2:21 P.M. CDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. (Applause.) These are great, great people and these are real workers. I love the workers. We’re doing a good job for the workers. And I’m thrilled to be back in Wisconsin. The optimism in this room is the same incredible spirit that is sweeping across our country — and even greater than that great day in November when I won the state of Wisconsin and when we won the presidency. That was a great day. (Applause.) That was a great day. And thank you, Wisconsin.
No administration has accomplished more in the first 90 days — that includes on military, on the border, on trade, on regulation, on law enforcement — we love our law enforcement — and on government reform.
Today, we’re building on that optimism, and I’m proud to announce that we’re about to take bold, new steps to follow through on my pledge to Buy American and Hire American. (Applause.)
I can’t think of a better place to make this announcement than right here at Snap-On — I just took a tour of the company — good place, by the way; it’s doing well, too — standing among the workers who make the tools that will rebuild our nation. Your craftsmanship is incredible.
It’s a pleasure to be see my good friend, Governor Scott Walker. He has been such a big help. He has been so incredible. (Applause.) Stand up, Scott. Governor Walker. As well as Senator Ron Johnson. We worked hard together. Thank you, Ron. (Applause.)
And although he could not be here today, my thanks go to Speaker Ryan, who’s represented this city for nearly two decades in Congress. And you know where he is? He’s with NATO — so he has a good excuse. And I said, Ron, make sure these countries start paying their bills a little bit more. They’re way, way behind, Ron. We have to — or I’m going to talk to you about that, Ron.
But Paul, you’re over with NATO — get them to pay their bills. And, Ron, you have to work on that, too. And, Scott, you’re right here in Wisconsin — you don’t have to bother. We’ll keep you right here. (Laughter.) For a little while at least.
Also with us is a famous local resident, the pride of Kenosha — Reince Priebus, my Chief of Staff. Where is Reince? (Applause.) Where is he? What a good man. There he is. In fact, we flew over his house on the way up and he got all excited, he was taking pictures of it. (Laughter.) Reince went to high school right here, just about a mile away, where he took his wife Sally to the prom. And that was a match made in heaven. Very nice.
I also want to thank Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin for being with us today. Secretary Mnuchin is working to put together a tax reform plan to make our industry more competitive and also to provide a level playing field for our workers. We don’t have a level playing field, believe me. You’re going to have one very soon. And our tax reform and tax plan is coming along very well. It’s going to be out very soon. We’re working on healthcare and we’re going to get that done, too.
Our Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos, is also here. Where is Betsy? She’s around here someplace. Stand up. Thank you, Betsy. (Applause.) Secretary DeVos is working to ensure that our workers are trained for the skilled technical jobs that will, in the future, power our country.
I’m excited to be joined today by students from Gateway Technical College — (applause) — and remember the college president, Bryan Albrecht. Thank you. (Applause.) Great job. Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you, Bryan. Your partnership with Snap-On is a great example of why vocational education is the way of the future.
When I was growing up in Queens, we had vocational schools that were great. We don’t have schools like that so much anymore, but we’re bringing them back — vocational schools. These are very talented people that love that type of work, and it’s great work. It really is great work. So vocational schools are going to be a big factor in the Trump administration.
Together, we’re going to do everything in our power to make sure that more products are stamped with those wonderful words: “Made in the USA.” (Applause.) In the old days, we used to use it. We don’t use it so much anymore. We’re going to start using it again — Made in the USA.
For too long, we’ve watched as our factories have been closed and our jobs have been sent to other faraway lands. We’ve lost 70,000 factories since China joined the World Trade Organization. And you’ve seen that and you’ve heard about it — 70,000. The World Trade Organization — another one of our disasters. But this election, the American people voted to end the theft of American prosperity. They voted to bring back their jobs — and to bring back their dreams into our country.
That’s why I’m here today. In just a few moments, I will be signing a Buy American and Hire American executive order. You haven’t heard about that in a long time in this country. With this action, we are sending a powerful signal to the world: We’re going to defend our workers, protect our jobs, and finally put America first. (Applause.) I see all the “Make America Great Again” hats, so it’s a good crowd. Those are good hats.
Through the years, Snap-On tools have been at the center of our industrial life. Your tools have fixed the cars our families depend on. They’ve sailed with the fleets that patrol the oceans. They’ve fixed the planes that cross our skies. And Snap-On tools have reached the heights of space, used by astronauts in orbit to carry out their very, very important work. And I don’t know if you noticed, recently I signed a very big order: We’re going to spend again on the NASA space program, and that’s something we need, and we also need it psychologically. (Applause.) But it’s going to be very exciting.
For decades, this company has served the needs of American workers. It’s time we had a federal government that does the same. The “Buy and Hire American” order I’m about to sign will help protect workers and students like those of you in the audience today. This historic action declares that the policy of our government is to aggressively promote and use American-made goods and to ensure that American labor is hired to do the job. It’s America first, you better believe it. (Applause.) It’s time. It’s time, right? It’s time.
First, we will fully monitor, uphold and enforce our Buy American laws — which we haven’t done. Buy American laws require that when the federal government buys, builds or funds a project, domestic goods and products should be used. But over the years, these Buy American standards have been gutted by excessive waivers and reckless exemptions. The result has been countless jobs and countless contracts that have been lost to cheap, subsidized, and low-quality foreign goods.
With this order, I am directing every single agency in our government to strictly uphold our Buy American laws, to minimize the use of waivers, and to maximize Made in America content in all federal projects. (Applause.) It’s time. And for the first time ever, we are going to crack down on foreign bidders that used dumped steel and other subsidized goods to take contracts from workers like you. They take them away, and they’ve been doing it for a long time. Not going to happy anymore. (Applause.)
We are finally standing up for our workers and for our companies. In short, this order declares that American projects should be made with American goods. No longer are we going to allow foreign countries to cheat our producers and our workers out of federal contracts. Everyone in my administration will be expected to enforce every last Buy American provision on behalf of the American worker, and we are going to investigate every single trade deal that undermines these provisions.
Secondly, we are going to enforce the Hire American rules that are designed to protect jobs and wages of workers in the United States. We believe jobs must be offered to American workers first. Does that make sense? (Applause.) Right now, widespread abuse in our immigration system is allowing American workers of all backgrounds to be replaced by workers brought in from other countries to fill the same job for sometimes less pay. This will stop. American workers have long called for reforms to end these visa abuses. And today, their calls are being answered for the first time. That includes taking the first steps to set in motion a long-overdue reform of H1B visas.
Right now, H1B visas are awarded in a totally random lottery — and that’s wrong. Instead, they should be given to the most-skilled and highest-paid applicants, and they should never, ever be used to replace Americans. No one can compete with American workers when they’re given a fair and level playing field, which has not happened for decades.
We’re using every tool at our disposal to restore the American Dream. In fact, when it comes to wasteful, destructive, job-killing regulations, we are going to use a tool you all know very well — it’s called the sledgehammer. (Laughter.) It’s what we’re going to use. We’re also going to stand up for our dairy farmers in Wisconsin — (applause) — and I’ve been reading about it, and I’ve been talking about it for a long time — and that demands, really, immediately fair trade with all of our trading partners, and that includes Canada. (Applause.) Because in Canada, some very unfair things have happened to our dairy farmers and others, and we’re going to strategy working on that with Ron and with Scott and with Paul, with all of your representatives. What’s happened to you is very, very unfair. It’s another typical one-sided deal against the United States. And it’s not going to be happening for long.
So, Scott, you and Ron and myself and Paul and everybody else, we’re going to get together and we’re going to call Canada, and we’re going to say, “What happened?” And they might give us an answer, but we’re going to get the solution, not just the answer, okay? Because we know what the solution is, all right? (Applause.) And if you guys can’t do it, we’ll bring maybe Reince. Reince, you ready, Reince? We better bring Reince back. No, we’ll get that done. We’re going to work on that very hard. We’re going to work on it immediately; in fact, starting today. It’s a terrible thing that happened to the farmers of Wisconsin.
The fact is, NAFTA has been a disaster for the United States — a complete and total disaster. And we’re going to do some things, and we have all sorts of rules and regulations that are horrendous. Like we want to start to negotiate with Mexico immediately, and we have these provisions where you have to wait long periods of time, you have to notify Congress, and after you notify Congress, you have to get certified, and then you can’t speak to them for 100 days. The whole thing is ridiculous.
NAFTA has been very, very bad for our country. It’s been very, very bad for our companies and for our workers, and we’re going to make some very big changes or we are going to get rid of NAFTA for once and for all. Cannot continue like this, believe me. (Applause.)
Big things will be happening on trade with other countries over the coming months, and I mean very big. We’re also working with Congress on tax reform and simplification, and we’re on time if we get that healthcare approval. So press every one of your congressmen, press everybody, because we want to get that approval. And it just makes the tax reform easier and it makes it better. But it’s going to make it steeper, it’s going to be bigger, and that’s what we want to do.
So we’re in very good shape on tax reform. We have the concept of the plan. We’re going to be announcing it very soon. But healthcare — we have to get the healthcare taken care of. And as soon as healthcare takes care of — we are going to march very quickly. You’re going to watch — we’re going to surprise you. Right, Steve Mnuchin? Right? Secretary of Treasury. (Applause.) I see Sean. Stand up, Sean. Stand up.
I had no idea — I was told a year ago — he’s been so great to me — I was told a year ago he’s like a world champion climber; climbs the trees. And after that I look — every time I look at him, I look at him now differently. I’m very impressed with that, Sean. And he’s also very good on television and very helpful. Thank you. Thank you, man. Thank you.
We’ll be making big investments in rebuilding our military and repairing our badly depleted infrastructure. And that will happen soon also — infrastructure. Big infrastructure bill, probably use it with something else that’s a little bit harder to get approved in order to get that approved. But infrastructure is coming, and it’s coming fast.
New ships, bridges, tunnels and airplanes will be constructed with American hands, American steel, and, yes, American tools. (Applause.) As we work to restore the American Dream at home, we’re also working to restore America’s standing abroad. That means strengthening our partnerships and ensuring that our friends and allies pay their fair share, and that very much includes, as I’ve already said in my little statement to Paul, it also includes the NATO companies and countries. They are really sort of letting us down in that one respect, and we don’t want people taking advantage of the United States. And that’s not going to happen for very much longer. I’m going over there very soon and we’re going to have it, and everybody is going to be paying. And we’re going to be a much happier country, we’re going to be a much happier world.
No matter the circumstances, everyone will know we act from this core conviction that America’s strength must be unmatched and its first priority unquestioned — the safety and security of our citizens. This is the surest path to a more peaceful and prosperous world for us all.
Together, we can build a better future in the spirit of this company’s earliest days. Great company, great history. I recently learned that decades ago, in the 1920s, when your salesman entered a dusty repair shop, or stained, a nice, beautiful stained garage floor — which I’ve seen many of — they would find a spot to lay out a beautiful green felt mat. The people of the company know what that means. And on that green felt mat, he would carefully place a gleaming set of new Snap-On tools.
The founders of this company wanted their customers to know that the tools of the mechanic were just as important as the tools of the doctor, the dentist, the politician, or the business leader, and that his craft was a noble, noble craft, as noble as any. This is a wonderful story about your company and its Wisconsin heritage. And Wisconsin has a truly great heritage, and it’s led by incredible people.
But it’s also a story that tells us a lot about the American spirit. In America, we honor work. We honor grit. We honor craftsmanship. We honor the men and women who turn dreams into reality with their own two hands. In America, we honor all of you.
We are a nation of builders. We are the country that dug out the Panama Canal, that put a man on the face of the moon, and that linked our cities with majestic railroads and curving highways. We are the country that is always on the cusp of the next invention. But we can only get there with all of you. We can only restore this nation we love so much by working and building with all of you.
We can only get there together. We are the one people sharing one destiny, saluting one great, beautiful American flag. I’m thrilled to be here today to celebrate our great American heritage and to proudly embrace our great American future.
I want to thank the people of Wisconsin for doing so much for me. That’s why I came back here — not just for the company, frankly, for the people of Wisconsin. You have been so incredible to me and my administration, and we will never, ever let you down.
God bless you. God bless the American worker. God bless the American Dream. And God bless the United States of America. Thank you all very much. Tremendous honor. Thank you. (Applause.)
2:42 P.M. CDT