Tag Archives: Mike Pence

The Battle for the U.S. Senate: Will Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) Be The Man in the Arena?

Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN), the Chairman of the House Republican Conference, now has to make the most difficult decision of his political career. Should he give up his safe Congressional seat and the number three position in the GOP leadership to challenge Senator Evan Bayh (D-IN)? Pence appears to have an bright future in the House of Representatives, but it is always difficult to turn down the glamour of the United States Senate. For example, Trent Lott (R-MS) was in line to be Speaker of the House, but left his number two position as the GOP Whip to successfully run for the Senate in 1988.
Bayh is a former two term Governor who is now completing his second term in the Senate. His father Birch Bayh (D-IN) served in the Senate from 1962 until he was defeated by Dan Quayle in 1980. Evan Bayh has won five statewide elections while Pence has never been tested at the state level.
Pence, 50, is understandably reluctant to give up a secure GOP Congressional seat. He was defeated by an incumbent in both 1988 and 1990 before finally winning an open seat in 2000. The Congressman would instantly achieve national fame if he knocked off Bayh, but a loss would mean this rising star would go back to obscurity of Columbus, Indiana. If he does run his campaign theme would almost certainly be “No More Bailouts,” which is a position he adopted during the Bush Administration.
Yesterday Pence attended a meeting at the National Republican Senatorial Committee where he was presented with the most recent polling data. The Congressman trails Senators Bayh by only a few percentage points, but all of the popular issues are on the side of the Republican. Bayh has always portrayed himself as a moderate, and is a former Chairman of the centrist Democratic Leadership Council (DLC). He still points with pride to the $1.6 billion tax cut he implemented as Governor.
The problem is that he has been on Capitol Hill for 12 years and now it is difficult to run away from his voting record. His recent votes on the health-care legislation and the stimulus are particularly unpopular, and Bayh has been urging his party to move to the center.
A new book reveals that Barack Obama almost named Bayh as his 2008 running mate. Bayh still has a 50% approval rating, but between May and January his ratings dropped by nearly 25 points. The Senator’s biggest advantage is that he has $12.7 million in cash-on-hand, while Pence has just $463,000. President Obama won Indiana by 1%, and the state has voted Republican in 10 of the last 11 presidential elections.
Pence has to soon make a decision because the filing deadline is February 18th. He has already emerged as a champion for conservatives on a national scale. The Congressman previously served as Chairman of the conservative House Republican Study Committee. In 2003, when the House debated the Medicare prescription drug entitlement, Pence led a gang of House conservatives who valiantly opposed it. He said Republicans had lost their way by promoting big spending initiatives.
One of his best assets is that he is a former radio broadcaster and an excellent communicator. He is able to make persuasive and effective arguments. If Pence runs this will instantly become one of the top Senate races of the 2010 election cycle, and Pence would receive considerable fame if he emerges as the Democratic dragon slayer in Indiana.

Here We Go Again: Obama’s Stimulus Two Program by Gregory Hilton

President Obama announced $150 billion in new government spending on Tuesday. He is calling it a jobs creation program but this is another stimulus style spending initiative. Many observers believe the results will be no different from the first stimulus, and it will not significantly assist our economic recovery.
The President says the entire $150 billion is coming from money which has been repaid to the Treasury because of George Bush’s TARP. The funds have been repaid, but using them for “Stimulus Two” violates the original law and is just going to add to the deficit.
“The policy of this administration is if you’ve got it, spend it,” said House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence (IN). Rep. Eric Cantor (VA.), the House Republican Whip, said “Clearly the White House has taken the position that deficits don’t matter.”
There is a big difference between Bush’s TARP (the toxic asset recovery program) and the two Obama stimulus programs. The Bush deficit had declined significantly until early September of 2008 when the global economic crisis began. Bush responded with the $700 billion TARP which avoided a catastrophic meltdown of the economy by offering financial institutions government loans.
TARP was approved by Congress in October of 2008 as a program to buy toxic assets from banks, but was immediately converted into a fund for the Treasury to make capital injections into ailing banks. The Stimulus Two program was made possible by the announcement earlier this month that the cost of the taxpayer-financed bank bailout would be about $200 billion less than projected. This was thanks to Wall Street paying back the loans at a faster rate than expected on the heels of a gradually improving economy.
Just yesterday Bank of America repaid its $45 billion in TARP funding. There are now only two major banks still holding US government capital from the TARP program: Wells Fargo and Citigroup. Both are trying to complete repayments by the end of the year.
Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, American Express, Bank of New York Mellon, BB&T, Capital One, State Street and US Bancorp have all repaid the government and have passed their stress test.
Bush spent $350 billion of the $700 billion in TARP funds. He passed the other $350 billion on to Obama. A total of $600 billion has been drawn down so far, and the new stimulus will reach the $700 billion limit. There will be some losses from TARP, but 80 of the funds are expected to be repaid. The results of the first stimulus appear woeful when compared to TARP.
Once again, the Obama administration is claiming they will use $150 billion of the $200 billion in repaid loans for its new stimulus style jobs program. “This concept that ‘TARP money’ can be used is a total fraud,” says Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH). “It’s nothing more than political cover. There is no TARP money to use. TARP was authorized to draw down debt by $700 billion. They’ve drawn down about $600 billion, so theoretically there is $100 billion more they could draw down, but then they would have to issue more debt.”
There are some good aspects of his program (the zero capital gains rate for small businesses during a one year period), but many parts are as misguided as the first stimulus. The money will be going for infrastructure spending on highways, railroads, bridges, tunnels, airports and seaports, but all of this is just adding to the deficit.
What Obama is doing is a bait-and-switch, if not an outright violation of the public trust. Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), the only Member of Congress on the TARP Congressional Oversight Panel, says it is “unacceptable to turn TARP into a permanent revolving slush fund available to advance any liberal cause the president sees fit.”
The Congressman says the money saved shouldn’t just be spent elsewhere. “That money belongs to the taxpayer. The stimulus law says funds repaid go to the Treasury,” he said, adding, “I’m sure I could find millions of reasons to spend money that we do not have.”
The most useful thing Congress can do with that $200 billion? Reduce the federal debt before it gets so out of hand, inflation and interest rates explode and “we look longingly at the Carter years. . . Nothing else they can do could have a more benevolent impact on job creation,” Hensarling said. Hensarling voted against both Bush economic packages in September and October of 2008.
Senator Gregg agrees with him that the TARP law is clear. The New Hampshire Republicans says “Using these funds for stimulus projects is not legally allowed. The law is precise — I wrote it. The funds are meant to address systemic risk and financial crises. Building roads and giving dollars to local projects is not that. The money they want to use doesn’t exist.”
There will be a positive return from the government’s TARP investments in banks. The AIG, GM and Chrysler loans, however, are expected to be a loss. The Government Accountability Office yesterday said that U.S. taxpayers will lose $30.4 billion from the auto-industry bailout, down from a prior estimate of $43.7 billion. The GAO report predicted a similar loss of $30.4 billion from AIG.
PHOTO: Executives from the financial institutions who received TARP funds, (L-R) Goldman Sachs Chairman and CEO Lloyd Blankfein, JPMorgan Chase & Co CEO and Chairman Jamie Dimon, The Bank of New York Mellon CEO Robert P. Kelly, Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis, State Street Corporation CEO and Chairman Ronald Logue, Morgan Stanley Chairman and CEO John Mack, Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit, Wells Fargo President and CEO John Stumpf testify before the House Financial Services Committee on February 11, 2009.