By August 31, 2017 Read More →

Pence pushes tax reform, flood relief at West Virginia Business Summit

By RUSTY MARKS

The State Journal

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va.  — Vice President Mike Pence took an opportunity to push President Donald Trump’s tax reform plans while addressing the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce’s annual meeting and business summit Wednesday.

United States Vice-President Mike Pence speaks to the crowd during the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce’s 81st Business Summit, being held Tuesday through Friday at the Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs. U.S. Senator Shelly Moore Capito, R-W.Va., U.S. Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va. and U.S. Rep. Evan Jenkins, R-W.Va., who also led the Pledge of Allegiance, joined in welcoming Pence. WVU Medicine sponsored the reception Wednesday night. (Photo by West Virginia Press Association.)

Pence, who took the podium just before 7 p.m. at The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, also took time to acknowledge flooding in Texas and Louisiana from Hurricane Harvey.

He called on West Virginians and all Americans to pull together for flood relief efforts.

“This storm continues to pose a danger to life and property,” Pence said, urging those in flood-ravaged areas to listen to local authorities. He said Trump has sent more than 12,000 federal employees to Texas and Louisiana to help with relief efforts, and federal officials have sent 2.9 million meals and millions of gallons of water to the area.

Pence also praised the efforts of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and local first responders in their response to the historic flooding.

“It represents the best of America,” Pence said. “This could well be Texas’ finest hour.”

Pence said he was going to the Houston area himself on Tuesday. When Congress reconvenes after its summer break, Pence said Trump will ask for additional federal aid to be sent to the region.

But Pence also urged West Virginians and others to donate to flood relief efforts.

“We encourage each of you and your businesses to find ways to help,” Pence told the room full of business people. ”The needs are great, but the generosity of the American people will be greater still.”

Pence then asked those in attendance to pray for the families, first responders, federal, state and local officials and volunteers battling the Harvey floodwaters.

“The good and strong people of Texas and Louisiana will come through this tragedy,” he said, and will emerge “bigger, better and stronger than ever before.”

Pence then turned to urging support for Trump’s tax reform plan, saying the president’s policies have already lead to the creation of 1 million new jobs and saved businesses $18 billion.

“Optimism is sweeping all across this country,” Pence said.

Economic growth topped 3 percent for the first time in years, and Trump’s policies will create 12 million new jobs, he said.

“Tax cuts start growth. The bigger the cuts, the bigger the growth,” Pence said.

The president proposes simplifying tax codes, making U.S. business tax rates competitive with other nations, cutting taxes on the middle class and cutting corporate taxes, Pence said.

“You shouldn’t have to have a lawyer or an accountant to figure out how much money you owe the government,” the vice president said.

“Tax cuts mean more jobs. Tax cuts mean a raise in income for the American people,” he said.

But, Pence added, “We’re counting on West Virginia’s support. We need all the businesses represented here to speak out.”

Pence also asked West Virginia’s congressional delegation to support the president’s proposed tax reform measures, calling out U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., and U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., specifically by name.

“The people of West Virginia are counting on you,” the vice president said.

But if Pence’s aim was to elicit a response similar to that received by his more fiery president, he was only partially successful. One abortive attempt to raise a cry of “U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.!” — a common refrain at Trump’s rallies — died out quickly during Pence’s speech. Perhaps a third of the crowd applauded the vice president’s comments during the course of the evening.

Pence closed his remarks with a final appeal for the people of Texas and Louisiana.

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