Hours before the world would reel from news of attacks in central London, U.S. vice president Mike Pence appeared at an Iowa fundraiser to emphasize a far more domestic concern: healthcare.
The Republican-controlled Congress should complete the job of dismantling Obamacare this summer, Pence said, and move on to addressing tax cuts, another top priority for the Trump Administration.
"Once we repeal and replace Obamacare, we're going to roll our sleeves up, and working with these great leaders in Congress, we're going to pass one of the largest tax cuts in American history," he said at U.S. Senator Joni Ernst's third annual "Roast and Ride" event near Boone, Iowa.
Pence's remarks come mere days before lawmakers will return to Washington, D.C.
Below is a complete transcript of Pence's address. The bold portions have been added to highlight his remarks on healthcare:
It is great to be back in the Hawkeye State. It is great to be with my friend, your great Senator, Joni Ernst. And it's a real joy to be here at the third annual Roast and Ride and it is great to back on a Harley. Thank you, Joni.
And I bring greetings today on behalf of my friend. The man the people of Iowa made the 45th President of the United States of America: President Donald Trump. You know, the President encouraged me to be here today to support our friend Senator Joni Ernst at this third annual Roast and Ride. And also, just to make a special point to say thanks. Thanks to all the good people of Iowa whose support led to our historic victory in last fall's election. Thank you so much.
I'm really honored and delighted to be here on this beautiful day on behalf of Senator Ernst. And with a lot of my favorite people. Senator Chuck Grassley is with us today. The great Senator Tim Scott has been with us today, out in the sunshine. Congressman Steve King and Iowa's brand new governor, Gov. Kim Reynolds. Governor, we know you're going to do a great job. We also know you've got big shoes to fill. You're following one of the best governors in American history, I'm proud to say our new ambassador to China, Ambassador Terry Branstad. Iowa, thanks for sparing the man. He's going to represent America well.
And thank you all for being here. It's deeply humbling for me to be with you today. To stand before you as Vice President of the United States of America. You know, it's the greatest privilege of my life to serve as vice president to President Donald Trump. Since Day One of this administration President Trump has been fighting tirelessly to make America safe again, to make America prosperous again. In his first 100 days, President Trump signed more legislation and executive orders rolling back red tape and excessive regulation than any president in American history. This president has been reining in big government. Repealing senseless policies in Washington, D.C. like the day he repealed the Waters of the USA rule. He's been restoring access to foreign markets for American farmers. He's been, in a word, renewing optimism in America. President Donald Trump is a man of his word. He's a man of action. And President Donald Trump has brought America back—and the world knows it.
It really is amazing. Thanks to President Trump's leadership American businesses are growing again. They're investing in America again. They're creating jobs here in Iowa and all across this country instead of shipping jobs overseas. In fact, thanks to President Trump's leadership, and the strong support we have from Iowa and Congress, over 600,000 new private sector jobs have been created this year and unemployment is at its lowest level in 16 years. And President Trump, I'm proud to say, has been standing with those who stand on the thin blue line, protecting our families every day. Just yesterday the President signed two more bills supporting the men and women of law enforcement in the United States of America.
You know, there's a lot of men and women wearing the uniform of law enforcement, and more than a few wearing the uniform of the United States here. Would you mind giving these police officers and all these peace officers the big round of applause they deserve. Thank you for what you do to protect our families.
President Trump has been working tirelessly with Iowa's conservative leaders in Washington every single day to keep the promises he's made to the American people. And let me say from my heart, as the proud father of a United States Marine, I couldn't be more grateful to be vice president to a president who cares so deeply about the men and women of the armed forces of the United States of America. Already this year, working with this 23-year military veteran-turned-Senator Joni Ernst, President Donald Trump has been busy rebuilding our military, restoring the arsenal of democracy. And Congress, in fact, under the President's leadership, with your Senator's support, just passed the largest increase in military spending in nearly 10 years.
And you know, working with that Iowa farmer Chairman Chuck Grassley, President Trump's been also keeping his word to appoint "principled conservatives" to the courts in this land, like the newest justice to the Supreme Court of the United States, Justice Neil Gorsuch. And I promise you, President Trump will continue to appoint men and women to the courts of this land who will uphold the God-given liberties enshrined in our Constitution, including the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. And you know, working with my old friend Congressman Steve King, President Trump's been busy securing our borders, ending illegal immigration, removing dangerous criminals off the streets of our cities—in fact, illegal immigration on our southern border is already down more than 60% this year alone. And it's going to fall even further because President Donald Trump is going to build a wall.
And working with all these great Iowa leaders, President Trump has stood, I can say, without apology, for the sanctity of human life. This administration has worked to prevent funding to abortion at home and abroad and will continue to stand for the unborn. And just two days ago, as the world watched, with the strong support of Senator Grassley and Senator Ernst, President Donald Trump withdrew the United States of America from the Paris climate accord. He put America first.
You know, as the President explained, the Paris accord punished the United States, no doubt about it: slower economic growth, slower and lower incomes for working families, literally millions of lost jobs. According to one independent study, if the Paris accord had gone forward it would have cost the U.S. economy more than six and a half million jobs in the next 25 years while giving countries like China and India virtually a free pass. [Did] you know under the Paris climate accord China would actually increase its CO2 emissions for the next 15 years? As the President said, this administration was elected to represent the people of Pittsburgh, not Paris. How great is it to have a president who's more concerned with Des Moines than Denmark? And I just couldn't have been more proud this week to be standing with a president who chose to put American workers and American jobs first. Who chose to put American energy and industry first. I want to submit to you, by withdrawing from the Paris climate accord President Donald Trump chose to put the forgotten men and women of America first—and he always will.
You know, in just four months President Trump, with the strong support of leaders here in Iowa, has taken decisive action to strengthen America at home and abroad. To uphold American sovereignty in the rule of law. And at this White House, that's what we call a good start.
But men and women of Iowa, we've got more work to do. And first and foremost, this summer this Congress must come together and heed the President's leadership and we must repeal and replace Obamacare. And working with Senator Joni Ernst, Senator Chuck Grassley, and all the members of Congress, I know we will. The Obamacare nightmare is about to end. And it's high time.
You and I remember the broken promises that they made to get Obamacare passed. Remember all of it? They said if you like your doctor you can keep him. Not true. They said if you like your health insurance you can keep it. Not true. You were told that health insurance costs would go down after Obamacare passed. Remember? Not true. Well now we know the facts. Just last week our administration released a new study showing just how bad Obamacare has failed the American people. Here in Iowa, Obamacare has more than doubled premiums on the individual market in just the past two years. The average premium costs $3,300 more today than it did in the year 2013.
And while costs are skyrocketing, choices are plummeting. You know what? I landed in Des Moines a few hours ago. I met a great family from Manning, Iowa who were bearing the burden of the failed policies of Obamacare. Two years ago Craig and Cindy Williams purchased an individual Wellmark healthcare plan by way of the Iowa Farm Bureau. But thanks to Obamacare's failed mandates and policies the Williams just learned that their policy will be canceled next year. Folks, that's heartbreaking. And the Williams family isn't alone. Wellmark is pulling out of Iowa's Obamacare exchange. And now the Williams and more than 21,000 Iowans are going to lose their health insurance plan next year.
And only three days after Wellmark pulled out, Aetna announced it's going to leave Iowa, too. Did you see it? And now Medico, the last insurer selling Obamacare coverage in the Hawkeye State, said they might follow suit. When that happens, that would leave 94 out of 99 counties in Iowa with literally no insurance options at all. You know, Iowa is facing a healthcare crisis under Obamacare, and it's high time we take action. That's why Congress must come together under the leadership of President Donald Trump and relieve Iowa and relieve America and repeal and replace Obamacare.
I'm glad to report as we speak Senator Ernst, Senator Grassley, and all of Iowa's leaders in Congress are working around the clock to bring about that repeal and replace once and for all. We're going to repeal Obamacare's job-killing mandates. We're going to remove the burden of Obamacare's taxes on working families and small businesses. We're going to give Americans more choices with expanded Health Savings Accounts and a new tax credit to help you buy the insurance that you need at the price you can afford.
We're going to make sure that Americans with preexisting conditions have access to the care and coverage that they need—no exceptions. And we're going to reform and strengthen Medicaid to help the people who truly need it most. And we're going to give states like Iowa the flexibility you need to care for the most vulnerable in this state the Iowa way, with solutions from the people of the Hawkeye State.
We've got work to do. And once we repeal and replace Obamacare, we're going to roll out sleeves up, and working with these great leaders in Congress, we're going to pass one of the largest tax cuts in American history. Under President Trump's leadership we're going to cut taxes across the board for working families, small businesses, and family farms. We're going to reform the tax code to make it simpler, flatter, and fairer. You know there's that old joke that says that the tax code is twice as long as the Bible with none of the Good News. Well the good news is, our president's going to cut taxes, put more money in your pockets, keep it out of the hands of wasteful bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. and get this economy moving again.
We're going to slash the business rate to 15% so American companies here in Iowa can compete with companies all over the world. And under President Donald Trump's leadership, we're going to repeal death taxes once and for all. Our tax cut's going to mean more jobs, higher incomes, and a pay increase for hard-working Iowans. You know folks, I've said it before, I feel it every day: It's the greatest privilege of my life to serve as vice president to a president who is so committed to restoring an America of freedom, prosperity, and security.
And let me say as I close, in these challenging and divided times, I know in my heart that there are better days ahead. I'm confident, because of the strength of our president, because of the support of principled leaders like Senator Joni Ernst and all those gathered here, because of the courageous men and women who stood in the gap in last fall's election to give America the leadership that we needed.
And we are on the verge of a boundless American future built on American principles and freedom. I know we'll succeed. I know we'll succeed because I have faith in our president, and faith in the great majority in Congress, and most important, I have faith in all of you. But lastly I think it's also a good time for us to lean on that other kind of faith. You know, in these too-divided times, with unknowable threats around the world, it's a good time for men and women who bow the head and bend the knee to maybe do that a little bit more often for America.
And you know, I'm not talking about praying for one particular cause and one particular agenda. I rather like what Abraham Lincoln said in his time when he was asked if he thought God was on his side. President Lincoln said, "I rather concern myself more with whether we're on God's side then whether God's on our side." So just pray for America. Pray for this country. Because I truly do believe that words that were spoken and recorded millennia ago are every bit as true today as they were then. They're words that Americans have repaired to throughout much more challenging times in the life of this nation. That if His people, who are called by His name, will humble themselves and pray, He'll hear from Heaven, and He'll heal this land, this one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
So Senator Ernst, thanks for the motorcycle lesson. Thank you all for the warm Iowa hospitality. I leave you today with gratitude in my heart on behalf of our president. I say I'm confident, with the great support of the people of Iowa, with the great leadership you've sent to Washington, D.C., with President Donald Trump in the White House and God's help, we will make America safe again, we will make America prosperous again, and—to borrow a phrase—we will make America great again.
Thank you very much, Iowa. Thank you and God bless you.