Washington Times Profiles Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), Examines House Conservatives’ Reaction to Medicare Law
The Washington Times on Thursday profiled Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) -- incoming chair of the Republican Study Committee -- and examined his efforts to lead the conservative opposition to the Medicare legislation last year, which was opposed by 25 House Republicans.
Pence said, "We were wiped out. There was nothing victorious about the Medicare bill." He added, "It wasn't just a defeat for the 25 at the Alamo; it was demoralizing" for the House Republican Conference. He said the vote on the Medicare bill showed that conservatives need to "show [their] mettle earlier in the process than at the day or time of the vote."
Pence hopes the defeat for conservatives "will become a rallying cry for the next time," the Times reports. He said, "In the last year, I've seen colleagues come up and say, 'I'm with you next time.' I think this puts us in a very good position on Social Security reform, on tax reform that represents no increase in taxes and on advancing the agenda of limited government and putting our house in order."
As chair of the RSC, Pence said he does not plan to push his own issues but hopes instead to give other conservative lawmakers a platform from which to push their issues. He gave as an example Rep. Joe Pitts' (R-Pa.) efforts to pass abortion and fetal-pain legislation. The 2004 election was "a mandate for conservative leadership," Pence said (Dinan, Washington Times, 12/23).
In related news, the Houston Chronicle examined how "[t]ime is running out" for low-income Medicare beneficiaries who want to take advantage of the $600 subsidy available for 2004 through the Medicare prescription drug discount card program. To qualify for this year's subsidy -- as well as an additional $600 available for 2005 -- eligible low-income beneficiaries must enroll in the drug card program by Dec. 31.
According to the Chronicle, patient advocates and government officials are working to educate beneficiaries about the benefits of the program in the hope of enrolling more low-income seniors before the deadline next week (Markley, Houston Chronicle, 12/23).