President Donald Trump On Tax Reform: We’re the Highest Taxed Nation In the World, We Need the Tax Cuts

(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Audio clip:

45th President of the United States Donald Trump joined the Brian Kilmeade Show today to discuss his tax reform plan as well as healthcare, the Iran deal, NFL and more. Listen to the full interview below:

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BRIAN KILMEADE:  So, I know this is a big week.  How important is getting this budget passed?  To even get to the tax reform conversation, Mr. President?

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Well, it's very important.  I mean we need the budget, we need the passage.  We have Thad Cochran, as you know, is not feeling so great.  He may not be able to vote.  We don't know what John McCain's going to do.  We have a couple of others that maybe could disappoint us, but maybe they won't.

They've been talking about all sorts of things for so long, now they have a President who's really willing to sign what we have to sign.  But I think we're going to be good, and I think we're going to be good for taxes.  And it's very close, because we have no support from the democrats.  They're obstructionists, all they want to do is obstruct.  So we have 48 votes against us.  So we literally can't lose more than two votes, which is a pretty tough situation.

KILMEADE:  On tax reform or the budget -- on the budget in particular right?

TRUMP:  On the budget. Well we have phase one and phase two.  Phase one, we have to think only - I'm only right now thinking about the budget.

KILMEADE:  Right.

TRUMP:  Phase two is tax, because that will next week.  But phase one is the budget.  And if we get the budget, I think we'll be in good shape to get the tax, but we have to get the budget.

KILMEADE:  I talked to Senator Joe Manchin yesterday who really seems to enjoy your interactions.  And he says if they could give me a little something, I could deliver six to eight democrats.  Number one, do you believe that?  And number two, are you willing to negotiate?

TRUMP:  Well we'll be talking to Joe.  I think it's hard for Joe to vote against tax cuts.  We're talking about massive tax cuts --

KILMEADE:  In West Virginia?

TRUMP:  In West Virginia.  And I've turned West Virginia around, because what I've done environmentally with coal.  And I don't know if you saw, but West Virginia is second to Texas in percentage increase of GDP.  And everyone's saying "I can't believe it," because they were having such problems.  But, I think it's very hard for Joe, I think it's very hard for other people to vote especially where I'm very popular in their states, and they're coming up for election to vote against the largest tax cut in the history of our country.  People need their money, where the government is taking too much money.   We're the highest taxed nation in the world.  We need the tax cuts.

KILMEADE:  So what Mick Mulvaney brought up to me this morning on television was no one talks about the zero percent, because they have up to $24,000, you're not going to pay any tax, that's part of tax reform -

TRUMP:  Right.

KILMEADE:  Also, people are focused on the corporate rate deduction, what about the small business?

TRUMP:  So small business is coming way down.  And if you talk about the zero, I said "You've got to put the zero in," they were saying "We have three brackets." I said "I know you like to say we only have three brackets as opposed to seven or eight, but you've got to put the zero in."  So I said "Make it four."  And the democrats, Schumer and all, were using that - and they were using it as bait.  Now they can't use it anymore, because where they're paying a much higher rate - paying a very high rate, right now a lot of people are going to pay zero.

KILMEADE:  Right.

TRUMP:  Then we go to a 12 percent, as an example, it comes down from 15 - but it really comes down from much higher than that.  So it's a great tax cut for the middle class, but - hey look, even the middle class will say it's an unbelievable tax cut for business, which is going to employ people.  And the biggest beneficiary will be the middle class.

KILMEADE:  So you golfed with Rand Paul over the weekend, and I think most agree, including Mark Short (ph) this morning, said that he's going to be the greatest challenge, because he does not like to vote for budgets or tax reform.  I mean, can you be friends -

TRUMP:  I think he's definitely with us.

KILMEADE:  -- can you be friendly with someone that's going to vote against that?  Have you talked to him?

TRUMP:  I've had a great relationship with Rand Paul, and I think he's going to be with us.  I think in the end he's going to be with us.  I hope John McCain's going to be with us, we just don't know yet.  We have a couple of votes, and of course that is in a position where it may be impossible for him to be here, which is a big - that's like a no vote.  That's almost the equivalent to a no vote.  And the problem is we have no democrats.  We have absolutely no democrat votes, so -

KILMEADE:  Have you tried?

TRUMP:  Yes, we've tried.  They're in a box (ph), they have 48 votes, and all they want to do is obstruct.  Now, I think we'll have democrats if we get through the budget - we have to get through the budget first.

KILMEADE:  Right.

TRUMP:  If we get through the budget, we have the taxes.  I think we're going to have some democrats, especially in states where I did very well.  I mean I had some states where I won be 30 and 40 points.

KILMEADE:  Right.

TRUMP:  And that's a big margin.  And I think we could have potentially some democrats in those states, for the massive tax cuts that we're talking about.

KILMEADE:  So it's going to be a big week obviously, and there's certain things you zone in on, and every President's got his preference, some (inaudible) foreign policy.  I think you love the numbers, the budget, and the economy.  But I've got ask you something the big picture -

TRUMP:  I think foreign policy for me has been very strong.  I think we did the right thing with Iran, and if you notice, Iran was respectful yesterday.  They were not jumping up and down, they were respectful of what I did.  And they may not agree with it, but they were very respectful.  I think that if you look at what I did with the payments going to the insurance companies, not going to poor people, they're going right into the pockets of the insurance companies.  And I bought a list for you...

KILMEADE:  You did.  For me?

TRUMP:  Look at these -- look at these insurance companies.  This is since Obamacare started.  Anthem, big company, 270 percent increase.  270 percent.  And that's since ACA, that's Obamacare.  So since Obamacare, Humana, 420 percent increase.  Aetna, 470 percent increase.  Cigna, 480 percent increase.

KILMEADE:  So I looked at those numbers...

TRUMP:  Insurance companies are making a fortune.

KILMEADE:  So are you saying when you - when they raise premiums, or raise deductibles, they're trying to increase their profits instead of doing an honest job about giving people insurance?  Are they being dishonest in going too profit-oriented?

TRUMP:  No, they got a great deal with Obamacare.  The one beneficiary, the great beneficiaries for Obamacare is not the people.  They're getting killed.  And look at what's happening to their premiums, look at what's happening to their deductibles, how high their deductibles.  But look, these are - these are not made up by me.  When you have Cigna, Aetna, Humana, Anthem going up 270, 420, 470 percent, 480 percent, these are insurance companies that went up 480 percent since Obamacare.  Is any stock on the stock exchange - has anybody gone up that much?

KILMEADE:  You would know better than me.

TRUMP:  The reason is - the reason is, it's because Obamacare is a rip-off.  It's great for the insurance companies.  And find out who gave all that money to the Democrats.  Take a look at the insurance companies.

KILMEADE:  Right.

TRUMP:  So the Democrats don't want to hurt the insurance companies.  So the money I took away was taken away by - from the insurance companies.  And by the way, since I took it down, you saw what happened to their stocks.

KILMEADE:  Senator Alexander and Senator Murray are working on a bipartisan plan.  They stopped when it looked as though Lindsey Graham and Cassidy had something going.  Is this to force their hand to come up with something?

TRUMP:  Well, this helps, because nobody knows (ph)...

KILMEADE:  No, not so much this paper, but so much the $7 billion, "I'm not making that payment."  Does that help...

TRUMP:  Yeah, I think it helps.  I think it helps to make a deal...

KILMEADE:  So you did it to push action?

TRUMP:  I think if I did not do that, if I didn't hold it back - and I just said we're not going to make that payment.  If I didn't do that, I don't believe the Democrats would have called.

KILMEADE:  David Axelrod said last night that you're pulling this back and (inaudible) tearing up the Iran deal is your attempt to obliterate the Obama legacy.  Is it?

TRUMP:  No, it's just that I disagree with Obama on so many things.  I mean, I heard - as an example, let's say, Hilary Clinton said it was OK for the NFL players to kneel during the anthem.  Well, I disagree.  Maybe that's why she lost, because that's bad.  That's real bad.  We have to respect our flag, our country, our anthem.  Obama, I disagree with what he does.  Look, when you look at this - nobody knows this.  I just got these numbers. Nobody knows this about the insurance companies.  The only beneficiary from Obamacare are the insurance companies.  They made a fortune.  And that's not - you've never heard that, you've never seen these numbers before.

KILMEADE:  I haven't.  And that's why you handed it to me ahead of time, gave me a little bit of time to study.  So some other news that broke today and you tweeted out, Congressman Marino was pulled back as drug czar.  What went into that?

TRUMP:  Yeah, well he's a fine man.  He was a supporter of mine from Pennsylvania.  Great state, I won Pennsylvania.  And he's a Congressman from Pennsylvania, very popular.  And he told me, look, if there's even a perception that he has a conflict of interest with insurance companies, essentially - but if there's even a perception that he has a conflict of interest, he doesn't want anything to do with it. So whether we have insurance companies or drug companies - and there was a couple of articles having to do with him and drug companies.  And I will tell you, he felt compelled - he feels very strong about the opioid problem and the drug problem, which is a worldwide problem.  It's a problem that we have.  And Tom Marino said "Look, I'll take a pass.  I have no choice.  I really will take a pass, I want to do it." And he was very gracious, I have to say that.

KILMEADE:  Big exposé on 60 minutes.

TRUMP:  He didn't want to have - he didn't want to have even the perception of a conflict of interest with drug companies or, frankly, insurance companies.

KILMEADE:  New HHS secretary, I was talking to Kellyanne Conway today.  It seems like you're close.  Do you want to go over any names?

TRUMP:  We are more than close, but I won't be able to tell you the name yet because we have to do a little vetting.  But we are more than close and if this person gets approved it will be a fantastic, a fantastic nomination.

KILMEADE:  You came out with Mitch McConnell yesterday and seemed on the same page and then said I'll take any questions.  And, it was just a regular - it was like a press conference you'd see on a sporting event.

TRUMP:  I only did that because you weren't in the audience.

KILMEADE:  I know.  Why is that?

TRUMP:  If you were in the audience I wouldn't have done that.

KILMEADE:  One of the questions was about writing the Green Berets soldiers and ends up being a bigger story.  Can I ask you what you thought about when you brought up past presidents and what they've done?  Do you want to clarify anything?

TRUMP:  Well, there's nothing to clarify because if you look at my whole (ph) this was again fake news CNN.  I mean, they're just a bunch of fakers.  So, they asked me that questions and for the most part to the best of my knowledge I think I've called every family of somebody that's died and it's the hardest call to make.  And I said it very loud and clear yesterday.  The hardest thing for me to do is do that.  Now, as far as other representatives, I don't know.  I mean, you could ask General Kelly did he get a call from Obama.  You could ask other people, I don't know what Obama's policy was.  I write letters and I also call.

Now, sometimes if you had a tragic event with - it's very difficult to be able to do that.  But I have called, I believe everybody but certainly I'll use the word virtually everybody where during the last nine months something's happened to us all.  I've called virtually everybody.  I've gone to Dover.  I've seen what takes place at Dover.

It's an incredible scene and very, very sad.  One of the saddest things you'll ever see.  But I really speak for myself.  I'm not speaking for other people.  I don't know what Bush did, I don't know what Obama did.  You could find out easily what President Obama did.  All you have to do is ask the military people but I believe his policy was somewhat different than my policy.

I can tell you my policy is I've called every one of them.  And, you have to let a little time go by.  You can't just call immediately but I will be calling, have called and will be calling the parents and the loved ones, wives, et cetera of the soldiers that recently were killed.

KILMEADE:  No, I meant seeing (ph) you happy?

TRUMP:  I love doing it.  I'm getting tremendous support even in your polls I'm getting tremendous support and it's hard to believe I can get support when you have so many phony stories out there.  Like, CNN, like MSNBC, like NBC.  NBC is probably worse than CNN.  But all I know is FOX is good.  FOX, we love you, FOX.

KILMEADE:  We're fair.

TRUMP:  You are fair.

KILMEADE:  Thank you.

TRUMP:  You know what, the truth is you hit me when it's needed. You do.  I mean, you do in particular.

KILMEADE:  Right.

TRUMP:  But the fact is -

KILMEADE:  I think we're fair.

TRUMP:  All I want is fair.  I don't want anything else.  I just want fair.  And FOX has really been fair and I appreciate it.

KILMEADE:  Thank you.  I appreciate the time you gave us and the Brian Kilmeade Show.

TRUMP:  Thank you.

KILMEADE:  And this morning.  And, thanks for having us out here.

TRUMP:  Thank you very much.  Thank you.  Take care of yourself.

KILMEADE:  Thank you, Mr. President.  All right.  So, we're here in the Eisenhower Building and the president actually gave us my own (ph) notes for the interview so that's great.  There he is.  Thanks for listening.  Keep it here.  I'm Brian Kilmeade.