Pence began his political career as a talk show host advocating conservative principles. When he went to Congress, he continued to champion fiscal and social conservative views. In those two political arenas, political philosophy mattered a great deal.
Governor Mike Pence tried to sell his tax cut idea to a group of mayors today and got a chilly reception. Pence spoke to a meeting of the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns inside the Statehouse.
Gov. Mike Pence
When he made a call for the income tax cut he campaigned on, only one person applauded. “And that’s why I’m advocating that we lower the income tax across the board by 10-percent for every Hoosier in the city and on the farm on a permanent basis,” the governor told the crowd. He waited for applause and when there was none, said, “and I know we may have some disagreement about that.”
As Governor, Pence finds himself facing an entirely new political landscape. While most of the mayors at today's event are Republican, Pence found that they had little interest in his fiscally conservative message of cutting taxes and spending.
I can't say that I'm surprised. One thing Governor Pence may learn if he hasn't already is that an entire constituency for taxpayer money has developed over the past few decades in local government. You have the profiteers - developers, contractors, architects, law firms and others who have become wealthy feeding at the local taxpayer trough. Municipal politicians have a symbiotic relationship with these profiteers that involve advocating for more spending in exchange for more campaign contributions, which money of course originates with taxpayers. It's a vicious cycle.
The Republican mayors who advocate for more taxes and more spending are only able to do so because the local political system is isolated from being competitive battles based on political philosophy. In so many localities, there is no philosophical difference between the major parties' candidates. No better example of that exists than Indianapolis where Republicans have actually led the push for increasing taxes and spending.
Pence would make a mistake to think that those fiscally-liberal mayors actually reflect the wishes of Hoosiers. Those mayors' constituents are the profiteers in their communities. Governor Pence's constituents have to be the taxpayers who continue to be victims of the ever increasing state and local tax increases.