Watch: Trump Hosts the Tax Cuts for Florida Small Businesses Roundtable [video + transcript]
President Donald Trump hosts a roundtable in Florida to discuss the effects of the tax reforms signed into law earlier this year.
THE PRESIDENT: Oh, what a group. What a group. These are my friends. These are great friends. And we have great friends right here. So thank you very much, everybody. We really appreciate it.
We’ve made tremendous progress in our country. We’re working on a new trade deals that are going to be great deals. We’re, as you know, very tough on Cuba. (Applause.) Have no choice. Not fair. Not fair what happened. We’re tough. But this is our — we’re going to celebrate a little bit. I love behind us: “USA: Open for Business.” Whose idea was that? That’s — Marco. It was Marco. (Applause.)
And it is. It’s open for business. We’re doing tremendously. Companies are moving back into our country now. We have billions of dollars, and even trillions of dollars, going to be coming back in — already started. Apple, $350 billion investment in, really, a new campus. Beautiful, beautiful campus and plants. And I’ve always wanted that. So many of the companies are bringing back their money, and they’re putting it to work. Chrysler is opening up a big, beautiful plant in Michigan. And so many other car companies. And it’s a whole different story. They all want to be part of it.
And I want to thank Senator Rubio. He’s been a great friend. (Applause.) Great friend. Great. And, Mario, I want to thank you. You have — right from day one. Thank you. Thank you. (Applause.) And our Secretary of the Treasury — he’s right there — and our Secretary of Labor. Thank you, Alex. Thank you, Steve. Great choices. (Applause.) Not all of my choices were good, but they were great ones. (Laughter.)
Tomorrow is Tax Day, and we’re going to hear from everybody
and every — I mean, we have heard from so many people. They’re so thrilled. And remember this: This is the last time you’re going to fill up that long, complicated, horrible return. I would say that some of these tax — (applause) — some of these companies that do all that work on getting a lot of money for doing your tax returns, they’re not going to be too happy with us. But that’s about the only business that won’t be.
So tomorrow, last day. Very importantly, next year, it’s going to be a simple — for the most part, one page. It may get a little bit bigger. But it will be simple and easy to do. And very importantly, you’re going to have a lot of money left over from what you have.
And we didn’t get one Democrat to vote for us. And Senator Nelson was hostile to it. And let me tell you, if for any reason they get in — meaning, the Democrats — they’re going to raise your taxes way up high, they’re going to terminate this out. Of course, I’ll veto it. That’s all right. But eventually, they want to terminate and they want to raise your taxes. And we cannot let that happen because this country is starting to rock with our businesses coming back in. It’s starting to really rock. (Applause.)
So we’ve had massive tax cuts. And I mean massive. We’ve had tremendous success from the company standpoint and from the people standpoint. They’re going out; they have a lot more money to spend. And, you know, something happened that we didn’t even expect; nobody talked about it. When we first had it passed, it started with, well, AT&T. We might as well give them credit. But they gave thousand-dollar bonuses to their employees, and that’s a lot of employees. Then, all of a sudden, other companies came along.
And now you have all of the big — I mean, so many of the big companies, they’ve given bonuses to the people that work for the companies. That was unexpected. Nobody thought that was going to happen. And most importantly, we waited until February 1st. And you see what’s happened to your wallet when you’re getting a lot more money in your weekly or monthly checks than you ever thought possible. So people are really liking it.
And very importantly, it’s great for the country. Our taxes were the highest — or among the highest — but just about, I would say, Marco, they were the highest in the world from a business standpoint. That’s why businesses were leaving. Now, they’re not the lowest, but they’re on the low side. And businesses are pouring back into the United States. And that means job. That means jobs. (Applause.)
So we’ve created, since Election Day — that beautiful, beautiful day. Was that a great day? (Applause.) That was a beautiful day. Mario was saying we got a big, big percentage vote over here. Didn’t we? Huh? We got a big percentage vote. But since Election Day, we’ve created 3 million new jobs. Three million. (Applause.)
And people, if I would have said that, prior to the election — that we’ll create, in a short period of time, 3 million jobs — they would have said, that’s ridiculous, that’s an exaggeration, how can it be possible. We would have taken a lot of heat.
But we’ve created 3 million new jobs, and now the number is even higher than that. So since Election Day, 3 million new jobs. Unemployment rates for Hispanics — are there any Hispanics in the room? No, I doubt it. (Applause.) For Hispanics, we have the lowest level ever recorded. In other words, you have more employment — now, think of it: Lowest level [un]employment rates. For African Americans, the lowest level ever recorded. And I’m really proud of that. (Applause.)
Unemployment for women — for women — lowest level in 18 years. Women out there? (Applause.) So that means, if you’re a woman and Hispanic, or a woman and African American, you’re really doing well, right? That means you’re really doing well. Remember what I used to say? I used to take heat for it. “What do you have to lose?” I’d say, “What do you have to lose?” Every once in a while, I’d say, if it was a rambunctious stadium or something, I’d say, “What the hell do you have to lose?” Right? And I’d get criticized by those people, the fake media back there. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: Booo —
THE PRESIDENT: Fake media. No, I’d get criticized for using the world “hell.” I’d say, I’ve a heck of a lot worse than that. (Laughter.) But the economy — Larry Kudlow is here someplace. Where’s Larry? Larry Kudlow. Where’s Larry? Come on, Larry — stand up. He just gave me — (applause) — he just gave me a number. He said the economy is entering the greatest boom in many decades. In other words, it’s now at the phase — early phase — would you say that, Larry? — of the earliest and greatest — this could be one of the greatest booms ever. I think it will be, actually, because the companies are so strong and they’re ready to rock.
What do you think, Larry?
MR. KUDLOW: Yeah.
THE PRESIDENT: Good, I thought you were going to say that. (Laughter.) Can you imagine if he didn’t? Can you imagine if he said, “No, I disagree with that”?
MR. KUDLOW: (Inaudible.)
THE PRESIDENT: Right.
MR. KUDLOW: (Inaudible). And everybody is going to benefit.
THE PRESIDENT: Everybody is going to benefit, he said. (Laughter and applause.) That’s right.
And very importantly — and, by the way, John Bolton is here, and we just had a big successful hit. (Applause.) John?
So I think — (applause) — whoa. John, that’s pretty good. I didn’t expect that. I’m a little jealous. (Laughter.) Are you giving him all the credit? Oh, you know that means the end of his job, you know. (Laughter.) He did. Did he do — did our generals do a great job? (Applause.) Did our military do a great job? (Applause.)
And, you know, with way over 100 missiles shot in, they didn’t shoot one down. The equipment didn’t work too well — their equipment. And they didn’t shoot one. You know, you heard, “Oh, they shot 40 down and then they shot 50 down.” Then I called; I said, “Did they?” “No, sir.” Every single one hit its target. Think of that — how genius. (Applause.) Not one was shot.
So we have the biggest tax cut in history, bigger than the Reagan tax cut. Bigger than any tax cut. But what else? The individual mandate is gone. That’s on Obamacare — which is about the end of Obamacare. (Applause.) So we had Obamacare beat, and one senator decided to go thumbs down. You remember that evening? Do you remember that? No, nobody remembers. Thumbs down. But it’s all right, because Alex Acosta has come up and — you know, this is a plan that a lot of people have wanted for a long time, associations. And we’re going to have tremendous sign-ups.
And, Alex, when is that — tell me if you could. When is that going to be ready, where people can actually start signing and doing it in groups and through cooperatives, et cetera?
SECRETARY ACOSTA: That’s right, Mr. President. We hope to have that by this summer.
THE PRESIDENT: It’s going to be incredible. You’re going to get tremendous insurance at a very low cost. (Applause.) So the individual mandate is dead. ANWR is up; that’s the big energy that nobody thought — you know, it’s funny, I didn’t want to do it. I said, no, let’s not do that. And then, a person called up, who I have a lot of respect for in the energy business. He said, “Is it true that you’re going to get ANWR as part of your tax cut plan?” You know, they put a lot of things in. So we had the individual mandate, we have ANWR. I said, “Yeah it’s true. Tell me about it, because I’m not inclined to do it,” I said, “for a very specific reason.” He said, “Well, I’ll tell you, it’s pretty amazing.” He didn’t benefit by it, but he said they’ve been trying to get this passed since Ronald Reagan. Nobody could get it done. No President could get it done. Nobody — it’s impossible. It’s, perhaps, the most — the biggest, the best in the world, in terms of energy, in terms of a field. He said, “Nobody has been able to get it done.” As soon as I heard that, I said — I called up, I said, “Put that back in the bill, quickly.” (Laughter.) Right? And we got it done. Marco, we got it done. That was a big deal. (Applause.) And that’s a lot of jobs in Alaska. That’s a lot of jobs. (Applause.)
So, just another thing — because, you know, the tax cut is massive. And not since Reagan. But this is bigger. You look at the whole bill, it’s bigger than anything ever passed. But very importantly — and that’s a tremendous asset to our country. But we did another thing that people don’t talk about much. We cut regulations at a level that nobody has seen in the history of our country, more than any other President.
So I’m here, 15, 16 months, and we’ve cut more regulations than any President, whether it’s four years, eight years, or in one case, 16 years. Nobody is even close. And we’re not finished yet. (Applause.) Where road and highways would take 17, 18 years to get a permit, or not even get approved. You know, a lot — the worst is they’d go out 17 years and then they’d vote it down.
Now we’re looking to get it down to two years and maybe even one year. And maybe get rejected. You know, nobody is going to say it’s not going to get — maybe it gets rejected. But if it does, it’s going to get rejected quickly. You’re not going to take an entire lifetime to get something approved and then all of sudden, you find out — and I’ve had projects — it took years and years, and then you go, “Fortunately, they got approved.”
But I’ve had projects that took four, five, six years to get approved. Big building projects. And I said to myself, going into the final approvals — I said, “You know, if these five people don’t vote for it, I’ve wasted millions and millions of dollars, and I’ve wasted five or six years of my life trying to get a project approved. It’s not right. You know if something is good and if it’s going to get approved.
So we have the biggest regulation cut. And I’m not so sure that the regulation cut, Marco, isn’t even more important than this massive tax cut, but it’s right up there, and we’re continuing to go.
So we think that things that would take sometimes two decades to get approved can be done in two years and even one year. And again, if they’re not environmentally good, if they’re not safe, if it’s not great for our water and our air and all of the things that we watch and we think are so important, we’re not going to approve it.
But we’re going to have fast approvals. We have many, many jobs that started now that would never start if the other administration came in. And that’s why you see the job numbers the way they are. The job numbers are through the roof and the training numbers are through the roof. And you see it.
And I just — they don’t talk about regulation much. I think it’s as important as the big massive tax cut. So I just want to let you know that business and consumer confidence in our country is at an all-time high. Larry just gave me the numbers are there’s nothing close. So we’re at an all-time high.
And the tax cuts for a family — let’s talk about just families now, because, number one, the jobs — you have choice. You know, we’re creating choice for our great veterans, all right? Choice. This is a different kind of choice. (Applause). So this is a different kind of choice. This is choice for a job.
In the past, jobs, we weren’t doing great and you’d have one job and you’d hold on. You really have choice. We are — people are hiring. And wages, for the first time in 18 years, are going up. Because I used to make those speeches — I came down here and made one. Wages were stagnant, and even going down. People made more money 18 years ago, and today they’re working two and three jobs. First time in 18 years where wages are going up. Congratulations. Enjoy your money. Congratulations. (Applause.)
So today, we’re joined by Florida business owners and workers who are experiencing the incredible results of the tax cuts, and I’d like to invite each of you to share some of your stories. If we can start, let’s start right at the end of the table.
MR. BELLO: Thank you, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: You look like a very prosperous guy, I have to say. (Laughter.)
MR. BELLO: Trying to be. Trying to be. My name is Alberto Bello. I’m of Cuban-American descent, born and raised in Hialeah, Florida, and very proud of that. (Applause). Thank you.
My family history in trucking has been — goes back to days since 1972. My father opened Palmetto Transport in 1992, and I was successful enough and happy enough to take the company over in 2004.
Due to the surging economy we have now in South Florida, and to the tax reform, I’ve been able to invest in newer technology, been able to buy more equipment, and hire more employees for my business.
And, Mr. President, I just want to say thank you for making America great again. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you.
Marco, I’d like to — you have been such a help. I’d like you to say a few words before we go next.
SENATOR RUBIO: Thank you, Mr. President. Being here, I’d think I’d be remiss if I first didn’t thank you for being a champion for the cause of freedom and democracy in this hemisphere. (Applause.)
That was very clear this weekend with the Vice President’s presence at the Summit of the Americas, whether it’s on Cuba or on Venezuela, the United States has led the way on fighting for freedom. (Applause.)
And I want to thank you for John Bolton, because I said the day that he was hired was a bad day for Maduro and Castro, and a great day for the cause of freedom (inaudible). (Applause.)
And I want to thank you for fighting for the American worker. Because behind all these businesses, they’re really going to be the first ones to tell you the American worker — the American worker has been forgotten for far too long. The people that put in 8, 10, 12 hours a day — 6, 7 hours a day, 6 or 7 days a week — there’s dignity. Work isn’t just about money; it’s about the dignity that comes with work. And they’ve been beat up and ignored for far too long. Whether it’s taxes, whether it’s jobs sent to other countries, this tax reform is about them.
But you’re doing something else that’s very important. You’re finally doing what I wish previous administrations had done. You are taking on the cheating and the stealing the Chinese have committed against our economy for the better part of 30 years. (Applause.)
And finally, I want to thank you, as well, for the child tax credit. Millions of parents across this country will have more money in their pocket come tax time next year because of your leadership and of your work. And if I may, for 15 seconds, is allow those people covering this do so in Spanish, rather than let them use an interpreter. Can I just say something to them?
THE PRESIDENT: Yes. Go ahead, please. Please.
SENATOR RUBIO: (Speaks in Spanish.) (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: So I was going to ask, is he better in English or Spanish? But they didn’t stand for the English, and they stood for the Spanish. So I don’t have to ask the question. (Laughter.) That’s very good, actually.
SENATOR RUBIO: I just said, “They saved a bunch of money by switching to GEICO.” (Laughter and applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Oh, that’s good. Very good. Thank you, Marco, very much. We appreciate it.
And you know, Doral, right down the road — I own it. Surrounded — (laughter). I don’t think about it anymore, I will tell you. Surrounded by Venezuelans, as you know. A lot of Venezuelans. Those are great, great people. (Applause.) And we are working very hard on the Venezuelan horror show that’s happening. And I think you see that; I think you know that. But I got to know the Venezuelan people because so many of them are in that area — the Doral area. And I will tell you, these are great people.
So between Cuba and Venezuela and, really, hopefully, every place else, you are very well represented. So thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you. (Applause.)
So go ahead.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Mr. President, thank you for coming to Hialeah!
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, darling. Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you very much.
DR. JUNQUERA: Good afternoon, Mr. President. My name is Dr. Patricia Junquera. I was born in Cuba October 27, 1948, and came to this country in 1967. Since 1984, I have practiced dentistry in Miami-Dade County.
For my business and my practice, the tax law that was passed in December 2017 has brought improvement to the practice, like we were able to buy new and next-generation equipment. My office, Junquera Family Dentistry, includes — is a large facility with a dental unit, is a small corporation where our clinic has four dentists and fourteen employees. And all of them have beneficiated [sic] from this law. Secretaries, hygienist assistant have all received bonuses. Also, an increment on their check yield motivation. It’s noticed.
Due to the changes in the tax policies, we plan to open more positions in the front office and as a hygienist.
It is a pleasure to have you here with us, and I am glad that you are taking action to make America truly great again. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you very much. Beautiful. Beautiful job.
So I know Maximo. And you’ve built a great company. And now it’s become, you just said, even greater. So go ahead. Let us know how many more people you’re hiring.
MR. ALVAREZ: Well, number one, thank you for being here.
THE PRESIDENT: Thanks, Maximo.
MR. ALVAREZ: It’s really overwhelming, the feeling, to think that almost 60 years ago, at age 13, I arrived in this great country of ours. And that one day, 60 years later, I was going to be next to Marco Rubio, our greatest senator, and one of the best Presidents — to have the best President. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you.
MR. ALVAREZ: My name is Maximo Alvarez. Most of you people know me as Max. I’ve said this before — I’m at Pedro Pan. (Applause.) I was one of over 14,000 children that came from Cuba without parents. And lo and behold, I happened to arrive in the finest, most generous country in the world. (Applause.)
My notes look similar to the President, believe it or not. He’s got notes just like this. So just really — because we talk from our hearts, so we don’t have to read very much to tell you our little story. It’s a story of many, many millions of people who come to this country to look for an opportunity. And our President has now restored the capacity of people like me, that started a business from the trunk of our cars, to become a very prominent company where we impact over fifty — 40,000 families.
Thank you, Mr. President. I’m very happy that, right before he was elected, we had a town hall meeting, and I took the liberty of electing him. I said, we’re going to elect you in November, and we’re going to see you soon. And my God, I look prophetic today. (Laughter and applause.)
Just to give you an idea about the impact of the tax laws passed by Mr. Trump, our President — who, by the way, didn’t get everything that he wanted, but still, we settled for it, because he has to deal with some people who still do not understand what really makes America great, but I’m pretty sure in time they will.
But just to give you an idea: My company, who runs and/or supplies over 400 gas stations in the South Florida area, we have hired over 40 people that definitely we have not been able to hire if not for these tax cuts that allow us to have the extra income to do this. For example, something very simple: The fact that we can now write off the equipment that normally had taken us 10, 15 years to write it off, now we can do it immediately. Imagine how many businesses that produces; how many families are working; how many people need to install that equipment — and so on and so forth.
So, thank you, Mr. President. Because it’s not only the tax laws; it’s that regulations — the ridiculous regulations that we had that prevented people to do what I did 31 years ago, starting a company with nothing, and became a very prominent company. And this is the only country in the world that you can do this.
And I hate to get emotional, but — (applause) — it happened to be in the petroleum industry. And, of course, we’re supposed to be bad people because we damage the environment, when, in essence, we probably protect the environment more than anybody else. And it was this President that allowed the construction of the Keystone Pipeline, which will then — believe it or not — will provide cheaper oil, cheaper fuel to all of us. (Applause.) And it was Mr. Donald Trump, our President, who made that happen immediately. (Applause.)
As the typical Latin person, I must stop now, because they told me only one or two minutes. (Laughter.) I could be here for the rest of the day. I just want to tell you that those of us who have been successful are now an example of all of our children to follow in our footsteps. And I challenge my colleagues to understand that if I give everything that I have today, it would only be 10 percent of what I was given when I came to this country of ours. (Applause.)
And last, on a side note, he owns Doral. I live it — because I’ve been at Doral since 1988. Thank you very much. Where he took something that was run down, that was absolutely third-world country, and made it into the nicest place that we have in South Florida.
Thank you very much. That’s on a side note. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Actually, he was much quicker than I thought, okay? (Laughter.)
So, Irina, you have a great story. Please.
MS. VILARIÑO: Thank you. Good morning, Mr. President. Thank you for allowing me to be here with you today. It is a great honor.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you.
MS. VILARIÑO: My name is Irina Vilariño. My family and I arrived in 1980 during the Mariel exodus. We brought nothing with us; only the clothes we were wearing. However, we didn’t come here for a handout. We came here because this was the Promised Land — a country that promised political stability, respect of law, opportunity, and freedom.
In 1984, we opened our first restaurant in South Florida — Las Vegas Cuban Cuisine. Today we operate 15 units, including La Casita Cuban Miami International Airport. (Applause.) Thank you. And we employ over 400 employees in South Florida.
We were hit hard during the last administration’s tax hike, and are most grateful for your tax and jobs reform act. It allows us to keep more of our hard-worked earnings, allowing us to reinvest in better and new operations, thereby creating more jobs.
I personally think it’s better for the country than studying tadpoles in some dry river down in California. (Laughter and Applause.) Thank you.
Government helps small businesses by letting us do our jobs and getting out of the way by unleashing the American spirit. Your incentives have created huge demand in the labor market. So, therefore, in order to retain and hire new employees, our hourly employees have seen an approximate wage increase of about 20 percent in the short time period. People are earning more, and therefore, this gives them confidence to go out and spend more. A win-win for everyone.
On a personal note, I’d like to say that I’ve been a supporter from day one when you announced your candidacy.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you.
MS. VILARIÑO: And I have Facebook to prove it.
THE PRESIDENT: Good. (Laughter.)
MS. VILARIÑO: Having come from a country that promised everything and only delivered misery, I knew that eight years of promoting appeasement, apologies, and entitlement was taking us down a path of no return.
Lastly, I leave you with a thought from a great Cuban thinker, José Martí: “It is a sad thing not to have friends, but even sadder must it be not having any enemies. That a man should not have no enemies is a sign that he has no talent to outshine others, nor character to inspire, no valor to be feared, no honor to be rumored, nor goods to be coveted, nor anything to be envied.”
I am grateful millions of us had the good sense to elect a man who believes in the greatness of this country so that it may be preserved at all costs for future generations. (Applause.)
Thank you and God bless you, Mr. President. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. I think the politicians are being beaten today.
MS. VILARIÑO: Thank you. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: So, Mario, give us a good few words, please.
REPRESENTATIVE DIAZ-BALART: Mr. President, after that one it’s hard to follow. But let me first — let me first agree to what our fine Senator stated. This community understands freedom — what it takes, the loss of freedom. And your support in this hemisphere, but particular for the cause of a free Cuba and a free Venezuela, is something that we thank God every day for — number one. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you.
REPRESENTATIVE DIAZ-BALART: Number two — again, this is a community that’s very diverse. And, Mr. President, one of the things that I never thought I would see, and I was getting frustrated, is finally moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. (Applause.) Thank you for your courage.
As you saw, Mr. President, Hialeah is very special. This is a hardworking community. These are hardworking people. These are folks that, again, most of them came from a place where freedom does not exist. They work hard and they understand that when the federal government takes their money — again, it’s their money — and kind of, does some things that are not very productive, they understand that’s not the way to do it.
And you heard it here today: This bill has made it possible for hardworking men and women in places like this, like Hialeah, to keep more of their hard-earned money. And for that, obviously, we’re all grateful.
But folks know me as an appropriator, but I’m also on the budget committee. And if you look at where we were, folks, look at where we were — CBO had the forecasts for the next foreseeable future — 10 years — of less than 2 percent growth. That’s where we were headed. That was the new normal. And I think a lot of people may have, kind of, given up.
But look what happens when you cut regulation, you lower taxes, you free up the American people, good things happen. So we’re very grateful. And no place in the country is more emblematic of the hard work of the American people and the entrepreneurship than here in Hialeah. Welcome to Hialeah, Mr. President. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: You know, Max mentioned something that nobody thought they’d ever see, and that’s one-year expensing. The expensing of equipment and other things that you’re going to be investing in, where you can write it off in one year, nobody thought they’d ever see that. And that’s had a huge impact. I think that’s even bigger than the trillions of dollars that are going to come back from foreign lands. Because as you know, the money was locked out. They’re under the old laws. You could never bring it back in. It was impossible, almost.
And the taxes were too high. If they did bring it in, it was a very complicated thing to do. But if they did bring it in, the taxes were so high, it made no sense. So we have trillions of dollars coming back into our country. But I believe that expensing, a very simple clause that we got in, Marco, wasn’t easy. But I think the one-year expensing is going to have a bigger impact than almost anything else in the bill. So thank you very much. I appreciate it.
Yes, sir, go ahead. Please. (Applause.)
MR. DIAZ-ROUSSELOT: Thank you, Mr. President. First of all, thank you for inviting me amongst these (inaudible) group of people, like Max. My name is Guillermo Diaz-Rousselot. Like Max, I came to the United States in 1960 from Cuba, also without my parents.
The uncles that I came here to visit were — stay with — they were in the camps in the Cuban invasion. So I was here by myself with my brother at that time, which is a story that is very common to all the people here.
You’ll find that most Cubans have a story, and one thing that you mentioned when you were describing Cubans — we’re motivated and we’re passionate about the things that we do.
And Continental National Bank, which I’m the president of, was established in 1974. It was the first Cuban-American bank in the United States — national bank. I joined Continental in 1976, so I’ve been there for some time.
How your tax cuts have impacted my institution, I can tell you that — and as Secretary of State [sic] Steve Mnuchin that can (inaudible), we look at the economy to plan our future. Last year was a very strong year. Most banks now grow 20 percent; we grew our assets by 20 percent because of the strength of the economy. I can tell you that we’re ahead of the pace.
One of the things about employment — before, you can hire anybody that you wanted because there were so many bankers out of work. Not anymore. Now we compete against each other, and we have a group of bankers that we’re stealing from each other, and you better pay top dollar in order to get that high, really necessary individuals for your business to work with. I want to personally — and our loan revenues are over the top from last year at this point.
I want to personally thank you for the actions that you’ve taken in the world and here in Miami.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. That’s very nice. Thank you very much. (Applause.) Thank you.
MR. MALLEA: Mr. President, thank you for doing this here in the city of Hialeah. This is a very meaningful place for a lot of us.
Jose Mallea, owner of Biscayne Bay Brewing Company. We have a craft brewery, actually, based in Doral. But I actually grew up five blocks from here in an apartment building just down the street. I attended middle school next door, at José Martí Middle School, and I played on these courts, this field, and there’s so many parts of the city of Hialeah. I’m a proud product of the city of Hialeah parks and recreation system. (Applause.)
My parents, my mother Marlene, and my father Nicolas Mallea, both immigrants from Ecuador and Cuba, and for me to be sitting here with you today, living out my dream as a small-business owner, surrounded with so many amazing leaders and other successful business owners is a testament to why this really is the greatest country in the history of the world. So thank you so much for inviting me here. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Great.
MR. MALLEA: The Tax Cut and Jobs Act has really been just an amazing benefit to the craft beer community. It included a 50 percent reduction in the excise tax on our beer, which has helped all of us small craft brewers — we’re all small manufacturing businesses that are growing — reinvest in our businesses.
Biscayne Bay Brewing Company has been able to buy additional equipment — about $100,000 in equipment — also because of other benefits in the tax package that have allowed us to increase our production by 40 percent. That has led, already, to two jobs being created and potentially another four before the end of the year. And that’s just one brewery. We have 6,000 craft breweries across the country. So the economic impact of this is tremendous.
Then, when you look at how that impacts American farmers who sell grain to craft brewers, American hop brewers that sell hops, and even companies like All American Container — I saw their manager in the audience today — we buy our bottles from them. And they are an amazing success story in and of themselves.
So the impact of these laws and your policies have just been tremendously compounding. I think it’s important to continue to fight for those issues.
I thank all of you leaders that are here that fought the fight in Congress, and also, you yourself who went around and sold this important package. Continue to fight, and let’s find a way to make some of these permanent. In our case, the excise tax cut sunsets in a couple of years, and it’s critical that we just continue to fight for this, continue to fight for economic freedom.
And like everyone mentioned, the opportunities that we have in this great country that so many of us don’t — our parents didn’t have in theirs — it’s why so many of you continue to lead, and it’s important that we continue to do this.
And we’re here to support you. I know Hialeah will always be behind you. But all of us in the business community are incredibly grateful. So thank you so much for that. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT. Thank you very much. That’s beautiful. Thank you.
Well, I really appreciate the support that we’ve had from Hialeah, and from Florida. The state of Florida was a great victory. It was a big victory. (Applause.) Remember that famous evening: “Donald Trump has won the state of Florida.” And we started saying, “Oh, wow.” (Applause.) That was a long evening for them. They had a lot of — we had a lot of great success.
And I think, most importantly, somebody — actually, not even a friend of mine — said that President Trump has actually produced more than he’s promised. And I think if you look at what’s happening with the economy, with the regulations, with the taxes that most people said would never, ever be able to happen. You know, they used to call it “tax reform.” And that’s why for almost 40 years they couldn’t get anything passed, because they used the word “tax reform.”
So I met with the politicians. And you know, I’ve only been doing this for like two-and-a-half years. So I said, “What’s the problem? How can you not get tax cuts?” They said, “Well, we don’t call it tax cuts. We call it tax reform.” I said, that’s your problem. Tax reform doesn’t work because we do have tax reform, but people don’t understand that, you know, what we’re doing is cutting taxes. We’re also reforming, but that could be an increase in taxes. We’re cutting taxes.
So we go, the “Tax Cut and Jobs Plan.” Now, I wanted to call it — they asked me, “What would you like to call it?” I said, “How about” — this is after the word “reform” — “How about ‘The Tax Cut, Cut, Cut, Cut Plan’?” (Laughter.) And they thought it was a little tacky. I said, “But it gets the point across. But we did call it the Tax Cut Plan. So it was very big.
I just want to leave you with this: We lose a tremendous number of jobs and money with almost every country we do business with. And in many cases, our friends are worse than our enemies, in terms of trade deals. They’re being renegotiated. We’re straightening them out. If we don’t straighten them out, we’re going to terminate them and we’ll start all over again.
But our country has been taken advantage of for many, many years, whether it’s China, whether it’s Mexico, whether it’s — I could name — I could name almost every country. The European Union, as an example, is very hard to do business. We lost $151 billion with the European Union last year. $151 billion. It’s very hard for us to get our products in, but they send their cars in like Mercedes, like BMW, and like lots of other things.
And we’re straightening that out. We’re not going to let it go on any longer. We can’t let it go on any longer. So you’ll be able to send your product in. (Applause.) But Japan and South Korea, so many countries just — and it’s massive numbers. I mean, Mexico — nobody knows this — we lost last year, in terms of a trade deficit, $100 billion with Mexico. We can’t keep doing this, folks. And we’re not going to. So we’re renegotiating NAFTA, which was probably the worst deal ever made in the history of trade.
But with China, we’re at $375 billion trade deficit. So we started a process, and we’ll see how it ends up. But we’re going to win. You know, I always said we had an imbalance of $504 billion. And I always said, “When you’re down $504 billion, you can’t lose.” Okay? We lost years ago by Presidents and others allowing this to happen. They should have never allowed it to happen. But we’re going to bring it back, and we’re bringing it back strong. It’s already happening. People see it. It’s already happening.
So I just want to thank all of the people of Florida, all of the people of Hialeah. You are spectacular people, hardworking people. I love you. And we will go on to things, I think, that maybe our economy and our country have really never seen before. We have such tremendous potential because of people like you.
Thank you all very much for being here. It’s an honor. Thank you, Max. (Applause.)