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Opening Arguments

President Pence

Matt Yglesias of the increasingly silly Vox "explanatory journalism" site, has "7 reasons Mike Pence will be the GOP nominee in 2016." Of course, being a good liberal disguised as an objective observer, he isn't really too thrilled about the prospect. In fact, the whole article seems like nothing more than an excuse to be snottily dismissive of conservative ideas.

The winning political formula for Republicans has long been, in the immortal words of Dick Cheney, "Reagan proved deficits don't matter." Cut tax rates for the rich, make that more palatable by also cutting tax rates for the middle class, and then pay for it by … not paying for it.

Pence was a solid supply-sider as a member of Congress, and took Reaganesque fiscal thinking to new heights in his draft proposal for Social Security privatization. While lesser thinkers proposed to cut guaranteed Social Security benefits in order to offer people the rewards of private Social Security accounts, Pence's proposal was to simply assume that the benefits of privatization would be so enormous as to make it possible to guarantee that nobody's accounts would pay less than is offered by today's guaranteed benefits. It's all upside with no downside!

It wouldn't work, of course, any more than promises from Reagan or Bush to increase revenue by cutting taxes worked. But this kind of thing is the time-tested way to sell conservative economic policy and freed from the constraints of Obama-era debates about Keynes, Pence is the ideal person to bring it back.

We needn't go into all the reasons that is so full of crap. Cutting taxes can increase revenue when it encourages more economic activity, which can be useful if spending doesn't keep going ip, but, hell, I'm sure he knows that. I don't buy all of Yglesias' reasons (watching liberals try to grasp conservatism or libertarianism is almost painful sometimes), but at this point I think Pence has as good a shot as anybody. A lot will depend on exactly where he comes down as the great libertarian-conservative debate takes shape within the GOP. And I think he would have a better chance at winning than GVox thinks he does.