"Our president knows as retail goes, so goes America"
WASHINGTON — Vice President Mike Pence told retailers at a National Retail Federation event Tuesday that the White House recognizes the industry’s importance to the nation’s economy.
“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.”
Speaking at NRF’s annual Retail Advocates Summit, Pence pledged to help pass pro-growth initiatives that would support the retail industry’s role as a major source of employment.
“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 more than 200 small retailers, national retail chain executives and state retail association officials who were gathered for NRF’s annual congressional fly-in. On Wednesday, the group is set to 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.
Recognizing that tax reform is one of the retail 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 also 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.