Photo of Donald Trump

Remarks at a Roundtable Discussion on Workforce Development in Peosta, Iowa

July 26, 2018

[Music continued to play as the President began his remarks.]

The President. He's—a great job. He's been a tremendous supporter. Go ahead—finish it up, right? [Laughter] Thank you very much. And thank you very much, for being here. Wonderful people. Wonderful State. We've had great luck in this State, and I think we're really putting it back.

I'm very close, I have to tell you, to pulling off something that you've been looking forward to for many years. And that's the 12-month E-15 waiver. We're getting very close to doing that. It's a very complex process.

And I stuck with ethanol, and most other candidates were—they weren't there, right?

Governor Kimberly K. Reynolds of Iowa. Thank you.

The President. To put—to put it mildly. But Kim and Terry Branstad—who is, right now, your great Ambassador to China. [Applause] Great. We could not have put him in a more auspicious location or a more important location from the standpoint that Terry is out there doing a—really a—not an easy job. But I think in the end, it's going to work out very well. It's going to be something special.

I want to thank Secretary Wilbur Ross for being here. Secretary Alex Acosta. Wilbur, Alex. Governor Kim Reynolds, I guess one of the reasons I liked Terry, you know, he was the longest serving Governor in the history of the United States—I think 24 years. And he was, sort of, semi-newly elected again. And I said, "How about this?" Let's see, first I had to figure out who is the—who is the Lieutenant Governor. And I knew it was Kim. And I said, "You know, she'll be a great Governor." She's turned out to be better than a great Governor. You have—[applause]—you know, and Rod told me that. I said, "Rod, how is she doing?" And he said, "She's phenomenal." Right?

Representative Rodney L. Blum. Absolutely.

The President. You said she's phenomenal, and she really has been. You're number one in almost every category. You're in the top three in jobs. You're in the top three in unemployment. You're number-one State, I think that just came out.

Gov. Reynolds. There we go.

The President. Number-one State.

Gov. Reynolds. You won't let me ride with you again. [Laughter]

The President. Those are a—that's right. Those are very bad soundbites for whoever you're running against. [Laughter] I don't know—I don't know who you're running against, but I can tell you, that's not easy. When they rate you number-one State for a lot of things, especially on an economic basis. The job you're doing, Kim, has been fantastic.

And I can tell you, I spoke to Terry recently. We speak a lot. And he thinks you're doing a great job. So thank you very much. Gov. Reynolds. Thank you.

The President. Thank you very much.

Gov. Reynolds. We appreciate the tax cuts.

The President. And also, sitting up here with Rod Blum. Without him, we wouldn't have—[applause]—without Rod, we wouldn't have our tax cuts. And we have massive tax cuts and reform. I don't mention reform because nobody's—it's too complicated to talk about. People talk about tax cuts. We didn't want to use the word "reform." But the reforms are a very important thing, what we did.

And even included in that bill is the individual mandate. We got rid of the individual mandate, the most unpopular thing in Obamacare. And Obamacare is on its way out. You look at the cost of Obamacare, it's horrible. In fact, it was done, except we had one man that decided at the—you know, late in the evening, that he would change his vote. Isn't that wonderful? So he changed his vote. And he surprised all of us.

But it was dead. But it's virtually—it's on its last legs right now. Alex Acosta has come up with incredible health care plans through the Department of Labor, association plans where you associate, where you have groups, and you go out, and you get tremendous health care at a very small cost. And it's across State lines; you can compete all over the country. They compete. They want to get it. And, Alex, I hear it's like record business that they're doing.

We just opened about 2 months ago, and I'm hearing that the numbers are incredible. Numbers of people that are getting really, really good health care instead of Obamacare, which is a disaster.

So you're getting great health care for, really, a fraction of the cost. Highly competitive. It costs the United States Government nothing, and yet you're getting much better health care. And it's at very small prices. So I want to thank you. The job you did on that is incredible. Now he's doing phase two, and that's going to be announced very shortly. And that's going to be a very big group of people that nobody even knows about.

Secretary of Labor R. Alexander Acosta. That's right.

The President. And then, Secretary Azar, also, is doing a different form of health care that's turning out to incredible. We're working very hard on medicine prices. You probably saw where Pfizer actually announced a price increase, and then they—we weren't happy, and they took it away. [Laughter] They took it away. That's never happened before. And I thank Pfizer for that. I thank them.

And Merck, likewise, and Novartis and a number of—they announced increases and—boy, I must have a very powerful position, Wilbur, because I act—I was extremely angry about it. And then, all of sudden, they all called: "We're going to retract our price increases." So I said: "Number one, that has to be a good business; otherwise, you don't do that. And number two, I appreciate that they did it."

But we're working very hard on getting prescription drugs down. And prices down. And we have a big—that's what upset me. Here we are, talking about, you know, bringing down the prices of prescription drugs, and you had a couple of companies go out and announce an increase. And now those prices are going to become—really, tumbling down.

We have something else that we did—"right to try." And you would really—you were so instrumental in that, Rod. And I appreciate it. You and Greg and everybody. But I've been after it for a long time. I never understood it. They've been trying to get it passed for 42 years. You know what "right to try" is? It's actually a great title.

You know, a lot of these names I don't like. I love this name: "right to try." [Laughter] And this is where people are terminally ill, and they can't get a drug that shows great promise because the company or because the country says, "Well, we don't want to let anybody have a drug that's going to maybe hurt them." Well, they're terminally ill. So they want the right to try it. And they'll travel if they have the money, and most of the people don't have the money so they literally—they have no hope.

But this way, you have these incredible drugs that are coming out. It's too early in the stage to let them go out to the mass public. Many of them are going to work. But even if it were some of them were going to work, you now have the right to try. So you now have the right to get these drugs. And I think it's going to be a fantastic thing.

And Rod Blum and some of the other folks, they've really have been instrumental. That was an important one for Rod. But it was an important one for a lot of people.

And incredible how difficult it was; I mean, you would think that would be an easy one, right? What's easier than that? But the drug companies didn't like it because it showed badly, because people were very, very sick. They didn't want it in their statistics. The insurance companies didn't want it because they didn't want to get sued. The States didn't want it because there was a liability question. And we got them all in a room. We said: "Look, everybody will sign a document saying we're going to take this, and we're going to take away all liability. No suits, no nothing. But we're going to have the right to try." And they said—I was there, I guess I—you could say I led it—and they said, very nicely, "Oh, well, that works." Everybody said, "That works."

You know, in terms of the statistics for the drug companies—and I understood they don't want to have that as a bad stat, because these people were really far down the line in many cases. I said: "We won't count that stat. Or, we'll have a different set of statistics where it's terminally ill people." But one of the things you do get out of it, is you really will find out whether or not it works.

But the thing that we wanted to get, was we wanted to give people hope. And that's what they got. So that was something that was really good, and I'm just mentioning it because Rod was so helpful with that and so many other things. So I want to thank you. Fantastic.

So I also want to thank the Northeast Iowa Community College president, Dr. Liang Chee Wee—[laughter]—for hosting us.

Gov. Reynolds. He did a great job, didn't he?

The President. Very good. Very good. And really fantastic what we saw. We met some of the students, and they're really enthusiastic, and they're going to have a great life. They're going to have a great life.

You know, we have so many companies moving back to the United States now. And what we need is talented people—people that have knowledge and people that know how to use those incredible machines that you don't learn overnight, right?

Northeast Iowa Community College President Liang Chee Wee. Yes, sir. The President. And what you're doing here is a great example. A lot of people are studying it—what you're doing in Iowa with Kim and everybody else. And you were very complimentary of your Governor, and that—I understand that.

But what you're doing is really incredible. People all over the country—and beyond the country—are studying what you're doing right here in Iowa, Kim. And thank you, Doctor, very much. Congratulations.

Mr. Wee. Thank you, Mr. President.

The President. A person who was actually a very, very good student—she went to the Wharton School of Finance. And she was always a great student. I said, "Ivanka, are you going to do your homework?" "Yes, I've already done it, Dad." And then, she'd get A's. I said, "She doesn't work." [Laughter]. She doesn't work.

And I remember, when she graduated from Wharton, she did very well. And her friends said, "You know, we had to work harder than she did." And I don't know if they were happy or not, but they liked her. Everybody likes Ivanka. But she really led this initiative so much, and she continues to. She feels it's so important to job training.

We have—again, we have so many companies coming into this area, but all over the country. And the biggest problem we have, is we have to have people with talent and skill; otherwise, we're not going to have these companies come in.

But we are learning, and we're teaching a lot of people. And they're great people. And Ivanka really has been leading that initiative, and I want to thank you very much.

Assistant to the President Ivanka M. Trump. Thank you.

The President. Really fantastic. In fact, Ivanka, before we begin, maybe you just might want to tell them about the bill that was passed last night?

Assistant to the President Trump. Absolutely. So after many, many years—since 2006—Congress, on both sides of the aisle, could not get together to reauthorize and modernize a piece of legislation that is so critically important to what we're all here talking about: career and technical education.

Perkins Career and Technical Education Act passed the Senate last week, passed the House this week, and will be signed into law by the President after over a decade of languishing. It's been reauthorized——

The President. Unless I don't sign it. Maybe I'll veto it. [Laughter].

Assistant to the President Ivanka M. Trump. It is——

The President. Maybe I'll veto it. I'll see. Let's see. [Laughter] I think I'll veto——

Assistant to the President Ivanka M. Trump. I get——

The President. ——that bill. What do you think, Rod? [Laughter]

Rep. Blum. No.

Gov. Reynolds. No, please. No.

Assistant to the President Ivanka M. Trump. No, no, no. It's going to affect 11 million students and workers across the Nation who are seeking to acquire the technical skills to be able to thrive in our modern and increasingly digital economy. So it is very, very exciting—— The President. That's so good.

Assistant to the President Ivanka M. Trump. ——and it's an enormous piece of legislation, and it's going to be really transformative to education across the country.

And I was actually here in Iowa just this past March with the great Governor Reynolds, and we toured one of the facilities that benefits from Perkins. This facility benefits from Perkins, and it's great legislation that was in dire need of being modernized. So thanks to the President's leadership, and thanks to the push of the White House, it got done. So we're very excited, and it will be signed into law in the coming weeks.

The President. Good. Good. So, Rod, get that to my desk, all right? Get that to my desk, all right?

Rep. Blum. You're going to sign it, right?

The President. Before I change my mind. [Laughter]

Rep. Blum. You're going to sign it, right?

The President. I'll change my mind, be careful.

Rep. Blum. Ivanka? [Laughter].

The President. Anyway—well, thank you very much.

But I want to also send our prayers to the communities who have been affected by the recent devastating tornadoes in central Iowa. That was all over the news, and I watched. And I love this place; it's been a very special place to me. And you know, whatever we can do, we're doing.

Gov. Reynolds. Yes.

The President. We have a lot of Federal people out here, some incredible people. And they're all working with your—your Representatives, and I know they're doing the best they can. But I will tell you, that's a terrible event. It's tragic. The power—the power of nature—people have no idea.

Moments ago, I toured the school's amazing state-of-the-art training lab with the Doctor. And preparing—really, they're preparing American students for the work of the future—for their life's future. And they're going to have a great living. They're going to be making a great living. They're sought after. They're really sought after. And I congratulated them.

We're making tremendous progress on workforce development. And next week, I'll sign the legislation that Ivanka just talked about—that is going to be really something—and, really, an amazing achievement. Between that and, you know, for years—how many years, Ivanka, they've been working on that?

Assistant to the President Trump. Since 2006.

The President. Yes, 2006. But we're signing one for the vets: Choice. That's been up for 44 years. They've been trying to get Choice, where you wait on line for weeks and weeks and weeks—you're not even very sick—and by the time you get to see the doctor, you have a terminal illness. They could have taken care of it very easily if you got early. But weeks and weeks—and we got Choice. And people said you couldn't do that, and we got it.

That's where you go and you see a doctor and the country pays—these are our vets—the country pays the doctor's bill, which is a tiny fraction of the cost of what would happen and what has been happening. And the lines are being reduced so drastically, and the vets are now able—if they can't see—if they can't get immediate service, they go right outside, they get a doctor—a local doctor. We have deals worked and pricing worked and everything worked, and they get taken care of. It's really great.

And we also passed Accountability. And you know, in the—in the VA, you couldn't fire anybody. You knew that. This man knew it better than anybody. He's a tough cookie. He wanted to—if they don't take care of our vets, you want them out.

Rep. Blum. Absolutely.

The President. And what happened is, you couldn't get it. It was 45 years they've been trying to get Accountability. Now, of course, the unions weren't thrilled. And the civil service, you know, was difficult, and that would be the stumbling block. That's why they couldn't get it passed. And we got it passed, VA Accountability. So if they don't treat our vets right, we look at them, and we say: "Sorry, you're fired. Get out." [Laughter]. "Out. Out. Out." [Laughter]

And that's really—to me, that's a big one. And what you did last night, I mean, that's only been from early 2000s. So that's easy by comparison. But we—those two bills for the VA—for the vets was just incredible. We're really doing a job with the vets, I think. It's never been like this before.

But I believe that both of them—but, in particular, Choice is going to be—it's going to make such a difference. Where—I mean they were waiting for weeks just to see a doctor. And then they'd have to come back for a second visit, and it would be 4 weeks later and horrible. So we took care of that.

Whether a citizen is a high school student or a mid-to-late career worker, we want Americas of—Americans of all ages and background to be equipped with the skills they need to thrive—preparing American workers for American jobs. We've added 3.7 million jobs since—as you know, since the election.

That was a great election. Wasn't that a great election? And I have to say—because we have a lot of farmers in this place—we had this hat made up. Look at that. Just—it's the John Deere colors, actually, but—"Make Our Farmers Great Again." Isn't that great? "Make Our"—[applause].

And yesterday, you know, we've been working on these trade deals, which are the worst ever made by any country in history. We had the worst trade deals. We don't have one trade deal that's any good. Between NAFTA, which was a horrible deal—and we're getting close on that. But we're making it good. You're dealing with closed markets. The Canadians—you have a totally closed market from so many—you know, in Canada they have a 375-percent tax on dairy products. Other than that, it's wonderful to deal. [Laughter]

And we have a very big deficit with Canada—trade deficit, although they don't like to say that. But on one of their pieces of paper that they give out with the Canadian flag—and I love Canada, by the way. I have to tell you, I love Canada—but they have the Canadian flag, very official—it's says, "$97.8 billion deficit that the United States has," or they put it down as a surplus to Canada. And I said, "Well, if we're doing so well with Canada, how come it's $98.7 billion?" Okay? That's a lot of money.

And so we're opening things up. But the biggest one of all happened yesterday—other than China—the EU, the Europeans—it's a thing called Europe. Europe. And the relationship with Jean-Claude, who is the head, who is a—actually a very, very strong guy. Very tough guy, but a good man. And he's done an incredible job pulling all the countries together.

But we just opened up Europe for you farmers. You're not going to be too angry with Trump, I can tell you. [Laughter] Because you were essentially—wouldn't you say, Kim—they were restricted from——

Gov. Reynolds. Yes.

The President. ——dealing in Europe.

Gov. Reynolds. Regulatory problem.

The President. You had barriers that really made it impossible for farm products to go in. And I said to them, "Do me a favor, will you just"—because you know, China is doing a little number. They want to attack the farm belt because they know those—the farmers love me. They voted for me. We won every one of the States. And you look at that middle of this country outside of a little bit of blue on the outside—outer edges of the country, we won just everything. And so they figured, "Oh what we'll do is we'll attack them." And I see that. And I said: "They're not going to win. Just so you understand. We have all the cards. We're going to win."

But it's not nice what they're doing. But I said to the Europeans, I said: "Do me a favor. Would you go out to the farms in Iowa and all the different places in the Midwest? Would you buy a lot of soybeans, right now?" Because what—that whole soybean thing is now going to be opened up. No tariffs. No nothing. Free trade. I call it "free and fair." See, that's called free trade.

When you have a country that's charging you 50-percent tariffs, and we charge them nothing, and then I raise it to 50 percent, and then we have politicians in Washington say, "We are stopping free trade." No. No. They stopped it when they put on the 50 percent.

I mean, we have countries that are charging us 200 percent, 250 percent, 100 percent—I don't want to mention them, because I actually get along very well with the head people. But they know who they are, and they're changing their ways. [Laughter] But the Europe—I mean, basically, we opened up Europe, and that's going to be a great thing for Europe, and it's been—really going to be a great thing for us. An it's going to be a really great thing for our farmers, because you have just gotten yourself one big market that really, essentially—wouldn't you say, Kim?—never existed, because you just had——

Gov. Reynolds. Right.

The President. ——you just had a problem.

So we did that yesterday afternoon. We signed a letter of intent, or agreed to a letter of intent, and we're starting the documents. But the relationship is very, very good. So we're very happy.

And then, the employers are hiring, and they recruiting, and they're raising wages in our country. And you know what's happened: We have so many jobs now coming in, but they're raising wages. The first time that's happened in 19 years, where wages are going up. Now, you have a couple of people—you own your big farms—you probably don't hear that. But you're doing okay. So you're doing okay. [Laughter] But it's the first time that's happened in a long time. And we're just doing really, really well as a country. And there's no place doing better than Iowa. I mean, there's no place with better leadership. There's no place with more advanced thought. And I want to thank your Governor.

And, you know, as I sort of alluded, when I put Terry as the Ambassador—such an important position—and he really likes China. He really likes China. Very interesting story. Terry told me, he said, you know, many years ago—like 38 years ago—he met a man named Xi, and he came back—because he was selling corn to China. And he came back and told his incredible wife—who is incredible with—by the way, a son who led my campaign. I don't know if he's here. Where is he? Is he here? Because what a great guy. I hope he's working on your campaign and your campaign.

But he came back, and he told his wife—this is, I think, 38 years before—he said, "I just met the future head of China." And she said, "What do you mean?" "I just met a man who is so impressive that he will someday be the head of China." And that's President Xi. He just got—in fact, I guess he's President for life, based on everything I've heard. [Laughter] But can you imagine Terry Branstad telling me that story? Which was a great story.

So I want to ask Kim to say a few words, and then maybe we can travel around the table real fast. We'll all say something.

But it's great to be in Iowa. We had a tremendous victory here. We won by a lot. And just very, very special people. Very, very special. And we're taking care of your ethanol. Okay? Nobody else was going to, believe me; they were out. They were out. We're taking care of your ethanol. Right?

And before—I have to thank—Senator Grassley has been an incredible friend of mine. Joni Ernst has been—Joni, has been, like, an incredible friend of mine. Although I think she likes Ivanka better than she likes me. It's the same thing. [Laughter]

Gov. Reynolds. Girl power, right?

The President. But Joni Ernst, I'll tell you, she's a tremendous talent. Chuck Grassley is, like—he's Chuck Grassley. He's just incredible. [Laughter] He speaks, and you listen, right? There's no games with Chuck.

But they've been pushing me very, very strong on the ethanol, and you know, we've been with them all the way. So I just want to thank them. I know they're in Washington doing some very important business right now, but I wanted to thank them.

Kim, go ahead.

Gov. Reynolds. Thank you. Well, Mr. President, first I want to say welcome back to Iowa. It's a pleasure to have you back in our State. I also want to welcome back Ivanka and Secretary Acosta as well. We appreciate the time that you've spent in Iowa, really seeing what we've been working on. And it's a real pleasure to be a part of this roundtable to discuss the importance of workforce.

And I think we're actually the first State that you've stopped at——

The President. That's right.

Gov. Reynolds. ——to do the pledge since the Executive order was signed. So thank you. We're really proud of our leadership role on this front. And really, the public-private partnerships continue to build the foundation. So many of the businesses that I see out in the audience today have been such a phenomenal partner with our schools and our communities and our community colleges to really help build those partnerships; to help not only young people see that there are so many pathways to a great career, but as we saw on the tour, adults that are reskilling, retraining, and having a great opportunity to have a great career and a great quality of life, and most importantly, right here in the State of Iowa.

[At this point, Gov. Reynolds continued her remarks, concluding as follows.]

Thank you for being here. Thanks for signing the Executive order. We appreciate the partnership. And we're taking advantage of your tax reform too, because we were able to pass tax reform in the State of Iowa, as well as regulatory reform. So we're partnering with you on a lot of great initiatives. Thank you very much.

The President. Thank you, Kim. Thank you very much. Is that the home of Pella windows too? Pella?

Gov. Reynolds. Yes, it is.

The President. I bought a lot of Pella windows. [Laughter] And I bought a lot of John Deere equipment. Millions and millions and millions of dollars' worth of John Deere equipment. One of their bigger customers, they tell me. So that's good. And Pella makes a great window, I will say that. They make a really great window.

So we'll go around. Yes.

Iowa Workforce Development Director Beth Townsend. Mr. President, Beth Townsend, Director of Iowa Workforce Development. First and foremost, I want to say, as a veteran, thank you to your administration for everything you have done for veterans. You just don't know what that has meant to all of us.

The President. Thank you.

Director Townsend. So thank you. I also wanted to say, I've heard you talk about the dignity of work, which is something we in Iowa really believe in. And when you combine that with our employers who believe in investing in their employees, and you bring the collaboration and the great leadership that we've had from Governor Reynolds and Governor Branstad and create programs like Future Ready Iowa, you want to know how to solve this problem in America? You look at us, and we will tell you how to do it. [Laughter]

The President. Good. I know that. That's true.

Doctor, would you like to say a few words, please?

Mr. Wee. Again, on behalf of Northeast Iowa Community College, welcome to everybody. It's not every day we get the President of the United States here. [Laughter] So, Mr. President, thank you for coming.

The President. Thank you.

Mr. Wee. I just want to say thank you for really looking at the Perkins legislation. In fact, I just read it this morning. Under the leadership of Representative Virginia Foxx, it says one of the priorities is to have more inclusive collaboration between educational institution, industry, employers, and community partners.

[Mr. Wee continued his remarks, concluding as follows.] Last year alone, we worked with over 470 businesses and trained over 1,000 employees. In fact, last year, we touched over 20,000 for upskilling. So you find that, as a community college, we really are the college of the people. And we welcome you back again, because today you're only saw a sliver of what we do.

The President. Yes, that's true.

Mr. Wee. And I can't——

The President. Very impressive though.

Mr. Wee. ——thank enough our business partners out here. They're out here. Without their support, without our K-12 support, without the State's support, without the city—city council and all the other government—Northeast Iowa Community College would not be able to do what you have set up, and that is putting Americans to work. We're fully behind that. And under the Governor's leadership, we'll make sure that that happens. And that 70 percent, Madam Governor, we're going to exceed that.

Gov. Reynolds. That's right.

The President. Thank you very much, Doctor. Appreciate it. Thank you.

I'd like to maybe have Matt [Rod; White House correction.] Blum speak next, because he's been so incredible in so many ways. He fights so hard. He loves this State; he loves the people. I guess he's got a race against somebody they call "Absent Abby," because she never showed up to the State house. [Laughter] I don't know what's going—Absent Abby. Who's Absent Abby? [Laughter] But he's going to—you're going to—have you ever heard that term? I think so. [Laughter]

But, you know, he came to me recently with—that's a bad name for somebody to have if you're running for office, I'll tell you. [Laughter] But he came to me recently about a floodwall, and that's a big deal, isn't it? Huh?

Rep. Blum. Big deal. Big deal. Thank you very much.

The President. And how much money did you get?

Rep. Blum. A hundred and seventeen million.

The President. A hundred and seventeen million dollars. And if somebody else would have come, they wouldn't have got—they would have gotten $2. [Laughter] But he got $117 million, and it's going well, right?

Rep Blum. Thank you. Thank you.

The President. Is it going well?

Rep. Blum. Absolutely.

The President. Yes, good.

Rep Blum. Yes, it's going well.

The President. Congratulations, and——

Rep. Blum. Thank you very much. The President. ——and good luck with everything, and I appreciate everything. I appreciate your help.

Rep Blum. Yes. Yes, Mr. President.

The President. You've been fantastic. Thank you, Rod. Say a few words, please.

Rep. Blum. Mr. President, Ivanka, Labor Secretary Acosta, and Commerce Secretary Ross, welcome to the First District of Iowa. And I don't mean to put the pressure, Mr. President, on Secretary Ross, because I know he's got a lot on his plate, but we made a bet on Air Force One, on the way out here—a steak dinner. Correct, Mr. Secretary?

Secretary of Commerce Wilbur L. Ross, Jr. That's right.

Rep. Blum. On getting a deal done with Mexico in the next 90 days.

Secretary Ross. That's right.

Rep. Blum. Correct?

Secretary Ross. Yes.

Rep. Blum. And I fully plan on buying you a steak dinner.

I'd like to thank you, Mr. President, for your leadership on our economy. We are now growing at over twice the rate—twice the rate—that we were under former President Obama, and it's due in large part to your leadership. Thank you very much for that, Mr. President.

The President. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you very much.

Rep. Blum. And also, thank you for having political courage to renegotiate these trade deals, which, quite frankly, are not good to the United States. And you've taken some heat for it in the short term——

The President. Short term.

Rep. Blum. ——but in the long run, the farmers, the manufacturers, the employers are all going to be better off.

The President. That's right.

Rep. Blum. Thank you for having political courage.

The President. That's right. [Laughter] Thank you. You're right. Thank you.

Rep. Blum. And lastly, thank you for our commitment—your commitment to workers. This great economy we have has created another problem in my district. People cannot find workers. And that's a problem. We need welfare reform. If you're between 18 and 65 years old, mentally and physically able to work, no children in the house, you ought to be working, right? You ought to be working. We need welfare reform.

[Rep. Blum continued his remarks, concluding as follows.]

You know, Mr. President, there exists a myth in this country that you cannot live the American Dream unless you have a white dress shirt on and work in an office. And that, my friends, you would agree—and I think you would agree, Mr. President—is not true.

The President. That's right. That's right. Rep. Blum. So the first time—the first time, my friends—in our country's history, we have more job openings—more job openings than we have workers to fill them. First time in our country's history. Hats off to you, Mr. President.

So I'm confident to Mr.—that Mr. President and his team and Ivanka will solve our workforce problems and get more people so we can achieve what Secretary Mnuchin and I discussed over a year ago, and that is 4-percent economic growth. But we need the workers, and they need to be trained to do it. And I think this quarter, Mr. President, we're going to have a pretty good GDP report.

The President. Well, on Friday, the numbers come out, and I don't know what they are, but there are predictions from 3.8 to 5.3. And if somebody would have said that when I was running, if I would have ever even thought that—and you know I've been saying—frankly, I've been saying we're going to do awfully well, but nobody thought we were going to be this great. We've already hit 3.2 percent.

When I took over, those numbers were bad, and they were heading in the wrong direction because of regulation. No—really, the taxes were too high. People were leaving the country. Companies were leaving the country. Jobs were—forget it, they were really being abandoned. And other countries, frankly, were taking advantage of the United States. You know that, Rod. So we stopped that. But please, go ahead.

Rep. Blum. Well, that's the big points I wanted to make. And I just wanted to say, Mr. President, my parents had 10-grade educations, and I valued education, got an education, worked my butt off, and became a self-made entrepreneur who lived the American Dream. And I think this is all about the American Dream. Thank you very much.

The President. And became one of the great Congressmen too——

Rep. Blum. Thank you.

The President. ——that I can tell you. One of the most effective people in Congress. So thank you very much. Thank you, Rod.

Joe, please.

Northeast Iowa Community College student Joe O'Dell. Thank you, sir. Well, my name is Joe O'Dell, and I want to thank my beautiful wife for the support out there. I want to thank the Scherr Family and Dubuque Screw Products for supporting me on my journey.

I was a third-generation logger. And in June of 2014, I was diagnosed with AML Leukemia. At that time, I was only given a few months. Through great medical miracles, I am here today. And in that, I come back to school, though NICC, and they connected me with the right people to be successful. I went through the Pathway Program to start out. I went through the 1-year program, and now I am into the apprenticeship program, with a great company backing me. And I can tell you, I am living a very good life from this schooling.

[Mr. O'Dell continued his remarks, concluding as follows.]

And I think with the employer support we got around our community, the community support, these people can put you in connection with the right people to make you very successful.

The President. Thank you very much. Thank you, Joe. Beautiful. Thank you, Joe.

Georgia. Iowa Business Council Executive Director and Board Secretary Georgia Van Gundy. Thank you, Mr. President. Well, I'm Georgia Van Gundy with the Iowa Business Council. And we represent 22 of the CEOs from some of the largest employers in our State, with Randy being one of them. But we have operations in all 99 counties. And I think Beth and the Governor talked about our Future Ready Iowa Initiative that we have, which is a Statewide strategy. That's the first we've ever had to address our workforce needs.

[Ms. Van Gundy continued her remarks, concluding as follows.]

And so that's where I think the State of Iowa and all of our employers are really stepping up to engage with education so that we can—you know, our population hasn't grown in quite some time here in the State. So it is important that we retrain the people that we have——

The President. Right.

Ms. Van Gundy. ——to fill the jobs that we have.

The President. Thank you very much. Beautiful job.

Ms. Van Gundy. Yes, thank you.

The President. Thanks, Georgia. Thank you.

Hy-Vee, Inc., Chairman, Chief Executive Officer, and President Randy Edeker. Mr. President, I just want to thank you for the opportunity to be here. My name is Randy Edeker. I'm the chairman, CEO, and president of Hy-Vee. Just to level-set about Hy-Vee, we're a—[applause]—thank you. Thank you. We are an 86-year-old employee-owned company. We operate in eight States in the Midwest: 248 food stores; 145 C-stores; 70 clinics; and 258 pharmacies.

The President. Wow.

Mr. Edeker. And so that's who we are.

[Mr. Edeker continued his remarks, concluding as follows.]

And then, finally, as a commitment, we've committed to—over the next 5 years—taking 800 individuals through our Hy-Vee University Program, which is a 4-year advanced program to train workers and leaders in our company; 1,000 interns, 1,000 advanced skilled work workers will be trained; and then 12,500 on-the-job training, and working with individuals to learn new skills to assimilate into our companies and others. And so we've committed to 15,000 training opportunities over the next 5 years as a part of your pledge today.

The President. Right.

Mr. Edeker. And so, once again, thank you for having us here.

The President. Good. Thank you, Randy.

Mr. Edeker. Yes.

The President. Thank you very much. Thank you very much.

How about you, Matt?

ServiceOne service technician Matt Droeske. Good afternoon, Mr. President. My name is Matt Droeske, and I reside here in the town of Peosta. Here with me today is my lovely wife Monica, my two brothers, and both my bosses. [Laughter] I'm honored to be here to talk briefly about the opportunity my employer, ServiceOne, has given me to participate in the HVAC apprenticeship program through the CEU authority. After high school, I attended Southwest Tech for dairy herd management and then eventually NICC for HVAC. I was offered a position at a company graduating where I was low man on the totem pole doing grunt work.

[Mr. Droeske continued his remarks, concluding as follows.]

Mr. President, I want to thank you and congratulate you for the effort in helping the working class and believing in American workers with the workforce development. I believe this will give the opportunity—or give the other options to kids, like myself and my brother, who may not fit the college mode. Thank you again for allowing me to share today. It's been a real honor.

The President. Thank you very much. Beautiful job. Beautiful. Beautiful.


Giese Sheet Metal project manager Matt Giese. Mr. President, thanks for being here and welcome. I'm Matt Giese, project manager at Giese Sheet Metal. Our family has three businesses here in town. Been in business 95 years and family owned and operated since the start. So that's—not a lot of people do that. So we're proud of that. Very much so.

You know, great-grandpa started in the alley selling furnishes and sheet metal, and now we got, you know, three locations and 150 employees. So each generation has made it——

The President. Great.

Mr. Giese. ——better and better. And so, hopefully, ours is, you know, good. [Laughter] So——

The President. No doubt. No doubt.

Mr. Giese. And actually, our vice president was at our Giese Manufacturing a couple months before the election, and it was probably the best rally of the entire summer.

But Kim and Rod—because, you know, we had a huge stainless steel, metal sign, "Trump" out of—you know, "Trump/Pence." It was, yes, nice. [Laughter]

Gov. Reynolds. It was awesome.

Rep. Blum. Very nice. Very nice. Very nice.

Mr. Giese. We—yes, they join us often, so—but I work on the construction side of things, so I estimate and do commercial HVAC and duct work. And I could tell you, the jobs are out there. You know, seeing great numbers. And that's not just us; I mean, everybody is seeing—they're busier than, you know, don't know what to do. We're so busy that we've got guys on mandatory overtime. And they're great guys. I just want more of them.

[Mr. Giese continued his remarks, concluding as follows.]

So NICC does a great job. We've got some good guys out of here. You know, with what the Governor is doing, I think we're definitely in the right step. So I think we just keep going. I think, bottom line is, the work is there; we just need the bodies to do it.

So—but thanks again for letting me be a part of this. The President. Thank you very much. Great story. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you very much. Good.


Northeast Iowa Community College Vice President of Effectiveness and Advancement Wendy Knight. Welcome, Mr. President and Ivanka. I'm Wendy Knight, and it is my pleasure on behalf of all of our vice presidents, all of our facility and staff, to welcome to you to the greatest community college in the Nation. [Laughter]

And I hope this is acceptable with my Secret Service security friends—for those of you in the audience, if you partner with us, if you had a student who you have hired, if you have a friend, a relative, anyone you know that has been touched by NICC, please raise your hand.

The President. Wow.

Ms. Knight. It is because of you that we are the greatest community college. So thank you very much. I get to share with you hopes and dreams. You're going to hear some themes here with the stories I'm going to share. Students who attend our community college for in-demand training receive a very high return on investment.

Ashley Pottebaum lost her customer service job. She was a single mom. She needed a career with a self-sustaining income to care for her daughter. She enrolled here at Northeast Iowa Community College in our Gas Utility Diploma Program. And in only 9 months' time, and right before she was going to graduate, she was offered a job by one of our utility companies, full time and now making over $26 an hour.

The President. Good.

Ms. Knight. And Melissa Oliveras—you met today—she attended Luther College on a music scholarship with a dream to play soccer. Melissa sustained an injury that sidelined that athletic career. She decided to return to Dubuque. She was looking for a mix of creativity, problem-solving, and hands-on work that would truly make a difference and impact the world she lives. She found that at Northeast Iowa Community College in our engineering technology program. She loved that the college offered one-on-one instruction and that everyone wanted her to be successful.

[Ms. Knight continued his remarks, concluding as follows.]

Nancy is a little bit of an overachiever. She has also a welding degree, and she worked as a journeyman pipefitter for 10 years. Today, she works at our great city—or our great business here in Dubuque, Iowa, DDI.

Thank you, President Trump and Ivanka.

The President. Thank you very much, Wendy. Beautiful. Thank you.

Our great Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Ross, who is a big, big success on Wall Street—and I said, "You have to bring some successful people in, especially for that job." Wilbur, you're doing great. Go ahead. Please.

Secretary Ross. Thank you, Mr. President. I'd like to talk about the biggest unused resource we have in this country. We think about resources as farmland, or not—or mineral land or oil and natural gas land. The biggest unused resource is people who have been sidelined because they don't have the skills.

[Secretary Ross continued his remarks, concluding as follows.] So those two alone would be a quarter of a trillion dollars more pay for Americans. Think what that would mean for the economy. Think what it would mean for the families. Think what it would mean for everybody.

The President. Thank you.

Secretary Ross. That's what we're after——

The President. Yes.

Secretary Ross. ——with Ivanka and President Trump's program.

The President. That's right. Thank you, Wilbur. That's great. Thank you. Thank you.

I just want to call out a friend of mine who's in the audience, Jeff Kaufmann. Stand up, Jeff. [Laughter] He led the Republican Party to a great victory in the State of Iowa. Thank you, Jeff. And I hear we're doing well. We're doing well? That's good. You are fantastic. Thank you very much. I just look up, I see Jeff sitting there, but he's totally political, so—[laughter]. Great job you do. Thank you very much.

Secretary Acosta. So he has turned out to be one of our greats. I told you about health care. He came out of nowhere with this incredible plan. And he's done a fantastic job as the Secretary of Labor. Please, Alex.

Secretary Acosta. Mr. President, thank you.

The President. You're doing a good job.

Secretary Acosta. You know, as I've been listening to the comments around the table, I'm struck by how many firsts we have seen over the past several months. The tax cut that the President referenced is the biggest tax cut that we have seen in decades, maybe ever. And what does that mean? That means, initially, we saw 2 million and 3 million. And last I saw, 6 million Americans had received a bonus or a salary increase or some other dividend directly because of the tax cuts.

[Secretary Acosta continued his remarks, concluding as follows.]

So last week in the White House, we saw almost—we saw companies make commitments to provide educational opportunities and apprenticeships to almost 4 million American workers. And today I was handed this when I walked in. Here in Iowa, because of the Governor's work, businesses have come together. You heard from Hy-Vee, and you just heard from Randy and some others—businesses have come together. And they've already pledged 50,000 training opportunities because of Governor Reynolds's work to Iowans. And that's transformative to each and every one of those lives.

Gov. Reynolds. And we're just getting started.

Secretary Acosta. And so the point that I want to make is a very simple one: Whether it's through tax cuts; through deregulation; through job opportunities for individuals that are looking to transition careers; through educational opportunities for community colleges; through the Perkins CTE; for veterans that are looking for quality health care through association health plans, the rules that we just proposed that are going to drop health care costs for associations around the Nation—and I know here, I heard this morning that some groups in Iowa are already putting those associations together—that is impacting lives. Those aren't just theories. That is impacting American lives across this Nation. And it's pretty incredible that that has happened in, in essence, about a year and a half. And so I just wanted to reflect on that. Thank you.

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

And just to go on a little bit from what Alex said, we have to keep it going. And we can't have people ending the tax cuts and giving you massive tax increases, which is what the Democrats want to do. We can't have people with open borders where people flow into our country; many of these people are not people that we can have in our country.

We can't get rid of ICE, who are the bravest, toughest people you'll ever meet. And they handle the situation. These are people that are so brave that, you know, it's brilliant to see what they do. And yet they're disrespected by large portions of the Democrats. We can't lose ICE. That's our protection. They're fair, but they're tough. And that's all that the other side really understands, especially when you're dealing with people like MS-13 gangs. These are the toughest people, but they're not as tough as what we have. Not even close. And they understand that. And they respect it. In their own way, they respect it.

So we have to keep it going. We don't want to have our tax cuts—and they're very, very substantial—we don't want to have that ended. We don't want to have tax increases that will kill the whole thing. We want to keep all of our programs going. We don't want them ended.

So that's why I mentioned Rod and Kim and the people that have represented your State on our side of the ledger. I mean, the fact is, they've done an incredible job, and it's only going to get better. If we keep this incredible phenomena going, it will only get better.

Our numbers are fantastic right now. You're going to see on Friday what happens with GDP. A lot of predictions, a lot of predictions. I told you before, some with a "5" in front of it. It would have been—to mention that would have been—you would have driven these people back there crazy. [Laughter] And it could be very close. Could even happen—"5.3," somebody said yesterday. One of the geniuses on Wall Street said, "5.3." Okay, we'll take anything with a "4" in front. [Laughter] We'll go nice and slowly, right?

But I just want to say, it's so important to keep it going.

So, Rod, I appreciate your being here.

Rep. Blum. Thank you, Mr. President.

The President. And really appreciate the job you've done. You love these people. It is true. I said—I said: "A floodwall? How much is a floodwall going to cost?" "A hundred and seventeen million dollars." I said, "Rod, what are you talking about? $117 million?" He got it. [Laughter] Very few people would have gotten that, believe me. So congratulations. Use it well, right? Use it well in Iowa.

And, Kim, maybe I'm going to let you finish off, but I really appreciate the job you're doing. I'm very proud of you, because, in a sense, I feel a little bit responsible because I took your other great Governor—[laughter]—and I sent him to China.

Gov. Reynolds. Yes, yes, yes. [Laughter] But we're all about holding the people accountable. And I can guarantee you that Ambassador Branstad is holding me accountable as well.

The President. It's true. Gov. Reynolds. He has a great legacy, and I want to continue to build on that. I just want to reiterate again how proud we are to have you in the State. Thank you for what you're doing.

The President. Thank you.

Gov. Reynolds. I appreciate the partnership and especially the flexibility that you are giving to the States to give us the opportunity to take these programs and take the resources to be held accountable for, but really to accent the great programs that we have going on.

So when I talk to businesses all across the State, I ask them how business is going, and they say it's never been better. They're projecting growth, significant growth. And so that's a result of some of the policies that you've put in place, and we're extremely appreciative of that, and we're going to continue to build on that from the State of Iowa.

So thank you for being here and being a part of this.

The President. Thank you. Thank you all. Thank you very much. Thank you all.

NOTE: The President spoke at 11:52 a.m. at the Northeast Iowa Community College-Peosta Campus. In his remarks, he referred to Sen. John S. McCain III; Rep. Gregory P. Walden; President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker; Iowa congressional candidate State Rep. Abby L. Finkenauer; Christine Branstad, wife, and Eric Branstad, son, of U.S. Ambassador to China Terry E. Branstad; and Jeff A. Kaufmann, Iowa State chairman, Republican National Committee. He also referred to H.R.2353. Gov. Reynolds referred to Executive Order 13845. Mr. Giese referred to Thomas Giese, vice president, Giese Sheet Metal.

Donald J. Trump, Remarks at a Roundtable Discussion on Workforce Development in Peosta, Iowa Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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