Thursday, July 14, 2016

Trump reportedly set to pick Mike Pence as running mate

The official announcement is scheduled for tomorrow, Friday, 11:00 AM Eastern.

The New York Times has the breaking news.

Donald J. Trump’s campaign has signaled strongly to Republicans in Washington that he will pick Mike Pence, the governor of Indiana, as his running mate, though Republicans caution the party’s mercurial presidential candidate may still backtrack on his apparent choice.

Mr. Trump’s advisers have told national Republican officials that they are preparing to make an announcement with Mr. Pence, according to three people with knowledge of the conversations, who were not authorized to discuss them publicly. His campaign has said that it will unveil a running mate for Mr. Trump in New York on Friday

Pence was (is?) weak on policy matters writes Matthew Yglesias at vox.com.

At this time [2004-2005], the Bush administration was coalescing around the idea of allowing workers to divert some payroll tax money out of the Social Security trust fund and into private investment accounts.

Pence was, at the time, the head of the Republican Study Committee, which was an influential right-wing factional group inside the GOP caucus that sometimes rebelled from the right against Bush’s gestures at domestic policy moderation. So when I had the chance to hear Pence speak about Social Security privatization at a small think tank event, I was eager to see what he had to say. And what he said surprised me.

At the time, one of the big liberal objections to privatization was that private accounts were far riskier than conventional Social Security — and retirees could be left in the lurch if their investments went south.

In his talk, Pence had a strange answer to this: He argued that the average rate of return on investments in the stock market would be so much larger than the average Social Security benefit that it would be simple for the government to guarantee nobody would end up with less money in the new private system than they would have been entitled to under the old system. After all, most people would do so much better under the new system that the government would only need to pay up to make the guarantee work for a small number of people.

I raised what I thought was an obvious objection to this: moral hazard. If you promise people they’ll get a bailout if their private investments go south, you encourage excessive risk taking and bigger losses in the future.

My expectation was that Pence would have some kind of answer to this: a technical solution or a plan for a regulatory fix or a promise to think about it harder or something. But he had nothing. He seemed to just not understand at all what the problem was. The idea that a government guarantee could change behavior appeared to be totally unfamiliar to him, even though in most cases it’s a bedrock of conservative economic policy thinking.

Apparently Pence has not gotten better over the years. Rachel Maddow, last night, covered his bungling of the anti-LGBT bill that he signed, then tried to walk back, then tried to walk ahead, etc. The synopsis: "Rachel Maddow looks at some of the political difficulties Indiana Governor Mike Pence has struggled with, in particular his bungled handling of the backlash over his "religious liberty" policy." Here is the video link.

Perhaps Pence will prove to be Trump's Palin. One can hope.

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