Speaking in Charlotte, Vice President Mike Pence on Friday touted the Trump administration's record and particularly its tax cuts, the results of which he called "nothing short of remarkable."
"President Donald Trump signed the largest tax cuts and tax reform in American history," the vice president told more than 700 people at Park Expo. ". . . The last year and few months can be summed up with one simple phrase: promises made and promises kept."
The event came in the middle of a North Carolina swing that included a Greensboro fundraiser for a Republican member of Congress and an uptown Charlotte fundraiser for the national GOP and Trump's re-election campaign.
It was the vice president's 11th appearance for a pro-Trump group called America First Policies. Pence alluded to many of those policies, from the border wall to the Syria missile attack to the nomination of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch.
Though polls continue to show the cuts remain a hard sell for many Americans, Pence and other GOP officials praised the effect the $1.5 trillion tax cut is having on North Carolina families.
He followed a panel discussion focused on the tax cuts that featured U.S. Sen Thom Tillis, U.S. Rep. Robert Pittenger and former Nucor CEO Dan DiMicco. Supporters say the cuts will mean an extra $2,000 a year for a typical family of four.
"We believe in the American people," Pittenger said. "We believe they know how to spend their money better than the government does." "The proof," said Tillis, "is in the paycheck."
Pitenger talked up the tax cuts three months ago during a visit to Charlotte Pipe and Foundry. Company officials credited the tax cut with allowing them to give $1,000 bonuses to each of their 1,400 employees. American Airlines, Charlotte-based Bank of America, BB&T and Home Depot have been among dozens of companies giving bonuses.
This week, Bank of America credited the tax cuts with record first quarter profits of $6.9 billion. The bank said the tax law reduced its first quarter taxes by $500 million.
But critics say it's corporations and the rich who will see the biggest windfall from the tax cuts.
“Since passing the GOP tax scam, Republicans have worked overtime to sell this disastrous legislation to the American people. We’re not buying it,” U.S. Rep. Alma Adams of Charlotte said in a statement.
The N.C. Justice Center, a left-leaning group, says the number of N.C. taxpayers who will actually see their taxes go up will rise from 361,000 next year to nearly 1.4 million by 2027. That's because some provisions of the law will have expired.
And they say the reduction of revenue will mean less money for things like medical research, education and child care. Politico estimated the total 10-year cost of the cuts at $2.3 trillion.
"Wealthy taxpayers and profitable corporations continue to get tax breaks year after year at the expense of our families and communities in North Carolina," said Alexandra Sirota, director of the Justice Center's Budget & Tax Center. "Now the federal tax plan... is likely to lead to cuts to the things that make our communities thrive."
For many people, polls suggest the tax cuts remain a hard sell.
Forbes reported this month that Americans have a more negative than positive impression of the cuts. It cited a Gallup poll that showed while support for the cuts had risen from 33 percent in January to 39 percent in March, more people still disapprove: from 55 percent in January to 48 percent in March.
Gallup found that not many Americans reported seeing results. Overall, it said, 32 percent of adults said they saw an increase in take-home pay because of the tax cuts while 64 percent had not.
"The polls aren't talking to the 80 percent of Americans who are getting a paycheck increase," Pittenger said.
There's some evidence that tax cuts isn't the winning issue Republicans hoped it would be. In Pennsylvania's special election, in a district Trump had won by 20 points, Democrat Conor Lamb criticized the tax cuts and beat the GOP candidate.