QUOTE OF THE DAY…. Sen. John Thune (R-S.C.), rumored to be weighing a presidential campaign, received a very warm reception at the Conservative Political Action Conference, and told the far-right attendees largely what they wanted to hear. There was one quote in particular, though, that stood out for me.
It was interesting to hear Thune talk about showing “some fiscal discipline,” given the senator’s love of pork-barrel projects for South Dakota (Thune has twice won the “Porker of the Month” award from Citizens Against Government Waste). It was also interesting to see the Republican complain that the Affordable Care Act is a “two-and-a-half-trillion-dollar entitlement that we … can’t afford.” Thune needs to pay closer attention — the law lowers the deficit and carries a much smaller price tag.
But that wasn’t the gem. This was:
“If the State of the Union is any indication, 2011 is shaping up to be more of the same. It’s disappointing, but it’s not surprising. After all, these are the folks who took over auto companies, insurance companies, and banks.”
Let’s take these one at a time, because I think it’s important to note the extent to which Thune has no idea what he’s talking about.
On the U.S. automotive industry, the Obama administration’s policy worked extremely well. Taxpayers rescued the industry, which led to a stellar turnaround, an American success story, and a repayment of the debt. Thune, however, not only opposed the policy that worked, he also supported the policy that didn’t work — the conservative senator voted in 2008 to simply throw taxpayer money at the auto industry, without a meaningful plan to make the policy work.
On the insurance companies, I assume Thune is referring to health care reform. If so, he’s lying — the Affordable Care Act didn’t constitute a government takeover, and the charge itself deserved to win “lie of the year” in 2010. Rather private insurers picked up a whole lot of new customers, along with sweeping new safeguards for consumers. If the Republican senator wants to argue that insurance companies should go back to discriminating against those with pre-existing conditions and dropping customers when they get sick, he should feel free to make his case. In the meantime, this rhetoric is absurd.
On the banks, Thune was apparently referring to the financial industry bailout (TARP). And this is my favorite part because … you guessed it … Thune loved the bank bailout. He voted for it, defended it, and praised it — a detail he neglected to mention in his CPAC speech. In effect, his audience heard Thune criticize Obama for a Bush administration policy that Thune supported.
There are clearly many Republicans who consider Thune a credible national voice, and want him to run for the White House. I just can’t figure out why anyone takes him seriously — he hasn’t tackled any noteworthy policy initiatives, he’s failed to distinguished himself as an expert in any area, and his most notable accomplishment appears to be an ability to impress people with his handsomeness.