Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Jacksonville, Florida - Vice President Pence at America First Policies Event USMCA: A Better Deal for American Workers:
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, hello, Florida! (Applause.) It is great to be back in the Sunshine State with the men and women who supported a President and have supported policies that are putting America first. Thank you for coming out today. (Applause.)
And let me just begin by thanking a couple of the people that you’ve heard from today already. I have to tell you, he was an incredible governor for the state of Florida. But in a very short period of time he has emerged as one of the most influential conservative voices in the United States Senate. He’s a champion for a growing American economy. (Applause.) He’s a champion for Florida. He is a champion for freedom in this hemisphere and around the world. Would you join me in thanking Senator Rick Scott one more time for his outstanding leadership? (Applause.) Thank you, Rick. Thank you so much.
And to these great members of Congress who are here today — Congressman Rutherford, Congressman Waltz, and Mayor Lenny Curry — what a great panel. What a great discussion. Great to have you here today. (Applause.) Mayor, congratulations on your election earlier this year. Thank you for your friendship. Thank you for your great, great leadership at the local level.
And one more person to thank: our host today. I got to know her back on the campaign trail. I served alongside her on the President’s Cabinet. But now she’s stepped forward to lead this organization, America First Policies. She is now serving as the national chairman. Join me in thanking Linda McMahon, who’s one of the great, great champion of this agenda. (Applause.) Thank you, Linda. What an incredible person.
And speaking of friends of mine and great leaders — I was talking to him on the phone earlier today. Told him I was headed to Florida and I think he sounded just a little bit jealous. (Laughter.) So allow me to bring greetings from a man who loves the state of Florida and who gets up every day and fights to keep the promises that he made to the people of the Sunshine State. I bring greetings from the 45th President of the United States of America, President Donald Trump. (Applause.)
You know, in our first year in office, President Trump promised the American people that we were going to, in his words, “hire and grow in America, to raise wages for American workers…rebuild America’s cities and towns,” because, he said, “when we grow American manufacturing, we don’t [just]…grow wages …[we] grow America’s spirit.”
And, you know, back when I was governor in the state of Indiana, I used to say, “We do two things well in this part of the country: We make things and we grow things.” And what was true in the Hoosier State is true right here in the Sunshine State. And I’m proud to say, under President Trump’s leadership, American manufacturing and American agriculture are growing again. (Applause.)
Particularly when it comes to manufacturing, I have to tell you, it’s amazing to think in just over two years’ time, after we rolled back federal regulations at a historic level, we unleashed American energy. And after this President signed the largest tax cuts and tax reform in American history, this American economy is soaring. (Applause.)
I mean, think about it. Since Election Day 2016, businesses large and small across this country, like those represented in this room today so well, have created 5.8 million new jobs, including 454,000 good-paying jobs right here in Florida. (Applause.) Isn’t that something?
The unemployment rate has hit a nearly 50-year low, and the unemployment rate for African Americans and Hispanic Americans is the lowest ever recorded in American history. (Applause.) The American Dream is working again for every American. (Applause.)
And as our economy is expanding, the great news is wages are rising. Wages are rising across this countr at the fastest pace that they have in more than 10 years. And I think what means the most to President Trump and I is that wages today are rising most rapidly among working families. Blue-collar workers all across this country are receiving the most rapid pay increases of any part of our economy. In a word, the forgotten men and women of America are forgotten no more. It’s working, America! (Applause.)
In fact — now, here is a real statistic for you: For the first time ever, and now for the 13th month in a row, we’re in the 13th straight month where there are more job openings in America than there are Americans looking for work. That’s not only the longest streak in history, but it had never happened before. (Applause.) It really is amazing.
And it’s particularly amazing to see how manufacturing has come roaring back under this President’s leadership. In the last administration, we all remember the story about American manufacturing. The last administration actually lost 200,000 manufacturing jobs all across this country and across this state.
And remember, the last President said we’d never get them back. I remember in the middle of 2016, the last President, remember he said — when he was asked about manufacturing jobs, he said — he said, “What magic wand do you have?” (Laughter.) Do you remember that?
Well, we didn’t need a “magic wand.” We just needed President Donald Trump in the White House. (Applause.) It’s true.
Because the truth is, with the policies that you all have supported, and building on the policies that we’re talking about here today, the truth is, after the last administration lost 200,000 manufacturing jobs, since Election Day 2016, get this: Businesses across this country have created 500,000 manufacturing jobs — (applause) — including more than 20,000 right here in Florida. (Applause.)
You know, I’m told 2018 was not only the best year for manufacturing job creation in more than 20 years; it actually marked the highest level of optimism among manufacturers ever recorded. In fact, the CEO that just left the stage a few minutes ago, he’s got manufacturing plants all over the country, and he just told me — he said, “All of our plants are humming.” He said it’s all happening.
So, manufacturing has come roaring back here in Florida and all across this country because of the policies that you all have supported.
But I’ll tell you, while our policies have made a big difference, the President and I, we come from a philosophy that knows that it’s the people of America, it’s the enterprises of America that are doing all the work. I mean, I’m proud to be part of an administration that’s been letting people keep more of what they earn, lower the business tax rate so that companies here in Florida can compete with companies anywhere around the world; rolled back more federal red tape in two years than any President in American history that unleashed American energy.
But the President and I all know that it’s the American people taking advantage of those low tax rates and that new economic freedom that’s really made the difference. Your work ethic, your determination, your integrity — that’s what’s been driving the growth and businesses across Florida and all across this country.
And I know in this room there’s all kinds of great American success stories, like a heating and air-conditioning business that I was told on my way here has actually seen its revenue grow 35 percent each year since our administration took office. (Applause.) How about that? And they told us that because of the tax cuts the President signed into law, this family-owned business has been able to use that money. It’s invested in its workers. It actually started an apprenticeship program that allows high-school graduates to earn a solid income while they learn a trade.
In fact, with this booming economy, this company has already invested $200,000 in career development for its employees, and they’re just getting started. So would you join me in thanking the CEO and owner of Bold City AC, Mirza Pilakovic? (Applause.) Where are you, Mirza? Great job! Great job. Great job.
I’m also told here’s another small business here that’s celebrating its 80th year in business. And while they’ve enjoyed eight consecutive years of revenue growth, I was actually told, walking in the door here, that after all the policies that you’ve supported by this administration, their revenue grew last year by 45 percent. (Applause.) And that new income has allowed the company to reinvest, use an accelerated tax depreciation that we included in that bill, reinvest in ways — new equipment. It’s going to create all-new jobs.
And in the last five months, they’ve done that more than in any previous year. Their company is growing by leaps and bounds. They’re creating jobs right here in this community. So join me in thanking the CEO of Drummond Press, John Falconetti. (Applause.) John, take a bow, will you? Great job, John. Thank you.
These are the people that are making America happen. And I’ll tell you what: This businessman-turned-President knows that. He knows it’s the men and women that are running businesses large and small that are really driving this American economy. And so we want to commend you. And I wanted to let you know we’re going to keep fighting for you.
The truth is, these two men are just emblematic of, really, everybody in this room — people who really understand what makes the American economy hum and grow. But for all that we’re doing out of Washington, D.C., we know that you’re the ones that are renewing this economy with your hard work.
But I came here to tell you that we’re proud of everybody. We’re proud of the progress that we’ve made in this economy. We’re grateful for your support. Because all that we’ve done so far has made a real difference in the lives of everyday Americans.
But I can tell you, that guy I serve with every day, all that we’ve accomplished — the 5.8 million new jobs, real momentum, America standing tall at home and abroad — that’s just what President Trump calls a good start. (Applause.) And so, Florida, we’re going to go right to work to build on that momentum and keep this American economy growing. (Applause.)
And to do that, President Trump and I both know that we’ve got to level the playing field for American workers, and workers here in Florida, to be able to compete with companies around the world. And it begins by forging trade deals that put American jobs and American workers first. That’s what America First is all about. (Applause.)
And we’ve been fighting for it every day. From Europe to the Pacific, this President has been fighting against unfair trade practices. We’ve been negotiating new trade deals that promote free, fair, and — what the President likes to say –reciprocal trade.
I mean, ours is an administration that believes in free trade. But we also believe that nations that we trade with ought to treat us like we treat them. Right? That’s what “reciprocal” is really all about.
And I’m really proud to report that the President took a strong stand not long ago, and we have great progress in the headlines today. Thanks to the President’s leadership, as he said earlier today, “our great farmers can begin doing business again in [with] Mexico and Canada.” (Applause.) The retaliatory tariffs are gone. It’s a big deal.
Now, you all remember the President took decisive action to protect American steel and aluminum not long ago. But the President reached an arrangement that I was a part of these discussions going forward, with the Prime Minister of Canada in particular, where we reached an agreement that puts American steel first. We’re defending American jobs. But also, we’ve negotiated for Mexico and Canada to lift their retaliatory tariffs on American pork, cheese, and orange juice. Under this new agreement, Florida’s farmers are going to win like never before. (Applause.)
So we’ve strengthened American steel and aluminum with — the very infrastructure and the backbone of the American economy. And we also managed to negotiate those tariffs that had been retaliated — used as retaliation against the United States.
But now the big task at hand is what really brings me here today. I came here to Florida today to tell you: For all that we’ve done so far, for all that we’ve done to keep this economy moving, the time has come for the Congress of the United States to pass the largest trade deal in American history. The time has come for Congress to pass the USMCA. (Applause.)
Make no mistake about it: The USMCA is a win for Florida and a win for America. The President has done his job; it’s time for the Congress to do their job and pass the USMCA this summer. (Applause.)
Truly what brought me here today. I’ve literally been traveling all over the country talking about the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement and the difference that it’s going to make not just in manufacturing and in agriculture, but in industries all across this economy.
Now, we all remember NAFTA. It was adopted back in the mid-1990s. And, you know, you don’t have to tell people from the Heartland of the country about the impact that NAFTA had on our communities. Up in the Hoosier State, we literally saw almost entire communities shuttered, as manufacturing factories closed after NAFTA and moved south of the border.
But, men and women of the Sunshine State, those days are over. (Applause.) The USMCA levels the playing field and puts American jobs and American workers first. (Applause.) I promise you.
The USMCA is actually going to impact more than 2 million manufacturing jobs that depend on exports to Canada and Mexico. We believe it’s absolutely essential that it get passed by the Congress because it will also finally allow American workers and farmers to compete in this hemisphere on a level playing field.
The USMCA actually is going to end programs in Canada that allow low-priced products to undercut American dairy.
The agreement is going to ensure that product grading is fair and transparent. It’ll also help Americans protect the innovative technologies that give us an edge in global marketplace.
Many of these things were never even addressed in NAFTA. You know, there was a rule under the old NAFTA agreement that if a particular manufactured product wasn’t mentioned in NAFTA, that it wasn’t covered by any of the existing tariffs.
So, truthfully, nations like China were able to manufacture products, ship them to Canada or ship them to Mexico, and send them into the United States, duty-free. But those days are over. We are not going to allow an outdated trade deal to hurt American manufacturers or American farmers anymore. (Applause.)
We’re not going to let them undermine good-paying jobs that build the American class — American middle class in this country or the middle class I grew up in, I’m a part of, and it’s rebuilding the American middle class today.
You know, and under the USMCA, as the President loves to say, the American worker is going to win like never before.
But, men and women of Florida, I’m here not just to tell you how important this is, but I’m here to ask for your help. The clock is ticking. It’s time. I mean, the truth of the matter is that there’s an old saying — I was in the Congress for 12 years — it’s an old saying that Congress does two things well: nothing and overreact. (Laughter.) The truth of the matter is, we can’t afford Congress to do nothing. We need Congress to approve the USMCA this summer to keep America growing. (Applause.) All right?
As I said, the President has done his job. We negotiated a deal that puts American jobs and workers first. Now it’s time — it’s time for Congress to do their job. But I got to tell you, you all are going to be the people that make the difference. And I want you to let your voice be heard.
I hope you’ll leave here today, and give another round of applause to these great congressmen, this great senator, this great panel, the mayor, and Linda. (Applause.)
I couldn’t be more grateful to America First Policies for putting this event together because it’s going to equip you to be able to go out and make the case for the USMCA, and we need you to do it. And not just among your neighbors and friends, but we need you to reach out. Reach out to elected officials all across this great state. Let them know just how important this is. Reach out to people in both political parties.
And I also know there’s businesses here — you know, Florida businesses do business all over this country and all over the world. So I just encourage you to spin that rolodex. And for you young people, ask somebody my age what a rolodex was. (Laughter.)
Send out an e-mail. Say, “You know, I was in Jacksonville the other day. I ran into Mike and a couple of these great congressmen, and they were telling me about this USMCA and you got to get behind it.” Just send word out all across the country. I mean, the truth is, we need to hear — we need to hear from all of you to get this done.
And the truth is, Washington, D.C. is always chasing after one story or another, aren’t they? I mean, I get up in the morning and I — sometimes I turn on the television with a stick. You know, I don’t even — (laughter) — did you get that one? Okay. (Laughter.) I mean, I never even know what’s going to be on there.
But you all know this economy is growing; it’s thriving. America is standing tall again. Confidence is back. Jobs are coming back. You know that America is back, but America needs the USMCA to keep growing, and we need you to go tell the story. Will you do it? (Applause.)
You know, I’ll always believe that, you know, when the American people set their mind to something and let their voice be heard, there’s nothing that we can’t accomplish and there’s nothing that Congress won’t step up and do.
So I just encourage you to let your voice be heard and let people know just how important this is. Let them know about the great stories that are happening in this economy and just how much this agreement with Canada and Mexico is going to mean to a growing Florida economy.
And I’m absolutely convinced: If all of us do all that we can in the days ahead to call on our leaders at every level, to call on our peers in business, our neighbors and our friends, to tell the story of just how important this USMCA is; if all of us get behind the men and women like Senator Rick Scott, these great congressmen, and all the leaders that are standing up for the policies that are growing this economy; that with President Donald Trump in the White House, and with that support, and with God’s help, I really do believe we’ve only just begun to see what this economy can do for this generation and the next.
And we will make Florida more prosperous and more secure than ever before. And to borrow a phrase, we will make America great again. (Applause.)
So let’s get out there. Let’s get the USMCA done, and done for America. Thank you. God bless you. And god bless the United States.