Former VP Pence talks UAW, Fed, border wall in exclusive YF Live interview

Former Vice President Mike Pence wants to return to the White House, this time as President. In an interview with Yahoo Finance Live's Seana Smith, Brad Smith, and Rick Newman, Pence weighs in on everything from the Federal Reserve to the war in Ukraine.

Pence makes it clear he is not a fan of Fed Chairman Jerome Powell, saying he would "absolutely go in a different direction with the chairman of the Federal Reserve." Pence argues that Powell has been playing "catch-up," adding that he would also get rid of the Fed's dual mandate.

Like many Republicans, Pence wants to see the Trump tax cuts made permanent. Pence though, wants to take it a step further. The Trump tax cuts cut the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%. Pence wants to take that down to 15%, saying it will give American businesses more of an advantage. Pence also takes a swipe at his former boss, saying former President Donald Trump's talk of imposing a 10% tariff on all imports could be "one of the largest tax increases in history."

Both President Biden and former President Trump plan on visiting striking UAW workers. Pence argues that "Bidenomics" is "driving" the strike, saying that under Biden's policies, wages are not keeping up with inflation and that the "Green New Deal buried in that so-called Inflation Reduction Act is waging war on people that manufacture combustion engine automobiles."

Pence is clear he wants to resume construction of the wall along the U.S. border with Mexico, saying it something he would do on "day one" in office. Another priority for Pence would be to "turn off the gusher of spending," which includes dealing with entitlement spending.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine was an "act of evil," Pence tells Yahoo Finance. "I want to give Ukraine what they need" to fight Russia, Pence says, adding that "appeasement has never worked." Pence expressed a view different from others in his party, saying "Ukraine is not our war, but freedom is our fight. I think it is imperative the United States of America continue to provide the soldiers in Ukraine what they need to repel that Russian invasion."

A big talking point for Republicans, including Pence, has been ending the "war on energy." President Biden has offered companies incentives to invest in green energy, but some companies may be reluctant to pursue them given that, if a Republican wins the White House, those incentives could disappear. Pence says he wants an energy policy that is "source neutral," adding that "we've gotta have an all-of-the-above energy strategy."

For more expert insight and the latest market action, click here to watch this full episode of Yahoo Finance Live.

Key video moments:

00:01:04 Why Pence wants to go '"n a different direction" with Fed chair

00:04:16 Pence on Trump tax cuts, why he wants to cut the corporate tax rate to 15%

00:06:30 Pence blames "Bidenomics" for UAW strike

00:10:10 Pence explains why U.S. businesses should support the GOP

00:12:13 What Biden policies Pence would change on day one

00:14:44 Pence on the border wall

00:15:33 What Pence's policy on Ukraine would be if elected

00:17:37 Pence discusses what is happening in the Republican party

00:19:44 What Pence would do about high gas prices

00:21:55 Pence talks about green energy tax incentives

Video transcript

SEANA SMITH: All right. Well, the second Republican debate is set for tomorrow where GOP candidates will go head to head on a wide range of issues-- from inflation to immigration to foreign policy. Now, the state of the economy is going to be a big focus. A new "Washington Post" and ABC News poll found that 74% of Americans disapprove of the current state of the economy. And inflation is a big reason for that. Former Vice President of the United States Mike Pence joins us now along with Yahoo Finance's Rick Newman. Mr. Vice President. Thanks so much for your time. It's good to see you.

MIKE PENCE: You bet. Good to be with you all. Thank you.

SEANA SMITH: Mr. Vice President, President Biden reappointed Jay Powell as Fed Chair for a second term. And here we are today, inflation is still too high. The Fed is signaling higher for longer rates. We know Americans are starting to get increasingly worried just about what the inflation picture is going to look like over the next several months, several years. If you were elected president, would you look to remove Chair Powell before his term expires in 2028?

MIKE PENCE: Well, look, I would absolutely go in a different direction with the chairman of the Federal Reserve. I mean, the fact is that the policies of quantitative easing back in the day and the policies that the Fed chairman has implemented have all been playing catch up. And we need a fresh leadership at the Fed that's going to step forward and join us in an effort to really tackle the inflation that is waging war on American families.

I mean, that number you cited in the poll today, Seana is just-- I think it might be a little low. Everywhere I go across this country, I hear families that are struggling. Two out of three families live in paycheck to paycheck. You know, we've gone to about 17% inflation since we left office. And it's all a result of Joe Biden's runaway spending, his war on energy.

And I expect when we take to the stage at the Reagan Library tomorrow night, there's going to be a renewed focus on the plan each and every one of us has. But not only having new leadership at the Fed, but also-- I think the time has come for us to end the dual mandate at the Federal Reserve.

You know, for years now, as you all well know, we've said the Federal Reserve needs to work on protecting the dollar and full employment. Well, I think full employment ought to be the job of the President, of members of Congress, of governors, and elected officials. We ought to focus Federal Reserve on protecting the integrity of the dollar. I'll do that if I'm President of the United States.

So ending the dual mandate, bringing new leadership to the Fed, that'll all be part of the Pence plan if I become President of the United States.

BRAD SMITH: And so you believe the Fed dual mandate, price stabilization, maximum employment should be trimmed. Under the existing Fed mandate, what grade then would you give Chair Powell and the FOMC in the effort to stabilize inflation now?

MIKE PENCE: Well, you know, it's almost like they're chasing after the failed policies of Bidenomics. I mean, Joe Biden is traveling around the country talking about Bidenomics being a success. And so I understand why after years of quantitative easing and essentially free money, why the Federal Reserve has taken the steps that they're taking. But they're painful. And they're really the result of failed policies of this administration.

So I want to focus on where the real responsibility is. And that is that we need new leadership in the White House. And frankly, I also believe we need new leadership in the Republican Party. Because at a time of record inflation over the last two and a half years, at a time of rising energy prices, let alone other crises at the border and otherwise, I really do see the Republican Party and frankly my former running mate really walking away from a commitment to fiscal responsibility to reform to the kind of steps that will put our nation back on a path of fiscal solvency and lay a foundation for real economic growth.

RICK NEWMAN: So let me ask you about fiscal responsibility. There are a couple of factors there. One is tax cuts, which reduce federal revenue. Republicans did that in the Trump tax cut law that went into effect in 2018. And then their spending. This is going to come back again because some of those Trump tax cuts are supposed to expire at the end of 2025. I believe you want to extend those tax cuts. Those are mostly tax cuts for individuals. But then you give up federal revenue. So you make the federal revenue problem worse. How do you address that problem?

MIKE PENCE: Well, we worked hard to pass the largest tax cuts and tax reform in American history back in 2017 and the economy boomed. And frankly, check the record, federal revenues went up as they almost invariably do. More than 40% increase in federal revenues in some categories.

So I'm confident that step 1 to getting this economy back on track is to make the Trump-Pence tax cuts permanent, which as you point out, do go away at the end of 2025. The other is I think we need to take a hard run at getting to a 15% corporate tax rate in this country. We tried to do that in the beginning. Ultimately we settled out north of 20%.

But I really do believe to put American businesses at advantage for attracting capital and investment and creating jobs here in our country. We ought to drive down that corporate tax rate. But the last thing we should ever do is raise taxes. And people deserve to know that Donald Trump is actually talking about a 10% tariff on all imports into the United States of America. I think it would be the worst possible time to impose what could be one of the largest tax increases in history, raising the cost of goods at the retail level for Americans, raising the cost of input and manufacturing.

I mean, now more than ever, we need to lower taxes, we need to balance budgets. And ultimately, we need to put our nation on a path of fiscal solvency by having leadership that's willing to engage the American people on reforming the real drivers of federal spending, which are entitlements and mandatory spending at the federal level.

RICK NEWMAN: We have an intensifying autoworker strike. President Biden is on way to walk with striking workers today. President Trump is going to address them tomorrow. How would you resolve this strike? First of all, would you get involved? Second of all, do you think the autoworkers deserve the additional pay and job security and benefits that they are asking for?

MIKE PENCE: Well, first let me say, you know, I was governor of Indiana. And Indiana is the second leading manufacturing state in the country per capita. We've got an awful lot of auto workers in the state and they're just great men and women, part of a great tradition. But I got to tell you, I think what's driving that UAW strike is not the standard arguments over class warfare and disparity between income and wages.

I think it's that, the fact is under Bidenomics, wages are not keeping up with inflation. And American auto workers know that. They're feeling it. And secondly, and just as important, the Green New Deal buried in that so-called Inflation Reduction Act is waging war on people that manufacture combustion engine automobiles, which last time I checked is most of what they manufacture in Detroit.

I mean, I think any auto worker paying attention, and they all do, has got to understand that Bidenomics has failed to protect their paychecks. And also that this drive toward mandating and subsidizing electric vehicles, the batteries for which are mostly made in China, many of those cars will be manufactured in China. And those factories are being built outside of Michigan.

Those autoworkers, I think, are stepping up and-- when Joe Biden makes it to that picket line, I would encourage any UAW workers looking on to pull him aside and say, "Hey, can we undo this Green New Deal that's poised to shut down gasoline-powered vehicles all over this country in the next 10 to 15 years?"

But at the end of the day too, I would tell you, I'm someone that believes in right to work. I believe people ought to be able to choose whether they join a union or don't join a union. Michigan just went backwards on right to work. They repealed a right to work legislation that they passed and you know I really do believe that the pathway forward for prosperity and manufacturing, including the automotive industry is to create a more competitive environment, have right to work.

Let's get beyond this Green New Deal electric vehicle mandate and subsidies. And let's bring policies that will really get wages rising in the country.

SEANA SMITH: So Vice President, just want to make sure I'm hearing you correctly. So you think that the strike right now by the UAW workers that it is justified.

MIKE PENCE: Well, look, I think that 74% of Americans that are frustrated with the economy under Joe Biden, I think that sentiment is very justified. Wages have not been keeping up with inflation despite all the happy talk coming out of Washington DC, and working Americans know it. Now, you know, I'll leave to the workers and negotiators and to the company to sort you know, what changes could be made. I know there's negotiations underway. I'm a free market conservative. I believe those things ought to be settled in the free market.

If I was President, I'd certainly encourage the dialogue. But I'd also go to the root causes of this, which is the fact that runaway inflation is undermining wages in this country. And this electric vehicle mandate and these subsidies are undermining combustion engine manufacturing of automobiles in this country. And autoworkers know it.

BRAD SMITH: Let's talk about some of the biggest business profiles in the free market. During your 2020 re-election campaign, UAW, they endorsed Biden. Current Disney CEO Bob Iger endorsed Biden. Even former HP Enterprise CEO and former California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman endorsed Biden-- a Republican, I might add. Why should US business executives believe that the Republican Party is now unified towards US economic interests versus pandering to express ideals of far-right supporters.

MIKE PENCE: Well, I think that's what we're settling out in this primary. You know, I'm actually very excited to be at the Reagan Library. It's a place my family has visited a number of times. I actually became a Republican because of Ronald Reagan. And Ronald Reagan combined optimism, civility with a vision for getting this economy moving again. You think of the parallels between today and the 1970s, they're striking.

I mean, inflation out of control, gasoline prices rising, embarrassment on the world stage, a failed Democrat administration. And Ronald Reagan stepped forward, not on the force of personality, not by bringing grievances forward, but because he articulated a vision of limited government, free market economics, a commitment to timeless American values, and America came roaring back.

I think as people look at our various campaigns and candidates, I expect they're going to be looking for the same vision. And as I'll try and do on this Wednesday night, I hope when people see me, see I'm a conservative that has all of my life and career been advancing that same commitment to a strong America at home and abroad, to limited government free market economics and values.

Is what brought us back after the '70s. It's what began to bring us back during our administration before that pandemic struck. But it's the real pathway toward a boundless American future, I'm confident.

RICK NEWMAN: Some of your proposals would require congressional action such as changing the Fed's mandate. Congress would have to do that. That's hard to do. But if you were to become President, what's the first Biden economic policy you would change through regulatory or executive action?

MIKE PENCE: Well, I think first and foremost is you step up and you undo what he undid at the Southern border of the United States. Look, a nation without borders is not a nation. And Joe Biden on the first day of his administration signed a stack of executive orders ending construction of the wall. He began a steady assault on the Remain in Mexico policy that I negotiated with Mexican officials.

The combinations of what we did ended illegal immigration and asylum abuse, essentially, by 90% before that pandemic struck. And so I think securing the Southern border of the United States, ending this avalanche of more than five million people into our country is really job 1. But secondly, I think you've got to turn off the gusher of spending.

I've got a plan at that really lays out about $1.2 trillion in cuts, the unspent dollars of about $3 trillion we need to cut off. I mean, I think the American people actually know that all of this debt that's piling up in Washington DC is driving the inflation that is literally robbing the value of what's in their wallets and their pocketbooks.

And so turning off the gusher of spending, and then taking my experience as 12 years in the Congress, 4 years as vice president, and four years as a governor to bear on bringing people together and figuring out a way that we can advance policies that will get this economy moving again. But I think the great challenge for our generation is going to be coming to terms with a national debt, the size of our nation's economy.

I'm one of the first candidates to actually even be willing to talk about reforming mandatory spending and entitlements for younger Americans. I'll sit members of Congress down on day 1, give them a vision for restoring fiscal solvency. Joe Biden's policy is insolvency. He won't even talk about these large programs that are more than 70% of the federal budget.

Donald Trump's policy is identical to Joe Biden's. Most of the candidates in the Republican primary are the same. But for me, it's about going to the American people, going to Congress, and putting America back on a solid foundation and a path to a balanced federal budget.

RICK NEWMAN: Would you resume construction of the Trump wall on the Southern border?

MIKE PENCE: Day 1, you resume construction. And frankly, I've been down to the border four times. And the girders that are still rusting in the sun laying on their side that have been there since Joe Biden stopped construction of the wall are going to be pretty handy for construction workers to continue it.

Look, the cartels are in operational control of the border, that's not my language. That's what our border patrol agents have told me. The wall is part of that, Remain in Mexico is part of that, Title 42 is part of that. But also just recognizing that at the end of the day, we have a broken immigration system. And we're going to have to go to the American people, ultimately, once we secure our border and fix this system once and for all.

RICK NEWMAN: The war in Ukraine. You do support US military aid to Ukraine unlike some members of the Republican Party. Would you do more? If you were President, would you be giving Ukraine more advanced weapons? Perhaps putting US military advisors in Ukraine, doing things like that?

MIKE PENCE: Well, Russia's unconscionable and brutal invasion of Ukraine was an act of evil. I've actually traveled into the region and seen the aftermath of the human tragedy that continues to unfold there. And I hold to that what used to be called the Reagan Doctrine, which is, if you're willing to fight our enemies on your soil, we'll give you the means to fight them there so we don't have to fight them.

I think Joe Biden has done a terrible job explaining our national interest in Ukraine and in supporting their military. Look, I've got a son in the Marine Corps, a son-in-law in the Navy, I have no doubt that Vladimir Putin, if he overruns Ukraine, he's going to cross the border of a NATO country that we're going to have to send our soldiers to fight.

So I want to give Ukraine what they need to fight them there. And I want to do a better job than Joe Biden has done. It seems to me Joe Biden has just given Ukraine enough not to lose, but I think providing them with, you know, the advanced weaponry, with missiles, with the aircraft necessary to really take the fight to the Russians and drive them out, it's the fastest way to ending this conflict. Appeasement has never worked.

I know that Donald Trump and others in this Republican field are talking about ending the race, others are questioning that we have any national interest there at all. Look, Ukraine is not our war, but freedom is our fight. And I think it is imperative the United States of America continue to provide the soldiers in Ukraine what they need to repel that Russian invasion.

I also think that sends the best message possible that we can send to China. That America is the leader of the free world. And the Western world will not tolerate them using force to extend their ambitions, especially, when it comes to Taiwan.

RICK NEWMAN: You've talked about this split in the Republican Party between populists and traditional Reaganite conservatives such as yourself. What can anybody do about what's going on in the Republican Party with threatening to default on the US debt? We now have threats of a shutdown, we have some Republicans saying, let's stop supporting Ukraine, no blank check. I mean, how do you either bring this party together or change it into something that looks like it is able to function and govern efficiently?

MIKE PENCE: Well, first, let me say about the government shutdown. You know, I was a House conservative leader for 12 years, and House Republicans are the last line of defense for taxpayers in Washington DC. So I encourage the team there and Speaker McCarthy to continue to drive and drive hard for one more down payment on fiscal responsibility and putting our nation back on a path toward a balanced budget.

But really, at the end of the day, I think this ultimately goes into the hands of the American people. I'm working my heart out to make it clear that I believe the choice in this election for Republican primary voters is whether or not we're going to stay on the path of time-honored conservative principles.

American leadership in the world of limited government, fiscal responsibility, free market economics and values or whether we're going to follow the siren song of populism of unmoored to conservative principles and whether that be on our place in the world, whether it be on economic policies, whether it be on values. I believe the majority of Republican voters, a majority of independents and many Democrats look at that common sense conservative agenda that's defined our party over the last 50 years. And they know that's the pathway forward for America.

And I'm confident that they'll choose that agenda one more time. And I'm going to work my heart out to earn the right to carry that agenda, not just a victory in '24 but ultimately to a victory, prosperity, and security for the American people in the years ahead.

SEANA SMITH: Mr. Vice President, a sticking point for Americans has been high gas prices. We know President Biden has been calling on oil companies to boost production. But when you take into-- or when you take a look at the amount of production that we have seen, we're actually on track to pump more oil than ever this year. So what would you do that the Biden administration is not doing in order to get a better handle on energy prices?

MIKE PENCE: Well, I'd end the war on energy, Seana, first and foremost. Day 1, Joe Biden shut down the Keystone and Dakota pipelines. He's offline millions of acres most recently. More acreage in Alaska. They've slow walked leases. In spite of that, the American energy industry has been fighting through that. We need to build out refinery capacity in this country. We need to continue to extend that natural gas revolution that began under our administration.

And we need an all of the above energy strategy. And we need to end the headlong rush of Joe Biden and the Democrats to advance this Green New Deal. To use mandates and subsidies to drive Americans toward alternative sources of energy. I mean, look, we actually, during our administration, we got out of the Paris Climate Accord. It was a terrible deal for America and requested almost nothing of places like China and India at least in the next decade or so.

But what a lot of people don't know is we actually reduced CO2 emissions in our administration beyond the goals in the Paris Climate Accord. But we did it through American innovation, we did it by developing the resources of our country. We became a net exporter of energy for the first time in 75 years.

We can get back to that. I've got a plan again at my website,, not only to achieve American energy independence, but to reclaim our role in the next 10 years as the leading producer of energy in the world. We lost it back in 2006. China holds that title today. We can reclaim that title with the right policies and ending the war on energy in Washington.

RICK NEWMAN: So you're kind of trashing green energy. So I have one question. It is what is so bad about green energy? But also you've got literally hundreds of billions of dollars in tax incentives that are now in the economy. Companies are responding to those tax incentives. They're making commitments to build factories. And they are investing money.

And one of the complaints you hear in the energy industry itself is, you know, Washington just yo-yos from one set of policy things to another. And this makes us reluctant to invest. So do you actually want to cancel all of those green energy incentives and then have those companies say, well, you know, never mind. We started building a factory but we're just going to mothball it. Or would you leave some of them in place? Or what exactly would you do with all of that?

MIKE PENCE: I want energy policy in America that is source neutral. And the Pence energy plan that we outlined about a month ago has that same objective. Look, that ever since the Obama-Biden administration, they've been trying to put their thumb on the scale to drive us toward renewable energy. They've been trying through their cap and trade scheme to increase the cost of energy.

Joe Biden himself and his campaign said that we will end fossil fuels in America. That is not only against the interests of the American people, it's categorically unrealistic by any measure when you think about global energy consumption over the next 25 years. I mean, we've got to have an all of the above energy strategy. We've got to have a source neutral energy strategy.

We've got to take our thumb off the scale. But you check my record. I'm an all of the above energy guy. In the state of Indiana when I was governor, we had a strong commitment to renewables. I want to see the marketplace develop those things, not driving through mandates like you're seeing in places like California or government subsidies that--

Again, I would tell all of you. I think the heavy-handed approach of the Green New Deal has created the conditions that have got autoworkers on that picket line in large measure in Detroit and around the country.

BRAD SMITH: All right. Former US Vice President Mike Pence, thanks for your time this morning. We appreciate it.

MIKE PENCE: Thank you, guys. See you tomorrow.