Remarks by the Vice President at a "Tax Cuts to Put America First" Event in Atlanta, Georgia
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, hello, Georgia! (Applause.) Thank you, Governor. Thank you for those great words. Thank you for your great leadership here in Georgia. It is great to be back in the Peach State. (Applause.)
In fact, last Saturday, my family and I actually celebrated St. Paddy's Day in the great city of Savannah, Georgia. (Applause.) And today, I'm honored to be here in Atlanta, with the men and women who helped elect a President and leaders in Congress who, just three months ago yesterday, enacted historic tax cuts to put America first. You did it, Georgia. (Applause.)
And, in fact, let me begin today by bringing greetings from a friend of mine. When I left the Oval Office today, I could tell he was just a little bit jealous about where I was headed. And he wanted me to tell all of you that he loves Georgia. I bring greetings from the 45th President of the United States of America, President Donald Trump. (Applause.) We love Georgia.
And I'm here today to talk about the progress that we've all made together over the past year. But before I get started, let me take a moment to acknowledge that Georgia lost one of its greatest leaders today -- Zell Miller.
Zell was a leader of great character and great integrity. He dedicated his life to public service and to serving this country. He was a United States Marine, a governor, a United States senator. And the difference he made in the life of this great state and the life of this nation will impact this country for generations to come.
Zell Miller was a great champion of public education, and, as governor, he helped establish the HOPE Scholarship that opened so many doors of opportunity for students across this state.
And above all, Zell was a proud Georgian, and he always put the interests of the hardworking men and women of Georgia first, even when it wasn't popular within his own political party. He remains an inspiration not just to the people of Georgia, but to leaders all across this country, on this day.
So let me say our prayers are with his family and all those who love, and cherish, and admire this great man. And I know I speak for all of Georgia when I say that Zell Miller will be missed. He was a great Georgian. He was a great American. And we will long remember the life and legacy and contributions of Zell Miller. (Applause.) Thank you for that.
And to Governor Deal, thank you for that wonderful introduction and for your lifetime of leadership and service to the great state of Georgia. (Applause.) I actually had the chance to get to know your governor when we both served in Congress together.
But his two terms as governor have left the Peach State stronger, and safer, and more prosperous than ever before in the history of this state. Seven-hundred thousand new jobs in seven years is an incredible record. Would you all mind getting on your feet and showing the 82nd governor of the great state of Georgia and his wonderful wife, Sandra, just how much we appreciate their leadership and the difference that they've made in Georgia. (Applause.)
And with us today are also three other friends of mine, and great friends of our President, leaders in the House of Representatives who work every day to put Georgia first and to put America first: Representatives Karen Handel, Rob Woodall, and Barry Loudermilk. (Applause.) Where are you?
I also want to recognize a special guest you just heard from a few minutes ago. I gave him a ride here. (Laughter.) He is a great champion of American workers and of freedom in the marketplace. He's working tirelessly to unleash American energy at the EPA. Join me in thanking our EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt one more time. He is a great, great leader. (Applause.)
And finally -- finally, I'd like to thank the host of today's event who brought us all together, an organization that's fighting to promote the policies that are making a real difference -- a real difference in the life of the state of Georgia and our entire nation. Join me in thanking America First Policies for bringing us all together on a Friday afternoon. (Applause.)
You know, I'm here in the Peach State today, first and foremost, just to say thank you. Thank you, Georgia. Thank you for everything you've done to stand with our administration, not only in that election in 2016, but in every day since. Because of your support and your hard work, it's been a year of action; it's been a year of results. In a word, it's been a year of promises made and promises kept. (Applause.)
Even earlier today, in the spending bill the President signed into law, we saw the promises of this administration kept, one after another. As the President made clear, under this bill, the government, unfortunately, is still too big and still spends too much.
Now, the bill wasn't perfect, but you all deserve to know it is chock-full of examples of how this President fought to keep the promises that he made to the people of Georgia and to the American people. And it all begins with providing for the common defense. National defense is now the top priority -- (applause) -- of this country and this administration.
You know, President Trump promised to rebuild our military and restore the arsenal of democracy. And just a few hours ago, I was standing nearby when President Donald Trump signed the largest investment in our national defense in American history. (Applause.)
The President promised to increase take-home pay for men and women who wear the uniform of the United States –- and he did just that. The largest pay increase for our armed forces in nearly 10 years signed into law today. (Applause.)
You know, and today, I can tell from where I'm standing that we're joined by an awful lot of heroes in this room. In fact, there's a group of heroes from Dobbins Air Reserve Base and Robins Air Force Base here in Georgia, who serve in the United States Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps. Would you all just mind showing these men and women in uniform how much we appreciate them stepping up to defend our nation? (Applause.)
You know, and it isn't just those on active duty the President promised to support; he also promised to support America's veterans. And I'm pleased to report to you, in the bill that he just signed -- (applause) -- we gave the Department of Veterans Affairs the resources they need to completely eliminate the backlog for veterans once and for all. (Applause.) And we are going to make sure our veterans get the support and the healthcare in real time that they earned in the uniform of the United States.
Our President also promised to protect our homeland and secure our borders. As I stand before you today, I'm pleased to report that in a little more than a year, illegal crossings at our southern border have been cut nearly in half. And with the $1.6 billion of funding in the bill just signed into law, the United States will immediately begin construction of nearly 100 miles of a new border wall. (Applause.) And let me make you a promise: When it comes to the wall, we're going to build it all. (Applause.)
You know, the President also promised to appoint strong conservatives to our federal courts at every level. And this President not only appointed Justice Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court of the United States, but he also set a record of the most court of appeal judges confirmed in a single year in American history, and they're all conservative men and women that are going to make you proud. (Applause.)
President Trump also promised to stand with America's men and women in law enforcement. And I promise you today, with resources in this legislation and with respect, we once again are giving the men and women who wear the uniform of law enforcement and public safety the resources and respect they deserve. (Applause.)
So it's about strength abroad, strength on our borders, but it's also about safety and security here at home in our neighborhoods, our homes, and our schools, where it matters most.
All of our hearts are still broken in the wake of the terrible shootings that have beset communities in recent days, and claimed innocent lives. You know, our President promised, in the wake of the tragic school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that this time America would take action because no child should ever be in danger in an American school. No parent should ever fear for the safety of their child when they drop them off at school in the morning.
And I'm pleased to report to you that the legislation signed today includes more than $2 billion to improve school safety, it bolsters and improves our criminal background check system, and gives parents and schools new tools and new resources to keep our kids safe. (Applause.)
President Trump also promised to do more than any administration to combat a crisis that's impacting families here in Georgia and all across this country -- the scourge of opiate abuse and addiction. Unfortunately, no community, large or small, that hasn't been impacted.
And the legislation just signed today will actually invest a record amount, more than any time in history -- $6 billion to end this epidemic. And as President Trump said in Manchester, New Hampshire earlier this week, "We will make this the generation that ends the scourge of opiate addiction in America." (Applause.)
He promised to rebuild America. And I'm also happy to report to you, in the bill just signed -- the Governor will be happy about this, too -- we've got another $21 billion to rebuild our infrastructure. And that includes $50 million for that expansion project at the Port of Savannah, which is so critical to the growth and prosperity of this state of Georgia. (Applause.)
Now, as the President said today, this bill is far from perfect. I mean, the truth is, the processes we have in Congress these days don't allow for perfection. In fact, the President said today, it's "no way to run a government." (Laughter.)
That's why President Trump is calling on Congress, starting today, to give this President the same authority that 44 governors have all across this country. The time has come to give the President of the United States of America the line-item veto, so the President can fund the priorities of the American people and protect American taxpayers at the same time. (Applause.)
So since day one of this administration, we've been working hard to keep the promises that we made to the people of Georgia. And when you look at the record, over the last 14 months, it has been a record of promises made and promises kept. And it's so humbling for me to be a part of it.
Now, when you talk about all that we've done together -- I came here today to really talk about what's happening in this economy. I mean, from early in this administration, we've been working with these great members of Congress to roll back the heavy hand of government on businesses large and small.
In fact, I remember back on the campaign trail, and maybe some of you do too, the President promised that he would repeal two federal regulations for every one new federal rule put on the books. The truth is, we didn't do that. With the support of our leaders in Congress, and the majorities in the House and the Senate, we've repealed 22 federal regulations for every new rule put on the federal book. It's true. (Applause.) In fact, President Trump has signed more laws, rolling back federal red tape already than any President in American history. (Applause.)
We promised to provide the American people relief from the disaster known as Obamacare. You know, today is actually the 8th anniversary of that failed law. And I'm happy to report to you that, last December, the President signed legislation to repeal the Obamacare individual mandate. It's gone. It's off the books. (Applause.)
We promised to unleash American energy. And this President, from early on, approved the Keystone and Dakota Pipelines. We rolled back the Clean Power Plan. And as you just heard Scott Pruitt say, President Trump put America first when he withdrew the United States from the job-killing Paris Climate Accord. (Applause.)
We promised to crack down on unfair -- we promised to crack down on unfair trade practices, as well. The President has taken decisive action to protect our steel and aluminum and forestry industries. And I'll make you a promise: Under President Donald Trump, the era of economic surrender is over. (Applause.) We are going to demand our trading partners give us fair and free and reciprocal trade that puts American workers first.
And finally, what brought us all here today on a Friday afternoon, taking a break from watching basketball -- (laughter) -- is that this President promised to cut taxes across the board for working families and businesses and family farms. And three months ago yesterday, with the strong support of these great leaders in the Congress, and with the support of every Georgia Republican in the House of Representatives, President Donald Trump signed the largest tax cuts and tax reform in American history. That's promises made and promises kept. (Applause.)
You know, we're just over a year into our administration and the results are nothing short of remarkable. Because of your support, because of the leadership that you supported -- from the Oval Office to Capitol Hill to the State House here in Georgia -- since our election, American businesses have created nearly 3 million new jobs, including 40,000 new jobs in the Atlanta area alone. And unemployment in America hasn't been this low in 17 years.
In February alone, the American economy actually created 313,000 new jobs in a single month. It was the best month for construction and manufacturing in 20 years. (Applause.) In fact, the only sector of the economy to lose jobs in the month of February was the federal government. (Applause.)
I mean, here in the Peach State, thanks to the actions of our administration and the strong support of your representatives in Congress, and thanks to seven years of Governor Nathan Deal's leadership, Georgia's economy is booming as never before.
For five years running, Georgia has been ranked the best state in America to do business. And today, 17 Fortune 500 companies call Georgia home. (Applause.) And since our inauguration, unemployment in the Atlanta area has fallen by nearly 20 percent. And when it comes to the good-paying jobs that make Georgia great, since Election Day 2016, businesses across this state have created over 23,000 new jobs in manufacturing and construction.
You know what? You look around Georgia; you look around America. Because of the leadership that you've supported, growth is back; confidence is back. In a word, America is back with President Donald Trump in the White House. (Applause.) It's exciting.
But as the President likes to say, at this White House, that's just what we call a good start. (Laughter.) Because the truth is, we believe the best days for American prosperity are yet to come because these tax cuts are just starting to make a difference.
I mean, think about it. I mean, we cut taxes for Georgia's working families so you could keep more of your hard-earned money. We cut taxes for Georgia's businesses so they can compete and win with companies anywhere around the world. We cut taxes for Georgia's farmers, too. And all of those tax cuts are only now actually beginning to take effect in the economy. So for everything that we're seeing happening, men and women of Georgia, it's only just begun.
You know, earlier this week, on National Agriculture Day, I was over at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. And there's a great champion for rural America -- you might have heard from him -- a guy by the name of Sonny Perdue, who is now the Secretary of Agriculture for the United States of America. (Applause.)
I mean, the truth is, in this White House, we know that agriculture is the essence of America. That's why, working with your leaders in Congress, with all the tax cuts that we passed, we also essentially eliminated the death tax for nearly every American farmer. And now farmers can deduct up to 100 percent of the cost of new equipment for the next five years. (Applause.) That's an affirmation of how important agriculture is to the American economy.
You know, all told, when you put it all together in a pile, we believe our tax cuts are going to save the typical family of four here in Georgia more than $2,200 a year when they all take effect.
But it's not just about lower taxes, remember that. It's also bigger paychecks. It's about bigger paychecks that come from businesses investing in American jobs and in American workers.
In fact, we believe workers in Georgia can expect to see pay raises of more than $4,000 in the years ahead when these tax cuts all take effect.
And we're already on the way. You know, in just the past three months, businesses large and small across this state have already announced plans to pay their workers more, to hand out bonuses, to provide better benefits for more than 75,000 Georgia workers, including bonuses here in Atlanta as high as $2,000 a person.
Folks, that's great news for working families. I mean, a thousand-dollar bonus in the pocket of a working family makes a real difference. But not everybody thinks that. (Laughter.)
I mean, you might have heard that the woman that wants to be Speaker of the House again, Nancy Pelosi, said a thousand-dollar bonus at the end of the year was just "crumbs." Did you hear that term?
Now, I would like to remind you, humbly, I come from the Joseph A. Bank wing of the West Wing of the White House. (Laughter.) You with me on that? (Laughter.) Okay, good.
When our kids were little -- when our kids were little, and Karen was at home with the kids, I mean, we had a term for an extra thousand dollars in our paycheck at the end of the year: Christmas. (Applause.) Am I right?
I mean, these bonuses and pay raises are making a real difference in the lives of America's working families. And I want to say very seriously: Any leader who says $1,000 in the pockets of working families is "crumbs" is out of touch with the American people. (Applause.)
So let me just take a moment for the people that have been making that difference, supporting the President -- your leaders in Congress who stood with the President for these tax cuts and so much more of what we're talking about here today.
I want to thank your two great senators -– Senator Johnny Isakson and Senator David Perdue -- for their strong, conservative leadership in the United States Senate. (Applause.)
And you've already heard from three extraordinary members of Georgia's delegation in the House of Representatives –- Karen Handel, Rob Woodall, and Barry Loudermilk. They are remarkable people, and I'm just so grateful for their support. (Applause.)
But, you know, I'm happy to report they might be the only ones here, but they're not alone among Georgia's Republicans. I'm pleased to report to all of you gathered here today that this agenda that we're celebrating, the accomplishments that we've been able to bring about -- I'm pleased to report to you that every single Republican in the Georgia delegation to Congress voted for the tax cuts and voted to put Georgia and America first. (Applause.) Every step of the way, they were with us.
But, you know, for all that we've accomplished, the truth is, we still have more work to do. And in case you didn't notice, first off, remember that Georgia elected a builder to be President of the United States, and this President is going to rebuild America's roads and bridges and infrastructure and ports, and give us the best infrastructure in the world. (Applause.)
This year, we're also going to keep working to fix a broken immigration system that puts the best interests of American workers and American families first. (Applause.)
We're going to continue to do everything -- we're going to do everything in our power to confront the scourge of opiate addiction in this country. I promise each and every one of you that. And we're going to work our hearts out.
We're working on developing non-addictive painkillers to cut opiate prescriptions. The goal is to cut opiate prescriptions by one-third over the next three years so we can prevent Americans from even becoming addicted in the first place.
And we're going to reduce the supply of illicit drugs, first and foremost, by working to reduce the availability of them. And secondly, we're going to crack down. We're going to crack down on drug dealers, we're going to crack down on sanctuary cities. We're going to secure our border. And we're going to get tougher on people that are selling drugs to our kids. (Applause.)
And, as the President said, that toughness -- "that toughness includes the death penalty." And our administration is going to be working -- (applause) -- every opportunity the law allows to bring the maximum penalty against those who profit by the drug trade.
As the President said on Monday, and I say to all of you, "Failure is not an option. Addiction is not our future." And we're going to do whatever it takes, as I said before, to make this the generation that ends the opiate crisis in America.
Folks, President Trump and I are just going to keep on delivering. We're going to keep on delivering on the promises that we made to the good people of Georgia, with your support and with your help.
But the President and I know that, for all the progress that we have made, it's really not a reflection so much of what happens in the marbled halls of Washington, D.C.; that we both know that the strength of this country is found in the hearts, and the character, and the work ethic, and the patriotism of the American people.
I mean, America is coming back. The resilience of America is now obvious not just to our fellow citizens, but to the wider world, because the American people are shining forth. By letting people keep more of what they earn, by getting the government out of the way, by making the right investments in ways that support a growing America, America is standing tall again. You see that resilience.
And, of course, you have seen that same resilience in the history of this storied city of Atlanta, Georgia. It's amazing to think just a few miles from here stands a monument that literally captures the essence of this city's history -– "Atlanta from the Ashes."
It shows a phoenix rising from the ashes, as you all well now, because that's exactly what Atlanta had done over the past century and a half. This city was destroyed over 150 years ago, but that wasn't the end of its history; it was just the beginning of a new history. And because of the resilience of your people and the determination, and the vision, and the faith of the people of Atlanta, this city has risen to become not one of the leading cities of the South, not one of the leading cities of America -- this is one of the most dynamic cities in the world. (Applause.)
The country looks on in Atlanta -- it really does -- and watches with inspiration that spirit that has defined this great city over the last century and a half. But no matter what challenges you face, Atlanta continues to reach greater heights every day. And the country is proud, and I know Georgia is proud.
That's the Atlanta spirit for you. It's evident in every part of this city, and I see it -- I see it from where I'm standing in this room today.
But as I close today, I encourage you to take that spirit from this gathering, and talk about what you've heard here today. And I appreciate you coming out today on a Friday afternoon -- a beautiful Friday here in Georgia. It was a lot colder where I left. (Laughter.) And it was a lot colder up in New Hampshire.
But I want you to leave here today and I hope you'll stay involved, stay engaged. Everything that we've accomplished, we've accomplished because of all of you. I really -- I didn't come here today -- and I know these members of Congress feel the same way -- to point to Washington and what they've done. But I came here today to talk about what you've done. Because of the President you elected, because of the leaders in the Congress that you've elected, because of the agenda that you supported, this country is coming back -- coming back stronger and safer and more prosperous than ever before. And we're just, really, getting started.
So leave here today, and I just encourage you to go out and tell the story to your friends, your loved ones, and your neighbors. I mean, tell them what they're not hearing on most of their cable television stations about all the good things that are happening in America. Tell them what we've accomplished. Say, "You know what? I ran into Mike the other day" -- (laughter) -- "and he was talking about all this stuff that's happened in this country, all the things that we've accomplished together as Americans to revive and restore this nation, and to restore American credibility and strength on the world's stage."
And say, "I just wanted to tell you about it. And tell you about the difference that it's making in the life of our city, and our state, and our nation." I mean, go out there and tell them -- tell them we cut their taxes so they can keep more of what they earn. Tell them that we're restoring American strength at home and abroad, so their families can sleep safe at night. Tell them that we're putting America back to work for them, not the other way around. And tell them that under President Donald Trump, the forgotten men and women of America are forgotten no more. Get out there and tell them. (Applause.) Tell them, Georgia. Because it's true. You tell them.
And I think Election Day surprised a few people. (Laughter and applause). And we've been surprising them ever since, haven't we? (Applause.) Because Americans have been talking to each other. People have been seeing these results. They've been seeing commonsense, conservative principles put into practice that have put America first.
So I just encourage you to stay engaged and to keep telling your neighbors and friends all the good things that are happening here and how the leadership in Georgia and the leadership you're sending to Washington and the leadership of their President is making a difference in their lives.
And, if you're of a mind, in these challenging times where it seems like there's too much division in these United States of America, I'd encourage you to maybe do one more thing. You know, there's an old verse that Americans have clung to throughout our nation's history, and it's been true for millennia, and I still believe it's true today. It says, if His people, who are called by His name, will humble themselves and pray, He'll hear from heaven, and He'll heal their land. (Applause.) And I truly believe that if we pray for America, that God will heal this one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. (Applause.) So pray for America. And pray for all who's serving each and every day.
So thanks for being here today. Thank you for the opportunity to address you. I look forward to saying hello to as many of you as can linger afterwards. And I leave here today with renewed confidence -- I really do -- that with the continued support of the good people of Georgia, with the continued great leadership that your state has, people like Governor Nathan Deal, with these great Georgian leaders in the Congress of the United States fighting for you every day, with President Donald Trump in the White House, and with God's help, I know in my heart we will make America safe again. We will make America prosperous again. And to borrow a phrase -- (laughter) -- we will make America great again.
Thank you very much. (Applause.) God bless you. God bless Georgia. And God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)
Mike Pence, Remarks by the Vice President at a "Tax Cuts to Put America First" Event in Atlanta, Georgia Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/335709