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State Room
2:35 P.M. EDT

MR. KUDLOW: Welcome, everybody. I’m Larry Kudlow. I hope I’m hooked up with the mic. I believe I am. We are — we’re here to celebrate, actually. That’s what we’re going to call this. To celebrate the new American workforce, is what I’m calling it. The new American workforce in the middle of an economic boom.

And one person has gone around the country championing, crusading, so that every worker can be — listen to this word, it’s one of my favorite words — “reskilling.” Reskilling. We’ve all got — later on, I’m going to ask her about reskilling old broadcasters and NEC directors. (Laughter.) And maybe more.

Anyway, the headline here is you have a new announcement now. This is private sector, okay? Private companies. No government. No government money. But dealing with the American workforce so it can fit in the missing links between job openings and folks who want to work.

Ivanka Trump, tell us about it.

MS. TRUMP: Thank you, Larry. And thank you for — for this opportunity. So we’re sitting in a room today surrounded by companies who have committed to investing in their workforces and workers who have benefitted, and students, from those programs.

The reality is that we have an incredible economy, a robust economy. And that’s because of deregulation, because of tax reform. And for the first time in history, we have more vacant jobs than we have unemployed workers to fill them.

And so this represents an enormous opportunity for us to think about making sure that every American worker is equipped with the skills they need, whether they’re in high school and they’re looking to graduate and have a job ready for them upon graduation, or whether they’re a mid- to late-career worker who’s looking for an opportunity to learn a new skill or learn a new trade.

So we’ve been doing that. The President, back in July, announced a call to action where he wanted the private sector to step up and start to take responsibility and take a commitment for investing in their own workforce. They did that.

Back at the end of July, we announced over 3.5 million jobs created by companies such as Apple and FedEx, Microsoft and Walmart, and so many others.

Since that period of time, more than 120 additional companies have signed our Pledge to America’s Workers. And as Larry noted, no federal funds are involved in this at all. And they’re committing to retraining, creating new jobs, creating enhanced careers opportunities, apprenticeship, learn-while-you-earn opportunities. So several of those employers are here with us today.

We’ve got the CEO from Textron, who is — has committed to 22,000 opportunities to train workers in the aviation sector. So thank you very much for that commitment. Ford Motor Company is committed to providing 55,000 new jobs and opportunities in the automotive sector. AT&T has committed to [offer] 200,000 new jobs [employees] and [reskilling] opportunities. And IPC — John, the CEO, thank you so much — this association that represents electronic assembly industry whose members have committed a total of 1 million new jobs and training opportunities. So just incredible.

THE PRESIDENT: Stand up, please.

MS. TRUMP: Please, yes. (Applause.)

MR. KUDLOW: And so the headline is, you’re up to —

MS. TRUMP: We’re up to 6.3 million new jobs.

MR. KUDLOW: Which is incredible. (Applause.) Incredible.

MS. TRUMP: And if you think about that in context, that represents 5 percent of the current workforce. So it’s really — it’s really remarkable. And really, this is that call to action to the private sector to invest in the current and the future workforce. And we’re going to continue to have the private sector sign our pledge and agree to making this type of investment.

With that, while the last event and the last time we were here announcing the launch of the pledge, today we really wanted to focus on the workers that benefit from it. So in my travels — and I’ve been to job training programs in now 14 states across the country, and really seen the best-in-class things that are happening on a state level — thank you, Governor Bevin, for all that you’re doing — and on a private sector level.

But I’ve met some remarkable people, many of whom are in this room. I’d like to briefly introduce Eric, who I was just in eastern Kentucky with, who went from a job in the coalmining industry to now a CNC machining instructor. He was so good that they wanted to keep him to train their other workers. So maybe, Eric, if you wouldn’t mind standing and telling us a little bit about your story.

MR. OWENS: Like he said, I was a laid-off coalminer. I worked in the coalmines for 30 years. I worked my way through it all. I was an electrician when I was laid off. I found myself without anything to, you know, support my family with. What am I going to do? Unemployment is not going to do it. I’m not old enough to be retired yet. So I got to work every day of my life. Yep. So I got the opportunity through Paintsville CAP office to give me the knowledge of the CNC machine school that had just opened up there in Paintsville. I was in the first class. Went through the 16-week course. Took to it; understood it, become a part of it. They decided to keep me there and I help with other students. We’re on our third class now. We have people working in Louisville, Winchester, all around the surrounding area.

But those guys, you know, they want to come home too and then work right there in their areas. So we’re hoping that with the school and the jobs that we’re creating, we’ll bring industry in and we’ll all flourish. Just bring it on. (Laughter and applause.) Thank you.

MS. TRUMP: I saw firsthand — I saw firsthand just how amazing Eric is and the work that he does and the instruction he’s given to so many in that facility. So, really amazing.

And, Stacia, I met you in Houston. And Stacia is currently training to be an apprentice and is valedictorian of her class, graduating I believe just in a couple months. And is looking forward to a career as a pipefitter.

I should also mention that you’re a Marine Corps veteran. So would you share your story with us, Stacia?

MS. BRIGHTMON: As she said, my name is Stacia Brightmon. I’m from Houston, Texas. I’m the proud mother of two boys and I’m a Marine Corps veteran. I currently — my oldest son is also a Marine as well, stationed at MCA Cherry Point.

Following my career in the Marine Corps, I found myself unemployed working a bunch of dead-end jobs. And I was looking for something more than just a job; I wanted a career. So I was approached by S&B for their women’s apprentice program, which is an earn-while-you-learn program.

At that time, I was kind of discouraged because the oil and gas industry is not an industry that has a lot of respect for women and has a lot of respect for females. So I went and I spoke with my pastor, and my pastor gave me some words of advice. She told me that, “Be the change that I want to see. Be the woman that can go out there and make that difference, that can earn the women respect.” So I agreed to the women’s apprenticeship program from S&B. It’s an 11 — it’s a 16-week course and we’re on our 11th week. And as Ms. Ivanka said, yes, I am the valedictorian of our class.

I appreciate S&B for the opportunity that it has given me. Not only do I have a job, now I have a career. And I have a career that I can lean on and that I can look forward to and that will take me further. (Applause.)

MS. IVANKA: Amazing. Amazing. Congratulations.

And lastly, I’d like to introduce, Anna. Anna, I met in Pittsburgh, in August, in Robotics Row. And Anna — and I see serval of her classmates are part of the FIRST Robotics Team. And, hi, ladies. They are doing just incredible things in the field of STEM, and they’re competing both in Pennsylvania and internationally, and are really our next generation of entrepreneurs, engineers, innovators, and really inspiring.

So, Anna, will you share with us some of your goals and your story?

MS. NESBITT: Yeah, my name is Anna Nesbitt. I’m a sophomore in high school. I am — as Ms. Trump said, I am a part of a FIRST Robotics Team called “Girls of Steel Robotics.” You can see three of the other girls on our team right over there.

Every year, our robotics team of around 50 girls from the greater Pittsburgh area meets at Carnegie Mellon University, and we build a 120-pound robot in six weeks. Once we build the robot, then we go to international competitions and we compete with it through a game that FIRST designs.

But these teams are so much more than just about robotics. We — each girl on our team is part of a business sub -team and a technical sub-team which allows girls to be able to spend one day a week writing a business plan and the next day of a week welding.

And it’s really teaching girls on our team, and on all FIRST programs similar to ours, real-world skills that you could not get from sitting behind a desk in a classroom. So the things that I’ve learned through Girls of Steel, and been empowered to try through Girls of Steel, I know are going to shape my future.

And yeah, I’m really thankful for the opportunities that we’ve had through these after-school programs in STEM. (Applause.)

MS. TRUMP: Well, thank you. Thank you for sharing your story. And I thought that would set a nice tone for a broader discussion about the economic opportunity that’s been — being created by President Trump and this administration.

So, Larry, I’ll kick it over it over to you now.

MR. KUDLOW: Thank you. Thank you, Ivanka.

By the way, young lady, robot building — a lot of people are worried about the future with robots. But somebody has got — somebody has to build them. Somebody has got to service them. Somebody has to keep them going. There’s a lot of jobs there. You’ve got one. I think you illustrate an important point.

MS. NESBITT: Yeah, definitely. (Laughter.) Yeah — well, yes. Girls of Steel really, and all FIRST Robotics programs, there’s tons of scholarships through them. And you come out of the meetings feeling like you know more than you went into. And so that really does empower you to join that STEM workforce.

I know Tina, who’s sitting over there, she’s interested in going into robotics. And whenever she started Girls of Steel, she wanted to go into history. So it really — it does empower you to try new things, go out of your comfort zone, which is things that girls need.

MR. KUDLOW: Thank you. Terrific stuff. So, Mr. President, nobody wants to talk about the economy anymore. So let’s talk about the economy. (Laughter.) All right?

THE PRESIDENT: I like that.

MR. KUDLOW: You beat your critics. You beat your naysayers. We’re growing at 3 percent-plus. We just had a record — let’s see, 18-year high in consumer confidence, I think yesterday or the day before. How did you do it? What’s the message here?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, we did it with a lot of good thought, and we did it with a lot of great people, like we have here today. And some are going into different fields. By the way, the coalmining field is doing very well right now, but some people will go out of that and some people will go into that, because frankly, it is really, as you know — you see what’s happening — it’s doing great.

We have the Governor of Kentucky with us and he has been — Matt, please — stand up, Matt Bevin, please. (Applause.) What a job he’s done. And he’s a — he can tell you how well it’s doing, but we have a lot of other industries that are doing well. You really have your choice. You didn’t have a choice just a few years ago, and now you have a choice because our markets are so strong.

The job market at 3.7 percent is the lowest in 50 years. It’s the best unemployment numbers we have in 50 years. And that’s wonderful, but we actually need workers now. That’s a good thing to be saying because that hasn’t been said for many, many decades.

And we want people to come in. You’ve all been reading about the immigration situation with the caravans and all, but the fact is, we want people coming into the country. We want them to come in legally. They want to come through a system that we have set up and that we’re really setting up well.

And they want to come in, and we want them to come in through merit so that they can help these companies. Because we have — just in Japan alone, we have six major car companies going to open up new plants and coming in — they’re coming into Michigan and they’re coming to Ohio, they’re coming to a lot of different places. We have a lot of car companies coming. We have a lot of companies, period. Foxconn, in Wisconsin, as an example.

And all of this has just led to optimism. I mean, we’re cheerleaders. That’s a big part of it. And we’re cheerleaders for our country, for our system. We’re getting rid of a lot of the bureaucratic blocks and a lot of the regulations, Larry, which you know are very important.

In fact, before we did the tax cuts — and the tax cuts are a big factor — but before we did these really massive tax cuts, the biggest that we’ve ever done, we did regulation cuts — and quite a bit before. And the economy was really going very well. And then you added to that the tax cuts and other things that we have within the reform bill.

And the end result is we have an economy that’s the hottest economy right now in the world. And I guess the stock market is up to — getting close to 50 percent, if you think about it — that’s incredible — since the election.

And it’s — in fact, I hear today it’s doing very well, Larry. It’s up another 400 points. It was up 450-or-so points yesterday. And it’s just doing well.

I will say this: They’re waiting for the results of the midterms. And if the midterms for some reason don’t do so well for Republicans, I think you’re all going to lose a lot of money. I hate to say that. I think you’re going to lose a lot of money. People are waiting on your 401(k)s and everything else. They’re waiting to see what happens with the midterms.

And if it comes out good, like we think it probably will, because there’s a good feeling in the air. There are a lot of people voting. Go out and vote. But if it comes out good, I think the market is going to continue to go through a period like we’ve never seen before.

MR. KUDLOW: Yes, sir. It’s a healthy economy.

You know, the gentleman over there said “bring it on.” I love that. I say the American men and women in business and the workforce are crushing it. We’re the hottest economy in the world right now. Trillions of dollars are coming our way.

Let me ask you this — very unusual: When you look at the statistics, God forbid we should use a factoid, we are experiencing record blue-collar employment increases, the likes of which we haven’t seen since the middle eighties, okay? When I was a Cub Scout for Reagan.

We are looking at blue-collar wage increases are rising faster than white collars. Now, I’m not against white collars, but I’m just saying, this is the blue-collar, middle-class Trump economy. How do you account for that?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, if you remember, the previous administration said there won’t be any more manufacturing jobs; you’re going to need a magic wand and all of that. Well, we had the magic wand, because we have almost 600,000 manufacturing jobs since the election, and it’s going to go much, much higher than that. And these are among our best jobs. I mean, if you look at jobs, those are great jobs. They’re high-paying jobs. They’re skilled jobs. People are being trained for those jobs.

And I think — look, I think that companies coming in, you have some of the great companies. And I really appreciate your top people coming from these great companies. And I just feel that they can train people far better than the government can train people. And they go specifically to that company. But I don’t think there’s ever been a way that we can go, as a government, and train people like you can train them for your great companies.

And I also know that what happens oftentimes is people that didn’t know too much, and they go in, they get trained, they get a job — they do phenomenally well within the company. They go up in rank. They go up right like a rocket ship. And they go up in salary and pay, and even ownership, in many cases, where they have stock ownerships and options, and everything else.

So I just want to appreciate. These are great companies that are with us today, and you have done a fantastic job.

So thank you all. Thank you all very much. Appreciate it. (Applause.)

MR. KUDLOW: During the campaign, you made it very clear —

THE PRESIDENT: Which one? Which campaign? (Laughter.) There have been a lot of campaigns.

MR. KUDLOW: 2016. During that campaign, I thought you made it very clear — you were speaking to people all across the country: the workforce, the entrepreneurs, the business owners. I thought you made it clear that the war against business is over; the war against energy is over; the war against success is over; if you succeed, you can keep more of what you earn.

Almost from the day after you won, a falling consumer confidence index started to rise and rise and rise. The day before yesterday, I think, 18-year high. The thing hasn’t stopped rising. The same is true for small businesses. Have you changed the attitudes? Have you changed the psychology, how you said to folks, “Go out there and take a rip at the ball?”

THE PRESIDENT: Well, look, I’m a believer in this country. I’m a believer in the system. This is the greatest system on Earth. But — and I also — I said it before, we are cheerleaders. If you look at what’s going on in certain states, and if you look at what’s going on in certain areas of the world, for the most part, the ones that are doing well are the ones that are really in favor. Nobody is hot like we are, though. There’s no other country on this planet that’s hot like the United States. And a lot of people said this can’t happen because we’re big — we’re a big country.

If you look at comparing us to, as an example, China, we’re going way up, and China has been hurt over the last number of months. And they’re having a hard time, and they’ll be fine. And let’s see what happens. But we have a chance to make a fair deal, because China has been hurting us and trade deals have been hurting us. And we’re changing them. We changed with Mexico. We changed it with Canada, South Korea. We have a new deal.

We’re now negotiating with the European Union, which has been — I mean, just absolutely hurting the United States. They don’t take our product. They don’t take your product. They don’t take our product. They don’t do a lot of things. They charge tremendous tariffs, and we don’t. And it’s been very difficult dealing with the European Union. But we are now negotiating with them from a position of total strength. Because if they don’t treat us fairly, we’re not going to treat them fairly. And the same goes for many other countries around the world, including China.

But people come in, prime ministers come in, and presidents come in, and kings and queens, and everybody comes in, and the first thing they always say is, “Congratulations on what you’ve done with the economy.” We are literally the hottest country in the world, economically, and it’s a great thing to see. And I think we have a long way to go. I really believe that. I think, Larry, we have a tremendously long way to go.

MR. KUDLOW: So, Ivanka, you’ve got, if I understand it, roughly 7 million job openings in the hottest economy in the world.

MS. TRUMP: Yeah.

MR. KUDLOW: So your reskilling comes at exactly the right moment.

MS. TRUMP: It’s critical that we make sure there’s alignment between the jobs in demand in the modern economy and the skills being taught in our classrooms, our technical schools. And that’s what this administration is completely committed to. But it’s also really important that we work with industry and also with governors.

So as part of this pledge, we had governors sign a pledge saying that they would prioritize this in their states, because they do reskilling, they know the needs of their local marketplaces far better than the federal government does.

So this President, after this legislation languishing for almost a decade, signed Perkins Career and Technical Education into law, modernized it. This is money that goes to the states that enables the governors to invest and fuel the growth of jobs and training programs that are actually working.

Governor Bevin, who is here with us today, is working very hard to attract businesses because they’re — the skilled workforce is there.

So you really do need this whole pairing of the industry, the skilled labor, and — and, of course, the government’s commitment to —

MR. KUDLOW: Some initiatives.

MS. TRUMP: — to champion it.

MR. KUDLOW: Some initiative. Some hard work.

MS. TRUMP: A lot of — well, we do that well in this country.

MR. KUDLOW: You bet you do.

MS. TRUMP: So this room is absolutely a testament to the fact that our greatest resource is the American workforce and —

THE PRESIDENT: So — but, Larry, you do need what Ivanka said last. You need some help from the government to get it started in the right direction.

And one of the things I’m very proud of is the steel industry. The steel industry was dead. It was as dead as a doornail. We weren’t going to have a steel industry in two years. You look at what happened. It used to be our great industry. United States Steel was our biggest company many years ago, and there was nothing even like it. It was a juggernaut. It was a powerful, powerful company. And you look at what’s happened to our industry, and it’s gone down — really gone down the tubes.

We literally — and you need steel. You know, there are certain industries we can actually do without, and we can buy, but you have to have steel and aluminum. And I put a very substantial penalty on what was happening because other countries were destroying our steel industry.

And in addition to collecting a lot of money, which we’re collecting on the tariffs where we put tariffs on the dumping of steel and aluminum — 25 percent on steel, 10 percent on aluminum — we are — I mean, these industries, it’s incredible what’s going on. U.S. Steel is building many plants and expanding many plants.

Nucor is building — and these are new plants, in many cases. These are big, beautiful plants. We’re going to be using the iron ore from Minnesota and other places. And Minnesota is booming because of it, whereas the previous administration shut it down for environmental reasons, they said. But nobody quite got it. And they just shut it down. And it was just collapsing. But we were not going to have a steel industry.

Now, if you just look at it from the standpoint of defense, if you don’t have steel, you don’t have defense. You’re not going to be buying your steel from a foreign country in case you have a problem, which hopefully we won’t, ever. But you have to have a steel industry, you have to have a very strong aluminum industry.

And you take a look at what’s happened to those industries. But steel is the talk of the world because they’re saying the steel industry is — Wilbur knows, because he used to be in that business — the steel industries are coming back. Industry like almost — I can say this: It will be at a level that people won’t believe in a very short period of time. And this happened over the last seven or eight months.

You look at what the plans are for U.S. Steel and for Nucor and so many others, where they’re building plants, and eventually those prices are going to end up being low because everything is going to be made here. We’re taking the iron ore from here, we’re taking everything right from our mines. And that’s great for our miners, by the way. But we’re all doing it here. We don’t need outside for that. Nor should we.

The other thing is the quality of the steel is much better, because we were having garbage dumped on our shores. It was sand, it was — it was all sorts of rock in it. It was bad steel. It wasn’t structurally good. And we are now having — we’re creating a fine quality steel, which to me is a very important thing.

So what we’ve done with the steel industry in a very short period of time — I would really say over the last year — is being talked about all over the world. We have a steel industry again, and it’s really roaring.

MS. TRUMP: Plus, tax cuts have enabled this to really transpire as well. So all of the companies here — the cutting of the corporate rate; the cutting of the individual rates; repatriation of money back from overseas, back to our shores; 100 percent capital expensing — has been just a tremendous boon for the economy.

But one of the elements that we’ve talked about a lot in this room that’s very exciting and that Treasury — Secretary Mnuchin just put out guidance on — in tax reform, there was also opportunity zones, and that was passed. And that’s going to uplift. And the governors have designated over 3,900 opportunity zones to stressed, urban, and rural communities. And it incentivizes private sector investment into those communities, which is exactly what we want. So the private sector to go and be incentivized, to invest where otherwise they would have avoided.

So in addition to tax cuts, that’s another element that will really help uplift the American economy and fuel the boom we’ve been experiencing.

MR. KUDLOW: I was just going to say, sir, well-done trade reform can be very pro-growth. That’s what you’re saying.

THE PRESIDENT: So we were losing a tremendous amount of money, and unfortunately, it’s a number that nobody can even believe — close to $800 billion a year. When you hear that number, folks, you can’t be too proud of our representatives from the past. But we’re redoing our trade deals; we’re making them fair and equitable. And for the other countries, too.

But they’ve taken advantage of us on trade. They’ve taken our money. They’ve taken our jobs. And we’re stopping that. And we have to take care — I have the expression, “America first.” And the fact is, we have to start taking care of our own country, because we were taking care of other countries and we were letting our country go to hell in trade and in so many other ways. We can’t do that. We can’t do it. With immigration, with the borders, with trade — so many different ways. And we’re changing that, and we’re making great trade deals from horrible trade deals. And if they don’t want to do business with us, that’s okay.

But they can’t come in and take the wealth from our country. It’s a great transfer of wealth. They can’t — we had had — we have had one of the greatest transfers of wealth in the history of the world. It’s been taken from our country and it’s been brought to other countries. And it was only because we had people that were not watching or they didn’t know, or they didn’t care.

And it’s incredible. When I see some of these deals that were made, I say, “How could anybody have agreed to it?” It’s basic. It’s like — I mean, it’s literally first-grade business. It’s so simple.

And the end result is it’s tougher to get out because they’ve been so used to making so much money off our country, and we can’t let them do that anymore. We’re going to start paying down debt. We have a lot of debt. We going to start paying down debt. We have such potential in this country. When I tell you about deals that were made that were so grossly incompetent, they should have never been allowed to be made. And they never changed them. And everybody knew they were bad, and they never changed them. So we’re changing them, and we’re changing them very rapidly. Our countries, whether they’re allies or not, have to treat us fairly, and they haven’t been.

MR. KUDLOW: Last one, sir. Appreciate it. More of a personal question. Ivanka was talking about initiative and leadership and hard work, along with reskilling. So you’ve had an unbelievable career. You were in construction. You were in real estate. You were a very famous television host. And now you happen to be President. Did you go through — did you go through reskilling along the way? (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: I never thought of it that way, but I guess I did. Right? (Laughter.) I suspect I did. Look, I’ve been in a lot of different jobs. I love building. I love the real estate industry. It’s been very good to me. I think I’ve been good for it. I always pride myself on building on time, on budget — ideally, ahead of time and ahead of budget.

And we really — we really have — I’ve learned a lot. You know, when you build a building, it’s almost like every trade: You’re involved with the unions, in many cases. You’re involved with labor. You’re involved with finance. You’re involved with design. You’re involved with so many different things. In many cases, you’re involved with international concepts and deals. So you learn a lot.

And then, I did “The Apprentice,” which became a great show — a very, very successful show. Tremendously successful. I did it for 14 seasons, 12 years. It was so successful they put it on twice sometimes. And as soon as I left, that show went down the tubes. So, you know, just one of those things. Right? I don’t know if I feel happy about that or sad; I’ve never figured that out. (Laughter.)

But I don’t know if I’d want to leave, Betsy. And they — the show became even more successful. Almost couldn’t have been more successful. It was a tremendous success. And I learned a lot from that, too.

And I’ve certainly learned a lot. We’re here almost two years, and we’ve learned a lot from doing this. And I think we’ve put a lot of talent to work. We have great people that we work with. And when they’re not so good, we make changes. And we have to do them maybe faster than other people would. But I sort of can figure it out pretty well.

And we’re doing fantastically well as a country, and a lot of great things are ahead. Our best years are ahead of us. I really believe that. Our best years are truly ahead of us.

MR. KUDLOW: Yes. Yes. I love that. I want to end on that. You’re the quintessential optimist. The best years of America have yet to come.

President Trump, thank you so much. (Applause.)

END 3:15 P.M. EDT