorist attack in New York, I'm calling on Congress to immediately terminate the Diversity Visa Lottery Program. It's a disaster for our country.

This program grants visas not on a basis of merit, but simply because applicants are randomly selected in an annual lottery. And the people put in that lottery are not that country's finest. We know that the program presents significant vulnerabilities to our national security. It's a very unsafe program for our country, and we're not going to allow it to happen, and end that program. So I think Congress will take that up very quickly.

Additionally, Congress must end chain migration so that we can have a system that is security based, not the way it is now. And we want a system, ultimately, that's merit based so we can bring in people that will help our country, grow our country, and be safe for our country. We want to select people based on their ability to contribute to our country, not choose people randomly—we have no idea who they are—or based on extended family connections. You have people bringing in 24, 25, 26 people when they come in. We have to end chain migration.

Tax Reform Legislation

With that being said, this is a big tax cut day, and I want to thank some of the people. Naturally, Paul, great press conference you just had——

Speaker of the House of Representatives Paul D. Ryan. Thank you.

The President. Fantastic job.

Speaker Ryan. Appreciate it.

The President. Paul Ryan has really led an effort, and he had some awfully good help. He said, "Do you mind calling Diane Black?" I called Diane Black, and you came through, Diane. [Laughter] Although, let's wait about a month and a half, okay? [Laughter] Or less. It could be less.

And Peter—where's Peter? I saw you on television. Peter, you were fantastic today, and we appreciate it very much. I know how hard you worked. Kevin McCarthy—we just did one where Broadcom is moving back to the United States—into the United States—one of the top companies; it's a Fortune 100 company. And we just had a news conference with Kevin McCarthy and—hello, Kevin.

House Majority Leader Kevin O. McCarthy. Hello.

The President. It's been a long time.

Rep. McCarthy. Uh-huh. [Laughter]

The President. But, Kevin, you were—really have been fantastic. And a man named Kevin Brady—boy, oh boy. He's tough.

Committee Chairman Kevin P. Brady. Thank you, Mr. President.

The President. He doesn't stop. He doesn't stop. And there's nobody like him——

Chairman Brady. Thanks.

The President. ——and we really appreciate it, I have to tell you. But it's really a great team. We have a great team. And it's a team that loves what they're doing, they love the American people, they love this country, and they're going to get it done. It's tax cuts, it's tax reform, and we added the word "jobs," because it's all about jobs. We're going to have tremendous numbers of jobs pouring in.

So, in a few days, I'll be traveling to Asia to advance America's economic and national security priorities. I will miss you folks. [Laughter] I will miss everyone at this table. [Laughter]

Speaker Ryan. We'll hold the store for you.

The President. Please. I'll be back in 11 days, but I know things will go well, because there really is—there's a great spirit, there's a great popularity for what we're doing in this country. They want it, they need it, they have to have it. So it's been terrific.

But I'm counting on all of you to help maintain a momentum on the tax cuts and tax reform during that time. I have no doubt you'll be able to do it.

While I'm in Asia, members of the Cabinet will be traveling around the country talking directly to taxpayers and focusing on the regional media, which I actually find to be a very, very honorable media. We do very nicely with the regional; I love regional media. These folks—[laughter].

Of course, Secretary Mnuchin, Director Cohn, and my entire economic team will remain totally focused on tax reform and will continue to work closely with all of you. And I think, Paul, they've been working extremely closely.

Speaker Ryan. Absolutely.

The President. The relationship, Kevin, has been terrific.

Chairman Brady. Absolutely.

The President. We'll be with you all the way, 100 percent.

I want to also have a bill on my desk, hopefully, Kevin, by Thanksgiving, if that's possible. And I want everybody in this room standing by me, and we'll add some others, as we sign.

And thank you, again, for the incredible job you've all done. Some of the tax cuts and simplification work that we're going to be doing for families, they include a doubling of the standard deduction, so more income is taxed at the zero rate. The first $24,000 for a married couple and $12,000 for singles, will be completely income—or tax free. So that's something. That's a tremendous thing right there. So we're going to be having a big zero in front of a lot of people who are working very hard and they can't make ends meet.

We're going to reduce income tax rates for individuals, increase the child tax credit, and extend it to more middle-income families, a far larger group; repeal the alternative minimum tax; end the estate tax, or the death tax, as it's commonly called; retain tax incentives for mortgages, charitable contributions, work, higher education, retirement savings. We have a lot things that are the important generators in our economy.

Most Americans will be able to file taxes on a single sheet of paper. What do you think about that, Kevin? You still there, or is it going to be a paper and a half?

Chairman Brady. A postcard. Are you ready for the postcard, Mr. President?

[At this point, the President was handed a mock-up of a postcard-sized tax return.]

The President. Oh. [Laughter] Ooo, wow! Let's see. Great job. Thank you. I didn't know I was going to be given a prop. [Laughter]

Chairman Brady. Sorry about that. Sorry, Mr. President. It's yours, it's yours. [Laughter]

The President. Wow. That's beautiful. Thank you. But we think we're going to be able to do that. And if we have it the way it is now, as of this moment, that's what we're going to be having.

Chairman Brady. Yes, sir.

The President. It's going to make life very simple. The only people that aren't going to like this is H&R Block; they're not going to be very happy. [Laughter] That's probably one of the only companies in the country that's not going to be thrilled.

We're going to make America globally competitive again. Our corporate tax rate is 60 percent higher than our average competition. We'll slash the corporate rate from 35 percent to no more than 20 percent. That's truly one of the big things in the bill. What that's going to do is create tremendous success for companies and jobs. It's about jobs.

For 5 years, expense the full cost of new equipment in the year you buy it, something that, personally, I've never heard about in terms of when I was a businessman. In fact, that's a great incentive for everybody to want to be businesspeople. I think that's going to be one of the great—you know, when people talk about the different elements, Paul, that's—they don't talk about that. That's going to be one of the great sleepers in this bill—expense in 1 year.

We're going to move from a worldwide system to a territorial system—tremendous change. In 2016, American multinational companies kept 71 percent of their foreign-earned profits overseas. We're imposing a one-time, low tax to bring back all of that corporate money. Now, we think it's probably in the neighborhood of $4 trillion will be brought back into our economy, into our country. And that'll produce tremendous growth and jobs and lots of other things.

The Council of Economic Advisers estimates that the corporate tax reforms would increase average household income by $4,000. We're reducing tax rates for S corporations, partnerships, and sole proprietors, which really affects a large percentage of our people and our taxpayers. If the growth rate of real GDP increases by just 1 percent, we're talking about $2½ trillion and millions of jobs. So if we go up to 4, as an example, we're talking about $2½ trillion. And I personally think we can go higher. Last quarter we did 3, and that took off, I think you can figure, at least a point for hurricanes.

Chairman Brady. Right.

The President. We had five hurricanes, essentially. And we hit—we actually hit the 3 number. The quarter before, we hit 3.2. When we started we were at 1, a little bit more than 1. And now we're at 3, 3-2, and I think we would have hit 4. People are predicting 4 for next quarter. We'll see, but I've always said that it could be quite a bit higher than that.

A lot of that is rules, regulations. In the history of our country, no President, during their entire term, has cut more regulations than we've cut. We've cut that in 10 months, and we have a lot more to do. We have some statutory requirements; we have to give notice. And you know what this is, Diane. You give a 30-day, then a 90-day, then a 120-day notice, and then you can start thinking about it. Well, we've given those notices, and we have a lot of cutting left. But we've probably cut out about 48 percent, and we're going to be quite a bit higher than that. And it's one of the reasons that we're doing as well as we're doing.

The stock market has hit a new high close to 60 times during the course of this Presidency, this administration, this group of people sitting around this table. We're close to 60. And that's something that's very special, and I haven't looked today, but perhaps we'll add it, we'll make it an extra one, because I hear we're doing very well today.

But a lot of that is having to do with optimism. There's tremendous optimism. The highest they've had—business and manufacturing optimism is the highest it's been since the chart.

So I think what's going to happen is, the one element that's missing is taxes. We're one of the highest taxed countries in the world. And we're going to get really down to be one of the lower taxed. We won't be the lowest, but we'll get that maybe the next time. But we're going to be one of the lowest taxed, and we will be competitive again with the rest of the world.

You look at China, they're at 15 percent. You look at some countries, they're quite a bit lower than that. But at 20 percent, we're very, very competitive with the rest of the world. And so we're going to be—you're going to see numbers, and you're going to see growth, and you're going to see jobs, and you're going to see, really, wages going up. And something we're seeing now is, for the first time in a long time, wages are starting to rise for people. In some cases, they've been 18 to 21 years without a real salary increase or wage increase.

So a lot of good things are happening, but this is the final element: tax cuts and tax reform. And it's an honor to work with my fellow Republicans. I think we're going to actually have some Democrat support. I think it's going to be very, very hard for them not to support it.

There was a certain newspaper that wrote today that your competition was out there trying to say, "It's for the rich, it's for the rich," which they, of course, say routinely. It turned out that they weren't telling the truth, and the paper actually called them on it, which was shocking to me. Shocking. [Laughter] But they were called—they said they're not telling the truth, because this is a middle-income tax reduction, and it's a very big one. It will be the biggest tax reduction in the history of our country.

Thank you very much, everybody. Appreciate it. Thank you. Thank you very much, everybody. Q. Mr. President, are you concerned that your comments on the New York terror case has jeopardized that case, sir?

The President. Thank you very much, everybody. Thank you. Thank you.

Tax Reform Legislation

Q. Do you want to see changes to the bill?

The President. I don't think we'll need very many. Thank you very much.

NOTE: The President spoke at 1:56 p.m. in the Cabinet Room at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to Sen. Charles E. Grassley, in his capacity as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee; Reps. Diane L. Black and Peter Roskam; Secretary of the Treasury Steven T. Mnuchin; and National Economic Council Director Gary D. Cohn.

Donald J. Trump, Remarks in a Meeting With Republican Members of the House Committee on Ways and Means and an Exchange With Reporters Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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