Pennsylvania Convention Center
2:54 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, folks. (Applause.) I’ve paid you so much money over the years. David, I’ve given them so much money. That’s all right. And you did a good job. Please.
MR. LONG: As a memento for us of him being here, we have created him a hardhat with the Presidential Seal, the American flag, NECA, and our convention logo. You could use this in Washington from time to time. (Laughter and applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: I will use it. I will. That’s beautiful. Thank you, man. Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you. I don’t want to put it on because I’m afraid that I’ll mess up my hair. That would be terrible. (Laughter.) Did I have a good hair day? Or — I don’t know. Yes? Come on. (Laughter.) Got to do it. (Applause.) Thank you, man. Is it still okay? I think so.
Thank you, everybody. Please sit down. And it is true — I told David, “David, I paid these guys so much money over the years, built so many beautiful buildings.” And you know what? The job you do is incredible.
I’d go to some of those switchboards and I’d go to some of those connectors, and I said, “These are smart people. Putting that together, these are smart…” — and you are, you’re smart people and you’re talented people. Few people could do what you do, that I can tell you. So, thank you. (Applause.) Thank you. That’s true.
And thank you, David. I’m thrilled to be in the great city of Philadelphia. I went to college here at the Wharton School of Finance — U of Penn — with thousands of our nation’s most skilled and talented workers — the electrical contractors who make our country run. So true.
I also know from firsthand experience, America’s electrical contractors are the best in the world. Nobody even close. And now — (applause) — that’s true. Nobody close. And now, you have a friend and an ally in the White House. And you do. You have a friend. (Applause.)
I want to thank John Grau, Dan Walter, Mark Mazur — well, that’s a very interesting name, Greg Rick. Where — who’s Greg Rick? Where’s Greg? (Laughter.) Stand up. I love that name. “Greg Rick.” They have a lot of problem back-and-forth, I’ll bet, huh? Over your life, huh? (Laughter.) They call you “Rick”; they call you “Greg.” (Laughter.) And he’s a good man. And the incredible leadership team at the National Electrical Contractors Association. You have great leadership.
With your help, we will protect this noble trade for many generations to come. And you’re protecting it yourself with your talent.
I also want to thank a very special group of people who always get the job done and get it done right — the proud members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. Thank you very much. (Applause.) Thank you.
And speaking of energy, we are honored to be joined by Energy Secretary Rick Perry — where’s Rick? He’s around here. (Applause.) Stand up, Rick. Great job he’s doing. Doing a great job.
And Alex Acosta, as you know, Secretary of Labor. Alex. (Applause.) Thank you, Alex. He just developed two incredible healthcare plans that really work and they’re really popular. Thank you very much, Alex.
As well as two tremendous leaders from Pennsylvania, Congressmen G.T. Thompson and the great Lou Barletta — going to be your next senator I hope. (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you, G.T. Thank you, G.T. And thank you, Lou. What a job you’re doing.
I’ll tell you what, if he’s your next senator, you’re going to have no more problems. He is a doer. So, I’m very proud of you, man. Great job. And I hear you’re doing well, and I’m proud.
Also here with us are members of the Mississippi congressional delegation. In fact, I’m going there with the delegation. I’ll be there tonight.
People say, “Where do you get this energy?” You know where I get it? I love doing it, actually. If you love doing it, it’s easy. Right, David? (Applause.) If you don’t like doing it, not so good.
Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith — where’s Cindy? Cindy. (Applause.) Thank you, Cindy. I hear you’re doing really well. A man who always does well, Senator Roger Wicker. (Applause.) Roger. Been a great friend of mine from the beginning. Thank you, Roger. And Representative Gregg Harper. (Applause.) Thanks, Gregg. Thank you, Gregg.
This is really an incredible time for our nation. We are respected again. We are respected again, like we haven’t been respected in many, many decades. (Applause.)
We have the best economy in our history. Stock market today just hit another record high. That’s the hundred — I think its 103 times since I’m President that we’ve hit a new high. And hopefully, next year at this time we’ll hit many more. (Applause.) But that’s not a bad number, right? I think we’re up to 103. And if I’m off just by a little bit -– like if it’s 102 — it’ll be headlines. “Trump exaggerated.” (Laughter.) That’s why I always say “I think it’s around…”
With a Republican Congress, we’ve added more than 4 million new jobs since Election Day, and lifted 4 million Americans off of food stamps. Those are tremendous numbers. (Applause.)
Jobless claims are at a 50-year low. And the stock market, as I just said, is at an all-time high today. African American, Hispanic American, and Asian American unemployment rates have all recently achieved their lowest levels ever recorded. (Applause.) That’s pretty good.
That’s a very hard soundbite to beat, right, if you’re the opponent of Trump? When you say “highest and best numbers we’ve ever had.” And we have created over 50,000 new jobs in electrical contracting. That’s pretty good. That’s pretty good. Nobody thought that was going to be happening. (Applause.) And it’s going way up. It’s going up very fast.
America’s –- and just remember this –- America’s economic revival would not be possible without the men and women in this room. Would not be possible. I’ve built so much. I’ve done so much business with you. I’ve watched the things you’ve done and it’s incredible.
We are truly grateful to our electricians, our wiremen, linemen, engineers, technicians, journeymen, contractors, and apprentices –- oh, I love that word. That was a great — I love the word “apprentice.” (Applause.) I love that word.
You know, I did that show 14 seasons, and then I left. They wanted to sign me for three more seasons. I said, “No, I’m going to run for President.” (Laughter.) It’s true.
So they replaced me with a big, big movie star. And it didn’t last too well. It was gone like –- quickly. But I love that name. “The Apprentice.”
Who keep the engine of American prosperity running full speed ahead. We’re also fixing decades of disastrous trade deals that have plundered our factories and stolen our wealth and our jobs. What’s happened here over the last 20, 25 years, and more is horrible.
But we’re changing it all. We’ve added 400,000 new manufacturing jobs since the election. And that number, very shortly, will be up, David, to 640,000. Big things are happening currently. (Applause.)
And if you remember, the past administration said those are jobs that you’re not going to be adding. “You’re going to need a magic wand.” Do you remember that? Magic wand. There was no magic wand; it’s good policy and other things.
We are in the midst of a manufacturing renaissance –- something which nobody thought you’d hear –- which means more jobs for our great electrical contractors.
Yesterday, we made history by announcing an incredible, brand new trade deal to replace the horrible NAFTA deal that drained our country of jobs and companies. As I have said many times — (applause) — NAFTA was one of the worst trade deals ever made in any country at any time.
And now we have a great trade deal. And we have deal that is also good for Mexico and good for Canada. And we have a good partnership with the three. And it worked out. It all worked out. (Applause.)
As you probably noticed, and read, and saw, there were a little tough negotiations. But you know what? It all worked out. And we’re now on the right track. And we did a great deal with South Korea. It’s all working out.
Now, as you probably have heard, we’re looking at China and other countries, and we’re straightening out some of these horrible deals that stole our wealth, stole our jobs, stole so much from us. Actually, in many ways, stole our dignity as a country. (Applause.)
Our landmark new trade agreement is called the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA. Like YMCA; or United States Marine Corps, with an “A” at the end. (Laughter.) I liked the way it sounded. I didn’t want to use the name “NAFTA,” because NAFTA has been so bad for us. I would watch 20 years ago, 10 years ago, 15 years ago — you look at New England where the factories were devastated. People forget. People forget. You still have empty buildings all over the country from NAFTA, so I didn’t want to use the name “NAFTA.”
USMCA is the most advanced, modern, and balanced trade agreement ever negotiated. It is also the largest trade deal the United States has ever made. And we think it’s the largest trade deal ever made in the world — $1.2 trillion in commerce a year.
The USMCA will protect American workers, substantially increase exports of American agriculture. Our farmers are so happy. I spoke with Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa this morning. She was so happy. And the farmers and agricultural people are thrilled. They didn’t know if we’d ever be able to make a deal or certainly a fair deal for them. They’re thrilled. And this deal will revitalize, also, the American auto industry.
One thing I wanted was, I don’t want any incentives to get companies to leave our country; fire everybody; move to Mexico, or Canada, or someplace, and build cars and send them in — no tax, no nothing; and, in the meantime, we end up with nothing except unemployed people. Not going to happen anymore. That’s what I wanted in this deal. It was so important. (Applause.) It was so important.
Do you remember those days? You all remember those days? When everybody was leaving the country? Going to make a product, send it in, and we end up with unemployed. That’s about all we got out of it — no nothing. So those days are over, folks.
Last week, I also stood beside President Moon and announced a new trade deal with South Korea that will increase exports of American-made cars very, very substantially; increase exports of agriculture; and also medicine, which is very big and very important business.
We’re preparing to start negotiations, right now, with Japan. And we have taken the toughest-ever actions in our history against China’s very abusive trading policies and trade practices.
China has been taking out of our country $500 billion a year and it was time to stop. Nobody ever did it. It’s crazy. (Applause.) Nobody ever did it — $500 billion a year. And we’re going to have a great relationship with China, but we have to be fair to ourselves, also.
After years of rebuilding foreign countries, we are finally rebuilding our country, and we are doing it with — (applause) — American aluminum, American steel, and with our great electrical contractors. It’s true. But we’re rebuilding our country. (Applause.) Yep.
We’re committed to revitalizing our infrastructure and strengthening our electrical grid. It’s so important.
Last week, I proudly signed legislation to completely rebuild the United States military. We’re purchasing the finest equipment on Earth, and it will be all made right here in the USA. We make the best equipment in the world. (Applause.) We make the greatest military equipment in the world — greatest missiles, greatest rockets, greatest planes, best rifles, best ships. We make the best military equipment, by far, in the world.
And it’s made also — much less importantly, in this case, David — but it’s also made with American jobs, which is very good. Normally jobs is number one. When it comes to military, we’ll put jobs at number two. We need the equipment, right? Probably seldom so much as these times.
And interestingly — I hope we never have to use it — but you know what assures that, or at least almost assures that? Having the most powerful military, by far, that we’ve ever had means we’l probably never have to use it. It’s very simple. (Applause.) We learned that — we learned that a long time ago, right? We learned that a long time ago.
Another critical element of national security is energy security. And, Rick Perry, you’re doing a great job. I’m proud of you. Very proud of you. He was the governor of Texas for 12 years. He was not only a great governor; he was a great cheerleader. And he ran for President — he was nasty against me, wasn’t he, though? Wow. (Laughter.) He was tough. And you’re doing great, Rick. We appreciate it very much. (Applause.)
We are now the single largest producer of oil and gas anywhere in the world. This was very recent. (Applause.) Took a lot of regulations off. We have plenty left. But we took regulations off which allowed us to do things that we would never have been able to do. Think of it: We’re the single-largest producer of energy in the world. Did you ever think you were going to hear that? This all happened very quickly.
We’ve ended the war on clean, beautiful, Pennsylvenle [Pennsylvania] — hey — your clean, beautiful, Pennsylvania coal. Right? It’s beautiful. It’s clean. What they can do with coal today is incredible. And we have more of it than anybody in the world and we’re producing energy-rich Pennsylvania shale.
To get you more contracts and more jobs, we’ve slashed a record number of regulations. And we’ve approved immediately — like first day, first week — the Keystone XL Pipeline and the Dakota Access Pipelines. That’s 48,000 jobs in one day. Boom, boom. Had to sign something.
Those companies have never had it so good. That was dead. Both of them were dead. And I came along. I think it could’ve been my first day, Rick. Right? But close. And we signed it — 48,000 jobs immediately. And better than riding it on top, on the railroads. Better environmentally. You know, they talk about the environment.
And right now, our air is record clean. And our water is crystal clear. And that’s what we want. But we don’t want stopping jobs. We don’t want to do what some people wanted us to do — mostly, our foreign competitors.
And I’ve ordered federal agencies to dramatically speed up the federal permitting process so that you can get approvals much more quickly. We have the time down to one half of one half already. It used to take 20 years to get a highway approved; we’re close to two years, and I’d like to get it down to one.
And that doesn’t mean they’re going to approve it. But if they’re not going to approve it, somebody doesn’t have to give up their entire life going through an approval process only to have a 3 to 2 vote — “we’re not going to approve it.” (Applause.) So, we’re going to be close to one year, from twenty.
My administration has also taken historic action to make healthcare more affordable. Through Association Health Plans — that’s Alex — we are allowing businesses to band together and to buy much more affordable insurance for their employees, including across state lines — meaning you have tremendous competition. You have to see these insurance companies. They’re going crazy — sort of like the fake news media. They’re going crazy. (Laughter and applause.)
I used the term last night “loco” — in order to get the business — meaning you’re getting good deals. They’re getting great deals.
We opened up short-term, limited-duration plans so that individuals can buy the plan they want and the plan that they need at tremendously reduced costs. We’ve done great with that.
And we’ve eliminated much of Obamacare. And most importantly, we’ve eliminated the individual mandate. It’s gone. That was the thing in Obamacare that was just no good, where you paid a fortune for the privilege of not having to pay a fortune to have bad health care. Right? You know, guys are paying thousands of dollars so they don’t have to buy healthcare. (Applause.) We’ve gotten rid of it. Gone. That was a big one.
Thanks to our actions, I am pleased to announce that, for the first time since Obamacare was passed, premiums are not going to go up next year. We have done everything in the book. They are actually going to go down somewhat. And if we weren’t here, if you had another administration — they were going up another 122 percent, 153 percent, 70 percent, 80 percent.
And you look at what we’ve done, just through management of healthcare, and it’s not good stuff but we’ve keep the premiums down to the lowest number that they’ve been. So we’re very happy with that. A lot of people are very happy with that. (Applause.) Thank you.
And we’re strongly protecting your Medicare. We oppose efforts from Democrats to raid Medicare to fund socialism, robbing seniors of their benefits. Medicare belongs to the seniors who have earned it and paid into it for their entire lives. (Applause.) They want to take it away — the Democrats. And we will always protect Americans with preexisting conditions. That’s a major part of what I’m all about. (Applause.)
At the heart of our economic revival are the massive tax cuts passed by Republicans in Congress. We didn’t get one Democrat vote. And those tax cuts are one of the reasons the economy is doing so well. But you’re talking about a lot of money in the pockets of everybody in this room. A typical family of four earning $75,000, as an example, will see an income tax cut of more than $2,000, slashing their tax bill in half, and, in many cases, much more than that. (Applause.) Big difference.
And small businesses can now deduct 20 percent of their business income — one of the most significant small business tax cuts in the history of our country. Very big cut. Big incentive. (Applause.)
Capital investments are soaring because you can now immediately deduct every penny spent on new equipment. You can do one-year expensing. Nobody thought that was ever going to happen. In fact, I should leave and go back into business maybe. (Applause.) If you would have told me that when I was a private businessman, maybe I wouldn’t have run for President.
One-year — think of it — one-year expensing. Normally, you write it off over 30, 40 years. One-year expensing. That’s an incentive to go out and do what you have to do. And I always said that was going to be one of the most important things in the package. That was a small clause that a lot of people didn’t talk about. And I said, “That’s going to be one of the most important.”
And bringing back trillions of dollars from overseas — money that was going to be spent in other parts of the world. Apple is bringing back $230 billion. They’re building plants all over the United States, and a great — from what I hear, a great campus, they call it. So many things are happening. But billions and billions of dollars is being brought back into our country — money that could never have been brought back under the old system.
And from now on, small business owners will be spared from the deeply unfair estate tax, also known as the “death tax.” (Applause.)
So if you have a small business or a farm or something — and you love your kids — now, if you don’t love your kids, it doesn’t help you. (Laughter.) Because if your kids don’t treat you good, don’t leave it to them. Give it to somebody else. (Laughter.) So it doesn’t help.
But if you love your kids, which probably 82 percent of you do — according to most (inaudible) — (laughter) — you can now leave your small business or your beautiful little farm or whatever it is that you’re so proud of — you leave it to your kids, and they don’t have to go out to the bank and borrow to pay the tax and end up losing it in a foreclosure. It’s such a big thing. A lot of people don’t talk about it, but we were able to get it.
So the estate tax — and the death tax, which is sort of the same thing — but gone — essentially gone for small business. So that’s great. (Applause.) A very big thing.
One of the millions of small businesses that is thriving thanks to tax cuts is Wilson Construction Company in Canby, Oregon. Stacy Wilson runs the business with her family, and she joins us today. Stacy, please come up and tell us about the incredible growth that you’ve seen since the institution of our tax cuts. Where is Stacy? Go ahead, Stacy. Come on up. (Applause.) From Oregon.
Thank you, Stacy.
MS. WILSON: Thank you. Wow.
THE PRESIDENT: (Inaudible.)
MS. WILSON: Thank you very much. Wow.
THE PRESIDENT: I’ll put that down.
MS. WILSON: Thank you. Wow. Truly an honor. Thank you so much, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: It’s my honor.
MS. WILSON: As Mr. President said, my name is Stacy Wilson. We own an electrical contracting company out of Canby, Oregon. We are a midsize company that is family-owned. My grandfather started the company 65 years ago in Oregon and Washington. And my father, Don Wilson, has really made it what it is today — a nationwide company that specializes in transmission, distribution, and substation projects nationwide.
We employ about 500 employees. And thanks to Mr. Trump and the tax reforms and the general confidence in the economy, I guess, we have really been able to invest more in our employees and grow our company in the last year. We’re investing more in employee wages and benefits and bonuses. We’re spending millions on equipment and assets. And, in general, we’re just seeing a huge increase in work that is coming out because utilities are spending more to update this aging infrastructure.
So thank you very much.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you so much.
MS. WILSON: It’s made a huge impact. And — (applause) — so we are looking to grow about 20 to 30 percent more in employees just in the next few months. We have a lot of large projects that are starting. And this will make, I think, a big difference in — really, these incentives that are good for businesses are really important for our employees but also the communities we work in. And we’ve really been thankful and have seen this since President Trump has been in office.
So, thank you so much for this opportunity and this great acknowledgement. I never thought I would be up here, so thank you. (Laughs.) (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Stacy.
I see that, you know, Stacy comes up — no notes, no nothing, nothing to read — and gives a speech better than the politicians, folks. (Laughter.) The politicians, they walk up with papers; everything is scripted. They read it. They stutter. Look at her, she’s, like, great. (Applause.)
Okay, now she’s famous too, so she’ll probably become a governor of Oregon. (Applause.) She’ll become a governor, or a senator. Great job. Very impressive. That’s very impressive.
Another success story in this world, in this great land of ours, is Arcadia Electric in Ridgewood, New York. That’s right where I grew up — right near where I grew up. Company president Steve Gianotti is with us. And, Steve, could you come up and tell us about that great success that you’re experiencing, especially recently? Thank you, Steve. (Applause.)
MR. GIANOTTI: Good afternoon, everyone.
First, I’d like to thank President Trump for his perseverance in helping us with his fiscal policy, which have enabled my company, Arcadia Electric, to bid on more work, and take on more jobs that we’re able to do now because we have more coming that’s available to us, more than ever before.
And as a result of that, we have been able to keep our 120 people employed. But next year, we anticipate hiring 25 percent more hardworking union workers, middle-class workforce that will — (applause) — bring our company to approximately 150 employees, which we’re very proud of. They work hard. They’re the safest, hardest, union workers. And their professional abilities is what makes us successful.
And for that I have to, again, thank the President of the United States for his perseverance and for enabling us to get this work and to change the regulatory policies that he’s been doing — that he spoke of earlier. This is all helpful to us. So, President Trump, thank you very much. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thanks. Thank you, Steve. Great job.
We want to give every citizen the opportunity to achieve their American Dream. That’s why we’re committed to expanding apprenticeships, and on-the-job-training, and vocational education — you know, a word that you don’t hear that much. I’m bringing it back. Because when I was growing up — (applause) — I had so many vocational schools, and you don’t hear that anymore. (Applause.)
You hear “junior college.” You hear all sorts of names, but the vocational is what I understood and that’s what I like. And I had people that went to school with me, and, in some cases, they weren’t great students. But they could take apart an engine blindfolded, put it back together 15 different ways. They were so much more talented than the “A” student. We would have been “D” students. And that’s what they want to do, and that’s what they love, and it’s called “vocational.” So we’re bringing that word back a lot.
But you have tremendously talented people that are, frankly, making a tremendous living — making a lot of money. And we love those people. They’re very special, so we’re bringing back the word “vocational.” And we’re bringing it back strong. (Applause.)
My administration is making a historic investment in workforce development. We established the National Council on the American Worker, and I recently signed a bill to provide more than $1 billion annually for vocational education. (Applause.)
Employers all across the country are signing our Pledge to America’s Workers, expanding job opportunities for more than 4.2 million Americans. And that number is soon going to reach 10 million Americans, including 60,000 Americans who will have access to apprenticeships and on-the-job training thanks to the National Electrical Contractors Association. Thank you, David. (Applause.) Thank you, David.
And one of the countless Americans who has experienced the tremendous benefits of an apprenticeship is Liam Nickelaides — a proud Air Force veteran, a National Guardsman, and a member of Philadelphia’s own Local 98. Liam, please come up. Tell us your great story, please. (Applause.)
MR. NICKELAIDES: Yes. How is everybody doing today? (Laughter.)
So, as an apprentice, it’s a pretty easy schedule. Mondays, you wake up at 4:20 in the morning. Tuesdays, you wake up at the same time, you give a speech in front of a couple thousand people and the President of the United States. (Laughter and applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: That’s great.
MR. NICKELAIDES: For me, my apprenticeship experience has been a pretty good one. When I went to get a job with Local 98, as a member of the Air Force National Guard, I told them that there’d be a good chance that I’d be deploying pretty often. And I told them that during my interview. And I really thank God for the opportunity that they still gave me to get a job and to train me in their union.
So, I thought that maybe it would be just words that I’d get from Local 98. That, yeah, they support the military, but I didn’t really know if I could believe it. But I was able to deploy for three months — short little deployment. And upon my return, I was able to get pushed right back into the education program with the Local 98. And I’m back working — (applause) — upon arrival, back in the United States. And tomorrow, I’m waking up at 4:20, and going back to work again. (Laughter and applause.)
So, thank you. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Is he a natural? Huh? (Laughter and applause.) Thank you, Liam. Good luck with everything. Wow. That’s so great. That’s so great. They don’t even seem nervous, you know? (Laughter.) They come up here — no notes, no nothing. I think it’s great. Thank you very much.
And I want to thank you to everyone here today for your investment in America’s future, and for your devotion to the American worker. So important. Hardworking citizens like you who have always been the backbone of our nation will always be the most important factor in our nation. You make it grow, you make it work.
You power our homes, you light up our skylines, and you make the glory of America shine for all the world to see. You take pride in your work, and America takes pride in all of you in this big, beautiful room.
You pour out your hearts to earn a living, you create loving homes for your family, and you teach your children to cherish our values and to cherish our great American flag. (Applause.) Always.
In a house not far from where we are today, Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, and forever changed the course of human history. Today, we reaffirm our nation’s founding truth: In America, the people govern.
The men and women who go to work each day are not only powering our economy, they are powering our nation and they are powering our freedom. (Applause.)
America will always be a nation of great builders. Because in America, we honor work. We honor grit. We honor craftsmanship. We honor the men and women who turn dreams into reality with their own two, beautiful hands. In America, we honor all of you. (Applause.)
With cable, copper, wire, and steel, you are the ones lighting America’s path forward. So important. So important. You may not even understand how important it is, what you do. You are the ones rebuilding this land that we love. You are the ones who are making America greater than ever before.
Thank you. God bless you. And God bless the United States of America. Thank you very much. Thank you. (Applause.)
3:33 P.M. EDT