Thursday, February 20, 2020


Office of the Press Secretary


Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department
Las Vegas, Nevada

11:57 A.M. PST

     MR. PONDER:  Thank you, sir.

     THE PRESIDENT:  Good to see you.  How long have you been doing this?

     MR. PONDER:  Eleven years.

     THE PRESIDENT:  That’s fantastic.

     MR. PONDER:  Yes, sir.  Thank you.

     THE PRESIDENT:  Jon has been doing this for 11 years, and he’s done incredible.  And so many people have such respect for him and -- I shouldn’t tell you this.  Should I tell it to you now or should we wait?  (Laughter.)

     AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Tell us!

     AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Tell us, sir.
     THE PRESIDENT:  So they’re all saying, “He’s done so well.  He’s saved so many lives.  He’s created happiness in so many families.”  “Sir, would you consider Jon Ponder for a full pardon?”  (Applause.)

     And I love doing it.  I love doing it.  And we are -- we are giving him absolute consideration, and I have a feeling he’s going to get that full pardon.  (Applause.)  I have a feeling.  I can't tell you, but I have a feeling.

     Great gentleman.  That’s -- first thing they said to me when I walked in.  And -- but everybody knows who you are.  I know who you are.  (Laughter.)  Eleven years of this.  That's fantastic.  What a tremendous story.  Thank you very much.  Congratulations.  Because I'm going to give him an early congratulations, all right?  (Applause.)  That's big stuff. That’s big stuff.  So thank you very much, Jon.

     And two years ago, I was honored to celebrate your story of faith and transformation as you stood with me in the Rose Garden of the White House.  It was a great day, a beautiful day.  Now I'm thrilled to come to Las Vegas Police Department.  And thank you very much for being -- what a group that is.  That’s some job you guys do.  (Applause.)  Some job you do.  A lot of friends too.  A lot of friends.  To take part in your organization's Hope for Prisoners graduation ceremony.

     We are here to reaffirm that America is a nation that believes in redemption.  And that's what it's about: redemption.  We believe in second chances.  And we want to bring returning citizens, great people -- great people -- in many cases, great people, and not in all cases.

     I'm not going to be too politically correct, fellas -- (laughter) -- right?  Not in all cases, but in many cases.  We want to rebuild their lives; they want to rebuild their lives.  They want to help us and rebuild our country.  And, please, everybody, please sit down.  A little bit late with that one, wasn't it?  (Laughter.)  Thank you.  That feels better, doesn’t it?  Huh?

     But to the 29 graduates: You're returning to your families.  You have paid your debt to society and shown a commitment to change.  You've overcome many challenges: broken free of addiction, learned new skills, and replaced old habits with fresh resolve.

     And Jon told us just outside, a little while ago, that it's a -- it's an incredible class -- incredible class of talent.  That word, “talent,” is very important.

     And now you have a chance to begin a new chapter that you are proud to call your own.  And I have little doubt you're going to be very, very successful.  Your future does not have to be defined by the mistakes of the past.

     Today we declare that you are made by God for a great and noble purpose, and you understand that.  (Applause.)  I mean, it's a great and noble purpose.  And you're valued members of our American family, and we are determined to help you succeed and we're going to work with you.  And you're going to work with Jon and everybody else in this really incredible place that you've all put together, Jon.

     And you're going to be so successful.  You’re going to say, “I'm going to be more successful than Trump.”  (Laughter.) Going to be more -- and I'll be happy if you do it, I'll tell you what.  (Applause.)  I'll be very happy about it.

     But as long as you work hard and follow the law and do your part to contribute to your communities, your best days are just beginning.  The best part of your life is beginning.  I really believe that.  And your greatest years are just ahead.

     And to all of the family members and loved ones -- who have been through so much -- of the graduates who joined us today, we know your journey has not been an easy one, but your love and support make all of the difference.  And we are tremendously grateful for the families, the loved ones.  And I know they're even more grateful, because without them, you wouldn't be here.  You wouldn't be here.  (Applause.)  So I want to thank you.

          And joining us for this ceremony are two leaders who have devoted so much to advancing medical cures to help people overcome the stranglehold of addiction: Sheldon and Miriam Adelson.  And they've been great friends of mine for a long time.  (Applause.)  Stand up, Sheldon.  What a family.  What a family.

     And Miriam is a doctor -- a great doctor.  She doesn't have to be a doctor.  You can trust me -- her husband doesn't need the money.  (Laughter.)  But she devotes her life -- it's the most important thing to her -- to addiction.  And every time she learned something new -- and there's still plenty to learn -- but she’ll call me and tell me what they're learning about addiction.

     And the job you do, Miriam, and what you've done, Sheldon, just overall is incredible.  (Applause.)  And really great.  Two great people.  Just great people.

     And they like a place called Israel very much.  Would you say that's correct?  (Applause.)  Maybe I have to use the word “love” a place called Israel, right?  In your case.

     Thank you as well to Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman for being here.  Carolyn, thank you very much.  Great -- great job.  (Applause.)  And also, the tireless advocate -- because Carolyn has been very much involved with criminal justice reform along with Jared Kushner, who has been very, very much involved.

     I don't know -- (applause) -- I think -- I think, Jared, I'm starting -- where is Jared?  Thank you, Jared.  We’re going to -- he never wants any credit.  He does a lot.  He works hard.  But that's working out very well, Carolyn, isn't it?  It's working out well for everybody.

     And tremendous support.  And we had liberal support, we had conservative support.  And they came to me and they needed some help, and we got help from some very unexpected places.  Votes.  We needed votes.  And we got some great people -- Republicans in all cases, in this case.  But we got some great people to vote for criminal justice reform.

     So -- in fact, very conservative Republicans.  So that was a good sign.  Very bipartisan.  And it was a terrific thing, and we really -- we did something that they've been trying to do for a long time, and we got it done.  We get a lot of things done.  We get a lot of things done.  (Applause.)

     Now, you see a lot of press back there.  So before we go any further, I want to address today’s sentencing of a man, Roger Stone.  Roger Stone.  He’s become a big part of the news over the last little while.  And I'm following this very closely, and I want to see it play out to its fullest because Roger has a very good chance of exoneration, in my opinion.  (Applause.)

     I've known -- and you people understand it probably better than anybody in the room.  I've known Roger Stone and his wife, who's really a terrific woman, for a long time.  And Roger is definitely a character.  Everybody sort of knows Roger.  Everybody knows him.  And most people like him.  Some people probably don’t, but I do and I always have.  He's a smart guy.  He's a little different.  But those are sometimes the most interesting.  But he's a good person.  His family is fantastic.  He's got a fantastic family.  And there's always a reason for that, isn't there?

     Roger was never involved in the Trump campaign for President.  He wasn't involved.  I think early on, long before I announced, he may have done a little consulting work or something, but he was not involved when I ran for President.  And he's a person who, again, he knows a lot of people having to do with politics.  His whole life is politics.  That's what he is.

     And it's my strong opinion that the forewoman of the jury -- the woman who was in charge of the jury -- is totally tainted.  When you take a look, how can you have a person like this?  She was a anti-Trump activist.  Can you imagine this?  (Laughter.)  Now, you wouldn't know about a bad jury.  Anybody here know about bad?  No?  (Laughter.)  These people know more about bad juries than everybody here, including the sheriff and the mayor and everybody. (Laughter.)

     They know about bad juries.  We're not going to say it too much, so let's not say it in front of more cameras than this.  (Laughter.)  But you're my experts, okay?

     No, but this is a woman who was an anti-Trump person, totally.  Now, I don't know if this is a fact, but she had a horrible social media account.  The things she said on the account were unbelievable.  She didn't reveal that when she was chosen.

     And she's, I guess, from what I hear, a very strong woman, a very dominant person, so she can get people to do whatever she wants.  And she got on, and then she became the foreperson, forewoman, on the jury.  And I assume they asked her a question: “Do you have any bias?  Do you have any…”  She didn't say that.  So is that a defrauding of the court?  You tell me.

     But does this undermine our fair system of justice?  How can you have a person like this?  Did she delete her social account?  And when Roger was determined by the same jury to be guilty before the judge issued a sentence -- and he was determined to be guilty -- and she started going a little wild.  She’s very happy.  And she started saying things that people said, “That's strange.  That's strange.”  And then they started looking at it, and how can you have a jury pool tainted so badly?  It's not fair.  It's not fair.

     And, you know, it's not happening to a lot of other people, because you could -- look, I won't name names, but everybody knows who I'm talking about.  What's happening over there?  Nobody, nobody.

     There are people that are even in Roger Stone’s basic business of politics that were going to be in big trouble.  Well-known people.  The biggest people.  Big trouble.  They were forced to leave their firm.

     One man was forced to leave his firm and he was going to -- bad things were going to happen to him the following day.  Nothing happened.  Nothing happened.  He was the biggest; nothing happened.  But it happened to Roger Stone, and it happened to General Flynn.  And it happened to -- I won't name names.  (Laughter.)  It happened to a lot of people, and destroyed a lot of people's lives.

     And I'm here to make a fair system.  Again, Roger is not somebody who worked on my campaign.  I know Roger, but a lot of people know Roger.  Everybody sort of knows Roger.  And what happened to him is unbelievable.  They say he lied.  But other people lied too.  Just to mention, Comey lied.  (Laughter.)  McCabe lied.  Lisa Page lied.  Her lover, Strzok -- Peter Strzok -- lied.  You don't know who these people are?  Just trust me, they all lied.  (Laughter and applause.)

     You had people that forged documents.  You had people that wrote fake dossiers and brought them to the FBI, and used people in the Justice Department to get them to the FBI.  And these people know -- in the front row, you know better than anybody in this room what the hell I'm talking about, probably.  (Laughter.)

     So I’m only responding to you.  I'm not even talking to the folks all the way (inaudible).  (Laughter.)  But they get it better than anybody too.  A lot of bad things are happening, and we’re cleaning it out.  We’re cleaning the swamp.  We’re draining the swamp.  I just never knew how deep the swamp was.  (Applause.)

     So if this woman was tainted, I hope the judge will find that she was tainted.  And if she isn't tainted, that will be fine too.  But I'm not going to do anything in terms of the great powers bestowed upon a President of the United States.  I want the process to play out.  I think that's the best thing to do, because I'd love to see Roger exonerated, and I'd love to see it happen because I personally think he was treated very unfairly.

     They talk about witness tampering.  But the man that he was tampering didn't seem to have much of a problem with it.  (Inaudible) think they know each other for years.  And it's not like the tampering that I see on television when you watch a movie.  That's called tampering -- with guns to people's heads and lots of other things.

     So we're going to see what it is.  Maybe there was tampering and maybe there wasn't.  But I can tell you that there was tremendous lying.  Really, lying and leaking classified documents.   That, you don't know about.  But they leaked classified documents.

     You know, there was a young sailor who took pictures of an old submarine and sent them to his mother and a friend.  And they destroyed his life.  I let him out.  They were considered classified.  Now, Russia and China, I guarantee you, have the pictures of this submarine, for a long time.  The submarine was like 30 years old.  They had them in the first year; they didn't have to wait for the 30th year.  But this is a famous story.  And they had these pictures, and they put him in jail.  He sent them to his mother and to his friend.  His friend was not interested in what you're thinking.  And there were many other cases where documents were leaked, even accidentally.  It’s so -- classified documents are so important that even if they are leaked accidentally --

     Now, Hillary Clinton leaked more classified documents than any human being, I believe -- (laughter) -- in the history of the United States of America.  Right?  And she deleted 33,000 emails.  And she said, “Oh…”  And, by the way, if you did it: five years, maybe more.  Okay?  But you never have access to classified.  Very few people have access.  She deleted 33,000 emails.  I kept waiting.  Because, you know, they can talk Benghazi; they can talk 100 different things.

     What people understand is when you get rid of this kind of evidence -- so the United States Congress said they subpoenaed her.  They wanted to see her emails.  After getting the subpoena, she deleted 33,000 emails.  And they said -- do you remember this? -- “yes, the emails were about her yoga classes, her exercising, and her daughter's wedding.”  Thirty-three thousand about her daughter's wedding?  (Laughter.)  That must have been the greatest wedding of all time.  (Laughter.)  And nothing happened to her.  And yet, they'll put a young sailor in an old submarine, with a picture -- a couple of pictures -- they'll put him into jail.

     And I pardoned him because it was unfair that she was able to do it at the highest level, and his level wasn't -- what he did was, it was confidential.  “Confidential” is a much lower class then “classified.”

     So I tell you this because it's interesting.  This is part of our nation.  This is what's going on now.

     So I'm going to let this process play out.  And we want to have a great and fair court system.  And I hope you had a fair and -- you know, fair and wonderful court system.  But perhaps you didn't.  Perhaps you didn't.  And if you didn't, we want to straighten it out.  But we have to straighten it out also at the top level.

     So we had a lot of dirty cops.  FBI is phenomenal.  I love the people in the FBI.  But the people at the top were dirty cops.  And if you would have read the report written about Comey -- 78 pages of kill, with a reference of “Go get him.”  They really said it: “Go get him.”  And then you read about McCabe and you see what they said.  It’s so bad.  And we’re just waiting. I'm not doing any -- I'm just sitting here, standing here, talking to you.  We're waiting.  (Laughter.)

     So I just want to let the fake-news media know that -- (laughter) -- I just want to let them know, because there’s few people more dishonest than these people, I will tell you that.  And you have some very good ones.  A hell of a lot more dishonest than most of you in the audience were.  (Laughter.)

     But I'm going to let the media know that I’m going to watch the process; I'm going to watch it very closely.  And at some point, I'll make a determination.

     But Roger Stone -- and everybody -- has to be treated fairly.  And this has not been a fair process.  Okay?  (Applause.)  Thank you.

     So when I ran for President, I pledged to fight for those who have been forgotten, neglected, overlooked, and ignored by politicians in our nation's capital.  And you understand that very well.

     For decades, no one was more forgotten than citizens coming out of prison who were ready to go into a brand-new, beautiful start but couldn't find a job.  They couldn't find people who believed in them.

     And one of the great things that happened is I, and my administration, and a lot of very talented people that work with me, we created the strongest economy in the history of our country.  (Applause.)  We have the best unemployment numbers.  We have the best unemployment numbers for African American.  Best in history.  Asian American -- best in history.  (Applause.)  Hispanic American -- best in history.  (Applause.)  Our country is booming.  We've never done better.  It's the best economy we've ever had.

     So when people come out -- as an example, yourselves.  You're going to get great jobs.  And I'll tell you the end result -- and we do studies on this: People with businesses are going to hire you.  They want you more than you want them.  This is the first time this has happened.  Okay?  (Applause.)  This is the first time.  They want you to do it.  And they wouldn't have given you that second chance.  We call it “second chance.”  But they wouldn't have given you that second, and in some cases, a third chance.  That's okay.  But they wouldn't have given you that second chance.  Now they're doing it because they need people, because the economy is so good.

     And I'll tell you the end result: Employers are calling.  The numbers that we're getting, the respect that you're getting from people that are doing the hiring -- they can't even believe it.  I had one gentleman, I talked to him -- he had seven people came out of prison.  He's got seven people working for him.  He said, “They're among my best.”  (Applause.)  He said, “They are among my best people.”  He said, “I cannot believe it.”

     And you know what?  (Inaudible) always work out.  I'm not going to say everybody is perfect because it's not.  Nobody is -- you take a group, there's always going to be somebody that doesn’t work out.  But he said, "I can't believe it.  They are…"  He's got seven now.  They've been with him for quite a while.  He said, “They are among the best people I have ever employed.”  He is so happy.  It's going to happen with you.  It’s going to happen with them.  What do you think?  I think it's going to happen with this group.  (Applause.)

     So once I came into office, leaders from all different backgrounds asked me to make changes to our criminal justice system.  And the more I learned about the issue -- a big issue -- the more I knew that criminal justice reform was really not about politics.  Because you have people that are for and against it on all different levels -- Republican, Democrat, conservative, independent, liberal.  Some love it, some don’t love it, but they're starting to love it.  We're having tremendous success with it.  And it's about doing the right thing.  Because Alice Johnson -- you know, I've really gotten to know her well.  And she's like an incredible person.  And because of Alice, we're taking in -- we've just let out three other people that she knew.

     And I say to people, "And you may have references and recommendations when you were -- wherever you may have been, frankly.  You know some people that were really good people who…"  Alice was in for 22 years.  She had another 18 years to serve, and -- for a crime, but not that kind of a crime.  And I learned about Alice Johnson.  And when I learned, it really -- you know, it was really something special.  She's an incredible woman.  She came out of prison.  You've seen the whole thing.  We actually did a commercial on it.  I did the commercial for people to see what this is all about.

     She came out -- you couldn't hire an actor in Hollywood to have the emotion and the love and the tears and everything.  She came out and she saw her family, who had totally grown up without her.  And some big, strong young men.  Some wonderful women.  Just all family.  And she was grabbing them and they were all hugging and kissing outside of this massive prison wall.  And they were just screaming with joy.  It was an incredible thing to see.  You couldn't -- you couldn't do it.  It had to be natural.  It had to come from the heart.  It had to come from the heart.  So it was really --

     So I say to Alice, and I say to other people, and I'll say to you, and I'll say to you -- you're going to have some recommendations.  Do you think I'm making a mistake with him?  What do you think?

     AUDIENCE:  No!

     THE PRESIDENT:  Okay.  But you're going to have some recommendations.  I want your recommendations.  Because you have -- we have thousands of people in prison that have stories like Alice Johnson.  Thousands and thousands of people.  And I love doing it.  I love doing it.  And, you know, you can be poor.  You can be middle income.  You can be rich.  It's -- injustice is injustice.  But you have thousands of people that shouldn't be there.  And I love finding those people.  So, as you find them, as you really think -- but you can't let me down.  They've got to be right.  (Laughter.)  Because there are some people you don't want to do this with.  You do know that.

     I said to Alice, "So, Alice, let me ask you.  You have a lot of people like yourself, right?"  "Yes."  "But you have bad people too, don't you?"  "Yes, we do.  Some very bad people."  I said, "Good because I wouldn't want somebody to say, 'No everybody is good,' because that's not the case."  But she's given us great recommendations, and she's a great woman.

     To redress unfairness in the justice system, just over one year ago, I led the effort to pass the criminal justice reform. And others had tried and failed.  And they didn't try too hard because they know it couldn't be done, but we got it done.  This law rolls back provisions of the really terrible 1994 criminal -- Clinton crime law that disproportionately impacted the African American community.  I mean, they liked Clinton, but they passed a law that was a disaster.  You know that.  But we did something about it.  They were unable to do it all the way back.  We did something about it.  (Applause.)

     And my recent budget provides over $400 million to expand vocational training, drug treatment, and critical reentry programs just like this one.  (Applause.)  Okay?  You know that.  He knows it.

     By enacting criminal justice reform, we're sending a powerful message to prisoners who have reformed their lives: When you return to society, we are not going to leave you behind.  We're not leaving you behind.  But now we don't have the excuse of a bad economy.  They used to have the excuse, "Well, we can't do it.  The economy is no good."  The unemployment rates were very high.  We’re down to 3.5 percent.  We're probably going lower.  And wages are going up -- first time in 21 years.  They're really going up, and going up substan- -- it's a beautiful thing.  If you're, like, in my world, it's a beautiful thing to watch.  It's like a picture.

     Everyone in this room is here to make sure that you have the support that you need to succeed, thrive, and to never, ever look back.  (Applause.)  You're not going to look back.  We're not going to look back.  (Applause.)

     And we're joined today by many great pastors and faith leaders -- some of whom I know pretty well -- who trust the power of prayer and the mercy of God to transform their lives.  And I want to thank you all for being here.  Thank you.  Great, great faith leaders.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Please stand up.  Please stand up.  Great.  Thank you.  Thank you, Father.  Great job.  I've actually been to a couple of their churches.  Thank you very much.

     Also with us are employers of many different industries who are here to recruit you.  Don't ask for too much.  Just take it nice and easy.  (Laughter.)  Don't forget, they want to make a good deal, but you do too.  (Laughter.)  But they want to recruit you for great jobs and they're here.  Who are the people that are looking?  Who are the people -- the employers?  Please.  Yeah, stand up, please.  That's great.  That's great.  (Applause.)  That’s great.  Great.  You're going to be happy.  You're going to be very happy.

     Including the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce, who really has done a fantastic job over the years.  I've known how hard they work and what a great job they do: Station Casinos, Martin and Harris Construction, Civil Werx General Contractor, Silver State Transportation, Keolis Transit, and Workforce Connections.

     And I want to thank you all.  And we have a lot of others outside that are coming in, too.  And you're going to have a lot of -- you're going to have a lot of fun.  It's nice to be loved, right?  It's nice to be wanted.  You're wanted.  You're wanted.  (Applause.)  Finally -- (applause) -- yeah, you're wanted.  Right, Jon?

     Finally, we're proudly -- really proud to be joined by more than 80 men and women -- these people are so incredible -- of law enforcement.  (Applause.)  The job they do -- Sheriff -- (applause) -- the job.  Please stand up.  (Applause.)

     You don't know how much people respect you.  You don't hear it.  You don't hear it.  People respect you like you wouldn't believe.  So we just want to thank you all.  The job you do is incredible.  The law enforcement.  We honor your selfless service and bravery.

     By the way, Fire Department, also.  I just left an area of the country where two firemen were just killed, and -- terrible -- up in a certain portion of a beautiful place in California, where a building collapsed.  Two people killed.  Two firemen killed.  And we honor them.  And we -- this took place yesterday.  But they're fantastic.

     But I want to thank law enforcement because the job you do is incredible.  And the respect that people have for you -- you'll never -- you'll never know how strong it is.  It's strong, and I think it's stronger now than ever before.

     And now you have an administration that loves you, backs you.  We give you the equipment that you need.  We give billions of dollars of equipment.  We had surplus equipment -- military equipment, incredible stuff -- sitting in hundreds of warehouses all over the United States.  And, for some reason, other people didn't want to give it out.  But I gave it out, and I assume you got some of it.  Right?  You got some of it?  (Applause.)  I know the man.  He probably got most of it, right?  That's good.  It keeps you safe.

     As you know, Hope for Prisoners has pioneered a mentorship program with law enforcement, which has given strength and support to former inmates like Lois Hockersmith.  And she joins us today.  Lois.  (Applause.)  Where is Lois?

     For many years, Lois struggled with addiction.  In May of 2012, she found herself pregnant and in jail.  After she served her time, Lois participated in Hope for Prisoners program.  She graduated in 2013.  And since then, Lois has stayed totally sober.  She's earned back custody of her precious, beautiful son.  And she is one of the best case managers here at Hope for Prisoners.  Is that right?  (Applause.)  That's good.  That's good.  Thank you.  Wow.  Come on up, here, Lois.  Come on up here.

     Through it all, Lois has been encouraged by her mentor, who is the same officer who arrested her nearly eight years ago -- Lieutenant Steve Riback, who also joins us today.  Hey, Steve, come on up.  Is Steve here?  Steve is here?  Steve, come up.  (Applause.)

     LIEUTENANT RIBACK:  (Inaudible), sir.

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, we’re with you 100 percent.  It’s great.

     Please, would you like to say something?

     MS. HOCKERSMITH:  Yes.  So, first of all, I want to thank this officer.  He saved our lives that night that he arrested me and my son.  He arrested me.  (Laughter.)  I was pregnant with him and I gave birth to him that night.  And not all our heroes wear capes; some wear badges.  Had he not been doing his job that night, I wouldn't be here.

     Jon Ponder, listen, we've been through a lot of things together.  2012 -- that's when I went through the program, and my life changed that day.  I am standing in front of the President.  I’m a little bit nervous.  (Laughter and applause.)

     I just want you to know that I'm standing amongst heroes, but you guys -- if it wasn't for you guys to come back in and for being able to pour back into you -- this is how I keep it: by giving it back to you guys.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  And thank you, Mr. President.

     THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  Take care of mom.  Right?   So beautiful.

     Would you like to say thing?  Please.  (Laughter.)  He feels very comfortable, you can see.

     LIEUTENANT RIBACK:  I had a well-prepared speech for this.  (Laughter.)  The credit, 100 percent, goes to Lois.  And, to be completely candid, I was doing nothing no different than I had done for years and years that night.  I definitely believe it was divine that we came across each other.  But the credit goes to her, the credit goes to Jon, the credit goes to you guys as -- as hopefuls.

     And I just wish you a tremendous amount of success in the rest of your life.  It's only forward at this point.  And you have an incredible team, an incredible community, and I'm so honored to be a part of it.  But, again, the credit goes to these people right here.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

     THE PRESIDENT:  That was a good job.  That was a good job.  (Applause.)  Wow.  He did okay, fellas, right?  (Laughter.)  He did okay.  He did a great job.  Thank you both, Lois and Steve.

     You remind us, really, that -- all of us -- that anything is possible.  And Lois is among the roughly 100 Hope for Prisoners alumni here today, all of whom are doing incredibly well.  Please stand.  Please stand, all of the alumni.  (Applause.)  Wow.  That's great.  That’s great.  That’s great.  (Applause.)  Great.  Congratulations.  Thank you very much.

     But they're really a testament to the bright future that awaits you all.  It's a great -- it's a great time in our country in so many ways.  Our military is strong, our country is just strong.  We're stronger in, I would say, just about every way than we ever have been before -- militarily.

     You take a look at what we're doing with the stock market.  We’ve had 144 out of three years -- I've been here just a little more than three years.  And in a little more than three years, Jon, we've had 144 stock market records.

     Now, that's good for everybody.  It's good for your 401(k)s and it's good for jobs.  And it's good for -- those are the ones that I think about first: jobs, 401(k)s.  And people are making a lot of money and people are getting tremendous -- you'll be investing some of your money in this now.  You’ll be doing fantastically well and you're going to have 401(k)s or something -- the equivalent.  And you're going to do fantastically well.

     And, you know, as I say sometimes in speeches: The best is yet to come.  We have tremendous potential.  We have just made some incredible trade deals that will soon start kicking in.  It's going to make it a different country, economically.  As good as it does, it's going to be much better.

     We had horrible, horrible deals, or no deals at all, and now we have phenomenal deals.  We made a massive deal with China.  Then we did the USMCA; that's Mexico, Canada.  We did a 40-billion-dollar-a-year deal with Japan and we did a deal with South Korea, and we have other deals too.  And I'm going to India next week and we're talking about -- you know, they have 1.5 billion people, and Prime Minister Modi is number two on Facebook.  Number two.  Think of that.

     You know who number one is?  Trump.  Do you believe that?  (Applause.)  Trump.  Number one.  I just found that out.  The head of Facebook, Mr. Zuckerberg, came in three weeks ago.  He said, “Congratulations.”  I said, “On what?”  He said, “You're number one on Facebook.”  I said, “That's cool.”  (Laughter.)  Number one on Twitter too.  But that's because -- (laughter and applause.)  It’s true.

     And if I wasn't, I could never say it because it would be breaking news that -- (laughter) -- that Trump told a fib.  No, number one.  And I congratulated Prime Minister Modi.  I said, “But, you know, you have 1.5 billion people.  I have 350 million.  You have an advantage.”

     But we’re going to India, and we may make a tremendous deal there, or maybe we'll slow it down.  We'll do it after the election.  I think that could happen too.  So we'll see what happens.  But we're only making deals if they’re good deals, because we're putting America first.  Whether people like it or not, we're putting America first.  (Applause.)

     So to help you find housing, jobs, and support, I established, as you know very well, the Council on Crime Prevention and Reentry.  They've done a fantastic job.  And here with us today are new executive director, Tony Lowden.  Tony, would you just come up and say a few words, please?  Tony Lowden.  Thank you, Tony.  (Applause.)

     He looks good.  (Laughter.)  Hi, Tony.

     MR. LOWDEN:  Thank you, sir.  To God be the glory.

     Listen, this is what reentry looks like: when our law enforcement, our returning citizens, our faith community, business in our community, along with their children, can come together in a holistic approach and bring us together.  Under this President, has showed America what reentry looks like.  (Applause.)

     They say, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.”  (Laughter.)  But I want to tell you that, today, the entire world have been put on notice that here, Jon, under this President and our administration, this will no longer be a secret.  This will be the norm for America.  God bless you.  (Applause.)

     THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, Tony.  Wow.  (Applause.)  Beautiful.  Thank you, Tony.  Wow.  That’s great.  Respected guy.

     For too long, citizens with a record were not even considered for jobs -- you know that -- even if they were qualified, rehabilitated totally, and ready to go to work.  They wanted to go to work.  But all of that is changing.

     And we began a nationwide campaign to encourage businesses to expand Second Chance hiring.  We call it “Second Chance hiring.”  When we say “hire American,” we mean all Americans.  All Americans.  (Applause.)  And our entire nation wins when citizens with a record have a chance to succeed.

     It’s such a tremendous -- what's happened over the last three years is incredible.  People came out, they didn't have a chance, and now they're not only having a chance -- you're going to see it a little while when these guys try and make a deal.  “I want a little bit more.  Get me a little bit more.”  (Laughter.)

     Together, we're rebuilding the most prosperous economy and the most inclusive society, Jon, ever to exist.   We are becoming a very inclusive society, much more so than in the past.  And a lot of people haven't figured that out yet, but I think they will.  I think people are going to figure it out pretty soon.

     We want every citizen to join America's unparalleled success and every community to take part in America's extraordinary rise.  Since my election, we have created 7 million new jobs.  (Applause.)  The unemployment rate has reached the lowest rate in over 51 years.  Think of that: 51 years.  Half a century.  (Applause.)

     And, by the way, the 7 million jobs -- they thought it might be 2 million, if we're lucky.  You go back three years, they were saying “2 million.”  We did 7 million, and it's pretty amazing.

     African American poverty has declined to the lowest rate ever recorded.  (Applause.)  But I think one of the things we're most proud of in this incredible economy -- we’ll call it “Trump economy.”  Call it -- we’ll call it the “Ponder economy.”  We’ll call it something.  (Laughter.)

     But whatever we call it, this economy has been great.  And the thing that might be the best of all is what we've done with criminal justice reform.  I really think so.  (Applause.)

     Our jobs market is so strong that businesses are recruiting the former prisoners off the sidelines in, by the way, record numbers.  Record numbers.  Never happened anywhere even close to these numbers.

     We know that having a job gives you the best chance to work hard, to earn the paycheck, care for your families, chase your dreams, and succeed.

     Through our Pledge to America's Workers, spearheaded by a very famous young woman -- did you ever hear of Ivanka?  (Laughter and applause.)  She did.  She’s -- she said, “Daddy, I want to help with jobs.”  I said, “Well, I'll put you here, there.”  “No, no.  I want to help with jobs.  I want to get people jobs.  They have to be trained.  They have to be…”

     So she had a goal of 500,000 jobs.  That's a lot -- half a million jobs.  She just broke, Jared, I guess -- is Jared around?  She just broke -- she just broke -- Jared Kushner -- she just broke -- the father of criminal justice reform.  He really is.  I mean, he works so hard.  And Ivanka just was broke 15 million jobs.  Fifteen.  (Applause.)  Mayor, that's good, right?  (Applause.)

     And this is where they -- they train the people in the companies.  The government can't do this.  Walmart took a million people.  Think of it.  These big companies take -- and they train them.  It's very complicated stuff, with computerization and all of the things you have to learn.  That’s not for government.

     Fifteen million people taken by many of the biggest companies, but also midsized companies, even some smaller.  But she broke 15 million people about two weeks ago.  And her goal was 500,000 people over a fairly long period of time.  Fifteen million.  But if you know Ivanka, you're not at all surprised.  Believe me.  I wasn't surprised.  I was sort of saying, "So what else is new?"  (Applause.)

     To every returning citizen here today, I know that there are some in our society who want to tell you what you can't do.  They're going to tell you what you can't do.  It's one of the reasons I wanted to be here.  I wanted to say what I had to say to Jon, too, because I sort of had that on my mind for a long time -- actually, the first time I met him.

     But they want to tell you what you can't do.  They want to tell you why you can't succeed; no way you can succeed.  You don’t want to listen to them because you're proving different.  They want to say why you can't make it in this country, why you can't make it in any country.  They think you're not going to make it, period.

     But do not believe those voices for one second, because I'm here today because I believe in what you can do.  You're going to be incredible.  You're going to be incredible.  You're going to see it, and it's going to go quickly.

     Each of you is a citizen of the greatest country on Earth. There is more opportunity, more equality, and more potential in America today than in any society in the history of the world.  It’s true.  This is the country where anyone can make a comeback.  We made a comeback with our country.  We call it the “great American comeback.”  This is the great American comeback, and you're doing the same thing.  This is a nation where anyone can rise.  And this is the time when anyone can reach for the American Dream.  That beautiful American Dream.  It's what you're doing.  (Applause.)

     And whenever you have any doubt, whenever the road gets tough -- and it will; you'll have those days.  I've had those days.  (Laughter.)  I mean, I didn't do anything wrong, and they impeached me a few weeks ago, right?  They impeached and I said, "What happened?  What did I do?"  Ay-ya-yay.  (Laughter.)  You think that was fun?  Mayor, you think that's great to be impeached?  The good news: My numbers went through the roof.  I mean, you explain -- explain this to me.  (Laughter.)  Explain this to me.  (Applause.)

     But you'll have those days, right?  You're going to have those days.  But you're Americans, and you're great Americans. And Americans meet challenges.  You defy expectations.  You never give up.  You never lose faith in the redeeming power of Almighty God.

     And from this day forward -- I'm here, I'm the President.  I don't have to do this.  I could be someplace else.  But I wanted to be here, and we -- I had plenty of choices.  One thing as President -- the Mayor can tell you -- we have plenty of choices.  Right?  We have a lot of choices.  I wanted to be here.

     But I ask each of you to seize your unlimited future.  If you do, you will make the most of your incredible newfound freedom.  You're pioneers in a way, because you're at a point in the country when it's just all come together.  You will unlock your unique talents and skill and aspirations.  You'll join a great project of national renewal.

     And together, we will make our country stronger than ever before.  Thank you very much for being here.  God bless you, and God bless America.

     Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you. 

                         END                12:45 P.M. PST

1600 Daily The White House • February 20, 2020 The ‘Trump Bump’ is Real

1600 Daily
The White House • February 20, 2020

The ‘Trump Bump’ is real

America’s slow recovery from the Great Recession gave left-wing “experts” a fresh talking point: “secular stagnation.” They excused low growth under former President Obama as a new normal. Lost factory jobs and low wages were merely a sign of the times.

They were wrong. The first 3 years of the Trump Economy prove that low growth is far from inevitable. Common-sense policies such as tax cuts, regulatory reform, and energy independence have coincided with a remarkable turnaround: As of the end of 2019, real GDP is 1.4 percent—or $260 billion—higher than economists projected.

President Trump’s results not only beat expert predictions—they also beat the Obama “expansion” by the metrics. There have been turnarounds or improvements in homeownership, prime-age labor force participation, manufacturing employment, labor productivity, and, crucially, net wealth for the bottom half of American households.

READ: The Trump Boom reversed Obama’s “new normal”

The American Dream is for everyone

A few hours ago, President Trump gave a commencement address to graduates of the “Hope for Prisoners” program in Las Vegas, Nevada. Hope for Prisoners helps former inmates get back on their feet and reenter society after they’ve served their time.

🎬 President Trump: “Your best days are just beginning!”

“We are here to reaffirm that America is a nation that believes in redemption,” the President said. “We believe in second chances.”

There’s no better champion for criminal justice reform than President Trump. At the end of 2018, he signed the historic First Step Act, which reformed outdated sentencing guidelines, expanded judges’ discretion in punishing non-violent offenders, and invested over $400 million in programs to rehabilitate prisoners before they reenter society.

Now, “we began a nationwide campaign to encourage businesses to expand Second Chance Hiring,” he said. “When we say Hire American, we mean ALL Americans.”

MORE: Trump Economy benefits historically disadvantaged Americans

Video of the day: THANK YOU, farmers!

Major trade deals such as the NAFTA-replacing USMCA and the Phase One agreement with China are huge promises kept to America’s farmers. Yesterday, President Trump delivered on another: While visiting Bakersfield, California, he signed a memorandum to clear regulatory hurdles that stifle water infrastructure projects.

“I just want to thank our farmers,” the President said before heading out west this week. “You’re brilliant in every way. Few people could do what you do.”

🎬 President Trump: “America is a nation built by farmers”

Photo of the Day

President Trump disembarks Air Force One in Arizona | February 19, 2020


Office of the Press Secretary


“Our roaring economy has, for the first time ever, given many former prisoners the ability to get a great job and a fresh start. This second chance at life is made possible because we passed landmark criminal justice reform into law.” – President Donald J. Trump

ACHIEVING LANDMARK JUSTICE REFORMS: President Donald J. Trump championed the First Step Act, delivering the largest reform of our justice system in years.

  • President Trump signed the groundbreaking First Step Act into law in 2018, enacting historic reforms to make our justice system fairer for all.
  • The First Step Act addressed outdated, failed policies that were long overdue for reform.
    • This legislation eliminated the “three strikes” life sentencing provision for some offenses, expanded judges’ discretion in sentencing of non-violent crimes, and more.
  • The First Step Act is helping inmates successfully return to society by expanding access to rehabilitative programs.
    • These programs address the risks and needs of each prisoner to promote rehabilitation.
    • The President’s budget includes more than $400 million to expand access to First Step Act programs.
  • President Trump’s approach is smart on crime, providing inmates an opportunity to succeed while making our communities safer.
OFFERING A SECOND CHANCE AT THE AMERICAN DREAM: Second chance hiring offers former inmates the opportunity to gain rewarding careers and enjoy the dignity of work.
  • President Trump has promoted second chance hiring to build on the reforms of the First Step Act and provide opportunity for all Americans.
  • President Trump launched the Federal Interagency Crime Prevention and Improving Reentry Council to create more second chances for those returning home from prison. 
  • Second chance hiring helps inmates live crime-free lives and find meaningful employment.
  • The Administration is working to expand Pell Grants to provide education and training to inmates prior to release, helping them secure family-sustaining jobs.
  • The Administration launched a “Ready to Work Initiative” to help connect employers directly with former prisoners and expand employment opportunities.
LEAVING NO AMERICANS BEHIND: President Trump’s pro-growth policies are ushering in an economic revival that is lifting up forgotten Americans and leaving no one behind.
  • The unemployment rates for African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Asian Americans have all reached record lows under President Trump.
  • Wages are rising, with low income workers seeing the fastest gains.
  • Nearly 2.5 million Americans have been lifted out of poverty, with the poverty rates for African Americans and Hispanic Americans falling to new lows in 2018.
  • President Trump has advanced workforce development to ensure everyone can seize on the opportunities created in this booming economy.
    • President Trump’s Pledge to America’s Workers has prompted companies to pledge employment and education opportunities for nearly 15 million Americans.
  • Americans who had been left behind are coming off the sidelines, with nearly three-quarters of Americans gaining employment coming from outside of the labor force.

President Donald J. Trump Announces Intent to Nominate the Following Individual to a Key Administration Post and Announces the Selection of the following Individuals to serve in the new Interagency Initiative Prosper Africa

Office of the Press Secretary
President Donald J. Trump Announces Intent to Nominate the Following Individual to a Key Administration Post and Announces the Selection of the following Individuals to serve in the new Interagency Initiative Prosper Africa
Today, President Donald J. Trump announced his intent to nominate the following individual to a key position in his Administration:

Dana T. Wade of the District of Columbia, to be the Assistant Secretary for Housing, Federal Housing Commissioner.

Mrs. Wade was previously the Acting Federal Housing Commissioner and Assistant Secretary for Housing from July 2017 to June 2018.  In this capacity, she oversaw over 2,400 employees and implemented enhanced risk management and monitoring of the Federal Housing Agency’s $1.3 trillion portfolio.  Wade also served as a Program Associate Director for General Government at the Office of Management and Budget from December 2018 to December 2019, where she led budget oversight for six Executive Branch agencies with a keen focus on financial services, including the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and multiple independent agencies. She has also held some of the most senior staff positions in Congress, serving as the Deputy Staff Director for the United States Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Development and the Republican Deputy Staff Director for the United States Senate Committee on Appropriations under Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL). Wade holds an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and a BA in Economics from Georgetown University.

Today, President Donald J. Trump announced that Adam Boehler will be Executive Chairman of the Prosper Africa initiative.  Victoria Whitney will be the Chief Operating Officer for the initiative.  Mr. Boehler will fulfill this role while continuing to serve as Chief Executive Officer of the United States International Development Finance Corporation.  Ms. Whitney most recently served as Senior Director for Strategy and Communications at the United States Agency for International Development.

Prosper Africa is a whole-of-government initiative to increase trade and investment between the United States and African nations.  This Administration is committed to accelerating United States-African cooperation on free, fair, and reciprocal trade and investment, which will benefit Americans and people all across the African continent.


Office of the Press Secretary


February 20, 2020


Dear Madam Speaker: (Dear Mr. President:)

Section 202(d) of the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1622(d)) provides for the automatic termination of a national emergency unless, within 90 days before the anniversary date of its declaration, the President publishes in the Federal Register and transmits to the Congress a notice stating that the emergency is to continue in effect beyond the anniversary date.  In accordance with this provision, I have sent to the Federal Register for publication the enclosed notice stating that the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13566 of February 25, 2011, with respect to Libya is to continue in effect beyond February 25, 2020.

Libyans confront ongoing instability originating from actions Colonel Muammar Qadhafi, his government, and close associates took against the people of Libya in 2011.  A significant threat of civil conflict in Libya will remain until Libyans resolve their political divisions.  As many of these divisions relate to access to Libya's resources, a serious risk remains that, if not protected, Libyan state assets will be misappropriated by parties determined to undermine the ongoing United Nations peace process, including former members of the Qadhafi government, members of the Qadhafi family, or Qadhafi's close associates.  The diversion of these resources could prolong and deepen the current instability in Libya, which would only benefit ISIS and other terrorist groups that pose a serious risk to the national security of the United States and the security of regional partners.  We run the risk of further destabilization if sanctions do not remain in effect.  In particular, those who reject dialogue and who obstruct and undermine Libya's democratic transition remain interested in exploiting the wealth of the Libyan people to advance their narrow self-interest and to perpetuate conflict in the country.

The situation in Libya continues to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States, and we need to protect against the diversion of assets or other abuse by persons hindering Libyan national reconciliation, including Qadhafi's family and associates.  Therefore, I have determined it is necessary to continue the national emergency with respect to Libya.


                             DONALD J. TRUMP

Text of a Notice on the Continuation of the National Emergency with Respect to Libya

Office of the Press Secretary

- - - - - - -


     On February 25, 2011, by Executive Order 13566, the President declared a national emergency pursuant to the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701-1706) to deal with the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States constituted by the actions of Colonel Muammar Qadhafi, his government, and close associates, which took extreme measures against the people of Libya, including by using weapons of war, mercenaries, and wanton violence against unarmed civilians.  In addition, there was a serious risk that Libyan state assets would be misappropriated by Qadhafi, members of his government, members of his family, or his close associates if those assets were not protected.  The foregoing circumstances, the prolonged attacks against civilians, and the increased numbers of Libyans seeking refuge in other countries caused a deterioration in the security of Libya and posed a serious risk to its stability.

     The situation in Libya continues to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States, and measures are needed to protect against the diversion of assets or other abuses by members of Qadhafi's family, their associates, and other persons hindering Libyan national reconciliation.

     For this reason, the national emergency declared on February 25, 2011, must continue in effect beyond February 25, 2020.  Therefore, in accordance with section 202(d) of the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1622(d)), I am continuing for 1 year the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13566.

     This notice shall be published in the Federal Register and transmitted to the Congress.

                             DONALD J. TRUMP


    February 20, 2020.


On-the-Record Press Call on the 2020 Economic Report of the President

Office of the Press Secretary


Via Teleconference

10:05 A.M. EST

      MS. SLOBODIEN:  Good morning and thank you for joining us on this call today to unveil the 2020 Economic Report of the President.

     Before I turn things over to CEA’s Acting Chairman Tomas Philipson, I want to remind everyone that today’s call is on the record.  Chairman Philipson will make opening remarks about this year’s report, and with any remaining time, we will take questions.

     Joining Tom for the question-and-answer portion of today’s call is Tyler Goodspeed, a member of the Council of Economic Advisers, and chief economists Don Kinkel and Josh Rauh.

     I will now turn things over to CEA’s Acting Chairman Tom Philipson to provide an overview of the 2020 Economic Report of the President.

     ACTING CHAIRMAN PHILIPSON:  Thanks, everyone, for joining us.  Today, the Council of Economic Advisers released its Annual Economic Report of the President, which is required by statute to be submitted to Congress every year to provide an update on the state of the economy.

     I wanted to take this call to basically reiterate some major themes.  Two of them are as follows: The first theme is that the current economy is not a continuation of the expansion after the Great Recession.  The second theme of the report that goes through a lot of chapters is that the growth that we’ve seen in the Trump economy has been very inclusive in terms of lowering both income and wealth inequality.

     As the President wrote in a letter introducing the report, and I quote: “These results did not come about by accident.  Instead, they were supported by our foundational pillars for economic growth that put Americans first, including tax cuts, deregulation, energy independence, and trade negotiations.”
      The report also identifies several Trump administration responses to challenges to continued growth, including keeping U.S. markets competitive and our trading relationships fair.

      Also, for the first time in an Economic Report of the President, we’re discussing the economic factors driving the opioid addiction issue.

      Thirdly, we have several chapters discussing the overregulation of certain markets, in particular housing and healthcare.

      The report concludes by setting forth the administration’s long-run policy-inclusive projections.  Historically, the administration’s projections are always higher than other agencies because they assume that all policy proposals of the administration are implemented.

      In contrast, CBO projections assume no such proposals are implemented while Blue Chip and Wall Street forecasts assume something in between, taking a stance on the likelihood of policy proposals being implemented.

      So let me get to -- the first theme of the report is that the current economy breaks or reverses trends of the past part of the expansion.  Typically, economies grow faster following a recession after which growth levels off, particularly recession induced by financial markets, as was the case with the Great Recession.

      The current expansion differs from that in that growth accelerated later in the expansion despite that monetary policy was much more constrained in the later part of the expansion relative to the zero rates of the early part of the expansion.

      This is perhaps why 2016 projections of the economy were much more pessimistic to compare to what actually happened.  It is very important, we believe, to stress that we were told by the agencies’ economists around the country what a continuation of an expansion would look like in 2016.  There were several reports outlining what the forecast would be of the economy in 2016, going forward.

      And, consequently, the Trump economy has basically shattered those projections on pretty much all dimensions in terms of new jobs, GDP, wages, unemployment, et cetera.

      So to put it simply, those who say this is currently a continuation of the past expansion are contradicting what they themselves said in 2016.

      The report goes through these differences, but the Congressional Budget Office’s final pre-election forecast from August 2016 illustrate how today’s economic turnaround was unexpected before President Trump’s election.

      The total -- for example, the total nonfarm employment is three-and-a-half times higher than projected: 7 million jobs versus 2 million jobs.

      Under the Trump administration, for the first time on record, there are more job openings than unemployed people.  The unemployment rate is, again, better than people predicted the continuation of the expansion would look like.  It is 1.4 percentage points below the 2016 projections, reaching a 50-year low of 3.5 percent across all the -- virtually, all demographic groups are experiencing a historically low unemployment rate.

      The labor force participation rate is 1.5 percent above what people thought the continuation of the expansion would look like, despite the aging of the labor force, which reduces labor force participation of people retired.

      Real GDP has accumulated 1.4 percent higher than what people thought the continuation would look like.  And real wages are about $2,300 for the average household higher.

      The current economy is not just beating projections of what the continuation expansion was told -- we were told would be.  It’s also outperforming the past part of the expansion.  So the report also outlines, basically, how the data prior to ’16 and post ’16 looks like.

      The Trump economy is bringing people off the sidelines more than over the previous part of the expansion.  The prime-age labor force is growing under President Trump by 2.2 million, reversing losses under the previous administration of 1.5 million in the labor -- in the prime-age labor force participation.

      Since President Trump’s election, the economy added half a million manufacturing jobs, which is a big trend right from before.  Nearly twice the amount added over that same amount of time before the 2016 election.

      Additionally, over the Trump administration, manufacturing industrial production grew at an annual rate 11 times higher than the rate over the end of the Obama administration.

      Of central importance to economists is labor productivity in the non-farm business sector.  And it’s after President Trump took office.  This is key for long-term GDP growth because productivity growth -- how much each worker produces, essentially -- together with unemployment growth determine the total amount produced in the economy, or GDP growth.

      This growth in productivity was predicted by CEA in 2017 through more capital being available per worker, being enabled through tax reform, and less red tape burdening employers and employees through deregulation.

      Last year, we saw a doubling of the rate of the productivity at 1.8 percent growth in productivity compared to President Obama’s second term.

      Lastly, that the data on homeownership rate in the United States fell throughout most of the recovery but has rebounded under President Trump -- an increase to 64.8 percent.

      So that covers the first part of -- the first theme of the report of basically the facts supporting the claim that this is not a continuation of the expansion after the Great Recession.

      The second theme of the report stresses the new economy generated -- has generated an inclusive -- so-called inclusive growth that benefitted the less well off the most.  One of the most important reversals, pre- and post-election, is that the previous part of the expansion saw inequality rising in the U.S., but the Trump economy has delivered so-called inclusive growth, with the working class seeing the largest income and wealth growth compared to the upper classes.

      Nominal wage growth for all private-sector workers has been, or at least, 3 percent for a year and a half now.  But this doesn’t tell the whole story.  Income growth has been inclusive in the sense that wage growth for many historically disadvantaged groups is now higher than wage growth for more historically advantaged groups, reversing the trends observed under the previous part of the expansion.

      This private-sector, blue-collar boom under the Trump economy has generated wealth gains for the least well off.  Net worth held by the bottom 50 percent of households have increased by 47 percent, more than three times the rate of increase for the top 1 percent of households.

      Instead of fostering dependency on government programs, these gains among the poor have generated self-sufficiency the way envisioned by President Johnson in declaring a War on Poverty.

     To put these gains in perspective, the wealth gains for the bottom half of households under the Trump economy exceeds a year of combined federal spending on the largest anti-poverty programing, including Medicaid, food stamps, and TANF -- where Medicaid (inaudible) pretty much every other means-tested program.

     In addition to Opportunity Zones created by the 2017 tax reform, it provides an alternative approach to standard anti-poverty programs, which we discuss in the report.  As opposed to taxing the population to create programs that incentivize participants to not be successful to remain in the program, this new approach reduces taxes to stimulate investment and demand for workers.  Pretty much the best anti-poverty program known to man. 

     A booming job market and more money in Americans' pockets continue pulling people out of poverty and off means-tested programs.
Over the first two years of the Trump administration, the number of people living in poverty decreased by about 2.5 million, including nearly 1 million children of single mothers.

     The poverty rates for African Americans and Hispanics are at record lows.

      Food security has risen at the same time, as nearly 7 million fewer people are participating in the food stamp program, SNAP, than at the time of the 2016 election.

      Similarly, enrollment in means-tested welfare programs is down across the board due to income gains rather than eligibility restriction.

      Lastly, the report also discusses direct effects of the President's pro-growth policies in various chapters.

      One discusses removing harmful regulations and supporting innovation.  And that's been a central component of the pro-growth policies behind these impressive economic gains.

      The Trump administration's deregulatory agenda has two components.  One is slowing the growth of new regulations, and second, cutting harmful regulations.  Once fully in effect, the administration's approach to federal regulation will have raised real incomes by an estimated $3,100 per household per year, according to the analysis in our report.

      The report shows that excessive regulation is a hidden tax that hurts the poor, and deregulation that is undergoing is therefore progressive.

      For prescription drugs and Internet access, savings as a share of household income are eight times higher for the bottom fifth of the households than for the top fifth, the report documents.

      Rather than overregulating the energy sector to attempt to guide it in the direction desired by government officials, the Trump administration supports the great force of private-sector innovation and investment in the energy sectors, which has led to tangible benefits for all Americans.

      Gains in shale drilling productivity have led to lower prices for natural gas, gasoline, electricity, and oil, saving the -- we document -- saving the average American family of four about $2,500 a year.

      After most instances of deregulation, shale-driven savings represent a much larger percentage of income for the poorest fifth of households than for the richest fifth.  Again, being progressive in nature.

      Embracing energy innovation instead of overregulating America's abundant human and energy resources has environmental benefits as well.  The shale-driven decline in emissions allowed the United States to realize a larger decline in carbon dioxide emissions than the European Union, adjusted for the size of the economy.  The shale revolution has cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by more than double the Obama EPA's projections for the now-rescinded Clean Power Plan.

      To summarize, the 2020 Economic Report of the President shows the success of the administration's economic policy agenda and demonstrates that its foundational policy pillars are enabling the U.S. economy to overcome structural trends that are perversely suppressing growth.

      There are still barriers that prevent lower-income workers from realizing the full benefits of the strong labor market, which is why the report also focuses on the opioid crisis, housing affordability, and anti-poverty measures like Opportunity Zones.

      As President Trump concludes in his introduction to the report, I quote: "Though the American economy is stronger than ever, my administration’s work is not yet done.  With a continued focus on policies that increase economic growth, promote opportunity, and uplift our workers, there is no limit on how great America can be."

      With that, I'll be happy to take some questions.

      MS. SLOBODIEN:  Operator, we're now ready to open the line for questions.

      Q    Good morning.  Thanks for doing the call.  Two questions.  First, earlier in your remarks, you said that the economic performance over the past three years -- you described it as a separate and distinct phenomenon apart from the recovery that began under President Obama.  But if you look at graphs of economic growth, job growth, it's really a straight line.  What would you say is the delineating event that would make that straight line break into two separate categories to which you can attribute different causes?

      And the second, on job growth: How do you account for the fact that the last three years of the Obama administration saw more jobs created than the first three of President's Trump's administration?  How do you say that the job growth is better, when it wasn’t?

      ACTING CHAIRMAN PHILIPSON:  Okay.  So let me address those questions in turn.  The first thing you need to understand is that particularly after a financially induced recession, it’s much easier to grow the economy than if you'd been growing it for several years.

      The second point, the most extreme version of that is that suppose everyone has a job; then it's, by definition, impossible to additional job growth.  That’s the extreme version.  But that’s essentially what is going on.

      But if you look at -- my point that I wanted to make is that we had people saying what the continuation of Obama policies would yield in terms of economic performance.  We have that data.  They told us what it would look like in 2016.  And if you look at what actually happened, compared to that later part of the expansion -- which most economists would predict would be more slower growth because it was later in the expansion -- what happened was that we accelerated relative to the previous year.  And that is the --

      Q    But respectfully --


      Q    But respectfully, sir, whatever economists predicted, that doesn’t change the fact that job growth over the last three years of the Obama administration was better than the first three years of the Trump administration.  And yet, the President and, I believe, you are claiming that that's not true.

      ACTING CHAIRMAN PHILIPSON:  So, first of all, you can’t cherry pick years of Obama and then compare it to Trump.  He was responsible for the slowest recovery on record since the Great Depression.  And so you can't just say that the last three years is what represents these policies.

      The second point is that it's much harder to grow jobs when everyone has a job.  And that’s taking into account why economists in 2016 predicted what they did in terms of job growth going forward, which was three times -- three and a half times lower than what actually occurred.  I mentioned 7 million versus 2 million.

      Q    Hi, thank you for doing the call.  What do you project GDP growth to be this year, if policy just stays the same?  Is it 2.4 percent?

      ACTING CHAIRMAN PHILIPSON:  Yeah, that’s in the report.  I believe it's -- it's published in the report.  So all of those numbers in there are what we have, what we believe is the policy add of inclusive policy.

      Q    Thank you.

      Q    Hi, guys.  Thanks for doing the call.  I am wondering -- there is no mention that I can see in the report of the budget deficit.  And I’m curious, A, to what degree you think increased deficits have contributed to, or detracted from, growth in the last year; and, B, whether you see deficits as a threat to growth moving forward.

      ACTING CHAIRMAN PHILIPSON:  So we're doing analysis on the impact on revenues.  But if you look at CBO's numbers, their impact of revising up for GDP growth in the Trump economy is essentially saying that the tax cuts had very limited effects on revenues, just using their numbers.  But again, we're looking over that -- the question on that.

      On the slowing down on the deficit, with the low rates, we haven’t really seen any slowing down in terms of high rates being induced by the deficits.  So we haven’t really discussed it in the report.

      Q    Thank you.

     Q    Thank you for doing this call.  I’m actually going to     pick up on that.  I wanted to ask you about debts and deficits as well.  The Washington Post has a story out today that Mick Mulvaney spoke in private to a group overseas in which he said the following, and I’ll quote.  This is from a tape recording: “My party is very interested in deficits when there’s a Democrat in the White House.  The worst thing in the whole world is deficits when Barack Obama was the President.  Then Donald Trump became President, and we’re a lot less interested as a party.”

     Mulvaney went on to describe the trillion-dollar deficit in 2019 as, quote, “extraordinarily disturbing.”  And he said the Republican Party is, quote, “evolving” since President Trump took the Oval Office.

     So to pick up on what -- the New York Times question, there really isn’t any references here about debts and deficits.  I guess, my question is, you know, Mick Mulvaney suggests, essentially, that Republicans are -- have become hypocritical on debts and deficits.  How important is it to this administration?
     ACTING CHAIRMAN PHILIPSON:  So, first of all, the administration does not determine fiscal policy.  That’s voted on by Congress.  So, just to make that clear.

     The second issue is I think there’s a narrative out there on two dimensions on what the tax cut implied.  One was that it was only helping rich people, and the second was that it drove a hole in the debt.

     This report lays out exactly the opposite type of evidence: that we have the poor actually doing better than the rich in this economy, through the tax cuts stimulating labor demand, essentially.  And, second, the CBO numbers, as I indicated, has shown that there’s been very limited revenue effects if you take into account the growth of the economy and how that affects other sources of revenue than the corporate tax cuts from the tax reform due to the Trump economy.

     So I think that’s -- I’m not going to comment on what Mick said, but I think that’s the CEA stance on that kind of common argument about the tax reform.

     Q    Isn't tax reform just one part of debts and deficits?  I mean, when you look at the whole picture, your administration is endorsing, through the budget, a trillion-dollar deficit.

     ACTING CHAIRMAN PHILIPSON:  No, it’s clearly (inaudible) in revenue.  Both enter in to generate a difference, which is called a deficit.  But clearly, everyone in the administration believes that we needed to support our military, build up our military from how drained is has become.  And that’s reflected in the new spending, particularly the new military spending that took place.

     Q    Hi, thanks for doing the call.  I wanted to see if you could explain a little more about how you arrived at the impact of 0.2 percent, I think, from the coronavirus on growth in the first quarter.  And if you have a projection for the year.  Thank you.

     ACTING CHAIRMAN PHILIPSON:  So, the report was finalized before the coronavirus became an issue.  We have not come out with a full analysis yet.  We’re -- basically, the administration is taking a bit of a wait and see in terms of the economic analysis.

     Obviously, the President’s main concern is the safety of the American people, and we are putting very strong measures in to prevent an outbreak here in the U.S.

     Q    Thanks.  But, I guess, you know, Larry Kudlow has said he sees it at around 0.2 percent for the first quarter.  Do you back that, sort of, perception?

     ACTING CHAIRMAN PHILIPSON:  That’s consistent with what we have in terms of if you look at GDP impact from SARS, what it had on the Chinese economy and what today that would translate into.  Again, we’re undergoing a lot more detailed analysis of the supply chain from China -- how it’s been hit by the restrictive measures taking place there.

     Q    Hello, everybody.  Thanks so much for doing the call.  So I’m just curious, you know, from talking to (inaudible) conservatives bases, like (inaudible), or CATO, or AEI.  There used to be somewhat of a consensus that any, you know, major economic policy, whether it’s tax cuts or trade deals -- any sort of economic policy takes about five to seven years to take impact.  How do you respond to that in regards to taking credit for growth in the past three years?

     ACTING CHAIRMAN PHILIPSON:  Yeah, so there’s different parts of our economic agenda.  You know, there’s four pillars usually we assign.  One is tax cuts; one is deregulations; third is energy -- promoting energy innovation and independence; and the fourth one, renegotiation of fair trade agreements.

     So if you look at the first two, certainly they have kicked in already.  So the tax cuts generated a very predictable sort of capital (inaudible) to increase investment, which we believe is partly responsible for the doubling in productivity growth we saw in the last year compared to the Obama administration.  Obviously, productivity growth is very important for GDP growth.  It’s basically: GDP is employment growth times productivity -- or plus productivity growth.

     So we believe both deregulation and tax cuts have enhanced productivity significantly already.  But if you look at the deregulation chapter of the report, we also project out for the next three or five years what the impact of those measures will be.

     Q    So you disagree with those who say that the impact of policies takes five to seven years and it would only happen in 2020 (inaudible) Trump policy?  So you disagree with those who say that?

     ACTING CHAIRMAN PHILIPSON:  Yeah, it depends on the policy.  Clearly, we saw investment effects from the tax reform immediately following the tax reform.  It depends on the policy.

     Q    Thank you.  I have actually two questions.  The first is, you haven’t mentioned anything about the 20 percent increase to, I believe, record levels of farm bankruptcy.

      And could you also expand on your statement that the poor has been making the greatest gain?  Because if you start at $10 an hour, and states have raised the minimum wage to $12 an hour, that’s a whopping 20 percent increase but still not a livable wage.  And those state increases were voted on during the end of the Obama administration, after the Republicans kept knocking down any down federal increase in the minimum wage.  So could you respond to those?

     ACTING CHAIRMAN PHILIPSON:  Yeah, we clearly document the low-wage gains in the report.  If all of you want, sort of, the bottom line of a lot of what we do, the 435-page report might be a lot to digest.  But our CEA -- White House CEA Twitter account has a lot of the bottom lines, kind of, for people who are more interested in a summary.

      So there’s no question that the lower end has grown faster (inaudible).  We also have analysis showing that this has very little to do with the government policies of raising minimum wages.  Those policies affect a very, very small share of the labor force who are experiencing these gains.

     Q    And the 20 percent in farm bankruptcy?

     ACTING CHAIRMAN PHILIPSON:  We haven’t discussed that in the report.  And we obviously are aware of the trend, but we didn’t go in to discuss it on the report.

     OPERATOR:  And we have no further questions.

     MS. SLOBODIEN:  Thank you, Operator.