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State Dining Room

3:32 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Okay, thank you very much. It’s an honor to see you all today on this beautiful afternoon — White House.

We’re here today to discuss our efforts to support our nation’s small businesses — working very hard — and safely reopen America. And that’s what’s happening. We’re doing record numbers. We’re doing numbers like nobody has ever seen before, actually.

I’m thrilled to be joined by two good friends of mine: Governor Pete Ricketts of Nebraska — Pete, thank you very much; and a man that I’m going to see a little bit over the weekend — and this was a really by coincidence that you happened to be here today because it was for a different reason that has to do with small business — Governor Kevin Stitt of Oklahoma.

And we’re going to be in Oklahoma. And it’s a crowd like, I guess, nobody’s seen before. We have tremendous, tremendous requests for tickets like, I think, probably has never happened politically before. And one of the reasons we chose your state, as you know, Kevin, was that you’ve done so — so well with the COVID. You’ve handled it incredibly well. We appreciate — you both have, actually. You both have. So, congratulations.

Along with several extraordinary small-business owners from their state. Also with us are Secretary of the Treasury, Steven Mnuchin and Small Business Administrator Jovita. Thank you, Jovita. Very good. Small business is no longer small businesses; it’s big business. That’s one of the biggest businesses.

As a result of the virus, 22 percent of small businesses were forced to close earlier this year, including 41 percent of black-owned businesses. But under my administration’s strategy to vanquish the virus and restart our economy, small businesses across the nation are now safely reopening — all over the nation, they’re reopening at levels like nobody’s seen before.

We’re sheltering individuals at the highest risk. If you look at really high-risk individuals, we are really watching them and we’re taking care of them. And we know what the high-risk means, but largely it means older people — especially older people, senior citizens that have a tremendous — they have a problem — if they have a heart problem, if they have diabetes, if they have any kind of a problem, they’re much more susceptible. So we’re all — we’re all watching that very closely. We’ve learned a lot over the last number of months.

In the past four months, we’ve conducted over 25 million coronavirus tests and distributed over 1.5 billion pieces of personal protective equipment. America is better supplied and more prepared to reenter than, I would say, just about any other place. You look at what we’ve done with ventilators. We’re now making thousands a week of ventilators — very big, expensive, complex equipment — and we’re sending them to other countries. And we’re — we’re all stocked up. Our country is totally stocked up. Everybody has their ventilators, the maximum they can use. But we are sending them to other countries.

The nice part — and I say it a lot, because I think it’s pretty amazing — when we came here, you had very few ventilators in this country. And by the time we started, not one person that needed a ventilator didn’t get it. So everybody that needed a ventilator got a ventilator. There wasn’t one instance anywhere in our country, and we — we stocked up those shelves. The cupboard was empty, and we filled up the cupboards.

In the past four months, tremendous things have happened. But I think probably the biggest thing of all is the knowledge that we’ve gained of this disease, of this plague, of this virus. Call it what you want.

To help small businesses survive the shutdown, I approved over $670 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program. And Steve, that’s been a tremendous success. And we’re talking with Democrats about doing something further now. But the numbers, the way they’re coming in, it’s been really incredible, so we’re able to spot it, but we’re here to help businesses and to help people.

To date, we’ve processed over 4.6 million small-business loans, saving and supporting an estimated 50 million American jobs, Jovita. That’s incredible. The small-business owners that we have with us this afternoon all received the PPP loans, and now their businesses are on the road to recovery and they’re doing really well. We have a lot of businesses that are doing really well.

We’re talking about a “V” shape. We’re almost like an “I” shape. “I” is straight up and down. But I talked about “V” shape, and a lot of people disagreed with me — not everybody, but a lot of very smart Wall Streeters were disagreeing. Now they’re much coming — pretty much coming on board, say it looks like it could be a “V.” So, a “V” is the thing we were shooting for and it looks like that’s what we’ve got.

I want to thank our people and my representatives for their decisive actions. And last month, we added a record 2.5 million jobs. It’s the highest in the history of our country in one month. That’s the highest number of jobs: 2.5 million. The Dow rose above 26,000 points. And we saw the largest surge in retail sales ever recorded.

Next year is shaping up to be one of the greatest years in the history of our country from an economic standpoint. I truly believe that. I think we’re going to have a great third quarter, we’re going to have a great fourth quarter, and next year is going to be a phenomenal year.

I believe that Nasdaq actually set the record — during a pandemic, Nasdaq just set — they broke their record, Larry. Is that a correct statement? So it was higher than even before. That’s an amazing — that’s an amazing achievement.

After I was elected President, our country added more than 7 million jobs, 12,000 factories, and trillions of dollars of wealth. We created nearly 9,000 Opportunity Zones. And African American, Asian American, and Hispanic American unemployment and poverty reached all-time lows.

We had the greatest employment numbers we’ve ever had, and then we had to turn it off. We saved millions of people by doing it. We did the right thing. And now we’re turning it back on, and the numbers are going up much, much faster than anybody would have thought. And that’s a great honor to see it.

And these two governors, by the way, are doing a — have done a fantastic job. Two very extraordinary men. Nebraska and Oklahoma.

We built the strongest economy the world has ever seen before the virus, and together we’re doing it again. So we did it before the virus. We had to turn it off. And now we’re doing it again, and that’s what’s happening.

So now I’d like to — maybe we’ll start off with Governor Ricketts and then we’ll get to my friend over here. I’ll be seeing so much of you in the next couple of days, I’ll take you second. (Laughter.) Okay?

Thank you very much. Please.

GOVERNOR RICKETTS: Well, thank you very much, Mr. President. And to all of your team here: We really appreciate your effort, your leadership, and that of your team’s to be able to help us through this pandemic, and really give us the tools to be able to manage it. The PPP program you mentioned has been tremendously successful in Nebraska.

Between — because of the great relationships our community bankers have with our small businesses, we were able to take advantage of that and really cover over 80 percent of our payroll. So it really was a fantastic way to be able to keep people working. We had the third-lowest unemployment rate in April, and we want to keep people in their jobs. We really appreciate all the work you’re doing.

And we’ve — you know, you may recall we were one of the few states that didn’t issue a stay-at-home order or a —


GOVERNOR RICKETTS: — shelter-in-place order. What we did is try to take common step — steps and ask people to take responsibility to be able to follow the directives that you all were putting out — with regard to avoiding large groups, washing their hands, that sort of thing, and making sure they keep, you know, six feet in distance in public. That sort of thing.

And by doing that and targeting specific higher-risk businesses that we asked to shut down for a shorter period of time, we were able to be able to stem the tide of the virus.

We’ve actually got the lowest hospitalizations in our state right now we had since the end of April. So it’s got a nice bell-shaped curve, where it went up and now it’s coming back down. Our cases are steady and flat. And now we’re just really in the mode of — of, you know, managing this.

You know, you put the 10-person rule in place in mid-March, and that bought us the time to be able to strengthen our contact tracing, our testing, our PPE, our quarantine space, put plans in place to help at-risk populations, and put our — you know, our rules in place. And that’s what gave us the opportunity to be able to manage this.

So we really appreciate all that you’ve done, Mr. President. Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, you’ve done great. And thank you very much. And how did you do with your floods? Because you had tremendous floods.

GOVERNOR RICKETTS: We’re still actually recovering from the floods from last year. So we got kind of the double whammy. Agriculture, in particular, has really taken a heavy hit between what happened then — you know, last year with the flooding — and then with the pandemic this year.

But again, your administration has been helpful. You know, with the phase one China deal, for example.


GOVERNOR RICKETTS: That gives a great market to be able to sell things. So we really appreciate all that you’re doing to help us recover through these terrible tragedies.

THE PRESIDENT: And they are buying a lot, aren’t they?

GOVERNOR RICKETTS: They are. They are. And that is — that helps. That makes such a difference, Mr. President. I can’t tell you. I mean, we — you know, when people aren’t driving, they’re not using ethanol. Right? Because that gets blended into our fuel supply. When our food processing facilities are impacted by coronavirus and they’re slowing down, our ranchers don’t have a place to take their animals.

So there’s a lot of impact to agriculture and your administration has been great in working with us to be able to help them through it.

THE PRESIDENT: That’s great. Thank you very much, Pete.


THE PRESIDENT: Appreciate it.


GOVERNOR STITT: Well, thank you so much for having us, Mr. President. And on behalf of Oklahoma, we’re so excited to have you. And — and like you said, I don’t know if people caught that, but over a million people have requested tickets to come to — come to this event.


GOVERNOR STITT: So it’s just going to be amazing. Ok- — Oklahoma is ready for your visit. It’s going to be safe. And we’re really, really excited.

But, you know, during this whole COVID crisis, as we’ve been fighting it, your administration has been having calls twice a week, the Vice President — have been so helpful to myself and all the other governors, listening to what our needs were and providing everything we need. So it’s just been — been going great.

And so, we were one of the first states that has safely and measurably reopened. We went through — we went to phase three on June 1st. So we’re 56 days into our reopening plan, and currently we have under 200 people in the hospital across the state of Oklahoma. And we had an uptick in the number of cases, and so the — some of the media tries to talk about that. But we knew we were going to have an increase a little bit, because we’re 56 days into reopening.

But what’s interesting, it’s the 18-to-35 group that we’ve seen a slight increase, but they’re the asymptomatic. And we’re testing so many more people right now than we were initially, and the positive cases are still 3.8 percent. So we’ve seen a steady decline in the hospitalizations.

And we have to learn — I tell Oklahomans that COVID is in the U.S.; it’s in Oklahoma. We have to learn how to be safe and how to have to move on. And so we were able to build capacity, because the whole reason I issued 25 executive orders in Oklahoma, was to build capacity in our hospitals, and also the PPE. And we were able to do that, and really flatten that curve. And that was our objective. And I told Oklahomans, the — the better they — they do in that period of time, the quicker we can start reopening.


GOVERNOR STITT: And that’s exactly what we’ve done. And Oklahomans are — are being safe, and we can see it in our numbers. But we’re ready to get things back to normal and get life back to normal.

So, again, we can’t wait to have you in Oklahoma on Saturday.

THE PRESIDENT: Great job, Kevin. Thank you. Thank you very much. Jovita, please.

ADMINISTRATOR CARRANZA: Thank you very much. I appreciate the opportunity to meet with Lori and Patel, and also to be — oh, thank you — and also to be able to visit many businesses throughout the states. I traveled to North Carolina, as well as Dallas — and visited with the faith-based and the lending community, as well as some small businesses to — to feel, and see, and as evidence of how PPP is actually working not only in the faith-based, not only in the small businesses, but also the lending community: what more can we do to facilitate more capital for the small businesses.

The underserved commit- — communities are also being sought after. We’ve asked the lenders — the very diverse lenders that we’ve signed up — over 5,400 of them, to provide outreach — very aggressive outreach to our inner cities and underserved communities. I’ve spoken with some of the governors. I’ve spoken with the mayors as well, that we need to do more.

There’s over $100 billion available remaining in the PPP program, a very successful program. You’ve shared, Lori, that the — how you’ve been able to transition your business from a very high-end to a takeout and still maintain the customer base. And we’re realizing this, Mr. President, throughout the states and every state that we visit.

Now, the fact that SBA has been able to have a touchpoint of over 10 million small businesses — we have 50 million that you indicated of employees —


ADMINISTRATOR CARRANZA: — in one portfolio. And another, about 9 million, in the other portfolio. So, at some point, we will be providing technical assistance, providing some coaching and counseling to be able to solidify those relationships that the new businesses have developed with the lending community. So I thank you President for your support.

THE PRESIDENT: And thank you very much. And, you know, they’ve done like more business in four days than they did in four years. It’s a big — it’s become a big business. Small businesses is now big business. So thank you.


THE PRESIDENT: You’re doing a great job. Thank you very much.

Steve, please.

SECRETARY MNUCHIN: Mr. President, thank you. It’s a pleasure to be here, and it’s great to see your economic programs working, especially for small businesses. The PPP has been a tremendous success. We’ve seen that in the employment numbers.

We still have more work to do. We want to make sure that every single person who lost their job because of COVID gets back to work. And we won’t be done until that happens.

And I’m also pleased that this week, working with the Federal Reserve, we’ve opened the Main Street funding facility. Again, that will be accessible to small businesses down to $250,000 loans. So again, a massive amount of liquidity that’s been pumped into the system for small businesses.


Larry, how are we doing today?

MR. KUDLOW: Well, un- — weekly unemployment claims fell for the 11th straight week. That’s a good sign.

We’re going to have job numbers in June, and I think we’ll be very strong. I agree with Steven; I think the rescue plan worked. I think the PPP was superhuman. It probably saved 55 million jobs. And we saw that with the 3 million dol- — 3 million job increase in the May numbers.

I compiled my list of green shoots, sir. We’ve got Apple mobility for traveling almost back to its pandemic — pre-pandemic high; homebuilder demand and confidence is very, very strong; automobiles — car sales are moving from 8.6 million to 12.2 million as the factories reopen; as you noted, the retail sales number was a spectacular 18 percent; Michigan Consumer Expectations, very strong today; NFIB Optimism Index, expect economy to improve a record jump — expect economy to improve a record jump; and manufacturing, the Philly Fed and the New York Fed Future Activity Indexes are off the charts.

If I play reference to the Congressional Budget Office, if we get a 20 percent increase in Q3, which I think is quite possible; 20 percent increase in Q4; and a 5 percent increase in Q1, 2021; we will be back to where we were in 2019. We will have made up for the lost ground.


MR. KUDLOW: It’s not going to take five years.

THE PRESIDENT: That’s amazing.

MR. KUDLOW: We will have made it up with some decent numbers by the first quarter of 2021.

THE PRESIDENT: That’s called a “Super V,” right?

MR. KUDLOW: “Super V.” I like the “I” scenario.

THE PRESIDENT: It’s called a “V-” — it’s called a “V- plus.” Well, that’s where we’re headed.

But we were headed to great things, and then we got hit by the Chinese plague. So, you know, that happens too. And things happen that you don’t expect sometimes. So — but we’re — we built it once. We’re now building it again. And it’s going to be even more successful in my opinion.

Kayleigh, please.

MS. MCENANY: Yes, Mr. President. I would just note that the “V” is indeed an “I,” and you’ve described this economy like a “rocket ship” previously. And I think the numbers you laid out are worth reemphasizing, because it’s exactly that: 2.5 million jobs added, blowing past expect — expectations. You had the experts off by about 10 million jobs. That’s quite an extraordinary number to be off by. Also the Dow above 26,000 points. You mentioned the NASDAQ setting the record. Seven million jobs. Nine thousand Opportunity Zones.

You’re the jobs President. You did this once. You brought 7 million jobs. And quite clearly, what the markets are saying is they have faith that you are the jobs President that will do this again.

THE PRESIDENT: So, most people have never built a positive economy. We’re going to do it twice, and the second time is going to be better than the first, I think, Steve. We have a shot at it. Right? Okay, please. Go ahead.

MR. GOINS: Yes. I’m Anthony Goins, and I’m honored to be here, Mr. President, representing the state of Nebraska.

We were really focused on three things in terms of making sure that our economy stayed on track. And first, it was stabilization. So the PPP, the EIDL loan, gave us the liquidity injection that we needed to help us out.

Debt servicing: Our community banks work very closely with the small businesses to defer payments.

And then we move into recovery. And when we talk about recovery, the $1.08 billion that we’ve received from the Treasury has been a huge help. We’ve broken it down into four programs: small-business stabilization, rural broadband, we’re giving a million dollars for Gallup, and then we’re also looking at taking workers that are in industries that are shrinking and retraining them in high-demand industries so we can put Nebraskans back to work in the right areas.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, you mentioned rural broadband, and we’re doing that very big for the Mid-West and for our farmers, and that’s a very big factor. And, as you know, we’ve started the process already.


THE PRESIDENT: And I think you’re going to be very happy with that.

MR. GOINS: Absolutely.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Thank you very much. Appreciate it. Please.

MS. HEGARTY: Hi. Good afternoon, Mr. President, Governors, Secretaries, Directors, and honored guests. My name is Melissa Hegarty, and I am proud and honored to be the invited guest of Governor Ricketts from the great state of Nebraska.

I am a wife and mother to two young daughters, ages nine and eleven, as well as the co-owner of four bakeries in Nebraska and Iowa. We’ve been in business for 10 years and have approximately 92 employees.

Early on in COVID-19, we decided not to layoff any employees — rather, ask the ones that live at home with their parents to scale back on some of their hours if they can. By doing that, it would give the other employees that needed their shifts to be able to cover their rent and other expenses an opportunity to keep their hours.

Most of our employees are in their early 20s with no families to fall back on, so it was critical for us to take care of them any way we could. It was an important decision for the federal government to allow each state’s governor to decide how to formulate their own plan of how to close and, in turn, reopen their state.

Fortunately, my businesses in both Nebraska and Iowa were able to continue to serve our guests inside the bakery, while practicing social distancing, sanitizing between guests, all while everyone wears a mask.

We had several terrible weeks of sales leading into Easter. It was easily the scariest time of my life as a business owner, not knowing what would happen next. We did apply for and receive Paycheck Protection Program funds through our small, locally owned bank who we’ve had a strong relationship with since we started back in 2010.

That program has been helpful for us to continue to meet our fiduciary obligations, in terms of promises to our staff as well as paying our monthly bills.

As the virus continued past Easter, we were able to increase our delivery business while adding a new service for our guests: curbside pickup. But with curbside pickup, it did come with some challenges. So, increased labor would be probably the biggest effect on our bottom line. Additional employees have been added to answer the phones, and runners are needed to take orders out to the guests waiting in their car.

By mid-May, sales were picking up, and we did have our best Mother’s Day ever, seeing double-digit growth over last year’s weekly sales.

So my Nebraska bakeries have now entered phase three, starting this upcoming Monday, of Governor Ricketts’s directed health measures. We anticipate our guests’ desire to celebrate all of the life’s events they missed over the past three months — new babies, birthdays, anniversaries, retirements — with our ultimate hope that it will transfer into a much busier summer than we normally would have.

I want to thank you for inviting me to be a part of this important discussion. I’m honored.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Great job. Thank you very much.


MS. BURSON: Thank you, Mr. President. I’m honored to be here representing the small independent restaurant industry and the great state of Oklahoma. Thank you for inviting me.

I am a small independent restaurant owner. I own and operate Stella Modern Italian Cuisine in Oklahoma City. My restaurant celebrated 10 years in business in April. Prior to COVID-19, I employed 30 people in the restaurant. When restaurants were closed for inside dining, I was forced to furlough some very dedicated and loyal employees for the first time ever.

Since I did receive the PPP financial assistance, I was able to offer all of our staff their jobs back, and all but three returned.

I want to thank you and Governor Stitt for working so hard for our economy and helping us reopen in a responsible and systematic way.

Our industry worked very closely with Governor Stitt and the Health Department of Oklahoma on guidelines to reopen with a phased approach. It has been good to get back to work and to be able to serve our guests.

Under the guidelines we adopted in Oklahoma, we are using data-driven points to ensure we are reopening our restaurants and economy in a safe and in an efficient manner. In reopening, our number-one goal has been to keep our customers safe, as well as our employees.

We know there is work to be done to create a sense of confidence in our diners, as well as our employees, and help people feel good about dinning out again. We are dil- — diligently following all the guidelines on using PPP for — or, I’m sorry, PPE for our employees, doubling our sanitation practice, and encouraging our customers to follow the suggested guidelines for social distancing.

Restaurants have always had outstanding protocol in place for safely preparing food and serving our customers in a safe manner. As you’re aware, the restaurant industry has suffered greatly during this unprec- — unprecedented time. Our job loss and lost sales has been overwhelming.

So I want to thank you for working so hard for our economy and signing into law the CARES Act, which provides PPP forgivable loan, to help our industry and our economy at large get back to work.

There is more that needs to be done, and we appreciate the opportunity we have to work closely with you, your administration, and our congressional leaders for next steps to get our economy and our industry back to work and fully open.

President Trump, America’s restaurant industry is grateful for your leadership in guiding us through this pandemic. Thank you again for inviting me to meet with you. And thank you, for Governor Stitt, for your leadership in getting Oklahomans back to work.

THE PRESIDENT: That’s very nice. And we’re going to try and get deductions back for your restaurant industry. And you can look at that man right over there; he’ll be carrying the message. But we’re looking for the deductions for entertainment restaurants, and I’ll get it — you’ll get it right back, bigger than before. Okay?

MS. BURSON: Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT: We’re working very hard on that.


MR. PATEL: Thank you, Mr. President. Honored to represent the lo- — lodging industry before America’s first hotelier President. Grateful to Governor Stitt for his leadership and for the invitation to join today.

My name is Pete Patel, first-generation American. My family and I immigrated to the United States in 1979 in search of the American Dream. We found that American Dream in Tulsa, Oklahoma — a small hotelier — small business and hoteliers.

Our company owns and operates 12 hotels in eastern Oklahoma. The current crisis — lodging was the first to suffer because of shelter-in-place, and we will be the last to recover. It may take up to two years.

Before COVID, our industry had record occupancies, profitability, and new development hotels, thanks to the exceptional strong economy under your leadership, Mr. President.

Because of COVID, occupancy dropped to 20 percent nationally, revenues fell by 50 percent, and 70 percent of all hotel employees were either laid off or furloughed. For the first time in my career, we were forced to lay off employees, and that was the most gut-wrenching experience that we’ve had.

The Payroll Protection Program was a lifeline to our industry to help America’s small businesses and our employees. The best thing for our business is that our economy opens.

Grateful to Oklahoma governor for his systematic, data-driven approach to leading our state back to opening. Currently, our occupancies have picked up a bit, but we still have a long ways to go as an industry, as well as our market.

The hospitality industry, as a whole, as stated, are reopening hotels in a safe and healthy manner. The industry has implemented what’s called “Safe Stay” standards: sanitization; PPE use; social distancing; things like limiting buffets and using grab-and-go, prepackaged items. Swimming pools and gyms are limited with appointments for use. Guests and employees are only safe as how we make the properties. And we have done — the hotel industry has done a great job in adapting ways to make sure all of our employees and guests are safe.

Mr. President, I would like to mention a couple of things. We need more states to reopen, consumers to feel safe to travel. Industry will need additional resources to help pay our bills. Increase cap on the EIDL program would be very helpful to us. And we need pressure relief from our local banks — who may be stressed in these times coming up — that have hospitality loans. We will need help from the Federal Reserve and FDIC on those two things.

In conclusion, Mr. President, America’s hoteliers are grateful for your leadership. Appreciate — we appreciate — and you know what it’s like to own and operate hotels. We’re looking forward to working with you towards a swift and strong recovery.

Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT: I’m impressed by your 20 percent number. If that was your low point, you’re better than any hotel company that I’ve seen. (Laughter.) We had Hilton, and they were at 1 percent. Right? And we had — we had all of the big ones, and they were at from 1 to 4 or 5 percent. So if you’re at 20 percent, congratulations. That’s pretty good.

MR. PATEL: That was the average, Mr. President. There was a few of them that weren’t that. (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: I can imagine. That’s great. Great job. Thank you.

MS. ROLLINS: Mr. President, thank you. As your domestic policy chief, what an honor it is to have all of these small-business owners here at the White House. I’m reminded that just yesterday, Mr. President, we had veterans in. The day before, we were doing policing reform in the Rose Garden. The day before that, we were talking about seniors and taking care of our elderly and fraud. Everything you do every day, every minute, is how to do the most for all Americans.

And the small-business, this is the backbone of our country. I’m from a town of 1,200 people — Glen Rose, Texas, an hour south of Dallas — raised by a single mom who had a flower shop on the main street of Glen Rose.

Small business truly is the American Dream at its very, very best. And the work that Secretary Mnuchin, that Administrator Carranza are doing for this country is extraordinary, but it’s executing your vision.

And so bringing today the small-business owners to the White House, talking about how we’re going to not just get this country back where we were just a couple months ago before the pandemic from China hit, but to even greater heights than ever before — it’s just an honor to be here, and I want to welcome and thank everyone for coming to the White House.

And thank you, Mr. President, for your leadership.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you for doing a great job. You’re doing great.

MS. ROLLINS: Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Okay, thank you all very much. Thank you. Thank you very much.


4:03 P.M. EDT