In Pence, America would quickly come to understand the most sinister aspects of the Republican Party. Deeply socially conservative, Pence would have a pliant Supreme Court to defend whatever measures his White House undertook; it’s not hard to envision a President Pence marshaling a federal abortion ban through a GOP-controlled Congress, or quietly encouraging a legal challenge of Obergefell v. Hodges, which guaranteed the right to same-sex marriage in all 50 states. The 2015 decision was 5-4. Barrett, a hard-line conservative, has since replaced the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
To understand what Pence’s economic agenda would look like, it’s best to examine what Senator Rick Scott of Florida is trying to get his fellow Republicans to campaign on this fall. The Trump Republican faction of the party could stomach a degree of economic populism — Trump did not campaign on slashing Social Security or Medicare — but Scott and his traditionalist allies prefer austerity and tax cuts on the wealthy at all costs. Currently Scott, as chairman of the Republican Senate Campaign Committee, is arguing poor and working-class people should pay far more in taxes and all legislation should sunset after five years. Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid would disappear unless Congress voted to reauthorize them. What’s left of America’s 20th-century welfare state could disappear overnight. Given the trajectory of the Senate and the House, it’s plausible that any Republican who wins in 2024, including Pence, would govern with large majorities come 2025. The Scott agenda, under Pence at least, would get a hearing.
Meanwhile, Pence could easily revive the Bush-era foreign-policy prerogatives, pushing the American military into more global conflicts and further bloating the Pentagon budget.