Office of the Press Secretary


For Immediate Release May 5, 2018



Cleveland Public Auditorium and Conference Center

Cleveland, Ohio

1:30 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. It's a great honor to be here. This was the -- thank you. So many of those beautiful hats. And we love those hats. Remember, you have to win the great state of Ohio. And did we win the great state of Ohio by a lot? (Applause.)

And then I always say -- I always say that, "How are we doing now compared to the election?" And so far, the answer has always been, "Better" or "Much better." Every place. So we're doing great.

And we just a had a couple of meetings with some of the folks, and I'll tell you what, we have great, great people in this state. This is a very, very special place. And this is a little bit of a business roundtable today. We're going to be talking with Secretary Alex Acosta; Congressman Jim Renacci, who is, as you know, running for the Senate, and we need his vote very badly. He'll be fantastic. I've known him for a long time. (Applause.)

I have known Jim for a long time and he agrees with what we're doing, and he agrees. You look at the steel plants and steel mill; they're starting to open again. I just left the President of United States Steel, and he said it's incredible what's happening.

And, you know, we did a thing called tariffs, and we did -- on steel and aluminum -- and we're doing a lot of other things. My group just got back from China. We're going to have to rework trade with China because that's been a one-way street for decades and we just can't have it happen. And so we'll do that. And we have a lot of respect for President Xi, and we have a lot of respect for China. But we can't go on that way. And that will all work out.

We're doing very well on, as you know, North Korea. We'll see what happens. But we have a meeting set up. We have the location all done. We have the time and place all finished now. We have the date. And so I think that will be something very special.

If you remember, we were into that -- others from the administration were saying that's going to be the toughest problem. And certainly it's a problem, but there are many problems, and we'll get them solved. We had to -- we broke 4 percent yesterday. You saw that. First time in -- you know, there are two ways of saying it: You could say, "first time in 20 years" or "first time in this century," and -- (applause). And we're really -- we're doing great from that standpoint.

And we want to get our workers back. We want to get our -- we want to make our product here. We want to make everything here. This is America first now, folks. This is now America first. It's enough -- what we've been doing for the last long period of time. (Applause.)

So thank you. We have "Make America great again." We have "America first." You can choose whichever one you want or you can choose both. I really want to choose both. But the choice is America first.

Because we really have -- and by the way, other countries, they put themselves first. Okay? I'm not saying -- you know, we've had, where we talked about America. Well, the fact is, we want to be first. We're going to make our country great. And you know, people from other countries, they're going to do what they have to do. But we're going to bring it to a level playing field right now.

You look at our trade deficits with every country virtually. I mean, I don't even have to ask. I don't have to go around, "How are we doing with this country or that country?" For the most part, almost every time, we're doing badly. We have deficits with everybody. And don't let anyone ever tell you that trade deficits are okay. They're not okay. They're not okay.

We have massive trade deficits with China. We have massive trade deficits with Mexico. Who would think? A hundred billion dollar trade deficit with Mexico. Who would even think that? And that doesn't include lots of other problems. You see that on the border. I really thought they'd be much tougher and better to us on the caravan. Didn't quite work out, but that's okay. That's okay. It's going to end up working out.

Our borders are -- and our laws are a mess. Our immigration laws are a disgrace. And Mexico has some of the toughest immigration laws in the world. You can't just go into Mexico. But they allow these people to come up through Mexico and come into our country. And they know that our laws are so weak that once they get up there, it's the most ridiculous thing I've ever seen. You've seen catch-and-release. You catch them, and then you release them. Okay? (Laughter.) That's what it is. Catch -- this is a Democrat rule. Sherrod Brown. This is a Democrat rule. Catch-and-release. You catch them; you release them.

And just to show how ridiculous, we have judges. We have thousands of judges. Do you think other countries have judges? We give them, like, trials. That's the good news. The bad news is, they never show up for the trial. Okay?

So they release them, and they have a trial, and it's supposed to take place in a year. A year. Not the following day. But that's okay. There's only one problem: Nobody ever shows up. They're in the country. Welcome to the United States. And these are the laws that we're suffering with.

This is why you'll see -- and the wall we have to build. How about the wall -- where everyone scales the wall? (Applause.)

Now we are fixing and building walls now. But we need much more money. We're doing the job right. We're going to do the job. And we may have to close up our country to get this straight, because we either have a country or we don't. You can't allow people to pour into our country the way they're doing.

You just take a look at that mess that's on television right now. It is a total catastrophe. And these are the laws passed by Democrats so that we have open borders. They want open borders. We have to have borders. If you don't have borders, you don't have a country. So we're going to have that. So step by step. (Applause.)

So step by step, we've made a lot of progress, and we're going to be making a lot of progress on that too. And we have, actually -- you know, it's very interesting. In San Diego, they wanted a wall built; we have the money to build a wall. We are actually -- you know, we got $1.6 billion for fixing and building. But in San Diego, California, where we have a lot of problems -- you know, we have a governor that's not cooperative, wants to have -- you know, between sanctuary cities and let people come in with open borders and everything else, it's not easy for our Border Patrol people. It's not easy for our ICE people.

How about the mayor of Oakland, where she notifies them that ICE will be coming, so everybody splits up? And this was a well-orchestrated situation. She notifies them that ICE will be coming, and everybody splits up. So all of that work and all of that everything to do what they had to do, it turned out to be a big bust. It's very, very sad.

And let me tell you, that's called obstruction of justice. You want to know? That is called total obstruction of justice.

So we're getting it straightened out. It will be straightened out soon. We passed the biggest tax -- if you look. I mean, you take a look at the tax -- I call it the tax cut plan. You know, they wanted to call it the tax reform plan. I say, "How come since Reagan, nothing has passed having to do with tax cuts? How can -- and, being a nonpolitician, I say, "How is it possible not to be able to pass tax cuts?" They said, "Well, it hasn't happened since Ronald Reagan anywhere near what we're doing. But essentially tax cuts, even at a small level.

I said, "I don't understand. You're going to reduce taxes for people and you can't get votes?" They say, "No, sir." I say, "Huh, I can't figure it out." Then I found out, they don't call it tax cuts; they've called it tax reform. Well, tax reform might mean your taxes go way up. It could mean a lot of bad things.

So I said, "Here's what we'll do. We're going to call this plan the tax cut plan." (Laughter.) Tax cut. C-U-T. Tax cut. We're going to cut taxes. We're not going to reform. We're going to reform too, but we're not going to reform; we're going to cut taxes. (Applause.)

So I was -- I couldn't believe it. I couldn't believe. Because I looked, and I studied like four or five attempts, and they failed miserably. So they called me up and they want to know, "Sir, what's the official name you'd like on the bill?" I wanted it to be called -- this is true -- they didn't want to do it, they thought it was a little hokey and I think they were right. But I wanted it to be called, "The Tax Cut, Cut, Cut, Cut Plan." (Laughter.) I actually did. I would have put it in. I would have put it in. (Laughter.) You know that, Sharlene?

And they said, "That's a little -- you know, in front of the United States -- and I said, "All right. So we'll call it the 'Tax Cut and Jobs Plan.'" And we did that, and we got it passed, and it's the first time -- the biggest in our history. (Applause.)

And the stock market -- since the election, the stock market is up almost 35 percent. Think of that. Almost 35 percent. (Applause.) Honestly, and companies are doing even better than that. Companies are doing better. They are ready to just do numbers that you've never seen before.

And we do need people coming into our country. You know, at 3.9 percent unemployment, we need people coming in. But I will tell you this, we want people to come into our country on the basis of merit. Not picked out of a -- (applause). So we're working on merit systems because we need people to help.

You know, we have -- up in Wisconsin, we have Foxconn coming in. That's a friend of mine. They make many of the Apple iPhones and Apple equipment. And I said to Tim Cook, who is now investing $350 billion -- Apple -- and they're bringing much of it in from foreign lands, from overseas. They're bringing it in because of our new tax plan because it gave them the incentive to bring money. So these big companies are bringing the money back and they're investing it in the United States. Tim Cook is bringing $230 billion back from overseas. Money you would have never seen. And Apple is spending $350 billion on new plants and a campus. (Applause.) That was great. That's great.

So we have a lot of things happening. And in Ohio, you know what's going on. The auto companies are starting to come back, they're starting to expand. I had -- it was so nice, I was greeted at the airport by great people. And some of them were coalminers. And one of them said -- they're dressed in beautiful -- actually, black shirt. I said, "Give me one of those. I want to wear it if I ever play golf, I'll wear that shirt. It's beautiful." It was beautiful, actually.

And they were standing -- they greeted me off the airplane. There were a lot of people waiting at the airplane. And I went over. They said, "Sir, we're coalminers. And since the day you got elected, we've been filling up the trains." I said, "What do you do?" He said, "We load trains." I said, "Well, that's a good description." I mean, I don't need better than that; that says it all.

He said, "We load trains. And from the day you got elected, we've been loading trains." "Before that," I said, "how was it?" They said, "Not good. There wasn't too many trains to be loaded." But he said, "I havent had a day off since the day you got elected." And that's happening. And it's going to be happening even more so. (Applause.)

So when it's all together, and when everything is really set, and it's really going well, it's going much better than people even understand. Our military -- we got $700 billion. I didn't like having to do this last budget because there's a lot of things that the Democrats put in that I hate. But I had to get money for our military. Our military was depleted. We're getting the new equipment. You will the see the same stories that I do.

And we needed help, and I got $700 billion, and then I got $716 billion. And remember, that equipment is all made here. It's made in the United States. We make the greatest missile systems, the greatest planes. We make the greatest military equipment and a lot of other equipment, including commercial planes. But we make the greatest military equipment in the world.

You got to see that recently when you saw what we did in Syria, where they said, "Oh, we shot down 40 missiles." I don't think so. I called up. I said, "How many were shot down?" "None. None." Stealth missiles. It's called, "stealth missiles." And every single one -- (applause). We shot at 109 and we had 109 hit their target.

And by the way, France and the UK -- it was great. They helped us. They were with us all the way and we appreciate that. But we make the greatest equipment in the world, but we had to fix out military.

We also wanted something that has a tremendous impact on Ohio is the opioid disaster -- drugs, generally. But the opioid -- we got $6 billion for opioid prevention and work and rehab. And we need help. We need help.

And we're very, very tough. One of the reasons we want the strong border is a lot of this stuff comes in from different places. But it comes in from Mexico; it comes along the southern border. And we're stopping it. We're making it much tougher. But we can't do that unless Congress gives us the tools that we need.

We need to get rid of catch-and-release; we need strong, strong tools. We don't want the lottery system; we want a merit system.

Can you imagine a lottery system? Can you imagine it? We take people based out of a lottery. A lottery. Do you think the country is putting their finest in the lottery? I don't think so. I don't think so. All right? Think about that. (Applause.)

And you know, the problem is that these beliefs are so deep seated in the Democrats, like Sherrod Brown. They're so -- I mean, you have to -- we need the votes.

Jim will be -- you're not a big lottery system man, are you? Good. Okay. Otherwise I'd have to take away my endorsement. (Laughter and applause.) Otherwise I'd say, "Jim, I can no longer endorse you, Jim." (Laughter.)

No, we want a merit system where they come in based on merit. So we're going to get a lot of things done. We have a lot of great people running. I think we're going to do very well in the midterms. The poll numbers are, you know, pretty good. The question is whether or not -- they actually say that I'm popular. Can you believe it? Of course, the fake news doesn't say that. The fake news. (Applause.)

No, they -- it's been -- you know, we've been doing very well. We just had a poll -- 51 or 52 -- which came out, you know, very nicely. And then I turn on, like, you know, one of the networks, and I see, "Donald Trump, who is not very popular." I'm saying, "What -- what are you talking about?" (Laughter.)

In fact, you saw the poll that came out that I'm above Obama. Above Obama. (Applause.) And then -- no, but then you turn to the fake news, and they go, "Donald Trump, who is not very popular." And I'm saying to myself, "How do they get away with it?" You know, I'm not saying -- hey, it's going good. We're doing well.

It actually amazes me when you can be at 51 or 52 on a poll that was -- this is Rasmussen -- it was very accurate for the election; one of the more accurate polls for the election. And you're in that category, and you get nothing but bad publicity. I mean, I get nothing but bad publicity. I say, "How is it possible that I can do that?"

Now, it's fake publicity. And some of the -- you know, some of the -- I have to tell you, there are some great professionals, too, in that world. You know, I don't want to make it like everybody. But the amazing thing is that people are smart. They get it. You see the jobs. Now you have choice too, just like we're getting the veterans choice -- we're going to have that very soon by the way -- you're going to have choice of jobs, of jobs. (Applause.)

You know, people would have one job and they were petrified to leave their job. They didn't want to leave their job because they didn't think -- you know, they were working that thing. You got to love what you do. You're not going to be good at it -- you got to love -- and now you're going to have choice because there are a lot of jobs. We have a lot of job openings. And people that weren't hiring for years and years and years -- all of the sudden, we have jobs.

And, you know, one of the folks that my people were so impressed with is -- on my left is Sharlene. And I'd like to ask some of the people up here to just talk a little bit about what the tax cuts have meant because the tax cuts have helped so many people in such a big way.

And, Sharlene, do you think I could start by maybe asking you to say a few words?

MS. THORNTON: Sure. (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Thank you. Go ahead.

MS. THORNTON: Sure. Well, Mr. President, it's a privilege and an honor to be here today.


MS. THORNTON: My name is Sharlene Thornton, and I'm originally from Maine. And I moved out here to the Ohio Valley in 2002.


MS. THORNTON: The reason I'm here is because I wrote a letter to you. And I didn't really think it was going to be read, but it was. They're listening. So -- and the subject of my letter was to let you know that this tax cut and jobs plan was affecting us positively. We also wanted to let you know that we were here supporting you.


MS. THORNTON: My husband Kevin was -- he worked in a steel mill, and it closed down in 2012, due to the company going bankrupt. So he was then -- there were a lot of people who actually lost their jobs at that time. Our whole area was saturated with unemployed. And then he spent the next one and a half years retraining, and then at the same time searching for a job.

Fortunately, I was employed for one of those years -- the first year of it. I then became legally blind and could no longer work -- couldn't drive. And we have no transportation, public, in our area.

Also -- so essentially what happened was we fell on such hard times that we had to surrender our car to be repossessed. We almost lost our home, and then we struggled every day to make ends meet. We basically lived off of my credit cards and both of our unemployment, which still wasn't enough to cover.

Finally, he found a job January of 2014. He's still with them. But because of the tax cut and the job plan, they're taking out a lot less taxes than what they had been prior to before.

THE PRESIDENT: That's great.

MS. THORNTON: We have actually seen, in several checks, two to three hundred dollars less taxes than what they did before the plan. (Applause.)

And those are real numbers. I actually went back and looked at his income and the taxes before and after, and I was amazed. So it really is working. So I do want to thank you, Mr. President, for making our lives a lot less -- more enjoyable.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. I appreciate it. (Applause.) Thank you.

MS. THORNTON: And this is my husband, Kevin.

THE PRESIDENT: Hi. Kevin, would you like to say something?

MR. THORNTON: Yes. First of all, thank you, Mr. President, for inviting us, for giving us the opportunity to tell you our story. I've been a lifelong resident of Hubbard -- a small city just northeast of Youngstown. And in 2000, I started working for what would be known as RG Steel, and stayed there until its closing in June of 2012. They told us all to go home, the mill had gone into bankruptcy. Fifty days later, the mill was sold for scrap.

All of us that worked there, we loved that place. We really did. And we were all deeply impacted. There were 700 of us, and we all lost our jobs. I was out of work, as she had said, for a year and a half. And there was a brief period in time where we went with no income at all. No paycheck. Nothing coming into that house.

But thankfully, thankfully, in January of 2014, I found employment with the current company I'm working with. And it's a great company too, with great people, and room for us to expand and grow. I had to drive an hour and a half though to one of their facilities. And I did that for three years until recently I was able to relocate to a facility closer to home, and that took off a burden for me.

The company I'm employed with has been seeing huge amounts of demand for their product. They have -- this tax cut that we are having is enabling them to purchase new machinery, open up buildings they previously had closed, and to hire more people.

And I didn't think that I would ever be able to say this in my life, but I think I can now -- at this rate, I think I'll be able to be gainfully employed until my retirement.

THE PRESIDENT: Good. Good. (Applause.) Thank you, Kevin. Thank you. Thank you. I've been hearing that from steel companies, and in particular from U.S. Steel, where I was with the president, as I said. And he -- they're just talking about opening plants now and so many things have changed. And that's because of our stance, and also on the tariffs -- the 25 percent tariffs on steel, 10 percent on aluminum. Plus, it gives us the -- right now, other countries want to negotiate with us because of it. And you're seeing things happening.

Again, we're going to take care of our people. We've been taking care of a lot of the world, and they never appreciated it. A lot of this world never appreciated what we do. We fight wars for them and we fight all sorts of things, and then they take advantage of us on trade, on top of everything else.

So we're going to keep a lot of friends, but they're going to respect us again, and they've started to respect us again, and that makes me feel very good. So thank you, Kevin. (Applause.)

MS. SHEELY: Thank you, Mr. President --


MS. SHEELY: -- for having us here today. And I'm truly honored. I'm Sherry Sheely, COO of Sheely's Furniture and Appliance, and we are located in North Lima, Ohio, just south of Youngstown. We've been in business for 66 years. We're family-owned and operated, second generation. We have 148 awesome employees, several are here today. And we do an annual sales volume of $34 million.

It's because of the dedication and hard work of our employees that Sheely's earned the number one Independent Furniture Retailer of America Award a few years ago.

THE PRESIDENT: Whoa, wow. (Applause.)

MS. SHEELY: I'd like to recognize my husband, Dale Sheely, sitting here in the front row. He is our president. It was his father who started the company in 1952 with a pick-up truck and a hot water heater.

THE PRESIDENT: That's great.

MS. SHEELY: I mean, Sheely's Furniture, I believe, is truly the American Dream success story.

And I have to say that immediately upon your election -- which Dale and I were more relieved that you can even imagine -- (laughter) --


MS. SHEELY: -- we chose to move forward with an addition to our showroom. We had contemplated that for about seven or eight years, didn't feel it was the right time. But we felt, with your strong leadership, that now was the time to reinvest in our company. So in the next two weeks, we're going to be opening our new bargain bonus center, and everybody at the store is very excited.

THE PRESIDENT: Great. That's great.

MS. SHEELY: So thank you very much for that.

THE PRESIDENT: That's great. Thank you. Great. (Applause.)

MS. SHEELY: And then we were more excited when your tax cut bill --


MS. SHEELY: -- passed in December. And at that time, Dale and I wanted to reward all of our employees. We decided to wait a few months so it would be a surprise. So in March of this year, we awarded all of our fulltime employees a $1,000 bonus, and we gave all of our part-time employees --

THE PRESIDENT: Good. Great. (Applause.)

MS. SHEELY: And we gave all of our part-time employees a $500 bonus.


MS. SHEELY: And I must say, Mr. President, they were so excited. It was totally unexpected. We had several employees who got so emotional, they cried.

Just Thursday, one of our delivery drivers came into my office and said, "Sherry, I have to tell you. I thank you again for my $1,000 bonus. I was going to use it to do repairs this summer, but I chose to do something different." And he said, "I just put a $1,000 down payment on a vacation I'm taking my family on this summer."

THE PRESIDENT: That's great.

MS. SHEELY: So that means a lot to Dale and I.

THE PRESIDENT: That's great. Thank you, Sherry. That's beautiful. Thank you. Say hello to that gentleman. Thank you. (Applause.)