Think Progress takes a shot at Rep. Mike Pence for — hold onto your seats — voting for defense pork in his home state. Pence once said, “if we are going to put our fiscal house in order, everything has to be on the table. We have to be willing to look at domestic spending, we have to be able to look at entitlements, and we have to look at defense.” But here he is insisting that spending the Pentagon deems excessive is actually absolutely necessary to maintain a free military-industrial market: “The reality is, and the Heritage Foundation produced a very important study on this, is that it is believed that when you were talking about a military defense contract that will span decades of time, it is in the interest of taxpayers in the long run to have more than one source, more than one manufacturer of that engine.”
It’s a funny argument coming from Pence, since the claim that certain sensitive manufacturing industries must be preserved for strategic reasons is a key tenet of economic nationalism, something that Pence, a NAFTA/CAFTA-ite, presumably considers anathema. Will Pence now begin to favor steel and auto tariffs?
On the other hand, there’s nothing remarkable about a congressman voting for pork in his neighborhood, whatever his professed principles. There are a handful of steel-willed representatives like Ron Paul who vote against handouts for their own constituents, but most congressfolk make at least a few self-interested exceptions. That’s not a good thing, but neither is it the kind of corruption that brings down a republic, provided legislators are otherwise serious about restraining spending. I have graver doubts about Pence on that score: he’s a committed militarist, and wars in Mesopotamia, Central Asia, and wherever else Pence might like to intervene do not come cheap. You can’t be a budget hawk and a warhawk, and Pence is firmly the latter.