Pence in Detroit: Mich. leading 'American comeback’

Kim Kozlowski
The Detroit News

Detroit — Vice President Mike Pence visited downtown Detroit on Friday and said the Trump administration is acting to reverse trade deficits and bring jobs back to the United States.

Speaking at an event sponsored by America First Policies, a pro-Trump group, Pence addressed White House initiatives that include this week’s announcement by President Donald Trump on planned tariffs on imported steel and aluminum.

“We’ve taken decisive action and revived the American economy,” Pence told a cheering crowd at the Westin Book Cadillac. “We are cracking down on unfair trade deals and working on deals that put American jobs and workers first. ... Michigan is leading the American comeback like never before.”

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette stands on stage with US Vice President Mike Pence at an event hosted by "America First Policies" at the Westin Book Cadillac Hotel in Detroit, MI on March 2, 2018.

Pence also addressed Friday’s fatal shooting of two parents allegedly by their son at Central Michigan University and last month’s mass shooting that killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman High School in Parkland, Florida, calling school safety “the top priority of the Trump administration.”

“This administration will not rest until we make our schools safe,” Pence said.

Pence’s visit was also part of a campaign promoting the Republican tax overhaul.

In December, President Donald Trump signed the $1.5 trillion tax package, the biggest tax overhaul in 30 years. The law went into effect this year.

Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the corporate tax rate dropped from 35 percent to 21 percent.

For individuals, tax rates also have declined. The top six rates dropped to 12, 22, 24, 32, 35 and 37 percent from prior rates of 15, 25, 28, 33, 35 and 39.6 percent. The lowest-income workers would still pay a 10 percent rate.

Most taxpayers will no longer itemize deductions because the standard deduction has increased from $6,350 for an individual and $12,700 for a joint tax file to $12,000 for individuals and $24,000 for families.

According to America First Policies, Americans are already feeling the effects of the legislation, signed into law on Dec. 22.

Pence pointed to the $2,000 bonuses passed on to workers at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles in the wake of the corporate tax cut and new jobs in Michigan.

“It’s working,” the vice president said.

Before Pence spoke, pro- and anti-Trump groups demonstrated outside the hotel.

Troy resident Londa Gatt came with a group of bikers and a bridge pulled by a truck, adorned with Trump’s name and several American flags, to “support my president and vice president.”

Across the street, opponents of Trump marched in front of the hotel chanting slogans such as: “This is what democracy looks like.”

“We’re out here to protest the fact that Mike Pence and (Attorney General) Bill Schuette are here to tout their Republican tax scam,” said Sam Inglot, spokesman for Progress Michigan. “All it is is a massive handout to the wealthy at the expense of working people. Corporate donors love this stuff.”

Schuette, a Republican candidate for governor, opened the program, saying it was a privilege to be part of the gathering with Pence to talk about Michigan and America’s future as well as to discuss jobs, paychecks and what the tax cuts will do for the economy and nation.

“Cutting taxes matters,” Schuette said. “What it means is you get to keep, and people across Michigan and people across America get to keep, more of what they earn and the government takes less.”

Friday’s visit was Pence’s trip visit to Michigan since becoming vice president last year.

The former Indiana governor stumped for the tax plan in late September while visiting an American Axle Manufacturing plant in Auburn Hills and appeared at Grandville’s Fourth of July parade in West Michigan with U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Zeeland, and Gov. Rick Snyder.

Last fall, Pence used his PAC to support Schuette’s campaign for governor.

The PAC contributed $6,800 to Schuette among more than $200,000 to Republican candidates across the country who have been “supportive of the president’s agenda,” a spokesman said last year.