Wall Street Wrong Again – Import Prices Decline During Full Year of Import Tariffs…


The latest set of statistics from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) shows all of the professional pundit claims of higher prices on imported goods due to Trump tariffs are simply disconnected from reality.  In actuality the year-over-year prices of import products are actually dropping:

U.S. Import prices fell 0.3 percent in May, the first monthly decline since a 1.4-percent drop in December. Import prices advanced 1.8 percent from December to April before the downturn in May. The price index for overall imports decreased 1.5 percent over the past 12 months, matching the drop in January. These were the largest over-the-year declines since the index fell 2.2 percent in August 2016. (See table 1.)

The U.S steel and aluminum tariffs have been in effect globally since 2017. Tariffs on softwood lumber (Canada) & durable appliances (S. Korea), same duration.  Additionally the first set of tariffs on China is now well over a year old; and the second set of expanded tariffs on China began a month ago; again, no material impact to the delivered price.

Despite two years of claims by the professional media that tariffs would lead to higher prices for U.S. consumers, as you can see above the reality is quite different.

In part this is driven by lower fuel and energy costs.  Additionally, China is attempting to subsidize its affected industry; and several nations, including China, are attempting to retain export status by adopting monetary policies that devalue their currency.  All of these efforts at countering the U.S. tariffs are having a deflationary impact.

[…] Imports by Locality of Origin: The price index for imports from China edged down 0.1 percent in May following a 0.2-percent drop the previous month. Import prices from China have not recorded a monthly advance since the index rose 0.1 percent in May 2018. Prices for imports from China declined 1.4 percent over the past year, the largest 12-month drop since a 1.6-percent decrease in February 2017.

Import prices from Japan recorded no change in May, after a 0.1-percent decline in April. Prices for imports from Japan also recorded no change from May 2018 to May 2019.

The price index for imports from Canada declined 1.0 percent in May, driven by lower fuel prices. (Link)

President Trump Outwits Chairman Xi Jinping Ahead of G20 Summit…


President Trump has taken the leverage of economics to levels of geopolitical strategy never seen before.  Nowhere is the genius strategy more clear than in the way Trump has positioned the trade reset and confrontation with China.

In hindsight every move since early 2017 including:  (1) the warm welcome of Chairman Xi Jinping to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate; (2) the vociferous praise poured upon Xi; (3) the November 2017 tour of Asia; (4) the direct engagement with North Korean Chairman Kim Jong Un; the strategic relationship with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe; and a host of smaller nuanced moves have been quietly building toward a conclusion.

The upcoming G-20 summit is the last chance for Trump and Xi to reconcile considerable differences and President Trump has the strongest strategic position any Chinese official has ever faced.

After Beijing walked away from previous agreements between USTR Robert Lighthizer and Vice-Premier Liu He, Trump initiated a series of punishing economic consequences that had to have been well planned in advance.

The economy in China is reeling from the pressure applied; and stunningly it has only been a month since the consequence phase began.

In addition to tariff increases, the U.S. blacklisted Huawei Technologies Co., threatened other major Chinese tech companies and essentially cut-off China from the international supply chain it needs to sustain itself.  Beijing responded by drawing up a list of “unreliable entities” and making threats against any enterprise that would walk away from business engagement with China.  The totalitarian response has worsened the situation, and more companies have announced their intent to decouple from Beijing.

An important aspect, missed by most observers, is the ideology and outlook within any Chinese engagement. Quite simply, if it does not benefit China it is not done.  Therefore any negotiation with China is challenging because Beijing will cede no ground they view as already won.

China does not believe in ‘concession from current position‘ within any terms.  Ultimately this is the reason why the negotiated agreement by Lighthizer and Vice-Premier He was dismissed by Beijing and talks collapsed. China will not cede an already attained position.

China never negotiates terms where they give ground.  Almost all negotiation with China has historically surrounded time.  To appease the West the longer-thinking approach of China has been to negotiate winning more slowly, but they will never retreat on previously won gains.

However, in advance of the G20 Summit in Japan President Trump has positioned Chairman Xi in a lose/lose dynamic.  This forces the outlook of Beijing into a state of internal anxiety.  Only President Donald Trump could have achieved this position, is really is remarkable and is noted within this Bloomberg article:

(Bloomberg) By now, Xi Jinping is used to Donald Trump’s tariff threats. But the U.S. president’s latest ultimatum is personal, and the Chinese leader’s response could have far-reaching consequences for his political future.

Trump on Monday said he could impose tariffs “much higher than 25%” on $300 billion in Chinese goods if Xi doesn’t meet him at the upcoming Group of 20 summit in Japan. China’s foreign ministry — which usually refuses to provide details of meetings until the very last minute — declined Tuesday to say whether the meeting would take place.

The brinkmanship puts Xi — China’s strongest leader in decades — in perhaps the toughest spot of his six-year presidency. If Xi caves to Trump’s threats, he risks looking weak at home. If he declines the meeting, he must accept the economic costs that come with Trump possibly extending the trade conflict through the 2020 presidential elections.

“Whether they meet or not, none of the possible scenarios are good for President Xi or the economy in the long run,” said Zhang Jian, an associate professor at Peking University. “You don’t have a good choice which can meet the needs of the Chinese economy or Mr. Xi’s political calculations.”  (read more)

Read that again carefully….

“If Xi caves to Trump’s threats, he risks looking weak at home. If he declines the meeting, he must accept the economic costs that come with Trump possibly extending the trade conflict through the 2020 presidential elections.”

That is what you call a Lose/Lose scenario.

China NEVER faces lose/lose situations.  The Chinese culture doesn’t even have a frame of reference for a position that includes ‘less losing’ amid better options.

For President Trump to have navigated Chairman Xi into such a position is the pinnacle of strategic success. In the long history of western engagement with Beijing it has never happened, ever.

President Trump is now playing with Chairman Xi like a mouse in a maze.

Trump wants to go to the full confrontation position. Donald J Trump has been talking about this for thirty years.  Additionally, for the past two years he has strategically laid the groundwork and aligned the allies needed for this final confrontation.  President Trump is looking for an excuse to apply the scale of tariffs on China that will crush their U.S. export business – and – force them into massive state subsidies to retain their manufacturing model. This approach creates pressure to retract from preexisting global financial obligations.

President Trump has threatened more tariffs and more consequential action as it relates to non-tariff barriers, IP protection, forced technology transfers etc. as a result of China  reneging on their prior agreement.  In essence, President Trump has put Chairman Xi under threat.  Beijing’s traditional and cultural position would be no-meeting and no negotiation while under threats.

However, as a baseline disposition President Trump doesn’t want Xi Jinping to meet with him.  The appearance of a ‘slight’ is the opening Trump can exploit to apply the 25% tariffs to the remaining $350 billion of imported Chinese goods. This will crush his adversary.

So what does President Trump do… while the tariff threat and trade punishment looms (and he keeps reminding everyone of it), he levels massive amounts of praise upon Chairman Xi making the pressure almost unbearable.

Laughably, U.S. President Trump is wearing the panda mask, and simultaneously applying the dragon approach.  Yes, Trump is using China’s own duplicitous strategy against them.

Chairman Xi cannot meet with President Trump or his appearance implies a willingness to negotiate terms; and that reverses the dismissive position previously outlined by Beijing when they rebuked the earlier agreement. A meeting now would appear as weak.

However, if Xi refuses the G20 meeting he will be walking into a trap and allowing President Trump to take all adversarial action that could indeed collapse Xi’s economy.

Worse still, Beijing cannot fall-back-on their historic approach and begin shooting missiles from their proxy province of North Korea to attain leverage and negotiating position… because President Trump has already blunted that ability by meeting with Chairman Kim Jong Un.

Oh, the G20 is going to be epic.

…and LOL, the G20 is on Trump’s home ASEAN turf, Japan, with Trump’s good friend and golf partner Prime Minister Abe.

If Russia Has Oppo Research “Dirt,” Trump Still Wants to Hear It


Published on Jun 14, 2019

President Trump tells George Stephanopoulos at ABC News that he still wants to hear oppo research “dirt” on his political rivals…even if it comes from Russia. Did he learn nothing from the Mueller Probe? Or is he laying a trap for Hillary Clinton? This show was inspired by a post on the exclusive Member Blog at BillWhittle.com We’re grateful for the Members who make this show possible, and we invite you to join them now at https://BillWhittle.com/register/

 

Mexico Threatens Tariff Retaliation…


Too funny…. apparently Mexican Economy Minister Graciela Marquez didn’t watch what happened to China (or Canada) when they made similar threats of retaliation against President Trump’s tariffs.  Seriously.

President Trump wants the border secure, yes. However, President Trump would also welcome a trade tariff battle with Mexico (they can’t win); so this isn’t a technically a threat from the position of POTUS:

(Reuters) – Mexico will be ready to retaliate in kind if the U.S. government imposes tariffs on Mexican exports to the United States, Mexican Economy Minister Graciela Marquez said on Friday.

Speaking in Congress, Marquez said Mexico’s government would also initiate bilateral and multilateral procedures to defend its trade interests if the United States were to introduce tariffs. (link)

Now, if Mexico intended to fulfill its end of the recent border and immigration agreement, the tariffs would be a moot point.  So why are Mexican officials even contemplating a tariff war?

Here’s the specific and expanded Mexican promise on border and migration control:

That’s the letter POTUS Trump had in his pocket:

Essentially: keep your word, or in 45 days things will get ugly…. and 45 days from then, the 20% rate tariffs will begin.  Choose wisely.

President Trump Announces Expanded Health Coverage Through HRA’s…


Earlier today President Donald Trump delivered remarks on expanding health coverage options for employers and workers through health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs).

Under the rule, employers will be able to provide their workers with tax-preferred funds to pay for the cost of health insurance coverage that workers purchase in the individual market. The rule will particularly benefit small businesses that face costs in offering a traditional group health plan and businesses that do not currently offer coverage.

[Transcript] THE PRESIDENT: (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you. This is very nice. (Applause.)

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Happy Birthday, Mr. President! (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Happy Birthday, Mr. President!

THE PRESIDENT: Beautiful. Wow.

AUDIENCE: (Sings “Happy Birthday.”) (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Very nice. Wow. That’s — that is very, very nice.

Please. You must like what I’m about to say, I think. (Laughter.) And we all like what we’re about to say. We worked very hard on it.

And thank you all for joining us on this magnificent day in the Rose Garden. A special place. We’re here to announce the latest historic action that we’re taking to help millions of Americans receive high-quality and very affordable healthcare — something so important. And we’ve been working on it long and hard. A certain group, right on these first few rows, they’ve been working very long and very hard. And I want to thank you.

We’re delighted to be joined today by Vice President Mike Pence. Mike, thank you very much. (Applause.) Thank you.

In addition, I want to express my gratitude to Secretary Steven Mnuchin. Steve, thank you very much. (Applause.)

Alex Acosta. Secretary. (Applause.) Thank you.

A man who has been working very hard for this day: Secretary Alex Azar. Thank you, Alex. (Applause.)

And also with us are Acting Administrator of the Small Business Administration Chris Pilkerton. And — where’s Chris? Chris? Good. Chris, hi. (Applause.) Congratulations, by the way. Congratulations. You liking it? I hope you’re liking it. Huh? I hear you are.

And Treasurer of the United States Jovita Carranza. Thank you, Jovita. (Applause.) Thank you very much.

And I want to extend a special welcome to the many small business owners who are here. We have a lot of them in the — in our midst. And thank you very much. This is a big advantage for you and something where you can take care a lot of — a lot of great people are going to be taken care of. So, thank you all for being here. Thank you very much.

Small business optimism is soaring in our very booming and big economy. And today, we give you even more reason for your confidence in the future.

Two years ago, in October of 2017, I signed an executive order to increase healthcare choice and competition all across our nation. Since that time, my administration has worked tirelessly to expand options and drive down the cost of healthcare for the American people.

We took swift action to open short-term health plans and association health plans to millions and millions of Americans. Many of these options are already reducing the cost of health insurance premiums by up to 60 percent and, really, more than that.

We also have launched a new initiative to bring down the price of prescription drugs. We are holding Big Pharma accountable. And, I must say, Big Pharma has also been working with us to try and get prices down. And if we had support with the Democrats, I must say, we could get it down even more.

We’ve reduced prices now by a — quite a bit. And this year is the first year, Alex Acosta — right? — in 54 years — 53 years that drugs prices have come down. And I want to congratulate you and all the people that have worked so hard with you. (Applause.) That’s really an incredible thing. First year.

And we could get them down a lot more if we had a little support in Congress. And I think we’ll get that support. I think that has to be — that has to be a joint. If that’s not going to be bilateral, we’re going to get that done, and I think we’re going to get it done quickly. We’re going to get a lot of support. I’ve spoken to Democrats, and they are in support of it. We have to see if we can actually get them to raise their hand. If they do that, we’re going to see some tremendous cuts in drug prices. So thank you very much, Alex.

We’ve asked Congress to support a new research initiative to find a breakthrough cure for childhood cancers. And we’ve begun a public health campaign to eradicate AIDS in America once and for all. And that’s really taking place like nobody would believe. We’re looking at a 10-year plan. And at the end of 10 years, we’re going to be in very good shape. Who would’ve thought that was possible even just a short time ago?

And we’re making dramatic strides in combatting the opioid epidemic. We have it down by a period of almost — a number of almost 17 percent this year. And when I heard it, I thought they made a mistake. I said, “You are not real. That’s not a real number.” And it is very much a real number.

So, Kellyanne and all of the people that have worked on that, that’s a tremendous achievement. And we’ve worked with the medical profession and with doctors and with everybody, and to think that it’s 17 percent in one year — that’s a tremendous achievement. Thank you very much. (Applause.)

And we’re now working with Congress to pass legislation that ends surprise medical billing. And we’re going to have another big announcement in two weeks, unrelated but something that’s going to have a profound effect on the things that we’re talking about and have been talking about over the last two and a half years. It’s going to be something really incredible. That’ll take place over the next two weeks. That’ll be a very big announcement. Nobody knows what it is. It’s going to be a big surprise, but it’s going to be a very pleasant one.

No American should be blindsided by bills for medical services they never agreed to in advance. We’re promoting price transparency to force competition and drive down cost. And that’s what’s happening, and that’s one of the reasons we’re getting the drug prices — stopping from those tremendous increases that have taken effect for so many years. For so many decades, they’ve been going only in one direction: up. And now we have them breaking even and going down.

We’re defending Medicare and Social Security for our great seniors. We’re eliminated — and we have eliminated Obamacare’s deeply unpopular individual mandate penalty. And you know how bad that was. (Applause.) Think of it: You paid a tremendous amount of money for the privilege of paying so that you don’t have to pay for bad insurance. Okay? How bad does that get? That’s got to be a first. Nobody has ever heard of that one. But we eliminated it. It’s gone. So you’re saving a lot of money, and it’s a terrific thing.

And we will always protect patients with preexisting conditions. Always. (Applause.) We’re always going to protect the patients. Preexisting conditions.

And today I’m pleased to announce another groundbreaking action. We are dramatically increasing the ability of Americans to access more affordable health insurance through options and through their employers. We’re doing so by expanding Health Reimbursement Arrangements, or HRAs, as they are commonly known. HRAs will allow American workers to shop for the plan that’s right for them and their family, and have their employer cover the cost. And it’s a reasonable cost, and people are going to be getting tremendous benefits.

This will be possible because HRAs will now receive the same tax treatment that other employer-provided health plans have always enjoyed. There was a lot of restrictions, and it was impossible until now. This is something that its time has come. It’s popular. It’s really, really been a success. And I think this is going to be — for many people, this will be the way of the future.

The previous administration imposed crushing fines and other penalties on HRAs to prevent employees from selecting the plan of their choice. It was impossible. With today’s action, we are eliminating all of those restrictions. And thanks to the changes we’re making, an estimated 11 million Americans will now choose their own plans with the help of the HRAs. This will increase the size — (applause) — thank you. This is a very big deal. This will increase the size of the individual market by at least 50 percent, improving choice, promoting competition, and lowering costs for the American people.

HRAs provide another important option to help even more employers offer great health insurance. And the benefits to the American workers will be incredible. They will be especially useful for small employers: An estimated 90 percent of the businesses that will take advantage of HRAs have fewer than 20 employees.

This announcement is a monumental victory for small businesses, for their workers, and previously uninsured Americans who will now have access to high-quality health plans of their choice.

With us today is one of our nation’s wonderful small business owners: [DEL: Tony :DEL] [Tom] Kunkel from Maryland. And I will say — Tom, you come up. Where is Tom? Are you up here someplace, Tom? I have not met Tom. Oh, you’re a handsome guy. Come on up here. (Laughter.) Tom Kunkel, would you say a few words and let them know what’s just happened to you?

Please. Thank you, Tom. (Applause.) Thank you.

MR. KUNKEL: First of all, I’d like to say “Happy Birthday” to the President.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much.

MR. KUNKEL: Thank you. A lot of people from my office also wanted to say “Happy Birthday.”

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you.

MR. KUNKEL: Three years ago, I actually spoke to the U.S. Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee about reinstating the Health Reimbursement Benefit Program that had existed previously. This was after the Obama administration had made it illegal for our business to help employees with their health insurance costs.

At the time, we had been helping our employees, some who had very serious medical conditions, including cancer. And after the Obama ruling we had to stop all reimbursements, and –which caused a great bit of hardship for our employees. And several of them I actually ended up losing because they had to leave us and go to other companies that offered a little better health benefits.

So I want to thank the President and the administration for supporting this new measure and all of his pro-small-business policies. We very much appreciate it in the small-business community.

So this new rule really allows small businesses to offer a benefit to our employees that will help our employees with healthcare costs, provide more and better options for them and also for employers.

So, again, thank you very much, Mr. President. (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you very much.

Also, we’re joined right now — Andrea Burns, a small business owner from Pennsylvania. Please come up. Andrea, please. (Applause.)

MS. BURNS: Hello.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. How are you doing? Nice to see you.

MS. BURNS: Happy birthday

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much.

MS. BURNS: Nice to see you.

THE PRESIDENT: Have a good time.

MS. BURNS: Hello, my name is Andrea Burns, and I’m a director at Richard S. Burns and Company, a family-owned and operated construction waste material recovery and processing facility in Philadelphia. We employ approximately 100 people.

And, right now, my brother and I — Allen — choose the healthcare plan for all of those employees. They don’t have the opportunity to choose the provider, the coverage, or the premium. This plan — HRAs — would allow us to give them the opportunity to choose the plan that’s best for them. Thank you. Thank you for making (inaudible).

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, darling. Use it well. Use it well, Andrea. That’s — you will. Thank you very much.

And it’s going to be a great — it’ll be a great difference. I’ve repeatedly called on Congress to work with us to bring down the cost of healthcare and prescription drugs. It’s all happening.

Instead, more than 120 Democrats in Congress have signed up for the Bernie Sanders massive government takeover of healthcare. That’s going to hurt a lot of people. It’s going to hurt our country. Socialist healthcare would crush American workers with higher taxes, long wait times, and far worse care. Their plan would eliminate Medicare as we know it and terminate the private health insurance of 180 million Americans and even more than that now.

On my watch, we will never let that happen. We will never be a socialist country. (Applause.)

We have to reject the socialist model that rations care, restricts access, slashes quality, and forces patients onto endless waitlists. Instead, we believe in freedom. We believe in choice. We believe in the highest standard of care in the world — anywhere in the world.

And we believe that American families must always have the right and the power to choose the very best treatments, plans, doctors for themselves and for their loved ones. They need that freedom. They have to have that freedom. And that’s exactly what today’s action is all about. We are putting the people back in charge with more choice, for better care, at a far lower cost.

And other people will not be paying for their healthcare. We won’t be raising taxes. We won’t be taxing you into oblivion. We won’t be raising the tax rates to 90 percent. I’ve heard 90 percent. The only problem with that one: It doesn’t even come close to taking care of the situation. So that means you have to go a lot higher than 90 percent. I don’t think that’s going to work too well in this country. We’ve lowered taxes. We want to keep them down. That’s very important. (Applause.)

And we will not rest until Americans have the healthcare system they need and deserve, a system that finally puts American patients first.

I want to thank everybody for being here. It’s a very important day, a very special day. God bless you, and God Bless America.

Thank you all very much. Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you.

Thank you everybody.

[Transcript Ends]

Justin From Canada Coming to White House…


Apparently Justin from Canada is coming to the White House for a meeting with President Trump…

WHITE HOUSE – President Donald J. Trump will welcome Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada to the White House on June 20, 2019. The visit will reaffirm America’s deep partnership with Canada, and allow the two leaders to address opportunities and challenges related to expanding bilateral cooperation.

President Trump and Prime Minister Trudeau will discuss the shared economic interests of their countries, including the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement and opportunities to drive more growth and create jobs in both the United States and Canada. The two leaders will also discuss the upcoming G20 Summit, which will take place from June 28 to 29 in Osaka, Japan. (read more)

Last month, Manny Montenegrino had a good discussion with Ezra Levant about the current issues with the relationship between Justin from Canada and President Trump.  Against the backdrop of this upcoming visit, it’s worth revisiting:

Magnanimous Trump?

What Mr. Mongenegrino notes in this interview below is really insightful.  He raises some really good points about about the diminishment and global vulnerability for Canada due to Trudeau’s decoupling with the U.S.

It is really good food for thought from a pragmatic Canadian perspective, that you never see discussed in the media. Manny raised some solid points about the potential long-term ramifications. Additionally, in the big picture, what he describes is not good for the U.S. and catastrophic in the long-term for Canada.

Ultimately President Trump doesn’t want to see any ally suffer economically.  Arguably while Trump’s specific policy focus is ‘America First’, his global reset is intended to reconstitute free and fair trade, and remove the corrosive multinational influences that diminish economic opportunity amid the middle-class of all nations.

President Trump Fox and Friends Extensive Interview Today…


President Donald Trump calls in to Fox and Friends on his birthday for a wide-ranging interview on multiple subjects.  The interview is 49 minutes long.

President Trump discusses Iran being implicated in assaulting oil takers in the Gulf of Oman, Nancy Pelosi accusing him of a criminal cover-up, calls to fire Kellyanne Conway, Joe Biden’s campaign and much more:

President Trump Introduces Second Chance Hiring and Workforce Initiative – (Video and Transcript)…


Earlier today President Donald Trump delivered remarks introducing a ‘Second Chance’ hiring and workforce development initiative. The ‘Second Chance’ program is the follow-up initiative to complement the ‘First Step Act’ which the President signed last year.

‘Second Chance’ is a way to give everyone an opportunity to reestablish themselves economically and support their family financially.  This was really an uplifting and enjoyable event at the White House. [Video and Transcript]

.

[Transcript] THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Please, please. Great occasion.

I want to welcome everyone to the White House. We’re here today to announce a vital new action that we’re taking to help former inmates find a job, live a crime-free life, and succeed beyond their wildest dreams. (Applause.)

And this afternoon, we’re very grateful to have many distinguished guests, including Secretary Alex Acosta. Alex, thank you very much. (Applause.) Governor Phil Bryant. Thank you, Phil, very much, very much. (Applause.) Governor Bill Lee. We just spent some time together. Tennessee. (Applause.)

And, I have to say, my administration is focused on lifting up all Americans. And that’s exactly what we’re doing with this.

As part of our working families agenda, we’ve expanded apprenticeships and job training, we’ve delivered historic tax cuts — the biggest ever in the history of our country — and regulatory reform, and we’ve increased access to affordable healthcare and childcare. So it’s been really important. (Applause.) Thank you.

And as a result of the booming economy, we’re bringing Americans who have been on the sidelines back into the workforce, including former inmates and those recovering from opioid addiction. Very important. And it’s been incredible, the success we’ve had.

Since the election, we’ve created 6 million new jobs. We’ve added more than a million new jobs in manufacturing, construction, and steel alone. And everyone said that was going to be an impossibility to do — manufacturing jobs.

African American, Hispanic American, and Asian American unemployment have reached the lowest levels and the lowest rates in history of our country. It’s been an incredible situation.

Our policies are rebuilding lives, rebuilding families, and rebuilding communities.

To realize America’s full potential, we must unlock the talents of every single citizen. We want to lift every American family out of poverty and into a future of hope and opportunity.

In December of last year, I signed into law groundbreaking and historic reform to our criminal justice system: the FIRST STEP Act. (Applause.) That’s terrific. Great. Great. That’s terrific. Thank you. Thank you very much. I think you like it. (Laughter.)

It is true though, since we’ve got it passed, nobody realized how tough it was. They’ve been trying to do it for many years. And — many, many years. And nobody thought they could do it. And we got it done. But we had tremendous conservative support and tremendous liberal support. It was very bipartisan. Some of the most conservative people — I know Mike Lee was in favor of it and Chuck Grassley was in favor of it. And then, on the other side, you had people that, frankly, I didn’t think would be signing too many of the things that I wanted to do. Phil Bryant, you know? (Laughter.)

But they all wanted it. And it’s something that I’m very proud of. And Jared and Ivanka were incredible. And they really pushed it. (Applause.) It’s true. And I think they were being pushed a little bit also by Kim Kardashian. She’s right here. (Applause.) So, thank you, Kim. And Kanye. Thank you.

Since its passage, more than a dozen states have advanced similar reforms at the state level. Now we must make sure that Americans returning from prison get a true second chance. Right?

America wins when citizens with a criminal record can contribute to their communities as law-abiding members of our society. When former inmates come home, the single-most important action we can take is to help them find a really, really good job, where they love the job, they want to go there, and they’re making a lot money. Right? And that’s what’s happening. And that’s because of a lot of reasons, including the people in this room. But it’s also because we have a great economy.

And some people that wouldn’t have normally made that choice, they’ve made that choice and they are so happy. I’m talking about employers. They are so happy they can’t even believe it. They’ve got — one man told me some of the best people that work for him now came out of prison. And these are people that a few years ago, they — he would not have given a chance. And now he considers them among his best people.

Too often, former inmates are not considered for jobs even if they’re qualified, rehabilitated, and ready to work. And that’s why we’re taking crucial steps to encourage business to expand second chance hiring practices. (Applause.)

So when we say “hire American,” we mean all Americans. And that’s what’s happening. (Applause.) First time, probably, ever. (Applause.)

And I think I can say, truly — and a lot of the folks in the room are experts and you’ve been doing this for a long time — but I think it’s probably the first time we can truly say that in the history of our country that that’s happening. So it’s really been fantastic.

The unemployment rate for former inmates is up to five times higher than the national average. My administration has set an ambitious goal: We want to cut the unemployment rate for these individuals to single digits within five years. And we think there’s a really good chance of doing it. (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you.

Second chance hiring is about safer communities, a stronger workforce, and a thriving economy. We believe in the dignity of work and the pride of a paycheck.

Here with us today is Johnny Koufos. And I worked on that name because it’s spelled a little bit differently. (Laughter.) It’s spelled a little bit differently than was supposed to, but I got it right, I think, Johnny. I don’t know. Close enough. (Laughter.) A lawyer who served time in prison for an alcohol-related accident and now runs a re-entry program. He’s done incredibly well. He’s highly respected in the community. He’s a tremendous guy.

And, John, maybe you could come up and say a few words, please. Okay? (Applause.)

MR. KOUFOS: Thank you, Mr. President. And thank you all for being here. And don’t worry about the name; it’s Greek. That’s the best pronunciation anyone has done in many years. (Laughter.)

Again, my name is John Koufos. And, Mr. President, you know, your courage in criminal justice reform has made America safer and it’s made America better, and it’s made America more prosperous. So, first and foremost, I want to thank you for that. (Applause.)

You know, we’re in June 12th, I think, 2019 — today — and in June 12th, 2013, I was in prison. I had hurt someone — my alcoholism; I caused a car accident in my alcoholism, driving drunk. And thank the Lord I didn’t kill that person, Mr. President.

And when I was in prison — and here I was, this trial lawyer from New Jersey — nobody asked me for money, which was really a surprise in prison. But nearly everybody asked me for a job. Everyone wanted a job to avoid crime, to reunify with their families, to pay child support. And I never forgot that.

And as my journey towards sobriety took shape, I was blessed with people like the folks in this room who gave me that second chance to contribute. And I would go on to build a very large reentry program in New Jersey. From there, I would go on to be recruited to work down here in Washington, D.C. to help do this nationally. I’ve worked with Governor Bryant. So many good people in the room.

And without a second chance, I don’t know where I would’ve been. I’m not sure if I could’ve stayed sober. I certainly know I wouldn’t have contributed the level I did.

Next month, I have my first child — a baby daughter — on the way. I have — (applause.) Thank you. I’m married, and I have the ability to be standing here with you, Mr. President. Thank you for taking on criminal justice reform.

Folks, this is the public safety issue of our time. This is a justice issue of our time. This is a civil rights issue of our time. And this is a prosperity issue of our time. And, Mr. President, thanks to you, it’s all of our time. God bless you. (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, John. That’s incredible. That’s an incredible story. I can’t tell you the job he’s done. So respected.

Across the federal government, we’re giving former inmates the resources they need to make the most of their new lease on life.

Today, the Federal Bureau of Prisons announced that it will work with employers to help those leaving prison to have a job lined up when they are released. Something that pretty much has never happened before.

Also, earlier today, the Department of Labor — Alex, that’s good; he’s done a great job. (Laughter.) He’s done a good job. Awarded $2 million to states to support “fidelity bonds,” which underwrite companies that hire former prisoners.

We are expanding our Second Chance Pell Grant Pilot Program to allow individuals to use their time in prison to take college-level classes. (Applause.) That’s great. That’s great. That’s great.

The Department of Energy has begun a new initiative to inform American workers, including former inmates, about great jobs in the booming energy industry. And that is a great industry. (Applause.)

And just in case you didn’t hear me say this before: We’ve now become the number-one energy producer, by far, in the world. (Applause.) We’re topping Saudi Arabia and we’re topping Russia.

Our administration is also working to allow rehabilitated citizens with a criminal record to apply for both federal government jobs and affordable housing — something that we were unable to do before. (Applause.)

Here with us today is Marcus Bullock, who went to prison as a minor in 1996 and now runs a technology company. And he’s doing a very good job. Marcus, please come up and say hello. You’re here. Thank you. (Applause.)

MR. BULLOCK: Thank you so much, Mr. President. When I was in cell C-12, I’d never thought that I would be standing here on this podium, so I’m going to suck all of this moment up while I’m standing here. (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much.

When I was 15 years old, I made one of the worst mistakes of my life, and it landed me in front of a judge, listening to him sentence me to eight years in adult maximum security prisons. I grew up in a prison cell, and I’ll tell you, that was one of — some of the darkest times of my life.

The depression that I fought, the battles on the prison rec yards that I saw every day, they became a big part of me, and they were — they built this dark spirit that my mom began to see. And my mom made a commitment because she wanted to understand — she wanted me to understand that there was life after prison. There would be potential days that looked like this.

And so my mom wrote me letters and she sent me pictures every day for the remaining six years of my prison sentence, until I came home, so that she could show me the window to the world.

And this is why I’m so grateful for what happens around the country, and we’re having conversations around the FIRST STEP Act and what we’re doing now with these second chances. Because even once I came home, it was still very challenging for me to get a job.

After finally finding a job at a paint store, minimum wage job — and I was very, very grateful just to be able to get a job — and it was really only because of the way that they worded one of the questions on the application, it allowed me to be able to even eventually start my first business after prison, which was a painting businesses. We ended up hiring over 18 employees. And after the 19th one, we realized that the first 16 were all returning citizens, just like me. (Applause.) Thank you.

And while we were building opportunities for other men and women to come home and have a great place to be able to work with the sustainable employment, we wanted to venture out a little bit further. And, in 2012, we started our first tech company. That tech company, Flikshop, is now a venture-backed company that connects families back to their incarcerated loved ones the same way that my mom wrote me letters and pictures when I was in prison.

We’ve connected over 140,000 families around the country. And I’m so grateful because the resources that are flowing back into these prison cells, using our tech, is building the next generation of entrepreneurs, leaders, business executives like me, and great employees at some of you all’s incredible companies.

I’m so grateful to be a small part of the solution because we do understand that this crisis is huge. But with you guys’ leadership, I feel very, very optimistic about the future of employment. Thank you. (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT: And, tomorrow, Marcus will be announcing a run for a major public office. (Applause.) You did a good job. Huh? You guys, great job. Thank you both very much. Really fantastic.

Today, we’re also joined by many employers who are hiring former inmates and helping us build the strongest economy on Earth. We have some very successful people in this room, and we appreciate it all very much. Thank you very much. Great job. (Applause.)

Among the leaders who join us today is Steve Preston, the CEO of Goodwill. Goodwill employs and provides training and other services for more than 100,000 former inmates each and every year.

Steve, I want to thank you for the devotion and all that you do for a second chance. (Applause.) Steve. Steve. Please, Steve.

MR. PRESTON: All right. Well, thank you very much, Mr. President, for your leadership and the FIRST STEP Act, and for working with Congress to pass this in a bipartisan fashion. That just sounds great, doesn’t it?

THE PRESIDENT: It sounds great.

MR. PRESTON: Yeah, it really does. Because we know that it’s not an issue of one side of the aisle or the other. It’s an issue for the entire country. And now we all get to work together to ensure that we truly give people, who are coming back home, a real second chance.

You know, we all know about high recidivism rates, but it does not have to be that way. I know, because as the President said, last year alone, Goodwill worked with over 100,000 second chance individuals. And with the right kind of support, those recidivism rates plummet, and, in their place, come high-success rates.

So we need to provide support for people to get back on their feet, to stabilize their lives, and, so importantly, define meaningful employment — because it’s the promise of that job that often cements the path forward to a sustainable life.

And the small investment we make to do that has a return many times over, not only financially, which I think any of us could prove out, but certainly in the form of lives that are transformed both for the individuals and for their families. And it’s so important that we remember those families in this process.

So thank you again, Mr. President, for all that you are doing to be part of — to advance this important effort. Thank you guys for your stories. These are — like, there is no better testimony than to see what’s happening here. And there are other people around the country that have the same experience if they’re given the right chance. Thank you. (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you.

And I thought maybe I’d just a take moment. So, at the White House — and been with me now three and a half years, before I won, before the election — is a person, a friend, a woman — a great, great magnificent person, actually — named Sarah Huckabee Sanders. And she’s very popular. She’s very popular. (Applause.)

And — and she’s done an incredible job. We’ve been through a lot together, and she’s tough but she’s good. You know, you also have tough and bad, right? (Laughter.) She’s tough and she’s good. She’s great.

And she’s going to be leaving the service of her country, and she is going to be going — I guess you could say private sector, but I hope she’s going to — she comes from a great state, Arkansas. That was a state I won by a lot, so I like it, right? (Laughter.) But we love Arkansas, and she’s going to be going back to Arkansas with her great family — her husband, who’s a fantastic guy, and her family.

And I don’t know, Phil, and folks, if we can get her to run for the governor of Arkansas, I think she’ll do very well. And I’m trying to get her to do that. (Applause.)

But I just saw her in the room and I really wanted to call her up. She’s a special person, a very, very fine woman. She has been so great. She has such heart. She’s strong but with great, great heart. And I want to thank you for an outstanding job.

MS. SANDERS: Thank you, sir.

THE PRESIDENT: And — thank you. Come. Thank you, honey. Say a couple words. (Applause.)

MS. SANDERS: Thank you. Thank you so much. I’ll try not to get emotional because I know that crying can make us look weak sometimes, right? (Laughter.)

This has been the honor of a lifetime, the opportunity of a lifetime. I couldn’t be prouder to have had the opportunity to serve my country and particularly to work for this President. He has accomplished so much in these two and a half years, and it’s truly been something I will treasure forever. It’s one of the greatest jobs I could ever have. I’ve loved every minute. Even the hard minutes, I have loved it.

I love the President. I love the team that I’ve had the opportunity to work for. The President is surrounded by some of the most incredible and most talented people you could ever imagine. And it’s truly the most special experience.

The only one I can think of that might top it just a little bit is the fact that I’m a mom. I have three amazing kids, and I’m going to spend a little more time with them. (Applause.)

And, in the meantime, I’m going to continue to be one of the most outspoken and loyal supporters of the President and his agenda. And I know he’s going to have an incredible six more years and get a whole lot more done, like what we’re here to celebrate today.

And I don’t want to take away from that. So I certainly want to get back to the tremendous thing that the people behind me have done.

And thank you so much, Mr. President. It’s truly an honor. (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Sarah. Thank you very much. Great. Great person. Great person. Thank you, Sarah. Great.

She’s a warrior. You guys know what warriors are, right? Yeah? You’re warriors. Huh? We’re all warriors. We have no choice. (Laughter.) We have to be warriors in this world. But she is a warrior. Thank you, Sarah, very much.

We’re also glad to have with us the President of the Society for Human Resource Management, Johnny Taylor. And where’s Johnny? Where’s Johnny? Come here, Johnny. (Laughter.) Johnny. This guy is some guy and some athlete, that I can tell you.

So maybe you could just talk a little bit about what we’re doing and how well you’re doing with it, right? Thank you, Johnny.

MR. TAYLOR: Thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.)

MR. TAYLOR: So I vividly remember December 2018, waking up one morning and reading in the newspaper that Congress had signed — had passed, and the President had signed, the FIRST STEP Act. I literally did not believe that would ever happen. (Laughter.) And, I mean, so much so that I got up and said, “I can’t believe it. Like, he said he’d do it. But I didn’t think it would happen.” And here we were.

And I realized there were so many people who had worked behind the scenes, people like Mark Holden, who’s here in the room from Koch Industries. So many of you had worked to make this a reality.

And the first thing I thought was: What can I do as an American to do my part in this? I represent an organization called the Society for Human Resource Management, and we represent 300,000 HR people across the globe. Our companies employ 115 million people every day. And so we said, “There’s some role that we must be able to play.”

And, instantly, it hit me: What’s the next step? What we know is that once people get out, too often — get out of incarceration — too often they return because they can’t find a job. These aren’t bad people; they’re people who are trying to survive. And we can play a role in that if we can help remove some of the barriers — those barriers that lead to high levels of recidivism. Again, no one wants to go back.

And so what we needed to do is figure out how we could play a role — the country’s human resource professionals — to remove the barrier of employment. And so we’re bringing back people back into the workplace.

So, I went back to my team; it was, of course, a week before Christmas, and they said, “Wait a minute. What? You want me to work over the weekend?” I said, “Yes.” Mark Holden and his team, Jenny. Jenny is in the room. Thank you, Jenny. We all said we’d work together on the weekend with my Chief of Staff and our team, and we came up with an idea.

Over literally a one-week period, we launched a website called “Getting Talent Back to Work.” And we got 1,500 employers across this country to immediately sign to join the movement because we needed employers to commit. It wasn’t enough to get people out of incarceration; we needed to get them employed. In a very short period of time, after announcing it with Charles Koch, Richard Branson, myself, we had people just signing up.

And so now, all of a sudden, Mr. President, your goal — your goal of getting that five times the number down to single digits — we’re going to do it. And the Society for Human Resource Management. (Applause.) SHRM and our 300,000 members are committed. We’re going to play our role. We’re going to be warriors to get these warriors back to work. Thank you. God bless you. (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Johnny. He’ll do it too.

This afternoon, we also have an exciting announcement to ensure former inmates can overcome some of the greatest barriers to employment, including limited access to transportation, which is needed for interviews and for jobs.

To make this announcement, I’d like to invite up a very special guest and a powerful advocate for not only justice reform, but just a good person. And I hear she’s starting to study law. She’s also one of the most successful people in the entertainment business. Soon she’ll be one of the most successful lawyers — I hate to tell all my lawyers back there. (Laughter.) But I knew her father, and I’ll tell you, she’s got good genes — that I can tell you. Good genes for everything. And she’s been a real friend, and her husband has been a real friend of mine. Kim Kardashian West. (Applause.)

MS. KARDASHIAN WEST: Hi. It really is such an honor to be here today, so thank you. My whole journey with criminal justice reform started about a year ago when I came to see the President, after speaking to Ivanka and Jared — who really fought for me to get here — and I pled the case of Alice Johnson, who the President granted clemency to.

And after that, I really spent so much time going to different prisons because I really had no connection to anybody on the inside and really just felt like, for me, I am at the place in my life that I wanted to make a difference and just wanted to do the right thing, but I didn’t know how or what to do, or even really what was going on.

And so after going to visit so many different prisons and really sitting down with lifers, with every situation you can possibly imagine, my heart just completely opened up and I wanted to do more. So I started to study the law, which is law school, basically, in California.

And my attorneys are here today, Erin and Jessica, from Cut50. (Applause.)

Thank you.

So the best part of it is I learned so much that I don’t even know if — I don’t want to speak for anybody in law school, but I learned so much just, basically, working on memos and being the assistant to them while the FIRST STEP Act was happening, and like learning how you get bills passed, and working on it from the ground up. So to get the President’s support and to see it come to fruition was magic.

And the one thing that I just realized that needed so much support, that I’m happy to help and be supportive where I can, was the reentry of people coming home and seeing the lack of support that really existed. Whether it’s housing or the amount of letters that I get with people just needing transportation to job interviews, to jobs — these people want to work. They want the best outcome. And I’m so happy to be here today amongst people that want the same thing and that really believe in supporting their reentry.

So I’m so happy to announce today that we have a rideshare partnership where formerly incarcerated people will be gifted gift cards so that they can get rides to and from job interviews, to and from jobs, family members, and that is so important — so needed.

And I just want to thank the President for really standing behind this issue. And seeing the compassion that he’s had for criminal justice has been really remarkable.

So I just want to thank all of the organizations that are partnering with everything that’s going on and really being supportive, because it really does mean a lot to so many people that I’ve had the pleasure to speak to.

And I think the ultimate goal is everyone wants the community to be safe. And the more opportunity that we have and that they have, and the support that we help give them, the safer everyone will be. And the recidivism rate will be — continue to just get lower.

And so, I’m just thankful to everyone here that’s in support, and so proud of this partnership with the rideshare organization. So, thank you. (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Kim. Thank you. Great. I think she’s pretty popular, huh? What do you think? (Laughter.) I can tell you this: If she is your assistant — she’s your assistant. Two lawyers? (Laughter). She’s your assistant? She’s the highest paid assistant in history. (Laughter.) There’s never been anything like it.

Anyway, thank you, Kim. That was beautiful.

I want to also just, while I’m here — a couple of friends and they’ve been rally incredible to me: Pastor Darrell Scott. Just stand up. He is something. (Applause.) He’s a religious man, but I watched him on CNN so often and, you know, I wouldn’t say that’s the friendliest. And I watched you take apart people like they were nothing. So thank you, Pastor. He’s a pastor.

PASTOR SCOTT: In 2020, we’ll do it again.

THE PRESIDENT: 2020, we’ll do it again. We’re going to do it again.

And Pastor Paula White. Thank you, Paula. That support has been incredible. Thank you, Paula. Thank you very much. (Applause.) Great job. Right from the beginning, both of them.

In every action we take, we are revitalizing our cities, restoring hope to our communities, and uniting citizens all across our country. We’re helping families grow their incomes and attend the schools of their choice, earn a great living, and have a truly rewarding career. We want to ensure that every American is prepared for the jobs of today and for the industries of tomorrow.

And together, we are expanding the blessings of America for every citizen, from every background, from every community, and every walk of life.

We are breaking down old barriers, tearing down yesterday’s obstacles, and replacing the failures of the past with the bright and limitless future. That’s what we have going. It’s a limitless future.

So many people in this room and so many people outside of this room — they’re given a second and, in some cases, a third chance, in all fairness. And I will say, they are really, really producing. It’s a great thing to watch. If you — you know. You know all about it. And you know about it very well. And thank you.

MR. KOUFOS: Thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: We really appreciate your being here. And we’ll not stop until everyone in our national family can achieve their own beautiful American Dream.

I want to thank everybody for being here. God bless you. God bless America. I very much appreciate it. Thank you all very much. Thank you. (Applause.)

END 4:56 P.M. EDT

President Trump Delivers Farewell Remarks to Sarah Huckabee Sanders During White House Event (Video and Transcript)…


During a White House event to announce the “Second Hiring” initiative, President Donald Trump took a moment to thank departing White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders [Video and Transcript]

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[Transcript] […] THE PRESIDENT: Thank you.

And I thought maybe I’d just a take moment. So, at the White House — and been with me now three and a half years, before I won, before the election — is a person, a friend, a woman — a great, great magnificent person, actually — named Sarah Huckabee Sanders. And she’s very popular. She’s very popular. (Applause.)

And — and she’s done an incredible job. We’ve been through a lot together, and she’s tough but she’s good. You know, you also have tough and bad, right? (Laughter.) She’s tough and she’s good. She’s great.

And she’s going to be leaving the service of her country, and she is going to be going — I guess you could say private sector, but I hope she’s going to — she comes from a great state, Arkansas. That was a state I won by a lot, so I like it, right? (Laughter.) But we love Arkansas, and she’s going to be going back to Arkansas with her great family — her husband, who’s a fantastic guy, and her family.

And I don’t know, Phil, and folks, if we can get her to run for the governor of Arkansas, I think she’ll do very well. And I’m trying to get her to do that. (Applause.)

But I just saw her in the room and I really wanted to call her up. She’s a special person, a very, very fine woman. She has been so great. She has such heart. She’s strong but with great, great heart. And I want to thank you for an outstanding job.

MS. SANDERS: Thank you, sir.

THE PRESIDENT: And — thank you. Come. Thank you, honey. Say a couple words. (Applause.)

MS. SANDERS: Thank you. Thank you so much. I’ll try not to get emotional because I know that crying can make us look weak sometimes, right? (Laughter.)

This has been the honor of a lifetime, the opportunity of a lifetime. I couldn’t be prouder to have had the opportunity to serve my country and particularly to work for this President. He has accomplished so much in these two and a half years, and it’s truly been something I will treasure forever. It’s one of the greatest jobs I could ever have. I’ve loved every minute. Even the hard minutes, I have loved it.

I love the President. I love the team that I’ve had the opportunity to work for. The President is surrounded by some of the most incredible and most talented people you could ever imagine. And it’s truly the most special experience.

The only one I can think of that might top it just a little bit is the fact that I’m a mom. I have three amazing kids, and I’m going to spend a little more time with them. (Applause.)

And, in the meantime, I’m going to continue to be one of the most outspoken and loyal supporters of the President and his agenda. And I know he’s going to have an incredible six more years and get a whole lot more done, like what we’re here to celebrate today.

And I don’t want to take away from that. So I certainly want to get back to the tremendous thing that the people behind me have done.

And thank you so much, Mr. President. It’s truly an honor. (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Sarah. Thank you very much. Great. Great person. Great person. Thank you, Sarah. Great.

She’s a warrior. You guys know what warriors are, right? Yeah? You’re warriors. Huh? We’re all warriors. We have no choice. (Laughter.) We have to be warriors in this world. But she is a warrior. Thank you, Sarah, very much.

[Transcript End]

Sarah Sanders Departing White House…


Not too many details yet, but White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders will be leaving her position at the end of the month.  POTUS Tweet:

Below is one of my favorite funny videos of Sarah Sanders:

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