For the second time in a month, President Trump discussed his plans to change the tax code. This is an annotated transcript of his remarks, which took place at the Indiana Farm Bureau Building. Click on the highlighted statements below to see a brief summary of statements that we and others have fact-checked. For more information, please read our story, “‘Death Tax’ Talking Point Won’t Die.”
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. You just want massive tax cuts. That’s what you want. That’s the only reason you’re going so wild. (Applause.)
But it’s wonderful to be back in the great state of Indiana. What a place. (Applause.)
I want to thank Senator Todd Young, Senator Joe Donnelly, Representative Jackie Walorski, Representative Susan Brooks, and Representative Mike [sic] Messer for joining us today. Thank you very much. Thank you very much for being here. Appreciate it. (Applause.)
I also want to thank members of my economic team, Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Director Gary Cohn, for joining us, as well. We appreciate it. (Applause.)
Let me begin by saying that our hearts and prayers go out to the people of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands who are suffering in the wake of yet another catastrophic hurricane. I mean, their island was virtually destroyed. Federal agencies are working closely with local partners to help these communities get back on their feet as soon as possible.
Texas, Florida, and Louisiana are doing great, and the recovery process is happening very, very quickly.
I will be going down to Puerto Rico next week to get an on-the-ground briefing about the disaster recovery and to see all of our great first responders and to meet a lot of the people who were so affected by these storms. We are with you now, I tell them, and we will be there every step of the way until this job is done. It is truly catastrophic what happened in Puerto Rico. (Applause.)
And massive amounts of water, food, and supplies, by the way, are being delivered on an hourly basis. It’s something that nobody has ever seen before from this country, I can tell you that. And I’m very proud of all of the folks that have worked so hard in FEMA, all of our first responders, all of our police that have gone to the island because their police force has been so badly affected. And many of their policemen — in fact, most of the police people have lost their homes, and it’s been a tough go. But we are — we’re going to get it back.
Before we go on to discuss the largest tax cut in our county’s history, I also want to provide a brief update on healthcare. We have the votes on Graham-Cassidy. But with the rules of reconciliation, we’re up against a deadline of Friday — two days. That’s just two days. And yes-vote senator — we have a wonderful senator, great, great senator — who is a yes vote, but he’s home recovering from a pretty tough situation. And with so many great features, including all of the block granting, the money to the states, et cetera, et cetera, our healthcare plan is really going to be something excellent. It’s going to be better managed for the people that it serves. Having local healthcare representatives is far better than having healthcare managed from Washington, D.C. Not even a contest. (Applause.)
And many, many governors, as you also see, have agreed with us and approved it and really look forward to running it properly. But again, because the reconciliation window is about to close, we have to wait a few months until it reopens before we take a vote. So we’re getting all of the good signs from Alaska and the others to repeal and replace Obamacare. And I was hoping this would be put on my desk right after we won the election, and I’d come in and sign. But it didn’t work that way. There were a couple of people that — I won’t say anything. (Laughter.) But early next year when reconciliation kicks back in, in any event long before the November election, we’re going to have a vote. And we’re going to be able to get that through, and I think we’ll actually get it through very easily and the time makes it easier.
But speaking of reconciliation, the Republican Senate needs to get rid of the filibuster rule, which is blocking so many great legislative reforms the American people badly want and deserve. By the way, the Democrats, if they had the opportunity, which hopefully they won’t for many, many years, they would get rid of it on day one. And most of you know exactly what I’m talking about.
We’re here today in Indiana to announce our framework to deliver historic tax relief to the American People. (Applause.)
This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity, and I guess it’s probably something I can say that I’m very good at. I’ve been waiting for this for a long time. We’re going to cut taxes for the middle class, make the tax code simpler and more fair for everyday Americans, and we are going to bring back the jobs and wealth that have left our country — and most people thought left our country for good. (Applause.)
We want tax reform that is pro-growth, pro-jobs, pro-worker, pro-family, and, yes, tax reform that is pro-American. (Applause.) It’s time to take care of our people, to rebuild our nation, and to fight for our great American workers. (Applause.)
Indiana is a tremendous example of the prosperity that is unleashed when we cut taxes and set free the dreams of our citizens. This state has claimed a powerful competitive edge built on low taxes and less regulation — and are we cutting regulation? (Applause.)
And businesses all across the country have taken notice. In recent years, Indiana has welcomed dozens of companies fleeing high taxes and high-tax states. Thousands of new jobs and massive capital investment have followed — meaning a better quality of life for the people of Indiana.
All of this is possible because the people of this state have made a decision. They chose to make Indiana competitive again. They chose, and their choice was so important. It included electing a governor, who you may have heard of — (laughter) — who signed the largest income tax cut in the state’s history, our very, very terrific person and terrific Vice President, Mike Pence. (Applause.)
It’s time for Washington to learn from the wisdom of Indiana. We need Washington to promote American jobs instead of obstructing them. That is what I have been working to achieve every day since I took office. That is what I talked about on the campaign trail.
Already, we’re seeing the results of an economic policy that finally puts America first. (Applause.) Unemployment is at a 16-year low. Unemployment for African Americans is near its lowest point since the turn of the millennium. It’s really a fantastic thing to see. (Applause.)
Wages are rising. Optimism among manufacturers has reached all-time highs. GDP growth last quarter reached 3 percent way ahead of schedule; nobody thought that was going to happen for a long time. (Applause.) And this quarter, I believe, would have been better, but the hurricanes will have an impact. But other than that, it would have been, in my opinion, even better.
Your government is working for you once again, not for the donors, not the special interests, but the hardworking taxpaying citizens of our country. (Applause.)
America is back on the right track. And I see so many red hats — Make America Great Again. That’s what we’re doing — Make America Great Again. (Applause.) But our country and our economy cannot take off like they should unless we dramatically reform America’s outdated, complex, and extremely burdensome tax code. It’s a relic. We’ve got to change it. We have to compete — compete with other countries.
The current tax system is a colossal barrier standing in the way of America’s economic comeback because it can be far greater than it’s ever been. But we’re going to remove that barrier to create the tax system our people finally, finally, finally — and want and deserve.
For several months, my administration has been working closely with Congress to develop a framework for tax reform. Over the next few months, the House and Senate will build on this framework and produce legislation that will deliver more jobs, higher pay, and lower taxes for middle-class families — for the working man and woman — and for businesses of all sizes. I look forward — (Applause.) Thank you.
I look forward to working with Congress to deliver these historic tax cuts and reforms to the American people. These tax cuts are significant. There’s never been tax cuts like what we’re talking about.
Our framework is based on four key ideas: First, we will cut taxes for the everyday, hardworking Americans — the people that work so long, so hard, and they’ve been forgotten. But they’re not forgotten anymore. I think we proved that on November 8th. (Applause.)
Under this framework, the first $12,000 of income earned by a single individual will be tax free, — (applause) — and a married couple won’t pay a dime in taxes on their first $24,000 of income. So, a married couple — up to $24,000 — can spend their money on their family, on their children, on what they have to do. So much better.
In other words, more income for more people will be taxed at a rate of zero. (Applause.) At this zero percent rate, taxable income will be subject to just three tax rates of 12 percent, 25 percent, and 35 percent.
Jonathan Blanton and his wife Jamie from Greentown are here with us today. Where are they? Oh, hello, Jonathan. How are you? (Applause.)
Jonathan does industrial janitorial work and Jamie works at an auto company. Together they’re raising four beautiful children, and last year they earned less than $90,000. Under our tax plan they would have saved more than $1,000, and it could be substantially more. And that’s just on federal taxes. So they would have saved at least $1,000.
Middle-income families will save even more money with an increased child tax credit for children under the age of 17, which so many families have been calling for. (Applause.)
We will eliminate the marriage penalty in the existing credit and expand eligibility to include even more middle-income families. Greatly expanded.
We’re also expanding the child tax credit because we believe the most important investment our country can make is in our children. (Applause.) And this is just one more critical way that we’re targeting relief to working families.
In addition, under our framework, those caring for the elderly loved — and we love these people, but we’re caring, and we take such care of the elderly and other adult dependents — will receive financial relief in the form of a $500 tax credit. (Applause.)
We’re doing everything we can to reduce the tax burden on you and your family. By eliminating tax breaks and loopholes, we will ensure that the benefits are focused on the middle class, the working men and women, not the highest-income earners. (Applause.)
Our framework includes our explicit commitment that tax reform will protect low-income and middle-income households, not the wealthy and well-connected. They can call me all they want. It’s not going to help. I’m doing the right thing, and it’s not good for me. Believe me. (Applause.)
But what is good for me — not only as President and legacy — what is good for me is if everything takes off like a rocket ship, like it should have for 20 years. That’s good for me. That’s good for everyone. (Applause.) And that’s what I think is going to happen. (Applause.) And a lot of very wealthy people feel the same way, believe me.
In fact, we are eliminating most itemized deductions that primarily benefit the wealthiest taxpayers. We’ve also given Congress the flexibility to add an additional top rate on the very highest income earners to provide even more tax relief for working people.
Second, our framework will make the tax code simple, fair, and easy to understand, finally. (Applause.)
Americans waste money. Americans waste so much money — billions and billions of dollars and many hours each year to comply with our ridiculously complex tax code. More than 90 percent of Americans use assistance to prepare their taxes. Under our framework, the vast majority of families will be able to file their taxes on a single sheet of paper. (Applause.)
We are also repealing the alternative minimum tax, or AMT. About time. (Applause.)
The AMT is actually a shadow tax system that requires many people to calculate their taxes two different ways and pay the higher of the two amounts. You’re all familiar with it. Under our framework, the AMT will make even less sense because we are repealing many of the special interest tax breaks that it was designed to deal with. We are making our taxes simple again. We are simplifying our tax system.
To protect millions of small businesses and the American farmer, we are finally ending the crushing, the horrible, the unfair estate tax, or as it is often referred to, the death tax. (Applause.)
That means, especially for all of you with small businesses that are really tremendous businesses, you’ll be able to leave them to your family, and your family won’t have to run out and do a fire sale to try and get the money to pay the tax — lose the business, ends up going out of business. All of those jobs are lost. The farmers in particular are affected. They have wonderful farms, but they can’t pay the tax, so they have to sell the farm. The people that buy it don’t run it with love. They can’t run it the same way, and it goes out. So that death tax is a disaster for this country and a disaster for so many small businesses and farmers. And we’re getting rid of it. (Applause.)
Now if you don’t like your family, it won’t matter, okay? (Laughter.) But for those that love your family, it matters a lot. (Laughter.)
With us today is Kip Tom, a family farmer from Leesburg — Where’s Kip? Go ahead, Kip. Hi, Kip — (applause) — who fears that his family’s farming heritage — it’s been a long time. How long, Kip? A hundred and eighty-seven years — that’s peanuts, Kip. (Applause.) Wow. That’s a long time. But that great heritage could come to an end because of the death tax, or the estate tax, and could make it impossible for him to pass that legacy to his wonderful family. We’re not going to let that happen.
We are not going to allow the death tax to steal away the American Dream from these great, great families, many of which are in this room today. (Applause.)
We will protect our farmers, our ranchers, and our small businesses, and we will make taxes simple, easy, and fair for all Americans. Okay? (Applause.)
Third, we will cut taxes on American businesses to restore our competitive edge and create more jobs and higher wages for American workers. (Applause.)
In Indiana, you have seen firsthand that cutting taxes on businesses makes your state more competitive and leads to more jobs and higher paychecks for your workers. Now, we want to do the same thing for America, making our country more competitive with other nations. And in many cases, those other nations are taking advantage of us in so many ways. They say they’re friends, and perhaps they are, but believe me, I am renegotiating our trade deals, including NAFTA, including many other trade deals. (Applause.)
And through regulation, all you have to do is look at the massive pipelines — Dakota Access. You take a look, 48,000 jobs immediately approved. So we’re letting that happen.
But in terms of the tax and the tax strategy that Ronald Reagan used to create an economic boom in the 1980s: When our economy took off, the middle class thrived, and the family income of all families was increasing more and more. And it was a beautiful sight to behold.
Since then, other nations have adopted, unfortunately, our playbook and ran it even better than we did. And I shouldn’t say even better because we didn’t run it well at all, and we let other nations come in and take advantage of us and take our jobs away and take our businesses out. And we’re stopping that, and you see it right here what we’ve done.
Today, our total business tax rate is 60 percent higher than our average foreign competitor in the developed world. That’s not good. We have surrendered our competitive edge to other countries, but we’re not surrendering anymore. We’re not surrendering anymore.
Under our framework, we will dramatically cut the business tax rate so that American companies and American workers can beat our foreign competitors and start winning again. (Applause.) We will reduce the corporate tax rate to no higher than 20 percent. That’s way down from 35 and 39 — (applause) — which is substantially below the average of other industrialized nations.
This is a revolutionary change, and the biggest winners will be the everyday American workers as jobs start pouring into our country, as companies start competing for American labor, and as wages start going up at levels that you haven’t seen in many years. (Applause.)
When our companies move to other countries, it’s our loyal American workers who get hurt. And when companies stay in America, and come to America, it’s our wonderful workers who reap the rewards.
And I just left the United Nations last week, and I was told by one of the most powerful leaders of the world that they’re going to be announcing, in the not-too-distant future, five major factories in the United States — between increasing and new — five. (Applause.) You’ll be hearing about that very soon.
And I said thank you very much, and he said, “you know what? It’s starting to happen in the United States. It’s starting to happen.” So I just wanted to let you know that. I promised I wouldn’t say who. I’ll keep my word. Okay? (Laughter.) Unless you force me. (Laughter.)
AUDIENCE MEMBERS: Who?
THE PRESIDENT: Members of both parties — it happens to be in the automobile industry. That’s a good industry. (Laughter.) Members of both parties should agree that we need a tax code that keeps jobs in our country and brings jobs back to our country. (Applause.)
And for the millions of small businesses and farms that file their taxes as sole proprietors, S corporations or partnerships, we will cap the tax rate they pay at 25 percent — much lower. Big difference. (Applause.) This will be the lowest top marginal income tax rate for small and mid-size businesses in this country in more than 80 years. (Applause.)
To give businesses even more reason to boost their investment in America, for the next five years, our framework will allow to fully write off — listen to this — the cost of equipment in the year they buy it. That is big. (Applause.) And that’s instead of having to take deductions and deduct the cost over a long period of time. Now that’s called incentive. That’s called incentive. (Applause.) This will be tremendously important to help American businesses afford the heavy industrial machinery and other capital investments they need to grow big and grow strong.
Joining us today is John Gannon, the owner of a custom wood fencing and deck construction company in Indianapolis. John is the father of nine children, and recently celebrated his 35th wedding anniversary. Congratulations, John. (Applause.)
And John is in the fencing company, as you heard, and I’m just thinking — I have to mention this — you know, we have a fence around the White House. (Laughter.) We have a fence around the White House, and they want to build a new fence. And I figured, you know — I’m pretty good at construction — I figured, I don’t know, maybe a million, maybe a million-and-a-half. And this has been taking place over a long period of time — previous administrations.
So I said, “how much is the fence you’re talking around the White House?” “Sir, the fence will cost approximately $50 million.” I said, “What?” (Laughter.) I kid you not, and we have thousands of things like that. Thousands. We’re going to get it all down, but think of that: $50 million. Now, I assume it’s a strong fence. (Laughter.) Okay? So, John, do you think you could do it for slightly less than $50 million? I think he could take $49 off right now and he’d have plenty of profit. Right? Right, John? It’s crazy. (Applause.) It’s crazy. Never understand it, but we’re working on it.
John says that a tax cut like we’re proposing will make his business more competitive, allowing him to expand, hire more workers, and raise wages for his current employees. Right, John?
Also with us is Aaron Williams, a father of two who works in the field of information technology. Where’s Aaron? Hello, Aaron. Hi. (Applause.) It’s a good field.
Aaron has seen the disastrous effects of high — and just literally, high corporate tax rates right up close and personal, as more and more high-tech jobs are shipped overseas. You’ve been watching it, Aaron. Right? All over. Like millions of other Americans, Aaron wants to bring those jobs back to the United States.
We’re going to reduce the tax rate on American businesses so they can keep jobs in America, Aaron; create jobs in America; compete for workers in America; and raise wages right here in America. You’re going to be in a much different position. Okay? (Applause.) Thank you. Tremendous incentives.
We want more products proudly stamped with those four beautiful words: Made in the USA. Right? (Applause.) Made in the USA.
Finally, our framework encourages American companies to bring back the trillions and trillions of dollars in wealth that’s parked overseas. Our current tax system — (applause) — trillions. And by the way, for years I’ve been hearing it’s 2.5 trillion. So I’ve been hearing this for about five years, so I assume it’s much more. Right? But Democrats want to do it, and Republicans want to do it. For years — who doesn’t want to do it? They want to bring — but they can’t do it because it’s so restrictive, and the taxes are so ridiculous. So they can’t do it. So the money stays in other countries, and it’s invested in other countries. We want to bring it back.
But think of it, it’s one of the few things — Democrats want it and Republicans want it. So they both want it, and yet for years they haven’t been able to do it. Now we’re doing it. We’re doing things. (Applause.)
You know, it’s one thing when we want a healthcare and they want a healthcare, and there’s a dispute. But here’s something everybody wants and they can’t do it. So you can tell you, there’s a broken system in D.C., but we’re getting it fixed rather — I think — rather rapidly. You’ll be seeing that over the next few months.
Our current tax system makes us one of the few developed nations in the world to punish our companies when they bring wealth earned overseas back into our country. We’re punishing them for bringing the money back in.
As a result, corporations have parked many trillions of dollars in foreign countries, and many have incorporated abroad in order to avoid our punitive tax system altogether. And some companies actually leave our country because they have so much money overseas — so much, it’s an incredible amount — that they move the company to get their money. We’re going to let them bring the money back home. (Applause.)
Our framework will stop punishing companies for keeping their headquarters in the United States. We’re punishing companies under our codes for being in the United States. We will impose a one-time low tax on returning money that is already offshore so that it can be brought back home to America where it belongs and where it can be put to work and work and work. (Applause.)
The framework I’ve just described represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reduce taxes, rebuild our economy, and restore America’s competitive edge. Finally. (Applause.)
And I have to say, just before coming here we released some of the details of the tax and the tax reform and the tax cuts, and it has really received tremendous, tremendous reviews. And if Senator Donnelly doesn’t approve it, because you know he’s on the other side, we will come here. We will campaign against him like you wouldn’t believe. (Applause.) I think they’re going to approve it. I think we’ll have — actually, I think we’ll have numerous Democrats come across because it’s the right thing to do.
These reforms will be a dramatic change from a failed tax system that encourages American businesses to ship jobs to foreign countries that have much lower tax rates. It’s what we can’t do. Our competitors have much lower tax rates. But no longer. My administration strongly rejects this offshoring model, and we have embraced the new model. It’s called — the American model. (Applause.)
Under the American model, we are reducing burdens on our businesses as long as they do business in our country. That’s what we want. We want them to do business in our country, not to leave our country like a number of firms from Indiana. Some made some great promises to me, but those promises are only being partially kept because they’re incentivized to leave. But now they’re going to be incentivized to stay. And if that doesn’t work, then we’ll get even tougher than that. Okay?
We want our companies to hire and grow in America and to raise wages for American workers, and to help rebuild American cities and towns. (Applause.)
That is how we will all succeed together and grow together as one team, one people, and one American family. We want it to happen here. (Applause.)
Tax reform has not historically been a partisan issue, and it does not have to be a partisan issue today. I really believe we’re going to have numerous Democrats come over and sign because it’s the right thing to do. I believe that it’s the right thing to do, and I know many of them. And they’re telling me it is the right thing to do. President Reagan’s tax cuts were passed with significant bipartisan majorities at a time when there was a Democrat majority in the House and a Democrat Speaker — Tip O’Neill.
Before that, Democrat President John F. Kennedy championed tax cuts that surged the economy and massively reduced unemployment. As President Kennedy very wisely said, “The single most important fiscal weapon available to strengthen the national economy is the federal tax policy. The right kind of tax cut at the right time” — at the right time, this is the right time — “is the most effective measure that this government could take to spur our economy forward.” That was President Kennedy. (Applause.)
My fellow Americans, this is the right tax cut, and this is the right time. Democrats and Republicans in Congress should come together, finally, to deliver this giant win for the American people and begin middle-class miracle — it’s called a middle-class miracle, once again. It’s also called a miracle for our great companies; a miracle for the middle class, for the working person.
I truly believe that many Democrats want to support our plan, and with enough encouragement from the American people, they will find the courage to do what is right for our great country. (Applause.) But they’ll only do it if you, the American people, make your voices heard. Only if you tell Congress to give us a tax code that puts American jobs first. And that’s what we’re doing. (Applause.)
History has proven time and time again that there is no power on Earth more awesome than the will of the American people. That is why today I am asking all Americans — Republican, Democrat, independent — to join with me, and with each other to demand tax reform that will truly, truly, truly make America great again. (Applause.)
Call your congressmen. Call your senators. Let them know you’re watching. Let them know you’re waiting. Tell them that today is the day for decision. That now is the time to heal this self-inflicted economic wound. And that with their action, the future will belong to all of us.
If you demand it, the politicians will listen. They will answer, and they will act. And someday, many years from now, our children and our grandchildren will remember this moment in history as the time when ordinary Americans took control of their destiny and chose a future of American patriotism, prosperity, and pride. (Applause.)
With your help and your voice, we will bring back our jobs, we will bring back our wealth, and for every citizen across this land, we will bring back our great American dreams.
Thank you, God bless you, and God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)