Vice President Pence: As retail goes, so goes America

Vice President Mike Pence praised the retail industry’s contributions to the economy as he spoke before merchants from across the nation today at NRF’s annual Retail Advocates Summit, and pledged to help pass pro-growth initiatives on issues from Obamacare repeal to tax reform.

“I want to assure you that our president knows as retail goes, so goes America,” Pence told retailers in remarks carried live on CNN and MSNBC. “Our administration is focused on the issues that will encourage economic growth, the growth that you’ll need to continue to grow and succeed.”

“You’re one of the great job producers in America,” Pence said, citing NRF research that shows retail supports one in four U.S. jobs. “The National Retail Federation slogan really sums it up best — retail means jobs. And the best days for American retailers are up ahead. I promise you that.”

Pence addressed a cross section of more than 200 small retailers, national retail chain executives and state retail association officials gathered on Capitol Hill this morning for NRF’s annual congressional fly-in. On Wednesday, the group will hold over 150 advocacy meetings with lawmakers, and Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta will speak privately before retail CEOs during a meeting of the NRF Board of Directors at NRF headquarters.

“The best days for American retailers are up ahead. I promise you that.”

Vice President Mike Pence

Pence’s remarks came after President Trump, responding Monday night to a Senate delay on Obamacare reform, said Congress should move ahead on repeal alone if members cannot agree on a plan to both repeal and replace the seven-year-old Affordable Care Act. NRF has been a strong supporter of repeal because of ACA provisions such as a mandate for employers to provide health care coverage that drives up payroll costs and hampers job creation.

“Inaction is not an option,” Pence said. “Congress needs to step up, Congress needs to do their job and Congress needs to do their job now.”

With retailers benefitting from few of the tax breaks that lower tax bills for other industries, tax reform is another of the industry’s top priorities, and Pence promised that Trump will deliver “the largest tax cut since the days of Ronald Reagan.” He said Trump’s proposal would lower the corporate tax rate to 15 percent from the current 35 percent and “put American companies — including our retailers — back on a path to jobs and growth.” He specifically pledged to end the federal estate tax, which makes it difficult for some family-owned retail businesses to be passed down from generation to generation. He emphasized Trump’s support for U.S.-made goods but made no mention of a House proposal for a border adjustment tax on imported merchandise that threatens to drive up prices for consumers and put some retailers out of business.

Pence pledged to reduce regulations that slow job growth, roll back the Obama administration’s expansion of joint employer status that exposes large companies that use subcontractors or franchisees to increased lawsuits or unionization efforts, and improve neglected transportation infrastructure that currently creates bottlenecks for retail supply chains.

Pence was introduced by NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay, who praised him as “a life-long champion” of retail priorities such as tax, healthcare and regulatory reform. Shay cited Pence’s efforts on workforce development while governor of Indiana and his passage of the largest income tax cut in the state’s history.

Vice President Mike Pence at NRF’s Retail Advocates Summit

Video of Vice President Mike Pence LIVE at NRF’s Retail Advocates Summit Vice President Mike Pence at NRF’s Retail Advocates Summit