LAWRENCE, MA—Today, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) delivered remarks on the need for pro-growth tax reform to employees at New Balance’s factory in Lawrence, Massachusetts—one of the company’s five athletic shoe manufacturing facilities in New England. Below are Speaker Ryan’s full remarks as delivered.
“Let me just say a few things. First, I’m thrilled to be here because I’m kind of a gym rat, and I’ve never seen what my shoes look like being made. So that’s actually a really cool thing to see. It’s just amazing—the skill and the craftsmanship that goes into each shoe, and the fact that you can now customize. Just amazing. So you should be really proud of the work that you put into this, and really proud of what you achieve right here in our country. So thank you for that.
“Look, the reason that I think this is a special place is because what you have built here, this is the American idea, this is the American dream, this is what this country is built on.
“This is a business founded by an immigrant more than a century ago that has been built into a multibillion-dollar leader in the industry worldwide. That is a great American story.
“It’s a business that is headquartered right here in Lawrence, right here in the United States, that employs thousands of Americans.
“It’s a business that proudly labels many of its products Made in America. I see the signs all over here.
“Here’s the problem: Today, places like this, this is more the exception than the rule. That’s our problem.
“Companies are not flocking to the United States—companies are fleeing this country and taking their good jobs with them. They are not storing up their profits and their capital here—they are keeping them offshore. They are not making any of their products in America—they are making them in China. They are making them in India.
“In 1992, New Balance had an ad—I don’t know if you remember this—you had an ad that posed: ‘If we can make great athletic shoes in America, why can’t our competition?’
“Remember that ad?
“Well, here is one big reason why: Because we have the worst business tax code in the industrialized world. We are doing it to ourselves.
“The problem is we haven’t really done anything about it. It really is just what you said, Jim. It wasn’t since Tip O’Neill and Ronald Reagan. We haven’t addressed this issue since then. 1986. It’s the year I got my driver’s license. This is the last time we addressed our tax system, and whether or not it’s being competitive or not, and whether or not we are helping or hurting American businesses and American manufacturers.
“Here’s how crazy this system is. Right now, big businesses like this one, they pay a tax of at least 35 percent. Successful small businesses—that’s 8 of out 10 businesses in America—file their taxes [as individuals]. Successful small businesses, their top tax rate is 44.6 percent. So we’re taxing businesses, jobs creators, between 35 and almost 45 percent.
“Well, you know what overseas is like? Overseas, which were I come from means Lake Superior, I’m from Wisconsin. You know what they do overseas in Canada? They tax their businesses at 15 percent. Ireland is 12.5 percent. England is going down to 18 percent. China: 25 and going down. The rest of the world taxes their businesses at an average tax rate of 22.5 percent. We’re shooting ourselves in the foot. This is America saying we’re going to tax our job creators, our businesses, between like 35 and 45 percent. How can we possibly remain competitive with a tax code that actively works against us? And the answer is we can’t.
“So our plan is really simple. It is to get businesses competitive again.
“We are going to slash the corporate tax rate to level the playing field, and the businesses tax rate for all businesses, to level the playing field for companies like this. We’ve got to get these tax rates down. Because when we’re taxing our businesses at much, much higher tax rates than our foreign competitors are taxing theirs, we’re not going to win in that exchange.
“So what we need to do is we need to throw out those complicated loopholes, those deductions, those special-interest loopholes. And then we are going to create a new, lower tax rate specifically for manufacturers, for small businesses, for companies like this, for businesses across America, so they can actually compete.
“This will help bring good-paying jobs back from overseas and it’s going to increase our economic competitiveness.
“We are going to get rid of the ridiculous system that we have that tells American companies: Keep your money overseas. I mean literally what happens is companies that sell products like New Balance shoes overseas, they’ve got to keep that money overseas. They can’t bring it back. It’s ridiculous. We are the only country in the industrialized world that does this now.
“We literally have trillions of dollars parked overseas to avoid our tax system. This is money that could—and this is money that will—be reinvested in the American economy once our reform is in place. Let and encourage those companies to bring that money back home, reinvest in this country, reinvest in our people. Reinvest, pay taxes, build roads, get things done right here in America. That is so essential and so critical.
“So that is the business side of tax reform. Get our rates down. Make us competitive. Encourage companies to come back from overseas. We’ve got to reform that code because it is costing us jobs.
“Let’s talk about workers. Let’s talk about families.
“Right now, we got tax code that basically no one truly understands enforced by an agency no one really likes: the Internal Revenue Service.
“Think about that sense of dread that you have not knowing how much you are going to pay. That feeling you get thinking about navigating all those forms and all those deductions. That feeling you get from the mere thought of having to deal with the IRS.
“We are going to simplify all of this.
“First and foremost, we’re going to cut your taxes.
“You work hard, you work long, and the government’s quite honestly not making the best of it. I think you can do a whole lot more with your own money, keeping more of it in your own pocket, doing what you will with it, investing in your life, investing in your family. That helps grow this economy.
“Next, we need to eliminate harmful and burdensome taxes like the death tax that makes it harder for families to pass businesses on to the next generation.
“And finally, we will consolidate these deductions and we need to double the standard deduction, just to make the whole thing simpler—so that you can save and make your life less stressful come tax season.
“Imagine this. Imagine filling out your taxes on a form the size of a postcard. That’s what we’re talking about here. We’re talking about simplifying this thing so much that it’s so easy. You don’t have to go to a tax preparer, you don’t have to navigate all these rules and all these deductions, and all these loopholes, not knowing what it’s going to look like until you’re done with the process. Make it easy. Make it simple. Keep more of what you earn. And get the special interests out of it. And give people a postcard-type tax return. That’s what we’re talking about.
“That makes it easier for families. That makes it easier for workers. That helps grow the economy. That helps people in small towns like Janesville, Wisconsin or Lawrence, Massachusetts.
“So that is basically a quick overview of what we want to achieve. And the reason we want to achieve this is it’s high time to do it.
“It’s ambitious. There are a lot of people who say oh gosh this can’t be done. I mean, not since 1986 has it been done. You’re going to see a lot of talk like that. That’s what the cynical talk in Washington is like these days and just about every day I’ve seen in Washington. Don’t fall for it.
“We’re going to get this done in 2017. We’re going to get this done because we have to get this done. The competitiveness of our economy. The viability of our jobs. Making sure that we can be competitive. That we can grow. That we can create. That we can raise families and have faster growth, and not just the economy, but our wages, our standard of living.
“We cannot miss this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. This is a once-in-a-generation moment.
“It is time to cut taxes and simplify the code.
“It is time to create jobs and grow our economy.
“It is time to restore this nation to its full potential.
“It is time to get this done for our fellow citizens, the American people.
“And I just want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. You’ve been so fantastic. You’re working hard. You’re making a difference. You’re raising your families. You’re making us proud. You’re showing what a true American success story looks like. So thank you very much for having me. I really appreciate it.”