As Steve Benen pointed out this Sunday, Mitch Daniels probably really would have preferred that Chris Wallace had not have pointed out his record as the budget director for George W. Bush.
A couple of days ago, David Brooks praised Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) for his record of fiscal responsibility. That record, in Brooks' vision, starts in 2004 when Daniels was elected to statewide office. But there's also that inconvenient period in which Daniels was Bush's budget director, and the U.S. government began the most fiscally irresponsible period in American history. [...]
This fails on a whole lot of levels. It's true that Daniels, as Bush's budget director, was helping shape the books during an economic downturn, but I seem to recall Republicans concluding that these details are irrelevant -- Obama inherited the worst economy since the Great Depression, but as far as the GOP is concerned, that's not a good excuse for large deficits.
For that matter, Daniels is correct that his tenure also included 9/11 and the launch of two wars, but every president in American history raised taxes to help pay for previous U.S. wars, to prevent deficits from spiraling out of control. Bush, with Daniels' blessing, approved two massive tax cuts that ultimately added $5 trillion to the debt in just eight years.
It's that same debt that Daniels believes will destroy the country. Funny, he didn't think that that way when he was directly responsible for making the problem worse. [...]
In other words, when evaluating Daniels for federal office, just pay no attention to his only federal experience.
He's counting on Americans having poor memories.
Transcript below the fold.
WALLACE: You -- you also have a record as the first budget director under President Bush 43, George W. Bush. When you came in, this country have an annual surplus for the first time in 30 years of $236 billion. When you left, two and a half years later, the deficit was $400 billion. You were also there when President Bush launched his Medicare Drug Benefit Plan that now costs $60 billion a year.
I know there was a recession, but do you think it was wise at a time when we were fighting two wars to have two tax cuts and launch a huge new entitlement?
DANIELS: Well, it wasn't just the recession. It was recession, two wars and a terrorist attack that led to a whole new category called Homeland Security. So nobody was less happy than I to see the surplus go away, but it was going away no matter who was the president.
You know, Chris, I was proud to be part of that administration. Yes, I think the original tax cuts were good and -- and timely and helped the economy to recover very, very quickly from that recession.
But, if you want to know what I think about fiscal issues, don't look at two and a half years where I was in the supporting cast with no vote. Look at six years where I was in a responsible position, submitting budgets and fighting for them. And, you know, there's the record that -- that I think is -- is most accurate.