President Donald Trump used his one-hour speech at the National Association of Realtors convention on Friday to announce the U.S. would be lifting steel and aluminum tariffs on Canada and Mexico.
“We’ve just reached an agreement with Canada and Mexico and we’ll be selling our product into those countries without the imposition of tariffs or major tariffs,” Trump said.
Trump also discussed the 25% tariffs he imposed on $200 billion of Chinese products a week ago. Usually, the president says that China will be paying the tariffs, even though tariffs are collected by U.S. Customs and Border agents from American importers as goods enter the country. Typically, the costs are passed on to consumers. The National Association of Home Builders has called it a $2.5 billion tax on housing. This time, Trump admitted Americans will be paying.
“So many people say our people pay – they pay a little bit but it’s worth it,” Trump said. “It’s hundreds of billions of dollars and out of that, we’re going to give a portion to our farmers. They’re going to be doing really well. Our farmers are going to be very happy very shortly. You’re talking maybe $15 billion to our farmers.”
Trump also hit some of his favorite themes: He slammed Democratic candidates running for president; he ridiculed California’s attempts to build a bullet train; and he recalled a conversation he said he had last year with California Gov. Gavin Newsom about forest management when visiting the scene of the Camp Fire, the most destructive blaze in the state’s history.
“We were talking about forests, and I said, ‘Clean up your forest, you won’t have forest fires.’ He blames it on global warming, and I said, ‘No, try cleaning up the floors of the forests. You won’t have forest fires.’ And I got killed for that. It’s called forest management. I got killed for that. And then about three weeks later, they announced I was right.”
It’s not clear what announcement the president was talking about.
The president said he fondly recalled his decades in the real estate industry and said he plans to return to it when he’s out of office. Trump said he’s taking “a little sabbatical – eight years,” a number that would assume he would be re-elected in 2020. In response, the audience of Realtors cheered enthusiastically.
“Even as president, I ride down those streets and I say wow, is that place nice, look at that site,” Trump said. “Then I say, ‘I have to deal with China. Forget about that stuff.’”
On Twitter, one Realtor who attended the speech said people were passing out red hats with “MAGA” logos before the president’s speech began — a reference to Trump’s campaign slogan “Make America Great Again.” NAR said it wasn’t them. “MAGA hats will not be handed out at the door,” the group said in a posting on its Twitter account.