THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.  I am pleased to welcome this bipartisan group of Democrats and Republican lawmakers to the White House.  More and more, we’re trying to work things out together.  That’s a positive thing, and it’s good for the Republicans and good for the Democrats.  And this group knows that very well.

Whether we can do the incredible things that we’re doing — and working in a bipartisan fashion, obviously, would be a positive and, I think, something, Tom, that we all feel good about.

I want to thank Tom Reed.  He’s been a friend of mine for a long time.  He was there right at the beginning when it wasn’t very fashionable.  Right?  And I really appreciate it.

And Josh Gottheimer, for helping to organize this very important gathering.  I think it’s really — the whole concept of what we’re trying to do is very, very important.

Inspired by the example of our own citizens, we should be able to come together to make government work for the people — that’s why I was elected, that’s why I ran — and to provide jobs and opportunities to millions of struggling families.  This includes tax reform that is pro-jobs, pro-growth, pro-family, and pro-American.  It’s very simple.  It’s all pro-American.

There are four principles for tax reform:  Make the tax code simple and fair; cut taxes substantially — it will be the largest tax decree in the history of our country for the middle class; encourage companies to hire and grow in America.

And by doing that, we’re going to have to reduce the taxes for companies.  Right now, we’re at 35 percent and really much higher when you add state taxes in.  And China is at 15 percent, and we wonder why are we not competing well against China.  So they’re at 15 percent and we’re at 35 percent plus.  And that doesn’t work.

And bring back trillions of dollars — we have trillions of dollars overseas that we’ll bring back, and we’ll bring them back quickly.

So this is money that — Josh and Tom and everybody in this room can tell you — everybody has agreed to bring it back for years but it never gets done.  So we’re putting it down as part of our tax proposal.

Another bipartisan project that is urgently needed is infrastructure and infrastructure investment.  For decades now, Washington has allowed our infrastructure to fall into a state of total decay and disrepair.  And it’s time now to build new roads, new bridges, airports, tunnels, highways, and railways all across our great land.

When we set aside our differences — and it’s amazing how sometimes how little our differences are — we put our country and we put the citizens of our country first.  And that’s what this is all about.

So we want to have a great new tax cut and tax reform, simplification, and massive cuts, and we want to get our country working again and competing again worldwide. And there will be nothing that can stop us.

On top of that, we’ll be discussing probably a little bit of healthcare, because I know some information has come to light.  So we’ll be discussing — because ultimately — well, we have some Democrats, I won’t speak — I think I can speak for the Republicans, generally.

But we do want to do something very, very powerfully with respect to Obamacare.  It has not worked; the rates are going through the roof.  The numbers that you looked at — no matter where you go, no matter where you look, health care is failing in our country.  And we’re going to get it changed, and we’re going to get it changed fast.

Infrastructure — we’ll be talking about.  And we’ll probably also be talking about DACA because we don’t want to forget DACA.  And it’s already been a week and a half, and people don’t talk about it as much.

We want to see if we can do something with regard to immigration, with regard to the 800,000 people that are now young people.  They’re not children anymore.  They were children, now they’re young people.  But we want to see if we can do something in a bipartisan fashion so that we can solve the DACA problem and other immigration problems.  So we’ll be discussing that today.

And then tonight, I’m having dinner with Senator Schumer and Nancy Pelosi and we’ll continue some discussions.

So we have a lot of things in the fire, but I think right now, first and foremost, so that we can compete again — and especially in light of the fact that we had two massive hurricanes, the likes of which, I guess, our country has never seen.  I don’t think they have ever seen.  One was the biggest ever in water and the other was the biggest ever in wind.  And you put them together and we have devastation in Texas and in Florida, and we’ve done — and other parts of our country, by the way.

And I think we’ve gotten very high marks for the way we’ve handled them thus far, and we continue to handle them well.  But they were very big and very powerful and it was very unfortunate.

But because of that, more than ever, we now need great tax reform and great tax cuts.  So we are here as a group — bipartisan — to try and see what we can come up with.

Thank you all very much.  I appreciate it.  Thank you.

Q    Mr. President, some conservatives are skeptical of this new approach with Democrats.  What would you tell them?  Why have Leader Pelosi and Senator Schumer over tonight?  What’s your message for skeptical conservatives?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I’m conservative and, I will tell you, I’m not skeptical.  And I think that if we can do things in a bipartisan manner, that will be great.

Now, it might not work out, in which case, we’ll try and do them without.  But I think if we can do, in a bipartisan manner — if you look at some of the greatest legislation ever passed, it was done on a bipartisan manner.  And so that’s why we’re going to give it a shot.  Right, Tom?  And we’ll see what we can do.  And if it works out, great.  And if it doesn’t work out, great.  Hopefully we’ll be able to do it anyways — Republicans.

Okay?  Thank you.

Q    (Inaudible) 15 percent corporate tax rate with a bipartisan —

THE PRESIDENT:  We’re looking at a 15 percent rate.  And we want a 15 percent rate because that would bring us low — not by any means the lowest — but it would bring us to a level where China and other countries are.  And we will be able to compete with anybody.  Nobody will be able to touch us.  So we would like to see 15 percent.

Thank you very much everybody.

And, by the way, lower for individuals — much lower than that for individuals.  And the rich will not be gaining at all with this plan.  We’re looking for the middle class, and we’re looking for jobs.  Jobs, meaning companies.  So we’re looking at the middle class and we’re looking at jobs.

Q    Will the wealthy have to accept higher taxes —

THE PRESIDENT:  I think the wealthy will be pretty much where they are — pretty much where they are.  If we can do that, we’d like it.  If they have to go higher, they’ll go higher, frankly.  We’re looking at the middle class and we’re looking at jobs.

Okay?  Thank you very much.