Is Mike Pence trying to blow up the tax agreement?
Rep. Mike Pence (R.-Ind.) took to the floor of the House this week to decry the tax agreement, claiming, "Uncertainty is the enemy of prosperity." He appeared on Fox News this morning to repeat his position, arguing that we don't have a "temporary economy." And the congressman -- who recently announced that he was resigning as chair of the House GOP conference, prompting speculation about his aspirations for 2012 -- shrugged when asked if the bill was going to pass anyway, regardless of his vote.
That has irked House and Senate Republican leadership. A senior House advisor dismisses Pence's position, e-mailing me, "A 'better deal' was preferable but a better deal was not certain. What was certain, however, was that without preserving the current tax rates now, all Americans would have seen a $3.9 trillion tax increase on January 1st." He continues, "Voting against the package would create massive uncertainty. The market would drop. People would be laid off. Families would get taxes raised. And we'd be spending months arguing with president and Senate to get our deal -- when the public overwhelmingly agrees with the deal we walked away from."
Capitol Hill sources tell me that Pence went so far at the Republican Study Committee lunch on Wednesday to rail against the bill and try to round up opposition. A source told me, "He created a mob scene there and blew up the lunch." A Republican in the room said, "It sounded like a presidential primary speech."
Pence's spokesman, in response to my request for comment, denied that the congressman was trying to whip or gather votes against the bill. He defended Pence's position: "Pence said on CNN this morning that the problem with this bill is that uncertainty is the enemy of prosperity. We need permanent tax relief if we are to create growth. He is disappointed the Dems aren't allowing his alternative that would make the tax cuts permanent." He didn't explain, however, how the votes for Pence's position - which drew only 37 votes yesterday - would emerge. He added, "From everything we are hearing, it is going to be loaded up with out-of-control spending and earmarks, so I don't see any way he votes for it." Supporters of the bill, though, would point out that 84 percent of the bill is in the form of tax relief.
UPDATE(10:17 a.m.) : Pence's spokesman emails to emphasize that his final comment related to the omnibus spending bill, not to the tax agreement. He did not dispute the characterization of the Wednesday lunch.
| December 16, 2010; 10:00 AM ET
Categories: House GOP, Taxes
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