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President Donald Trump visited Springfield Wednesday, Aug. 30 to talk tax reform. Below, follow KSMU's coverage leading up to his trip and from his speech, which took place at ventilation equipment manufacturer Loren Cook Company.

How a Simple, Fair Tax System Would Help Springfield Workers, Businesses

Jerry Cook
Ryan Welch

Business and city leaders are among those supporting calls by President Donald Trump to ease the tax burden on the middle class.

Trump visited Springfield Wednesday to launch his tax reform proposal, speaking to roughly 1,500 inside Loren Cook Company, which makes ventilation equipment. The crowd consisted of invited employees and their families, as well as state and federal elected officials.

Matt Morrow, president of the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce, told KSMU after Trump’s speech that simplifying the tax code on the middle class would be like “Giving everyone who works so hard in Springfield a raise.”

“You wanna see people get a chance to have those labors rewarded and this is a way to really have a focused effort on that and be sensitive to the fact that people are working hard and get to keep more of what they earn,” said Morrow.

Trump laid out four principals for his tax overhaul Wednesday, which Morrow says is important in terms of setting the direction.

“From there policymakers begin to build out what that looks like by way of law. And the devil’s always in the details and that’s where the obstacles come out.”

Trump’s speech fell short of specifics, speaking broadly about simplifying the tax code and “eliminating special-interest loopholes.”

“I wanna work with Congress – Republicans and Democrats alike – on a plan that is pro-growth, pro jobs, pro worker and pro American," Trump said.

The president said that Americans know how to spend their money better than the government, which was met with loud applause.

Springfield Councilwoman Kristi Fulnecky, who attended the speech, agrees.

“Me being part of a local government I understand how the government tends to take more and more money away from the average working American. So I think it’s important that we try and return that because the people know how to spend their money correctly, and I think as a society we’re overtaxed,” she said.

Fulnecky is against calls for the city continuing a level property tax. She was the lone dissenting vote by Springfield City Council this week in placing the item on the November ballot. Springfield residents currently pay a 27-cent property tax (per $100 of assessed value), which the city says generates about $8 million per year.

Loren Cook Company Director of Marketing Jim Meats says creating a tax system that puts more money back into a business means more opportunities to grow, calling re-investment a philosophy of the Cook family.

A vast majority of Loren Cook employees are middle class, says Meats, who could greatly benefit from a more fair tax code.

“I’m no economist by any stretch but I do know that particularly for dollars that are set free in our local economy they tend to recycle themselves. So I think that by freeing those dollars up for consumer consumption that we know that it is more likely to buoy the local economy and the statewide economy in general.”

Picking Springfield

Word of Trump’s visit to Springfield broke last Friday. Meat says the administration was seeking a venue that could accommodate 300 people and fit the tax reform message.

“They were asking this question of many, many people,” said Meat. “They reached out to some of the local community who have connections – White House level connections, governor-level connections and said ‘Hey, who could we talk to about this possible?’ And Loren Cook Company happened to be one of those companies.”

The president’s team selected the Springfield manufacturer as the speaking venue shortly after touring it Saturday morning. The company setup 1,200 chairs to accommodate its employees, all of whom had been invited, along with their families. Turnout was closer to 1,500. 

Meat says Wednesday’s message of tax reform and pro-business really resonates with the Cook family because it’s proud to be in the manufacturing industry.

“It is a diminishing role,” he said. “We know that many many millions of U.S. manufacturing jobs have been lost to overseas competition over the years, and the Cooks have been committed to [preventing] that," noting that Loren Cook has never had a manufacturing operation on foreign soil.

Jerry Cook, the company’s president, addressed the crowd prior to Trump’s speech.

“Two things that I’m probably the most proud of; is the fact that every fan, everything that was ever built was always in the United States. And as long as I’m alive we will never manufacture in Mexico, China or wherever else.”

The other thing that gives Cook pride is the company has never had a layoff, he said.  

He acknowledges some component parts in its ventilation fans aren’t produced in the U.S., and need to be purchased from other countries.

“With President Trump’s tax package it’s going to really help bring some of those jobs back here.”

Morrow, the chamber president, says Trump’s choice to reveal his tax plan in Springfield is significant because “This area, this part of the country really represents that Midwestern work ethic, people who work hard and are not afraid of that and willing to do that and at the same time hopefully have the fruits of their labor rewarded well.”

Scott joined KSMU in November 2012. He had previously served five years as news director for KETR-FM, the public radio station in Commerce, Texas. A graduate of Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville, Scott enjoys producing human-interest stories, among other pieces that educate and engage the community. When not at work, he’s often taking part in outdoor activities, exploring new areas and restaurants, or staying up-to-date with the latest news and information. Scott was born and raised in Shenandoah, Iowa.