Walter E. Washington Convention Center
10:23 A.M. EDT
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, hello, CUNA! (Applause.) And I want to say thank you to Jim Nussle. Thank you for your kind introduction. He’s been my friend of many years. In our time together in the United States Congress, he served with great distinction as our Budget Chairman. He served an administration as the Director of the Office of Management and Budget. And now leading this vital organization in the life of this nation, Jim Nussle has made a difference expanding opportunities for American families. Would you join me in thanking my friend, Jim Nussle, for his great leadership? (Applause.)
And it’s an honor to be here with all of you men and women who work hard every day to help Americans achieve the American Dream for their families, for their businesses. You build local communities. Credit unions are a part of everything good that is happening in cities large and small across this country. And it’s my great honor to be here at the 2019 Government Affairs Conference of the Credit Union National Association. Thank you so much for welcoming me here today. (Applause.)
And I want to give a special welcome to some great friends of mine from my time in the Congress, my time as a governor of the great state of Indiana. We’ve got some Hoosiers in the house. (Applause.) John McKenzie, Dave Abernathy, all of you who are here with the Indiana Credit Union League: I am just delighted to see you all again.
And as I begin, allow me to bring greetings from a great friend of credit unions and a great friend of all of you, and a man whose leadership has revived the economy of the United States of America. I bring greetings from President Donald Trump to each and every one of you. (Applause.)
And I’m here today, on the President’s behalf and on behalf of our entire administration, really just to say, “thank you.” Thanks to all of you for the vital role that you play in our nation, for the work you do to help millions of Americans build stronger families and build stronger businesses and stronger communities.
The truth is, people that know members of this great association know you make it possible for American families to buy that next car, to send a child to college, buy that dream home. You make it possible for countless entrepreneurs to start a small business and to help drive our economy.
The men and women who run America’s credit unions — each one of you and all those you represent — you really do incredible work every day. There’s really too many stories to tell today, but let me mention a few.
Sara DeLance is here from Rutland, Vermont. Sara, are you in the house? (Applause.) Fifteen years ago, I’m told, Sara took her first job as a part-time teller at her local credit union. But today, because of her hard work, skill, and determination, Sara is a Senior Vice President at Heritage Family Credit Union. And just last year, she was recognized for her outstanding service when Sara was named one of Vermont Business Magazine’s Rising Stars. Now let’s hear it for Sara. (Applause.)
I’m also told that with us today is Maurice Smith, CEO of the Local Government Federal Credit Union in Raleigh, North Carolina. In more than two decades of experience with credit unions, Maurice has earned many awards for his success. But the impact of his work reaches far beyond the balance sheet.
I’m actually told that Maurice makes a special effort to help credit union members whose incomes are more modest, like all of you do every single week across the country. He treats every one of his clients, I’m told, as if they were his only client. In fact, a longtime member of Maurice’s credit union recently said that, even years after she first joined, she, in her words, still feels like she’s the credit union’s “most important member.”
That’s the difference the personal impact — the personal touch that America’s credit unions make every single day in communities across America. And I know each one of you are emblematic of that outstanding service.
So join me in thanking Sara, Maurice, and every single one of you and your employees for your care and your diligence on behalf of the communities you serve. (Applause.)
It really is remarkable to think about the difference that credit unions make nationwide. You serve 115 million Americans, with more than a stunning $1 trillion worth of loans.
Over the past two years, you’ve also stood by the side of this President and this administration as we’ve fought to advance a pro-growth, pro-jobs agenda.
And just as we’re grateful to have you as our allies, you can be assured: The American credit unions have no greater champion than President Donald Trump. (Applause.) It’s true.
You know, over the past two years, President Trump has signed more bills cutting federal red tape than any President in American history. (Applause.) Since Election Day, we’ve actually delivered more than $33 billion in regulatory savings for working families and business owners. And, as all of you know, that also included their fundamental reform of the Dodd-Frank law. (Applause.)
As all of you know, Dodd-Frank restricted your members’ choices that limited the freedom of the American people to make financial decisions that were the best for them.
Dodd-Frank made Washington bureaucrats more powerful and less accountable, giving them ever-more control over the work that you do every single day.
It was, in every sense, a failed law that resulted in tens of thousands of pages of burdensome regulation — a mountain of red tape that created a tremendous burden on America’s credit unions and ultimately on the families and businesses that you serve.
Since Dodd-Frank was passed into law nine years ago, the number of credit unions in America actually declined by more than 25 percent. It was an average loss of one credit union each day.
That’s why President Trump took action. And with the support of majorities in the Congress, this President signed the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act into law, rolling back some of Dodd-Frank’s most damaging regulations. (Applause.) And you all were a part of that. And your support in that effort made a tremendous difference, and you have our thanks on behalf of the American people that you serve.
Now, credit unions understand the needs of your members far better than bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. ever will. And you showed that in the fight for that reform. And under President Trump’s leadership, I want to promise you: Under this administration, we are going to continue to empower you to do what you do best: serving your members and serving growing communities across America. (Applause.)
But the truth is, we haven’t just been rolling back red tape on institutions like yours and on businesses large and small. Under this President’s leadership, we’ve unleashed American energy as well — the lifeblood of our economy that fuels small businesses and family farms that credit unions support so much. And thanks to our actions today, and thanks to the leadership of this President and the ingenuity of American energy entrepreneurs, today the United States is the world’s largest producer of oil and natural gas. And next year, we will be a net exporter of energy for the first time in 70 years. (Applause.)
Under this President’s leadership, we’re also forging new trade deals that put American jobs and American workers first. From Europe to the Indo-Pacific, we’re negotiating deals that are free, fair, and reciprocal so working families and business owners can serve and can compete on the world stage.
And, of course, with the support of all of you in this room and people all across the country, this President kept his promise to the American people before our first year was out when he signed the largest tax cut and tax reform in American history. (Applause.)
With the strong support of credit unions and your members around the country, we cut taxes across the board for working families, small businesses, family farms, and businesses of every size that credit unions serve. And we made it possible for families and businesses to keep more of what they earn. And the results of this agenda, as I’m sure you’ve witnessed on Main Street America, has been nothing short of extraordinary.
Since Election Day, businesses large and small across America, in cities and towns, have seen businesses create 5.3 million new jobs, including 490,000 manufacturing jobs. The American economy is roaring again. (Applause.)
Nearly 5 million Americans have been lifted off food stamps. And today, unemployment has hit a nearly 50-year low. We’ve actually seen the lowest unemployment rates ever recorded for African Americans and Hispanic Americans. The truth is, the American Dream is working for every American once again, and credit unions are a part of making that happen. (Applause.)
It’s amazing to think more Americans are working today than ever before in our nation’s history. A growing economy means more money for the families that you serve. Wages are rising at the fastest pace in a decade. And it’s truly meaningful to the President and me that the most rapid growth of wages in America today is among blue-collar workers, the backbone of America. The forgotten men and women of America are forgotten no more. (Applause.)
So we’ve made great progress. The American economy is booming, and you all are a part of that extraordinary story of progress. But as we gather here today in our nation’s capital, I want to assure you: In this administration, we understand that security is the foundation of our prosperity. That’s why our administration has taken decisive action from our very first days to promote the safety and security of the American people.
Yesterday, President Trump submitted his budget request to the Congress. It called for fiscal discipline in discretionary domestic programs and a record investment in national defense and border security.
As the President has said many times, “If you don’t have a border, you don’t have a country.”
So as I stand before you today, all of you gathered here from all 50 states across this country, you deserve to know — whatever you hear in the national media — the truth is, we have a crisis on our southern border. It’s a crisis of illegal immigration, drugs, dangerous criminals, and human trafficking. And you also deserve to know that it’s a crisis like we’ve never seen before.
For the first time ever, a majority of people attempting to come into our country through our southern border illegally are families and unaccompanied minors that are being enticed to make the long and dangerous journey from Central America by drug cartels and human traffickers who take advantage of our porous border and loopholes in our laws to encourage people to pay cash to be taken up to our border.
As the President has said, in his words, “These are heartbreaking realities that are hurting innocent, precious human beings…on both sides of the border.”
The truth is, 70 percent of illegal immigrants report being victims of violence on their journey to our southern border. And according to Doctors Without Borders, nearly one-third of women traveling to our southern border report being sexually assaulted on the journey.
Now, just last week, the Department of Homeland Security announced that, in the last five months alone, Customs and Border Protection has seen a more than 300 percent increase in the number of families apprehended compared to the same period one year ago. My fellow Americans, every day we don’t secure our border, we are allowing the crisis to worsen and more lives to be endangered and exploited.
And despite the incredible work that our men and women in law enforcement are doing, drug cartels and smugglers are exploiting this crisis at our southern border to flood drugs into our country, harming our children and our families and the communities where you live and lead.
It’s heartbreaking to acknowledge that, today, drug overdose is the leading cause of death for adults under 55 years of age. In 2016, all across America, some 174 people lost their lives to drug overdose every single day.
These statistics don’t tell the story better than I know you already know it, because I know the role that credit unions play in your communities. You’re involved in every worthy cause, in every charity. You are an integral part of your communities. And so when the stories are told of heartbreak, you’ve already heard those stories.
A member of the United States Senate from the American northwest told me not long ago — he said, “Mike, I’m standing strong with the President for border security.” He said, “Because we don’t have a crisis on our southern border.” He said, “We have a crisis in all 50 states of opiate abuse and addiction, and it’s time for America to act.” (Applause.)
The crisis on our southern border is affecting us all. It’s affecting every community in America. That’s why President Trump has taken such a strong stand for border security, declared a national emergency on our southern border.
Despite the fact that he has clear statutory authority under the National Emergencies Act, some in Congress are actually trying to stop the President from exercising the authority that Congress gave him to address what is an undeniable humanitarian crisis on our southern border.
Now, we’re grateful for senators who are working to find a way to address this crisis and support the President’s emergency declaration for border security. And after I leave you today, I’ll travel to Capitol Hill to continue those discussions.
But let me say this: A vote against the President’s emergency declaration is a vote against border security. A vote against the President’s emergency declaration is a vote to deny the real humanitarian and security crisis that is happening at our southern border.
And so we’re calling on every member of the United States Senate: Set politics aside. Stand up for border security. Stand with this President. And put the safety and security of the American people first. (Applause.)
And I know many of you are headed to Capitol Hill in the days ahead. When I was a member of Congress, I always looked forward to my credit union leaders coming in. I know you’ll be talking about economic issues in your community. But you serve families. It’s one of the things that makes credit unions so special.
And so I encourage each one of you, as you meet with representatives in the House and Senate, just encourage them to take a stand for border security. Encourage them to stand with this President as he’s taking such decisive action to secure our border.
And once we’ve secured our border, I promise you we will work with Congress to fix our broken immigration system once and for all. (Applause.) We’ll do it.
So as I close, let me just say “thank you” once again to all of you for all you’ve done to bring opportunities and prosperity to American families.
I know what you do. You know, I’m a small-town guy from southern Indiana. I know the difference that credit unions make in communities large and small across this country. In my hometown, you know, there was never a Little League Baseball game, there was a never a high school function, there was never a local charity, or a church event where you didn’t see the local credit union banner hanging back on the fence. You all are always there and you make a difference. And you’re to be commended for that.
And in the days ahead, I just want to assure you that we’re going to keep working to make sure this nation continues to grow and thrive; that you continue to sit down with those members and help them achieve their dreams for themselves and for their family, and their children and their children’s children.
And at this time in the life of our nation, I have to tell you, the work that each one of us are doing couldn’t be more important. And, frankly, the choice we face couldn’t be clearer. You know, it is remarkable to think — as we gather in the midst of this extraordinary prosperity, in the most prosperous nation on Earth, built on free enterprise, built on that American Dream — many of the leading voices in the other party are actually advocating an economic system that has impoverished millions around the world.
Under the guise of what’s called Medicare for All and the Green New Deal, liberals in Washington and in the national debate are embracing the same tired economic theories that have impoverished nations and have stifled the liberties of millions. That system is socialism.
The truth is, what they’re actually offering is more — just more of the same: more government, more taxes, more spending, and less freedom.
The truth is, what Medicare for All really means is quality healthcare for none. And the only thing green about the Green New Deal is how much green it’s going to cost all of us if they ever pass it into law. (Applause.)
You know, Margaret Thatcher had it right. She said, quote, “The trouble with Socialism is [you] eventually run out of other people’s money.” (Applause.)
You know, President Trump said it well in his State of the Union Address. He said, “America was founded on liberty and independence, and not [on] government coercion, domination, and control.” (Applause.)
And so in the days ahead, I urge each and every one of you who make the American Dream happen, go out there and also tell members why it’s happening. It’s because of freedom, free enterprise that gives us the opportunity to live our dreams.
I believe with all my heart the moment America becomes a socialist country is the moment that America ceases to be America. So we must say, with one voice, as President Trump said before the Congress, “America will never be a socialist country.” (Applause.)
So to all the leaders gathered here today: Thank you again. Thank you for what each and every one of you do to come alongside families in your communities, to be there and to strengthen everything that makes America strong and prosperous. You stand alongside hardworking people that are living the American Dream. You build great communities.
And I just encourage you in the days ahead, whether it be standing for border security or standing up for those timeless American ideals, let you voice be heard.
And I’ll promise you, the President and I are going to keep on fighting for all the principles and policies that you’ve supported not just over the last two years, but as so many of you have supported throughout your lifetimes and the lifetime of this movement.
The truth is, it’s going to take all of us in the days ahead to keep America growing, to keep America on the pathway of the principles that are restoring American greatness each and every day.
And so I want to encourage each and every one of you, as I go, to let your voice be heard not just on Capitol Hill this week, but when you go back home. Recognize that you’re leaders in your community.
You know, I’ll always believe that all the cable TV shows in the world, all of the social media, all the mail pieces and TV ads in political campaigns don’t matter a hill of beans than when somebody that you know and respect in a community speaks up about issues that are important to your family, or to the community, or the state or the nation. So we encourage you, just let your voice be heard in the days ahead.
And lastly, just continue to stand with those families. I’ve seen it firsthand. It has always been touching to me that credit unions don’t have clients; you have members. They’re communities, and they’re born of the great tradition of associations that’s always been the heart of America. People coming together to find solutions with one another, to build on the principles of free enterprise and opportunity and individual responsibility.
And so just keep doing what you’re doing. Keep believing in the communities that you’re serving. Keep believing in those people that come in nervously with their hands wringing, and they sit across the table from you and they tell you about their dream. And keep investing in the American Dream.
In a word: Have faith. Have faith that, when given the opportunity and the freedom, the American people demonstrate each and every day that this is a nation where dreams come true. Credit union members make that happen. But also, I encourage you to continue to demonstrate the faith that I’ve seen characterized in so many credit union leaders over the years, and faith that each and every one of us are precious in the sight of God. Each and every one of us, when given the opportunity, can achieve our dreams.
Because those words written so long ago are still just as true today for each and every person you meet. They’re over the mantle in our house at the Vice President’s Residence, and they continue to guide our little family. For I know the plans I have for you — plans to prosper you, not to harm you; plans to give you a hope and a future.
With faith in Him who promises a hope and a future to all our people, I say “thank you.” Thank you for your service. Keep up the great work. And God Bless you all. (Applause.)
10:50 A.M. EDT