President Trump discussed his plans to change the tax code in an Aug. 30 speech in Springfield, Missouri. This is an annotated transcript of his remarks. 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, “FactChecking Trump’s Tax Speech.”
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you very much. It’s so nice. And we appreciate it. And all of the people outside that were waving proudly the American flag — believe me, we appreciate it very much.
I want to thank Jerry Cook, Steve Burney — (applause) — and all of the tremendous employees here at the Loren Cook Company for hosting us today. Where is Jerry? Where is Jerry? (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you, Jerry. What a job. I’ve heard so much about you. It’s a great honor to know you, Jerry. Thank you.
I also want to welcome the many distinguished guests who are here with us for this very important event: Secretary of the Treasury, Steve Mnuchin. (Applause.) Thank you, Steve. Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Ross. (Applause.) Small Business Administrator — which, by the way, is a very large business, I will tell you that — Linda McMahon, a friend of mine. (Applause.) And from the purely political world, a really great friend who did such an incredible job with his beautiful wife at the inauguration, Senator Roy Blunt. Thank you. Thank you. (Applause.) Where’s Roy? Thank you, Roy.
Governor Greitens is here, who is doing some job. (Applause.) Thank you, Governor. Special. Lieutenant Governor Parson. Lieutenant Governor, thank you, Lieutenant Governor. And our great members of Commerce [Congress], I want to thank you all for coming. There are so many. I was asking the Governor and Roy, I said, do you think I should announce them all? I have so many. But I’m honored that they’re here.
Representative Sam Graves. (Applause.) Representative Vicky Hartzler, who has been terrific. (Applause.) My friend for a long time, and just somebody that he liked me from the beginning and I liked him, Billy Long. Where’s Billy? (Applause.) Billy. Right, Billy? Right from the beginning. Blaine Luetkemeyer — where’s Blaine? Good. Thank you, Blaine. (Applause.) Representative Jason Smith. (Applause.) Jason, thank you for everything, Jason. Representative Ann Wagner. Hi, Ann. Good job, Ann. (Applause.)
And, I don’t know, we have so many more. Anybody I forgot? Right? Everything okay? Good, I got it. You, I remember more than anybody. Thank you all very much. I appreciate it. And to the congressmen and congresswomen, we very much appreciate you all being here. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
Before we begin, I’d like to take a few moments to discuss the deeply tragic situation in Texas and Louisiana. As we all know, our Gulf Coast was hit over the weekend with a devastating hurricane of historic proportion. Torrential rains and terrible flooding continue to pose a grave danger to life and to property. Our first responders have been doing absolutely heroic work to shepherd people out of harm’s way, and their courage and devotion has saved countless lives. They represent truly the very best of America. (Applause.)
We must be vigilant. We must protect the lives of our people. I was on the ground in Texas yesterday to meet with Governor Abbott — who is doing, by the way, and incredible job — and local officials so that we could coordinate the very big and unprecedented federal response.
In difficult times such as these, we see the true character of the American people: their strength, their love, and their resolve. We see friend helping friend, neighbor helping neighbor, and stranger helping stranger. And together, we will endure and we will overcome. (Applause.)
To those affected by this storm, we are praying for you and we are here with you every single step of the way. And I can speak, I know, for the people in this room — every step of the way. (Applause.)
To those Americans who have lost loved ones: All of America is grieving with you, and our hearts are joined with yours forever. The citizens of Texas and the Gulf Coast need all the prayers, support, and resources our communities have to offer. Recovery will be tough, but I have seen the resilience of the American spirit firsthand, all over this country.
To the people of Houston, and across Texas and Louisiana: We are here with you today, we are with you tomorrow, and we will be with you every single day after to restore, recover, and rebuild.
As our thoughts and prayers remain firmly with the citizens and our fellow people — people — great, great people — all affected by this tragedy. We’re also glad to be back in the heartland with the very, very fine folks of Missouri. (Applause.)
And I said to Senator Blunt and I said to Billy Long on the plane coming in — can I say “Missouri,” or should I say “Missouruh”? Okay? And they said, whatever you want is okay. So I said, good. But I’m especially pleased to be here in Springfield, the birthplace of a great American icon, the legendary Route 66. Who would have known that? (Applause.)
This is the place where the “Main Street of America” got its start, and this is where America’s main street will begin its big, beautiful comeback that — you are seeing it right now. This is a comeback of historic proportions. You’re seeing it happen right now. (Applause.) Right? You’re seeing it.
We’re here today to launch our plans to bring back Main Street by reducing the crushing tax burden on our companies and on our workers. (Applause.) Our self-destructive tax code costs Americans millions and millions of jobs, trillions of dollars, and billions of hours spent on compliance and paperwork. And you have seen what’s happening with regulations — they’re going fast. We need regulations, but many of them are unnecessary, and they’re going fast. (Applause.)
That is why the foundation of our job creation agenda is to fundamentally reform our tax code for the first time in more than 30 years. I want to work with Congress, Republicans and Democrats alike, on a plan that is pro-growth, pro-jobs, pro-worker — and pro-American. (Applause.)
There is no more fitting place to launch this effort than right here in the American heartland, surrounded by hardworking men and women whose skill, determination, and drive are truly second to none. (Applause.)
And, by the way, before I start, Ivanka Trump — I see my beautiful daughter is in the audience. Stand up, honey. (Applause.) She’s working very hard. I’m very proud of Ivanka.
For many decades, Route 66 captured the American spirit. The communities along this historic route were a vivid symbol of America’s booming industry. Truck drivers hauled made-in-America goods along this vital artery of commerce. Families passed through bustling towns on their way to explore the great American West. And high-quality manufacturing jobs lifted up communities, gave Americans a paycheck that could support a family. Mr. Cook is a great example of the people that do it. (Applause.) Stand up. Stand up Mr. Cook. Stand up. (Applause.) I think they like you. And provided millions of our fellow citizens with the pride and dignity that comes with work.
But, in recent years, millions of Americans have watched that prosperity slip away in the rearview mirror. And it wasn’t pleasant to watch, especially for me. I would sit back — I was in business — and I could see what was happening. It wasn’t good.
If we want to renew our prosperity, and to restore opportunity, then we must reduce the tax burden on our companies and on our workers. (Applause.)
In the last 10 years, our economy has grown at only around two percent a year. If you look at other countries and you look at what their GDP is, they’re unhappy when it’s seven, eight, nine. And I speak to them — leaders of the countries — how are you doing? “Not well, not well.” Why? “GDP is down to seven percent.” And I’m saying, we were hitting one percent just a number of months ago. So we’re going to change that around, folks, that I can tell you. And we’re going change it around fast. (Applause.)
And today — a very appropriate day that this should happen — we just announced that we hit three percent in GDP. It just came out. (Applause.) And on a yearly basis, as you know, the last administration, during an eight-year period, never hit three percent. So we’re really on our way.
If we achieve sustained three percent growth, that means 12 million new jobs and $10 trillion dollars of new economic activity over the next decade. That’s some numbers. (Applause.) And I happen to be one that thinks we can go much higher than three percent. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t. (Applause.)
So this is our once-in-a-generation opportunity to deliver real tax reform for everyday hardworking Americans, and I am fully committed to working with Congress to get this job done. And I don’t want to be disappointed by Congress, do you understand me? Do you understand? (Applause.)
Congress — I think Congress is going to make a comeback. I hope so. (Laughter.) I tell you what, the United States is counting on it. (Applause.)
Here are my four principles for tax reform: First, we need a tax code that is simple, fair, and easy to understand. (Applause.) That means getting rid of the loopholes and complexity that primarily benefit the wealthiest Americans and special interests.
Our last major tax rewrite was 31 years ago. It eliminated dozens of loopholes and special interest tax breaks, reduced the number of tax brackets from fifteen to two, and lowered tax rates for both individuals and businesses. At the time, it was really something special.
Since then, our tax laws have tripled in size, and the tax code itself now spans more than 2,600 pages, and most of it is not understandable. Tax rates have increased, and special interest loopholes have crept back into the system. The tax code is now a massive source of complexity and frustration for tens of millions of Americans.
In 1935, the basic 1040 form that most people file had two simple pages of instructions. Today, that basic form has one hundred pages of instructions, and it’s pretty complex stuff. The tax code is so complicated that more than 90 percent of Americans need professional help to do their own taxes.
This enormous complexity is very unfair. It disadvantages ordinary Americans who don’t have an army of accountants while benefitting deep-pocketed special interests. And most importantly, this is wrong. (Applause.) Thank you.
First and foremost, our tax system should benefit loyal, hardworking Americans and their families. (Applause.) That is why tax reform must dramatically simplify the tax code, eliminate special interest loopholes — and I’m speaking against myself when I do this, I have to tell you. And I might be speaking against Mr. Cook, and we’re both okay with it, is that right? It’s crazy. We’re speaking — maybe we shouldn’t be doing this, you know? (Laughter.) But we’re doing the right thing. (Applause.) True. And allow the vast majority of our citizens to file their taxes on a single, simple page without having to hire an accountant.
Second, we need a competitive tax code that creates more jobs and higher wages for Americans. It’s time to give American workers the pay raise that they’ve been looking for for many, many years. (Applause.)
In 1986, Ronald Reagan led the world by cutting our corporate tax rate to 34 percent. That was below the average rate for developed countries at the time. Everybody thought that was a monumental thing that happened. But then, under this pro-America system, our economy boomed. It just went beautifully — right through the roof. The middle class thrived and median family income increased.
Other countries saw the success. They looked at us. They saw — what is America doing? What’s happening with the United States? And they acted very swiftly by cutting their taxes lower, and lower, and lower, and reforming their tax systems to be far more competitive than ours.
Over the past 30 years, the average business tax rate among developed nations fell from 45 percent to less than 24 percent. And some countries have an unbelievably low tax, including, by the way, China and some others that are highly competitive, and really doing very well against us. They are taking us, frankly, to the cleaners. So we must — we have no choice — we must lower our taxes.
And your Senator, Claire McCaskill, she must do this for you. And if she doesn’t do it for you, you have to have to vote her out of office. (Applause.) She’s got to make that commitment. She’s got to make that commitment. If she doesn’t do it, you just can’t do this anymore, with the obstruction and the obstructionists. If we don’t get tax cuts and reform approved, potentially, the biggest ever — we are looking for the biggest ever — jobs and our country cannot take off the way they should, and it could be much worse than that. But, at a minimum, they won’t take off the way they should.
The Dems are looking to obstruct tax cuts and tax reform, just like they obstructed so many other things, including administration appointments and healthcare. Not one vote. We got not one vote to try and fix healthcare and get rid of Obamacare.
The strategy of our economic rivals has worked. They made their taxes lower — and far lower, in many cases, than ours — and jobs left our country. Large corporations changed their business models by exporting jobs to other countries and then shipping their goods back to the United States, where they’d make massive profits, and they wouldn’t be paying tax to us either. So we lost the jobs, we lost the taxes, they closed the buildings, they closed the plants and factories. We got nothing but unemployment. We got nothing.
Other businesses — even classic American brands — switched their headquarters to foreign countries. Because of this and other reasons, like weak borders, America remains stuck in the past. Although I have to tell you, we have General Kelly here today, and we stopped 78 percent — going up to 80 percent — on the border traffic coming through, in just a short period of time. (Applause.) He has done some job. A whole different world out there right now.
Today, we are still taxing our businesses at 35 percent, and it’s way more than that. And think of it: In some cases, way above 40 percent when you include state and local taxes, in various states. The United States is now behind France, behind Germany, behind Canada, Ireland, Japan, Mexico, South Korea, and many other nations. Also, with these countries and almost every country, we have massive trade deficits — numbers that you would not believe.
But this administration is going to fix that. One by one, we’re fixing it. We’re working right now on NAFTA — the horrible, terrible NAFTA deal that took so much business out of your state and out of your cities and towns, and we’re working on it. Let’s see what happens. (Applause.)
Mexico is not happy. (Laughter.) But as I told them, you made a lot of money for a lot of years and everybody left you alone. We got to change this deal. And hopefully we can renegotiate it. But if we can’t, we’ll terminate it and we’ll start all over again with a real deal. (Applause.)
So when it comes to the business tax, we are dead last. Can you believe that? So this cannot be allowed to continue any longer. America must lead the way, not follow from behind.
We have gone from a tax rate that is lower than our economic competitors, to one that is more than 60 percent higher. We have totally surrendered our competitive edge to other countries. We have totally surrendered. We’re not surrendering anymore. (Applause.)
Ideally — and I say this for our Secretary of the Treasury — we would like to bring our business tax rate down to 15 percent, which would make our tax rate lower than most countries, but still, by no means the lowest, unfortunately, in the world. But it would make us highly competitive.
In other words, foreign companies have more than a 60 percent tax advantage over American companies. They can pay their workers more, sell their products and services at lower cost, and still make more money than their U.S. competitors.
We cannot restore our wealth if we continue to put our businesses at such a tremendous disadvantage. We must reduce the tax rate on American businesses so they keep jobs in America, create jobs in America, and compete for workers right here in America — the America we love. (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you very much.
Because when businesses compete for labor, your wages will go up. Lower taxes on American business means higher wages for American workers, and it means more products made right here in the USA. (Applause.)
When I was growing up, I always used to see the signs, and it was always stamped on the product: Made in the USA. You don’t see it anymore. We’re going to go back to Made in the USA — Made in the USA.” (Applause.)
The third principle for tax reform is a crucial one: tax relief for middle-class families. (Applause.) In a way — and I’ve been saying this for a long time — they’ve been sort of the forgotten people, but they’re not forgotten any longer. I can tell you that. (Applause.)
We will lower taxes for middle-income Americans so they can keep more of their hard-earned paychecks, and they can do lots of things with those paychecks. And that really means buying product ideally made in this country, but that means they’ll go out, and they’ll spend their money. And it will be a beautiful thing to watch. This includes helping parents afford childcare and the cost of raising a family. That’s so important to Ivanka Trump. (Applause.) Very, very important to everybody in this room, but so important to my daughter. It’s one of her real big beliefs. And she’s very committed to that. Right, Ivanka?
We believe that ordinary Americans know better than Washington how to spend their own money, and we want to help them take home as much of their money as possible and then spend it. (Applause.) So they’ll keep their money. They’ll spend their money. They’ll buy our product. Our factories will be moving again. Companies are going to move back into our country, jobs are going to prosper, and our country is going to be just like it says on that beautiful red hat — it says: Make America Great Again. That’s what we’re going to do. (Applause.) Right?
Fourth and finally, we want to bring back trillions of dollars in wealth that’s parked overseas. Because of our high tax rate and horrible, outdated, bureaucratic rules, large companies that do business overseas will often park their profits offshore to avoid paying a high United States tax if the money is brought back home. So they leave the money over there.
The amount of money we’re talking about is anywhere from $3 trillion to $5 trillion. Can you believe that? By making it less punitive for companies to bring back this money, and by making the process far less bureaucratic and difficult, we can return trillions and trillions of dollars to our economy and spur billions of dollars in new investments in our struggling communities and throughout our nation.
It’s time to invest in our country, to rebuild our communities, and to hire our great American workers. (Applause.)
My administration is embracing a new economic model. It’s called very simply: The American Model. Under this system, we will encourage companies to hire and grow in America, to raise wages for American workers, and to help rebuild our American cities and communities. That is how we will all succeed and grow together, as one team, with one shared sense of purpose, and one glorious American destiny. (Applause.)
So today I’m calling on all members of Congress — Democrat, Republican and independent — to support pro-American tax reform. They have to do it. It’s time. (Applause.) They have to do it. It is time.
I’m calling on Congress to provide a level playing field for our workers and our companies, to attract new companies and businesses to our shores, and to put more money into the pockets of everyday, hardworking people and also into the pockets of our companies so they can continue to grow and expand. (Applause.)
What could possibly be more bipartisan than allowing families to keep more of what they earn and creating an environment for real job and wage growth in the country that we love so much? (Applause.)
So let’s put — or at least try to put — the partisan posturing behind us and come together as Americans to create the 21st century tax code that our people deserve. (Applause.)
If we do this, if we unite in the name of common sense and the name of common good, then we will add millions and millions of new jobs, bring back trillions of dollars, and we will give America the competitive advantage that it so desperately needs and has been looking for for so long. It’s time. (Applause.)
Products made with American hands, American labor, and American grit will once again be delivered throughout the world. It’s true. (Applause.) It’s time. Instead of exporting our jobs, we will export our goods. (Applause.) Our jobs will both stay here in America and come back to America. We’ll have it both ways. Millions of struggling citizens will be lifted from welfare to work. They will love getting up in the morning. They will love going to their job. They will love earning a big, fat, beautiful paycheck. They will be proud again. (Applause.)
That is the future I want for our people. That is the future I want for America — a nation where we are proud, prosperous, united, and free.
Today, I am asking every citizen to join me in dreaming big and bold and daring things — beautiful things — for our country. I am asking every member of Congress, of which we have many with us today, to join me in unleashing America’s full potential. I am asking everyone in this room and across the nation to join me in demanding nothing but the best for our nation and for our people.
And if we do these things, and if we care for and support each other, and love each other, then we will truly make America great again.
Thank you. God bless you. (Applause.) God bless you, everybody. Thank you. Thank you very much. Governor, thank you. Thank you, Governor. Thank you, Senator. Thank you. Thank you, everybody.