Pence says he doesn’t buy argument that the rich don’t pay ‘fair share’ of taxes

By: - July 5, 2023 5:26 pm

Former Vice President Mike Pence, left, signs a baseball for a man who attended his campaign event July 5, 2023, in Sioux City. (Photo by Jay Waagmeester/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

LE MARS — Former Vice President Mike Pence told Iowa voters Wednesday that he “doesn’t buy” the argument that the wealthiest Americans do not pay their fair share of taxes.

U.S. Rep. Randy Feenstra and the Wells Visitor Center and Ice Cream Parlor hosted Pence and about 50 attendees at a meet-and-greet Le Mars. Pence later addressed a standing-room-only crowd in Sioux City at an event hosted by the Woodbury County Republican Party and Republican Women. Pence was on the second day of a three-day trip to Iowa, after walking in a July 4 parade in Urbandale on Tuesday. 

“There’s no question that the tax code today creates a lot of different carve-outs for people who can shelter funds, keep dollars away,” Pence said. “I’m somebody that, I don’t really buy into ‘the rich need to pay their fair share.’ When you look at the statistics of where we actually get our funding from the government, the top 10% of earners in this country pay about 90% of the money that goes into the federal treasury.”

The 25 richest Americans paid an effective federal income tax rate of 3.4% between 2014 and 2018 and some of the country’s wealthiest billionaires paid no federal income taxes in some years, Propublica reported in 2021. But Pence and others point to net taxes paid, such as a Tax Foundation study indicating that the wealthiest 1% of Americans paid more than 40% of total federal income taxes in 2018.

Pence said the first thing a Republican president should do in 2025 is to make the Trump-Pence tax cuts, set to expire in 2025, permanent. 

“I’m not one of those people that buys into the Democrats’ message about fair share, because I guarantee you that Americans at the top of the income level carry the overwhelming burden for government costs in this country,” Pence said.

Pence talks about eliminating, restaffing agencies

Pence, polling behind former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, is making his way through Iowa, a state he said the nation owes gratitude to for shaping the nation’s leadership. 

Pence told reporters in Sioux City that  people remember him as a vice president, but he wants people to remember him for his other roles, too. 

“I was a governor of a state that actually balanced budgets and cut taxes at the same time,” Pence said. “I was governor of a state that had a school choice program, the largest in the country and we doubled it when I was governor. And then all along the way, I’ve stood without apology for the sanctity of life in my years in Congress, as governor, as vice president.”

Mavis Luther of Merrill said she was familiar with Pence but she came to Wednesday’s event in Le Mars uncertain about supporting him in 2024. 

Although she said it was too early to decide on a candidate, Luther was impressed after meeting with Pence in person and hearing more about him. 

“I am more impressed after I heard him speak, shook his hand, I saw how he answered questions, very impressed,” Mavis said minutes after Pence finished addressing attendees at the Le Mars event. 

Pence mentioned two federal departments he would address if elected president, one he would eliminate completely, the other he would completely restaff.

Luther asked Pence for his thoughts on the Department of Education. Pence replied by saying he would eliminate the federal Department of Education.

“If I’m president of the United States, we’re going to shut down the federal Department of Education and ship all that money back to the states,” Pence said. “Education is a state and local function.” 

Pence disagrees with a federal Department of Education, and believes it is an overstep by the federal government. He pointed out that he was one of 33 Republican representatives to vote against the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.

“I just don’t think that’s [the Department of Education] consistent with the interests of our kids or our families or the interests of limited government.”

Pence also addressed one member of the crowd’s concerns of a “two-tiered justice system.”

“I promise you, if I’m president of the United States, day one, we’re going to clean house at the Justice Department,” Pence said. “Not just the top people, we’re going to clean house, the secondary people. We are going to find men and women in this country of unimpeachable integrity who will support the rule of law and reaffirm the confidence of the American people.”

Trump talk

Orville Hames, a 69-year-old independent from Le Mars, said he hopes Pence wins the Republican nomination, so he can vote for him. 

Hames, who has voted for Democrats and Republicans over the years, says he has a feeling about Pence that he hasn’t felt about a candidate in years. 

“I don’t know how you really explain, it’s just a feeling you get about somebody. He’ll be good at it I think.”

Hames said he has not felt this way about a candidate since former President Ronald Regan. 

A two-time Trump voter, Hames said he appreciates Trump’s policy and agenda, but does not like Trump’s mouth.

Attendees questioned Trump’s former counterpart about their relationship, and moving forward. 

 “I stood loyally by the president until my oath to the Constitution required me to step away,” Pence said, repeating a common line in his stump speech.

In Sioux City, he expanded his remarks about his role in certifying the 2020 election. 

“It’s an issue that continues to be misunderstood. I know, by God’s grace, I did exactly what the Constitution of the United States required of me that day,” Pence said. “States conduct our elections. You never want to let Washington D.C. run elections, you certainly would never want one person in Washington D.C. to decide who the president of the United States is.

“I really think this election has got to be about the future. If we spend the next election talking about the past, you’re going to get four more years of Democrats in the White House.”

Pence told the audience multiple times how he feels about the party moving forward. 

“I think we need new leadership fitted to these times, new leadership in the Republican Party, and certainly new leadership in the White House,” Pence said. 


Former Vice President Mike Pence and Rep. Randy Feenstra met Iowa Republicans at a Pizza Ranch in Sioux City on July 5, 2023. (Photo by Jay Waagmeester/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

In Sioux City, Pence made a plea for civility. “There are things that you’re always going to be on the other side of the divide from someone in the other party, but there’s a whole range of issues that if you preserve a level of civility in public life, you can find ways to work together and solve real problems,” he said.

He offered himself as a path for hope for future generations.  

“The widening threats that we face around the world, that national debt that threatens to literally crush the vitality out of our economy for our children and grandchildren, these are the scope of issues that really are going to require us to have leadership that has at least a chance of bringing people together,” Pence said. “And I promise you that’s the kind of leadership I’ll bring.”

Mike Kelly from Lawton, an attendee at the Sioux City event, said he is looking for an honest candidate with good morals. 

Kelly said he grew up as a Democrat but he has connected more with Republicans in recent years. Coming into the event, Kelly said he didn’t have a preferred candidate, but he was leaving with Pence as his favorite. 

“We have a lot of people who are crooked … we need good people to make good decisions,” he said.

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Jay Waagmeester
Jay Waagmeester

Jay is a former Iowa Capital Dispatch intern. Jay is based in Ames and is currently a senior majoring in journalism and marketing at Iowa State University. He has interned at New Century Press and contributed to the Iowa State Daily.