Remarks by the Vice President at a Listening Session on Philanthropy
The Vice President’s Ceremonial Office
2:20 P.M. EDT
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, first and foremost on behalf of President Trump and the First Family, welcome to the White House. We are delighted to have you here.
I want to thank you for what all of the members of the Philanthropy Roundtable mean to the life of this nation. For 30 years, the Philanthropy Roundtable has mustered the power of private charity to advance liberty, opportunity, and personal responsibility. And the contributions of the foundations represented around this table are immense and have changed lives across this country in incalculable ways. So thank you so much for all the institutions that you represent have done.
Today you have a membership of some 630 organizations and individuals. The causes you support make a difference in communities large and small. The President and I are particularly grateful for your support for school choice and advancing those principles, as my friend Fred Klipsch has done from Indiana, Hoosiers for Quality Education, for many years. It’s emblematic of the leadership that we have all around this table.
You represent the best of the American tradition of generosity, and I’m grateful to have a chance to talk to you about policies that we're advancing under President Trump’s leadership here in our Nation’s Capital from tax reform to healthcare reform. And I look forward very much to your input.
It’s important to say that America is far and away the most generous nation on Earth and in the history of the world. Our people have given a record $373 billion to charitable causes last year alone. More than two-thirds of American households give to charity each and every year. So I say thank you. Thank you on behalf of your President. Thank you on behalf of the American people for the generosity represented around this table.
Now each of us knows that charitable giving is fueled by generosity and by economic growth, and this administration is all about growth. I can assure you of that.
From the first days of this administration, President Trump, our entire team has been working with the Congress to roll back excessive regulations, expand access to American energy, and the results speak for themselves -- 800,000 new jobs created since January of this year. And so important to these foundations that are gathered around here managing the portfolios that many of you manage, there’s been almost a $3 trillion increase in stock market value since the outset of this administration.
The American people are more confident in many quarters than ever before, and you see that reflected in the stock market and investments that Americans are making.
A more prosperous America can be a more generous America, and so I want to assure you that the President and I and our entire administration are anxious to get your counsel on how we might continue to promote economic growth.
But with that said, let me say that in addition to tax reform that we want to talk about today, President Trump and I truly believe that one of the keys to spurring economic growth in America today is to keep our promise to repeal and replace Obamacare.
And the President and I are very pleased that just a few hours ago, the leadership in the United States Senate released an updated version of the Senate healthcare bill. The President and I are truly grateful to Leader Mitch McConnell, and we urge every member of the United States Senate to roll their sleeves up and get this bill to the President’s desk and get it there soon.
As I saw again in Kentucky just yesterday, American families and American businesses are hurting under the collapsing weight of Obamacare, and it’s time for Congress to act. This legislation President Trump and I believe is the right bill at the right time to begin the end of Obamacare. And we would be grateful to have your support.
This legislation will put American healthcare back on a path toward more freedom, more choices, and more affordability for working families. The Senate healthcare bill repeals Obamacare individual and business mandates. It cuts taxes on working families and small businesses and restores freedom, and we believe it will create jobs.
The bill expands health savings accounts to pay for insurance premiums. It also offers tax credits to Americans to help buy coverage at a more affordable price. It provides $45 billion to states across the country to combat the scourge of opioid addiction and also ensures that every American with a preexisting condition has access to the coverage and care that they need -- no exceptions.
And lastly, surrounded by so many great advocates of American personal responsibility and federalism, I can tell you that this legislation gives states all new freedom and flexibility to reform Medicaid in ways that it will better meet the needs of the most vulnerable in those states.
We truly do believe that the Senate healthcare bill is the beginning of the end of Obamacare. It will return American healthcare to a system based on our time-honored principles of free-market completion, personal responsibility, and state-based reform. And above all else, it will give the American people more freedom when it comes to the choices that they make for healthcare.
President Trump and I look forward to the Senate voting on this bill as early as next week. We believe that together with Republicans in the Senate and soon considering this bill again in the House, that we will begin the end of Obamacare. And we will finally give the American people the kind of world-class healthcare they deserve built on the American principles of freedom, free-market choices, and state-based reform. And we’d be grateful to have your support.
With that, let me express my appreciation to all of you who are gathered here, but most especially to the leadership of the Philanthropy Roundtable. And, Adam Meyerson, if you’d like to make a few remarks.
MR. MEYERSON: Thank you so much, Mr. Vice President, for your leadership as a champion for charities and for economic growth. And thank you, Marc Short, for taking the time to be with us today.
America, as you said, Mr. Vice President, is the most charitable country on Earth. No other country comes close. Volunteering private giving is central to our character as a people and it is central to our freedom. Independent private giving sustains the independence of private institutions; our churches and synagogues; our universities and colleges -- like Hanover -- our think tanks of left, right, and center; our health clinics for veterans; our crisis pregnancy centers; and the charitable deduction is an indispensable guardrail against the intrusion of government into our lives and into our communities.
The deduction tells political leaders that money given to charity is not theirs, but belongs to civil society. We’re in a great national debate now about whether the federal government is exercising too much control of our lives, and our country faces great crises such as the collapse of the family, the failure of schools to teach our children. And these are crises where the answers are not to be found in Washington, but from churches, neighborhood problem solvers, and other institutions of civil society.
Now is the time for more charitable giving, not less. Now is the time to increase charitable giving from 2 percent to 3 percent of GDP. And now is the time to make the charitable deduction universal, so it is available to all Americans.
We’re so honored to be here and grateful for your leadership, and I’ll look forward to the exchange of ideas.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Adam. Thank you all very much.
Q Mr. Vice President, will you be making calls this weekend to senators about the bill?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I was on Capitol Hill today.
Q How was the meeting?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Very encouraged by the action that Senate leadership has taken. We believe the Senate healthcare bill is the right bill at the right time. It’s important that the Senate move forward next week -- bring this bill forward, send it back to the House, and put it on the President’s desk.
Q Do you think the Leader will be able to get to 50 votes?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, we’re going to work very hard. The President and I have already talked today, and President Trump and I and our entire administration strongly support the Senate healthcare bill. We believe it represents the beginning of the end of Obamacare. And the introduction of reforms in this legislation we believe will once again put the American people back in charge of their own healthcare and give states all new freedom and flexibility to ensure that Medicaid works in each individual state, particularly when it comes to the most vulnerable.
2:30 P.M. EDT