Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels repeated his opposition to the newly approved federal health care overhaul Wednesday, warning
it will place an "immorally huge" tax burden on younger Americans by worsening the nation's mounting debt.
Daniels told members of the Economic Club of Indianapolis that it's ridiculous for anyone to suggest the nearly $1 trillion health care overhaul signed into law Tuesday by President Barack Obama won't add to the nation's debt.
"I'm here to tell you that it's fraudulent to assert that it will not add to the debt of this country," the Republican governor said to applause. "... I think you've read enough to know that that's absolute bunk."
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has said the law will cut federal budget deficits by an estimated $143 billion over a decade, but conservatives fear an expansion of government and the associated costs they say will bankrupt the country. Most experts believe the CBO's estimate is misleading because some costly measures were eliminated from the bill that still must be addressed separately as part of health care reform.
Daniels said he's encouraged Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller to join 13 other attorneys general in challenging the health care overhaul in court, adding that "there are some very good arguments" to be made in that litigation.
"I think there are some important principles to be spoken for and I do believe that Indiana should join what looks like to be a large number of states," he said.
The governor, however, said he's skeptical the states' litigation would succeed.
Daniels devoted most of his speech to his accomplishments as governor, detailing steps his administration has taken to make Indiana more competitive to new businesses.
Afterward, he answered audience questions, the first of which touched on his recent comments that he was keeping the door open to a possible 2012 presidential run.
Daniels smiled but did not directly answer when asked whether he had made a decision on who his running mate might be.
He then was asked whether he thought there would be proposals to help pay for the health overhaul plan through a federal value-added tax — a consumption tax on businesses at various points in the production of goods or services.
Daniels said he wouldn't be surprised if such a tax is proposed to handle the big increase in the nation's debt he contends the health care proposal will bring.
"This is going to be an immorally — and I choose that word carefully — immorally huge burden we're about to place on our children. I wouldn't rule anything out," he said.
Indiana Democratic Party Chairman Dan Parker said Daniels, who was former President George W. Bush's budget director for two years, should not be talking about the federal deficit because he said he shares some of the blame for that debt.
"Given his atrocious record as OMB director under George W. Bush, which set this nation on a course for the deficit that we've had over the last 10 years, he's the last person who should be talking about debt," he said.
Parker said Daniels needs to devote more time to being governor of a state with a nearly 10-percent unemployment rate, "and less time worrying about what's going on in Washington."