Sargent Metal Fabricators
Anderson, South Carolina
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, thanks, everybody. Thank you for coming out today. It’s great to be back in South Carolina at a time when the last two and a half years has seen us able to advance the policies that the people of South Carolina embraced when they voted to make President Donald Trump President of the United States. He followed through on the promises the President made when he came through South Carolina three years ago: cut taxes, rolled back red tape, and unleased American energy.
And we fought for the kind of free and fair and reciprocal trade deals that have really — have put American jobs and American workers first. The results, as I said today, are more than 6 million new jobs created. Manufacturing across this country has rebounded; 500,000 manufacturing jobs created. Wages are up. Unemployment is at a 50-year low. And the lowest unemployment ever recorded for African Americans and Hispanic Americans.
But I came to South Carolina today because we really believe that the time has come for the Congress to act on the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. You heard me say today about the impact that exports have on jobs all across South Carolina. It’s true in states all across this country.
And by enacting the USMCA in the Congress of the United States this year, we really believe you’ll see billions of dollars invested in this economy, but also see, by some estimates, more than 175,000 more jobs created. And so we think it’s absolutely essential, now that President Trump has done his job, Canada and Mexico are doing their job, that the Congress of the United States — when they come back in just a few short weeks — it’s absolutely essential that Congress do their job and put the USMCA on the floor of the House of Representatives and pass it.
We really believe that if Speaker Nancy Pelosi puts the USMCA on the floor, it will pass. We’ve been working in a broad and bipartisan way through the U.S. Trade Representative, Bob Lighthizer, who’s been in contact with Democrats and Republicans in leadership, in both political parties. We’ve seen support growing, but it’s absolutely essential that Congress act and move the USMCA to the floor and take an up-or-down vote.
As I said today, I absolutely believe that if the USMCA has the vote on the floor of the Congress, it will pass and will move on to the Senate. We’re very confident that the Senate will affirm it.
And once it’s passed, we will see a whole new day of investment and growth here in North America that will strengthen the President’s hand as we enter into negotiations with the European Union, as we enter into negotiations with the UK after Brexit, and, of course, as we continue our negotiations with China over resetting the historic trading relationship that has been so imbalanced for the America people: $500 billion in trade deficits. Almost that amount in intellectual property theft.
That — all of that, we believe, can change when we strengthen the President’s hand and pass the USMCA and bring together North America in a more dynamic and modern trading relationship.
So with that, I’d be happy to take some questions.
Q What kind of message do you have to South Carolina businesses and farmers just having been impacted by the different tariffs that are out there?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, our message is that President Trump is working every day to continue to move policies that are growing this economy. But we simply have to have trading relationships with countries around the world that put American workers and American agriculture first.
People woke up this morning and saw that the President and Prime Minister Abe announced a new trade agreement between the United States and Japan that will greatly benefit American agriculture and other industries.
But, look, the President’s favorite word when it comes to trade is “reciprocal.” We really believe that countries — giving countries access to the most prosperous nation on Earth ought to come with it a commensurate commitment by those countries to open up their markets.
And whether it be Japan, whether it be the EU, whether it be our partners to the north and south, or whether it be China, we’re going to continue to drive the kind of trading relationship that truly is reciprocal, that puts American jobs and American workers first. Because we know, when we have a level playing field, the American worker can compete, the American farmer can compete and win everywhere in the world.
Q There are economists who say that there is a recession looming around the corner. What do you have to say about that?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, we believe that the American economy is strong and that the outlook for the American economy is also strong. If you look at all the fundamentals in this economy — I know there’s been some naysayers lately, with some volatility on the stock market last week, who have been suggesting that our economy might weaken. But we really just don’t see it.
The American economy is booming. More than 6 million new jobs created. Wages rising. Even retail sales, a number that came out just a few short days ago, showed that the American consumer is confident. And we saw retail sales up across the country.
And so while other countries — frankly, you look at Europe, you look at China, and there’s other countries that are struggling. Here in this country, where we’ve cut taxes, rolled back red tape, unleashed American energy, and now are negotiating the kind of free and fair trade deals that put our workers first, we see an American economy that’s strong today and will continue to be strong for many years to come.
Q Mr. Vice President, how quickly — if passed, how quickly will manufacturers in South Carolina see the results of what gets passed?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, we believe the impact of the USMCA will be very quick. That, in fact, when you look at how strong this economy is, when you look at the investment in manufacturing that’s taken place, there’s some indication that many businesses are anticipating that Congress will approve this trade deal.
I mean, there are people that — there’s some evidence that businesses are anticipating that we’ll have a new trading deal between the United States, Mexico, and Canada. But again, according to the International Trade Commission, we think there’ll be more than 175,000 jobs created in the immediate future and some $68 billion in additional investment.
So, that’s just a beginning. But compare that, if you will, to the history of NAFTA, where NAFTA literally saw more than 70,000 factories close since it was signed in 1995. One of the aspects of the USMCA is that we require that a certain percentage of automotive parts be built at what is essentially the average American worker’s wage. And so we’ve removed a great deal of the incentive to move jobs south of the border. And I think that’s one of the reasons why Ford Motor Company, just last week, announced that they were canceling plans to move hundreds of jobs to Mexico and they were going to be creating those jobs in the state of Michigan.
But it’s absolutely essential that Congress act. And we’re really here — you know, I’m very grateful to Senator Lindsey Graham, to Senator Tim Scott. The Republican members of the delegation in South Carolina are critical, but — and have been very, very supportive.
But I’m here just as much to send a message to Congressman Jim Clyburn. He’s the third-ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives. And my message to Congressman Clyburn is: Tell Speak Nancy Pelosi that South Carolina needs the USMCA. We’re appealing to Democrat leadership.
And as the President said again this morning, before he left France, we’re approaching this on a bipartisan basis. There’ll be plenty of credit to go around when we get this done.
But I’m here to call on Congressman Clyburn and, frankly, all the Democrats in the Congress to move this bill to the floor, because we believe if the USMCA is on the floor, it will pass.
Q Mr. Vice President, Democratic presidential candidates are also busy in South Carolina. Senator Warren is rising in the polls. What do you make of her recent ascent?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, we’re watching the Democrat field, and, to be honest with you, I never thought I’d see a group of Democrat candidates this liberal in my lifetime. I mean, you have candidates that are advocating policies that would literally crush the American economy: higher taxes, Medicare for All, the Green New Deal. I mean, the combination of these, literally, would place trillions of dollars in burden on the American people.
And — but whatever the Democrats decide their nominee will be, the President and I can’t wait to get to that debate in the fall of 2020 because I think this is going to be — I think this is going to be one of the clearest choices ever in the history of this country.
I mean, in President Donald Trump, you have a President who has fought to reduce taxes, roll back regulation, unleash American energy, fight for free and fair trade deals. He’s appointed conservatives to our federal courts. He’s rebuilt our military.
And on the Democrat side, you have 20-some-odd Democrat candidates who are advocating liberal policies — even socialism — that we really believe would not only crush the American economy but really take away the freedom that the American people cherish in so many areas of our lives, most especially in healthcare.
So we’ll let the Democrats sort out who their nominee will be. But President Trump and I are looking forward to the day that they pick their ticket and we take our case to the American people, because I have every confidence, just like the people of South Carolina did back in 2016, that South Carolina and America are going to say yes to four more years of President Donald Trump.
Thank you. Thanks, everybody.