Tags: Mitch Daniels

Mitch Daniels Points Way to Higher-Ed Reform


Given the sorry state of much of higher ed today, it’s always nice to be able to write about some good news. This week, that news came from Purdue University’s president, Mitch Daniels. He recently penned an open letter to the Purdue University community discussing the first year of his presidency and outlining his vision for the future. That vision includes a tuition freeze, streamlining, performance measures, and innovation.

Over at ACTA, we couldn’t be more pleased with Daniels’ goals, and we say as much in our latest press release.

Mitch Daniels has been a bold and effective leader, and we hope he can continue pointing the way toward higher-ed reform.

Tags: Mitch Daniels

Set Field? Open Field? Either Way, It’s a Field Without Mitch


It’s not that big news breaks every time I’m on solo dad duty; it’s just that I remember every time that I’m away from a computer for long stretches and an earthquake shakes the political world — like the time I missed the arrest of Rod Blagojevich sitting in a pediatrician’s waiting room with lousy cell-phone reception.

The Monday Morning Jolt, heavy on reaction to Mitch Daniels’s decision to not throw his hat in the ring.

Daniels Won’t Be Around; He Will Be Mitched By Some

Glad I didn’t get started on some 15,000-word profile of Mitch Daniels.

You already know what you thought of Daniels. I found him a fascinating guy, a potentially strong president and a perhaps fatally flawed candidate; any governor who can keep his state’s budget balanced when almost all of the others are facing budget crises warrants a look.

The weaknesses? Well, he looks a little like Frank Purdue, he comes up to my shoulder, and he’s a true policy wonk, prone to talk in detail. While I think I get what he meant with the “truce on social issues” talk — our economic and foreign policy/national security crises are so pressing, they’ll eat up 90 percent of the time and energy of the next president — he managed to articulate that sense of prioritization in a manner that maximized the suspicion and distrust among social conservatives. And in interview after interview, he offered hint after hint that he just didn’t want to deal with the epic family emotional turmoil that accompanies any big-time presidential campaign.

Pejman Yousefzadeh was an early and vocal fan: “I certainly understand and appreciate his concerns regarding his family, and how they may have been affected by a Presidential run; much of Daniels’s supposed ‘dithering’ has in fact been deliberation and care in trying to decide whether a campaign would have been right for his family. Others appear to like having their preferred Presidential candidates jump into the race with both feet, without much care or concern over whether the initiation of a candidacy is the right thing to do under the circumstances, but as per usual with Daniels, he decided to be more intelligent and thorough in the process of making a decision. I applaud his outlook, and his healthy sense of humility — not to mention his appreciation of the gravity of the decision he had to make. I only wish that the decision had been a ‘yes.’ I don’t know what is in the future for Daniels; he is term-limited in his current job, so next year, there will be a race for Governor of Indiana that will not feature him as a candidate. I can only hope, however, that this highly intelligent, conscientious, substance-oriented patriot will somehow find himself in a position where he can render service to the country.”

. . . It seems Robert Stacy McCain has a new crusade: “You see the pattern: Barbour quit, Trump quit, Huckabee quit and now Daniels quits, while Herman Cain — the man who all the pundits say can’t win — just keeps going and going.”

Hugh Hewitt thinks the field is set, and the field is strong, and doesn’t understand why some complain: “[Neither Chris Cillizza] nor his fellow MSMer at the New York Times Michael Shear nor anyone at Politico, and certainly not lefty Jonathan Martin, seems to have considered that the reason various candidates are taking a pass this year is that the top two contenders — Romney and Pawlenty — have essentially locked up the campaign talent and the money commitments necessary to mount a traditional campaign, and that insurgent candidates are already in the hunt in the form of Bachmann, Gingrich and Santorum. Jon Huntsman also presents himself as an unusual sort of candidate taking even more space from the idea of a later entrant. Though the circle of MSMers keep saying the GOP longs for another candidate, that is a Manhattan-Beltway media elite meme. The Republicans I know have picked candidates and begun raising money for their choices. They are quite satisfied with the field, except for Sarah Palin’s many fans, and many of them are content with Michele Bachmann as a substitute.”

Bill Kristol comes from the opposite perspective: The field is wide open, and will remain so for quite a while: “It would be unfair to call the current field a vacuum. But it doesn’t exactly represent an overflowing of political talent. And insofar as politics abhors even a near-vacuum, others are bound to get in. I now think the odds are better than 50-50 that both Rick Perry and Paul Ryan run. I also now think they (and others — Sarah Palin, Chris Christie, John Bolton) may not feel they have to decide until after Labor Day — or maybe even until October or even November. The field could well remain open and fluid until Thanksgiving.”

Tags: Mitch Daniels

Mitch Daniels: Not a Light Beer Man


Boy, they don’t teach journalism the way they used to. Sure, it’s interesting that potential presidential candidate Mitch Daniels held his own “beer summit” with college-age supporters. But for heaven’s sake, man, can’t you get more precise about what he drank?

Gov. Mitch Daniels now has at least one thing in common with the man he may run against for president: They’ve both held beer summits.

After Daniels and his wife addressed a crowd of supporters at the state Republican fundraising dinner on Thursday night, members of Students for Daniels invited the governor out for drinks at Kilroy’s in downtown Indianapolis. By 9:30 p.m., Daniels was sitting at a table surrounded by his college-aged supporters with a beer in hand.

“I’m having a good time,” said Daniels, who didn’t leave the bar until after 11 p.m. “Anybody would be. I’m lifted up by young people.”

The governor sat with a loosened tie and made it through at least two beers while at the table with about 10 students. His young supporters leaned in to listen to each word of the soft-spoken governor’s stories about life and his political career. His favorite beer, he said, is Foster’s — but that’s only when he’s home. When he’s out, he likes to drink Grolsch or St. Pauli Girl.

“Let me put it this way,” he said. “I start by eliminating anything ending in ‘light.’”

Clearly a Daniels administration would have good relations with the Australians, the Dutch, and the Germans.

Tags: Mitch Daniels

WSJ: GOP Primary Voters Like Daniels’s Truce Idea, but Note Fine Print


Quite a few potential GOP contenders, like Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee, have derided Indiana governor Mitch Daniels’s comments that the country needs a “truce” on social issues while so many fiscal and foreign-policy crises rage unabated. But that position may not be the sure-fire primary loser that some expect:

The latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll appears to vindicate Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels‘s repeated insistence that the country needs a “truce” on fights over social issues while it grapples with its mounting economic challenges.

Nearly two thirds of Republican primary voters said they would be “more likely” to vote for a GOP primary candidate who says the party should focus more on the economy and the deficit and less on social issues such as gay marriage and abortion. Only 8% said they would be less likely to vote for such a candidate. The rest said they were unsure.

However, I note that the poll question (page 10 at the link) describes the sample as those who identified as Republican and said they would vote in the Republican primary, but also includes independents and Democrats who said they would vote in the Republican primary, which is roughly 8 percent of the sample. So it’s possible that a chunk of those “Republican primary voters” who concur with Daniels’s position are not actually Republicans.

Tags: Mitch Daniels

Mitch Daniels: Indiana Work Might Keep Me From Running


From comments like this, it is very easy to suspect that Mitch Daniels just doesn’t want to run for president:

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels says he’ll stay focused on getting his Statehouse agenda passed, even if the legislative session drags on so long that it precludes him for running for president.

An ongoing standoff caused by boycotting House Democrats has the potential to cause the legislative session to drag on past its scheduled end in late April. Daniels told The Associated Press Wednesday that his legislative agenda remains his top priority. He said a long-term impasse “could well get in the way of any national participation. If it does, it does.”

Really? The long legislative session might be sufficient to deter a man from trying to lead his country, to steer it away from a currently disastrous course, to try to salvage it before it is overtaken by monstrous debt, a threat that Daniels himself said was scarier than the Soviet arsenal?

Doesn’t this effectively give Democrats in the Indiana state legislature a veto over whether or not he runs for president?

Tags: Mitch Daniels

Mitch Daniels: ‘The House Democrats have shown a complete contempt for the democratic process.’


You know, I’m hearing quite a bit from the communications office of Gov. Mitch Daniels today. It’s almost as if yesterday’s statement was a colossal mistake, and they realize that the governor cannot afford to look weak in the face of Indiana Democratic lawmakers fleeing the state to avoid voting on right-to-work legislation.

Better late than never!

Daniels’s latest remarks from this afternoon:

GOVERNOR DANIELS:  First, I need to clarify a confusion I personally caused yesterday. I didn’t realize it at the time; most of you were not confused; yesterday I began extemporaneous comments by saying that the activities of the last two days — and I think I gestured to the atrium — were entirely appropriate. I was talking about the protesters and those who came to express their views and the strength of those views. They are welcome here, today and every day. What they’ve done is completely appropriate. It was not to condone the activities of the house Democratic caucus; which is completely unacceptable of course. Rereading my own comments, I could see how they could have been misconstrued and a couple of people did. So just for those of you who did misunderstand, my bad, but I don’t want any question left.  Huge distinction between people exercising their first amendment rights and people who take a public paycheck, walk off the job, go to another state, and try to wreck the democratic process.

The House Democrats have shown a complete contempt for the democratic process.  The way that works — as we all learned in grade school — is that if you seek public office you come do your duty, you argue, you debate, you amend if you can, you vote “no” if you feel you should.  If you are not successful, you go home and take your case to the voters.  You don’t walk off the job, take your public paycheck with you, and attempt to bring the whole process to a screeching halt. You know if they persist, the Democratic Party of Indiana will need a rebranding effort because this is as anti-democratic as behavior can be. 

All that said, I think they deserve another chance, let the heat of the moment cool I hope.  Maybe if their leadership doesn’t have a conscience about the unconscionable things they’ve done, maybe individuals members do.  But I do hope that having made their point; scoring one victory on the big issue, they will decide to come back to work. Let’s do the people’s business, together.  I can tell you that I don’t know what will happen; I don’t know how we’ll proceed.  I can tell you what won’t happen, we will not be bullied or blackmailed out of pursuing the agenda we laid in front of the people of Indiana, that agenda is going to get voted on.  If we take special sessions from now to New Years, we will hold them and we wills send the bill to Leader Bauer and to the Democratic party of Indiana.

I see no reasons for that to be necessary, they can come back and I hope they will, tomorrow.  We can just get on with business and that is what I would appeal to them to do.  I hope as a whole group, if not then maybe perhaps, individuals in the caucus who have gone along because that is what good caucus members do but may decide their conscience tells them they should do their duty instead.

Tags: Mitch Daniels

Mitch Daniels on Monday: ‘The elite in American society, really, are government unions.’


The office of the governor of Indiana would like to make sure you saw the governor’s comments to NPR’s Diane Rehm, a few days ago, in which his concept of public sector unions as a powerful special interest appear to have blown her mind:

REHM: Of course, the unions he has cited have already acceded to some budget cuts. So what is it about collective-bargaining rights excluding police, fire and others that’s so special? And are you doing the same?

DANIELS: Well, first of all, you know, collective bargaining is a very important part of the fabric of a free society. But even its most passionate advocates over the decades — Franklin Delano Roosevelt being a great example — said it really had no place in the public sector. We’ve evolved to a situation where the privileged, the elite in American society, really, are government unions, which no longer represent people who are paid less than the public that they serve but are paid much more and with much richer benefits and perfect job security in many cases. So, I think, bringing some balance back to that is necessary if states like Wisconsin and our nation, for that matter, are going to, you know, regain our balance and not kill the American dream for everybody else.

REHM: Help me to understand. Is there concrete evidence that Wisconsin public employees or Indiana public employees are better paid than their counterparts in the private sector?

DANIELS: Well, heavens, yes. The average federal employee is paid 50 percent more than the average taxpayer who supports him. The average teacher in the state of Indiana’s paid 22 percent more with much more generous benefits, perfect — you know, almost perfect job security and a shorter work year. So there ain’t any question about that. By the way, in some cases, that’s entirely appropriate. It’s just that the balance may have gotten a little out of hand, Diane. And Indiana is in a little different shape. We are not — we’ve been able to keep a books-balanced year and without all the severe cuts. And, you know, I’m incredibly proud of the job that our state employees are doing. So we’re not in quite the same position or advocating quite the same things they are up in Madison.

REHM: Help me to understand how taking away the rights of collective bargaining would fix or help to fix the budget shortfall.

DANIELS: Well, the most powerful special interest in America today are the government unions. They’re the leading financial contributors. They have the biggest packs. They have muscle. A lot of times their contracts provide for time off to go politic and lobby. And over the course of the last few decades, if there were ever injustices or shortfalls in how we took care of government employees, it has been fixed and over-fixed. And so I think that the — you know, he’s trying — what he’s trying to do is, in the public interest, interrupt this fortuitous process in which taxpayer dollars pay for very solid salaries for government employees.

REHM: What about — how would you compare the government unions to, say, the oil lobby?

DANIELS: Well, in many ways, they’re vastly more effective. They — as I say, they’re — year in, year out, they’re the number one donor of money into our political process. And, plus, in many cases, they can deliver muscle that these other interests that you might ask me about cannot. People and so forth — often, it’s in the terms of their contracts that they get time off to politic.

Despite what you might expect, there is no indication from the transcript that Rehm passed out from disbelief at that point.

Tags: Mitch Daniels

Mitch Daniels Clarifies: ‘Yesterday, I Was Careless.’


Mitch Daniels just issued this to Republican members of the Indiana General Assembly:

Republican Members of the General Assembly:

My comments yesterday afternoon were completely misunderstood by some members of the media, although not by most, and I take responsibility for it. When I began my comments by stating “Just to affirm, the activities of today are a perfectly legitimate part of the process, even the smallest minority, and that’s what we have heard from the last couple of days, has every right to express the strength of its views and I salute those who did, ” I was referring to the activities of those men and women of the public who came to the statehouse to participate in the process and share their view. I was absolutely not referring to Minority Leader Bauer and the House Democrats, whose behavior is of course unacceptable.

The rest of my comments were directed at Minority Leader Bauer and the House Democrats. They were: “Just to be equally plain, I’m not sending the state police after anybody. I’m not going to divert a single trooper from their job of protecting the Indiana public. I trust that people’s consciences will bring them back to work and I choose to believe that our friends in the minority will, having made their point, will come back and do their duty and the jobs they are paid to do.”

I try to be precise in public comments, but yesterday I was careless. What I thought would be perfectly clear, on rereading my own words, was susceptible to being misconstrued and some reporters incorrectly did so. Sorry for the confusion; all my fault.

Tags: Mitch Daniels

Democrat Legislators’ Temporary, Small-Scale Secessions


From Wednesday’s Morning Jolt:

The audio of Mitch Daniels, found here, will be a bit of a Rorschach test for conservatives; I suspect a few will see a governor with a set plan to enact education reform pushing aside a separate issue that could poison the well for any bipartisan compromise. And I suspect a lot will see him as just another RINO.

For those whose instinct before today was to dismiss Daniels as just another RINO, I wish you had the chance to sit down and listen to him talk about policy. I recognized from day one my tastes weren’t necessarily going to match that of a majority of Republican primary voters. But to my initial impressions, Daniels seemed, in some ways, to be the perfect anti-Obama. He’s actually run things like the Office of Management and Budget and the National Republican Senatorial Committee and Indiana.

He worked for Reagan as chief political adviser and liaison to state and local officials. He’s worked in the private sector with some significant success at Eli Lilly. He worries about details. He says “we have to means-test the hell out of” entitlements once deemed untouchable. He tells people who he ought to be courting all kinds of things they don’t want to hear. If you consider the Obama-as-messiah hype of 2007-2008 to be a new national low point in serious political discourse, the candidacy of Daniels looks like a big bucket of ice water splashed on the dreamy electorate looking for magic wand solutions.

But when your state’s Democrats decide to throw a tantrum worthy of my toddler and high tail it across the state line like Smokey and the Bandit, you have to call them out on their crap. No constitution, state or national, includes an “I’m taking my bat and my ball and I’m going home” amendment. This is not political discourse or protest or an innovative tactical maneuver. These are refusals to abide by the established rules, laws, customs and traditions of the American political system: small-scale, temporary secessions.

And if you think I’m mad about these stunts, I’d note that the word that best describes many of my readers’ views on them is . . . Qaddaffi-esque.

As mentioned over on Campaign Spot, I thought I understood what Daniels was saying with the “social issue truce” talk; picture the most politically self-destructive synonym for “prioritization” you can imagine. Look, we all know the guy who takes the oath on January 20, 2013 is going to face a stack of problems that will make January 2009 look like the good old days. If the next Republican president manages to avoid Debt Armageddon, restore the economy to low unemployment and real growth, and keep any of the world’s maniacs from killing Americans, I’ll be doing cartwheels. And if we ever reach that economic and foreign policy Nirvana, then we can really put the pedal to the metal on trying to nurse our sick society to something resembling decency and traditional values.

But recent evidence suggests that the Democratic establishment, in Washington, in Madison, in Indianapolis and a slew of other states have reached a point where they cannot be reasoned with. They don’t know where the money will come to fund everything they want. They don’t really care. But they’ll be darned if they’ll let anybody apply the brakes to the gravy train that has been so good to them — er, I’m sorry, the high-speed-rail gravy train that’s been so good to them.

Tags: Democrats , Mitch Daniels , State Legislatures

Mitch Daniels: Indiana Republicans Should Drop the Right to Work Bill


Color me extremely disappointed with Indiana governor Mitch Daniels right now:

Gov. Mitch Daniels signaled this afternoon that Republicans should to drop the right-to-work bill that has brought the Indiana House to a standstill for two days and imperiled other measures.

Daniels told reporters this afternoon that he expects House Democrats will return to work if the bill dies. It would be unfortunate if other bills are caught up in the turmoil, he said.

He will not send out state police to corral the Democrats, the Republican governor said. The Democrat minority has right to express its views, he added.

The governor clung to his view that this is not the year to tackle right to work.

If the Indiana House Democrats get what they want through this tactic, what’s to prevent them from using it again and again every time they think they’ll lose on a big issue?

I had been open-minded about Daniels’ “truce” talk — no matter how much a Republican presidential candidate talks about the importance of social issues, 75 to 90 percent of the president’s time from January 2013 to 2017 will be spent on economic and fiscal crises and managing a dangerous and rapidly changing world. But a concession to Democrats on major reforms like these will spur a lot of talk about Daniels’s toughness, or whether he’s too conciliatory to an opposition that has gone completely off the rails, or more accurately, out of the state. . . .

UPDATE: Fairly or not, many readers are interpreting this news as a sign that A) Mitch Daniels doesn’t want to run for president or B) he isn’t running for president.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Gov. Daniels’s office writes in with audio of his statement today; they believe his remarks are being mischaracterized. Audio here.

DANIELS: Just a couple of quick comments and that’s really all I’ll make. First of all, just to affirm, the activities of today are perfectly legitimate part of the process. Even the smallest minority — and that’s what we’ve heard from the last couple days — has every right to express the strength of its views and I salute those who do. Just to be equally plain, I’m not sending the state police after anybody. I’m not going to divert a single trooper from their job of protecting the Indiana public. I trust that people’s consciences will bring them back to work and I choose to believe that our friends in the minority will, having made their point, will come back and do their duty and the jobs they are paid to do.


DANIELS: My view on this is well known to the leadership on both sides, well-known to the public. I haven’t changed a single thing. I don’t attempt to dictate the agenda. I’m not in position to, really, of a separate and free-standing superior branch of government. And for that matter, Speaker [Bosma] can’t always dictate to his members when they have a strong point of view. For reasons I’ve explained more than once, I think there was a better time and place to have this very important and legitimate issue raised.


He knows what I think, the Speaker knows what I think.


That would be very unfortunate. These folks are paid by the taxpayers to do the people’s work. I choose to believe that they’ll come back and do the jobs they’re paid to do. There may be some places in this country where public employees, public servants walk off the job, but I don’t think Indiana is one of them.


My understanding is they’ll do anything I ask them to do. (laughter) The first time the question came up, I just said, ‘it is not in the cards.’  Indiana State Police have a job to do, protecting the people of Indiana, and they shouldn’t be and won’t be diverted from that. Again, I trust the consciences of the people involved to get them back to work.

Tags: Mitch Daniels

The Deficit Is Too (Darn) High


Somehow I get the feeling that before the year is done, Students for Daniels will manage to put up commercials that feature cameos by every star of 2010: Aqua Buddha, Dale Peterson, Demonsheep . . .

I say this based upon the surprise appearance of . . . Jimmy “The Rent Is Too Damn High” McMillan, former gubernatorial candidate in New York:

Picture it: Christine O’Donnell steps in front of the camera and says, “I’m you!” And then Mitch Daniels appears and says, “No, you’re not. I’m me.”

(Hat Tip: Left Coast Rebel.)

Tags: Mitch Daniels

Mitch Daniels: ‘All claims made for Obamacare were false.’


In other Indiana news, Gov. Mitch Daniels takes to the pages of the Wall Street Journal to lay out how the states could enact genuinely helpful heath-care reform if Obamacare is neither repealed nor ruled unconstitutional.

Lest anyone suggest this line of thinking represents an acquiescence to the permanence of Obamacare, Daniels makes his views on the law pretty clear:

Unless you’re in favor of a fully nationalized health-care system, the president’s health-care reform law is a massive mistake. It will amplify all the big drivers of overconsumption and excessive pricing: “Why not, it’s free?” reimbursement; “The more I do, the more I get” provider payment; and all the defensive medicine the trial bar’s ingenuity can generate.

All claims made for it were false. It will add trillions to the federal deficit. It will lead to a de facto government takeover of health care faster than most people realize, and as millions of Americans are added to the Medicaid rolls and millions more employees (including, watch for this, workers of bankrupt state governments) are dumped into the new exchanges.

Daniels’s list of fixes includes state flexibility to decide which insurers can operate in their state, the waiving of benefit mandates, removal of portions that discriminate against health savings plans, state freedom to use new approaches to Medicare, independent audits of reimbursement rates, and more realistic projections of how many Americans will end up in state-operated “exchanges.” He has written to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius with this proposal, and 20 other states have joined Indiana in signing the same letter.

Tags: Barack Obama , Mitch Daniels

Bubbly Blondes in Low-Cut Tops for Mitch 2012!


The Left Coast Rebel sends word that Students for Daniels PAC will be running an ad on a Des Moines, Iowa affiliate during the Pro Bowl touting Mitch Daniels.

Yes, that would be Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels who hasn’t yet announced that he’s running for president and who seems somewhat hesitant in some interviews.

The ad:

It’s a cute concept for an ad, comparing Obama to a disappointing boyfriend, but… how many Iowans will be watching the Pro Bowl?

And I can see the soft-spoken Daniels cringing at a bubbly blond calling him “the new man in my life.”

Tags: Mitch Daniels

Mike Pence Met With Mitch Daniels Tuesday


Columbus, Indiana-based WCSI does the forensics on Mike Pence’s upcoming decision, and reports that he met with another Indiana Republican mentioned as a possible candidate:

Sixth district Congressman Mike Pence says the conservative activists publicly lobbying him to run for president have already done so privately. Pence says former Reagan administration attorney Ralph Benko advised him on the speech he delivered to the Detroit Economic Club after Thanksgiving, an address widely viewed as testing the waters for a White House bid. Benko and Former Kansas Congressman Jim Ryun are the only publicly named backers of the America’s President Committee, which on Monday launched an online petition drive aimed at gathering “tens of thousands” of signatures to urge Pence to run for President. Pence has been weighing whether to run for President or Governor, and says he intends to make a decision within the next couple of weeks. He isn’t ruling out running for reelection to his House seat.

The six-term Republican says he’s been consulting people nationally for the last several months about his next political move, and characterizes the public nudge from Benko and Ryun as one more element of that process. He says he’ll base his decision on what’s right for his family and where he believes he is most needed. Governor Mitch Daniels, who’s barred from seeking a third term, has also been delaying a decision on whether he’ll run for President. Pence says he met privately with the Governor Tuesday morning, and describes him as both a friend and “America’s best Governor.” Pence says he suspects he and Daniels are assessing their political plans in similar ways. Even if they end up facing off against each other in a Republican Presidential Primary, Pence says he believes it won’t damage their relationship.

I’m sure that both men would insist they’re making their decisions independently. But it’s easy to imagine their meeting beginning:

“So . . . you running?”

“I don’t know. How about you?”

Tags: Mike Pence , Mitch Daniels

Really? Mitch Daniels Must Not Be Allowed to Speak at CPAC?


Arriving in my e-mailbox:

The American Principles Project today blasted the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) for giving a major platform to potential 2012 presidential candidate Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, who recently called on Republicans to make a “truce” on social issues, abandoning a key tenet of the conservative movement.

“Unfortunately, while Governor Daniels is slated to speak at CPAC’s ‘Reagan Dinner,’ he has failed to understand how Ronald Reagan fused the three critical legs of the conservative movement into one coherent governing philosophy,” said Andy Blom, executive director of the American Principles Project.  “Discarding one makes the whole obsolete.” 

In November, the group organized a coalition of conservative organizations protesting CPAC’s inclusion of GOProud because it is “fundamentally incompatible with a movement that has long embraced the ideals of family and faith,” it wrote in a letter to CPAC Chairman David Keene and his fellow board members.

“Governor Daniels’ selection is an affront to the millions of conservatives who believe that social issues such as abortion and traditional marriage are non-negotiable.”

Since APP launched the coalition, concern has grown and other groups have pulled out of the conference, including many past sponsors. 

“The Beltway wisdom among Republican insiders boils down to a simple mantra: Social issues are a thing of the past.  But this theory falls apart outside of the Washington bubble.  The Republican sweep in the House was dominated by pro-life, pro-family candidates, and polling shows large majorities want to see action on these issues,” said Mr. Blom.

Really? Mitch Daniels must not be allowed to speak at CPAC? Never mind that he’s managed to balance Indiana’s budget while so many other states face fiscal Armageddon, never mind that Indiana Right to Life loves him, never mind that he opposes gay marriage, never mind that Cato graded him a “B,” never mind that he’s a deeply religious man who has declared, “atheism leads to brutality,” all of that is irrelevant because he’s talked about a “truce” on social issues in some interviews? And for that, he must not be allowed to darken the doors of CPAC?

Just think, it was an entire six years ago that we heard complaints that CPAC was too dominated by social conservatives and was dismissive of the perspectives of libertarians . . .

Tags: Mitch Daniels

Fiscal Discipline Awards to Paul Ryan,
Mitch Daniels, and . . . Kent Conrad?


Let’s hear it for fiscal conservatives!

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels is one of three winners of a new award for responsible financial stewardship and fiscal discipline in government. The first ever “Fiscy Awards” will be presented this week to Daniels, Democratic Sen. Kent Conrad of North Dakota and Republican Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. The awards are given by a committee that includes officials from the Comeback America Initiative, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget and the Concord Coalition.

More information about the “Fiscys” can be found here.

Daniels! (Hooray!) Ryan! (Hooray!) and . . . Kent Conrad?

The pork and ethanol king?

Tags: Kent Conrad , Mitch Daniels , Paul Ryan

Mitch Daniels: ‘My Duty Is Here. My Heart Is Here.’


Campaign Spot reader Ben calls my attention to this exchange between Indiana governor Mitch Daniels and an Indiana television reporter, which could be interpreted as a sign that his heart isn’t really in a presidential run, at least at this moment:

Jim Shella: By not deciding are you, in fact, deciding? 

Daniels: Maybe. It’s a great question. You mean, shouldn’t you be getting started and heading to Iowa and doing whatever it is people do?

Shella: Exactly. 

Daniels: Maybe. If so, so. You know, my duty is here. My heart is here.  I’m incredibly excited about the chance to do some more really good things for Indiana in the next four months and that’s coming first. So, if it’s too late, then it’s too late.

Of course, this is a safe, appropriate answer for a governor with time left in his second term. And the fact that Daniels appears to be not terribly eager for the ordeal of running for president might just be a sales pitch for his sanity . . .

Tags: Mitch Daniels

Where Are the Aspiring GOP Presidents on the Tax Deal?


A reader writes in:

Question: What do Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich, Tim Pawlenty, Haley Barbour, Mitch Daniels, John Thune, and Rick Santorum have in common?

Answer: Apparently, all have been moved to a secure undisclosed location since the announcement Monday night of Barack Obama’s so-called “compromise” tax deal. Not a peep has been heard from any Republican supposedly considering a run for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination. For more than sixty hours, they have remained silent.

Note to would-be leaders: The first one to go public in opposition to this “deal” is going to be on wall-to-wall cable TV, and — given that Tea Party leaders have announced their opposition to the “deal” — will earn major street cred with some voter groups that are going to have something to say about the 2012 nomination you seek.

In shorter, sweeter terms: If you want to be a leader . . . lead.

The reader isn’t quite right. I notice that on Twitter, Palin has retweeted a link to an interview by Sen. Jim DeMint expressing skepticism of the deal, and a comment from Jedediah Bila, saying, “Thank you, @JimDeMint - DeMint comes out against tax deal, says GOP must do ‘better than this’ - .’ That’s not explicit opposition, but certainly seems to lean that way.

John Thune said he has some concerns, but said on Hannity there’s a lot to like for Republicans in the deal:

I see nothing about this issue yet on the site for Romney’s PAC, nothing on, nothing on the site for Tim Pawlenty’s PAC, nothing on Huckabee’s site, or Santorum’s site.

Having said that, keep in mind that only Thune actually as a vote on this. And if these aspiring GOP figures like the deal, they may calculate that the endorsement of several aspiring Republican presidents might be enough to drive Democrats away from it . . .

UPDATE: This comment from Huckabee on Twitter today suggests he supports the deal: “If House Democrats end up blocking this tax deal – it proves AGAIN, they just don’t get it. Hurry up January.”

Tags: Haley Barbour , John Thune , Mike Huckabee , Mitch Daniels , Mitt Romney , Newt Gingrich , Rick Santorum , Sarah Palin , Tim Pawlenty

Grover Norquist Is Living in Candyland


So it turns out that the cure for “epistemic closure” is great quantities of crystal meth. The things you learn from Grover Norquist.

In case you missed it, Norquist came down like a runaway gravel truck on Indiana governor Mitch Daniels, a favorite around these parts. Governor Daniels’s offense was declaring himself open to the possibility that a value-added tax might be an acceptable part of a wide-ranging reform of the federal tax system. Norquist replied, in a Politico interview:

“This is outside the bounds of acceptable modern Republican thought, and it is only the zone of extremely left-wing Democrats who publicly talk about those things because all Democrats pretending to be moderates wouldn’t touch it with a 10-foot poll. Absent some explanation, such as large quantities of crystal meth, this is disqualifying. This is beyond the pale.”

Here’s the problem: The deficit is, by my always-suspect English-major math, about 36.3 percent of federal spending ($1.29 trillion deficit out of $3.55 trillion spending). For comparison: Defense accounts for about 18 percent of federal spending. So you could cut out the entire national-security budget, and another Pentagon-sized chunk of non-military spending, and not quite close that deficit. You could cut the Pentagon to $0.00 and eliminate Social Security entirely and just barely get there.

Even great heaping quantities of crystal meth would not be enough to convince me that is going to happen.

Don’t get me wrong: In a perfect world, Exchequer would love to see the budget balanced and some tax cuts enabled through spending reductions alone. Exchequer would also like to be dating Marisa Miller, driving a Morgan Aero, and running a four-minute mile,  developments that are about as plausible as Congress’s cutting 36.3 percent of federal spending. Not going to happen.

So, our choices are this: 1. Hold out for the best-case scenario, in which a newly elected Speaker Boehner gives President Obama the complete works of Milton Friedman and everybody agrees to cutting federal spending by more than a third. 2. Keep running deficits and piling up debt. 3. Raise taxes. My preferences, in order, go: 1,  3, 2. And No. 2 is not really acceptable.

Like it or not, taxes are going up: If not today, then in the near future. Even once the deficit is under control, that debt is still going to have to be paid down, lest debt service alone overwhelm the federal budget, necessitating even more tax hikes. If Grover Norquist thinks there’s a tax-free way out of this mess that is both politically and economically realistic, he is living in a fantasy. There’s an old joke that goes: Neurotics build castles in the sky; psychotics live in them. And Grover Norquist seeks tax protection for them.

Norquist’s outfit, Americans for Tax Reform, does a lot of good things. (And so has Grover Norquist, over the years.) But here’s how it describes itself:

Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) opposes all tax increases as a matter of principle.

That’s not a campaign against Big Government — it’s a campaign against math. As ye spend, so shall ye tax. Denying that is not a principle — it’s a tantrum. ATR’s pledge reads:

“I _____ pledge to the taxpayers of the __________ district, of the state of __________, and to all the people of this state, that I will oppose and vote against any and all efforts to increase taxes.”

And here is how it should read:

“I _____ pledge to the taxpayers of the __________ district, of the state of __________, and to all the people of this state, that I will oppose and vote against any and all efforts to increase spending.”

Spending is the issue, not taxes. Spending is the virus, taxes are the symptom. Norquistism, by focusing on the taxing side of the ledger rather than on the spending side, has for decades enabled Republican spending shenanigans of the sort that helped put the party in the minority and ruined its reputation for fiscal sobriety; it is of a piece with naïve supply-siderism. The Bush-era deficits, and the subsequent discrediting of Republicans’ fiscal conservatism, are the product.

Give me the grown-up despair of Mitch Daniels any day over the happy-talk daydream that says we’re getting out of this mess without  paying for it.

Tags: Debt , Deficits , Despair , Fiscal Armageddon , Mitch Daniels , Republicans , Taxes

A Six Pack Podcast


What a lineup: Indiana governor Mitch Daniels, pollster Pat Caddell, the hilarious James Lileks and Rob Long, the incisive Peter Robinson, and me. This was almost too much to fit in one podcast.

Tags: Mitch Daniels


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