The top of Pence’s priority list

THE TOP OF PENCE’S PRIORITY LIST…. We don’t know if or when congressional Republicans will release an actual policy agenda. For that matter, we don’t know just how successful Republicans will be in the midterm elections.

We do know, however, exactly what they consider their top priority.

House Republicans’ first move in the majority would be to extend tax cuts set to expire at the end of the year, House GOP Conference Chairman Mike Pence (Ind.) suggested Wednesday evening.

Pence, the third-ranking Republican in the House, said that House Republicans would look to extend the tax cuts they helped President George W. Bush pass in 2001 and 2003, which are set to expire at the end of the year.

“Well, we’re going to stay focused on Election Day. But I think before that, we’re going to continue to demand that this administration and this Congress make it clear that no American will see a tax increase in January of next year,” Pence said during an appearance on CNBC.

Pence went on to say that congressional Republicans “also want to look at the kind of across-the-board tax relief … that will encourage capital formation” if they’re in the majority.

There are a few things to consider here. The first is that Pence made no effort to explain how his party would pay for these massive, expensive tax breaks. For a year and a half, Pence and his ilk said deficit reduction was the key priority — won’t someone please think of the children? — and two months before the midterms, Republicans are already abandoning their alleged principles. Presumably, Tea Party activists called to action because of fears about the deficit would be outraged by Pence’s rhetoric — except they’re confused and unprincipled, too.

Second, note that Pence and those who agree with him have learned literally nothing in recent years. Bush/Cheney slashed taxes, increased the deficit, and failed spectacularly to improve the economy. Asked about his party’s priorities, Pence insists his top goal is renewing a policy that we already know didn’t work.

And third, it’s probably worth noting that Pence’s tax policy isn’t especially popular. The latest Newsweek poll found only 38% of the country wants to extend all of the Bush-era tax rates. A recent CBS News poll put the figure even lower, at 36%.

So, Mike Pence’s top goal would increase the deficit, fail to help the economy, and run counter to public demands. If only this guy knew what he was talking about, it’d be easier to watch him without laughing.