On a midweek afternoon in February 2009, a month into the Obama presidency, Republican Rep. Mike Pence arrived at Columbus in his east-central Indiana district for a town hall meeting, the sort of event that usually attracted a few dozen constituents. Surprised to see the hallway outside the room crowded with people, “their arms folded and brows furrowed,” Pence shouted down the hall to an aide, asking him to get a janitor to open the room. The aide shouted back that the room was open – and overflowing. Congress had just passed the stimulus bill (Pence voted no), and Hoosiers were stimulated to anger. Soon the Tea Party would be simmering.
Five months earlier, on a Friday, TARP had been proposed. The original three-page legislation sought $700 billion instantly, no time for questions; Pence’s staff figured the cost would be about a billion dollars a word. On Saturday, Pence announced his opposition but thought the bill would pass the House 434 to 1. On Monday, however, other members started approaching him, almost furtively, “like a secret society.” A week later, the House rejected TARP, 228 to 205.
Four days later, the House passed TARP’s second, 451-page, pork-swollen iteration, 263 to 171. That weekend, Pence, who voted no, was at a Boy Scout jamboree at the Henry County Fairgrounds. He was approached by a man who had no scout there but wanted to thank Pence for opposing TARP. The man said that although he had lost his job the day before, “I can get another job but I can’t get another country.”
The article continues at the Washington Post.