There are many reasons that Mike Pence was considered for and agreed to become Donald Trump’s vice president in 2016. Actually, there are only a handful of reasons: Pence was of no threat to Donald Trump, has the political charisma of a dead rodent, and has the ego of someone who believes they are the Messiah.
Pence is hoping that he can parlay the fact that he was almost killed because of Donald Trump while also pretending to remain loyal to Donald Trump into some kind of nomination for president in 2024. It is a delusional position, but Mike Pence has never been called not delusional.
On Wednesday, Pence went on CNBC's Squawk Box to offer up his expertise on economics and decided to bring up the mythical deficit. Would Mike Pence sidestep the harsh fact that the Republican Party and its big business overlords want to privatize everything? No, he would not. Would Mike Pence distinguish himself from Sen. Mitch McConnell, Speaker Kevin McCarthy, and criminal-in-waiting Donald Trump by talking about cutting Social Security and Medicare? Yes, he would.
In fact, he would up the ante and expose even more of the conservative movement's best-laid plans.
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Mike Pence led off with a classic fiscal conservative straw man statement: “I'm glad to see the Republican majority saying we need to use this debt ceiling to start us back in the direction of fiscal discipline. But look, we all know where the real issue is in terms of long-term debt for the United States.” What’s the real issue, Mike? Is it the explosive billionaire’s windfall in our country’s tax codes, created during Pence’s time as vice president? No, you silly billy!
“And that is that while I respect the speaker's commitment to take Social Security and Medicare off the table for the debt ceiling negotiations, we've got to put them on the table in the long term.” Teehee. We have got to cut those “entitlements,” as conservatives call them. “Entitlements” are what we all pay into so we aren’t destitute when we are older. “Entitlements” like health care and retirement.
CNBC’s Andrew Ross Sorkin loves this kind of thing, as do most people who host shows that make money by pretending the whole economy works for people—when in reality, it mostly only works for those who host business shows and … people wealthier than people who host business shows. Sorkin asks Pence if he’s talking about cutting “entitlements,” and Pence tries to sidestep this by saying people don’t really understand why they should let Republicans cut things like Medicare and Social Security.
For the briefest of moments, Sorkin has a real question:
“I'm just curious what's on the table for you on entitlements? What's on the table?”
It is here that Pence begins explaining how expansive the term “entitlements” really is for conservatives, before quickly abandoning answering the question. “Well, I think it begins with education.”
Some might argue that Pence was saying “education” to purposefully obfuscate the fact that he wants to get rid of Social Security and Medicare. But let’s remember the plans proposed under Vice President Pence. Those were the billionaire Betsy DeVos days of taking public money away from public education to fund extremist religious schools.
Pence swerves back into talking about the mythical trillion-dollar deficit and how it’s a big number that people need to “look at,” and then blathers about having new grandchildren who will be saddled with a big mythical deficit when they are older if Pence and other conservatives aren’t able to fully dismantle our public education system and turn our country in a Christian conservative theocracy run by billionaires. I mean, that’s the logic of it all.
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Yes, electing the president by popular vote is possible! Joining us on this week's episode of The Downballot is former Vermont legislator Christopher Pearson, an official with National Popular Vote, the organization advocating for states to adopt a compact that would award their electoral votes to the presidential candidate who gets the most votes nationwide. Pearson walks us through the mechanics of the compact, debunks some common misconceptions, and lays out future steps toward hitting the required 270 electoral votes for the agreement to come into force.
Co-hosts David Beard and David Nir also mark The Downballot's one-year anniversary (if you can believe it) by unwrapping a present from the New York Senate, which just shot down Gov. Kathy Hochul's unacceptably conservative pick for the state's top court in epic fashion. In addition, the Davids preview key races coming up next week in Wisconsin and New Hampshire and dive into a brand-new data set from Daily Kos Elections' Stephen Wolf showing just how out of balance the Senate is: Republicans haven't won the popular vote since 1998 but have still controlled the chamber half the time since then.