In a speech mixed with folksy nostalgia and fiery rhetoric, Mike Pence offered both praises and promises to the retail community during the National Retail Federation’s Retail Advocates Summit.
The annual event brings retailers of all sizes together with lawmakers to provide a platform for working on behalf of the issues that matter most to the industry at large.
Despite the mood that pervades certain swaths of the retail community today, the vice president offered an upbeat tone and optimistic prediction during his keynote address, saying, “the best days for American retailers are up ahead. I promise you that.”
Referring to retailers as a “fixture” for American families, Pence acknowledged the retail industry as a huge source of jobs for the U.S., but he said, the industry’s value can be counted in more than dollars and cents.
“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,” he said. “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.”
For those reasons, Pence said, the president is focused on improving the economy because “as retail goes, so goes America.”
A major focus of Pence’s initial remarks focused on the fight to repeal the Affordable Care Act. He acknowledged Republican’s failure to push through the second version of its health care plan, which without the requisite number of votes, died quietly yesterday. Despite the struggles Washington has had coming up with a plan that would get the necessary support, Pence said repealing the current plan was vital because it has resulted in higher premiums and reduced coverage as states opt out.
Looking ahead, the vice president promised an overhaul of the tax code, which will result in “the largest tax cut since the days of Ronald Reagan.”
[Read more on the current tax and trade climate: Update from Washington: BAT, NAFTA and What’s Dead or Alive]
The vice president went on to say the Administration is looking for ways to level the playing field for U.S. businesses. “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,” he said. “Our corporate tax rate… 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 Our outdated system of worldwide taxation literally penalizes companies for being headquartered in America.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.”
The Trump plan supports the president’s view of a tax code that’s fair to U.S. businesses. Under the plan, the code will be simpler, with corporate taxes dropping to 15%, the death tax repealed, and a “territorial tax” enacted. No mention was made of the border adjustment tax, which is a key provision of the Paul Ryan plan that has had the retail industry nervous—and vocal—for the past year.