I’ve said nice things on here and elsewhere about Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels. I’m not alone, and this week, George Will is the latest to sing the Hoosier’s praises. Here’s a quote:
To spur economic growth, we must “untie Gulliver”: “The regulatory rainforest through which our enterprises must hack their way is blighting the future of millions of Americans.” Daniels thinks conservatives’ “first thought” should be about “those still on that first rung of life’s ladder”:
“Upward mobility from the bottom is the crux of the American promise, and the stagnation of the middle class is in fact becoming a problem, on any fair reading of the facts. Our main task is not to see that people of great wealth add to it, but that those without much money have a greater chance to earn some.”
Daniels has practiced the lean government he preaches. Under him, Indiana has its fewest state employees since 1978, the nation’s lowest state government employment per capita, the lowest effective property taxes and the third-lowest per capita spending. So he has the credentials to counsel conservatives about the need to compromise in the interest of broadening the constituency for difficult reforms.
I stand by all those nice things; Gov. Daniels is doing a great job in Indiana. But I’ve begun to think there’s a piece we’re all missing here, and Mr. Will’s statement that “Daniels has practiced the lean government he preaches” brings it to the fore. There’s a missing piece in that sentence, and it is two words: in Indiana.
What I am I talking about? Simple. Gov. Daniels deserves every bit of credit for what he’s done in Indianapolis. But if we’re thinking about sending him to D.C., we need to remember that he was there before, as director of the Office of Management and Budget under President George W. Bush. President Bush apparently called him “the Blade.” But if you judge his performance by the numbers, I have to wonder the extent to which he was practicing then what he preaches now. Check out this bar graph from the Cato Institute:
He presided over that, and now he talks about spending being the new “Red Menace?” Fair enough, but I don’t want to hear anything about our guy’s message evolving over the years from those who want Gov. Daniels instead.