Full Text Political Transcripts March 16, 2017: President Donald Trump’s First Budget 2018 FY

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

America First – A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again

Estimate #1—FY 2017 Appropriations Request:  Department of Defense to rebuild the U.S. Armed Forces and accelerate the campaign to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, and Department of Homeland Security for urgent border protection activities.

President Donald Trump’s Speech at Make America Great Again Rally

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President at Make America Great Again Rally

Source: WH, 3-15-17

Nashville Municipal Auditorium
Nashville, Tennessee

7:06 P.M. CDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much, everybody.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  So we’re just going to let the other folks come in, fill it up.  This is some crowd.  You have to see what’s outside, you wouldn’t even believe it.  (Applause.)  Unbelievable.

So I’m thrilled to be here in Nashville, Tennessee, the home — (applause) — of country music, Southern hospitality, and the great President Andrew Jackson.  (Applause.)  I just came from a tour of Andrew Jackson’s home to mark the 250th anniversary of his birth.  Jackson’s life was devoted to one very crucial principle — he understood that real leadership means putting America first.  (Applause.)

Before becoming President, Andrew Jackson served your state from the House of Representatives and in the United States Senate, and he also served as commander of the Tennessee militia.  Tough cookie.  Tough cookie.  (Applause.)

So let’s begin tonight by thanking all of the incredible men and women of the United States military and all of our wonderful veterans.  The veterans.  (Applause.)

AUDIENCE:  USA!  USA!  USA!

THE PRESIDENT:  Amazing.  There’s no place I’d rather be than with all of you here tonight, with the wonderful, hardworking citizens of our country.  (Applause.)  I would much rather spend time with you than any of the pundits, consultants, or special interests, certainly — or reporters from Washington, D.C.  (Applause.)

It’s patriotic Americans like you who make this country run, and run well.  You pay your taxes, follow our laws, support your communities, raise your children, love your country, and send your bravest to fight in our wars.  (Applause.)  All you want is a government that shows you the same loyalty in return.  It’s time that Washington heard your voice — and believe me, on November 8th, they heard your voice.  (Applause.)  The forgotten men and women of our country will never be forgotten again, believe me.  (Applause.)

I want to thank so many of your state leaders — State Party Chairman Scott Golden; Congressman Scott DesJarlais; Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn; Congresswoman Diane Black; Congressman Jimmy Duncan — right from the beginning.  (Applause.)  Governor Bill Haslam.  (Applause.)  A great friend of mine, Senator Bob Corker.  (Applause.)  An incredible guy, respected by all — Senator Lamar Alexander.  (Applause.)  And so many more.  Thank you all for being here.

We’re going to be working closely together to deliver for you, the citizens of Tennessee, like you’ve never been delivered for before.  Thank you.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  We’re going to reduce your taxes — big league.  Big.  (Applause.)  Big.  I want to start that process so quickly.  Got to get the healthcare done.  We got to start the tax reductions.  (Applause.)

We are going to enforce our trade rules and bring back our jobs, which are scattered all over the world.  They’re coming back to our country.  (Applause.)  We’re going to support the amazing — absolutely amazing men and women of law enforcement.  (Applause.)  Protect your freedoms, and defend the Second Amendment.  (Applause.)  And we are going to restore respect for our country and for its great and very beautiful flag.  (Applause.)

It’s been a little over 50 days since my inauguration, and we’ve been putting our America First agenda very much into action.  You see what’s happening.  We’re keeping our promises.  In fact, they have signs — “He’s Kept His Promise.”  They’re all over the place.  I have.  (Applause.)  We have done far more — I think maybe more than anybody’s done in this office in 50 days, that I could tell you.  (Applause.)

And we have just gotten started.  Wait until you see what’s coming, folks.  We’ve appointed a Supreme Court justice to replace the late, great Antonin Scalia.  His name is Judge Neil Gorsuch.  (Applause.)  He will uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States.  We are proposing a budget that will shrink the bloated federal bureaucracy — and I mean bloated — while protecting our national security.  You see what we’re doing with our military — bigger, better, stronger than ever before.  You see what’s happening.  (Applause.)  And you’re already seeing the results.  Our budget calls for one of the single largest increases in defense spending history in this country.  (Applause.)

We believe — especially the people in Tennessee, I know you people so well — (applause) — in peace through strength.  That’s what we’re going to have.  And we are taking steps to make sure that our allies pay their fair share.  They have to pay.  (Applause.)  We’ve begun a dramatic effort to eliminate job-killing federal regulations like nobody has ever seen before — slash, slash.  We’re going to protect the environment, we’re going to protect people’s safeties, but, let me tell you, the regulation business has become a terrible business, and we’re going to bring it down to where it should be.  (Applause.)

AUDIENCE:  USA! USA! USA!

THE PRESIDENT:  Okay, let’s go.  One person — and they’ll be the story tomorrow — did you hear there was a protestor?  (Applause.)

We’re going to put our miners back to work.  We’re going to put our auto industry back to work.  Already because of this new business climate, we are creating jobs that are starting to pour back into our country like we haven’t seen in many, many decades.  (Applause.)

In the first two job reports since I took the oath of office, we’ve already added nearly half a million new jobs, and believe me, it’s just beginning.  (Applause.)  I’ve already authorized the construction of the long-stalled and delayed Keystone and Dakota Access pipelines.  (Applause.)  A lot of jobs.

I’ve also directed that new pipelines must be constructed with American steel.  (Applause.)  They want to build them here, they use our steel.  We believe in two simple rules:  Buy American and Hire American.  (Applause.)

On trade, I’ve kept my promise to the American people, and withdrawn from the Trans-Pacific Partnership disaster. (Applause.)  Tennessee has lost one third of its manufacturing jobs since the institution of NAFTA, one of the worst trade deals ever in history.  Our nation has lost over 60,000 factories since China joined the World Trade Organization — 60,000.  Think of that.  More than that.

We’re not going to let it happen anymore.  From now on, we are going to defend the American worker and our great American companies.  (Applause.)  And if America does what it says, and if your President does what I’ve been telling you, there is nobody anywhere in the world that can even come close to us, folks.  Not even close.  (Applause.)

If a company wants to leave America, fire their workers, and then ship their new products back into our country, there will be consequences.  (Applause.)  That’s what we have borders for.  And by the way, aren’t our borders getting extremely strong?  (Applause.)  Very strong.

AUDIENCE:  USA! USA! USA!

THE PRESIDENT:  Don’t even think about it.  We will build the wall.  Don’t even think about it.  (Applause.)  In fact, as you probably read, we went out to bid.  We had hundreds of bidders.  Everybody wants to build our wall.  (Applause.)  Usually, that means we’re going to get a good price.  We’re going to get a good price, believe me.  (Applause.)  We’re going to build the wall.

Some of the fake news said, I don’t think Donald Trump wants to build the wall.  Can you imagine if I said we’re not going to build a wall?  Fake news.  Fake, fake news.  Fake news, folks.  A lot of fake.

No, the wall is way ahead of schedule in terms of where we are.  It’s under design, and you’re going to see some very good things happening.  But the border by itself right now is doing very well.  It’s becoming very strong.  General Kelly has done a great job — General Kelly.

My administration is also following through on our promise to secure, protect, and defend that border within our United States.  Our southern border will be protected always.  It will have the wall.  Drugs will stop pouring in and poisoning our youth, and that will happen very, very soon.  You’re already seeing what’s going on.  The drugs are pouring into our country, folks.  They are poisoning our youth and plenty of others, and we’re going to stop it.  We’re not going to playing games.  Not going to be playing games.  (Applause.)  Following my executive action — and don’t forget, we’ve only been here for like — what? — 50 days — we’ve already experienced an unprecedented 40-percent reduction in illegal immigration on our Southern border; 61 percent since Inauguration Day — 61 percent.  Think about it.

And now people are saying, we’re not going to go there anymore because we can’t get in.  So it’s going to get better and better.  We got to stop those drugs, though.  We got to stop those drugs.

During the campaign, as I traveled all across this country, I met with many American families whose loved ones were viciously and violently killed by illegal immigrants because our government refused to enforce our already existing laws.  These American victims were ignored by the media.  They were ignored by Washington.  But they were not ignored by me, and they’re not ignored by you, and they never will be ignored certainly any longer.  Not going to happen.  (Applause.)

As we speak, we are finding the drug dealers, the robbers, thieves, gang members, killers and criminals preying on our citizens.  One by one — you’re reading about it, right?  They’re being thrown out of our country.  They’re being thrown into prisons.  And we will not let them back in.  (Applause.)

We’re also working, night and day, to keep our nation safe from terrorism.  (Applause.)  We have seen the devastation from 9/11 to Boston to San Bernardino — hundreds upon hundreds of people from outside our country have been convicted of terrorism-related offenses in the United States courts.  Right now we have investigations going on all over — hundreds of refugees are under federal investigation for terrorism and related reasons.  We have entire regions of the world destabilized by terrorism and ISIS.  For this reason, I issued an executive order to temporarily suspend immigration from places where it cannot safely occur.  (Applause.)

But let me give you the bad news.  We don’t like bad news, right?  I don’t want to hear — and I’ll turn it into good.  But let me give you the bad, the sad news.  Moments ago, I learned that a district judge in Hawaii — part of the much overturned 9th Circuit Court — and I have to be nice; otherwise I’ll get criticized for speaking poorly about our courts.  I’ll be criticized by these people, among the most dishonest people in the world — I will be criticized — I’ll be criticized by them for speaking harshly about our courts.  I would never want to do that.  A judge has just blocked our executive order on travel and refugees coming into our country from certain countries.

AUDIENCE:  Booo —

THE PRESIDENT:  The order he blocked was a watered-version of the first order that was also blocked by another judge and should have never been blocked to start with.  This new order was tailored to the dictates of the 9th Circuit’s — in my opinion — flawed ruling.  This is, the opinion of many, an unprecedented judicial overreach.  The law and the Constitution give the President the power to suspend immigration when he deems — or she — or she.  Fortunately, it will not be Hillary she.  (Applause.)  When he or she deems it to be in the national interest of our country.

So we have a lot of lawyers here.  We also have a lot of smart people here.  Let me read to you directly from the federal statute, 212F, of the immigration — and you know what I’m talking about, right?  Can I read this to you?  Listen to this.  Now, we’re all smart people.  We’re all good students — some are bad students, but even if you’re a bad student this is a real easy one, let me tell you.  Ready?

So here’s the statute — which they don’t even want to quote when they overrule it.  And it was put here for the security of our country.  And this goes beyond me, because there will be other Presidents, and we need this.  And sometimes we need it very badly for security — security of our country.

It says — now, listen how easy this is.  “Whenever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or any class of aliens would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may, by proclamation, and for such period as he — see, it wasn’t politically correct, because it should say he or she.  You know, today they’d say that.  Actually, that’s the only mistake they made.  “as he shall deem necessary, suspending entry of all aliens, or any class of aliens, as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or pose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deems to be appropriate.”  In other words, if he thinks there’s danger out there, he or she — whoever is President — can say, I’m sorry, folks, not now, please.  We’ve got enough problems.  (Applause.)

We’re talking about the safety of our nation, the safety and security of our people.  (Applause.)  Now, I know you people aren’t skeptical people because nobody would be that way in Tennessee.  Right?  Nobody — not Tennessee.  You don’t think this was done by a judge for political reasons, do you?  No.

AUDIENCE:  Booo —

THE PRESIDENT:  This ruling makes us look weak — which, by the way, we no longer are, believe me.  (Applause.)  Just look at our borders.  We’re going to fight this terrible ruling.  We’re going to take our case as far as it needs to go, including all the way up to the Supreme Court.  (Applause.)  We’re going to win.  We’re going to keep our citizens safe.  And regardless, we’re going to keep our citizens safe, believe me.  (Applause.)  Even liberal Democratic lawyer, Alan Dershowitz —- good lawyer — just said that we would win this case before the Supreme Court of the United States.  (Applause.)

Remember this, I wasn’t thrilled, but the lawyers all said, let’s tailor it.  This is a watered–down version of the first one.  This is a watered–down version.  And let me tell you something, I think we ought to go back to the first one and go all the way, which is what I wanted to do in the first one.  (Applause.)

The danger is clear, the law is clear, the need for my executive order is clear.  I was elected to change our broken and dangerous system and thinking in government that has weakened and endangered our country and left our people defenseless.  (Applause.)  And I will not stop fighting for the safety of you and your families, believe me.  Not today, not ever.  We’re going to win it.  We’re going to win it.  (Applause.)

We’re going to apply common sense.  We’re going to apply intelligence.  And we’re never quitting, and we’re never going away, and we’re never, ever giving up.  The best way to keep foreign terrorists — or, as some people would say in certain instances, radical Islamic terrorists — from attacking our country is to stop them from entering our country in the first place.  (Applause.)

We’ll take it, but these are the problems we have.  People are screaming, break up the 9th Circuit.  And I’ll tell you what, that 9th Circuit — you have to see.  Take a look at how many times they have been overturned with their terrible decisions.  Take a look.  And this is what we have to live with.

Finally, I want to get to taxes.  I want to cut the hell out of taxes, but — (applause) — but before I can do that — I would have loved to have put it first, I’ll be honest — there is one more very important thing that we have to do, and we are going to repeal and replace horrible, disastrous Obamacare.  (Applause.)

If we leave Obamacare in place, millions and millions of people will be forced off their plans, and your senators just told me that in your state you’re down to practically no insurers.  You’re going to have nobody.  You’re going to have nobody.  And this is true all over.  The insurers are fleeing.  The insurers are fleeing.  It’s a catastrophic situation, and there’s nothing to compare anything to because Obamacare won’t be around for a year or two.  It’s gone.  So it’s not like, oh, gee, they have this.  Obamacare is gone.

Premiums will continue to soar double digits and even triple digits in many cases.  It will drain our budget and destroy our jobs.  Remember all of the broken promises?  You can keep your doctor, you can keep your plan.  Remember the wise guy — remember the wise guy that essentially said the American people — the so–called architect — the American people are stupid because they approved it?  We’re going to show them.

Those in Congress who made these promises have no credibility whatsoever on healthcare.   (Applause.)  And remember this — remember this:  If we took, because there’s such divisiveness — and I’m not just talking now, with me.  There was with Obama.  There was with Bush.  The level of hatred and divisiveness with the politicians.  I remember years ago, I’d go to Washington — I* was always very politically active — and Republicans and Democrats, they’d fight during the day and they go to dinner at night.  Today, there’s a level that nobody has seen before.

Just remember this:  If we submitted the Democrats’ plan, drawn everything perfect for the Democrats, we wouldn’t get one vote from the Democrats.  That’s the way it is.  That’s how much divisiveness and other things there are.  So it’s a problem.  But we’re going to get it by.

So, I’ve met with so many victims of Obamacare —- the people who have been so horribly hurt by this horrible legislation.  At the very core of Obamacare was a fatal flaw — the government forcing people to buy a government–approved product.  There are very few people — very few people.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Booo —

THE PRESIDENT:  By the way — watch what happens.  Now you just booed Obamacare.  They will say, Trump got booed when he mentioned — they’re bad people, folks.  They’re bad people.

AUDIENCE:  Booo —

THE PRESIDENT:  Tonight, I’ll go home, I’ll turn on, I’ll say — listen, I’ll turn on that television.  My wife will say, darling, it’s too bad you got booed.  I said, I didn’t get booed.  This was a — I said, no, no, they were booing Obamacare.  Watch, a couple of them will actually do it, almost guaranteed.  But when we call them out, it makes it harder for them to do it.  So we’ll see.  It’s the fake, fake media.  We want Americans to be able to purchase the health insurance plans they want, not the plans forced on them by our government.  (Applause.)

The House has put forward a plan to repeal and replace Obamacare based on the principles I outlined in my joint address, but let me tell you, we’re going to arbitrate, we’re going to all get together and we’re going to get something done.  Remember this — if we didn’t do it the way we’re doing it, we need 60 votes so we have to get the Democrats involved.  They won’t vote, no matter what we do, they’re not going to vote.  So we’re doing it a different way, a complex way.  It’s fine.  The end result is when you have phase one, phase two, phase three — it’s going to be great.  It’s going to be great.

And then, we get on to tax reductions, which I like.  (Applause.)  The House legislation does so much for you.  It gives the states Medicaid flexibility.  And some of the states will take over their healthcare.  Governor Rick Scott in Florida said, just send me the money — they run a great plan.  We have states that are doing great.  It gives great flexibility.

Thank you, folks.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  It repeals hundreds of billions of dollars in Obamacare taxes.  It provides tax credits to purchase the care that is rightfully theirs.  The bill that I will ultimately sign — and that will be a bill where everybody is going to get into the room and we’re going to get it done — we’ll get rid of Obamacare and make healthcare better for you and for your family.  (Applause.)

And once this is done, and a step further, we are going to try and put it in phase three — I’m going to work on bringing down the cost of medicine by having a fair and competitive bidding process.  (Applause.)

We welcome this healthcare debate and its negotiation, and we’re going to carry it out, and have been carrying it out, in the full light of day — unlike the way Obamacare was passed.  Remember, folks, if we don’t do anything, Obamacare is gone.  It’s not like, oh, gee, it’s going to be wonderful in three years.  It’s gone.  It’s gone.  It’s gone.  Not working.  It’s gone.  What we cannot do is to be intimidated by the dishonest attacks from Democratic leaders in Congress who broke the system in the first place and who don’t believe you should be able to make your own healthcare decisions.  (Applause.)

I am very confident that if we empower the American people we will accomplish incredible things for our country — not just on healthcare, but all across our government.  We will unlock new frontiers in science and in medicine.  We will give our children the right to attend the school of their choice, one where they will be taught to love this country and its values.  (Applause.)  We will create millions and millions of new jobs by lowering taxes on our businesses, and very importantly for our workers, we’re going to lower taxes.  (Applause.)

And we will fight for the right of every American child to grow up in a safe neighborhood, attend a great school, and to graduate with access to a high-paying job that they love doing.  (Applause.)

No matter our background, no matter our income, no matter our geography, we all share the same home.  We all salute the same flag.  And we all are made by the same God.  (Applause.)

AUDIENCE:  USA!  USA!  USA!

THE PRESIDENT:  It’s time to embrace our glorious American destiny.  Anything we can dream for our country we can achieve for our country.  All we have to do is tap into that American pride that is swelling our hearts and stirring our souls.  And we found that out very recently in our last election — a lot of pride.  (Applause.)  We are all Americans, and the future truly belongs to us.  The future belongs to all of you.  This is your moment.  This is your time.  This is the hour when history is made.  All we have to do is put our own citizens first, and together we will make America strong again.  (Applause.)  We will make America wealthy again.  We will make America proud again.  We will make America safe again.  And we will make America great again.  (Applause.)

Thank you.  God bless you.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  God bless you, everybody.  (Applause.)

END
7:43 P.M. CDT

 

 

Full Text Political Transcripts March 10, 2017: President Trump’s First 50 Days of Action

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

President Trump’s First 50 Days of Action: Achieving Results for the American People

Source: WH,  3-10-17

President Trump's First 50 Days of Action

JUMPSTARTING JOB CREATION: President Donald J. Trump is looking out for the American workers who Washington has left behind.

  • President Trump has worked with the private sector to deliver tens of thousands of new jobs for Americans.
  • President Trump ordered the United States to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement and negotiations.
  • President Trump signed a Presidential Memorandum to clear roadblocks to construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline.
  • President Trump signed a Presidential Memorandum declaring that the Dakota Access Pipeline serves the national interest and initiating the process to complete its construction.
  • President Trump signed a Presidential Memorandum to help ensure that new pipeline construction and repair work use materials and equipment from the United States.

CUTTING GOVERNMENT RED TAPE: President Trump has quickly taken steps to get the Government out of the way of job creation.

  • President Trump directed each agency to establish a Regulatory Reform Task Force to identify costly and unnecessary regulations in need of modification or repeal.
  • President Trump has required that for every new Federal regulation, two existing regulations be eliminated.
  • President Trump directed the Department of Commerce to streamline Federal permitting processes for domestic manufacturing and to reduce regulatory burdens on domestic manufacturers.
  • President Trump signed legislation, House Joint Resolution 38, to prevent the burdensome “Stream Protection Rule” from causing further harm to the coal industry.
  • President Trump ordered the review of the “Clean Water Rule: Definition of Waters of the United States,” known as the WOTUS rule, to evaluate whether it is stifling economic growth or job creation.

REFORMING WASHINGTON: President Trump has taken actions to reform the old Washington way of doing business and to ensure that his entire Administration are working for the American people.

  • President Trump put in place a hiring freeze for Federal civilian employees to stop the further expansion of an already bloated government.
  • President Trump signed an Executive Order establishing new ethics commitments for all Executive branch appointees, putting in place a five-year lobbying ban and a permanent ban on lobbying for foreign governments, so that appointees serve the American people instead of their own interests.

PUTTING PATIENT HEALTHCARE FIRST: After years of false promises, rising costs, and shrinking accessibility, President Trump is championing reforms to put patients first.

  • President Trump has supported efforts by Republicans in Congress to repeal the worst parts of Obamacare and replace them with the American Health Care Act.
  • President Trump acted on his first day in office to instruct Federal agencies to minimize the burden of Obamacare on Americans.

PRIORITIZING AMERICAN NATIONAL SECURITY: President Trump has taken action to ensure the safety and security of the United States homeland, its borders, and its people.

  • Under President Trump’s leadership, the Department of the Treasury sanctioned 25 entities and individuals involved in Iran’s ballistic missile program.
  • President Trump implemented new protections against foreign terrorists entering our country.
  • President Trump has proposed increasing the military’s budget by $54 billion so that it can begin to rebuild.
  • As a result of a Presidential Memorandum President Trump signed on January 28, he has received a plan to defeat ISIS designed by the Secretary of Defense and other members of his Cabinet.
  • President Trump ordered a review of military readiness and made it the policy of the United States to rebuild the United States’ Armed Forces.
  • President Trump has negotiated to bring down the price of the F-35, saving millions of dollars.

DELIVERING ON IMMIGRATION REFORM: President Trump has made enforcing the Nation’s immigration laws a priority of his Administration.

  • President Trump signed an Executive Order to start work on a southern border wall.
  • President Trump signed an Executive Order to enhance the public safety of Americans through enforcement of immigration laws.
  • President Trump signed an Executive Order to halt funding to jurisdictions in the United States that do not comply with Federal immigration rules.
  • President Trump signed an Executive Order to begin the removal of illegal immigrants who have committed certain crimes.
  • Following through on President Trump’s direction, the Department of Homeland Security will hire 10,000 Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers and agents and 5,000 border patrol agents.

RESTORING PUBLIC SAFETY TO AMERICAN COMMUNITIES: President Trump is following through on his promise to restore public safety for all Americans.

  • President Trump signed an Executive Order directing the Attorney General to develop a strategy to more effectively prosecute people who engage in crimes against law enforcement officers.
  • President Trump signed an Executive Order to establish a task force, led by the Attorney General, to reduce crime and restore public safety in communities across America.
  • President Trump signed an Executive Order re-focusing the Federal Government’s energy and resources on dismantling transnational criminal organizations, such as drug cartels.

HELPING WOMEN AND MINORITIES SUCCEED: President Trump knows the country cannot reach its potential unless every American has a chance to prosper.

  • President Trump signed an Executive Order strengthening and repositioning the Historically Black Colleges and Universities initiatives within the White House to foster better opportunities in higher education.
  • President Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau launched the United States-Canada Council for Advancement of Women Entrepreneurs and Business Leaders.
  • President Trump signed into law the Promoting Women in Entrepreneurship Act to encourage the National Science Foundation’s entrepreneurial programs to recruit and support women to extend their focus beyond the laboratory and into the commercial world.
  • President Trump signed into law the Inspiring the Next Space Pioneers, Innovators, Researchers, and Explorers (INSPIRE) Women Act to encourage women to study science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), pursue careers in aerospace, and further advance the nation’s space science and exploration efforts.

KEEPING HIS PROMISE TO DEFEND THE CONSTITUTION: President Trump promised a U.S. Supreme Court justice in the mold of late Justice Antonin Scalia selected from his previously announced list of 20 judges

  • President Trump nominated Judge Neil M. Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court because of his consistent record defending the Constitution.

Full Text Political Transcripts February 28, 2017: President Donald Trump’s Address to Joint Session of Congress

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by President Trump in Joint Address to Congress

Source: WH, 2-28-17

U.S. Capitol
Washington, D.C.

9:09 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.  Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, members of Congress, the First Lady of the United States — (applause) — and citizens of America:

Tonight, as we mark the conclusion of our celebration of Black History Month, we are reminded of our nation’s path towards civil rights and the work that still remains to be done.  (Applause.)  Recent threats targeting Jewish community centers and vandalism of Jewish cemeteries, as well as last week’s shooting in Kansas City, remind us that while we may be a nation divided on policies, we are a country that stands united in condemning hate and evil in all of its very ugly forms.  (Applause.)

Each American generation passes the torch of truth, liberty and justice in an unbroken chain all the way down to the present.  That torch is now in our hands.  And we will use it to light up the world.  I am here tonight to deliver a message of unity and strength, and it is a message deeply delivered from my heart.  A new chapter — (applause) — of American Greatness is now beginning.  A new national pride is sweeping across our nation.  And a new surge of optimism is placing impossible dreams firmly within our grasp.

What we are witnessing today is the renewal of the American spirit.  Our allies will find that America is once again ready to lead.  (Applause.)  All the nations of the world — friend or foe — will find that America is strong, America is proud, and America is free.

In nine years, the United States will celebrate the 250th anniversary of our founding — 250 years since the day we declared our independence.  It will be one of the great milestones in the history of the world.  But what will America look like as we reach our 250th year?  What kind of country will we leave for our children?

I will not allow the mistakes of recent decades past to define the course of our future.  For too long, we’ve watched our middle class shrink as we’ve exported our jobs and wealth to foreign countries.  We’ve financed and built one global project after another, but ignored the fates of our children in the inner cities of Chicago, Baltimore, Detroit, and so many other places throughout our land.

We’ve defended the borders of other nations while leaving our own borders wide open for anyone to cross and for drugs to pour in at a now unprecedented rate.  And we’ve spent trillions and trillions of dollars overseas, while our infrastructure at home has so badly crumbled.

Then, in 2016, the Earth shifted beneath our feet.  The rebellion started as a quiet protest, spoken by families of all colors and creeds — families who just wanted a fair shot for their children and a fair hearing for their concerns.

But then the quiet voices became a loud chorus as thousands of citizens now spoke out together, from cities small and large, all across our country.  Finally, the chorus became an earthquake, and the people turned out by the tens of millions, and they were all united by one very simple, but crucial demand: that America must put its own citizens first.  Because only then can we truly make America great again.  (Applause.)

Dying industries will come roaring back to life.  Heroic veterans will get the care they so desperately need.  Our military will be given the resources its brave warriors so richly deserve.  Crumbling infrastructure will be replaced with new roads, bridges, tunnels, airports and railways gleaming across our very, very beautiful land.  Our terrible drug epidemic will slow down and, ultimately, stop.  And our neglected inner cities will see a rebirth of hope, safety and opportunity.  Above all else, we will keep our promises to the American people.  (Applause.)

It’s been a little over a month since my inauguration, and I want to take this moment to update the nation on the progress I’ve made in keeping those promises.

Since my election, Ford, Fiat-Chrysler, General Motors, Sprint, Softbank, Lockheed, Intel, Walmart and many others have announced that they will invest billions and billions of dollars in the United States, and will create tens of thousands of new American jobs.  (Applause.)

The stock market has gained almost $3 trillion in value since the election on November 8th, a record.  We’ve saved taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars by bringing down the price of a fantastic — and it is a fantastic — new F-35 jet fighter, and we’ll be saving billions more on contracts all across our government.  We have placed a hiring freeze on non-military and non-essential federal workers.

We have begun to drain the swamp of government corruption by imposing a five-year ban on lobbying by executive branch officials and a lifetime ban — (applause) — thank you — and a lifetime ban on becoming lobbyists for a foreign government.

We have undertaken a historic effort to massively reduce job-crushing regulations, creating a deregulation task force inside of every government agency.  (Applause.)  And we’re imposing a new rule which mandates that for every one new regulation, two old regulations must be eliminated.  (Applause.)  We’re going to stop the regulations that threaten the future and livelihood of our great coal miners.  (Applause.)

We have cleared the way for the construction of the Keystone and Dakota Access Pipelines — (applause) — thereby creating tens of thousands of jobs.  And I’ve issued a new directive that new American pipelines be made with American steel.  (Applause.)

We have withdrawn the United States from the job-killing Trans-Pacific Partnership.  (Applause.)  And with the help of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, we have formed a council with our neighbors in Canada to help ensure that women entrepreneurs have access to the networks, markets and capital they need to start a business and live out their financial dreams.  (Applause.)

To protect our citizens, I have directed the Department of Justice to form a Task Force on Reducing Violent Crime.  I have further ordered the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice, along with the Department of State and the Director of National Intelligence, to coordinate an aggressive strategy to dismantle the criminal cartels that have spread all across our nation.  (Applause.)  We will stop the drugs from pouring into our country and poisoning our youth, and we will expand treatment for those who have become so badly addicted.  (Applause.)

At the same time, my administration has answered the pleas of the American people for immigration enforcement and border security.  (Applause.)  By finally enforcing our immigration laws, we will raise wages, help the unemployed, save billions and billions of dollars, and make our communities safer for everyone.  (Applause.)  We want all Americans to succeed, but that can’t happen in an environment of lawless chaos.  We must restore integrity and the rule of law at our borders.  (Applause.)

For that reason, we will soon begin the construction of a great, great wall along our southern border.  (Applause.)  As we speak tonight, we are removing gang members, drug dealers, and criminals that threaten our communities and prey on our very innocent citizens.  Bad ones are going out as I speak, and as I promised throughout the campaign.

To any in Congress who do not believe we should enforce our laws, I would ask you this one question:  What would you say to the American family that loses their jobs, their income, or their loved one because America refused to uphold its laws and defend its borders?  (Applause.)

Our obligation is to serve, protect, and defend the citizens of the United States.  We are also taking strong measures to protect our nation from radical Islamic terrorism.  (Applause.)  According to data provided by the Department of Justice, the vast majority of individuals convicted of terrorism and terrorism-related offenses since 9/11 came here from outside of our country.  We have seen the attacks at home — from Boston to San Bernardino to the Pentagon, and, yes, even the World Trade Center.

We have seen the attacks in France, in Belgium, in Germany, and all over the world.  It is not compassionate, but reckless to allow uncontrolled entry from places where proper vetting cannot occur.  (Applause.)  Those given the high honor of admission to the United States should support this country and love its people and its values.  We cannot allow a beachhead of terrorism to form inside America.  We cannot allow our nation to become a sanctuary for extremists.  (Applause.)

That is why my administration has been working on improved vetting procedures, and we will shortly take new steps to keep our nation safe and to keep out those out who will do us harm.  (Applause.)

As promised, I directed the Department of Defense to develop a plan to demolish and destroy ISIS — a network of lawless savages that have slaughtered Muslims and Christians, and men, and women, and children of all faiths and all beliefs.  We will work with our allies, including our friends and allies in the Muslim world, to extinguish this vile enemy from our planet.  (Applause.)

I have also imposed new sanctions on entities and individuals who support Iran’s ballistic missile program, and reaffirmed our unbreakable alliance with the State of Israel.  (Applause.)

Finally, I have kept my promise to appoint a justice to the United States Supreme Court, from my list of 20 judges, who will defend our Constitution.  (Applause.)

I am greatly honored to have Maureen Scalia with us in the gallery tonight.  (Applause.)  Thank you, Maureen.  Her late, great husband, Antonin Scalia, will forever be a symbol of American justice.  To fill his seat, we have chosen Judge Neil Gorsuch, a man of incredible skill and deep devotion to the law.  He was confirmed unanimously by the Court of Appeals, and I am asking the Senate to swiftly approve his nomination.  (Applause.)

Tonight, as I outline the next steps we must take as a country, we must honestly acknowledge the circumstances we inherited.  Ninety-four million Americans are out of the labor force.  Over 43 million people are now living in poverty, and over 43 million Americans are on food stamps.  More than one in five people in their prime working years are not working.  We have the worst financial recovery in 65 years.  In the last eight years, the past administration has put on more new debt than nearly all of the other Presidents combined.

We’ve lost more than one-fourth of our manufacturing jobs since NAFTA was approved, and we’ve lost 60,000 factories since China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001.  Our trade deficit in goods with the world last year was nearly $800 billion dollars.  And overseas we have inherited a series of tragic foreign policy disasters.

Solving these and so many other pressing problems will require us to work past the differences of party.  It will require us to tap into the American spirit that has overcome every challenge throughout our long and storied history.  But to accomplish our goals at home and abroad, we must restart the engine of the American economy — making it easier for companies to do business in the United States, and much, much harder for companies to leave our country.  (Applause.)

Right now, American companies are taxed at one of the highest rates anywhere in the world.  My economic team is developing historic tax reform that will reduce the tax rate on our companies so they can compete and thrive anywhere and with anyone.  (Applause.)  It will be a big, big cut.

At the same time, we will provide massive tax relief for the middle class.  We must create a level playing field for American companies and our workers.  We have to do it.  (Applause.)  Currently, when we ship products out of America, many other countries make us pay very high tariffs and taxes.  But when foreign companies ship their products into America, we charge them nothing, or almost nothing.

I just met with officials and workers from a great American company, Harley-Davidson.  In fact, they proudly displayed five of their magnificent motorcycles, made in the USA, on the front lawn of the White House.  ((Laughter and applause.)  And they wanted me to ride one and I said, “No, thank you.”  (Laughter.)

At our meeting, I asked them, how are you doing, how is business?  They said that it’s good.  I asked them further, how are you doing with other countries, mainly international sales?  They told me — without even complaining, because they have been so mistreated for so long that they’ve become used to it — that it’s very hard to do business with other countries because they tax our goods at such a high rate.  They said that in the case of another country, they taxed their motorcycles at 100 percent.  They weren’t even asking for a change.  But I am.  (Applause.)

I believe strongly in free trade but it also has to be fair trade.  It’s been a long time since we had fair trade.  The first Republican President, Abraham Lincoln, warned that the “abandonment of the protective policy by the American government… will produce want and ruin among our people.”  Lincoln was right — and it’s time we heeded his advice and his words.  (Applause.)  I am not going to let America and its great companies and workers be taken advantage of us any longer.  They have taken advantage of our country.  No longer.  (Applause.)

I am going to bring back millions of jobs.  Protecting our workers also means reforming our system of legal immigration.  (Applause.)  The current, outdated system depresses wages for our poorest workers, and puts great pressure on taxpayers.  Nations around the world, like Canada, Australia and many others, have a merit-based immigration system.  (Applause.)  It’s a basic principle that those seeking to enter a country ought to be able to support themselves financially.  Yet, in America, we do not enforce this rule, straining the very public resources that our poorest citizens rely upon.  According to the National Academy of Sciences, our current immigration system costs American taxpayers many billions of dollars a year.

Switching away from this current system of lower-skilled immigration, and instead adopting a merit-based system, we will have so many more benefits.  It will save countless dollars, raise workers’ wages, and help struggling families — including immigrant families — enter the middle class.  And they will do it quickly, and they will be very, very happy, indeed.  (Applause.)

I believe that real and positive immigration reform is possible, as long as we focus on the following goals:  To improve jobs and wages for Americans; to strengthen our nation’s security; and to restore respect for our laws.  If we are guided by the wellbeing of American citizens, then I believe Republicans and Democrats can work together to achieve an outcome that has eluded our country for decades.  (Applause.)

Another Republican President, Dwight D. Eisenhower, initiated the last truly great national infrastructure program — the building of the Interstate Highway System.  The time has come for a new program of national rebuilding.  (Applause.)America has spent approximately $6 trillion in the Middle East — all the while our infrastructure at home is crumbling.  With this $6 trillion, we could have rebuilt our country twice, and maybe even three times if we had people who had the ability to negotiate.  (Applause.)

To launch our national rebuilding, I will be asking Congress to approve legislation that produces a $1 trillion investment in infrastructure of the United States — financed through both public and private capital — creating millions of new jobs.  (Applause.)  This effort will be guided by two core principles:  buy American and hire American.  (Applause.)

Tonight, I am also calling on this Congress to repeal and replace Obamacare — (applause) — with reforms that expand choice, increase access, lower costs, and, at the same time, provide better healthcare.  (Applause.)

Mandating every American to buy government-approved health insurance was never the right solution for our country.  (Applause.)  The way to make health insurance available to everyone is to lower the cost of health insurance, and that is what we are going do.  (Applause.)

Obamacare premiums nationwide have increased by double and triple digits.  As an example, Arizona went up 116 percent last year alone.  Governor Matt Bevin of Kentucky just said Obamacare is failing in his state — the state of Kentucky — and it’s unsustainable and collapsing.

One-third of counties have only one insurer, and they are losing them fast.  They are losing them so fast.  They are leaving, and many Americans have no choice at all.  There’s no choice left.  Remember when you were told that you could keep your doctor and keep your plan?  We now know that all of those promises have been totally broken.   Obamacare is collapsing, and we must act decisively to protect all Americans.  (Applause.)

Action is not a choice, it is a necessity.  So I am calling on all Democrats and Republicans in Congress to work with us to save Americans from this imploding Obamacare disaster.  (Applause.)

Here are the principles that should guide the Congress as we move to create a better healthcare system for all Americans:

First, we should ensure that Americans with preexisting conditions have access to coverage, and that we have a stable transition for Americans currently enrolled in the healthcare exchanges.  (Applause.)

Secondly, we should help Americans purchase their own coverage through the use of tax credits and expanded Health Savings Accounts — but it must be the plan they want, not the plan forced on them by our government.  (Applause.)

Thirdly, we should give our great state governors the resources and flexibility they need with Medicaid to make sure no one is left out.  (Applause.)

Fourth, we should implement legal reforms that protect patients and doctors from unnecessary costs that drive up the price of insurance, and work to bring down the artificially high price of drugs, and bring them down immediately.  (Applause.)

And finally, the time has come to give Americans the freedom to purchase health insurance across state lines — (applause) — which will create a truly competitive national marketplace that will bring costs way down and provide far better care.  So important.

Everything that is broken in our country can be fixed.  Every problem can be solved.  And every hurting family can find healing and hope.

Our citizens deserve this, and so much more — so why not join forces and finally get the job done, and get it done right?  (Applause.)  On this and so many other things, Democrats and Republicans should get together and unite for the good of our country and for the good of the American people.  (Applause.)

My administration wants to work with members of both parties to make childcare accessible and affordable, to help ensure new parents that they have paid family leave — (applause) — to invest in women’s health, and to promote clean air and clean water, and to rebuild our military and our infrastructure.  (Applause.)

True love for our people requires us to find common ground, to advance the common good, and to cooperate on behalf of every American child who deserves a much brighter future.

An incredible young woman is with us this evening, who should serve as an inspiration to us all.  Today is Rare Disease Day, and joining us in the gallery is a rare disease survivor, Megan Crowley.  (Applause.)

Megan was diagnosed with Pompe disease, a rare and serious illness, when she was 15 months old.  She was not expected to live past five.  On receiving this news, Megan’s dad, John, fought with everything he had to save the life of his precious child.  He founded a company to look for a cure, and helped develop the drug that saved Megan’s life.  Today she is 20 years old and a sophomore at Notre Dame.  (Applause.)

Megan’s story is about the unbounded power of a father’s love for a daughter.  But our slow and burdensome approval process at the Food and Drug Administration keeps too many advances, like the one that saved Megan’s life, from reaching those in need.  If we slash the restraints, not just at the FDA but across our government, then we will be blessed with far more miracles just like Megan.  (Applause.)  In fact, our children will grow up in a nation of miracles.

But to achieve this future, we must enrich the mind and the souls of every American child.  Education is the civil rights issue of our time.  (Applause.)  I am calling upon members of both parties to pass an education bill that funds school choice for disadvantaged youth, including millions of African American and Latino children.  (Applause.)  These families should be free to choose the public, private, charter, magnet, religious, or home school that is right for them.  (Applause.)

Joining us tonight in the gallery is a remarkable woman, Denisha Merriweather.  As a young girl, Denisha struggled in school and failed third grade twice.  But then she was able to enroll in a private center for learning — a great learning center — with the help of a tax credit and a scholarship program.

Today, she is the first in her family to graduate, not just from high school, but from college.  Later this year she will get her master’s degree in social work.  We want all children to be able to break the cycle of poverty just like Denisha.  (Applause.)

But to break the cycle of poverty, we must also break the cycle of violence.  The murder rate in 2015 experienced its largest single-year increase in nearly half a century.  In Chicago, more than 4,000 people were shot last year alone, and the murder rate so far this year has been even higher.  This is not acceptable in our society.  (Applause.)

Every American child should be able to grow up in a safe community, to attend a great school, and to have access to a high-paying job.  (Applause.)  But to create this future, we must work with, not against — not against — the men and women of law enforcement.  (Applause.)  We must build bridges of cooperation and trust — not drive the wedge of disunity and, really, it’s what it is, division.  It’s pure, unadulterated division.  We have to unify.

Police and sheriffs are members of our community.  They’re friends and neighbors, they’re mothers and fathers, sons and daughters — and they leave behind loved ones every day who worry about whether or not they’ll come home safe and sound.  We must support the incredible men and women of law enforcement.  (Applause.)

And we must support the victims of crime.  I have ordered the Department of Homeland Security to create an office to serve American victims.  The office is called VOICE — Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement.  We are providing a voice to those who have been ignored by our media and silenced by special interests.  (Applause.)  Joining us in the audience tonight are four very brave Americans whose government failed them.  Their names are Jamiel Shaw, Susan Oliver, Jenna Oliver, and Jessica Davis.

Jamiel’s 17-year-old son was viciously murdered by an illegal immigrant gang member who had just been released from prison.  Jamiel Shaw, Jr. was an incredible young man, with unlimited potential who was getting ready to go to college where he would have excelled as a great college quarterback.  But he never got the chance.  His father, who is in the audience tonight, has become a very good friend of mine.  Jamiel, thank you.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

Also with us are Susan Oliver and Jessica Davis.  Their husbands, Deputy Sheriff Danny Oliver and Detective Michael Davis, were slain in the line of duty in California.  They were pillars of their community.  These brave men were viciously gunned down by an illegal immigrant with a criminal record and two prior deportations.  Should have never been in our country.

Sitting with Susan is her daughter, Jenna.  Jenna, I want you to know that your father was a hero, and that tonight you have the love of an entire country supporting you and praying for you.  (Applause.)

To Jamiel, Jenna, Susan and Jessica, I want you to know that we will never stop fighting for justice.  Your loved ones will never, ever be forgotten.  We will always honor their memory.  (Applause.)

Finally, to keep America safe, we must provide the men and women of the United States military with the tools they need to prevent war — if they must — they have to fight and they only have to win.  (Applause.)

I am sending Congress a budget that rebuilds the military, eliminates the defense sequester — (applause) — and calls for one of the largest increases in national defense spending in American history.  My budget will also increase funding for our veterans.  Our veterans have delivered for this nation, and now we must deliver for them.  (Applause.)

The challenges we face as a nation are great, but our people are even greater.  And none are greater or braver than those who fight for America in uniform.  (Applause.)

We are blessed to be joined tonight by Carryn Owens, the widow of a U.S. Navy Special Operator, Senior Chief William “Ryan” Owens.  Ryan died as he lived:  a warrior and a hero, battling against terrorism and securing our nation.  (Applause.)  I just spoke to our great General Mattis, just now, who reconfirmed that — and I quote — “Ryan was a part of a highly successful raid that generated large amounts of vital intelligence that will lead to many more victories in the future against our enemies.”  Ryan’s legacy is etched into eternity.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  And Ryan is looking down, right now — you know that — and he is very happy because I think he just broke a record.  (Laughter and applause.)

For as the Bible teaches us, “There is no greater act of love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”  Ryan laid down his life for his friends, for his country, and for our freedom.  And we will never forget Ryan.  (Applause.)

To those allies who wonder what kind of a friend America will be, look no further than the heroes who wear our uniform.  Our foreign policy calls for a direct, robust and meaningful engagement with the world.  It is American leadership based on vital security interests that we share with our allies all across the globe.

We strongly support NATO, an alliance forged through the bonds of two world wars that dethroned fascism, and a Cold War, and defeated communism.  (Applause.)

But our partners must meet their financial obligations.  And now, based on our very strong and frank discussions, they are beginning to do just that.  In fact, I can tell you, the money is pouring in.  Very nice.  (Applause.)  We expect our partners — whether in NATO, the Middle East, or in the Pacific — to take a direct and meaningful role in both strategic and military operations, and pay their fair share of the cost.  Have to do that.

We will respect historic institutions, but we will respect the foreign rights of all nations, and they have to respect our rights as a nation also.  (Applause.)  Free nations are the best vehicle for expressing the will of the people, and America respects the right of all nations to chart their own path.  My job is not to represent the world.  My job is to represent the United States of America. (Applause.)

But we know that America is better off when there is less conflict, not more.  We must learn from the mistakes of the past.  We have seen the war and the destruction that have ravaged and raged throughout the world — all across the world.  The only long-term solution for these humanitarian disasters, in many cases, is to create the conditions where displaced persons can safely return home and begin the long, long process of rebuilding.  (Applause.)

America is willing to find new friends, and to forge new partnerships, where shared interests align.  We want harmony and stability, not war and conflict.  We want peace, wherever peace can be found.

America is friends today with former enemies.  Some of our closest allies, decades ago, fought on the opposite side of these terrible, terrible wars.  This history should give us all faith in the possibilities for a better world.  Hopefully, the 250th year for America will see a world that is more peaceful, more just, and more free.

On our 100th anniversary, in 1876, citizens from across our nation came to Philadelphia to celebrate America’s centennial.  At that celebration, the country’s builders and artists and inventors showed off their wonderful creations.  Alexander Graham Bell displayed his telephone for the first time.  Remington unveiled the first typewriter.  An early attempt was made at electric light.  Thomas Edison showed an automatic telegraph and an electric pen.  Imagine the wonders our country could know in America’s 250th year.  (Applause.)

Think of the marvels we can achieve if we simply set free the dreams of our people.  Cures to the illnesses that have always plagued us are not too much to hope.  American footprints on distant worlds are not too big a dream.  Millions lifted from welfare to work is not too much to expect.  And streets where mothers are safe from fear, schools where children learn in peace, and jobs where Americans prosper and grow are not too much to ask.  (Applause.)

When we have all of this, we will have made America greater than ever before — for all Americans.  This is our vision.  This is our mission.  But we can only get there together.  We are one people, with one destiny.  We all bleed the same blood.  We all salute the same great American flag.  And we all are made by the same God.  (Applause.)

When we fulfill this vision, when we celebrate our 250 years of glorious freedom, we will look back on tonight as when this new chapter of American Greatness began.  The time for small thinking is over.  The time for trivial fights is behind us.  We just need the courage to share the dreams that fill our hearts, the bravery to express the hopes that stir our souls, and the confidence to turn those hopes and those dreams into action.

From now on, America will be empowered by our aspirations, not burdened by our fears; inspired by the future, not bound by the failures of the past; and guided by our vision, not blinded by our doubts.

I am asking all citizens to embrace this renewal of the American spirit.  I am asking all members of Congress to join me in dreaming big, and bold, and daring things for our country.  I am asking everyone watching tonight to seize this moment.  Believe in yourselves, believe in your future, and believe, once more, in America.

Thank you, God bless you, and God bless the United States.  (Applause.)

END
10:09 P.M. EST

Full Text Political Transcripts February 28, 2017: President Donald J. Trump to Address a Joint Session of Congress for the First Time

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

President Donald J. Trump to Address a Joint Session of Congress for the First Time

JSOC Everything You Need to Know Blog Header

President Donald J. Trump will be delivering his first address to a Joint Session of Congress on Tuesday, February 28, 2017. Be sure to tune in as the President will be sharing his vision for the country.

When: Tuesday, February 28, 2017, at 9 p.m.

Where: The United States Capitol in the House Chamber, also known as the “Hall of the House of Representatives.”

Who: The President will address Members of both the House of Representatives and Senate in his first address to a Joint Session of Congress.

The Speech: President Trump is keeping the tradition of previous Presidents by delivering a formal address to a Joint Session of Congress during his inaugural year, and will deliver his first State of the Union address in 2018. The President will deliver his speech from the Speaker’s rostrum.

How to watch: The address will be streamed live at http://www.whitehouse.gov

How to participate: Follow along live on Twitter @WhiteHouse and @POTUS for real-time information before, during and after the speech. The speech will also be live streamed at facebook.com/WhiteHouse.

United States Capitol Building

“This will be an opportunity for the people and their representatives to hear directly from our new President about his vision and our shared agenda.” – Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Paul D. Ryan

During his first Joint Address to Congress, the President will communicate his vision for the future of the country directly to the American people as he moves forward with his plans to take on the many challenges facing this nation. Building on his inaugural address, President Trump will continue to lay out his agenda to Make America Great Again.

In just one month, President Trump’s Administration has already accomplished so much, including the following:

  • Reviving key job-creating energy projects such as the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines.
  • Eliminating costly Obama-era regulations such as the “Stream Protection Rule.”
  • Minimizing the economic burden of Obamacare while clearing the path toward repeal and replace.
  • Directing the Department of Defense to develop a plan to defeat ISIS.
  • Standing with American workers by withdrawing from the disastrous Trans-Pacific Partnership.
  • Enacting common sense regulatory reform by ordering any new regulations be offset by the repeal of two other regulations.
  • Building his Cabinet and Administration with the highest quality individuals to help implement the President’s vision for the country.
  • Establishing new ethics commitments for all executive branch appointees to enforce a five-year lobbying ban and a permanent ban on lobbying for foreign governments.

Full Text Political Transcripts February 21, 2017: President Donald Trump’s Remarks at Press Conference

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by President Trump in Press Conference

Source: WH, 2-16-17

East Room

12:55 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.  I just wanted to begin by mentioning that the nominee for Secretary of the Department of Labor will be Mr. Alex Acosta.  He has a law degree from Harvard Law School, was a great student.  Former clerk for Justice Samuel Alito.  And he has had a tremendous career.  He’s a member, and has been a member, of the National Labor Relations Board, and has been through Senate confirmation three times, confirmed — did very, very well.  And so Alex, I’ve wished him the best.  We just spoke.  And he’s going to be — I think he’ll be a tremendous Secretary of Labor.

And also, as you probably heard just a little while ago, Mick Mulvaney, former congressman, has just been approved — weeks late, I have to say that.  Weeks, weeks late.  Office of Management and Budget.  And he will be, I think, a fantastic addition.  Paul Singer has just left.  As you know, Paul was very much involved with the anti-Trump, or, as they say, “Never Trump.”  And Paul just left and he’s given us his total support.  And it’s all about unification.  We’re unifying the party, and hopefully we’re going to be able to unify the country.  It’s very important to me.  I’ve been talking about that for a long time, but it’s very, very important to me.  So I want to thank Paul Singer for being here and for coming up to the office.  He was a very strong opponent, and now he’s a very strong ally.  And I appreciate that.

I think I’ll say a few words, and then we’ll take some questions.  And I had this time — we’ve been negotiating a lot of different transactions to save money on contracts that were terrible, including airplane contracts that were out of control and late and terrible.  Just absolutely catastrophic in terms of what was happening.  And we’ve done some really good work.  We’re very proud of that.

And then right after that, you prepare yourselves and we’ll do some questions — unless you have no questions.  That’s always a possibility.

I’m here today to update the American people on the incredible progress that has been made in the last four weeks since my inauguration.  We have made incredible progress.  I don’t think there’s ever been a President elected who, in this short period of time, has done what we’ve done.

A new Rasmussen poll, in fact — because the people get it; much of the media doesn’t get it.  They actually get it, but they don’t write it — let’s put it that way.  But a new Rasmussen poll just came out just a very short while ago, and it has our approval rating at 55 percent and going up.  The stock market has hit record numbers, as you know.  And there has been a tremendous surge of optimism in the business world, which is — to me means something much different than it used to.  It used to mean, oh, that’s good.  Now it means that’s good for jobs.  Very different.  Plants and factories are already starting to move back into the United States and big league — Ford, General Motors, so many of them.

I’m making this presentation directly to the American people with the media present, which is an honor to have you this morning, because many of our nation’s reporters and folks will not tell you the truth and will not treat the wonderful people of our country with the respect that they deserve.  And I hope going forward we can be a little bit different, and maybe get along a little bit better, if that’s possible.  Maybe it’s not, and that’s okay too.

Unfortunately, much of the media in Washington, D.C., along with New York, Los Angeles, in particular, speaks not for the people but for the special interests and for those profiting off a very, very obviously broken system.  The press has become so dishonest that if we don’t talk about it, we are doing a tremendous disservice to the American people — tremendous disservice.  We have to talk about it to find out what’s going on, because the press honestly is out of control.  The level of dishonesty is out of control.

I ran for President to represent the citizens of our country.  I am here to change the broken system so it serves their families and their communities well.  I am talking, and really talking, on this very entrenched power structure, and what we’re doing is we’re talking about the power structure, we’re talking about its entrenchment.  As a result, the media is going through what they have to go through to oftentimes distort — not all the time — and some of the media is fantastic, I have to say; they’re honest and fantastic.  But much of it is not — the distortion.  And we’ll talk about it, and you’ll be able to ask me questions about it.

But we’re not going to let it happen, because I’m here again to take my message straight to the people.  As you know, our administration inherited many problems across government and across the economy.  To be honest, I inherited a mess — it’s a mess — at home and abroad.  A mess.  Jobs are pouring out of the country.  You see what’s going on with all of the companies leaving our country, going to Mexico and other places — low-pay, low-wages.  Mass instability overseas, no matter where you look.  The Middle East, a disaster.  North Korea — we’ll take care of it, folks.  We’re going to take care of it all.  I just want to let you know I inherited a mess.

Beginning on day one, our administration went to work to tackle these challenges.  On foreign affairs, we’ve already begun enormously productive talks with many foreign leaders — much of it you’ve covered — to move forward toward stability, security, and peace in the most troubled regions of the world, which there are many.

We’ve had great conversations with the United Kingdom — and meetings — Israel, Mexico, Japan, China, and Canada.  Really, really productive conversations.  I would say far more productive than you would understand.  We’ve even developed a new council with Canada to promote women’s business leaders and entrepreneurs.  It’s very important to me, very important to my daughter Ivanka.

I have directed our defense community, headed by our great general, now Secretary Mattis — he’s over there now, working very hard — to submit a plan for the defeat of ISIS, a group that celebrates the murder and torture of innocent people in large sections of the world.  It used to be a small group, and now it’s in large sections of the world.  They’ve spread like cancer.  ISIS has spread like cancer.  Another mess I inherited.

And we have imposed new sanctions on the nation of Iran, who’s totally taken advantage of our previous administration.  And they’re the world’s top sponsor of terrorism.  And we’re not going to stop until that problem is properly solved.  And it’s not properly solved now.  It’s one of the worst agreements I’ve ever seen drawn by anybody.

I’ve ordered plans to begin for the massive rebuilding of the United States military.  I’ve had great support from the Senate.  I’ve had great support from Congress generally.  We’ve pursued this rebuilding in the hopes that we will never have to use this military.  And I will tell you that is my — I would be so happy if we never had to use it.  But our country will never have had a military like the military we’re about to build and rebuild.  We have the greatest people on Earth in our military, but they don’t have the right equipment.  And their equipment is old.  I used it, I talked about it at every stop.  Depleted — it’s depleted.  It won’t be depleted for long.

And I think one of the reasons I’m standing here instead of other people is that, frankly, I talked about we have to have a strong military.  We have to have strong law enforcement also.  So we do not go abroad in the search of war.  We really are searching for peace, but it’s peace through strength.

At home, we have begun the monumental task of returning the government back to the people on a scale not seen in many, many years.  In each of these actions, I’m keeping my promises to the American people.  These are campaign promises.  Some people are so surprised that we’re having strong borders.  Well, that’s what I’ve been talking about for a year and a half — strong borders.  They’re so surprised — “oh, you’re having strong borders.”  Well, that’s what I’ve been talking about to the press and to everybody else.

One promise after another after years of politicians lying to you to get elected.  They lie to the American people in order to get elected.  Some of the things I’m doing probably aren’t popular, but they’re necessary for security and for other reasons.  And then coming to Washington and pursuing their own interests, which is more important to many politicians.

I’m here following through on what I pledged to do.  That’s all I’m doing.  I put it out before the American people.  Got 306 Electoral College votes.  I wasn’t supposed to get 222.  They said there’s no way to get 222; 230 is impossible.  Two hundred and seventy, which you need, that was laughable.  We got 306 because people came out and voted like they’ve never seen before.  So that’s the way it goes.  I guess it was the biggest Electoral College win since Ronald Reagan.

In other words, the media is trying to attack our administration because they know we are following through on pledges that we made, and they’re not happy about it for whatever reason.  But a lot of people are happy about it.  In fact, I’ll be in Melbourne, Florida, five o’clock on Saturday, and I heard — just heard that the crowds are massive that want to be there.

I turn on the TV, open the newspapers, and I see stories of chaos.  Chaos!  Yet, it is the exact opposite.  This administration is running like a fine-tuned machine, despite the fact that I can’t get my Cabinet approved, and they’re outstanding people.  Like Senator Dan Coates whose there — one of the most respected men of the Senate — he can’t get approved.  How do you not approve him?  He’s been a colleague, highly respected — brilliant guy, great guy, everybody knows it — but waiting for approval.

So we have a wonderful group of people that’s working very hard, that’s being very much misrepresented about, and we can’t let that happen.  So if the Democrats, who have — all you have to do is look at where they are right now — the only thing they can do is delay, because they’ve screwed things up royally, believe me.

Let me list to you some of the things that we’ve done in just a short period of time.  I just got here.  I got here with no Cabinet.  Again, each of these actions is a promise I made to the American people.  So we’ll go over just some of them, and we have a lot happening next week and in the weeks coming.  We’ve withdrawn from the job-killing disaster known as Trans-Pacific Partnership.  We’re going to make trade deals, but we’re going to have one-on-one deals — bilateral.  We’re going to have one-on-one deals.

We’ve directed the elimination of regulations that undermine manufacturing, and called for expedited approval of the permits needed for America and American infrastructure, and that means plants, equipment, roads, bridges, factories.  People take 10, 15, 20 years to get disapproved for a factory.  They go in for a permit — it’s many, many years.  And then at the end of the process — they spend tens of millions of dollars on nonsense — and at the end of the process, they get rejected.  Now, they may be rejected with me, but it’s going to be a quick rejection.  It’s not going to take years.  But mostly, it’s going to be an acceptance.  We want plants built, and we want factories built, and we want the jobs.  We don’t want the jobs going to other countries.

We’ve imposed a hiring freeze on nonessential federal workers.  We’ve imposed a temporary moratorium on new federal regulations.  We’ve issued a game-changing new rule that says for each one new regulation, two old regulations must be eliminated.  Makes sense.  Nobody has ever seen regulations like we have.  If you go to other countries and you look at industries they have, and you say, let me see your regulations, and they’re a fraction, just a tiny fraction of what we have.  And I want regulations because I want safety, I want all environmental situations to be taken properly care of.  It’s very important to me.  But you don’t need four or five or six regulations to take care of the same thing.

We’ve stood up for the men and women of law enforcement, directing federal agencies to ensure they are protected from crimes of violence.  We’ve directed the creation of a task force for reducing violent crime in America, including the horrendous situation — take a look at Chicago and others — taking place right now in our inner cities.  Horrible.  We’ve ordered the Department of Homeland Security and Justice to coordinate on a plan to destroy criminal cartels coming into the United States with drugs.  We’re becoming a drug-infested nation.  Drugs are becoming cheaper than candy bars, and we’re not going to let it happen any longer.

We’ve undertaken the most substantial border security measures in a generation to keep our nation and our tax dollars safe, and are now in the process of beginning to build a promised wall on the southern border.  Met with General, now Secretary, Kelly yesterday and we’re starting that process.  And the wall is going to be a great wall, and it’s going to be a wall negotiated by me.  The price is going to come down, just like it has on everything else I’ve negotiated for the government.  And we’re going to have a wall that works.  We’re not going to have a wall like they have now, which is either nonexistent or a joke.

We’ve ordered a crackdown on sanctuary cities that refuse to comply with federal law and that harbor criminal aliens, and we’ve ordered an end to the policy of catch and release on the border.  No more release, no matter who you are — release.  We’ve begun a nationwide effort to remove criminal aliens, gang members, drug dealers, and others who pose a threat to public safety.  We are saving American lives every single day.  The court system has not made it easy for us.  And we’ve even created a new office in Homeland Security dedicated to the forgotten American victims of illegal immigrant violence, of which there are many.

We’ve taken decisive action to keep radical Islamic terrorists out of our country.  Though parts of our necessary and constitutional actions were blocked by a judge’s, in my opinion, incorrect and unsafe ruling, our administration is working night and day to keep you safe — including reporters safe — and is vigorously defending this lawful order.  I will not back down from defending our country.  I got elected on defense of our country.  And I keep my campaign promises.  And our citizens will be very happy when they see the result.  They already are.  I can tell you that.

Extreme vetting will be put in place, and it already is in place in many places.  In fact, we had to go quicker than we thought because of the bad decision we received from a circuit that has been overturned at a record number.  I’ve heard 80 percent — I find that hard to believe; that’s just a number I heard — that they’re overturned 80 percent of the time.  I think that circuit is in chaos and that circuit is, frankly, in turmoil.  But we are appealing that and we are going further.

We’re issuing a new executive action next week that will comprehensively protect our country, so we’ll be going along the one path and hopefully winning that.  At the same time, we will be issuing a new and very comprehensive order to protect our people, and that will be done some time next week, toward the beginning or middle at the latest part.

We’ve also taken steps to begin construction of the Keystone Pipeline and Dakota Access Pipelines — thousands and thousands of jobs — and put new “Buy American” measures in place to require American steel for American pipelines.  In other words, they build a pipeline in this country and we use the powers of government to make that pipeline happen.  We want them to use American steel.  And they’re willing to do that, but nobody ever asked before I came along.  Even this order was drawn and they didn’t say that.  And I’m reading the order, I’m saying, why aren’t we using American steel?  And they said, that’s a good idea.  We put it in.

To drain the swamp of corruption in Washington, D.C. I’ve started by imposing a five-year lobbying ban on White House officials and a lifetime ban on lobbying for a foreign government.  We’ve begun preparing to repeal and replace Obamacare.  Obamacare is a disaster, folks.  It’s a disaster.  You can say, oh, Obamacare — I mean, they fill up our alleys with people that you wonder how they get there, but they’re not the Republican people that our representatives are representing.  So we’ve begun preparing to repeal and replace Obamacare and are deep in the midst of negotiations on a very historic tax reform to bring our jobs back.  We’re bringing our jobs back to this country big league.  It’s already happening, but big league.

I’ve also worked to install a Cabinet over the delays and obstruction of Senate Democrats.  You’ve seen what they’ve done over the last long number of years.  That will be one of the great Cabinets ever assembled in American history.  You look at Rex Tillerson — he’s out there negotiating right now.  General Mattis I mentioned before, General Kelly.  We have great, great people.  Mick is with us now.  We have great people.

Among their responsibilities will be ending the bleeding of jobs from our country and negotiating fair trade deals for our citizens.  Now, look, fair trade — not free — fair.  If a country is taking advantage of us, we’re not going to let that happen anymore.  Every country takes advantage of us, almost.  I may be able to find a couple that don’t.  But for the most part, that would be a very tough job for me to do.

Jobs have already started to surge.  Since my election, Ford announced it will abandon its plans to build a new factory in Mexico and will instead invest $700 million in Michigan, creating many, many jobs.  Fiat-Chrysler announced it will invest $1 billion in Ohio and Michigan, creating 2,000 new American jobs.  They were with me a week ago.  You know — you were here.  General Motors, likewise, committed to invest billions of dollars in its American manufacturing operation, keeping many jobs here that were going to leave.  And if I didn’t get elected, believe me, they would have left.  And these jobs and these things that I’m announcing would never have come here.

Intel just announced that it will move ahead with a new plant in Arizona that probably was never going to move ahead with.  And that will result in at least 10,000 American jobs.  Walmart announced it will create 10,000 jobs in the United States just this year because of our various plans and initiatives.  There will be many, many more.  Many more.  These are a few that we’re naming.

Other countries have been taking advantage of us for decades — decades and decades and decades, folks.  And we’re not going to let that happen anymore.  Not going to let it happen.

And one more thing.  I have kept my promise to the American people by nominating a justice of the United States Supreme Court, Judge Neil Gorsuch, who is from my list of 20, and who will be a true defender of our laws and our Constitution — highly respected, should get the votes from the Democrats — you may not see that, but he’ll get there one way or the other.  But he should get there the old-fashioned way, and he should get those votes.

This last month has represented an unprecedented degree of action on behalf of the great citizens of our country.  Again, I say it — there has never been a presidency that’s done so much in such a short period of time.  And we haven’t even started the big work that starts early next week.  Some very big things are going to be announced next week.

So we’re just getting started.  We will be giving a speech, as I said, in Melbourne, Florida, at 5:00 p.m.  I hope to see you there.  And with that, I’d just say, God bless America, and let’s take some questions.

Mara.  Mara, go ahead.  You were cut off pretty violently at our last news conference.

Q    Did you fire Mike Flynn?

THE PRESIDENT:  Mike Flynn is a fine person, and I asked for his resignation.  He respectfully gave it.  He is a man who — there was a certain amount of information given to Vice President Pence, who is with us today.  And I was not happy with the way that information was given.

He didn’t have to do that, because what he did wasn’t wrong, what he did in terms of the information he saw.  What was wrong was the way that other people, including yourselves in this room, were given that information, because that was classified information that was given illegally.  That’s the real problem.  And you can talk all you want about Russia, which was all a fake news, fabricated deal to try and make up for the loss of the Democrats, and the press plays right into it.  In fact, I saw a couple of the people that were supposedly involved with all of this — they know nothing about it.  They weren’t in Russia, they never made a phone call to Russia, they never received a phone call.  It’s all fake news.  It’s all fake news.

The nice thing is I see it starting to turn, where people are now looking at the illegal, Mara — and I think it’s very important — the illegal giving out classified information.  And let me just tell you, it was given out, like, so much.  I’ll give you an example.  I called, as you know, Mexico.  It was a very confidential, classified call, but I called Mexico.  And in calling Mexico, I figured, oh, well, that’s — I spoke to the President of Mexico, had a good call.  All of a sudden it’s out for the world to see.  It’s supposed to be secret.  It’s supposed to be either confidential or classified in that case.  Same thing with Australia.  All of a sudden people are finding out exactly what took place.

The same thing happened with respect to General Flynn.  Everybody saw this, and I’m saying — the first thing I thought of when I heard about it is, how does the press get this information that’s classified?  How do they do it?  You know why?  Because it’s an illegal process, and the press should be ashamed of themselves.  But, more importantly, the people that gave out the information to the press should be ashamed of themselves.  Really ashamed.

Yes, go ahead.

Q    Why did you keep your Vice President in the dark for almost two weeks?

THE PRESIDENT:  Because when I looked at the information, I said, I don’t think he did anything wrong.  If anything, he did something right.  He was coming into office, he looked at the information.  He said, huh, that’s fine, that’s what they’re supposed to do.  They’re supposed to be — and he didn’t just call Russia.  He called and spoke to, both ways — I think there were 30-some-odd countries.  He’s doing the job.

You know, he was just doing his job.  The thing is he didn’t tell our Vice President properly, and then he said he didn’t remember.  So either way, it wasn’t very satisfactory to me.  And I have somebody that I think will be outstanding for the position, and that also helps, I think, in the making of my decision.

But he didn’t tell the Vice President of the United States the facts, and then he didn’t remember.  And that just wasn’t acceptable to me.

Yes.

Q    President Trump, since you brought up Russia, I’m looking for some clarification here.  During the campaign, did anyone from your team communicate with members of the Russian government or Russian intelligence?  And if so, what was the nature of those conversations?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, the failing New York Times wrote a big, long front-page story yesterday.  And it was very much discredited, as you know.  It was — it’s a joke.  And the people mentioned in the story — I notice they were on television today saying they never even spoke to Russia.  They weren’t even a part, really — I mean, they were such a minor part — I hadn’t spoken to them.  I think the one person, I don’t think I’ve ever spoken to him.  I don’t think I’ve ever met him.  And he actually said he was a very low-level member of, I think, a committee for a short period of time.  I don’t think I ever met him.  Now, it’s possible that I walked into a room and he was sitting there, but I don’t think I ever met him.  I didn’t talk to him, ever.  And he thought it was a joke.

The other person said he never spoke to Russia, never received a call.  Look at his phone records, et cetera, et cetera.  And the other person, people knew that he’d represented various countries, but I don’t think he represented Russia — but knew that he represented various countries.  That’s what he does.  I mean, people know that.  That’s Mr. Manafort, who’s, by the way — who’s, by the way, a respected man.  He’s a respected man.  But I think he represented the Ukraine, or Ukraine government, or somebody.  But everybody — people knew that.  Everybody knew that.  So these people — and he said that he has absolutely nothing to do and never has with Russia.  And he said that very forcefully.  I saw his statement.  He said it very forcefully.  Most of the papers don’t print it because that’s not good for their stories.

So the three people that they talked about all totally deny it.  And I can tell you, speaking for myself, I own nothing in Russia.  I have no loans in Russia.  I don’t have any deals in Russia.  President Putin called me up very nicely to congratulate me on the win of the election.  He then called me up extremely nicely to congratulate me on the inauguration, which was terrific.  But so did many other leaders — almost all other leaders from almost all other countries.  So that’s the extent.

Russia is fake news.  Russia — this is fake news put out by the media.  The real news is the fact that people, probably from the Obama administration because they’re there — because we have our new people going in place right now.  As you know, Mike Pompeo is now taking control of the CIA.  James Comey at FBI.  Dan Coats is waiting to be approved.  I mean, he is a senator, and a highly respected one.  And he’s still waiting to be approved.  But our new people are going in.

And just while you’re at, because you mentioned this, Wall Street Journal did a story today that was almost as disgraceful as the failing New Times’s story yesterday.  And it talked about — you saw it, front page.  So, Director of National Intelligence just put out — acting — a statement:  “Any suggestion that the United States intelligence community” — this was just given to us — “is withholding information and not providing the best possible intelligence to the President and his national security team is not true.”

So they took this front-page story out of The Wall Street Journal — top — and they just wrote the story is not true.  And I’ll tell you something, I’ll be honest — because I sort of enjoy this back and forth, and I guess I have all my life, but I’ve never seen more dishonest media than, frankly, the political media.  I thought the financial media was much better, much more honest.  But I will say that I never get phone calls from the media.  How do they write a story like that in The Wall Street Journal without asking me?  Or how do they write a story in The New York Times, put it on front page?  That was like that story they wrote about the women and me — front page.  Big massive story.  And it was nasty.

And then they called.  They said, “We never said that.  We like Mr. Trump.”  They called up my office — we like Mr. Trump; we never said that.  And it was totally — they totally misrepresented those very wonderful women, I have to tell you — totally misrepresented.  I said, give us a retraction.  They never gave us a retraction.  And, frankly, I then went on to other things.

Go ahead.

Q    Mr. President —

THE PRESIDENT:  You okay?

Q    I am.  Just wanted to get untangled.  Very simply, you said today that you had the biggest electoral margins since Ronald Reagan with 304 or 306 electoral votes.  In fact, President Obama got 365 in 2008.

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I’m talking about Republican.  Yes.

Q    President Obama, 332.  George H.W. Bush, 426 when he won as President.  So why should Americans trust —

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, no, I was told — I was given that information.  I don’t know.  I was just given.  We had a very, very big margin.

Q    I guess my question is, why should Americans trust you when you have accused the information they receive of being fake when you’re providing information that’s fake?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I don’t know.  I was given that information.  I was given — actually, I’ve seen that information around.  But it was a very substantial victory.  Do you agree with that?

Q    You’re the President.

THE PRESIDENT:  Okay, thank you.  That’s a good answer.  Yes.

Q    Mr. President, thank you so much.  Can you tell us in determining that Lieutenant General Flynn — there was no wrongdoing in your mind, what evidence was weighed?  Did you have the transcripts of these telephone intercepts with Russian officials, particularly Ambassador Kislyak, who he was communicating with?  What evidence did you weigh to determine there was no wrong doing?

And further than that, sir, you’ve said on a couple of occasions this morning that you were going to aggressively pursue the sources of these leaks.

THE PRESIDENT:  We are.

Q    Can we ask what you’re doing to do?  And also, we’ve heard about a review of the intelligence community headed by Stephen Feinberg.  What can you tell us about that?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, first of all, about that, we now have Dan Coats, hopefully soon Mike Pompeo and James Comey, and they’re in position.  So I hope that we’ll be able to straighten that out without using anybody else.  The gentleman you mentioned is a very talented man, very successful man.  And he has offered his services, and it’s something we may take advantage of.  But I don’t think we’ll need that at all because of the fact that I think that we’re going to be able to straighten it out very easily on its own.

As far as the general is concerned, when I first heard about it, I said, huh, that doesn’t sound wrong.  My counsel came — Don McGahn, White House Counsel — and he told me, and I asked him, and he can speak very well for himself.  He said he doesn’t think anything is wrong.  He really didn’t think — it was really what happened after that, but he didn’t think anything was done wrong.  I didn’t either, because I waited a period of time and I started to think about it.  I said, well, I don’t see — to me, he was doing the job.

The information was provided by — who I don’t know — Sally Yates — and I was a little surprised because I said, doesn’t sound like he did anything wrong there.  But he did something wrong with respect to the Vice President, and I thought that was not acceptable.  As far as the actual making the call — in fact, I’ve watched various programs and I’ve read various articles where he was just doing his job.  That was very normal.  At first, everybody got excited because they thought he did something wrong.  After they thought about it, it turned out he was just doing his job.

So — and I do — and, by the way, with all of that being said, I do think he’s a fine man.

Yes, Jon.

Q    On the leaks, sir —

THE PRESIDENT:  Go ahead, finish off, then I’ll get you, Jon.

Q    Sorry, what will you do on the leaks?  You have said twice today —

THE PRESIDENT:  Yes, we’re looking at it very, very seriously.  I’ve gone to all of the folks in charge of the various agencies, and we’re — I’ve actually called the Justice Department to look into the leaks.  Those are criminal leaks.  They’re put out by people either in agencies.  I think you’ll see it stopping because now we have our people in.  You know, again, we don’t have our people in because we can’t get them approved by the Senate.  We just had Jeff Sessions approved in Justice, as an example.  So we are looking into that very seriously.  It’s a criminal act.

You know what I say — when I was called out on Mexico, I was shocked.  Because all this equipment, all this incredible phone equipment.  When I was called out on Mexico, I was — honestly, I was really, really surprised.  But I said, you know, it doesn’t make sense, that won’t happen.  But that wasn’t that important to call, it was fine.  I could show it to the world and he could show it to the world — the President who is a very fine man, by the way.  Same thing with Australia.  I said, that’s terrible that it was leaked but it wasn’t that important.  But then I said, what happens when I’m dealing with the problem of North Korea?  What happens when I’m dealing with the problems in the Middle East?  Are you folks going to be reporting all of that very, very confidential information — very important, very — I mean, at the highest level, are you going to be reporting about that too?

So I don’t want classified information getting out to the public.  And in a way, that was almost a test.  So I’m dealing with Mexico.  I’m dealing with Argentina.  We were dealing on this case with Mike Flynn.  All this information gets put into the Washington Post and gets put into the New York Times.  And I’m saying, what’s going to happen when I’m dealing on the Middle East?  What’s going to happen when I’m dealing with really, really important subjects like North Korea?  We’ve got to stop it.  That’s why it’s a criminal penalty.

Yes, Jon.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  I just want to get you to clarify just a very important point.  Can you say definitively that nobody on your campaign had any contacts with the Russians during the campaign?  And, on the leaks, is it fake news or are these real leaks?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, the leaks are real.  You’re the one that wrote about them and reported them.  I mean, the leaks are real.  You know what they said — you saw it.  And the leaks are absolutely real.  The news is fake because so much of the news is fake.

So one thing that I felt it was very important to do — and I hope we can correct it, because there is nobody I have more respect for — well, maybe a little bit — than reporters, than good reporters.  It’s very important to me, and especially in this position.  It’s very important.  I don’t mind bad stories.  I can handle a bad story better than anybody as long as it’s true.  And over a course of time, I’ll make mistakes and you’ll write badly and I’m okay with that.  But I’m not okay when it is fake.  I mean, I watch CNN — it’s so much anger and hatred and just the hatred.  I don’t watch it anymore because it’s very good — he’s saying no.  It’s okay, Jim.  It’s okay, Jim.  You’ll have your chance.  But I watch others too.  You’re not the only one, so don’t feel badly.

But I think it should be straight.  I think it should be — I think it would be, frankly, more interesting.  I know how good everybody’s ratings are right now, but I think that actually would be — I think that it would actually be better.

People — I mean, you have a lower approval rate than Congress.  I think that’s right.  I don’t know, Peter, is that one right?  Because you know, I think they have lower — I heard, lower than Congress.

But honestly, the public would appreciate it.  I’d appreciate it.  Again, I don’t mind bad stories when it’s true.  But we have an administration where the Democrats are making it very difficult.  I think we’re setting a record, or close to a record in the time of approval of a Cabinet.  I mean, the numbers are crazy.  When I’m looking — some of them had them approved immediately.  I’m going forever, and I still have a lot of people that we’re waiting for.

And that’s all they’re doing, is delaying.  And you look at Schumer and the mess that he’s got over there, and they have nothing going.  The only thing they can do is delay.  And you know, I think they’d be better served by approving and making sure that they’re happy and everybody is good.  And sometimes, I mean — I know President Obama lost three or four, and you lose them on the way.  And that’s okay.  That’s fine.

But I think they would be much better served, Jon, if they just went through the process quickly.  This is pure delay tactics.  And they say it, and everybody understands it.

Yeah, go ahead, Jim.

Q    The first part of my question on contacts.  Do you definitively say that nobody —

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I had nothing to do with it.  I have nothing to do with Russia.  I told you, I have no deals there.  I have no anything.

Now, when WikiLeaks, which I had nothing to do with, comes out and happens to give — they’re not giving classified information.  They’re giving stuff — what was said at an office about Hillary cheating on the debates — which, by the way, nobody mentions.  Nobody mentions that Hillary received the questions to the debates.

Can you imagine — seriously, can you imagine if I received the questions?  It would be the electric chair, okay?  “He should be put in the electric chair.”  You would even call for the reinstitution of the death penalty, okay?  Maybe not you, Jon.

Yes, we’ll do you next, Jim.  I’ll do you next.  Yes?

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  I just want to clarify one other thing.

THE PRESIDENT:  Sure.

Q    Did you direct Mike Flynn to discuss the sanctions with the Russian ambassador?

THE PRESIDENT:  No, I didn’t.  No, I didn’t.

Q    (Inaudible.)  (Off mic.)

THE PRESIDENT:  No, I didn’t.

Q    Did you fire him because (inaudible) —

THE PRESIDENT:  Excuse me — no, I fired him because of what he said to Mike Pence, very simple.  Mike was doing his job.  He was calling countries and his counterparts.  So it certainly would have been okay with me if he did it.  I would have directed him to do it if I thought he wasn’t doing it.  I didn’t direct him but I would have directed him because that’s his job.

And it came out that way — and, in all fairness, I watched Dr. Charles Krauthammer the other night say he was doing his job.  And I agreed with him.  And since then I’ve watched many other people say that.

No, I didn’t direct him, but I would have directed him if he didn’t do it, okay?

Jim.

Q    Mr. President, thank you very much.  And just for the record, we don’t hate you, I don’t hate you.  If you could pass that along.

THE PRESIDENT:  Okay.  Well, ask Jeff Zucker how he got his job, okay?

Q    If I may follow up on some of the questions that have taken place so far, sir.

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, not too many.  We do have other people.  You do have other people, and your ratings aren’t as good as some of the other people that are waiting.

Q    They’re pretty good right now, actually.

THE PRESIDENT:  Okay.  Go ahead, Jim.

Q    If I may ask, sir, you said earlier that WikiLeaks was revealing information about the Hillary Clinton campaign during the election cycle.  You welcomed that at one point.

THE PRESIDENT:  I was okay with it.

Q    You said you loved WikiLeaks.  At another campaign press conference you called on the Russians to find the missing 30,000 emails.  I’m wondering, sir, if you —

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, she was actually missing 33,000, and then that got extended with a whole pile after that, but that’s okay.

Q    Maybe my numbers are off a little bit too.

THE PRESIDENT:  No, no, but I did say 30,000, but it was actually higher than that.

Q    If I may ask you, sir, it sounds as though you do not have much credibility here when it comes to leaking if that is something that you encouraged in the campaign.

THE PRESIDENT:  Okay, fair question.  Ready?

Q    So if I may ask you that — if I may ask a follow-up —

THE PRESIDENT:  No, no, but are you — let me do one at a time.  Do you mind?

Q    Yes, sir.

THE PRESIDENT:  All right.  So in one case you’re talking about highly classified information.  In the other case you’re talking about John Podesta saying bad things about the boss.  I will say this:  If John Podesta said that about me and he was working for me, I would have fired him so fast your head would have spun.  He said terrible things about her.  But it wasn’t classified information.

But in one case you’re talking about classified.  Regardless, if you look at the RNC, we had a very strong — at my suggestion — and I give Reince great credit for this — at my suggestion, because I know something about this world, I said I want a very strong defensive mechanism.  I don’t want to be hacked.  And we did that, and you have seen that they tried to hack us and they failed.

The DNC did not do that.  And if they did it, they could not have been hacked.  But they were hacked, and terrible things came.  And the only thing that I do think is unfair is some of the things were so — they were — when I heard some of those things, I said — I picked up the papers the next morning, I said, oh, this is going to front page.  It wasn’t even in the papers.

Again, if I had that happen to me, it would be the biggest story in the history of publishing or the head of newspapers.  I would have been the headline in every newspaper.

I mean, think of it.  They gave her the questions for the debate, and she should have reported herself.  Why didn’t Hillary Clinton announce that, “I’m sorry, but I have been given the questions to a debate or a town hall, and I feel that it’s inappropriate, and I want to turn in CNN for not doing a good job”?

Q    And if I may follow up on that, just something that Jonathan Karl was asking you about — you said that the leaks are real, but the news is fake.  I guess I don’t understand.  It seems that there is a disconnect there.  If the information coming from those leaks is real, then how can the stories be fake?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, the reporting is fake.  Look, look —

Q    And if I may ask — I just want to ask one other question.

THE PRESIDENT:  Jim, you know what it is?  Here’s the thing.  The public isn’t — they read newspapers, they see television, they watch.  They don’t know if it’s true or false because they’re not involved.  I’m involved.  I’ve been involved with this stuff all my life.  But I’m involved.  So I know when you’re telling the truth or when you’re not.

I just see many, many untruthful things.  And I tell you what else I see.  I see tone.  You know the word “tone.”  The tone is such hatred.  I’m really not a bad person, by the way.  No, but the tone is such — I do get good ratings, you have to admit that.  The tone is such hatred.

I watched this morning a couple of the networks, and I have to say “Fox & Friends” in the morning, they’re very honorable people.  They’re very — not because they’re good, because they hit me also when I do something wrong.  But they have the most honest morning show.  That’s all I can say.  It’s the most honest.  But the tone, Jim.  If you look — the hatred.  I mean, sometimes — sometimes somebody gets —

Q    (Off mic.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, you look at your show that goes on at 10 o’clock in the evening.  You just take a look at that show.  That is a constant hit.  The panel is almost always exclusive anti-Trump.  The good news is he doesn’t have good ratings.  But the panel is almost exclusive anti-Trump.  And the hatred and venom coming from his mouth, the hatred coming from other people on your network.

Now, I will say this.  I watch it.  I see it.  I’m amazed by it.  And I just think you’d be a lot better off — I honestly do.  The public gets it, you know.  Look, when I go to rallies, they turn around, they start screaming at CNN.  They want to throw their placards at CNN.

I think you would do much better by being different.  But you just take a look.  Take a look at some of your shows in the morning and the evening.  If a guest comes out and says something positive about me, it’s brutal.

Now, they’ll take this news conference.  I’m actually having a very good time, okay?  But they’ll take this news conference — don’t forget that’s the way I won.  Remember, I used to give you a news conference every time I made a speech, which was like every day.

Q    (Off mic.)

THE PRESIDENT:  No, that’s how I won.  I won with news conferences and probably speeches.  I certainly didn’t win by people listening to you people, that’s for sure.

But I am having a good time.  Tomorrow they will say, Donald Trump rants and raves at the press.  I’m not ranting and raving.  I’m just telling you, you’re dishonest people.  But — but I’m not ranting and raving.  I love this.  I’m having a good time doing it.  But tomorrow the headlines are going to be:  Donald Trump Rants and Raves.  I’m not ranting and raving.

Q    If I may just —

THE PRESIDENT:  Go ahead.

Q    One more follow-up because —

THE PRESIDENT:  Should I let him have a little bit more?  What do you think, Peter?

Q    Just because of this —

THE PRESIDENT:  Peter, should I have let him have a little bit more?  Sit down.  Sit down.

Q    Just because of the attack —

THE PRESIDENT:  We’ll get it.

Q    Just because of the attack of fake news and attacking our network, I just want to ask you, sir —

THE PRESIDENT:  I’m changing it from fake news, though.

Q    Doesn’t that undermine —

THE PRESIDENT:  Very fake news now.  (Laughter.)

Q    But aren’t you —

THE PRESIDENT:  Yes, go ahead.

Q    Real news, Mr. President.  Real news.

THE PRESIDENT:  And you’re not related to our new —

Q    I am not related, sir, no.  (Laughter.)  I do like the sound of Secretary Acosta, I must say.

THE PRESIDENT:  I looked — you know, I looked at that name.  I said, wait a minute, is there any relation there?  Alex Acosta.

Q    I’m sure you checked that out, sir.

THE PRESIDENT:  No, I checked it.  I said — they said, no, sir.  I said, do me a favor, go back and check the family tree.

Q    But aren’t you concerned, sir, that you are undermining the people’s faith in the First Amendment freedom of the press, the press in this country when you call stories you don’t like “fake news”?  Why not just say it’s a story I don’t like?

THE PRESIDENT:  I do that.

Q    When you call it fake news, you’re undermining confidence —

THE PRESIDENT:  No, I do that.  No, no, I do that.

Q    — in our news media.

THE PRESIDENT:  Here’s the thing.

Q    Isn’t that important?

THE PRESIDENT:  Okay, I understand — and you’re right about that except this.  See, I know when I should get good and when I should get bad.  And sometimes I’ll say, wow, that’s going to be a great story, and I’ll get killed.  I know what’s good and bad.  I’d be a pretty good reporter — not as good as you.  But I know what’s good.  I know what’s bad.

And when they change it and make it really bad — something that should be positive.  Sometimes something that should be very positive, they’ll make okay.  They’ll even make it negative.  So I understand it because I’m there.  I know what was said.  I know who is saying it.  I’m there.  So it’s very important to me.

Look, I want to see an honest press.  When I started off today by saying that it’s so important to the public to get an honest press.  The press — the public doesn’t believe you people anymore.  Now, maybe I had something to do with that, I don’t know.  But they don’t believe you.

If you were straight and really told it like it is, as Howard Cosell used to say, right?  Of course, he had some questions also.  But if you were straight, I would be your biggest booster, I would be your biggest fan in the world — including bad stories about me.  But if you go — as an example, you’re CNN — I mean, it’s story after story after story is bad.  I won.  I won.  And the other thing:  Chaos.  There’s zero chaos.  We are running — this is a fine-tuned machine.  And Reince happens to be doing a good job.  But half of his job is putting out lies by the press.

I said to him yesterday, this whole Russia scam that you guys are building so that you don’t talk about the real subject, which is illegal leaks.  But I watched him yesterday working so hard to try and get that story proper.  And I’m saying, here’s my Chief of Staff, a really good guy, did a phenomenal job at RNC.  I mean, we won the election, right?  We won the presidency.  We got some senators.  We got some — all over the country, you take a look, he’s done a great job.

And I said to myself, you know — and I said to somebody that was in the room — I said, you take a look at Reince, he’s working so hard just putting out fires that are fake fires.  They’re fake.  They’re not true.  And isn’t that a shame, because he’d rather be working on health care.  He’d rather be working on tax reform, Jim.  I mean that.  I would be your biggest fan in the world if you treated me right.  I sort of understand there’s a certain bias, maybe by Jeff or somebody — for whatever reason.  And I understand that.  But you’ve got to be at least a little bit fair.  And that’s why the public sees it — they see it.  They see it’s not fair.  You take a look at some of your shows and you see the bias and the hatred.  And the public is smart.  They understand it.

Okay, yeah, go ahead.

Q    We have no doubt that your latest story is (inaudible).  But for those who believe that there is something to it, is there anything that you have learned over these last few weeks that you might be able to reveal that might ease their concerns that this isn’t fake news?  And secondly —

THE PRESIDENT:  I think they don’t believe it.  I don’t think the public would.  That’s why the Rasmussen poll just has me through the roof.  I don’t think they believe it.  Well, I guess one of the reasons I’m here today is to tell you the whole Russian thing — that’s a ruse.  That’s a ruse.  And, by the way, it would be great if we could get along with Russia, just so you understand that.  Now, tomorrow you’ll say, Donald Trump wants to get along with Russia, this is terrible.  It’s not terrible — it’s good.

We had Hillary Clinton try and do a reset.  We had Hillary Clinton give Russia 20 percent of the uranium in our country.  You know what uranium is, right?  It’s this thing called nuclear weapons and other things.  Like, lots of things are done with uranium, including some bad things.  Nobody talks about that.  I didn’t do anything for Russia.  I’ve done nothing for Russia.  Hillary Clinton gave them 20 percent of our uranium.  Hillary Clinton did a reset, remember, with the stupid plastic button that made us all look like a bunch of jerks?  Here, take a look.  He looked at her like, what the hell is she doing with that cheap plastic button?  Hillary Clinton — that was a reset.  Remember?  It said “reset.”

Now, if I do that, oh, I’m a bad guy.  If we could get along with Russia, that’s a positive thing.  We have a very talented man, Rex Tillerson, who is going to be meeting with them shortly.  And I told him, I said, I know politically it’s probably not good for me.  Hey, the greatest thing I could do is shoot that ship that’s 30 miles offshore right out of the water.  Everyone in this country is going to say, oh, it’s so great.  That’s not great.  That’s not great.  I would love to be able to get along with Russia.

Now, you’ve had a lot of Presidents that haven’t taken that tact.  Look where we are now.  Look where we are now.  So, if I can — now, I love to negotiate things.  I do it really well and all that stuff, but it’s possible I won’t be able to get along with Putin.  Maybe it is.  But I want to just tell you, the false reporting by the media, by you people — the false, horrible, fake reporting makes it much harder to make a deal with Russia.  And probably Putin said, you know — he’s sitting behind his desk and he’s saying, you know, I see what’s going on in the United States, I follow it closely; it’s got to be impossible for President Trump to ever get along with Russia because of all the pressure he’s got with this fake story.  Okay?  And that’s a shame.  Because if we could get along with Russia — and, by the way, China and Japan and everyone — if we could get along, it would be a positive thing, not a negative thing.

Q    Tax reform —

Q    Mr. President, since you —

THE PRESIDENT:  Tax reform is going to happen fairly quickly.  We’re doing Obamacare — we’re in final stages.  We should be submitting the initial plan in March, early March, I would say.  And we have to, as you know, statutorily and for reasons of budget, we have to go first.  It’s not like — frankly, the tax would be easier, in my opinion, but for statutory reasons and for budgetary reasons, we have to submit the health care sooner.  So we’ll be submitting health care sometime in early March, mid-March.  And after that, we’re going to come up — and we’re doing very well on tax reform.

Yes.

Q    Mr. President, you mentioned Russia.  Let’s talk about some serious issues that have come up in the last week that you have had to deal with as President of the United States.

THE PRESIDENT:  Okay.

Q    You mentioned the vessel, the spy vessel, off the coast of the United States.

THE PRESIDENT:  Not good.

Q    There was a ballistic missile test that many interpreted as a violation —

THE PRESIDENT:  Not good.

Q    — of the agreement between the two countries.  And a Russian plane buzzed a U.S. destroyer.

THE PRESIDENT:  Not good.

Q    I listened to you during the campaign —

THE PRESIDENT:  Excuse me, excuse me, when did it happen?  It happened when — if you were Putin right now, you would say, hey, we’re back to the old games with the United States.  There’s no way Trump can ever do a deal with us because the — you have to understand, if I was just brutal on Russia right now, just brutal, people would say, you would say, oh, isn’t that wonderful.  But I know you well enough.  Then you would say, oh, he was too tough, he shouldn’t have done that.  Look, of all —

Q    I’m just trying to find out your orientation to those —

THE PRESIDENT:  Wait a minute.  Wait, wait.  Excuse me just one second.

Q    I’m just trying to find out what you’re doing to do about them, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT:  All of those things that you mentioned are very recent, because probably Putin assumes that he’s not going to be able to make a deal with me because it’s politically not popular for me to make a deal.  So Hillary Clinton tries to reset, it failed.  They all tried.  But I’m different than those people.

Go ahead.

Q    How are you interpreting those moves?  And what do you intend to do about them?

THE PRESIDENT:  Just the way I said it.

Q    Have you given Rex Tillerson any advice or counsel on how to deal?

THE PRESIDENT:  I have.  I have.  And I’m so beautifully represented.  I’m so honored that the Senate approved him.  He’s going to be fantastic.

Yes, I think that I’ve already —

Q    Is Putin testing you, do you believe, sir?

THE PRESIDENT:  No, I don’t think so.  I think Putin probably assumes that he can’t make a deal with me anymore because politically it would be unpopular for a politician to make a deal.  I can’t believe I’m saying I’m a politician, but I guess that’s what I am now.  Because, look, it would be much easier for me to be tough on Russia, but then we’re not going to make a deal.

Now, I don’t know that we’re going to make a deal.  I don’t know.  We might, we might not.  But it would be much easier for me to be so tough — the tougher I am on Russia, the better.  But you know what, I want to do the right thing for the American people.  And to be honest, secondarily, I want to do the right thing for the world.

If Russia and the United States actually got together and got along — and don’t forget, we’re a very powerful nuclear country and so are they.  There’s no upside.  We’re a very powerful nuclear country and so are they.  I’ve been briefed.  And I can tell you, one thing about a briefing that we’re allowed to say because anybody that ever read the most basic book can say it:  Nuclear holocaust would be like no other.  They’re a very powerful nuclear country and so are we.

If we have a good relationship with Russia, believe me, that’s a good thing, not a bad thing.

Q    So when you say they’re not good, do you mean that they are —

THE PRESIDENT:  Who did I say is not good?

Q    No, when I read off the three things that have recently happened and each one of them you said they’re not good.

THE PRESIDENT:  No, it’s not good, but they happened.

Q    But do they damage the relationship?  Do they undermine this country’s ability to work with Russia?

THE PRESIDENT:  They all happened recently, and I understand what they’re doing, because they’re doing the same thing.  Now, again, maybe I’m not going to be able to do a deal with Russia, but at least I will have tried.  And if I don’t, does anybody really think that Hillary Clinton would be tougher on Russia than Donald Trump?  Does anybody in this room really believe that?  Okay.

But I tell you one thing:  She tried to make a deal.  She had the reset.  She gave all the valuable uranium away.  She did other things.  You know, they say I’m close to Russia.  Hillary Clinton gave away 20 percent of the uranium in the United States.  She’s close to Russia.  I gave — you know what I gave to Russia?  You know what I gave?  Nothing.

Q    Can we conclude there will be no response to these particular provocations?

THE PRESIDENT:  I’m not going to tell you anything about what response I do.  I don’t talk about military response.  I don’t say I’m going into Mosul in four months.  “We are going to attack Mosul in four months.”  Then three months later:  “We are going to attack Mosul in one month.”  “Next week, we are going to attack Mosul.”  In the meantime, Mosul is very, very difficult.  Do you know why?  Because I don’t talk about military, and I don’t talk about certain other things.  You’re going to be surprised to hear that.  And, by the way, my whole campaign, I’d say that.  So I don’t have to tell you —

Q    There will be a response?

THE PRESIDENT:  I don’t want to be one of these guys that say, “Yes, here’s what we’re going to do.”  I don’t have to do that.

Q    There will be a — in other words, there will be a response, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT:  I don’t have to tell you what I’m going to do in North Korea.  Wait a minute.  I don’t have to tell you what I’m going to do in North Korea.  And I don’t have to tell you what I’m going to do with Iran.  You know why?  Because they shouldn’t know.  And eventually you guys are going to get tired of asking that question.  So when you ask me, what am I going to do with the ship — the Russian ship, as an example — I’m not going to tell you.  But hopefully, I won’t have to do anything.  But I’m not going to tell you.  Okay.

Q    Thanks.

Q    Can I just ask you — thank you very much, Mr. President — the Trump —

THE PRESIDENT:  Where are you from?

Q    BBC.

THE PRESIDENT:  Okay.  Here’s another beauty.

Q    That’s a good line.  Impartial, free, and fair.

THE PRESIDENT:  Yeah, sure.

Q    Mr. President —

THE PRESIDENT:  Just like CNN, right?

Q    Mr. President, on the travel ban — we could banter back and forth.  On the travel ban, would you accept that that was a good example of the smooth running of government, that fine-tuned —

THE PRESIDENT:  Yeah, I do.  I do.   And let me tell you about the travel —

Q    Were there any mistakes in that?

THE PRESIDENT:  Wait, wait, wait.  I know who you are.  Just wait.  Let me tell you about the travel ban.  We had a very smooth rollout of the travel ban, but we had a bad court.  We got a bad decision.  We had a court that’s been overturned — again, maybe wrong, but I think it’s 80 percent of the time.  A lot.  We had a bad decision.  We’re going to keep going with that decision.  We’re going to put in a new executive order next week sometime.  But we had a bad decision.  That’s the only thing that was wrong with the travel ban.

You had Delta with a massive problem with their computer system at the airports.  You had some people that were put out there, brought by very nice buses, and they were put out at various locations.  Despite that, the only problem that we had is we had a bad court.  We had a court that gave us what I consider to be, with great respect, a very bad decision.  Very bad for the safety and security of our country.  The rollout was perfect.

Now, what I wanted to do was do the exact same executive order but said one thing — and I said this to my people:  Give them a one-month period of time.  But General Kelly, now Secretary Kelly, said, if you do that, all these people will come in, in the month — the bad ones.  You do agree, there are bad people out there, right?  They’re not everybody that’s like you.  You have some bad people out there.

So Kelly said, you can’t do that.  And he was right.  As soon as he said it, I said, wow, never thought of it.  I said, how about one week?  He said, no good.  You got to do it immediately, because if you do it immediately, they don’t have time to come in.  Now, nobody ever reports that, but that’s why we did it quickly.

Now, if would have done it a month, everything would have been perfect.  The problems is we would have wasted a lot of time, and maybe a lot of lives, because a lot of bad people would have come into our country.

Now, in the meantime, we’ve vetting very, very strongly.  Very, very strongly.  But we need help, and we need help by getting that executive order passed.

Q    Just a brief follow-up.  And if it’s so urgent, why not introduce —

THE PRESIDENT:  Yes, go ahead.

Q    Thank you.  I just was hoping that we could get a yes- or-no answer on one of these questions involving Russia.  Can you say whether you are aware that anyone who advised your campaign had contacts with Russia during the course of the election?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I told you, General Flynn obviously was dealing.  So that’s one person.  But he was dealing — as he should have been —

Q    During the election?

THE PRESIDENT:  No, no, nobody that I know of.

Q    So you’re not aware of any contacts during the course of the election?

THE PRESIDENT:  Look, look, how many times do I have to answer this question?

Q    Can you just say yes or no on it?

THE PRESIDENT:  Russia is a ruse.  Yeah, I know you have to get up and ask a question, so important.  Russia is a ruse.  I have nothing to do with Russia, haven’t made a phone call to Russia in years.  Don’t speak to people from Russia.  Not that I wouldn’t, I just have nobody to speak to.  I spoke to Putin twice.  He called me on the election — I told you this — and he called me on the inauguration, and a few days ago.  We had a very good talk, especially the second one — lasted for a pretty long period of time.  I’m sure you probably get it because it was classified, so I’m sure everybody in this room perhaps has it.  But we had a very, very good talk.  I have nothing to do with Russia.  To the best of my knowledge, no person that I deal with does.

Now, Manafort has totally denied it.  He denied it.  Now, people knew that he was a consultant over in that part of the world for a while, but not for Russia.  I think he represented Ukraine or people having to do with Ukraine, or people that — whoever.  But people knew that.  Everybody knew that.

Q    But in his capacity as your campaign manager, was he in touch with Russian officials during the election?

THE PRESIDENT:  I have — you know what, he said no.  I can only tell you what he — now, he was replaced long before the election.  You know that, right?  He was replaced long before the election.  When all of this stuff started coming out, it came out during the election.  But Paul Manafort, who’s a good man also, by the way — Paul Manafort was replaced long before the election took place.  He was only there for a short period of time.

How much longer should we stay here, folks?  Five more minutes, is that okay?  Five?

Q    Mr. President, on national security —

THE PRESIDENT:  Wait, let’s see, who’s — I want to find a friendly reporter.  Are you a friendly reporter?  Watch how friendly he is.  Wait, wait — watch how friendly he is.  Go ahead.  Go ahead.

Q    So, first of all, my name is (inaudible) from (inaudible) Magazine.  And (inaudible).  I haven’t seen anybody in my community accuse either yourself or any of the — anyone on your staff of being anti-Semitic.  We have an understanding of (inaudible).

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.

Q    However, what we are concerned about, and what we haven’t really heard be addressed is an uptick in anti-Semitism and how the government is planning to take care of it.  There have been reports out that 48 bomb threats have been made against Jewish centers all across the country in the last couple of weeks.  There are people who are committing anti-Semitic acts or threatening to —

THE PRESIDENT:  You see, he said he was going to ask a very simple, easy question.  And it’s not.  It’s not.  Not a simple question, not a fair question.  Okay, sit down.  I understand the rest of your question.

So here’s the story, folks.  Number one, I am the least anti-Semitic person that you’ve ever seen in your entire life.  Number two, racism — the least racist person.  In fact, we did very well relative to other people running as a Republican.

Q    (Inaudible.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Quiet, quiet, quiet.  See, he lied about — he was going to get up and ask a very straight, simple question.  So you know, welcome to the world of the media.  But let me just tell you something — that I hate the charge.  I find it repulsive.  I hate even the question because people that know me — and you heard the Prime Minister, you heard Netanyahu yesterday — did you hear him, Bibi?  He said, I’ve known Donald Trump for a long time, and then he said, forget it.

So you should take that, instead of having to get up and ask a very insulting question like that.

Yeah, go ahead.  Go ahead.

Q    Thank you.  I’m Lisa from the PBS —

THE PRESIDENT:  See, it just shows you about the press, but that’s the way the press is.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  Lisa Desjardins from the PBS Newshour.

THE PRESIDENT:  Good.

Q    On national security and immigration, can you give us more details on the executive order you planned for next week, even its broad outlines?  Will it be focused on specific countries?

THE PRESIDENT:  It’s a very fair question.

Q    And in addition, on the DACA program for immigration, what is your plan?  Do you plan to continue that program or to end it?

THE PRESIDENT:  We’re going to show great heart.  DACA is a very, very difficult subject for me, I will tell you.  To me, it’s one of the most difficult subjects I have, because you have these incredible kids, in many cases — not in all cases.  In some of the cases they’re having DACA and they’re gang members and they’re drug dealers too.  But you have some absolutely incredible kids — I would say mostly — they were brought here in such a way — it’s a very, very tough subject.

We are going to deal with DACA with heart.  I have to deal with a lot of politicians, don’t forget, and I have to convince them that what I’m saying is right.  And I appreciate your understanding on that.

But the DACA situation is a very, very — it’s a very difficult thing for me.  Because, you know, I love these kids.  I love kids.  I have kids and grandkids.  And I find it very, very hard doing what the law says exactly to do.  And you know, the law is rough.  I’m not talking about new laws.  I’m talking the existing law is very rough.  It’s very, very rough.

As far as the new order, the new order is going to be very much tailored to what I consider to be a very bad decision, but we can tailor the order to that decision and get just about everything, in some ways more.  But we’re tailoring it now to the decision.  We have some of the best lawyers in the country working on it.  And the new executive order is being tailored to the decision we got down from the court.  Okay?

Q    Mr. President, Melania Trump announced the reopening of the White House Visitors Office.

THE PRESIDENT:  Yes.

Q    And she does a lot of great work for the country as well.  Can you tell us a little bit about what First Lady Melania Trump does for the country?  And there is a unique level of interest in your administration, so by opening the White House Visitors Office, what does that mean to you?

THE PRESIDENT:  Now, that’s what I call a nice question.  That is very nice.  Who are you with?

Q    (Inaudible.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Good.  I’m going to start watching.  Thank you very much.

Melania is terrific.  She was here last night.  We had dinner with Senator Rubio and his wife, who is, by the way, lovely.  And we had a really good discussion about Cuba because we have very similar views on Cuba.  And Cuba was very good to me in the Florida election as you know, the Cuban people, Americans.  And I think that Melania is going to be outstanding.  That’s right, she just opened up the Visitors Center — in other words, touring of the White House.

She, like others that she’s working with, feels very, very strongly about women’s issues, women’s difficulties, very, very strongly.  And she’s a very, very strong advocate.  I think she’s a great representative for this country.  And a funny thing happens because she gets so unfairly maligned.  The things they say — I’ve known her for a long time.  She was a very successful person.  She was a very successful model.  She did really well.  She would go home at night and didn’t even want to go out with people.  She was a very private person.  She was always the highest quality that you’ll ever find.  And the things they say — and I’ve known her for a long time — the things they say are so unfair.  And actually, she’s been apologized to, as you know, by various media because they said things that were lies.

I’d just tell you this:  I think she’s going to be a fantastic First Lady.  She’s going to be a tremendous representative of women and of the people.  And helping her and working with her will be Ivanka, who is a fabulous person and a fabulous, fabulous woman.  And they’re not doing this for money.  They’re not doing this for pay.  They’re doing this because they feel it, both of them.  And Melania goes back and forth, and after Barron finishes school — because it’s hard to take a child out of school with a few months left — she and Barron will be moving over to the White House.  Thank you.  That’s a very nice question.

Go ahead.

Q    Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT:  Yes.  Oh, this is going to be a bad question but that’s okay.

Q    No, it’s not going to be a bad question.

THE PRESIDENT:  Good, because I enjoy watching you on television.

Q    Well, thank you so much.  Mr. President, I need to find out from you — you said something as it relates to inner cities.  That was one of your platforms during your campaign.

THE PRESIDENT:  Fix the inner cities, yes.

Q    Fixing the inner cities.  What will be that fix and your urban agenda, as well as your HBCU executive order that’s coming out this afternoon?  See, it wasn’t bad, was it?

THE PRESIDENT:  That was very professional and very good.

Q    I’m very professional.

THE PRESIDENT:  We’ll be announcing the order in a little while, and I’d rather let the order speak for itself.  But it will be something I think that will be very good for everybody concerned.  But we’ll talk to you about that after we do the announcement.

As far as the inner cities, as you know, I was very strong on the inner cities during the campaign.  I think it’s probably what got me a much higher percentage of the African American vote than a lot of people thought I was going to get.  We did much higher than people thought I was going to get and I was honored by that, including the Hispanic vote, which was also much higher.  And, by the way, if I might add, including the women’s vote, which was much higher than people thought I was going to get.

So we are going to be working very hard on the inner cities having to do with education, having to do with crime.  We’re going to try and fix as quickly as possible — you know it takes a long time.  It’s taken 100 years or more for some of these places to evolve, and they evolved many of them very badly.

But we’re going to be working very hard on health and health care; very, very hard on education.  And also, we’re going to working in a stringent way, and a very good way, on crime.  You go to some of these inner city places, and it’s so sad when you look at the crime.  You have people — and I’ve seen this, and I’ve sort of witnessed it.  In fact, in two cases, I have actually witnessed it.  They lock themselves into apartments, petrified to even leave, in the middle of the day.  They’re living in hell.  We can’t let that happen.  So we’re going to be very, very strong.

It’s a great question, and it’s a very difficult situation, because it’s been many, many years.  It’s been festering for many, many years.  But we have places in this country that we have to fix.  We have to help African American people that, for the most part are stuck there — Hispanic American people.  We have Hispanic American people that are in the inner cities, and they’re living in hell.

I mean, you look at the numbers in Chicago.  There are two Chicagos, as you know.  There’s one Chicago that’s incredible, luxurious and all, and safe.  There’s another Chicago that’s worse than almost any of the places in the Middle East that we talk about, and that you talk about every night on the newscasts.  So we’re going to do a lot of work on the inner cities.  I have great people lined up to help with the inner cities.

Q    Well, when you say — when you say the inner cities, are you going to include the CBC, Mr. President, in your conversations with your urban agenda, your inner city agenda, as well as your —

THE PRESIDENT:  Am I going include who?

Q    Are you going to include the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, as well as —

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I would.  I tell you what, do you want to set up the meeting?  Do you want to set up the meeting?

Q    No, no, no.

THE PRESIDENT:  Are they friends of yours?

Q    I’m just a reporter.

THE PRESIDENT:  No, go ahead, set up the meeting.

Q    I know some of them, but I’m sure they’re watching right now.

THE PRESIDENT:  Let’s go set up a meeting.  I would love to meet with the Black Caucus.  I think it’s great — the Congressional Black Caucus.  I think it’s great.  I actually thought I had a meeting with Congressman Cummings, and he was all excited, and then he said, oh, I can’t move, it might be bad for me politically, I can’t have that meeting.  I was all set to have the meeting.  You know, we called him and called him, and he was all set.  I spoke to him on the phone.  Very nice guy.

Q    I hear he wanted that meeting with you as well.

THE PRESIDENT:  He wanted it.  But we called, called, called, called — they can’t make a meeting with him.  Every day, I walked in, I said, I would like to meet with him.  Because I do want to solve the problem.  But he probably was told by Schumer or somebody like that — some other lightweight — he was probably told — he was probably told, don’t meet with Trump, it’s bad politics.  And that’s part of the problem of this country.

Okay, one more.  Go ahead.

Q    Yes, Mr. President, two questions —

THE PRESIDENT:  No, no.  One question.  Two, we can’t handle.  This room can’t handle two.  Go ahead, give me the better of your two.

Q    (Inaudible) it’s not about your personality or your beliefs.  We’re talking about (inaudible) around the country, some of it by supporters in your name.  What do you —

THE PRESIDENT:  And some of it — and can I be honest with you?  And this has to do with racism and horrible things that are put up.  Some of it written by our opponents.  You do know that.  Do you understand that?  You don’t think anybody would do a thing like that.  Some of the signs you’ll see are not put up by the people that love or like Donald Trump, they’re put up by the other side, and you think it’s like playing it straight.  No.  But you have some of those signs, and some of that anger is caused by the other side.  They’ll do signs and they’ll do drawings that are inappropriate.  It won’t be my people.  It will be the people on the other side to anger people like you.  Okay.

Go ahead.

Q    You are the President now.  What are you going to do about it?

THE PRESIDENT:  Who is that?  Where is that?  Oh, stand up.  You can —

Q    What are you going to do about the tensions that have been discussed?

THE PRESIDENT:  Oh, I’m working on it.  No, I’m working on it very hard.

Q    Are you going to give a speech?

THE PRESIDENT:  No, no, look.  Hey, just so you understand, we had a totally divided country for eight years, and long before that, in all fairness to President Obama.  Long before President Obama, we have had a very divided.  I didn’t come along and divide this country.  This country was seriously divided before I got here.

We’re going to work on it very hard.  One of the questions that was asked — I thought it was a very good question — was about the inner cities.  I mean, that’s part of it.  But we’re going to work on education.  We’re going to work on lack — you know, we’re going to stop — we’re going to try and stop the crime.  We have great law enforcement officials.  We’re going to try and stop crime.  We’re not going to try and stop, we’re going to stop crime.

But it’s very important to me.  But this isn’t Donald Trump that divided a nation.  We went eight years with President Obama, and we went many years before President Obama.  We lived in a divided nation.  And I am going to try — I will do everything within my power to fix that.

I want to thank everybody very much.  It’s a great honor to be with you.  Thank you.  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

END
2:13 P.M. EST

Full Text Political Transcripts February 4, 2017: President Trump’s Second Week of Action

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

President Trump’s Second Week of Action

Source: WH, 2-4-17

PRESIDENT TRUMP’S SECOND WEEK OF ACTION

  • 7: Presidential Actions to Make America Great Again
  • 4: Diplomatic conversations with foreign leaders to promote an America First foreign policy.
  • 4: Meetings to get input from workers and business leaders on jumpstarting job creation.
  • 2: Events for the nomination of Judge Gorsuch to the Supreme Court
  • 2: Events to commemorate African American History Month
  • 2: Members of President Trump’s Cabinet sworn in.
  • 1: Bill signed into law
  • 1: Meeting with cyber security experts
  • 1: Commemoration of American Heart Month
  • 1: Speech at the National Prayer Breakfast
  • 1: Letter of Recognition for National Catholic Schools Week

Following Through On His Promise To The American People, President Trump Nominated Judge Neil Gorsuch To The Supreme Court

  • On Tuesday, President Trump nominated Judge Neil Gorsuch to become Associate Justice on the Supreme Court, filling the seat left behind by the late Justice Antonin Scalia.
  • The next day, President Trump met with various stakeholders to thank them for their input in making such an important decision.

President Trump Continued To Drain The Washington Swamp And Further Protect All Americans

PROTECTING AMERICANS: President Trump signed two executive memoranda to protect Americans and sanctioned the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism in Iran.

  • On Friday, the Trump administration sanctioned twenty-five individuals and entities that provide support to Iran’s ballistic missile program and to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force.
  • Last Saturday, President Trump ordered a 30-day review and development of a new plan to defeat ISIS.
  • Last Saturday, to better get advice and information needed to ensure the safety and security of the American people, President Trump signed an executive order that modernized the National Security Council and the Homeland Security Council.

DRAINING THE SWAMP: President Trump used the power of his office to promote government transparency, preventing lobbying influence, and limiting regulatory overreach.

  • Last Saturday, President Trump signed an executive order establishing new ethics commitments for all Executive branch appointees to limit the influence of lobbyists and Washington insiders.
  • On Monday, President Trump signed an executive order to reduce government regulations by requiring two existing regulations to be ended if a new one is approved.
  • On Tuesday, President Trump signed into law the “GAO Access And Oversight Act Of 2017” (H.R.72) allowing the Government Accountability Office to gather records from all federal agencies so it can be more responsive to civil action.

President Trump Continued To Put Jobs Front And Center Through Two Executive Actions And Holding Four Stakeholder Meetings With Labor And Business Leaders

FREEING UP THE FINANCIAL SYSTEM: President Trump made two Presidential actions to better enable the financial system to promote job creation and serve all Americans

  • On Friday, President Trump signed an executive order to regulate the financial system in a way that protects consumers while promoting economic growth and job creation.
  • On Friday, President Trump issued a memorandum to prevent the unintended consequences of financial fiduciary rules from limiting economic opportunity and American’s investments.

HEARING FROM STAKEHOLDERS: Throughout the week, President Trump met with labor and business leaders to get input on how best to jumpstart job creation for all Americans.

  • On Monday, President Trump met with small business owners to get input on how to spur job creation and help businesses like theirs succeed.
  • On Tuesday, President Trump met with leaders in the pharmaceutical industry to discuss how jobs can be brought back to America and reduce prices so all Americans can afford quality healthcare.
  • On Thursday, President Trump met with the executives of Harley-Davidson and union representatives to encourage American manufacturing.
  • On Friday, President Trump met with his economic advisory council to discuss ways to deliver jobs to all Americans.

To Start African American History Month, President Trump Honored The History Of The African American Community And Their Vast Contribution To American Society

  • On Wednesday, President Trump met with African American community leaders to honor their contribution and listen to their input on what can be done to improve the lives of all Americans.
  • The same day, President Trump signed a proclamation honoring February 2017 as Black History Month.

Despite Historic Democratic Obstructionism, President Trump Continued To Get His Cabinet Nominees Confirmed By Congress

  • On Tuesday, Elaine Chao was sworn in as President Trump’s Secretary of Transportation.
  • On Wednesday, Rex Tillerson was sworn in as President Trump’s Secretary of State.

President Trump Held Three Conversations With Foreign Leaders To Promote American Interests Around The Globe

  • On Sunday, President Trump spoke with King Salman bin Abd Al-Aziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia on creating safe zones in Syria and Yemen to help refugees and strict enforcement of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran.
  • On Sunday, President Trump spoke with the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Muhammad bin Zayid Al Nuhayyan of the United Arab Emirates to reaffirm the strong partnership between both countries and combating radical Islamic terrorism.
  • On Sunday, President Trump spoke with Acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn of the Republic of Korea on the important of the their mutual alliance and defending against North Korea.
  • On Thursday, President Trump met with King Abdullah II of Jordan where he conveyed the U.S.’s commitment to Jordan’s stability and defeating ISIS.

To Further Protect America’s Cyber Security, President Trump Met With Experts

  • On Tuesday, President Trump held a listening session with cyber security experts to help fulfill his campaign promise of securing America against cyber threats.

President Trump Spoke At The National Prayer Breakfast

  • On Thursday, President Trump continued to champion repealing the Johnson Amendment to allow representatives of faith to speak freely and without retribution.

President Trump Commemorated American Heart Month

  • On Friday, President Trump proclaimed February 2017 as American Heart Month.

President Trump Recognized National Catholic Schools Week

  • On Friday, President Trump issued a letter recognizing National Catholic Schools week.

In Two Weeks Of Action, The President Has Been Relentless In This Effort To Make America Great Again

  • 21 Presidential Actions
  • 16 Meetings With Foreign Leaders
  • 10 Stakeholder Meetings
  • 6 Cabinet Members Sworn-In
  • 4 National Proclamations
  • 3 Agency Visits
  • 2 Speeches
  • 1 Legislation signed into law
  • 1 Supreme Court Nomination
  • 1 Manufacturing Initiative Launch
  • 1 Thank-You Reception
  • 1 Letter Of Recognition

Full Text Political Transcripts January 18, 2017: President Barack Obama’s Remarks at his Final Press Conference

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 114TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President in Final Press Conference

Source: WH, 1-18-17

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

2:24 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Good afternoon, everybody.  Let me start out by saying that I was sorely tempted to wear a tan suit today — (laughter) — for my last press conference.  But Michelle, whose fashion sense is a little better than mine, tells me that’s not appropriate in January.

I covered a lot of the ground that I would want to cover in my farewell address last week.  So I’m just going to say a couple of quick things before I start taking questions.

First, we have been in touch with the Bush family today, after hearing about President George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush being admitted to the hospital this morning.  They have not only dedicated their lives to this country, they have been a constant source of friendship and support and good counsel for Michelle and me over the years.  They are as fine a couple as we know.  And so we want to send our prayers and our love to them.  Really good people.

Second thing I want to do is to thank all of you.  Some of you have been covering me for a long time — folks like Christi and Win.  Some of you I’ve just gotten to know.  We have traveled the world together.  We’ve hit a few singles, a few doubles together.  I’ve offered advice that I thought was pretty sound, like “don’t do stupid…stuff.”  (Laughter.)  And even when you complained about my long answers, I just want you to know that the only reason they were long was because you asked six-part questions.  (Laughter.)

But I have enjoyed working with all of you.  That does not, of course, mean that I’ve enjoyed every story that you have filed.  But that’s the point of this relationship.  You’re not supposed to be sycophants, you’re supposed to be skeptics.  You’re supposed to ask me tough questions.  You’re not supposed to be complimentary, but you’re supposed to cast a critical eye on folks who hold enormous power and make sure that we are accountable to the people who sent us here.

And you have done that.  And you’ve done it, for the most part, in ways that I could appreciate for fairness even if I didn’t always agree with your conclusions.  And having you in this building has made this place work better.  It keeps us honest.  It makes us work harder.  It made us think about how we are doing what we do and whether or not we’re able to deliver on what’s been requested by our constituents.

And for example, every time you’ve asked “why haven’t you cured Ebola yet,” or “why is that still that hole in the Gulf,” it has given me the ability to go back to my team and say, “will you get this solved before the next press conference?”  (Laughter.)

I spent a lot of time in my farewell address talking about the state of our democracy.  It goes without saying that essential to that is a free press.  That is part of how this place, this country, this grand experiment in self-government has to work.  It doesn’t work if we don’t have a well-informed citizenry.  And you are the conduit through which they receive the information about what’s taking place in the halls of power.

So America needs you, and our democracy needs you.  We need you to establish a baseline of facts and evidence that we can use as a starting point for the kind of reasoned and informed debates that ultimately lead to progress.  And so my hope is, is that you will continue with the same tenacity that you showed us to do the hard work of getting to the bottom of stories and getting them right, and to push those of us in power to be the best version of ourselves.  And to push this country to be the best version of itself.

I have no doubt that you will do so.  I’m looking forward to being an active consumer of your work rather than always the subject of it.  I want to thank you all for your extraordinary service to our democracy.

And with that, I will take some questions.  And I will start with Jeff Mason — whose term apparently is not up.  I thought we’d be going out together, brother, but you got to hang around for a while.  (Laughter.)

Q    I’m staying put.

THE PRESIDENT:  Jeff Mason, Reuters.

Q    Thank you, sir.  Are you concerned, Mr. President, that commuting Chelsea Manning’s sentence will send a message that leaking classified material will not generate a tough sentence to groups like WikiLeaks?  How do you reconcile that in light of WikiLeaks’ connection to Russia’s hacking in last year’s election?  And related to that, Julian Assange has now offered to come to the United States.  Are you seeking that?  And would he be charged or arrested if he came here?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, first of all, let’s be clear, Chelsea Manning has served a tough prison sentence.  So the notion that the average person who was thinking about disclosing vital, classified information would think that it goes unpunished I don’t think would get that impression from the sentence that Chelsea Manning has served.

It has been my view that given she went to trial, that due process was carried out, that she took responsibility for her crime, that the sentence that she received was very disproportional — disproportionate relative to what other leakers had received, and that she had served a significant amount of time, that it made it sense to commute — and not pardon — her sentence.

And I feel very comfortable that justice has been served and that a message has still been sent that when it comes to our national security, that wherever possible, we need folks who may have legitimate concerns about the actions of government or their superiors or the agencies in which they work — that they try to work through the established channels and avail themselves of the whistleblower protections that had been put in place.

I recognize that there’s some folks who think they’re not enough, and I think all of us, when we’re working in big institutions, may find ourselves at times at odds with policies that are set.  But when it comes to national security, we’re often dealing with people in the field whose lives may be put at risk, or the safety and security and the ability of our military or our intelligence teams or embassies to function effectively.  And that has to be kept in mind.

So with respect to WikiLeaks, I don’t see a contradiction.  First of all, I haven’t commented on WikiLeaks, generally.  The conclusions of the intelligence community with respect to the Russian hacking were not conclusive as to whether WikiLeaks was witting or not in being the conduit through which we heard about the DNC emails that were leaked.

I don’t pay a lot of attention to Mr. Assange’s tweets, so that wasn’t a consideration in this instance.  And I’d refer you to the Justice Department for any criminal investigations, indictments, extradition issues that may come up with him.

What I can say broadly is that, in this new cyber age, we’re going to have to make sure that we continually work to find the right balance of accountability and openness and transparency that is the hallmark of our democracy, but also recognize that there are adversaries and bad actors out there who want to use that same openness in ways that hurt us — whether that’s in trying to commit financial crimes, or trying to commit acts of terrorism, or folks who want to interfere with our elections.

And we’re going to have to continually build the kind of architecture that makes sure the best of our democracy is preserved; that our national security and intelligence agencies have the ability to carry out policy without advertising to our adversaries what it is that we’re doing, but do so in a way that still keeps citizens up to speed on what their government is doing on their behalf.

But with respect to Chelsea Manning, I looked at the particulars of this case the same way I have for the other commutations and pardons that I’ve done, and I felt that in light of all the circumstances that commuting her sentence was entirely appropriate.

Margaret Brennan.

Q    Mr. President, thank you.  The President-elect has said that he would consider lifting sanctions on Russia if they substantially reduced their nuclear stockpile.  Given your own efforts at arms control, do you think that’s an effective strategy?  Knowing this office and Mr. Trump, how would you advise his advisors to help him be effective when he deals with Vladimir Putin?  And given your actions recently on Russia, do you think those sanctions should be viewed as leverage?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, a couple of things.  Number one, I think it is in America’s interest and the world’s interest that we have a constructive relationship with Russia.  That’s been my approach throughout my presidency.  Where our interests have overlapped, we’ve worked together.  At the beginning of my term, I did what I could to encourage Russia to be a constructive member of the international community, and tried to work with the President and the government of Russia in helping them diversify their economy, improve their economy, use the incredible talents of the Russian people in more constructive ways.

I think it’s fair to say that after President Putin came back into the presidency that an escalating anti-American rhetoric and an approach to global affairs that seemed to be premised on the idea that whatever America is trying to do must be bad for Russia and so we want to try and counteract whatever they do — that return to an adversarial spirit that I think existed during the Cold War has made the relationship more difficult.  And it was hammered home when Russia went into Crimea and portions of Ukraine.

The reason we imposed the sanctions, recall, was not because of nuclear weapons issues.  It was because the independence and sovereignty of a country, Ukraine, had been encroached upon, by force, by Russia.  That wasn’t our judgment; that was the judgment of the entire international community.  And Russia continues to occupy Ukrainian territory and meddle in Ukrainian affairs and support military surrogates who have violated basic international law and international norms.

What I’ve said to the Russians is, as soon as you’ve stop doing that the sanctions will be removed.  And I think it would probably best serve not only American interest but also the interest of preserving international norms if we made sure that we don’t confuse why these sanctions have been imposed with a whole set of other issues.

On nuclear issues, in my first term we negotiated the START II treaty. and that has substantially reduced our nuclear stockpiles, both Russia and the United States.  I was prepared to go further.  I told President Putin I was prepared to go further.  They have been unwilling to negotiate.  If President-elect Trump is able to restart those talks in a serious way, I think there remains a lot of room for our two countries to reduce our stockpiles.  And part of the reason we’ve been successful on our nonproliferation agenda and on our nuclear security agenda is because we were leading by example.

I hope that continues.  But I think it’s important just to remember that the reason sanctions have been put in place against Russia has to do with their actions in Ukraine.  And it is important for the United States to stand up for the basic principle that big countries don’t go around and invade and bully smaller countries.  I’ve said before, I expect Russia and Ukraine to have a strong relationship.  They are, historically, bound together in all sorts of cultural and social ways.  But Ukraine is an independent country.

And this is a good example of the vital role that America has to continue to play around the world in preserving basic norms and values, whether it’s advocating on behalf of human rights, advocating on behalf of women’s rights, advocating on behalf of freedom of the press.

The United States has not always been perfect in this regard.  There are times where we, by necessity, are dealing with allies or friends or partners who, themselves, are not meeting the standards that we would like to see met when it comes to international rules and norms.  But I can tell you that in every multilateral setting — in the United Nations, in the G20, in the G7 — the United States typically has been on the right side of these issues.  And it is important for us to continue to be on the right side of these issues, because if we, the largest, strongest country and democracy in the world, are not willing to stand up on behalf of these values, then certainly China, Russia, and others will not.

Kevin Corke.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  You have been a strong supporter of the idea of a peaceful transfer of power, demonstrated not terribly far from the Rose Garden.  And yet, even as you and I speak, there are more than five dozen Democrats that are going to boycott the inauguration of the incoming President.  Do you support that?  And what message would you send to Democrats to better demonstrate the peaceful transfer of power?

And if I could follow, I wanted to ask you about your conversations with the President-elect previously.  And without getting into too much of the personal side of it, I’m just curious, were you able to use that opportunity to convince him to take a fresh look at some of the important ideas that you will leave this office with — maintaining some semblance of the Affordable Care Act, some idea of keeping DREAMers here in the country without fear of deportation.  Were you able to use personal stories to try to convince him?  And how successful were you?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I won’t go into details of my conversations with President-elect Trump.  As I’ve said before, they are cordial.  At times they’ve been fairly lengthy and they’ve been substantive.  I can’t tell you how convincing I’ve been.  I think you’d had to ask him whether I’ve been convincing or not.

I have offered my best advice, counsel about certain issues both foreign and domestic.  And my working assumption is, is that having won an election opposed to a number of my initiatives and certain aspects of my vision for where the country needs to go, it is appropriate for him to go forward with his vision and his values.  And I don’t expect that there’s going to be enormous overlap.

It may be that on certain issues, once he comes into office and he looks at the complexities of how to, in fact, provide health care for everybody — something he says he wants to do — or wants to make sure that he is encouraging job creation and wage growth in this country, that that may lead him to some of the same conclusions that I arrived at once I got here.

But I don’t think we’ll know until he has an actual chance to get sworn in and sit behind that desk.  And I think a lot of his views are going to be shaped by his advisors, the people around him — which is why it’s important to pay attention to these confirmation hearings.

I can tell you that — and this is something I have told him — that this is a job of such magnitude that you can’t do it by yourself.  You are enormously reliant on a team.  Your Cabinet, your senior White House staff, all the way to fairly junior folks in their 20s and 30s, but who are executing on significant responsibilities.

And so how you put a team together to make sure that they’re getting you the best information and they are teeing up the options from which you will ultimately make decisions, that’s probably the most useful advice, the most constructive advice that I’ve been able to give him.  That if you find yourself isolated because the process breaks down, or if you’re only hearing from people who agree with you on everything, or if you haven’t created a process that is fact-checking and probing and asking hard questions about policies or promises that you’ve made, that’s when you start making mistakes.  And as I indicated in some of my previous remarks, reality has a way of biting back if you’re not paying attention to it.

With respect to the inauguration, I’m not going to comment on those issues.  All I know is I’m going to be there.  So is Michelle.  And I have been checking the weather, and I’m heartened by the fact that it won’t be as cold as my first inauguration — (laughter) — because that was cold.

Jen Rodriguez.

Q    Right here, Mr. President.  Thank you very much.  You have said that you would come back to fight for the DREAMers.  You said that a couple of weeks ago.  Are you fearful for the status of those DREAMers, the future of the young immigrants and all immigrants in this country with the new administration?  And what did you mean when you said you would come back?  Would you lobby Congress?  Maybe explore the political arena again?  And if I may ask you a second question — why did you take action on “dry foot, wet foot” a week ago?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, let me be absolutely clear.  I did not mean that I was going to be running for anything anytime soon.  (Laughter.)  What I meant is that it’s important for me to take some time to process this amazing experience that we’ve gone through; to make sure that my wife, with whom I will be celebrating a 25th anniversary this year, is willing to re-up and put up with me for a little bit longer.  I want to do some writing.  I want to be quiet a little bit and not hear myself talk so darn much.  I want to spend precious time with my girls.

So those are my priorities this year.  But as I said before, I’m still a citizen.  And I think it is important for Democrats or progressives who feel that they came out on the wrong side of this election to be able to distinguish between the normal back-and-forth, ebb and flow of policy — are we going to raise taxes or are we going to lower taxes; are we going to expand this program or eliminate this program; how concerned are we about air pollution or climate change.  Those are all normal parts of the debate.  And as I’ve said before, in a democracy, sometimes you’re going to win on those issues and sometimes you’re going to lose.

I’m confident about the rightness of my positions on a lot of these points, but we got a new President and a Congress that are going to make their same determinations.  And there will be a back-and-forth in Congress around those issues, and you guys will report on all that.

But there’s difference between that normal functioning of politics and certain issues or certain moments where I think our core values may be at stake.  I put in that category, if I saw systematic discrimination being ratified in some fashion.  I’d put in that category, explicit or functional obstacles to people being able to vote, to exercise their franchise.  I’d put in that category, institutional efforts to silence dissent or the press.

And for me, at least, I would put in that category, efforts to round up kids who have grown up here and for all practical purposes are American kids and send them someplace else when they love this country; they are our kids’ friends and their classmates, and are now entering into community colleges or, in some cases, serving in our military.  The notion that we would just arbitrarily, or because of politics, punish those kids when they didn’t do anything wrong themselves I think would be something that would merit me speaking out.  It doesn’t mean that I would get on the ballot anywhere.

With respect to “wet foot, dry foot,” we underwent a monumental shift in our policy towards Cuba.  My view was, after 50 years of a policy not working, it made sense for us to try to reopen diplomatic relations, to engage a Cuban government, to be honest with them about the strong disagreements we have around political repression and treatment of dissenters and freedom of press and freedom of religion, but that to make progress for the Cuban people, our best shot was to suddenly have the Cuban people interacting with Americans, and seeing the incredible success of the Cuban American community, and engaging in commerce and business and trade, and that it was through that process of opening up these bilateral relations that you would see over time serious and significant improvement.

Given that shift in the relationship, the policy that we had in place was “wet foot, dry foot,” which treated Cuban emigres completely different from folks from El Salvador, or Guatemala, or Nicaragua, or any other part of the world, one that made a distinction between whether you got here by land or by foot — that was a carryover of a old way of thinking that didn’t make sense in this day and age, particularly as we’re opening up travel between the two countries.

And so we had very lengthy consultations with the Department of Homeland Security.  We had some tough negotiations with the Cuban government.  But we arrived at a policy which we think is both fair and appropriate to the changing nature of the relationship between the two countries.

Nadia Bilbassy.

Q    Thank you, sir.  I appreciate the opportunity, and I want you and your family best of luck in the future.

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.

Q    Mr. President, you have been criticized and even personally attacked for the U.N. Security Council resolution that considered the Israeli settlements illegal and an obstacle to peace.  Mr. Trump promised to move the embassy to Jerusalem.  He appointed an ambassador that doesn’t believe in the two-state solution.  How worried are you about the U.S. leadership in the Arab world and beyond as an honest broker?  Will this ignite a third intifada?  Will this even protect Israel?  And in retrospect, do you think that you should have held Israel more accountable, like President Bush, Senior, did with the loan guarantees?  Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT:  I continue to be significantly worried about the Israeli-Palestinian issue.  And I’m worried about it both because I think the status quo is unsustainable, that it is dangerous for Israel, that it is bad for Palestinians, it is bad for the region, and it is bad for America’s national security.

And I came into this office wanting to do everything I could to encourage serious peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians.  And we invested a lot of energy, a lot of time, a lot of effort, first year, second year, all the way until last year.  Ultimately, what has always been clear is that we cannot force the parties to arrive at peace.  What we can do is facilitate, provide a platform, encourage.  But we can’t force them to do it.

But in light of shifts in Israeli politics and Palestinian politics; a rightward drift in Israeli politics; a weakening of President Abbas’s ability to move and take risks on behalf of peace in the Palestinian Territories; in light of all the dangers that have emerged in the region and the understandable fears that Israelis may have about the chaos and rise of groups like ISIL and the deterioration of Syria — in light of all those things, what we at least wanted to do, understanding that the two parties wouldn’t actually arrive at a final status agreement, is to preserve the possibility of a two-state solution.  Because we do not see an alternative to it.

And I’ve said this directly to Prime Minister Netanyahu.  I’ve said it inside of Israel.  I’ve said it to Palestinians, as well.  I don’t see how this issues gets resolved in a way that maintains Israel as both Jewish and a democracy, because if you do not have two states, then in some form or fashion you are extending an occupation, functionally you end up having one state in which millions of people are disenfranchised and operate as second-class occupant — residents.  You can’t even call them citizens, necessarily.

And so the goal of the resolution was to simply say that the settlements — the growth of the settlements are creating a reality on the ground that increasingly will make a two-state solution impossible.  And we believed, consistent with the position that had been taken with previous U.S. administrations for decades now, that it was important for us to send a signal, a wake-up call, that this moment may be passing, and Israeli voters and Palestinians need to understand that this moment may be passing.  And hopefully that, then, creates a debate inside both Israeli and Palestinian communities that won’t result immediately in peace, but at least will lead to a more sober assessment of what the alternatives are.

So the President-elect will have his own policy.  The ambassador — or the candidate for the ambassadorship obviously has very different views than I do.  That is their prerogative. That’s part of what happens after elections.  And I think my views are clear.  We’ll see how their approach plays itself out.

I don’t want to project today what could end up happening, but obviously it’s a volatile environment.  What we’ve seen in the past is, when sudden, unilateral moves are made that speak to some of the core issues and sensitivities of either side, that can be explosive.  And what we’ve tried to do in the transition is just to provide the context in which the President-elect may want to make some of these decisions.

Q    Are you worried that this (inaudible) —

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, that’s part of what we’ve tried to indicate to the incoming team in our transition process, is pay attention to this, because this is volatile stuff.  People feel deeply and passionately about this.  And as I’ve said I think many times, the actions that we take have enormous consequences and ramifications.

We’re the biggest kid on the block.  And I think it is right and appropriate for a new President to test old assumptions and reexamine the old ways of doing things.  But if you’re going to make big shifts in policy, just make sure you’ve thought it through, and understand that there are going to be consequences, and actions typically create reactions, and so you want to be intentional about it.  You don’t want to do things off the cuff when it comes to an issue this volatile.

Chris Johnson.

Q    On LGBT rights —

THE PRESIDENT:  I’m sorry, where is Chris?

Q    I’m right here in the back.

THE PRESIDENT:  I’m sorry, didn’t see you.

Q    On LGBT rights, we’ve seen a lot of achievements over the past eight years, including signing hate crimes protection legislation, “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal, marriage equality nationwide, and ensuring transgender people feel visible and accepted.  How do you think LGBT rights will rank in terms of your accomplishments and your legacy?  And how confident are you that progress will endure or continue under the President-elect?

THE PRESIDENT:  I could not be prouder of the transformation that’s taken place in our society just in the last decade.  And I’ve said before, I think we made some useful contributions to it, but the primary heroes in this stage of our growth as a democracy and a society are all the individual activists, and sons and daughters and couples who courageously said, this is who I am and I’m proud of it.

And that opened people’s minds and opened their hearts.  And, eventually, laws caught up.  But I don’t think any of that would have happened without the activism — in some cases, loud and noisy, but in some cases, just quiet and very personal.

And I think that what we did as an administration was to help the society to move in a better direction, but to do so in a way that didn’t create an enormous backlash, and was systematic and respectful of the fact that, in some cases, these issues were controversial.

I think the way we handled, for example, “don’t ask, don’t tell” — being methodical about it, working with the Joint Chiefs, making sure that we showed this would not have an impact on the effectiveness of the greatest military on Earth — and then to have Defense Secretary Bob Gates and Chairman Mike Mullen and a Joint Chiefs who were open to evidence and ultimately worked with me to do the right thing — I am proud of that.  But, again, none of that would have happened without this incredible transformation that was happening in society out there.

You know, when I gave Ellen the Presidential Medal of Freedom, I meant what I said.  I think somebody that kind and likeable projecting into living rooms around the country — that changed attitudes.  And that wasn’t easy to do for her.  And that’s just one small example of what was happening in countless communities all across the country.

So I’m proud that in certain places we maybe provided a good block downfield to help the movement advance.

I don’t think it is something that will be reversible because American society has changed; the attitudes of young people, in particular, have changed.  That doesn’t mean there aren’t going to be some fights that are important — legal issues, issues surrounding transgender persons — there are still going to be some battles that need to take place.

But if you talk to young people of Malia, Sasha’s generation, even if they’re Republicans, even if they’re conservative, many of them would tell you, I don’t understand how you would discriminate against somebody because of sexual orientation.  That’s just sort of burned into them in pretty powerful ways.

April Ryan.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  Long before today you’ve been considered a rights President.  Under your watch, people have said that you have expanded the rubber band of inclusion.  And with the election and the incoming administration, people are saying that rubber band has recoiled and maybe is even broken.  And I’m taking you back to a time on Air Force One going to Selma, Alabama, when you said your job was to close the gaps that remain.  And with that, what gaps still remain when it comes to rights issues on the table?  And also what part will you play in fixing those gaps after — in your new life?

And lastly, you are the first black President.  Do you expect this country to see this again?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I’ll answer the last question first.  I think we’re going to see people of merit rise up from every race, faith, corner of this country, because that’s America’s strength.  When we have everybody getting a chance and everybody is on the field, we end up being better.

I think I’ve used this analogy before.  We killed it in the Olympics in Brazil.  And Michelle and I, we always have our — the Olympic team here.  And it’s a lot of fun, first of all, just because anytime you’re meeting somebody who is the best at anything, it’s impressive.  And these mostly very young people are all just so healthy-looking, and they just beam and exude fitness and health.  And so we have a great time talking to them.

But they are of all shapes, sizes, colors — the genetic diversity that is on display is remarkable.  And if you look at a Simone Biles, and then you look at a Michael Phelps, they’re completely different.  And it’s precisely because of those differences that we’ve got people here who can excel at any sport.

And, by the way, more than half of our medals came from women.  And the reason is, is because we had the foresight several decades ago, with something called Title 9, to make sure that women got opportunities in sports, which is why our women compete better — because they have more opportunities than folks in other countries.

So I use that as a metaphor.  And if, in fact, we continue to keep opportunity open to everybody, then, yes, we’re going to have a woman President, we’re going to have a Latino President, and we’ll have a Jewish President, a Hindu President.  Who knows who we’re going to have?  I suspect we’ll have a whole bunch of mixed-up Presidents at some point that nobody really knows what to call them.  (Laughter.)  And that’s fine.

But what do I worry about?  I obviously spent a lot of time on this, April, at my farewell address on Tuesday, so I won’t go through the whole list.  I worry about inequality, because I think that if we are not investing in making sure everybody plays a role in this economy, the economy will not grow as fast, and I think it will also lead to further and further separation between us as Americans — not just along racial lines.  There are a whole bunch of folks who voted for the President-elect because they feel forgotten and disenfranchised.  They feel as if they’re being looked down on.  They feel as if their kids aren’t going to have the same opportunities as they did.

And you don’t want to have an America in which a very small sliver of people are doing really well and everybody else is fighting for scraps, as I said last week.  Because that’s oftentimes when racial divisions get magnified, because people think, well, the only way I’m going to get ahead is if I make sure somebody else gets less, somebody who doesn’t look like me or doesn’t worship at the same place I do.  That’s not a good recipe for our democracy.

I worry about, as I said in response to a previous question, making sure that the basic machinery of our democracy works better.  We are the only country in the advanced world that makes it harder to vote rather than easier.  And that dates back — there’s an ugly history to that that we should not be shy about talking about.

Q    Voting rights?

THE PRESIDENT:  Yes, I’m talking about voting rights.  The reason that we are the only country among advanced democracies that makes it harder to vote is it traces directly back to Jim Crow and the legacy of slavery.  And it became sort of acceptable to restrict the franchise.  And that’s not who we are.  That shouldn’t be who we are.  That’s not when America works best.

So I hope that people pay a lot of attention to making sure that everybody has a chance to vote.  Make it easier, not harder.  This whole notion of election — of voting fraud, this is something that has constantly been disproved.  This is fake news — the notion that there are a whole bunch of people out there who are going out there and are not eligible to vote and want to vote.  We have the opposite problem.  We have a whole bunch of people who are eligible to vote who don’t vote.  And so the idea that we’d put in place a whole bunch of barriers to people voting doesn’t make sense.

And then, as I’ve said before, political gerrymandering that makes your vote matter less because politicians have decided you live in a district where everybody votes the same way you do so that these aren’t competitive races, and we get 90 percent Democratic districts, 90 percent Republican districts — that’s bad for our democracy, too.  I worry about that.

I think it is very important for us to make sure that our criminal justice system is fair and just.  But I also think it’s also very important to make sure that it is not politicized, that it maintains an integrity that is outside of partisan politics at every level.

I think at some point we’re going to have to spend — and this will require some action by the Supreme Court — we have to reexamine just the flood of endless money that goes into our politics, which I think is very unhealthy.

So there are a whole bunch of things I worry about there. And as I said in my speech on Tuesday, we got more work to do on race.  It is not — it is simply not true that things have gotten worse.  They haven’t.  Things are getting better.  And I have more confidence on racial issues in the next generation than I do in our generation or the previous generation.  I think kids are smarter about it.  They’re more tolerant.  They are more inclusive by instinct than we are.  And hopefully my presidency maybe helped that along a little bit.

But, you know, we — when we feel stress, when we feel pressure, when we’re just fed information that encourages some of our worst instincts, we tend to fall back into some of the old racial fears and racial divisions and racial stereotypes. And it’s very hard for us to break out of those, and to listen, and to think about people as people, and to imagine being in that person’s shoes.

And by the way, it’s no longer a black and white issue alone.  You got Hispanic folks, and you got Asian folks, and this is not just the same old battles.  We’ve got this stew that’s bubbling up of people from everywhere.  And we’re going to have to make sure that we, in our own lives, in our own families and workplaces, do a better job of treating everybody with basic respect.  And understanding that not everybody starts off in the same situation, and imagining what would it be like if you were born in an inner city and had no job prospects anywhere within a 20-mile radius, or how does it feel being born in some rural county where there’s no job opportunities in a 20-mile radius — and seeing those two things as connected as opposed to separate.

So we got work to do.  But, overall, I think on this front, the trend lines ultimately, I think, will be good.

Christi Parsons.  And Christi, you are going to get the last question.

Q    Oh, no.  (Laughter and groans.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Christi is — I’ve been knowing her since Springfield, Illinois.  When I was a state senator, she listened to what I had to say.  (Laughter.)  So the least I can do is give her the last question as President of the United States.

Go on.

Q    217 numbers still work.

THE PRESIDENT:  There you go.  Go ahead.

Q    Well, thank you, Mr. President.  It has been an honor.

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.

Q    And I have a personal question for you, because I know how much you like this.  The First Lady puts the stakes of the 2016 election in very personal terms in a speech that resonated across the country, and she really spoke the concerns of a lot of women, LGBT folks, people of color, many others.  And so I wonder now how you and the First Lady are talking to your daughters about the meaning of this election and how you interpret it for yourself and for them.

THE PRESIDENT:  You know, every parent brags on their daughters or their sons.  If your mom and dad don’t brag on you, you know you got problems.  (Laughter.)  But, man, my daughters are something, and they just surprise and enchant and impress me more and more every single day as they grow up.  And so these days, when we talk, we talk as parent to child, but also we learn from them.

And I think it was really interesting to see how Malia and Sasha reacted.  They were disappointed.  They paid attention to what their mom said during the campaign and believed it because it’s consistent with what we’ve tried to teach them in our household, and what I’ve tried to model as a father with their mom, and what we’ve asked them to expect from future boyfriends or spouses.

But what we’ve also tried to teach them is resilience, and we’ve tried to teach them hope, and that the only thing that is the end of the world is the end of the world.  And so you get knocked down, you get up, brush yourself off, and you get back to work.  And that tended to be their attitude.

I think neither of them intend to pursue a future of politics — and, in that, too, I think their mother’s influence shows.  (Laughter.)  But both of them have grown up in an environment where I think they could not help but be patriotic, to love this country deeply, to see that it’s flawed but see that they have responsibilities to fix it.  And that they need to be active citizens, and they have to be in a position to talk to their friends and their teachers and their future coworkers in ways that try to shed some light as opposed to just generate a lot of sound and fury.

And I expect that’s what they’re going to do.  They do not — they don’t mope.  And what I really am proud of them — what makes me proudest about them is that they also don’t get cynical about it.  They have not assumed because their side didn’t win, or because some of the values that they care about don’t seem as if they were vindicated, that automatically America has somehow rejected them or rejected their values.  I don’t think they feel that way.

I think that they have, in part through osmosis, in part through dinnertime conversations, appreciated the fact that this is a big, complicated country, and democracy is messy and it doesn’t always work exactly the way you might want, it doesn’t guarantee certain outcomes.  But if you’re engaged and you’re involved, then there are a lot more good people than bad in this country, and there’s a core decency to this country, and that they got to be a part of lifting that up.

And I expect they will be.  And in that sense, they are representative of this generation that makes me really optimistic.

I’ve been asked — I’ve had some off-the-record conversations with some journalists where they said, okay, you seem like you’re okay, but really, really, what are you thinking?  (Laughter.)  And I’ve said, no, what I’m saying really is what I think.  I believe in this country.  I believe in the American people.  I believe that people are more good than bad.  I believe tragic things happen, I think there’s evil in the world, but I think that at the end of the day, if we work hard, and if we’re true to those things in us that feel true and feel right, that the world gets a little better each time.

That’s what this presidency has tried to be about.  And I see that in the young people I’ve worked with.  I couldn’t be prouder of them.  And so this is not just a matter of “No Drama Obama” — this is what I really believe.  It is true that behind closed doors I curse more than I do publicly.  (Laughter.)  And sometimes I get mad and frustrated, like everybody else does.   But at my core, I think we’re going to be okay.  We just have to fight for it.  We have to work for it, and not take it for granted.  And I know that you will help us do that.

Thank you very much, press corps.  Good luck.

END
3:23 P.M. EST

Full Text Political Transcripts January 14, 2017: President Barack Obama’s Final Weekly Address: The Honor of Serving You as President

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 114TH CONGRESS:

Weekly Address: The Honor of Serving You as President

Source: WH, 1-14-17

WASHINGTON, DC — This week, President Obama delivered his final weekly address thanking the American people for making him a better President and a better man. Over the past eight years, we have seen the goodness, resilience, and hope of the American people. We’ve seen what’s possible when we come together in the hard, but vital work of self-government – but we can’t take our democracy for granted. Our success as a Nation depends on our participation. It’s up to all of us to be guardians of our democracy, and to embrace the task of continually trying to improve our Nation. Despite our differences, we all share the same title: Citizen. And that is why President Obama looks forward to working by your side, as a citizen, for all of his remaining days.

MP4MP3

Remarks of President Barack Obama as Delivered
Weekly Address
The White House
January 14, 2017

This week, I traveled to Chicago to deliver my final farewell address to the nation, following in the tradition of Presidents before me.  It was an opportunity to say thank you.  Whether we’ve seen eye-to-eye or rarely agreed at all, my conversations with you, the American people – in living rooms and schools; at farms and on factory floors; at diners and on distant military outposts – are what have kept me honest, kept me inspired, and kept me going.  Every day, I learned from you.  You made me a better President, and you made me a better man.

Over the course of these eight years, I have seen the goodness, the resilience, and the hope of the American people.  I’ve seen neighbors looking out for each other as we rescued our economy from the worst crisis of our lifetimes.  I’ve hugged cancer survivors who finally know the security of affordable health care.  I’ve seen communities like Joplin rebuild from disaster, and cities like Boston show the world that no terrorist will ever break the American spirit.

I’ve seen the hopeful faces of young graduates and our newest military officers.  I’ve mourned with grieving families searching for answers, and found grace in a Charleston church.  I’ve seen our scientists help a paralyzed man regain his sense of touch, and our wounded warriors walk again.  I’ve seen our doctors and volunteers rebuild after earthquakes and stop pandemics in their tracks.  I’ve learned from students who are building robots and curing diseases and who will change the world in ways we can’t even imagine.  I’ve seen the youngest of children remind us of our obligations to care for our refugees, to work in peace, and above all to look out for each other.

That’s what’s possible when we come together in the hard, slow, sometimes frustrating, but always vital work of self-government.   But we can’t take our democracy for granted.  All of us, regardless of party, should throw ourselves into the work of citizenship.  Not just when there’s an election, not just when our own narrow interest is at stake, but over the full span of a lifetime.  If you’re tired of arguing with strangers on the internet, try to talk with one in real life.  If something needs fixing, lace up your shoes and do some organizing.  If you’re disappointed by your elected officials, then grab a clipboard, get some signatures, and run for office yourself.

Our success depends on our participation, regardless of which way the pendulum of power swings.  It falls on each of us to be guardians of our democracy; to embrace the joyous task we’ve been given to continually try to improve this great nation of ours.  Because for all our outward differences, we all share the same proud title: Citizen.

It has been the honor of my life to serve you as President.  Eight years later, I am even more optimistic about our country’s promise.  And I look forward to working along your side, as a citizen, for all my days that remain.

Thanks, everybody.  God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.

Full Text Political Transcripts January 7, 2017: President Barack Obama’s Farewell Address to the Nation Weekly Address

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 114TH CONGRESS:

Weekly Address: President Obama’s Farewell Address to the Nation

Source: WH, 1-7-17

WASHINGTON, DC — In this week’s address, President Obama discussed his upcoming farewell address to the nation. In 1796, as George Washington set the precedent for a peaceful, democratic transfer of power, he also set a precedent by penning a farewell address to the American people. And over the 220 years since, many American presidents have followed his lead. Next week, the President will return to his hometown of Chicago to say a grateful farewell to the nation. This will mark the first time that a President has returned to his hometown to deliver such a speech. The President has said that the running thread through his career has been the notion that when ordinary people get involved, get engaged and come together, things change for the better. This belief is at the heart of the American experiment in self-government – and it gives purpose to new generations. Through his address, the President will thank his supporters, celebrate the ways we have changed this country for the better these past eight years, and offer his vision on where we all go from here. The President will deliver his farewell address at 9:00 PM EST on Tuesday, January 10, at McCormick Place in Chicago, Illinois. To tune in on Tuesday, visit WhiteHouse.gov/live.

Remarks of President Barack Obama as Delivered
Weekly Address
The White House
January 7, 2017

Since the days of George Washington, presidents have delivered some form of final message while in office – a farewell address to the American people.

On Tuesday night, in Chicago, I’ll deliver mine.  I chose Chicago not only because it’s my hometown – where I met my wife and we started a family – but also because it’s really where my career in public service began.

The running thread through my career has been the notion that when ordinary people get involved, get engaged, and come together in collective effort, things change for the better.

That’s the belief at the heart of this precious American experiment in self-government.  It’s what gives work and purpose to each new generation.

It’s easy to lose sight of that truth in the day-to-day back-and-forth of Washington and our minute-to-minute news cycles.  But remember that America is a story told over a longer time horizon, in fits and starts, punctuated at times by hardship, but ultimately written by generations of citizens who’ve somehow worked together, without fanfare, to form a more perfect union.

Over the past eight years, we’ve added our own new chapter to that story.

Together, we’ve turned an economy that was shrinking and losing jobs into one that’s growing and creating jobs, with poverty falling, incomes rising, and wages that have jumped faster over the past few years than at any time in the past four decades.

Together, we’ve achieved what eluded politicians of both parties for a century – we’ve moved 20 million more Americans from uninsured to insured, ended the days of discrimination against the up to half of Americans who have a preexisting condition, and secured new rights and protections for everybody with health insurance.

 

Full Text Political Transcripts December 31, 2016: President Barack Obama’s New Years Weekly Address

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 114TH CONGRESS:

Weekly Address: Working Together to Keep America Moving Forward

Source: WH, 12-31-16

WASHINGTON, DC — In this week’s address, President Obama reflected on the significant progress we’ve made since he took office in 2009. Over the past eight years, we’ve turned the recession into recovery; 20 million more Americans have health insurance; we’ve brought 165,000 troops from Iraq and Afghanistan; we took out Osama bin Laden; and we brought nearly 200 nations together around a climate agreement that could save the planet for our kids. The President reminded us that this extraordinary progress wasn’t inevitable – it was the result of tough choices, and the hard work and resilience of the American people. It will take all of us working together to sustain and build on all that we’ve achieved – that’s how we keep America moving forward.

The audio of the address and video of the address will be available online at http://www.whitehouse.gov at 6:00AM EDT, December 31, 2016.

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Remarks of President Barack Obama as Delivered
Weekly Address
The White House
December 31, 2016

Happy New Year, everybody.  At a time when we turn the page on one year and look ahead to the future, I just wanted to take a minute to thank you for everything you’ve done to make America stronger these past eight years.

Just eight years ago, as I prepared to take office, our economy teetered on the brink of depression.  Nearly 800,000 Americans were losing their jobs each month.  In some communities, nearly one in five folks were out of work.  Almost 180,000 troops were serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Osama bin Laden was still at large.  And on challenges from health care to climate change, we’d been kicking the can down the road for way too long.

Eight years later, you’ve told a different story.  We’ve turned recession into recovery.  Our businesses have created 15.6 million new jobs since early 2010 – and we’ve put more people back to work than all other major advanced economies combined.  A resurgent auto industry has added nearly 700,000 jobs, and is producing more cars than ever.  Poverty is falling.  Incomes are rising.  In fact, last year, folks’ typical household income rose by $2,800, that’s the single biggest increase on record, and folks at the bottom and middle saw bigger gains than those at the top.

Twenty million more Americans know the financial security of health insurance.  Our kids’ high school graduation rate is at an all-time high.  We’ve brought 165,000 troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, and took out Osama bin Laden.  Through diplomacy, we shut down Iran’s nuclear weapons program, opened up a new chapter with the people of Cuba, and brought nearly 200 nations together around a climate agreement that could save this planet for our kids.  Almost every country on Earth sees America as stronger and more respected today than they did eight years ago.  And marriage equality is finally a reality from coast to coast.

We’ve made extraordinary progress as a country these past eight years.  And here’s the thing: none of it was inevitable.  It was the result of tough choices we made, and the result of your hard work and resilience.  And to keep America moving forward is a task that falls to all of us.  Sustaining and building on all we’ve achieved – from helping more young people afford a higher education, to ending discrimination based on preexisting conditions, to tightening rules on Wall Street, to protecting this planet for our kids – that’s going to take all of us working together.  Because that’s always been our story – the story of ordinary people coming together in the hard, slow, sometimes frustrating, but always vital work of self-government.

It’s been the privilege of my life to serve as your President.  And as I prepare to take on the even more important role of citizen, know that I will be there with you every step of the way to ensure that this country forever strives to live up to the incredible promise of our founding – that all of us are created equal, and all of us deserve every chance to live out our dreams.  And from the Obama family to yours – have a happy and blessed 2017.

Full Text Political Transcripts December 16, 2016: President Barack Obama’s last end-of-year press conference

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 114TH CONGRESS:

President Barack Obama’s last end-of-year news conference

Source: WaPo, 12-16-16

OBAMA: All right, everybody. Good afternoon. This is the most wonderful press conference of the year. I have got a list of who has been naughty and nice to call on. But let me first make a couple of quick points and then I will take your questions.

Typically I use this year-end press conference to review how far we have come over the course of the year. Today, understandably, I’m going to talk a little bit about how far we have come over the past eight years.

As I was preparing to take office, the unemployment rate was on its way to 10 percent. Today it is at 4.6 percent, the lowest in nearly a decade. We’ve seen the longest streak of job growth on record, and wages have grown faster over the past few years than at any time in the past 40.

When I came into office, 44 million people were uninsured. Today we have covered more than 20 million of them. For the first time in our history, more than 90 percent of Americans are insured.

In fact, yesterday was the biggest day ever for health care.gov, more than 670,000 Americans signed up to get covered, and more are signing up by the day.

We’ve cut our dependence on foreign oil by more than half, doubled production of renewable energy, enacted the most sweeping reforms since FDR to protect consumers and prevent a crisis on Wall Street from punishing main street ever again.

None of these actions stifled growth as critics are predicted. Instead, the stock market has nearly tripled.

Since I signed Obamacare into law, our businesses have added more than 15 million new jobs, and the economy undoubtedly more durable than it was in the days when we relied on oil from unstable nations and banks took risky bets with your money.

Add it all up, and last year the poverty rate fell at the fastest rate in almost 50 years, while the median household income grew at the fastest rate on record. In fact, income gains were actually larger for households at the bottom and the middle than for those at the top.

And we have done all this while cutting our deficits by nearly two-thirds, and protecting vital investments that grow the middle class.

In foreign policy, when I came into office we were in the midst of two wars. Now nearly 180,000 troops are down to 15,000. Bin Laden, rather than being at large, has been taken off the battlefield, along with thousands of other terrorists.

Over the past eight years no foreign terrorist organization has successfully executed an attack on our homeland that was directed from overseas. Through diplomacy, we have ensured Iran cannot obtain a nuclear weapon without going to war with Iran.

We opened up a new chapter with the people of Cuba. And we have brought nearly 200 nations together around a climate agreement that could very well save this planet for our kids.

And almost every country on Earth sees America as stronger and more respected today than they did eight years ago. In other words, by so many measures our country is stronger and more prosperous than it was when we started. It is a situation that I’m proud to leave for my successor. And it’s thanks to the American people, to the hard work that you have put in, the sacrifices you have made for your families and your communities, the businesses that you started or invested in, and the way you looked out for one another. And I could not be prouder to be your president.

Of course, to tout this progress does not mean that we are not mindful of how much more there is to do. In this season in particular, we are reminded that there are people who are still hungry, people who are still homeless, people who still have trouble paying the bills or finding work after being laid off.

There are communities that are still mourning those who have been stolen from us by senseless gun violence, and parents who still are wondering how to protect their kids.

OBAMA: And after I leave office I intend to continue to work with organizations and citizens doing good across the country on these and other pressing issues to build on the progress that we have made.

Around the world as well, there are hotspots where disputes have been intractable, conflicts have flared up, and people, innocent people are suffering as result, and nowhere is this more terribly true than in the city of Aleppo. For years, we’ve worked to stop the civil war in Syria and alleviate human suffering. It has been one of the hardest issues that I’ve faced as president.

The world as we speak is united in horror at the savage assaults by the Syrian regime and its Russian and Iranian allies on the city of Aleppo. We have seen a deliberate strategy of surrounding, besieging and starving innocent civilians. We’ve seen relentless targeting of humanitarian workers and medical personnel, entire and neighbors reduced to rubble and dust. There are continuing reports of civilians being executed. These are all horrific violations of international law.

Responsibility for this brutality lies in one place alone, with the Assad regime and its allies, Russia and Iran, and this blood and these atrocities are on their hands. We all know what needs to happen. There needs to be an impartial international observer force in Aleppo that can help coordinate an orderly evacuation through say corridors. There has to be full access for humanitarian aid, even as the United States continues to be the world’s largest donor of humanitarian aid to the Syrian people. And beyond that, there needs to be a broader cease-fire that can serve as the basis for a political rather than a military solution.

That’s what the United States is gonna continue to push for, both with our partners and through multilateral institutions like the U.N.

Regretfully, but unsurprisingly, Russia has repeatedly blocked the Security Council from taking action on these issues, so we’re gonna keep pressing the Security Council to help improve the delivery of humanitarian aid to those who are in such desperate need and ensure accountability, including continuing to monitor any potential use of chemical weapons in Syria.

And we’re gonna work in the U.N. General Assembly as well, both on accountability and to advance a political settlement because it should be clear that although you may achieve tactical victories, over the long-term, the Assad regime cannot slaughter its way to legitimacy. That’s why we’ll continue to press for a transition to a more representative government, and that’s why the world must not avert our eyes to the terrible events that are unfolding.

The Syrian regime and its Russian and Iranian allies are trying to obfuscate the truth. The world should not be fooled and the world will not forget.

So even in a season where the incredible blessings that we know as Americans are all around us, even as we enjoy family and friends and are reminded of how lucky we are, we should also be reminded that to be an American involves bearing burdens and meeting obligations to others. American values and American ideals are what will lead the way to a safer and more prosperous 2017, both here and abroad. And by the way, you (ph) embody those values and ideals like our brave men and women in uniform and their families.

So I just want to close by wishing all of them a very merry Christmas and a happy new year.

With that, I will take some questions, and I’m gonna start with Josh Lederman of A.P.

QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President.

There’s a perception that you’re letting President Putin get away with interfering in the U.S. election and that a response that nobody knows about (inaudible) don’t cut it. Are you prepared to call out President Putin by name for ordering (inaudible)? And do you agree with Hillary Clinton now says, that the hacking was actually partially responsible for her loss?

And is your administration open to correlate with Trump and his team on this issues, tarnishing (ph) the smooth transition of power that you have promised?

OBAMA: Well, first of all, with respect to the transition, I think they would be the first to acknowledge that we have done everything we can to make sure that they are successful, as I promised, and that will continue. And it’s just been a few days since I last talked to the president-elect about a whole range of transition issues. That cooperation’s gonna continue.

OBAMA: There hasn’t been a lot of squabbling. What we’ve simply said is the facts, which are that based on uniform intelligence assessments, the Russians were responsible for hacking the DNC and that as a consequence, it is important for us to review all elements of that and make sure that we are preventing that kind of interference through cyber attacks in the future. That should be a bipartisan issue, that shouldn’t be a partisan issue.

And my hope is that the president-elect is going to similarly be concerned with making sure that we don’t have a potential foreign influence in our election process. I don’t think any American wants that. And that shouldn’t be a source of an argument.

I think that part of the challenge is that it gets caught up in the carryover from election season. And I think it is very important for us to distinguish between the politics of the election and the need for us as a country, both from a national security perspective but also in terms of the integrity of our election system and our democracy to make sure that we don’t create a political football here.

Now, with respect to how this thing unfolded last year, let’s just go through the facts pretty quickly. At the beginning of the summer, were alerted to the possibility that the DNC has been hacked. And I made (ph) an order, law enforcement, as well as our intelligence teams to find out everything about it, investigate it thoroughly to brief the potential victims of this hacking, to brief on a bipartisan basis the leaders of both the House and the Senate and the relevant intelligence committees.

And once we had clarity and certainty around what in fact had happened, we publicly announced that in fact Russia had hacked into the DNC. And at that time, we did not attribute motives or you know any interpretations of why they had done so.

We didn’t discuss what the effects of it might be. We simply let people know — the public know just as we had let members of Congress know that this had happened.

And as a consequence, all of you wrote a lot of stories about both what had happened and then you interpreted why that might have happened and what effect it was going to have on the election outcomes. We did not — and the reason we did not was because in this hyper-partisan atmosphere, at a time when my primary concern was making sure that the integrity of the election process was not in any way damaged, at a time when anything that was said by me or anybody in the White House would immediately be seen through a partisan lens. I wanted to make sure that everybody understood we were playing this thing straight, that we weren’t trying to advantage one side or another. But what we were trying to do was let people know that this had taken place.

And so if you started seeing effects on the election, if you were trying to measure why this was happening and how you should consume the information that was being leaked, that you might want to take this into account. And that’s exactly how we should have handled it.

Imagine if we had done the opposite, it would become immediately just one more political scrum. And part of the goal here was to make sure that we did not do the work of the leakers for them by raising more and more questions about the integrity of the election right before the election was taking place — at a time, by the way, when the president-elect himself was raising questions about the integrity of the election.

And finally, I think it’s worth pointing out, that the information was already out. It was in the hands of Wikileaks, so that was going to come out no matter what.

What I was concerned about in particular was making sure that that wasn’t compounded by potential hacking that could hamper vote counting, affect the actual election process itself.

And so in early September when I saw President Putin in China, I felt that the most effective way to ensure that that did not happen was to talk to him directly and tell him to cut it out, there were going to be some serious consequences if he did not.

And in fact, we did not see further tampering of the election process. But the leaks through Wikileaks had already occurred.

So when I look back in terms of how we handled it, I think we handled it the way it should have been handled. We allowed law enforcement and the intelligence community to do its job without political influence.

We briefed all relevant parties involved in terms of what was taking place. When we had a consensus around what had happened, we announced it, not through the White House, not through me, but rather through the intelligence communities that had actually carried out these investigations.

And then we allowed you and the American public to make an assessment as to how to weigh that going into the election.

And the truth is, is that there was nobody here who did not have some sense of what kind of effect it might have. I am finding it a little curious that everybody is suddenly acting surprised that this looked like it was disadvantaging Hillary Clinton, because you guys wrote about it every day, every single leak about every little juicy tidbit of political gossip, including John Podesta’s risotto recipe.

This was an obsession that dominated the news coverage. So I do think it is worth us reflecting how it is that a presidential election of such importance, of such moment, with so many big issues at stake and such a contrast between the candidates came to be dominated by a bunch of these leaks.

What is it about our political system that made us vulnerable to these kinds of potential manipulations which, as I’ve said publicly before, were not particularly sophisticated. This was not some elaborate, complicated espionage scheme.

They hacked into some Democratic Party e-mails that contained pretty routine stuff, some of it embarrassing or uncomfortable because I suspect that if any of us got our emails hacked into there might be some things that we would not want suddenly appearing on the front page of a newspaper or a telecast, even if there was not anything particularly illegal or controversial about it.

And then it just took off. And that concerns me, and it should concern all of us. But the truth of the matter is, is that everybody had the information. It was out there, and we handled it the way we should have.

Now, moving forward, I think there are a couple of issues that this raises. Number one is just the constant challenge that we are going to have with cyber security throughout our economy and throughout our society.

We are a digitalized culture. And there’s hacking going on every single day. There is not a company, there is not a major organization, there is not a financial institution, there is not a branch of our government were somebody is not going to be fishing for something or trying to penetrate or put in a virus or malware.

And this is why for the last eight years I have been obsessed with how do we continually upgrade our cyber security systems. And this particular concern around Russian hacking is part of a broader set of concerns about how do we deal with cyber issues being used in ways that can affect our infrastructure, affect the stability of our financial systems, and affect the integrity of our institutions like our election process.

I just received, a couple of weeks back, it wasn’t widely reported on, a report from our cyber-security commission that outlines a whole range of strategies to do a better job on this. But it’s difficult because it’s not all housed — the target of cyberattacks is not one entity, but it’s widely dispersed and a lot of it is private, like the DNC. You know, it’s not a branch of government. We can’t tell people what to do.

What we can do is inform them, get best practices. What we can also do is to on a bilateral basis warn other countries against these kinds of attacks, and we’ve done that in the past. So just as I told Russia to stop it and indicated there will be consequences when they do it, the Chinese have in the past engaged in cyberattacks directed at our companies to steal trade secrets and proprietary technology, and I had to have the same conversation with President Xi. And what we’ve seen is some evidence that they have reduced but not completely eliminated these activities, partly because they can use cutouts. One of the problems with the internet and cyber issues is there’s not always a return address, and by the time you catch up to it, you know, attributing what happened to a particular government can be difficult, not always provable in court, even tough our intelligence communities can make an assessment.

What we’ve also tried to do is to start creating some international norms about this to prevent some sort of cyber arms race because we obviously have offensive capabilities as well as defensive capabilities, and my approach is not a situation which everybody’s worse off because folks are constantly attacking each other back and forth, but putting some guardrails around behavior of nation states, including our adversaries, just so that they understand that whatever they do to us, we can potentially do to them.

We do have some special challenges because oftentimes, our economy is more digitalized. It is more vulnerable partly because we’re a wealthier nation and we’re more wired than some of these other countries and we have a more open society and engage in less control and censorship over what happens over the internet, which is also part of what makes us special.

Last point, and the reason I’m going on here is because I know that you guys have a lot of questions about this and I addressed all of you directly about this. With respect to response, my principal goal leading up to the election was making sure that the election itself went off without a hitch, that it was not tarnished and that it did not feed any sense in the public that somehow, tampering had taken place with the actual process of voting and we accomplished that. That does not mean that we are not going to respond, it simply meant that we had a set of priorities leading up to the election that were of the utmost importance.

Our goal continues to be to send a clear message to Russia or others not to do this to us because we can do stuff to you, but it is also important for us to do that in a thoughtful, methodical way. Some of it, we do publicly. Some of it, we will do in a way that they know but not everybody will. And I know that there have been folks out there who suggests somehow that if we went out there and made big announcements and thumped our chests about a bunch of stuff, that somehow that would potentially spook the Russians.

But keep in mind that we already have enormous numbers of sanctions against the Russians. The relationship between us and Russia has deteriorated, sadly, significantly over the last several years. And so how we approach an appropriate response that increases costs for them for behavior like this in the future but does not create problems for us is something that’s worth taking the time to think through and figure out. And that’s exactly what we’ve done.

So, at a point in time where we’ve taken certain actions that we can divulge publicly, we will do so. There are times where the message will be directly received by the Russians and not publicized. And I should point out by the way, part of why the Russians have been effective on this is because they don’t go around announcing what they’re doing. It’s not like Putin’s gone around the world publicly saying, look what we did. Wasn’t that clever? He denies it.

So the idea that somehow public shaming is gonna be effective, I think doesn’t read the — the thought process in Russia very well. OK.

QUESTION: Did Clinton lose because of the hacking?

OBAMA: I’m gonna let all the political pundits in this town have a long discussion about what happened in the election. It was a fascinating election. So, you know, I’m sure there are gonna be a lot of books written about it. I’ve said what I think is important for the Democratic Party going forward, rather than try to parse every aspect of the election.

And I — I’ve said before, I couldn’t be prouder of Secretary Clinton, her outstanding service and she’s worked tirelessly on behalf of the American people and I don’t think she was treated fairly during the election. I think the coverage of her and the issues was troubling, but having said that, what I’ve been most focused on — appropriate for the fact I am not going to be a politician in about — what is it, 32 days, 31, 34?

(LAUGHTER)

What I’ve said is that I can maybe give some counsel advice to the Democratic Party. And I think the — the — the thing we have to spend the most time on — because it’s the thing we have most control over — is, how do we make sure that we’re showing up in places where I think Democratic policies are needed, where they are helping, where they are making a difference, but where people feel as if they’re not being heard?

And where Democrats are characterized as coastal, liberal, latte- sipping, you know, politically correct, out-of-touch folks, we have to be in those communities. And I’ve seen that, when we are in those communities, it makes a difference. That’s how I became president. I became a U.S. Senator not just because I had a strong base in Chicago, but because I was driving downstate Illinois and going to fish fries and sitting in V.F.W. Halls and talking to farmers.

And I didn’t win every one of their votes, but they got a sense of what I was talking about, what I cared about, that I was for working people, that I was for the middle class, that the reason I was interested in strengthening unions and raising the minimum wage and rebuilding our infrastructure and making sure that parents had decent childcare and family leave, was because my own family’s history wasn’t that different from theirs even if I looked a little bit different. Same thing in Iowa.

And so the question is, how do we rebuild that party as a whole, so that there’s not a county in any state — I don’t care how red — where we don’t have a presence and we’re not making the argument, because I think we have a better argument. But that requires a lot of work. You know, it’s been something that I’ve been able to do successfully in my own campaigns.

OBAMA: It is not something I’ve been able to transfer to candidates in mid-terms and sort of build a sustaining organization around. That’s something I would have liked to have done more of, but it’s kind of hard to do when you’re also dealing with a whole bunch of issues here in the White House. And that doesn’t mean, though, that it can’t be done, and I think there are gonna be a lot of talented folks out there, a lot of progressives who share my values, who are gonna be leading the charge in the years to come.

Michelle Kosinski (ph) of CNN.

QUESTION: Thank you.

This week we heard Hillary Clinton talk about how she thinks that the FBI director’s most recent announcement made a difference in the outcome of the election. And we also just heard in an op-ed her campaign chairman talk about something being deeply broken within the FBI.

He talked about thinking that the investigation early on was lackadaisical, in his words. So what do you think about those comments? Do you think there’s any truth to them? Do you think there’s a danger there that they’re calling into question the integrity of institutions in a similar way that Donald Trump’s team has done?

And the second part to that is that Donald Trump’s team repeatedly — I guess, given the indication that the investigation of the Russian hack as well as retaliation might not be such a priority once he’s in office.

So what do you think the risk is there? And are you going to talk to him directly about some of those comments he made?

OBAMA: Well, on the latter point, as I said before, the transition from election season to governance season is not always smooth. You know, it’s bumpy. There are still feelings that are raw out there. There are people who are still thinking how things unfolded. And I get all that.

But when Donald Trump takes the oath of office and is sworn in as the 45th president of the United States, then he has got a different set of responsibilities and considerations.

And I’ve said this before. I think there is a sobering process when you walk into the Oval Office. And, you know, I haven’t shared previously private conversations I’ve had with the president-elect. I will say that they have been cordial and in some cases have involved me making some pretty specific suggestions about how to ensure that regardless of our obvious deep disagreements about policy, maybe I can transmit some thoughts about maintaining the effectiveness, integrity, cohesion of the office, our various democratic institutions, and he has listened.

I can’t say that he will end up implementing, but the conversations themselves have been cordial as opposed to defensive in any way. And I will always make myself available to him just as previous presidents have made themselves available to me as issues come up.

With respect to the FBI, I will tell you, I’ve had a chance to know a lot of FBI agents. I know Director Comey. They take their job seriously. They work really hard. They help keep us safe and save a lot of lives.

And it is always a challenge for law enforcement when there’s an intersection between the work that they are doing and the political system. It’s one of the difficulties of democracy generally.

We have a system where we want our law enforcement investigators and our prosecutors to be free from politics, to be independent, to play it straight. But sometimes that involves investigations that touch on politics and particularly in this hyper-partisan environment that we’ve been in, everything is suspect, everything you do one way or the other.

One thing that I have done is to be pretty scrupulous about not wading into investigation decisions or prosecution decisions or decisions not to prosecute. I have tried to be really strict in my own behavior about preserving the independence of law enforcement, free from my own judgments and political assessments, in some cases. And I don’t know why it would stop now.

Mike Dorney (ph) of Bloomberg.

QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President.

On Aleppo, your views of (ph) what happens there, the responsibility of the Russian government, the Iranian government, the Assad regime (inaudible), but do you, as president of the United States, leader of the free world, feel any personal moral responsibility now at the end of your presidency for the carnage we’re all watching in Aleppo, which I’m sure disturbs you (inaudible)?

Secondly, also on Aleppo, you’ve again made clear your practical disagreements with (inaudible) and President-elect Trump has throughout his campaign, and he said again last night, that he wants to create safe zones in Syria. Do you feel like in this transition, you need to help him toward implementing that or is that not something you need to be doing?

OBAMA: Mike, I always feel responsible. I felt responsible when kids were being shot by snipers. I felt responsible when millions of people had been displaced. I feel responsible for murder and slaughter that’s taken place in South Sudan that’s not being reported on, partly because there’s not as much social media being generated from there.

There are places around the world where horrible things are happening and because of my office, because I’m president of the United States, I feel responsible. I ask myself every single day, is there something I could do that would save lives and make a difference and spare some child who doesn’t deserve to suffer. So that’s a starting point. There’s not a moment during the course of this presidency where I haven’t felt some responsibility.

That’s true, by the way, for our own country. When I came into office and people were losing their jobs and losing their homes and losing their pensions, I felt responsible and I would go home at night and I would ask myself, was there something better that I could do or smarter that I could be that would make a difference in their lives, that would relieve their suffering and relieve their hardship.

So with respect to Syria, what I have consistently done is taken the best course that I can to try to end the civil war while having also to take into account the long-term national security interests of the United States. And throughout this process, based on hours of meetings — if you tallied it up, days and weeks of meetings — where we went through every option in painful detail with maps and we had our military and we had our aid agencies and we had our diplomatic teams, and sometimes, we’d bring in outsiders who were critics of ours.

OBAMA: Whenever we went through it, the challenge was that short of putting large numbers of U.S. troops on the ground uninvited, without any international law mandate, without sufficient support from Congress, at a time when we still had troops in Afghanistan and we still had troops in Iraq and we had just gone through over a decade of war and spent trillions of dollars and when the opposition on the ground was not cohesive enough to necessarily govern a country and you had a military superpower in Russia prepared to do whatever it took to keep its (inaudible) involved and you had a regional military power in Iran that saw their own vital strategic interests at stake and were willing to maintain that territory in the absence of consent from the Syrian government and now the Russians or the Iranians.

So it may be that with Aleppo’s tragic situation unfolding that in the short term, if we can get more of the tens of thousands who are still trapped there out , that so long as the world’s eyes are on them and they are feeling pressure, the regime in Russia concludes that they are willing to find some arrangement, perhaps in coordination with Turkey, whereby those people can be safe.

Even that will probably be temporary, but at least it solves a short-term issue that’s going to arise.

Unfortunately we are not there yet because right now we have Russians and Assad claiming that basically all the innocent civilians who were trapped in Aleppo are out when international organizations, humanitarian organizations who know better and who are on the ground, have said unequivocally that there are still tens of thousands who are trapped and prepared to leave under pretty much any conditions.

And so right now our biggest priority is to continue to put pressure wherever we can to try to get them out.

(CROSSTALK)

OBAMA: Mike, I can’t have too much…

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) but do you see, responsibility notwithstanding, moving in that direction or help President-elect Trump move in that direction?

OBAMA: I will help President Trump — President-elect Trump with any advice, counsel, information that we can provide so that he, once he’s sworn in, can make a decision.

Between now and then, these are decisions that I have to make based on the consultations that I have with our military and the people who have been working this every single day.

Peter Alexander (ph).

QUESTION: Mr. President, thank you very much.

Can you, given all the intelligence that we have now heard, assure the public this was once and for all a free and fair election? And specifically on Russia, do you feel any obligation now as they have been insisting that this isn’t the case to show the proof, as it were? They say, put your money where your mouth is and declassify some of the intelligence and the evidence that exists.

And more broadly, as it relates to Donald Trump on this very topic, are you concerned about his relationship with Vladimir Putin, especially given some of the recent cabinet picks, including his selection for secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, who toasted Putin with champagne over oil deals together? Thank you.

OBAMA: I may be getting older because these multipart questions, I start losing track.

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA: I can assure the public that there was not the kind of tampering with the voting process that was our concern and will continue to be of concern going forward, that the votes that were cast were counted, they were counted appropriately.

We have not seen evidence of machines being tampered with, so that assurance I can provide.

That doesn’t mean that we find every single, you know, potential probe of every single voting machine all across the country, but we paid a lot of attention to it. We worked with state officials, et cetera, and we feel confident that that didn’t occur and that the votes were cast and they were counted.

And so that’s on that point. What was the second one?

QUESTION: Say more about declassification.

OBAMA: Declassification. Look, we will provide evidence that we can safely provide, that doesn’t mean, though, that it can’t be done, and I think there are going to be a lot of talented folks out there, a lot of progressives who share my values who are going to be leading the charge in the years to come.

Michelle Kosinski (ph) of CNN.

QUESTION: Thank you.

This week we heard Hillary Clinton talk about how she thinks that the FBI director’s most recent announcement made a difference in the outcome of the election. And we also just heard in an op-ed her campaign chairman talk about something being deeply broken within the FBI.

He talked about thinking that the investigation early on was lackadaisical, in his words. So what do you think about those comments? Do you think there’s any truth to them? Do you think there’s a danger there that they’re calling into question the integrity of institutions in a similar way that Donald Trump’s team has done?

And the second part to that is that Donald Trump’s team repeatedly — I guess, given the indication that the investigation of the Russian hack as well as retaliation might not be such a priority once he’s in office.

So what do you think the risk is there? And are you going to talk to him directly about some of those comments he made?

OBAMA: Well, on the latter point, as I said before, the transition from election season to governance season is not always smooth. You know, it’s bumpy. There are still feelings that are raw out there. There are people who are still thinking how things unfolded. And I get all that.

But when Donald Trump takes the oath of office and is sworn in as the 45th president of the United States, then he has got a different set of responsibilities and considerations.

And I’ve said this before. I think there is a sobering process when you walk into the Oval Office. And, you know, I haven’t shared previously private conversations I’ve had with the president-elect. I will say that they have been cordial and in some cases have involved me making some pretty specific suggestions about how to ensure that regardless of our obvious deep disagreements about policy, maybe I can transmit some thoughts about maintaining the effectiveness, integrity, cohesion of the office, our various democratic institutions, and he has listened.

I can’t say that he will end up implementing, but the conversations themselves have been cordial as opposed to defensive in any way. And I will always make myself available to him just as previous presidents have made themselves available to me as issues come up.

With respect to the FBI, I will tell you, I’ve had a chance to know a lot of FBI agents. I know Director Comey. They take their job seriously. They work really hard. They help keep us safe and save a lot of lives.

And it is always a challenge for law enforcement when there’s an intersection between the work that they are doing and the political system. It’s one of the difficulties of democracy generally.

We have a system where we want our law enforcement investigators and our prosecutors to be free from politics, to be independent, to play it straight. But sometimes that involves investigations that touch on politics and particularly in this hyper-partisan environment that we’ve been in, everything is suspect, everything you do one way or the other.

One thing that I have done is to be pretty scrupulous about not wading into investigation decisions or prosecution decisions or decisions not to prosecute. I have tried to be really strict in my own behavior about preserving the independence of law enforcement, free from my own judgments and political assessments, in some cases. And I don’t know why it would stop now.

Mike Dorney (ph) of Bloomberg.

QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President.

On Aleppo, your views of (ph) what happens there, the responsibility of the Russian government, the Iranian government, the Assad regime (inaudible), but do you, as president of the United States, leader of the free world, feel any personal moral responsibility now at the end of your presidency for the carnage we’re all watching in Aleppo, which I’m sure disturbs you (inaudible)?

Secondly, also on Aleppo, you’ve again made clear your practical disagreements with (inaudible) and President-elect Trump has throughout his campaign, and he said again last night, that he wants to create safe zones in Syria. Do you feel like in this transition, you need to help him toward implementing that or is that not something you need to be doing?

OBAMA: Mike, I always feel responsible. I felt responsible when kids were being shot by snipers. I felt responsible when millions of people had been displaced. I feel responsible for murder and slaughter that’s taken place in South Sudan that’s not being reported on, partly because there’s not as much social media being generated from there.

There are places around the world where horrible things are happening and because of my office, because I’m president of the United States, I feel responsible. I ask myself every single day, is there something I could do that would save lives and make a difference and spare some child who doesn’t deserve to suffer. So that’s a starting point. There’s not a moment during the course of this presidency where I haven’t felt some responsibility.

That’s true, by the way, for our own country. When I came into office and people were losing their jobs and losing their homes and losing their pensions, I felt responsible and I would go home at night and I would ask myself, was there something better that I could do or smarter that I could be that would make a difference in their lives, that would relieve their suffering and relieve their hardship.

So with respect to Syria, what I have consistently done is taken the best course that I can to try to end the civil war while having also to take into account the long-term national security interests of the United States. And throughout this process, based on hours of meetings — if you tallied it up, days and weeks of meetings — where we went through every option in painful detail with maps and we had our military and we had our aid agencies and we had our diplomatic teams, and sometimes, we’d bring in outsiders who were critics of ours.

OBAMA: Whenever we went through it, the challenge was that short of putting large numbers of U.S. troops on the ground uninvited, without any international law mandate, without sufficient support from Congress, at a time when we still had troops in Afghanistan and we still had troops in Iraq and we had just gone through over a decade of war and spent trillions of dollars and when the opposition on the ground was not cohesive enough to necessarily govern a country and you had a military superpower in Russia prepared to do whatever it took to keep its (inaudible) involved and you had a regional military power in Iran that saw their own vital strategic interests at stake and were willing to send in as many of their people or proxies to support the regime.

And in that circumstance, unless we were all in and willing to take over Syria, we were going to have problems. And everything else was tempting because we wanted to do something and it sounded like the right thing to do but it was going to be impossible to do this on the cheap. And in that circumstance, I have to make decision as president of the United States as to what is best — I’m sorry.

What’s going on? Somebody’s not feeling good. All right. Why don’t we have — we got — we can get our doctors back there to help out. Somebody want to go to my doctor’s office and just send them — all right. Where was I? So we couldn’t do it on the cheap. Now, it may be —

QUESTION: Can we get a doctor in here? Can that be arranged?

OBAMA: Can somebody help out, please, and get Doc Jackson in here? Somebody grabbing our doctor?

QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President.

OBAMA: Of course. In the meantime, just give her a little room. Doctor will be here in a second. You guys know where the doctor’s office is? So just go through the palm doors. Its right — its right next to the map room. There he is. All right. There’s Doc Jackson. He’s all right. OK. The doctor — the doctor’s in the house.

So — And I don’t mean that — I mean that with all sincerity. I understand the impulse to want to do something, but ultimately what I’ve had to do is to think about, what can we sustain, what is realistic? And my first priority has to be, what’s the right thing to do for America? And it has been our view that the best thing to do has been to provide some support to the moderate opposition so that they could sustain themselves. And that you wouldn’t see anti-Assad regime sentiments just pouring into Al- Nusra and Al-Qaeda or ISIL that we engaged our international partners in order to put pressure on all the parties involved. And to try to resolve this through diplomatic and political means. I cannot claim that we’ve been successful. And so that’s something that, as is true with a lot of issues and problems around the world, I have to go to bed with every night.

But I continue to believe that it was the right approach given what realistically we could get done. Absent a decision, as I said, to go into much more significant way. And that, I think would not have been a sustainable or good for the American people because we had a whole host of other obligations that we also had to meet, wars we had already started and that were not yet finished.

With respect to the issue of safe zones , it is a continued problem, a continued challenge with safe zones is if you are setting up those zones on Syrian territory, then that requires some force that is willing to maintain that territory in the absence of consent from the Syrian government and now the Russians or the Iranians.

So it may be that with Aleppo’s tragic situation unfolding that in the short term, if we can get more of the tens of thousands who are still trapped there out , that so long as the world’s eyes are on them and they are feeling pressure, the regime in Russia concludes that they are willing to find some arrangement, perhaps in coordination with Turkey, whereby those people can be safe.

Even that will probably be temporary, but at least it solves a short-term issue that’s going to arise.

Unfortunately we are not there yet because right now we have Russians and Assad claiming that basically all the innocent civilians who were trapped in Aleppo are out when international organizations, humanitarian organizations who know better and who are on the ground, have said unequivocally that there are still tens of thousands who are trapped and prepared to leave under pretty much any conditions.

And so right now our biggest priority is to continue to put pressure wherever we can to try to get them out.

(CROSSTALK)

OBAMA: Mike, I can’t have too much…

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) but do you see, responsibility notwithstanding, moving in that direction or help President-elect Trump move in that direction?

OBAMA: I will help President Trump — President-elect Trump with any advice, counsel, information that we can provide so that he, once he’s sworn in, can make a decision.

Between now and then, these are decisions that I have to make based on the consultations that I have with our military and the people who have been working this every single day. Peter Alexander (ph).

QUESTION: Mr. President, thank you very much.

Can you, given all the intelligence that we have now heard, assure the public this was once and for all a free and fair election? And specifically on Russia, do you feel any obligation now as they have been insisting that this isn’t the case to show the proof, as it were? They say, put your money where your mouth is and declassify some of the intelligence and the evidence that exists.

And more broadly, as it relates to Donald Trump on this very topic, are you concerned about his relationship with Vladimir Putin, especially given some of the recent cabinet picks, including his selection for secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, who toasted Putin with champagne over oil deals together? Thank you.

OBAMA: I may be getting older because these multipart questions, I start losing track.

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA: I can assure the public that there was not the kind of tampering with the voting process that was our concern and will continue to be of concern going forward, that the votes that were cast were counted, they were counted appropriately.

We have not seen evidence of machines being tampered with, so that assurance I can provide.

That doesn’t mean that we find every single, you know, potential probe of every single voting machine all across the country, but we paid a lot of attention to it. We worked with state officials, et cetera, and we feel confident that that didn’t occur and that the votes were cast and they were counted.

And so that’s on that point. What was the second one?

QUESTION: Say more about declassification.

OBAMA: Declassification. Look, we will provide evidence that we can safely provide, that does not compromise sources and methods. But I’ll be honest with you, when you are talking about cybersecurity, a lot of it is classified and we’re not going to provide it, because the way we catch folks is by knowing certain things about them that they may not want us to know and if we’re gonna monitor this stuff effectively going forward, we don’t want them to know that we know.

So, this is one of those situations where, unless the American people genuinely think that the professionals in the CIA, the FBI, our entire intelligence infrastructure, many of whom — by the way, served in previous administrations and who are Republicans — are less trustworthy than the Russians. Then people should pay attention to what our intelligence agencies say.

This is part of what I meant when I said we’ve got to think what is happening to happening to our political culture here. The Russians can’t change us or significantly weaken us. They are a smaller country, they are a weaker country, their economy doesn’t produce anything that anybody wants to buy except oil and gas and arms. They don’t innovate.

But they can impact us if we lose track of who we are. They can impact us if we abandon our values. Mr. Putin can weaken us just like he’s trying to weaken Europe if we start buying into notions that it’s OK to intimidate the press, or lock up dissidents, or discriminate against people because of their faith or what they look like.

And what I worry about — more than anything — is the degree to which because of the fierceness because of the partisan battle, you start to see certain folks in the Republican Party and Republican voters suddenly finding a government and individuals who stand contrary to everything that we stand for as being OK, because that’s how much we dislike Democrats.

I mean, think about it. Some of the people who historically have been very critical of me for engaging with the Russians and having conversations with them, also endorsed the president-elect, even as he was saying that we should stop sanctioning Russia and being tough on them and work together with them against our common enemies.

It was very complimentary of Mr. Putin personally. Now that — that wasn’t news. The president-elect during the campaign said so. And some folks who had made a career out of being anti-Russian, didn’t say anything about it. And then after the election, suddenly they’re asking, oh, why didn’t you tell us that maybe the Russians were trying to help our candidate? Well, come on.

There was a survey some of you saw where — not this just one poll, but pretty credible source, 37 percent of Republican voters approve of Putin. Over a third of Republican voters approve of Vladimir Putin, the former head of the KGB. Ronald Reagan would roll over in his grave. And how did that happen? It happened in part because for too long, everything that happens in this town, everything that’s said is seen through the lens of does this help or hurt us relative to Democrats or relative to President Obama. And unless that changes, we’re going to continue to be vulnerable to foreign influence because we’ve lost track of what it is that we’re about and what we stand for.

With respect to the president-elect’s appointments, it is his prerogative, as I have always said, for him to appoint who he thinks can best carry out his foreign policy or his domestic policy. It is up to the Senate to advise and consent. There will be plenty of time for members of the Senate to go through the record of all his appointees and determine whether or not they’re appropriate for the job.

Martha (inaudible).

QUESTION: Mr. President, I want to talk about Vladimir Putin again. Just to be clear, do you believe Vladimir Putin himself authorized the hack? And do you believe he authorized that to help Donald Trump?

And on the intelligence, one of the things Donald Trump cites is Saddam Hussein and the weapons of mass destruction and that they were never found. Can you say unequivocally that this was not China, that this was not a 400-pound guy sitting on his bed as Donald Trump says? And do these types of tweets and kinds of statements from Donald Trump embolden the Russians?

OBAMA: When the report comes out before I leave office, that will have drawn together all the threads, and so I don’t want to step on their work ahead of time. What I can tell you is that the intelligence that I’ve seen gives me great confidence in their assessment that the Russians carried out this hack.

QUESTION: Which hack?

OBAMA: The hack of the DNC and the hack of John Podesta.

Now, the — but again, I think this is exactly why I want the report out, so that everybody can review it. And this has been briefed and the evidence in closed session has been provided on a bipartisan basis, not just to me, it’s been provided to the leaders of the House and the Senate and the chairmen and ranking members of the relevant committees. And I think that what you’ve already seen is, at least some of the folks who’ve seen the evidence don’t dispute I think the basic assessment that the Russians carried this out.

QUESTION: But specifically, could (ph) you not say that…

OBAMA: Well, Martha, I think what I want to make sure of is that I give the intelligence community a chance to gather all the information.

But I’d make a larger point, which is, not much happens in Russia without Vladimir Putin. This is a pretty hierarchical operation. Last I checked, there’s not a lot of debate and democratic deliberation, particularly when it comes to policies directed at the United States. We have said and I will confirm that this happened at the highest levels of the Russian government and I will let you make that determination as to whether there are high-level Russian officials who go off rogue and decide to tamper with the U.S. election process without Vladimir Putin knowing about it.

QUESTION: So I wouldn’t be wrong in saying the president thinks Vladimir Putin authorized the hack?

OBAMA: Martha, I’ve given you what I’ve — what I’m gonna give you.

What was your second question?

QUESTION: Do the tweets and do the statements by — by Donald Trump embolden Russia?

OBAMA: As I said before, I think that the president-elect, you know, is still in transition mode from campaign to governance. I think he hasn’t gotten his whole team together yet. He still has campaign spokespersons sort of filling in and appearing on cable shows. And there is just a whole different attitude and vibe when you’re not in power as when you are in power.

So rather than me sort of characterize the appropriateness or inappropriateness of what he is doing at the moment, I think what we have to see is how will the president-elect operate and how will his team operate when they’ve been fully briefed on all these issues. They have their hands on all the levers of government. And they have got to start making decisions.

One way I do believe that the president-elect can approach this that would be unifying is to say that we welcome a bipartisan independent process that gives the American people an assurance not only that votes are counted properly, that the elections are fair and free, but that we have learned lessons about how internet propaganda from foreign countries can be released into the political bloodstream and that we have got strategies to deal with it for the future.

The more this can be non-partisan, the better served the American people are going to be, which is why I made the point earlier and I’m going to keep on repeating this point, our vulnerability to Russia or any other foreign power is directly related to how divided, partisan, dysfunctional our political process is. That’s the thing that makes us vulnerable.

If fake news that’s being released by some foreign government is almost identical to reports that are being issued through partisan news venues, then it’s not surprising that that foreign propaganda will have a greater effect. It doesn’t seem that far-fetched compared to some of the other stuff that folks are hearing from domestic propagandists.

To the extent that our political dialogue is such where everything is under suspicion, and everybody is corrupt, and everybody is doing things for partisan reasons, and all of our institutions are, you know, full of malevolent actors, if that’s the story line that is being put out there by whatever party is out of power, then when a foreign government introduces that same argument, with facts that are made up, voters who have been listening to that stuff for years, who have been getting that stuff every day from talk radio or other venues, they’re going to believe it.

So if we want to really reduce foreign influence on our elections, then we had better think about how to make sure that our political process, our political dialogue is stronger than it has been.

Mark Langley (ph).

QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President.

I wonder whether I could move you from Russia to China for a moment.

OBAMA: Absolutely.

QUESTION: Your successor spoke by phone with the president of Taiwan the other day, and declared subsequently that he wasn’t sure why the United States needed to be bound by the One China Policy.

He suggested it could be used as a bargaining chip perhaps to get better terms on a trade deal or more cooperation on North Korea. There’s already evidence that tensions between the two sides have increased a bit, and just today, the Chinese have seized an underwater drone in the South China Sea.

Do you agree, as some do, that our China policy could use a fresh set of eyes and what’s the big deal about having a short phone call with the president of Taiwan? Or do you worry that these types of unorthodox approaches are setting us on a collision course with perhaps our biggest geopolitical adversary?

OBAMA: That’s a great question.

I’m somewhere in between. I think all of our foreign policy should be subject to fresh eyes. I think one of the — I’ve said this before, I am very proud of the work I’ve done. I think I’m a better president now than when I started. But you know, if you’re here for eight years in the bubble, you start seeing things a certain way and you benefit from — the democracy benefits, America benefits from some new perspectives.

And I think it should be not just the prerogative, but the obligation of a new president to examine everything that’s been done and see what makes sense and what doesn’t. That’s what I have done when I came in and I’m assuming any new president’s gonna undertake those same exercises.

And given the importance of the relationship between United States and China, given how much is at stake in terms of the world economy, national security, our presence in the Asia-Pacific, China’s increasing role in international affairs, there’s probably no bilateral relationship that carries more significance and where there’s also the potential if that relationship breaks down or goes into full conflict mode that everybody is worse off. So I think it’s fine for him to take a look at it. What I have advised the president-elect is that across the board on foreign policy, you want to make sure that you’re doing it in a systematic, deliberate, intentional way.

And since there’s only one president at a time, my advice to him has been that before he starts having a lot of interactions with foreign governments other than the usual courtesy calls, that he should want to have his full team in place, that he should want his team to be fully briefed on what’s gone on in the past and where the potential pitfalls may be, where the opportunities are, what we’ve learned from eight years of experience so that as he’s then maybe taking foreign policy in a new direction, he’s got all the information to make good decisions, and by the way, that all of government is moving at the same time and singing from the same hymnal.

And with respect to China — and let’s just take the example of Taiwan, there has been a longstanding agreement essentially between China and the United States, and to some agree the Taiwanese, which is to not change the status quo. Taiwan operates differently than mainland China does. China views Taiwan as part of China, but recognizes that it has to approach Taiwan as an entity that has its own ways of doing things.

OBAMA: The Taiwanese have agreed that as long as they’re able to continue to function with some agree of autonomy, that they won’t charge forward and declare independence. And that status quo, although not completely satisfactory to any of the parties involved, has kept the peace and allowed the Taiwanese to be a pretty successful economy and — of people who have a high agree of self-determination. What I understand for China, the issue of Taiwan is as important as anything on their docket.

The idea of One China is at the heart of their conception as a nation. And so if you are going to upend this understanding, you have to have thought through what the consequences because the Chinese will not treat that the way they’ll treat some other issues. They won’t even treat it the way they issues around the South China Sea, where we’ve had a lot of tensions. This goes to the core of how they see themselves.

And their reaction on this issue could end up being very significant. That doesn’t mean that you have to adhere to everything that’s been done in the past, but you have to think it through and have planned for potential reactions that they may engage in. All right. Isaac Dovere, Politico.

QUESTION: Thank you Mr. President. Two questions on where this all leaves us.

OBAMA: What leaves us? Where my presidency leaves us? It leaves us in a really good spot.

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA: If we make some good decisions going forward.

QUESTION: What do you say to the electors who are going to meet on Monday and are thinking of changing their votes? Do you think they should be given an intelligence briefing about the Russian activity or should they bear in mind everything you have said and have said already (ph)? Should they — should votes be bound by the state votes as they’ve gone? And long-term, do you think that there is need for Electoral College reform that was tied to the popular vote?

OBAMA: Sounded like two but really was one.

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA: I love how these start. I’ve got two questions, but each one has four parts.

(LAUGHTER)

QUESTION: On the Democratic Party, your labor secretary is running for — to be the chair of the Democratic National Committee. Is the vision that you’ve seen him putting forward what you think the party needs to be focused on? And what do you think about the complaint that say that the future democratic committee shouldn’t be a continuation of some of your political approach? Part of that is complaints that decisions that you have made as president and leader of the party has structurally weakened the DNC and the Democratic Party and they think that that has led to or has help lead to some of the losses in elections around the country. Do you regret any of those decisions?

OBAMA: I’ll take the second one first and say that Tom Perez has been, I believe one of the best secretaries of labor in our history. He is tireless. He is wicked smart. He has been able to work across the spectrum of you know, labor, business, activists. He has produced. I mean, if you look at his body of work on behalf of working people, what he’s pushed for in terms of making sure that workers get a fair deal, decent wages, better benefits, that their safety is protected on the job. He has been extraordinary.

Now others who have declared are also my friends and fine people as well. And the great thing is, I don’t have a vote in this. So – so – so we’ll let the process unfold, I don’t think it’s going to happen any time soon. I described to you earlier what I think needs to happen, which is that the democratic party, whether that’s entirely through the DNC or through rebuilding of state parties, or some other arrangement, has to work at the grassroots level, has to be present in all 50 states, has to have a presence in counties.

Has to think about in that extension (ph) how are we speaking directly to voters.

I will say this, and I’m not going to engage in too much punditry. But that I could not be prouder of the coalition that I put together in my — each of my campaigns. Because it was inclusive and it drew in people who normally weren’t interested in politics and didn’t participate.

But I’d like to think — I think I can show that in those elections, I always cast a broad net. I always said first and foremost we’re Americans, that we have a common creed, that there’s more that we share than divides us. And I want to talk to everybody and get a chance to get everybody’s vote.

I still believe what I said in 2004 which is this red state-blue thing is a construct. Now it is a construct that has gotten more and more powerful for a whole lot of reasons from gerrymandering, to big money, to a way that the media is splintered.

And so people are just watching what reinforces their existing biases as opposed to having to listen to different points of view. So there are all kinds of reasons for it. But outside the realm of electoral politics, I still see people the way I saw them when I made that speech, full of contradictions and some regional differences but basically, folks care about their families.

They care about having meaningful work. They care about making sure their kids have more opportunity than they did. They want to be safe. They want to feel like things are fair.

And whoever leads the DNC and any candidate with the Democratic brand going forward, I want them to feel as if they can reach out and find that common ground and speak to all of America. And that requires some organization.

And you’re right that — and I said this in my earlier remarks, that what I was able to do during my campaigns, I wasn’t able to do during midterms. It’s not that we didn’t put in time and effort into it. I spent time and effort into it. But the coalition I put together didn’t always turn out to be transferable.

And the challenge is that — you know, some of that just has to do with the fact that when you are in the party in power and people are going through hard times like they were in 2010, they are going to punish to some degree the president’s party regardless of what organizational work is done.

Some of it has to do with just some deep standing traditional challenges for Democrats like during off-year elections the electorate is older and we do better with the younger electorate. But we know those things are true.

And I didn’t crack the code on that. And if other people have ideas about how to do that even better, I’m all for it.

So with respect to the electors, I’m not going to wade into that issue. Because, again, it’s the American people’s job and now electors’ job to decide my successor. It is not my job to decide my successor.

And I have provided people with a lot of information about what happened during the course of the election, but more importantly, the candidates themselves I think talked about their beliefs and their vision for America.

The president-elect I think has been very explicit what he cares about and what he believes in. And so it’s not in my hands now, it’s up to them.

QUESTION: what about long term about the Electoral College?

OBAMA: Long term with respect to the Electoral College, the Electoral College is a vestige, it’s a carry-over from an earlier vision of how our federal government was going to work that put a lot of premium on states, and it used to be that the Senate was not elected directly, it was through state legislatures. And it’s the same type of thinking that gives Wyoming two senators and — with about half a million people and California with 33 million get the same two.

So there’s — there are some structures in our political system as envisioned by the founders that sometimes are going to disadvantage Democrats, but the truth of the matter is is that if we have a strong message, if we’re speaking to what the American people care about, typically, the popular vote and the electoral college vote will align.

And I guess — I guess part of my overall message here as I leave for the holidays is that if we look for one explanation or one silver bullet or one easy fix for our politics, then we’re probably going to be disappointed. There are just a lot of factors in what’s happened, not just over the last few months, but over the last decade that has made both politics and governance more challenging. And I think everybody’s raised legitimate questions and legitimate concerns.

I do hope that we all just take some time, take a breath, that’s certainly what I’m going to advise Democrats, to just reflect a little bit more about how can we — how can we get to a place where people are focused on working together based on at least some common set of facts? How can we have a conversation about policy that doesn’t demonize each another? How can we channel what I think is the basic decency and goodness of the American people so it reflects itself in our politics, as opposed to it being so polarized and so nasty that in some cases, you have voters and unelected officials who have more confidence and faith in a foreign adversary than they have in their neighbors?

And those go to some bigger issues. How is it that we have some voters or some elected officials who think that Michelle Obama’s healthy eating initiative and school nutrition program is a greater threat to democracy than, you know, our government going after the press if they’re issuing a story they don’t like? I mean, that’s — that’s an issue that I think, you know, we’ve got to — we’ve got to wrestle with. And we will.

People have asked me how you feel after the election and so forth and I say well, look, this is a clarifying moment. It’s a useful reminder that voting counts, politics counts. What the president- elect is going to be doing is gonna be very different than what I was doing and I think people will be able to compare and contrast and make judgments about what worked for the American people. And I hope that building off the progress we’ve made, that what the president-elect is proposing works.

What I can say with confidence is that what we’ve done works. That I can prove. I can show you where we were in 2008 and I can show you where we are now. And you can’t argue that we are not better off, we are.

And for that, I thank the American people and then more importantly I thank — well, not importantly, as importantly — I was going to say Josh Earnest…

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA: … for doing such a great job. For that, I thank the American people, I thank the men and women in uniform who serve. I haven’t gotten to the point yet where I’ve been overly sentimental. I will tell you that when I was doing my last Christmas party photo — I know many of you have participated in these, they’re pretty long.

Right at the end of the line, the President’s Marine Corps Band comes in, those who have been performing. And I take a picture with them. And that was the last time that I was going to take a picture with my Marine Corps Band after an event. And I got a little choked up.

Now I was in front of marines so I had to like tamp it down. But it was just one small example of all of the people who have contributed to our success. I am responsible for where we’ve screwed up, the successes are widely shared with all of the amazing people who have been part of this administration.

OK? Thank you, everybody. Mele Kalikimaka!

 

Full Text Political Transcripts December 1, 2016: President-elect Donald Trump, VP-elect Mike Pence Speeches at Indianapolis Carrier Plant

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENTIAL TRANSITION:

President-elect Donald Trump, VP-elect Mike Pence Speeches at Indianapolis Carrier Plant

Source: Time, 12-1-16

PENCE: How about another round applause for Greg Hayes, the chairman and CEO of United Technologies? It is great to have him in the Hoosier State.

(APPLAUSE)

To the executives at United Technologies who are with us, executives with Carrier, to the great Carrier team here in Indiana.

(APPLAUSE)

To our honored guests, Governor-elect Eric Holcomb, Indiana Speaker of the House Brian Bosma, Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett, my fellow Hoosiers.

It is great to be back home again in Indiana.

(APPLAUSE)

And this is a great day for Indiana. And it’s a great day for working people all across the United States of America.

(APPLAUSE)

You know, the state of Indiana is very proud. We are a proud manufacturing state. We are home to low taxes, sensible regulations, great schools and roads and the best workforce in America.

Since the 1950s, Carrier had been apart of Indiana’s manufacturing success story, and we’ve been proud of it.

As governor, I couldn’t be more pleased and grateful that — thanks to the initiative and the leadership of President-elect Donald Trump that Carrier has decided to stay and grow right here in America.

(APPLAUSE)

We are so grateful. We are so grateful that — thanks to the initiative of our president-elect, that I’ll talk about in a minute — and, frankly, thanks to the confidence of Greg Hayes, United Technologies and Bob McDonough at Carrier — that Carrier has decided to stay in Indiana, invest more than $16 million in this facility alone, and will keep more than 1,000 jobs right here in the heart of the Heartland.

(APPLAUSE)

What a difference a year makes.

You know, the truth be told, job announcements are almost a daily thing here in the state of Indiana. We’re at record employment today. We have more Hoosiers going to work than ever before.

And that’s why, frankly, along with all of you who work in this facility, that that day, February 10th, was a heartbreaking day, when Carrier made the difficult decision to close this facility and move jobs out of our country.

We met with the leaders of the company back in March, and try as we might to make the Indiana case, it was clear that the die was cast. The simple truth was that policies coming out of our nation’s capital were literally driving jobs out of this country.

What was missing was clear to me as your governor. What was missing was leadership and change.

Well, the American people voted for change last month. And even before taking office, our president-elect provided real leadership that made the difference.

(APPLAUSE)

PENCE: You know, President-elect Donald Trump did just what he said he would do. He picked up the phone. I was actually in the room. He picked up the phone. He talked from one American to another. He talked about our plans, our plans to make America more competitive, to reduce taxes, to roll back regulations, to put American jobs and American workers first again. He made the case for America.

And Carrier decided to bet on a brighter future for the American people. And we are grateful from the bottom of our hearts.

(APPLAUSE)

I’m very humbled to be standing before you today. I truly am. My family and I are deeply moved by the opportunities the people of Indiana have given us, and now the American people have given us, to serve.

But I’m especially humbled as the holidays approach to have played some small role in this wonderful news, not only here In Indiana but all across this country. But I think it’s important to give credit where credit is due.

First and foremost, I want to thank — I want to thank Greg Hayes and his team at United Technologies, Bob McDonough and the team at Carrier.

Thank you for renewing your commitment to Indiana and renewing your commitment to the people of the United States of America.

(APPLAUSE)

I also just want to thank the great Carrier team here in Indianapolis and in the state of Indiana.

Your hard work, your resilience, your work ethic even in disappointing times I know for a fact gave this company the confidence to double down on the future of this company and the future of the people of this state. And so I thank you, the Carrier team, for giving them the confidence to do just that.

(APPLAUSE)

But lastly, on behalf of all the people of Indiana, allow me to thank the man we wouldn’t be here without for his efforts, for picking up the phone, for keeping his word, his efforts to bring us to this day of renewed hope and promise, not just here in Indiana but really for — for people that know that the strength of this country comes in our ability to make things and to grow things. It’s a renewed day for manufacturing in America.

You know, I remember when Donald Trump was running for president he said that if he was elected president of the United States, America would start winning again. Well, today America won. And we have Donald Trump to thank.

(APPLAUSE)

And I’ve got a feeling working beside this extraordinary man, this is just the beginning of a lot more good news all across America.

So without any further ado, my fellow Hoosiers, it is my high honor and distinct privilege to introduce to you a man of action, a man of his word, and the president-elect of the United States of America, Donald Trump.

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: Thank you. Thank you, everybody. Thank you very much. Thank you very much. I love that red hat. Thank you, everybody.

(APPLAUSE)

I want to thank all of the dignitaries that are with us today. We have a whole host: the mayor, governor-elect, great people. It’s a big victory for the governor-elect. He won very convincingly, so we’re very proud of him.

And, you know, Mike has been such a wise decision for me. When people were saying, “I don’t know. How good is he at decision making?” they’d always say, “Yeah, but he picked Mike Pence. That’s a good decision.” And everybody loves Mike. He’s become something very special.

(APPLAUSE)

I want to thank Greg Hayes of United Technologies, because when I called him he was right there. I wish I could have made the call when they were doing their original decision, but it worked out just as well, other than I would have liked to have had an answer a year and a half ago.

We had a tremendous love affair with the state of Indiana. Because if you remember during the primaries, this was going to be the firewall. This was where they were going to stop Trump, right? And that didn’t work out too well.

TRUMP: And it was a firewall — for me it was a firewall. And we won by 16 points, and the election we just won by 20 points — almost 20 points.

(APPLAUSE)

And that was some victory. That’s pretty — that’s pretty great. And I just love the people, incredible people.

So, I got involved because of the love affair I’ve had. This has been a very special state to us. And I’ll never forget, about a week ago I was watching the nightly news. I won’t say which one, because I don’t want to give them credit, because I don’t like them much, I’ll be honest.

(LAUGHTER)

I don’t like them. Not even a little bit.

But they were doing a story on Carrier, and I say, “Wow, that’s something. I want to see that.”

And they had a gentleman, worker, great guy, handsome guy, he was on, and it was like he didn’t even know they were leaving. He said something to the effect, “No, we’re not leaving, because Donald Trump promised us that we’re not leaving,” and I never thought I made that promise. Not with Carrier. I made it for everybody else. I didn’t make it really for Carrier.

And I said, “What’s he saying?” And he was such a believer, and he was such a great guy. He said, “I’ve been with Donald Trump from the beginning, and he made the statement that Carrier’s not going anywhere, they’re not leaving.”

And I’m saying to myself, “Man.”

And then they played my statement, and I said, “Carrier will never leave.” But that was a euphemism. I was talking about Carrier like all other companies from here on in. Because they made the decision a year and a half ago.

But he believed that that was — and I could understand it. I actually said — I didn’t make it — when they played that, I said, “I did make it, but I didn’t mean it quite that way.”

So now because of him, whoever that guy was — is he in the room, by any chance? That’s your son? Stand up, you did a good job.

(APPLAUSE)

You did a great job, right? That’s fantastic. And I love your shirt.

Oh, wow.

(LAUGHTER)

Put it on, cameras, go ahead. Put it on.

Well, your son is great. And he meant that, didn’t he? He really meant it.

At first I said, “I wonder if he’s being sarcastic, because this ship has sailed.” And then I said — it was 6:30 in the evening, and I said, “Boy, the first thing I’m going to do is go there and — say do I call the head of Carrier,” who’s a great guy, but I’ve always learned I’ve got to call the top, and I heard about Greg Hayes. He’s a great executive.

You know, I don’t know if you know, United Technologies is one of the top 50 companies in the United States, and one of the top companies anywhere in the world. They make many other things other than air conditioners, believe me. Their list of companies is incredible.

So I called Greg Hayes. I heard of him, but I never met him. And he picked up the phone, “Mr. President-elect, sir, how are you?” It’s wonderful to win. You know that. Think if I lost he wouldn’t have returned my call. I don’t know if — where is Greg?

I don’t know, would you — if I lost and called you I don’t think you would have called. I would have tried for you, but I think it would have been tougher, right? What do you think, Greg?

Yes, he’s sort of nodding yes, you’re right.

(LAUGHTER)

But I called Greg and I said, “It’s really important, we have to do something. Because you have a lot of people leaving and you have to understand, we can’t allow this to happen anymore with our country. So many jobs are leaving and going to other countries. Not just Mexico, many, many countries. And China is making so much of our product that we’re closing up a lot of plants.”

And I mean, I wrote down some numbers that are incredible, but the numbers of manufacturing jobs that are lost, especially in the Rust Belt — and the Rust Belt is so incredible. But we’re losing companies, it’s — it’s unbelievable, one after another, just one after another.

So I said, “Greg, you’ve got to help us out here. We got to sit down. We got to do something.” And I said, “Because we just can’t let it happen.”

Anyway, he was incredible. And he said, “I understand.” And I said, “I wish I made this call a year and a half ago, it would have been a lot easier call.”

Only because of your son, OK, believe me? Your son, whoever the hell your son is, these people owe him a lot. And I just went through — he’s out in the factory. I thought they were all going to be in this room. This room’s not big enough.

(UNKNOWN): (OFF-MIKE)

TRUMP: Yes, I know. I don’t know who arranged that one. Because I had — we just visited a thousand people in the factory that are going wild, in the plant.

TRUMP: But I will tell you that United Technologies and Carrier stepped it up and now they’re keeping — actually the number’s over 1,100 people, which is so great, which is so great (ph).

(APPLAUSE)

And I see the people. I shook hands with a lot of the people. They’re right behind us working. I guess, what is it, you’re so — you’re making so many air conditioners you didn’t want to even have them come off for a half hour. He’s a ruthless boss. He’s ruthless. But that’s OK.

You know, I did say one thing to the Carrier folks and to the United Technologies folks. I said, the goodwill that you have engendered by doing this, all over the world, frankly, but within our country, you watch how fast you’re going to make it up. Because so many people are going to be buying Carrier air conditioners. You know, we’ve had such help here.

Bobby Knight, nobody in Indiana ever heard of Bobby Knight. How great is Bobby Knight?

(APPLAUSE)

Lou Holtz, Gene Keady, we had such incredible support.

But I’ll never forget, a friend of mine called up and said during the primaries, he said, you know, if you could get Coach Knight. And I said, you know, Coach Knight called me a year ago. This was a year before I decided to run. He said, if you ever run, I’m supporting you.

I said, thanks, Coach, I just don’t know if I’m going to be doing it.

And then, when he said, if you could get Coach Knight — I’ll tell you, I got Coach Knight. How good was Bobby Knight as far as we’re concerned in Indiana? Is that right?

(APPLAUSE)

We got Bobby Knight. Nine hundred wins, two championships, right? Two, or three championships, Olympic gold medal, Pan Am Games. But — and he was unbelievable. He wouldn’t stop. He was just going all over. He was the greatest guy. We came into an arena, Greg, and we had 16,000 people inside, outside. We had I think 10,000 outside. It was…

And I left. This was three weeks before the primary, and I left. I said, how are we going to lose Indiana with this? I didn’t think we were going to lose, and we didn’t. We won big. But so I want to thank all of those folks because it really helped with Indiana, and with a lot of other cases.

So, United Technologies has stepped up. And I have to say this, they did it in such a nice and such a professional way. And they’re going to spend so much money on renovating this plant. And I said, Greg, say that number. You know, he said $16 million. Well, the minimum number is 16. It’s going to be, in my opinion, a lot more than that. He said, well, I’d rather say the lower number. See, I’d rather have him say the higher number, so I won’t say it. OK? It’s just a difference in philosophy. Do you agree? Both are OK, but a difference in philosophy.

But they’re going to spend more than 16. They’re going to spend a lot of money on the plant. And I said to some of the folks, I said, companies are not going to leave the United States any more without consequences. Not going to happen. It’s not going to happen, I’ll tell you right now.

(APPLAUSE)

We’re losing our — we’re losing so much.

So one of the things we’re doing to keep them is we’re going to lowering our business tax from 35 percent, hopefully down to 15 percent, which would take us from the highest-taxed national virtually in the world — this is terrible for business — to one of the lower taxed. Not the lowest yet, but one of the lower taxed.

The other thing we’re doing is regulations. The regulations are — in fact, if I asked Greg and your folks, you would probably say regulations might be worse for you than even the high taxes, which is the biggest surprise of the whole political experience. I thought taxes would be number one. Regulations would be up there some place. Believe me, these great leaders of industry, and even the small business people who are just being crushed, if they have their choice between lower taxes and a major, massive cutting of regulations, they would take the regulations. I don’t know how you feel about that, Greg.

But I just noticed — I wrote down because I heard it — since about six years ago, 260 new federal regulations have passed, 53 of which affect this plant. Fifty-tree new regulations. Massively expensive and probably none of them amount to anything in terms of safety or the things that you’d have regulations for. Six of eight of the air conditioning companies right now are located in Mexico, six of eight. I mean, think of that. And 80 percent of the supply chain for Mexico — 80 percent — is located in Mexico. And we’re not going to have it any more. So, we’re not going to have it any more.

And we like Mexico. We think it’s wonderful. I was there three months ago with the president of Mexico. Terrific guy. But we have to have a fair shake. We’re not getting anything. We have NAFTA, which is a total and complete disaster. It’s a total and complete disaster.

(APPLAUSE)

It’s a one-lane highway into Mexico. Nothing coming our way, everything going their way. And I don’t have to mention who signed it anymore, it’s so nice. I don’t have to mention who backed it anymore, right? We don’t have to mention that anymore, fortunately.

TRUMP: But it’s a one-way street. And it’s going to be changed. It’s going to be changed. We have to bring our jobs back. And when they expand — one of the things that made me so happy is when Greg said that they have over 10,000 jobs that they’re going to be producing in the very near future, and now he’s looking to the United States instead of outside of the United States, where almost all of those jobs would have gone.

So, one of the reasons I wanted to do this particular conference is it’s so great. So many people in the other — that big, big beautiful plant behind us, which will be even more beautiful in about seven months from now. They’re so happy. They’re going to have a great Christmas. That’s most important.

But also, I just want to let all of the other companies know that we’re going to do great things for business. There’s no reason for them to leave anymore because your taxes are going to be at the very, very low end, and your unnecessary regulations are going to be gone.

We need regulations for safety and environment and things. But most of the regulations are nonsense — become a major industry, the writing of regulations. And that these companies aren’t going to be leaving anymore. They’re not going to be taking people’s hearts out. They’re not going to be announcing, like they did at Carrier, that they’re closing up and they’re moving to Mexico — over 1,100 jobs.

And by the way, that number is going to go up very substantially as they expand this area, this plant. So the 1,100 is going to be a minimum number.

So I just want to thank everybody and specifically I just have to thank the people that I met backstage — incredible people — the spirit, the love. People are crying. I mean, they’re all crying. And it’s taken us a little while, but think of this. I don’t think we even announced we were running when this deal was originally announced.

And in the end, what happened is — because that makes it much more difficult. I mean, it’s hard to negotiate when the plant is built. You know what Greg said? Greg said, “But, you know, the plant is almost built, right?” I said, “Greg, I don’t care; it doesn’t make any difference; don’t worry about it.” “What are we going to do with the plant?” “Rent it; sell it; knock it down. I don’t care.”

But we’re going to do — and they’re going to do fine with their plant. I don’t know if they’re going to be able to do with an American company, but we’ll figure that out.

(APPLAUSE)

But where we’re starting is from a much easier place. That’s hard, a year-and-a-half-ago they make an announcement. And, you know, all of that work is done. Which is why I have such respect. I would say great business people, they have flexibility. You know, if you’re hardline, “Well, we’re not going to move.” Flexibility. That’s why they’ve done so well over the years. That’s why it’s a great company because they have flexibility.

But we’re not going to need so much flexibility for other companies because we are going to have a situation where they’re going to know, number one, we’re going to treat them well. And number two, there will be consequences, meaning they will be taxed very heavily at the border if they want to leave, fire all their people, leave, make product in different companies — in different countries, and then think they’re going to sell that product over the border.

Which, by the way, will be a very strong border, a very strong border. Believe me.

(APPLAUSE)

And I think companies — oh, we’re going to build the wall. People are saying: Do you think Trump’s going to build the wall? Trust me, we’re going to build a wall. And by the way, people are going to come through that wall. We’re going to have doors in that wall, but they’re going to come through legally.

And people are going to come through on worker permits to work the fields. We’re going to have people — a lot of people are going to come through. But it’s going to be done through a legal process.

(APPLAUSE)

But one thing that’s not going to come through is drugs — the drugs are going to stop.

(APPLAUSE)

The drugs are going to stop.

So, I just want to thank all of the people at United Technologies, most particularly you, because you are fantastic, Greg. I want to thank, and I want you to tell me how much — how many air conditioning units you sold in the last six months from today, because I want to say I think it’s going to be a number that even will surprise your folks because of the tremendous goodwill that you’ve created.

I want to thank all of the workers at this plant, all of the Carrier workers most importantly.

(APPLAUSE) I want to thank my great, great vice president-elect. Because, I’ll tell you what, one of the really good decisions — but I want to thank Mike. And we’re going to be doing this. And if I have to tell you, you know, doing speeches, I’d say — they say it’s not presidential to call up these massive leaders of business. I think it’s very presidential. And if it’s not presidential, that’s OK. That’s OK. Because I actually like doing it.

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: But we’re going to have a lot of great people that can also do it, and do it as well as I do it. But we’re going to have a lot of phone calls made to companies when they say they’re thinking about leaving this country, because they’re not leaving this country. They’re not going to leave this country. And the workers are going to keep their jobs.

And they can leave from state to state, and they can negotiate good deals with the different states, and all of that. But leaving the country is going to be very, very difficult.

So, I want to thank everybody. We love you folks. I want to really, really thank the people of Indiana. We had two massive victories in a very, very short period of time.

And all of the workers have a great, great Christmas and a fantastic New Year. Thank you very much, everybody. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you very much.

(APPLAUSE)

END

Full Text Campaign Buzz 2016 September 3, 2016: GOP Nominee Donald Trump’s speech to African American Church in Detroit Transcript

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

2016 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN:

Donald Trump’s speech to African American Church in Detroit

Full Text Campaign Buzz 2016 August 8, 2016: Donald Trump’s speech outlining his economic plan in Detroit transcript

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

2016 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN:

Donald Trump’s speech outlining his economic plan in Detroit

Source: Politico, 8-8-16

Thank you for the invitation to speak to you today. It’s wonderful to be in Detroit. We now begin a great national conversation about economic renewal for America. It’s a conversation about how to Make American Great Again for everyone, and especially those who have the very least.

The City of Detroit Is Where Our Story Begins.

Detroit was once the economic envy of the world. The people of Detroit helped power America to its position of global dominance in the 20th century. When we were governed by an America First policy, Detroit was booming. Engineers, builders, laborers, shippers and countless others went to work each day, provided for their families, and lived out the American Dream. But for many living in this city, that dream has long ago vanished. When we abandoned the policy of America First, we started rebuilding other countries instead of our own. The skyscrapers went up in Beijing, and in many other cities around the world, while the factories and neighborhoods crumbled in Detroit. Our roads and bridges fell into disrepair, yet we found the money to resettle millions of refugees at taxpayer expense.

Today, Detroit has a per capita income of under $15,000 dollars, about half of the national average. 40 percent of the city’s residents live in poverty, over two and half times the national average. The unemployment rate is more than twice the national average. Half of all Detroit residents do not work.
Detroit tops the list of Most Dangerous Cities in terms of violent crime – these are the silenced victims whose stories are never told by Hillary Clinton, but victims whose suffering is no less real or permanent.

In short, the city of Detroit is the living, breathing example of my opponent’s failed economic agenda. Every policy that has failed this city, and so many others, is a policy supported by Hillary Clinton. She supports the high taxes and radical regulation that forced jobs out of your community…and the crime policies that have made you less safe…and the immigration policies that have strained local budgets…and the trade deals like NAFTA, signed by her husband, that have shipped your jobs to Mexico and other countries… and she supports the education policies that deny your students choice, freedom and opportunity. She is the candidate of the past. Ours is the campaign of the future.

As part of this new future, we will also be rolling out Proposals to increase choice and reduce cost in childcare, offering much needed relief to American families. I will unveil my plan on this in the coming weeks that I have been working on with my daughter Ivanka and an incredible team of experts. Likewise, our education reforms will help parents send their kids to a school of their choice. We will also give our police and law enforcement the funds and support they need to restore law and order to this country. Without security, there can be no prosperity.We must have law and order. In the coming days, we will be rolling out plans on all of these items. One of my first acts as President will be to repeal and replace disastrous Obamacare, saving another 2 million American jobs.
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We will also rebuild our military, and get our allies to pay their fair share for the protection we provide saving us countless more billions to invest in our own country. We also have a plan, on our website, for a complete reform of the Veterans Health Administration. This is something so desperately needed to make sure our vets are fully supported and get the care they deserve.

Detroit – the Motor City -will come roaring back. We will offer a new future, not the same old failed Policies of the past. Our party has chosen to make new history by selecting a nominee from outside the rigged and corrupt system. The other party has reached backwards into the past to choose a nominee from yesterday – who offers only the rhetoric of yesterday, and the policies of yesterday. There will be no change under Hillary Clinton– only four more years of Obama.

But we are going to look boldly into the future. We will build the next generation of roads, bridges, railways, tunnels, sea ports and airports that our country deserves. American cars will travel the roads, American planes will connect our cities, and American ships will patrol the seas. American steel will send new skyscrapers soaring. We will put new American metal into the spine of this nation. It will be American hands that rebuild this country, and it will be American energy -mined from American sources – that powers this country. It will be American workers who are hired to do the job. Americanism, not globalism, will be our new credo. Our country will reach amazing new heights. All we have to do is stop relying on the tired voices of the past. We can’t fix a rigged system by relying on the people who rigged it in the first place.

We can’t solve our problems by relying on the politicians who created them. Only by changing to new leadership, and new solutions, will we get new results. We need to stop believing in politicians, and start believing in America. Before everything great that has ever happened, the doubters have always said it couldn’t be done.America is ready to prove the doubters wrong.

They want you to think small. I am asking you to think big. We are ready to dream great things for our country once again. We are ready to show the world that America is Back — Bigger, and Better and Stronger Than Ever Before.

Thank you, and God Bless You.

Full Text Campaign Buzz 2016 June 28, 2016: Donald Trump’s trade and jobs plan speech transcript

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

2016 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN:

Donald Trump’s trade and jobs plan speech

Source: Politico, 6-28-16

Declaring America’s Economic Independence

It is great to be here. I’d like to thank Alumisource and all the amazing workers here for hosting us.

Today, I am going to talk about how to Make America Wealthy Again.

We are thirty miles from Steel City. Pittsburgh played a central role in building our nation.

The legacy of Pennsylvania steelworkers lives in the bridges, railways and skyscrapers that make up our great American landscape.

But our workers’ loyalty was repaid with betrayal.

Our politicians have aggressively pursued a policy of globalization – moving our jobs, our wealth and our factories to Mexico and overseas.

Globalization has made the financial elite who donate to politicians very wealthy. But it has left millions of our workers with nothing but poverty and heartache.

When subsidized foreign steel is dumped into our markets, threatening our factories, the politicians do nothing.

For years, they watched on the sidelines as our jobs vanished and our communities were plunged into depression-level unemployment.

Many of these areas have still never recovered.

Our politicians took away from the people their means of making a living and supporting their families.

Skilled craftsmen and tradespeople and factory workers have seen the jobs they loved shipped thousands of miles away.

Many Pennsylvania towns once thriving and humming are now in a state despair.

This wave of globalization has wiped out our middle class.

It doesn’t have to be this way. We can turn it all around – and we can turn it around fast.

But if we’re going to deliver real change, we’re going to have to reject the campaign of fear and intimidation being pushed by powerful corporations, media elites, and political dynasties.

The people who rigged the system for their benefit will do anything – and say anything – to keep things exactly as they are.

The people who rigged the system are supporting Hillary Clinton because they know as long as she is in charge nothing will ever change.

The inner cities will remain poor.

The factories will remain closed.

The borders will remain open.

The special interests will remain firmly in control.

Hillary Clinton and her friends in global finance want to scare America into thinking small – and they want to scare the American people out of voting for a better future.

My campaign has the opposite message.

I want you to imagine how much better your life can be if we start believing in America again.

I want you to imagine how much better our future can be if we declare independence from the elites who’ve led us to one financial and foreign policy disaster after another.

Our friends in Britain recently voted to take back control of their economy, politics and borders.

I was on the right side of that issue – with the people – while Hillary, as always, stood with the elites, and both she and president Obama predicted that one wrong.

Now it’s time for the American people to take back their future.

That’s the choice we face. We can either give in to Hillary Clinton’s campaign of fear, or we can choose to Believe In America.

We lost our way when we stopped believing in our country.

America became the world’s dominant economy by becoming the world’s dominant producer.

The wealth this created was shared broadly, creating the biggest middle class the world had ever known.

But then America changed its policy from promoting development in America, to promoting development in other nations.

We allowed foreign countries to subsidize their goods, devalue their currencies, violate their agreements, and cheat in every way imaginable.

Trillions of our dollars and millions of our jobs flowed overseas as a result.

I have visited cities and towns across this country where a third or even half of manufacturing jobs have been wiped out in the last 20 years.

Today, we import nearly $800 billion more in goods than we export.

This is not some natural disaster. It is politician-made disaster.

It is the consequence of a leadership class that worships globalism over Americanism.

This is a direct affront to our Founding Fathers, who wanted America to be strong, independent and free.

Our Founding Fathers Understood Trade

George Washington said that “the promotion of domestic manufactur[ing] will be among the first consequences to flow from an energetic government.”

Alexander Hamilton spoke frequently of the “expediency of encouraging manufactur[ing] in the United States.” The first Republican President, Abraham Lincoln, warned that: “The abandonment of the protective policy by the American government… must produce want and ruin among our people.”

Our original Constitution did not even have an income tax. Instead, it had tariffs – emphasizing taxation of foreign, not domestic, production.

Yet today, 240 years after the Revolution, we have turned things completely upside-down.

We tax and regulate and restrict our companies to death, then we allow foreign countries that cheat to export their goods to us tax-free.

As a result, we have become more dependent on foreign countries than ever before.

Ladies and Gentlemen, it’s time to declare our economic independence once again.

That means reversing two of the worst legacies of the Clinton years.

America has lost nearly one-third of its manufacturing jobs since 1997 – even as the country has increased its population by 50 million people.

At the center of this catastrophe are two trade deals pushed by Bill and Hillary Clinton.

First, the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA. Second, China’s entry into the World Trade Organization.

NAFTA was the worst trade deal in history, and China’s entrance into the World Trade Organization has enabled the greatest jobs theft in history.

It was Bill Clinton who signed NAFTA in 1993, and Hillary Clinton who supported it.

It was also Bill Clinton who lobbied for China’s disastrous entry into the World Trade Organization, and Hillary Clinton who backed that terrible agreement.

Then, as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton stood by idly while China cheated on its currency, added another trillion dollars to our trade deficits, and stole hundreds of billions of dollars in our intellectual property.

The city of Pittsburgh, and the State of Pennsylvania, have lost one-third of their manufacturing jobs since the Clintons put China into the WTO.

Fifty thousand factories across America have shut their doors in that time.

Almost half of our entire manufacturing trade deficit in goods with the world is the result of trade with China.

It was also Hillary Clinton, as Secretary of State, who shoved us into a job-killing deal with South Korea in 2012.

As reported by the Economic Policy Institute in May, this deal doubled our trade deficit with South Korea and destroyed nearly 100,000 American jobs.

As Bernie Sanders said, Hillary Clinton “Voted for virtually every trade agreement that has cost the workers of this country millions of jobs.”

Trade reform, and the negotiation of great trade deals, is the quickest way to bring our jobs back.

To understand why trade reform creates jobs, we need to understand how all nations grow and prosper.

Massive trade deficits subtract directly from our Gross Domestic Product.

From 1947 to 2001 – a span of over five decades – our inflation-adjusted gross domestic product grew at a rate of 3.5%.

However, since 2002 – the year after we fully opened our markets to Chinese imports – that GDP growth rate has been cut almost in half.

What does this mean for Americans? For every one percent of GDP growth we fail to generate in any given year, we also fail to create over one million jobs.

America’s “job creation deficit” due to slower growth since 2002 is well over 20 million jobs – and that’s just about the number of jobs our country needs right now to put America back to work at decent wages.

The Transpacific-Partnership is the greatest danger yet.

The TPP would be the death blow for American manufacturing.

It would give up all of our economic leverage to an international commission that would put the interests of foreign countries above our own.

It would further open our markets to aggressive currency cheaters. It would make it easier for our trading competitors to ship cheap subsidized goods into U.S. markets – while allowing foreign countries to continue putting barriers in front of our exports.

The TPP would lower tariffs on foreign cars, while leaving in place the foreign practices that keep American cars from being sold overseas. The TPP even created a backdoor for China to supply car parts for automobiles made in Mexico.

The agreement would also force American workers to compete directly against workers from Vietnam, one of the lowest wage countries on Earth.

Not only will the TPP undermine our economy, but it will undermine our independence.

The TPP creates a new international commission that makes decisions the American people can’t veto.

These commissions are great Hillary Clinton’s Wall Street funders who can spend vast amounts of money to influence the outcomes.

It should be no surprise then that Hillary Clinton, according to Bloomberg, took a “leading part in drafting the Trans-Pacific Partnership”.

She praised or pushed the TPP on 45 separate occasions, and even called it the “gold standard”.

Hillary Clinton was totally for the TPP just a short while ago, but when she saw my stance, which is totally against, she was shamed into saying she would be against it too – but have no doubt, she will immediately approve it if it is put before her, guaranteed.

She will do this just as she has betrayed American workers for Wall Street throughout her career.

Here’s how it would go: she would make a small token change, declare the pact fixed, and ram it through.

That’s why Hillary is now only saying she has problems with the TPP “in its current form,” – ensuring that she can rush to embrace it again at her earliest opportunity.

If the media doesn’t believe me, I have a challenge for you. Ask Hillary Clinton if she is willing to withdraw from the TPP her first day in office and unconditionally rule out its passage in any form.

There is no way to “fix” the TPP. We need bilateral trade deals. We do not need to enter into another massive international agreement that ties us up and binds us down.

A Trump Administration will change our failed trade policy – quickly

Here are 7 steps I would pursue right away to bring back our jobs.

One: I am going to withdraw the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which has not yet been ratified.

Two: I’m going to appoint the toughest and smartest trade negotiators to fight on behalf of American workers.

Three: I’m going to direct the Secretary of Commerce to identify every violation of trade agreements a foreign country is currently using to harm our workers. I will then direct all appropriate agencies to use every tool under American and international law to end these abuses.

Four: I’m going tell our NAFTA partners that I intend to immediately renegotiate the terms of that agreement to get a better deal for our workers. And I don’t mean just a little bit better, I mean a lot better. If they do not agree to a renegotiation, then I will submit notice under Article 2205 of the NAFTA agreement that America intends to withdraw from the deal.

Five: I am going to instruct my Treasury Secretary to label China a currency manipulator. Any country that devalues their currency in order to take advantage of the United States will be met with sharply

Six: I am going to instruct the U.S. Trade Representative to bring trade cases against China, both in this country and at the WTO. China’s unfair subsidy behavior is prohibited by the terms of its entrance to the WTO, and I intend to enforce those rules.

Seven: If China does not stop its illegal activities, including its theft of American trade secrets, I will use every lawful presidential power to remedy trade disputes, including the application of tariffs consistent with Section 201 and 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 and Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962.

President Reagan deployed similar trade measures when motorcycle and semiconductor imports threatened U.S. industry. His tariff on Japanese motorcycles was 45% and his tariff to shield America’s semiconductor industry was 100%.

Hillary Clinton, and her campaign of fear, will try to spread the lie that these actions will start a trade war. She has it completely backwards.

Hillary Clinton unleashed a trade war against the American worker when she supported one terrible trade deal after another – from NAFTA to China to South Korea.

A Trump Administration will end that war by getting a fair deal for the American people.

The era of economic surrender will finally be over.

A new era of prosperity will finally begin.

America will be independent once more.

Under a Trump Presidency, the American worker will finally have a President who will protect them and fight for them.

We will stand up to trade cheating anywhere and everywhere it threatens an American job.

We will make America the best place in the world to start a business, hire workers, and open a factory.

This includes massive tax reform to lift the crushing burdens on American workers and businesses.

We will also get rid of wasteful rules and regulations which are destroying our job creation capacity.

Many people think that these regulations are an even greater impediment than the fact that we are one of the highest taxed nations in the world.

We are also going to fully capture America’s tremendous energy capacity. This will create vast profits for our workers and begin reducing our deficit. Hillary Clinton wants to shut down energy production and shut down the mines.

A Trump Administration will also ensure that we start using American steel for American infrastructure.

Just like the American steel from Pennsylvania that built the Empire State building.

It will be American steel that will fortify American’s crumbling bridges.

It will be American steel that sends our skyscrapers soaring into the sky.

It will be American steel that rebuilds our inner cities.

It will be American hands that remake this country, and it will be American energy – mined from American resources – that powers this country.

It will be American workers who are hired to do the job.

We are going to put American-produced steel back into the backbone of our country. This alone will create massive numbers of jobs.

On trade, on immigration, on foreign policy, we are going to put America First again.

We are going to make America wealthy again.

We are going to reject Hillary Clinton’s politics of fear, futility, and incompetence.

We are going to embrace the possibilities of change.

It is time to believe in the future.

It is time to believe in each other.

It is time to Believe In America.

This Is How We Are Going To Make America Great Again – For All Americans.

We Are Going To Make America Great Again For Everyone – Greater Than Ever Before.

Thank you.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2016/06/full-transcript-trump-job-plan-speech-224891#ixzz4D4zDJWJu
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Full Text Political Transcripts June 1, 2016: President Barack Obama’s remarks on the Economy in Elkhart, Indiana

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President on the Economy

Source:  WH, 6-1-16 

Concord Community High School
Elkhart, Indiana

3:30 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, everybody!  (Applause.)  Hello, hello!  (Applause.)  Can everybody please give Kelly a round of applause for the great introduction?  (Applause.)

It is good to be back in Elkhart.  (Applause.)  Great to be back at Concord High School.  (Applause.)  Go Minutemen!  I brought a couple friends of with me — your Senator, Joe Donnelly, is here.  (Applause.)  Your Mayor, Tim Neese, is here.  (Applause.)  I wanted to congratulate everyone graduating tomorrow.  (Applause.)  I just met a couple of the valedictorians, who seem like outstanding young ladies.  My older daughter, Malia, graduates next week.  (Applause.)  So if there are any parents here, I hope you can give me some pointers on how not to cry too much at the ceremony and embarrass her.  (Laughter.)

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Carry some tissues!

THE PRESIDENT:  That’s what I’m going to do!  (Applause.)  If you’ve got a chair, sit down.  Relax.  I’m going to — I’ve got some stuff to say here.  (Applause.)

So I’m not going to talk about the fact that my daughter leaving me is just breaking my heart.  I’m not here to talk about that.  I’m here to talk about the economy.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but this is an election year.  (Laughter.)  And it’s a more colorful election season than most.  It’s been a little unusual.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  One more term!

THE PRESIDENT:  No, I can’t do that.  (Laughter.)  The Constitution prohibits it, but, more importantly, Michelle prohibits it.  (Laughter.)

Now, one of the reasons we’re told this has been an unusual election year is because people are anxious and uncertain about the economy.  And our politics are a natural place to channel that frustration.  So I wanted to come to the heartland, to the Midwest, back to close to my hometown to talk about that anxiety, that economic anxiety, and what I think it means.  And what I’ve got to say really boils down to two points — although I’m going to take a long time making these two points.  (Laughter.)

Number one:  America’s economy is not just better than it was eight years ago — it is the strongest, most durable economy in the world.  That’s point number one.  (Applause.)

Point number two:  We can make it even stronger, and expand opportunity for even more people.  But to do that, we have to be honest about what our real challenges are, and we’ve got to make some smart decisions going forward.

Now, Elkhart is a good place to have this conversation, because some of you remember this was the first city I visited as President.  (Applause.)  I had been in office just three weeks when I came here.  We were just a few months into what turned out to be the worst economic crisis of our lifetimes.  Our businesses were losing 800,000 jobs a month.  Our auto industry was about to go under.  Our families were losing their savings and their health insurance, and, as Kelly pointed out, they were in danger of losing their homes.  And Elkhart was hit harder than most.  Unemployment here would peak at 19.6 percent.  That means nearly one in five people here were out of work.  And I told you then that I was going to have your back, and we were going to work hard to bring this economy back.  (Applause.)

So what’s happened since then?  Unemployment in Elkhart has fallen to around 4 percent.  (Applause.)  At the peak of the crisis, nearly one in 10 homeowners in the state of Indiana were either behind on their mortgages or in foreclosure; today, it’s one in 30.  Back then, only 75 percent of your kids graduated from high school; tomorrow, 90 percent of them will.  (Applause.)  The auto industry just had its best year ever.  And the “RV Capital of the World” is doing its part — the industry is set to ship nearly 400,000 RVs this year, which will be an all-time record.  (Applause.)

So that’s progress.  And it’s thanks to you — to the hard work you put in and the sacrifices you made for your families, and the way that you looked out for each other.  But we also wouldn’t have come this far — Elkhart would not have come this far — if we hadn’t made a series of smart decisions, my administration, a cooperative Congress — decisions we made together early on in my administration.

We decided to help the auto industry restructure, and we helped families refinance their homes.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Yes, you did!  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  We decided to invest in job training so that folks who lost their jobs could retool.  We decided to invest in things like high-tech manufacturing and clean energy and infrastructure, so that entrepreneurs wouldn’t just bring back the jobs that we had lost, but create new and better jobs, and folks who had lost work from the construction industry because the housing market had collapsed could go back to work rebuilding America.

And we can see the results not just here in Elkhart, but across the nation.  By almost every economic measure, America is better off than when I came here at the beginning of my presidency.  That’s the truth.  That’s true.  (Applause.)  It’s true.  (Applause.)  Over the past six years, our businesses have created more than 14 million new jobs — that’s the longest stretch of consecutive private sector job growth in our history.  We’ve seen the first sustained manufacturing growth since the 1990s.  We cut unemployment in half, years before a lot of economists thought we would.  We’ve cut the oil that we buy from foreign countries by more than half, doubled the clean energy that we produce.  For the first time ever, more than 90 percent of the country has health insurance.  (Applause.)

In fact, a poll that was out just last week says that two out of three Americans think their own family’s financial situation is in pretty good shape.  But we know a lot of people are still feeling stressed about their economic future.  The pundits, they say one of the reasons the Republican Party has picked the candidate that it has —

AUDIENCE:  Booo —

THE PRESIDENT:  No booing.  We’re voting, we’re not booing.
(Applause.)  But if you watch the talking heads on TV, they all say, the reason that folks are angry is because nobody has paid enough attention to the plight of working Americans in communities like these.  That’s what they say.

Now, look, I’m the first to admit my presidency hasn’t fixed everything.  We’ve had setbacks.  We’ve had false starts.  We’ve, frankly, been stuck with a Congress recently that’s opposed pretty much everything that we’ve tried to do.  But I also know that I’ve spent every single day of my presidency focused on what I can do to grow the middle class and increase jobs, and boost wages, and make sure every kid in America gets the same kind of opportunities Michelle and I did.  (Applause.)  I know that.  I know that communities like Elkhart haven’t been forgotten in my White House.  And the results prove that our focus has paid off.  Elkhart proves it.

Now, where we haven’t finished the job, where folks have good reason to feel anxious, is addressing some of the longer-term trends in the economy — that started long before I was elected — that make working families feel less secure.  These are trends that have been happening for decades now and that we’ve got to do more to reverse.  Let me be clear about what those are.

Despite the drop in unemployment, wages are still growing too slowly, and that makes it harder to pay for college or save for retirement.  (Applause.)  Inequality is still too high.  The gap between rich and poor is bigger now than it’s been just about any time since the 1920s.  The rise of global competition and automation of more and more jobs; the race of technology — all these trends have left many workers behind, and they’ve let a few at the top collect extraordinary wealth and influence like never before.  And that kind of changes our politics.  So all these trends make it easy for people to feel that somehow the system is rigged and that the American Dream is increasingly hard to reach for ordinary folks.  And there are plenty of politicians that are preying on that frustration for headlines and for votes.

Now, I am a politician for another six months or so — (applause) — but I’m not running again.

AUDIENCE:  Aww —

THE PRESIDENT:  Yes.  (Laughter.)  Besides, while I may have won the state of Indiana just barely in 2008 — (applause) — I know I lost the vote in Elkhart.  (Laughter.)  I definitely got whooped here in 2012.  I know I don’t poll all that well in this county.  So I’m not here looking for votes.

I am here because I care deeply, as a citizen, about making sure we sustain and build on all the work that communities like yours have done to bring America back over these last seven and a half years.  And I came here precisely because this county votes Republican.  That’s one of the reasons I came here.  Because if the economy is really what’s driving this election, then it’s going to be voters like you that have to decide between two very different visions of what’s going to help strengthen our middle class.  (Applause.)  And you’re going to have to make that decision.

So let me be as straight as I can be about the choice of economic policies that you are going to face.  And I’m going to start with the story that not every Republican but most Republican candidates up and down the ticket are telling.  And it goes something like this — and I think this is pretty fair, and if you don’t, then you can look it up.  So their basic story is:  America’s working class, America’s middle class — families like yours — have been victimized by a big, bloated federal government run by a bunch of left-wing elitists like me.  And the government is taking your hard-earned tax dollars and it’s giving them to freeloaders and welfare cheats.  And we’re strangling business with endless regulations.  And this federal government is letting immigrants and foreigners steal whatever jobs Obamacare hasn’t killed yet.  (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT:  No, no, look, I’m being serious here.  I mean, that’s the story that’s been told.  And I haven’t turned on Fox News or listened to conservative talk radio yet today, but I’ve turned them on enough over these past seven and a half years to know I’m not exaggerating in terms of their story. That’s the story they tell.  You can hear it from just about every member of Congress on the other side of the aisle.  And instead of telling you what they’re for, they’ve defined their economic agenda by what they’re against — and that’s mainly being against me.  And their basic message is anti-government, anti-immigrant, anti-trade, and, let’s face it, it’s anti-change.

And look, a lot of people believe it.  And if what they were saying were true, I suppose it would make sense to run on a platform of just rolling back everything we’ve done over these past seven and a half years, and happy days would be here again.  If what they were saying was true, then just being against whatever it is that we’ve done might make sense.  But what they’re saying isn’t true.  And if we’re going to fix what’s really wrong with the economy, we’ve got to understand that.

So let me just do some quick myth-busting.  And I’m going to start with the biggest myth, which is that the federal government keeps growing and growing and growing, and wasting your money and giving your tax dollars to people who don’t deserve it.

Now, here’s the truth — you can look it up.  These journalists here, they can do some fact-checking.  As a share of the economy, we spend less on domestic priorities outside of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid — we spend less than we did when Ronald Reagan was President.  (Applause.)  When President Reagan or George W. Bush held this job, our deficits got bigger.  When Bill Clinton and I have held this job, deficits have gotten smaller.  (Applause.)  Our deficits have not grown these past seven and a half years; we’ve actually cut the deficit by almost 75 percent.  (Applause.)

Moreover, there are fewer families on welfare than in the 1990s.  Funding has been frozen for two decades.  There’s not a whole bunch of giveaways going on right now.  Aside from our obligation to care for the elderly and Americans with disabilities, the vast majority of people who get help from the federal government are families of all backgrounds who are working, striving to get back on their feet, striving to get back into the middle class.  And sometimes, yes, their kids need temporary help from food stamps when mom and dad are between jobs.  But look, these kids didn’t cause the financial crisis.  These kids aren’t spending us into bankruptcy.  They’re not what’s holding back the middle class.  And, by the way, neither is Obamacare.  (Applause.)

Let’s look at the numbers.  Again, I just want to — I’m just giving facts here.  I will have some opinions later, but right now I’m just giving facts.  I signed the Affordable Care Act into law over six years ago.  Since then, our businesses have created jobs every single month.  We did this while covering 20 million Americans who didn’t have health insurance; ending discrimination against preexisting conditions for everybody, including those who had health insurance — (applause) — and dramatically slowing the rate in which health care costs were going up.

In the decade before Obamacare, employer-based premiums grew by an average of 8 percent a year.  That meant you were paying that much more every year for health insurance.  Last year, they grew by 4 percent — half as fast as they were growing.  That doesn’t mean you’re happy about the 4 percent, but it wasn’t 8.  Today, the average family’s health insurance premium is $2,600 less than it would have been if premiums had kept on going up at the pace before Obamacare.  (Applause.)  And, by the way, just for folks here in Indiana, last year, most Hoosiers who shopped around for Obamacare on HealthCare.gov found plans that cost 75 bucks a month or less.  For the millions of Americans who buy on HealthCare.gov, they get tax credits to help them pay for it.  The average price increase this year has been four bucks a month.  There hasn’t been a double-digit percentage hike — four bucks a month.

But my bigger point is to bust this myth of crazy liberal government spending.  Government spending is not what is squeezing the middle class.

Myth number two is the notion that my administration has killed jobs through overregulation.  Back in the ‘60s and the ‘70s, government was adding all kinds of regulations — rules protecting workers’ rights, rules protecting the environment.  And these regulations to improve public health and safety, they didn’t crush economic growth that took place back in the ‘60s and the ‘70s, and they’re not crushing economic growth now.

I’ve issued fewer regulations than my predecessor.  I’ve issued fewer executive orders than any two-term President since Ulysses S. Grant — that’s a long time ago.  (Applause.)  The regulations that we have issued — rules to protect our air and our water, rules to keep families from getting cheated when buying a house or investing their savings — those rules have benefited our economy a lot more than they’ve cost.  They’ve helped families, they’ve helped the middle class — they haven’t hurt them.

Here’s myth number three:  Other countries are killing us on trade.  Now, it is true that a lot of supporters of trade deals in the past sometimes oversold all the good that it was going to do for the economy.  The truth is, the benefits of trade are usually widely spread — it’s one of the reasons why you can buy that big, flat-screen TV for a couple hundred bucks, and why the cost of a lot of basic necessities have gone down.  Some parts of the economy, like the agricultural sector or the tech sector have really done well with trade.  Some sectors and communities have been hurt by foreign competition.

And what’s also true is sometimes the pain of a plant closing here in America is magnified when you know that other countries are cheating.  They’re keeping American goods out of their markets, they’re unfairly subsidizing their businesses to undercut our businesses.  And a lot of the worst violators, they don’t even have trade deals with us at all.

So here’s what we’ve done.  Over the past seven years, we’ve brought more trade cases against other countries for cheating than anybody else.  Every case that’s been decided, America has won.  That’s what we’ve done.  (Applause.)  Making sure that we’ve got a level playing field.

But the truth is, trade has helped our country a lot more than it’s hurt us.  Exports helped lead us out of the recession.  Companies that export pay workers higher wages than folks who don’t export.  And anybody who says that somehow shutting ourselves off from trade is going to bring jobs back, they’re just not telling the truth.

In fact, most of the manufacturing jobs that we lost over the past decade, they weren’t the result of trade deals — they were the result of technology and automation that lets businesses make more stuff with fewer workers.  If you go into an auto plant these days — used to need several thousand workers, now they need a thousand workers to produce the same number of cars just because there are robots and there are machines that have replaced a lot of the work.  That’s true in offices, too, by the way — think about bank tellers, the last time you dealt with one of those, because now you’ve got ATM machines.

So we can’t put technology back in a box any more than we can cut ourselves off from the global supply chain.  All the RVs that are manufactured right here, I guarantee you, some of those parts came from someplace else.  And then we sell them back to other parts of the world.

And no matter how many tariffs we’re threatening to slap on other countries’ goods, no matter how many trade wars we start saying we’re going to put in place, that’s not going to help middle-class families here.  In fact, independent economists say a trade war would trigger another recession and cost millions of jobs.  So when you hear somebody threatening to cut off trade and saying that that’s standing up for American workers, that’s just not true.

Here’s the fourth myth:  That immigrants are taking all of our jobs.  Now I want to look — let’s look at the numbers.  Right now, the number of people trying to cross our border illegally is near its lowest level in 40 years.  (Applause.)  It’s near its lowest level in 40 years.  It’s lower than when it was before I came into office, it’s lower than during Ronald Reagan’s time.  It’s true that new immigrants sometimes compete for service and construction jobs.  But they also start about 30 percent of all new businesses in America.  (Applause.)  Everybody thinks that immigrants come here and then they’re getting all this stuff from the government.  Immigrants pay a lot more in taxes than they receive in services.  (Applause.)

But most important, immigrants are not the main reason wages haven’t gone up for middle-class families.  Those decisions are made in the boardrooms of companies where top CEOs are getting paid more than 300 times the income of the average worker.  (Applause.)  So deporting 11 million immigrants — not only is that a fantasy that would cost taxpayers billions of dollars and tear families apart and just, logistically, would be impossible.  Even if it were possible, it wouldn’t do anything to seriously help the middle class.  Now, what would help is if we fixed our immigration system the way I’ve proposed, so that everybody plays by the rules, so that we’ve got strong border security.  But we also are making sure that families who have been here, like, 10 years, 20 years, that they’re out of the shadows, they’re paying taxes, they’re going through a background check.  That would grow our economy faster.  That would shrink our deficits further.  We just need a Congress that’s willing to make it happen.  We need a Congress that’s willing to make it happen.

So, look, here’s my main point:  The primary story that Republicans have been telling about the economy is not supported by the facts.  It’s just not.  They repeat it a lot — (laughter) — but it’s not supported by the facts.  But they say it anyway.  Now, why is that?  It’s because it has worked to get them votes, at least at the congressional level.

Because — and here, look, I’m just being blunt with you — by telling hardworking, middle-class families that the reason they’re getting squeezed is because of some moochers at the bottom of the income ladder, because of minorities, or because of immigrants, or because of public employees, or because of feminists — (laughter) — because of poor folks who aren’t willing to work, they’ve been able to promote policies that protect powerful special interests and those who are at the very top of the economic pyramid.  That’s just the truth.  (Applause.)

I hope you don’t mind me being blunt about this, but I’ve been listening to this stuff for a while now.  (Laughter.)  And I’m concerned when I watch the direction of our politics.  I mean, we have been hearing this story for decades.  Tales about welfare queens, talking about takers, talking about the “47 percent.”  It’s the story that is broadcast every day on some cable news stations, on right-wing radio, it’s pumped into cars, and bars, and VFW halls all across America, and right here in Elkhart.

And if you’re hearing that story all the time, you start believing it.  It’s no wonder people think big government is the problem.  No wonder public support for unions is so low.  (Applause.)  No wonder that people think that the deficit has gone up under my presidency when it’s actually gone down.  (Applause.)  No wonder that — they did a survey, a lot of white Americans think reverse discrimination is as big a problem as discrimination against minorities, even though black unemployment is twice as high as white unemployment.  And the typical Hispanic woman makes 55 cents for every dollar a white man earns, and there are only a handful of women running Fortune 500 companies.

But that’s the story that’s been told.  And I’m here to say, Elkhart, seven and a half years since I first came here, we’ve got to challenge the assumptions behind this economic story.  (Applause.)  And the reason is it has ended up dividing Americans who actually have common economic interests and should be working together for a better deal from the people who serve them.  And it’s made people cynical about government, and it’s kept working families from pushing our political system to actually address our economic challenges in a realistic way.  Families of all races, and all backgrounds, deserve higher wages.  Families of all races, and all backgrounds, deserve quality health care and decent retirement savings.  (Applause.)  Every child in this country deserves an education that lets them dream bigger than the circumstances in which they’re born.  (Applause.)

You know, look, in today’s economy, we can’t put up walls around America.  We’re not going to round up 11 million people.  We’re not going to put technology back in the box.  We’re not going to rip away hard-earned rights of women and minorities and Americans with disabilities so that they’re able to more fairly and fully participate in the workplace.  These are permanent fixtures in our economy.  And rolling them back will not help folks in Elkhart or anyplace else.

And if we’re going to transform our politics so that they’re actually responsive to working families and are actually growing the middle class, then we’ve got to stop pitting working Americans against one another.  We’re going to have to come together and choose a vision of America where everybody gets a fair shot, and everybody does their fair share, and everybody plays by the same set of rules.  (Applause.)  And that’s the vision that made progress possible over these last seven years.  And that’s what’s going to lead us forward now.

Now, this isn’t a State of the Union Address — I already gave my last one.  (Laughter.)  But in the time remaining, I do want to offer some suggestions that I think would actually help give everybody who works hard a fair shot at opportunity and security in today’s economy.  And you’ve heard some of these things before, but it’s worth repeating because they’re true.

Number one:  Let’s get wages rising faster.  (Applause.)  Now, here’s the good news:  Wages are actually growing at a rate of about 3 percent so far this year.  That’s the good news.  Working Americans are finally getting a little bigger piece of the pie.  But we’ve got to accelerate that.  That’s why, for example, my administration recently took new action to help millions of workers finally collect the overtime pay that they have earned.  That’s going to help.  (Applause.)  But we should also raise the minimum wage high enough so that if somebody is working full time, they’re not living in poverty.  (Applause.)   Some states, some cities have done it, but we need a national law.  We should make sure women get equal pay for equal work.  That’s something we should all agree on.  (Applause.)  That shouldn’t be a partisan issue.  Republicans have got daughters too.  They shouldn’t want them to get paid less than somebody’s boy for doing the same job.  If you care about working families getting a bigger paycheck, then that’s a clear choice for you right there.

We also need to give workers a bigger voice in the economy.  Now, one of the reasons that wages have not grown faster over the last couple of decades is because some politicians, some businesses, some laws have undermined the ability of workers to bargain for a better deal, and that needs to change.  (Applause.)  We always talk about — folks taking about the good old days.  Well, let me tell you something, in the good old days, 50 years ago, more than one in four American workers belonged to a union — one in four.  (Applause.)

The reason all those manufacturing jobs that everybody wants to get back, the reason they paid well was because folks were unionized in those plants.  (Applause.)  And they not only negotiated for good wages, but also good benefits, and they had a pension plan that they could count on.  So it used to be one in four were members of unions; today it’s about one in 10.  And it’s not a coincidence that as union membership shrank, inequality grew and wages stagnated, and workers got a smaller share of the economic pie.

So I just want everybody to remember this — a lot of those good jobs people miss, a lot of those good manufacturing jobs that everybody is always talking about, those were union jobs.  (Applause.)  And when I — it’s great to get all riled up about low wages and lousy workers standards in other countries, but let’s get riled up about that stuff here, too.  (Applause.)  America should not be changing our laws to make it harder for workers to organize, we should be changing our laws to make it easier and encourage new forms of worker organizations that can give them more of a voice and more of a say in the economy.

And by the way, I want to be clear:  There are a lot of terrific business leaders who have figured out that doing right by their workers isn’t just good for their workers, it’s good for their bottom line, because that means they’ve got more customers.  It means their communities are doing better.  (Applause.)  There are plenty of business owners right here in Elkhart who exhibited that spirit throughout the recession.  So we should lift up good corporate citizens like that so that more businesses across America follow their lead.  But that’s priority number one — getting wages to grow faster.

Priority number two:  We need to better prepare our children and our workers for the high-tech, high-wage jobs of tomorrow.  (Applause.)  Now, we actually know what works here, we just don’t do it.  We know early childhood education works.  (Applause.)  And we should invest in smart ways of doing it across the country, especially because child care costs take up a huge share of a family budget.  We know that we have to make college more affordable and job training more available.  (Applause.)  And one way to do that is to provide two years of community college for free for every responsible student.  (Applause.)  There are mayors and there are governors who are already doing good work on these issues across party lines.  They’ve shown the way.  Now we need Congress to do the same.

Number three:  One of the reasons wages grew so quickly in the ‘50s and the ‘60s and the ‘70s is because we had a government that put people to work building highways, and building bridges, and building airports, and exploring new frontiers in space and science, and investing in research and development.  And it led to countless new discoveries and innovations, and it educated a new generation of workers with public colleges where tuition was low, and a GI Bill.

And I just have to say, too often, Republicans in Congress are blocking investments like these for no other reason than this cult of small government that they keep repeating.  But you know what, it’s been a drag on the economy.  It made us recover slower than we should have.  It’s been a drag on jobs.  It’s been a drag on wages.  And it’s pennywise and pound foolish because if the economy is growing slower, you take in less tax dollars.  You’d be better off putting people back to work — then they’re paying taxes, the economy is getting stronger, and deficits can actually go down.  We should be making smart investments that help us all succeed.  (Applause.)

Fourth, in the new economy, we’ve got to make it easier for working Americans to save for retirement or bounce back from a lost job.  Because let’s be honest — most Americans don’t have the same benefits package or job security as their member of Congress.  I’m just saying.  They’ve got a pretty good deal.

That was part of what Obamacare is all about, right?  What it did was fill in the gaps so that if you lost your job, or you went back to school, or you decided to start a new business, you could go and compare and buy quality, affordable coverage and get a tax credit for it.  And despite the predictions, it’s working.  And, by the way, it would work ever better if we had more governors and legislators willing to do what Mike Pence did, to his credit, and expand Medicaid.  That was a decision that helped more than 300,000 Hoosiers.  (Applause.)

So we need fewer folks in Congress who side with the special interests.  We need more who are willing to work with us to lower health care costs, give us the funding we need to fight public health challenges like Zika and the opioid epidemic — Joe Donnelly is working on that diligently.  (Applause.)  So those are things we could get done that would relieve a lot of worry for a lot of families.

And then we have to tackle retirement security.  That’s something that keeps a lot of people up at night.  That’s why we’ve taken actions already to make it easier for more workers to save through their jobs, to make sure that when you do save, you’re getting advice that’s not in Wall Street’s best interest, but in your best interest.

But look, let’s face it — a lot of Americans don’t have retirement savings.  Even if they’ve got an account set up, they just don’t have enough money at the end of the month to save as much as they’d like because they’re just barely paying the bills.  Fewer and fewer people have pensions they can really count on, which is why Social Security is more important than ever.  (Applause.)  We can’t afford to weaken Social Security.  We should be strengthening Social Security.  And not only do we need to strengthen its long-term health, it’s time we finally made Social Security more generous, and increased its benefits so that today’s retirees and future generations get the dignified retirement that they’ve earned.  (Applause.)  And we could start paying for it by asking the wealthiest Americans to contribute a little bit more.  They can afford it.  I can afford it.  (Applause.)

A fifth way to make the new economy work for everybody is actually to make sure trade works for us and not against us.  Again, walling ourselves off from other countries, that’s not going to do it.  A lot of tough talk that doesn’t mean anything is not going to do it.  Here’s what will make a difference:  Making sure other countries raise their labor standards, raise their environmental standards to levels that we set.  And that’s what we did with this trade deal we call Trans-Pacific Partnership.  We negotiated with 11 other countries.  If you don’t like NAFTA, this TPP trade deal overhauls NAFTA with enforceable, much stronger labor and environmental standards, which means that they won’t undercut us as easily.

If you don’t want China to set the rules for the 21st century — and they’re trying — then TPP makes sure that we set the rules.  So the choice is simple:  If you want to help China, then you shouldn’t pass this trade deal that we negotiated.  If you want to help America, you need to pass it.  Because it’s going to cut taxes that other countries put on our products.  It raises other countries’ standards to ours.  That’s how we’re going to help middle-class families.  That’s how we secure better wages for our workers.  And that’s how we compete on a level playing field, and when we’re on a level playing field, America wins every time — every time.  (Applause.)

One last suggestion, and that is making sure the economy works for everybody by strengthening, and not weakening, the rules that keep Wall Street in check and goes after folks who avoid paying their fair share of taxes.  (Applause.)

After the financial crisis, we passed the toughest Wall Street reforms in history.  We passed the toughest Wall Street reforms in history, and by the way, the bank bailout that everybody was mad about?  They had to pay back every dime, and they did — with interest.  (Applause.)  And then we passed laws to make sure we didn’t have something like that happen again.  And they’re making a difference.  The biggest banks have to carry twice the amount of capital that they did before the crisis — that makes another crisis less likely.   We’ve got new tools to guard against another “too big to fail” situation.  We’ve put in place a new consumer watchdog that has already secured more than $10 billion for families who were cheated by irresponsible lending or irresponsible credit card practices.

And guess what?  Ever since we passed this thing, the big banks — working with a lot of members of Congress on the other side of the aisle — they have teamed up to try to roll back these rules every single year.  Every year, they’ve been trying to roll them back.  And the Republican nominee for President has already said he’d dismantle all these rules that we passed.  That is crazy.  (Applause.)  Have we — no, look, I mean, sometimes — I’ll be honest with you.  Sometimes I just don’t get it.  (Laughter.)  How it is that somebody could propose that we weaken regulations on Wall Street?  Have we really forgotten what just happened eight years ago?  (Applause.)  It hasn’t been that long ago.  And because of their reckless behavior, you got hurt.  And the notion that you would vote for anybody who would now allow them to go back to doing the same stuff that almost broke our economy’s back makes no sense.  (Applause.)

I don’t care whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat or an independent — why would you do that?  (Applause.)  Less oversight on Wall Street would only make another crisis more likely.  Letting credit card companies write their own rules — that’s only going to hurt working families.  It sure as heck wouldn’t make the middle class more secure.  How can you say you’re for the middle class and then you want to tear down these rules?

We’ve also been cracking down on tax loopholes, like the ones that allow corporations to change their addresses — they say they’re an overseas company, even though they’re all located here, so that they don’t have to pay taxes in America.  We’ve cracked down on tax cheats who are trying to hide their wealth in offshore accounts.  You don’t get to avoid paying your taxes.  Why should they?  (Applause.)

But I’ve got to say, the folks on the other side of the aisle have opposed our efforts to close these loopholes.  How do they explain it?  When big corporations and wealthy individuals don’t pay their fair share of taxes — and by the way, a lot of people do, so I’m not painting with a broad brush here, but there are a lot of folks who don’t — when they don’t pay their fair share of taxes, it means either you’re paying more or it means we don’t have enough revenue to support things like rebuilding our roads or funding our public universities, which means tuition goes up and then you’re trying to figure out how to pay for your kid’s college education.

We should have closed these loopholes a long time ago, and Lord knows I have tried every year in my budget.  We should have used some of the savings that we get from them paying their fair share to give tax breaks that would actually help working families pay for child care, or would help you send your kids to college, or would help you save for retirement.

The point is, if we want a strong middle class, our tax code should reflect that.  My first term, we cut taxes by $3,600 for the typical middle-class family.  Middle-class families have paid lower federal income tax rates during my presidency than during any other time since the 1950s — that’s this big-spending, liberal, tax-and-spend Democrat.  That’s the truth.  Look it up.  (Applause.)

But the wealthiest Americans are still paying far lower rates than they used to.  When I ran for office, I said we’d reverse the tax cuts that had been put in place by the previous President and Congress for wealthy individuals, and we did that.  We asked them to pay the top rate they did under Bill Clinton, when the economy, by the way, was booming and we ran a surplus.  They all said, this is going to be a disaster and we’re going to go into a recession, and we didn’t.

But today, even as the top 1 percent is doing better than ever for all the reasons I talked about earlier, the Republican nominee for President’s tax plan would give the top one-tenth of 1 percent — not the top 1 percent, the top one-tenth of 1 percent — a bigger tax cut than the 120 million American households at the bottom.  It would explode our deficits by nearly $10 trillion.  I’m not making this up.  (Laughter.)  You can look at the math.  (Applause.)  That will not bring jobs back.  That is not fighting for the American middle class.  That will not help us win.  That is not going to make your lives better.  That will help people like him.  That’s the truth.  (Applause.)

So you have a choice to make, Elkhart.  You do — between more or less inequality.  Between stacking the deck for the folks who are already doing great or making sure everybody has a chance to succeed.  That’s the economic choice you face.  That’s what’s at stake in this election — two very different vision for our economy.  I hope I’ve broken it down for you.

Now, let me say this:  I understand that not everybody votes based on their economic interests.  Not everybody votes just based on the economy.  We’re more than just a matter of dollars and cents.  Some folks care deeply about our Second Amendment rights.  Some folks care about marriage equality.  Some folks care about abortion.  Some folks are going to vote based on national security, or their worries about terrorism.  They may think that we haven’t done the right thing on any of those issues, and that the Republicans have a better answer.  We can have that debate.  That’s fine.  Those are all issues very worthy of debate.

But if what you care about in this election is your pocketbook, if what you’re concerned about is who will look out for the interests of working people and grow the middle class, if that’s what you’re concerned about, then the debate — then if that’s that you’re concerned about — the economy — the debate is not even close.  One path would lead to lower wages.  It would eliminate worker protections.  It would cut investments in things like education.  It would weaken the safety net.  It would kick people off health insurance.  It would let China write the rules for the global economy.  It would let Big Oil weaken rules that protect our air and water.  It would let big banks weaken rules that protect families from getting cheated.  It would cut taxes for the wealthiest Americans to historic lows.  Those are the facts.

And I know it sounds like a strange agenda for politicians who are claiming to care about you and working families.  But those are their plans.  You can find it on their websites.  And when I hear working families thinking about voting for those plans, then I want to have an intervention.  (Laughter and applause.)  I want you to just take a look at what you’re talking about here.  (Applause.)

And if you tell me, you know what, Mr. President, you may be right, but I just disapprove of what Democrats stand for on gay rights, or on going after ISIL — then I’m fine.  Okay, I hear you.  The economy is not everything.  If you tell me, you know what, you may be right, but I just believe as a matter of principle that government should be small and the wealthy, they work harder than everybody else and they should be able to keep what they got — all right, well, you’re making a philosophical argument.  I got you.

But don’t think that actually — that this agenda is going to help you.  It’s not designed to help you.  And the evidence of the last 30 years, not to mention common sense, should tell you that their answers to our challenges are no answers at all.  (Applause.)

Fortunately, there’s another path that leads to more jobs, and higher wages, and better benefits, and a stronger safety net, and a fairer tax code, and a bigger voice for workers, and trade on our terms.  And it will make a real difference for the prospects of working families.  And we’ll grow the middle class.

So that’s the choice you face, Elkhart.  The ideas I’ve laid out today, I want to be clear:  They’re not going to solve every problem.  They’re not going to make everybody financially secure overnight.  We’re still going to be facing global competition.  Trying to make sure that all our kids are prepared for the 21st century workforce, that’s a 20-year project, that’s not a two-year project.  We’re still going to have to make sure that we’re paying for Social Security and Medicaid and Medicare as our populations get older.  There are still going to be a bunch of issues out there.

But the agenda I’m putting forward will point us in the right direction.  And the one thing I can promise you is if we turn against each other based on divisions of race or religion, if we fall for a bunch of okie-doke just because it sounds funny or the tweets are provocative, then we’re not going to build on the progress that we’ve started.  If we get cynical and just vote our fears, or if we don’t vote at all, we won’t build on the progress that we started.

We’ve got to come together around our common values — our faith in hard work.  Our faith in responsibility.  Our belief in opportunity for everybody.  We’ve got to assume the best in each other, not the worst.  We’ve got to remember that sometimes, we all fall on hard times, and it’s part of our jobs as a community of Americans to help folks up when they fall.  (Applause.)  Because whatever our differences, we all love this country.  We all care about our children’s futures.  That’s what makes us great.  That’s what makes us progress and become better versions of ourselves — because we believe in each other.  (Applause.)

That’s what’s going to get us through our toughest moments.  That’s how we know something better is around the bend.  There’s going to be some setbacks along the way, but we know that our journey is not finished, and we know that with steady, persistent, collective effort, we’re going to deliver a brighter day for our children and our children’s children.  That’s what you proved, Elkhart, over these last seven years.  That’s what you’ve shown America.  Let’s keep on showing it.

Thank you very much, everybody.  God bless you.  (Applause.)

END
4:28 P.M. EDT

 

Full Text Campaign Buzz 2016 April 15, 2016: Bernie Sanders’s speech to the Academic Conference at the Vatican on economic inequality transcript

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

2016 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN:

The Speech Bernie Sanders Gave at the Vatica

I am honored to be with you today and was pleased to receive your invitation to speak to this conference of The Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences. Today we celebrate the encyclical Centesimus Annus and reflect on its meaning for our world a quarter-century after it was presented by Pope John Paul II. With the fall of Communism, Pope John Paul II gave a clarion call for human freedom in its truest sense: freedom that defends the dignity of every person and that is always oriented towards the common good.

The Church’s social teachings, stretching back to the first modern encyclical about the industrial economy, Rerum Novarum in 1891, to Centesimus Annus, to Pope Francis’s inspiring encyclical Laudato Si’ this past year, have grappled with the challenges of the market economy. There are few places in modern thought that rival the depth and insight of the Church’s moral teachings on the market economy.

Over a century ago, Pope Leo XIII highlighted economic issues and challenges in Rerum Novarum that continue to haunt us today, such as what he called “the enormous wealth of a few as opposed to the poverty of the many.”

And let us be clear. That situation is worse today. In the year 2016, the top one percent of the people on this planet own more wealth than the bottom 99 percent, while the wealthiest 60 people – 60 people – own more than the bottom half – 3 1/2 billion people. At a time when so few have so much, and so many have so little, we must reject the foundations of this contemporary economy as immoral and unsustainable.

The words of Centesimus Annus likewise resonate with us today. One striking example:

Furthermore, society and the State must ensure wage levels adequate for the maintenance of the worker and his family, including a certain amount for savings. This requires a continuous effort to improve workers’ training and capability so that their work will be more skilled and productive, as well as careful controls and adequate legislative measures to block shameful forms of exploitation, especially to the disadvantage of the most vulnerable workers, of immigrants and of those on the margins of society. The role of trade unions in negotiating minimum salaries and working conditions is decisive in this area. (Para15)

The essential wisdom of Centesimus Annus is this: A market economy is beneficial for productivity and economic freedom. But if we let the quest for profits dominate society; if workers become disposable cogs of the financial system; if vast inequalities of power and wealth lead to marginalization of the poor and the powerless; then the common good is squandered and the market economy fails us. Pope John Paul II puts it this way: profit that is the result of “illicit exploitation, speculation, or the breaking of solidarity among working people . . . has not justification, and represents an abuse in the sight of God and man.” (Para43).

We are now twenty-five years after the fall of Communist rule in Eastern Europe. Yet we have to acknowledge that Pope John Paul’s warnings about the excesses of untrammeled finance were deeply prescient. Twenty-five years after Centesimus Annus, speculation, illicit financial flows, environmental destruction, and the weakening of the rights of workers is far more severe than it was a quarter century ago. Financial excesses, indeed widespread financial criminality on Wall Street, played a direct role in causing the world’s worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

We need a political analysis as well as a moral and anthropological analysis to understand what has happened since 1991. We can say that with unregulated globalization, a world market economy built on speculative finance burst through the legal, political, and moral constraints that had once served to protect the common good. In my country, home of the world’s largest financial markets, globalization was used as a pretext to deregulate the banks, ending decades of legal protections for working people and small businesses. Politicians joined hands with the leading bankers to allow the banks to become “too big to fail.” The result: eight years ago the American economy and much of the world was plunged into the worst economic decline since the 1930s. Working people lost their jobs, their homes and their savings, while the government bailed out the banks.

Inexplicably, the United States political system doubled down on this reckless financial deregulation, when the U.S. Supreme Court in a series of deeply misguided decisions, unleashed an unprecedented flow of money into American politics. These decisions culminated in the infamous Citizen United case, which opened the financial spigots for huge campaign donations by billionaires and large corporations to turn the U.S. political system to their narrow and greedy advantage. It has established a system in which billionaires can buy elections. Rather than an economy aimed at the common good, we have been left with an economy operated for the top 1 percent, who get richer and richer as the working class, the young and the poor fall further and further behind. And the billionaires and banks have reaped the returns of their campaign investments, in the form of special tax privileges, imbalanced trade agreements that favor investors over workers, and that even give multinational companies extra-judicial power over governments that are trying to regulate them.

But as both Pope John Paul II and Pope Francis have warned us and the world, the consequences have been even direr than the disastrous effects of financial bubbles and falling living standards of working-class families. Our very soul as a nation has suffered as the public lost faith in political and social institutions. As Pope Francis has stated: “Man is not in charge today, money is in charge, money rules.” And the Pope has also stated: “We have created new idols. The worship of the golden calf of old has found a new and heartless image in the cult of money and the dictatorship of an economy which is faceless and lacking any truly humane goal.”

And further: “While the income of a minority is increasing exponentially, that of the majority is crumbling. This imbalance results from ideologies which uphold the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation, and thus deny the right of control to States, which are themselves charged with providing for the common good.”

Pope Francis has called on the world to say: “No to a financial system that rules rather than serves” in Evangeli Gaudium. And he called upon financial executives and political leaders to pursue financial reform that is informed by ethical considerations. He stated plainly and powerfully that the role of wealth and resources in a moral economy must be that of servant, not master.

The widening gaps between the rich and poor, the desperation of the marginalized, the power of corporations over politics, is not a phenomenon of the United States alone. The excesses of the unregulated global economy have caused even more damage in the developing countries. They suffer not only from the boom-bust cycles on Wall Street, but from a world economy that puts profits over pollution, oil companies over climate safety, and arms trade over peace. And as an increasing share of new wealth and income goes to a small fraction of those at the top, fixing this gross inequality has become a central challenge. The issue of wealth and income inequality is the great economic issue of our time, the great political issue of our time, and the great moral issue of our time. It is an issue that we must confront in my nation and across the world.

Pope Francis has given the most powerful name to the predicament of modern society: the Globalization of Indifference. “Almost without being aware of it,” he noted, “we end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own.” We have seen on Wall Street that financial fraud became not only the norm but in many ways the new business model. Top bankers have shown no shame for their bad behavior and have made no apologies to the public. The billions and billions of dollars of fines they have paid for financial fraud are just another cost of doing business, another short cut to unjust profits.

Some might feel that it is hopeless to fight the economic juggernaut, that once the market economy escaped the boundaries of morality it would be impossible to bring the economy back under the dictates of morality and the common good. I am told time and time again by the rich and powerful, and the mainstream media that represent them, that we should be “practical,” that we should accept the status quo; that a truly moral economy is beyond our reach. Yet Pope Francis himself is surely the world’s greatest demonstration against such a surrender to despair and cynicism. He has opened the eyes of the world once again to the claims of mercy, justice and the possibilities of a better world. He is inspiring the world to find a new global consensus for our common home.

I see that hope and sense of possibility every day among America’s young people. Our youth are no longer satisfied with corrupt and broken politics and an economy of stark inequality and injustice. They are not satisfied with the destruction of our environment by a fossil fuel industry whose greed has put short term profits ahead of climate change and the future of our planet. They want to live in harmony with nature, not destroy it. They are calling out for a return to fairness; for an economy that defends the common good by ensuring that every person, rich or poor, has access to quality health care, nutrition and education.

As Pope Francis made powerfully clear last year in Laudato Si’, we have the technology and know-how to solve our problems – from poverty to climate change to health care to protection of biodiversity. We also have the vast wealth to do so, especially if the rich pay their way in fair taxes rather than hiding their funds in the world’s tax and secrecy havens- as the Panama Papers have shown.

The challenges facing our planet are not mainly technological or even financial, because as a world we are rich enough to increase our investments in skills, infrastructure, and technological know-how to meet our needs and to protect the planet. Our challenge is mostly a moral one, to redirect our efforts and vision to the common good. Centesimus Annus, which we celebrate and reflect on today, and Laudato Si’, are powerful, eloquent and hopeful messages of this possibility. It is up to us to learn from them, and to move boldly toward the common good in our time.

Full Text Political Transcripts April 5, 2016: President Barack Obama Remarks at Press Briefing on Economy, Tax Inversion, Mocks Trump and Cruz Immigration Plans

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President on the Economy

Source: WH, 4-5-16

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

12:15 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Good afternoon, everybody.  I’m horning in on Josh’s time just for a hot second.  As we learned last week, America’s economy added 215,000 jobs in March.  That means that our businesses extended the longest streak of private sector job creation on record — 73 straight months, 14.4 million new jobs,  unemployment about half of what it was six years ago.

This progress is due directly to the grit and determination and hard work and the fundamental optimism of the American people.  As I travel around the country, what always stands out is the fact that the overwhelming majority of folks work hard and they play by the rules, and they deserve to see their hard work rewarded.  They also deserve to know that big corporations aren’t playing by a different set of rules; that the wealthiest among us aren’t able to game the system.

That’s why I’ve been pushing for years to eliminate some of the injustices in our tax system.  So I am very pleased that the Treasury Department has taken new action to prevent more corporations from taking advantage of one of the most insidious tax loopholes out there, and fleeing the country just to get out of paying their taxes.  This got some attention in the business press yesterday, but I wanted to make sure that we highlighted the importance of Treasury’s action and why it did what it did.

This directly goes at what’s called corporate inversions.  They are not new.  Simply put, in layman’s terms, it’s when big corporations acquire small companies, and then change their address to another country on paper in order to get out of paying their fair share of taxes here at home.  As a practical matter, they keep most of their actual business here in the United States because they benefit from American infrastructure and technology and rule of law.  They benefit from our research and our development and our patents.  They benefit from American workers, who are the best in the world.  But they effectively renounce their citizenship.  They declare that they’re based somewhere else, thereby getting all the rewards of being an American company without fulfilling the responsibilities to pay their taxes the way everybody else is supposed to pay them.

When companies exploit loopholes like this, it makes it harder to invest in the things that are going to keep America’s economy going strong for future generations.  It sticks the rest of us with the tab.  And it makes hardworking Americans feel like the deck is stacked against them.

So this is something that I’ve been pushing for a long time.  Since I became President, we’ve made our tax code fairer, and we’ve taken steps to make sure our tax laws are actually enforced, including leading efforts to crack down on offshore evasion.  I will say that it gets tougher sometimes when the IRS is starved for resources and squeezed by the congressional appropriation process so that there are not enough people to actually pay attention to what all the lawyers and accountants are doing all the time.  But we have continued to emphasize the importance of basic tax enforcement.

In the news over the last couple of days, we’ve had another reminder in this big dump of data coming out of Panama that tax avoidance is a big, global problem.  It’s not unique to other countries because, frankly, there are folks here in America who are taking advantage of the same stuff.  A lot of it is legal, but that’s exactly the problem.  It’s not that they’re breaking the laws, it’s that the laws are so poorly designed that they allow people, if they’ve got enough lawyers and enough accountants, to wiggle out of responsibilities that ordinary citizens are having to abide by.

Here in the United States, there are loopholes that only wealthy individuals and powerful corporations have access to.  They have access to offshore accounts, and they are gaming the system.  Middle-class families are not in the same position to do this.  In fact, a lot of these loopholes come at the expense of middle-class families, because that lost revenue has to be made up somewhere.  Alternatively, it means that we’re not investing as much as we should in schools, in making college more affordable, in putting people back to work rebuilding our roads, our bridges, our infrastructure, creating more opportunities for our children.

So this is important stuff.  And these new actions by the Treasury Department build on steps that we’ve already taken to make the system fairer.  But I want to be clear:  While the Treasury Department actions will make it more difficult and less lucrative for companies to exploit this particular corporate inversions loophole, only Congress can close it for good, and only Congress can make sure that all the other loopholes that are being taken advantage of are closed.

I’ve often said the best way to end this kind of irresponsible behavior is with tax reform that lowers the corporate tax rate, closes wasteful loopholes, simplifies the tax code for everybody.  And in recent years, I’ve put forward plans — repeatedly — that would make our tax system more competitive for all businesses, including small businesses.  So far, Republicans in Congress have yet to act.

My hope is that they start getting serious about it.  When politicians perpetuate a system that favors the wealthy at the expense of the middle class, it’s not surprising that people feel like they can’t get ahead.  It’s not surprising that oftentimes it may produce a politics that is directed at that frustration.  Rather than doubling down on policies that let a few big corporations or the wealthiest among us play by their own rules, we should keep building an economy where everybody has a fair shot and everybody plays by the same rules.

Rather than protect wasteful tax loopholes for the few at the top, we should be investing more in things like education and job creation and job training that we know grow the economy for everybody.  And rather than lock in tax breaks for millionaires, or make it harder to actually enforce existing laws, let’s give tax breaks to help working families pay for child care or for college.  And let’s stop rewarding companies that are shipping jobs overseas and profit overseas, and start rewarding companies that create jobs right here at home and are good corporate citizens.

That’s how we’re going to build America together.  That’s how we battled back from this Great Recession.  That’s the story of these past seven years.  That can be the story for the next several decades if we make the right decisions right now.  And so I hope this topic ends up being introduced into the broader political debate that we’re going to be having leading up to election season.

And with that, I turn it over to Mr. Josh Earnest.

Q    A question about the Panama Papers, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT:  Yes.

Q    Given the release of these millions of pages of financial information, are you concerned that that reflects on the ability of the Treasury Department to sort of be able to see all the financial transactions across the globe — they clearly didn’t see these — and whether that suggests that the sanctions regime that you’ve put in place in a bunch of places around the world might not be as strong as you think it is?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, we know the sanctions regime is strong because Iran wouldn’t have, for example, cut a deal to end their nuclear program in the absence of strong sanctions enforcement.

But there is no doubt that the problem of global tax avoidance, generally, is a huge problem.  It’s been brought up in G7 meetings.  It’s been brought up in G20 meetings.  There has been some progress made in coordinating between tax authorities of different countries so that we can make sure that we’re catching some of the most egregious examples.

But as I said before, one of the big problems that we have, Michael, is that a lot of this stuff is legal — not illegal.  And unless the United States and other countries lead by example in closing some of these loopholes and provisions, then in many cases you can trace what’s taking place, but you can’t stop it.  And there is always going to be some illicit movement of funds around the world.  But we shouldn’t make it easy.  We shouldn’t make it legal to engage in transactions just to avoid taxes.

And that’s why I think it is important that the Treasury acted on something that’s different from what happened in Panama.  The corporate inversions issue is a financial transaction that is brokered among major Fortune 500 companies to avoid paying taxes.  But the basic principle of us making sure that everybody is paying their fair share, and that we don’t just have a few people who are able to take advantage of tax provisions, that’s something that we really have to pay attention to.

Because as I said, this is all net outflows of money that could be spent on the pressing needs here in the United States.  And the volume that you start seeing when you combine legal tax avoidance with illicit tax avoidance, or some of the activities that we’re seeing, this is not just billions of dollars.  It’s not even just hundreds of billions of dollars.  Estimates are this may be trillions of dollars worldwide, and it could make a big difference in terms of what we can do here.

I’m going to take one more question and then I’m going to turn it over to Josh.  One last one, go ahead.

Q    Mr. President, the Republican frontrunner today outlined his plan to —

THE PRESIDENT:  Oh, no.  (Laughter.)

Q    — pay for a wall along the border —

Q    Climate change?

Q    — barring undocumented immigrants in the U.S. from sending money back home.  What would be the real implication of this plan?  And are his foreign policy proposals already doing damage to U.S. relations abroad?

THE PRESIDENT:  The answer to the latter question is yes.  I think that I’ve been very clear earlier that I am getting questions constantly from foreign leaders about some of the wackier suggestions that are being made.  I do have to emphasize that it’s not just Mr. Trump’s proposals.  You’re also hearing concerns about Mr. Cruz’s proposals, which in some ways are just as draconian when it comes to immigration, for example.

The implications with respect to ending remittances — many of which, by the way, are from legal immigrants and from individuals who are sending money back to their families — are enormous.  First of all, they’re impractical.  We just talked about the difficulties of trying to enforce huge outflows of capital.  The notion that we’re going to track every Western Union bit of money that’s being sent to Mexico, good luck with that.

Then we’ve got the issue of the implications for the Mexican economy, which in turn, if it’s collapsing, actually sends more immigrants north because they can’t find jobs back in Mexico.  But this is just one more example of something that is not thought through and is primarily put forward for political consumption.

And as I’ve tried to emphasize throughout, we’ve got serious problems here.  We’ve got big issues around the world.  People expect the President of the United States and the elected officials in this country to treat these problems seriously, to put forward policies that have been examined, analyzed, are effective, where unintended consequences are taken into account.  They don’t expect half-baked notions coming out of the White House.  We can’t afford that.

All right?  I’m turning it over to Josh.  Thank you, guys.

END
12:29 P.M. EDT

Full Text Political Transcripts October 22, 2015: President Barack Obama’s Statement at Veto Signing of Defense Spending Bill National Defense Authorization Act Transcript

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President at Veto Signing of National Defense Authorization Act

Source: WH, 10-22-15

Oval Office

3:52 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  As President and Commander-in-Chief, my first and most important responsibility is keeping the American people safe.  And that means that we make sure that our military is properly funded, and that our men and women in uniform get the support, the equipment, the support for their families that they need and deserve when they protect our freedom and our safety.

The bill that has been presented to me authorizing our defense — excuse me — the bill that’s before me, authorizing our defense spending for this year, does a number of good things.  It makes sure that our military is funded.  It has some important provisions around reform for our military retirement system, which is necessary to make sure that it is stable and effective.  It’s got some cybersecurity provisions that are necessary for an increasing threat.

Unfortunately, it falls woefully short in three areas.  Number one, it keeps in place the sequester that is inadequate for us to properly fund our military in a stable, sustained way and allows all of our armed forces to plan properly.  I have repeatedly called on Congress to eliminate the sequester and make sure that we’re providing certainty to our military so they can do out-year planning, ensure military readiness, ensure our troops are getting what they need.  This bill instead resorts to gimmicks that does not allow the Pentagon to do what it needs to do.

Number two, unfortunately it prevents a wide range of reforms that are necessary for us to get our military modernized and able to deal with the many threats that are presenting themselves in the 21st century.  We have repeatedly put forward a series of reforms eliminating programs that the Pentagon does not want — Congress keeps on stepping back in, and we end up wasting money.  We end up diverting resources from things that we do need to have the kind of equipment and training and readiness that are necessary for us to meet all potential threats.

And the third thing is that this legislation specifically impeded our ability to close Guantanamo in a way that I have repeatedly argued is counterproductive to our efforts to defeat terrorism around the world.  Guantanamo is one of the premiere mechanisms for jihadists to recruit.  It’s time for us to close it.  It is outdated; it’s expensive; it’s been there for years. And we can do better in terms of keeping our people safe while making sure that we are consistent with our values.

So I’m going to be vetoing this authorization bill.  I’m going to be sending it back to Congress.  And my message to them is very simple:  Let’s do this right.  We’re in the midst of budget discussions — let’s have a budget that properly funds our national security as well as economic security.  Let’s make sure that we’re able, in a constructive way, to reform our military spending to make it sustainable over the long term, and let’s make sure that, in a responsible way, we can draw down the populations in Guantanamo, make sure that the American people are safe, and make sure that we’re not providing the kinds of recruitment tools to terrorists that are so dangerous.

END
3:57 P.M. EDT

Full Text Obama Presidency October 2, 2015: President Barack Obama’s Press Conference Transcript

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:

Press Conference by the President

Source: WH, 10-2-15

State Dining Room

3:55 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  I’m going to take a couple of questions from the press.  But first, a few additional pieces of business.

First of all, we learned today that our businesses created another 118,000 new jobs in September, which means that we now have had 67 straight months of job creation; 13.2 million new jobs in all — and an unemployment rate that has fallen from a high of 10 percent down to 5.1 percent.  These long-term trends are obviously good news, particularly for every American waking up each morning and heading off to a new job.

But we would be doing even better if we didn’t have to keep on dealing with unnecessary crises in Congress every few months. And this is especially important right now, because although the American economy has been chugging along at a steady pace, much of the global economy is softening.  We’ve seen an impact on our exports, which was a major driver of growth for us particularly at the beginning of the recovery.  And so our own growth could slow if Congress does not do away with some of the counterproductive austerity measures that they have put in place, and if Congress does not avoid the kind of manufactured crises that shatter consumer confidence and could disrupt an already skittish global economy.

On Wednesday, more than half of Republicans voted to shut down the government for the second time in two years.  The good news is that there were enough votes in both parties to pass a last-minute bill to keep the government open and operating for another 10 weeks before we can get a more long-term solution.  But keep in mind that gimmick only sets up another potential manufactured crisis just two weeks before Christmas.

And I’ve said this before, I want to repeat it — this is not the way the United States should be operating.

Oftentimes I hear from folks up on Capitol Hill, “the need for American leadership,” “the need for America to be number one.”  Well, you know what, around the globe, part of what makes us a leader is when we govern effectively and we keep our own house in order, and we pass budgets, and we can engage in long-term planning, and we can invest in the things that are important for the future.  That’s U.S. leadership.

When we fail to do that, we diminish U.S. leadership.  It’s not how we are supposed to operate.  And we can’t just keep on kicking down the road without solving any problems or doing any long-term planning for the future.  That’s true for our military; that’s true for our domestic programs.  The American people, American families deserve better.  And we can grow faster and the economy can improve if Congress acts with dispatch.  It will get worse if they don’t.

That’s why I want to be very clear:  I will not sign another shortsighted spending bill like the one Congress sent me this week.  We purchased ourselves 10 additional weeks; we need to use them effectively.

Keep in mind that a few years ago, both parties put in place harmful automatic cuts that make no distinction between spending we don’t need and spending we do.  We can revisit the history of how that happened — I have some rather grim memories of it.  But the notion was that even as we were bringing down the deficit, we would come up with a sustainable, smart, long-term approach to investing in the things that we need.  That didn’t happen.  And so now these cuts that have been maintained have been keeping our economy from growing faster.  It’s time to undo them.  If we don’t, then we will have to fund our economic and national security priorities in 2016 at the same levels that we did in 2006.

Now, understand, during that decade, between 2006 and 2016, our economy has grown by 12 percent.  Our population has grown by 8 percent.  New threats have emerged; new opportunities have appeared.  We can’t fund our country the way we did 10 years ago because we have greater demands — with an aging population, with kids who need schools, with roads that need to be fixed, with a military on which we are placing extraordinary demands.

And we can’t cut our way to prosperity.  Other countries have tried it and it has not worked.  We’ve grown faster than they have because we did not pursue these blind, unthinking cuts to necessary investments for our growth.  And by the way, because we’ve grown faster than them, we’ve brought our deficits down faster than they have.

I want to repeat this because the public apparently never believes it.  Since I took office, we’ve cut our deficits by two-thirds.  The deficit has not been going up; it has been coming down — precipitously.  We’ve cut our deficits by two-thirds.  They’re below the average deficits over the past 40 years.

So the bottom line is, Congress has to do its job.  It can’t flirt with another shutdown.  It should pass a serious budget.  And if they do, and get rid of some of these mindless cuts, even as we’re still prudent about maintaining the spending that we need but not spending we don’t need and is not working, their own non-partisan budget office estimates we’re going to add an extra half-million jobs to our economy next year alone.  We can immediately put half a million more people back to work if we just have a more sensible budget.

And in these negotiations, nobody is going to get everything they want.  We have to work together, though, even if we disagree, in order to do the people’s business.  At some point we have to want to govern, and not just play politics or play to various political bases.  At some point, we need to pass bills so that we can rebuild our roads, and keep our kids learning, and our military strong, and help people prepare for and recover from disasters.  That is Congress’s most basic job.  That’s what our government is supposed to do — serve the American people.

So with that, let me take some questions.  And I’ll start with Julie Pace of AP.

Hang in there, kids.  (Laughter.)

Q    It will be over soon.  Thank you, Mr. President.  There have been several developments in Syria that I wanted to ask you about, starting with Russia’s involvement.  You met with President Putin earlier this week, and I wonder if you think he was honest with you about his intentions in Syria.  If Russia is targeting groups beyond the Islamic State, including U.S.-aligned groups, does the U.S. military have an obligation to protect them?  And on the situation in Syria more broadly, there have obviously been failures in the U.S. train-and-equip program.  Do you believe that that program can be fixed or do you have to look at other options?  Would you, in particular, be willing to reconsider a no-fly zone, which several presidential candidates, including your former Secretary of State, are now calling for?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, first and foremost, let’s understand what’s happening in Syria and how we got here.  What started off as peaceful protests against Assad, the president, evolved into a civil war because Assad met those protests with unimaginable brutality.  And so this is not a conflict between the United States and any party in Syria; this is a conflict between the Syrian people and a brutal, ruthless dictator.

Point number two is that the reason Assad is still in power is because Russia and Iran have supported him throughout this process.  And in that sense, what Russia is doing now is not particularly different from what they had been doing in the past — they’re just more overt about it.  They’ve been propping up a regime that is rejected by an overwhelming majority of the Syrian population because they’ve seen that he has been willing to drop barrel bombs on children and on villages indiscriminately, and has been more concerned about clinging to power than the state of his country.

So in my discussions with President Putin, I was very clear that the only way to solve the problem in Syria is to have a political transition that is inclusive — that keeps the state intact, that keeps the military intact, that maintains cohesion, but that is inclusive — and the only way to accomplish that is for Mr. Assad to transition, because you cannot rehabilitate him in the eyes of Syrians.  This is not a judgment I’m making; it is a judgment that the overwhelming majority of Syrians make.

And I said to Mr. Putin that I’d be prepared to work with him if he is willing to broker with his partners, Mr. Assad and Iran, a political transition — we can bring the rest of the world community to a brokered solution — but that a military solution alone, an attempt by Russia and Iran to prop up Assad and try to pacify the population is just going to get them stuck in a quagmire.  And it won’t work.  And they will be there for a while if they don’t take a different course.

I also said to him that it is true that the United States and Russia and the entire world have a common interest in destroying ISIL.  But what was very clear — and regardless of what Mr. Putin said — was that he doesn’t distinguish between ISIL and a moderate Sunni opposition that wants to see Mr. Assad go.  From their perspective, they’re all terrorists.  And that’s a recipe for disaster, and it’s one that I reject.

So where we are now is that we are having technical conversations about de-confliction so that we’re not seeing U.S. and American firefights in the air.  But beyond that, we’re very clear in sticking to our belief and our policy that the problem here is Assad and the brutality that he has inflicted on the Syrian people, and that it has to stop.  And in order for it to stop, we’re prepared to work with all the parties concerned.  But we are not going to cooperate with a Russian campaign to simply try to destroy anybody who is disgusted and fed up with Mr. Assad’s behavior.

Keep in mind also, from a practical perspective, the moderate opposition in Syria is one that if we’re ever going to have to have a political transition, we need.  And the Russian policy is driving those folks underground or creating a situation in which they are de-capacitated, and it’s only strengthening ISIL.  And that’s not good for anybody.

In terms of our support of opposition groups inside of Syria, I made very clear early on that the United States couldn’t impose a military solution on Syria either, but that it was in our interest to make sure that we were engaged with moderate opposition inside of Syria because eventually Syria will fall, the Assad regime will fall, and we have to have somebody who we’re working with that we can help pick up the pieces and stitch back together a cohesive, coherent country.  And so we will continue to support them.

The training-and-equip program was a specific initiative by the Defense Department to see if we could get some of that moderate opposition to focus attention on ISIL in the eastern portion of the country.  And I’m the first one to acknowledge it has not worked the way it was supposed to, Julie.  And I think that the Department of Defense would say the same thing.  And part of the reason, frankly, is because when we tried to get them to just focus on ISIL, the response we’d get back is, how can we focus on ISIL when every single day we’re having barrel bombs and attacks from the regime?  And so it’s been hard to get them to reprioritize, looking east, when they’ve got bombs coming at them from the west.

So what we’re doing with the train-and-equip is looking at where we have had success — for example, working with some of the Kurdish community in the east that pushed ISIL out — seeing if we can build on that.  But what we’re also going to continue to do is to have contacts with and work with opposition that, rightly, believes that in the absence of some change of government inside of Syria we’re going to continue to see civil war, and that is going to turbocharge ISIL recruitment and jihadist recruitment, and we’re going to continue to have problems.

Now, last point I just want to make about this — because sometimes the conversation here in the Beltway differs from the conversation internationally.  Mr. Putin had to go into Syria not out of strength but out of weakness, because his client, Mr. Assad, was crumbling.  And it was insufficient for him simply to send them arms and money; now he’s got to put in his own planes and his own pilots.  And the notion that he put forward a plan and that somehow the international community sees that as viable because there is a vacuum there — I didn’t see, after he made that speech in the United Nations, suddenly the 60-nation coalition that we have start lining up behind him.

Iran and Assad make up Mr. Putin’s coalition at the moment. The rest of the world makes up ours.  So I don’t think people are fooled by the current strategy.  It does not mean that we could not see Mr. Putin begin to recognize that it is in their interest to broker a political settlement.  And as I said in New York, we’re prepared to work with the Russians and the Iranians, as well as our partners who are part of the anti-ISIL coalition to come up with that political transition.  And nobody pretends that it’s going to be easy, but I think it is still possible.  And so we will maintain lines of communication.

But we are not going to be able to get those negotiations going if there is not a recognition that there’s got to be a change in government.  We’re not going to go back to the status quo ante.  And the kinds of airstrikes against moderate opposition that Russia is engaging in is going to be counterproductive.  It’s going to move us farther away rather than towards the ultimate solution that we’re all — that we all should be looking for.

Q    (Inaudible.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Julie, throughout this process, I think people have constantly looked for an easy, low-cost answer — whether it’s we should have sent more rifles in early and somehow then everything would have been okay; or if I had taken that shot even after Assad offered to give up his chemical weapons, then immediately things would have folded, or the Assad regime would have folded, and we would have suddenly seen a peaceful Syria.

This is a hugely, difficult, complex problem.  And I would have hoped that we would have learned that from Afghanistan and Iraq, where we have devoted enormous time and effort and resources with the very best people and have given the Afghan people and the Iraqi people an opportunity for democracy.  But it’s still hard, as we saw this week in Afghanistan.  That’s not by virtue of a lack of effort on our part, or a lack of commitment.  We’ve still got 10,000 folks in Afghanistan.  We’re still spending billions of dollar supporting that government, and it’s still tough.

So when I make a decision about the level of military involvement that we’re prepared to engage in, in Syria, I have to make a judgment based on, once we start something we’ve got to finish it, and we’ve got to do it well.  And do we, in fact, have the resources and the capacity to make a serious impact — understanding that we’ve still got to go after ISIL in Iraq; we still have to support the training of an Iraqi military that is weaker than any of us perceived; that we still have business to do in Afghanistan.  And so I push — and have consistently over the last four, five years sought out a wide range of opinions about steps that we can take potentially to move Syria in a better direction.

I am under no illusions about what an incredible humanitarian catastrophe this is, and the hardships that we’re seeing, and the refugees that are traveling in very dangerous circumstances and now creating real political problems among our allies in Europe, and the heartbreaking images of children drowned trying to escape war, and the potential impact of such a destabilized country on our allies in the region.  But what we have learned over the last 10, 12, 13 years is that unless we can get the parties on the ground to agree to live together in some fashion, then no amount of U.S. military engagement will solve the problem.  And we will find ourselves either doing just a little bit and not making a difference, and losing credibility that way, or finding ourselves drawn in deeper and deeper into a situation that we can’t sustain.

And when I hear people offering up half-baked ideas as if they are solutions, or trying to downplay the challenges involved in this situation — what I’d like to see people ask is, specifically, precisely, what exactly would you do, and how would you fund it, and how would you sustain it?  And typically, what you get is a bunch of mumbo jumbo.

So these are hard challenges.  They are ones that we are going to continue to pursue.  The topline message that I want everybody to understand is we are going to continue to go after ISIL.  We are going to continue to reach out to a moderate opposition.  We reject Russia’s theory that everybody opposed to Assad is a terrorist.  We think that is self-defeating.  It will get them into a quagmire.  It will be used as a further recruitment tool for foreign fighters.

We will work with the international community and our coalition to relieve the humanitarian pressure.  On refugees, we are working with the Turks and others to see what we can do along the border to make things safer for people.  But ultimately, we’re going to have to find a way for a political transition if we’re going to solve Syria.

Jon Karl.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT:  Yes.

Q    Back in July you said that the gun issue has been the most frustrating of your presidency, and we certainly heard that frustration from you last night.

THE PRESIDENT:  Yes.

Q    So in the last 15 months of your presidency, do you intend to do anything differently to get Congress to act or to do something about this gun violence problem?

And I have to get you to respond to something that Jeb Bush just said, and to be fair to Governor Bush I want to read it directly.  Asked about the drive to take action in light of what happened in Oregon, he said, “Look, stuff happens.  There’s always a crisis.  And the impulse is always to do something, and it’s not always the right thing to do.”  How would you react to Governor Bush?

THE PRESIDENT:  I don’t even think I have to react to that one.  (Laughter.)  I think the American people should hear that and make their own judgments, based on the fact that every couple of months, we have a mass shooting, and in terms of — and they can decide whether they consider that “stuff happening”.

In terms of what I can do, I’ve asked my team — as I have in the past — to scrub what kinds of authorities do we have to enforce the laws that we have in place more effectively to keep guns out of the hands of criminals.  Are there additional actions that we can take that might prevent even a handful of these tragic deaths from taking place?  But as I said last night, this will not change until the politics change and the behavior of elected officials changes.

And so the main thing I’m going to do is I’m going to talk about this on a regular basis, and I will politicize it because our inaction is a political decision that we are making.

The reason that Congress does not support even the modest gun safety laws that we proposed after Sandy Hook is not because the majority of the American people don’t support it.  I mean, normally, politicians are responsive to the views of the electorate.  Here you’ve got the majority of the American people think it’s the right thing to do.  Background checks, other common-sense steps that would maybe save some lives couldn’t even get a full vote.  And why is that?  It’s because of politics.  It’s because interest groups fund campaigns, feed people fear. And in fairness, it’s not just in the Republican Party — although the Republican Party is just uniformly opposed to all gun safety laws.  And unless we change that political dynamic, we’re not going to be able to make a big dent in this problem.

For example, you’ll hear people talk about the problem is not guns, it’s mental illness.  Well, if you talk to people who study this problem, it is true that the majority of these mass shooters are angry young men, but there are hundreds of millions of angry young men around the world — tens of millions of angry young men.  Most of them don’t shoot.  It doesn’t help us just to identify — and the majority of people who have mental illnesses are not shooters.  So we can’t sort through and identify ahead of time who might take actions like this.  The only thing we can do is make sure that they can’t have an entire arsenal when something snaps in them.

And if we’re going to do something about that, the politics has to change.  The politics has to change.  And the people who are troubled by this have to be as intense and as organized and as adamant about this issue as folks on the other side who are absolutists and think that any gun safety measures are somehow an assault on freedom, or communistic — or a plot by me to takeover and stay in power forever or something.  (Laughter.)  I mean, there are all kinds of crackpot conspiracy theories that float around there — some of which, by the way, are ratified by elected officials in the other party on occasion.

So we’ve got to change the politics of this.  And that requires people to feel — not just feel deeply — because I get a lot of letters after this happens — “do something!”  Well, okay, here’s what you need to do.  You have to make sure that anybody who you are voting for is on the right side of this issue.  And if they’re not, even if they’re great on other stuff, for a couple of election cycles you’ve got to vote against them, and let them know precisely why you’re voting against them.  And you just have to, for a while, be a single-issue voter because that’s what is happening on the other side.

And that’s going to take some time.  I mean, the NRA has had a good start.  They’ve been at this a long time, they’ve perfected what they do.  You’ve got to give them credit — they’re very effective, because they don’t represent the majority of the American people but they know how to stir up fear; they know how to stir up their base; they know how to raise money; they know how to scare politicians; they know how to organize campaigns.  And the American people are going to have to match them in their sense of urgency if we’re actually going to stop this.

Which isn’t to say stopping all violence.  We’re not going to stop all violence.  Violence exists around the world, sadly.  Part of original sin.  But our homicide rates are just a lot higher than other places — that, by the way, have the same levels of violence.  It’s just you can’t kill as many people when you don’t have easy access to these kinds of weapons.

And I’m deeply saddened about what happened yesterday.  But Arne is going back to Chicago — let’s not forget, this is happening every single day in forgotten neighborhoods around the country.  Every single day.  Kids are just running for their lives, trying to get to school.  Broderick, when we were down in New Orleans, sitting down with a group of young men, when we were talking about Katrina, and I’ve got two young men next to me, both of them had been shot multiple times.  They were barely 20.

So we got to make a decision.  If we think that’s normal, then we have to own it.  I don’t think it’s normal.  I think it’s abnormal.  I think we should change it.  But I can’t do it by myself.

So the main thing I’m going to do, Jon, is talk about it.  And hope that over time I’m changing enough minds — along with other leaders around the country — that we start finally seeing some action.  I don’t think it’s going to happen overnight.

Cheryl Bolen.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  To go back to your opening remarks, you said that you won’t sign another short-term CR.  But as you know, yesterday Secretary Lew announced that the government’s borrowing authority would run out around November 5th.  Would you recommend negotiating an increase in the debt ceiling as part of these budget negotiations on spending caps?  And also does the Speaker’s race complicate these negotiations?

THE PRESIDENT:  I’m sure the Speaker’s race complicates these negotiations.  (Laughter.)  That was a rhetorical question. (Laughter.)  It will complicate the negotiations.  But when it comes to the debt ceiling, we’re not going back there.

Maybe it’s been a while, so let me just refresh everybody’s memory.  Raising the debt ceiling does not authorize us to spend more, it simply authorizes us to pay the bills that we have already incurred.  It is the way for the United States to maintain its good credit rating — the full faith and credit of the United States.

Historically, we do not mess with it.  If it gets messed with, it would have profound implications for the global economy and could put our financial system in the kind of tailspin that we saw back in 2007-2008.  It’s just a bad thing to do.  So we’re not going to negotiate on that.  It has to get done in the next five weeks.  So even though the continuing resolution to keep the government open lasts for 10 weeks, we have to get the debt ceiling raised in five.  You’ve got a shorter timetable to get that done.

But here’s the bottom line:  Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, myself, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid — we’ve all spoken and talked about trying to negotiate a budget agreement.  And, yes, Speaker Boehner’s decision to step down complicates it.  But I do think that there is still a path for us to come up with a reasonable agreement that raises the spending caps above sequester to make sure that we can properly finance both our defense and nondefense needs, that maintains a prudent control of our deficits, and that we can do that in short order.  It’s not that complicated.  The math is the math.

And what I’ve encouraged is that we get started on that work immediately, and we push through over the next several weeks — and try to leave out extraneous issues that may prevent us from getting a budget agreement.

I know, for example, that there are many Republicans who are exercised about Planned Parenthood.  And I deeply disagree with them on that issue, and I think that it’s mischaracterized what Planned Parenthood does.  But I understand that they feel strongly about it, and I respect that.  But you can’t have an issue like that potentially wreck the entire U.S. economy — any more than I should hold the entire budget hostage to my desire to do something about gun violence.  I feel just as strongly about that and I think I’ve got better evidence for it.  But the notion that I would threaten the Republicans that unless they passed gun safety measures that would stop mass shootings I’m going to shut down the government and not sign an increase in the debt ceiling would be irresponsible of me.  And the American people, rightly, would reject that.

Well, same is true for them.  There are some fights that we fight individually.  They want to defund Planned Parenthood, there’s a way to do it.  Pass a law, override my veto.  That’s true across a whole bunch of issues that they disagree with me on, and that’s how democracy works.  I got no problem with that.

But you have to govern.  And I’m hoping that the next Speaker understands that the problem Speaker Boehner had or Mitch McConnell had in not dismantling Obamacare, or not eliminating the Department of Education, or not deporting every immigrant in this country was not because Speaker Boehner or Mitch McConnell didn’t care about conservative principles.  It had to do with the fact that they can’t do it in our system of government, which requires compromise.  Just like I can’t do everything I want in passing an immigration bill, or passing a gun safety bill.  And that doesn’t mean, then, I throw a tantrum and try to wreck the economy, and put hardworking Americans who are just now able to dig themselves out of a massive recession, put them in harm’s way.  Wrong thing to do.

Peter Alexander.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  You addressed — I want to follow up on Jon’s questions about the issue that’s obviously deeply personal and moving to you — that is the gun issue.  Apart from Congress’s inaction, apart from the desire for new laws and, beyond that, apart from the gun lobby, as you noted, the pattern is that these perpetrators are angry, aggrieved, oftentimes mentally ill young men.  Is there something that you can do with the bully pulpit, with your moral authority, with your remaining time in office to help reach these individuals who believe that gun violence is the way out?

THE PRESIDENT:  No.  I think I can continue to speak to the American people as a whole and hopefully model for them basic social norms about rejecting violence, and cooperation and caring for other people.  But there are a lot of young men out there.  And having been one myself once, I can tell you that us being able to identify or pinpoint who might have problems is extraordinarily difficult.

So I think we, as a culture, should continuously think about how we can nurture our kids, protect our kids, talk to them about conflict resolution, discourage violence.  And I think there are poor communities where, rather than mass shootings, you’re seeing just normal interactions that used to be settled by a fistfight settled with guns where maybe intervention programs and mentorship and things like that can work.  That’s the kind of thing that we’re trying to encourage through My Brother’s Keeper.

But when it comes to reaching every disaffected young man, 99 percent of — or 99.9 percent of whom will hopefully grow out of it — I don’t think that there’s a silver bullet there.  The way we are going to solve this problem is that when they act out, when they are disturbed, when that particular individual has a problem, that they can’t easily access weapons that can perpetrate mass violence on a lot of people.

Because that’s what other countries do.  Again, I want to emphasize this.  There’s no showing that somehow we are inherently more violent than any other advanced nation, or that young men are inherently more violent in our nation than they are in other nations.  I will say young men inherently are more violent than the rest of the population, but there’s no sense that somehow this is — it’s something in the American character that is creating this.  Levels of violence are on par between the United States and other advanced countries.  What is different is homicide rates and gun violence rates and mass shooting rates.  So it’s not that the behavior or the impulses are necessarily different as much as it is that they have access to more powerful weapons.

Julia Edwards.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  You just said that you reject President Putin’s approach to Syria and his attacks on moderate opposition forces.  You said it was a recipe for disaster.  But what are you willing to do to stop President Putin and protect moderate opposition fighters?  Would you consider imposing sanctions against Russia?  Would you go so far as to equip moderate rebels with anti-aircraft weapons to protect them from Russian air attacks?  And how do you respond to critics who say Putin is outsmarting you, that he took a measure of you in Ukraine and he felt he could get away with it?

THE PRESIDENT:  Yes, I’ve heard it all before.  (Laughter.) I’ve got to say I’m always struck by the degree to which not just critics but I think people buy this narrative.

Let’s think about this.  So when I came into office seven and a half years ago, America had precipitated the worst financial crisis in history, dragged the entire world into a massive recession.  We were involved in two wars with almost no coalition support.  U.S. — world opinion about the United States was at a nadir — we were just barely above Russia at that time, and I think potentially slightly below China’s.  And we were shedding 800,000 jobs a month, and so on and so forth.

And today, we’re the strongest large advanced economy in the world — probably one of the few bright spots in the world economy.  Our approval ratings have gone up.  We are more active on more international issues and forge international responses to everything from Ebola to countering ISIL.

Meanwhile, Mr. Putin comes into office at a time when the economy had been growing and they were trying to pivot to a more diversified economy, and as a consequence of these brilliant moves, their economy is contracting 4 percent this year.  They are isolated in the world community, subject to sanctions that are not just applied by us but by what used to be some of their closest trading partners.  Their main allies in the Middle East were Libya and Syria — Mr. Gaddafi and Mr. Assad — and those countries are falling apart.  And he’s now just had to send in troops and aircraft in order to prop up this regime, at the risk of alienating the entire Sunni world.

So what was the question again?  (Laughter.)

No, but I think it’s really interesting to understand.  Russia is not stronger as a consequence of what they’ve been doing.  They get attention.  The sanctions against Ukraine are still in place.  And what I’ve consistently offered — from a position of strength, because the United States is not subject to sanctions and we’re not contracting 4 percent a year — what I’ve offered is a pathway whereby they can get back onto a path of growth and do right by their people.

So Mr. Putin’s actions have been successful only insofar as it’s boosted his poll ratings inside of Russia — which may be why the beltway is so impressed, because that tends to be the measure of success.  Of course, it’s easier to do when you’ve got a state-controlled media.

But this is not a smart, strategic move on Russia’s part.  And what Russia has now done is not only committed its own troops into a situation in which the overwhelming majority of the Syrian population sees it now as an enemy, but the Sunni population throughout the Middle East is going to see it as a supporter, an endorser, of those barrel bombs landing on kids — at a time when Russia has a significant Muslim population inside of its own borders that it needs to worry about.

So I want Russia to be successful.  This is not a contest between the United States and Russia.  It is in our interest for Russia to be a responsible, effective actor on the international stage that can share burdens with us, along with China, along with Europe, along with Japan, along with other countries — because the problems we have are big.  So I’m hopeful that Mr. Putin, having made this doubling-down of the support he has provided to Mr. Assad, recognizes that this is not going to be a good long-term strategy and that he works instead to bring about a political settlement.

Just as I hope that they can resolve the issues with Ukraine in a way that recognizes Russian equities but upholds the basic principle of sovereignty and independence that the Ukrainian people should enjoy like everybody else.  But until that time, we’re going to continue to have tensions and we’re going to continue to have differences.

But we’re not going to make Syria into a proxy war between the United States and Russia.  That would be bad strategy on our part.  This is a battle between Russia, Iran, and Assad against the overwhelming majority of the Syrian people.  Our battle is with ISIL, and our battle is with the entire international community to resolve the conflict in a way that can end the bloodshed and end the refugee crisis, and allow people to be at home, work, grow food, shelter their children, send those kids to school.  That’s the side we’re on.

This is not some superpower chessboard contest.  And anybody who frames it in that way isn’t paying very close attention to what’s been happening on the chessboard.

All right, last question.  Major Garrett.

Q    Mr. President, good to see you.

THE PRESIDENT:  Good to see you.

Q    And for the children there, I promise I won’t take too long.  So you’ve been very patient.

THE PRESIDENT:  I’ve been boring them to death, I guarantee it.  (Laughter.)  But there have been times where I’ve snagged rebounds for Ryan when he is shooting three-pointers so he has got to put up with this.  (Laughter.)

Q    Understood.  Mr. President, I wonder if you could tell the country to what degree you were changed or moved by what you discussed in private with Pope Francis?  What do you think his visit might have meant for the country long term?  And for Democrats who might already be wondering, is it too late for Joe Biden to decide whether or not to run for President?  And lastly, just to clarify, to what degree did Hillary Clinton’s endorsement just yesterday of a no-fly zone put her in a category of embracing a half-baked answer on Syria that borders on mumbo jumbo?

THE PRESIDENT:  On the latter issue, on the last question that you asked, Hillary Clinton is not half-baked in terms of her approach to these problems.  She was obviously my Secretary of State.  But I also think that there’s a difference between running for President and being President, and the decisions that are being made and the discussions that I’m having with the Joint Chiefs become much more specific and require, I think, a different kind of judgment.  And that’s what I’ll continue to apply as long as I’m here.  And if and when she’s President, then she’ll make those judgments.  And she’s been there enough that she knows that these are tough calls but that —

Q    — that she should know better?

THE PRESIDENT:  No, that’s not what I said.  That’s perhaps what you said.  What I’m saying is, is that we all want to try to relieve the suffering in Syria, but my job is to make sure that whatever we do we are doing in a way that serves the national security interests of the American people; that doesn’t lead to us getting into things that we can’t get out of or that we cannot do effectively; and as much as possible, that we’re working with international partners.

And we’re going to continue to explore things that we can do to protect people and to deal with the humanitarian situation there, and to provide a space in which we can bring about the kind of political transition that’s going to be required to solve the problem.  And I think Hillary Clinton would be the first to say that when you’re sitting in the seat that I’m sitting in, in the Situation Room, things look a little bit different — because she’s been right there next to me.

I love Joe Biden, and he’s got his own decisions to make, and I’ll leave it at that.  And in the meantime, he’s doing a great job as Vice President and has been really helpful on a whole bunch of issues.

Pope Francis I love.  He is a good man with a warm heart and a big moral imagination.  And I think he had such an impact in his visit here — as he has had around the world — because he cares so deeply about the least of these, and in that sensea expresses what I consider to be, as a Christian, the essence of Christianity.  And he’s got a good sense of humor.  (Laughter.)  Well, I can’t share all his jokes.  They were all clean.  (Laughter.)

And as I said in the introduction in the South Lawn when he appeared here at the White House, I think it’s really useful that he makes us uncomfortable in his gentle way; that he’s constantly prodding people’s consciences and asking everybody all across the political spectrum what more you can do to be kind, and to be helpful, and to love, and to sacrifice, and to serve.  And in that sense, I don’t think he’s somebody where we should be applying the typical American political measures — liberal and conservative, and left and right — I think he is speaking to all of our consciences, and we all have to then search ourselves to see if there are ways that we can do better.

Q    (Inaudible.)

THE PRESIDENT:  It did.  I think that when I spend time with somebody like the Pontiff — and there are other individuals, some of whom are famous, some of whom are not, but who are good people and deeply moral — then it makes me want to be better, makes me want to do better.  And those people are great gifts to the world.  And sometimes they’re just a teacher in a classroom. And sometimes they’re your neighbor.  And sometimes they’re your mom, or your wife.  Sometimes they’re your kids.  But they can encourage you to be better.  That’s what we’re all trying to do.

And that’s part of the wonderful thing about Pope Francis, is the humility that he brings to do this.  His rejection of the absolutism that says I’m 100 percent right and you’re 100 percent wrong; but rather, we are all sinners and we are all children of God.  That’s a pretty good starting point for being better.

All right.  Thank you, guys, for your patience.  You can now go home.  (Laughter.)

Thanks.

END

4:53 P.M. EDT

Full Text Obama Presidency September 16, 2015: President Barack Obama’s remarks to the business roundtable urging against a government shutdown transcript

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President to the Business Roundtable

Source: WH, 9-16-15

Business Roundtable Headquarters
Washington, D.C.

11:24 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, Randall, and thank you to everybody here at the Business Roundtable for having me today.  I’m just going to say a few words and then hopefully spend a lot of time taking your questions.

Seven years ago today was one of the worst days in the history of our economy.  If you picked up the Wall Street Journal that morning, you read that the shocks from AIG and Lehman were spreading worldwide.  The day before, stocks had suffered their worst loss since 9/11.  In the months after, businesses would go bankrupt, millions of Americans would lose their jobs and their homes, and our economy would reach the brink of collapse.

That’s where we were when I became chief executive.  Here’s where we are today:  Businesses like yours have created more than 13 million new jobs over the past 66 months -– the longest streak of job growth on record.  The unemployment rate is lower than it’s been in over seven years.  There are more job openings right now than at any time in our history.  Housing has bounced back.  Household wealth is higher than it was before the recession.  We have made enormous strides in both traditional energy sources and clean energy sources while reducing our carbon emissions.  And our education system is actually making significant progress with significant gains in reducing the dropout rate, reading scores increasing, math scores increasing.  And, by the way, more than 16 million people have health insurance that didn’t have it before.

So this progress is a testament to American business and innovation.  It’s a testament to the workers that you employ.  But I’m going to take a little credit, too.  It’s a testament to some good policy decisions.  Soon after we took office, we passed the Recovery Act, rescued our auto industry, worked to rebuild our economy on a stronger foundation for growth.  Other countries in some cases embraced austerity as an ideology without looking at the data and the facts, tried to cut their way out of recession.  The results speak for themselves.  America has come back from crisis faster than almost every other advanced nation on Earth.  And at a time of significant global volatility, we remain the world’s safest, smartest investment.

Of course, I will not be satisfied — and we as a country shouldn’t be satisfied — until more working families are feeling the recovery in their own lives.  But the fact is that what I’ve called middle-class economics has been good for business.  Corporate profits have hit an all-time high.  Slowing health care prices and plummeting energy costs have helped your bottom lines.  Manufacturing is growing at the fastest clip in about two decades.  Our workforce is more educated than ever before.  The stock market has more than doubled since 2009, and 2015 is on pace to be the year with the highest consumer confidence since 2004.  And America’s technological entrepreneurs have continued to make incredible products that are changing our lives rapidly.
Now, you wouldn’t know any of this if you were listening to the folks who are seeking this office that I occupy.  (Laughter.)  In the echo chamber that is presidential politics, everything is dark and everything is terrible.  They don’t seem to offer many solutions for the disasters that they perceive -– but they’re quick to tell you who to blame.

I’m here to say that there’s nothing particularly patriotic or American about talking down America, especially when we stand as one of the few sources of economic strength in the world.

Right now, we’ve got the chance to build on progress that we have made and that is acknowledged worldwide.  We have a chance to grow the economy even faster, create jobs even faster, lift people’s incomes and prospects even faster.  We just have to make some sensible choices.  And I’m going to focus on one particular example.  America’s next fiscal year is almost upon us, which means that Congress has about two weeks to pass a budget.  If they don’t, they will shut down America’s government for the second time in two years.

Democrats are ready to sit down and negotiate with Republicans right now, today, as we speak.  But it should be over legitimate questions of spending and revenue –- not unrelated ideological issues.  You’ll recall that two years ago Republicans shut down the government because they didn’t like Obamacare.  Today, some are suggesting the government should be shut down because they don’t like Planned Parenthood.  That’s not good sense and it’s not good business.  The notion that we’d play chicken with an $18 trillion economy and global markets that are already skittish all because of an issue around a women’s health provider that receives less than 20 cents out of every thousand dollars in the federal budget, that’s not good policymaking.

The last time Republicans shut down the government, it cost our economy billions of dollars; consumer confidence plummeted.  I don’t think anybody here thinks that’s going to be good for your business.

I’ve always believed what our first Republican President, a guy from my home state named Abraham Lincoln, believed –- that through government we should do together those things that we can’t do as well by ourselves.  Funding infrastructure projects.  Educating the best workforce in the world.  Investing in cutting-edge research and development so that businesses can take that research and take some risks to create new products and new services.  Setting basic rules for the marketplace that encourage innovation and fair competition that help a market-based economy thrive.  Creating a safety net that not only helps the most vulnerable in our society but also frees all of us to take risks and protect against life’s uncertainties.  And welcoming, rather than disparaging, the striving immigrants that have always been the source of continued renewal, economic vibrancy and dynamism in our economy.

So my hope is that Congress aims a little higher than just not shutting the government down.  That’s a good start, we’d like them to achieve that, but I think we can do better.  We can actually do some things to help the economy grow.  After the last shutdown, both parties came together and unwound some of the irrational cuts to our economy and military readiness that’s known as sequester.  That agreement expires in two weeks as well.  And for those of you who are not steeped in federal budget terminology, sequester basically are automatic topline cuts that don’t discriminate, don’t think through what are good investments and what is waste.  And if we don’t reverse the cuts that are currently in place, a lot of the drivers of growth that your companies depends on — research, job training, infrastructure, education for our workforce — they are going to be reduced effectively at a time when other countries around the world are racing to get ahead of us.  On the other hand, if Congress does reverse dome of these cuts, then our own budget office estimates it would add about half a million jobs to our economy next year alone, about 0.4 percent to GDP.

And keep in mind that we can afford it right now — all the things I said at the front in terms of the recovery that we’ve made.  We’ve also reduced the deficit by two-thirds.  Right now it’s about 2.8 percent of GDP.  We’ve reduced our deficit faster than some of those countries that pursued strict austerity policies and weren’t thinking about how to grow the economy.

And so we are well positioned without adding to the deficit.  I want to repeat — since I took office, we’ve cut the deficit by more than two-thirds.  And the good news is we might actually be moving beyond some of the stale debates we’ve been having about spending and revenue over the past several years if what economists and people who are knowledgeable about the federal budget are listened to as opposed by this being driven by short-term politics.

People in both parties, including some of the leading Republican candidates for President, have been putting out proposals.  Some I agree with, some I don’t.  I’ll give you one example, though.  You’ve got two leading candidates on the Republican side who have said that we should eliminate the carried interest loophole.  Now, there’s disagreement in this room around that.  But I will tell you that keeping this tax loophole, which leads to folks who are doing very well paying lower rates than their secretaries, is not in any demonstrable way improving our economy.

On the other hand, if we close the tax loophole, we could double the number of workers in America’s job training programs.  We could help another 4 million students afford college.  These are sensible choices that if you were running your business and you took a look at it, you’d make that decision.  Well, America should too.

And this is an example of how we can maintain fiscal responsibility while at the same time making the investments that we need to grow.

So the bottom line is this:  Seven years ago, if we had listened to some politicians who said we could only cut our way to prosperity, the fact is we’d be worse off today.  If we listen to them now, then we’re going to be worse off tomorrow.

I hope that you will talk to your friends in Congress, Democrats and Republicans alike.  As Congress flirts with another shutdown, remind them of what is at stake.  We will have some disagreements sometimes.  I do not expect to get 100 percent of what I want in any conversation, including with my wife.  But I do expect us to stay focused on why we’re here, which is to help the American people and businesses like yours and your workers do better.  That’s our job.  We’re not supposed to be impeding progress.  We’re supposed to be advancing progress, accelerating it.

And if our leaders can put common sense over ideology and the good of the country before the good of the party, then we’ll do just fine.  Despite the perennial doom and gloom that I guess is inevitably part of a presidential campaign, America is winning right now.  America is great right now.  We can do even better.  But the reason that I’m so confident about our future is not because of our government or the size of our GDP or our military, but because everybody in this country that I meet — regardless of their station in life, their race, their religion, the region they live in — they do believe in a common creed that if people work hard in this country, they should be able to get ahead.  And I know that’s what you believe.  That’s the values that you try to instill in our companies, as well.  My hope is, is that that decency, that hard work, that common sense is going to be reflected here in Washington.

So with that, let me take some questions.  And I’m going to start with Randall, because since he volunteered for what I’m sure is a thankless job of being head of the — (laughter).

Q    I’ll get it going here.  I know there are a lot of other questions for you.  But Leader McConnell was just here a little earlier, and he gave us all a cause to exhale, talking about the budget and seemed confident that we would get a place where we would have a budget.  And in the context of that he spoke about how split government can actually provide opportunities for getting big things done that might be hard to get done otherwise.  And he caused a head-snapper with all of us when he gave you a very strong compliment over —

THE PRESIDENT:  My head is snapping.  (Laughter.)  What did I do?

Q    Trade Promotion Authority, and how you worked that and you worked it very aggressively.  And, by the way, all of us in here — Mike Froman, I don’t know if he’s here, and Jeff Zients are very complimentary of the work that was done there.

So now you have the authority to get a trade deal done.  It’s going to have to come back to Congress, and so forth.  Talk to us a little bit about your view of the opportunity to get the Trans-Pacific deal done.

THE PRESIDENT:  I am confident that we can get it done, and I believe we can get it done this year.  The trade ministers should be meeting again sometime in the next several weeks.  They have the opportunity to close the deal.  Most chapters have been completed at this point.  And I’m confident that it will, in fact, accomplish our central goal, which is to make sure that we’ve got a level playing field for American businesses and American workers in the fastest-growing region of the world.

There are going to be unprecedented protections for labor standards and environmental standards, but also for IP protection, also for making sure that when any company here makes an investment, that they’re not being disadvantaged but are instead being treated like domestic companies for commercial purposes.

And so the notion here is, is that we’ve got 11 nations who represent the fastest-growing, most populous part of the world buying into a high-standards trade deal that allows us and your companies on a consistent basis to compete.  And the good news is, is that with a lot of tough negotiating and a lot of pushing and pulling — mainly by Mr. Froman, but occasionally I get called in to lob a call into one of my counterparts — I think that we’re going to get this done.

Now, the key then, once we close the negotiations and we have an agreement, is to get TPP through Congress.  We got it through.  I will return the compliment of Mitch McConnell worked very hard and very creatively to get it done.  We should not assume, though, that because the authority was done, that we automatically are going to be able to get TPP done.

And I’ll be honest with you, the reason is that the politics around trade are tough.  And I said this even in the run-up to getting TPA authority.  A lot of Americans, when they think of trade, think of plants in their hometown or nearby shutting down and moving to Mexico or China, and American manufacturing and good-paying jobs being lost.  That’s the image of trade.

And the argument that I have made consistently to Democrats has been that there may have been some mistakes made in past trade agreements in not, for example, having enforceable labor and environmental provisions that put American companies that are doing the right thing at a disadvantage; that there weren’t enough safeguards for intellectual property and the abuses of state-owned enterprises and subsidies that companies may have been involved with.

But that’s the status quo now.  And if you want to correct those things, we’ve got to raise the bar.  I didn’t fully persuade all my Democratic colleagues, because the politics are tough.  And I was willing to take my case to the Democratic caucus and to talk to my friends in organized labor and say that we can’t look backwards, we’ve got to look forward.  We’re going to have to compete in these areas.

Here’s the concern politically, is that I think within the Republican Party some of the same impulses that are anti-immigration reform, some of the same impulses that see the entire world as a threat and we’ve got to wall ourselves off, some of those same impulses also start creeping into the trade debate.  And a party that traditionally was pro free trade now has a substantial element that may feel differently.

And so the BRT, I think — you know, you got to put Engler to work over there.  To their credit, both Mitch McConnell and John Boehner I think are on the right program here, but they’re going to need some help potentially with their membership, because the closer we get to political season, the tighter some of these votes get.  I will tell you this, though:  I am confident that if I’m presenting an agreement to Congress, that it will meet the commitment that I made that this would be the highest standard, most progressive trade deal in American history.  It will be good for American business and American workers.

Q    Hi, Mr. President.  Thank you for being with us.  I wanted to ask you about cybersecurity.  You put an executive order in place earlier this week because of the issues we have with information-sharing and with liabilities.  And we at the BRT are very supportive of the legislation that has passed the House and is now in progress in the Senate.  And I wanted to just get your thoughts on how you’re thinking about this, and also with the upcoming visit of the President of China about cybersecurity and our relationship with China.

THE PRESIDENT:  This is an issue that is not going away.  It is going to be more and more important, and it is going to be very challenging.  It’s challenging in part because the Internet itself, the architecture of it was not intended to carry trillions of dollars of transactions and everybody’s personal information.  It was designed for a couple of professors to trade academic papers.  And so the kind of security that we were looking for was not embedded into the DNA of the Internet.

And the vulnerabilities are significant and they are being exploited by not just state actors, but also non-state actors and criminal gangs at an accelerating pace.  So this is something that from a national security perspective and from a business perspective we’re going to have to continue to concentrate on.

One of the big issues that you mentioned, Maggie, that we’re focused on, is this encryption issue.  And there is a legitimate tension around this issue.  On the one hand, the stronger the encryption, the better we can potentially protect our data.  And so there’s an argument that says we want to turbocharge our encryption so that nobody can crack it.  On the other hand, if you have encryption that doesn’t have any way to get in there, we are now empowering ISIL, child pornographers, others to essentially be able to operate within a black box in ways that we’ve never experienced before during the telecommunications age.  And I’m not talking, by the way, about some of the controversies around NSA; I’m talking about the traditional FBI going to a judge, getting a warrant, showing probable cause, but still can’t get in.

So we’ve created a process around which to see if we can square the circle here and reconcile the need for greater and greater encryption and the legitimate needs of national security and law enforcement.

And I won’t say that we’ve cracked the code yet, but we’ve got some of the smartest folks not just in government but also in the private sector working together to try to resolve it.  And what’s interesting is even in the private sector, even in the tech community, people are on different sides of this thing.

With respect to China, this will probably be one of the biggest topics that I discuss with President Xi.  We have repeatedly said to the Chinese government that we understand traditional intelligence-gathering functions that all states, including us, engage in.  And we will do everything we can to stop you from getting state secrets or transcripts of a meeting that I’ve had, but we understand you’re going to be trying to do that.  That is fundamentally different from your government or its proxies engaging directly in industrial espionage and stealing trade secrets, stealing proprietary information from companies.  That we consider an act of aggression that has to stop.

And we are preparing a number of measures that will indicate to the Chinese that this is not just a matter of us being mildly upset, but is something that will put significant strains on the bilateral relationship if not resolved, and that we are prepared to some countervailing actions in order to get their attention.

My hope is, is that it gets resolved short of that, and ultimately the goal should be to have some basic international framework that won’t be perfect because there’s still going to be a lot of non-state actors and hackers who are very good, and we’re still going to have to have good defense and still have to be able to find the fingerprints of those and apprehend them, and stop networks that are engaged in cybercrime.

But among states, there has to be a framework that is analogous to what we’ve done with nuclear power because nobody stands to gain.  And, frankly, although the Chinese and Russians are close, we’re still the best at this.  And if we wanted to go on offense, a whole bunch of countries would have some significant problems.  And we don’t want to see the Internet weaponized in that way.  That requires I think some tough negotiations.  That won’t be a one-year process, but we’d like to see if we can — if we and the Chinese are able to coalesce around a process for negotiations, then I think we can bring a lot of other countries along.

Q    And we will work with you on that too.

THE PRESIDENT:  Good.

Q    Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT:  Ursula.

Q    Thank you for being here.  It’s also good to be reminded occasionally of some of the progress that we’ve made in like a complete sentence.  So I think thank you for that, as well.  And some recent ones — TPA is good; even the Iran deal, really good.  Health care standing up.  All good.  The place that we haven’t made a lot of progress but that’s really important for business and business progress is on tax and tax reform.

And what we’re getting to now is I think almost kind of like being backed in the corner.  So since you can’t get a grand deal, we’re starting to talk about sub-deals.  And the sub-deals in and of themselves are destructive, in the Business Roundtable’s view, to the grand deal, which is total tax reform or comprehensive tax reform.  So can you help us think about how we should negotiate this duality that we’re in right now?  And where do you think we’re going to end up?

THE PRESIDENT:  We put forward a proposal early on that I’m confident I could sell to this group.  Not everybody would be thrilled but I think I could argue that over time would be good for business, because essentially what we proposed was the traditional framework for tax reform:  close loopholes, lower rates.  We’d address international taxation in ways that currently put American businesses at a disadvantage and would allow for a repatriation, but would not simply empty out the Treasury and would generate enough revenue that we could actually also pay for some infrastructure.

And our hope was that we’d get some nibbles on the other side.  To his credit, Paul Ryan expressed real interest in discussions and negotiations.  But your previous speaker, Mitch McConnell, has said that he is not interested in getting tax reform — comprehensive tax reform of that sort done.

So there’s still work being done.  We’re still in conversations with Mr. Ryan.  And I know that Senator Schumer and others have still been working on the possibilities of a fairly robust package.  But ultimately you’re going to have to have the leader of the Senate majority party bought in to try to get this done.

I understand why tax reform is elusive — because those of us who believe in a simpler, fairer, more competitive tax framework in the abstract sometimes look at our bottom lines and say, I don’t know, that deduction is helping us pretty good here.  And even if this organization has been supportive, there are other business organizations in town that have some pretty strong influence over the Republican Party that haven’t been as wild on it, partly because their view is, is that the only kind of tax reform that’s acceptable is one that would also lower all rates, regardless of its effect on the deficit.  That’s just not something that is viable.

So we’re going to keep on working on it.  My suggestion would be that the BRT continue to encourage Speaker Boehner, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell to come up with an ambitious package.  And what I can assure you is, is that the White House will take it seriously.  We don’t expect that everything in our original package would go forward.

But the one thing that we couldn’t do — and I get concerned sometimes that what is labeled as tax reform ends up just being cuts, you’re not closing the loopholes, and as a consequence it’s a huge drain on the Treasury.  We then suddenly are accused of running up the deficit to help your tax rates, and we’re not doing enough to help grow the economy and help ordinary workers.  So that’s the one direction we can’t go in.

Yes, Tom.

Q    Thank you for being here.  I’d love to hear your thoughts on energy policy.  I know we talk a lot about all of the above, but I think what’s really changing kind of in an unprecedented way here recently are technology revolutions that are occurring either in the production of energy, or perhaps, more importantly, in the use of energy, that gives Americans I think a way to play offense in what has been a set of unprecedented challenges.  What’s your thoughts on that?

THE PRESIDENT:  Tom, I think you described it well.  I am much more optimistic about our ability to get a handle around energy that is good for our economy, good for business, good for consumers, good for job creation, and maybe saves the planet in the process.  I’m much more optimistic about that now than I was when I started as President.

And a good example is just when you look at what’s happened with solar.  I mean, we’re not quite at Moore’s law yet, but the pace at which the unit costs for solar energy have gone down is stunning.  We’ve seen not quite the same pace, but similar progress around wind.  Our natural gas production is unprecedented.  And I have been very supportive of our natural gas production as being not only important to our economy but also geopolitically.  It’s a huge recipe for energy independence as long as we get it — the methane discharge issues — right.  And I think there are ways of doing that with sound science.  So that’s on the production side.

And, as you said, on the utilization side, all of you are — there’s not a company here that is not producing significantly more product with less energy than you were just 10 years ago, and certainly than you were 20 years ago.  Everybody here has seen the power of tracking utilization, identifying waste, and timing issues around when is energy expensive, when is energy cheap.  So there’s enormous progress on the commercial side.  And then individual households now with things like Nest or the equivalence, we’re able to fine-tune our energy usage in ways that we just haven’t seen before.

And then you’ve got the whole transportation sector in which we’ve continued to make significant progress in Detroit as well as upstarts like Tesla.  There are still some distribution network issues around the transportation revolution, although companies like UPS are doing a great job I think already experimenting with their fleets.  So that’s all good news.

I would say that the big challenge now, if we’re going to realize all the potential here, is to work with utilities so that they have a business model in which they’re making money while seeing this change in distribution patterns and grid, because I think that there’s still some legitimate economic issues there that have to be sorted through.  And it’s tricky because it’s a patchwork system; we don’t have one national grid, obviously.

The second thing is, investment in basic research needs to continue.  Battery technology is greatly improved, but we still haven’t seen all the breakthroughs that I think that we can make with battery technology that would make a huge difference in storage.  And that’s an exciting area for development.

And then I would urge the BRT and some of you individually, as companies have already done this, view the issue of climate change and the Paris Conference that’s going to be coming up at the end of this year as an opportunity rather than as a problem.  Because this is coming; it’s coming generationally.  If you talk to your kids or my kids, they are much more attuned to this issue.  Consumers are going to be caring about it more and more.  The environmental effects that we’re seeing — I’m going to be calling Jerry Brown later today just to talk about California wildfires.  Some of you may have read the snowpack in the Sierra Nevada — lowest it’s been in 200 years.  The flooding problems that we’re already seeing in places like South Florida; it’s just during high tide.  Suddenly billions of dollars of property is under water.

So this is coming.  And for us to be out ahead of it and to think about how our ingenuity and our science can solve these problems is going to give us a jump on everybody else.  So there is a pledge that some members of the BRT have organized around supporting a strong Paris agreement.  I would encourage you to sign up on that and look for opportunities on this.  And that includes companies that have been in the traditional fossil fuel area.  Because if you know how to do oil and gas well, you can figure out how to do solar well, you can figure out to make money doing it.  You can figure out how to create efficiencies that help your bottom line.

And what we’ve tried to do with the Clean Power Plan is to give states flexibility, understanding everybody has got a different energy mix.  So, down south, we approved the first nuclear plant in a generation, basically, because we think nuclear needs to be part of that package.  I’m a big believer that there are going to be different ways to skin the cat on this thing.  We just have to set a baseline in which all of us understand the direction we need to go.  Instead of us spending a lot of time fighting science, let’s go with science.  We usually do better when we’re on the side of facts and evidence and science.  Just as a general rule, that’s proved to be our strength as Americans.

Jim.

Q    If I could just turn back to China for a second.  There are a lot of issues we’ve got to sort out, and you mentioned a couple of them — cybersecurity, their feelings about TPP, their own economy.  Their inward turn in the name of creating a consumer economy has had some protectionist elements that we don’t like.  I think, though — I think many in this room would like to see some kind of positive outcome from this summit, as well, that underlines our mutual benefit if we can figure out some of these things and find a way for the world’s two biggest economies to see a path forward as well as all the issues we’ve got.

Do you have a comment on the tone you’re going to try to set with the President, and roles that we could play in supporting both the — managing our relationship as well as finding a future for it?

THE PRESIDENT:  My tone with respect to China has been pretty consistent.  It doesn’t jump up and down depending on where the polls are.  My view is that China should be and will continue to be an economic competitor; that we need to make sure that we are reaching an understanding with them about our presence as a Pacific power, but that it is in our interest for China to continue what has been dubbed a “peaceful, orderly rise.”  I think that’s good for the world.

China is a big place with a lot of people.  And we’re better off if those people are eating and have shelter and are buying consumer goods, rather than starving and writhing on the streets.
And so what I’ve consistently communicated, first to President Hu when I came into office, now President Xi, is our goal is to have them as a partner in helping to maintain a set of international rules and norms that benefit everybody; that in fact, we’re what facilitated China’s rise.  They were essentially riding on our backs for the last 30 years because we were underwriting peace, security, the free flow of commerce, international rules in the financial sector.

And as they have matured, what we’ve said to them is, with power comes responsibility, so now you’ve got to step up.  You can’t act as if you are a third-world country and pursue protectionist policies, or engage in dumping, or not protect intellectual property at a time when we’re now — when you’re now the second and, eventually, probably the first-largest economy in the world.

You can’t simply pursue an export-driven strategy, because you’re too big.  You’re not going to be able to grow your economy at the same pace over the next 20 years that you did in the last 20 years.  Once your economy reaches a certain size, there’s not enough global market to absorb that, which means that you’ve got to start thinking about transparency within your own economy, and how are you setting up a safety net so that workers have some cushion, and in turn, are willing to spend money as opposed to stuffing it in a mattress.

You’ve got to be concerned about environmental issues, because you can’t breathe in Beijing.  And that spills over for all of us.  And as a large country with a powerful military, you can’t go around pushing your little neighbors around just because you’re bigger, but you have to start abiding by a basic code of conduct and a set of rules, because ultimately, you will be advantaged by everybody following the rules.

And I think in some areas, the Chinese understand this; I think in other areas, they don’t.  I think in other areas, they still see themselves as the poor country that shouldn’t have any obligations internationally.  And in some cases, they still feel that when we call them on issues like their behavior in the South China Sea, or on intellectual property theft, that we are trying to contain them as opposed to us just wanting them to abide by the same rules that helped create an environment in which they can rise.

The good news is that our fates are sufficiently intertwined, that — and in many ways, they still need us a lot more than we need them; that I think that there are going to be continuing areas in which they move, as long as we don’t resort to the kind of loose talk and name-calling that I notice some of our presidential candidates engage in — people you know.  (Laughter.)  It tends not to be constructive.

So bottom line, though, is, Jim, I think this summit will be useful.  I think there are going to be a lot of outcomes around things like energy and climate change, around improvements in how they deal with investors that will show constructive progress.  I think our military-to-military conversations have been much better than they were when I began office.

The one thing I would suggest that the BRT can do — two things.  Number one — and I think I’ve said this to some of you in the past — when your companies have a problem in China and you want us to help, you have to let us help.  Don’t tell us on the side, we’ve got this problem, you need to look into it, but then — but leave our names out of it because we want to be punished kind of thing.

Typically, we are not effective with the Chinese unless we are able to present facts and evidence of a problem.  Otherwise, they’ll just stonewall and slow-walk issues.  So if we’re seeing problems in terms of the competitive environment there, in terms of protecting your IP, in terms of unfair competition that runs afoul of understanding the principles that have already been established, you’ve got to let us know and let us be your advocates.  That’s important.

The second thing I think everybody here should do is not fall into the same trap that we fell into around Japan in the 1980s, which is somehow China is taking over just like Japan was taking over, and we’re in inevitable decline.  This whole argument — I’m just going to go on a quick rant here for a second — (laughter) — this whole notion that somehow we’re getting out-competed, out-dealt, out-this, out-that, we’re losing, we’re in — nobody outside the United States understands what we’re talking about.  (Laughter.)

I mean we’ve got problems.  We’ve got issues.  Our biggest problem is gridlock in Washington and that’s just not making some sensible policies.  But overall, our cards are so much better than everybody else’s.  Our pool of quality businesses and talent, and our institutions, and our rule of law, and how we manage and adapt to new and changing circumstances, and our dominance in knowledge-based industries — nobody matches us.  And we attract — the best talent around the world still wants to come here if we’d just let them come.

So I think it’s important for business voices to point out every once in a while America is in the driver’s seat if we make some smart decisions.   And that’s not a partisan comment, that is just the facts.  There is not a country out there, including China, that wouldn’t look at us with envy right now.

And so our problem is not that China is going to out-negotiate us, or that Mr. Putin is sort of out-strategizing us.  Anybody taken a look at the Russian economy lately?  That’s not our problem.  Our problem is us, typically.  We engage in — and I’m being generous when I say “we,” — (laughter) — but we engage in self-inflicted wounds like this potential government shutdown.  It’s unnecessary.

I’ve got time for a couple more questions.  Good to see you.  How you doing?  How you doing, Ed?  How is everybody back home?

Q    Very good.

THE PRESIDENT:  Good.

Q    Along that, in that same vein, looking earlier this summer, the expiration of the Ex-Im Bank authorization.

THE PRESIDENT:  Speaking of self-inflicted wounds.

Q    Understand.  And part of the ongoing discussion, debate here in Washington, the Senate has attached a reauthorization, as you know, to the transportation bill, which is now down at the House.  And on Monday the Roundtable sent a letter to the leadership on both sides in Congress pointing out really the benefits of reauthorization, that some of those get lost in this debate.  Because really, it’s been characterized as only benefitting a few companies, which ignores the thousands of people who are basically employed by our suppliers across the country, and the impact — positive impact that has, as well as it’s a net generator revenue for the governor — for the government.  And we have plans to have further discussions later today and this week with leadership in the House.

Do you have any — we had a good discussion with your team this morning.  Do you have any insights that you could share with us that would help us in getting that reauthorization?

THE PRESIDENT:  It is mind-boggling that this wasn’t reauthorized a year ago.  And it is this weird reversal in which the principle opponents are the tea party caucus in the Republican Party.

Somehow, Ex-Im Bank has become this cause célèbre of what some of the presidential candidates called “crony capitalism.”  And what’s ironic is obvious — I think some of you know the backstory.  There was I think a member of this organization that kind of started this whole thing because they were upset about some planes being sold to a competitor on a route, and suddenly this caught fire in the right wing Internet.  And it’s just hard to explain.

Look, Ed, I had a group of small businesses, ranging from, what, four people to a couple of hundred people, talking about how they use Ex-Im.  This is the only way that they can get into these markets.  And as you said, Ex-Im doesn’t cost the government.  This is not a money loser for us.  And I don’t have to tell Emil (ph) or Jim how important it is.  I keep on telling them I expect a gold watch from them because it seems like every time I take a foreign trip I’ve got to sell some turbine or plane.  (Laughter.)

And I was concerned about Jeff’s announcement that jobs that were here in the United States are now going to be overseas because we don’t get this done.  But that’s true for the supply chain; it’s also true for some smaller companies that use Ex-Im directly.  It’s not just that they’re part of the GE or Boeing supply chain, it’s that they’re selling tea to a country and this is the only mechanism they have to be able to make those sales.

The good news is McConnell and Boehner both say they want to get it done.  As you said, we’ve already shown there are sufficient votes for it in the Senate, and we actually think there are sufficient votes for it in the House.  I would concentrate your attention on House Republican caucus members.  And I think you have to flood the zone and let them know this is important.  And that includes, by the way, talking to individual members who, in their districts, potentially have companies that are being adversely affected as long as Ex-Im is frozen.

But my expectation is it gets done during the course of these budget negotiations.  And we’re going to push as hard as we can to get it, though.

Q    Mr. President, thank you for being here today.  One of the issues that we deal with and we talked about last time you were here was regulations.  And one of the areas that the Business Roundtable is very focused on these days is the ozone rule, which October 1, your administration will be coming out with a recommendation associated with that.

The Business Roundtable position is that we need to maintain the 75 parts-per-billion.  To lower that standard when technology doesn’t exist and when communities are already advancing toward the 75 goal — if you lower it to 70, it’s going to introduce another 200 counties in this country into non-attainment, which basically is a “we’re not open for business.”  And that’s our concern.  Do you have any thoughts on that, or what the administration’s plans are in that regard?

THE PRESIDENT:  There’s a lot of complicated technical issues involved in this, but I’ll try to simplify it as much as possible.

Number one, we’re under a court order to do this.  So I think there may be a misperception that the EPA can do whatever it wants here.  There were lawsuits brought under the previous administration that continued into my administration.  We went before a judge.  We actually, I think properly, got some additional time, because there was the notion that we were going to lower standards a few years ago, and then immediately get new data and force everybody to lower them all over again.  And we said, let’s just do this one time in a sensible way so that people can plan.

But we’ve got some legal constraints.  This is not something that just popped out of my head full blown.  And so I always enjoy seeing the advertising for “Obama’s ozone plan.”  The ozone rules date back to when I was I think still in law school, before I had any gray hair.  And there are some fairly stringent statutory guidelines by which the EPA is supposed to evaluate the standards.  So the EPA is following the science and the statutes as best as it can.

We are mindful that in some cases, because of the nature of where pollutants are generated, where they blow, that this can create a really complicated situation for certain local jurisdictions and local communities, and some states and counties end up being hit worse than others.  And we’re trying to work with those states and those communities as best we can taking in their concerns into account.

So I guess the bottom line is this is — you can legitimately go after me on the clean power plant rule because we — that was hatched by us, and I believe that we need to deal with climate change and — so we can have a lengthy debate about that.

And on ozone, this is an existing statute and an existing mechanism, and we are charged with implementing it based on the science that’s presented to us.  And that’s what we’re trying to do, but we’re taking this input into account.  I recognize some of the concerns.

I will say this — last point I’ll make on this.  Even with the costs associated with implementing the ozone rule, when you do a cost-benefit, the amount of lives saved, asthma averted and so forth is still substantially higher than the costs.  Now, that doesn’t necessarily resolve all the concerns that people may have about local costs being borne, whereas the savings are spread out more broadly.  And those are legitimate economic issues that have to be considered.  And the EPA has been listening to I think every stakeholder there.

But I think what you’ll see in the analysis overall is — we don’t issue a regulation where the costs are not lower than the benefits.  And if you look at the regulations we’ve generally put forward, the costs are substantially lower than the benefits that are generated.

Okay.

Q    Yes, thank you, Mr. President.  Many of us are interested in Cuba.  And the opening there has been positive.  There is a lot of issues to get to full normal relations.  Just how do you see that path happening?  And what’s the future of that in your opinion?  Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT:  I don’t think it’s going to be an overnight transformation, but I am convinced that by re-engaging Cuba, re-engaging the Cuban people, that we are creating the environment in which a generational change and transition will take place in that country.  And already you’re seeing conversations taking place about how is Cuba going to accommodate an influx of tourists, and how do they think about the Internet and open communications in order to be able to participate in the modern economy?

And that inevitably then leads to questions about can you hire — can a company hire a Cuban directly, a foreign investor, as opposed to going through the government?  And over time, that creates space for personal freedom and I think a long-term political transition.

For now, what we’ve said is that we will step by step look for areas and opportunities within our authorities.  As long as Congress still has the embargo in place, there are certain things we can’t do.  But there are certain things we can do, for example, on telecommunications, and we’re looking for opportunities there.

And we will also continue to press the Cuban government around issues of political freedom.  And when His Holiness the Pope comes, he’s going to be visiting Cuba.  That I think is going to be an opportunity for more interesting conversations inside of Cuba.

My biggest suggestion would be for the BRT just to start having a conversation on a bipartisan basis about lifting the embargo.  It doesn’t necessarily have to happen — or even should happen all in one fell swoop.  But I think if you look at the economic opportunities that are presented, they’re significant.  And it doesn’t make much sense that a country 90 miles off the shore of Florida that is not at this point a significant threat to us, and that has shown itself willing to at least look beyond its borders for the first time — even if it’s still scared of what it might bring — it doesn’t make sense for us to keep sticking to the old ways of doing business.

I’ll actually take one more question, and then I’ll come around and say hi to everybody.  So anybody else?  Yes, go ahead.

Q    Mr. President, again, thank you.  And I know a topic near to your heart has been education for young folks, and you’ve spent a lot of time on this.  And many of us have done things private-public partnerships.  And you recently made a comment about computer science for all high school kids, which I think is an important point, because technology is such a broad topic.  It will infiltrate all jobs in the future.

So maybe a chance to make some comments about how you envision something like that actually taking root over the long term that we could make some progress with it — on scale.

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, first of all, I want to commend Ginni and IBM because you guys have done some terrific work.  Anybody who wants some inspiration, go to the high school that IBM is participating in in Brooklyn where kids — a collaboration between the public school system, the city colleges of New York, the CUNY system and IBM.

And you’ve got kids from — most of them, parents never went to college.  A lot of them immigrant kids.  And they are marching through STEM education, pre-engineering education.  They’re getting essentially college credits by the time they’re sophomore or juniors in high school.  They’re able to save money because in five years in high school, they come out with an associate’s degree.  They then either are transferring to a four-year university with those credits, or they’re starting to work with IBM because they’ve been apprenticing and the curriculum design has given them confidence that if they do well, they’re going to be able to get a job.

That model is something that we’re actually looking to try to duplicate all across the country.  And the good news, as I mentioned at the top, is because of the strong work that Arne Duncan has done, the strong work that a lot of governors and local communities have done to increase accountability, creativity, have high expectations for kids, bust through some of the old bureaucratic obstacles.

We are seeing highest reading scores, highest math scores, highest graduation rates.  And part of our goal here is to improve STEM education generally.  A critical element of that is understanding this computer age that these kids are immersed.  And I don’t want them just to know how to use their phone to play video games; I want them to know how that phone works, and potentially code it and program it.

And what’s remarkable — I’m about the age where — I think my high school just had, like, the first coding class when I was maybe in seventh or eighth grade.  But this is what — you had, like, those cards, and it was — and the punch cards.  And now, the way these — the tools and resources that are available for kids starting in first, second grade — we have these science fairs and these little Girl Scout troops come in and they’ve coded, they’ve designed their own games, and — or simulations of entire towns with people and all kinds of scenarios that they’ve figured out.

And so it’s actually something that they naturally gravitate to.  We just have to start early.  It’s almost like a foreign language, where rather than try to catch kids when they’re in tenth, eleventh, twelfth grade, they get part of the broader curriculum and incorporate it into how you’re teaching math and how you’re teaching science and how you’re teaching social studies.  That seems to be the way in which kids get most engaged.

So we’re doing a lot of work with many of you individually as companies on this STEM education issue.  We hope that you will continue to participate.  You’ve been great partners on that front.

I’ll just say in closing, it’s always a pleasure to be here.  I want to just reiterate, as we enter into the silly season of politics, that the primary thing that is holding back a lot of potential growth, jobs, improved bottom lines, greater stability is well within our control right now, and are things that traditionally enjoyed bipartisan support — Ex-Im Bank, getting TPP done, financing and executing on an infrastructure policy.  I’ve had conversations with folks like Larry Fink and others about if we’re open to looking at new, creative ways of financing it, but the notion that we’re not doing that right now makes absolutely no sense — investing in research and development.

These are not partisan issues.  There are some areas where there have traditionally been legitimate arguments between Democrats and Republicans.  There are some issues — like on environmental regulations, or financial regulations, where Jamie and I may disagree, or Nick and I may disagree.  And we can have those arguments, and we probably won’t convince each other on some of these things.

But what I’m looking at is the low-hanging fruit that are no-brainers and that nobody here would argue with.  And the notion that we’re not doing them right now because — primarily because a faction within one of our parties has gone off the rails and sees a conspiracy around everything, or simply is opposed to anything I propose even if they used to propose it, that’s a problem.

And I think it’s very important for all of you to just step back and take a look at it, because you still have influence on at least some of those folks.  And challenge them.  Why wouldn’t we do things that everybody knows make sense?

Thank you, everybody.  (Applause.)

END
12:34 P.M. EDT

Full Text Campaign Buzz 2016 July 13, 2015: Hillary Clinton’s Speech on Economic Policy Transcript

ELECTION 2016

CampaignBuzz2016

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2016

THE HEADLINES….

Transcript of Hillary Clinton’s Speech On Economic Policy

Thank you, thank you, thank you so much. Thank you very much President Van Zandt, and thanks to everyone at the New School for welcoming us today. I’m delighted to be back.

You know, over the past few months, I’ve had the opportunity to listen to Americans’ concerns about an economy that still isn’t delivering for them. It’s not delivering the way it should – it still seems to most Americans that I have spoken with that it is stacked for those at the top.

But I’ve also heard their hopes for the future: going to college without drowning in debt… starting that small business they’ve always dreamed about… getting a job that pays well enough to support a family and provide for a secure retirement.

Previous generations of Americans built the greatest economy and strongest middle class the world has ever known on the promise of a basic bargain:

If you work hard and do your part, you should be able to get ahead. And when you get ahead, America gets ahead.

But over several decades, that bargain has eroded. Our job is to make it strong again.

For 35 years, Republicans have argued that if we give more wealth to those at the top – by cutting their taxes and letting big corporations write their own rules – it will trickle down, it will trickle down to everyone else.

Yet every time they have a chance to try that approach, it explodes the national debt, concentrates wealth even more, and does practically nothing to help hard-working Americans.

Twice now in the past 20 years, a Democratic president has had to come in and clean up the mess. I think the results speak for themselves.

Under President Clinton – I like the sound of that – America saw the longest peacetime expansion in history … nearly 23 million jobs… a balanced budget and a surplus for the future. And most importantly, incomes rose across the board, not just for those already at the top.

Eight years later, President Obama and the American people’s hard work pulled us back from the brink of Depression. President Obama saved the auto industry, imposed new rules on Wall Street, and provided health care to 16 million Americans.

Now today, today as the shadow of crisis recedes and longer-term challenges come into focus, I believe we have to build a “growth and fairness” economy. You can’t have one without the other.

We can’t create enough jobs and new businesses without more growth, and we can’t build strong families and support our consumer economy without more fairness.

We need both, because while America is standing again, we’re not yet running the way we should.

Corporate profits are at near-record highs and Americans are working as hard as ever – but paychecks have barely budged in real terms.

Families today are stretched in so many directions, and so are their budgets. Out-of-pocket costs of health care, childcare, caring for aging parents are rising a lot faster than wages.

I hear this everywhere I go.

The single mom who talked to me about juggling a job and classes at community college, while raising three kids. She doesn’t expect anything to come easy, but if she got a raise, everything wouldn’t be quite so hard.

The grandmother who works around the clock providing childcare to other people’s kids. She’s proud of her work but the pay is barely enough to live on, especially with the soaring price of her prescription drugs.

The young entrepreneur whose dream of buying the bowling alley where he worked as a teenager was nearly derailed by his student debt. If he can grow his business, he’ll be able to pay off his debt and pay his employees, including himself, more too.

Millions of hard-working Americans tell similar stories.

Wages need to rise to keep up with costs.

Paychecks need to grow.

Families who work hard and do their part deserve to get ahead and stay ahead.

The defining economic challenge of our time is clear:

We must raise incomes for hard-working Americans so they can afford a middle-class life. We must drive strong and steady income growth that lifts up families and lifts up our country.

And that will be my mission from the first day I’m President to the last. I will get up everyday thinking about the families of America, like the family that I came from with a hard working dad who started a small business and scrimped and saved and gave us a good middle class life. I’ll be thinking about all the people that I represented here in New York and the stories that they told me and that I worked with them to improve. And I will as your President take on this challenge against the backdrop of major changes in our economy and the global economy that didn’t start with the recession and won’t end with the recovery.

You know advances in technology and expanding global trade have created whole new areas of commercial activity and opened new markets for our exports, but too often they’re also polarizing our economy – benefiting high-skilled workers but displacing or downgrading blue collar jobs and other midlevel jobs that used to provide solid incomes for millions of Americans.

Today’s marketplace focuses too much on the short term – like second-to-second financial trading and quarterly earnings reports – and too little on long-term investments.

Meanwhile, many Americans are making extra money renting out a spare room, designing websites, selling products they design themselves at home, or even driving their own car. This “on demand” or so-called “gig economy” is creating exciting opportunities and unleashing innovation but it’s also raising hard questions about workplace protections and what a good job will look like in the future.

So all of these trends are real, and none, none is going away. But they don’t determine our destiny. The choices we make as a nation matter. And the choices we make in the years ahead will set the stage for what American life in the middle class in our economy will be like in this century.

As President, I will work with every possible partner to turn the tide. To make these currents of change start working for us more than against us. To strengthen –not hollow out – the American middle class.

Because I think at our best, that’s what Americans do. We’re problem solvers, not deniers. We don’t hide from change – we harness it.

The measure of our success must be how much incomes rise for hard-working families, not just for successful CEOs and money managers. And not just some arbitrary growth target untethered to people’s lives and livelihoods.

I want to see our economy work for the struggling, the striving, and the successful.

We’re not going to find all the answers we need today in the playbooks of the past. We can’t go back to the old policies that failed us before. Nor can we just replay previous successes. Today is not 1993 or 2009. We need solutions for the big challenges we face now.

So today I am proposing an agenda to raise incomes for hard-working Americans. An agenda for strong growth, fair growth, and long-term growth.

Let me begin with strong growth.

More growth means more jobs and more new businesses. More jobs give people choices about where to work. And employers have to offer higher wages and better benefits in order to compete with each other to hire new workers and keep the productive ones. That’s why economists tell us that getting closer to full employment is crucial for raising incomes.

Small businesses create more than 60 percent of new American jobs on net. So they have to be a top priority. I’ve said I want to be the small business President, and I mean it. And throughout this campaign I’m going to be talking about how we empower entrepreneurs with less red tape, easier access to capital, tax relief and simplification.

I’ll also push for broader business tax reform to spur investment in America, closing those loopholes that reward companies for sending jobs and profits overseas.

And I know it’s not always how we think about this, but another engine of strong growth should be comprehensive immigration reform.

I want you to hear this: Bringing millions of hard-working people into the formal economy would increase our gross domestic product by an estimated $700 billion over 10 years.

Then there are the new public investments that will help established businesses and entrepreneurs create the next generation of high-paying jobs.

You know when we get Americans moving, we get our country moving.

So let’s establish an infrastructure bank that can channel more public and private funds, channel those funds to finance world-class airports, railways, roads, bridges and ports.

And let’s build those faster broadband networks – and make sure there’s a greater diversity of providers so consumers have more choice.

And really there’s no excuse not to make greater investments in cleaner, renewable energy right now. Our economy obviously runs on energy. And the time has come to make America the world’s clean energy superpower. I advocate that because these investments will create millions of jobs, save us money in the long run, and help us meet the threats of climate change.

And let’s fund the scientific and medical research that spawns innovative companies and creates entire new industries, just as the project to sequence the human genome did in the 1990s, and President Obama’s initiatives on precision medicine and brain research will do in the coming years.

I will set ambitious goals in all of these areas in the months ahead.

But today let me emphasize another key ingredient of strong growth that often goes overlooked and undervalued: breaking down barriers so more Americans participate more fully in the workforce – especially women.

We are in a global competition, as I’m sure you have noticed, and we can’t afford to leave talent on the sidelines, but that’s exactly what we’re doing today. When we leave people out, or write them off, we not only shortchange them and their dreams — we shortchange our country and our future.

The movement of women into the workforce over the past forty years was responsible for more than three and a half trillion dollars in economic growth.

But that progress has stalled. The United States used to rank 7th out of 24 advanced countries in women’s labor force participation. By 2013, we had dropped to 19th. That represents a lot of unused potential for our economy and for American families.

Studies show that nearly a third of this decline relative to other countries is because they’re expanding family-friendly policies like paid leave and we are not.

We should be making it easier for Americans to be both good workers and good parents and caregivers. Women who want to work should be able to do so without worrying every day about how they’re going to take care of their children or what will happen if a family member gets sick.

You know last year while I was at the hospital here in Manhattan waiting for little Charlotte to make her grand entrance, one of the nurses said, “Thank you for fighting for paid leave.” And we began to talk about it. She sees first-hand what it means for herself and her colleagues as well as for the working parents that she helps take care of.

It’s time to recognize that quality, affordable childcare is not a luxury – it’s a growth strategy. And it’s way past time to end the outrage of so many women still earning less than men on the job — and women of color making even less.

All this lost money adds up and for some women, it’s thousands of dollars every year.

Now I am well aware that for far too long, these challenges have been dismissed by some as “women’s issues.”

Well those days are over.

Fair pay and fair scheduling, paid family leave and earned sick days, child care are essential to our competitiveness and growth.

And we can do this in a way that doesn’t impose unfair burdens on businesses – especially small businesses.

As President, I’ll fight to put families first – just like I have my entire career.

Now, beyond strong growth, we also need fair growth. And that will be the second key driver of rising incomes.

The evidence is in: Inequality is a drag on our entire economy, so this is the problem we need to tackle.

You may have heard Governor Bush say last week that Americans just need to work longer hours. Well, he must not have met very many American workers.

“Let him tell that to the nurse who stands on her feet all day or the trucker who drives all night. Let him tell that to the fast food workers marching in the streets for better pay. They don’t need a lecture – they need a raise.

The truth is, the current rules for our economy reward some work – like financial trading – much more than other work, like actually building and selling things the work that’s always been the backbone of our economy.

To get all incomes rising again, we need to strike a better balance. If you work hard, you ought to be paid fairly. So we have to raise the minimum wage and implement President Obama’s new rules on overtime. And then we have to go further.

I’ll crack down on bosses who exploit employees by misclassifying them as contractors or even steal their wages.

To make paychecks stretch, we need to take on the major strains on family budgets. I’ll protect the Affordable Care Act – and build on it to lower out-of-pocket health care costs and to make prescription drugs more affordable.

We’ll help families look forward to retirement by defending and enhancing Social Security and making it easier to save for the future.

Now many of these proposals are time-tested and more than a little battle-scarred. We need new ideas as well. And one that I believe in and will fight for is profit sharing.

Hard working Americans deserve to benefit from the record corporate earnings they help produce. So I will propose ways to encourage companies to share profits with their employees.

That’s good for workers and good for business.

Studies show profit-sharing that gives everyone a stake in a company’s success can boost productivity and put money directly into employees’ pockets. It’s a win-win.

Later this week in New Hampshire, I’ll have more to say about how we do this.

Another priority must be reforming our tax code.

Now we hear Republican candidates talk a lot about tax reform. But take a good look at their plans. Senator Rubio’s would cut taxes for households making around $3 million a year by almost $240,000 – which is way more than three times the earnings of a typical family. Well that’s a sure budget-busting give-away to the super-wealthy. And that’s the kind of bad economics you’re likely to get from any of the candidates on the other side.

I have a different take, guided by some simple principles.

First, hard-working families need and deserve tax relief and simplification.

Second, those at the top have to pay their fair share. That’s why I support the Buffett Rule, which makes sure that millionaires don’t pay lower rates than their secretaries.

I have also called for closing the carried interest loophole, which lets wealthy financiers pay an artificially low rate.

And let’s agree that hugely successful companies that benefit from everything America has to offer should not be able to game the system and avoid paying their fair share… especially while companies who can’t afford high-price lawyers and lobbyists end up paying more.

Alongside tax reform, it’s time to stand up to efforts across our country to undermine worker bargaining power, which has been proven again and again to drive up wages.

Republicans governors like Scott Walker have made their names stomping on workers’ rights. And practically all the Republican candidates hope to do the same as President.

I will fight back against these mean-spirited, misguided attacks.

Evidence shows that the decline of unions may be responsible for a third of the increase of inequality among men. So if we want to get serious about raising incomes, we have to get serious about supporting workers.

And let me just say a word here about trade. The Greek crisis as well as the Chinese stock market have reminded us that growth here at home and growth an ocean away are linked in a common global economy. Trade has been a major driver of the economy over recent decades but it has also contributed to hollowing out our manufacturing base and many hard-working communities. So we do need to set a high bar for trade agreements.

We should support them if they create jobs, raise wages, and advance our national security. And we should be prepared to walk away if they don’t.

To create fair growth, we need to create opportunity for more Americans.

I love the saying by Abraham Lincoln, who in many ways was not only the President who saved our union, but the president who understood profoundly the importance of the middle class, and the importance of the government playing its role in providing opportunities. He talked about giving Americans a fair chance in the race of life. I believe that with all my heart. But I also believe it has to start really early at birth. High quality early learning, especially in the first five years, can set children on the course for future success and raise lifetime incomes by 25 percent.

I’m committed to seeing every 4-year old in America have access to high-quality preschool in the next ten years. But I want to do more. I want to call for a great outpouring of support from our faith community, our business community, our academic institutions, from philanthropy and civic groups and concerned citizens to really help parents, particularly parents who are facing a lot of obstacles. To really help prepare their own children in that zero to four age group.

80% of your brain is physically formed by age of three. That’s why families like mine read, talk, and sing endlessly to our granddaughter. I’ve said that her first words are going to be enough with the reading, and the talking, and the singing. But we do it not only because we love doing it, even though I’ll admit it’s a little embarrassing to be reading a book to a two-week old, or a six-week old, a ten-week old. But we do it because we understand that it’s building her capacity for learning. And the research shows that by the time she enters kindergarten she will have heard 30 million more words than I child from a less privileged background.

Think of what we are losing because we are not doing everything we can to reach out to those families and we know again from so much research here in the United States and around the world that the early help, that mentoring, that intervention to help those often-stressed out young moms understand more about what they can do and avoid the difficulties that stand in the way of their being able to get their child off to the best start.

We also have to invest in our students and teachers at every level.

And in the coming weeks and months, I’ll lay out specific steps to improve our schools, make college truly affordable, and help Americans refinance their student debt.

Let’s embrace the idea of lifelong learning. In an age of technological change, we need to provide pathways to get skills and credentials for new occupations, and create online platforms to connect workers to jobs. There are exciting efforts underway and I want to support and scale the ones that show results.

As we pursue all these policies, we can’t forget our fellow Americans hit so hard and left behind by this changing economy— from the inner cities to coal country to Indian country. Talent is universal – you find it everywhere – but opportunity is not.

There are nearly 6 million young people aged 16 to 24 in America today who are not in school or at work. The numbers for young people of color are particularly staggering. A quarter of young black men and nearly 15 percent of all Latino youth cannot find a job.

We’ve got to do a better way of coming up to match the growing middle class incomes we want to generate with more pathways into the middle class. I firmly believe that the best anti-poverty program is a job, but that’s hard to say if there are not enough jobs for people that we are trying to help lift themselves out of poverty.

That’s why I’ve called for reviving the New Markets Tax Credit and Empowerment Zones to create greater incentives to invest in poor and remote areas.

When all Americans have the chance to study hard, work hard, and share in our country’s prosperity – that’s fair growth. It’s what I’ve always believed in and it’s what I will fight for as President.

Now, the third key driver of income alongside strong growth and fair growth must be long-term growth.

Too many pressures in our economy today push us toward short-termism. Many business leaders see this. They’ve talked to me about. One has called it the problem of “quarterly capitalism.” They say everything’s focused on the next earnings report or the short-term share price. The result is too little attention on the sources of long-term growth: research and development, physical capital, and talent.

Net business investment – which includes things like factories, machines, and research labs – has declined as a share of the economy. In recent years, some of our biggest companies have spent more than half their earnings to buy back their own stock, and another third or more to pay dividends. That doesn’t leave a lot left to raise pay or invest in the workers who made those profits possible or to make the new investments necessary to insure a company’s future success. These trends need to change. And I believe that many business leaders are eager to embrace their responsibilities, not just to today’s share price but also to workers, communities, and ultimately to our country and indeed our planet.

I’m not talking about charity – I’m talking about clear-eyed capitalism. Many companies have prospered by improving wages and training their workers that then yield higher productivity, better service, and larger profits.

Now it’s easy to try to cut costs by holding down or decreasing pay and other investments to inflate quarterly stock prices, but I would argue that’s bad for business in the long run.

And, it’s really bad for our country.

Workers are assets. Investing in them pays off. Higher wages pay off. And training pays off.

To help more companies do that, I’ve proposed a new $1,500 apprenticeship tax credit for every worker they train and hire.

And I will soon be proposing a new plan to reform capital gains taxes to reward longer-term investments that create jobs more than just quick trades.

I will also propose reforms to help CEOs and shareholders alike focus on the next decade rather than just the next day. Making sure stock buybacks aren’t being used only for an immediate boost in share prices. Empowering outside investors who want to build companies but discouraging “cut and run” shareholders who act more like old-school corporate raiders. And nowhere will the shift from short-term to long-term be more important than on Wall Street.

As a former Senator from New York, I know first-hand the role that Wall Street can and should play in our economy – helping Main Street grow and prosper and boosting new companies that make America more competitive globally.

But, as we all know, in the years before the crash, financial firms piled risk upon risk. And regulators in Washington either couldn’t or wouldn’t keep up.

I was alarmed by this gathering storm, and called for addressing the risks of derivatives, cracking down on subprime mortgages, and improving financial oversight.

Under President Obama’s leadership, we’ve imposed tough new rules that deal with some of the challenges on Wall Street. But those rules have been under assault by Republicans in Congress and those running for President.

I will fight back against these attacks and protect the reforms we’ve made. We can do that and still ease burdens on community banks to encourage responsible loans to local people and businesses they know and trust.

We also have to go beyond Dodd-Frank.

Too many of our major financial institutions are still too complex and too risky. And the problems are not limited to the big banks that get all the headlines. Serious risks are emerging from institutions in the so-called “shadow banking” system – including hedge funds, high frequency traders, non-bank finance companies – so many new kinds of entities which receive little oversight at all.

Stories of misconduct by individuals and institutions in the financial industry are shocking. HSBC allowing drug cartels to launder money. Five major banks pleading guilty to felony charges for conspiring to manipulate currency exchange and interest rates. There can be no justification or tolerance for this kind of criminal behavior.

And while institutions have paid large fines and in some cases admitted guilt, too often it has seemed that the human beings responsible get off with limited consequences – or none at all, even when they’ve already pocketed the gains.

This is wrong and, on my watch, it will change.

Over the course of this campaign, I will offer plans to rein in excessive risks on Wall Street and ensure that stock markets work for everyday investors, not just high frequency traders and those with the best – or fastest – connections.

I will appoint and empower regulators who understand that Too Big To Fail is still too big a problem.

We’ll ensure that no firm is too complex to manage or oversee.

And we will prosecute individuals as well as firms when they commit fraud or other criminal wrongdoing.

And when the government recovers money from corporations or individuals for harming the public, it should go into a separate trust fund to benefit the public. It, could for example, help modernize infrastructure or even be returned directly to taxpayers.

Now reform is never easy. But we have done it before in our country. But we have to get this right. And we need leadership from the financial industry and across the private sector to join with us.

Two years ago, the head of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, Terry Duffy, published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal that really caught my attention. He wrote, and I quote: “I’m concerned that those of us in financial services have forgotten who we serve—and that the public knows it… Some Wall Streeters can too easily slip into regarding their work as a kind of money-making game divorced from the concerns of Main Street.”

I think we should listen to Terry Duffy.

Of course, long-term growth is only possible if the public sector steps up as well.

So it’s time to end the era of budget brinksmanship and stop careening from one self-inflicted crisis to another. It’s time to stop having debates over the small stuff and focus on how we’re going to tackle the big stuff together:

How do we respond to technological change in a way that creates more good jobs than it displaces or destroys?

Can we sustain a boom in advanced manufacturing?

What are the best ways to nurture start-ups outside the successful corridors like Silicon Valley?

Questions like these demand thoughtful and mature debate from our policy makers in government, from our leaders in the private sector, and our economists, our academics, and others who can come to the table on behalf of America and perform their patriotic duty to ensure that our economy keeps working and our middle class keeps growing.

So government has to be smarter, simpler, more focused itself on long-term investments than short-term politics – and be a better partner to cities, states, and the private sector. Washington has to be a better steward of America’ tax-dollars and Americans’ trust. And please let’s get back to making decisions that rely on evidence more than ideology.

That’s what I’ll do as President. I will seek out and welcome any good idea that is actually based on reality. I want to have principled and pragmatic and progressive policies that really move us forward together and I will propose ways to ensure that our fiscal outlook is sustainable — including by continuing to restrain healthcare costs, which remain one of the key drivers of long-term deficits. I will make sure Washington learns from how well local governments, business, and non-profits are working together in successful cities and towns across America.

You know passing legislation is not the only way to drive progress. As President, I’ll use the power to convene, connect, and collaborate to build partnerships that actually get things done.

Because above all, we have to break out of the poisonous partisan gridlock and focus on the long-term needs of our country.

I confess maybe it’s the grandmother in me, but I believe that part of public service is planting trees under whose shade you’ll never sit.

And the vision I’ve laid our here today – for strong growth, fair growth, and long term growth, all working together — will get incomes rising again, will help working families get ahead and stay ahead.

That is the test of our time. And I’m inviting everyone to please join me, to do your part, that’s what great countries do. That’s what our country always has done. We rise to challenges.

It’s not about left, right, or center – it’s about the future versus the past.

I’m running for President to build an America for tomorrow, not yesterday.

An America built on growth and fairness.

An America where if you do your part, you will reap the rewards.

Where we don’t leave anyone out, or anyone behind.

Thank you all. Thank you. I just want to leave you with one more thought.

I want every child, every child in our country, not just the granddaughter of a former President or a former secretary of state, but every child to have the chance to live up to his or her God-given potential.

Please join me in that mission. Let’s do it all together.

Thank you so much.

Full Text Obama Presidency June 30, 2015: Middle Class Economics Rewarding Hard Work by Restoring Overtime Pay

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:

FACT SHEET: Middle Class Economics Rewarding Hard Work by Restoring Overtime Pay

Source: WH, 6-30-15

“Of course, nothing helps families make ends meet like higher wages…We still need to make sure employees get the overtime they’ve earned.”

– President Barack Obama, State of the Union Address, January 20, 2015

Middle class economics means that a hard day’s work should lead to a fair day’s pay.  For much of the past century, a cornerstone of that promise has been the 40-hour workweek.  But for decades, industry lobbyists have bottled up efforts to keep these rules up to date, leaving millions of Americans working long hours, and taking them away from their families without the overtime pay that they have earned. Business owners who treat their employees fairly are being undercut by competitors who don’t.

Today, President Obama announced that the Department of Labor will propose extending overtime pay to nearly 5 million workers. The proposal would guarantee overtime pay to most salaried workers earning less than an estimated $50,440 next year. The number of workers in each state who would be affected by this proposal can be found here.

The salary threshold guarantees overtime for most salaried workers who fall below it, but it is eroded by inflation every year.  It has only been updated once since the 1970s, when the Bush Administration published a weak rule with the strong support of industry.  Today, the salary threshold remains at $23,660 ($455 per week), which is below the poverty threshold for a family of four, and only 8 percent of full-time salaried workers fall below it.

Full Text Obama Presidency May 8, 2015: President Barack Obama’s Remarks on Trade at Nike

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President on Trade

Source: WH, 5-8-15

Nike, Inc.
Beaverton, Oregon

9:44 A.M. PDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, Oregon!  (Applause.)  Well, who arranged this day?  (Applause.)  Every time I come to Oregon this is what it looks like.  (Laughter.)  Yeah!  It never rains in Oregon, does it?

AUDIENCE:  No!

THE PRESIDENT:  Never.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Don’t come to California.  (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT:  All right.  Well, listen, it is wonderful to see all of you.  First of all, please give Mark another round of applause for his hospitality.  (Applause.)  And thanks to everyone at Nike for hosting us today, here in “Federer Platz.”  (Laughter.)  You know, the White House is cool.  (Laughter.)  We’ve got a basketball court — actually, it’s a tennis court that we repainted some lines — (laughter) — when I came into office.  So it’s a combination basketball-tennis court.  There is a putting green that President Eisenhower put in.  Can you imagine, by the way, if I had put in a putting green?  (Laughter.)  Things have changed.  (Laughter.)

But you’ve got all that and the 18th tee box from Pebble Beach.  (Applause.)  Come on.  I’m sure some of my staff is running around right now in the Michael Jordan and Mia Hamm buildings — (laughter) — they want to be lab rats for your new gear.  (Laughter.)

But it is wonderful to be here.  Please give it up for two people who fight every single day for Oregon workers — your Representatives in Congress — they do a great job — Earl Blumenauer and Suzanne Bonamici.  They are both here.  Give them a big round of applause.  (Applause.)  Yay!  And there are two people who couldn’t make it here today, but they’re doing a great job and you should give them a round of applause as well, and that’s Senator Ron Wyden and Representative Kurt Schrader.  (Applause.)

So it is great to be at the world headquarters of such an iconic company — a company that helps athletes succeed from the individual to the world stage.  And as you’ve heard, I’ve come to Oregon to talk a little bit about trade — which initially may have had some people thinking, what, is Mariota going someplace that we didn’t know about?  (Laughter.)  He’s going to be great. He’s an outstanding young man.  He’s going to be terrific — and from Hawaii, by the way.  (Applause.)  Local boy.

But this is important, and I want to tell you why I think trade deals and our willingness to go out there and compete on the global stage is so important.

Before I came out here, I had a chance to meet with some    small business owners from across Oregon, whose workers make everything from bikes to tea to stationery to wine.  And they know how important this is to them.  Sometimes when we talk about trade, we think of Nike, or we think of Boeing, or we think of G.E. — we think about these big multinational companies.  But those small business leaders came here today because they understood that these markets outside the United States will help them grow, and will help them hire more folks — just as all the suppliers to Nike or Boeing or G.E. or any of these other companies understand this is going to be critical to their growth and their ability to create new jobs.

In fact, that’s why Ron Wyden is not here — because he’s in Washington, D.C. as we speak quarterbacking this effort on behalf of Oregon’s small business owners and workers.

Now, small businesses are the backbone of our economy.  Eventually, like Nike, they grow sometimes into really, really big companies.  They employ millions of people; 98 percent of exporters are small businesses.  They’re the ones who make Made in Oregon and Made in the USA mean something.  And they represent something essential about this country — the notion that if you’ve got a good idea and you’re willing to work at it, you can turn that idea into a business, you can growth that business, and eventually, who knows what might happen.  You can give other people a chance to earn a living even as you do well.  That’s America’s promise.  And it’s up to us to keep that promise alive.

Now, that promise was threatened for almost everybody just about seven years ago, when the economy nearly collapsed, and millions of Americans lost their jobs and their homes and their life savings.  But thanks to the hard work of the American people and entrepreneurs like the ones who are here today — and some pretty good policies from my administration — (laughter) — we’re in a different place today.  (Applause.)  We’re in a different place today.

This morning, we learned that our economy created 223,000 new jobs last month.  (Applause.)  The unemployment rate ticked down again to 5.4 percent — which is the lowest it’s been in almost seven years.  (Applause.)  That’s 3 million new jobs over the past 12 months — nearly the fastest pace in over a decade.  And all told, over the past 62 months in a row, America’s businesses have created 12.3 million new jobs.

I should add, by the way, 62 months ago is when I signed the Affordable Care Act.  So, obviously, it hasn’t done too bad in terms of employment in this country.  (Applause.)  I just thought I’d mention that.  (Applause.)  Since there were a lot of predictions of doom and gloom, I would just suggest those who were making those predictions go back and check the statistics.  (Laughter.)  Just saying.  (Laughter.)

So small businesses deserve a lot of credit for that.  In fact, over the past several years, small businesses have created nearly two out of every three new American jobs.  And the question is, how do we build on that success?  We’ve got to be relentless in our efforts to support small businesses who are creating jobs and helping to grow the economy.

And that’s been the purpose behind many of the policies I’ve fought for as President.  I’ve cut taxes for small businesses more than a dozen times.  I’ve pushed for investments in infrastructure and faster Internet.  It’s why we’ve made health care more accessible, affordable, portable — to give people the freedom to change jobs or launch that startup without worrying about losing their health insurance.

And passing trade agreements is part of that agenda if those trade agreements are the right kinds of trade agreements; if they make sure that they’re growing our businesses, and helping American workers by selling goods Made in America across the rest of the world.

And I’ve been talking a lot about this lately, because I view smart trade agreements as a vital piece of middle-class economics.  Not a contradiction to middle-class economics, it’s a part and parcel of it.

I believe that our country does best when everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, everybody plays by the same set of rules.  And that means making sure everybody has got a good education.  It means making sure that women are getting paid the same as men for doing the same work.  (Applause.)  It means making sure that folks have to have sick leave and family leave and that they can balance work and family in a fair way.  It means, working to increase the minimum wage all across this country — because folks who have some of the toughest jobs oftentimes get the lowest pay.

That’s all part of middle-class economics, but, you know what, so is trade.  We strive to make sure our own economy lives up to high standards, but in a lot of parts of the world, the rules are unfair.  The playing field is uneven.  That puts American businesses and American workers at a disadvantage.  So the question is, what should we do about it?

Some folks think we should just withdraw and not even try to engage in trade with these countries.  I disagree.  We have to make sure America writes the rules of the global economy.  And we should do it today, while our economy is in the position of global strength.  (Applause.)  Because if we don’t write the rules for trade around the world — guess what — China will.  And they’ll write those rules in a way that gives Chinese workers and Chinese businesses the upper hand, and locks American-made goods out.

That’s the choice we face.  We’re not going to be able to isolate ourselves from world markets.  We got to be in there and compete.  And the question is, are we going to make sure that the rules are fair so that our businesses and our workers are on a level playing field.  Because when they are, we win every time.  When the rules are fair, we win every time.  (Applause.)

So this is why I’m such a strong supporter of new trade agreements.  They’re going to help our workers compete and our businesses compete.  This is not a left issue or a right issue, or a business or a labor issue.  It is about fairness and equity and access.  And like other issues that we’ve waged slow, steady fights on over the last seven years, this is also a question of the past versus the future.

So the Trans-Pacific Partnership that we’re working on, it’s the biggest trade deal that we’re working on right now — has to do with the Asia Pacific region.  And it reflects our values in ways that, frankly, some previous trade agreements did not.  It’s the highest-standard, most progressive trade deal in history.  It’s got strong, enforceable provisions for workers, preventing things like child labor.  It’s got strong, enforceable provisions on the environment, helping us to do things that haven’t been done before, to prevent wildlife trafficking, or deforestation, or dealing with our oceans.   And these are enforceable in the agreement.

And Nike operates in the Pacific region, so they understand the competitive pressures they’re under.  Nike has factories all around the world.  And let’s face it, Mark I think doesn’t mind me saying it that some of these countries, they don’t have the standards for wages and labor conditions that we have here.

So when you look at a country like Vietnam, under this agreement, Vietnam would actually, for the first time, have to raise its labor standards.  It would have to set a minimum wage. It would have to pass safe workplace laws to protect its workers. It would even have to protect workers’ freedom to form unions — for the very first time.  That would make a difference.  That helps to level the playing field — (applause) — and it would be good for the workers in Vietnam, even as it helps make sure that they’re not undercutting competition here in the United States.

So that’s progress.  It doesn’t mean that suddenly working conditions in Vietnam will be like they are here at Nike.  (Laughter.)  Or here in Portland right away.  But it moves us in the right direction.

And if Vietnam, or any of the other countries in this trade agreement don’t meet these requirements, they’ll face meaningful consequences.  If you’re a country that wants in to this agreement, you have to meet higher standards.  If you don’t, you’re out.  If you break the rules, there are actual repercussions.  And that’s good for American businesses and American workers, because we already meet higher standards than most of the rest of the world, and that helps level the playing field.

And this deal would strengthen our hand overseas by giving us the tools to open other markets to our goods and services and make sure they play by the fair rules we help write.  The truth is, we have one of the most open markets in the world.  Folks are already selling stuff here.  We got to be able to sell there.  That requires us to enter into trade agreements to open up their markets.

I hear Oregon wine is actually pretty good.  (Applause.)  Somebody told me that the pinot noir in Oregon is top-notch, right?  I’ve got some winemakers right here.  (Applause.)  Well, I want to make sure Japanese wine consumers have the opportunity to partake — (laughter) — in our excellent Oregon wine.

We got some Oregon beef producers and ranchers around here. (Applause.)  Beef is really expensive in Japan.  Let’s make sure they try some Oregon steaks.  (Applause.)  It’s good stuff.

And that’s one of the best things that can happen for our businesses and our workers — opening up markets that have previously been closed, particularly markets where they’re already selling stuff here.  There’s a lack of reciprocity.  It’s not a fair deal right now.  We want to make it fair.

Now, I want to acknowledge — because this looks like a very well-read and informed crowd — (laughter) — that there have been a bunch of critics about trade deals generally and the Trans-Pacific Partnership.  And what’s interesting is typically they’re my friends, coming from my party, and they’re my fellow travelers on minimum wage and on job training and on clean energy.  On every progressive issue, they’re right there with me. And then on this one, they’re like whooping on me.  (Laughter.)

But I tell you what.  I’ve run my last election, and the only reason I do something is because I think it’s good for American workers and the American people and the American economy.  (Applause.)  I don’t have any other rationale for doing what I do than I think it’s the best thing for the American people.  And on this issue, on trade, I actually think some of my dearest friends are wrong.  They’re just wrong.  And here’s why.

First of all, they say that this trade agreement will cost American jobs.  And they’re really basing this on some past experience, looking at what happened in the ‘90s, over the last 20 years, as there was a lot of outsourcing going on.  And you know what, past trade agreements, it’s true, didn’t always reflect our values or didn’t always do enough to protect American workers.  But that’s why we’re designing a different kind of trade deal

And the truth is that companies that only care about low wages, they’ve already moved.  They don’t need new trade deals to move.  They’ve already outsourced.  They’ve already located in search of low wages.

What this trade agreement would do is open the doors to the higher-skill, higher-wage jobs of the future — jobs that we excel at.  It would make sure our manufacturers who are operating at the higher end of the value chain are able to access these growing markets.  And the fact is, over the past few years, our manufacturers have been steadily creating jobs for the first time since the 1990s — under my administration.  After more than a decade away from the top spot, business leaders around the world have declared the United States is the world’s number one place to invest for a third year in a row.  (Applause.)  Third year in a row.

So the point is, outsourcing is already giving way to insourcing.  Companies are starting to move back here to do more advanced manufacturing, and this is a trend we expect to continue.  This trade deal would help that.

Just this morning, as Mark may have mentioned, Nike announced that, with the Trans-Pacific Partnership, it will make new investments in advanced manufacturing — not overseas, but right here in the United States.  And far more Nike products would be made in the U.S.A.  (Applause.)  And that means thousands of new jobs in manufacturing and engineering and design at Nike facilities across the country, and potentially tens of thousands of new jobs along Nike’s supply chain here at home.  That’s what trade can do.  (Applause.)

Look, I’ve spent six and a half years trying to rescue this economy — six and a half years of trying to revitalize American manufacturing, including rescuing an American auto industry that was on its back and is now fully recovered.  So I would not risk any of that if I thought the trade deals were going to undermine it.  The reason I’m for this is because I think it will enhance it and advance it.  So that’s point number one.

Point number two — when you ask folks specifically, what do you oppose about this trade deal, they just say “NAFTA.”  NAFTA was passed 20 years ago.  That was a different agreement.  And in fact, this agreement fixes some of what was wrong with NAFTA by making labor and environmental provisions actually enforceable.  (Applause.)  I was just getting out of law school when NAFTA got passed.  (Laughter.)

Number three — you’ve got some critics saying that any deal would be rushed through; it’s a secret deal, people don’t know what’s in it.  This is not true.  Any agreement that we finalize with the other 11 countries will have to be posted online for at least 60 days before I even sign it.  Then it would go to Congress — and you know they’re not going to do anything fast.  (Laughter.)  So there will be months of review.  Every T crossed, every I dotted.  Everybody is going to be able to see exactly what’s in it.

There’s nothing fast-track about this.  This is a very deliberate track — (laughter) — which will be fully subject to scrutiny.  And I’m confident when people read the agreement for themselves, they’ll see that this is the most progressive trade deal in history.

Number four — critics warn that parts of this deal would undermine American regulation — food safety, worker safety, even financial regulations.  They’re making this stuff up.  (Applause.)  This is just not true.  No trade agreement is going to force us to change our laws.  This agreement would make sure our companies aren’t discriminated against in other countries.

We already treat companies from other countries fairly here. But our companies don’t always get treated fairly there.  So sometimes they need to have some way to settle disputes where it’s not subject to the whims of some government bureaucrat in that country.  That’s important.  We want our businesses to succeed in selling over there because that’s how our workers will get more jobs here in the United States.

And then finally, some critics talk about currency manipulation.  Now, this has been a problem in the past.  Some countries, they try to lower their currency so that it makes their goods cheaper, makes our more expensive.  There was a time when China was pretty egregious about this.  When I came into office, I started pounding on them.  Every time I meet with them, I’d be talking about currency.  And we pushed back hard, and China moved.  In real terms, their currency has appreciated about 30 percent since I came into office.  And we’re going to keep on going after it.  But that’s not an argument against this trade agreement.  If we give up the chance to help our businesses sell their stuff in the world’s fastest-growing markets, that doesn’t do anything to stop currency manipulation.

So the fact is, some folks are just opposed to trade deals out of principle, a reflexive principle.  And what I tell them is, you know what, if you’re opposed to these smart, progressive trade deals, then that means you must be satisfied with the status quo.  And the status quo hasn’t been working for our workers.  It hasn’t been working for our businesses.  And there are people here who will tell you why.

I’m going to just give you a couple of examples of small businesses who I had a chance to meet with today.  Egg Press is a Portland-based greeting card company.  (Applause.)  Really nice. They sell their cards in Australia, which is a member of this Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement.  Their CEO, Tess Darrow — where’s Tess?  Raise your hand.  I saw her.  There she is.  (Applause.)  So Tess says that if they could more easily reach customers in Japan, as well, they’d sell half the volume that they do here in America.  That’s a lot.

Right now, the logistics of exporting to Japan are too complicated.  Products end up being held up for months at the border.  This agreement would help solve some of those problems so Tess can sell more greeting cards in Japan — presumably in Japanese.  (Laughter.)  Is there going to be — there will be a translation process, I assume.  Yes, absolutely.  I’m teasing.  (Laughter.)

So the trade deal would help eliminate barriers, and simplify customs, and hold countries accountable for getting products delivered swiftly.  The more Tess sells, the more she can grow, the more she can hire here in Oregon, here in the United States.

Oregon Fruit Products — makes canned fruits, berries, other products — depends on exports for 20 percent of its annual sales.  Right now, it exports to four members of this partnership that we’re putting together:  Japan, Australia, Singapore, and Canada.  Unfortunately, selling in these countries right now can mean dealing with unfair rules designed to prevent our products from being offered in their markets.  Under this agreement, that would change.  Exporting becomes simpler, more consistent.  That means more people around the world eating Oregon berries all year long.  Berry tasty.  (Applause.)

Sokol Blosser Winery — (applause) — we got a lot of drinkers here.  (Laughter.)  It’s a winery, family-run in Dayton, Oregon.  One of its top export markets is Japan.  Right now, there are high tariffs on American wine in that country.  Under this trade partnership, those tariffs would be eliminated, and wineries across America could see their sales grow overseas.  The brother–and-sister team that runs this vineyard — wave, guys — (applause) — they say, “If we can make it easier to do business with countries that are already our trading partners, countries that are allies, that’s a good thing.”

They’re right.  This deal would be a good thing.  So let’s “just do it.”  (Laughter and applause.)  It took a while for you to catch that, didn’t it?  (Laughter.)  I thought that was pretty obvious.  (Laughter.)

So, listen, I know a lot of folks who are skeptical about trade.  Past trade deals didn’t always live up to the hype.  Labor and environmental protections weren’t always strong enough. I saw for years, in Chicago and towns across Illinois, manufacturing collapsing, jobs drying up.  Outsourcing is real.  Folks didn’t just make that up.  Some of our manufacturing base shifted over the last 25 years, and it wasn’t good for manufacturing and it wasn’t good for those communities, and it wasn’t good for workers.  That’s the truth.  It had benefits — other jobs were created, we got cheaper goods.  But there was real displacement and real pain.  And so, for many Americans, this is not an abstraction; this is real.

But we’ve got to learn the right lessons from that.  The lesson is not that we pull up the drawbridge and build a moat around ourselves.  The lesson is, is that we’ve got to make sure that the trade deals that we do shape are ones that allow us to compete fairly.

So when I took office, I decided we could rethink the way we do trade in a way that actually works for working Americans.  I didn’t think this was the right thing to do just for companies.  If I didn’t think this was the right thing to do for working families, I would not be fighting for it.  If any agreement undercuts working families, I won’t sign it.  I ran for office to expand opportunity for everybody — the all-American idea that no matter who you are, or where you come from, or how you started out, or who you love, in America you can make it if you try.  (Applause.)

So, yes, we should be mindful of the past, but we can’t ignore the realities of the new economy.  We can’t stand on the beaches and stop the global economy at our shores.  We’ve got to harness it on our terms.  This century is built for us.  It’s about innovation.  It’s about dynamism and flexibility and entrepreneurship, and information and knowledge and science and research.  That’s us.  So we can’t be afraid of it; we’ve got to seize it.  We’ve got to give every single American who wakes up, sends their kids to school, rolls up their sleeves, punches in every day the chance to do what they do best:  dream up, innovate, build, sell the best products and ideas in the world to every corner of the world.  (Applause.)

Because, Nike, we do not just have the best athletes in the world.  We also have the best workers in the world.  (Applause.) We also have the best businesses in the world.  And when the playing field is level, nobody beats the United States of America.  (Applause.)  Nobody beats the United States of America.

Just do it, everybody.  Thank you.  God bless you.  Thank you, Oregon.  Thank you.  God bless America.  (Applause.)

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10:14 A.M. PDT