WASHINGTON — The selection of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as Donald Trump's running mate could clarify the presumptive Republican nominee's banking policy views, adding to the ticket a policymaker who has been outspoken about the Dodd-Frank Act and other financial topics.
To date, Trump has said very little about banking matters beyond a general pledge to repeal the 2010 financial reform law. But Pence — who served in the House between 2001 and 2012, is well known to bankers, having served as a fierce opponent to both Dodd-Frank and the Bush administration's 2008 bank bailout. He is also closely aligned with House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling and other conservative GOP lawmakers, giving them a key ally in any future Trump administration.
"Mike inspires people, and his boundless optimism in America is infectious at a time when so many have lost hope," Hensarling said in a statement Thursday before the announcement was official. "If selected, he will be a great addition to the ticket and he will make a great Vice President. Personally, I am proud to call him my friend."
Rep. French Hill, R-Ark., a former banker who also serves on the House Financial Services Committee, said in a emailed statement that Pence "is a principled conservative with executive and legislative experience."
Pence's selection became clear on Thursday, but Trump waited until Friday morning to officially confirm the news via Twitter.
In choosing Pence, Trump has tapped a lawmaker with a significant record who could be a key voice within the administration on financial matters. Following is a guide to Pence's past positions.
Although the Troubled Asset Relief Program was a program pushed by a Republican president and Treasury secretary, Pence helped lead a GOP revolt against the bill. The then-congressman helped deliver a surprising defeat of the bill in 2008, temporarily spooking the stock market.
President Bush eventually helped rally more Republicans to a revised bill, but Pence continued to oppose it.
"This legislation remains the largest corporate bailout in American history, forever changes the relationship between government and the financial sector and passes the cost along to the American people," Pence said on the House floor. "The decision to give the federal government the ability to nationalize almost every bad mortgage in America interrupts a basic truth of our free-market economy."
Pence favored an alternative that would have set up a Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.-like insurance program in which Wall Street firms paid to insure mortgage-backed securities.
On the one hand, Pence's opposition to Tarp puts him at odds with most financial institutions and many Republicans, who believe the program was necessary to prevent a larger economic catastrophe. But politically speaking, his position is more popular, as the public has come to deeply resent the bank bailout of 2008.
'Too Big to Fail'
Pence was a strong opponent of the AIG and Goldman Sachs bailout and would likely support a Republican plan spearheaded by Hensarling that would create a new bankruptcy process for megabanks and repeal authority given to the FDIC that would allow it to dismantle a failing banking company.
When asked in a 2010 interview whether bankruptcy was too lengthy a process to wind down a megabank, Pence replied, "I think the federal bankruptcy courts, if we added a new chapter to the federal bankruptcy code, could be given the authority to move very quickly to interdict with these types of vast and complex financial firms."
"Let's get these big institutions that make bad decisions in the same bankruptcy courts that small businesses have to go to," Pence added.
He also criticized the Dodd-Frank law, which he said gives the administration the ability to pick favorites.
"The extension of authority here to the Treasury, to the FDIC that allows them to pick winners and losers in the marketplace, that keeps alive this deeply flawed concept that some institutions are too big to fail," Pence said. "You know, the idea of offering an implicit guarantee to certain financial organizations I think would be very damaging to regional and community banks … at the preference of large institutional investors on Wall Street.
Housing Finance Reform
Pence has also endorsed privatizing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, similar to plans pushed by Hensarling.
During the same 2010 speech, Pence blamed the two government-sponsored enterprises for causing the crisis.
"The Republican plan also would put an end to the taxpayer subsidies for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and gradually privatize them," he said. "Each of these institutions – Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the credit rating agencies – would be required to compete fairly in the marketplace."
His comments indicate he would likely support Hensarling's PATH Act, which would fully privatize the GSEs. The bill cleared the House Financial Services Committee but did not have enough Republican support to clear the full chamber. Hensarling has vowed to try again during the next Congress.
When the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was just a legislative proposal, Pence objected to giving a new agency so much power; he would likely support efforts to reform the structure of the agency. Republicans have been pushing to replace the bureau's single director with a five-person commission and to require that the bureau consider credit availability as well as consumer protection.
"The bill allows bureaucrats to determine the types and terms of credit products offered to consumers, through the establishment of the so-called Consumer Financial Protection Agency," Pence said in the speech to the New York Hedge Fund Roundtable.
"An unelected 'credit czar' would be empowered to dictate what financial products could be offered and at what terms, drastically reducing the number of financial products available and driving up the cost of credit generally, at a time when families and small businesses can least afford it," Pence added. "Agencies need the ability to consider safety and soundness and consumer protection together to ensure that a balance is achieved and neither responsibility is neglected."