Pence’s priorities

PENCE’S PRIORITIES…. As ridiculous as this might seem, Rep. Mike Pence (R) of Indiana, the outgoing chairman of the House Republican caucus, is thinking about seeking higher office, including a possible presidential campaign. To that end, he continues to talk about economic policy as if he understands the subject.

For example, Pence delivered a speech earlier this week at the Detroit Economic Club, in which he endorsed a flat-tax proposal, embraced the gold standard, and said the successful rescue of the American automotive industry was a bad idea.

Reflecting on Pence’s remarks, Bruce Bartlett, a former official in the Reagan and H.W. Bush administrations, described the speech as “a hackneyed rehash of every simplistic idea ever floated on Larry Kudlow’s TV show.” Bartlett also used phrases like “obviously nuts,” “crackpot,” and “really stupid.”

This morning, Pence followed up on this performance by appearing on MSNBC, arguing that the unemployed benefit from income tax cuts, despite the fact that those without jobs don’t have an income.

On MSNBC’s Morning Joe today, Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) said that while he is “deeply sympathetic” to the plight of the unemployed, “we’ve got to make the cuts necessary to offset those costs.” During the interview, Pence claimed that Republicans are “anxious to support” struggling Americans, “particularly in the holiday season.” However, asked whether he would accept a compromise that paid for unemployment benefits by allowing tax cuts to expire only on income over $1 million, Pence insisted that the jobless are better off swallowing tax cuts for the very rich than receiving immediate relief.

Pressed further on his priorities by Time‘s Mark Halperin, Pence awkwardly joked that he’s “not good at chess,” before falling back on his talking points. “I think the minimum that we have to do right now for Americans that are struggling in unemployment in this economy is make sure that no American sees a tax increase,” he said.

To fully appreciate the stupidity of the display, it’s worth watching the video. The printed words just don’t do it justice.

Watching this morning’s exchange, I’m reminded of something Matt Yglesias wrote last year about the Indiana congressman. “Mike Pence is a moron, and any movement that would hold the guy up as a hero is bankrupt,” Matt explained, adding, “I would refer you to this post from September about the earth-shattering ignorance and stupidity of Mike Pence…. [I]t’s really staggering. In my admittedly brief experience talking to him, his inability to grasp the basic contours of policy question was obvious and overwhelming.”

Remember, Pence is not only thinking about a presidential campaign, in September, he won the Family Research Council’s Values Voter presidential straw poll.