Mike Pence says the American dream was ‘dying’ until Trump was inaugurated

Vice President Mike Pence said Wednesday that the American dream was “dying until President Donald Trump was inaugurated” in 2017.

“Was the American dream in trouble? You bet,” Pence said in an interview with CNBC’s Joe Kernan on “Squawk Box” Thursday morning. “I really do believe that’s why the American people chose a president whose family lived the American dream and was willing to go in and fight to make the American dream available for every American.”

Pence told Kernan that before Trump became president, trade deals pushed car manufacturers out of the country, something he saw while serving as Indiana’s governor, but Trump fought “for trade deals that put American jobs and American workers first.”

Some manufacturers have expanded in the U.S. since Trump began his term in the Oval Office. In February, Ford announced plans to invest $1 billion and add jobs at its Chicago factories as it makes cuts overseas. A Toyota and Mazda joint venture in 2018 broke ground on a $1.6 billion assembly plant in Alabama that is expected to open in 2021 and employ 4,000 people.

However, others aren’t faring as well. General Motors shut down a decades-old factory in Lordstown, Ohio, in March, leaving thousands of workers in search of new jobs.

Though the Trump administration had success in boosting manufacturing jobs, many feel the American dream still faces challenges, according to a February poll by RealClearPolitics.

Some 37% of the poll’s voters said the American dream is alive, but under threat; 28% said it’s under serious threat, but that there’s still hope; 7% said it is dead; and 27% said it is alive and well.

But Pence said the American dream is recovering.

Trump’s policies are generating jobs and raising wages “at the fastest pace of all,” he said, which “gives evidence of the fact that the American dream is coming back. People are seeing opportunity open up. Small business confidence at record highs, according to the NFIB.”

Indeed, the small business association’s optimism survey hit a 45-year high in August and has remained strong, the group said in recent press releases.

Pence’s comments come as a number of U.S. billionaires and business leaders call for fixes to America’s system of capitalism. Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett, J.P. Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, Bridgewater founder Ray Dalio and Microsoft founder Bill Gates — who are some of the wealthiest people in the country — have said the current economic system contributes to income inequality.

In a letter to shareholders last week, Dimon wrote he was exasperated by the growing inequality in the U.S. He recommended higher taxes on America’s wealthiest citizens.

“If that happens, the wealthy should remember that if we improve our society and our economy, then they, in effect, are among the main winners,” Dimon said.

The White House did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

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