Pence Hires Atkins as Policy Director

Mike Pence has no ideas

Mike Pence is running for Governor. I guess he figures it’s worth a try, since he’s been spectacularly ineffective at accomplishing anything during his time in Congress.

Doug Masson summed up Pence’s career a few months back:

According to GovTrack, Rep. Mike Pence just celebrated his 11th year in Congress, in which time he has sponsored 63 bills and been successful in getting exactly none of them passed; and only gotten three of them out of committee. This is an incredible record of futility. One might conclude that big talk and controversial, unworkable legislation hold much more interest for Rep. Pence than the actual drudgery of governance.

I was a little unfair in my opening paragraph. Mike Pence has been quite effective at getting himself on TV during his time in DC.

But when it comes to what Mike Pence actually wants to do as Governor — well, you’ll just have to elect him to find out.

As Tom LoBianco noted last July, a lack of specifics is actually Pence’s first campaign promise:

But one of his first campaign promises, made the day before he kicked off his campaign last month, was that he won’t talk policy until after the May 2012 Republican primary which he’s widely expected to win. [1]

Another AP story from November, also penned by LoBianco, elaborated on that theme:

Pence contributors may have the best idea right now of the agenda he would push as governor. Pence has been sparing on policy details on the campaign trail thus far, but he has told supporters at high-dollar fundraisers in Washington he will “stake his election” on “right-to-work” legislation. [2]

Pence has continued stringing reporters — and Hoosier voters — along, even after his potential primary opponent was disqualified for the ballot.

Pence spokesman Matt Lloyd declined Wednesday to say whether specific proposals would be laid out soon, but Pence hinted in his press statement that a jobs plan is forthcoming.

That was from another piece by LoBianco, writing on March 14. As of March 17, Kevin Allen reported in the South Bend Tribune that Pence was “finalizing” his plans.

As we approach the end of April, there’s still no plans from the Pence campaign.

The only hint Pence has offered is that he wants to lower the income tax rate for individuals and businesses. Last summer, his campaign floated a proposal to slash the rate for businesses to 3%:

The congressman told The Associated Press on Wednesday that he wants the state’s individual and corporate tax rates reduced to 3 percent. The state’s individual tax rate is now 3.4 percent and the corporate rate is 8.5 percent. He also said he would like to repeal Indiana’s estate tax.

All told, the cuts would likely carry a $1 billion price tag for the state. [3]

Since August, he’s offered no further details. As Eric Bradner wrote in his column in the Evansville Courier & Press, it’s going to be hard to find anything left to cut after Mitch Daniels’ austerity-inspired budgeting.

When Pence says he would like to flatten Indiana’s individual and corporate income tax rates, or eliminate property taxes on businesses’ equipment, or find some other way to lower taxes, they ought to insist on learning what services those cuts will cost them.

(To be fair, Bradner also points out that Democratic nominee John Gregg has been short on details for his plans, too.)

The only other “policy idea” that Mike Pence has enunciated is… doing whatever it is that Mitch Daniels has done.

U.S. Rep. Mike Pence, who is running for governor, said Friday that if he’s elected, he would concentrate on making the most of government reforms passed during Gov. Mitch Daniels’ two terms. [4]

So why is it taking Mike Pence so long to come up with ideas?

Late last summer, Pence hired Chris Atkins as his policy director. Atkins is a longtime Daniels aide, having served as Daniels’ general counsel and policy director for Indiana’s state Office of Management & Budget. Atkins also worked at the right-wing Tax Foundation, a group known for making up numbers. But before that, Atkins worked for the secretive, controversial right-wing legislation factory, ALEC.

That’s right — Pence’s right-hand man for policy was a “director of tax and fiscal policy” for the group that ghostwrites legislation for sheltering asbestos companies, privatizing prisons, eliminating public schools, and pushing “Stand Your Ground” laws. And Pence’s campaign brags about it on their website.

Pence Hires Atkins as Policy Director

Well, it seems like we know where Mike Pence’s ideas will be coming from.


“Pence’s policy silence could be smart politics.” The Associated Press State & Local Wire. July 24, 2011 Sunday 3:09 PM GMT .

“Pence uses DC profile to collect big donations.” The Associated Press State & Local Wire. November 18, 2011 Friday 8:11 PM GMT .

“APNewsBreak: Pence eyes Indiana income tax cuts.” The Associated Press State & Local Wire. August 3, 2011 Wednesday 9:46 PM GMT .

Caylor, Bob. “BRIEF: Pence says he would follow through on Daniels’ changes in state government.” The News-Sentinel (Fort Wayne, Indiana). March 3, 2012 Saturday .