Perhaps it’s because the comment came on a Saturday, or perhaps it’s because less than 24 hours earlier he had suggested America’s top ally was suffering from mass knife attacks, but President Donald Trump this weekend very quietly dropped a bombshell.
It came at a roundtable on tax reform held in Cleveland. Here’s what the president said, after making a no-longer-true comment that the stock market being up 35% since his election in 2016. (The S&P 500 SPX, +0.35% is up about 25% since the election, with this year’s turmoil accounted for.)
“And we do need people coming into our country,” Trump said. “You know, at 3.9% unemployment, we need people coming in. But I will tell you this, we want people to come into our country on the basis of merit.”
Reporters’ jaws didn’t exactly drop at the remark. You won’t find it in the accounts of the speech by the Associated Press, CBS News or the New York Times.
That could be because Trump has long supported a merit-based immigration system, and derided the U.S. lottery system. That’s not new.
And technically, even the harsh legal-immigration bill he supported, called the Raise Act, would allow for more legal immigrants to come into the country. But it would cut their numbers in half.
Still, the emphasis — from Trump — that the U.S. will need to expand its workforce by importing labor, is new.
A website called Factbase tracks every speech and tweet by Trump. For someone who has a habit of recycling language, Trump has never before said, “We need people coming in.” Nor, according to that search tool, “We do need people coming into our country.”
It’s a point that economists, derided by Trump and his supporters, have been making for some time.
America’s getting older. The job market’s tightening — by how much remains a debate, but everyone acknowledges it’s tightening.
By Steve Goldstein for MARKET WATCH
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