Mike Pence at the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition Dinner in 2010. Photo credit: IowaPolitics.com (CC-By-SA 2.0)
Mike Pence at the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition Dinner in 2010.
Photo credit: IowaPolitics.com (CC-By-SA 2.0)

Indiana Governor Mike Pence will be in Iowa this Monday for a fundraiser for Iowa Governor Terry Branstad.  The lunch event, the Des Moines Register reports, is hosted by Cam and Linda Sutton.  Cam Sutton is a big time donor of Branstad’s having given the five-term governor $13,500 this cycle so far.

Anytime a political figure comes to Iowa, especially someone with the profile of Mike Pence, conventional wisdom states that person is considering a presidential run.  Usually prospective candidates will come out here and stump for down ballot races, attend town halls, participate in fundraisers, mingle with grassroots, meet with fundraisers, and do media avails.

This doesn’t seem to be the case with Pence.  First his event is closed to the press, unless you’re the Washington Post.  Certainly Pence is not the only prospective candidate to participate with a closed media event, but most politicians who venture out this way will include other public events which brings me to my second point, this event is closed to the public, it is not being promoted and is invite only.  So the goal is not to reach out to the grassroots.  Pence is coming out to help a five-term governor who is widely believed to be a shoo-in to win a 6th term and who has millions in his war chest.   Who exactly is helping out who?

Branstad doesn’t need Pence’s help fundraising.  Pence does benefit from being able to meet and greet Branstad donors and to kiss the ring, so to speak, of the state’s top Republican.

So that is definitely a tell-tale sign of somebody thinking about running.

But the former tea party and social conservative Congressional favorite seems to be avoiding the grassroots on this trip.  Here are three questions that Pence will avoid hiding out in Iowa.

Which is probably a good thing.  He’ll asked some tough questions I’m sure.

1. Governor Pence why do you approve Medicaid expansion?

It’s not a conservative position period, no matter how you spin it.  Pence like some other Republican governors caved even though the Supreme Court ruled the Feds could not force states to expand Medicaid.  Conservatives have criticized his plan stating that it creates a new entitlement for able-bodied adults without children, will increase Medicaid eligibility under Obamacare, reduces skin-in-the-game and incentivizes costly ER use, crowds out private insurance, among other concerns.

He joins Governor Branstad going down that road.  Pence having a supermajority in the Indiana Legislature could have brought about true reform like  what is being done in states like Florida, Kansas and Louisiana.

2. Why did you rebrand the Common Core State Standards?

Pence is busy patting himself on the back for Indiana’s Common Core repeal boasting that he got rid of it, but what did he replace it with?  When his state received a NCLB waiver he said in a statement, “Since being elected Governor, I have consistently said that the Hoosier state needs to vigorously protect our commitment to high standards and to an accountability system that upholds those standards. I have also been clear that we need maximum flexibility under the law to develop our academic standards and accountability measures.”

The only reason Indiana was granted their magical waiver and Oklahoma didn’t receive one is the Common Core.  Oklahoma will engage in a  deliberate process rewrite their standards.  That wasn’t the case with Indiana.  They could have just reverted back to their previous, superior standards, but instead Pence presided over a rushed rewrite that can only be described as the Common Core rebranded.  He then put his stamp of approval on these subpar standards.

Indiana could have (and should have) come out of this process far better standards, instead he allowed the bar to be lowered.  All done in the name of maintaining their eligibility for a No Child Left Behind waiver ignoring state law in the process.

3. Why do you believe the purpose of education is to meet the state’s economic needs instead of our children’s needs?

Indiana was just chosen by the National Governor’s Association (NGA) Center for Best Practices as one of the 14 states that will participate in a policy academy they have formed that is “aimed at aligning education and workforce training systems to meet state’s economic needs.”

Joy Pullmann writing at The Federalist points out he, along with other Republican governors, are participating in programs such as these that are part of a managed economy.

He doesn’t call it that, of course—he focuses on jobs and vocational training, both good and necessary in the abstract. But his manner of attempting to improve these was not to get government out of people’s way, but put government front and center of education and the economy, where it already sits and slobbers as it snarfs down children’s futures, freedom, and innovation. Pence’s big solution to the state’s economic doldrums consists of creating several committees of unelected bureaucrats, most of whom he appoints. It’s exciting to centralize power when you’re the guy amassing much of it, eh?

Not content to trust the spontaneous order and lack of coercion within the free market, despite its excellent track record and the rather horrifying track record of all the alternatives, Pence wants to further inject government-directed “order” into the education and workforce non-markets to solve the problems created by previous impositions of government-directed “order” into the education and workforce non-markets. The way to do this, Pence claims, is to “align education and the workforce” using databases that track citizens from at least toddlerhood through their entire careers and steer these citizens in directions that meet “the needs of Indiana’s regional economies” (see the masterplan, courtesy of an eagle-eyed fellow Hoosier). People apparently can’t be trusted to do what is good for them, so they need government to manage them using databases and “strategic” grants that undoubtedly will never go to campaign donors and golf buddies.

Kids are not mindless drones or cogs in a wheel.  This trend of focusing on workforce development ignores children’s needs, gifts, abilities, passion, innovation, etc.  Also this is a cost shifting from the business sector who have historically been the ones to teach job skills to the government sector.  How convenient for them.

Pence is not the only Republican governor who should have these questions asked of them, but he is indicating a future run.  The grassroots in Iowa deserve some answers, but it is unlikely anyone will have the chance to ask.

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