Remarks by the Vice President at a "USMCA: A Better Deal For American Workers" Event in Anderson, South Carolina
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, hello, South Carolina! (Applause.) Would you all join me in thanking Governor Henry McMaster and First Lady Peggy for all that they do for South Carolina every day? (Applause.) Thank you, Governor. Thank you for those great words. Thanks for your leadership.
To the Governor, First Lady, to Acting Secretary Patrick Pizzella, to my friend Senator Lindsey Graham, one of the strongest voices for the American military in the United States Senate. (Applause.) To Jeff Duncan, and other great conservative members of Congress, Linda McMahon, and especially to Tim Hayden and the men and women of Sargent Metal: It is great to be with you here in the Palmetto State. Thank you for that warm welcome. (Applause.) Thank you.
And before I get started, allow me to bring greetings from a friend of mine who loves the state of South Carolina, who's actually on his way back, traveling across the Atlantic right now. And when he heard I was going to be here with all of you, I think he sounded just a little bit jealous. (Laughter.) So allow me to bring greetings from a champion of American jobs and the American worker. I bring greetings from the 45th President of the United States of America, President Donald Trump. (Applause.)
And I'm here because South Carolina and America need Congress to approve the largest trade deal in American history. We need Congress to approve the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, and get it done this year. (Applause.)
So we're going to talk about trade. We're going to talk about new opportunities. But I got to tell you, before I get to that, I just have to reflect on the progress that we've made because of the support of the people of South Carolina. The leadership you've supported, from the White House to Capitol Hill over the last two and a half years.
You know, when I think of the last two and a half years, there's only one way I can describe it. It's been two and a half years of action, two and a half years of results, two and a half years of promises made and promises kept. And we're just getting started, South Carolina. (Applause.) It's true.
I mean, think about it. This President promised to revive the American economy. And right out of the gate, working with the strong conservative voices that represent South Carolina on Capitol Hill, we passed the largest tax cuts and tax reform in American history. We actually signed into law more bills cutting federal red tape already than any administration in American history. And we unleashed American energy. (Applause.) America is now the leading producer of oil and natural gas in the world. And, next year, for the first time in 70 years, we'll be a net exporter of energy from the United States of America. We're on the path to energy independence. (Applause.)
And this President also promised the forge free, fair, and reciprocal trade deals that put America first. And we've been working to do that from day one. And the results have just been remarkable. Since Election Day 2016 — I don't have to tell you in this growing state — businesses large and small, just like this one, have created more than 6 million new good-paying jobs, including more than 100,000 jobs right here in South Carolina. (Applause.) Great news.
The unemployment rate in South Carolina is just 3.4 percent. And more South Carolinians are working today than ever before in the history of this state. Nationwide, unemployment has hit a 50-year low. And, in fact, maybe most meaningful to me in the President, we now have the lowest unemployment ever recorded for African Americans and Hispanic Americans. The American Dream is working again for every American. (Applause.) It's true.
And, you know, you need look no further than manufacturing to see it happen. You know, I grew up in the state of Indiana. I had the privilege of being the Governor of that great state. And just like South Carolina, I come from a place where we do two things well: we make things and we grow things. South Carolina's long and storied history is just the same.
And manufacturing jobs in this country are roaring. Today, there are, in fact, more manufacturing jobs in America, more manufacturing job openings in America than at any time in the last decade.
Last year, we saw record-high optimism among manufacturers and small businesses and the most new manufacturing jobs in more than 20 years. It really is incredible. I remember back three years ago, there was another President in the White House. And when he was asked about manufacturing jobs, you might have remembered what he said.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: (Inaudible.)
THE VICE PRESIDENT: That's right. (Laughs.) He said, "What are you going to do? Wave a magic wand?" The last administration had lost 200,000 manufacturing jobs. Well, we didn't need a magic wand. We just needed President Donald Trump in the White House. (Applause.) Five hundred thousand manufacturing jobs created in the last two and a half years, including more than 20,000 right here in South Carolina.
But, you know, it's not just been about more jobs, it's actually also been about better jobs, and better paying jobs. In fact, since President Trump and I were elected, the average American household had seen take home pay go up by more than $5,000 a year. Wages are rising at the fastest pace in a decade. And they're rising most rapidly for working blue-collar Americans. The forgotten men and women of America are forgotten no more. (Applause.)
So, this economy is rolling. Manufacturing is rolling all across South Carolina and all across America. And it didn't just happen. It happened because of the policies of South Carolina supported and your leaders in Washington, D.C. have advanced. But it also happened because of the hardworking people of South Carolina and the entrepreneurial energy of companies just like this one.
You know, Sargent Metal is — it's like so many great stories across the country. You know, I grew up in a small business family in a small town in southern Indiana. And this is another great American success story.
I learned on the way here, 44 years ago, Tim's stepdad, an Army veteran named Donnie Sargent, opened up shop here in Anderson, providing metal parts for small businesses in the Upstate. Today, this family business has created nearly 150 good-paying South Carolina jobs. Thank you, Tim. Thank you to you and your family for growing your dreams right here in South Carolina and in America. (Applause.)
Their expansion over the last four decades is a testament to not only the quality of the people here but the extraordinary professionalism of this team.
In the early 1980s, I'm told Sargent Metal started repairing armored cars. And now, with increasingly sophisticated technology, you're making parts for elevators, electric panels, construction equipment, and trucks that are used all across the country and all over the world.
And every year, millions of people from around the world, I'm told, take an elevator to the top of the Empire State Building. And when they do, they're standing on floors made right here at Sargent Metal. (Applause.) Pretty cool.
And when Tim and I were talking, I could tell a particular sense of pride, on his part and on all of your part, that our soldiers in uniform use the Hemi — the 17-ton backhoe that can drive up to 60 miles per hour that they use to clear roads, block roads, and take on those who would harm them or our allies. And it's made possible, in part, because of the work done right here at Sargent Metal, making our troops safer as they defend our freedom. (Applause.) I know you're all a proud of them.
And I got to believe that this Sargent Metal team has got more than a few men and women that have worn the uniform of the United States. So, if you're able, and you're a veteran of our Armed Forces or in active duty, would you all mind just standing up and letting us thank you one more time for serving this country? (Applause.) Thank you for your service. Thank you for your service.
Now, this is an incredible company filled with incredible people: all the wonderful people I just saw, who just stood, and all of you who make this country and this company such an incredible success.
But I heard a great story about two South Carolinians who joined this company at the very start of their careers. Tim and I were just talking about it. And I'm told that, earlier this year, they each celebrated their 40th year with Sargent Metal. And I guess the deal here is: If you'll put in 40 years at Sargent Metal, you get a car. Because Tim Hayden bought them both a car. So would you join me — (applause) — in not only thanking him, but why don't we give Amanda Tiller — (applause) — let's give both of them a big round of applause, would you, please? What a great company.
Is that Amanda back there? Great. Amanda and her colleague here are emblematic of all of you and of the hundreds of thousands of manufacturing workers all across this state and all across this country.
The remarkable employees here at Sargent show that as long as the playing field is level, American workers can compete and win against workers anywhere in the world. Absolutely true. (Applause.)
Now, one of the biggest reasons for the success you've had is that you're supplying parts to companies in 30 different states, and also Mexico and Canada. And then, those companies are selling your products all over the world.
I mean, the truth is, expanded trade and expanded exports secure jobs right here at Sargent Metal and all across the state of South Carolina. And that's really what brought me here today.
And I'm proud to tell you, since the first day of this administration, President Trump has been working to keep his promise he made to the people of South Carolina to stand with our trading partners and demand that we have trade that is free and fair and reciprocal and treats their workers and our workers the same. That's what you call a level playing field. (Applause.)
I mean, the President's favorite word about trade negotiations — and there's a lot of it going on — is the word "reciprocal," which is, if you have access to our market, we want access to yours. Right? If we face tariffs going into your market, you're going to face tariffs coming into ours. That's what we call free and fair trade.
And since the first day of this administration, President Trump and I, and our entire team, have been working to open markets all over the world.
We renegotiated a trade agreement with South Korea. We opened markets across the world to U.S. agricultural goods. In fact, as we speak, the President is returning from that G7 in France, where he just continued negotiations with the EU and UK, but announced a new trade deal with Japan. And, of course, President Donald Trump has put China on notice. The days of massive trade deficits and intellectual property theft are over! (Applause.)
We've stood strong with our trading partners in Beijing, to all around the world. And we're going to continue to do that. But closer to home, I'm here today to tell you that President Trump negotiated the largest trade deal in American history. You've already heard about it from this podium, but let me give you my take.
The USMCA is a win for South Carolina. It's a win for the United States. And it's going to strengthen our economy and strengthen our hand on the world stage. It's time to get it done. (Applause.) It's true.
You know, according to the International Trade Commission, the USMCA is going to add $68 billion to our economy right out of the gate, and create about 175,000 new, good-paying jobs. That includes nearly 50,000 manufacturing jobs that are estimated to be created after it's approved. And again, we're not just creating more jobs, but better jobs.
The ITC also tells us that, under the USMCA, American manufacturing is going to continue to see wages rise. So, South Carolina — and the Upstate especially — has a lot at stake.
You know, last year, South Carolina exported $4 billion worth of goods to Canada and nearly $3 billion worth of goods to Mexico.
And South Carolina's exports are only growing. South Carolina's exports have actually increased by 75 percent in just a decade. And exports in this state, as the Governor told me, support more than 150,000 good-paying jobs here in South Carolina.
And so, for South Carolina, for manufacturing, and for America, the time has come for Congress to approve the USMCA. (Applause.) Because for all we've done and all of the excitement in this economy today, that's just what this businessman-turned-President calls a "good start."
We really do believe that when Congress approves the USMCA, we're going to — we're going to put even more incentive for more investment and more job creation right here in South Carolina and all across this country. But we need Congress to act, and we need Congress to approve the USMCA. And we need Congress to approve the USMCA this year, for South Carolina and for America. (Applause.)
I mean, look, the President has done his job. Mexico and Canada have been doing their job. Now it's time for Congress to do their job. To make that happen, though, Congress needs to hear from the American people. And that's what brought me here to South Carolina, and brought me to New Mexico and to Utah last week. I've been traveling all over the country just to make sure that people across this country know what an incredible opportunity we have with the USMCA.
But make no mistake about it: There's no political force more powerful in Washington, D.C. than the voice of the American people. So let your voice be heard, South Carolina, and we'll get the USMCA passed. (Applause.)
So go out and tell the story. Say, "You know, I was at Sargent Metal the other day; I ran into Mike — (laughter) — and he seemed very excited about this USMCA." I mean, tell them what this job — what this new deal is going to mean; how it's going to level the playing field, it's going to — it's going to update a trade agreement that, frankly, won for a few and lost for a lot.
You know, my state of Indiana, we saw entire communities hollowed out after NAFTA was signed into law. In the state of Indiana, we have automotive component companies by the hundreds. And yet, there was one community back when I was a member of Congress that literally — one major automotive company literally shut its doors and got rid of thousands of jobs. More than 70,000 factories closed across America, in the years after NAFTA was signed into law.
Men and women, those days are over. (Applause.) The USMCA puts American jobs and American workers first, and we got to get Congress to get it done. But it's going to take all of you to do it. Go out and talk about this agreement, about the jobs that it's going to create, the investment that's going to happen right here in South Carolina and across the USA.
And also, how about another round of applause? I want to thank Governor Henry McMaster for being such a champion for this President's pro-growth jobs agenda, including the USMCA. (Applause.) Thank you, Governor.
But this is in the hands of Congress right now. That's the way this deal works. Okay? So I want to encourage you to reach out to the elected representatives of South Carolina in the Congress of the United States. But let me — let me save you a nickel. You don't need to call Senator Lindsey Graham or Senator Tim Scott. They are leading the fight for jobs and the USMCA on Capitol Hill. Thank you, Senator Graham. (Applause.)
And I also want to say you don't need to call Congressman Jeff Duncan or any of the great Republican members of the South Carolina delegation because they're leading the charge in the House. Thank you, Congressman. I mean, you can call them, but just call them to say thanks. (Laughter.)
But I do want to encourage you to reach out to the Democrats representing South Carolina and Washington. Call Congressman Joe Cunningham. Call Congressman Jim Clyburn. Tell them, when they get back to Capitol Hill in a few weeks, that they need to tell Speaker Nancy Pelosi to put the USMCA on the floor and vote it. South Carolina needs it and America needs it. (Applause.)
You know, I served in the Congress for 12 years before I had the privilege of being governor in my home state. And I can tell you that if the American people send a clear message to Capitol Hill, if they want the USMCA and they want it this year, we're going to get it done. So I really and truly want to encourage you to speak out.
And lastly, I just want to thank you for coming out today. I look forward to meeting as many of you as time permits before we make our way to our next stop. In the days and weeks that lie ahead, I'll make you a promise.
You know, one of the most humorous things I ever hear is when people stop me on the street or on a rope line, and they say, "Mike, tell President Trump to just keep going forward." Because I tell him, "You know what? That's something you never have to tell this President." As we say, all the reverse is stripped out of that pickup truck. (Applause.) It only goes forward. And we're going to keep fighting for jobs and hardworking Americans and all the policies that South Carolina supported, that have made this economy booming all across this country.
And as I leave here today, I — I'm grateful for the response. I'm grateful for the turnout today. And while I'm at it, on behalf of my little family, let me just say to the folks Upstate: Thank you for the privilege of serving as your Vice President. It is truly the greatest honor of my life. (Applause.) Thank you.
You know, I'm — I'm just a small-town boy from Southern Indiana. I dreamed of someday representing my hometown in the Congress. I never imagined that people in this country would give me the privilege to serve you in this capacity. And I want to thank you.
As I leave today, I leave with renewed confidence — confidence in this President, in his relentless determination to make this country safe and prosperous again. Confidence in each and every one of you in the great state of South Carolina, the state that is synonymous with all that's best about America: faith, and family, and freedom. That as you let your voice be heard, then we'll continue to make the progress that we've made, not just in this state, but all across this country.
And I leave here today with — with confidence that if we will fix our eyes on Him, who has always been the wellspring of American strength, that the best days for South Carolina and America are yet to come, in this one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. (Applause.)
So thank you, South Carolina. Thank you for your support of the USMCA and all of our agenda. Let's go get it done for America. Thank you and God bless you.
Mike Pence, Remarks by the Vice President at a "USMCA: A Better Deal For American Workers" Event in Anderson, South Carolina Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/334125