“In fire, gold is tested,” the saying goes. Just ask Mike Pence.
A third-term congressman from Indiana, Pence has been sorely tested lately, enduring a fire that few of us would want to withstand -- and he’s demonstrating that he’s as good as gold.
That’s because Pence is largely responsible for the change in attitude we’re seeing in Republican leaders toward spending cuts.
Not long ago, they appeared unconcerned about the explosion in growth we’ve witnessed in the size of government over the last few years. Now, thanks mostly to the Republican Study Committee (which Pence heads), they’re talking seriously about cutting up to $50 billion from the federal budget over five years, plus cutting current spending and eliminating wasteful and unnecessary spending.
I don’t mean to imply that Pence has acted alone. Other conservative representatives, such as Jeb Hensarling of Texas and Jeff Flake of Arizona, have been instrumental in moving the debate in the “right” direction. And if the high-speed train that’s been barreling lately toward ever-bigger government is ever derailed, we’ll have them to thank.
“Sometimes a small group of people can take a stand, be defeated, and still make a difference.” Rep. Pence said that last year in a speech to The Heritage Foundation, long before he and his colleagues would take their current stand. He was referring to the Medicare drug-benefit vote of 2003, when the biggest expansion of entitlement spending in nearly 40 years was approved with the help of certain self-styled conservatives. Even in defeat, Pence said, he and his colleagues might have really won.
Pence couldn’t have known that a horrific national disaster would hit one year later, forcing the kind of introspection necessary to wake some lawmakers up to the point he had been trying to make. He simply saw that Republicans were on the verge of “a historic departure from the limited-government traditions of our party and millions of its most ardent supporters” -- and he knew it was time to take a stand, no matter how unpopular or idealistic it would seem.