WASHINGTON -- House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy told members of the Hot Springs Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday that the United States is headed in the right direction, and he pointed to changes that have taken place since President Donald Trump took office.
The second-ranking Republican told the Arkansans that regulatory burdens are dropping, the economy is growing and leaders overseas are impressed with where the nation is headed.
He also cited the tax cuts that were passed by Republicans in Congress and signed into law in December.
"Hopefully you all felt a little pay raise because your withholding was different," the California lawmaker said.
In addition to lower tax rates, there were also dividends that resulted from the changes, he said.
"In 39 states, their electrical bills are lower now because they took the tax savings and passed them on," he said. "[There are] millions of people that got bonuses, but a lot of people got [their] minimum wage raised up because the business passed it on. That's a unique thing that is happening."
McCarthy, who traveled to Davos, Switzerland, in January for the World Economic Forum, said people there seemed impressed by the recent U.S. tax overhaul.
"You know the number one thing they said in that meeting? 'We're going to do tax reform now,'" McCarthy recalled.
Leaders in Great Britain also were impressed by their chief ally's direction, he said.
"I was asking them, 'What do [you] think about America?'" he said. "You know what they said? It totally shocked me: 'You're back to doing big things. America's back.'"
In addition to touting the nation's direction, McCarthy used his appearance to praise U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman, the second-term Republican from Hot Springs who invited him to speak.
"You talk about a guy that hit the ground running," McCarthy said, predicting Westerman eventually will become a committee chairman.
Republicans as well as Democrats hold Westerman in high esteem, he said. "They respect his ability, his character, his intellect and his honesty."
With House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., announcing his retirement, Westerman predicted that McCarthy will be moving up in the chain of command.
"He wouldn't say this, but I'll say he is definitely the front-runner to be the new speaker," Westerman told the crowd. "He's got my support in doing that, and I hope that he will pursue that."
Wednesday's comments came during a breakfast at the National Republican Club of Capitol Hill, a popular gathering spot for conservatives.
This is the fifth-straight year that the Hot Springs Chamber of Commerce has organized a Washington fly-in, according to Chamber president and Chief Executive Officer Gary Troutman.
"We started with 13 back in 2014. ... We've grown every year," he said.
Each year, Westerman helps line up speakers for the breakfast.
This year, roughly 40 Hot Springs residents made the trip.
"We love to come up here and, frankly, I think he and his staff love to see some friendly faces from back home," Troutman said.
Chamber members have good relationships with members of the congressional delegation, he said.
Those ties came in handy last year, when lawmakers were deciding whether to eliminate the Federal Historic Preservation Tax Incentives program.
The program gives tax breaks to people who restore historically significant structures.
"If we don't have that historic tax credit in downtown Hot Springs, all the progress and everything that we've done just comes to an immediate halt because there's no incentive to develop those old buildings downtown," Troutman said.
Westerman, and Arkansas' U.S. Sens. John Boozman and Tom Cotton helped to preserve the incentives "so Hot Springs could continue to grow," he added.
Metro on 04/26/2018
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