WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. — Vice President Mike Pence pushed for tax reform and praised economic development Wednesday night during an address at the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce’s annual Meeting and Business Summit.
Pence, who spoke in West Virginia for the second time this year, said the Trump administration has been focused on job creation and boosting economic activity through various acts, such as limiting regulations by requiring federal agencies to cut two regulations for every one order they propose.
“Optimism is sweeping all across this country,” Pence said at The Greenbrier. “Businesses, large and small — as I stand here today — have created more than one million new jobs since Jan. 1 this year. Unemployment hasn’t been this low in 16 years, and more Americans are going to work than ever before in our nation’s history.”
— Vice President Pence (@VP) August 30, 2017
Pence was the first sitting-vice president to address the summit in the chamber’s history.
The vice president’s address came after Trump pushed for tax overhaul in Springfield, Missouri, and the U.S. Department of Commerce released its analysis that real gross domestic product grew by three percent in the April to June quarter.
“With just a three-percent growth rate, we’ll create a 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,” Pence said.
Trump also called on Congress to address tax reform when lawmakers return to Washington, D.C., on Sept. 5. The president pushed for a tax code he described as “simple, fair and easy to understand,” as well as a relief to middle-class families. He also requested lower tax rates and bringing money companies are keeping overseas into the United States.
“I don’t want to be disappointed by Congress, do you understand me?” Trump asked. “Do you understand? I think Congress is going to make a comeback. I hope so. I’ll tell you what, the United States is counting on it.”
Pence echoed a similar message during his speech.
“While the tax code has been growing in size, tax rates have been rising, too, especially on job creators, the heart of this economy,” he said. “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 than our biggest competitors around the planet.
“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.”
According to the U.S. Congressional Budget Office, the United States has the fourth-highest effective corporate tax rate at 18.6 percent. The rate Pence mentioned was the rate listed in the law.
Pence called on lawmakers — specifically mentioning U.S. Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va. — about passing
“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,” Pence said to applause.
The vice president also talked about coal production. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, coal exports during the first five months of the year increased by 60 percent. In an agency’s June 29 report, West Virginia’s coal total coal production rose by 23 percent from the first quarter of 2016 to the first quarter of 2014.
“To fuel a great revival in American industry, President Trump’s been unleashing American energy, which is something West Virginia knows an awful lot about,” he said. “The president has already approved the Keystone and Dakota pipelines, he’s rolled back the Clean Power Plan and under President Donald Trump, the war on coal is over.”
The U.S. Department of Energy released a report last week saying the increased use of natural gas is the primary reason why coal power plants have been decommissioned.
Gov. Jim Justice, state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and U.S. Reps. David McKinley, R-W.Va., and Rep. Evan Jenkins, R-W.Va., also spoke during the summit’s first day. The gathering continues through Friday.