George Will has a great description of a Mike Pence Moment. It came when the the Indiana congressman and potential GOP presidential nominee was being courted by the Bush administration for his vote to pass the prescription drug entitlement to Medicare:
As for presidential pressure. Pence told the president he was going from the White House to his daughter’s 10th birthday party, and he said he opposed the new entitlement because he wanted to be welcome at her 30th, which he might not be if, by deepening the entitlement crisis, he produced higher taxes and a lower standard of living. Early the next morning, Speaker Dennis Hastert disgracefully prolonged the House vote for two hours and 52 minutes, until 5:53 a.m., time enough to separate enough conservatives from their convictions. When Hastert asked Pence what it would take to win his vote, Pence replied: Means-test the entitlement.
Pence was one of three Republicans who voted against the measure. (Jim DeMint and Senator-elect Pat Toomey were the others.)
This Pence Moment has special resonance just now as Barack Obama wasn’t the only politician to blink this week. Speaker-in-waiting John Boehner picked Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.)-aka “Prince of Pork”-to chair the appropriations committee. Politico reports that over the last two years Rogers has requested $175,613,300 in earmarks. This is the point at which one usually talks about what a powerful symbol earmarks are. Washington Watch has a data base showing that there are already 39,000 earmark requests in for 2011. Estimated cost: $131 billion. Symbolic you say?