President Donald Trump spoke broadly about cutting regulations and announced his administration had struck a deal with Canada and Mexico that would ostensibly lift tariffs on steel and aluminum at the National Association of Realtors midyear legislative meetings and trade expo.
In the course of the speech, Trump announced the deal with Mexico and Canada to end tariffs, which could have an impact on the housing construction sector, which has lagged recently. He also urged Congress to approve the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement (USMCA), a trade deal Trump proposed to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement.
In the brief mention, Trump focused on the agricultural impact and did not mention steel and aluminum specifically, but multiple organizations, including the National Association of Home Builders, have confirmed the White House plans to lift the tariffs.
“As you know Canada has been for years, and we have a great relationship with Canada and the prime minister, we have a great relationship, but they’ve been charging us extremely high tariffs, as much as 285 percent or more for our agricultural products, which is an absolute barrier,” Trump said.
“So it was a barrier to our farmers, being able to do business with them, to our farmers being able to sell products in there,” Trump added. “So that deal is going to be a fantastic deal for our country and hopefully Congress will approve the USMCA quickly and then the great farmers and manufacturers and steel plants will make our economy even more successful than it already is.”
Trump also discussed the ongoing trade dispute with China and urged companies to build locally.
“If we build here, there are no tariffs,” Trump said.
“After years of building up other countries, we’re finally building up our country.”
Trump also said his administration “freed local lenders” from regulations, possibly referencing his administration’s loosening of Dodd-Frank restrictions. He specifically took a shot at Senator Elizabeth Warren, who was instrumental in the creation of the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau.
“She enjoyed destroying these local lenders,” Trump said. “She got pleasure out of destroying beautiful local lenders that have been lending to your clients and yourself.”
Trump discussed his administration’s efforts to reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and end the government conservatorship of those agencies.
“The taxpayers are still on the hook if another crisis happens,” Trump said. “This is a pretty urgent problem.”
“We’re looking at different alternatives, we have many geniuses looking at it,” Trump added. “We will be working closely with Congress to pass these critical reforms.”
Trump then discussed his administration’s efforts to cut taxes and building regulations.
“We did regulation cutting where you couldn’t build, you couldn’t build anything,” Trump said, before saying that if you had a puddle on your property you couldn’t build because the government called it a “Great Lake.”
Trump praised the current economic conditions and the number of employed individuals – which he said is currently the highest in U.S. history.
“We have the most people working today than at any time in the history of the country,” Trump said. “Many of those people are going to go out and buy a house.”
He then joked that he was famous for trying to only pay brokers one percent, which drew some boos from the audience.
“I was famous for that,” he joked. “Nobody accepted it, but I tried like hell … I’d get it down to 4 or 5 percent.”
Trump initially took the stage to raucous applause and a “U.S.A.,” chant – which came again later in the speech – and proceeded to take a shot at “fake news,” He also praised Realtors and even described himself as one.
The hour-long speech at times felt like a campaign rally with jabs at “socialists” running against him, forest management, high-speed rail travel and the Green New Deal.
Trump spoke in the 2,000-capacity Marriott Grand Ballroom at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington D.C. to a packed room – with a few Make America Great Again hats in the audience. NAR set up multiple overflow rooms where the address was live-streamed for attendees that didn’t make it into the room.
Trump’s appearance at the event drew a firestorm of comments from members of the NAR community in favor or against the invitation. NAR noted, however, that it’s invited every sitting president to speak at the event. The last to do so was President George W. Bush in 2005.
“President Donald Trump knows how real estate drives economic growth and creates jobs,” NAR President John Smaby said, while introducing Trump.