How bad are the Republicans trying to find a suitable 2016 contender? This bad:
With Washington’s reputation lurking in used-car-salesmen territory, there will be a wide lane in the 2016 presidential campaign for governors with records built outside the national capital.
On the Republican side, the list of potential contenders already includes New Jersey’s Chris Christie, Wisconsin’s Scott Walker, Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal, Texas’ Rick Perry and a prominent former governor, Florida’s Jeb Bush.
Now, grass-roots conservatives are seeking to add another governor’s name to that list of 2016 possibilities: Indiana’s Mike Pence.
The Hoosier chief executive isn’t as well known nationally, and some will question whether his record is too far right to be a plausible general-election candidate. But he’s generating a small groundswell, particularly among GOP social-policy activists, some of whom think Mr. Pence hits the sweet spot for 2016.
He is reliably conservative on fiscal and social policies, and rose to a position of power in Washington, where he led the conservative Republican Study Group in the House of Representatives and helped found the tea-party caucus. Yet he deployed a more soothing style and wasn’t as polarizing as some House conservatives. He once hosted his own radio talk show and referred to himself “Rush Limbaugh on decaf.”
Now, as a heartland governor for the last two years, he has a record outside of Washington, in a state that’s surging economically.
This will end poorly:
There are very few members of congress with whom I’ve ever had the opportunity to discuss a substantive matter of public policy. But as it happens, one of them — the one with whom I’ve had the second-longest exchange — is Mike Pence (R-IN) who I’ve seen on television today repeatedly discussing the Republican Study Group’s “plan” for the financial crisis. And I can tell you this about Mike Pence: he has no idea what he’s talking about. The man is a fool, who deserves to be laughed at. He’s almost stupid enough to work in cable television.
Specifically, way back in 2005 I got to talk to him about Social Security privatization at a Heritage Foundation event. Obviously, I have my perspective on this and conservatives have theirs. But Pence had a truly peculiar idea. His idea was that the government ought to reassure people about the risks of losses under a privatization plan by having the government guarantee a minimum annuity level pegged to what’s promised under current law. This plan would, according to Pence, save money relative to current law because most people’s stock/bond portfolio would outperform the level needed to provide such an annuity, so the government would only need to kick in for a minority of people. I said I thought this would create a moral hazard problem for bad investors. He had no idea what I was talking about. Seemed unfamiliar with the term. Then I tried to explain it to him, I said that if the government guaranteed to bail you out in case of losses, then investors would make riskier investments and the number of people who need bailing out would rise. He just flat-out denied this, said the presence or absence of a guaranteed bailout would have no impact on investor behavior. He seemed unaware that some portfolios are riskier than others, or that higher average rates of return are associated with greater risk taking. He didn’t know anything at all, in short, about investing, financial markets, or, seemingly, the basic terms of public policy. And yet there he was speaking on the topic at Heritage. He’s a total fraud.
The man is dumb as a sack of hammers.