Photo of Donald Trump

Remarks on Signing an Executive Order on Strengthening Retirement Security in America in Charlotte, North Carolina

August 31, 2018

The President. Thank you very much. That's a lot of friends. A lot of friends.

So, good afternoon to everyone, and thank you very much for the terrific job you're doing and also to the spectacular small-business owners that are here today. Many of those small-business owners—Linda McMahon, who is a small-business owner, and it became a big business—[laughter]—a great business. And we have so many of them here today. I know some of them. And congratulations.

I want to wish everyone a very, very happy Labor Day and Labor Day weekend. Have a good time. I assume right after this you're just going to scoot, right? [Laughter] Wherever you're going to go. Stay in North Carolina. It's a great place. You don't have to go anywhere. [Laughter]

But I'm thrilled to be back in Charlotte, and the fact is that it's a very special place. So special that we chose it for the 2020 Republican National Convention, right? And we had a lot of places that want it. You know, a lot of places want those things where so many people come in and spend their money. But Charlotte has been a great place for us. And I actually have investments in Charlotte. They'll say, "Oh, there's a conflict of interest." [Laughter] The fake news, they'll say, "This a conflict." [Laughter]

You know where my club is, right? [Laughter] Trump National. And it's a very big success on Lake Norman. Beautiful. Largest man-made lake in the world, by far. Right? [Laughter] The electric company. Had to be more than man-made. That was made with a lot of money for a long time. [Laughter]

In just a few minutes, I'll sign an Executive order to extend the incredible benefits of retirement savings accounts—such a big thing—to American workers employed at small businesses all across our Nation.

As we head into Labor Day, our Nation pays its gratitude to the hard-working men and women who make our country run. And I'm going to be doing a little work over the weekend. I'm going to be studying, you know, the Federal workers in Washington that you've been reading so much about. People don't want to give them any increase. They haven't had one in a long time.

I said, I'm going to study that over the weekend. It's a good time to study it, Labor Day. Let's see how they do next week. But a lot of people were against it. I'm going to take a good hard look over the weekend.

Today's historic action will provide new retirement security to countless American workers and their families. We believe all Americans should be able to retire with the confidence, dignity, and economic security that you want. We're going to make sure you do that, provided that you get out there and you work a little bit, right? [Laughter] We want to do that.

I especially want to thank Secretary of Labor—who's done an incredible job by the way—Alex Acosta. Alex, thank you. Great job. Great job. And Small Business—I always say it's small business, but it's actually a massive, massive job that she does. It's incredible, the size of it. But it's called Small Business Administrator Linda McMahon, for helping to lead this important effort. And Linda has been a real star. And even Alex and all of us will admit that. She's been a real star. Thank you, Linda. Incredible job.

We're also grateful to be joined by several fantastic Members of Congress. They helped me and them and you and everybody with the largest tax cuts this country has ever seen and with the cutting of regulation. You know, as small-business owners, I can tell you the cutting of regulation—I have friends that say maybe the regulation cutting—we've cut more regulation in less than 2 years than any administration, no matter how long it was, has cut during their entire administration. And we're not finished. And we're not finished. But I've had many business people say that's more important even than the tax cuts. I don't want to knock our tax cuts, because people love our tax cuts. But the cutting of regulations, in many ways, might be just as important or more important.

So I want to thank, and I want to congratulate—they're incredible people. They're working hard. And we're working against a tide of blue. And the tide of blue—you know, they want to have open borders. They don't mind crime. They don't take care of our military. They don't take care of our vets. We're taking great care of our vets. What we're doing for our vets: choice, accountability. How about, after 48 years, we got choice approved. So veterans now can go, and if they have a long wait, they say bye-bye, I'm going to see the doctor next door, and we pay for the bill.

And actually, we're going to save a lot of money, but they're going to be taken care of. Because, you know, we have vets that used to wait in line for 7 days, 20 days, 30 days. I've heard up to 38 days. They go in, they're not feeling good, and they—but it's simple to get them okay. But then, they can't see the doctor for so long they end up being terminal. Not going to happen anymore. So we got that, and we got accountability. So now, if they treat our vets badly, we'll look at them and very gently say, "You're fired." Bing, get out. Right?

And these guys—these folks did it. So I want to thank Ted Budd. Ted. Incredible. And I have to tell you, he loves you people. I want to tell you that. We know that. That is true, isn't it, Ted? Huh?

Representative Theodore P. Budd. Yes, it is.

The President. We have to give a little special acknowledgement to you, Ted. You've got a lot of friends. You'd better believe it.

Virginia Foxx. She's been my friend from the beginning. Thank you, Virginia. Right from the beginning. Richard Hudson. Richard. Great job. You're doing a great job. I can't tell you how much they help me get this stuff done.

You know, we have "Make America Great Again." Very soon, it's going to morph into——

Audience members. Keep America Great!

The President. "Keep America Great!"—exclamation point. When they say it without the exclamation point, they say, "What is wrong with you?" Because it is; we are exclaiming. But it's "Keep America Great!"

And we're really at a point. You know, we picked up $10 trillion in worth since the election. We have more people working today—right, Patrick? We have more people working today than at any time in the history of our country. Think of that. To me, that's a stat that's just—in other words, more people are working right now than at any time in the history of our country. That's a good number. That's a hard one to beat.

I don't know, Meadows, do you think that that's a line that the Democrats are going to have a hard time with? Don't you think?

Representative Mark R. Meadows. I think they're going to have a real hard time.

The President. Well, let see. We have the highest stock market in history; 401(k)s have broken every record in the history of the 401(k) world in terms of percentages up. I have friends—they have 401(k)s, and their wives now think they're geniuses. They're investment geniuses. [Laughter]

I tell the story—you probably heard it—but a policeman in New York City. I'm with a group and we're having—I gave a little speech, you know, we're walking outside—and I love the law enforcement, and so I always take pictures with them when I'm finished. And one policeman comes up, good-looking guy. He says: "You know, my wife always thought I was a financial loser. And I have a 401(k), and, sir, I'm up 49 percent this year. She thinks I'm a business genius." [Laughter] It's true. Right?

And I'll tell you what, I think it's going to be really hard for open-border, crime-infested Democrats to win that guy's vote. Maybe I'm wrong. But we're not wrong too often, are we?

So I have another friend of mine who's been incredible. He has the single greatest name in all of politics. His name is Patrick McHenry. And Congressman—powerful. He's a powerful Congressman. And I said: "If I was born with your name, Patrick, I would have been President 20 years ago." [Laughter] In other words, I'd be retired right now. But he's been great.

And Mark Meadows and Joe Wilson. Mark and Joe. We don't have to worry about Mark and Joe. They're up very high in this world. I guess, Mark, you're only up about—I won't even say it; it's almost embarrassing. I saw poll numbers for Mark Meadows. I wouldn't give him too much money, okay? [Laughter] I wouldn't give him too much. Mark Meadows is not going to lose his race. That's the only thing I can guarantee. In life, I won't guarantee anything. I'll guarantee that Mark is going to do just fine. All right? Thank you. Thank you.

And, Deb—where is Deb? Where's your wife? Is she here?

Rep. Meadows. My wife is right over there.

The President. Where is she? Stand up. She's the real boss in the family. She's incredible. Thank you, Deb. Thank you. They drove 3½ hours to be here.

Also, a special thank you to North Carolina's very talented—everyone is talking about him—they're all talking about him. And I have a feeling he has his mind made up. He's going to be going for a little different position, slightly higher, in 2 years: Dan Forest, your Lieutenant Governor. He's great. Great guy. Great guy. You see, Dan, with all of that paparazzi back—this was just supposed to be a quick little signing, in and out—they're going crazy when I introduce all you guys, because they end up saying, this is like a political event. But that's okay, Dan. We'll take it, right? And you don't have to pay for it either. That's all right too. [Laughter]

No, Dan has been fantastic, and people are talking about him all over North Carolina. And I know he has a great future. Big future. I also want to welcome the president and CEO of the International Franchise Association, Robert Cresanti. Robert? Thank you very much, Robert. The CEO of the National Association of Home Builders, a very—really, honestly, that's a thing that—I love home building. Close to my heart. Jerry Howard. Jerry—thank you, Jerry. And the president and CEO of the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce, Bob Morgan. Thank you, Bob. Thank you, Bob. Good job. Good job on getting the convention, really. Good job on getting the convention.

As you all know, the complexity of current Federal regulations makes it extremely difficult for small businesses to afford retirement savings accounts for their great employees. While large companies can afford to deal with these burdensome regulations—and of course, they've been reduced very substantially for large companies also—but smaller companies just can't do it; they can't handle it.

As a result, nearly half of Americans working in small businesses with fewer than 100 employees have not had access—believe it or not—to 401(k)s or other retirement plans. And it's a terrible thing. And you see it, and so many people complain about it. But we're taking care of it. We've done a lot. This is one more thing.

They gave me a list before of things to read out, of accomplishments of the Trump administration. It was five pages long, single lines. And I said, "We don't have enough time to do that." [Laughter] But we'll do that. They know what it is. They know what it is. They don't want to report it, and that's okay. [Laughter]

That's why I'm taking very bold action to lower the cost of retirement plans so that they can become an affordable option for businesses of all sizes. That's a big thing. It wasn't available. Now it is. Small businesses will no longer be at a competitive disadvantage, and small-business workers will now be treated more fairly and have many more choices. They didn't have a choice. They didn't have it. But even if they did, they didn't have a choice.

We will accomplish this goal by reducing regulatory barriers, allowing small businesses to band together to create low-cost association retirement plans—such a big thing. They'll be banding together. They'll have such strength. They'll be able to negotiate incredible deals, because they'll have big numbers. And I will tell you, I already know, a lot of companies are getting together; they're making incredible deals, Alex.

Secretary of Labor R. Alexander Acosta. They are.

The President. And it's because of what you've done and your group. That's a—just a fantastic thing. So I want to thank you.

In other words, small businesses will be able to pool their resources so that they can have the same purchasing power or even more, frankly, as large businesses. It's great. Save a lot of money and get better plans.

Retirement savings plans will now be available to more Americans than ever before. And I want to just say one thing. You know, we just made a great deal for both countries with Mexico. Big thing. Big, big thing. NAFTA was a disaster, and we've changed it around. We're not going to have companies leaving anymore. We're not going have people losing their jobs because these great companies are leaving for other lands and, in certain cases, Mexico. Mexico has got some tremendous advantages also. It's great—good for both.

And I just have to say, because it is funny. I just said—because, you know, I just—you know the way I feel. I gave an interview yesterday to Bloomberg Business. And I said, "off the record," and I made a statement about Canada, which is fine, because I love Canada. But they've taken advantage of our country for many years. They have tremendous, tremendous trade barriers. And they have tremendous tariffs. Dairy products are—do you know this Mark?—almost 300-percent tariff. Nobody talks about that; nobody says that. They say: "Oh, Canada. We love Canada." I do too. I even love their national anthem. It's called, very appropriately, "O Canada." [Laughter] Would you like me to sing it? [Laughter]

But they have taken advantage of us, as has virtually every country in the world. In fact, when they haven't, I say, "What's wrong with you?" But I can't find any, so I haven't been able to say that yet. [Laughter] But I gave a totally off-the-record—you saw it—it said, "off the record." And I said something strong, but it's my belief. And they violated it. And they said they were violating it.

It's unbelievable what's happening with the fake news. It's unbelievable. When you say off the record, that's a very—it's not a legal term, but it's a term of honor. So when I say "off the record, here's the story," in order, really, to save time—I don't want to waste a lot of time—and then they say—they actually printed my off-the-record. [Laughter] They said, "President Trump said, off the record," and then they go on this. [Laughter] I said: "This is a first. This is a first." These are very dishonorable people. But I said, in the end, it's okay, because at least, Canada knows how I feel. So, it's fine. It's fine. It's true.

It just happened. I mean, it just happened as I came off the plane. I said: "That's impossible to do. No, they didn't do that." They would have been better off if they left the off-the-record. And usually what they do is they will leave the off-the-record and then say, "Oh, I thought it was on the record."

To explain more about how our plan will work, I'd like to invite—really, he's become a friend of mine—but much more importantly, the Secretary of Labor, Alex Acosta and Small Business Administrator Linda McMahon to come up and just say a few words about exactly what this represents, what it means.

Thank you. Linda. Alex.

Secretary Acosta. Mr. President, thank you. The President touched on this, but it bears repeating: Our economy is strong. It really is. Second-quarter GDP was recently revised upward to 4.2 percent. I remember when the President was running for office, and folks said 3 percent couldn't be done. Well, 3 percent wasn't done; 4.2 percent was done. And the Federal Reserve has estimates for the third quarter, and it's estimating that it will be even stronger.

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

Small-business employees don't deserve to be forgotten simply because they don't have and don't get the same attention as the large corporations. They deserve access to retirement benefits. And if as an association, chambers of commerce and others can start providing these retirement benefits, everyone will be better off.

And so, Mr. President, thank you for this Executive order.

The President. Thank you very much.

Small Business Administration Administrator Linda E. McMahon. [Laughter] They're a little taller than I am.

Good afternoon. It is really great to be back in my home State of North Carolina. It felt good to be home. And I want to thank President Trump for his continued support of America's 30 million small businesses. Today's Executive order is a significant and important step toward increasing economic security for our American workers. It does that by reducing the regulatory hurdles that prevent millions of small businesses from providing workplace retirement plans.

[Administrator McMahon continued her remarks, concluding as follows.]

And to America's workers: The new plan is a powerful message that we care about your financial security. We want you to take an active role in saving for your future. But you don't have to do it alone. Right now only about half of private sector workers in places with fewer than a hundred employees even have access to workplace retirement plans. This action is going to make it easier for you to save and to be able to share in the benefits of our growing economy.

Thank you very much, Mr. President.

The President. Thank you very much, both Alex and Linda. You do an incredible job.

I'd like to now welcome up Jerry Howard, CEO of the National Association of Home Builders. Jerry does a phenomenal job running that group. Respected all over the country. Jerry, please. Say a few words? Thank you.

National Association of Home Builders Chief Executive Gerald M. Howard. Thank you, Mr. President. Mr. President, the men and women who house America, the men and women who house North Carolina, are overwhelming small-businesspeople who work and live in the same communities.

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

On behalf of the 130,000-member firms of the National Association of Home Builders and the 5 million people or more that we employ, we thank you for this, Mr. President. And we look forward to bringing it home to Main Street. Thank you very much.

The President. Thank you very much, Jerry. And that is true. We have so many companies coming back to our country, which nobody thought was going to happen. And they want to be where the action is. And we're going to—I can tell you, we're going to start looking at, very seriously, merit-based immigration. We have to do it, because we need people. We need people to run these great companies that are coming in.

And there are a lot of great people out there. We're not the bad guys. We want great people coming into our country, so we're going to look very strongly at merit-based to get people in that can help the homebuilders and all of the companies that are coming back. Some of them left years ago. And everybody said they'll never be back. They're coming back, and they're coming back fast. So we're going to be providing a lot of help to them, because that's what we have to do.

We call it "Make America Great Again." The fact is, we really—it's a very important element. It—way ahead of schedule, as far as I'm concerned. I thought it was going to happen. But nobody had any idea it was going to happen this quickly. It's an amazing thing, a great thing, what's happening to our country.

If you look at steel, steel was a dead business. They were closing up one plant after another. And now, as you know, they were dumping steel all over the place, destroying our companies. And what they would have done when the companies are all destroyed, they would have sent us steel, and they would have charged whatever we would have paid. We would have paid a fortune, much more than we'll end up paying. And steel is a business that you have to have. Aluminum also, same thing. But you have to see what's happening with the steel industry. You don't get it. I mean, they don't tell you about it. Jobs are being produced. Plants are opening. U.S. Steel is opening up at least eight new plants. Nucor, other companies are opening up plants all over. It's a beautiful thing. It's an incredible thing what's going on with our country. It's incredible.

So I'd like to now ask the president of the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce, Bob Morgan, to come up and say a few words about what a great city this is—[laughter]—and why we chose it for the Republican National Convention. That's an important one.

Thank you. Come on up, please.

Charlotte Chamber of Commerce President and Chief Executive Officer Bob Morgan. Mr. President, you don't have time for me to talk about Charlotte. [Laughter] I understand you're on a schedule.

Thank you for this opportunity. Wow. Small business is a big part of Charlotte's story. In fact, there are more than 50,000 small businesses, those with fewer than 20 employees, who call the Charlotte region home. A significant number of these businesses are not able to bear the cost and the regulatory burdens of offering 401(k) retirement benefits.

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

And let me say the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce would love to be first local association to implement one of these new plans. Thank you very much for choosing Charlotte for this announcement.

The President. Thank you very much. So, already under our booming economy, retirement accounts and 401(k)s have flourished, and the stock market has gone up at levels that nobody thought possible. Depending on which market you want to look at—over 50 percent, over 40 percent, 47 percent—all of them, they're going through the roof. And there's a long way to go. There's a long way to go.

When we straighten out these terrible trade deals and when we make fair deals for our military, where we're not protecting every nation on Earth—some of whom are very wealthy—and they are not doing anything for us, when they start helping out and making it fair, you're going to see where we go. I mean, we have such potential in this country. Nobody has—I have never seen anything like it. Nobody has seen anything like it. And so our economy has a long way to go.

Already, we've created, since election, more than 4 million jobs, including 156,000 jobs right here in North Carolina. You all know about economic growth going up to now—it was 4.1; now it's 4.2. That was revised 2 days ago. But unemployment filings have dropped to the lowest level—think of that—to the lowest level in over half a century.

You've heard me say this many times. I'm very proud of it. Remember I used to say, "What do you have to lose? What do you have to lose?" Because I'd read these horrible statistics—highest crime, worst education, all the bad things; lowest homeownership—about African Americans. And they've always voted for Democrats. Not all, but a big proportion.

And I'd say, "What do you have to lose?"—after reading these horrible stats. And my people would say, "Oh, that's not a nice thing to say." I'd say: "But it's true. What do you have to lose? Give us a shot." So this just came out—and I've been saying it for the last 2 weeks—African American unemployment recently achieved the lowest rate ever recorded in our history. It's a big thing. Huh? That's why Kanye West and Jim Brown—how good was Jim Brown? He came out in favor of Trump. And you know what? Nobody is going to say anything about it. [Laughter] Big Jim Brown, he was some player.

But a lot of folks have come out in favor of what I am doing because they see what's happening and so—how great it's been for the African American community, for the Hispanic American community, where unemployment has reached the lowest level also ever recorded. Likewise, for the Asian community, lowest ever recorded. And I jokingly say—I said it last night—we had an incredible rally in Indiana. Did anybody see that? That was incredible. Big ratings. You know what? If it didn't get the ratings, you wouldn't be seeing it. [Laughter] Big ratings.

But I jokingly said last night, I said: "Women, I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry," because we have Asian, African American, Hispanic—almost all—the best in history. Women unemployment, it's only 65 years. So I said it last night, and I said: "I'm sorry. I'm trying hard." [Laughter] But it's the best number they've had in 65 years. But that's not as good as history.

But I think that within about 3 to 4 weeks, Deb—3 to 4 weeks, I think what you're going to have is, you'll have the best in history also. Because 65 years, we'll take that any day. But we're going to have something special.

Our pledge to American workers has resulted in employers committing to train more than 4 million Americans. And that numbers just has increased to 5 million Americans, where employees are now willing to train. This was something that wasn't happening.

As I said, we passed the biggest tax cuts. We got rid of the individual mandate, which was the most unpopular part of Obamacare. And we've really decimated Obamacare. And you know, one thing also, the Obamacare premiums were—previous to us—going up like rocket ships. They're not going up very much. We have really kept them down. And while we've taken—I mean, we have really changed that whole situation around. We've done a great job.

And if you look at your premiums, nothing is perfect, but I'll tell you what, if the Democrats were running it—you were going up 120 percent, 150 percent—now you're just going up a very little bit. Some of them aren't going up at all.

We've done a great job, but we're going to be getting rid of it entirely. But we got rid of the most obnoxious provision, I think I've seen in just about any contract: You have the right to pay for the privilege of not having to pay for bad health care. In other words, you pay so that you don't have to pay. But that payment is a little less than the second payment. So you say: "Oh, I won't have health care. I'll pay not to have"—you're paying for not having health care. We got rid of it. That was a big thing. And very important for the employers. Huh? Very important.

And this week we're working on Canada. We're working on a lot of different things. So last week it was Mexico. And this week it's Canada. And if we don't make a deal with Canada, that's just fine. [Laughter] But we'll see how it all works out. I say affectionately, we'll just have to tariff those cars coming in. That's a lot of money coming in to the coffers of the United States.

I want to thank the people that are on this dais, all of whom I know, all of whom are special. They've been great friends of mine. I really, in particular—Alex and Linda—the job you do is really incredible. I promise to put American workers first. I promise to put their families first. In fact, I promise to put their families even ahead of them. And most of them like it. And the ones that don't, we don't like them too much anyway. Okay? [Laughter]

But today I'm honoring that promise once more, here in Charlotte. From our youngest citizens to our senior citizens, we're truly making America great again. And we're making it great for all Americans. It's been a tremendous—a little bit less than 2 years—it's been a tremendous period of time. Short period of time, but I think we've accomplished more than, I would say, just about any President. I don't think anybody is even close, in our first 2 years.

So I just want to say, have a great Labor Day weekend. God bless you. And we will see all soon. Thank you very much. Thank you.

Thank you. Thank you, fellas.

[The President signed the Executive order and handed the pen to Rep. Virginia A. Foxx in her capacity as chairwoman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.]

Madame Chair.

The President. Thank you, everybody, very much.

NOTE: The President spoke at 3:03 p.m. at the Harris Conference Center. In his remarks, he referred to musician Kanye O. West; and Jim Brown, former running back, National Football League's Cleveland Browns.

Donald J. Trump, Remarks on Signing an Executive Order on Strengthening Retirement Security in America in Charlotte, North Carolina Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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