Rep. Pence Moves The Goal Posts On Tax Cuts, Suggests Compromise Is Unconstitutional

December 16, 2010 11:09 am ET — Matt Finkelstein

For several months, Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) has been telling anyone who would listen that Congress needed to prevent the expiration of the Bush tax cuts at the end of the year. In September, he boasted of a "growing bipartisan majority in the House that is prepared to extend all tax relief for every American." Later that month, he complained to Fox News host Greta Van Susteren that "we have dozens of Democrats who said they're willing to support extending all the current tax relief, but that's not what they're doing."

But now that President Obama and the Senate have agreed to extend all of the Bush tax cuts, including those for top earners, for two years, the Indiana conservative is changing his tune. Pence, who recently abdicated his House leadership post to set up a possible run for higher office, is now arguing against Obama's bipartisan compromise and demanding that all of the tax cuts be extended permanently. On this morning's episode of the Today Show, Pence claimed that a temporary extension is really just a delayed tax increase and won't provide the economic certainty needed to create jobs.

PENCE: A two-year extension of the tax code is not gonna encourage the kind of investment that's going to begin to create jobs in this economy. I really believe that this Congress ought to take a breath, um, we oughta roll our sleeves up, and we oughta do what we can like John F. Kennedy did, like Ronald Reagan did, and embrace permanent extension of all the tax rates. I'm arguing, you know, let's not do this take-it-or-leave-it deal from the Senate. If the liberals want to have an amendment today on raising taxes, let every House Republican vote on what we know would help this economy [crosstalk] and that is a permanent extension of the deal.


Host Matt Lauer pointed out that "it's not a take-it-or-leave-it deal because there's compromise in this deal," but Pence rejected the idea that a bipartisan agreement should take precedence over getting what he wants. Pence also implied that the compromise is unconstitutional, saying, "this deal was largely negotiated by leaders in the Senate and the White House, despite the fact that the Constitution clearly says that bills relating to taxes should begin in the House of Representatives."