Come 2023, former Vice President Mike Pence advised Wednesday, conservative lawmakers need to “flood the zone” with strong policy proposals.
“Let’s get this economy back on its feet. Let’s reverse some of this reckless, irresponsible spending by the Biden administration that has been driving inflation,” Pence said during a question-and-answer session with Heritage Foundation President Kevin Roberts following his prepared remarks.
“Let’s use the power of the purse to demand that they secure the border of the United States of America,” Pence said during his appearance at the think tank’s Capitol Hill headquarters.
Americans, the former vice president said, will be looking after the Nov. 8 midterm elections for results from conservatives in Congress, “not posturing, not going on television shows saying what’s wrong with the other side, but saying here’s what we are for, here’s what we are passing, put it on the president’s desk, make him veto it and two years from now, we’ll have a national debate.”
Pence talked about the economy, national security, education, and the sanctity of life in laying out a “Freedom Agenda” at The Heritage Foundation, parent organization of The Daily Signal.
He also addressed what he called “a healthy debate” in today’s conservative movement.
“Some in the movement long for a simple return to the traditional conservative agenda of the Reagan era. Others say we should be swept along by the new and energetic sense of populism,” Pence said during his prepared remarks, adding:
I truly do believe that we don’t have to choose between one at the expense of another. After all, I believe the agenda of the Trump-Pence administration was a marriage of an unapologetic commitment to the foundations of a conservative agenda with thoughtful populist priorities driven by the aspirations of the American people.
Pence, also a former Indiana governor and congressman, noted that the Trump-Pence administration advocated traditional conservative goals such as a strong national defense, free markets, lower taxes, and less regulation, and stood up for the sanctity of human life. But the administration also addressed border security, aimed for fairer trade deals, and changed the national consensus on China, he said.
“Conservatives, at this point in history, need to chart a course that doesn’t veer off too far in either direction,” Pence said, adding:
Our movement cannot forsake the foundational commitment to security, to limited government, and to life. Nor can we allow our movement to be led astray by the siren song of unprincipled populism that is unmoored from our oldest traditions and most cherished values.
Pence later addressed divides in the conservative movement over Russian President Vladimir Putin’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, and noted that it’s no coincidence that the Trump-Pence administration is the only recent one during which Putin didn’t try to redraw international lines.
“There can be no room in the conservative movement for apologists for Putin,” Pence said. “There is only room in this movement for champions of freedom.”
The Freedom Agenda evaluates successful policies from the Reagan administration through the Trump administration.
Key among the issues is protecting life, Pence said.
“Thanks to three Supreme Court justices that were confirmed during our administration, the Supreme Court of the United States sent Roe v. Wade to the ash heap of history, where it belongs,” Pence said to applause. “The court gave the American people a new beginning for life. Make no mistake about it, it is only a beginning.”
Education is another top issue, he said, including defending girls and women’s sports in school.
“Joe Biden, in his last State of the Union address, pledged to defend the ‘God-given right’ of men to compete in women’s sports,” Pence said. “We need to end the assault on women’s sports being driven by the radical Left and preserve opportunities for our daughters and our granddaughters for generations to come.”
The former vice president said that “the antidote is school choice” and praised Arizona’s new universal school choice law.
“Let’s stand for education freedom. Let’s empower parents. Let’s make sure we advance patriotic education,” Pence said. “But let’s recognize education is a state and local function, and purpose ourselves to end the federal government’s role in education and take every federal dollar and send it back to the states.”
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