WATCH: President Trump On Rebuilding America in Ohio
Local 18 Richfield Training Site
2:07 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: What a group. Remember, you can’t win unless you win the state of Ohio. Right? You can’t. (Applause.) And I’m thrilled to be back in Ohio. And I’m proud to be here with the incredible carpenters, laborers, all of the members of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 18. I appreciate all of you. Your support has been amazing. Your support has been so great, right from the beginning. (Applause.) And each of you is living proof that American workers are truly the best in the world. Right? The best. (Applause.)
Rick Dalton and Mike Totman, thank you very much for hosting us. Where are you guys? Where are they? Where are you? Thank you, fellas. Nice-looking guys. Nice-looking guys. (Applause.)
We’re also pleased to be joined by two members of my Cabinet: Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao and Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta. (Applause.) They’ve done a fantastic job.
We’re especially happy to have some of our great Ohio leaders with us today: Lieutenant Governor Mary Taylor — Mary — (applause) — State Auditor Dave Yost — (applause) — thank you — Congressmen Bob Gibbs, Bill Johnson, and Jim Renacci. Good. Great people. (Applause.) Thank you. Good. Great people. They’re tough congressmen, I will tell you that. But they’re for the workers. Right? They’re for the workers. They’re for the country. I can tell you that. They are for the country.
Joined by our friends here in Ohio, my administration is fighting every day to protect, and defend, and grow American jobs. And you see what’s happening all over the country. It’s in Ohio, but it’s all over the country — pouring back plants and factories, pouring back into our country. They can’t come back fast enough.
Even if you look — Apple, going to invest $350 billion. When I heard $350 billion, I said, “You must mean $350 million.” That’s still a big plant. But they’re going to be investing $350 billion. So many others coming back with massive amounts of money. They all want to be back in the USA. A lot of them left; they’re coming back. We’ve eliminated a record number of job-killing regulations. That’s one of the reasons they’re coming back. Right? (Applause.)
And we’re not finished yet. In some cases, you have statutory limitations where you have to go 30 days and wait, and then you have to go 90 days and wait, and then you have to go 15 days and wait, and then you go 90 days again. And then you know what happens? We kill the regulation. And it’s a thing of beauty. And we have filled out every form, every legal application.
And we still, actually, have a long way to go on regulation. And we’re going to have regulations. You need regulations for safety and for the environment. But not where you couldn’t do anything, you couldn’t move. So I think that’s been a big, big success and a reason for our success.
And we’ve made history by massively reducing job-killing taxes. (Applause.) And we didn’t have one Democrat who voted for that. They want to raise your taxes.
And they want people to come in from the border. And they want — I guess, want — I can’t imagine they want — but, certainly, drugs are flowing across borders. We need walls. We started building our wall. I’m so proud of it. We started. We started. We have $1.6 billion, and we’ve already started. (Applause.)
You saw the pictures yesterday. I said, “What a thing of beauty.” And on September 28th, we go further and we’re getting that sucker built. And you think that’s easy? People said, “Oh, has he given up on the wall?” No, I never give up. I never — we have $1.6 billion toward the wall, and we’ve done the planning. And you saw those beautiful pictures, and the wall looks good. It’s properly designed.
That’s what I do, is I build. I was always very good at building. It was always my best thing. I think, better than being President, I was, maybe, good at building. Like you people, you’re good at building. (Applause.) You know, I think maybe we’ll be better at President even. That would be good.
But we are building a really state-of-the-art, very, very efficient — have to be able to see through; it makes a lot of sense. You have to be able to see who is on the other side. Nobody would even think of it. We’ve done prototypes all over, and we have something special happening.
We have reversed the dangerous defense cuts and we are giving our warfighters the tools, funding, and equipment they need to fight and to win. (Applause.)
We have — really, we’re building up our military to the highest level it has ever been, and it was not in good shape. But it’s now going to be, very soon, the highest level it has ever been. And by the way, that means jobs, too. That’s defense — always number one. Defense is number one. (Applause.) Even you jobs folks would say defense is number one. But it’s a lot of jobs. Millions of jobs.
We’ve unleashed American energy independence. Energy exports are at a record high, and foreign imports are at their lowest level in much more than a decade.
We have stood up for the American workers by finally cracking down on unfair trade that steals our jobs and plunders our wealth. They’ve stolen our wealth. They’ve stolen our jobs. They’ve stolen our plants and factories. No more.
We are not letting other countries take advantage of us. Even our friends took advantage. Our friends are friends. They’re wonderful people, but we said, “You can’t do that anymore. Those days are over.” Frankly, our friends did more damage to us than our enemies. Because we didn’t deal with our enemies, we dealt with our friends and we dealt incompetently. Because we’re now finally putting America first. America first. (Applause.) Right?
Just this week, we secured a wonderful deal with South Korea. We were in a deal that was a horror show. It was going to produce 200,000 jobs, and it did — for them. That was a Hillary Clinton special, I hate to say. “This will produce 200,000 jobs.” She was right, but it was for them. It wasn’t for us.
So we’ve redone it, and that’s going to level the playing field on steel and cars and trucks coming into this country. (Applause.)
And I may hold it up until after a deal is made with North Korea. Does everybody understand that? Do you know why? Right? Do you know why? Because it’s a very strong card, and I want to make sure everyone is treated fairly and we’re moving along very nicely with North Korea. We’ll see what happens. Certainly the rhetoric has calmed down just a little bit, would you say? (Applause.) Would you say?
And we’ll see how it all turns out. Maybe it will be good, and maybe it won’t. And if it’s no good, we’re walking. And if it’s good, we will embrace it. But it’s going to be very interesting over the next period of time. And South Korea has been wonderful, but we’ll probably hold that deal up for a little while. See how it all plays out.
We are keeping our promises, and the results are in: 3 million new jobs since Election Day. Three million. (Applause.) And if I would have said that to you during the campaign, where we had tremendous support in this great state, the state of Ohio — if I would have said 3 million jobs, they would have said, the fake news, “He’s exaggerating.” (Laughter.) Oh, they’re fake.
Unemployment claims are at their lowest level in 45 years. The lowest level — 45 years. (Applause.) African American unemployment has reached the lowest levels ever recorded. (Applause.) Remember? Remember I said, “What do you have to lose? What do you have to lose?” And I’m so happy about that.
Hispanic American unemployment rate has also reached the lowest levels ever recorded. (Applause.) And wages are rising at the fastest level in more than a decade. Finally — 19 years, 21 years. People were making — last year, were making less money than they made 20 years ago. Now wages are rising because more jobs are happening.
And very important, just like we’re going to have choice at the VA, we’re going to have choice for these great people. You’re going to also have choice with jobs. (Applause.) You’re going to have choice with jobs. Our veterans are going to have choice, and you’re going to have choice with jobs. (Applause.)
And now, with our friends in Ohio, we’re launching the next phase of America’s economic comeback. We’re going to rebuild America’s crumbling infrastructure. Now, we’re going to probably — (applause) — we have a very important election coming up, and they don’t like the winds we’ve been getting. They don’t like that the economy — the Democrats — they don’t like that the economy is so strong. They don’t like that they don’t have one vote on the tax cuts. Not one vote. And they’re all now saying, “You know, those tax cuts are tough.” What they’re saying to each other is not pretty if you’re a Democrat. And we should do well.
History says that when you win the presidency, that party doesn’t do so well in the midterms, because people get complacent. They get complacent. We cannot be complacent. We’ve got the greatest economy, maybe, ever — maybe in history. We have the greatest economy we’ve ever had.
You know the expression from — I guess it was Bill Clinton — “It’s the economy, stupid.” Well, it is the economy. If we have produced, in a short period of time — because, believe me, if our party, if we, altogether — it’s “we” — if we didn’t win, this economy would be a wreck. They would have added more regulations. You wouldn’t have 3 million jobs; you’d probably go negative. Your 3.2 GDPs and 3 and 2.9 would have been below — in my opinion, would have been below 1. This country was headed in the wrong direction. We can’t lose that by getting hurt in the midterms. So we can’t be complacent.
There’s never been an economy like this. Everyone says it’s the most important thing. And I don’t know that it is or that it isn’t. But, politically, they always say it’s the most important thing. We cannot let anything happen to stop what we’re doing and where we’re going. And all of the workers and all of the jobs, we want to keep them.
And we want to protect our Second Amendment. You saw the other day where a very important — (applause) — where a very important, and respected, in some circles, Democrat, said we want to get rid — we should get rid of our Second Amendment. In other words, get rid of it. That’s really —
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Tyranny!
THE PRESIDENT: It’s tyranny. (Laughs.) Could be right about that. So we’re going to protect our Second Amendment. That’s not going to happen.
We have the best judges. We put on a tremendous amount of great federal district court judges. We’ll be setting records. We are setting records. Appeals court judges. A Supreme Court judge — fantastic — Justice Gorsuch. (Applause.) And we’ll continue. But your Second Amendment will always be your Second Amendment. We’re not doing anything to that. (Applause.) Not doing anything.
We will breathe new life into your very run-down highways, railways, and waterways. We’ll transform our roads and bridges from a source of endless frustration into a source of absolutely incredible pride. And we’re going to do it all under budget and ahead of schedule. You ever hear those words in the public world — “under budget and ahead of schedule”? (Applause.)
And, you know, one of the things — and I just want to go on a little detour for a second. One of the things that wasn’t mentioned by the folks in the back that we got recently in the bill was school safety. And we’ve got — the STOP School Violence Act was passed. That’s the Sandy Hook people, the great people of Sandy Hook. They wanted it so badly. That was done.
We fixed, very strongly, the background checks. We got rid of the bump stocks. The bump stocks, now, are under very strict control, which I think everybody agrees is fine. And we really did a job. Nobody reported it. Doesn’t get reported. If somebody else does it, it’s like a big story, but it didn’t.
And you know, fixing the background checks was so important. And it’s a very, very strong fix of background checks. So I wanted to add that while we talk about infrastructure, while we talk about school safety — so important — but while we talk about all of these other things, that was part of what we got approved.
And another part — so important for Ohio, because I know you have a bigger problem than most — is opioids and drugs. We got $6 billion but nobody talked about — $6 billion — $6 billion to fight the opioid problem and the drug problem. So it’s another thing. (Applause.) And we got the down payment, $1.6 billion on the wall. And we got a lot of other things.
Frankly, if we have had more Republican votes we wouldn’t have had to give away what we gave away, which many of the people in this room, including me, don’t like. Because it was a waste, in many cases. But the Democrats want things. They don’t want to focus on crime, and borders, and people pouring into our country — many of whom are not the people we want to come in. We want a merit-based immigration system. We want people to come in on merit, not based on a lottery; you pick a ticket. (Applause.)
So there’s no better place to begin the campaign of infrastructure than right here in Ohio at the state-of-the-art training site. They’ve done a fantastic job right in this building, where the awesome skills of the American worker — (applause) — are forged and refined. It’s true.
I’ve been in construction and building all my life. I love it. I love the smell of a construction site. Right? There’s just something about it. And you know, we didn’t always get — although, in this case, we did nicely — but we didn’t always get the union leadership of the big unions, but we got the workers. We got the workers.
And some of those leaders had big problems because the workers were with Trump, because they know I hired the Teamsters — thousands of Teamsters — and I hired all of the carpenters, and the electricians, and all of the people that built a lot of buildings in Manhattan and all over the place. And they got it — the workers got it. And now I think the leadership is actually getting it. I really believe that. (Applause.) I think the leadership is getting it.
Because you’re going to have a great friend, and now I have proven — you know, before I used to say, “You’re going to have friend.” But now I have proven you’ve got a friend in the White House. (Applause.) That’s why we’re building all these projects.
So many of these projects, which were just dead — dead projects like the Keystone Pipeline. It was dead. It wasn’t going anywhere. Hillary wasn’t going to approve it. Nobody was. It was a dead project. I got in almost, like, right at the beginning, I approved that Keystone XL Pipeline, and I approved the Dakota Access Pipeline; both of them. Forty-eight thousand jobs, environmentally great. There’s, like — it was nothing. It was quick. It was easy. And it was done. And it was done properly.
And they’ll be flowing in — and that’s better than trucking over the roads. That’s better than any other way. And it wasn’t going to get approved. There was so many jobs like that. You know those two because they were getting a lot of attention.
You know the amazing thing? I approved them. I thought we would have, like, some commotion. Right? Some commotion. Like, some protest — nobody. I approved it. The pickets, they picked up their stuff and they left. That was the end of it. (Applause.) They left a mess, I have to tell you. You know about the mess. Became an environmental wasteland, what they left. You know about that. But, I approved it and they left.
We did that on a lot of things. Whether it’s Jerusalem, where we approved Jerusalem. That was a big thing. (Applause.) Every politician was in support, and then they became President, and guess what? All of a sudden, it was, “Jerusalem? I don’t know anything about Jerusalem.” They didn’t want to know about it. Well, I fulfilled my campaign promises.
And I have to tell you, I believe — and a couple of people have said it — and it’s very early yet — you know we’re only into about 15 months, but I think I have approved much more than I’ve promised. And no politician — really, I have gotten done much more than I promised. I promised certain things. We’ve done a lot of things that I didn’t even promise because I figured it couldn’t happen.
And now, with so many of our great Secretaries and leaders, we’re doing incredible things on healthcare because Obamacare is a disaster. We got rid of the, as you know, the individual mandate, which forced you to spend money for the privilege of not having to have to pay for health insurance. Okay? You figure that one out. It’s gone, folks. It’s gone. It’s gone. (Applause.)
And Alex Acosta, Secretary of Labor, is doing an incredible, incredible plan for co-ops and for various different elements where you go in and you get together as a group, and you’re going to get incredible healthcare, highly bid. Highly bid. You’re going to get so many different bids from — and you’re going to have great healthcare at a very, very low price. There’s going to be a lot of people signing up, and that’s going to be out over the next couple of months, Alex. Right? You’ve been working on it, and it’s going to come out. Nobody even thought of it.
Co-ops and all sorts of people, they’re going to get together and they’re going to buy their healthcare together. And it’s going to be so inexpensive. It’s a thing of beauty. That’s going to be a big percentage of Obamacare, too. A big percentage. And we have other things. (Applause.) And we have other things.
Nearly 40 percent of our bridges were built before — think of this — before the first moon landing. You know, you go to some countries — they’re building bridges all over the place. All over, you have bridges going up. One particular country — I won’t use it because they’re very friendly to me. They weren’t friendly to us as a nation, but now they’re friendly. They’re building 29 bridges. We don’t build bridges like very much anymore. A little bit every once in a while.
But our roads are clogged. We have — average drivers spend 42 hours every year stuck in traffic, costing us at least $160 billion annually. Our mass transit systems are a mess. They’re dilapidated and they’re decayed.
Nationwide, we average 300 power outages per year, compared to just five per year in the 1980s. A total mess. And a lot of it is because some of these power companies — they have the money, they have the wherewithal — they couldn’t get their approvals; they couldn’t get their permits. For years and years and years, they’re trying to get permits. Now, they get them really fast. Now, they’re getting them so fast. One man told me, “What the hell happened? We’ve been fighting for years. All of a sudden, I got a call. We just were approved. We didn’t even try.”
And some consultants are going to be making a lot of money. They’re going to say, “Sir, we need $2 million for the great job we did on getting you approved.” They didn’t do a damn thing. (Laughter.) Except Trump got elected. That’s about all. (Applause.) That’s about all.
How about — I tell this, because, you know, being a builder we can all talk as friends. We’re all builders in this room. Look at these people back there. You better believe they’re builders. Right? (Applause.) They’re builders. No game.
But I tell the story about Keystone, where years and years — you’ve watched it. Years and years, they spent hundreds of millions of dollars. They were even ordering their pipe. Everything is going great. They’re going to build. It’s years, but they’re happy. They don’t get approved. They spend billions on pipe. They ordered the pipe, and they’re not getting it approved.
So anyway — so that was dead for a couple of years, and no chance. I get elected, I approve it almost, like, in the first day. Right at the very beginning. And I just say to myself, can you imagine the boss of whatever the hell company it is — who never actually called me to say thank you, but that’s okay. (Laughter.) We’ll remember. So this guy is sitting behind his beautiful chair in a certain place — I know exactly where. Nice place. Big company. And the consultants march into his office to tell him what a great job they did. They were dead. They had no chance. They failed. I got it approved. And I did it because it’s 48,000 jobs between the two of them. And I did it because it’s also better. It’s better. (Applause.)
“Sir, I believe we’re entitled to a $10 million fee for that.” Oh, those people. And they’re probably Democrats. Can you believe it? (Laughter.) Probably not for long, however.
In recent years, Americans have watched as Washington spent trillions and trillions of dollars building up foreign countries while allowing our own country’s infrastructure to fall into a state of total disrepair. Look at Korea. We have a border at Korea. We have a wall of soldiers. We don’t get paid very much for this, do we?
We have — you look at that. Nobody comes through. But our own border, we don’t take care of it. Think of it. We spend billions of dollars in other countries maintaining their borders, and we can’t maintain our borders in our own country. Is there something a little bit wrong with that? (Laughter.)
Think of it. We spend billions and billions of dollars. Look, North and South Korea — 32,000 soldiers, the finest equipment, barbed wire all over the place. We protect that whole thing. Nobody comes through. But our country, we don’t do it.
Things are changing, folks. But now is the time to rebuild our country, to take care of our people, and to fight for our great American workers for a change. (Applause.)
We spent — and I was against it from the beginning. They try and say, “Well, maybe not.” I was against it from the beginning. And, by the way, we’re knocking the hell out of ISIS. We’ll be coming out of Syria, like, very soon. Let the other people take care of it now. (Applause.) Very soon. Very soon, we’re coming out. We’re going to have 100 percent of the caliphate, as they call it — sometimes referred to as “land.” We’re taking it all back quickly. Quickly. But we’re going to be coming out of there real soon. We’re going to get back to our country, where we belong, where we want to be.
But just think of it: We spent, as of three months ago, $7 trillion — not billion, not million — $7 trillion, with a “T” — nobody ever heard of the word “trillion” until 10 years ago. We spent $7 trillion in the Middle East. We’d build a school; they’d blow it up. We’d build it again; they’d blow it up. We’d build it again; hasn’t been blown up yet, but it will be.
But if we want a school in Ohio to fix the windows, you can’t get the money. If you want a school in Pennsylvania or Iowa to get federal money, you can’t get the money. We spent $7 trillion in the Middle East. And you know what we have for it? Nothing.
Remember I used to say, “Keep the oil”? As a civilian, I used to say — did anybody hear me say that? That’s before I decided to go on this journey with all of you. I got tired of watching. I used to say, “Keep the oil.” We never kept the oil. If we kept the oil, we would have been okay. If we kept the oil, we wouldn’t have ISIS.
Because you know who kept a lot of the oil? ISIS. That’s how they funded themselves. They kept the oil. We didn’t keep the oil. Stupid. Stupid.
But we spent $7 trillion, but we barely have money for the infrastructure. We have to fight for our military. But we’re becoming so strong again. And you watch. We’re not going to take very long.
I have asked Republicans and Democrats in Congress to come together and deliver the biggest and boldest infrastructure plan in the last half-century. I don’t think you’re going to get Democrat support very much, and you’ll probably have to wait until after the election, which isn’t so long down the road. But we’re going to get this infrastructure going.
The plan generates an unprecedented $1.5 trillion investment in American infrastructure. We probably have to wait until after the election. (Applause.) Because the Democrats say, “Don’t give him any more wins. Don’t give him any more wins.” Regulations, cut taxes, Supreme Court, judges all over the place.
You know, when I got in, we had over 100 federal judges that weren’t appointed. Now, I don’t know why Obama left that. It was like a big, beautiful present to all of us. Why the hell did he leave that? (Applause.) Maybe he got complacent.
But now we have about 145 federal district judges. We have 17 court of appeals judges. And as I said, we have the one Supreme Court justice. But think of 145 district judges. That’s world-changing, country-changing, USA-changing. And we’re going all out. We have unbelievably talented, smart, great people being put in those slots.
But we were left a present. I never said this before. It was like the gift from Heaven. We were left judges. They’re the ones that judge on your disputes. They judge on what’s fair on the environment and what’s not fair; where they’re going to take your farms and factories away, and where they’re not. Amazing. It was the gift. Thank you very much, President Obama. We all appreciate it. Thank you. (Applause.) What happened? How did he do that? How did he do that?
We are going to be repairing roads, delivering clean water, and we’re going to have crystal, clean water. We’re going to have clean, beautiful air. But we’re not going to pay a trillion dollars to be in the Paris Accord, where it puts us way back, way back where we are put at such a tremendous disadvantage. That was a disaster for this country. We couldn’t use the kind of assets that we have. We would have had to close up factories and companies in order to qualify. We would have had to pay large amounts of money to other countries because they were developing. As far as I’m concerned, we’re developing. Pay us some money. Right? Pay us. (Applause.) We’re developing. Maybe we’ll call it we’re “redeveloping,” because we’re redeveloping. But it was unfair.
We’re going to be investing in our workers and improving our healthcare facilities for our incredible veterans. We’re making some changes that are good. And we’ve made a lot of progress with the veterans, but I want to get them choice. And they didn’t give us choice. The Democrats didn’t want the vets to have choice.
When the vets are online — because there’s a 25-day wait; there’s a 6-month wait. Guys are online, and women — they’re vets, they’re great; they’re our greatest people. And they’ll be — they got a problem, and it could be fixed. By the time they see the doctor, it’s over. It’s over. Not going to happen. We’re going to have real choice. That’s why I made some changes, because I wasn’t happy with the speed with which our veterans were taken care of. I wasn’t happy with it.
And we made a lot of progress. The Accountability Act, for years they’ve been trying to get it. For decades, they’ve been trying to get VA accountability. When somebody does a bad job in the Veterans Administration, they couldn’t do anything about it. They were protected; you could do anything. They had sadists that treated our vets horribly, horribly. Worse than a movie. They had people that wouldn’t work. You couldn’t do anything.
I had passed the VA Accountability — they’re accountable — the Accountability Act. And now, when they’re bad to our vets or when they’re not working for our vets we say, “Hey, Jim. You’re fired. Get out of here, Jim. Get out. Get out.” (Applause.) That was a big deal. That was a big deal. No accountability.
We got that passed. Nobody talks about it. They don’t talk about it. They don’t want to talk about it. But I’m doing that for the vets. And we made changes because we want them taken care of. We want them to have choice, so that they can run to a private doctor and take care of it. And it’s going to get done.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: (Inaudible.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, honey. It’s going to get done. We’ll always protect the people that have protected us. We have. And that goes for law enforcement. We’re going to protect our law enforcement, our military, our vets. (Applause.) Right?
The plan I have outlined in Congress is built on four key principles. It can be passed in one bill or in a series of measures. What matters is that we get the job done.
First, we’ll invest in the American worker. My Council of Economic Advisers estimates that our plan will create up to 400,000 new infrastructure jobs almost immediately. (Applause.) For workers without a college degree, these jobs offer wages that are 32 percent higher than other occupations. These are great people, great workers. And they’re great-paying jobs.
I also want more Americans to learn from the best, just like you have, really, learned — the people in this room, so many of you — you’ve learned from the best. Local 18’s groundbreaking apprenticeship program — (applause) — true — has become one of the largest anywhere in America, and we want to replicate your success all across the country. And we’re studying exactly what you’ve done here.
That’s why I’m asking Congress to improve federal student aid to include high-quality, short-term training programs that equip Americans to succeed in construction and the skilled trades. (Applause.)
A word that you don’t hear much, but when I was growing up, we had what was called vocational schools. They weren’t called community colleges, because I don’t know what that means — a community college. To me, it means a two-year college. I don’t know what it means.
But I know what vocational — and I tell people, call it “vocational” from now on. It’s a great word. It’s a great word. Call it vocational, and technical, perhaps. But use vocational, because that’s what it’s all about. People know that means. We don’t know what a community college means.
We want every American to know the dignity of work, the pride of a paycheck, and the satisfaction of a job well done. (Applause.)
And speaking of a job well done, we have two of my daughters here today. Ivanka, who’s working hard on infrastructure — Ivanka. (Applause.) And Tiffany.
America’s greatest treasure is our people. And I saw that during the campaign. They came from everywhere. Remember, they said, “There’s no way that Donald Trump can get” — the people — they had people that they didn’t know existed. Now the Democrats are trying to figure out who the hell you are. (Laughter.)
You know who you are? You’re hardworking people. You work your asses off. And you got sick and tired of the people that you were supposed to be voting for, and you stopped. But you came out for us. And you know what? Now you’re very happy, because this was a movement like they’ve never seen before. (Applause.) They’ve never seen any movement like this, and I appreciate it, and you’re going to appreciate it. You already do. Thank you.
We will completely transform the horrible, and costly, and broken permitting process. The current permitting system is a disaster; it takes forever. It adds tremendous costs and years and years of endless delay to infrastructure projects all across the country.
As just one example of how broken the system is, Secretary Chao recently gave a final approval to an environmental review in Alaska that started all the way back in 1975. It’s been going on for more than 40 years. And we just got it, right? Just got it. Elaine. (Applause.) Just got it. In fact, the people of Alaska, they couldn’t believe it. They said, we don’t believe it. And I said, “You got it.”
We’ll get rid of the bureaucracy that wastes time and kills jobs. We had a highway in a certain wonderful state that was going to be a quick, easy road to build. That was 17 years ago. It was going to cost a very small amount of money, couple of million dollars. It ends up costing close to $300 million. Got their approvals recently.
The road is no longer a straight shot. It’s now — not good if you’re not feeling so good behind the wheel. (Laughter.) Got to make another turn. They had to take care of all the nesting. It has cost a lot of money and took many years, and it’s out of control, and we’re going to stop that nonsense. We’re going to stop it. (Applause.)
Under our plan, every project will have one point of contact that will deliver one decision — yes or no — for the entire federal government. Yes or no. You have to go through different agencies. You go through Labor. You go through Transportation. You go through another one, another one. EPA, where we’ve really streamlined the system; where we have really made it possible for people to get things done. So many projects are under construction right now that would never, ever in a million years have gotten built.
And guess what? We also turn down projects if they’re wrong. We know if they’re wrong. They know if they’re wrong. We turn down projects. But if you get turned down, you get turned down quickly. You don’t go along for 15, or 18, or 22 years. I mean, some people have spent an entire lifetime trying to get a project approved, and they don’t get it approved. And their working career is, like, mostly over. That can’t be a good feeling. Right? How about that? Can’t be a good feeling.
But if you get turned down, we’re going to say it. America build the Empire State Building in one year. Think of it: one year. It was actually like nine months. Can you believe that? It was the tallest building in the world at the time. Now it can take 10 years just to get permits to build a roadway; a tunnel; even, in some cases, a building. And that’s an insult to America’s great building heritage, and we will not accept it, and we’re changing it rapidly. It’s already been changed. We’re going to do even better.
I hope to get it down to a one-year period. We have a lot of them down to two years now. But it’s from 2 years from 20 and 18, and 15, and 12. But we’re going to try getting it down even quicker. We’re going to protect the environment, and cut the permit approval time. And we’re going to get things done. We’re going to get them built. Or we’re going to tell you, “No good for the environment. Sorry. Don’t bother.” But for the most part, it’s going to happen.
We’re going to provide a $50 billion commitment to build infrastructure in rural communities, which are too often left behind. They’ve been forgotten. They’ve been forgotten. We’re going to spend a lot of money on the rural communities that have not been taken care of. And these are incredible people. These are hardworking people. And they haven’t been taken care of by the Democrats. These funds will help ensure that every community is connected and has access to modern infrastructure, including broadband Internet, which has been left out. (Applause.) Very unfair.
Fourth and finally, we’ll expand the reach of federal dollars through smart state and local partnerships. We’re going to have some really smart partnerships. Our plan calls for a new incentive program that provides billions of dollars in federal funding to projects in which states and local governments and the private sector are willing to invest their own resources, as well as the federal government. So there will be an incentive to get things done and get things done properly, and in the right location and the right bridge, or road, or tunnel, or whatever you are going to build.
By combining federal tax dollars with the resources of state and local governments, and partnering with the private sector, this incentive program will kickstart funding needed to build new projects and repair existing ones.
The first elements of this plan have already been put in place. We have made so much progress. It’s not progress that you read about or hear about. Of course, if it were, they wouldn’t print it anyway. But that’s okay. (Laughter.) They don’t do that.
I’ve signed an executive order to speed up permitting and to expand the rural broadband. We’re cutting through mountains of red tape. We’ve secured more funding for highways, airports, railroads, and our nation’s water infrastructure. In addition to the $1.6 billion for the wall, we’ve got $21 billion approved for infrastructure in the current bill that a lot of people don’t hear about. We’ve obtained from Congress an additional $2 billion to improve veterans medical facilities. That’s everything they wanted. (Applause.) Two billion dollars for the veterans.
Congress now has the opportunity to build on this momentum and to act on a commonsense plan that will make our economy stronger, our roads faster, and our families safer. We want a safe country. We want safety. (Applause.)
It’s a plan for building a stronger America. For most of our history, American infrastructure was the envy of the world. True. Go back 30, 40, 50 years; they would look at us like — now we are like, in many cases, a third-world country. It’s an embarrassment. And we’re the ones that had the imagination and the drive to get it done. But we got that again.
Other nations marveled as we connected our shores with transcontinental railroads, and brought power to our cities that lit up the sky like no other place on Earth, and built mile after mile of Internet capabilities and interstate highways to carry American products all across the country and around the globe. Nobody did it like us.
We dug out the Panama Canal. Think of that. Thousands of lives were lost to the mosquito. To the mosquito — malaria. We dug out the Panama Canal.
We transformed our skylines with towering works of concrete and steel, and laid the foundation for the modern economy. To rebuild this nation, we must reclaim that proud heritage. Have to reclaim it. And we’re on our way. (Applause.)
We must recapture the excitement of creation, the spirit of innovation, and the spark of invention. We’re starting. You saw the rocket the other day. You see what’s going on with cars. You see what’s going on with so much. NASA, space agency, all of a sudden, it’s back. You notice? It was dormant for many, many years. Now it’s back, and we’re trying to have the private sector invest the money. Why the hell should we do it? Right. Let them invest. If they want to send rocket ships up, they’re rich, let them do it. (Laughter.)
When I looked at the rocket that went up three weeks ago, where the tanks came back — nobody has ever seen; it looks like Star Wars. But I looked at it and I heard the cost — I think they said $85 million. If the government did that, you’re talking about billions of dollars, and maybe it wouldn’t work so well.
But I thought it was fantastic thing. But we’re working with the private sector and NASA. And we’re doing a great job. We’ve made so much progress in the last year. Don’t forget it’s just been a little more than a year. But we’ve made so much progress and other people are putting up a lot of money.
They’re using our facilities. I feel like a landlord again. (Laughter.) We’re leasing them facilities. Not so bad. Not a bad idea. And they’re doing a great job. America is a nation, like you, of builders. It’s a nation of pioneers. A nation that accepts no limits, no hardship, and never, ever gives up. We don’t give up. We don’t give up. (Applause.)
We will tear down every obstacle, break down every barrier, and stare down every challenge, because our hearts — they bleed red, white, and blue, and we love our great American flag, don’t we? (Applause.) Right?
Anything we can dream, you can build. You will create the new highways, the new dams and skyscrapers that will become lasting monuments to American strength and continued greatness.
You will forge new American steel into the spine of our country. You will cement the foundation of a glorious American future. And you will do it all with those beautiful American hands — powerful hands, powerful heart, and powerful American pride. (Applause.) Right? Powerful American pride.
You are the ones who share our shaping and our destiny. You are the ones who are restoring our prosperity and our pride. You’re restoring pride in this country again. Our country had very little pride. Look back — see what was happening. Our country had very little pride.
You look at what’s going on in California — Orange County — they’ve had it. There’s a revolution going on out there. Sanctuary cities, where they protect criminals. They protect murderers. They protect people that you don’t want on the streets. Other places in California said, “We don’t want that.” First time they’re speaking up.
Even look at Roseanne. I called her yesterday. Look at her ratings. Look at her ratings. (Applause.)
I got a call from Mark Burnett. He did “The Apprentice.” He’s a great guy. He said, “Donald, I called just to say hello and to tell you, did you see Roseanne’s ratings?” I said, “Mark, how big were they?” They were unbelievable. Over 18 million people. And it was about us. They haven’t figured it out; the fake news hasn’t quite figured it out yet. They have not figured it out. (Applause.)
So that was great. And they haven’t figured it out. But they will. And when they do, they’ll become much less fake. (Laughter.) May take a while, but it’s happening.
But you’re the ones who are truly making America great again. We’re going to work together. We’re going to work with the state of Ohio. We’re going to work with everybody. And we’re going to bring our country to a level of success and prominence and pride like it has never, ever seen before.
Thank you. And God bless America. Thank you. (Applause.)