Monday, September 26, 2016

President Pence: get out your xanax edition

The polls are trending Trump-Pence. If Trump wins, the chances that he will either quit or be fired (through impeachment before, during or after a criminal conviction or two) are pretty high. So let's remind ourselves about the post-Trump president, Mike Pence. Remember him? The guest of dishonor at #periodsforpence, commemorating Pence's anti-abortion legislation:
In March, the governor signed a bill that’s been cited as one of the most restrictive in the U.S., barring abortion on the basis of disability, gender or race of the fetus. It also requires women to get an ultrasound at least 18 hours before the procedure and requires that the fetal remains be buried or cremated.
That's right, Pence signed into law a tax on miscarriages (did you think that fetal remains will be buried or cremated for free?) Also, since most miscarriages end up in the toilet, or on a pad or two, presumably those remnants need to be fished out or scraped off to be properly buried. No wonder women across the country are mailing him their used tampons, just to make sure their bleeding conforms to Pence's legal requirements. But this goes along with Pence's record throughout his career: voting for abortion restrictions, defunding Planned Parenthood. Bonus points if you guessed that he presided over an HIV epidemic in some Indiana counties, outbreaks fueled by shared needles among addicts, and refused to allow statewide needle exchange (though he has allowed it in a few counties that beg him for permission).

Besides endangering the health of the people of Indiana, he has plundered their pocketbooks.
Pence Signed Tax Cuts For Corporations, High-Income Individuals That Already Failed In Other Red States. In March 2014, Pence followed the lead of other Republican governors around the country by passing a package of supply-side corporate and income tax cuts that he claimed would increase business activity and economic growth in the state. Similar trickle-down economic models “collapsed” after being implemented by Govs. Sam Brownback (R-KS) and Bobby Jindal (R-LA) and failed to produce discernible results for Gov. John Kasich in neighboring Ohio. As was the case in Ohio and elsewhere, Pence’s tax cuts effectively redistributed the state’s tax burden onto local governments that were stripped of nearly $1 billion in annual revenue. An additional manufacturing tax cut pushed by the governor in 2015 was projected to cost the state between $35 million and $240 million annually. [The Associated Press, 3/25/14; The Indianapolis Star, 3/25/14, 2/3/15; New York, 3/18/16; Media Matters, 3/15/16, 7/1/16]
Pence Signed Law Capping Indiana Minimum Wage, Employee Benefits. In 2013, Pence mustered Republican State House opposition to a proposal that would have increased Indiana’s minimum wage to $8.25 per hour despite national support for raising the wage to $9. According to The Times of Northwest Indiana, Pence had previously signed legislation “prohibit[ing] local governments from requiring businesses [to] pay a higher minimum wage, or offer any working condition or benefit, such as paid sick leave, if it's not mandated by state or federal law.” On May 6, 2015, Pence continued his campaign against living wages by repealing a law guaranteeing that “prevailing wages” be paid to workers on publicly funded construction projects. [The Times of Northwest Indiana, 11/12/13, 5/6/15]
Pence Defended State's Union-Busting "Right-To-Work" Laws. On February 1, 2012, Indiana set off a cascade of union-busting legislation from Republican statehouses in the Midwest when it became the first state in more than a decade, and 23rd state overall, to enact a so-called “right-to-work” law. The law, barring union contracts from requiring that non-union members pay representation fees, was signed by outgoing Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels, who had once been opposed to the provision, and created a template for future GOP-led attacks on unions in Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin. In separate rulings delivered in September 2013 and July 2014, two judges in Lake County, IN, concluded that the legislation violated “the state constitution’s guarantee of compensation for services,” according to The Times of Northwest Indiana. Stating unequivocally that “Indiana is a right-to-work state,” Gov. Mike Pence appealed the ruling to the state’s Supreme Court and won a unanimous decision upholding the law in November 2014. The only Democratic-appointed on the court, Justice Robert Rucker, authored a concurring opinion leaving the door open to further constitutional challenges of the law.
Since being revived in Indiana, anti-union “right-to-work” laws have spread throughout Republican-controlled statehouses around the country. Pence’s support for legislative crackdowns on worker rights and collective bargaining date back to at least 2003, when he was an initial co-sponsor of the National Right-to-Work Act. In June 2016, Pence promoted his state’s experience with the law while praising Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Cole in union-heavy West Virginia. Conservative media outlets have intensely promoted “right-to-work” since it re-emerged on the national stage in 2012 as a means of boosting wages and economic activity, but research by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) has consistently shown that the supposed gains never actually materialize. [AFL-CIO, 1/19/12; The New York Times, 2/1/12; Media Matters, 12/12/12; The Times of Northwest Indiana, 7/25/14, 8/22/14; The Indianapolis Star, 11/6/14; Courthouse News Service, 11/10/14; Economic Policy Institute, 4/22/15; The Cincinnati Enquirer, 1/12/16; Chicago Tribune, 5/24/16; Charleston Gazette-Mail, 7/6/16; Congress.gov, accessed 7/14/16]
Bottom line: if Pence does for the US as he did for Indiana, we're in for some belt tightening.

 On military issues, Pence has declared his opposition to women in the military (admittedly in 1999) somehow working a critique of Disney's Mulan into his reasoning. He also opposed the end of 'don't ask, don't tell', presumably wanting gay military members to stay closeted. He's pro-torture at Guantanamo (will he insist on such measures being used on post-impeachment former president  Trump, for interrogation about his deals with Putin involving Ukraine and the Baltics, and unspecified other deals with other dictators?) As for foreign policy, I'm sure he will follow the advice of his role model, Dick Cheney and his minions.

So if you worry, as I do, about the election of Trump, don't forget to also worry about the subsequent presidency of Pence. The ship of state will be in good hands, if by 'good hands' you mean  those trembling appendages of a slow learning, right wing ideologue misogynist with homophobic tendencies and an inability to read, think or investigate the actual world and the effects his policies have on it. 

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