Monday, November 8, 2010

Budget Priorities

This is a clip of Governor Daniels discussing his legislative priorities:

The two best ideas: "rewarding teachers like crazy" if they teach well and then allowing students who graduate high school early to use the money they save the state towards their own higher education.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Luga Endorses, Iowa Publicity and News Roundup

The governor set out some amazingly simple principles this week -- the first is that if you use something you should pay for it--- when he discussed his preference that tolls be used to find the construction of two bridges across the Ohio River. Second, he explained how leasing the toll road and using that money in a disciplined manner will fund infrastructure for multiple generations. He also received good publicity from Terry Branstad, the former four term and now running again governor of Iowa. Best, he received the highest of praise from his former boss and political mentor, Dick Lugar.

From a "Draft" perspective, it seems as though Steve Forbes is on The Draft Daniels team.Although there is nothing new here, it is nice to see some Iowa coverage. The better news is that Karl Rove is puffing Daniels, although it would be impolite to NOT puff the Republican governor of the state that you are visiting. This analysis also addresses Daniels quiet competence and why such a record will be a virtue in the next election.

More importantly, Daniels struck an appropriate tone in regards to Sarah Palin: complimentary, but far from an endorsement.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Economist on the Bus

The Economist profiled the Governor this week which was reposted in a number of places, but the key paragraph was the last one:

Mr Daniels still insists he is unlikely to run for president. But he has a familiar post-partisan sheen, not unlike a certain former senator—though he is more conservative, shorter and much balder. He likes to talk about a “programme of unusual boldness” that unites the parties and sets America back on track. “Supposedly we are not capable of making decisions like this,” Mr Daniels said, grinning as he smacked a stubborn bottle of ketchup. “But somebody has got to try.”

Sounds like a little closer hedge to the "maybe" column.

Daniels also continued his stance of "cashing the checks" if the feds send them. Some GOPers refusing money is a religious experience, but it does just allow other states to benefit, while yours does not.

Also, if you are a policy wonk interested at innovation at the state level, this is for you.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Daniels on Fox News Sunday

Chris Wallace puffs Daniels with a lead in talking about how Indiana is growing jobs faster than the national average. He makes the point that bailing out states bails out the profligate and bills the responsible.

"You'd really be amazed at how much government you would never miss"

"I was never in a debate with Members of Congress where they wanted to spend less" --- and he admitted that the Bush administration spent too much."

Daniels ideas for stoking growth: Encourage money on the sidelines to come back to work: incentivize investment, speed up regulatory permitting, President should have impoundment power.

Daniels on entitlement reform --- "we are practicing child abuse in a literal sense": "Of course we do" Ching entitlements:

-- Means test it
-- Raise retirement age
-- Changing indexation formula

On protecting entitlements: "especially for people who need it most"

On the "truce" question: "Stop dividing people ... as this administration likes to do .... expression of the hope ... put first things first."

On IA and NH: No --- my attention is focused on the challenges and opportunities facing Indiana.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Profile in Human Events

If you are a fan of the Governor, then most of this will not be news, but it is nice to see Human Events jump on the train.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Social Media, Trash Talk and More

Kudos for the Governor for expanding his social media presence to include his PAC --- but only 250 "likes" --- somebody needs to get on this. The CPA for a well run FB campaign is about 17 cents and with some nationwide targeting, Daniels should be able to get well over 10,000 quickly and move up from there (Romney is over 460,000).

Daniels finally showed some spunk (publicly --- he's been known to do it in private) while campaigning with OH Gubernatorial candidate John Kasich, by insinuating that with Ted Strickland as Governor, Ohio is easy to compete with. Also, a favorable article by National Public Radio (I know, I can't believe it either), points out that Indiana is in much better fiscal shape than Illinois, which, as we all know, means that Indiana pays their bills in cash. (I can trash talk Illinois, I grew up there.) Also, a favorable profile is here as well.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

More 2012 Speculation, Thank You Paul Ryan

As time goes on, I begin to debate the necessity of the site, as Daniels speculation makes the rounds on both the pundit and talk show circuit --- and he continues a non-so-subtle outreach to key constituencies. The best news is that one of the handful of House Republicans that is both thoughtful and honest is not only on the bandwagon, but pushing uphill. Paul Ryan gushed about Daniels to the Weekly Standard.

Daniels cut a video puffing the NFIB, which would be a natural ally of  Daniels presidential run, given his focus on reducing hurdles to commerce in Indiana. CNN is arguing that his trip to Ohio for John Kasich is a campaign trip (um, maybe the geniuses didn't notice the whole "share a border" thing. Daniels went to Chicago before ... where was the speculation then? Also, Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO recently took on Daniels (guess that's what happens when your first act is decertifying the state employees union). But enemies like that make me like Daniels even more.

Last, although I normally only do puff here, this breakdown of all the problems with the current candidates is quite right.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Speeches and Budgets, Oh My!

"We adults and elders are immorally taking exquisite care of ourselves at the expense of the young."

This is exactly why I am a huge fan of Daniels --- at least he is willing to recognize the generational warfare that is being waged against the under 40 crowd. This was from a speech on May 4th (thank you for the prompt notification Google news) --- one other quote on paying government employees for performance:  "We shouldn't pay you more at the end of the year because you're still breathing."

Daniels also came out in favor of the Arizona immigration law this week and couched his support in the best terms: that America should always have open doors for best and the brightest, along with anyone that wants to invest here.

On a down note, the State Auditor said that Indiana revenues were down by $1 billion in FY2009 (made up by half spending cuts and half surplus funds) and that the next budget session is likely to be the toughest ever. More reaction to the budget here. Also, a generally transcribed set of canned remarks from a local outing here.

This story states that both Daniels and Haley Barbour are considering running, but may defer to each other.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Interviews and Indy Cars

This is a great interview that shows how willing the Governor is to be both thoughtful and complimentary. He admits that all of the stimulus is not waste, that he is willing to let local governments decide whether to raise taxes (and admits that half the time voters agree to raise taxes) and is always focused on solving problems. It's 48 minutes, but worth the listen.

In other good news, the Indy race series is bringing jobs to Speedway (for those unfamiliar, there is a town named Speedway where Indianapolis Motor Speedway is located) by building an engine plant.

On the negative side, this article discusses the issues that Indiana will face with the new health care law with some additional details that have not been well publicized. To end on a positive note, Indiana is bringing the environmentalists, property owners, state and federal governments together to protect a record amount of land for conservation.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

New Poll Shows Huge Approval

One of the interesting aspects of tracking news on Daniels (or any other politician) is to examine the charges and counter-charges leveled by supporters and detractors. And then go to the polls and/or election returns to get the verdict of the voters. As most governors struggle to maintain any semblance of public support Daniels' fav/unfav rating is 66/31 --- which is an improvement over the last reading. So, even though the economy is getting worse and more cuts are being announced, more people are approving of his work. Granted when your state is sandwiched between Ohio and the failed states (yes, use of that term is intentional) of Illinois and Michigan, your state has the advantage of looking brilliant if you can just keep the lights on and the checks don't bounce. Regardless of the favorable comparisons, the poll results are especially surprising because normally when politicians start getting WH speculation while they are still serving the voters that elected them, their approval ratings plummet. I'm still waiting for the inevitable poll question: do you want you governor to run for President? The answer is almost always negative (and Daniels intentionally painted himself into a corner with his last campaign ad), so if the people of Indiana give him a thumbs up, it would be a huge accomplishment. 

In other news, Sen. Lugar discusses how and why he works with Daniels to bring jobs to Indiana with the local press, the Oklahoma legislature attempts to pass a version of HSA's for state workers based on the Daniels plan (but is vetoed by the Oklahoma Governor), and this release discusses Arcadia's decision to add 930 jobs (its a little dated, but the jobs figure is higher than I have seen elsewhere).

For those interested in 2012 campaign news, I thought this was an interesting slogan: “Newt 2012: Like Mitch Daniels, but with lots more personal baggage!

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Rollout Continues ....

The biggest news in the past few days has been that Cheri Daniels (the foil to all of Mitch's political ambitions as he tells it) was interviewed by the Indianapolis Star. At the conclusion of the interview, she is asked about the chances that her husband will run in 2012 --- and on a scale of 1-10, she gives it a 2. In other words, the wife of the guy whose final ad explicitly stated that he would never run for another office is now opening the door. So, in the last six months we've gone from "never, ever" to "I'm not saying I won't because other people told me to stop saying it" to a 20% chance.

Second, the Governor provides great insight into his intellectual perspective in his discussion regarding five books that have influenced his thinking. The most interesting part of the interview is that, at no point does he apologize for government --- it was generally pro-libertarian. It will be interesting if he is ever asked (by a competent and prepared reporter) to reconcile his philosophy with his governing style, as some of his policies use government resources as an integral part of the solutions. A review of the interview is here, with a hat tip for the appropriate comparison between Daniels, Huckabee and Palin.

This article demonstrates the depth to which political opponents of Daniels have to reach to find anything negative about his performance as Governor. The leading Democrat in the state is quibbling that Indiana is not the leading state for job creation, but rather the fifth leading. Really? You want to argue that the state is not in the 99th percentile, merely the 90th and that is a sign of weakness? Have at it, hoss.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Rundown for the Week

Had a little less time than normal this week, so here is the rundown of Mitch Daniels news:

My favorite Daniels quote for the week was in response to the news that the federal government may not send states a check to bail out Medicaid funds (doing so was included in the federal stimulus). When asked if the feds should send money to the states (including Indiana) he responded: "Frankly, I think it'd be irresponsible of the federal government to borrow more money in order to bail out states that didn't handle themselves very well."

The larger theme of the week was one of accountability based on results-driven decision making. The Governor announced that the state of Indiana will be working with the Pew Center on the States to find methods to reduce recidivism among criminal offenders. Daniels was also interviewed on CNBC where he discussed Indiana's record, but also admitted that he has made mistake in Indiana, but has tried to learn from other states. This is exactly what makes him the best governor in the country: the willingness to find things that work, amend decisions that are not working and constantly be on the prowl for better ideas. Also, Democrats in Indiana are arguing that the administration is secretive concerning the state's budget --- specifically, where the cuts ordered by Daniels are being made. (Note: Daniels said that he instructed the agency heads to make the cuts where they felt most appropriate --- demonstrating his belief that people closer to the situation are likely to make optimal decisions). Indiana then provided a 476-page response, but little detail was included. However, not to be outmaneuvered, Daniels promised that by August the state will have a new website detailing where the state gets its revenue and where it spends taxpayer funds.

To be fair, there were a number of anti-Daniels pieces written this week, with the most politically significant coming from the Family Research Council in regards to Daniels' idea for a "truce" on social issues. This should have been expected --- and it is clear that by his refusal to back down --- Daniels welcomes the fight. Also, some people are trying to torpedo the Daniels freight train by raising charges of corruption. (Note: nothing in the piece implicated Daniels specifically.) Also, there is profile piece of the Governor in which the Andrew Ferguson (who wrote the gushing Weekly Standard piece) stated that he thought Daniels would lose to Obama because of his small physical stature. It's shocking that the Ds did not pick this up, but that just means Daniels is still under the radar.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

GOP Convention

A little late on this post, but Governor Daniels spoke at the 2010 Indiana Republican Convention and it can be viewed here:

The speech was typical political ---- a well earned victory lap, but nothing in the policy realm that gets geeks like me excited. Regardless, if you are a Daniels fan, its worth the 20 minutes.

In another economic development victory lap, Fusion Alliance is planning to add 100 jobs, which continues the trend of high wage, future oriented jobs coming to the state. (This is a key distinction in economic development --- the goal is not just job creation, but jobs that pay more than the current average in the state. The governor, not surprisingly, often includes the fact that the jobs that IDEC brings are above the average wage.)

Victory Lap 2: In this piece, the governor discusses how well the toll road is serving Indiana's citizens. Regardless of what you think of the deal, this is exactly what a politician should be doing: saying that if you do business with state and uphold your commitment, I'll be an advocate --- everyone comes out a winner.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Did I Stutter?, Part Deux

Governor Daniels is now making the rounds with "thoughtful" conservative crowd, this time granting an interview to Michael Gerson in which he stated that he would re-institute the Mexico City policy (ban on US funds for international groups that fund abortions). However, in the ultimate "do I stutter" (see mins 3:00-3:20), statement, Daniels, instead of moralizing about the need for reducing abortions (the knee-jerk response), he states that international abortions are: on of "a thousand things we shouldn't be spending money on." In other words, he's not against it because its wrong, he's against it because its another of the things that are so ancillary to the government's core mission that it is unworthy of taxpayer backing. The best part of the interview was his statement regarding why focusing on fiscal issues is so important:

"If there were a WMD attack, death would come to straights and gays, pro-life and pro-choice," he told me. "If the country goes broke, it would ruin the American dream for everyone. We are in this together. Whatever our honest disagreements on other questions, might we set them aside long enough to do some very difficult things without which we will be a different, lesser country?"

Ah, and if one things that the governor can't still focus on local issues while parrying with the national media, an Indianapolis health care company just announced a major expansion of good paying jobs. 

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Daniels to Social Conservatives: "Did I Stutter?"

My favorite governor came through once again. In recent  years national Republican politicians have either a.) capitulated to all of the right wingers before the primary or b.) stated their actual beliefs (normally more centrist than right) on social issues, only to spend the following months awkwardly walking back any hint of social moderation. That's the playbook: diffuse the wingers and then go on about the campaign. Governor Daniels recently called for a "truce" in social issues -- not a surrender, just a time out to solve the whole country-going-bankrupt issue --- and was roundly criticized. Some even suggested a rhetorical misstep.

Well, the good governor called the columnist and said: "it wasn't something I just blurted out." In other words: "Did I stutter when I said that your main issue is nowhere near relevant in comparison to the threats we face?" Not only is this exactly the right position --- but also the right tone: no one will ever accuse Daniels of either backing down, speaking without thinking or kowtowing to the right wing.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Daniels on public contracting; debt

Our esteemed governor once again demonstrated why he is the class of the field in his response to Indiana legislators who want to "force" the company building an alternative energy facility to hire union labor from Indiana. Long story short, the company who owned the facility went bankrupt and then brought in new workers to finish construction --- alleged to be non-union labor from out-of-state. Governors get letters from legislators on all sorts of issues, all the time. Daniels answered this one because it was both politically advantageous, the ability to provide an economic signal to companies looking to relocate and logical.

Essentially, he expounded on how Indiana will not force its way into private companies --- essentially the GOP's main talking point --- in a manner that will endear him to the right. Second, any CEO looking to move a company or entrepreneur looking to start one has a clear signal that Indiana is the place to be. Specifically, the governor is saying that if you come to Indiana, you will be dealing with growing your business, not government regulation.

The good governor also continued his assault on Obamacare at AEI, detailed here. More importantly, he began to connect the dots between national security and the deficit, outlined here.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

"Truce" Take Center Stage; More Innovation in Indiana

The big story at the tail end of last week was Governor Daniels' statement that the Republicans should declare a "truce" on social issues and focus on fiscal issues because, as he states: "the American experiment is at risk."  Needless to say, this caused a stir in Republican circles, with Mike Huckabee sending out an email attacking Daniels and using it as a fundraising appeal. Other conservatives jumped on Daniels for "surrendering" on social issues. The only problem: Daniels stated that he specifically chose the word "truce" so that "no one has to surrender." Kevin Tracy called this one right --- Daniels knows that if social issues are off the table, the Democrats are unable to defend their economic record. Thus, kicking the can down the road allows for the focus to be on job creation and fiscal restraint, where Daniels is the strongest and Democrats the weakest.

More importantly, the governor announced two impressive initiatives: creating an Indiana branch of Western Governors University, an institution dedicated to building the skills of non-traditional students. At WGU, classes are taught online and advancement of students is based on competency and not time --- in other words, students can advance at their own pace by demonstrating that they have mastered the skills, not by passing a specific exam at a specific time.

The second initiative involves setting aside tens of thousands of acres of wetlands along the Wabash and Muscatatuck Rivers --- an initiative that was called "This is the most amazing and perhaps the most significant investment in conservation in a generation in Indiana" by Mary McConnell, the Indiana Director of the Nature Conservancy.

The two initiatives do two things that any prospective candidate should do: demonstrate the ability to think outside the box and make nice with the people who are most likely to say terrible things about you. As you see in the articles on the wildlife initiative, historical opponents of the governor are caught saying that the plan is the most ambitious ever (which they love) which then leaves them saying that the governor's record is "mixed" on the environment. In other words, when the Democratic operatives show up asking for all of the examples of how terrible Daniels is to the environment, the conversation starts with: "well, he's done some good things too .... "

Friday, June 11, 2010

More Indiana Jobs and the Boomlet Continues

Focused on the goal that the Governor set for his direct charges (to increase the disposable income for all Hoosiers), the state of Indiana had a great week, due to:

Hat World announcing a consolidation of 570 jobs in their distribution center in Indiana.

Y.K. Furniture, a Chinese manufacturer of furniture has announced its decision to locate its U.S. headquarters in Marion, with 100 expected jobs. Hopefully, this will help the governor make the case that global expansion of business can grow the pie for Americans as both consumers and employees.

Miller Consulting announced that they are bringing 230 engineering and technology jobs to the state as part of an expansion plan.

Also, for those who love bi-partisan, Democrats and Republicans from Indiana and Illinois came together to announce a partnership for the Illiana expressway to link Indiana and Illinois. 

As for the boomlet, Forbes publisher Rich Karlgaard thinks he will be the next President.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

More Glowing Press

For someone that writes his own speeches and manages his own media, Mitch Daniels is quite skilled at fashioning a desirable public image: the reluctant star willing to be drawn in for the good of the country. In that sense, Daniels previous statements regarding the dearth of candidates ring true: he may be quiet, self-effacing, uninspiring (to some) --- but look at the rest of the field. At least Daniels has the ability to answer a question thoughtfully without sounding academic --- most of the other candidates can't do the first, so they need not worry about the second. So, he comes along, sounds reasonable and has the record to back the rhetoric --- which puts him ahead of everyone else (sorry T-Paw).

Today's coverage is from his visit to DC:

Heritage has a video of an interview, HotAir writes a glowing profile and the Atlantic even comes through with positive things to say. This is not to say that Daniels is becoming a lock: he has no populist cult (except for my fellow nerds like Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam), is not a bible-thumper and has not spent the last six years running for the job. However, it is great to see him get some national publicity.

Daniels Makes Rounds in DC

If this is not a Presidential rollout, then I don't know what is. Mitch Daniels was in DC today to meet with the Heritage Foundation, the Congressional Health Caucus and the Business Roundtable. In other words, the ideologues, the geeks and the money --- the three pillars of every campaign. His health care discussion was a repeat of ground that he has mostly covered (no one really geeked out and started asking the tough questions) and the video is available. The most memorable line in the discussion came when the issue of mandating coverage not be priced based on risk. On that, Daniels stated: "Further exploitation of the young by the old in the country --- the war on the young continues." Amen. If you are looking for a good chronology of the discussion at the Heritage Foundation, one is presented here.

In other news:

An analysis by the Examiner of Daniels record and how it will (and will not) mesh with certain constituencies.

The American Spectator supports Daniels "truce" on social issues in order to get the deficit under control.

Also, RedState comes in with support for Daniels based on his Weekly Standard interview.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Daniels Hits the DC Circuit Twice in Two Weeks

Well, it looks like this site may be obsolete in a few months --- Mitch Daniels is traveling to Washington, DC twice in two weeks. Today, he will be at the Capitol discussing health care with the Congressional Health Caucus. Next week, he will return to DC for a fundraiser for his "Aiming Higher PAC" --- minimum ticket of $500 (kind of pricey to help out with Indiana legislative races). See the invite here.

CBS and Politico have also taken notice of Daniels --- with Mike Allen seeing a play on words with the "Aiming Higher" name --- i.e. aiming higher to the White House. Regardless, because of the competence that he has demonstrated as governor, he now has people wanting him to consider higher office. One of the benefits of success is that people want to be associated with you --- and Daniels is using this fact to raise money for his near-term goal: assuring that Republicans take control of the Indiana legislature. If you wish to contribute to the Aiming Higher PAC, you may do so here.

Although, let's be honest, the site needs A LOT of work to seem like Presidential material (yes, I use --- but I have not raised hundreds of thousands of dollars). Update: Someone really needs to get on the transaction issues on the site. First, the donation page is not branded, so it seems as though people are donating to an anonymous entity (at least put the logo and frame around it). Second, there are a number of basic problems with the web form --- the most basic of which are asking for recurring donations and a checkoff box for the donor to acknowledge that all legal restrictions are known/understood. Most importantly, when one clicks to donate after inputting information, a warning appears that the server is not secure and asks if the donor wants to continue. To provide their credit card information over a connection that others can easily read. This is a significant issue and needs to be remedied --- else the competent governor looks as though his team cannot manage the basic function of a fundraising site.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Huge Daniels Profile in the Weekly Standard

The Weekly Standard ran a multi-page profile of Daniels --- read it here.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Daniels Applies Cost/Benefit to Politics/Health Care Politics Continue

Rep. Mark Souder resigned from the House of Representatives, meaning that Indiana will not have full representation for a period of time. Governor Daniels has the sole discretion to determine when to hold a special election to replace Souder and has decided to hold that election to coincide with the general election in November. This will save the tax[ayers of Indiana almost $1 million, but the rationale for holding the election in November provides a glimpse into the Governors decision-making: doing so would only provide Indiana with 20-30 days of representation over the last six months of Souder's term, due to multiple recesses, the election and holidays. Also, since whomever is elected in the fall will be immediately eligible to serve, Indiana will benefit from the new Member's seniority (the new Member will be seated ahead of the Class of 2010).

A previous post discussed Daniels' contention that the new health care law will cost Indiana $3.5 billion, which has been disputed by Democrats and is now being disputed by the Kaiser Family Foundation. The contention is over the state share of the costs: yes, the federal government will be providing funds to extend coverage, essentially subsidizing state residents. However, if Medicaid is such a great financial deal for the states, then why is it a significant driver of state budgets, which are currently out of balance by over $150 billion?

Friday, May 28, 2010

Daniels Sides with Card Counter; Brings Chinese Jobs to US

Mitch Daniels went from the best governor in the country (and hopefully next President) to a champion for social justice when he cited a card counter as inspiration to college graduates --- and indirectly criticized an outrageous casino practice. For those who have never played blackjack as a way to earn money for school (as some of us have), card counting allows the gambler to mitigate (and even overturn) the house's edge based on the cards that are dealt. Card counting is the process of remembering what cards were dealt and then calculating the probabilities of potential hands dealt. If certain quantities of cards remain in the deck, the player is at an advantage --- and can raise his bet at that time. 

Essentially, this requires the counter to do simultaneously exercise a number of skills in a distracting environment --- in addition to having an intuitive strategy of both statistics and the game of blackjack. First, the player must focus on every hand dealt to every player (including the dealer) --- normally eight at a time. The player must then categorize the cards dealt (there are a number of categorization schema), add the current hand to previous hands. After this, the player must determine which cards remain in the deck and calculate his odds --- which will determine whether he ups his bet. This is all done without pencil, paper or calculator. Only a small fractions of people have the capability, willingness and patience to pull this off --- yet casinos find them and throw them out. In other words, despite taking money from 98% of their "clients" casinos are determined to eliminate the 2% that try to beat them. Daniels stepped up and said that the casino should have no right to throw people out, just because they figured out how to beat the house. He's absolutely right --- and if there's a time for enforcing the equal protection clause, preventing casinos from discriminating on the basis of a person's unwillingness to be a sucker is it.

Oh, and by the way, Daniels recruited a Chinese company (Wanxiang) to create thousands of jobs in Indiana and announced that Indiana is creating jobs at three times the national rate. 

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Case for Competent Government: Mitch Daniels and I-69

Conservatives often lose the rhetorical debate due to the inability to effectively articulate and exemplify the benefits of limited, prudent government. Liberals often win this argument by showing some social ill, asking for a seeming pittance and then connecting the resolution of the ill with the payment of the pittance. In essence, this is the issue of a concentrated benefit and a diffuse cost, people are willing to spend a little more themselves (and a lot more of others money) to alleviate an ill they find unjust. The problem with that, to paraphrase Margaret Thatcher is that, eventually you run out of other people's money.

Conservatives have the near-impossible task of arguing that we should conserve funds even when we could afford to hire another teacher or police officer, provide more benefits to seniors, expand program X or subsidize good cause Y. Governor Daniels provides a great example as to why a government should not spend all they have when they have a surplus and instead wait to invest later.   (And let's be clear that in this context invest means generate a significant return to the taxpayers in a real, economic context, not a euphemism for "spend on pet project of politician.") When Daniels came to office he faced a deficit and chronic underinvestment in infrastructure. To solve this problem, he leased a tollway in Indiana and divided the proceeds between paying off state debt, immediate infrastructure upgrades and the endowing an infrastructure fund for the future. Let's be clear, a currently serving politician came into a windfall and his instinct was to conserve the gain for future politicians to spend. (In other words, Daniels is the one guy in the neighborhood who, during the housing boom, took out a home equity loan to actually pay down high interest debt, not go on a spending binge.)

So, how has Daniels planning to take a concentrated benefit and diffuse it over time (as opposed to concentrating the spending all at once to benefit his personal political standing) --- turns out the major project on which the funds are being spent is ahead of schedule and under budget. Why? The editorial sums it up best:

"Bids on the highway are coming in between 25 percent and 35 percent below engineers' estimates. Because surrounding states are in no financial condition to fund major construction projects because of the recession, Indiana is getting much more for its construction dollars as more bidders are looking for work. Hence the rush, to take advantage of the current market as quickly as possible."

So, thanks to Illinois, Ohio and Michigan greedily taxing and spending as much as possible when they had the money (while Indiana held some power dry), now Indiana is one of the few states that actually has money --- which means fierce competition between contractors, resulting in significant value when Daniels decides to spend the taxpayer money. Thus by conserving funds when  everyone else was spending them, Daniels was able to follow the investment advice of Warren Buffett: be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

"For Mitch"; David Brooks Endorses Mitch

Slow news day for Mitch Daniels news, so I wanted to point out "For Mitch" which also aggregates news and information about Mitch Daniels in the hopes that he will take the plunge in 2012. Also David Brooks says Daniels is most likely the 2012 nominee. It's great to see Brooks speaking up for Daniels, but this is also the guy who thinks that it was a "damn outrage" that Utah Republicans chose someone other than the sitting Senator to represent then in the fall. While all politicians should appreciate their supporters, getting the endorsement of someone who gets "outraged" over people voting for non-preferred candidates can cut both ways.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

John Kass' Profile of Mitch Daniels; Daniels Republican Address on Energy

The Chicago Tribune's John Kass discusses how Mitch Daniels is both supportive of the Tea Party movement, but also cognizant of the need for the movement to exist outside of the traditional party structure (read: the Republicans were part of the big spending problem). The profile is rather long, but worth the read. The part that caught my attention is Daniels knowledge of history and his understanding of the essence of American values:

"There are those who said democracy can work only when you have certain virtues," Daniels said. "Self-reliance, personal responsibility, willingness to set aside personal gratification. And when those atrophy — the Founding Fathers were worried about this — when those virtues weaken, then the whole enterprise is threatened."

Daniels also gives the Republican radio address in which he discusses the new Cap-and-Trade/Energy Tax bill that is heading to the Senate floor. 

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Daniels and Indiana Tell IBM to Eat the Bill

The state of Indiana entered into a $1.34 billion contract with IBM in which IBM was tasked with developing a system to provide welfare and social services to Indiana residents. IBM failed to deliver and it was reported today that IBM and Indiana are suing each other. IBM is claiming that they are owed money for work and equipment and Indiana (and this is news) said that they fired IBM for cause. In other words, this was not the state choosing to go a different direction, this was IBM failing to meet their commitments and being fired for  ineptitude. Under Indiana law, the state can collect triple damages (the state is suing for $437 million, so they could collect $1.3 billion).

This will be an interesting case to watch develop --- how a pro-business governor is demanding that corporate America keep its commitments and be held accountable if they do not. A welcome change from the behaviors of most recent policymakers.

Coats: "Hard to Find Someone Better"; HC Law Saddles IN with $3.6B in Costs

In an interview on RealClearPolitics, Ex-Sen. (and current candidate) Dan Coats stated that it would be difficult for the GOP to "find someone better" than Daniels. Granted, the Governor has a 70% approval rating, Coats needs to make nice with IN GOPers and Daniels is a favored son. However, Coats points out the most important aspect of Daniels' record: in a region in which almost every bordering state is functionally bankrupt, Indiana is fiscally sound with a tax cap in place.

The actuary for the state of Indiana also released a study showing that the new health care law could put Indiana on the hook for $3.6 billion in additional costs. Democrats are arguing that the cost estimate is overstated --- but I still have not heard what Democrats propose if the costs of the law outstrip the revenues.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Daniels Hybrid Welfare Approach Demonstrates Improvement

The story of Indiana's attempts at welfare reform demonstrate the promise that competent management of state resources can both improve lives and save money --- but also the pitfalls that face any public servant who attempts to modify current practices. Specifically, entrenched interests and political opponents will invariably find something that is not quite as good as under the old system, when the real issue is whether the locality/state/country is better off overall.

Indiana privatized the management of many social service programs to IBM, but after the Governor decided that the program was not working for residents, he terminated the contract with IBM. In its place, he combined some of the automated features of the IBM system with featured of the previous system to form a hybrid approach. Like any good manager, he tested this approach in a limited number of counties and, based on the success it has achieved, is looking to roll it out in other areas of the state. (Most measures of efficiency and service for welfare programs improved after the introduction of the hybrid approach).

However, opponents are citing the fact that enrollment in Medicaid is lower in the hybrid counties as evidence that the new approach is failing. First, this is only one metric --- so it does not address whether residents are better off today than they were before the program was implemented. Second, it does not account for individuals and families enrolled in the Healthy Indiana Plan --- a free market program for low income individuals and families. Third, the lag is less than 2% --- which could be caused by a number of factors, one of which is that the Healthy Indiana Plan was prevented from enrolling more single individuals because they reached the federal cap and was then forced to only enroll families with children.

As grand policy debates move forward, we all need to realize the competent management is as important, if not more important, than political ideology --- and Daniels, unlike most, has demonstrated that he is both comfortable and capable in both worlds.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Daniels Health Care Presser; CNN profile

As a typical demonstration of the Governor's competence, this video shows him systematically answering all of the questions posed to him regarding the new health care law. Most impressively (when compared to today's elected leaders), he demonstrates intellectual honesty by correcting his initial answer about suspending the Healthy Indiana Plan, the most innovative health care plan in the country --- because it emphasizes personal responsibility and choice.

This piece on CNN makes the typical media case for Daniels: he's too competent and not enough of a camera hound. However, if people are looking for that anti-Obama, Daniels is it: instead of talking big and making incremental steps to increase government control, Daniels goes the opposite direction: he is nonthreatening and straightforward in tone, but then executes perfectly: cutting government, expanding services and cutting taxes at the same time --- all through competence.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

More Mitch Coverage

This interview allows Governor Daniels to demonstrate the depth of his understanding of health care policy and explain how Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) work, how the implementation of HSAs saved the state of Indiana money and how HSAs change behavior. Daniels also debunks some of the common complaints against HSAs (read: only works for the healthy and wealthy) --- which is exactly the detailed knowledge most Republicans lack. His segment of the interview begins about 12 minutes into the video.

This piece does an excellent job of laying out the differences between Mitt Romney's health care plan in Massachusetts and Daniels' plan for Indiana state employees that focuses on HSAs.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Daniels Coverage

After Daniels opening of the door on a 2012 run, a significant amount of positive coverage was forthcoming.
 Looks like "Daniels 2012" is picking up momentum!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Campaign to Govern

"I want to see our party campaign to govern, not campaign to win"

This was Daniels' quote to CQPolitics when he was pressed on a 2012 run, noting that he wanted to be part of a campaign that "actually has a chance of actually being enacted, if the campaign is successful."

This is exactly why Mitch needs to get into the race --- the fact of the matter is that the GOP is left with either retreads who ran terrible campaigns (or ran good campaigns with bad messages) or newcomers with significant challenges. Daniels (with his 70% approval rating and balanced budget) can demonstrate that high approval ratings are not at odds with disciplined financial management --- allowing the difficult choices to be made without prejudice.

Monday, February 22, 2010

It's Official: Daniels "Considering" 2012 Run

This Dan Balz article from the Washington Post includes an interview with Daniels in which he says that he has spoken with George W. Bush and others about a potential 2012 run and has agreed to open the door to such a possibility: "Just to get them off my back, I agreed to a number of people that I will now stay open to the idea,"

Later, Daniels states:

"From now to a year-plus from now, that's all I'm going to do," he said. "And if these people are still around, and still not fully satisfied with the field, and if I don't see anybody who's raising what I think of as the survival issues for the country, I guess I'd listen, if it's not too late, which it might well be. I've told people if it's too late, so be it."

 So, the bar is whether people are "satisfied" with the other choices? I'll be printing up the signs tonight ...

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Daniels in Barron's

Jim McTague has a piece in this week's Barron's on Governor Daniels' views on reducing spending and stabilizing America's finances. Although I appreciate the article's forward-looking focus, I wish the author would have built Daniels' credibility on the issue by focusing on his reduction in state employees, lease of the toll road and results of his economic programs --- but still happy to get some national publicity.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Daily Kos Gets Daniels' Position Wrong

I take the fact that Daily Kos is already attacking Mitch Daniels even though he has tried to end speculation that he is running in 2012 as a sign that they want to begin an anti-Daniels narrative because he is their worst nightmare. The Democrats should fear Daniels the most of any Republican because he has done something that runs against the Democrats big government narrative: he has cut the number of state government employees by about 20% in 5 years while cutting taxes and investing in infrastructure. Shock of shocks, after eliminating 20% of state employees and cutting taxes, the state is still able to support schools, build roads and develop an innovative health care plan to cover the uninsured. All while faring better than all of the states that surround Indiana.

With nothing to attack in his record, our friends at Kos are making things up. As posted in the Kos story, Daniels is merely asking for all recalls to be treated similarly. So, if there are going to be Congressional hearings where Toyota officials will be forced to testify, let's bring up GM officials to talk about how their products killed five people because they thought it important to boil wiper fluid.

The motivation behind Daniels statements are twofold: the first is that Toyota has plants in Indiana, so he is, quite literally, fighting for the jobs of his constituents. The more political point is that GM and Chrysler had their debts and bills wiped away, had the government write them checks and then fund a subsidy program --- and they are still sucking wind. So, the feds have moved from a level playing field, to thumb on the scale, to entire hand on the scale to finally just trying to take Toyota off the field by taking a legitimate issue that is faced by car companies on a fairly regular basis and transform the narrative to "Toyota is manufacturing death traps." (Pardon for the mixed analogies.)

The economic term for the situation that Daniels is describing is moral hazard: a situation in which a person/entity takes unjustifiable risks because the person/entity will not bear the costs if those risks fail. In this case, the federal government owns huge stakes in GM and Chrysler (and almost all the rest of GM is owned by the UAW). GM and Chrysler would benefit if their largest competitor is harmed by bad publicity, negative press and the distractions of multiple investigations --- which is exactly what Congressional hearings and investigations would do. However, if Toyota produces fewer cars, then consumers have less choice, which harms the public. Heads: the public buys more GM cars and the federal government makes money because it owns GM; tails: people stop buying Toyotas and don't buy anything else, so everyone loses.

This is a classic case as to why conservatives should fight against big government writ large: a private company has identified and admitted a mistake and is fixing it. Yet, with stupendous deficits, the highest unemployment rate in a generation, a disintegrating health care system and bankrupt states, we still have plenty of bureaucrats and legislative staff to investigate a company that is already fixing a problem.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Daniels Moves off of "No" on 2012 Run

Mitch Daniels has said on numerous occasions that he would not run for President, even making such a statement as part of his final gubernatorial campaign ad.

However, in a recent interview, he moved off of the "no" and towards a "not right now." He stated: "I don't think I have a political future. This is the only job I've ever ran for and the only job that I have really thought about."

Later in the interview he stated: "Right now, I am not doing any of the things that a person does when they are running. I am hearing from people who are asking me to think about it."

In response, I have started this site to track Mitch Daniels in the hopes that he does throw his hat in the ring in 2012 --- the the most competent Republican in the country with a record of innovation and achievement.