Remarks by the Vice President to the West Virginia Chamber Summit
White Sulphur Springs Resort
White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia
6:59 P.M. EDT
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Hello, West Virginia! (Applause.)
Dr. Wright, Governor Justice, Senator Manchin, Senator Capito, Congressman Jenkins, Congressman McKinley, Congressman Mooney, Chairman Graney, Chairman Jordan, distinguished guests, it is my great honor to be here this evening with the leading voice of business in the Mountain State, the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce. (Applause.)
And I bring greetings from a friend of mine and a friend of West Virginia, a businessman who’s fighting every day for a boundless American future, the 45th President of the United States of America, President Donald Trump. (Applause.)
Before I get started, allow me to take a moment to address what I know is on everyone’s heart tonight, the unprecedented natural disaster of Hurricane Harvey and the ongoing response of federal, state, and local officials, and countless volunteers who are involved in rescue and recovery efforts even as we speak.
The American people and the world have been transfixed with images of destruction and suffering and the resilience of the people of Texas and Louisiana as Hurricane Harvey has battered that state -- now Louisiana -- over the past five days.
As the President said in Missouri earlier today, “this storm continues to pose a danger to life and property,” and we urge everyone, all across that region to put safety first and continue to listen to local officials and emergency managers before venturing out into this still-dangerous storm.
The President, my family, and our entire administration have been deeply moved by the suffering of so many. And even before the storm made landfall, President Trump took decisive action to bring the full resources of the federal government to support state and local first responders.
The President convened the Cabinet twice over the weekend to ensure our administration is effectively partnering with state and local officials.
At this very moment, there are more than 10,800 federal employees working hand-in-hand with state and local law enforcement to help the people of Texas and Louisiana.
The Coast Guard and the Navy are conducting search-and-rescue operations even as we speak. And with more than 60 Department of Defense aircraft, along with aircraft of Texas National Guard, they are rescuing Americans in harm’s way.
Urban search-and-rescue taskforces are being coordinated by FEMA, and we’ve shipped more than 2.9 million meals, more than 2.8 million liters of water, and there’s more help on the way.
President Trump and I commend Governor Greg Abbott for his incredible leadership, and the efforts of all state and local officials in Texas and Louisiana. (Applause.)
The state emergency management, the Texas National Guard, and first responders have been amazing. And as the President said, their courage and devotion has saved countless lives, and it represents the best of America. (Applause.)
As all of you know, President Trump and the First Lady traveled to Texas just yesterday to oversee our rescue and recovery efforts, to stand with the people of Texas, and to assure them that our administration will continue to provide them all with the support that they need.
The President actually asked me and my wife to travel to Texas tomorrow with the same heartfelt message. To Texas and Louisiana we say: We are with you today, we are with you tomorrow, and we will be with you every single day to restore, recover, and rebuild. (Applause.)
Even in this challenging time, the people of Texas are proving yet again that the brightest lights oftentimes come the darkest moments. In the midst of this historic storm, the people of Texas have responded with their very best. This could well be Texas’s finest hour.
The road to recovery will be long and difficult. But as the President said, we will endure, we will overcome.
But we all need to do our part to help our fellow Americans get back on their feet.
When Congress reconvenes next week, the President will be calling on our nation’s lawmakers, including all of those gathered here, to take immediate action to pass additional funding for federal disaster assistance for families and businesses affected by this storm. (Applause.)
The President and I ask for your support and the support of the members of the House and Senate who are here as we move this legislation forward.
Second, we encourage each of you and all of your businesses to look for ways to support the efforts of organizations like Red Cross, Salvation Army, Samaritan’s Purse, and so other private organizations that, as we stand here, are providing food and water and blankets and other basic provisions now and in the weeks and months ahead.
The needs are great, but we know the generosity of the American people will be greater still. (Applause.)
And lastly, the President and I would ask all of you gathered here to take a moment in the days ahead to pray -- pray for the families who have suffered loss and the loss of a loved one; pray for the first responders, who at this very hour are working to save lives; pray for the federal, state, and local officials who are on the ground; and pray for countless volunteers, who we've all seen come alongside neighbors and even strangers in this hour of need.
With the leadership of our President, and the dedication of all the state and local officials, with the courage of our first responders, and with faith in Him who calms the storm, I say with confidence, the good and strong people of Texas and Louisiana will come through this terrible tragedy. And as the President said, the Gulf Coast and America itself will be “bigger, better, and stronger than ever before.” (Applause.)
So thank you.
It’ll be a long way back for those who’ve suffered much. It will require our ongoing commitment of public resources -- those that I described -- and the generosity of businesses and the American people. But beyond that, the President and I know that the best way to ensure the long-term recovery of America’s fourth-largest city, and the Gulf Coast region, and our entire country is robust economic growth, which is what brings me here tonight.
To spur that growth, earlier today in Missouri, President Trump proposed what he called an “American model” that will empower our country to in his words “succeed and grow together -- as one team, with one shared sense of purpose, and one glorious sense of destiny.”
It’s great to be back in the Mountain State, addressing the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce. This is an organization that knows a lot about growth and a lot about jobs and opportunities.
For more than 80 years, this vital organization has brought together companies large and small to in your words “make West Virginia a better place to do business” and “enhance the quality of life” for your fellow citizens. And you all have been doing just that.
Today, you represent more than 5,000 job creators in all 55 counties, accounting for more than half of West Virginia’s workforce. So why don't you give yourselves a round of applause for the difference that the businesses and men and women here make in the lives of West Virginians every day? (Applause.)
And I got to tell you from day one of this administration, our President has been focused right where all of you are focused every day -- on job creation and opportunities. And really, the results speak for themselves. President Trump has signed more laws to cut through federal red tape than any President in American history and has already saved businesses up to $18 billion a year in costs. (Applause.)
In fact, the President ordered every agency in Washington, D.C. to find two regulations to get rid of before issuing any new federal red tape on job creators across America. (Applause.)
To fuel a great revival of American industry, President Trump has been unleashing American energy, which is something West Virginia knows an awful lot about.
The President already approved the Keystone and Dakota pipelines, he’s rolled back the so-called Clean Power Plan, and under President Donald Trump, the war on coal is over! (Applause.)
The great news is weekly coal production in the Mountain State has jumped 19 percent over last year alone. And as the people of West Virginia heard the President say earlier this month, in his words, “We are building our future with American labor and hands and aluminum and steel.” And what else? Coal. (Applause.)
President Trump’s leadership is already making a remarkable difference. Optimism is sweeping all across this country. Businesses large and small as I stand here today have created more than 1 million new jobs since January 1 of this year. (Applause.)
Unemployment hasn’t been this low in 16 year, and more Americans are going to work than ever before in our nation’s history. For the last eight years, the American economy averaged growth of only 1.8 percent. But in case you didn't hear about it, just this morning, the Department of Commerce announced that growth in the second quarter reached 3 percent for the first time in years. (Applause.)
Men and women, I’m here to tell you President Trump is keeping his promise to make America prosperous again, and under this President’s leadership, America is back. (Applause.)
Now, if we can keep up the momentum, the results are truly going to be remarkable. Think about it, with just a 3 percent growth rate, we’ll create more than 12 million new jobs, nearly $10 trillion in economic activity. And over the next decade, the average income for American families will rise by nearly $7,000 a year.
And the President sent me here tonight, to make the case to the people of West Virginia on how we can achieve and sustain that kind of economic growth.
The President’s strong conviction is -- and I know it’s shared by many people in this room -- the time has come to cut taxes across the board for working families, small businesses, and family farms. (Applause.)
Today, President Trump proposed what will, in fact, be the single biggest tax cut in American history. Speaking in Springfield, Missouri, President Trump called on the Congress in his words to “fundamentally reform our tax code for the first time in more than 30 years” by passing a historic tax cut that again, as he said, is “pro-growth, pro-jobs, pro-worker, and pro-American.” (Applause.)
The truth is that cutting taxes is the single-most important thing we can do to create jobs, raise wages, and restore prosperity for the American people. And as the President said today, we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to do just that.
It’s a time-honored truth: When you cut taxes, you launch a new era of soaring incomes, more jobs, and a thriving middle class. John F. Kennedy proved it. Ronald Reagan proved it. And President Donald Trump will prove it once again. (Applause.)
The unbroken truth of economic history is that tax cuts spark growth, and the bigger the cut, the bigger the growth.
Right now, our Internal Revenue Code unfortunately is stuck in the past. Under our taxation system we have taxes that burden American families and actually hinder economic growth.
You know, there’s an old joke that the tax code is 10 times the length of the Bible with none of the good news. (Laughter.) And it’s true. It’s really no laughing matter.
The truth is the tax code is too complex. Our taxes are too high. And our tax system has been hurting the American people for too long. Today, taxpayers spend over 6 billion hours every year dealing writing their taxes. About 94 percent of Americans, and more than 90 percent of small businesses have to pay somebody to prepare their taxes for them because it’s frankly impossible to do it on your own. Folks, you shouldn’t have to hire a lawyer or accountant to figure out how much tax you owe the government. (Applause.)
All told, complying with the tax code costs our economy $262 billion every single year and nearly $1,000 for every man, woman, and child in America. Our tax code is literally robbing the wealth of our families and future generations.
And while the tax code has been growing in size, tax rates have been rising, too -- especially on job creators, the heart of this economy. As you well know, American businesses now face a staggering tax rate of 39 percent, the third-highest in the industrialized world -- and roughly 60 percent higher, on average, than our biggest competitors around the planet. As the President said today, when it comes to our tax code, “America remains stuck in the past.”
China, Japan, Germany, Canada, Mexico -- every major developed country has a lower business tax rate than the United States of America. Well, that just shouldn’t be.
We're one of the few countries in the world that actually taxes every dollar our companies earn overseas, putting our businesses at a tremendous disadvantage.
President Calvin Coolidge actually wisely observed, “the power to tax is the power to destroy,” And today, our system of taxation is literally destroying the dreams of too many Americans.
Our tax code makes it harder for companies to hire, to give raises, to invest in their employees’ success.
Our tax code actually kills jobs and stifles the entrepreneurship and the very work ethic that will move our country forward. Our tax code causes American companies to close factories and build them elsewhere around the world.
And our tax code has given foreign companies an enormous competitive edge over U.S. job creators. And dozens of businesses, including many iconic names, have literally fled the United States in favor of other countries where the burden of taxation isn’t so heavy.
In short, America’s tax code destroys our wealth, it destroys our jobs, and it destroys the enterprising spirit of the American people. And that is ultimately the true source of our prosperity.
Bottom line: It’s time for a change. And under the President Donald Trump’s leadership, we’re going to bring that change. (Applause.) We're going to put more money in the American people’s pockets. We're going to put our job creators back on the road to success when President Donald Trump signs historic tax relief that will once again put America First.
Our tax-cut plan will bring back our jobs, bring back our wealth, and bring back our dreams. It’s based on four principles that every American should be able to get behind.
First, as the President announced today, we need a tax code “that’s simple, fair, and easy to understand.”
Second, we need a tax code that makes America competitive again and creates more jobs and gives working families the raise they deserve.
Third, we need to cut taxes across the board for middle-class families.
And finally, we need to cut taxes so businesses can bring back the trillions of dollars that are trapped overseas to avoid unfair taxes and bring them here to create jobs in America. (Applause.)
That’s our President’s vision, and here’s how we’re going to bring this vision to life. The American people always know how to spend their money better than some bureaucrat in Washington, D.C., so we’re going to start out by cutting marginal rates to keep working families -- give them the opportunity to keep more of their hard-earned dollars.
We’re going to simplify the tax code so that working Americans can file their taxes by themselves on a single sheet of paper. (Applause.)
We're going to cut out the hand-outs, the carve-outs, the loopholes that benefit the wealthy and the well-connected, and make the tax code flatter and fairer for everyone.
And when it comes to businesses, President Trump is going to be fighting to cut the corporate tax rate in America so American companies can compete against anyone, anytime, anywhere in the world. (Applause.)
And we’ll also make sure that small businesses get the same benefits and tax relief that major corporations experience. (Applause.)
And we’re going to cut taxes so that the more than $2.6 trillion locked overseas can come home -- to spur an avalanche of investment that will benefit every American for years to come.
In short, President Trump will empower American companies and workers to compete on a level playing field with anyone, anywhere in the world. And as we know, when the field is level, American workers always win. (Applause.)
My friends, we all know what tax cuts will mean for American workers. Tax cuts mean more jobs. Tax cuts mean a raise in income for American workers. Tax cuts will mean an economy where anything is possible, and where anyone can achieve the American Dream.
My friends, President Trump’s tax-cut plan will usher in an unprecedented era of growth and prosperity for all of the American people. It’s a big task, and it’ll take all of us to get the job done. And we’re counting on West Virginia’s support.
We need all of the businesses represented here to speak out, to talk to your employees, tell your lawmakers how much you need these tax cuts. Your voice is vitally important, and you need to be more outspoken than ever before.
It’s time to do what’s right, to put the American people first. And today, President Trump in addition to calling on all of you, made a point in his words to call “on all members of Congress -- Democrat, Republican, or independent -- to “put the partisan posturing behind us, and come together as Americans to create the 21st century tax code that our people deserve.” (Applause.)
President Trump and I need the support of West Virginia’s leaders in the Congress. So to both your senators and all of your congressmen, I say America needs this. West Virginia needs this.
And let me say to Shelley and especially to Joe, the President and the people of the Mountain State are counting on you to deliver tax relief. (Applause.)
Let’s decide tonight that we’re going to get tax cuts done for West Virginia and for every American, and we’re going to get it done together.
And with the help of all these West Virginia businesses, and the support of all your members of Congress gathered here, and with the leadership of President Donald Trump, I know we will pass historic tax cuts this year, and we will deliver real economic growth that will be lasting for the American people. (Applause.)
The truth is that tax cuts are the linchpin to making the strongest economy in the world even stronger still. But as I close, let me also say that a growing economy is absolutely essential at such a time as this. Tonight, wherever you call home, the hearts of every American are in Texas. I know that. Soon, the rains will subside, the floods will recede, the sun will once again break through the clouds above.
And when that day comes, the people of Texas and Louisiana, who’ve suffered so much, will do as Americans have always done -- they’ll rebuild their lives, their homes, their communities, and their great cities.
The American people will be with them in this task, working shoulder-to-shoulder, hand-in-hand. But the surest path to the greatest recovery and the strongest renewal for Texas, for Louisiana, for all of America is a growing economy.
That’s why President Trump is going to keep fighting every day to unleash a new era of growth and jobs and opportunity and prosperity, so we can meet our obligations and our aspirations; and so that when we, as a nation, look back at this storm and at these turbulent times, we will remember not what was swept away, but we will remember what we built in its wake together. (Applause.)
We have much work to do -- to rebuild those towns and cities of Texas and Louisiana, to renew our communities all across this country, to restore our belief that America’s best days are within our grasp.
And as we work, and as we labor, I believe we would do well to remember that timeless wisdom, wisdom to which Americans have repaired all throughout our history. As we rebuild in the wake of this great storm, as we bring our nation together in these too-divided times, let us remember that, “Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain.” (Applause.)
So let’s work. And let’s pray and let’s have faith. Thank you for the opportunity to address you tonight. As I close my remarks, I do so with confidence and with faith that with your help and support, with the strength and resilience of the people all across this country, and with the leadership of President Donald Trump, and with God’s help, we will make America prosperous again. We will make America proud again. And to borrow a phrase, we will Make America Great Again. (Applause.)
Thank you very much. God bless West Virginia and God bless the United States of America.
7:20 P.M. EDT