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Associated Press
Gov. Mike Pence rails against the federal government, but Indiana’s prosperity depends, in part, on Washington’s money.

Relying on the Beast

Tough business of governing can be compromising

Even soccer has its defenders. They call them goalies. But no one ever has a good word for the federal government.

Gov. Mike Pence, the coyest of presidential noncandidates, used his appearance at the New York Republicans’ annual dinner Thursday to launch an all-out attack on conservatives’ bitterest foe: the government of their own nation.

“I’m more convinced than I’ve ever been in my life that the cure for what ails this country will come more from our nation’s state capitals than it ever will from our nation’s capital,” Pence told a roomful of wealthy donors at the Times Square event. He called on Washington’s GOP to restore “to the states those resources and responsibilities that are rightfully their, under the Constitution,” including education, welfare and transportation.

The long tradition of politicians running against Washington isn’t limited to Republicans. Ronald Reagan made a career of it; so did Jimmy Carter. Until, of course, they became president.

But we think Pence has it exactly right. He just doesn’t take the argument far enough.

If Pence is going to make his argument against the federal government truly convincing, he needs to launch a direct, unflinching attack on a Midwestern governor who happily receives billions and billions of dollars each year from the evil, scheming feds.

This spending-happy governor recently asked the feds for disaster relief money for some of his counties that had been devastated by storms. When the pointy-headed bureaucrats turned him down, he asked again.

This governor recently was observed in one of his northernmost cities wearing a ceremonial hard-hat and celebrating the opening of a new rail line that he said will help bring prosperity. “I say, let’s blow the horn, let’s get the Gateway open,” the governor said, according to The Times of Northwest Indiana. Though he didn’t say it, this governor knew that the money for the new rail line was coming from the federal government’s 2009 stimulus act.

Pence, of course, would condemn anyone who celebrated the use of such vile, dirty money. Why, when he was in Congress, he led the fight against it.

But the governor we’re talking about is still riding on the coattails of his predecessor, who used stimulus money while building a state “surplus” that’s lauded again and again as the paragon of sound, fiscal policy.

Pence would never truck with such dangerous interactions with the Beast of the Beltway.

Except … except Pence is that governor. And without Indiana’s cherished surplus, without billions from Obamacare to underwrite HIP 2.0, without projects like the Indiana Gateway rail improvements, without Social Security, Medicare and other health benefits, without the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program and other programs that help children and seniors receive enough to eat, without Pell Grants and other educational assistance plans Indiana would be … well, let’s just say nobody would want to support a governor for president who refused federal help for all those needed programs.

Besides, Pence should take a lesson from all those anti-government crusaders who eventually found their way into the White House. As has often been observed, things look a little different, somehow, when you actually have responsibility for running the country. Imagine, if it came to that, how people back here in Indiana would take to blaming President Pence for all of Indiana’s problems.