PLAINFIELD – Vice President Mike Pence renewed his call for tax cuts in a visit to the state Thursday that featured a roundtable of business owners promising to use expected savings to invest in technology and hire workers.
Gov. Eric Holcomb said Indiana businesses are flourishing, but the tax reform pushed by President Donald Trump “is what we need. This is the missing link.”
It was the third visit to the state by Pence or Trump since late September as Congress tries to wrangle an overhaul of the federal tax code.
Pence said he came to listen to business leaders about “what we believe is the most important priority for long-term economic growth in the United States of America.”
To have sustained growth, “the time has come to cut taxes across the board for working families, small business and family farms, and we're going to fight every day,” he said.
He was accompanied by U.S. Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta and GOP U.S. Sen. Todd Young at the TKO Graphix event just outside Indianapolis.
Acosta touted low unemployment, inflation and a strong stock market, and said from his perspective tax reform is all about job creation.
Alfonso Vidal, president of Vidal Plastics in Evansville, said he would put any savings from a corporate tax cut into new technology that could take the small company to the next level. New equipment generates new business, which would also allow him to hire more people. He has five employees now.
Bob Dapper, owner of Royal Spa in Indianapolis, said an important part of tax relief is that people will feel more comfortable in their jobs, and when people are sure there is food on their table they are more likely to buy leisure products such as the hot tubs that he sells.
Pence said business tax cuts also provide an opportunity to increase wages and compete for talent.
“It's not just more jobs we believe will be created but also higher-paying jobs,” he said.
Indiana Democratic Party Chairman John Zody said Pence is “desperate for a win” but “Hoosiers still aren't buying the lopsided tax cuts Pence signed into law as Indiana governor.”
Those cuts are often used as a model for federal reform by Pence and Trump. Zody said since enacting those cuts, Hoosiers' incomes have grown slower than the national average.
“The vice president would be wise to engage lawmakers like Joe Donnelly and work across the aisle to deliver tax reform that works for middle-class Hoosiers,” Zody said. “Repeating Indiana's mistake and delivering results for only the wealthiest Americans simply won't cut it.”
Pence, Trump and tax revision advocates have targeted Indiana to pressure Sen. Donnelly, D-Ind., a political moderate who occasionally votes with Republicans and who is running for re-election next year in a state Trump carried by 19 percentage points in the 2016 election.
A few centrist Democrats including Donnelly are seen as key votes in the event the Senate Republican caucus fractures as it did during unsuccessful votes to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.
Pence said he knows the state can count on Young in the tax fight but “Indiana also needs to be able to count on Sen. Joe Donnelly to vote for tax relief.”
Young said it has been 30 years since Congress rewrote the tax code and Americans deserve a system that is simpler and more fair.
“The time for action is now. We've got to get this done,” he said, noting it isn't a Democratic or Republican issue.
“This senator, and I hope 99 others, will be voting for a growth-friendly tax package in the coming weeks,” Young said.
Donnelly issued a statement saying “As I have said, tax reform should create jobs, protect jobs, invest in American workers, and benefit middle class families. I will carefully review the Senate proposal released today and continue to engage with my colleagues and the White House on behalf of Hoosiers as the Senate works on tax reform.”