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Mitch Daniels: Do What I Say Now, Not What I Said Then

Former OMB Director and current Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels would appreciate it very much if you didn't remind him of the things he said regarding budgets and the deficit back when he was part of the infrastructure that put us in this mess

Former OMB Director and current Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels would appreciate it very much if you didn't remind him of the things he said regarding budgets and the deficit back when he was part of the infrastructure that put us in this mess and listen to him now, thankyouverymuch.

Back then, Daniels cajoled Congress into avoiding making the debt ceiling a political game. Nowadays, he's just too busy union-busting to pay attention, doncha know...but then later in the conversation says that he hopes that the Republicans use the leverage they have now (holding the threat of a government shutdown over the Democrats) to effect *real* change. Funny, that, how he changes his tune.

Daniels (ever enabled by the ineffectual Chuck Todd, who never met a conservative meme he didn't snuggle up to) loves to make the distinction between the puny, miniscule little deficit he had to deal with under Bush and the huge monstrosity that the Obama administration is responsible for, ignoring the fact that the reason that Obama's is so much larger is that his budget office much more honestly added the costs for the ongoing actions in the Middle East that were completely off the books during Daniels' tenure. Nor was there any attempt to pay for the tax cuts for the very wealthy. It's stupid and disingenuous for Republicans to pretend that the economic uncertainty only mattered after 1/20/09 and it's pathetic and evil for the media to continue to let them do so.

Transcripts (courtesy of MSNBC) below the fold

MR. TODD: Joining me now, the Republican governor of Indiana, Mitch Daniels.

Welcome back to MEET THE PRESS.

GOV. MITCH DANIELS (R-IN): Chuck.

MR. TODD: All right. Well, I saw welcome back because you've been here before as budget director. And, in fact, it is as budget director I want to ask you something. During your confirmation hearings--we were talking about these budget shutdowns--you had talked about that you wanted to see some way to sort of change the way so that, that, that there wasn't politics being used--the government shutdowns weren't being used as political leverage. And you also referred to riders this way, you said, "so that there aren't things like extraneous measures that could otherwise upset the normal appropriations process." We're watching that right now. Is this the type of things you were warning about? And on these riders, are Republicans in the wrong for attaching these things right now?

GOV. DANIELS: You probably think I'm paying more attention to this than I am, Chuck, and your memory is a little better than mine. But, yeah, I think probably, as a general rule, it, it is better practice to do the people's business, try to concentrate on making ends meet, which Washington obviously has failed to do for a long time, and, and have other policy debates in other places if you can.

MR. TODD: So your advice to Speaker Boehner would be, "You know what, we've made some political points here, but take these riders out. Take these political--have--save it for another part of the discussion."

GOV. DANIELS: He doesn't need any advice but me, but I would, I would simply say this: The financial and fiscal problems facing this country are of a level that, I believe, threatens, not just our prosperity, but the survival of our republic. And really, I'm hoping and I--that the Congress and the administration will engage very seriously. I mean, to see them arguing over nickels and dimes like this is--especially from the vantage point of people who are making big changes to make end meet--in state Houses seems a little--it's almost comic.

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.
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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.

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