Vice President Mike Pence delivered the keynote address at the 2017 “Tax Prom” an annual event put on by the Tax Foundation.
Full transcript of Vice President Pence’s speech at 2017 Tax Foundation “Tax Prom”
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you, David, for that kind introduction. Thank you for your leadership here at the Tax Foundation as chairman of the board. It’s wonderful to see a Hoosier in such a vaunted position, making such a difference in this great organization.
And to my friend Scott Hodge, to members of the board, distinguished members of Congress, and honored guests, to all the scholars and the staff of this flagship of freedom, it is an honor to be here at “Tax Prom” — the 80th Annual Dinner of the Tax Foundation. (Applause.)
I got to tell you I’m humbled to stand before such an extraordinary group of people and to receive this recognition. But it’s especially meaningful to do so on the very day that with your strong support, 227 members of Congress took a historic first step to tax reform for the American people. This is a great day for America. (Applause.)
And to all of you, I bring greetings from a friend of mine and a champion of tax cuts and tax reform, the 45th President of the United States of America — President Donald Trump. (Applause.)
I’m really here tonight on the President’s behalf, first and foremost, to say thank you — thank you to the Tax Foundation for the difference that you make in the in the debate in our nation’s capital and thereby in the life of our nation.
For 80 years, the Tax Foundation has been a leading voice for pro-growth tax policy in the United States.
In 1941, the Tax Foundation published the first edition of Facts & Figures, in which you published, “Facts give a broader perspective and dissipate predilections and prejudices,” as it was written in the day. Over the years your research and analysis have laid a groundwork for pro-growth tax reform in the halls of Washington, D.C., and as David said a few moments ago, in states just like mine all across the country.
I did learn about the value of the Tax Foundation firsthand when I was governor of the great state of Indiana. Each year you mailed a copy of Facts & Figures to every governor and state legislator in America, just to make sure everybody knows exactly how they stack up to their neighbors.
And when I was governor, I can tell you the Tax Foundation was a vital resource as we worked to cut taxes every single year that I was in office. I’m proud to say that as governor of the state of Indiana, we passed the largest state tax cut in Indiana history. And the Tax Foundation was there to give us support. (Applause.)
So I’m just really here first and foremost to say thanks — thanks to the Tax Foundation for making pro-growth tax cuts possible all across America. But I’m also here tonight, on President Trump’s behalf, and that is to make you a promise: Starting with that vote today in the House of Representatives, before this year is out, we’re going to pass the largest tax cut in American history. (Applause.)
Now before I get into the President’s vision for tax cuts, let me just update you on everything else our administration has already done to get this economy moving again.
As you all know well, we had our work cut out for us when we took office back on January the 20th. For too long, American families and job creators have been forced to labor under the weight of an overbearing federal government that through one policy after another was suffocating America’s free-enterprise economy and the middle class that it built.
And we all remember those results — one by one, American companies and industries too often choose to move offshore, rather than growing in this country. Wages stagnated for hardworking families over the last eight years. Economic opportunity came to be seen as a privilege of the few too often, rather than the birthright of every American. Over the last eight years, it’s remarkable to think that the most powerful economy in the history of the world only grew at an average rate of 1.8 percent.
Well, make no mistake about it: Under President Donald Trump, those days are over. (Applause.)
Since the very first day of our administration, President Trump has taken decisive action to give hardworking Americans and job creators the freedom and opportunity they need to thrive once more.
Beginning with the rule of law to restore the constitutional restraints on our government, to protect the economic liberty at the foundation of our prosperity, our President has been busy appointing principled conservatives to our federal courts at every level, like the newest member of the Supreme Court of the United States, Justice Neil Gorsuch. (Applause.)
And our administration has been busy working with the Congress to roll back the heavy hand of government regulation. This year alone, President Trump has signed more laws cutting through federal red tape than any President in American history. And we’ve kept new regulatory costs to zero in the year 2017. (Applause.)
Next year, the President has already challenged our Cabinet to achieve something that’s actually never been done before in modern American history. By the end of next year, our goal at each Cabinet — in the government is to achieve a net reduction in regulatory costs. Under President Trump, the era of over-regulation is over.
But to fuel the revival of all American industry, our administration has also been busy unleashing American energy. Last month, we announced that we’re repealing the so-called Clean Power Plan that put such a burden on states like Indiana. And of course, President Donald Trump put America first when he announced that the United States of America would withdraw from the job-killing Paris climate accord. (Applause.)
This President will never punish the prosperity of our people. He will only promote it. And already, the American economy is responding to the President’s leadership and our agenda.
The truth is, optimism is sweeping all across America as we speak for consumers and job creators alike. Manufacturers haven’t been this confident in more than two decades.
Businesses large and small have actually created 1.5 million new jobs since January of this year, and there are more Americans working today than ever before in American history. (Applause.)
And the stock market itself is setting new records nearly every week, and in less than a year, the New York Stock Exchange has created $5.5 trillion in new wealth — growing the pensions, retirement, and savings accounts of millions of Americans.
As President Trump likes to say, “It is all about growth.” For the past two quarters, I’m pleased to report, that our economy has already recovered from those eight years of 1.8 percent-average growth. And for the second quarter in a row, the great American economy has grown by 3 percentage points, and we’re just getting started. (Applause.)
In a word, America has momentum right now. The people of the Tax Foundation know that. But in order to turn this momentum into sustained economic growth, you all know there’s one policy that’s more important than anything else.
And I’m here to promise you, President Trump and I are going to be fighting every day to pass the largest tax cut in American history, and were going to do it this year. (Applause.)
Did I mention before, today was a banner day for tax cuts. This afternoon the House of Representatives passed its tax cut bill, and President Trump and I are truly grateful for the leadership of Speaker Ryan, Chairman Brady, and all the great Republicans who voted for this legislation. (Applause.)
In fact, I’m told a couple of those heroes are in the room. Let’s hear it for Congressman David Rouzer and Congresswoman Karen Handel — who knows how to start a career on Capitol Hill. (Applause.)
As the President said this afternoon, today’s vote in the House of Representatives is in his words, “a big step” — it’s a big step toward fulfilling our promise to deliver historic tax cuts for the American people.
But now the ball is in the Senate’s court. And as we speak, the Senate Finance Committee is putting the finishing touches on its own tax cut bill, which their poised to vote on and pass in the weeks ahead.
But tonight, let me take a step back. And let’s talk tonight about the difference that tax cuts will make in the lives of hardworking Americans.
The President has had me traveling all across the country over the last several months, talking to working families and job creators about our current tax code and the struggles that they face in this American economy.
I sit down at these roundtables and I always like to ask people a very simple question. With members of the media sitting in the room, I basically say: What would a tax cut mean to you? What would it mean to your family? What would it mean to the business large or small where you’re employed?
And no matter where I am, whether it’s on a shop floor in Pennsylvania, or a café in Phoenix, every single American I’ve spoken to has told me that they need a tax cut — not just to pursue their dreams, but to help others build their dreams and to strengthen the communities in which they live.
I’ve heard from small-business owners who told me they’d use the extra money to pay their employees more, to create new jobs, invest in new technology.
I heard from a young entrepreneur who told me they’d use the tax cut to hire a local contractor to convert their basement into a home office. I’ve heard from new parents who said they’d use the tax cut to save for their kids’ education and donate a little bit more money to their local churches and their local charities.
No two answers are ever the same, but they all have one thing in common: When Americans can keep more of their hard-earned money, they invest it right back in their families, their businesses, and their communities, and they improve the quality of life in every community in this nation. (Applause.)
It’s true. As the Tax Foundation knows, the value of tax cuts can’t be measured in dollars and cents alone. Every mom or dad who gets that new job or gets a raise, there’s a little boy or girl who is going to be able to learn a valuable lesson about the dignity of work, the daily disciplines that make it possible, and the integrity it takes and the determination it takes to build and support a family.
For every additional donation made to that local charity, every helping hand extended to a neighbor in need, there’s someone who is going to remember that they’re not facing life’s challenges alone.
For every investment that a business owner makes in new technology, there’s an enterprising employee who will use it to build new products, discover the next big breakthrough that could literally change the world.
These then are the true rewards of a strong and growing economy. But today, they’re denied to too many Americans by a punitive tax code that has hollowed out America’s industrial heartland and pushed too many of our businesses off our shores.
As the Tax Foundation says, the American people deserve a tax code that in your all’s words, “doesn’t stand in the way of their success.” And I couldn’t agree more.
And I say to all the great patrons of the Tax Foundation: Help is on the way! You have a champion in the White House! (Applause.)
And this President has laid out the vision of our administration for a truly historic tax cut, one that will usher in, we believe, a new era of American prosperity and deliver what the President likes to call a “middle-class miracle.”
It’s based on three principles we’re driving forward with members of Congress to make that a reality when the final bill comes to the President’s desk.
First and foremost, President Trump is absolutely committed to cut taxes for working families all across this nation. We want to double the standard deduction, so that every American family can pay zero taxes on their first $24,000 in income. (Applause.)
We’re going to expand the child credit, and we’re going to repeal death taxes once and for all — death should no longer be a taxable event. (Applause.)
And in case you hadn’t heard about it, while we’re at it, we’re going to cut taxes on working American when we repeal the Obamacare individual mandate tax in this tax reform bill. (Applause.
Make no mistake about it when you’re out there talking about this in the coming days, repealing the individual mandate tax at the heart of Obamacare is a tax cut for millions of hardworking Americans. Did you know that a third of the people who paid the mandate’s penalty in 2015 made less than $25,000 a year? More than 90 percent of the people that paid the Obamacare mandate tax made less than $75,000 a year. These Americans need relief not just from Obamacare, but they need tax reform and more money in their pocket. And we’re going to give it to them.
Secondly, President Trump is absolutely committed to restore simplicity and fairness to the tax code so it works for every American, and not just the lucky few.
You know, there’s an old joke — I know Scott Hodge has heard it more than once — the tax code is 10 times the length of the Bible, with none of the good news. (Laughter and applause.)
Well, here’s some good news. We’re going to simplify the tax code to that 90 percent of Americans can file their taxes on a single sheet of paper. (Applause.)
We’re going to cut the hand-outs and the carve-outs. We’re going to create a fairer code with lower taxes for everyone because, as the Tax Foundation knows, loopholes don’t lead to growth.
Finally, to deliver sustained economic growth, this businessman-turned-President is going to make sure that American companies can be competitive again with companies around the world to create good jobs and raise wages right here, in the good, old U.S.A.!
We’re going to cut the corporate tax rate from one of the highest in the developed world down to 20 percent — and not a penny more. (Applause.)
It’s amazing to think about the most powerful economy in the world, greatest free-enterprise economy in the world these days has one of the highest business tax rates in the world. It’s astonishing.
And President Trump and I are absolutely determined to advance legislation that will change that. But not just for the large corporations — the so-called C corporations. We’re also going to make sure that small businesses get the same tax relief as big corporations by cutting the pass-through rate to 25 percent. It will be the lowest level of taxation on small business since 1931. (Applause.)
We’re also going to replace the outdated system of worldwide taxation with a territorial system, and we’re going to cut taxes on the trillions of dollars that Americans companies have locked overseas so that money can be invested in American jobs and American workers and America’s future. (Applause.)
Now, everyone in this room here at the Tax Foundation knows that cutting taxes on American businesses is going to unleash a wave of investment, is going to create millions of jobs and launch a new era of innovation. But I also hope you’ll go out in the weeks ahead and help tell the story that cutting taxes on businesses is also one of the most effective ways to increase wages for working Americans.
Earlier this year, the Tax Foundation heard from Dr. Kevin Hassett, the Chairman of the President’s Council on Economic Advisers, and one of the most distinguished conservative economists in the country. Kevin has done some extraordinary research that I recommend to your attention, and he’s shown so well that once these business tax cuts go into effect, the typical American household could actually expect an extra $4,000 every year in their pocketbooks.
Truthfully, one of the most effective ways to move that stubborn economic indicator of average income and average wages is to cut taxes on businesses because businesses turn right around and invest in their most precious asset, and that is their people.
Let me take a minute to thank my friend Scott Hodge. I don’t think he got a big enough round of applause and everyone at the Tax Foundation. (Applause.) I want to thank Scott for beating the drum for tax reform for so long. He hasn’t been doing it for 80 years, but it probably has felt that way. (Laughter.) He’s just done an awesome job.
And the truth is, Scott, you and your experts have been at the center of this debate for years. You’ve cut through the political noise, and you’ve educated the American people about how tax cuts are going to bring higher wages, going to create more jobs, and a brighter future for their families and for our communities and our nation.
There is one thing, though, as I get ready to close and let you get to that sumptuous meal that awaits. You ever noticed that every time Washington, D.C. gets close to letting the American people keep more of what they earn, they always find something else to talk about? Some of you know that better than others.
Truth is, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity because it’s hard. The opportunity to pass meaningful tax relief for the American people, to get this stubborn city to give up its claim on the hard-earned income of working families and businesses across this country is tough. But we’re going to get it done.
But tonight, I want to challenge each and every one of you. I know you came here tonight for an enjoyable evening and to celebrate the progress of the Tax Foundation. But I hope you leave here tonight energized to redouble your efforts in the days between now and the end of this calendar year because we have an historic opportunity to pass tax cuts and tax reform that will make a lasting difference in the American economy and to the benefit of American families and businesses for generations.
The truth is, President Trump and I need your full support to get this tax cut passed before the end of this year. The next few weeks are going to be vitally important, and they’re going to be a challenge. But with your support, we’re going to get it done.
It’s a make-or-break moment. We can’t afford to let up and slow down. And I know, with your continued efforts, with the support of this Congress, with the leadership of President Donald Trump, we are going to pass the largest tax cut in American history, and we’re going to deliver on the promises we’ve made to the American people.
As I close, let me just encourage all of you to go tell the story. As you return to your places of employment, as you get back on the Internet, send out an email, send out a tweet, get your employees together. Do what a lot of businesses that I know are represented here do, tell your employees what tax cuts are going to mean for your business, what it’s going to mean for the opportunity for your companies to grow and expand, hire more people and improve the economic outlook for your employees.
Go tell the story of what these tax cuts are going to mean for our fellow citizens. There’s so many businesses in this room that are exemplary corporate citizens. There’s not a little league field in anywhere in America where the banner of your companies isn’t on the back fence. But what I want to challenge you to do tonight is exercise that citizenship on behalf of American taxpayers, and go tell this story — and tell it with real energy and enthusiasm to your employees, to your suppliers, to your venders. You’re going to make a difference.
Just yesterday — I truly do believe that this a unique moment in the life of our nation. I was just in Texas — it’s one of several times I’ve had responsibilities to go to Texas in the last several months. I was there for a briefing on the continued efforts of recovery in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.
I saw the way that the resilience and the character and the faith of the people of that great state — just as in Florida, just as in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico — have endured great hardship but are recovering and rebuilding bigger and better than ever before.
I saw the same when I was in Northern California in the wake of the wildfires, as first responders came alongside — our federal officials came along side.
It’s been a challenging time for people across this country. Monumental storms, raging wildfires that have destroyed so much property and clamed too many lives. The truth is, we’ve responded with the generosity of the American people.
I reported yesterday that in Texas alone we’ve already distributed more than $8 billion in resources and support to help families rebuild their lives.
But I want to tell you, as I stand here today, in a challenging time in the life of our nation, I truly believe that what we’ve talked about mostly tonight is also an antidote. It’s an antidote for the hardship that some of our countrymen have faced in the wake of these natural disasters.
But I also think in these too-divided times in America — where it seems like you can’t turn on the television without people just dividing the country in one piece or another — that if we can move forward, together, on the kind of tax relief that will unleash the boundless energy of the American economy, open the pathway to the American Dream for more Americans, get this economy growing again and sustained in the meaningful way, we’re going to see this country restored. We’re going to see this country come together and revive. And we’re going to make it possible for those families that have struggled in the wake of those natural disasters to rebuild quicker and better and stronger than ever before.
A growing America, a more prosperous America — I truly do believe it’s a cure for much of what ails our country in these difficult days.
And so my challenge to all of you is, just do your part. You’re here tonight because you’ve been a part of the work of a great organization. The Tax Foundation has made a difference in our national debate for generations. But if the tax foundation exists for any moment, it exists for moments like this. (Applause.)
So let your voice be heard. Let your voice be heard. Be a part of the debate. And I’m very confident that with your help, with the strong leadership that we have in the Congress of the United States, with Donald Trump in the White House, and with God’s help, we will make America prosperous again. We will get America growing again. And to borrow a phrase, we will Make America Great Again. (Applause.)
Thank you all very much. Thank you for supporting this great organization. God bless you, and God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)