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Daniels says U.S. debt threatens American dream

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Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels believes tackling the national debt should be a focus of anyone running for the White House. He just won't say whether it's a problem he will be taking on.

When asked by one of the more than 400 people attending a chamber of commerce breakfast Thursday about his thoughts on the nation's problems and his plans for running for president, Daniels said that the growing debt is threatening the American dream. He said even people who believe in larger government should recognize that.

"I think it's the challenge of our age. It's a test of our democracy," he said.

He said people have speculated since the dawn of democracy that it wouldn't work because people would decide they could vote themselves someone else's money or because people would stop thinking about the future.

"We need to be the country that proves that's not true," he said. "I believe we will."

Daniels told reporters after the speech that he believes Wisconsin Republican U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan's proposal to restructure Medicare and cut social safety-net programs is a good start, but even more needs to be done.

"There are a couple things missing from it. He didn't talk about defense spending. He didn't talk about Social Security. I think a complete and honest program for national recovery has to deal with those. But the general direction of where he wants to head is the right one," Daniels said.

For months Daniels said he wouldn't announce a decision about running for president until the General Assembly adjourned. Since adjourning April 29, Daniels has repeatedly said that he would make an announcement soon. He reiterated that message Thursday.

"I can't announce a decision we haven't made yet," he said.

Daniels was repeatedly urged by voters to run during four stops he made at cities and towns in northern Indiana on Wednesday and Thursday. At two of the stops, Daniels gave what he calls a "Report to Taxpayers," summing up what he sees as accomplishments of the legislative session and his two terms as governor.

He focused on his fiscal accomplishments, saying Indiana has fared better than other states during the recession. He said because Indiana was able to build up its reserves under his leadership the state was able to dip into it last year and some this year when it needed to.

"Because we had it and protected it and didn't let people spend it, we got through this recession without any tax increase when almost nobody else in America did," he said.

Both days he said he's frequently asked by people outside Indiana how he was able to accomplish that.

"I slip into sarcasm and say, 'Very mysterious. You're going to be dazzled here. You got a pen? 'We spent less money than we took in,'" Daniels said, speaking slowly.

Daniels said if he does decide to run for president, he won't dwell on his accomplishments in Indiana.

"I don't think we elect presidents on resumes or anything that happened before," he said.

Throughout the two day he talked about the need to address the national debt, including when he was asked his thoughts about some in the GOP seeing him as a possible savior in what some are calling a weak Republican field of candidates.

"People who are really concerned like I am that we have one overriding issue that threatens the future of this country, threatens the young people of this country, and that we ought to get on and deal with it," he said. "I haven't yet seen other people speak to that."

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  • oops
    *the dangers of the national debt* not just debt in general
  • Correct
    Jim is right. It is our job as Americans to work hard and save enough money to be self supportive through retirement... Not rely on the government. I know it isn't as fun but its the responsible thing to do. Some people genuinely need the programs, but many others just spent their money on luxury items or spoiling their grandchildren with hundreds of dollars in gifts. I hated Daniels when he was first elected, but now have much respect for him. He realizes the dangers of debt and the negative affect it has had on society's view of debt. It is about time someone makes all the hard calls based on economics and not politics.
    • May 21, 2011
      Not like any of this matters anyway since the world is coming to an end tomorrow at 6:00.
    • The world's population has exploded
      Joyce: "What are they going to do when 100,000 million old people start starving?"

      Wait, there are 100,000 million people (or 100,000,000,000) or there are 100,000 people who are a million year old? Either way, you learn something new every day I guess.

      But seriously though, you other commenters do make good points. No sarcasm.
    • The American Dream was never guaranteed
      Alas, Gov. Daniels is right (about one thing anyway)...at some point, both the age at which you can draw benefits, and the amount you receive will have to be adjusted, and not in favor of those of us who have paid in all those years. We are paying the current recipients' benefits...our friends in Congress have spent the legacy fund long ago. The Social Security act guarantees you nothing...Congress can dissolve it at any time (read it if you don't believe it). The truth is a time will come when all the things he talks about will have to be dealt with...defense, all social welfare programs, etc. The American Dream has never been that you work till you can retire and then the government takes care of you (that is a figment of AARP's imagination). It has always been that you can make your own way, and take care of yourself, land of opportunity. If you believe that because you paid into it all these years you are entitled to it, you better get ready to be disappointed...they are going to change the rules on you, and sooner than you think.
    • The American Dream
      Here I am approaching retirement, and I wonder if our federal government will be able to pay me social security and cover my medical bills under Medicare. What are they going to do when 100,000 million old people start starving?
      • Wrong Headline
        It should read..."Governor Daniels threatens the American Dream"
      • Don't Dwell of Past
        There's a reason Daniels doesn't want to run (and run he will) on his history as Indiana's governor - that way every time somethings brought up bad - he can refuse to talk about it. Like the PR saying so many jobs were coming - when there was no agreement by the company at all; teachers going three years without contracts; cutting public education to boost private education; and the taking of Hoosiers constitutional rights to protect illegal police search and seizure. He can talk about how great it is here in IN but when people/news want to get down to specifics - he can just say he's not running on what he did in Indiana.

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