This article appears in the January 31, 2020 issue of Executive Intelligence Review.
Remarks by President Trump at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland
The video of the President’s remarks on January 21, 2020, is available here.
It’s an honor to address the distinguished members of this organization for the second time as President. When I spoke at this forum two years ago, I told you that we had launched the great American comeback. Today, I’m proud to declare that the United States is in the midst of an economic boom the likes of which the world has never seen before.
We’ve regained our stride, we discovered our spirit and reawakened the powerful machinery of American enterprise. America is thriving, America is flourishing, and yes, America is winning again like never before.
Just last week alone, the United States concluded two extraordinary trade deals: the agreement with China and the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement—the two biggest trade deals ever made. They just happened to get done in the same week.
These agreements represent a new model of trade for the 21st century—agreements that are fair, reciprocal, and that prioritize the needs of workers and families. America’s economic turnaround has been nothing short of spectacular.
When I took office three years ago, America’s economy was in a rather dismal state. Under the previous administration, nearly 200,000 manufacturing jobs had vanished, wages were flat or falling, almost 5 million more Americans had left the labor force than had gotten jobs, and more than 10 million people had been added to the food stamp rolls.
The experts predicted a decade of very, very slow growth—or even maybe negative growth—high unemployment, and a dwindling workforce, and very much a shrinking middle class. Millions of hardworking, ordinary citizens felt neglected, betrayed, forgotten. They were rapidly losing faith in the system.
Before my presidency began, the outlook for many nations was bleak. Top economists warned of a protracted worldwide recession. The World Bank lowered its projections for global growth to a number that nobody wanted to even think about. Pessimism had taken root deep in the minds of leading thinkers, business leaders, and policymakers.
Yet despite all of the cynics, I had never been more confident in America’s future. I knew we were on the verge of a profound economic resurgence, if we did things right—one that would generate a historic wave of investment, wage growth, and job creation.
I knew that if we unleashed the potential of our people, if we cut taxes, slashed regulations—and we did that at a level that’s never been done before in the history of our country, in a short period of time—fixed broken trade deals and fully tapped American energy, that prosperity would come thundering back at a record speed. And that is exactly what we did, and that is exactly what happened.
Since my election, America has gained over 7 million jobs—a number unthinkable. I wouldn’t say it, I wouldn’t talk about it, but that was a number that I had in mind. The projection was 2 million; we did 7 [million]—more than three times the government’s own projections.
The unemployment rate is now less than 3, 4, and 5 percent. And at 3.5 percent, that’s a number that is the lowest in more than 50 years. The average unemployment rate for my administration is the lowest for any U.S. President in recorded history. We started off with a reasonably high rate.
For the first time in decades, we are no longer simply concentrating wealth in the hands of a few. We’re concentrating and creating the most inclusive economy ever to exist. We are lifting up Americans of every race, color, religion, and creed.
Unemployment rates among African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Asian Americans have all reached record lows. African American youth unemployment has reached the lowest it’s ever been in the history of our country. African American poverty has plummeted to the lowest rate ever recorded. The unemployment rate for women reached the lowest level since 1953. And women now comprise a majority of the American workforce; that’s for the first time.
The unemployment rate for veterans has dropped to a record low. The unemployment rate for disabled Americans has reached an all-time record low. Workers without a high school diploma have achieved the lowest unemployment rate recorded in U.S. history. Wages are rising across the board. And those at the bottom of the income ladder are enjoying the percentage, by far, largest gains.
Workers’ wages are now growing faster than management wages. Earnings growth for the bottom 10 percent is outpacing the top 10 percent—something that has not happened. Paychecks for high school graduates are rising faster than for college graduates.
Young Americans just entering the workforce are also sharing in America’s extraordinary prosperity. Since I took office, more than 2 million millennials have gotten jobs, and their wages have grown by nearly 5 percent annually—a number that was unthinkable. Nobody would have ever thought it was possible three years ago. A record number of Americans between the ages of 25 and 34 are now working.
In the eight years before I took office, over 300,000 working-age people left the workforce. In just three years in my administration, 3.5 million people have joined the workforce. Ten million people have been lifted off welfare in less than three years. Celebrating the dignity of work is a fundamental pillar of our agenda.
This is a blue-collar boom. Since my election, the net worth of the bottom half of wage earners has increased by plus-47 percent—three times faster than the increase for the top 1 percent. Real median household income is at the highest level ever recorded.
The American Dream is back—bigger, better, and stronger than ever before. No one is benefitting more than America’s middle class.
We have created 1.2 million manufacturing and construction jobs—a number also unthinkable. After losing 60,000 factories under the previous two administrations—hard to believe when you hear “60,000 factories”—America has now gained, in a very short period of time, 12,000 new factories under my administration. And the number is going up rapidly. We’ll be beating the 60,000 number that we lost, except these will be bigger, newer, and the latest.
Years of economic stagnation have given way to a roaring geyser of opportunity. U.S. stock markets have soared by more than 50 percent since my election, adding more than $19 trillion to household wealth, and boosting 401(k)s, pensions, and college savings accounts for millions of hardworking families.
And these great numbers are many things, and it’s despite the fact that the Fed has raised rates too fast and lowered them too slowly. And even now, as the United States is by far the strongest economic power in the world, it’s not even close. It was going to be close, but a lot of good things happened to us, and some not-so-good things happened to certain other places.
They’re forced to compete, and we compete with nations that are getting negative rates—something very new—meaning, they get paid to borrow money. Something that I could get used to very quickly. Love that. Got to pay back your loan? Oh, how much am I getting?
Nevertheless, we still have the best numbers that we’ve had in so many different areas. It’s a conservative approach, and we have a tremendous upside potential, when all of the trade deals and the massive deregulation starts kicking in—which will be during this year, especially toward the end of the year. Those trade deals are starting to kick in already. The regulations are kicking in right now.
And I see such tremendous potential for the future. We have not even started, because the numbers we’re talking about are massive.
The time for skepticism is over. People are flowing back into our country. Companies are coming back into our country. Many of you, who I know, are coming back in with your plants and your factories. Thank you very much. America’s newfound prosperity is undeniable, unprecedented, and unmatched anywhere in the world.
America achieved this stunning turnaround not by making minor changes to a handful of policies, but by adopting a whole new approach centered entirely on the wellbeing of the American worker.
Every decision we make—on taxes, trade, regulation, energy, immigration, education, and more—is focused on improving the lives of everyday Americans. We are determined to create the highest standard of living that anyone can imagine, and right now, that’s what we’re doing for our workers. The highest in the world. And we’re determined to ensure that the working and middle class reap the largest gains.
A nation’s highest duty is to its own citizens. Honoring this truth is the only way to build faith and confidence in the market system. Only when governments put their own citizens first will people be fully invested in their national futures. In the United States, we are building an economy that works for everyone, restoring the bonds of love and loyalty that unite citizens and powers nations.
Today, I hold up the American model as an example to the world of a working system of free enterprise that will produce the most benefits for the most people in the 21st century and beyond.
A pro-worker, pro-citizen, pro-family agenda demonstrates how a nation can thrive when its communities, its companies, its government, and its people work together for the good of the whole nation.
As part of this new vision, we passed the largest package of tax cuts and reforms in American history. We doubled the child tax credit, benefitting 40 million American families and lifting 650,000 single mothers and their 1 million children out of poverty—and out of poverty quickly.
We passed the first-ever tax credit for employers who provide paid paternal leave for employees earning $72,000 less annually, and passed paid family leave for government employees as a model for the country.
We made childcare much more affordable and reduced or eliminated childcare waitlists all across the nation. Our childcare reforms are supporting working parents and ensuring their children have access to high-quality care and education, all of which they very much deserve.
We lowered our business tax from the highest in the developed world down to one that’s not only competitive, but one of the lower taxes.
We created nearly 9,000 Opportunity Zones in distressed communities where capital gains on long-term investments are now taxed at zero, and tremendous wealth is pouring into areas that for a hundred years saw nothing.
The 35 million Americans who live in these areas have already seen their home values rise by more than $22 billion. My administration has also made historic investments in “historically black colleges and universities.” I saved HBCUs. We saved them. They were going out, and we saved them.
We’re removing roadblocks to success and rewarding businesses that invest in workers, families, and communities.
We’ve also launched the most ambitious campaign in history to reduce job-killing regulations. For every new regulation adopted, we are removing eight old regulations, which will save an average of American households about $3,100 per year. It was going to be, “for every one, we do two,” but we were able to lift that to eight, and we think that’s going to go quite a bit higher. We still have a way to go.
Today, I urge other nations to follow our example and liberate your citizens from the crushing weight of bureaucracy. With that, you have to run your own countries the way you want.
We’re also restoring the constitutional rule of law in America, which is essential to our economy, our liberty, and our future. And that’s why we’ve appointed over 190 federal judges—a record—to interpret the law as written. One hundred and ninety federal judges—think of that—and two Supreme Court judges.
As a result of our efforts, investment is pouring into our country. In the first half of 2019, the United States attracted nearly one-quarter of all foreign direct investment in the world—think of that. Twenty-five percent of all foreign investment all over the world came into the United States, and that number is increasing rapidly.
To every business looking for a place where they are free to invest, build, thrive, innovate, and succeed, there is no better place on Earth than the United States.
As a central part of our commitment to building an inclusive society, we established the National Council for the American Worker. We want every citizen, regardless of age or background, to have the cutting-edge skills to compete and succeed in tomorrow’s workplace. This includes critical industries like artificial intelligence, quantum computing, and 5G.
Under Ivanka’s leadership—who is with us today—our Pledge to America’s Workers has become a full-blown national movement with over 400 companies committing to provide new job and training opportunities to already very close to 15 million American students and workers. Fifteen million.
America is making sweeping changes to place workers and their families at the center of our national agenda. Perhaps the most transformative change of all is on trade reform, where we’re addressing chronic problems that have been ignored, tolerated, or enabled for decades. Our leaders did nothing about what happened to us on trade.
Before I was elected, China’s predatory practices were undermining trade for everyone, but no one did anything about it, except allow it to keep getting worse and worse and worse. Under my leadership, America confronted the problem head on.
Under our new phase one agreement—phase two is starting negotiations very shortly—China has agreed to substantially do things that they would not have done: measures to protect intellectual property; stop forced technology transfers; remove trade barriers in agricultural goods and on agricultural goods, where we were treated so badly; open its financial sector totally—that’s done—and maintain a stable currency, all backed by very, very strong enforcement.
Our relationship with China, right now, has probably never been better. We went through a very rough patch, but it’s never, ever been better. My relationship with President Xi is an extraordinary one. He’s for China; I’m for the U.S. But other than that, we love each other.
Additionally, China will spend an additional $200 billion over two years on American services, agriculture, and energy, and manufactured goods. So we’ll be taking in an excess of $200 billion; could be closer to $300 billion when it finishes. But these achievements would not have been possible without the implementation of tariffs, which we had to use, and we’re using them on others too. And that is why most of our tariffs on China will remain in place during the phase two negotiations. For the most part, the tariffs have been left, and we’re being paid billions and billions of dollars a year as a country.
As I mentioned earlier, we ended the NAFTA disaster—one of the worst trade deals ever made; not even close—and replaced it with the incredible new trade deal, the USMCA—that’s Mexico and Canada.
In the nearly 25 years after NAFTA, the United States lost 1 in 4 manufacturing jobs, including nearly 1 in 4 vehicle-manufacturing jobs. It was an incentive to leave the country. The NAFTA agreement exemplified the decades-long failures of the international trading system. The agreement shifted wealth to the hands of a few, promoted massive outsourcing, drove down wages, and shuttered plants and factories by the thousands. The plants would leave our country, make the product, sell it into our country. We ended up with no jobs and no taxes; would buy other countries’ product. That doesn’t happen anymore.
This is the wreckage that I was elected to clean up. It’s probably the reason I ran for President, more than any other thing, because I couldn’t understand why we were losing all of these jobs to other countries at such a rapid rate. And it got worse and worse, and I think it’s probably the primary reason that I ran, but there are other reasons also. And to replace with a new system that puts workers before the special interests. And the special interests will do just fine, but the workers come first.
Our brand-new USMCA is the result of the broadest coalition ever assembled for a trade agreement. Manufacturing, agriculture, and labor all strongly endorsed the deal. And, as you know, it just passed in Congress overwhelmingly. It shows how to solve the 21st century challenge we all face: protecting intellectual property, expanding digital trade, re-shoring lost jobs, and ensuring rising wages and living standards.
The United States has also concluded a great new trade deal with Japan—approximately $40 billion—and completely renegotiated our deal with South Korea. We’re also negotiating many other transactions with many other countries. And we look forward to negotiating a tremendous new deal with the United Kingdom. They have a wonderful new Prime Minister and wants very much to make a deal, as they say.
To protect our security and our economy, we are also boldly embracing American energy independence. The United States is now, by far, the number-one producer of oil and natural gas anywhere in the world, by far. It’s not even close.
While many European countries struggle with crippling energy costs, the American energy revolution is saving American families $2,500 every year in lowering electric bills and numbers that people said couldn’t happen, and also, very importantly, prices at the pump.
We’ve been so successful that the United States no longer needs to import energy from hostile nations. With an abundance of American natural gas now available, our European allies no longer have to be vulnerable to unfriendly energy suppliers either. We urge our friends in Europe to use America’s vast supply and achieve true energy security.
With U.S. companies and researchers leading the way, we are on the threshold of virtually unlimited reserves of energy, including from traditional fuels, LNG, clean coal, next-generation nuclear power, and gas hydrate technologies.
At the same time, I’m proud to report the United States has among the cleanest air and drinking water on Earth—and we’re going to keep it that way. And we just came out with a report that, at this moment, it’s the cleanest it’s been in the last 40 years. We’re committed to conserving the majesty of God’s creation and the natural beauty of our world.
Today, I’m pleased to announce the United States will join the One Trillion Trees Initiative being launched here at the World Economic Forum. One Trillion Trees. (Applause.) And in doing so, we will continue to show strong leadership in restoring, growing, and better managing our trees and our forests.
This is not a time for pessimism; this is a time for optimism. Fear and doubt is not a good thought process because this is a time for tremendous hope and joy and optimism and action.
But to embrace the possibilities of tomorrow, we must reject the perennial prophets of doom and their predictions of the apocalypse. They are the heirs of yesterday’s foolish fortune-tellers—and I have them and you have them, and we all have them, and they want to see us do badly, but we don’t let that happen. They predicted an overpopulation crisis in the 1960s, mass starvation in the ’70s, and an end of oil in the 1990s. These alarmists always demand the same thing: absolute power to dominate, transform, and control every aspect of our lives.
We will never let radical socialists destroy our economy, wreck our country, or eradicate our liberty. America will always be the proud, strong, and unyielding bastion of freedom.
In America, we understand what the pessimists refuse to see: that a growing and vibrant market economy focused on the future lifts the human spirit and excites creativity strong enough to overcome any challenge—any challenge by far.
The great scientific breakthroughs of the 20th century—from penicillin, to high-yield wheat, to modern transportation, and breakthrough vaccines—have lifted living standards and saved billions of lives around the world. And we’re continuing to work on things that you’ll be hearing about in the near future that, even today, sitting here right now, you wouldn’t believe it’s possible that we have found the answers. You’ll be hearing about it. But we have found answers to things that people said would not be possible—certainly not in a very short period of time.
But the wonders of the last century will pale in comparison to what today’s young innovators will achieve because they are doing things that nobody thought even feasible to begin. We continue to embrace technology, not to shun it. When people are free to innovate, millions will live longer, happier, healthier lives.
For three years now, America has shown the world that the path to a prosperous future begins with putting workers first, choosing growth, and freeing entrepreneurs to bring their dreams to life.
For anyone who doubts what is possible in the future, we need only look at the towering achievements of the past. Only a few hundred miles from here are some of the great cities of Europe—teeming centers of commerce and culture. Each of them is full of reminders of what human drive and imagination can achieve.
Centuries ago, at the time of the Renaissance, skilled craftsmen and laborers looked upwards and built the structures that still touch the human heart. To this day, some of the greatest structures in the world have been built hundreds of years ago.
In Italy, the citizens once started construction on what would be a 140-year project, the Duomo of Florence. An incredible, incredible place. While the technology did not yet exist to complete their design, city fathers forged ahead anyway, certain that they would figure it out someday. These citizens of Florence did not accept limits to their high aspirations and so the Great Dome was finally built.
In France, another century-long project continues to hold such a grip on our hearts and our souls that, even 800 years after its construction, when the Cathedral of Notre Dame was engulfed in flames last year—such a sad sight to watch; unbelievable site, especially for those of us that considered it one of the great, great monuments and representing so many different things—the whole world grieved.
Though her sanctuary now stands scorched and charred—and a sight that’s hard to believe; when you got used to it, to look at it now, hard to believe. But we know that Notre Dame will be restored—will be restored magnificently. The great bells will once again ring out for all to hear, giving glory to God and filling millions with wonder and awe.
The Cathedrals of Europe teach us to pursue big dreams, daring adventures, and unbridled ambitions. They urge us to consider not only what we build today, but what we will endure long after we are gone. They testify to the power of ordinary people to realize extraordinary achievements when united by a grand and noble purpose.
So, together, we must go forward with confidence, determination, and vision. We must not be timid, or meek, or fearful—but instead we must boldly seize the day and embrace the moment. We have so many great leaders in this room—not only business leaders, but leaders of nations—and some are doing such a fantastic job. We work together very closely. We will draw strength from the glories of the past, and we will make greatness our common mission for the future.
Together, we will make our nations stronger, our countries safer, our culture richer, our people freer, and the world more beautiful than ever before.
Above all else, we will forever be loyal to our workers, our citizens, and our families—the men and women who are the backbone of our economies, the heart of our communities, and the soul of our countries. Let us bring light to their lives one by one and empower them to light up the world.
Thank you very much. God bless you. God bless your countries. And God bless America. Thank you. Thank you very much. (Applause.)