Vice President Mike Pence's remarks in Louisville, March 11, 2017
(White House transcript)
(White House transcript)
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Hello, Kentucky!
AUDIENCE MEMBERS: Hello!
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Governor, for that great introduction. And, ladies and gentleman, how about that Governor Matt Bevin? Everybody, isn’t he something. (Applause.) Kentucky, I truly do believe -- I like to say to people I was for Matt Bevin before it was cool. (Laughter.)
Kentucky really is blessed to have such a principled leader who’s doing such great things for the state, restoring fiscal responsibility, rolling back red tape, and today, because of Governor Matt Bevin, Kentucky is now a right-to-work state. Kentucky is open for business. (Applause.)
Governor, the President and I are proud to partner with you to make Kentucky great again, as we make America great again. (Applause.) I get along great with people from Kentucky, except in March. (Laughter.) It’s gets a little testy some evenings.
But the same goes with all my strong feeling about your governor goes for other dedicated public servants who are here. State Senator Ralph Alvarado just joined us for a great discussion. And two great congressmen who I served with in Washington, D.C. Congressman Andy Barr and Congressman Brett Guthrie, would you all just take -- stand up and let these people show how much they appreciate your conservative stand in Washington, D.C. (Applause.) Thank you both.
And I got to tell you it’s great to be in the home state of the Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell. He’s a true friend to me, to our President, and to the people of America. (Applause.)
Great to have the privilege to be back in the Bluegrass State. Last fall, thanks to all of you here in Kentucky, to your hard work, your support, and your prayers, Kentucky voted to make Donald Trump the 45th President of the United States of America in a decisive vote. (Applause.)
And it was quite a campaign, wasn’t it? And it’s been quite an administration, too. I got to tell you on a very personal level, it’s the greatest honor of my life to serve as Vice President to President Donald Trump. And I want to thank you all for the privilege. (Applause.)
The President is a man of boundless energy, optimism. I like to say he’s got broad shoulders and a big heart.
And speaking of which, the President asked me late yesterday when we were leaving the White House in the evening to just say thanks to everyone gathered here today. Hardworking Americans like all of you were some of our biggest supporters. And on behalf of President Trump, thank you. Thank you for your support, and thank you for being here today. We're truly grateful. (Applause.)
And to all the business owners who are with us here today, I enjoyed our discussion earlier. The Governor and I had a brisk discussion about the challenges that -- changes in healthcare in this country since 2010 have presented to business. I appreciate your candid feedback about what our administration can do to help your businesses succeed and grow. And I have to tell you one other person I want to mention before I thank our host, it is always good to have Papa John in the house. John Schnatter and his wonderful wife are with us today. The Midwest is proud that you call Kentucky and America home. (Applause.) John, thank you. There he is.
But last but not least, on behalf of the President, let me thank Harshaw Trane for their hospitality. While Frank Harshaw couldn’t be here today, not only do I appreciate the warm welcome of his team -- Richard and Tom and Lou -- we just so admire Frank building an extraordinary business, someone who grew up in foster care. Frank and his story are the story of the American Dream. And would you join me in thanking them for allowing this great business to be our backdrop. (Applause.)
And all of those who run businesses, own businesses, or work in small business, let me make you a promise: The President wants you to know that our administration will be the best friend America’s small businesses will ever have. (Applause.)
And the President and I know that small businesses are the engines of the American economy. As President Trump said in his joint address to Congress just last week, we’re going to “restart the engine” to create jobs and prosperity and growth in America like never before.
You know, I grew up in a small business family, just a little bit north of here in Columbus, Indiana. I went to work at my father’s gas station when I was only 14 years of age. I was actually what was called a gas station attendant. If you're under the age of 30, I’ll explain to you after the program exactly what that was.
But as the world also knows, the President grew up in a family business, too. We both know the sacrifices that are required to make a business work. And more importantly, we know that when small business is strong, America is strong. And this President is going to fight every day to make that a reality. (Applause.)
President Trump wants to help you become stronger than ever before. He made a promise to you and to the American people -- and as I like to say, this White House is in the promise-keeping business.
Just look at what we’ve done over the past month-and-a-half. On day one, President Trump went straight to work rolling back reams of red tape. He actually instructed every agency in the federal government to find two regulations to get rid of before issuing any new regulations on job creators in America. (Applause.)
The President has taken decisive action to protect American jobs and American workers by taking measures to secure our border, to build a wall, and end illegal immigration once and for all. (Applause.)
The President authorized the Keystone and Dakota pipelines at last creating thousands of American jobs and building on America’s energy infrastructure. (Applause.)
Businesses -- and if you haven’t noticed already, businesses have been already reacting to President Trump’s vision, his “Buy American, Hire American” vision with optimism and investment around the country.
From coast to coast, literally since Election Day, companies have been announcing that they’re keeping jobs here. They're creating new ones. Last month alone, the economy added an amazing 235,000 jobs in the month of February. This economy is coming back and coming back strong. (Applause.)
And most importantly of all, the top priority the President gave us: to work with members of Congress and make sure that the Obamacare nightmare is about to end. (Applause.)
I’ll tell you, it’s amazing to think about -- virtually every promise of Obamacare has been broken. We all remember the promises that they made back in 2010 when this was signed into law. They told us the cost of health insurance would go down -- not true. They told us that if you liked your doctors, you could keep ‘em -- not true. They told us that if you liked your health plan, you could keep it -- not true.
Here are the heartbreaking facts. Today, Americans are paying $3,000 more a year on average for health insurance than the day Obamacare was signed into law. Last year alone, premiums spiked by 25 percent, and millions of Americans have lost their health insurance plans and lost their doctors.
And in one-third of the nation’s counties, Americans only have one insurance company to choose from, which essentially means they have no choice at all. The truth is the American people are struggling under Obamacare every day, and so are small businesses like those so well represented here.
You all know exactly what I’m talking about. The truth is Kentucky is a textbook example of Obamacare’s failures. Here in the Bluegrass State, premiums skyrocketed by an average of 24 percent last year, with some plans spiking by 47 percent.
Nearly half of the state only has one health insurer to choose from. And next year, Humana, headquartered right here in Louisville, is pulling out of Kentucky’s Obamacare exchange.
Today, one-third of the state is on Medicaid -- and as your Governor has said over and over again, it’s unsustainable. And Medicaid here in Kentucky is threatening to bankrupt this state.
Folks, this just can’t continue, and I promise you it won’t. (Applause.)
Since the day that Kentucky helped send President Trump to the White House, his top priority has been to repeal and replace Obamacare with something that actually works. And we’ve already made incredible progress.
The House released its repeal-and-replace bill on Monday, and it already passed with unanimous support from two committees, one of which Congressman Guthrie sits on. And, Congressman, I just want to thank you for your strong support to repeal and replace Obamacare. (Applause.)
Now I know that not every politician in Kentucky supports our plan to repeal and replace Obamacare. I know your former Governor Steve Beshear has been defending Obamacare all over America. And he might even have something to say about my visit here today, and I welcome the debate. I really do.
Steve Beshear is actually a friend of mine. We worked together while I was Governor of Indiana to promote jobs and growth all across Kentuckiana. And I’m awful proud of those Ohio River bridges, aren’t you? (Applause.)
The great story about collaboration between our two states, the Abraham Lincoln Bridge and the Lewis and Clark Bridge I believe are going to support economic growth across this region for generations. But your former Governor is wrong about Obamacare. (Applause.)
Obamacare has failed the people of Kentucky. It’s failed the people of America, and Obamacare must go. (Applause.)
Now, the plan the President outlined in his joint address to the Congress is the plan we're working on. We're going to repeal and replace Obamacare once and for all, and we're going to replace it with health-care reform that will improve the lives of every American and strengthen our economy.
The truth is ordering every American to buy health insurance, whether they wanted it or not, was never the right solution for health care in this country. So we're going to start -- we’re going to repeal the mandates and taxes and penalties of Obamacare. (Applause.)
We’re going to end Obamacare’s individual and employer mandates. We’re actually going to get rid of more than $500 billion in Obamacare’s tax increases. (Applause.)
And we’re going to give Americans more choices. We’ll expand health savings accounts. We’ll give Americans a tax credit that will help people buy plans that they need at a price that they can afford.
We’ll make sure that Americans with pre-existing conditions still have access to the coverage and the care that they need. And to all the parents here, we’ll make sure you can keep your kids on your plan until they’re 26 years of age.
And most significantly in my view, we’ll give states like Kentucky the freedom and flexibility with Medicaid to meet the needs of your most vulnerable in the way that works here in Kentucky. (Applause.)
The bill moving through the Congress today is going to give Governor Bevin and, frankly, states all across the country the chance to reform Medicaid so it will better serve the underprivileged in your state, with better coverage, better health, and better outcomes just like the Governor said -- uniquely designed for the people of Kentucky -- a little like we did in the Hoosier State not too long ago.
I’ll never forget being here for Governor Bevin’s inaugural address. Anybody else remember that sunny day? (Applause.) As I was sitting and listening on, I remember hearing the Governor say that announced his intention to reform Medicaid using some of the same conservative principles that we used in Indiana.
He said then, that he was inspired by Indiana’s reforms, but he was pretty sure Kentucky could do better than Indiana. And I’d like to see him try. (Laughter.)
In fact, President Trump truly does believe that giving states like Kentucky, like Indiana, like every state in the union, the resources and flexibility to improve their health-care programs and Medicaid is the American way to meet the needs of our most vulnerable, and we're going to make it happen. (Applause.)
This competition between the states will give the American people better health-care choices.
And under President Trump’s leadership, we’re actually also going to finally allow Americans to purchase health insurance across state lines -- the way you buy life insurance, the way you buy car insurance. (Applause.)
President Trump and I both know the way to lower the cost of health insurance is to create a national marketplace and give Americans more choices to buy the insurance they want, not the insurance that the government mandates them to have.
But, folks, let me be clear, this is going to be a battle in Washington, D.C. And for us to seize this opportunity to repeal and replace Obamacare once and for all, we need every Republican in Congress -- and we’re counting on Kentucky. President Trump and I know -- at the end of the day, after a good and vigorous debate -- we know Kentucky will be there. And we will repeal and replace Obamacare -- once and for all. (Applause.)
And let me say one more thing, despite some of the fear-mongering by those on the liberal left, I want to assure the people of Kentucky who might be looking on this morning: We’re going to work with the Congress and work with our agency at Health and Human Services, and we're going to have an orderly transition to a better health-care system that makes affordable, high-quality health insurance available for every American. (Applause.)
In a word, we’re going to make the best health-care system in the world even better. Now, while I came here to talk about Obamacare, it’s really just the start of what our administration is doing to make America great again.
And let me give you a quick preview of that before I head back on that airplane. First off, after we get this done, we’re going to cut taxes across the board for working families, small businesses, and family farms. (Applause.)
We’re going to keep slashing through red tape and rein in unelected bureaucrats so they can’t cripple the economy from the comfort of their metal taxpayer-funded desks in Washington, D.C. (Applause.)
We're going to do a little bit more like we did with those bridges, we're going to rebuild America so we have the best roads and bridges and highways and airports that America has ever had. (Applause.)
But making America great again doesn’t stop just there. This President has no higher priority I promise you than the safety and security of the American people, and he’s working every single day to protect our nation and our way of life.
This is a President I can tell you appreciates the men and women of our law enforcement community, and he is standing every day with those who serve and protect our country in law enforcement. (Applause.)
President Trump, as I mentioned, is also taking steps to strengthen our borders, to enforce our laws, and as the President said, we’re working through Immigrations and Customs Enforcement in close concert with law enforcement in every community, and we're taking in his words the “gang members, the drug dealers, and the criminals that threaten our communities and prey on our citizens” off the streets of Kentucky and off the streets of our country. (Applause.)
Now, while we talk about those that serve in uniform, as the proud father of a United States Marine, let me tell you how grateful I am that in President Donald Trump we have a Commander-in-Chief who will rebuild our military, restore the arsenal of democracy, and give our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Coast Guard the resources and training they need to accomplish their mission and protect our nation. (Applause.)
And by nominating Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court of the United States, President Trump kept his word to appoint a Justice to the Supreme Court who will keep faith with the Constitution, and he’ll be a justice who will uphold the God-given liberties that are enshrined in our Bill of Rights. (Applause.)
My friends, let me tell you, President Trump is a man of his word, and he’s a man of action. And I believe he will make America great again. I think we've come to a pivotal moment in our nation’s history. I truly do.
In this moment, we need every freedom-loving American to join with us in this effort to make America great again. We need all of you to stand up, to speak out, to let your voice be heard. There’s no time like the present.
We need you to tell the world that we can do better. We can do better on healthcare. We can do better with a growing economy. We can stand tall and strong in a world again. We can restore this country, put it back to a path to a brighter future.
And I know we're going to do this. I truly do.
One of my favorite verses in the Old Book is from the Book of Jeremiah. It’s hung over the mantle of our home since before I was actually first elected to office now more than 16 years ago. Now it hangs over the mantle in the Vice President’s Residence in Washington, D.C.
It reads: “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you, and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope, and a future.”
In November, the people of Kentucky voted to give America a President with the strength, and the courage, and the vision, to make America safe again. You voted to give us a new leader who I believe will make America prosperous again and give us a fresh start on healthcare and economic growth. And so I truly do believe with all my heart, that with your continued faith and support, and with God’s help, together we will make America great again.
Thank you very much for being here on this Saturday. God bless you and God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)
END 11:41 A.M. EST