Tag Archives: Donald Trump

Trump Hosts Bipartisan Meeting on Resolving DACA, Immigration Conundrum: ‘I’ll Sign Anything’

Faces of immigrants make up the American flag © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

[Note: In an unprecedented action, the White House originally sent out a transcript in which Donald Trump’s statement, in which he seemed to agree with Senator Feinstein on passing a “clean DACA” was modified. When the change was discovered, the White House sent out a corrected transcript.]

Donald Trump may think that his bipartisan meeting on resolving the DACA issue went swimmingly, but it is not at all clear that the Republicans and Democrats can come together on a clean DACA fix, with or without the “security” elements (which Trump understands to mean a wall but Congress seems to acknowledge means a range of solutions) by  March 5th, the date that Trump himself set as the expiration of protections for Dreamers, much less by January 19th, the date when government could shut down if the budget resolution is not adopted.

[Adding to the drama, a federal judge in California issued a nationwide injunction late Tuesday ordering the Trump administration to restart the DACA program because the way it was ended  “arbitrarily: and “capriciously” and questioned the contention that Obama did not have the authority to implement it to begin with.]

Still, the to-and-fro was eerily civil – probably because the worst hard-liners were left off the guest-list and the Congressmembers in the room were for the most part were veterans of years of negotiating immigration reform.

There was no discussion of making legal immigration actually work – having enough immigration judges to hear applications, giving parents of legal American children a means toward a legal status.

But in the end, Trump said he would sign whatever Congress came up with – a clear display that he does not actually care or have a grasp of policy. He contradicted himself numerous times, and went back-and-forth seeming to agree with whoever was speaking. He even seemed to moderate his concept of what a “wall” – “a great, beautiful wall” – would be, appearing to agree with Democrats that “wall” was a metaphor for border security, not one contiguous structure like the Great Wall of China, but fencing, mountains, rivers. But he insisted he could build it for less money and ahead of schedule than what is being proposed ($18 Billion is requested; estimates go as high as $45 billion), like Wolman ice rink in Central Park. No different than that. Indeed, throughout, Trump kept suggesting that it was a “simple” matter to solve immigration.

It should be – 86 percent of Americans favor a fix for DACA, and the vast majority support immigration reform. Yet just a few days after Trump appeared to come to agreement with Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on DACA, for which Trump received rare praise, he hardened his line because of the reaction of the hardliners who are his base. There was universal wonder whether that would happen again.

And it is really interesting that the very day this civilized discussion of a “bill of love”, as Trump termed a DACA fix, was taking place, the Trump Administration announced it was kicking out some 200,000 Salvadorans, along with hundreds of thousands of Haitians and Nicaraguans, who had come here after some disaster as much as 20 years ago, who have children who are American citizens.

In Tuesday’s meeting, Trump’s tone was calm, even conciliatory – politely calling on the Senators and Representatives, not insulting Democrats and especially Democratic women – even urging the sides to come together, go out to dinner, bury the hatchets – a clear effort to counter the image that emerges from Michael Wolff’s inflammatory “Fire and Fury”. Trump only veered off topic a few times – notably, in extolling the virtues of bringing back earmarks as the best tool for forging (buying) compromise (whereas now, there is no incentive), and the need to build up the military.

The exchanges are rather extraordinary – most notably because the press was not thrown out after the photo op, but were allowed to listen in for 55 minutes.

Most astonishing was the comment by Senator Charles Grassley that he would support a pathway to citizenship as part of comprehensive immigration reform. (A bill that had all the elements currently being discussed was passed 68-32 in the Senate in 2013, only to be tabled and effectively killed in the Republican-controlled House, leading President Obama to adopt DACA provision rather than have no action at all. That sparked the controversy that Obama trespassed into territory that belonged to Congress, even though Congress had abdicated its role. But there is no such criticism of Trump who through executive orders and administrative policy is defying the Affordable Care Act in an effort to sabotage Obamacare into oblivion.)

The climax to the bipartisan meeting – considered extraordinary for being bipartisan after an entire year of Republicans acting on their own, deliberately excluding Democrats on significant issues including health care and tax reform – was Trump’s reply to what sounded like a plea from Senator Lindsey Graham, who has been working on immigration for a decade, “If you want to take it that further step, I’ll take the heat,” POTUS said. “You are not that far away from comprehensive immigration reform.”

Here is a highlighted (and corrected) transcript — Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

 

REMARKS BY PRESIDENT TRUMP

IN MEETING WITH BIPARTISAN MEMBERS

OF CONGRESS ON IMMIGRATION

Cabinet Room

 

11:39 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you very much, everyone, for being here.  I’m thrilled to be with a distinguished group of Republican and Democratic lawmakers from both the House and the Senate.  We have something in common, we’d like to see this get done, and you know what this means.

We are here today to advance bipartisan immigration reform that serves the needs of the American families, workers, and taxpayers.  It’s DACA.  We’ve been talking about DACA for a long time.  I’ve been hearing about it for years, long before I decided to go into this particular line of work.  And maybe we can do something.

We have a lot of good people in this room.  A lot of people that have a great spirit for taking care of the people we represent — we all represent.  For that reason, any legislation on DACA, we feel — at least a strong part of this group feels — has to accomplish three vital goals.

And Chairman Goodlatte will be submitting a bill over the next two to three days that will cover many of the things.  And, obviously, that will — if it gets passed, it will go to the Senate and we can negotiate and we’ll see how it turns out.  But I feel having the Democrats in with us is absolutely vital because it should be a bipartisan bill.  It should be a bill of love.  Truly, it should be a bill of love, and we can do that.

But it also has to be a bill where we’re able to secure our border.  Drugs are pouring into our country at a record pace and a lot of people are coming in that we can’t have.  We’ve greatly stiffened, as you know, and fewer people are trying to come in.

But we have tremendous numbers of people and drugs pouring into our country.

So, in order to secure it, we need a wall.  We need closing enforcement — we have to close enforcement loopholes.  Give immigration officers — and these are tremendous people, the border security agents, the ICE agents — we have to give them the equipment they need, we have to close loopholes, and this really does include a very strong amount of different things for border security.  

I think everybody in the room would agree to that.  I think that we — it’s a question of the amounts.  But I think everyone agrees we have to have border security.  I don’t think there would be anybody that says “no.”

Second, it has to be a bill to end chain migration.  Chain migration is bringing in many, many people with one, and often it doesn’t work out very well.  Those many people are not doing us right.  And I think a lot of people in the room — and I’m not sure I can speak for everybody, but a lot of the people in this room want to see chain migration ended.

And we have a recent case along the West Side Highway, having to do with chain migration, where a man ran over — killed eight people and many people injured badly.  Loss of arms, loss of legs.  Horrible thing happened, and then you look at the chain and all of the people that came in because of him.  Terrible situation.

[False: Had nothing to do with chain migration]  

And the other is — cancel the lottery program.  They call it “visa lottery,” I just call it “lottery.”  But countries come in and they put names in a hopper.  They’re not giving you their best names; common sense means they’re not giving you their best names.  They’re giving you people that they don’t want.  And then we take them out of the lottery.  And when they do it by hand — where they put the hand in a bowl — they’re probably — what’s in their hand are the worst of the worst.  

[False. Not how visa lottery works. People in visa lottery are vetted.] 

But they put people that they don’t want into a lottery and the United States takes those people.  And again, they’re going back to that same person who came in through the lottery program.  They went — they visited his neighborhood and the people in the neighborhood said, “oh my God, we suffered with this man — the rudeness, the horrible way he treated us right from the beginning.”  So we don’t want the lottery system or the visa lottery system.  We want it ended. 

So those three things are paramountThese are measures that will make our community safer and more prosperous.  These reforms are supported by the overwhelming majority of Americans.  They’re from every standpoint, from every poll, and they’re being requested by law enforcement officers. 

I had the big meeting with ICE last week; I had a big meeting with the Border Patrol agents last week.  Nobody knows it better than them.  As an example, on the wall, they say, “sir, we desperately need the wall.”

And we don’t need a 2,000-mile wall.  We don’t need a wall where you have rivers and mountains and everything else protecting it.  But we do need a wall for a fairly good portion.  We also — as you know, it was passed in 2006 — a essentially similar thing, which — a fence, a very substantial fence was passed.  But, unfortunately, I don’t know, they never got it done.  But they need it.

So I’m appealing to everyone in the room to put the country before party, and to sit down and negotiate and to compromise, and let’s see if we can get something done.  I really think that we have a chance to do it.  I think it’s very important.  You’re talking about 800,000 people — and we’re talking about lots of other people are also affected, including people that live in our country.  That’s from the security standpoint.

So maybe the press can stay for a little while and a couple of folks can make statements and I don’t mind the statements.  We want to have this as a very open forum.  I will say, though, that I really do believe Democratic and Republican — the people sitting around this table — want to get something done in good faith.  And I think we’re on our way to do it.

This was an idea I had last week.  I was sitting with some of our great Republican senators and we all agreed on everything.  It was a great meeting.  Right?  David, right?  We had a great meeting — Tom.  It was perfect.

Then I said, “yeah, but we’d like to get some Democrats.  Well, what do they say?”  And I say, “let’s have the same meeting, but let’s add the Democrats.”  And that’s what we’ve done.  And I think we’re going to come up with an answer.  I hope we’re going to come up with an answer for DACA, and then we go further than that later on down the road.

Dick, perhaps you’d like to say a few words?

SENATOR DURBIN:  Thanks, Mr. President, for inviting us.  We’re all honored to be a part of this conversation.

September the 5th, you challenged us.  You challenged Congress.  You said we’re going to end DACA, not replace it.  As of today, we have not done that.  We face a deadline of March 5th, which you created with your elimination of DACA, and we know that, in the meantime, there have been efforts underway by Senator Graham and I.

We sat down with a bipartisan group of senators.  We have worked long and hard, many hours have been put into it.  And we feel that we can put together a combination for the future of DACA as well as border security, and that there are elements you’re going to find Democrats support when it comes to border security.  We want a safe border in America, period, both when it comes to the issues of illegal migration, but also when it comes to drugs and all these other areas.

Now, I will say that there is a sense of urgency that’s felt by many of us when it comes to this issue.  There are many of these young people who are losing the protection of DACA on a daily basis.  As of March 5th, a thousand a day will lose DACA protection.  Nine hundred of them are members of the U.S. military.  Twenty thousand of them are schoolteachers.  In my state of Illinois and the city of Chicago, there are 25 of them in medical school who can’t apply for a residency if they lose their DACA status.

So lives are hanging in the balance of our getting the job done.  We’ve got the time to do it.  In a matter of days — literally of days — we can come together and reach an agreement.  And when that happens, I think good things will happen in other places.  And we’ll see some progress in Washington.

THE PRESIDENT: I agree with that, Dick.  I very much agree with that.  Tom, would you like to say something?  Tom Cotton.

SENATOR COTTON:  Thank you for inviting us all here and I’m glad to be here with Democrats and with House members as well.  You know, I think, on this issue, there’s a lack of trust and has been, for many years, a lack of trust between Republicans and Democrats; a lack of trust among Republicans; most fundamentally, a lack of trust between the American people and our elected leaders on not delivering a solution for many, many years about some of these problems.

And I hope that this meeting can be the beginning of building trust between our parties, between the chambers, because I know, for fact, all the Republicans around the table are committed to finding a solution, and I believe all the Democrats are as well.

So I think this is a good first step in building the trust we need for a good bill, Mr. President, that will achieve the objectives that you stated: providing legal protection for the DACA population, while also securing our border and ending chain migration and the diversity lottery.

Thank you for the invitation.

REPRESENTATIVE HOYER:  Mr. President, thank you very much for having us down here.  I agree with Tom Cotton that the American public are very frustrated with us.  One of the reasons they’re frustrated with us is because we continue to couple things on which we have large agreement with things in which we do not agree.  This is a perfect example of that.

Eighty-six percent of the American people in the most recent poll are for ensuring, as you have said, not providing for DACA-protected kids to go to a place that they don’t know, they didn’t grow up in, and it’s not their home.  They’re Americans.  They don’t have a piece of paper that says they’re Americans, but they’re Americans.

And it seems to me, Mr. President, if we’re going to move ahead in a constructive way, that we take that on which we agree — pass it.  The American public will be pleased with all of us if we do that.  Just as, in September, you recall, we did the extension of the CR.  No drama.  We were all for it.  You and the four leaders met, we came to an agreement, and we passed that CR.

In my view, we can pass the protection in the — well, I understand your position is procedurally it was not done correctly.  You then, as Dick has said, challenged us — pass it correctly.

If it’s put on the floor, Mr. President, I believe we will have the overwhelming majority in both the House — and Senator Graham thinks that we’ll have a substantial majority in the United States Senate as well.  That, I think, is the first step, Tom, to creating some degree of confidence.

Democrats are for security at the borders; I want to state that emphatically.  There is not a Democrat that is not for having secure borders.

There are obviously differences however, Mr. President, on how you effect that.  You just indicated that yourself.  And you indicated this would be a first step, and then we continue to talk as we’re talking today about how we best secure the border.  There are differences of opinion within your party and within in our party.

So I would urge that we move forward on protecting the DACA-protected individuals — young people, young adults, as you pointed out in one of your statements — who are productive parts of our community — that we protect them and get that done.  And then, because I think everybody around the table, as you pointed out, is for security — and then the issue is going to be how do we best effect that border security.

So I would urge us to move, as Senator Durbin has urged us to move, on the DACA students.  As a matter of fact, the Speaker, I think today, but maybe yesterday, said, we need to solve the DACA issue, and we need to solve it in a way that is permanent, not temporary.  And I agree with him on that issue.

THE PRESIDENT:  And, interestingly, when you say that, President Obama, when he signed the executive order, actually said he doesn’t have the right to do this.  And so you do have to go through Congress, and you do have to make it permanent, whether he does, whether he doesn’t — let’s assume he doesn’t, he said it — and that was a temporary stopgap, I don’t think we want that.  I think we want to have a permanent solution to this.  And I think everybody in this room feels that way very strongly.

REPRESENTATIVE HOYER:  What happened, Mr. President, I think, is that the Senate passed a comprehensive immigration bill, as you know.  We did not consider it in the House, so we didn’t reach those issues.

Very frankly, on border security, Mr. McCaul, the Chairman of the committee, reported out a unanimous security solution, which we then included in the bill that we filed on comprehensive immigration reform.  So I think we can reach agreement.

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I also think that, after we do DACA — and I really believe we should be able to be successful — I really think we should look in terms of your permanent solution and to the whole situation with immigration.  I think a lot of people in this room would agree to that also, but we’ll do it in steps.  And most people agree with that, I think, that we’ll do the steps.  Even you say, ‘let’s do this, and then we go phase two.’

Kevin, what would you like to say?

REPRESENTATIVE MCCARTHY:  Well, first, I want to thank you for bringing everybody together.  You got the Senate, you got the House, you got both parties.  And I like the exchange of ideas, and I think everybody has a point here.

The one thing I don’t want to have happen here is what I saw in the past.  There were four bills that were passed on border security years ago that never got finished.  There were immigration bills passed that — we’re right back at the table with the same problem.  Let’s make a commitment to each one, and, most importantly, to the American people, that, when we get done and come to an agreement, that we’re not back at this problem three, four years from now. 

That’s why — yes, we’ve got to do DACA, and I agree with you 100 percent — but if we do not do something with the security, if we do not do something with the chain migration, we are fooling each other that we solved the problem.  You know how difficult this issue is.  So let’s collectively — we’re here at the table together.  I’ll be the first one to tell you, we’re all going to have to give a little, and I’ll be the first one willing to.

But let’s solve the problem — but let’s not tell the American public at the end that it’s solved when it’s not.

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I think a good starting point would be Bob Goodlatte, who has done a bill, and I understand you’re ready to submit it.  And you’re going to take that and you’ll submit it and they’ll negotiate it in Congress or the House.  And then it goes to the Senate, and they’ll negotiate — both Republican and Democrat.  But it could be a good way of starting.

Now, if anyone has an idea different from that — but, I think, starting in the House.  Starting in the House — Mike, you good?  You’re ready.  I think you’re ready to go.

REPRESENTATIVE MCCAUL:  We are, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT:  I would like to add the words “merit” into any bill that’s submitted because I think we should have merit-based immigration like they have in Canada, like they have in Australia.  So we have people coming in that have a great track record, as opposed to what we’re doing now, to be honest with you.

But I think merit-based should be absolutely added to any bill, even if it has to do with DACA.  That would be added to the things I said.  I think it would be popular.  I can tell you, the American public very much wants that.

But, Bob, where are you with the bill?

REPRESENTATIVE GOODLATTE:  So, tomorrow, Chairman McCaul and Congresswoman McSally and Congressman Labrador — we’re the chairmen of the two committees and the chairmen of the two subcommittees — are going to introduce a bill that addresses the DACA concerns.

And let me thank you, Mr. President, both — I was an immigration lawyer before I was elected to Congress.  I want to thank you both for campaigning on securing our borders and the interior of our country, but also on addressing DACA in a way that makes sense.  Don’t do it ad hoc; do it through the congressional process.  So you’ve challenged us, and we should step up to that challenge.  And we’re going to do it in a bipartisan fashion, but we have to put our best foot forward.

And we’re going to do that with this legislation.  It’s going to address DACA in a permanent way, not a temporary short-term thing.  We’re going to address the border enforcement and security and the wall.  We’re going to address — in Mr. McCaul’s bill, we’re going to address interior enforcement, but not everything that the administration had on its list.  

We’re going to address chain migration.  We’re going to end the visa lottery program.  We’re going to address sanctuary cities and Kate’s Law. 

We think it is a good bill that will both address the two things our Speaker told us right after you made your decision, which is, we have to address the problem we have with the DACA kids being in limbo, as Dick Dubin described it, and I agree with that.  But we also have to make sure this does not happen again.

THE PRESIDENT:  And, Dick, you and the Democrats are going to have a lot of things that they’re not going to agree — you’re going to talk to us about it.  I just felt that this is something that was long overdue.  You’d have a meeting and you’d say, this is what we want.  We’d have a meeting — and this has been going on for years.  And I just — you know, at a certain point, maybe I’ll just lock the doors and I won’t let anybody out — (laughter) — until they come and agree.

Michael, do you have something to say about the bill?

REPRESENTATIVE MCCAUL:  Yes, I’ve been in Congress for seven terms.  I’ve been trying to get this border secure for seven terms in Congress.  I think this is a bipartisan issue.  I think DACA is a bipartisan issue. 

We have an opportunity, I think, before us to get this done for the American people.  When it comes to chain migration and the lottery system, we saw two recent terror attacks in New York that were the result of this, I think, failed immigration policy.  We’d like to see that fixed for the American people and along with, as Bob talked about, sanctuary cities.

Now, you and I talked about this extensively.  So we think our bill, our House bill would be a good starting ground for this negotiation.  And I, too, want to commend you for bringing everybody together. 

I think what we don’t want to see happen is for the conditions for DACA to occur again.  We want to get security done so we don’t have to deal with this problem five more years down the road. 

So thank you, sir.

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, there are so many points of agreement, and a lot of it is common sense.  And I really think we’re going to come out very well.

David Perdue, do you have something to say?

REPRESENTATIVE PERDUE:  Well, yeah, my observation is that three times in the last eleven years, well-intentioned people, some of whom are in this room, attempted to do what we’re starting to try to do today, and we failed.  And I think the difference is, is their mission creep ended up in an effort that became too comprehensive. 

And so, today, my encouragement for all of us is to do what Dick has been trying to do and talks about repeatedly, and that is to limit the scope of this.  And I like the idea that both sides have pressure to solve the DACA issue.  But I think the bigger issue here is not just the DACA issue, but what we can do to start the path to the steps that solve this immigration problem.  For several reasons — there are social issues; there are political issues; there are economic issues about our workforce that have to be addressed. 

But limiting this to the legal immigration side and combining the balance between various solutions on DACA; DREAMers, if it gets in the conversation; as well border security and chain migration, I think therein lies the balance of a good deal that can be done.

And I don’t think — I agree with Dick.  I don’t think it’s going to take long to get it done if we just lock ourselves in a room and make it happen.

     THE PRESIDENT:  I think you’re right.  I think it could be done very quickly. 

Would anybody have anything to say prior to the press leaving?

REPRESENTATIVE MCSALLY:  Mr. President, I just have one comment.

THE PRESIDENT:  Yes.

REPRESENTATIVE MCSALLY:  Senator Durbin mentioned that lives are hanging in the balance.  As we come up on the January 19th deadline, the lives that are hanging in the balance are those of our military that are needing the equipment and the funding and everything they need in order to keep us safe, and we should not playing politics on this issue to stop our military from getting the funding that they need.

I think we have the right people in the room to solve this issue.  The deadline is March 5th.  Let’s roll up our sleeves and work together on this.  But those who need us right now before the January 19 deadline is our military.  And let’s not play politics with that.  Let’s give them what they need to keep us safe.

THE PRESIDENT:  Okay, good.  And I think a lot of people would agree with that.  We need our military — I can’t say more than ever before.  We had wars.  Right, Lindsey?  We had a lot of other areas and times.  But we need our military desperately.  Our military has been very depleted.  We’re rebuilding, and we’re building it up quickly, and we’re negotiating much better deals with your purveyors and with your manufacturers and with your equipment-makers — much better than it was before.

I looked at boats that started off at $1.5 billion, and they’re up to $18 billion, and they’re still not finished.  In this case, a particular aircraft carrier.  I think it’s outrageous.  So we’re very much agreeing with you on that one.

Would anybody like to say?  Yes, Steny, go ahead.

REPRESENTATIVE HOYER:  I want to follow up on that.  There are no Democrats that don’t want to make sure that the military is funded properly.  And over the last four years, we had an agreement between Mr. Ryan and Senator Murray — Speaker Ryan and — that we understand that our military is critically important.  But we also understand that our domestic issues, whether it’s education, whether it’s healthcare, whether it’s environment, whether it’s transportation and infrastructure, they’re important, as well. 

And both the defense and non-defense sides of the budget are hurt when you have a CR, because they cannot blink and they cannot get contracts if they don’t have any money to do so.  So that, very frankly, I think Ms. McSally is correct.  But what we ought to have done over the last six months — particularly when we did the September and we gave 90 days — is to reach some agreement on what the caps are going to be.  The Murray-Ryan agreements were parity.  We believe that’s very important.

So we can get to where we should get and want to get there, but we ought to have an agreement based upon what the last —

THE PRESIDENT:  But, Steny, we do have to take politics out of the military.  We need that military.  All the other things we talk about, we’re not going to be here if we don’t have the right military.  And we need our military, and we need it stronger than ever before, and we’re ready to do it.  But we have to take politics out of the military.

One thing that I think we can really get along with on a bipartisan basis — and maybe I’m stronger on this than a lot of the people on the Republican side, but I will tell you, we have great support from the Republicans — is infrastructure.  I think we can do a great infrastructure bill.  I think we’re going to have a lot of support from both sides, and I’d like to get it done as quickly as possible.

[Trump doesn’t seem to get it: social spending – health care, education – are equally important to military spending.] 

Yes, John.

SENATOR CORNYN:  Mr. President, I, too, want to thank you for getting us together.  You made the point last week when Republicans were meeting with you that, why are we continuing to have these meetings just among ourselves when what we need to do to get to a solution is to meet, as we are today, as you insisted, on bipartisan basis.

[The only reason there is any interest at all in “bipartisan” solution – to DACA, immigration, infrastructure, the budget – is because they need 60 votes, not 51, to get measures through the Senate, unless McConnell does what Trump wants and gets rid of the filibuster.]

But part of my job is to count votes in the Senate.  And as you know when you hosted us, the leadership, at Camp David this weekend, I believe both the Speaker and Majority Leader McConnell made crystal clear that they would not proceed with a bill on the floor of the Senate or the House unless it had your support, unless you would sign it.

So that’s, I think, the picture we need to be looking through — the lens we need to be looking through is not only what could we agree to among ourselves on a bipartisan basis, but what will you sign into law.  Because we all want to get to a solution here, and we realize the clock is ticking.

But I think that for me frames the issue about as well as I can.

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  Very well said.  One of the reasons I’m here, Chuck, so importantly, is exactly that.  I mean, normally you wouldn’t have a President coming to this meeting.  Normally, frankly, you’d have Democrats, Republicans, and maybe nothing would get done. 

Our system lends itself to not getting things done, and I hear so much about earmarks — the old earmark system — how there was a great friendliness when you had earmarks.  But of course, they had other problems with earmarks.  But maybe all of you should start thinking about going back to a form of earmarks.  Because this system — (laughter) —

PARTICIPANT:  Yes, yes, yes.  (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT:  This system — (laughter) — but you should do it, and I’m there with you, because this system really lends itself to not getting along.  It lends itself to hostility and anger, and they hate the Republicans.  And they hate the Democrats.  And in the old days of earmarks, you can say what you want about certain Presidents and others, where they all talk about they went out to dinner at night and they all got along, and they passed bills.  That was an earmark system, and maybe we should think about it.

[This is true: earmarks allow for horse-trading, for a President like Johnson, but not Obama who did not have the benefit of earmarks, to make deals. Without it, politicians have no incentive to “compromise” and every incentive to revert to partisan fringes because all they have to fear is being primaried. Trump wants to return to using earmarks, so he can quite literally buy votes with taxpayer money. That is what is behind the infrastructure plan – it turn the US Treasury into a political slush fund to benefit Trump and the Republicans.] 

And we have to put better controls because it got a little bit out of hand, but maybe that brings people together.  Because our system right now, the way it’s set up, will never bring people together.  

Now, I think we’re going to get this done — DACA.  I think we’re going to get — I hope we’re going to get infrastructure done in the same way. 

But I think you should look at a form of earmarks.  I see Lindsey nodding very hard “yes.”

SENATOR GRAHAM:  Starting with the Port of Charleston.  Absolutely.  (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT:  A lot of the pros are saying that if you want to get along and if you want to get this country really rolling again, you have to look at a different form, because this is obviously out of control.

The levels of hatred — and I’m not talking about Trump.  I’m talking you go back throughout the eight years of Obama and you go before that, the animosity and the hatred between Republicans and Democrats.

I remember when I used to go out in Washington, and I’d see Democrats having dinner with Republicans.  And they were best friends, and everybody got along.  You don’t see that too much anymore.  In all due respect, you really don’t see that.  When was the last time you took a Republican out?  Why don’t you guys go and have dinner together?  (Laughter.)

But you don’t see it.  So maybe, and very importantly, totally different from this meeting, because we’re going to get DACA done — I hope we’re going to get DACA done, and we’re going to all try very hard — but maybe you should start bringing back a concept of earmarks.  It’s going to bring you together.  You’re going to do it honestly.  You’re going to get rid of the problems that the other system had — and it did have some problems.  But one thing it did is it brought everyone together.  And this country has to be brought together.  Okay?  Thank you.

Yes, Lindsey?

SENATOR GRAHAM:  Well, at 6:40 p.m., I’m going to go to Menendez’s office, and he’s taking me to dinner.  (Laughter.)

And he’s buying.

THE PRESIDENT:  Sounds like fun.

SENATOR GRAHAM:  He didn’t know that, but he’s buying.  We’re going to Morton’s.  You’re all welcome to come.  (Laughter.)

REPRESENTATIVE HOYER:  We can usually get bipartisan agreement when the other guy buys.  (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT:  I think it’s a very important thing, because our system is designed, right now, that everybody should hate each other.  And we can’t have that.  You know, we have a great country.  We have a country that’s doing very well in many respects.  We’re just hitting a new high on the stock market again, and that means jobs.  I don’t look at the stocks, I look at the jobs.  I look at the 401(k)s, I look at what’s happening, where police come up to me and they say, “Thank you.  You’re making me look like a financial genius” — literally — meaning about them.  And their wives never thought that was possible, right?

No, the country is doing well in so many ways, but there’s such divisiveness, such division.  And I really believe we can solve that.  I think this system is a very bad system in terms of getting together.  And I’m going to leave it up to you, but I really believe you can do something to bring it together.

SENATOR GRAHAM:  Other than going to dinner with Bob — I’ve been doing this for 10 years — I don’t think I’ve seen a better chance to get it done than I do right now, because of you.  John’s right — I’m not going to support a deal if you don’t support it.  I’ve had my head beat out a bunch; I’m still standing.  I’m “Lindsey Grahamnesty,” “Lindsey Gomez” — you name every name you want to give to me, it’s been assigned to me.  And I’m still standing.

The people of South Carolina want a result.  How can I get a letter?  I’ve been for a pathway to citizenship for 11 million people because I have no animosity toward them.  I don’t want crooks, I don’t want “bad hombres.”  I want to get a merit-based immigration system to make sure we can succeed in the 21st century, and I’m willing to be more than fair to the 11 million.  I just don’t want to do this every 20 years.

Now, we made a decision, Mr. President, not to do it comprehensively.  I think that’s a smart decision but a hard decision.  We’ve passed three comprehensive bills out of the Senate with over 55 votes.  They go to the House and die, and I’m not being disparaging to my House colleagues, this is tough politics if you’re a Republican House member turning on the radio. 

To my Democratic friends, thanks for coming.  The Resist Movement hates this guy.  They don’t want him to be successful at all.  You turn on Fox News, and I can hear the drumbeat coming.  Right-wing radio and TV talk show hosts are going to beat the crap out of us because it’s going to be amnesty all over again.  I don’t know if the Republican and Democratic Party can define love, but I think what we can do is do what the American people want us to do.

Sixty-two percent of the Trump voters support a pathway to citizenship for the DACA kids if you have strong borders.  You have created an opportunity in here, Mr. President, and you need to close the deal. 

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, Lindsey.  You know, it’s very interesting because I do have people that are — just to use a very common term — very far right and very far left.  They’re very unhappy about what we’re doing, but I really don’t believe they have to be, because I really think this sells itself.  And, you know, when you talk about comprehensive immigration reform, which is where I would like to get to eventually — if we do the right bill here, we are not very far way.  You know, we’ve done most of it.  You want to know the truth, Dick?  If we do this properly, DACA, you’re not so far away from comprehensive immigration reform.

And if you want to take it that further step, I’ll take the heat, I don’t care.  I don’t care — I’ll take all the heat you want to give me, and I’ll take the heat off both the Democrats and the Republicans.  My whole life has been heat.  (Laughter.)  I like heat, in a certain way.  But I will.

I mean, you are somewhat more traditional politicians.  Two and a half years ago, I was never thinking in terms of politics.  Now I’m a politician.  You people have been doing it, many of you, all your lives.  I’ll take all the heat you want.  But you are not that far away from comprehensive immigration reform.  And if you wanted to go that final step, I think you should do it.  And if you want to study earmarks to bring us all together, so we all get together and do something, I think you should study it.

Chuck, did you have something to say?

SENATOR GRASSLEY:  I’d like to talk about the reality of the whole situation and take off from what Cornyn and Graham have said of the necessity of you working with us.  And you are doing that by having this meeting and other meetings as well.  But we’ve always talked in the United States Senate about the necessity of getting 60 votes.  And that’s pretty darn tough.

But if we would write a bill that you don’t like and you veto it, we’re talking about a 67-vote threshold — two-thirds in the United States Senate.  So that’s the reality of negotiating in good faith and getting something you can sign.

The second reality is the March 5th date that’s coming up.  Because if we don’t do some good-faith negotiation and make progress, and get a bill on the floor of the United States Senate, our leader is going to have to bring up either the House bill or the bill that some of us have introduced in the United States Senate, and we’re going to have a vote on it.  And those people that don’t want to vote to legalize DACA kids are going to have to explain why they haven’t wanted to protect the vulnerable people that we’re all here talking about.  We’re talking about everything except doing something for the DACA kids.

You know, I would vote for a path to citizenship, which isn’t very easy for me, but I would do it just as an effort.  But there are certain things that we got to guarantee that we’re going to do.

THE PRESIDENT:  Chuck, that’s going to be brought up.  I really believe that will be brought up as part of what we’re talking about, at some point.  It’s an incentive for people to do a good job, if you want to know the truth.  That whole path is an incentive for people — and they’re not all kids.  I mean, we’re used to talking about kids.  They’re not really kids.  You have them 39, 40 years old, in some cases.  But it would be an incentive for people to work hard and do a good job.  So that could very well be brought up.

SENATOR GRASSLEY:  We’re talking about legalizing people here that didn’t break the law because their parents, who broke the law, brought them here.  And we ought to be talking about what we can do for the people that had no fault of their own, and get the job done, and not worry about a lot of other things that we’re involved in.  And that means that we got to make sure that we tell the American people, when we’re taking this step, that we’re doing something that all the people agree to.

REPRESENTATIVE HOYER:  Mr. President, let me just say, I think Dick and I agree with what Chuck Grassley just said.

THE PRESIDENT:  That’s hard to believe.  When was the last time that happened?  (Laughter.)

REPRESENTATIVE HOYER:  We need to take care of these DACA kids, and we all agree on that.  Eighty-six percent of the American public agrees on that. 

With all due respect, Bob, and Mike, and Lindsey, there are some things that you’re proposing that are going to be very controversial and will be an impediment to agreement.

THE PRESIDENT:  But you’re going to negotiate those things.  You’re going to sit down and you’re going to say, listen, we can’t agree here, we’ll give you half of that, we’re going to — you’re going to negotiate those things.

     REPRESENTATIVE HOYER:  Mr. President, comprehensive means comprehensive.

THE PRESIDENT:  No, we’re not talking about comprehensive.  Now we’re talking about —

REPRESENTATIVE HOYER:  No, we are.  We are talking about comprehensive.

THE PRESIDENT:  If you want to go there, it’s okay because you’re not that far away.

SENATOR HOYER:  Mr. President, many of the things that are mentioned ought be a part of the negotiations regarding comprehensive immigration reform. 

THE PRESIDENT:  I think if you want to take it a step further, you may — I’m going to have to rely on you, Dick — but you may complicate it and you may delay DACA somewhat.

SENATOR DURBIN:  I don’t want to do that.

SENATOR HOYER:  You can’t do that.

SENATOR DURBIN:  You said at the outset that we need to phase this.  I think the first phase is what Chuck and Steny and I have mentioned, and others as well:  We have a deadline looming and a lot of lives hanging.  We can agree on some very fundamental and important things together on border security, on chain, on the future of diversity visas.  Comprehensive, though, I worked on it for six months with Michael Bennet, and a number of — Bob Menendez, and Schumer, and McCain, and Jeff Flake — and it took us six months to put it together.  We don’t have six months for the DACA bill.

PARTICIPANT:  We’re not talking about comprehensive immigration.

PARTICIPANT:  Take a look at our bill and let’s talk some.

PARTICIPANT:  I hear you.

SENATOR DURBIN:  You’ve mentioned a number of factors that are going to be controversial, as Steny has mentioned.

THE PRESIDENT:  But you’re going to negotiate.  Dick, you’re going to negotiate.  Maybe we will agree and maybe we won’t.  I mean, it’s possible we’re not going to agree with you and it’s possible we will, but there should be no reason for us not to get this done.

And, Chuck, I will say, when this group comes back — hopefully with an agreement — this group and others from the Senate, from the House, comes back with an agreement, I’m signing it.  I mean, I will be signing it.  I’m not going to say, “Oh, gee, I want this or I want that.”  I’ll be signing it, because I have a lot of confidence in the people in this room that they’re going to come up with something really good. 

Senator, would you like to say something?

SENATOR FEINSTEIN:  I would.  As you know, we tried for comprehensive immigration reform in the Senate.  It was on the floor, there were a number of amendments, it got a lot of attention in the judiciary committee, and then the House didn’t take it up. 

I think there needs to be a willingness on both sides.  And I think — and I don’t know how you would feel about this, but I’d like to ask the question:  What about a clean DACA bill now, with a commitment that we go into a comprehensive immigration reform procedure?  Like we did back — oh, I remember when Kennedy was here and it was really a major, major effort, and it was a great disappointment that it went nowhere.

THE PRESIDENT:  I remember that.  I have no problem.  I think that’s basically what Dick is saying.  We’re going to come up with DACA.  We’re going to do DACA, and then we can start immediately on the phase two, which would be comprehensive.

SENATOR FEINSTEIN:  Would you be agreeable to that?

THE PRESIDENT:  Yeah, I would like — I would like to do that.*  Go ahead. I think a lot of people would like to see that, but I think we have to do DACA first. 

[The original transcript, which was modified by the White House to change what Trump actually said, read: THE PRESIDENT:  I think a lot of people would like to see that, but I think we have to do DACA first.]

REPRESENTATIVE MCCARTHY:  Mr. President, you need to be clear though.  I think what Senator Feinstein is asking here: When we talk about just DACA, we don’t want to be back here two years later.  We have to have security, as the Secretary would tell you. 

REPRESENTATIVE MCCARTHY:  But I think that’s what she’s saying.

SENATOR FEINSTEIN:  What do you think I’m saying?

REPRESENTATIVE MCCARTHY:  I’m thinking you’re saying DACA is not secure.  Are you talking about security as well?

SENATOR FEINSTEIN:  Well, I think if we have some meaningful comprehensive immigration reform, that’s really where the security goes.  And if we can get the DACA bill, because March is coming and people are losing their status every day — 

REPRESENTATIVE MCCARTHY:  But, let’s be honest.  Security was voted on just a few years ago, and, no disrespect, there’s people in the room on the other side of the aisle who voted for it.  If I recall, Senator Clinton voted for it.  So I don’t think that’s comprehensive; I think that’s dealing with DACA at the same time.  I think that’s really what the President is making.

It’s kind of like three pillars: DACA, because we’re all in the room want to do it; border security, so we’re not back out here; and chain migration.  It’s just three items, and then everything else that’s comprehensive is kind of moved to the side. 

So I believe when the (inaudible) —

THE PRESIDENT:  And the lottery.

REPRESENTATIVE MCCARTHY:  And the lottery.

THE PRESIDENT:  And I think you should add merit.  I mean, if you can, add merit-based.  (Laughter.)  I don’t think — I don’t know who is going to argue with merit-based?  Who can argue with merit-based?

Dianne, go ahead.

SENATOR FEINSTEIN:  Can I ask a question?  Do you really think that there can be agreement on all of that, quickly, to get DACA passed in time?  I wanted to ask Mr. McCarthy a question.  Do you really think there can be agreement on those three difficult subjects you raised in time to get DACA passed and effective?

REPRESENTATIVE MCCARTHY:  Yes, because you have heard from Leader McConnell and Speaker Ryan, who said they will put the bill onto the floor if the President agrees to it.  And us getting to the room, I haven’t seen us be this close and having this discussion in quite a few years — or the whole last four years.

So I think, yes, we can make this happen.  We all know it.  We’ve done it before.  You and I spent a long time — we did probably one of the most difficult things to do in California — water.  And I believe we can get there and we can just keep working each day on this.

THE PRESIDENT:  I think what we’re all saying is we’ll do DACA and we can certainly start comprehensive immigration reform the following afternoon.  Okay?  We’ll take an hour off and then we’ll start. 

SENATOR FEINSTEIN: Okay.

THE PRESIDENT:  I do believe that.  Because once we get DACA done — if it’s done properly — with, you know, security, and everything else —

SENATOR FEINSTEIN:  That’s the point.

THE PRESIDENT:  If it’s done properly, we have taken a big chunk of comprehensive out of the negotiation, and I don’t think it’s going to be that complicated.

SENATOR PERDUE:  Mr. President, we have —

THE PRESIDENT:  Yes.

SENATOR PERDUE:  We have to be very clear though.

THE PRESIDENT:  Go ahead.

SENATOR PERDUE:  In my opinion, we’ll be right back here either five years, thirty years, whatever.  But this, the chain migration, is so insidious; it is the fundamental flaw in the immigration policy of the United States.  If any conversation about DACA is being held without that consideration — I agree with border security as well — but any conversation about that is not going to go anywhere in the United States Senate.  And if we think we’re going to divide one side versus the other, that’s just not going to happen on this issue.

THE PRESIDENT:  David, I think chain migration has taken a very big hit over the last six months.  People are seeing what’s happening.

People — for instance, the man on the Westside Highway that killed the people and so badly wounded.  You know, it’s incredible when they talk about wounded, they don’t say that arms are off, and legs are off, one person lost two legs.  You know, nobody talks about it.  They said eight died, but they don’t talk about the twelve people that have no legs, no arms, and all of the things.  So I’m talking about everybody.

I really believe that when you talk about the subject that we’re all mentioning right now, I think they had — how many people came in?  Twenty-two to twenty-four people came in through him.  He’s a killer.  He’s a guy who ran over eight — many people — eight died; ten to twelve are really badly injured.  So I really think that a lot of people are going to agree with us now on that subject.  I really don’t see there’s a big —

SENATOR PERDUE:  Seventy percent of Americans want the immigration policy to be, the family — the nuclear family and the workers.  Seventy percent.   

THE PRESIDENT:  David, the chain immigration, though, has taken a very big hit in the last year with what’s happening.  I mean, you’re looking at these killers — whether you like or not — we’re looking at these killers and then you see, 18 people came in, 22 people came in, 30 people came in, with this one person that just killed a lot of people.  I really don’t believe there are a lot of Democrats saying, “We will be supporting chain migration,” anymore.

PARTICIPANT:   Mr. President, should we get the Homeland Security Secretary —

SECRETARY NIELSEN:  Yeah, if you don’t mind.  Just on a couple of things on border security.  I just want to try to make sure we’re all linking.

The reason that border security is so important to have as part of this discussion is that it doesn’t solve the problem if we can apprehend people but we can’t remove them.  So we need the wall system, which is some physical infrastructure as the President described — personnel and technology — but we have to close those legal loopholes, because the effect is that is this incredible pull up from Central America that just continues to exacerbate the problem.  So border security has to be part of this or we will be here again in three, four, five years again — maybe, unfortunately, sooner.

The other point I would just make is, the President asked DHS — he asked the men and women of DHS, what do you need to do your job?  Congress and the American people have entrusted to you, the security of our country.  What is it that you need?  The list that we have provided is what we need to do our mission that you asked us to do.  It’s not less than, it’s not more than; it is what we need to close those loopholes to be able to protect our country.

So I would just encourage — everyone, much more eloquently than I can, described all the reasons why we all, I think, are committed to helping the DACA population.  But to truly solve the problem, it’s got to be in conjunction with border security. 

THE PRESIDENT:  Jeff.

SENATOR FLAKE:  I would just echo what has been said by some here.  Those of us who have been through comprehension reform, that was six, seven months of every night negotiating, staff on weekends.  And a lot of things we’re talking about on border security and some of the interior things have trade-offs, and we made those during that process.  I don’t see how we get there before March 5th.

THE PRESIDENT:  That’s okay.  So I think that’s why we make it a phase two.  We do a phase one, which is DACA and security, and we do phase two, which is comprehensive immigration.  And I think we should go right to it, I really do.  We do one and we then do the other.  But we go right to it.

Yes.

REPRESENTATIVE DIAZ-BALART:  Mr. President, I think it’s important to thank you for your flexibility and your leadership.  And so I think what all of us have to do is have the same willingness to have a little bit of flexibility to get this issue done.  And, obviously, I want to do a lot more than DACA.  But the urgent thing now, for obvious reasons, are these young men and women who we have to deal with, first and foremost.

THE PRESIDENT:  I agree.

REPRESENTATIVE DIAZ-BALART:  And to Steny’s point, there are two issues which we keep hearing that everybody agrees to, and that is dealing with these individuals on a permanent and real solution, and border security.  

     So I don’t see why we shouldn’t be able to do that, and I’m hoping that that will then lead us — to Senator Collins’ point, there’s a lot of lack of trust.  If we can get real border security and deal with these individuals, if we can get that done, then I think, my gosh, it all opens up to do a lot more things in the future for the Americans.

REPRESENTATIVE GOODLATTE:  I just want to reemphasize what Secretary Nielsen said.  It is so important they understand when you talk about border security, if you apprehend somebody at the border, but then you cannot send them back outside the United States, even though they’re unlawfully present in the United States, you have not solved this problem, because they’re then released into the interior of the country and the problem persists.  And that sends a message back to wherever they come from. 

THE PRESIDENT:  I agree, Bob.  And you know what?  We’re going to negotiate that.  I agree, and I think a lot of people agree on both sides.

Henry?

REPRESENTATIVE CUELLAR:  Thank you, Mr. President.  And I agree with my good friend, Mario, in the sense that if we focus on DACA and border security, I think we can address this.  Issues of chain migration or the other issues, I think that should be looked at in the second phase.

But again, I say this with all due respect to both Democrats, Republicans — but being from the border, I always get a kick out of people that go down, spend a few hours, and they think they know the border better than Cornyn — or some of us there, because we’ve lived there all our life.

Let me explain this.  For example, if you look at the latest DEA — you’re worried about drugs, look at the latest DEA report — more drugs come through the ports of entry than in between ports.  But we’re not even talking about ports of entry, number one.

REPRESENTATIVE MCSALLY:  Our bill does.

REPRESENTATIVE CUELLAR:  No, I know — I’m just saying.  I’m saying.  (Laughter.)  I’m just saying ports — let’s finish this.  And some of us have been working this longer than some other folks.

Number one, if you look at the 11 or 12 million undocumented aliens, which is the second phase, 40 percent of them came through visa overstays.  So you can put the most beautiful wall out there, it’s not going to stop them there because they’ll either come by plane, boat, or vehicle itself. 

REPRESENTATIVE MCSALLY:  That’s in our bill, too.

REPRESENTATIVE CUELLAR:  Yeah, and I know.  So the other thing is, the other thing that we had looked at — the wall itself, Mr. President — if you talk to your Border Patrol chief or the former Border Patrol chiefs, I’ve asked them, how much time does a wall buy you?  They’ll say a couple minutes or a few seconds.  And this is our own Border Patrol chiefs that have said that.

SECRETARY NIELSEN:  It’s not mine.  Mine has made clear the wall works.

THE PRESIDENT:  Not the ones I spoke to.

SECRETARY NIELSEN:  They have not.  The wall works.

THE PRESIDENT:  Not the ones I spoke to.  They say, without the wall, we cannot have border security.

REPRESENTATIVE CUELLAR:  All right.  Okay.  Let me show you.

THE PRESIDENT:  All you have to do is ask Israel.  Look what happened with them. 

SECRETARY NIELSEN:  No, ask Yuma.  Ask San Diego.  The wall works.

THE PRESIDENT:  Henry, without the wall, you can’t have it.

REPRESENTATIVE CUELLAR:  All right.  Homeland Appropriations, your chief that was there, and the former chiefs have all said that.

Now, the other thing is —

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, they didn’t do a very good job.

REPRESENTATIVE CUELLAR:  Well, if you look at — this is where the wall — Mr. President, if you look at where the walls are at right now, this is where the activity is where the walls are at right now.

THE PRESIDENT:  We have massive miles of area where people are pouring through.  Now, one of the good things, because of our rhetoric or because of the perceived — you know, my perceived attitude — fewer people are trying to come through.  That’s a great thing.

REPRESENTATIVE CUELLAR:  Right.

THE PRESIDENT:  And therefore — I mean, our numbers have been fantastic, maybe for all the right reasons.

REPRESENTATIVE CUELLAR:  But let me just finish my thought.  I want to ask you that — we’re playing — you saw the game last night.  It was a good game last night.

THE PRESIDENT:  I did.  Very good game.

REPRESENTATIVE CUELLAR:  We’re playing defense on the one-yard line called the U.S. border.  We spend over $18 billion a year on the border. 

If we think about playing defense on the 20-yard line — if you look at what Mexico has done, they stop thousands of people on the southern border with Guatemala.  We ought to be looking at working with them.

THE PRESIDENT:  Henry, we stopped them.  We stopped them.  You know why?  Mexico told me, the President told me, everybody tells me — not as many people are coming through their southern border because they don’t think they can get through our southern border and therefore they don’t come.  That’s what happened with Mexico.  We did Mexico a tremendous favor.

REPRESENTATIVE CUELLAR:  We actually put appropriations to help them with the southern border.

THE PRESIDENT:  The point is — I know, we always give everybody — every other nation gets money except ours.

REPRESENTATIVE CUELLAR:  But finally —

THE PRESIDENT:  We’re always looking for money.  We give the money to other nations.  That we have to stop.

REPRESENTATIVE CUELLAR:  But finally, the last point, Mr. President, is instead of playing defense on the one-yard line, if you look — this is your material — we know where the stash houses are at, we know where the hotels are at, we know where they cross the river —

THE PRESIDENT:  Right.  And we’re going after those.

REPRESENTATIVE CUELLAR:  Why stop — why play defense on the one-yard line called the U.S. —

THE PRESIDENT:  Henry, we’re going after them like never before.  We’re going after the stash houses —

REPRESENTATIVE CUELLAR:  All I’m saying is, if we focus on DACA, we can work on the other things separately — on sensible border security, listen to the folks that are from the border, and we can work with the —

THE PRESIDENT:  And you folks are going to have to — you’re one voice — you folks are going to have to come up with a solution. 

REPRESENTATIVE CUELLAR:  Yes, sir.

THE PRESIDENT:  And if you do, I’m going to sign that solution.

REPRESENTATIVE CUELLAR:  Yes, sir.

THE PRESIDENT:  We have a lot of smart people in this room.  Really smart people.  We have a lot of people that are good people, big hearts.  They want to get it done.

I think almost everybody — I can think of one or two I don’t particularly like, but that’s okay.  (Laughter.)

REPRESENTATIVE MCSALLY:  Where is he looking?

REPRESENTATIVE CUELLAR:  Who is he looking at?  (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT:  I’m trying to figure that out.  Everybody wants a solution.  You want it, Henry.

REPRESENTATIVE CUELLAR:  Yes, sir.  I want to work with you on this.

THE PRESIDENT:  I think we have a great group of people to sit down and get this done.  In fact, when the media leaves, which I think should be probably pretty soon.  (Laughter.)  But I like — but I will tell you, I like opening it up to the media because I think they’re seeing, more than anything else, that we’re all very much on a similar page.  We’re on the same page.

REPRESENTATIVE CUELLAR:  We are.  We are.

THE PRESIDENT:  And, Henry, I think we can really get something done.

REPRESENTATIVE CUELLAR:  Yes, sir.

THE PRESIDENT:  So why don’t we ask the media to leave.  We appreciate you being here. 

Q    Is there any agreement without the wall? 

THE PRESIDENT:  No, there wouldn’t be.  You need it.  John, you need the wall.  I mean, it’s wonderful — I’d love not to build the wall, but you need the wall.

And I will tell you this, the ICE officers and the Border Patrol agents — I had them just recently on — they say, if you don’t have the wall — you know, in certain areas, obviously, that aren’t protected by nature — if you don’t have the wall, you cannot have security.  You just can’t have it.  It doesn’t work.

And part of the problem we have is walls and fences that we currently have are in very bad shape.  They’re broken.  We have to get them fixed or rebuilt.

But, you know, you speak to the agents, and I spoke to all of them.  I spoke — I lived with themThey endorsed me for President, which they’ve never done before — the Border Patrol agents and ICE.  They both endorsed Trump.  And they never did that before.  And I have a great relationship with them.  They say, sir, without the wall, security doesn’t work; we’re all wasting time. 

Now, that doesn’t mean 2,000 miles of wall because you just don’t need that because of nature, because of mountains and rivers and lots of other things.  But we need a certain portion of that border to have the wall.  If we don’t have it, you can never have security.  You could never stop that portion of drugs that comes through that area.

Yes, it comes through planes and lots of other ways and ships.  But a lot of it comes through the southern border.  You can never fix the situation without additional wall.  And we have to fix existing wall that we already have.

Q    So you would not be for what Senator Feinstein asked you, which would be a clean DACA bill that doesn’t —

THE PRESIDENT:  No, I think a clean DACA bill, to me, is a DACA bill where we take care of the 800,000 people.  They are actually not necessarily young people; everyone talks about young — you know, they could be 40 years old, 41 years old, but they’re also 16 years old.

But I think, to me, a clean bill is a bill of DACA.  We take care of them and we also take care of security.  That’s very important.

And I think the Democrats want security too.  I mean, we started off with Steny saying, we want security also.  Everybody wants security.  And then we can go to comprehensive later on, and maybe that is a longer subject and a bigger subject, and I think we can get that done too.

But we’ll get it done at a later date.

Yes, ma’am.  Go ahead.

SENATOR HIRONO:  Mr. President, I’m Senator Hirono from Hawaii.

THE PRESIDENT:  Yes, I know.

SENATOR HIRONO:  And as the only immigrant serving in the United States Senate right now, I would like nothing better than for us to get to comprehensive immigration reform.  But what I’m hearing around the table right now is a commitment to resolving the DACA situation because there is a sense of urgency.

You have put it out there that you want $18 billion for a wall or else there will be no DACA.  Is that still your position? 

THE PRESIDENT:  Yeah.  I can build it for less, by the way.

SENATOR HIRONO:  But you want that wall? 

THE PRESIDENT:  I must tell you, I’m looking at these prices.  Somebody said $42 billion.  This is like the aircraft carrier.  It started off at a billion and a half, and it’s now at $18 billion.

No, we can do it for less.  We can do a great job.  We can do a great wall.  But you need the wall.  And I’m now getting involved.  I like to build under budget, okay?  I like to go under-budget, ahead of schedule. 

There’s no reason for seven years, also.  I heard the other day — please, don’t do that to me.  (Laughter.)  Seven years to build the wall.  We can build the wall in one year, and we can build it for much less money than what they’re talking about.  And any excess funds — and we’ll have a lot of — whether it’s a Wollman Rink or whether it’s any — I build under budget and I build ahead of schedule.  There is no reason to ever mention seven years again, please.  I heard that and I said — I wanted to come out with a major news conference, Tom, yesterday.

No.  It can go up quickly, it can go up effectively, and we can fix a lot of the areas right now that are really satisfactory if we renovate those walls. 

SENATOR HIRONO:  And can you tell us how many miles of wall you’re contemplating?  Whether it’s $17 million or $13 million or whatever is — can you tell us?

THE PRESIDENT:  Yeah, we’re doing a study on that right now.  But there are large areas where you don’t need a wall because you have a mountain and you have a river — you have a violent river — and you don’t need it.  Okay?

SECRETARY NIELSEN:  Senator, I’m happy to come visit you this week to walk you through the numbers.

Q    I’m not the most politically astute person in the world, but it seems to me not much has actually changed here in terms of your position at this particular meeting.

THE PRESIDENT:  No, I think it’s changed.  I think my positions are going to be what the people in this room come up with.  I am very much reliant on the people in this room.  I know most of the people on both sides.  I have a lot of respect for the people on both sides.  And my — what I approve is going to be very much reliant on what the people in this room come to me with.  I have great confidence in the people.  If they come to me with things that I’m not in love with, I’m going to do it because I respect them. 

Thank you all very much.

Q    Think you could beat Oprah, by the way?

THE PRESIDENT:  Yeah, I’ll beat Oprah.  Oprah would be a lot of fun.  I know her very well.  You know I did one of her last shows.  She had Donald Trump — this is before politics — her last week.  And she had Donald Trump and my family.  It was very nice.  No, I like Oprah.  I don’t think she’s going to run.  I don’t think she’s going to run.  I know her very well.

Q    (Inaudible.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Yeah, it’s phase two.  I think comprehensive will be phase two.  I think — I really agree with Dick.  I think we get the one thing done and then we go into comprehensive the following day.  I think it’ll happen.

Thank you all very much.  I hope we’ve given you enough material.  That should cover you for about two weeks.  (Laughter.)

12:33 P.M. EST

See also: 

Trump/Sessions Anti-Immigrant Policy Requires Novel Theory of Constitution: Citizens Only 

NYS Takes Actions to Protect Immigrants from Trump Decision to End Temporary Protected Status

 

Donald Trump Issues Statement Disavowing Steve Bannon

Protestors outnumbered supporters as Trump’s limousine rides down the Pennsylvania Avenue for the inaugural parade, Jan. 20, 2017 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Donald Trump issued this statement concerning Steve Bannon:

Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my Presidency. When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind. Steve was a staffer who worked for me after I had already won the nomination by defeating seventeen candidates, often described as the most talented field ever assembled in the Republican party.

Now that he is on his own, Steve is learning that winning isn’t as easy as I make it look. Steve had very little to do with our historic victory, which was delivered by the forgotten men and women of this country. Yet Steve had everything to do with the loss of a Senate seat in Alabama held for more than thirty years by Republicans. Steve doesn’t represent my base—he’s only in it for himself.

Steve pretends to be at war with the media, which he calls the opposition party, yet he spent his time at the White House leaking false information to the media to make himself seem far more important than he was. It is the only thing he does well. Steve was rarely in a one-on-one meeting with me and only pretends to have had influence to fool a few people with no access and no clue, whom he helped write phony books.

We have many great Republican members of Congress and candidates who are very supportive of the Make America Great Again agenda. Like me, they love the United States of America and are helping to finally take our country back and build it up, rather than simply seeking to burn it all down.

 

Trump/Sessions Anti-Immigrant Policy Requires Novel Theory of Constitution: Citizens Only

US Supreme Court Building, DC. The Trump/Sessions anti-immigration policy relies on a novel theory of the Constitution: that it does not apply to noncitizens © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

by Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

The question that came to my mind as I listened to Natanya Briendel, director of the Westchester Division at the Pace Women’s Justice Center, speak at the monthly meeting of Reach Out America, a Long Island-based activist group, was how Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ roundups of undocumented immigrants rests on a concept that the Constitution – specifically due process – does not apply to non-citizens. Technically, then, any foreigner in the United States could be picked up and denied habeas corpus – the right to appear speedily in front of a judge, hear the charges and put up a defense.

She described situations where people are being rounded up based on an accusation, and if they are undocumented, immediately incarcerated and deported.  No warrant. No reasonable cause to justify a search. No right to legal counsel or even a hearing before a judge.

Even people who are claiming asylum based on escaping violence in their home country, are treated as if they were criminals.

The result has been sheer terror for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country. Why so many? Because Republicans going back to Reagan have refused to establish a workable immigration program; during Obama’s Administration, the House Republicans literally shoved a Comprehensive Immigration bill in the desk and never voted on it. Employers have benefited from having a pool of people who are abused, cheated, and treated like indentured servants.

Here in Long Island, we have an instance where just being Hispanic renders a high school student vulnerable to accusations of membership in the dreaded M-13 gang based on what colors you wear to school.

Donald Trump in his national security speech (really a rehash of his dystopian inaugural address), equates all immigrants as terrorists, regardless if they have lived, worked and paid taxes in the United States for decades, describing the need to shut off refugees, cancel DACA, end the possibility of family members obtaining legal status. Even individuals currently serving in the military, who were promised citizenship at the end of their tour, will be subject to deportation.

Our strategy advances four vital national interests.  First, we must protect the American people, the homeland, and our great American way of life.  This strategy recognizes that we cannot secure our nation if we do not secure our borders.  So for the first time ever, American strategy now includes a serious plan to defend our homeland.  It calls for the construction of a wall on our southern border; ending chain migration and the horrible visa and lottery programs; closing loopholes that undermine enforcement; and strongly supporting our Border Patrol agents, ICE officers, and Homeland Security personnel.”

The callousness, the stupidity, the sheer contradiction of American values, principles, and law.

Meanwhile, 12,762 DACA recipients – 122 a day – have lost their protected status since September 5, when President Trump rescinded the executive order that protected immigrants who arrived here as children from deportation, who were raised in the United States which is the only country they know. Trump gave a deadline of March, but the Republican Congress has shown it doesn’t actually care. Trump has reneged on the “deal” he appeared to make with Schumer and Pelosi; Democrats have threatened to use the only leverage they have – shutting down government by refusing to reauthorize a budget resolution – but that is unlikely.

Immigrants are no longer welcome. That is, unless the immigrant can buy a visa by investing $500,000 in a Trump family real estate venture,  or a migrant imported to work at Mar-a-Lago (when there are tens of thousands of Puerto Rican hotel workers who lost their jobs after Maria and have sought refuge in Florida – why is he not hiring them? Answer: because they can register to vote in Florida. After all, Puerto Ricans are American citizens.)

“Critics say that if passed, the reform [of the H-2A agricultural visa program] could lead to millions of virtually indentured workers,” writes Simon Davis-Cohen in Truthout. (“Republicans Push Bill to Strip Migrant Workers of Their Few Rights, Undercut US Workers”)

On the other hand, the way Trump and Sessions are inflicting their might, it means that undocumented individuals are no longer protected by law – they can be physically abused by a spouse, cheated by an employer of their wages, have their children taken from them without recourse to seek custody. They have no way of protecting their civil rights, their human rights, because the courthouse has become a locus for them to be snatched up by immigration officers. They are fearful to report crimes; certainly to warn officials of any terror threats.

Here on Long Island – the very place where Trump gave a speech suggesting that police officers don’t have to be “so nice” when they stuff someone into their patrol car, the New York Civil Liberties Union filed suit against the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office Monday, arguing that it lacks authority under state law to honor detainer requests from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Detainers ask local officers to hold immigrants after they would otherwise be released from custody. This suit seeks the release of Susai Francis, a resident of Long Island for 21 years, where he has raised two sons, who should have been released after pleading guilty to disorderly conduct but instead was being held for ICE in a Suffolk County jail.

“Not only should local law enforcement reject the Trump administration’s anti-immigrant agenda, but state law is also clear that local law enforcement can’t violate people’s rights in order to do ICE’s bidding,” said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union. “The role of local law enforcement is to protect and serve all New Yorkers, and that is incompatible with the unlawful detention of our neighbors and family members at the behest of the Trump deportation machine.”

The day before Trump gave his national security speech calling again for a border wall and shutting down immigration, and offering not a crumb of possibility of the comprehensive immigration reform that should have been in place for 30 years so that people can get some legal status and not live in the shadows where they can be exploited, was United Nations International Migrants Day. Not a peep from the White House. Instead, the United States announced it would end participation in the UN process to develop a Global Compact on Migration (GCM) based on the claim that it would undermine “sovereignty”.

With civil war, ethnic conflict, gang violence, drought, famine, floods, wildfires and climate disasters, there are the largest number of refugees and displaced people in numbers not seen since World War II: 40 8 million displaced people worldwide as a result of conflict and violence at the end of 2015; an estimated 64 million are impacted by climate.

(Trump, in his national security speech, dismissed climate change as a national security threat, suggesting instead that increasing American energy production would be the counter balance.)

Immigrants are lumped together.  “You think the countries are giving us their best people? No. What kind of a system is that?”Trump said at a press conference. “They give us their worst people, they put them in a bin, but in his hand when he’s picking them is really the worst of the worst.”

Trump’s view – big on a wall stretching along the southern border, a travel ban which shuts down access from six Muslim majority nations (none of which have been responsible for terrorism in the US), reducing the number of refugees who will be accepted to a trickle (45,000) while threatening to throw out others (Haitians, Nicaraguans) – is to pull up the drawbridge, much like the Soviet Union’s Iron Curtain or China’s Bamboo Curtain, and keep us equally isolated and ignorant, reciting the Trump mantra of America’s Greatness.

Combined with banning words and phrases at agencies, scrubbing reports and websites, spying on federal workers, Trump’s declaration is more ominous: “With this strategy, we are calling for a great reawakening of America, a resurgence of confidence, and a rebirth of patriotism, prosperity, and pride.

It is more: the disdain for civil rights for noncitizens within our borders means that the Trump Doctrine, which we now know is purely transactional, means that there is zero interest in upholding human rights.

“We want strong alliances and partnerships based on cooperation and reciprocity.  We will make new partnerships with those who share our goals, and make common interests into a common cause.  We will not allow inflexible ideology to become an obsolete and obstacle to peace.”

Trump’s view, enabled by the Republican Congress, is so warped. But there is another way: reauthorize DACA with a path to citizenship; provide legal status (not citizenship) for people who came illegally but who have worked and made homes here and have no significant criminal record, particularly the parents of DACA recipients and American children; have vetting for travelers, but accept travelers; exercise moral responsibility in accepting refugees, helping resettle refugees, and contributing funds toward refugee communities. And participate in the world to reduce the causes for refugees, migrants and immigrants: help end the conflicts and violence that sets people on their precarious journey; address climate change that is resulting in communities being uninhabitable; and advance the quality of life in these countries.

None of these generators of the desperation that motivates people to uproot their lives and take a treacherous journey to a strange place are satisfied by Trump’s “national security strategy” which puts American First and to hell with the rest of the world.

_________________________

© 2017 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

 

 

Trump, Republicans’ Dickens Vision of America: Where Money is Entitlement, ‘Please Sir, I’d Like Some More’

Long Islanders protesting for the 99% against foreclosures by banks too big to fail, bailed out by taxpayers. The Republican tax scam, combined with Trump deregulation and obliteration of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, sets up an even greater Recession and foreclosures. Seniors on Long Island, facing the inability to deduct state and local taxes and the likelihood of Republican cuts to Social Security and Medicare, will be forced out of their homes. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

by Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

This is supposedly the season of “giving,” of “good will to all mankind.” Not with Donald Trump in the White House.

Trump is so giddy to take credit for displacing “Happy Holidays” with “Merry Christmas.” That’s all he cares about. But just as Trump, who makes money off of hotels but has no concept of “hospitality” and is more like the craven Snidely Whiplash than Barron Hilton, he has no clue and no care what “Christmas” means.

Indeed, this Christmas, 9 million children and pregnant women are losing access to health care and the ability to live a good life or realize their full potential. 13 million Americans don’t know if they will be able to afford or access health care.  800,000 Dreamers don’t know whether they will be thrown out of jobs, housing, and the nation, exiled to a country that is completely foreign to them. Seniors and retirees don’t know if they will be able to continue to afford living in their homes and whether their Medicare and Social Security benefits will be cut.

The Tax Scam rammed through by Republicans is just the beginning: they are giddy about how adding $1.5 trillion to the national debt, the same amount (coincidentally) that it redistributes from working people to the already obscenely rich and richest corporations sitting on $2 trillion in cash they refuse to use to raise wages will “justify” slashing the social safety net, cutting Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid – you know the so-called “entitlements” that working people have paid into their entire working lives.

Trump made it clear, in his ignorant, short-hand way, what will come next, in his speech in St. Louis:

“Then we will have done tax cuts, the biggest in history…I know people, they work three jobs and they live next to somebody who doesn’t work at all. And the person who’s not working at all and has no intention of working at all is making more money and doing better than the person that’s working his and her ass off. And it’s not going to happen. Not going to happen. (Applause.) So we’re going to go into welfare reform.”

You only have to look at what is happening in every quarter of civic life which is shifting the balance to the wealthiest while cutting off upward mobility for anyone else. The Trump FCC’s plan to overturn net neutrality is exactly that: it cements the control that the internet oligopoly wields not only to keep out upstart competitors but control what information or culture gets wide viewing. What Pai wants is for money to rule both content and access (that’s what “free market” means). Don’t have money to keep an internet subscription so you can access news, information or jobs? Tough luck. But the FCC intends to couple this with more government surveillance of what goes up over the Internet – quite literally the worst of both worlds.

It is apparent also in how Trump is pawning off national monuments to commercial exploitation – Bears Ears, Grand Staircase-Escalante, the Arctic Refuge and the Atlantic Marine Sanctuary – basically stealing what is our collective heritage and birthright to give to commercial interests. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who has no compunction to waste taxpayer money for his own use, is even raising admission fees to the national parks, further putting what is owned by all Americans off limits for those who can’t pay the freight.

Money is the new “entitlement.” It determines who can afford to weigh the scales of justice in their favor, and, thanks to Citizens United, who runs for election and wins, and therefore what policy gets written and enacted, and even who has access to the voting booth. Billionaire venture capitalist Tom Perkins actually said that out loud: “But what I really think is, it should be like a corporation. You pay a million dollars in taxes, you get a million votes. How’s that?” Indeed.

This mentality is actually seeping down even into the disasters that have become all too common and catastrophic because of climate change: Freakonomics did a segment that a free market rather than anti-gouging laws should come into play after a disaster. A shopkeeper should be able to sell a bottle of water for $1000 to the father with a child dying of thirst if he wants to, because at $2 a bottle, someone will hoard. (The absurdity is that purchases are rationed for the rich and the poor.)

Another segment suggested that people should be able to pay their way (a premium) to jump a line – that’s okay for a themepark, but they are suggesting the same for access to life-saving organ donation.

Trump is the first president to dare do what the Republicans have been salivating over since the New Deal but dared not do. It’s not that the Republicans haven’t had their sights set on reversing every progressive policy since the 1860s. (Alabama Senate candidate, the defrocked judge Roy Moore, said that every Amendment after the 10th, the state’s rights one, should be abolished, including the 13th amendment ending slavery, 14th amendment giving due process, the 19th amendment giving women the right to vote. Meanwhile, the Republicans are about to cancel the 10th amendment’s State’s Rights provision in order to require New York State to accept Conceal Carry Reciprocity and overturn its own gun safety laws.)

You actually have Senator Chuck Grassley defending abolishing the estate tax which affects only a tiny fraction of the wealthiest families and was intended since the founding to prevent an institutionalized aristocracy, argue that the previous tax code favors poor and working-class Americans who were “just spending every darn penny they have, whether it’s on booze or women or movies.”

Utah’s Orrin Hatch, justifying shifting $1.5 trillion in tax breaks to the wealthy and corporations and slashing the social safety net, declared, “I have a rough time wanting to spend billions and billions and trillions of dollars to help people who won’t help themselves, won’t lift a finger, and expect the federal government to do everything.”

Merry Christmas? Bah humbug.

“And so how do we as Christians respond, who serve a God whose prophets call for welcoming immigrants (Deuteronomy, Leviticus), caring for the orphans and widows (Jeremiah, Ezekiel), establishing fair housing (Isaiah), seeking justice (Micah 6), and providing health care (Isaiah),” a twitter conversation between MSNBC’s Joy Reid and Susan Gilbert Zencka wrote.

“What you’re witnessing tonight in the United States Senate is the weaponization of pure, unmitigated greed,” Joy Reid wrote after the Senate’s adoption of its tax plan. “Lobbyists are writing the bill in pen at the last minute. And Republicans are no longer even pretending to care about anyone but the super rich,“ wrote Joy Reid.

The America that Trump and the Republicans envision is not one of an American Dream where anyone who has the ability and works hard enough can rise up, but one in which communities must beg billionaires for funding for a public school, a library, a hospital, and be very grateful for their charity.

Tell me how this is not a modern, nonfiction version of Dickens’ “Oliver Twist.”

“Please sir, I’d like some more.”

________________________

© 2017 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

Trump Selling Tax Plan in Missouri, the Show Me State: This is going to cost me a fortune, this thing — believe me.

by Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

I was watching “The President’s Show” Christmas special (Anthony Atamanuik does a brilliant impersonation of Donald Trump)  and happened to switch back to MSNBC’s coverage of Trump’s speech in Missouri in which he extolls how great the Republican tax plan is and quite frankly, could not tell the difference between which was the satire and which the actual speech. See for yourself: President Trump Tax Reform Speech In St Louis 11/29/17 – YouTube

 46:09

Every fact checker has given Donald Trump’s speech at the St. Charles Convention Center in St. Charles, Missouri on the Republican tax cuts scheme four-Pinnochios, most especially for his absurd declarations that the proposed cuts would hurt him and his rich buddies. Here’s just a small sample:

President Trump says the tax bill will ‘cost me a fortune.’ That’s false.

Trump’s Claims Don’t Add Up

Here is the White House transcript highlighted and annotated:

Remarks by President Trump on Tax Reform

St. Charles Convention Center, St. Charles, Missouri

2:22 P.M. CST

THE PRESIDENT: I told you that we would be saying, merry Christmas again, right? (Applause.) And it’s great to be back in Missouri — a sign of a lot of good things because you’re doing really well.

And I want to thank Governor Greitens and Attorney General Hawley, who — by the way, Josh — where’s Josh? Josh, our next senator. Where is he? (Applause.) He’s going to be a great senator. And he wants to see a major tax cut. I think I can speak for him, right? (Applause.) And your current senator does not want to see a tax cut. That’s not good. That’s not good. She wants your taxes to go up.

AUDIENCE: Booo —

THE PRESIDENT: Secretary Mnuchin, who’s doing such a fantastic job — (applause) — thank you — and Linda McMahon. Everybody knows Administrator — small business, became a big business under Linda. She’s helping a lot of people. Thank you very much, Linda. (Applause.)….

[Mnuchin claimed that he had a team of 100 specialists at US Treasury doing an analysis to show that the tax cuts would not add to national debt, now at $20 trillion. That was a lie – Treasury did not offer any analysis, but other nonpartisan and bipartisan agencies released reports that show that the Republican tax plan will add $1 trillion to the national debt and have only marginal benefit to increasing jobs, wages, or economic growth. What is more, the projections are “optimistic” and do not take into account the likelihood of a recession in the next decade.]

With your help, we can usher in a thrilling new era of opportunity and growth for this nation that we love so much. Tax cuts have already passed the House of Representatives. (Applause.) Big ones. Big ones. The eyes of the world now turn to the United States Senate.

A successful vote in the Senate this week will bring us one giant step closer to delivering an incredible victory for the American people. Massive tax cuts and reform. I don’t even mention the word reform because people don’t know exactly what we’re talking about.

You know, for years, they have not been able to get tax cuts — many, many years, since Reagan. And the problem was they talked about tax reform, not tax cuts. I said, don’t call it “reform,” call it “tax cuts and reform.” So every once in a while we’ll add the name “reform.” But it’s tax cuts.

[That’s true because it does not eliminate any of the loopholes that enable the wealthiest and biggest corporations to avoid paying taxes altogether; it only cuts taxes for the wealthiest, and makes up the lost revenue by taking away the credits and deductions that working class and middle class Americans use for home ownership, education, job training, and healthcare, for upward mobility.]

We cannot sit — (applause.) Right? The Governor agrees.

We cannot sit idly by and watch ourselves losing in competition to other countries as they continue to take away our jobs because their tax codes are more competitive and less burdensome than ours. That’s why we must cut our taxes, reduce economic burdens, and restore America’s competitive edge. We’re going to do that, too. And it’s already happening. Look what’s happening with our markets. People get it. (Applause.)

[It has been happening before Trump because of economic programs put into place by Obama, including trade deals, job training, summits designed to incentivize international businesses to locate here. As a result, corporations are flush with cash – $2 trillion worth – but have not raised wages. Trump’s tax plan has no incentives to raise wages and because consumer spending will be weak, and there are no rules to prevent companies from off-shoring jobs and profits, companies have no reason to invest here.]

If we do this, then America will win again like never, ever before. (Applause.) A vote to cut taxes is a vote to put America first again. We want to do that. We want to put America first again. (Applause.) It’s time to take care of our workers, to protect our communities, and to rebuild our great country. (Applause.)

You know, we’ve spent almost $7 trillion in the Middle East over the last 16 years — $7 trillion. Now, I’m taking care of it. We’re doing numbers like ISIS has never seen before. We’re wiping them out — terrorists, they’re bad. (Applause.)

And all of that, but we’ve spent almost $7 trillion. We could have rebuilt our country four times over. And we’re going to start spending here. We’re going to start spending here. (Applause.)

And with that being said, we’re going to protect our country, whether it’s North Korea or any — but we’re going to protect our country like never before. We’re going to build up our military and make our product here and make our planes, and our boats, and our everything here. But we’re going to build up our military. (Applause.)

But we’ve got to start focusing on our country. That’s why I’m saying America first. Make America great again — you’ve never heard that expression. (Applause.) All those hats. All those — they’ve never heard that expression before.

Oh, that was a good expression and it’s a true expression and it’s already happening and long ahead of schedule. And in fact, today, some numbers came out that people haven’t seen in many, many years.

This beautiful city of St. Charles is the perfect place to deliver the message that I want to deliver. It’s the place where America’s past and future come to life on its historic brick-lined Main Street. Nice street, do you agree? (Applause.)

It was along these very streets that, in 1804, the great American explorers, Lewis and Clark, gathered their final supplies before setting out on their very historic expedition of discovery. I have to say, I didn’t really know that until two days ago. (Laughter.)

See? See, now the world is watching. Look at all the fake news back there. They’re all —

AUDIENCE: Booo —

THE PRESIDENT: They’re all watching.

Today, more than two centuries later, a new generation of American pioneers begins its own adventure, gathering inside the startups and the storefronts of main streets across the country, blazing new trails into totally uncharted territory of business and technology, and once again leading our nation into a future of limitless potential.

That’s what we have in this country. We have the greatest people. It’s the greatest country. I love this country so much. (Applause.)

Our country was not treated properly for a long time. We’re treating it properly. We’re treating it with love and with this. You got to treat it with this.

And today, just as it’s always been, Main Street is the heart of our economy, the soul of our community, and the birthplace of American dreams.

But over the years, crippling taxes, massive regulation, and totally disastrous trade deals — oh, the trade deals. Oh, I get a headache thinking about who made these deals. (Laughter.) One after another. WTO, NAFTA, the wonderful deal with South Korea — remember, they said it’s going to produce 200,000 jobs? And it did, for South Korea. (Laughter.) Didn’t produce — we lost 200,000 jobs. It turned some of our businesses’ main streets into empty ghost towns. You see what’s happened.

Now we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to restore American prosperity and reclaim America’s great destiny. We’ve already made tremendous progress — far greater than I would have thought. I will tell you this in a non-braggadocious way — (laughter) — there has never been a 10-month President that has accomplished what we have accomplished. That I can tell you. That I can tell you. (Applause.)

Today, again, the stock market has reached another record, all-time high. (Applause.) The unemployment rate nationwide is the lowest it’s been in 17 years — (applause) — and 13 states this year have seen unemployment drop to the lowest levels in the history of their state. And I hate to tell you, but Missouri happens to be one of them. (Applause.)

[Increases in stock market have nothing to do with jobs or wages or prosperity. In the first place, they are paper profits only realized when the stock is sold. In the second place, only 20% of Americans have a stake in the stock market. In the third place, sales of shares do not go to the company to invest or add jobs except when it is the Initial Public Offering. Fourth: the stock market only reflects short term, not long term, and today, with computer trading, will buy/sell based on small changes in market price. Fifth: Wall Street does not care about the well being of ordinary Americans – witness how the stock market rose on news that hundreds of thousands of jobs were being shed in the lead up to the 2008 financial collapse.]

We’ve created nearly 2 million jobs — 2 million jobs, think of that. We used to lose millions. Now we’ve created 2 million jobs since I won the election. And, I want to say, since you won the election. I didn’t win the election; you won the election. (Applause.)

And we will create countless more if we can sustain the 3 percent growth rate we have achieved for the past two quarters. But we’re going to do much better than that. Remember I used to say, we can hit 4 and we can hit 3? And they were all saying, forget it, forget it. It was 1.2. It was doing terribly. We were flat. We were even. In all fairness, the stock market was going this way.

[No credible economists expect the US, a mature economy, to grow by 3% a year.]

And now, we’re hitting numbers that nobody thought possible, certainly not in this time. And the numbers going up are going to be much better than anybody anticipates. In fact, they’re going to say that Trump is the opposite of an exaggerator — the exact opposite. (Laughter and applause.) They’re going to start saying, Governor, that he ought to be a little bit more optimistic because his predictions were low, can you believe it?

You know, a year and a half ago, they were saying, oh, he can’t do that. Now they’re saying, hm, that was quick. (Laughter.)

But by the way, the Commerce Department announced this morning that our GDP — that’s the big one — in the third quarter, grew even faster than they reported previously. They made a mistake, they were too low. They had it at 3 percent. By the way, 3 percent — did you ever think you’d hear that in less than a year?

AUDIENCE: No!

THE PRESIDENT: And now it comes in at 3.3 percent, which is the largest increase in many years. (Applause.)

And if we didn’t have the hurricanes, we would have been at 4 percent. The hurricanes were devastating. And I said, they’re worth a point. They said they were worth like .006, but I said they were worth a point. We would have been at 4 percent, maybe even over 4 percent, but we had hurricanes.

We took care of them. In Texas and Florida, they did a great, great job — amazing job, tremendous leadership. And we’re very proud.

[Where is the money coming from for disaster relief, which is all too common with climate change and increasing frequency of climate catastrophe?]

Puerto Rico has been a very tough situation because of the fact that it was in very, very bad shape before the storms ever hit. But they’re doing well there and it’s healing and it’s getting better. And we’re getting them power, and all of the things that they have to have.

But I want to tell you there are a lot of brave people in every state. We have great, great people, and it’s our number one resource, believe me. Really great. (Applause.)

But in order to achieve this bright and glowing future, the Senate must pass those tax cuts. Bring Main Street roaring back — and that’s what’s going to happen. This was all done without the tax cuts, and I’m not sure that people even believe the tax cuts. I want to see what happens….

So right now, America’s tax code is a total dysfunctional mess. The current system has cost our nation millions of American jobs, trillions and trillions of dollars, and billions of hours wasted on paperwork and compliance. It is riddled with loopholes that let some special interests — including myself, in all fairness. This is going to cost me a fortune, this thing — believe me.

Believe me, this is not good for me. (Laughter.) Me, it’s not so — I have some very wealthy friends — not so happy with me, but that’s okay. You know, I keep hearing Schumer, “This is for the wealthy.” Well, if it is, my friends don’t know about it. (Laughter.) I have to explain why.

[Like in poker, Trump has a “tell” when he is bluffing (lying): Whenever he says “Believe me,” especially when he repeats “Believe me” he is lying.]

Now it is great for companies, because companies are going to bring back jobs. And we’re lowering the rates very substantially. But right now, we’re bringing the rates down from 35 percent — which is totally non-competitive. The highest industrialized nation in the world, by far, and we’re bringing it all the way down to 20 percent. (Applause.)

[35% is the nominal tax rate before deductions and loopholes. The average rate paid by US companies is 18%, which is below average for industrialized nations, and profitable companies like Apple and General Electric pay little or no taxes.]

But that’s good for everybody in the room, whether you have company or whether you want a job, because we’re going to bring back jobs. (Applause.)

And what we’ve had is a massive giveaway to foreign countries, which encourage businesses to relocate offshore. And you’ve seen what’s happened.

Before this — this is, really, I’m most proud, because, as bad as our tax code is, we have Toyota, we have big car companies coming back in, building plants in Michigan and other places. We have a lot of businesses coming back in, and they see what’s happening. They see what’s going on.

[International companies have building factories in the US, predating and having nothing to do with Trump. Even the announcements he made after winning election were plans to expand made during Obama’s administration.]

That’s why they’re doing — our current code is a giant — and really it is — it’s a self-inflicted economic wound. It’s been that way for so many years and nobody wanted to do anything about it.

But all that will change and it will change immediately if Congress sends a tax cut and reform bill. The biggest tax cut in the history of our country — bigger than Reagan. If they send it to my desk, I promise all of the people in this room — my friends, so many friends in this room. It’s a great state. I promise you I will sign it. I promise. I will not veto that bill. There will be no veto. (Applause.)

Under the plan moving forward in the Senate, a typical family of four earning $75,000, as an example, will see their taxes go down by as much as $2,000. That’s a lot. (Applause.)

[Individual tax cuts are temporary; what is more, losing the deductions for state and local taxes, interest on school loans and the like, will wipe out any reduction in taxes because of the doubling in the personal exemption. And with the deal to eliminate the Obamacare individual mandate for health insurance – to appear to save $338 billion in government spending so that the tax plan can pass with only 51 Senate votes – everyone’s premiums will increase 10% a year.]

Now, we’re doing that not just to help people. We’re doing that because it helps our country. You’re going to take that $2,000 and maybe you’ll save some, and you’re going to spend some. And we’re going to make product back in our country again. It’s going to be made here — going to be made elsewhere. But it’s going to be made here. We’re opening up plants. We’re opening up factories, and we’re going to be great to small business. Wait until you see the final product. Wait until you see what finally comes out in what I call the mixer.

The beating heart of our plan is a tax cut for working families. That’s what it is. We’re going to make sure — (applause) — that you keep more of your hard-earned money. We’re going to make sure, also, that you have a job that you want. You’re going to have choice. In education we now have choice. Good word. Here you’re going to have a choice. You’re not just going to have one — you’re going to have a choice of many jobs. People are moving back into our country.

Under our plan, the first $12,000 of income earned by a single individual will be totally income-tax-free — zero. (Applause.) And a married couple won’t pay one dime of income tax on their first $24,000 of income — zero. (Applause.)

Our plan will significantly increase the child tax credit and make it available to more middle-class families because the single most important investment our nation can make is in our children. Do we agree? You agree? You better agree. (Applause.)

Families will also benefit from a new credit for other dependents like a child in college, or an elderly loved one. We have our mothers, our fathers. You have your grandparents. You have people that are elderly that have done a fantastic job. They’ve grown old. You want to help them. Now we are going to help you help them. (Applause.)

We’re also going to eliminate tax breaks and complex loopholes taken advantage of by the wealthy. Who are they? I don’t know. (Laughter.) I think my accountants are going crazy right now. It’s all right. Hey, look, I’m President. (Laughter.) I don’t care. I don’t care anymore. I don’t care. (Laughter and applause.)

Some of my wealthy friends care. Me? I don’t care. This is a higher calling. Do we agree? (Applause.) As Hillary said, what difference does it make? It made a difference. It made a big difference. It made a big, big difference. (Applause.)

[If the tax plan isn’t going to give Trump and his family millions of dollars – by eliminating the AMT and Estate Tax – where are his tax returns to prove that?]

We want a tax code that is simple and fair, and that’s for all Americans. The plan that senators will be voting on this week — hopefully as soon as possible — closes the loopholes that corporations use to shift their profits to tax havens, and it eliminates deductions for CEO salaries over $1 million. You see what some of these people are making — a little ridiculous. (Applause.)

[NOT TRUE.]

I’m driving up their stock. They’re making a fortune. Then they go to their board, and they tell everybody what a great job they’re doing. But what am I going to do? (Laughter.) And many of them, honestly, I don’t like. (Laughter.) Oh, some of these bankers I don’t like them, and they’re making a fortune, and it’s one of those things.

Steve knows a couple of them that I’m talking about, doesn’t he? (Laughter.) They say what a great job they do. Right now anybody could do their job because we’re making it easy for them because we’re giving them a great and strong economy. And because we’ve cut regulations more than any President in the history of this country by far, and that’s for full terms. That’s not for 10 months. (Applause.)

And it allows builders to build, and it allows farmers to farm. You know what I’ve done for farmers. (Applause.) Where if you had a little puddle in the middle of your field, you go to jail if you touch it, right? You know what I’m talking about. Not anymore. Not anymore. Not anymore. (Applause.)

And it allows bankers to lend. It allows bankers to lend again. So many people came up to me, and they said, we had a 20-year relationship with a bank. We never had a default. We never had a bad loan. Now we go back to the bank, and they say, we can’t do business with you anymore.

Because they don’t qualify, even though they’re better than the people that do qualify. It’s incredible. But we’re back to the strong days of our banks. And not the days of trouble — pre-that — we’re back to the — where bankers can make loans and community bankers can make great loans to good people.

You saw what happened recently where the certain agency or bureau that was causing so much trouble to lenders, where they could not lend. They just couldn’t lend. It was devastating. They were going out of business. Well, we’re taking care of that. We’ve already taken care of a big part of it, and yesterday you saw we won the lawsuit. So that’s going to be taken care of automatically. (Applause.) Got to get back to business.

Our focus is on helping the folks who work in the mailrooms and machine shops of America — the plumbers, the carpenters, the cops, the teachers, the truck drivers, the pipe fitters — the people that like me best. (Laughter.) Actually, the rich people actually don’t like me, which is sort of interesting.

And that’s fine. You know what? I like that trade. (Laughter.) But really, the people that like me best are those people — the workers. They’re the people I understand the best. Those are the people I grew up with. Those are the people I worked on construction sites with. (Applause.)

All of the people who give their best each and every day to take care of their family and the country that they love — these are incredible people. They came out to vote for me. They came out to vote for us. People that worked hard, two jobs, three jobs, that hadn’t voted in many years because they never had anybody they wanted to vote for.

And they came out — I’ll never forget, in Tennessee, a great congressman told me — they had early voting — said, I’ll tell you what, we just went through four days of early voting. At that time, it was Mr. Trump. Now they say, Mr. President. But it was Mr. Trump.

He said, and if the other parts of the country are like what’s happening in Tennessee — people are coming from all over Tennessee. They haven’t voted in years, and now they’ve got Trump shirts and they’ve got Trump hats, and they’ve got Trump-Pence, and they’ve got everything Trump and Trump-Pence.

[Trump can’t get through a single speech without crowing over the 2016 Election.]

And he said, I’ve never seen anything like it, and I’ve been a politician for a lot of years. And if it’s anything like Tennessee, you’re going to have one hell of a victory. It turned out to be a lot like Tennessee, so — (applause). And it turned out to be a lot like Missouri. That I can tell you. (Applause.) Because we had a big one here.

And I promised Josh that, when he gets it going — and he’s got it in very good shape, from what I hear, he’s a popular — everybody said, Josh, got to be Josh. Everyone who saw me — I said, who’s going to run against her? Josh, Josh. I said, Josh, when you’re ready, you have my word, I’m going to come here and campaign with you. We got to get you in. Okay? (Applause.) Got to get you in.

It’s not enough for the middle class to keep getting by; we want them to start getting way ahead. (Applause.) We’re going to have them start getting way ahead.

Under our plan, middle-class families will not only see their tax bill go down, they will see their incomes go up by an average of around $4,000. (Applause.) And that’s because we’re going to cut taxes on American businesses so they will compete for workers, they’ll raise salaries. The business is going to be happy and the workers are going to be happy and the country is going to be a happy place.

Although, we’re going to have very strong borders. Please remember that, okay? Please remember. (Applause.)

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Build the wall.

THE PRESIDENT: We’re going to have the wall. Don’t worry about it, we’re going to have the wall. (Applause.) We don’t forget that wall. A lot of people say, now that he got elected, is he going to build the wall? The answer is, absolutely — more so, I think more so. (Applause.)

It’s not easy dealing with the Democrats. They want to have people pour into our country — illegals. They don’t care where the hell they come from. They want to have them pour into our country, they want to raise your taxes, they don’t want to take care of your military, and all they’re good at, frankly, is obstructing. They want to obstruct.

But you know what? They may obstruct, but we have gotten through all of the obstruction so far. We’ll keep it going, believe me. (Applause.)

Today, America has one of the least competitive tax rates on planet Earth — 60 percent. Think of that: 60 percent higher than the average in the developed world. So our taxes are 60 percent higher.

On my recent trip to Asia, every single one of the countries I visited, even those with communist governments, have slashed its corporate tax rates and slashed them dramatically. And it’s very tough competition anyway. But when their taxes are a lot lower, it really makes it very tough.

And that trip was a tremendous success. You know, we brought back $250 billion in contracts. That’s going to be over a trillion dollars very soon. (Applause.) That’s a good week and a half’s work. Boeing came back with contracts. So many of our companies came back, and I’m very proud of them. And we’re doing great.

But at the same time, we’re going to fix trade because trade is unfair. We’re getting killed on trade. So we’re going to fix our trade. Unless anybody would like to continue with this horrible situation that we have.

AUDIENCE: Booo —

THE PRESIDENT: Our plan gets America from the back of the pack and it’ll bring us right to number one, where we were for years but where we haven’t been for decades. We’re going to be right back at number one. (Applause.)

And we’re going to work on trade, but we’re also going to work on military. When we defend nations that are very wealthy, and we do it for almost nothing, I say, why are we defending them? We love them. I won’t mention names, but there are a lot of them. We love them. They’re wealthy.

One of them has a cash flow that they say is unsustainable, it’s so large. Think of that. How would you like to have an unsustainable cash flow? They don’t know what to do with their money. And we defend them. It’s going to change, folks. We’re going to defend them, but they’re going to treat us fairly. And they’re going to pay for their defense. Does that make sense? (Applause.)

And a lot of this is from many, many years ago, when we defended a defeated country and then they became strong and they became rich and we just kept the same defense. What happened? Why didn’t anybody go in and negotiate?

And when I was in Asia, I spoke to a couple of the countries about it, and they looked like this. Do you know what this is? (Laughter.) That means they know they’re getting away with murder and they got to start helping us out, okay? So if you don’t mind, I’ll start bringing that up with some of our good friends. (Applause.)

We’re going to lower our tax rate to the very competitive number of 20 percent, as I said. And we’re going to create jobs and factories will be pouring into this country, and they already are starting. A lot of people think it’s going to happen. I don’t want to say anything. I’m not going to talk about it. I thought we had healthcare, and we will have healthcare. It’s going to happen. As soon as we get the taxes, we work on the healthcare, we’re going to happen. Because we thought we had the votes and something happened a little strange — (laughter) — that’s okay.

When you lose by one vote, then it’s called — you go back. You know, some people said, oh, you failed with healthcare. I said, what do you mean we failed? We didn’t fail. And by the way, what happened — what happened is Obama took a long time — years — to get Obamacare, right? Again, ten months? We’ve had two runs at it. We’re coming closer, closer. I think now we have a plan that’s going to be great. But we’re not talking about it until after taxes. And then we take care of healthcare.

Then we will have done tax cuts, the biggest in history; healthcare, phenomenal healthcare. I know you don’t want this — welfare reform. Does anybody want welfare reform? (Applause.) And infrastructure. But welfare reform — I see it and I’ve talked to people. I know people, they work three jobs and they live next to somebody who doesn’t work at all. And the person who’s not working at all and has no intention of working at all is making more money and doing better than the person that’s working his and her ass off. And it’s not going to happen. Not going to happen. (Applause.)

So we’re going to go into welfare reform, unless Billy doesn’t want it. Billy, am I okay in saying that I speak for you? He said, yes.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: We love you, Billy. (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: You got a lot of friends out there, Bill.

Well, we’ll also cut taxes for the millions of small businesses that file as individuals, and that’s going to come out of the hopper. (Applause.) It’s getting there and it’s going to be better and better. We’re reducing the tax burden on businesses of all sizes and of every, single kind.

As a candidate, I pledged to fight for American jobs. I think it’s possibly the number one reason I got elected. And I think we’ve done a lot better, at this point, than anybody ever even thought possible. Think of that, two million jobs since the election — two million more jobs in this country since the election. Nobody expected that. Nobody expected that. Excuse me, I didn’t even expect that. (Laughter.)

But you cut those regulations and you give people spirit and incentive. And when you have the highest ratings, in terms of confidence, that the country has had in many, many years — maybe ever — things happen.

The tax cut will mean more companies moving to America, staying in America, and hiring American workers right here. So that’s so important, right? (Applause.)

Small business groups across our nation, retailers, restaurants, manufacturers, grocers, contractors support this plan. We have tremendous support for this plan. Tremendous. Because these massive tax cuts will be rocket fuel — (laughter) — Little Rocket Man — (laughter) — rocket fuel for the American economy. (Applause.) He is a sick puppy….

[Out of no where, a gratuitous dig at North Korea.]

We want to make it easier for loving families to pass on their life’s work to their children. Be nice. Be very nice, right? (Applause.)

That’s a tough one. The Democrats fight that one I think harder than any other thing that we’re doing. They fight the death tax. They don’t want it. They don’t like it. They don’t want it. It’s one of those things. But that is one of the hardest things. I have to be — I see people right here. They’re obviously very rich, and they love their children, right, in this group? (Laughter.) They love their children. They’re very rich. They want to pass on what they have without having to have the kids sell the property, mortgage up half of it. But the biggest problem we have on that one, these Democrats are being brutal. And I call them obstructionists, but they want to stop the estate tax. They want to stop the death tax from being rescinded. But we’re going to try our best on that one.

[Of course Trump and his donors, the Kochs, Mercers, Adelson, want to rescind the estate tax which impacts a few thousand individuals because the cap is so high: Trump’s kids stand to pocket an extra $1 billion when Donald kicks the bucket.]

Our economy will receive another enormous boost as trillions of dollars in wealth that’s parked overseas will be able to come back to our country.

Now, this one that’s interesting because for years Republicans and Democrats agreed. You have Apple, and you have these great companies having billions and billions of dollars overseas. Now who doesn’t want the money to come back?

But to show you the lack of leadership that this country had in the past, the Republicans want it, and the Democrats want it. And nothing ever happened. You could have passed that one easy. In fact, we’re just throwing it into this bill. I could have had a separate bill on that one — I think. Don’t you agree, fellas? I could have had a separate bill on that one and gotten it passed in record time. But I figured I’d put it here because it is actually popular.

But it used to be $2.5 trillion. You know what that is? Trillion. Money you can’t bring back in. It’s prohibitive — both in complexity and in the amount of tax you have to pay. So nobody brings back in — $2.5 trillion. But $2.5 [trillion] I’ve been saying for six years. I think now it’s $4 trillion to $5 trillion. All that money is coming back into the United States, and it’s going to be invested in our country, instead of sitting and helping others. We want our own help. (Applause.)

That’s sort of an easy one. Last year, American multinational companies left more than 70 percent of their foreign profits overseas because the current tax system penalizes them for bringing that money back home. They actually get penalized. Our plan switches to a territorial tax system that encourages companies to return their profits to America — right here to the United States — where that money belongs going back to work for you. Territorial. (Applause.)

[Democrats support the concept in theory, but not the way it will be abused. The Republican plan doesn’t prevent companies from continuing to offshore profits to avoid tax. Democrats including Obama were always in favor of lowering the corporate tax rate to the range of 20%, but removing the loopholes so they actually do pay tax.]

If we want America to thrive in the 21st century, then we must stop running from the competition. And instead, we must start totally winning and winning and winning again. Remember when I used to say: We’re going to win so much. We’re going to win — that the people of Missouri are going to go to your governor, and they’re going to say, Governor, please, go see the President. We can’t stand winning so much. Remember I used to say that? (Laughter.) Right? I used to say it, and that’s what’s happening. That’s what’s happening. (Applause.)

And then the governor is going to come to that beautiful historic Oval Office. He’s going to say to me, Mr. President, the people of Missouri cannot stand all this winning. (Laughter.) They don’t want to win so much. They love the old way where they had lousy job numbers, lousy economic numbers, lousy — yeah, they loved it. Please, Mr. President, please, not — and I’ll say, Governor, I don’t care what they say in Missouri, we’re going to keep winning and winning and winning. Remember? (Laughter.) That’s right. (Applause.)

I used to say that. I had fun with that. But we are winning. We’re winning again. We’re winning a lot bigger than anyone ever thought possible for such a short period of time.

For too long, our tax code has incentivized companies to leave our country in search of lower tax rates. It happens. Many, many companies — they’re going to Ireland. They’re going all over. They’re going all over Asia. But they’re stopping because they now want to take advantage of what’s happening and what we’re about to pass, hopefully.

My administration rejects the offshoring model. In other words, let’s build a factory in another country. Isn’t that wonderful? That really helps us a lot. Fire everybody, and let’s build a product, and let’s send it in, without tax, back into the United States.

That model doesn’t work for me. It never worked, and it shouldn’t have worked for any of our other past Presidents, believe me. (Applause.)

Our new model is the American model. Call it the Trump model, where we build it here. As much as possible, we build it here. Simply put, our tax plan is anti-offshoring and 100 percent worker, 100 percent worker, 100 percent pro-America. (Applause.)

Under the American model, we’re reducing burdens on our businesses as long as they do business in our country. Okay? They do business here.

Now, we love Mexico. It’s a wonderful place. But I don’t like when our car companies move to Mexico, fire everybody, build the same car in Mexico, send it through our borders with no taxes, no nothing, and we buy the car. Same price. We buy the car.

In the meantime, what do we get out of it? We get no tax and we get unemployment all over. That’s stopping. So now the plants are starting to move back. And now there’s a price to pay when they do that little number on us. (Applause.) That’s how we will all succeed and we grow together as one team, one people, as one American family. (Applause.)

This week’s vote can be the beginning of the next great chapter for the American worker.

To summarize: Our plan cuts taxes for the working and middle-income families; it nearly doubles the amount of income taxed at the rate of zero; it lowers tax rate; it expands the child tax credit; it provides relief from the estate tax, also known as the death tax; it cuts small business taxes; it reduces the corporate rate from 35 percent all the way down to 20 percent; and it provides a one-time low tax rate to return corporate money parked overseas — trillions and trillions of dollars.

This is the right plan. This is the right time. We have a moment in time. The Republicans have the Senate. The Republicans have the House. The Republicans have the White House. It’s very unusual. It’s very unusual. (Applause.)

This is our chance to free our economy from our workers — from the terrible tax burdens. We have workers that are so burdened with taxes. We’re freeing our workers from those terrible burdens.

Republicans in Congress campaigned on cutting taxes. We also campaigned on repeal and replace. It’s going to happen. It’s going to happen. Take your time, it’s going to happen — going to happen. (Applause.)

Many Democrats have promised tax cuts that don’t mean anything because they really want major tax increases. Senator Claire McCaskill — have you ever heard of her?

AUDIENCE: Booo —

THE PRESIDENT: — is doing you a tremendous disservice. She wants your taxes to go up. She’s weak on crime, she’s weak on borders, she’s weak on illegal immigrations, and she’s weak on the military. Other than that, I think she’s doing a fantastic job. (Laughter.)

[Trump uses this kneejerk attack on any Democrat or anyone he doesn’t like without regard for truth.]

But now comes the moment of truth. In the coming days, the American people will learn which politicians are part of the swamp and which politicians want to drain the swamp. (Applause.)

If you make your voices heard and call up your congressmen — and they’ve been terrific — and call up your senators — and they have been totally terrific. Most of them have been incredible. They really are. They’re friends of mine. They’ve been incredible.

But, it doesn’t take much. That’s why we need more. We need to have a larger number. But most of them have been incredible. But call your senators. Call you congressmen, because we have no choice. We have to act. We have to act as a country. This isn’t good for the Republican Party; this is good for the country and that’s ultimately what’s it all about. (Applause.)

So, this week, hopefully, the Senate can join the House and take that strong stand for middle-class families and for business, and for jobs, and for competition, and for bringing money back. Together, we will give the American people a big, beautiful Christmas present. (Applause.)

And remember, I was the one — when I was here last time, I said, we’re going to have Christmas again. I was the one that said, you go to the department stores and you see “Happy New Years,” and you see red, and you see snow, and you see all these things. You don’t see “Merry Christmas” anymore.

With Trump as your President, we are going to be celebrating Merry Christmas again, and it’s going to be done with a big, beautiful tax cut. (Applause.)

Thank you everybody. God bless you. Thank you. Thank you everybody. Thank you very much.

________

© 2017 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

 

 

Cuomo to Trump: ‘Do Not Use [Blue] New York as Piggybank for Other [Red] States’

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today issued a letter to President Donald J. Trump condemning the federal tax plan to eliminate or roll back state and local tax deductibility and calling on the President not to use New York as a piggybank for other states. © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today issued a letter to President Donald J. Trump condemning the federal tax plan to eliminate or roll back state and local tax deductibility and calling on the President not to use New York as a piggybank for other states.

Here is text of the letter:

Dear President Trump, 

I write to you on an issue that impacts every single American: pending federal tax legislation. I am not writing as a Democratic Governor to a Republican President, but rather as one New Yorker who cares about New York and the country to another. I often say to the New York State legislature, “we are Democrats and we are Republicans, but we are New Yorkers first.” 

As you well know, the House is expected to release additional details of a “tax cut” plan this week that in reality amounts to a “tax increase” plan for states like New York. The current proposal primarily uses New York and California as the piggybank to make it possible to cut taxes for other states. By eliminating or rolling back state and local tax deductibility, Washington is sending a death blow to New York’s middle class families and our economy. 

I understand the politics at play here. California and New York are “blue states.” I also understand that the political map dictates that most Republican members of Congress come from outside the Northeast and West Coast and their primary motivation is to help their states at any cost, even when it comes at the cost of middle class New Yorkers. But when the economies of New York and California suffer, and they will, the nation follows.  

It’s clear this is a hostile political act aimed at the economic heart of New York with no basis on the merits. First, it is an illegal and unconstitutional double taxation that forces our middle class families to subsidize a tax cut for the rest of the nation, and it is contrary to every principle the Republican Party has always espoused. Second, it reverses all the bipartisan progress New York State has made in lowering taxes over these past few years. While we have lowered state income taxes, capped property taxes and are forcing local governments to consider shared services, this federal act would erase all those gains and in fact increase taxes. Eliminating state and local deductibility will result in a tax increase of $5,660 on average for one in three taxpayers in New York, or 3.3 million New Yorkers.

This backward tax plan has encountered much deserved resistance, including from Republicans in the Senate. Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch said “I don’t think that’s going to go anywhere,” adding that state and local tax deductibility is “a system that’s worked very well.” In the face of this pushback, Republican leadership is now trying to salvage their tax plan with a so-called “compromise.” Their scheme is to allow a property tax deduction, but do away with the deduction for state income taxes. For middle class New York families, the average tax increase attributable to losing that deduction would be $1,715.  And considering the original federal proposal would cost New York State taxpayers $18.6 billion, this “compromise” does little to help our state since it would still cost New York State taxpayers nearly $15 billion.

Another “compromise” that is being suggested, where only higher income individuals would lose the state and local deductibility, is a 3-card Monte game that could be played on 42nd Street in Manhattan. New Yorkers are not stupid. We know that if deductibility is eliminated on higher incomes it will have a ripple effect, forcing these New Yorkers to move out of the state, taking their tax revenue with them, thus increasing taxes on everyone else. New York will not be in a position to cut state taxes because both the original proposal, as well as the proposed compromise, will force the highest taxpayers from the state and deplete our revenue stream. As you know, five percent of New York State taxpayers account for nearly two thirds of our annual income tax revenue. 

I understand why Paul Ryan would seek to hurt New York, but to ask New York Republican members of Congress to vote to raise taxes on their constituents is a betrayal against their state and their constituents. In fact, seven of nine Republicans from New York are against it. The two representatives who support it—Congressmen Collins and Reed—are the Benedict Arnolds of their time because they are putting their own political benefit above the best interests of their constituents.

Speaker Ryan’s only justification is that other states subsidize New York. He is just wrong. They don’t. The opposite is true. New York subsidizes every other state in the nation. We are the highest donor state which means we send $48 billion more in tax dollars to the federal government than we receive back in federal spending. 

To be fair, this is not a new idea to pillage New York and California and send their wealth to other states. Congress tried it under President Reagan, but the gross injustice of it caused all but the most partisan and callous officials to drop support. Today’s proposals are no different. Our Congressional representatives should be saying it’s time New Yorkers get their money back. Instead, the current proposal would be taking even more revenue from the number one donor state. How unfair. 

There is no middle ground here. Any of the proposed “compromises” will still destroy New York’s economy and harm the middle class. There can be no elimination, no “compromise,” and no cap on state and local tax deductibility.

New York needs your help.  You can stop this. And you should not just as an American, but as a New Yorker.

Sincerely,

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

Cc:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan

Trump, NRA Have This to Say to Americans: You Must Be Soldiers and Martyrs on the Altar of Gun Rights

Mothers who lost their child to gun violence at the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. Jim Dean of Democracy for America says, “Congress has caved to the NRA after every mass shooting this decade, from Sandy Hook to San Bernardino, from Umpqua Community College in Oregon to the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, and so many more. They will keep doing so until we defeat them at the ballot box.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

Donald Trump loves all things “biggest”. Like the charge he gets over the United States being hit by the biggest climate catastrophes in history, Trump probably took a measure of delight at the “biggest” mass murder in US history – at this writing 59 dead and 527 injured in just a few minutes at the hands of a 64-year old white male spraying bullets with a military-grade assault rifle from 32nd floor of the Mandalay Hotel on an open-air folk-music concert attended by 22,000. Like shooting fish in a barrel.

In fact, there have already been 521 mass shootings in the 477 days since the Pulse Nightclub massacre in Orlando, the last record holder, drawing no remark from Trump. But this one is one for the record books.

Trump, predictably, evoked prayer and called for flying “our great flag” at half-staff. He calls for “unity” because it means mindlessly following authority. “God lives in the hearts of those who grieve.” Sure, that will salve the loss of loved ones. And to the wounded, numbering more than 500? “I pledge to you our support from this day forward.” What does that mean, exactly, when he is doing his best to take away health care from tens of millions, when any concept of health care he advocates would remove mental illness from the list of required conditions covered under Obamacare? Who pays for the multiple surgeries and rehabilitation to save and restore victims’ lives?

Imagine the tone he would have taken if the murderer was Muslim or a terrorist or a foreigner.

Trump will do his best to deflect from this tragedy, say “this is not the time” to consider sensible gun restrictions. He will call for greater security (police state), shift responsibility onto the hotel, say that 33,000 deaths a year is the “price of freedom” and move on to tax so-called “reform” aimed at furthering the redistribution of wealth to the already ridiculously wealthy and politically powerful like the NRA. Trump, the Republicans and the NRA would have us be soldiers and martyrs, terrorized and dying on the altar of gun rights. In the same way as he never criticizes Putin, Trump will never go against the NRA.

Will he be a leader and call for sensible gun violence prevention measures that are supported by 80%  of Americans including overwhelming majorities of gun-owners and NRA members, like universal background checks? Of course not. Trump has already overturned Obama orders desperate to stem gun violence, including barring people who are deemed “mentally incapacitated” from buying a gun.

Instead, the Gun Lobby – the NRA and its gun manufacturer masters – knowing they have an dufus ally in the White House and a complicit Republican majority in Congress (even after Congressman Scalise was shot and his Republican compatriots at baseball practice fired on), are pushing to ease what little gun regulations there are, for example, opening up the floodgates to the use of silencers so that innocents can be even easier prey and police would have an even harder time locating a perpetrator. In 4 minutes, 1600 rounds fired, dozens die, hundreds face lifelong injury (and how are injuries and recovery paid for with the dismantling of health care?).

The gun lobby now is enthusiastically pushing for “Concealed Carry Reciprocity,” which would overrule any state’s gun restrictions to the weakest states laws. New York State’s tough restrictions would be nullified.

There is so much that could be done and should be done if Congress really cared to stem terrorism and tragedy and promote public health and safety: universal background checks, restoring the ban on assault weapons and mega-ammo magazines; requiring gun holders to register (after all, you have to register to vote) and universal background checks; regulating online sales and ending the gun-show loophole, banning people on the Terror Watch List from buying guns, ending Stand Your Ground. And easing access to mental health care. And while you are removing the ban suppressing pediatricians Hippocratic oath and freedom of speech to counsel parents to lock away their guns; overturning the Dickey Amendment to allow research on gun safety; requiring federal dollars for military and police weaponry be “smart guns” (like smart phones) to turn the industry around.

You can never know who will become a murderer  – how often do you hear people say, “Who would have believed”, “He was such a nice man”.

But there is one common denominator for all these tragedies: the ease with which individuals can obtain weapons of mass destruction. ISIS has already invited would-be terrorists to take advantage of lax gun laws. You can’t stop every act of terror – but it is plainly clear that incidents that involve other weapons like knives and machetes and even cars, do not have the same lethal success of assault weapons.

“Accessibility to weapons is the greatest national security threat in the US,” a security adviser tells NPR, and Nevada has some of the loosest gun laws in the US. Combine that with what we like to call a “free society.” A lone wolf is the worst nightmare of law enforcement because they are impossible to track or detect.”

The Bill of Rights does not allow for any restriction on guns? Nonsense: read the full 2nd Amendment, not just the “shall not be infringed” part and you will see that it is the ONLY amendment that has qualifications and limitations built in: “A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state….” If you would be an “originalist” taking the 2ndamendment literally, you would restrict gun ownership to people who are in the National Guard or military or police – those who provide for the “security of a free state” and the “common defense” – there is nothing about an individual’s unlimited right to have a gun. And if you would be a true ideological, fundamentalist “originalist” you would restrict a gun to a single-ball musket, which was the most advanced technology of the time, a time when people had to hunt their food and protect themselves from Indians and in the absence of a standing army, settlers had to defend against an invading force.

On the other hand, the Constitution provides for a government “by the people, for the people” and for voting, and the Trumpists have no problem whatsoever imposing such onerous voter registration procedures and election site restrictions that become obstacles to the right to vote. Isn’t that interesting: it’s okay to require voter registration but not gun registration. In fact, in Texas, a gun permit is acceptable ID for voting, but a college student ID is not.

You can never know who will become a murderer (how often do you hear people say, “Who would have believed”, “he was such a nice man”) – as is the case of the Las Vegas shooter, who did not seem to conform with any of the usual attributes of a mass murderer (white male, 64 years old, no political or religious agenda, well-off, in a relationship, no history of mental illness). But there is a common denominator for all these tragedies – Tucson, Orlando, San Bernardino, Columbine, Virginia Tech  – the ease with which individuals can obtain weapons of mass destruction. You can’t stop every act of terror – but it is plainly clear that incidents that involve other weapons – knives, machetes – do not have the same lethal success of assault weapons.

Consider how much of our GDP goes to security in order to protect the “freedom” of gun owners but take away the security, freedom, and the very lives of everyone else . Just look at the money we spend to safeguard our schools that could otherwise go to actually teaching. Now hotels, amusement parks, churches, shopping malls, and concert venues will also have to allocate their operating budgets. Think of the rights we allow to be trampled in order leave unrestrained the 2nd amendment: 1st amendment rights of free speech and assembly and 4th amendment right against unreasonable search and privacy. Would that they value voting rights as highly.

But as Senator Bernie Sanders reminded us, there have been more mass shootings this year than days of the year, this is just the most sensational.

“..it should be clear to all that we have got to do everything we can to stop guns from falling into the hands of people who should not have them. It is long past time for Congress to take action on gun safety to save innocent lives.”

Rebecca Fischer, Executive Director of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, stated,  “Easy access to guns–particularly weapons designed to kill many people rapidly–repeatedly leads to tragedy and loss of life.  Rather than ‘thoughts and prayers’ from our elected officials, we need action to address this public health epidemic.”

Jim Dean, chair of Democracy For America, put it more bluntly:

“How is Congress responding to last night’s terror attack in Las Vegas? By getting ready to pass a bill to make it easier to buy silencers — a top priority for the NRA.

“Republican elected officials offer their thoughts and prayers. They lower flags to half-staff. But they will never act to stop gun violence and mass shootings, because they’re in league with the NRA.

“The NRA is unrepentant. They and their allies in Congress don’t think there’s anything wrong with what happened in Las Vegas last night. In fact, they are doubling down in support of laws that enable white men like Stephen Paddock to use guns to terrorize their families and communities.

“Congress has caved to the NRA after every mass shooting this decade, from Sandy Hook to San Bernardino, from Umpqua Community College in Oregon to the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, and so many more. They will keep doing so until we defeat them at the ballot box.

“The NRA and their Republican allies are not just promoting gun violence — they are promoting white supremacy and toxic masculinity.

“They refuse to acknowledge that these mass shooters are terrorists, because the people doing the shooting are mostly white men. When it’s a person of color, however, they’re quick to call them terrorists.

“The NRA’s primary agenda is to promote a culture of gun ownership among white men — often by demonizing people of color as threats. The NRA vehemently defends “stand your ground” laws that were used to let the man who killed Trayvon Martin off the hook.

“The NRA also openly enables violence against women, including by their past opposition to legislation to keep guns out of the hands of men who have threatened or committed domestic violence. Many mass shooters have a history of violent threats and acts against women. It’s part of the ‘profile’ of these shooters now.”

Gabby Giffords, who was an Arizona Congresswoman until she was shot in the head by a mass murderer only stopped when one of his guns jammed, and now heads Americans for Responsible Solutions, wrote: “Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of this shooting, their families, and their friends. But the truth is, for those who have the power to act and to save lives, thoughts and prayers are not nearly enough.

“So today, I am praying for my former colleagues as well — that they find the courage to make progress on the issue of gun violence in America…

“Some will say that now is not the time to have this conversation, but the truth is that we cannot wait. Congress cannot delay. Now is exactly the right time to take positive action that will keep our our communities safer. The nation is counting on them.

“I also know enough from my time in Congress that action is only possible if people make their voices heard. So today, especially today, I want to ask you to do just that — to demand action from our elected leaders. Action that will save lives:

““Tell Congress: ENOUGH is ENOUGH. Pass legislation to make our communities safer from gun violence. To do nothing is not acceptable. Now is the time for action.”

“We watch, time and time again, as people describe these mass shootings as unimaginable acts of evil, but the sad fact is that this is not true. There is no other advanced nation in the world where these kinds of mass shootings happen with this kind of frequency.

“The only thing that is unimaginable is the continuous legislative inaction on this issue.

“Hopefully this time will be different, but I know that’s only possible if all of us are willing to act.”

Trump, who has already proved himself incompetent as a leader and who condones police brutality and torture and tells rallies, “Your 2nd Amendment is safe with me,” will do nothing beyond tweet his prayers and attack his critics.

Yes, this is one for the history books. The question is will it be surpassed? Thanks to the utter lack of sensible gun violence prevention, it is all too easy to do so.

________________________

© 2017 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

2-State Solution May Be Only Way to Resolve Israel-Palestinian Conflict, but Israel Should Determine Borders

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the 72nd General Assembly, Sept. 19, 2017: “Israel is committed to achieving peace with all our Arab neighbors, including the Palestinians.” © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

After listening to very erudite analysis of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Middle East politics by Mark Rosenblum, a former Queens College Professor of Mideast Studies and co-founder of Center for Ethnic, Racial, and Religious Understanding (CERRU) at a meeting of Long Island grassroots activists, Reachout America, I came to my own enlightenment. It came when Rosenblum, who is also a founding member of Americans for Peace Now, showed us a map of Israel with the Palestinian communities shown as brown clusters on the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Then he made this point: 80% of the 420,000 Jewish settlers in the so-called Occupied territory, the vast majority secular and not messianic Jews, live along a sliver of that territory that hugs the internationally recognized border of Israel.

Mark Rosenblum, a former Queens College Professor of Mideast Studies, co-founder of Center for Ethnic, Racial, and Religious Understanding (CERRU), and founding member of Americans for Peace Now, at a meeting of Long Island grassroots activists, Reachout America © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Now, for the longest time, the contention has been that even though the Arab states invaded Israel in 1967 en masse intending to drive the Israelis (Hebrews) into the sea and despite the fact Israel won the war for its very existence, that the Palestinians are entitled to 100% of the land that Israel occupied (forget the fact that Israel has already given back the entire Negev to Egypt in a “land for peace” deal, and has already uprooted its settlers to give back the Gaza Strip). The Palestinians insist on Israel being returned to its pre-1967 borders, including dividing once again the holy city of Jerusalem, which it intends to make its capital. And even after the rest of the occupied territory is given “back” to Palestinians, they are still demanding the right of return into the Jewish State. They want it all, despite being the aggressors.

I happen to support a two-state solution, convinced of the argument as expressed by former President Ehud Barak when he spoke in Great Neck, that Israel cannot swallow up the Palestinians and simultaneously remain secure and democratic – the demographics are such that unless Palestinians are not allowed full citizenship (and the ability to vote and be represented in the Knesset), the Jewish State would fairly quickly become majority Muslim.

But what I don’t understand is that the Arabs who sought in 1967 and still today seek to destroy Israel (despite any calculatedly tempered language) should have all the territory returned without bearing any consequence.

Israel should not apologize for taking the lead on drawing the new borders – it should dictate those borders according to its own self-interest, and that means a unified Jerusalem and a border that includes the vast majority of the settlers, and no right of return.

Israel should be a contiguous nation with defensible borders – not hollowed out with a Gaza strip from which thousands of rockets have rained down on Israel’s civilian communities and would continue to be an incubator for terror attacks. That is intolerable.  Israel should take back Gaza and allow the Palestinians to relocate to the new Palestinian state, or if they stay, become loyal citizens of Israel (yes I recognize the issue, but Israel already has Arab citizens). This would not be the same as ethnic cleansing, which is repugnant, because the Palestinians would not be thrown out. They would have the freedom to choose their citizenship, just as they chose to leave in the first place. Meanwhile, Jewish settlers would also have to be uprooted from the territory that abuts Jordan.

This is not to be confused with another sticking point, which oddly is rarely mentioned in terms of why the Israel-Palestine conflict has been intractable: the right of return. There should not be any right of return. In the first place, the Arabs who left, left because they thought they would be able to join the conquering army and throw out the Jews. In other instances, the land was purchased.

So, looking at the map that Rosenblum presented, carve out from that a Palestinian State. Let the Palestinians make their desert bloom as the Israelis did with sweat, innovation and invention.

Map of Israel and the Occupied Territories showing the concentration of Palestinian and Jewish settlements provided by Mark Rosenblum.

I heard all of this, and then went to the UN General Assembly and heard Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu basically say what Rosenblum said: “The Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the larger Arab-Israel conflict – was the cornerstone, the touchstone about how to think about the Mideast, …the Israel-Palestinian conflict was the driver – if you don’t solve that problem, you don’t solve anything. Today, one has to think of Israel-Palestine in context of Mideast imploding with contagion.” And terrorism that has spilled over from the Mideast.

Netanyahu, put it another way:”We’re in the midst of a great revolution. A revolution in Israel’s standing among the nations. This is happening because so many countries around the world have finally woken up to what Israel can do for them.” This is because, he said, “Israel is THE innovation nation. THE place for cutting-edge technology and agriculture, in water, in cybersecurity, in medicine, in autonomous vehicles” and counterterrorism. Israel has provided intelligence that has prevented dozens of major terrorist attacks around the world. We have saved countless lives. Now, you may not know this, but your governments do, and they’re working closely together with Israel to keep your countries safe and your citizens safe.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the 72nd General Assembly: ”We’re in the midst of a great revolution. A revolution in Israel’s standing among the nations.” © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Indeed, Netanyahu had very little to say about the Israel-Palestinian conflict, except almost matter-of-factly, “Israel is committed to achieving peace with all our Arab neighbors, including the Palestinians.” Instead, he devoted a considerable portion of his remarks attacking Iran and a call to “fix or nix” the Iran nuclear agreement and rein in Iran’s terror activities.

But while Netanyahu seemed to breeze through the Israel-Palestinian conflict (the topic of a Security Council meeting on Sept. 25), Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, in his General Assembly address, went on a tirade about how dare the UN not enforce the 1967 borders, including making Jerusalem the Palestinian capital, how dare the good people of the world not boycott the settlements, how dare Britain not apologize for the Balfour Declaration, and not make reparations to the poor, poor Palestinians, and how could the UN not demand the right of return (with recompense) to Palestinian refugees.

Mahmoud Abbas, President of the state of Palestine, meets with United Nations Secretary General António Guterres during the 72nd General Assembly © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Mind you, Netanyahu had only hours before called the United Nations “the epicenter of global anti-Semitism.” 

There is a solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict: a two-state solution around practical borders that Israel gets to set. But there does not seem to be the ability to embrace it, as even Rosenblum, who has been working on the issue for 42 years, seemed to conclude:

“They will not by themselves have the will or capacity to pull themselves out of the mud and blood they are soaking in. Leaders on all sides -Netanyahu, Abbas, Trump – represent not the Three Musketeers but the Three Stooges. They will take us no where toward a historic breakthrough.

Donald Trump addresses the 72nd General Assembly in NYC, one of the “Three Stooges”. “They will take us no where toward a historic breakthrough,” says Mark Rosenblum. © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“The Israeli street and Arab street are stuck as to whether enemy or frenemy for eternity. Every morning, Mideast changes- yesterday frenemy is today ally, yesterday enemy is frenemy today.

“We have to find way of addition through subtraction,” said Rosenblum. “The real hope for a breakthrough toward Israel-Palestinian peace is coming from Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait and Gulf States except Qatar. They treat Israel as an ally, a bulwark against Iran – that’s what the Trump generals are most interested in working on.”

Demonstration of Orthodox Jews who do not want to be conscripted into Israel’s army protest PM Benjamin Netanyahu during his visit to the United Nations General Assembly in NYC. © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

See also:

Netanyahu to UN General Assembly: ‘After 70 years, the world is embracing Israel, and Israel is embracing the world’

Abbas in Hard-line Speech to General Assembly, Issues Demands for 2-State Solution

________

© 2017 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

 

Trump Stumps for War, America First Foreign Policy, in address to United Nations General Assembly

US President Donald Trump, in his first speech to the United Nations General Assembly, lays out his “America First” foreign doctrine, threatening to annihilate North Korea, take action against Venezuela, end the Iran Nuclear agreement, overturn trade agreements © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

United Nations delegates to the 72nd General Assembly sat in stunned silence for most of Donald Trump’s speech in which he threatened to destroy North Korea, end the Iran nuclear agreement, renew sanctions on Cuba, threatened military action in Venezuela, and used trade agreements as ransom.

The speech, sounding more like a rehash of the dystopian vision he laid out in his Inaugural Address (“Major portions of the world are in conflict and some, in fact, are going to hell”) and pitched more to his base than a world audience and sounding the themes more appropriate for his campaign rallies than the United Nations General Assembly, laid out the Trump doctrine: America First. Indeed, the only plaudits for the speech came from his Trump reelection committee: “President Trump’s speech before the United Nations General Assembly today was a fresh reminder of his America First principles that clearly comprise his foreign policy agenda.”

Trump came to a global body, founded out of the ashes of World War II which ended in a nuclear holocaust, to try to end war and violent conflict through peaceful discussion, cooperation and collaboration, but Trump was having none of it.

“The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.  Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime. “

He boasted of the US military might (a common theme), and spoke about the privilege of dying as a patriot, for love of country.

But he showed that his entire approach was about cash – chiding the UN for what it spends, suggesting that the US spends out of proportion (not to the size of the economy), threatening to upend trade pacts. “We are guided by outcomes, not ideology.”

The most often used word, “sovereignty” is the pillar for his America First doctrine – except that sovereignty is the justification for war, for invasion, for imperialism and exploitation. It is the very antithesis of the United Nations which depends upon countries coming to mutual consensus. It is why Trump never mentioned climate change – a top priority for this General Assembly – and the US was a no-show at the Climate conference convened by French President Macron.

“The problem in Venezuela is not that socialism has been poorly implemented, but that socialism has been faithfully implemented.  From the Soviet Union to Cuba to Venezuela, wherever true socialism or communism has been adopted, it has delivered anguish and devastation and failure.”

The speech began with boasting and self-congratulations, then veered to take pot-shots at Obama (the Iran nuclear agreement was embarrassing, he said), and ended with “God bless America.”

Here is the speech, highlighted and annotated.Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

REMARKS BY PRESIDENT TRUMP

TO THE 72ND SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY

United Nations

New York, New York

 

 

10:04 A.M. EDT

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Mr. Secretary General, Mr. President, world leaders, and distinguished delegates:  Welcome to New York.  It is a profound honor to stand here in my home city, as a representative of the American people, to address the people of the world.

As millions of our citizens continue to suffer the effects of the devastating hurricanes that have struck our country, I want to begin by expressing my appreciation to every leader in this room who has offered assistance and aid.  The American people are strong and resilient, and they will emerge from these hardships more determined than ever before.

(What does that mean, “more determined than ever before?. No acknowledgement of climate change or the need for climate action, or reference to his plan to withdraw or renegotiate the Paris Climate Accord.)

Fortunately, the United States has done very well since Election Day last November 8th.

(All about Trump – a subtle attack on Obama Administration and a boast from him, in a world organization).

The stock market is at an all-time high — a record.  Unemployment is at its lowest level in 16 years, and because of our regulatory and other reforms, we have more people working in the United States today than ever beforeCompanies are moving back, creating job growth the likes of which our country has not seen in a very long time.  And it has just been announced that we will be spending almost $700 billion on our military and defense. 

Our military will soon be the strongest it has ever been.  For more than 70 years, in times of war and peace, the leaders of nations, movements, and religions have stood before this assembly.  Like them, I intend to address some of the very serious threats before us today but also the enormous potential waiting to be unleashed.

US President Donald Trump addresses United Nations 72nd General Assembly, Sept. 19, 2017 © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

We live in a time of extraordinary opportunity.  Breakthroughs in science, technology, and medicine are curing illnesses and solving problems that prior generations thought impossible to solve.

But each day also brings news of growing dangers that threaten everything we cherish and value.  Terrorists and extremists have gathered strength and spread to every region of the planet.  Rogue regimes represented in this body not only support terrorists but threaten other nations and their own people with the most destructive weapons known to humanity. 

 Authority and authoritarian powers seek to collapse the values, the systems, and alliances that prevented conflict and tilted the world toward freedom since World War II.

International criminal networks traffic drugs, weapons, people; force dislocation and mass migration; threaten our borders; and new forms of aggression exploit technology to menace our citizens.

To put it simply, we meet at a time of both of immense promise and great peril.  It is entirely up to us whether we lift the world to new heights, or let it fall into a valley of disrepair.

We have it in our power, should we so choose, to lift millions from poverty, to help our citizens realize their dreams, and to ensure that new generations of children are raised free from violence, hatred, and fear.

This institution was founded in the aftermath of two world wars to help shape this better future.  It was based on the vision that diverse nations could cooperate to protect their sovereignty, preserve their security, and promote their prosperity.

US President Donald Trump addresses United Nations 72nd General Assembly, Sept. 19, 2017 © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

It was in the same period, exactly 70 years ago, that the United States developed the Marshall Plan to help restore Europe.  Those three beautiful pillars — they’re pillars of peace, sovereignty, security, and prosperity.

The Marshall Plan was built on the noble idea that the whole world is safer when nations are strong, independent, and free.  As President Truman said in his message to Congress at that time, “Our support of European recovery is in full accord with our support of the United Nations.  The success of the United Nations depends upon the independent strength of its members.”

To overcome the perils of the present and to achieve the promise of the future, we must begin with the wisdom of the past.  Our success depends on a coalition of strong and independent nations that embrace their sovereignty to promote security, prosperity, and peace for themselves and for the world.

We do not expect diverse countries to share the same cultures, traditions, or even systems of government.  But we do expect all nations to uphold these two core sovereign duties:  to respect the interests of their own people and the rights of every other sovereign nation.  This is the beautiful vision of this institution, and this is foundation for cooperation and success.

Strong, sovereign nations let diverse countries with different values, different cultures, and different dreams not just coexist, but work side by side on the basis of mutual respect.

Strong, sovereign nations let their people take ownership of the future and control their own destiny.  And strong, sovereign nations allow individuals to flourish in the fullness of the life intended by God.

 In America, we do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example for everyone to watch.  This week gives our country a special reason to take pride in that example.  We are celebrating the 230th anniversary of our beloved Constitution — the oldest constitution still in use in the world today.

This timeless document has been the foundation of peace, prosperity, and freedom for the Americans and for countless millions around the globe whose own countries have found inspiration in its respect for human nature, human dignity, and the rule of law.

The greatest in the United States Constitution is its first three beautiful words.  They are:  “We the people.”

Generations of Americans have sacrificed to maintain the promise of those words, the promise of our country, and of our great history.  In America, the people govern, the people rule, and the people are sovereign.  I was elected not to take power, but to give power to the American people, where it belongs.

 (Famous words spoken by every other dictator)

 In foreign affairs, we are renewing this founding principle of sovereignty.  Our government’s first duty is to its people, to our citizens — to serve their needs, to ensure their safety, to preserve their rights, and to defend their values.

US President Donald Trump addresses United Nations 72nd General Assembly, Sept. 19, 2017 © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

As President of the United States, I will always put America first, just like you, as the leaders of your countries will always, and should always, put your countries first.  (Applause.)

(Doesn’t this mean that if a country’s self-interest is in invading another country, like Ukraine, that’s okay? That a justification for war, if your country doesn’t have enough resources for its people, to just take it from someone else? Doesn’t it mean that a country doesn’t cooperate on climate, on alleviating disease and famine because it is n’t in self-interest?)

All responsible leaders have an obligation to serve their own citizens, and the nation-state remains the best vehicle for elevating the human condition.

But making a better life for our people also requires us to work together in close harmony and unity to create a more safe and peaceful future for all people.

 (Oh)

The United States will forever be a great friend to the world, and especially to its allies.  But we can no longer be taken advantage of, or enter into a one-sided deal where the United States gets nothing in return.  As long as I hold this office, I will defend America’s interests above all else.

 (Everything is transactional; dollars and self-interest)

But in fulfilling our obligations to our own nations, we also realize that it’s in everyone’s interest to seek a future where all nations can be sovereign, prosperous, and secure.

US delegation: US Ambassador Nikki Haley, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

America does more than speak for the values expressed in the United Nations Charter.  Our citizens have paid the ultimate price to defend our freedom and the freedom of many nations represented in this great hall.  America’s devotion is measured on the battlefields where our young men and women have fought and sacrificed alongside of our allies, from the beaches of Europe to the deserts of the Middle East to the jungles of Asia.

It is an eternal credit to the American character that even after we and our allies emerged victorious from the bloodiest war in history, we did not seek territorial expansion, or attempt to oppose and impose our way of life on others.

(Not true; and US did impose its concept of democracy and capitalism on everyone else, constrained only by the Soviet Union)

 Instead, we helped build institutions such as this one to defend the sovereignty, security, and prosperity for all.

For the diverse nations of the world, this is our hope.  We want harmony and friendship, not conflict and strife.  We are guided by outcomes, not ideology.  We have a policy of principled realism, rooted in shared goals, interests, and values.

(Transactional; cash on demand, not ideology or values.)

That realism forces us to confront a question facing every leader and nation in this room.  It is a question we cannot escape or avoid.  We will slide down the path of complacency, numb to the challenges, threats, and even wars that we face.  Or do we have enough strength and pride to confront those dangers today, so that our citizens can enjoy peace and prosperity tomorrow?

If we desire to lift up our citizens, if we aspire to the approval of history, then we must fulfill our sovereign duties to the people we faithfully represent.  We must protect our nations, their interests, and their futures. We must reject threats to sovereignty, from the Ukraine to the South China Sea.  We must uphold respect for law, respect for borders, and respect for culture, and the peaceful engagement these allow.  And just as the founders of this body intended, we must work together and confront together those who threaten us with chaos, turmoil, and terror.

The scourge of our planet today is a small group of rogue regimes that violate every principle on which the United Nations is based.  They respect neither their own citizens nor the sovereign rights of their countries.

 If the righteous many do not confront the wicked few, then evil will triumph.  When decent people and nations become bystanders to history, the forces of destruction only gather power and strength.

No one has shown more contempt for other nations and for the wellbeing of their own people than the depraved regime in North Korea.  It is responsible for the starvation deaths of millions of North Koreans, and for the imprisonment, torture, killing, and oppression of countless more.

We were all witness to the regime’s deadly abuse when an innocent American college student, Otto Warmbier, was returned to America only to die a few days later.  We saw it in the assassination of the dictator’s brother using banned nerve agents in an international airport.  We know it kidnapped a sweet 13-year-old Japanese girl from a beach in her own country to enslave her as a language tutor for North Korea’s spies.

If this is not twisted enough, now North Korea’s reckless pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles threatens the entire world with unthinkable loss of human life. 

 It is an outrage that some nations would not only trade with such a regime, but would arm, supply, and financially support a country that imperils the world with nuclear conflict.  No nation on earth has an interest in seeing this band of criminals arm itself with nuclear weapons and missiles.

The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.  Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.  The United States is ready, willing and able, but hopefully this will not be necessary.  That’s what the United Nations is all about; that’s what the United Nations is for.  Let’s see how they do.

Japan’s delegation to the United Nations 72 General Assembly, listening to Trump’s speech; Japan is the only country to have suffered effects of the atomic bomb and now has been intimidated by North Korean missiles © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

It is time for North Korea to realize that the denuclearization is its only acceptable future.  The United Nations Security Council recently held two unanimous 15-0 votes adopting hard-hitting resolutions against North Korea, and I want to thank China and Russia for joining the vote to impose sanctions, along with all of the other members of the Security Council.  Thank you to all involved.

But we must do much more.  It is time for all nations to work together to isolate the Kim regime until it ceases its hostile behavior.

We face this decision not only in North Korea.  It is far past time for the nations of the world to confront another reckless regime — one that speaks openly of mass murder, vowing death to America, destruction to Israel, and ruin for many leaders and nations in this room.

 The Iranian government masks a corrupt dictatorship behind the false guise of a democracy.  It has turned a wealthy country with a rich history and culture into an economically depleted rogue state whose chief exports are violence, bloodshed, and chaos.  The longest-suffering victims of Iran’s leaders are, in fact, its own people.

Rather than use its resources to improve Iranian lives, its oil profits go to fund Hezbollah and other terrorists that kill innocent Muslims and attack their peaceful Arab and Israeli neighbors.  This wealth, which rightly belongs to Iran’s people, also goes to shore up Bashar al-Assad’s dictatorship, fuel Yemen’s civil war, and undermine peace throughout the entire Middle East.

We cannot let a murderous regime continue these destabilizing activities while building dangerous missiles, and we cannot abide by an agreement if it provides cover for the eventual construction of a nuclear program.  (Applause.)

The Iran Deal was one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into.  Frankly, that deal is an embarrassment to the United States, and I don’t think you’ve heard the last of it — believe me.

(An attack on Obama)

© 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

It is time for the entire world to join us in demanding that Iran’s government end its pursuit of death and destruction.  It is time for the regime to free all Americans and citizens of other nations that they have unjustly detained.  And above all, Iran’s government must stop supporting terrorists, begin serving its own people, and respect the sovereign rights of its neighbors.

The entire world understands that the good people of Iran want change, and, other than the vast military power of the United States, that Iran’s people are what their leaders fear the most.  This is what causes the regime to restrict Internet access, tear down satellite dishes, shoot unarmed student protestors, and imprison political reformers.

Oppressive regimes cannot endure forever, and the day will come when the Iranian people will face a choice.  Will they continue down the path of poverty, bloodshed, and terror?  Or will the Iranian people return to the nation’s proud roots as a center of civilization, culture, and wealth where their people can be happy and prosperous once again?

The Iranian regime’s support for terror is in stark contrast to the recent commitments of many of its neighbors to fight terrorism and halt its financing.

In Saudi Arabia early last year, I was greatly honored to address the leaders of more than 50 Arab and Muslim nations.  We agreed that all responsible nations must work together to confront terrorists and the Islamist extremism that inspires them.

(A shout-out to Saudi Arabia, where he boasted of the big military armaments deal)

The Saudi Arabia delegation to the United Nations 72 General Assembly, listening to Trump’s speech © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

We will stop radical Islamic terrorism because we cannot allow it to tear up our nation, and indeed to tear up the entire world.

We must deny the terrorists safe haven, transit, funding, and any form of support for their vile and sinister ideology.  We must drive them out of our nations.  It is time to expose and hold responsible those countries who support and finance terror groups like al Qaeda, Hezbollah, the Taliban and others that slaughter innocent people.

The United States and our allies are working together throughout the Middle East to crush the loser terrorists and stop the reemergence of safe havens they use to launch attacks on all of our people.

(Can’t keep himself from using Trumpisms like “loser” terrorists, “beautiful”, “believe me” and “Rocket Man” for Kim Jong-un)

 Last month, I announced a new strategy for victory in the fight against this evil in Afghanistan.  From now on, our security interests will dictate the length and scope of military operations, not arbitrary benchmarks and timetables set up by politicians.

I have also totally changed the rules of engagement in our fight against the Taliban and other terrorist groups.  In Syria and Iraq, we have made big gains toward lasting defeat of ISIS.  In fact, our country has achieved more against ISIS in the last eight months than it has in many, many years combined.

(Another opportunity for undeserved self-congratulations since these campaigns were underway since Obama)

We seek the de-escalation of the Syrian conflict, and a political solution that honors the will of the Syrian people.  The actions of the criminal regime of Bashar al-Assadincluding the use of chemical weapons against his own citizens — even innocent children — shock the conscience of every decent person.  No society can be safe if banned chemical weapons are allowed to spread.  That is why the United States carried out a missile strike on the airbase that launched the attack.

We appreciate the efforts of United Nations agencies that are providing vital humanitarian assistance in areas liberated from ISIS, and we especially thank Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon for their role in hosting refugees from the Syrian conflict.

The United States is a compassionate nation and has spent billions and billions of dollars in helping to support this effort.

(Thanks to Obama and previous presidents; Republicans are cutting out foreign aid and shrinking the State Department and diplomacy by 30%, while spending $700 billion on military)

We seek an approach to refugee resettlement that is designed to help these horribly treated people, and which enables their eventual return to their home countries, to be part of the rebuilding process.

For the cost of resettling one refugee in the United States, we can assist more than 10 in their home region.  Out of the goodness of our hearts, we offer financial assistance to hosting countries in the region, and we support recent agreements of the G20 nations that will seek to host refugees as close to their home countries as possible.  This is the safe, responsible, and humanitarian approach.

For decades, the United States has dealt with migration challenges here in the Western Hemisphere.  We have learned that, over the long term, uncontrolled migration is deeply unfair to both the sending and the receiving countries.

For the sending countries, it reduces domestic pressure to pursue needed political and economic reform, and drains them of the human capital necessary to motivate and implement those reforms.

For the receiving countries, the substantial costs of uncontrolled migration are borne overwhelmingly by low-income citizens whose concerns are often ignored by both media and government.

 (What does he mean? Where are the facts to justify statement? A report was squashed by White House because it found that immigrants produced a $63 billion net “profit” for the US treasury)

US President Donald Trump, in his first speech to the United Nations General Assembly © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

I want to salute the work of the United Nations in seeking to address the problems that cause people to flee from their homes.  The United Nations and African Union led peacekeeping missions to have invaluable contributions in stabilizing conflicts in Africa.  The United States continues to lead the world in humanitarian assistance, including famine prevention and relief in South Sudan, Somalia, and northern Nigeria and Yemen. 

(Not if Trump and the Republican Congress can help it)

We have invested in better health and opportunity all over the world through programs like PEPFAR, which funds AIDS relief; the President’s Malaria Initiative; the Global Health Security Agenda; the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery; and the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative, part of our commitment to empowering women all across the globe.

(All of which Trump and Republicans would cut out, not to mention denying funds to any international group that has anything to do with providing family planning- belated applause comes here)

Delegates at the United Nations 72 General Assembly, listening to Trump’s speech © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

We also thank — (applause) — we also thank the Secretary General for recognizing that the United Nations must reform if it is to be an effective partner in confronting threats to sovereignty, security, and prosperity.  Too often the focus of this organization has not been on results, but on bureaucracy and process.

 (Cash on demand, again)

 In some cases, states that seek to subvert this institution’s noble aims have hijacked the very systems that are supposed to advance them.  For example, it is a massive source of embarrassment to the United Nations that some governments with egregious human rights records sit on the U.N. Human Rights Council.

 The United States is one out of 193 countries in the United Nations, and yet we pay 22 percent of the entire budget and more.  In fact, we pay far more than anybody realizes.  The United States bears an unfair cost burden, but, to be fair, if it could actually accomplish all of its stated goals, especially the goal of peace, this investment would easily be well worth it.

 (US has 5% of world’s population but generates 25% of global-warming carbon emissions, and accounts for 25% of global economy; contributions to the United Nations are largely based on economy).

Major portions of the world are in conflict and some, in fact, are going to hell.  But the powerful people in this room, under the guidance and auspices of the United Nations, can solve many of these vicious and complex problems.

Secretary-General António Guterres and Miroslav Lajčák (center), President of the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly listen as Trump delivers his speech © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

 The American people hope that one day soon the United Nations can be a much more accountable and effective advocate for human dignity and freedom around the world.  In the meantime, we believe that no nation should have to bear a disproportionate share of the burden, militarily or financially.  Nations of the world must take a greater role in promoting secure and prosperous societies in their own regions.

That is why in the Western Hemisphere, the United States has stood against the corrupt and destabilizing regime in Cuba and embraced the enduring dream of the Cuban people to live in freedom.  My administration recently announced that we will not

We have also imposed tough, calibrated sanctions on the socialist Maduro regime in Venezuela, which has brought a once thriving nation to the brink of total collapse lift sanctions on the Cuban government until it makes fundamental reforms.

The socialist dictatorship of Nicolas Maduro has inflicted terrible pain and suffering on the good people of that country.  This corrupt regime destroyed a prosperous nation by imposing a failed ideology that has produced poverty and misery everywhere it has been tried.  To make matters worse, Maduro has defied his own people, stealing power from their elected representatives to preserve his disastrous rule.

Venezuela’s delegation listening to Trump’s speech © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The Venezuelan people are starving and their country is collapsing.  Their democratic institutions are being destroyed.  This situation is completely unacceptable and we cannot stand by and watch.

As a responsible neighbor and friend, we and all others have a goal.  That goal is to help them regain their freedom, recover their country, and restore their democracy.  I would like to thank leaders in this room for condemning the regime and providing vital support to the Venezuelan people.

The United States has taken important steps to hold the regime accountable.  We are prepared to take further action if the government of Venezuela persists on its path to impose authoritarian rule on the Venezuelan people.

(Threatens Venezuela; how does this not contradict his statements about sovereignty)

We are fortunate to have incredibly strong and healthy trade relationships with many of the Latin American countries gathered here today.  Our economic bond forms a critical foundation for advancing peace and prosperity for all of our people and all of our neighbors.

 (Is he again using the threat of undermining trade deals to force cooperation with US policy?)

I ask every country represented here today to be prepared to do more to address this very real crisis.  We call for the full restoration of democracy and political freedoms in Venezuela. (Applause.)

The problem in Venezuela is not that socialism has been poorly implemented, but that socialism has been faithfully implemented.  (Applause.)  From the Soviet Union to Cuba to Venezuela, wherever true socialism or communism has been adopted, it has delivered anguish and devastation and failure.  Those who preach the tenets of these discredited ideologies only contribute to the continued suffering of the people who live under these cruel systems.

America stands with every person living under a brutal regime.  Our respect for sovereignty is also a call for action.  All people deserve a government that cares for their safety, their interests, and their wellbeing, including their prosperity.

(Call to respect sovereignty seems to contradict his equivocation of socialism with brutal dictatorship that must be eliminated)

In America, we seek stronger ties of business and trade with all nations of good will, but this trade must be fair and it must be reciprocal.

 (Threatens trade deals. The worst of capitalism)

For too long, the American people were told that mammoth multinational trade deals, unaccountable international tribunals, and powerful global bureaucracies were the best way to promote their success.  But as those promises flowed, millions of jobs vanished and thousands of factories disappeared.  Others gamed the system and broke the rules.  And our great middle class, once the bedrock of American prosperity, was forgotten and left behind, but they are forgotten no more and they will never be forgotten again. 

While America will pursue cooperation and commerce with other nations, we are renewing our commitment to the first duty of every government:  the duty of our citizens.  This bond is the source of America’s strength and that of every responsible nation represented here today.

 (Trump practices the Golden Rule: he who has he gold makes the rules.)

If this organization is to have any hope of successfully confronting the challenges before us, it will depend, as President Truman said some 70 years ago, on the “independent strength of its members.”  If we are to embrace the opportunities of the future and overcome the present dangers together, there can be no substitute for strong, sovereign, and independent nations — nations that are rooted in their histories and invested in their destinies; nations that seek allies to  befriend, not enemies to conquer; and most important of all, nations that are home to patriots, to men and women who are willing to sacrifice for their countries, their fellow citizens, and for all that is best in the human spirit.

(Trump’s love affair with all things military. He loves the sacrifice that others make, that life-death control a Great Leader has over the population.)

US President Donald Trump addresses United Nations 72nd General Assembly, Sept. 19, 2017 © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

In remembering the great victory that led to this body’s founding, we must never forget that those heroes who fought against evil also fought for the nations that they loved.

Patriotism led the Poles to die to save Poland, the French to fight for a free France, and the Brits to stand strong for Britain.

(He comes to the UN, a body that works for peaceful resolution to conflicts, and all he talks about is war, nobility of dying for one’s country. Harbinger?)

Today, if we do not invest ourselves, our hearts, and our minds in our nations, if we will not build strong families, safe communities, and healthy societies for ourselves, no one can do it for us.

 (What does he actually refer to here, when he boasts about spending $700 billion on military, extols the glories of dying for one’s country.)

We cannot wait for someone else, for faraway countries or far-off bureaucrats — we can’t do it.  We must solve our problems, to build our prosperity, to secure our futures, or we will be vulnerable to decay, domination, and defeat.

The true question for the United Nations today, for people all over the world who hope for better lives for themselves and their children, is a basic one:  Are we still patriots?  Do we love our nations enough to protect their sovereignty and to take ownership of their futures?  Do we revere them enough to defend their interests, preserve their cultures, and ensure a peaceful world for their citizens?

 (This is a call to war)

One of the greatest American patriots, John Adams, wrote that the American Revolution was “effected before the war commenced.  The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people.”

That was the moment when America awoke, when we looked around and understood that we were a nation.  We realized who we were, what we valued, and what we would give our lives to defend.  From its very first moments, the American story is the story of what is possible when people take ownership of their future.

The United States of America has been among the greatest forces for good in the history of the world, and the greatest defenders of sovereignty, security, and prosperity for all.

 Now we are calling for a great reawakening of nations, for the revival of their spirits, their pride, their people, and their patriotism.

 History is asking us whether we are up to the task.  Our answer will be a renewal of will, a rediscovery of resolve, and a rebirth of devotion.  We need to defeat the enemies of humanity and unlock the potential of life itself.

Our hope is a word and world of proud, independent nations that embrace their duties, seek friendship, respect others, and make common cause in the greatest shared interest of all:  a future of dignity and peace for the people of this wonderful Earth.

This is the true vision of the United Nations, the ancient wish of every people, and the deepest yearning that lives inside every sacred soul.

So let this be our mission, and let this be our message to the world: We will fight together, sacrifice together, and stand together for peace, for freedom, for justice, for family, for humanity, and for the almighty God who made us all.

Thank you.  God bless you.  God bless the nations of the world.  And God bless the United States of America.  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

END                10:46 A.M. EDT

UN Ambassador Haley: Trump at United Nations General Assembly will be a Show of Strength by the US

Donald Trump will deliver his speech to the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday morning. Ambassador Haley, who said she has seen his speech, said, “I personally think he slaps the right people, he hugs the right people, and he comes out with the U.S. being very strong in the end.” © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

People around the world are holding their collective breath as to what Donald Trump will do when he comes to the United Nations for the 72nd General Assembly. Will he be like a bull in a china shop, or will he stick to the speech written for him on the teleprompter? At a press briefing at the White House September 15, the National Security Advisor General H.R. McMaster and Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley outlined what is supposed to happen, and the policies and positions Trump will proclaim. Here is a highlighted transcript – Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

GENERAL MCMASTER:  Good afternoon, everyone.  I also want to begin by acknowledging the horrific attacks in Europe [London, England where an improvised explosive was set off in the underground during rush hour and in  Burgundy, France where a counterterrorism soldier was attacked].  The United States, of course, stands in solidarity with the people of the United Kingdom and France.  We will continue to work tirelessly with our partners to prevent attacks.  And, of course, the United States remains committed to defeating terrorist organizations, as well as their evil ideology.

The President has been unambiguous here, energizing our defeat-ISIS campaign, and calling on Muslim-majority nations to combat extremism and to end financing of terrorist organizations.  We will defend our people and our values against these cowardly attacks, and we will always stand with countries around the world to do the same.

Now, I want to turn to President Trump’s trip next week to attend the 72nd United Nations General Assembly.  The President’s consistent message across all of his engagements throughout the week will emphasize three goals common to all nations who will be gathered there:  First, to promote peace.  Second, to promote prosperity.  And third, to uphold sovereignty and accountability. 

A peaceful world depends on the contributions of all nations.  We must share responsibility for international security, while each country protects the security of its own people.

Prosperity is also a shared responsibility.  The President looks forward to furthering economic cooperation, investment opportunities, and new business ties with other governments and businesses across the world.  As always, this administration’s ironclad commitment to free, fair, and reciprocal trade and access to markets will be the bedrock of our economic talks.

Sovereignty and accountability are the essential foundations of peace and prosperity.  America respects the sovereignty of other countries, expects other nations to do the same, and urges all governments to be accountable to their citizens.  That accountability is broken down in places such as Venezuela and Syria.  And we also see, today, revisionist powers who are threatening the sovereignty in the greater Middle East, Eastern and Southern Europe, and in East Asia.

Now, let me quickly run through the President’s schedule.  On Monday, the President will join senior U.N. leadership and the leaders of more than 120 other nations to discuss reforming the institution.  The President will express support for Secretary General Guterres’s reform effortsThe United Nations, of course, holds tremendous potential to realize its founding ideals, but only if it’s run more efficiently and effectively.

That day, the President will also meet with the leaders of France and Israel, two of America’s closest allies.  While their conversations will be wide-ranging, we expect that Iran’s destabilizing behavior, including its violation of the sovereignty of nations across the Middle East, to be a major focus.

Monday evening, the President will host a working dinner with Latin American leaders.  He’s looking forward to discussing the crisis in Venezuela, as well as our increasingly strong economic ties, shared goals for elevating the prosperity of our peoples, and the extraordinary success of likeminded Latin American nations in recent decades.

The President’s Tuesday morning speech to the General Assembly will emphasize the need for states to promote peace and prosperity, while upholding sovereignty and accountability as indispensable foundations of international order.  He will urge all states to come together to address grave dangers that threaten us all.  If nations meet these challenges, immense opportunity lies before us. 

Later that day, the President will have lunch with U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres, meet with this year’s General Assembly President, Mr. Miroslav Lajčák of Slovakia, and meet with the Emir of Qatar.  In the evening, he will host a traditional diplomatic reception.

On Wednesday, the President will meet with the leaders of Jordan, the Palestinian Authority, the United Kingdom, and Egypt.  He will host a working luncheon with African leaders to discuss how the United States can help African nations develop their economies, address urgent challenges, and strengthen security relationships and economic relationships between our nations. 

Finally, on Thursday, the President will meet with the leaders of Turkey, Afghanistan, and Ukraine.  The latter two countries in particular have suffered direct and persistent attacks on their sovereignty in recent years.

He will also host a lunch with the leaders of South Korea and Japan.  As Kim Jong-un’s most recent missile launch demonstrates, North Korea remains one of the world’s most urgent and dangerous security problems.  It is vital that all nations work together to do our utmost to solve that problem.

With that, I’ll turn it over to Ambassador Haley.

AMBASSADOR HALEY:  Thank you very much.  And I will tell you that next week is not going to be short on topics.  I think, first of all, we can all say it is a new day at the U.N.  The U.N. has shifted over the past several months.  It’s not just about talking, it’s about action.

The members are starting to get used to act, whether it’s Security Council resolutions, whether it’s with U.N. reform, whether it’s with peacekeeping.  We’re starting to see a lot of changes at the U.N.  They are all anxious to see what the U.S. delegation looks like next week, and I think they will be heavily impressed with the fact that we have the President, the Vice President, the Secretary of State, and many members of the National Security Council coming to really show the U.S. strength that we have in the world.

And I think — obviously this will be the first time that the President has addressed the General Assembly.  They are all very anxious to hear what he has to say.  And I think that he will make quite an impact in terms of all of the issues that we’re dealing with.

We have three events that will be extremely important.  First, the President will highlight the U.N. reform event.  It is very, very important.  We’ve got a massive reform package being led by the Secretary General that really streamlines not just the processes, but also the budget as it goes forward, and makes the U.N. much more effective.  We basically have the President headlining a U.N. reform effort, which would really support the Secretary General.  But the impressive part is, we asked other countries to sign on to their support of reform, and 120 countries have signed on and will be in attendance.  That’s a miraculous number.

The Vice President will be doing two very important briefings.  He’s going to do one on Human Rights Council.  Now more than ever, human rights matters.  We say all the time that if the government doesn’t take care of its people, bad things will happen.  And I think we’re seeing that in multiple places, and that’s all the reason why the Human Rights Council really needs to be effective.  We have offered reform.  I think the Vice President will go in and not only support the reform, but talk about why it’s needed and the areas that are really needing to be addressed when it comes to human rights.

The second one he’s going to do is on peacekeeping.  And in the last several months, we have taken every peacekeeping mandate and changed it.  Basically, we have saved half a billion dollars in peacekeeping.  But before anyone thinks that’s a travesty, basically the way they handled peacekeeping in the past was, if there was a challenged area they would throw more troops at it.  But they didn’t see if the troops were trained or give them the equipment to do their job.  Now we’re going towards the political solution, making sure the troops are trained and armed, making sure that we’re more effective.  So it’s smarter and it cut half a billion, and in some cases we’re having to increase, and in some cases we’re having to decrease. 

So having the Vice President talk about the importance of the peacekeeping being effective is going to be very important.

And then, as I said, there are no shortage of issues, with North Korea being front and center.  Iran will be an issue.  Syria will certainly be talked about.  Terrorism efforts and how we counter that is a huge topic on what we’re dealing with.  And obviously the humanitarian issues that we face around the world.

So, with that, I think the General Assembly is going to be quite active next week, and I think the U.S. is going to be very strong next week.  And we look forward to a very good week.

GENERAL MCMASTER:  Gentleman in the center.

Q    Thank you, General.  My question is about North Korea, which is perhaps the biggest foreign policy challenge for President Trump right now.  About a month ago, the President issued a threat to North Korea; he warned of “fire and fury.”  And as you know, Ambassador, at the U.N. Security Council you’ve imposed tougher sanctions on North Korea.  Both of these efforts do not seem to be changing their behavior.  Is it time for the U.S. to change its approach to North Korea?  Is that something that you’re contemplating?  And, General, if you could weigh on this well.  I appreciate it.

AMBASSADOR HALEY:  I think what was really important with North Korea was that we try and push through as many diplomatic options as we have.  If you look at the resolutions that have passed in the last month, the two of them, they cut 30 percent of the oil.  They banned all the laborers.  They banned 90 percent of the exports.  They banned joint ventures.  We’ve basically taken and, in the words of North Korea, we have strangled their economic situation at this point.  That’s going to take a little bit of time, but it has already started to take effect.

What we are seeing is they continue to be provocative, they continue to be reckless.  And at that point, there’s not a whole lot the Security Council is going to be able to do from here when you’ve cut 90 percent of the trade and 30 percent of the oil. 

So, having said that, I have no problem kicking it to General Mattis, because I think he has plenty of options.

Q    General, can you weigh on that too?

GENERAL MCMASTER:  I’d just emphasize the point that Ambassador Haley made.  These sanctions are just now taking effect.  What’s really important is rigorous enforcement of those sanctions so that we can really let the economic actions and diplomacy progress as best we can.  But I think we ought to make clear what’s different about this approach is, is that we’re out of time, right?  As Ambassador Haley said before, we’ve been kicking the can down the road, and we’re out of road.

And so for those who have said and have been commenting about the lack of a military option, there is a military option.  Now, it’s not what we would prefer to do, so what we have to do is call on all nations, call on everyone to do everything we can to address this global problem short of war.

So that is implementing now these significant sanctions that have just now gone into place, and it is convincing everyone to do everything that they can and that it’s in their interest to do it.

What’s different, I think, about this approach to North Korea is worth noting.  First of all, there is consensus among all key nations that denuclearization of the Peninsula is the only acceptable objective. 

     The second thing is, this is not an issue between the United States and North Korea.  This is an issue between the world and North Korea.

And the third recognition is, there is a lot that we can about it together.  And so we need time, obviously, for any strategy to work.  It is a sound approach to a very difficult problem, and we’ll see if it succeeds.

Q    Ambassador Haley, a conference call preceded your briefing here.  Jonathan Alterman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies said that next week’s UNGA will be as much the world taking measure of the United States as it is the U.S. speaking to the world.  He went on to say that the UNGA, because of its very quick meetings, is sort of like speed dating from hell, and that it’s a very sophisticated dance that neither Secretary of State Tillerson or the President have a particularly strong point on.  What would you say to people who are wondering how the U.S. will do at next week’s UNGA?

AMBASSADOR HALEY:  I think there’s a lot of interest in how the U.S. is going to do, and they’re going to find out we are going to be solid, we’re going to be strong. 

If you look at all of the meetings that the national security team has, these are important meetings.  These aren’t just wasting time.  This is going to talk about terrorism; this is going to talk about the issues in North Korea; this is going to talk about the issue in Burma and what we’re dealing with there; Venezuela — all of these issues.  No one is going to grip and grin.  The United States is going to work.

And I think with all of the challenges around the world, I think the international community is going to see that.  This is a time to be serious, and it’s a time for us to talk out these challenges and make sure there’s action that follows it.

Q    One of the big questions from some of the people outside of this room and other countries is, in addition to what we do militarily is the humanitarian effort.  And we’ve been criticized for not being involved in the humanitarian effort too much, especially by the third world.  So when you go to New York, in addition to addressing the security measures, how are you going to address the criticism about the U.S. not leading humanitarian efforts?

AMBASSADOR HALEY:  We actually have led humanitarian efforts and continue to.  Human rights, in general, is very important.  That’s something we’ve been loud on, which is the fact that you have to protect human rights. 

But the humanitarian side of what we’re seeing in South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo; what we’re seeing with the Syrian refugees that are in Turkey and Jordan; the fact that we are trying to deal with Burma and find out ways that we can get humanitarian access in there.  Yemen is something that the United States has been working very closely with the Saudis on and the U.N. to try and make sure we get humanitarian access.

So we have been as active and vocal and leading the charge on humanitarian access in all of these areas, and we are making a difference.  I think just in Syria, we’ve had over $3 billion that we’ve given, in terms of helping that situation.  Venezuela, you saw what we did with the sanctions, but we’re making sure they get that.  Right now in Burma, we are taking that very seriously, and that’s of utmost importance that we get front and center on that one.

Q    I have a question first to General McMaster before I get to one on North Korea for you.  General, you mentioned the, obviously, terror incident overseas in London.  The President tweeted this morning that it was “sick and demented people who were in the sights of Scotland Yard.”  You may have seen Prime Minister may say it was “not helpful for people to speculate.”  Did the President share information that he wasn’t supposed to?  And if not, why was he speculating?

GENERAL MCMASTER:  I think what the President was communicating is that, obviously, all of our law enforcement efforts are focused on this terrorist threat for years.  Scotland Yard has been a leader, as our FBI has been a leader.

So I think if there was a terrorist attack here, God forbid, that we would say that they were in the sights of the FBI.  So I think he didn’t mean anything beyond that.

Q    I’m sorry, I’m not clear.  Meaning he was saying generally terrorists are a focus for Scotland Yard, or was he saying in this specific incident, Scotland Yard knew potentially this was coming?

GENERAL MCMASTER:  I think he means generally that this kind of activity is what we’re trying to prevent.  And so these organizations that are responsible for it, whatever comes out of this investigation, that remains to be seen.  It is likely that law enforcement had been working on that problem set.

Q    And did that come up in the call with Prime Minister May?

GENERAL MCMASTER:  I was not on that call this morning.

Q    Ambassador, to you, on North Korea.  Obviously there’s more U.N. Security Council action that could be taken.  Are you at all hopeful that there is any chance for a full oil embargo as this administration had wanted?  Or at what point — President Trump himself said this was a small step, the last U.N. Security Council vote.  I think disagreeing with you, but Secretary Tillerson agreed with him that it seemed to have been a small step.  So at what point does this administration take a bigger step and, for example, put tougher sanctions on China in order to put pressure on North Korea?

AMBASSADOR HALEY:  Well I think, first of all, let’s talk about what a big sanctions resolution this was.  The first one was a billion dollars.  The second one was $1.3 billion, not counting the 30 percent decrease in oil.  We did a 55 — and just imagine if this happened to the United States — a 55 percent reduction in diesel and oil.  Overall ban of natural gas, overall ban of any substitutes; overall ban of textiles; stopping the labor program, which we call as modern-day slavery; stopping all joint ventures so foreign investment goes in there.

We have cut off now 90 percent of trade going into North Korea, and they are saying that this was strangling.  So whether some believe it’s big or small, I think what the President is saying is this is just the beginning of what we can do.

So it’s going to be — by the time we get going on this, if we have to go further, this is going to look small compared to what we do.

But no, it was a massive sanctions bill, and I think the fact that we had a 15-0 record and you have China onboard and Russia onboard, I think that’s very important.  We’ve cut 30 percent of the oil.  Is there more you can do?  There’s always more you can do, but then you get into the humanitarian aspect of it, which is at what point are you going and actually hurting down to the people of North Korea.  But we will always explore all options that we have. 

Yes, in the red.

Q   Thank you, Ambassador.  You said that Syria is going to be on the agenda.  As you know, today Turkey, Russia, and Iran agreed to deploy 1,500 monitors in the Idlib province.  Does that leave the U.S. behind?  And what exactly the focus will be when you talk about Syria at the U.N. next week?

And, General, if I can, you said that the meeting between the President and Prime Minister Netanyahu will talk about Iran.  How much of the peace process with the Palestinians will take place in that meeting?  Thank you.

AMBASSADOR HALEY:  I think the efforts in Syria have been remarkable — both Syria and Iraq.  To see how we have really bulldozed through ISIS in the way that we have shows how strong the U.S. had been in partnership with them, but I think we’re also looking at post-ISIS — what does that look like?  And I can tell you, Iran is not going to be in charge, and Iran is not going to have any sort of leadership in that situation to where they could do more harm.  

But Syria is always going to be a topic.  I think we continue to be strong in making sure there’s no chemical weapons and making sure that we’re looking at the humanitarian situation.  But the U.S. is a very strong partner in the resolution for Syria and will continue to be until we know that everything is stable.

Q    (Inaudible) that does not include the U.S.?

AMBASSADOR HALEY:  Well, I think we’re not going to be satisfied until we see a solid and stable Syria, and that is not with Assad in place.  But what we are going to do is continue to be very effective and be a part of that process so that we get to a resolution.

GENERAL MCMASTER:  Yeah, I’ll just say that, of course the President will talk about the prospects for lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians, among a broad range of regional issues, with really all of the leaders he’s meeting during the week.

Q    Ambassador, two quick questions.  The first one is, the fact that president Putin and President Xi Jinping won’t be there, will it have an impact on the what the outcome of whatever you’ll discuss on Syria and North Korea?

And, General, you’ve been insisting a lot on the respect of sovereignty.  Wouldn’t an investment in a peacekeeping mission be part of getting involved and having a stronger impact on this?

AMBASSADOR HALEY:  I do think that it’s still going to be strong and have an impact because you’ve got two very strong foreign ministers from Russia and China that are going to be there.  And the idea that we’re going to be talking about Syria and North Korea, and Iran, and all of those other things, I think it will be serious discussions.

And I think the fact that President Xi and President Putin couldn’t be there is not going to change the effect of the talks that we have next week.

Q    Are you disappointed that they’re not going to show up?

AMBASSADOR HALEY:  That’s their choice to not show up.

GENERAL MCMASTER:  I would just add on to say the U.N. General Assembly is not a substitute for bilateral relationships with any nations.  And as you know, the President has been working very closely, especially with President Xi, on this common problem and this world problem of North Korea.

So those discussions will continue, and it will continue in the context of multilateral engagements but also in context of our bilateral relationship with China.

AMBASSADOR HALEY:  Back in the back.

Q    Thank you, Madam Ambassador, General.  A question regarding etiquette.  In the past, Presidents have copiously avoided certain world leaders.  A decade ago, President Bush avoiding President Ahmadinejad when he was at the opening of the U.N.  Will the President speak to President Maduro at all when he is there?

GENERAL MCMASTER:  Yeah, I think it’s unlikely that he’ll speak with President Maduro.  As you know, the United States designated President Maduro after he victimized his own people, denied them their rights under his own constitution.  And I think as the President has made clear, he’s willing to talk at some point in the future, but it would have to be after rights are restored to the Venezuelan people.

Q    Thank you, Madam Ambassador.  Two questions.  One, what is the future of India and the United Nations membership and Security Council?  Because when Prime Minister Modi visited the White House he brought up this issue with President Trump.

AMBASSADOR HALEY:  Well, I think that Security Council reform is still being talked about, and I know that it’s something that India wants.  Many other countries want it as well.  So we’ll have to wait and see.

Q    Do you have any indications right now that sanctions will work towards North Korea?

AMBASSADOR HALEY:  You have to look at how much has been cut off.  They’ve already started to feel it, but they’re getting ready to feel 90 percent of their exports going away; 30 percent of their oil.  Imagine what that would do to the United States if it was there.

And if you look at what — I was looking at what North Korea was saying.  They said it was a full-scale economic blockade, suffocating its state and its people.  This is dramatic.  This is something — and not only is it dramatic, but you’re looking at — Peru has dropped ties.  Thailand has dropped ties.  We’re seeing so many just kind of get rid of either the ambassadors or the trade that they’re doing.  There is no way that North Korea doesn’t feel this.

Now, how they choose to respond, this is totally in their hands on how they respond.

One more question.  I’ll let you pick who gets the last question.

Q    Thank you, Sarah.  Appreciate it.  So I was wondering — we talked a little bit about the President, the speech that he’ll deliver on Tuesday.  But I’m wondering if you could talk in any more detail now — and I’m sure we’ll get more detail later — will he be sending direct messages about Iran and North Korea in that speech?  Are there any more specific themes?

And also, Ambassador Haley, I wanted to ask you: On the question of U.N. funding, I know reform is probably an important part of this question, but as a candidate, President Trump was — then-candidate Trump was somewhat skeptical about the reach and the import of the U.N., the point of it long term.  As President I’m sure he’s learned more.  Is the U.S. committed both to fulfilling its financial obligations?  And where does it stand on terms of its voluntary funding for the U.N. going forward?  Would you talk a little bit about that?

AMBASSADOR HALEY:  Right.  To start off with the speech that the President gives, I think you can see it for yourself.  I personally think he slaps the right people, he hugs the right people, and he comes out with the U.S. being very strong in the end.

Q    So it’s written, and you’ve seen it?

AMBASSADOR HALEY:  I have seen it, yes.  And then the second part of it is, the U.N. — when I originally spoke with the President, what I said is, we’ll see what we can make of it.  And that’s the thing is, we’re creating an opportunity.  We’re making the most of it.  We’re moving foreign policy.  We’re changing the way peacekeeping is done.  We’re really bringing up human rights.  And more importantly, what I appreciate is they stopped focusing on the commas and the periods, and we’re actually acting.  We’re actually seeing strong things happens. 

And so I think the President has always believed there’s great potential in the United Nations, but I think now the world is seeing it — that it is actually changing, and it’s actually becoming more effective.

Q    Will he firmly articulate his intention to continue traditional U.S. funding at full levels?

AMBASSADOR HALEY:  I think you’ll have to wait and see.  Thank you very much.

Q    Sarah, a follow-up on something that Ambassador Haley said.  She mentioned that she would feel comfortable kicking this issue to Secretary Mattis.  Should Americans be concerned about the possibility of war?  And how much time are you willing to give China to implement the resolutions in the U.N. Security Council agreement?

PRESS SECRETARY SARAH SANDERS:  As we’ve said many times before, we’re not going to broadcast, and I’m not going to lay out a timetable on what that would look like.  We’re continuing to keep all options on the table.  We’re going to push forward with a plan right now.

And again, as both General McMaster and Ambassador Haley stated, we are working on putting that pressure on North Korea to reach that ultimate goal of denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula.  That’s what we’re focused on.  We’re going to go keep pushing forward on that front.  But at the same time, we’re going to keep all our options on the table as we do that.

Q    What will the President say to the leaders that he meets next week who are eager for talks with North Korea?  I know that the President has opposed that.  How will he address that with the Europeans and others who are in favor of it?

SANDERS:  I’m certainly not going to get ahead of any conversations that the President is going to have.  As always, we’ll provide readouts and background of those conversations.  But I think the President will be very clear that putting extreme pressure on North Korea is very important.

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