Mike Pence gets it.
In an interview with CNBC --picked up by The Hill-- the House GOP's number three gave the explicit assurance that a return to the majority for Republicans would mean an extension of the tax cuts.
"Well, we're going to stay focused on Election Day. But I think before that, we're going to continue to demand that this administration and this Congress make it clear that no American will see a tax increase in January of next year," The Hill quotes Pence as saying on the business network.
"So the first thing that we will do is try to preserve the tax relief of 2001 and 2003 for all Americans -- for all small businesses and family farmers. But we also want to look at the kind of across the board tax relief, the kind of tax relief that will encourage capital formation, to get this economy moving again," he added.
This is a great start and more needs to come. In an interview with me on my Monday program --the transcript is here-- Republican Leader and presumptive Speaker if the GOP regains the majority John Boehner demurred when I pressed him on the GOP's need for speed. Boehner obviously recognizes that he cannot speak for a majority that doesn't exist or for members who haven't yet been elected or given him their votes as speaker.
An appropriate refusal to be presumptuous, however, has to yield to the suspicion in the country that all Beltway electeds are part of a club and that the club really doesn't feel the country's pain and fear. The standard legislative schedule cannot control when a new Congress returns to D.C. in 2011. The House especially, the "People's Chamber," cannot slip into the old calendar where budget resolutions emerge in April and appropriations bills in September at the earliest. Boehner has to rally his leadership and his troops in November and December and begin the new year with a raft of legislation that atckles the big stuff and proposes serious solutions. The country is ready for that. Not producing it, at least through a House where a majority exists, will be a huge and lasting error.
Pence's comments to CNBC are a good sign that some inside the caucus know that there is an overriding "need for speed." Once and future Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier on my program has also pledged immediate action to rescind the move to add 18,000 IRS agents, which is a good goal example of the specificity that the voters are demanding, but about one line on a two hundred line agenda that needs to be laid out.
Paul Ryan is a superstar because he has laid out a plan. The GOP will keep any new majority they gain only if they collectively embrace a plan that genuinely carves back the spending, extends the tax cuts and keeps the Department of Defense fully funded. Obamacare has to be defunded, and a reform of Social Security advanced asap. Republicans have historically waiting until a consensus emerges, but they cannot do so this time or they will waste their opportunity and squander their momentum.
Hopefully John Boehner has a transition team working in some quiet office building in northern Virginia, ready to ship a detailed schedule and very detailed proposals to the members of the caucus on November 3. Those plans will leak and the lame duck session will be awash in recriminations and denunciations, false charges and alarmism.
Fine. If the GOP gets the rarest of all things in politics, a second chance, they have to expect that plans for using it will bring many squeals of false pain and feigned outrage. The Democrats will demand meetings of the sort they did not hold and bipartisanship of the sort they refused on health care and the stimulus. The MSM will amplify every charge.
If we don't hear Democratic/MSM outrage coming out of D.C. in November and December as Nancy Pelosi prepares to give over the gavel, the country will be in a very bad place indeed.
And the GOP will have fumbled away a once-in-a-generation opportunity to set the country back on a right course.