VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: Thank you, Matthew Shay. Thank you for that very kind introduction and your great leadership here. And I offer all of you a warm -- very warm -- welcome to our Nation's Capital. Welcome to Washington, D.C.
It's an honor to be here with you today with so many great American success stories, cornerstones of American communities, large and small, the members of the National Retail Federation here at the 83rd annual Retail Advocates Summit. Great to see you all. (Applause.)
And I bring greetings this morning from a friend of mine, who's a businessman who knows just a little bit about retail, who's fighting every single day to unleash a new era of American opportunity and prosperity, I bring greetings from the 45th President of the United States of America -- President Donald Trump. (Applause.)
From the very first day of this administration, President Trump has been fighting to restore jobs and opportunity and prosperity all across this country.
This President has signed more laws cutting through federal red tape than any President in American history and has already saved businesses and families up to $18 billion in red tape costs every year.
In fact, the President early in our administration ordered every agency in Washington, D.C. to find two regulations to get rid of before issuing any new federal regulations on American businesses large and small. (Applause.)
And with the support of our new Secretary of Labor, Secretary Alex Acosta, President Trump is striking the right balance in labor relations -- appointing two highly qualified experts to the National Labor Relations Board. And as we speak, our administration is rolling back the Joint-Employer Rule. (Applause.)
And in case you didn't notice, the American people elected a builder to be President of the United States, and President Trump has already started to rebuild America. And we won't stop until we have the best roads, best bridges, best airports and best harbors, and the best future that we've ever had. Plans are underway at the administration for a historic infrastructure bill, and it's going to support a growing economy all across America.
In fact, this week is Made in America Week for our administration, and the President has been fighting for American job creators and manufacturers and American farmers every single day so that your businesses -- American businesses -- can sell more American goods than ever before.
And I'm here to report to you since day one of this administration, President Trump has been fighting tirelessly to repeal and replace Obamacare. (Applause.)
Every day Obamacare survives is another day the American economy and American families struggle. We all remember the broken promises that made it possible for Obamacare to get passed. You remember them? They said if you like your doctor you could keep them -- not true. They said if you like your health insurance you could keep it -- not true. We were told that health insurance costs would go down. That one wasn't true either.
Our administration has actually shown that the average premium on the individual market has more than doubled since Obamacare went into effect less than four years ago. And in some states, it's more than tripled.
When Obamacare passed, we were promised that families would save up to $2,500 in premiums every year, but the average Obamacare plan today costs nearly $3,000 more than a plan did in 2013.
While premiums are soaring, choices are plummeting. Next year, nearly 40 percent of American counties, including nine entire states, will have only one choice of a health insurance provider -- meaning they'll have essentially no choice at all.
And even worse, dozens of counties will have no health insurance providers whatsoever on the Obamacare exchange in 2018. Men and women, behind these statistics are real people facing a real crisis. Behind every number is a name, and behind every name is a story.
I've heard them as I've traveled across this country on our President's behalf. I've heard firsthand from job creators just like all of you in this room and working families about the burden that Obamacare has placed upon them -- the burden of higher costs, fewer choices, and worse care for the most vulnerable.
Obamacare has failed and Obamacare must go. (Applause.)
Now President Trump and I are grateful for the efforts of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the vast majority of Republicans who have worked so hard in the House and Senate to keep their promise to repeal and replace Obamacare.
As the President said just earlier today, most Republicans were loyal terrific and worked really hard. And there are no truer words.
But last night we learned that the Senate still doesn't have consensus on a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare at the same time.
President Trump and I fully support the Majority Leader's decision to move forward with a bill that just repeals Obamacare and gives Congress time, as the President said, to work on a new healthcare plan that will start with a clean slate.
The Senate actually passed the very same bill in 2015 and sent it to President Obama's desk, and they should do it again.
But to be clear: The Senate should vote to repeal now and replace later, or return to the legislation carefully crafted in the House and Senate. But either way, inaction is not an option. Congress needs to step up. Congress needs to do their job and Congress needs to do their job now. (Applause.)
As the President said, with his inexhaustible optimism and determination, stay tuned, we will return
We will rescue the American people from the disastrous consequences of Obamacare and restore a healthcare system based on personal responsibility, free-market competition, and state-based reform. That's the American way to meet the healthcare needs of the American people in the 21st century, and we're not going to stop fighting until we get it done. (Applause.)
But I'm here today on President Trump's behalf to say thank you -- thanks to the National Retail Federation and all the members for what you do for America every single day.
It's amazing to think for 106 years, the National Retail Federation has given a voice to the corner stores, the mom-n-pop shops, the grocers, the department stores, the Internet retailers, and all the other retailers that are literally the backbone of every American community.
And the businesses represented in this room make a remarkable difference in the life of our nation and the lives of the American people every day.
As President Trump said when he met with retailers earlier this year, you're "one of the great job producers" in America, and it's true.
Retailers are one of the largest employers in America today. In fact, a stunning one in four American jobs depend on the retail industry. The National Retail Federation's slogan really sums it up best: "Retail Means Jobs." And the best days for American retailers are up ahead. I promise you that. (Applause.)
Now, I'd like to take a moment to recognize all the retail champions who with us here today, especially Danny Reynolds, from Stephenson's, in Elkhart Indiana. Congratulations to the five finalists, one of whom will be the Champion of the Year announced later today. Let's give all the champions a round of applause. (Applause.)
It's important to celebrate the difference that each one of you make in businesses large and small all across this country. Beyond the numbers, beyond the jobs is something I would say is even more important, and that is growing up in a small town in southern Indiana, I know that retailers like all of you gathered here are simply a fixture in the lives of literally every American family.
We walk through your doors to get Christmas and birthday presents for our loved ones. We walk down your aisles and we browse your -- we browse those aisles to buy clothes and groceries and everyday necessities. We walk by your windows every single day. We pop in even if we didn't plan on it -- because it doesn't matter what we need, America's retailers have it.
In fact, one of the last things I did before I was sworn in as Vice President of the United States was stop by a retailer. It was during the transition here in our Nation's Capital, and Mrs. Pence had sent me a text and told me to pick up some ice cream. (Laughter.) It's the first time I'd done that with a large Secret Service detail. (Laughter.) But I did my job.
Let me also say one more thing. Not only do you provide those great goods and great services to people all across this country, but on behalf of the President, I want to acknowledge the fact that America's retailers are really model corporate citizens.
The truth is you support every worthy cause in every community, large and small. You enrich not only our people, but our very way of life. You can't hardly go to a Little League baseball game, you can't hardly go to a local charity function without seeing your banners hanging, without hearing about your sponsorship on the brochure.
Know that your President and I are truly grateful for everything that you do for the communities that you serve. Why don't you give yourselves a round of applause for the difference you make in the lives of every American community? (Applause.)
And I want to assure you, our President knows as retail goes, so goes America. The President told retailers earlier this year that out administration is in his words "very focused on the issues that will encourage economic growth," the growth that you'll need to continue to grow and succeed.
It's remarkable to think about everything the President has accomplished so far, it's only been six months. But President Trump is going to keep working every day to pass our agenda of less regulation, better infrastructure, more American energy, and affordable, high-quality health care. And rest assured, one more item I want to mention to you: This President is going to work with the Congress this year, and we're going to pass the largest tax cut since the days of Ronald Reagan. (Applause.)
The truth is America's tax code is one of the biggest barriers to success for working families and job creators like all of you. I love that old line that says that the Internal Revenue Code is twice as long as the Bible with none of the good news. (Laughter.)
We're going to change all that. We're going to cut taxes across the board for working families, small businesses, and family farms. We're going to simplify the tax code by cutting seven brackets down to three.
We'll eliminate the alternative minimum tax. We'll make the code flatter and fairer and simpler for everyone. And particularly important to retailers around America, particularly small-town, family retailers, under President Donald Trump, we're going to repeal death taxes once and for all. Death will no longer be a taxable event. (Applause.)
And when it comes to your businesses, our tax plan is going to put American companies, including our retailers, back on a path to jobs and growth and better competitiveness.
Our corporate tax rate -- it's remarkable to think -- is one of the highest in the developed world. Our outdated system of worldwide taxation literally penalizes companies for being headquartered in America.
But not for long. President Trump's plan is to slash the business tax rate to 15 percent. We'll enact a territorial tax that's in line with the rest of the world. We're going to cut taxes on the trillions of dollars that are locked away overseas so that American companies can invest those dollars in American workers, American jobs, and America's future. (Applause.)
President Trump's tax-cut plan will empower your companies to compete on a level playing field with businesses anywhere in the world, and as we all know, when the field is level, American business always win.
The truth is President Trump's agenda is going to make the strongest economy in the world stronger still, and I believe that every business that's represented here will benefit from the historic accomplishments that lie ahead.
But as I leave, I want to challenge each one of you leaders in this country, leaders in the communities that you represent to stand with this President as he advocates an agenda built on American principles that will generate a boundless American future.
I encourage you during this time in our Nation's Capital to let your voice be heard. As you reach out to our elected representatives, tell them you're counting on them supporting the President's agenda -- less regulation, lower taxes, better infrastructure. And while you're at it, tell them the time is now to repeal and replace Obamacare.
The truth is President Trump is fighting every single day for all of you and all of the people that you serve in all of your various outlets. He knows that your success is America's success, and every community large and small is testament to this fact.
We have an opportunity. The President and I believe we have a responsibility to usher in a new era of jobs, of growth, of opportunity, and prosperity built on American principles -- timeless American principles of growth.
And we have a duty to bring about the best and brightest future for all who are blessed to call our nation home.
And this we know we will do because we have faith -- faith in the boundless capacity of the American people to revive this nation's economy and grow again.
I have faith this President's vision for America and his determination to drive forward an agenda for this country that will renew and revive the prosperity of our land. And I have faith that He who has ever had His hand on this nation from its very beginning will yet bless America.
And so I say with confidence, together with all of you and with Donald Trump in the White House: We will make America safe again. We will make America prosperous again. And to borrow a phrase, we will Make America Great Again.
Thank you very much. God bless you all and God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)