Vice President Mike Pence stopped in Council Bluffs, Iowa as part of a promotional tour with America First Policies to highlight the accomplishments of the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, signed into law late last year. This is the fourth stop on Pence’s tour with the organization — whose mission is to promote President Donald Trump’s executive agenda — having previously visited Dallas, Pittsburgh, and Detroit.
Though Pence was advertised by the organization as the early-evening’s main attraction, supporters from both Nebraska and Iowa were first met with a roundtable discussion with public and private leaders including: Iowa Lt. Governor Adam Gregg, Director of the Iowa Economic Development Authority Deborah Durham, CEO of Iowa-based Ruan Transportation Corporation Ben McLean, and International Tax and Transfer Pricing Specialist Tod Behrend. The panel’s predominant focus was the impact that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was having on Iowans, as well as America as a whole.
According to the Iowa Department of Revenue (IDR), Iowans stand to save a collective $1.5 billion in 2018 because of the tax act, however, with Iowa being one of four states with federal deductibility, Iowans’ liability to the state’s income tax will increase, due to the inverse relationship between the state’s taxes and the federal government’s taxes. Currently circulating the legislative and executive branches of Iowa are two tax bills that remove Iowa’s federal deductibility, while also cutting individual income tax rates (the Iowa Senate bill cuts corporate tax rates in addition to income tax rates).
Pence, who was introduced by Governor Kim Reynolds following the panel, touted the success of the tax legislation and the Trump administration’s commitment to deregulating the public and private sectors to allow for growth and efficiency, as well as promoting energy independence with progress on both the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines. However, neither the panel nor Pence made comments about Trump’s commitment to placing tariff’s on foreign steel and aluminum, which greatly impact the pipeline projects, as well as the midwest economies of Iowa and Nebraska.
In Iowa alone, the Dakota Access Pipeline project will span nearly 17 counties and cover approximately 348 miles. According to industry groups, a 25 percent tariff on imported steal would increase the cost of a typical (280 mile) pipeline project by approximately $76 million. For projects the size of Dakota Access, prices are likely to increase by approximately $300 million. The cost to build the Keystone XL Pipeline, which is already at $8 billion, may increase by as much as $200 million after officials in Nebraska approved a route change. Much of the Keystone XL material has already been contracted to foreign companies, as well as U.S. companies. Purchased pipe that was being held outside the U.S. will most likely need to be replaced if the tariffs are put into place.
As for farmers, tariffs on imported aluminum and steel could result in nations placing their own tariffs on American goods, especially American livestock, soybeans, and corn, as America’s biggest steel imports come from Canada, Brazil, South Korea, and Mexico. This would increase prices that farmers have to pay on top of lowering commodity prices.
While Pence was making his fourth stop as part of the tour promoting the tax legislation, he was also attending a fundraising dinner in Nebraska for Governor Pete Ricketts (R), as well as Republican Congressman Don Bacon. Prior to his Iowa/Nebraska visit, Pence visited Michigan, Tennessee, and Texas to help with fundraising for down-ballot elections in 2018. According to his calendar of events, by the end of April, Pence will have been the headliner 30 times, kicked off by his efforts in January at Camp David with Trump, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
According to the most recent HuffPost Pollster update that aggregates polling data, Pence is polling at at 42.1 percent favorability, with a 41.9 percent unfavorable rating, despite Trump’s approval rating at around 38.7 during the same time period. Pence told the crowd at Council Bluffs that he was really out touring on behalf of Trump, who told him to give the citizens “his best.”