On Feb. 23, when Gov. Mitch Daniels opened a crack in the door on a possible 2012 presidential run, he didn’t lay out many specifics about potential planks in his national platform. At least not to the Washington Post, which broke the political story online.
Daniels, a Republican, had previously dismissed all local and national speculation about his interest in running for president.
He told the Post he might consider it in 12 to 18 months, if no other candidate shines the spotlight on the issue
closest to his heart: fiscal responsibility.
But in a separate interview with Barrons, published in a Feb. 22 story titled, “Reviving the U.S. without tax hikes,” Daniels gave far more detail about how he’d apply his approach to state government at the federal level.
Daniels told Barrons that cuts aren’t enough to balance the U.S. budget because the national deficit, at 10 percent of gross domestic product, is too deep. But slashing spending would clearly be a priority for Daniels, whose nickname was “the Blade” when he ran the Office of Management and Budget for President George W. Bush.
He’d likely start with the bank industry bailout. Daniels told Barrons that President Obama’s administration and Congress ought to immediately cancel the Troubled Asset Relief, or TARP, program and the $787 billion stimulus, then return all unused funds from the programs to the Treasury. Daniels said this would show America is serious about deficit reduction, and would help keep interest rates low.
Daniels also wants to reform the Social Security system.
“We need a new compact that preserves all of the old promises, but makes a newer, affordable compact with younger citizens,” he told Barrons.
On the controversial issue of health care reform, Daniels told the financial publication his fix would prioritize individual responsibility, encouraged with individual tax credits for purchasing insurance coverage: “We won’t have cost containment until all of us are cost containers.”
Daniels also told Barron’s the U.S. must reconsider—and possibly scale back—its international commitments, including its military ones, based on what it can afford.
“It has been important to the world—everything America has done; but America is going to have to still be here and be able to afford to do some things,” Daniels said “So I am not suggesting anything specific, only when you do the math, you are going to have to do, at least temporarily, some unwelcome things. There is a big debate right now about space. I am just thrilled about the frontier aspects of that, but you know it may just have to wait a generation. I’d hate that outcome, but it may come to that.”
Energy policy is another area Daniels considers ripe for reform. He told Barrons the United States needs to promote all sources of domestic energy, including new nuclear plants, offshore oil and gas, and green power such as wind and ethanol. He framed his position in terms of the negative consequences of continued U.S. reliance on Middle Eastern oil.
“This is a matter of survivability,” Daniels told Barrons. “We are paying the worst persons in the world for their oil and gas.”