Bill Styring may be the most conservative Hoosier in a conservative state. In his 65 years, the graduate of all-male Wabash College has been a state chamber of commerce lobbyist and a senior vice president at the conservative think tank Hudson Institute. He wrote a book a decade ago forecasting entitlements like Social Security would swamp the national budget, and more recently he analyzed health reform (10,000 pages including related documents) for U.S. Rep. Mike Pence, a conservative darling who’s considered a potential candidate for president or governor.
So, how did Styring react when tea partiers like Todd Young in Indiana and Marco Rubio in Florida won handily yesterday?
“Last night I was crying,” he admits. “The tea party may have taken the Republican Party back to the Constitution.”
Sparking the tears was Young’s defeat of Baron Hill, a Democrat in Indiana’s 9th District who voted for health care reform and climate change legislation.
But Styring’s enthusiasm is tempered. On a scale of zero to 10 with zero being despair and 10 being “Reagan in 1980,” he says he shot from 0.5 to 6 overnight.
The nation is still a long way from tackling the unsustainable entitlements, he fears.
Only a president has the stature to rein in the entitlements and ultimately save the country from fiscal ruin, says Styring, who is still one of the relative handful of people who understand the state budget.
Support is growing in Washington to deal with the debt, he says; more lawmakers understand the nation can’t go on borrowing money to pay entitlements. But no one is leading. “Somebody’s got to say, folks, wise up. My kids can’t afford me.”
Whether that president will be Barack Obama remains to be seen, he says.
Those are Styring’s thoughts. What are yours?