On Tuesday, conservative talk show radio host Rush Limbaugh had Vice President Mike Pence on his program to discuss the recent budget deal, among other topics such as the repeal of Obamacare and the current tension with North Korea, as reported by The Daily Wire.
Limbaugh opened the conversation with a brief, cordial welcome. Pence was barely able to respond with a ‘thank you’ of his own when Limbaugh interjected and pounced on him with the question, “If this is what happens, Mr. Vice President, why vote Republican?”
Limbaugh was referring to the recent budget deal that was announced Monday – which has not only been met with confusion and dismay by many Republican supporters but has also been a self-proclaimed victory among Democrats.
A brief rundown on the budget agreement.
Congress had until midnight Friday, April 28th to pass a spending bill or else the federal government would have been forced to shut down. No agreement was met last week, however, a continuing resolution was introduced. The resolution essentially pushed the deadline to May 5th – a week later than the original.
Nevertheless, the full week extension was not needed as an agreement was made this past Sunday. In other words, congressional leaders reached an agreement on the terms of the federal budget for the next six months – an agreement that will determine where federal money would be allocated to.
Herein lies much of the criticism. Republicans currently control the House, the Senate, and the White House – a level many believed would make it easy to pass virtually any Republican policy. Yet, the new budget agreement has no money allocated to policies Trump promised throughout the campaign such as the border wall.
What is more, Republican voters presumably would have liked to have seen budget cuts or defunding of Democratic policies such as Obamacare, EPA, and Planned Parenthood – all of which will remain funded for at least the next six months.
What did Mike Pence have to say about this to Limbaugh?
“I actually think this was, as the President said a little while ago, I think this was actually a clear win for the American people” Said Pence. “You’ve had Washington D.C. that has been […] paralyzed by gridlock and partisan infighting for many years.”
In short, Pence is saying Trump showed an ability to bring Democrats and Republicans together within congress. This is a task that has proved to be challenging for other administrations. Pence goes on to emphasize the $21 billion increase in defense spending that was agreed upon in the budget deal. This increase would be repeated as the main soundbite for Pence in his interview with Limbaugh.
Pence points out a turning-of-the-tides regarding domestic spending. “For years, democrats in Washington insisted any increase in defense spending would be matched with an increase in domestic spending. So you got to grow government at home if your gonna […] invest in our national defense”. Pence claims this standard coming to an end is a “game-changer”.
“This bill includes the largest increase in border security funding in ten years. With enough, as the President said, to make a down payment on a border wall”. This was a common tagline among supporters of the budget who are clearly looking at the glass half-full.
While some were quick to criticize the budget agreement, others tried to ensure cooler heads prevailed. “Let’s keep in mind what this was, this was not the Trump budget, this was not Trump’s agenda, this was last year’s budget bill. This was the unfinished work that Barack Obama […] The budget that Trump proposed with all of his spending cuts and all of his changes was for next year’s budget, so he was cleaning up the loose ends from last year and despite that he got some marginal victories” said Marc Thiessen on Fox News.
When asked what the new health care plan is and what we get if it passes, Pence responded “the beginning of the end of Obamacare and the beginning of a better healthcare system for the American people”.
Pence goes on to list the failures of the promises Obamacare made to the American people: You can keep your current doctor, you can keep your current insurance provider, and your premiums will go down. All of which failed to come to fruition, according to Pence.
He continues to say the new plan would repeal the taxes and penalties at the core of Obamacare, expand health savings accounts which would give people more choices in care providers, and would provide more flexibility in Medicaid back to the states.
Limbaugh chimes in and alludes to the likelihood of it taking multiple phases to complete the total repeal of Obamacare.
Just before Pence needed to step away from the conversation, Limbaugh was able to get one more question across. He asked about the current state of North Korea, specifically, “what is the real threat posed by this guy [and] what are we prepared to do about it?”
Pence confirmed the regime in North Korea presents the biggest threat to the world’s security. The U.S. will not negotiate with North Korea on possession of nuclear weapons – “the world has united in the goal of a nuclear-free Korean peninsula.”
At one point Limbaugh attempted to inject a touch of humor into the conversation, perhaps to make light of a serious situation. Pence responded with a moment of awkward silence followed by, “Rush, it’s an enormously serious moment”. Clearly, the Vice President was setting a precedent.
Pence finished the conversation with a powerful statement. “We have to send a clear message […] all options are on the table, President Trump is going to continue to drive toward a policy that achieves a historic goal of removing nuclear weapons from the Korean peninsula, I know the world knows he means business.”