I almost thought Chuck Todd was going to surprise me here and hold Mitch Daniels accountable for his record as Budget Director under George W. Bush, but just as we would have expected had David Gregory been hosting Meet the Press this week, he let him punt. And worse yet rather than trying to get him to own up to the fact that the Bush administration broke the bank with their illegal invasions and giveaways to the pharmaceutical industry and tax breaks for the rich, he allows him to blame the budget deficit on "entitlements."
If Daniels decides to run for president, I don't think he's going to be able to ignore his record with the Bush administration like he was able to here with Chuck Todd.
MR. TODD: I want to go to the debt ceiling because in, in, the first time you were on MEET THE PRESS, you were asked about the debt ceiling, the fact that it needed to be raised. This was in June of 2002. You said it's a responsible government--what a responsible government must do. And you said, "You know, what, it's really a housekeeping matter." That's about to come up in about six to eight weeks.
GOV. DANIELS: Yeah.
MR. TODD: We don't know the exact time when it's going to happen here. Do you still think it's a housekeeping matter?
GOV. DANIELS: Well, less, less so now that we've doubled and we're on our way to tripling the national debt. And so it's a heck of a lot more serious than it was back then. But it is certainly true that the debt ceilings are rearview mirror exercises in paying for the, as I would see it, excesses of, of recent years. And at some stage you have to do it and honor the country's obligations. But I definitely think, in the really critical fiscal corner we've painted ourselves into, it's entirely appropriate to use that moment to surface these issues. And I hope for some leverage to get some real change and not just cosmetic.
MR. TODD: Did your former boss, President Bush, make a mistake about not trying to pay for the wars in some form of another, asking for some temporary tax hikes, if necessary, to pay for the wars? Or to pay for the prescription drug benefit? Because, obviously, you were there when, when the debt also went up, when the deficit went up. And it was because, among other things, those two things were not paid for then.
GOV. DANIELS: Well, we'll never know. If you'd done that and you'd hurt the economy, you'd have had less revenues than, than you expected, maybe less than you had, anyway. You know, by 2007, the deficit was tiny compared to now. It was well under 2 percent of GDP. So we would love, wouldn't we, to be back to that level now. So...
MR. TODD: But you're an executive now. If you--you believe in paying for things. If you are going to offer something, you should pay for it.
GOV. DANIELS: Yeah, don't offer what you can't pay for. That'd be a good principle to return to in the federal government.
MR. TODD: So the prescription drug benefit probably shouldn't have been offered without being paid for.
GOV. DANIELS: Well, it's cost a whole lot less than anybody thought. But it is part--there's no question--it is part of the biggest problem we face, which isn't even these massive annual deficits we're running, it's the unaffordable promises we have made to--in what we call the entitlement programs.