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The Kennedy Garden

11:38 P.M. EDT

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  On behalf of the First Family, welcome to the White House.  Great to have you here on this breezy day in the Kennedy Garden and to be able to talk with all of you about the extraordinary difference that independent community bankers make in the life of America’s economy, in the life of America’s families every day.

The President will be joining us in just a few minutes, but I have the great privilege of being able to share just a few thoughts about the President’s priorities and the gratitude that we all feel for the leadership and the support that each of you provide.

But first let me invite you to give one more of round of applause for Linda McMahon, and the great job she is doing at the Small Business Administration.  (Applause.)  We are all glad for her tireless work for job creators.  I grew up in a small business family in a small town in southern Indiana.  And I can tell you that having an entrepreneur and an American success story like Linda McMahon as our Administrator at the SBA is already making a difference in the life of our economy.  And we’re truly grateful for all of her work.

I want to thank all the members of the Independent Community Bankers of America who are here.  Since 1930, the ICBA has given voice to small and community banks all across America.  It’s a testament of your impact.  Today you boast more than 5,800 members all across the greatest nation on Earth.  Give yourselves a round of applause.  That is an incredible impact.  (Applause.)

And your businesses — I know firsthand, your businesses are pillars of the community.  You can’t go to a softball game, you can’t stand in the bleachers at a basketball game without seeing your banners hanging and supporting every worthy cause in every community where you live.

All told community banks are also big-time employers — 760,000 people work each and every day issuing loans to a stunning $3.2 trillion in value to working families, small businesses, and family farms.  You might be small in community banks, but you have a big, big impact on a growing American economy.


I want to thank your ICBA leadership — Cam Fine, Scott Heitkamp, Tim Zimmerman, and Preston Kennedy — for putting today’s even together.  I know the President is really looking forward to greeting you and welcoming you here.  Your tireless work is making a difference far beyond the lobbies and hallways of your banks.  The President knows what all of us know when community banks are strong, America is strong.  (Applause.)

And let me say I’ve heard this businessman-turned-President many times talk about the challenges facing businesses all across this country, and the financial crunch that we have faced in recent years.  The President I know is personally committed to helping you succeed and to break down the barriers that you face.
And I can promise you under President Donald Trump, Dodd-Frank’s days are numbered.  (Applause.)

I don’t have to tell you about the harmful effects of this failed law.  Dodd-Frank restricts your customers’ choices, their freedom to make financial choices that are best for them, their families, and their businesses.  It creates a two-class system for banks.  It truly does — one for big and for small.  It erodes accountability and gives bureaucrats more control over your business.

More than 22,000 pages of red tape have already been issued under Dodd-Frank, costing money, time, and resources that oftentimes community banks just don’t have to spare.  Since Dodd-Frank was passed seven years ago, it’s heartbreaking to think that America has lost more than 1,500 small banks and only five new banks have opened in the wake of the passage of this failed law.

The damage, of course, doesn’t end at the doorways of your banks.  Dodd-Franks is costing our economy in almost incalculable ways, hurting working families, small businesses, and family farms that depend on the services that each one of you provide.  The burden I know falls heaviest on small businesses, the engines of the American economy and the drivers of job creation.  We see great enthusiasm in the American economy since President Trump raised his right hand 102 days ago.  (Applause.)

But you all know that enthusiasm, that willingness to take risks among our small business owners and family farmers has got to be met with resources and the ability of our small and community banks to be able to provide those resources in an orderly way so that America can grow in big cities and small towns is essential (inaudible) Your banks do the lion’s share of small business lending.  And unfortunately the share of loans going to small businesses has dropped by more than a third under Dodd-Frank.  But that’s all about to change.

The simple truth of the matter is that the policies that have advanced from the last administration simply can’t continue.  So dismantling Dodd-Frank is a major part of the President’s legislative agenda, and we will get it done.  (Applause.)
In February, President Trump issued an executive order on what he called the core principles for regulating the United States’ financial system, and I know you’re all familiar with it.  He laid out a vision for real reform that will ensure the integrity of our financial services in this country while still being able to fuel economic growth.  The President is determined along with our entire administration to seek a system that fosters economic growth and vibrant financial markets, empowers families to make their own financial decisions, enables companies to be competitive here and across the world as they do business, and restores accountability and transparency to the federal bureaucracy.

To that end, the President ordered our Treasury Secretary, Steve Mnuchin, to evaluate every federal law and regulation in light of this vision, and that work is going forward vigorously.  The President I know is truly grateful — truly grateful — for the leadership in Congress that will be working with our administration in the days ahead.  But special thanks to Congressman Jeb Hensarling, the Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, for his strong leadership turning the page on Dodd-Frank and bringing it once and for all to an end.  (Applause.)

His CHOICE Act, we believe, is an enormously important step toward real reform and would unburden community banks and spur growth.  The CHOICE Act is a common-sense bill that repeals Dodd-Frank and empowers consumers and businesses, not bureaucrats and lawyers.

Our administration will continue to work with Chairman Hensarling and the rest of Congress on this vital issue, I promise you that.  We’re already making some progress, and I promise you, with President Trump in the Oval Office, we’re going to get the job done and unleash the boundless potential of the American economy with our community and independent banks helping to drive that recovery.


This is absolutely one of the President’s top priorities, and he wanted me to come out here today and make sure and share the substance of that with all of you.
And I just would say as I close that it’s a joy to see all of you.  Some of you remember me back in the day when I was a member of Congress, fighting against Dodd-Frank.  You can imagine how humbling it is for me to be standing before you today here at the White House as Vice President to a President who understands the American economy and is going to take America back in the direction of the policies that will ensure a boundless economic future.  It’s incredible.  And you all have been a part of it.

You’ve been a part of continuing to make this case and carrying this case forward to the American people.  And we’re all grateful.  But I just want to encourage you — I do believe your buttons are right — (laughter).  America loves community banks.  In small-town America and medium-sized cities all across the America, you’re the difference makers.  You’re the folks that don’t so much look at a balance sheet, but you look people in the face because it’s not a matter of seeing forms filled out, it’s a matter of people that you know.  You see them walking up and down the street.  You see them at places of worship.  You see them at ballgames.

Each and every day, you make decisions not so much by running a calculator, but by calculating in your heart who that person is and the character of the men and women that are building the enterprises of your communities.

My dad is gone now about 30 years.  My dad ran a small business, a gas station business in a small town.  But I know how he spoke about our local bankers, and the ability that they gave him and his company the opportunity to grow.  You do that.  In a very real sense, our community banks make dreams come true every day for working families, for small businesses.  And I just want you to know from the bottom of my heart, we have a President who knows that too.  We have a President who has lived the American Dream, and we have a President who understands the vital role that our community banks play in ensuring that every American has a chance to live that dream as well.

So with that, I’ll step off the stage, and the next voice you hear will be the President of the United States of America. Stay tuned.  (Applause.)

11:50 A.M. EDT