Pence touts Rochester firm as example that tax cuts work

Blake Alsup Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News
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Frank Rewold, left, president and CEO of Frank Rewold & Son, Inc. gives Vice-President Mike Pence 'thumbs up' after introducing the Pence following a tour of the CEO's new office building that is under construction in Rochester, Friday afternoon, June 15, 2018.

Rochester – Vice President Mike Pence said Friday a Rochester construction business is a prime example that President Donald Trump's tax cuts work.

Rewold and Sons Inc. is 'hiring like crazy," its owner said, and giving out bonuses since the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 went into effect in February. The vice president said the average Michigan family of four will see an extra $2,300 in their paychecks when the tax overhaul takes full effect. 

“This economy is reviving because of the tax cuts and the economic changes that are encouraging American businesses large and small to invest in American workers once again,” Pence said during his 10-minute speech at the future headquarters of the family-owned construction contractor.

The former Indiana governor toured the 30,000-square-foot building site with CEO Frank Rewold, greeting hard-hat-wearing electricians, contractors and builders along the way. Pence quipped in his speech that "the American people did elect a builder to be president of the United States of America."

The headquarters has been a longtime dream for the company, Rewold said, and follows a roughly 15-year effort to obtain brownfield redevelopment approvals for the spot. Started in 1918 by Rewold’s grandfather, the business is celebrating its 100th year.

The business commenced construction after waiting out the recession, said Rewold, who added that the impact from the president’s tax overhaul has been significant. 

“We’ve been hiring like crazy, we’ve been giving bonuses and we’ve doubled our profit sharing,” said Rewold, who also owns the nearby Royal Park Hotel and a luxury condominium development adjacent to the company headquarters.

The company has hired 20 new employees, he said.

Pence said the development was “evidence that Rochester is rolling, Michigan is back and America is coming back.” He said 3.4 million new jobs have been created since 2016, including 80,000 in Michigan.

“The best is yet to come for Michigan and for America,” Pence said.

He credited U.S. Rep. Mike Bishop, who couldn't attend because he was in Washington, and other Michigan Republican members of Congress for their support for tax reform. Pence’s visit took place just a short distance from where Democratic congressional hopeful Elissa Slotkin of Holly, a well-financed Bishop challenger in the 8th District, was opening her campaign office.

Bishop’s potential race against Slotkin is increasingly viewed as a bellwether in the fight for control of the U.S. House.

Pence singled out U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow as an opponent to the tax legislation. He said Stabenow called the tax reform “a bad deal for the people of Michigan” and “the proof is in your paycheck.”

“The proof is in our paychecks,” Pence said. "They are bigger, and I believe Michigan deserves better."

Pence’s stop in Rochester was preceded Friday by a private fundraiser at the Townsend Hotel in Birmingham for Republican Attorney General Bill Schuette, whose run for governor has the endorsement of both Pence and President Donald Trump.

“Getting help raising campaign cash from Mike Pence is another clear warning sign to all of Michigan that Bill Schuette won’t ever stand up to Donald Trump and his dangerous healthcare agenda,” Michigan Democratic Party Chair Brandon Dillon said in a statement. “Instead of fighting for Michigan’s middle class, Bill Schuette’s sole focus remains saying and doing anything to benefit himself and his special interest donors.”

John Liposky, 76, of Waterford, was present when Pence arrived at the Oakland County International Airport on Friday morning and made his way to Rochester “to support Pence, Trump and all Republicans.”

“Even though the Democrats deny it, rising tides (do) raise all ships,” Liposky said. “Look around you. All ships are being lifted, unless of course, maybe you don’t want to work or you’re between jobs or whatever. But the demand is there, and it’s created by policies of our president.”

Thomas Catsburg, 53, and his son Evan, 16, both Rochester natives, were in attendance. Wearing a Trump flag like a cape, Evan said he was excited for the event “because of the energy that (Trump’s) caused and created.”

“We love what is going on in Washington now with the economy,” Thomas Catsburg said. “I think we’re on the right track. We’ve got a lot of new jobs, a lot of people going to work.”

On the eve of Pence’s visit, Schuette’s campaign released a new statewide television ad that champions Trump’s tax cuts and is scheduled to air on Fox News for several weeks.

The tax code changes are “creating jobs,” a narrator says, highlighting Fiat Chrysler’s plans to invest $1 billion at its Warren Truck Assembly auto plant to bring production of its Ram Heavy Duty truck to the United States from Mexico.

Schuette will “build on Trump’s economic momentum,” according to his new ad, which ends with oft-repeated footage of Trump calling him "the next governor of Michigan" at an April rally in Macomb County. 

The Michigan Democratic Party has bashed Pence’s pending visit and support for Schuette, criticizing “tax giveaways to millionaires,” rising health care costs and Pence’s opposition to a 2008 automotive industry bailout.

Pence will continue his Midwest stop later Friday with a “Tax Cuts to Put America First” event in Columbus, Ohio.

Pence was governor of Indiana until early 2017 and has maintained a healthy working relationship with term-limited Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder. Friday's trip was Pence's fifth visit to Michigan as vice president.

He also touted the tax overhaul when he visited Detroit March 1 and was introduced by Schuette. At the time, the vice president participated in a fundraiser helping more than 20 House Republicans targeted in the midterm elections, including Bishop.

Pence last visited Michigan in May, when he delivered a commencement speech at Hillsdale College. The vice president praised the conservative liberal arts university as “a beacon of liberty and American ideals.”

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