In the year 1619, a Dutch trading ship sailed into the Chesapeake Bay and dropped anchor at Point Comfort, Virginia. The vessel's arrival marked the beginning of the unscrupulous slave trade in the American colonies. It was from this immoral origin -- and through inhuman conditions, discrimination, and prolonged hardship -- that emerged the vibrant culture, singular accomplishments, and groundbreaking triumphs that we honor and celebrate during National African American History Month.
National African American History Month is an occasion to rediscover the enduring stories of African Americans and the gifts of freedom, purpose, and opportunity they have bestowed on future generations. It is also a time to commemorate the countless contributions of African Americans, many of whom lived through and surmounted the scourge of segregation, racial prejudice, and discrimination to enrich every fiber of American life. Their examples of heroism, patriotism, and enterprise have given people of all backgrounds confidence, courage, and faith to pursue their own dreams.
This year's theme, "Black Migrations," highlights the challenges and successes of African Americans as they moved from farms in the agricultural South to centers of industry in the North, Midwest, and West -- especially the migrations that occurred in the twentieth century. Through these migrations, millions of African Americans reshaped the demographic landscape of America, starting new lives in cities such as Philadelphia, Detroit, Chicago, and New York City.
In that time of great change, inspirational leaders, such as Annie Turnbo Malone, charted a new path for many African American men and women. Annie Malone, the daughter of former slaves, became one of the most successful entrepreneurs in America at the turn of the century, and provided opportunities for African Americans to pursue meaningful careers. Through mentorship and education, she empowered others to start their own businesses. She is one of many inspirational African Americans in an era that also produced luminaries such as Mary McLeod Bethune and Booker T. Washington, both of whom encouraged and emboldened disenfranchised black students to push through obstacles and realize their God-given potential.
American history brims with the stories of African Americans who forever changed their communities and our country. We will, for example, never forget the legendary "Queen of Soul," Aretha Franklin, whose unforgettable voice transcended genre and left music transformed, and whose broad appeal in an era of deep division helped to bridge racial divides. Another trailblazer, baseball legend Jackie Robinson, known ubiquitously in Major League Baseball as "42," shattered institutional racism in American athletics when he became the first African-American player to appear in a big league game. Over his career, his exceptional talent and noble character in the face of racial hatred undermined the twin false ideologies of segregation and racial inequality. The spirit and determination of these and other African American heroes make our Nation proud and define what it means to be American.
National African American History Month is a call to each and every citizen of our great land to reflect on the cultural, scientific, political, and economic contributions of African Americans, which are woven throughout American society. We remember, learn from, and build on the past, so that, together, we can build a better and more prosperous future for all Americans.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim February 2019 as National African American History Month. I call upon public officials, educators, librarians, and all the people of the United States to observe this month with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirty-first day of January, in the year of our Lord two thousand nineteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-third.
President Donald J. Trump Announces Appointments for the Executive Office of the President
President Donald J. Trump today announced the following appointments for the Executive Office of the President:
Hogan Gidley will serve as Deputy Assistant to the President and Principal Deputy Press Secretary. Mr. Gidley will focus on issues related to the Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of State.
Lindsay Walters will continue to serve as Special Assistant to the President and Deputy Press Secretary. Ms. Walters will continue to focus on issues related to the Department of Commerce, Office of the United States Trade Representative, Department of the Treasury, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, National Foreign Trade Council, Office of Management and Budget, National Economic Council, Securities and Exchange Commission, Council of Economic Advisers, Small Business Administration, Federal Communications Commission, and the Department of Labor.
Judd Deere will serve as Special Assistant to the President and Deputy Press Secretary. Mr. Deere will focus on issues related to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Agriculture, Department of Energy, Department of the Interior, Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Office of National Drug Control Policy, Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Education, Department of Transportation, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and regional issues.
Steven Groves will serve as Special Assistant to the President and Deputy Press Secretary. Mr. Groves will focus on issues related to legislative affairs, oversight, nominees, and the Department of Justice.
MR. DEERE: Good morning, everyone. Thank you for joining our call today on the executive order strengthening Buy American that the President is scheduled to sign later this morning.
Ground rules: The call is on the record and attributable to Peter Navarro. We will take questions on this topic at the conclusion of Peter's remarks. And now I'd like to turn it over to Peter Navarro, Assistant to the President for Trade and Manufacturing Policy.
MR. NAVARRO: Thank you, Mr. Deere. Welcome one and all. We're going to do this in two parts. First part, we're going to talk more broadly about the manufacturing jobs that President Trump has created on his watch. And then, within that context, we're going to talk about the new Buy American Order that’s going to be signed today in the Oval with a group that will include a number of workers across the country, as well as some people on Capitol Hill who have been pivotal in advancing the Buy American agenda.
So let me start by saying that, during the campaign, which I was privileged to work on, the President promised that he would strengthen our manufacturing base and do so through a number of different policies: tax cuts, deregulation, lower energy prices, leveling the playing field on trade. And his two simple rules in his inauguration speech were, "Buy American and Hire American."
And it's stunning the success that this President has had in doing something that his critics said could not be done, which is to revive manufacturing in America.
And at the event this morning in the Oval, we'll have some interesting charts that show some statistics that you may be very interested in. For example, in the eight years of the Obama administration, we had a net loss of 192,000 manufacturing jobs. Things got a little bit better in the last two years of the Obama administration -- 73,000 manufacturing jobs were created -- but that number is dwarfed by the first two years of the Trump administration: Almost 500,000 manufacturing jobs were created.
If you look at a pie chart of the jobs created in the Obama administration's last two years, 1 percent of the total job gains were manufacturing jobs, while in the Trump administration it's 10 percent.
As in the indirect benefit of the growth in manufacturing jobs, which disproportionately benefit American workers who work with their hands and may not have the highest degrees of education -- these are blue-collar Trump people -- we see the wage growth strong among the lowest wage earners. The lowest wage earners over the last number of quarters have outpaced the median wage earners by a substantial amount. And again, we have some interesting charts on that.
And then, if you simply do a heat map of this country of where the increases in manufacturing have been located, you'll see that it is literally across this great country, virtually in every state of the union. So the Trump administration's celebration of the American worker and revival of the manufacturing base is alive and well, and will be celebrated today.
Now, the executive order that will be signed today was developed in the Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy with the cooperation of a wide number of agencies, including Commerce and the Department of Transportation, which spend a lot of Buy American dollars.
The first executive order back in April of 2017 that the President signed, Executive Order 13788, basically did a number of things to strengthen Buy American. One of the things that it did was substantially improve on the waiver process. It directed a much more judicious use of waivers. And because of that, we've seen a fairly dramatic reduction across the agencies, from the EPA to the Federal Highway Administration. And what we see, interestingly, is an increase of $24 billion of spending on American-made products. And from a "Make America Great Again/Buy American" perspective, U.S. government spending on foreign goods has reached its lowest point in 10 years.
One of the other objectives of that first strong executive order on Buy American was also to come up with other ways to strengthen Buy American preferences. And that’s what this new order does. It's called "Strengthening Buy American Requirements for Infrastructure Projects."
And the approach here is to encourage the agencies and heads of agencies to apply Buy American requirements wherever possible under the law to what's called "federal financial assistance." What federal financial assistance entails is everything from loans, loan guarantees and grants, to cooperative agreements, insurance, and interest subsidies.
As a practical matter, Buy American, which has extremely strong bipartisan support on Capitol Hill, mostly applies to direct government -- federal government procurement. So if an agency like the Department of Transportation spends money directly on the construction of a load or a bridge, or some other piece of infrastructure, Buy American generally comes in to play. But if an agency provides indirect support through this federal financial assistance, such as loans, or loan guarantees or grants, Buy American may not apply.
And to see how Buy American dollars may fall through the cracks of coverage, each year more than 30 federal agencies award over $700 billion in federal financial assistance to more than 40,000 non-federal recipient organizations. And if you look at, for example, fiscal year 2016, of the 265 listings in the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance for infrastructure or construction projects, more than 200 did not require Buy American considerations. And these projects across 14 different agencies added up to over $45 billion of expenditures.
So what we have here today is a new executive order designed to potentially close those gaps in coverage. And what the EO does is it directs the head of each executive department and agency administering a covered program to, and I quote, "encourage recipients of new federal financial assistance awards to use, to the greatest extent practical, iron, steel, aluminum, cement, and other manufactured products produced in the United States in every contract, sub-contract, purchase order, or sub-award that is chargeable against such federal financial assistance award."
And when you think about the kind of infrastructure this might cover, it potentially runs the gamut from bridges, water infrastructure and sewer systems, to broadband Internet and cybersecurity.
And as we always look for ways to strengthen Buy American for this President, this EO basically makes clear that we extend the coverage for Buy American not just to things like iron, and steel, and aluminum, but also to cement and other manufactured products.
So what we do when we extend this coverage to more federal financial assistance programs, we reinforce this administration's Buy American preferences.
From an economic point of view, the President loves Buy American for at least three reasons.
I mean, first, these programs create good manufacturing jobs and good wages, and thereby help lift more workers into middle-class prosperity.
Second, if you think about it, and you kind of do the ballpark estimates, about 20 cents on every dollar spent on Buy American tends to come back to the government in the form of taxes paid by corporations, or any profits on American projects, workers earning wages on these projects, and states deriving more sales tax revenues.
And third, these Buy American programs strengthen our manufacturing and defense industrial base by strengthening directly the manufacturing sector, but also pillar industries like steel and aluminum. And I'm sure at least some of you on the call know that this office that I direct -- the Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy -- one of the key equities of this office is also strengthening the defense industrial base.
And so, when we work with DOD on a major report brought through executive order to strengthen that base, this kind of effort synergistically helps, just like tax cuts and deregulation help advance the President's agenda.
And I would encourage everybody on this call to think about how the President thinks about strengthening our manufacturing base. It's a multi-vector attack that works synergistically together. All the policies that this President advances is designed towards the common good and the common goal of strengthening the manufacturing and the defense industrial base, which previous administrations have really let fall on hard times.
So, with that, I'm going to open up the call to questions. I have one proviso -- and this is also for the monitor of this call: We're talking strictly about manufacturing and "Buy American" and things within our borders today. If there's any other questions about other topics, I'm just going to move on, with the help of the moderator, to the next question.
So with that, let's open this up, and let's talk American manufacturing today.
Q This is Andrew Feinberg, with Breakfast Media. Thanks for doing this call, Peter.
MR. NAVARRO: Could you just speak up once more?
Q Yes. Is that better?
MR. NAVARRO: Yeah. Thanks.
Q Hi, it's Andrew Feinberg with Breakfast Media. Thank you for doing this call. I had two questions. The first is about your statement that the President's Buy American policies have impacted low-wage earners and accounted for lowest-wage-earners growth outpacing median wages, as you said. How do the multiple minimum wage increases across the country factor into that? Can you break out how much minimum wage increases have affected low-wage growth versus the President's Buy American policies?
And I'll get to the second question after that.
MR. NAVARRO: I'm going to ask the Council of Economic Advisers to look into that. That's not something that I can provide you an off-the-top-of-the-head answer to. When I cited that statistic, I want to make it clear that we observe a very strong, observable pattern that the people in the lowest part of income stream, who suffered the most under the weight of offshoring of our jobs and illegal immigration coming in, have benefited most from the Trump policies.
And with that observation, with the fact that a lot of the manufacturing jobs go to people without college degrees, then you can see that generally the trend is in favor of exactly the type of people that the Trump administration has so much focus on -- the American men and women who work with their hands.
Q Actually, that's related; you know, you mentioned earlier in the call that the President's policies were designed to benefit, as you said, "blue-collar Trump people." How focused is the administration on benefitting the entire economy versus tailoring policies to reward people who are thought to support the President?
MR. NAVARRO: My view of Trump people is that every American is a Trump person. You've seen that the Trump economic plan -- tax cuts, deregulation, lower energy costs, leveling the playing field through renegotiating bad deals like NAFTA and KORUS -- are all designed to lift us to a higher rate of growth and higher wage growth. And that benefits all.
But the fact of the matter always remains that the people under the previous administrations that suffered the most were the people in the lower part of our income streams in our manufacturing communities who lost their jobs to offshoring; who, in urban areas, may have lost their jobs to illegal aliens. And with the new Trump policies, those folks are disproportionally benefitting, even as everybody in this country -- every single person in this country -- is benefitting from the stronger Trump economy.
Remember, no one thought we could hit 3 percent GDP growth. Nobody. Everybody who was in the know said 2 percent was the new normal. And we got to 3 percent, and you can see all areas of this economy growing stronger.
Let's go to the next question, please.
Q Hi, Peter. It's Blake Burman from Fox Business. Thanks for doing this. By incentivizing buying American steel, steel prices have gone up. So, in a way, isn't this going to be driving the price -- overall price tag -- of projects up?
MR. NAVARRO: We love American steel. We love American aluminum. What has -- what is happening, very clearly, with the Trump policies designed to revive an industry which was on life support, is what we're seeing is a tremendous influx of new investment. This investment is being made by domestic companies like Nucor; and Century Aluminum; and the billions of dollars -- U.S. Steel opening new plants.
And it's also -- investment is being made, in response to the Trump tariff policies and stronger policies, by foreign companies who understand that the best way to sell into this market is going to be by letting American workers make products inside our borders.
What you will see over time -- and you can hold me to this, Blake -- but you will see over time -- as all of this new investment comes on line in the steel industry, is you will see steel prices again begin to moderate and go back down.
I think the other thing that's important to understand is that, when we have a strong steel industry, that makes us strong in a national defense point of view. When we have a strong steel industry, that also lifts the wages of working men and women, and that helps offset any price effect.
So when you look at this in its totality, I think that the President's steel and aluminum policies, whether it's Buy American or the tariffs, have been a tremendous net positive for this country, and we'll continue to do so.
Q What is "over time," Peter? Is that like weeks, months, years -- when you say it'll moderate -- prices moderating over time?
MR. NAVARRO: Months.
Q Okay. Thank you.
MR. NAVARRO: It takes -- you know, look, Blake, as a practical matter, here's what you want to watch: What you want to watch very clearly is how quickly the new investment comes online. Century Aluminum, U.S. Steel, Nucor -- as that new capacity comes online, then, obviously, through supply effects, we have favorable price effects.
Q Thank you.
MR. NAVARRO: Let's go to the next question. Thanks, Blake.
Q Hi Peter, this is Doug Palmer with Politico. I just wondered, you know, there’s a lot of agitation in Congress and the business community for President Trump to reach a deal that would remove the steel and aluminum tariffs on Canada and Mexico before --
MR. NAVARRO: Hey, hey, Doug. Doug. Doug. Let me stop you there. Look, well, all I’m going to do today, full stop, is answer questions about Buy American and this executive order.
So, I’d be happy to answer that, Doug --
Q Right, but what -- Peter --
MR. NAVARRO: We’re not -- hang on. But I’m just telling you that, and I’m asking the moderator here, if you have a question about Buy American, fine, but we’re not going -- we’re not going there. Okay? We’re just talking Buy American.
Q Okay, well, what related to Buy American --
OPERATOR: Did you want to go back to that question or just move on?
MR. NAVARRO: No, give Doug a chance here. But, Doug, please, let’s keep the playing field level here, okay?
Q Yeah, that’s fine. But, you know, you didn’t actually give me a chance to finish my question. And what I was going to ask is whether by expanding the Buy American program by the way you’re doing it now, does that give you some leeway to, you know -- does that give you more room to get rid of the steel and aluminum tariffs on Canada and Mexico, and still meet your guys’ goal of getting capacity in that sector -- capacity utilization in that sector above 80 percent?
MR. NAVARRO: So, let’s move on to the next question, because that’s not -- that’s Ambassador Lighthizer’s lane. So next question, please.
Q Hi, it’s Heather Timmons from Quartz. I wondered if you could give us a little more details about this executive order. You said it was going to encourage recipients of federal assistance to use U.S. products. Is there going to be any concrete benefits if they do, or penalties if they don’t? Maybe loan terms or something?
MR. NAVARRO: Well, look, the way Buy American works is that the heads of each agency are responsible for enforcing the legal statutes of Congress as enforced through a number of rulemaking and procedures by the agencies. And in this rule-of-law country, we expect agency heads to do their job.
And what we saw quite clearly with the first executive order, where the President directed a more judicious use of waivers broadly, was we saw the agency very specifically implement that directive in a way which led to a dramatic drop in waivers. So we expect the same kind of cooperation among the agencies in terms of extending Buy American requirements to (inaudible) federal financial assistance. And we will monitor this here at the White House very carefully.
Hunter Morgen, one of my deputies, is the point person for reach-out to the agencies. And he did a great job, after the first executive order, touching base with everybody and making sure everybody was on the same page.
And this was a popular program within the agencies, and we just have to move forward with it.
Q So, just to clarify, so this is just more of a broad push than there is any specifics coming out of this executive order, saying we want 47 percent of every loan to be --
MR. NAVARRO: That’s correct. What we’re doing is, essentially, as we did with the first executive order, providing strong presidential guidance. It was followed to the letter in the first executive order. And we have, as I mentioned, the lowest -- let me get this right here -- the increase in $24 billion of spending on American-made products and U.S. government spending on foreign goods has reached its lowest point in 10 years. That’s pure Donald J. Trump. Next question.
Q Okay. Hi there, thanks for the call. This is John Siciliano. I’m an energy reporter with Washington Examiner. I just wanted to see if you could spell out -- if anything, if there’s an energy and environment component to Buy American, how that would apply to perhaps energy contracts with the federal government or outside.
MR. NAVARRO: Well, the order directs each of the agencies to do an assessment of which programs are going to come under the purview and then apply the requirements. So I think that’s a great question, but that won’t be answered in any detail until the agencies actually get their work done.
All right. We’ll take two more, by the way.
Q Thanks, Peter. It’s Jason Miller from Federal News Network. I have a little bit of a minutia question for you. But usually when something like this happens, an EO happens, and there’s an implementation guidance from the Office of Management and Budget and the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, is that something that agencies should expect to see in the coming weeks? And what would that potentially look like? How much more details are you going to give agencies?
Because one of the things you highlighted -- and forgive me, I haven’t seen the EO -- is you say “we encourage” versus “we mandate” or “we strongly emphasize” or “we require,” unless that there’s a justification (inaudible). Sometimes EOs have maybe stronger language and it’s just hard for me to say how strong this language is. I know you used the word “encourage,” but that has a lot of different meanings. So sometimes the implementation guidance can help out.
MR. NAVARRO: Yeah. And let me refer you to the text of the actual EO. And the minutia, as you put it, is in that because there are specific directions. So you’ll find enlightenment in the actual EO, and I’m sure we’ll be able to get you a copy of that forthwith.
MR. NAVARRO: All right. One last question.
Q Hey, Peter, it’s Joe Johns with CNN over at the White House. So, will you just broad-brush this for me a little bit? If Buy American is really at least in part going to depend on investors coming from outside the United States, obviously it’s a kind of tricky situation. And I think the Foxconn thing -- this reversal out in Wisconsin is a good example of that. Can you sort of put that into the context of this executive order?
MR. NAVARRO: Yeah. I think you’re conflating a couple of things here. You know, earlier, I said that when we impose, for example, tougher trade policies that encouraged foreign investment within our borders so that that foreign capital would build factories here and we would build things with American hands.
This is not that. Buy American is simply a directive, essentially, to when federal dollars, federal taxpayer dollars are spent, your hard-earned dollars are spent, that that money be used on products made here in America -- iron, steel, cement, and manufactured goods. Simple as that. It’s got nothing to do with what you referenced.
Anyway, if you need anything more, let Comms know. Judd Deere is spearheading this; doing a great job on it. If you get a chance, send one of your folks to the Oval. I think that’s open press, as I understand it. And we will have some folks out talking to the press, as well, who are workers from -- I think we’ve got folks from Florida, North Carolina --
MR. DEERE: Alabama.
MR. NAVARRO: Alabama and -- one more?
MR. DEERE: Pennsylvania.
MR. NAVARRO: Pennsylvania. So, anyway, I appreciate it. We’re here to serve. We’ll talk soon.
President Donald J. Trump Announces Intent to Nominate Individual to a Key Administration Post
Today, President Donald J. Trump announced his intent to nominate the following individual to a key position in his Administration.
Richard Giacolone of Virginia, to be the Director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.
Mr. Giacolone currently serves as the Deputy Director of Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS), a position he has held since June 2018. Previously, he was a commissioner in the Chesapeake, Virginia, field office of FMCS. Mr. Giacolone’s career at FMCS includes directing the FMCS’ International/Administrative Dispute Resolution Department, and special assistant to the director of FMCS. Before receiving his Commission with FMCS, Mr. Giacolone held the position of Labor Relations Advisor for the Department of the Navy. Mr. Giacolone was awarded the Meritorious Civilian Service Medal for his contributions to the Department of Navy Labor and Employee Relations program. He received the Society of Federal Labor and Employee Relations Professionals Lifetime Achievement Award for outstanding contributions to the Federal Labor-Management Relations Program. Mr. Giacolone holds a Bachelor of Science degree in industrial psychology and a Master of Public Administration degree from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia.