Detroit, Michigan - Remarks by Vice President Pence at the Detroit Economic Club Luncheon at the Sound Board Theater:
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you all. Thank you for that warm welcome. To Gerry Anderson, thank you for those kind words. And what a pleasure it is to be able to bring back home the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, a son of Detroit, and a great, great champion for every American. (Applause.) Join me in thanking sen- — or Secretary Ben Carson again. (Applause.)
It’s also great to be here with his wife, Candy. It happens to be her birthday. (Applause.) What a great family.
So, to Secretary Carson, to Congresswoman Debbie Dingle, to former Congressman Mike Bishop, to all of you: It is really an honor to be here in the Motor City to address such a distinguished group of Americans, the men and women and the leaders of the Detroit Economic Club. Thank you all so very much. (Applause.)
And as Gerry said, it’s a privilege for me to return to the Detroit Economic Club. Because I know that since 1934, this club has provided an extraordinary platform to leaders in private and public life, including every President of the United States for the last 50 years. Speaking of which, allow me to bring greetings from a man who loves the state of Michigan, who is a businessman-turned-President. Allow me to bring greetings from the 45th President of the United States of America, President Donald Trump. (Applause.)
I told the President I was heading this way just this morning and he wanted me to extend his greetings and his admiration to each and every one of you. And he agreed with me that it’s especially fitting for me to be here today before the Detroit Economic Club to talk about the state of the American economy because it was here that then-candidate Donald Trump unveiled our plan to reignite opportunity in America back on August the 8th, 2016. And I was sitting right on the front row when he did it.
You know, it’s amazing to think three years ago was a time when Americans were struggling through what was the slowest economic recovery since World War II. It was amazing. For eight solid years, the American economy — the most powerful economy in the history of the world — had grown by less than 2 percentage points. And in early August 2016, candidate Donald Trump came before all of you and he outlined an ambitious agenda that he said, in his words, would, quote, “open a new chapter…[of] American prosperity.” And that’s exactly what we’ve done. (Applause.) It’s true.
He promised to enact an across-the-board income tax reduction. He promised to eliminate regulations, which he said in that speech “are not necessary” and “do not improve public safety” or “needlessly kill jobs.” He promised to pursue “great trade deals for our country,” and to “unleash an energy revolution.” And three years later, President Donald Trump delivered. And the American economy is booming.
After eight long years of burdensome taxes and regulations, we went right to work. We cut taxes for job creators and families. In fact, businesses saw a corporate tax rate reduction from 35 percent to 21 percent. It was the largest percentage point reduction in the top marginal corporate rate in American history. (Applause.)
It was amazing to think that the United States of America had one of the highest corporate rates in the world. But now we’ve lowered the corporate tax rate so that companies right here in Michigan can compete with companies and create jobs right here in this state and compete with companies all over the world.
We also cut taxes for working families. And now the typical family of four in Michigan is saving about $2,000 a year.
We rolled back red tape. In fact, President Trump has signed more laws cutting federal red tape than any President in American history, saving more than $33 billion in regulatory costs. (Applause.)
And as you just heard from Secretary Carson, this President has also put communities that have been facing economic hardship first. And the truth is that, for too long, communities — particularly in our inner cities — were left behind.
And with this President’s leadership and with the strong support of Secretary Carson, we’ve already created more than 8,700 Opportunity Zones across America, including 70 right here in Detroit. (Applause.) And these Opportunity Zones can be transformational and are, in fact, expected to spur $100 billion in long-term private capital investment, creating jobs and opportunities in our cities all across the nation.
And I got him a round of applause before, but I’ll tell you what: If the President were standing here, he’d want me to get one more round of applause. We wouldn’t be where we are today, with Opportunity Zones arising all across America, but for the great work of Secretary Ben Carson. So, Ben, thank you so much. (Applause.) Take a bow, will you? Great job.
So, we’ve cut taxes, rolled back regulation. We’ve expanded opportunities for Americans. And as the President promised three years ago at this very podium, we also unleashed American energy.
Early in this administration, the President withdrew
America from the disastrous Paris Climate Accord. And today, the United States is the largest producer of oil and natural gas in the world. (Applause.) In fact, next year, America will become a net exporter of energy for the first time in 70 years. (Applause.)
And, finally, though one administration after another allowed unfair trade deals to hollow out American manufacturing all across the Heartland of this country, this President pledged to put American jobs and American workers first, and that’s exactly what we’ve done.
He withdrew the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership. We appointed the toughest and smartest trade negotiators in the history of this country to fight on behalf of America’s workers. We put China on notice that “the era of economic surrender is over.” (Applause.) And American jobs and American workers are winning again.
We’ve opened up European markets to more American farm products. We negotiated a new trade deal with South Korea. And this President also negotiated the largest trade deal in American history. The United States–Mexico-Canada Agreement is completed, and support in Congress is growing by the day. (Applause.)
So, it’s been about trade and jobs and tax cuts and regulation. Everything that the candidate talked about at this very podium three years ago, we’ve done. And the results have been nothing short of remarkable.
Since Election Day 2016, businesses large and small have created more than 6.2 million jobs. And there are more Americans working today than ever before in the history of this country. (Applause.)
The unemployment rate has dropped to a near 50-year low. We’ve seen the lowest unemployment rates for African Americans and Hispanic Americans ever recorded. The American Dream is working again for every American. (Applause.)
And our economy is growing. The average household has seen their income go up by more than $5,000 a year. Wages are rising at the fastest pace in more than a decade. And maybe most important of all to the President and me: that wages are rising fastest for blue-collar working Americans. The forgotten men and women of America are forgotten no more. (Applause.)
Despite the irresponsible rhetoric of many in the mainstream media, the American economy is strong, and the U.S. economic outlook remains strong as well.
Last week, despite some volatility in global markets, leading retailers also reported strong sales and earnings, and consumer spending posted its strongest reading since March.
And under President Trump’s leadership, as the son of the Heartland myself, I couldn’t be more proud to say that the automotive industry is roaring back here in Michigan and all across the Heartland. (Applause.) It’s true. This year, General Motors announced it will add 400 jobs. Ford announced they’ll create 900 new jobs. Fiat-Chrysler is already building a $1.6 billion new assembly plant that will create 6,400 jobs right here in the Motor City. It’s just incredible.
You know, this economy is growing, and, frankly, you don’t need to hear the statistics to know it. Karen and I slipped away for a couple of days a few months ago on a beach outside Fort Myers, Florida. And we were sitting there and we had our sunglasses and our ball caps on. But these two fellas walked by on the beach — true story — a couple of big guys wearing Budweiser t-shirts. One of them looked over at me and he said, “Hey, you’re Vice President Mike Pence.” I said, “Yes, I am.”
And he said, “Well, listen…” He said, “You got to tell the President that he’s got to keep doing what he’s doing because I made twice as much money last year as I made the year before.” (Applause.)
And I said, “I’ll tell him.” He took two steps away, and he turned around, and he said, “And I don’t know what you do, but keep doing what you’re doing as well, because it’s working.” (Laughter.) And I told him we were going to keep doing what we’re doing because it’s working for working Americans. (Applause.)
And I promise you today: We’re going to keep it coming. We’re going to keep it coming. Because for all we’ve done, the truth is we have — we have opportunities before us. You know, the late Lee Iacocca, who left us not long ago, said, famously, quote, “We are continually faced by great opportunities disguised as insoluble problems.” And America faces some challenges today, but they’re truly opportunities.
As we see many economies around the world slowing, we know we can keep America’s economy strong and growing. With sound monetary policy, we know we’ll support more jobs in this country. With a merit-based immigration system, we’ll meet the needs of a growing economy in ways that put America first. With the USMCA signed into law, we’ll strengthen the economy of North America like never before. And by standing strong on our trade imbalance and structural issues with China, we’ll protect American jobs and prosperity for generations to come.
On the USMCA, I have to speak a word here in Michigan, because when the Congress reconvenes this September, we hope and trust that the Congress will take up — take up this important trade agreement, and take it up quickly.
You deserve to know the USMCA levels the playing field for American workers and puts American jobs first. Under the USMCA, 75 percent of auto parts in duty-free cars must be made right here in North America, and 40 percent of them must be made by workers making what is essentially the hourly average wage here in the United States. We believe that will eliminate the historic incentive to manufacture outside the United States. It will eliminate the incentive to move jobs south of the border.
The USMCA is a huge improvement on NAFTA. (Applause.) In fact, according to the International Trade Commission, the USMCA will add more than $68 billion to our economy and create another 176,000 American jobs.
It’s more than a good deal, as well. The USMCA actually may well serve as a template for all our future trade deals — whether with the EU, the UK, Japan, or even China. But we still need Congress to approve it.
So while I’m here in Michigan today, let me ask you a favor. All of our friends in the Motor City and all across Michigan, and all the leaders here in the Detroit Economic Club: It’s a good time to let your voice be heard. We need your help to get this done.
Today is a day when you can let your voice be heard. Let’s let Michigan’s representatives in Washington know that Michigan and America need the USMCA. It’s a win for manufacturing and a win for Michigan. Let’s get it done. (Applause.)
I mean, the President has done his job, Canada and Mexico are doing their job, and we need Congress to do its job and pass the USMCA this year.
And by enacting the USMCA, we’ll strengthen our economy. And make no mistake about it: By passing the USMCA, we’ll strengthen the President’s hand in negotiations with China.
Seventeen years ago, America agreed to give Beijing open access to our economy: We brought China into the World Trade Organization.
Previous administrations, of one party and another, made the choice in the hope that freedom in China would expand in all of its forms if we opened our markets to them, and I’m not talking about just economically, but also politically — with a newfound respect for classical liberal principles, the rule of law, private property, personal liberty, and religious freedom. We hoped to see an expansion of the entire family of human rights in China. But over the past 17 years, we haven’t seen it.
In fact, the Chinese Communist Party has used an arsenal of policies inconsistent with free and fair trade — policies like tariffs and quotas, currency manipulation, forced technology transfer, intellectual property theft, and industrial subsidies — all the while, not becoming a freer society but actually, in so many ways, moving China in the opposite direction.
Now, these policies that they’ve implemented have built Beijing’s manufacturing base, but they’ve also resulted in a $500 billion annual trade deficit with America and hundreds of billions more in intellectual property theft every year.
But as I stand before you today here at the Detroit Economic Club, know this: Under President Donald Trump’s leadership, those days are over. (Applause.)
At the President’s direction, we’ve put tariffs on $250 billion in Chinese goods, and we announced additional tariffs that will take effect soon. And just last week, we labeled China as a currency manipulator.
Now, let me be clear on this point: We don’t want China’s markets to suffer. In fact, we want them to thrive. President Trump has a positive relationship with President Xi, and we have great respect for the Chinese people. We’re in the midst of productive discussions with China, and they’ll continue in the weeks ahead.
But for the United States to make a deal with China, Beijing needs to honor its commitments, beginning with the commitment China made in 1984 to respect the integrity of Hong Kong’s laws through the Sino-British Joint Declaration. (Applause.)
As the President said yesterday, it will be much harder for us to make a deal if something violent happens in Hong Kong. And I want to assure you, our administration will continue to urge Beijing to act in a humanitarian manner and urge China and the demonstrators in Hong Kong to resolve their differences peaceably.
President Trump believes China wants to make a deal, but as the President has made clear, it’s got to be a deal on our terms, because China has had it so good for so long. And things have to change. And as the President has said, the days of stealing American jobs, American companies, and America’s ideas are over. And so they are. The time has come for China to come to the table, open their markets, and live by the rules of international commerce like every other industrialized nation does. (Applause.)
So we’re standing strong. And I want to assure you the United States will continue to engage in discussions with China, and we’ll continue to pursue a reset in our relationship until our trading relationship with China is free, and fair, and reciprocal.
So under the leadership of President Donald Trump, we’ve made extraordinary progress. But as I stand before you today, I’m also mindful of the fact that America has a choice to make in the next year and a half. A choice of whether we’re going to stay on the path that’s created unprecedented prosperity or whether we’re going to take the hard left turn that you’ve heard leading Democrats offer on the debate stage right here in Detroit just two weeks ago.
You know, watching the debate the other night, with all the Democrat candidates standing so far on the left, I thought that debate stage was going to flip over. (Laughter.) You know, as I said before, despite the wishful thinking of some naysayers in the media and in the Democratic Party, the American economy is strong. It’s stronger than ever before. But make no mistake about it: For all of the progress we’ve made, all of it could be lost. If the policies advocated by Democrats on that debate stage take hold in the White House, it’ll wreck the American economy.
I mean, think about it: Where we cut taxes, they’re talking about raising them. Where we rolled back red tape, they’re talking about piling it on. Where we’ve unleashed American energy, they’re talking about stifling it once again.
In an economy built on free enterprise, it’s remarkable to see leading Democrat candidates advocating an agenda like socialized medicine, abolishing private health insurance, or open borders, and even legalizing illegal immigration, or an extreme climate change agenda where some even called for eliminating fossil fuels.
In fact, if you add up every budget-busting proposal they offer — from Medicare for All and the Green New Deal –- it would actually cost every household in America over $900,000 over the next 10 years.
And on trade, even though as one candidate observed, candidate [sic] is five — Canada is “five minutes…from here,” and more than 60 percent of Michigan’s exports go to either Canada or Mexico. Not one of the 20 candidates who stood on that stage is supporting the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement. And, in fact, several of their leading candidates actually oppose this new trade agreement with Canada and Mexico.
You know, I honestly believe, if any one of the Democrats on that debate stage wins the presidency, the gains of the last two and a half years would be wiped out. Taxes would skyrocket, the stock market would tank, jobs would vanish, and we would get that recession these naysayers keep talking about.
So before I leave here today, I’m going to make you a promise: President Trump and I are never going to stop fighting to make sure that never happens. (Applause.)
We’re going to keep fighting for American jobs and American opportunities and American manufacturing, not just for this great industrial heartland, but for all the hardworking men and women of this country.
And I want to promise all of you that it’s those men and women that are never far from our minds. I mean, I’m talking about the people who make things and grow things; who spend their days building more than a Facebook page; who read the local paper, not the New York Times; who wear uniforms at home and abroad. (Applause.) I’m talking about people that put faith, and family, and freedom first. They love this country and they know what a blessing it is to be a citizen of the United States of America.
And these are the people we’re fighting for: every American regardless of race or creed or color who wants to work hard and live the American Dream. And I promise you we will never stop fighting until the American Dream is a reality for every American. (Applause.)
So thank you for the opportunity of addressing you today and returning here to this storied club. Three years ago, President Trump came to the Detroit Economic Club and made you a promise that we would “open a new chapter in American prosperity.” And that’s exactly what we’ve done.
But now our challenge is to keep it open, to keep building on it, to face all the opportunities before us with confidence and determination and with principle. And this, I know, we’ll do.
In fact, I leave here today with confidence — confidence that we will continue to strengthen the greatest economy in the history of the world and the timeless principles that have always made America strong and prosperous. Confident that the American people will seize on all of those opportunities and keep on winning as never before. I’m confident that this country will reject the siren song of socialism and reaffirm our commitment to free enterprise and trade policies that put America first.
We’ll keep America thriving. We’ll keep our economy growing. And with your help and support, with President Donald Trump in the White House, and with God’s help, we will forge a brighter and more prosperous future for Michigan, the Midwest, and America than you could possibly imagine. In a word, we’ll keep America great. (Applause.)
Thank you very much. God bless you. God bless Michigan and God bless America.