Tales from the Trail

Pence in Detroit: A campaign prelude?

Prominent House Republican Mike Pence has been frequently mentioned as a potential 2012 presidential candidate. On Monday, he played the part.

In a speech to the Detroit Economic Club, a favorite campaign stop for many aspiring White House contenders, Pence pushed the idea of a flat tax, a rollback of regulatory standards and a constitutional amendment to limit spending to 20 percent of GDP. USA/NRA

“We must have a mechanism that forces Washington as a whole to make the hard choices necessary to reform our nation’s addiction to big spending and unsustainable entitlements,” Pence said, according to a prepared text of his speech.

The social conservative also said “our present crisis is not merely economic but moral in nature” and called for a renewed commitment to the institutions of traditional family and marriage.

The speech was sure to be a hit with the conservative activists and Tea Party followers who will play a big role in the 2012 Republican nominating fight.

You take that back, Mr. President!

Republicans are lining up to throw punches at President Barack Obama.

The Democratic president has been trading verbal barbs with House Republican Leader John Boehner over economic and fiscal policy. Obama on Wednesday took several swipes at Boehner and charged that it was the Republicans who took the country into deficit when they were running things in Washington. USA-STIMULUS/

Boehner retorted that Obama should freeze all tax rates and cut “federal spending to where it was before all the bailouts, government takeovers, and ‘stimulus’ spending sprees.” Boehner is in line to become House Speaker if Republicans seize control of Congress in November elections.

Other Republicans also jumped in the fray. Boehner’s House Republican lieutenants Eric Cantor and Mike Pence issued statements backing Boehner, saying non-security spending should be cut to 2008 levels. 

Tea Partiers converge on Washington to kill the (healthcare) bill

USA-HEALTHCARE/PELOSI

The rally began with an unaccompanied rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner,” sung to an oversized American flag hoisted aloft by a middle-aged man dressed like Captain America.

But the Marvel Comics super-hero impersonator was one of the few fringe elements on display, when about 200 Tea Party members gathered in a small grassy park in the shadow of the Capitol Dome with Washington-based organizers from conservative special-interest groups, House Republicans and, inevitably, the news media.

They had come from as far away as Texas, Michigan and Georgia for a “Kill the Bill!” rally meant to launch an 11th hour grass-roots lobbying effort to stop House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats from achieving victory for the Obama healthcare plan.

House Republicans aim to kill Democratic health bill

Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives are gearing up for an epic battle against the sweeping healthcare reform that Democratic leaders hope to bring to the House floor for debate later this week.

boehner“Our goal is to make this as difficult as possible to vote for it,” said House Republican Leader John Boehner. “We think this bill is the wrong prescription for what ails our healthcare system in America.”

Representative Mike Pence, who heads the House Republican Conference, said the campaign against the bill unveiled last week by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi began over the weekend with Republican members delivering copies of the huge 1,990-page bill to public libraries. Also, Republican women are speaking against the bill this week on the House floor.

You never want to see sausages made – or laws

USA-STIMULUS/The war of words that broke out in the U.S.  House of Representatives late Tuesday and spilled into Wednesday over one of the government’s annual spending bills shows the widening gulf between Democrats who control the chamber and minority Republicans.

Republicans accused Democrats of trying to shut down their efforts to save money on the $64.4 billion spending bill for the Commerce and Justice Departments and science agencies. They argued that in a time of mounting deficits it was unacceptable to spend 12 percent more for these programs than last year.  Democrats accused Republican of trying to stall the bill by offering 100 or so amendments.
 
Republican Representative Mike Pence said it was “an outrageous abuse of the legislative process” for Democrats to cut off debate after 30 minutes during the first amendment. He insisted that it was not about the process but about “runaway federal spending.”
 
Democrats shot back that Republicans were making it harder to finish the annual spending bills and also complete healthcare and climate change legislation quickly. Republican demands for a recorded vote on even amendments they supported — taking additional time — also angered Democrats.
 
“We have to pass 12 major appropriations bills in six weeks and still leave enough time on the calendar to deal with healthcare, to deal with climate change, to deal with the military authorization bill and several other crucial issues,” said Democratic Representative David Obey, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.
 
He said Republicans rebuffed Democratic attempts to reach a deal on handling amendments quickly. “We have tried every way we can to involve the minority,” he said. “We recognize a filibuster by amendment when we see it.”
 
When Pence was asked why seeking a recorded vote on an amendment that both sides supported wasn’t a stall tactic, he grinned and walked away from reporters.

For more Reuters political news, click here.

- Photo credit: Reuters/Joshua Roberts (Obey at a meeting earlier this year)