DES MOINES — For the second time in about a month, Vice President Mike Pence spent time in Iowa talking up the administration’s economic accomplishments and talking down the risks facing farmers whose livelihoods depend on international trade.
Pence spoke to roughly 250 supporters Wednesday afternoon at the downtown Des Moines Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center. The event was hosted by America First Policies, a nonprofit organization that supports President Donald Trump’s agenda.
The event was focused on federal tax cuts passed by Congress in 2017, but Pence also listed an array of other actions taken by the administration, including a boost in military spending, appointing conservative judges to federal courts and stronger enforcement of immigration laws.
“It’s been the same reaction that I’ve gotten as I’ve traveled all around the country. In the wake of the president’s leadership at home and abroad, the American people sense that rising confidence,” Pence told reporters after his half-hour address. “They see the jobs coming back, opportunities coming back. I just couldn’t be more proud of the progress that we’re making and couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity to be here in Iowa talking about the extraordinary progress.”
The Republican vice president contended the federal tax cuts have translated into businesses that are more confident in the economy and paying higher salaries, giving out more bonuses and boosting benefits.
He also noted low unemployment, including in Iowa, and for black and Hispanic Americans.
“The American dream is working for every American again,” Pence said during his remarks.
He noted the economy grew by 4.1 percent of gross domestic product in the second quarter of 2018. Pence said that growth defied some experts; during the 2016 campaign Trump wanted to promise 4 percent growth, but his economic advisers warned against promising more than 3.
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That 4.1 percent growth is the high-water mark so far under the Trump administration. The previous high was 3 percent in the second quarter of 2017.
The progressive advocacy group Not One Penny issued a statement citing research that suggests the federal tax cuts will not directly benefit all Iowans. Nearly 1 in 4 Iowans actually will pay more taxes and more than 188,000 will see no reduction, according to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, a liberal-leaning nonprofit policy think tank.
And Iowa Democrats held an event Wednesday with farmers, a small-business owner and a teacher who said Republican policies at the federal and state level have hurt their livelihoods.
“You know the saying, ‘If it ain’t broke don’t fix it?’ Well, it’s broke. This tax scam is hurting my business, my workers and my livelihood, and I’m not alone,” Matt Yegge, who operates a small jewelry design business in Des Moines, said in a statement issued by the Iowa Democratic Party.
Pence also addressed the escalating trade wars that have driven down commodity prices, including two of Iowa’s top agricultural exports — soybeans and hogs. He said the administration continues to work on trade deals with the goal of opening new markets for American ag exports.
“The good news is we’re making progress on better trade deals,” Pence said during his remarks. “We’re making real progress, Iowa, I’m here to tell you. ... I promise you we will never stop fighting until American farmers win like never before.”
Pence joined other speakers at the event in calling on supporters to vote for Republicans this fall and persuade their friends to do the same.
To that end, Pence earlier Wednesday attended a fundraiser for U.S. Rep. David Young, the Republican incumbent in Iowa’s partisan-balanced 3rd House District. Young is expected to face a strong challenge from Democrat Cindy Axne.
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“For Americans who like what we’ve been able to do — rebuilding our military, rolling back red tape, cutting taxes, fighting for the kind of agenda the people of Iowa voted for in 2016 — we need Congressman David Young back in Washington, D.C., to continue that agenda,” Pence told reporters.
Pence was last in Iowa in July, when he toured the Rockwell Collins avionics company and defense contractor in Cedar Rapids. During that event, he sought to assuage agricultural interests by vowing that “our farmers will start winning again.”