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Remarks by Vice President Pence at the National Association of Manufacturers Board of Directors Meeting

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Location: Scottsdale, AZ

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you, David. Thank you for that kind introduction. Thank you all for the warm welcome. It is good to be with you.

To Governor Ducey, to Jay Timmons, to business leaders, distinguished guests: It is my honor and privilege to be back with one of the most remarkable organizations in America that's been leading innovation, creating opportunity, and pursuing progress since 1895: the National Association of Manufacturers. Thank you for having me at this 2019 Board Meeting. (Applause.)

And as I get started, I know you've had a busy couple of days, and I wanted, nevertheless, to begin by bringing greetings from a friend of mine -- a businessman who now is in a different line of work but I know has made a great connection to all of you in this room and to business leaders around the country. I want to bring you greetings from a man whose leadership has helped bring American manufacturing back. I bring greetings from the 45th President of the United States, President Donald Trump. (Applause.)

And I want to also ask you to join me in thanking a great leader in our administration. He's been a champion for manufacturers and hardworking entrepreneurs all across America. I know you've already heard from her at this 2019 Board Meeting, but join me in thanking Linda McMahon, the Administrator of the Small Business Administration, for her great work for American jobs and opportunities. Thank you, Linda. (Applause.)

We got a lot to talk about today. But before I begin, allow me to address the tragedy that was caused by more than 30 tornadoes that ripped through Alabama, Georgia, and Florida this past Sunday. I know the families of that region are on the hearts of everyone here, as they are on the hearts of every American. We mourn the 23 lives that were lost in Alabama, and our prayers are with the more than 30 people who are still missing, and the families of all of those affected by these terrible storms.

At the direction of President Trump, FEMA has already deployed teams to Alabama and Georgia. And I can assure you they will continue to assist state and local search-and-rescue operations until we find and recover all who are missing.

Our administration is in constant contact with state and local officials. The President and I have both spoken to Alabama Governor Kay Ivey. The governor has now requested a major disaster declaration, and the President will soon sign it into effect.

But to all of those who have been impacted by these tornadoes, let say to each and every one of you, not just on behalf of our administration but on behalf of all of the American people: We are with you. We stand with you. And we will stay with you until you recover bigger and better than ever before. That's our solemn promise. So thank you for that.

But today, I'm here simply to say thanks to the great leaders in this room. Thanks to the leaders in the National Association of Manufacturers.

It's amazing to think, for more than 120 years, this association has served faithfully as a champion of America's manufacturers in the halls of Washington, D.C. and in state capitols around the country. You have promoted pro-growth, pro-jobs policies that have benefitted American workers and American jobs for generations. And thanks to NAM and your leadership, American manufacturing is back in 2019. (Applause.) It's true.

The men and women in this room are not only a testament to the difference that you can make in the public square when you advance free-market principles but you also -- you also really personify the American Dream. You represent the success of American manufacturing.

And the stories in this room are too numerous to recount from one podium. But let me mention a few, of people like Charles Sukup, the President of Sukup Manufacturing in Sheffield, Iowa. His father, Eugene, founded the company more than a half a century ago with little more than an idea to dry corn a little bit faster. I had the privilege to meet Charles and his family just two years ago. And to you, Charles, and to your family, we want to express our condolences on your father's passing last summer.

Today, Charles and his company help feed people around the world as the world's largest family-owned manufacturer of grain bins, dryers, and other farm equipment. In fact, Sukup Manufacturing hired over 200 new workers in 2018 alone. And I think that leadership and that legacy of job creation is worth a round of applause. Thank you, Charles, and thank you to Sukup. (Applause.)

We also have with us John Williams, the Chairman and CEO of Jamison Door Company in Hagerstown, Maryland. Jamison Door Company was founded more than a century ago by three men with, I'm told, a little bit of money and a lot of determination. Since then, this family-owned business has produced more than a million doors for homes and businesses all across America. They've grown to more than 120 employees and recently broke ground on a new 50,000-square-foot manufacturing plant.

Last year, thanks to the tax relief we'll talk more about in a moment, John Williams and Jamison Door actually was able to offer a raise to every single one of their employees even after they had given two separate bonuses worthy of a week's salary. That's what we call sharing the wealth and growing the American way. (Applause.) Thank you so much to Jamison and to the whole team. It's great.

John stood with us in the Rose Garden at the White House last April when the President highlighted the incredible boost those tax cuts have given to manufacturers across the country.

And the truth is, for the past two years, business leaders, like Charles and John, and all of you in this room, have been lending your support to advance the agenda the President and I were elected to bring to Washington, D.C. because you knew it would make a difference not just in our companies but in your communities, in your state, in your nation.

From tax relief to new trade deals to deregulation, I wanted to come here to say "thank you." Thank you for standing with us as we have fought for American jobs and American workers. Because of you, we have unleashed prosperity for the American people and revitalized our nation's great manufacturers. We truly have.

And just as we're grateful to each of you -- (applause) --and just as we're grateful to each and every one of you for your support, let me assure you that America's manufacturers have no greater champion than President Donald Trump. (Applause.)

This is a President whose family lived the American Dream. Came up in a small business of his own -- a small family business. Watched his father build an enterprise. He had a bigger dream. He wanted to go across the river and build the big builds on Manhattan Island and eventually build a national and an international name and reputation in construction and hotels and hospitality.

But this is a President that understands that a nation grows if a nation builds. He understands that manufacturing is vital to our nation. You, in the room here, build our roads and bridges. You make the cars and trucks that make America run. You forge the planes that travel our skies. You discover and develop life-saving medicines. You deliver affordable energy that powers our homes and businesses. You produce the food that feeds the nation and the world. And when it's all said and done, you make our families stronger, our lives more prosperous, and American manufacturing makes America succeed. (Applause.)

You also create good-paying jobs that are really the foundation of the American Dream for millions of our fellow citizens. You know, I come from the state of Indiana where, back when I was governor, I used to say, "In the Hoosier State, we do two things well: We make things and we grow things." And I know the strength that manufacturing is in my home state and is in states all across this country.

You, actually, at this very moment -- manufacturers -- employ more than 12 million Americans in all 50 states. And as President Trump wrote -- President Trump said when he spoke, rather, to you in our first year in office: The drive and dedication of your workers "makes this country run," and their "creations power our communities and protect our nation."

The truth is, American manufacturing and American manufacturing workers are the backbone of America. It's the truth. (Applause.) And all told, manufacturers contribute more than $2 trillion to our economy, and the overwhelming majority are small businesses.

And this President understands the critical role that manufacturers play in the life of our nation. And since day one, as you've observed and partnered with us, we've been fighting to make it easier for you to make the products that make America and easier for the men and women who work on your shop floors to succeed.

Since the 2016 election, I'm proud to report to you that, with your strong support for the policies that we've advanced, businesses large and small across this nation have created 5.3 million new jobs. And that includes good-paying manufacturing jobs all across America. (Applause.)

You know, it's amazing to think, under the last administration, more than 2,000 manufacturing jobs were lost every single month on average; 210,000 jobs lost to manufacturing over the eight years of the past administration.

In fact, the truth is, the last administration all but gave up on manufacturing in America. I'll never forget, at a town hall meeting in 2016 -- right after my running mate had promised that we would bring back manufacturing jobs -- then President Obama memorably asked, quote, "What magic wand do you have?" Remember that? He couldn't believe it. He said, quote, "What exactly are you going to do?" Adding, quote, "There's no answer to it." The words of the last President of the United States.

But you in this room knew we did have an answer: less government, less taxes, less regulation, and President Donald Trump. And we thank you for your leadership and support. (Applause.)

The truth is, in our first year in office, we more than made up for the loss of manufacturing jobs under the last administration. And today, thanks to your hard work and this President's leadership, there have been 480,000 new manufacturing jobs created since Election Day. No magic wand; just commonsense American ideals put into practice. And manufacturing is roaring back. (Applause.)

In fact, I'm told 2018 was the best year for manufacturing job creation in more than 20 years. Last year also marked the highest level of optimism among manufacturers ever recorded. Just a few months ago, NAM announced that more than 92 percent of American manufacturers have a positive outlook on the future. And I can just tell looking at all of your faces that that statistic is holding even through today.

But, you know, it's not just manufacturing. Under our administration, unemployment has hit a nearly 50-year low. We've seen the lowest unemployment rates on record for African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Asian Americans.

And just last week, after the previous administration and countless experts said it couldn't be done, our administration announced that, for the first time in 13 years, we achieved over 3 percent economic growth for an entire calendar year. The American economy is roaring again. (Applause.)

Now, this is a testament to all of you who are gathered here -- to job creates in businesses large and small all across the country. And it's a testament to all the hardworking Americans that you employ.

The truth is, the reforms that we've brought about have meant more money to invest in your business. A growing economy also means more money for your workers and for their families. And one of the most encouraging statistics to the President and me is that after years -- years where we saw wages, you know, stubbornly stuck at a modest level of growth, today are rising at the fastest pace in more than 10 years, and they're growing fastest for blue-collar workers, the backbone of the American economy. The forgotten men and women of America are forgotten no more. And working Americans are prospering as they haven't done so for more than a decade. (Applause.)

And, you know, I don't have to tell you in this room -- this hasn't just happened. It's a direct result of the leadership and policies that President Trump and our administration have been advancing and that you've been fighting for -- literally fighting for since day one of this administration and throughout the long tenure of this great association.

But just look at what we've done in the area of regulation alone. The National Association of Manufacturers actually studied this issue, and I'm told that you found that federal red tape costs manufacturing businesses an astounding $19,500 per employee, per year. And for those of you running small manufacturing firms with fewer than 50 employees, the burden of federal regulation almost doubles to nearly $35,000 per employee, per year. It's amazing.

That's why President Trump promised on the campaign trail, and every day since, to roll back the heavy hand of government. And we set a goal at the start of this administration to cut two regulations for every new federal regulation that we put on the books. But we didn't quite hit that mark, because the truth is we blew right past it.

In the last year alone, I'm pleased to report to you that thanks to the President's leadership, our administration has cut 12 federal regulations for every new federal rule put on the books. We're cutting federal red tape as never before. (Applause.)

In fact, this President has signed more bills cutting federal red tape than any President in American history. And since our election, we've actually delivered more than $33 billion in regulatory savings for working families and business owners.

And under President Trump's leadership, we've also been busy unleashing American energy, the lifeblood of our economy, manufacturing, and the entire nation.

We withdrew from the job-killing Paris Climate Accord. He approved, early on, the Keystone and Dakota Pipelines. He opened up Alaska National Wildlife Region, one of the largest oil and gas fields in the world. And thanks to these collective actions and the ingenuity of our energy producers, the United States is now the world's largest producer of oil and natural gas. (Applause.)

And of course, with the strong support of NAM, before the end of our first year in office, President Trump signed the largest tax cuts and tax reform in American history. We cut taxes across the board for working families, family farms, and businesses large and small, and manufacturers just like those gathered here.

We slashed the corporate tax rate from the highest in the developed world to below the average. We eliminated the death tax for nearly every American small business owner. And we gave businesses like yours the ability to deduct 100 percent of the cost of your new equipment for the next five years.

For decades, jobs and investment poured overseas, but in the past two years, company after company have been making record investments right here in America. Because under this President and this administration, we will always promote and protect what the President calls those four beautiful words: Made in the USA. (Applause.)

But with all we've accomplished in these first few years, as this President likes to say, that's just what we call a good start. If you haven't noticed, the American people actually elected a builder to be the 45th President of the United States. And I'm here to tell you that this President and our administration are absolutely committed to rebuilding the infrastructure of America. It is time for a major bill from the Congress to rebuild the roads and bridges and ports and highways of America. (Applause.)

As the President said in that State of the Union Address, "Both parties should be able to unite for a great rebuilding of America's crumbling infrastructure." And so they should.

We're committed to working with the Congress to make historic investments in our infrastructure so that businesses can get your goods to market quicker and more efficiently than ever. You know, I've always said that roads mean jobs. And I don't just mean road jobs. I mean, the truth is, those of you in manufacturing understand that the right infrastructure makes it possible for you to deliver your goods not only across your state, across the nation, but across the world. And we're going to make sure -- we're going to make sure that you have the infrastructure to support a growing economy.

And to make sure that you can hire the workers you need to keep growing your business and investing in workers, this President is also making it easier than ever for the American people to get the training they need for the manufacturing jobs of the future.

Recent studies show nearly 3.5 million manufacturing jobs are going to be created by businesses like yours in the next decade. But some 2.4 million of those jobs could go unfilled. Seventy percent of manufacturers are already seriously concerned about finding workers. And I hear it all the time, as I travel around the country, about the need for workers and the need for job training and workforce development.

The skilled trades in particular, I'm told, are increasingly hard to come by. Electricians, welders, and machinists are in high demand, and too few Americans pursue these valuable paths.

You know, the President Trump and I believe that all honest work is honorable. And that's why, in our first year, the President signed an executive order to expand apprenticeships and vocational education to help all Americans adapt to the constantly changing needs of the 21st-century America. We will make sure that we have the best-trained workforce in the world. And we'll work with each and every one of you to accomplish that. (Applause.)

But it's not just here at home where we've been fighting for Americans manufacturers. This President has also been busy forging new trade deals that put American jobs and American workers first. From Europe to the Indo-Pacific, we're negotiating deals that are built on the principles of free, fair, free, and reciprocal trade.

And let me take this moment to thank all the leaders of this great organization for your strong support of our administration last year when the President negotiated and signed a replacement for the outdated NAFTA deal. The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement has arrived. (Applause.)

The USMCA, as it's known more briefly, is going to impact, we believe, more than 2 million American manufacturing jobs that depend on exports [to] Canada and Mexico. And the USMCA will finally give workers the level playing field that we need to compete and win on a global stage.

But now -- now that the agreement has been signed and it's going to be considered in the Congress, let me take this opportunity to encourage your renewed energy and support. Governor Ducey and I were just speaking about this a few moments ago, about the importance of us hearing from business leaders and from state officials him, about the importance of swift congressional approval of the USMCA.

The truth is, we'd done our jobs. We've negotiated a deal that puts American jobs and American workers first. And it's time for Congress to do theirs. So we urge you to send a strong message to members of Congress in all 50 states that it's time to approve the USMCA, and we must see it approved by Congress this year. (Applause.)

While we've been forging new trade deals, we've also been standing up to unfair trade practices where we've encountered them around the world, and that most especially applies to the relationship and the challenges that we face in our economic trading relationship with China.

For too long, China has pursued policies that are inconsistent with free and fair trade. And we all know it. As President Trump has said, for years the United States faced, in his word, "tremendous tariffs" in trading relations with China. In fact, in 2017 alone, Beijing's trade abuses contributed to a $375 billion trade deficit between the United States and China. But as President Trump made clear, those days are over.

You know, I'll never forget one of the early meetings, in the first year of our administration, with Chinese officials that came to the Oval Office in the White House. The business leaders in the room would have loved to have been there.

You know, this President has a way of negotiating the way you all do over business deals every single day. There's a friendliness about it. There's a cordialness about it. And then there's a directness about it.

And I'll never forget when we sat in the Oval Office with the Chinese -- one of the Chinese officials that has come over. The President told him, you know, things have to change; that three-, four hundred billion-dollar trade deficits was no longer acceptable. Business as usual had to change. But he started it out by saying, "Look…" -- he looked at them and said, "Look, you all have done your thing." And he said, "That's the past. This is now the future." He said, "I'm not looking backwards; I'm looking forwards."

But he did look at this Chinese official -- I got to tell you -- and he said -- he look at him, and he referred to a trade barrier, Governor, that had been erected sometime in the early part of the last decade. And the President looked at him across the Oval Office and he said -- he said, "Well, you all put that trade barrier up." And he said, "Yeah, we did." And he said -- and he said, "Do you mind if I ask you, how did you get away with that?" And the Chinese official looked at him rather shyly and said, "Nobody ever called." And the President just said, "Well, there you have it."

Well, I'm here to tell you, men and women of the National Association of Manufacturing [sic], those days are over. This President is picking up the phone. He is traveling the world. He is fighting for trade deals that are free, and fair, and reciprocal. And we're going to have trade that wins for America and wins for American manufacturers. (Applause.)

Now, two weeks ago, I'm pleased to report, a delegation of Chinese officials came to Washington, D.C. to continue our ongoing negotiations. And as the President reported there, that we made substantial progress, most especially on structural issues -- things like intellectual property and forced technology transfers. All the kinds of things that have beset American manufacturers seeking to do business in that part of the world.

The President said, and we all recognize, that, for the first time, America has put ourselves in a position of strength, having imposed tariffs of some $250 billion. And I can assure you that negotiations are going to continue. The President has actually announced that he's making plans to meet with President Xi in the near future to resolve outstanding issues.

And, in fact, we're so encouraged that, because these discussions have been so productive, the President decided to delay an increase in American tariffs that had been scheduled for just a few days ago.

But I want to promise each and every one of in this room: President Trump and our administration will continue to stand strong until we establish trade between the United States and China that is free and fair and reciprocal. (Applause.)

Finally, as we gather here in Arizona -- and I know you're here from all over the country -- the people here of Arizona appreciate more than most we have a crisis on our southern border. And this President has stepped forward to provide leadership to address that crisis.

And the truth is, despite what you may hear from some of those that opposed the President's border security on Capitol Hill, this is a crisis the likes of which we've never seen before. I mean, for the first time ever, the majority of illegal immigrants coming into our country are unaccompanied minors and families, people who are being exploited by drug cartels and human traffickers to make the long and dangerous journey north through our southern border.

And just today, the Department of Homeland Security announced that during this fiscal year to date, Customs and Border Protection has seen a more than 300 percent increase in the number of family units apprehended compared to the year ago.

And we saw an incredible rise in the number of large groups who are attempting to cross the border. Two years ago -- and the Governor knows these numbers well -- two years ago, Border Patrol only encountered two groups of 100 or more individuals. But today, Secretary Nielsen announced that more than 70 large groups have been apprehended, a total of more than 12,000 people.

Now, Democrats in Washington say this is a manufactured crisis. But the only thing manufactured is their outrage.

Every day we don't secure our border, we allow the crisis to worsen, more lives to be endangered on both sides of the border, and more drugs to flow into our country, and more harm to come to American jobs and American workers.

And that's why President Trump has taken such a strong stand for border security. We've already started to build the wall. We've secured some $23 billion for border security funding. And the President used his authority under the law to declare a national emergency on our southern border.

Now, some in Congress are trying to stop the President from exercising the authority that Congress gave him to address this very real crisis.

So, today, allow me to call on each and every one of you to join us in calling on members of the Senate to support the President's emergency declaration, stand up for border security, and put the safety and security and wellbeing of America first. (Applause.)

Now, before I close, know this: In the days, and weeks, and months ahead, we're going to continue working to ensure that our nation's manufacturers grow and thrive, because we know that when you succeed, America succeeds. The stakes could not be higher, and the choice we face could not be clearer.

As I said this weekend at another gathering, it is remarkable to think that as we gather here today, leading Democrats are openly advocating an economic system that has impoverished millions around the world.

Under the guise of what's called Medicare for All or the Green New Deal, Democrats in Washington, D.C. and in the national debate are embracing the same tired economic theories that impoverished nations and has stifled the liberties of millions over the past century. That system is socialism.

What they're actually offering is just more of the same: more taxes, more spending, more government, and less freedom.

I've said before; I'll say it again: It was freedom, not socialism, that gave us the most prosperous economy in the history of the world.

It was freedom, not socialism, that ended slavery, won two world wars, and stands today as a beacon of hope for all the world.

It was freedom, not socialism, that is moving us beyond the prejudices of the past to create a more perfect union and extend the blessings of liberty to every American.

It was freedom, not socialism, that gave us the highest quality of life, the cleanest environment on Earth, and improved the health and wellbeing of millions around the world.

The truth is, what Medicare for All really means is quality healthcare for none. And the only thing green about the Green New Deal is how much green it's going to cost all of us if they ever actually pass it into law.

The truth is, Margaret Thatcher has it right: "The trouble with Socialism is [you] eventually…run out of other people's money."

The truth is, we want to make poor people richer, and they want to make rich people poorer. We want to make poverty more rare, and they want to make poverty more comfortable. I mean, that really is the choice that we face today. For all the progress that we have made over the last two years, as we look at the days ahead and I look at this gathering of extraordinary business leaders and job creators from all across the country, I hope you'll see that choice before us, as well. It is a debate between freedom and socialism; a debate between personal responsibility and government dependence.

The President said it well in his State of the Union Address. In his words, "America was founded on liberty and independence, and not [on] government coercion, domination, and control."

And so, I say, the moment America becomes a socialist country is the moment America ceases to be America.

So I say to all the leaders gathered here today, for the sake of our economy and our jobs, for the sake of all the hardworking people that are living the American Dream, working in great companies like yours, or aspiring to work with you and work in your enterprises freedom; for all of those that have a dream and want to live it out; and for the sake of our freedom: Let's say no to socialism. Let's say yes to freedom and prosperity and the pro-growth agenda that we know will make America strong. (Applause.)

And I promise you -- I promise you the President and I are going to keep fighting -- keep fighting for all the things that you've supported over the last two years that have revived American manufacturing and are reviving this economy.

But the truth is, it's going to take all of us in the days ahead. So I want to encourage each one of you to do your part. Keep promoting pro-growth policies, pro-jobs policies in Washington, D.C. and all around the country. And promote the policies that you know are going to not only make your company stronger but make our states and our nation stronger.

By that I mean talk to your employees. Talk to your workers. Go meet with people in the cafeteria. Talk about the larger issues of the day. Talk about how we've been able to roll back taxes and regulation; how we've been able to fight for free and fair and reciprocal trade in ways that are contributing to their livelihood and the opportunities that they and their family have.

Tell them how we've been rolling back the heavy hand of government so that your company can innovate, give them job security, and create more opportunities for more people in the community in the years ahead.

I mean, tell them how we're putting Washington, D.C. back to work for them. And tell them that we're going to keep fighting for each and every one of them.

Talk to your suppliers as well. Talk to your business associates. Send out an email. I mean, the truth of the matter is, those of us who serve in public office -- whether it be the President, whether it be the Governor, whether it be Linda McMahon, or this Vice President -- we can only do so much. You're the leaders in your communities and your state and all across this nation. And we want to encourage you today to let your voice be heard.

On all these major issues, just know that sending an editorial to your local paper, sitting down for a local interview, talking to your employees, or speaking at a local Rotary Club makes the difference all across this country. And we encourage you to let your voice be heard.

And I truly do believe that with your continued support, with President Donald Trump in the White House, with support all across this country for policies that are making American manufacturing and American economy strong, and with God's help, we will make this country more prosperous than we could ever possibly imagine. We will make this country safer than it's ever been before. And to borrow a phrase, we will make America great again.

Thank you all very much. God bless you. (Applause.) And God bless the United States of America. It's an honor to be with you.


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