Vice President Mike Pence touts auto industry, new trade agreement in Michigan visit

Vice President Mike Pence  

Vice President Mike Pence was in Michigan on Wednesday, attending a fundraiser for President Donald Trump's bid for reelection and talking to auto industry personnel about the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) – the tentative pact that would replace NAFTA.

After arriving on Air Force 2, Pence took part in a Detroit fundraiser called Trump Victory, a joint account with the Republican National Committee used for high-dollar gifts. Then it was off to Dearborn to visit the Ford plant and talk to executives about the new trade agreement with Canada and Mexico.

According to the Detroit News website, the new trade agreement is waiting for approval by the respective countries’ legislatures. The deal aims to give a boost to the U.S. economy and encourage factories to move back to the states. Pence then delivered some remarks at Motor City Solutions.

"It’s great to be with all of you leaders of the automotive industry in Michigan," he said. "I just visited the Ford truck plant in Dearborn, and I've got to tell you: America’s auto workers are the best people in the world."

Pence was accompanied on the trip by U.S. Reps. John Moolenaar and Paul Mitchell, along with Brandye Henderson, the deputy administrator of the Federal Highway Administration. Pence then talked about his boss.

"Two years ago, President Trump spoke for our entire administration when he went to the Motor City and told the world, 'There is no more beautiful sight than an American-made car,'" Pence said. "And since the earliest days of our administration, President Trump has promised to fight for your jobs, to fight for Michigan workers and to fight to keep making cars right here in America. And two years later, I’m proud to report that President Trump delivered."

Pence touted the Trump Administration's signing of laws that slashed federal red tape at a historic rate and signed the largest tax cut and tax reform bill in American history.

"And the results have been remarkable," Pence said. "Since our election, businesses large and small have created 5.5 million new jobs – including nearly 100,000 jobs right here in Michigan. And after the last administration saw America lose 210,000 manufacturing jobs, we all remember when President Obama memorably asked, 'What magic wand do you have?'"

Pence said a magic wand was not needed because Trump was in the White House. He cited Trump’s job growth numbers with 480,000 manufacturing jobs all across America, including 26,300 in Michigan. And nationwide, America has seen 110,100 new jobs in the auto industry since Trump became president.

"In fact, I’m told 2018 was not only the best year for manufacturing job creation in more than 20 years, it also saw the highest level of optimism among manufacturers ever recorded," Pence said.

Pence went on to talk about the stock market and how the unemployment rate hit a 50-year low.

"In short, today our economy is roaring, our nation is prospering, and the forgotten men and women of America are forgotten no more," Pence said. "Everything we’ve accomplished in the last two years is a testament to all of you gathered here today – to the job creators, to the small-business owners, and to all the hardworking Americans on the assembly line. And so I’m here today to say thank you; thank you for doing the work that brought America back.’’

Pence then turned his attention to the new trade deal with Mexico and Canada.

"That’s why this president has been busy forging new trade deals that put American jobs and American workers first," the vice president said. "From Europe to the Indo-Pacific, we’ve been fighting unfair trade practices, and we’ve been negotiating deals that promote free, fair and reciprocal trade. But now the time has come for Congress to pass the largest trade deal in our history. The time has come for the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement."

Pence said the days of NAFTA are over. The VP said USMCA will impact more than 2 million American manufacturing jobs that depend on exports to Canada and Mexico.

"I mean, think about it," he said. "NAFTA was written more than a quarter of a century ago – before Bluetooth, before Sirius radio, before advanced batteries, computerized navigation systems or any of the major innovations that today we take for granted. NAFTA doesn’t require any of these auto parts to be made in North America. It simply doesn’t mention them.

"That means today, though American cars face all kinds of tariffs and trade barriers all across the globe, companies can buy auto parts from China, assemble them into a car in Mexico, and then sell it in the United States duty-free. That puts American auto companies and their suppliers at a terrible disadvantage. This is just one more reason why eight of the last 11 auto plants in North America were built in Mexico instead of the United States. And that’s why, under President Trump, those days are over."

Pence claimed that just last week, the United States Trade Representative released a study that reports that auto makers would invest an additional $34 billion in the United States, sell an additional $23 billion in auto parts and create 76,000 new jobs in the auto sector alone under USMCA if it goes into effect.

"We also saw the U.S. International Trade Commission weigh in with a report of its own," Pence said. "It says USMCA will add more than $68 billion and 176,000 jobs to our economy, and our manufacturing sector in particular will see the biggest gains."

Pence talked about the investments of the Big Three automakers, with Chrysler announcing it would invest $4.5 billion in Michigan, including a new assembly plant that would create 6,500 new jobs. Ford announced it will invest an additional $900 million in its manufacturing footprint in Michigan. And just last month, GM announced it will invest $300 million in the Great Lakes State and add 400 jobs.

"The clock is ticking," Pence said. "It’s time. And now we need Congress to approve USMCA this year."

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