5:30 P.M. EDT
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Let’s hear it again for a record-breaking governor of Indiana, Governor Eric Holcomb. How about it? (Applause.)
Congratulations, doing a great job. Doing a great job here in the Hoosier State. I know just back from traveling overseas, telling Indiana’s story to foreign investors. So it’s good to be with you. Thank you for making time.
Join me also in thanking Tom Taulman and TKO Graphix for opening up this incredible American success story for this conversation. Thank you. (Applause.)
Thirty-two years in the making, and it’s a great, great Indiana success story and a great story of the kind of jobs and opportunity that are created when people pursue their dreams.
I’m also very grateful to be joined today by a great partner in prosperity, a great partner for President Trump and myself in Washington, D.C., our senator, Todd Young, who you will hear from more in a minute. (Applause.)
And I’ll introduce him after I make just a few brief remarks, but we’re really here to listen. Thank you all for coming to listen in on a conversation. I look forward to saying hello to as many of you as time permits at the end of this discussion.
But President Trump has asked me to travel around the country with members of our Cabinet like Secretary Acosta and talk about what we believe is the most important priority for long-term economic growth in the United States of America. President Trump believes the time has come to cut taxes across the board for working families, small businesses, and family farms. And we’re here to talk to the people that are making jobs and opportunities — in Indiana. (Applause.)
We’re going to listen to these folks about what tax cuts would mean in their companies, and I’m anxious to hear their thoughts. But for those of you that are gathered here today, President Trump said it well not long ago when he said, our country and our economy cannot take off like they should unless we transform America’s outdated, complex, and extremely burdensome tax code.
And I expect the job creators gathered around this roundtable, as people that I’ve met in states around the country running businesses large and small, I expect you all agree with the President’s sense of that.
Our vision is very simple. We’ve been working very closely with members of the House and Senate to advance the vision. I’ll give you an update before we leave, but Congress is making steady progress on what President Trump believes will be nothing short of a “middle-class miracle.” It’s going to tax cuts that’s focused on working families, small businesses, and family farms. It’s going to be tax cuts that are focused on making American businesses more competitive by lowering the corporate tax rate in America so companies here in Indiana and around this country can compete with companies anywhere in the world. And President Trump believes the time has come to simplify our tax code so nine out of ten Americans can file their taxes on a single piece of paper. So it’s simplification. It’s lowering business taxes, and it’s lowering taxes on working families.
Those are the priorities. But what I’m curious about today from these job creators is what that will mean in your businesses. We’ve been talking with business owners around the country about the prospect of tax relief. You all have read in the newspapers about the progress that we’re making in the House and the Senate on moving tax relief.
But the questions that I’d love to have you to consider are just threefold. Number one, how important are tax cuts to your business? Your business where you are this year in 2017. And how important are they to your suppliers, to your vendors, to those that you sell your products to?
Secondly, what do you see as the most important part of the President’s tax cut plan? There’s a bill that moved out of a key committee in the House of Representatives today, a bill that was unveiled in the United States Senate today with Senator Young’s deep involvement. But as you know details of these various bills, are there aspects of those as a business owner that are particular meaningful to you?
And lastly, number three, what would you do with the money? It’s a very straightforward question that I think — for me, as I’ve asked that question around the country, has been very refreshing. Would you use it to hire more people? Would you use it to raise wages? Would you put the money in the bank? Would you buy more equipment? But we’d really love for you to reflect on those answers.
So how important? What aspects of the plan do you think are most important to your business? And lastly, what would you do with the tax cut if we got that job done for the American people this year?
So with that, let me turn the conversation over for a few remarks and to lead the discussion, Secretary Alex Acosta brings an incredible background in American labor law. He’s one of the leading lights of free-market economics, and he is now the Secretary of Labor for the United States of America. Would you just give him a warm welcome, a member of the President’s Cabinet, Alex Acosta? (Applause.)
SECRETARY ACOSTA: Well, Mr. Vice President, thank you for those remarks. And, Governor, thank you for sharing that record. It is fabulous to hear that news, wonderful for the state and for the nation.
As the Vice President said, President Trump has asked the Vice President and members of his Cabinet to travel across the nation to hear from Americans about what tax reform means to them. From my perspective, tax reform is really all about job creation. A tax reform bill is a job creation bill.
Now as Secretary of Labor, the President has asked me for three priorities — create jobs, create more jobs, and foster and environment that creates even more jobs. (Laughter.)
And I’ll tell you since January, this nation is off to a great start. We just reached a net increase of 1.5 million jobs in our nation. Amazing. (Applause.)
And the unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been in 17 years — 4.1 percent. (Applause.) And the stock market has hit a high and another high and another high, and this is all happening in an environment of low inflation.
But the President knows that we can do better. And that is why he’s pushing this tax reform bill so hard. Because we create jobs by fostering business growth. As businesses grow, they hire. And as Americans find more jobs and better jobs, they fuel growth by buying and by investing in America.
And so the bottom line is this: Lower taxes and simpler taxes create the right conditions for job creation. And that is why the Vice President, the Cabinet, and I are so encouraged by the President’s plans.
But we’re here to hear from you. As the Vice President said, we’re here to hear about what tax reform means to you as small-business owners, as job creators here in America, as the individuals that hire American workers. And so we’d like to hear from each of you and then we’ll conclude by hearing from Senator Young.
And so let me just start off by maybe turning it to you, Tom. Thank you for having us here, thank you for hosting. What does this mean to you, what does tax reform mean to you?
MR. TAULMAN: It’s a very big deal for us, especially our employees. We employ about 260 people here, and there’s a lot of middle class. And with the tax reform, we’re looking at them getting more money on their tax returns. And we just want a better quality of life for them.
And as a business owner, you can only pay so much to be competitive. And with the rising cost of health insurance and regular garage liability insurance and everything else, it’s tough for us to continue keeping wages going up. And we also have to continue paying — every time health insurance goes up, we try to absorb as much as we can. But sometimes it takes more money out of their pockets, too. So you’re giving them a raise one day, and then you’re asking them to pay extra on their healthcare.
So with them getting more money back, we just want a better quality of life for our employees, and I think this definitely does it.
And with the corporate tax returns for a business owner, hopefully it’s going to give us a little bit of a cushion to where we’re not so tight and always having to keep getting more and more debt to expand. This will give us a little bit more cushion that we’ll be able to expand a little easier and continue growing TKO.
SECRETARY ACOSTA: Well, thank you, Tom. And what struck me about your comments is a “better quality of life” for your employees. So it’s not just what it means to you as a job creator, but what it means to all of your employees. So thank you for that.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: If I could interject, too, Tom, we saw some of this beautiful equipment that you have here at this state-of-the-art facility. And he did offer to shrink-wrap Air Force Two. Always selling, always selling. (Laughter and applause.)
Let me ask you about that. One of the things the Secretary and I were talking about as we walked through was the cost of equipment here. It’s very significant. The technology you need to stay on the leading edge. One of the aspects of the plan that’s been advancing in the Congress with the President’s support is immediate expensing of equipment. Can you explain the impact that would have on your business, your ability to compete and your employees?
MR. TAULMAN: Yeah, with that we’ll be able to — we just bought two new printing presses and spent $600,00-$700,000. And with the immediate expense, it would definitely help lower the taxes we have to pay. And we’d be able to invest faster in other equipment and continue to grow.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Great. A very significant element for you, I expect?
MR. TAULMAN: Yeah.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Okay, thank you.
SECRETARY ACOSTA: Let me turn it over to Alfonso. Alfonso, you’re President of Vidal Plastics.
MR. VIDAL: That’s correct.
SECRETARY ACOSTA: So the three questions, Vice President mentioned: How important are the tax cuts? What’s the most important part of our tax cut plan to you personally? And what would you do with the tax cut if you were to receive it?
MR. VIDAL: For us — we’re a start-up. I mean, we’re five years in business and we’re still considered very much a start-up. But we are on the cusp of a major, major investment and expansion for us. That expansion — which by the way has been possible for a grant by the state of Indiana for recycling plastic. So it’s very important for us to invest in the right technology to be able to take that recycling to the next level.
How do we keep all that plastic outside the landfills and going back into product and industry? Right. So one of the things that is very important for us is that investment in technology. Being able to stay ahead of the curve, so to speak. I mean we have outside competition — and I mean outside the United States competition. But it’s very active on recycling plastic. So for us, it’s key to maintain that growth, to maintain that edge in the technology.
Another part of that is, like Tom said, we have employees, and there is only so much that we can do with salaries in the middle of expansion and a new company, right? So for those employees to be able to receive, like Tom said, in the mid ‘50s, it makes it easier for us to be able to reinvest in the company and the equipment necessary to continue growing.
So that is, for us, the main factor for all this tax reform. And of course, the ability to continue growing and reinvesting in the production and the technologies, too.
SECRETARY ACOSTA: And so this will help keep you competitive. It will help keep the jobs here in the United States, so they don’t go to the overseas competitors.
MR. VIDAL: Yeah, for example, for plastic, raw materials, it’s very dense. So we’re able to travel long way. So we’re able to service out of Evansville, Indiana. We’re able to sell and service Mexico. We’re able to service Canada. So we are creating jobs in the United States and southern Indiana that specifically that can service markets outside the United States.
So with — being able to be more competitive, to hire the people necessary to that — for example, a lot of training — we invest a lot of training making sure that those machines are going to stay up to speed and being able to do the necessary things that is going to allow my employees to continue that growth.
So it is essential to do all those things. And it’s very hard with a new company like mine, but we’re able little by little to continue to grow that.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: How many employees do you have now, Alfonso?
MR. VIDAL: We have now five.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Five employees. After five years, company is growing.
MR. VIDAL: Yeah. After five years, we’re growing. We’re about — like I said, we are in expansion mode so very strapped for cash as you can imagine. In the middle of buying equipment, trying to get to the next level, but hopefully, and if this continues — and you know, President Trump’s proposal are key. With the cut rate of the corporate tax, hopefully that also is going to generate more business for us. Which in turn is going to generate, of course, more — the ability to be able to hire more people. So all those things are a good package that I think is extremely good for the United States.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Great. I just heard you over and over again say, you had a tax cut for your business, you’re going to invest it in growth.
MR. VIDAL: Absolutely
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Great. I appreciate your candor and I congratulations on your success. It’s good to see you.
MR. VIDAL: Thank you.
SECRETARY ACOSTA: So Jennifer, you and Hagen are co-owners of BeeFree Gluten-Free Bakery. So —
MS. WEISE: Yes, actually I am the sole owner of BeeFree Gluten-Free Bakery. So it’s a women-owned business that I started. We are a family business so Hagen is an integral part of our company, as are the rest of our children, and my husband.
So I started BeeFree Gluten-Free Bakery in 2010 with the intent — purpose to help our oldest son who is on the autism spectrum. And so, gluten-free has been very really powerful for him. It’s been very, very helpful. And so, with that — flash forward a dozen years or so as we experimented and found some god recipes that worked, a business was born. And that business was born out my passion for feeding my own family delicious, whole, clean food. But also, based on the need to help other people — other families that were struggling, finding — trying to find their way, trying to find good sources of good, clean, quality food.
And so that’s what we were really super passionate about, is that food source and getting that good quality food into people’s hands all over the country. So we are based in Noblesville, Indiana. That’s my hometown, where my family and I live.
What the tax relief would mean to us as a business would be growth. We would put it right back into our business. So we would be able to expand. We would be able to create additional products. But more importantly we would be able to use that money to expand to get out to other states that we’re not in currently.
So our goal is to be a national brand, and so we’re a little more than half way there. We’re in about 27 states across the country, right now. We’re really passionate about keeping a lot of that work right here in Indiana. So we’ve tried and focused really hard on making things work here in Indiana, and we’re really proud of that. So we’d like to see that continue to grow.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: That’s great, how many employees now? You’re in 27 states.
MS. WEISE: Yes. Yes. So right now we have three full-time employees and a handful of part-time and seasonal employees, and we make a lot happen.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: And you’re selling in over half the country?
MS. WEISE: Yes.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: That’s very impressive. Well done. (Applause.)
Tom you said earlier how many employees you had — 260 people.
MR. TAULMAN: About 260, yes.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: And a little over a hundred that work at this facility here in Plainfield. Okay, great. Well, congratulations. I don’t know if Hagen has got anything to add there if the boss lets you speak.
MR. WEISE: Not much. Just the tax cut would really help paying off student debt.
MS. WEISE: He’s a college student, as well, too.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: There you go. I know what you’re talking about.
MR. WEISE: The tax plan I guess student debt and put some new things on my Jeep. (Laughter.)
THE VICE PRESIDENT: That’s great. Thanks for being here, Hagen.
BeeFree Gluten-Free Bakery. Sounds great.
MS. WEISE: Thank you. (Applause.)
SECRETARY ACOSTA: So Kathleen and Edward, you are co-owners of Cabello Associates. So what does the tax reform mean to you?
MS. CABELLO: Well, the exciting thing is — it’s kind of repetitive — but it would be to really be able to hire more staff. We’re fortunately on an uptick. We were talking earlier that all of us are business owners, so while we were waiting, believe me, we were getting business done. (Laughter.)
But we’re always working, and it would be nice to add more staff because you think about that, adding more staff would allow us — free us up more time. And to expand more, to add more staff would be helpful. But also the infrastructure. Even though we may not have the hardware and software that Tom has, but we have to invest in our software, in our technology to stay on the cutting edge. As a strategic marketing firm, we have to be on the edge and know what’s going on. And our software and everything that we use has to be efficient and the state of the art. And it’s expensive.
And so when you think about that, you think, wow, we have to invest in that. Our biggest resources are our people. We don’t have inventory sitting on the shelf. We have people, and that’s our biggest investment.
MR. CABELLO: Yes, when you talk about tax relief, how does that affect us? Well, for us because we don’t sell plastics or bakery items, which we love — (laughter) — or do graphics. But we do work with companies that are sitting at this table because as a marketing firm, our product is our mind, our strategy, our thinking, that type of thing. So we help companies such as this move their businesses forward.
But for us, the tax relief, it really takes another meaning. For us it becomes retention of employees. So it’s not only expanding to hire. We want to keep those good employees. And in professional services it’s a little different thing, a different nature to that business when you’re hiring and you produce thinking in some intellectual property, if you would, for strategies that help companies.
So it helps us to attract people and also to keep them because at professional services, at that level, people are wanting good packages, and we want to keep the best that are available to us.
MS. CABELLO: And so investing in education, so that’s really important because to retain our employees and also to be attractive to other people, we can get more the top-notch people — we have PhDs on our staff. We have that caliber of person that we need to keep retaining, but also keep them engaged and get them to continue to improve on their skill sets. So that’s a very important from a business perspective.
So technology big for us. Everything costs. If you want to buy an iPhone right now, it’s a lot. But think about for an office and to staff it, and then also in the training. And then it becomes a retention, as well as an attraction to recruit.
And the thing is there are talented people here in Indiana, but sometimes they’re getting stolen away on the coasts. Well, we can keep them here. And right now technology is coming up here, right here in the Midwest. And so we need to be competitive on the pay scale also, because they’re also looking at the East Coast and the Coast. And so we have to be competitive. That means our salary starts going up.
So if you look at our bottom line, our biggest thing is salary for people. And so professional services are a little different, and that’s one thing we want to make sure that will help us — that we didn’t say on a personal note what we would spend the money on. And I personally would spend more money on redoing my kitchen. (Laughter.) And that’s real. It’s a big deal.
And for those of you who have redone your kitchen, you’ve got to really think about when am I going to make that investment — personal, too.
The other thing we didn’t talk about is philanthropy. And so our company — and I know these people here — our company gives back into the community, and that’s very important. And we’re involved in helping students, higher education, making sure that other people have opportunities that perhaps we’ve been blessed so we need to also turn back. And that is real important for our company. The more we make, the more we can give. And that’s a philosophy of our company. (Applause.)
SECRETARY ACOSTA: Let me just add, as you retain your workers and you hire more staff when you redo your kitchen, you’re employing even more Americans.
MS. CABELLA: Exactly. (Laughter.)
SECRETARY ACOSTA: Bob, let me turn it to you from Royal Spa Corporation.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I think Kathleen and Ed made a great comment, though, that a lot of people think the President’s vision here for tax relief is that we’re lowering taxes on individuals so you have a little bit more money, significantly more when you talk about doubling the standard exemption. The first $24,000 in income would be tax-free for every American. So there would be a lot of kitchen remodeling going on. (Laughter.)
But you all made just a great point that I think the Governor and I shared a look on, and that is that the opportunity for business tax cuts is the opportunity for businesses to invest more in wages. Because a key part of your ability to be competitive is to be able to compete on wages and on salaries.
And so what you said, Edward, about retention of employees I thought was very insightful. And it’s something that Dr. Kevin Hassett, who is a member of our administration, one of the leading economists in the country, recently published a very significant study on the relationship between business tax cuts historically in Western countries and an increase in wages. And it is a part of what we see here — not just more jobs we believe will be created, but also higher paying jobs for Americans who are already working. So I thought you made that point very well.
SECRETARY ACOSTA: Bob.
MR. DAPPER: My business partner Rick Bartlett have been in business for over 36 years. So the wisdom of age when it comes to business is very valuable.
It is impossible for you to show me a tax cut that was not a substantial financial boom to the United States of America. When you look at the value of this — I see it as twofold. Number one, we don’t know how much money it’s actually going to be for us. So from a corporate standpoint, if it is thousands of dollars, we might replace a tool and try and update it so that our employees have something a little cleaner to work off of, so that they don’t have to do as much post-product finish on it.
If it is more money than that, we would research an additional product, which would give a whole new line of production to the guys, and they’d have more jobs to work off of that.
But on the other side of it, people will feel more comfortable in their jobs. They’ll feel more comfortable and safe that there will be food on their table. And when you are sure there is food on your table, you will go and buy what I sell. (Laughter.)
And when you buy what I sell, and I have that demand, then I have to bring a lot of bodies in to cover that demand. So you can’t just say, if you give me a $1,000 I’m going to hire a guy. No, I’m going to create a job, and I’m going to make it where that guy can have a job for a career. Not for a day, not for a month — I want these people to come in and become part of this family that we create as businessmen. And to take care of other Americans in a business-like way and in a family way is golden. There’s no other country in the world that has that. (Applause.)
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I’ve known Bob Dapper since both of us had dark hair. (Laughter.) And he’s a great American success story. Like many of you who started your dreams in your driveways and your garages, he did — while a student I think at IUPUI — manufactured your first spa. Is there something about what you’re hearing about the tax cuts that are being considered in the House and Senate that you think particularly would encourage of the kind of entrepreneurs that we’ve heard about today, being an entrepreneur yourself?
MR. DAPPER: Well, you would think that the banks that are trying to lend them money for venture capital for expansion would be more open to a business that is more survivable, has a better chance because their burden is lower. So the bank decides whether or not you can pay it back or not. If the tax burden was lower, you’ve got a better chance of qualifying for that business loan.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: So it’s not just the benefit — from your perspective, it’s not just the benefit of lower taxes, but it’s the ability to sit down with lenders — whether it be in Noblesville or in Evansville — and say, here’s our business plan and suddenly our expenses went down?
MR. DAPPER: There’s 50 different perspectives from a business standpoint that this helps with — just confidence, just respecting other businesses and having faith in them to be here and buying from the local companies is what we’ve needed for years.
SECRETARY ACOSTA: Thank you, thank you for the words.
Let me turn it over to a great partner as I work on so many labor issues, an individual very deeply involved in this tax reform, this tax reduction, this job creation effort, Senator Young. Senator? (Applause.)
SENATOR YOUNG: Well, thank you, Secretary Acosta. So good to be with you today. Mr. Vice President, it’s great to have you home. It really is. We’re really proud of you. (Applause.) And our great governor continues to make sure that Indiana is one of the best places to do business in this country.
There’s really a lesson to be learned, I think, from the Indiana model and all the business owners around this table understand it. And some of the workers we visited with earlier understand it. If you can make our country the best country in the world in which to do business, it’s going to benefit all of us. It’s going to benefit all of our communities.
We need a tax code that is simpler, that is fairer, and that allows every single American to keep more of their hard-earned money. Bottom line.
It’s been 30 years since Washington, D.C. fundamentally rewrote its tax code, and since that time our code has only become more complex. It’s only crushed more dreams, more good ideas, more opportunities to grow businesses and increase wages and benefit ordinary Americans like my neighbors in south central Indiana.
And I hear you loud and clear. I’ve traveled around every corner of this state, and I’m so glad to have heard from these business owners today because they have said under the bright lights of TV cameras here today much of what I’m hearing from others: The time for action is now. We’ve got to get this done. (Applause.)
I’m not of the belief this is a Republican issue, this is a Democratic issue, this is an issue for independents. This is an American issue. It’s about American competitiveness. It’s about not only restoring but building upon the American Dream and adapting it to current circumstances. Countries around the world are lowering their tax rates, and they have been for a number of years now. And we’ve been standing still.
But the Trump administration has been leading from the front. They’ve put forward a framework that will grow this economy, that will allow more people to invest in capital equipment, that will allow people to hire more workers, to offer more generous benefits to their workers, even to upgrade their kitchen so that they can hire the local contractor, right?
And so I know the administration has tirelessly — President Trump and Vice President Pence and Secretary Acosta and all the others, they’ve been out there indicating just how important this is for the future of our country. I’ve heard it loud and clear as I’ve traveled around this state. And this senator — and I hope 99 other United States senators — will be voting for a growth-friendly tax package in coming weeks. We owe that to all of you.
So thanks so much for having us. (Applause.)
If the Vice President will allow one final thing, as you see details related to the tax reform package, things will be changing very quickly in coming weeks. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with my office. Don’t hesitate to call members of Congress who represent you and make sure you call all my colleagues. You can — in the United States Senate and tell them that this makes sense, irrespective of party. Hoosiers need to keep more of their hard-earned money.
Thank you so much for having me here. (Applause.)
SECRETARY ACOSTA: So let me, Senator, thank you for the words. To all the job creators here, thank you for joining us, for offering your insights. It’s so important that, as the Senator said, you speak up and you make your voices known and heard
And, Tom, thank you for being such a wonderful and great host. With that, I will turn it over to the Vice President of the United States, Mike Pence. (Applause.)
6:01 P.M. EST