One measure of Mitch Daniel’s successful Republican governance

Last weekend, I was in Indiana for the Young Republican National Convention. I had heard a little bit about Mitch Daniels, the Republican governor who was re-elected wtih over 60% of the vote in 2008, even though Barack Obama won the state. In Indianapolis, he even got over 20% of the African American vote.

So I started digging around on his governing record. I was pretty astonished by this one. Daniels has actually been shrinking government. They have a little over 30,000 public employees right now. That's the lowest number since 1983.

You might notice the sharp decline that started in 2004 when he took over.

Rich Lowry recently noted what a bad hand he was dealt, and how he has turned it around.

When Daniels took office, Indiana had an $800 million deficit. He turned it into a $1.3 billion surplus (although it will be eaten into in the current downturn). Since 2005, he's saved roughly $450 million in the state's budget and reduced the state's rate of spending growth from 5.9 percent to 2.8 percent. "I tell you with certainty," Daniels told his Washington audience, "concern about the debt and deficit has not gone out of style."

No wonder people are talking about this guy for President. He has actually run something successfully.

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By Soren Dayton, ago

Dem Senate candidates afraid to support card check?

Brian pointed to the bizarre reposition of Rep. Charles Melancon (D-LA) on card-check. But this points to a broader pattern. Senators running in 2010 in potentially contests Senate seats are afraid to take a position on the issue.

For example, in Colorado, appointed Senator Michael Bennet is “stuck in neutral” on card check, according to the Denver Post. In Arkansas, Blanche Lincoln won’t support it. Pennsylvania’s Arlen Specter is famously wrapped around the axle on it.

With card-check, cap-and-tax-and-trade, and Obamacare in the pipeline, how much soon until these Senators back away from the President?

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By Soren Dayton, ago

MA-GOV: Dems split, opportunity for Republicans?

Something amusing is happening in Massachusetts. Barack Obama-wannabe Democratic Governor Deval Patrick is looking to run for re-election. The Democratic State Treasurer Tim Cahill probably can’t win a Democratic primary against him, so what does he do? He becomes an independent.

State Treasurer Tim Cahill this week will change his political party designation from Democrat to unenrolled, the first step in mounting an independent challenge to Democratic governor Deval Patrick in the 2010 general election, two advisers said today.

The thing is, this might create an opportunity for Republicans. A 3-way race could be winnable, even in a state as blue as Massachusetts. This leaves an opening for someone like Charlie Baker, who has both political or business experience. Baker would have to step down as the CEO of a health care company, a subject that happens to be one of the state’s major problems:

The centerpiece of Massachusetts’ 2006 health reform bill is Commonwealth Care, a government program that provides free and subsidized insurance plans to low- and moderate-income patients. It’s spending has doubled in the last two years, jumping from $630 million in 2007 to an estimated $1.3 billion in fiscal year 2009.

Last year, rising costs lead Commonwealth Care officials to approve a 12 percent rate increase, meaning that basic insurance costs will cut even deeper into the incomes of most participating patients.

Alternatively… Mitt Romney could run. He won once. He made the problem, but has complained that it wasn’t implemented as he would have.  He could run, win, and fix it… I’d even endorse him.

But probably not. Probably we will have to support Charlie Baker in his fight to save his state.

By Soren Dayton, ago

How Obama failed on cap-and-trade and consequences for health care

Early coverage of the Cap and Trade bill has focused on the successes of Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi, although I noted that it was also a success for conservative movement groups.

However, focus is beginning to shift. Maybe they didn't get what they wanted? The New York Times' John Broder notes that various groups lobbied the hell out of it. He focuses on the utilities:

The biggest concessions went to utilities, which wanted assurances that they could continue to operate and build coal-burning power plants without shouldering new costs. The utilities received not only tens of billions of dollars worth of free pollution permits, but also billions for work on technology to capture carbon-dioxide emissions from coal combustion to help meet future pollution targets.

By not auctioning these permits, Obama lost a huge amount of money for his earlier proposals. Donald Marron notes that this totals about $600b in revenue that this bill didn't create.

Now think about what Joe Lieberman said yesterday about the health care bill...

Lieberman cited the cost of a public plan as his primary beef with the plan.

"Part of my concern is that, and this goes to the…growing national debt, that inevitably if we create a public option, the public is going to end up pay for it and that's a cost we can't take on," he said.

If Obama had come out of this cap and trade debate with an extra $600b, the healthcare debate would look a lot -- A LOT -- different.

As the scope of the deficit becomes clearer and the political salience of it rises, the cap and trade bill may look like an increasingly poor deal for America, but also the rest of the Obama agenda.

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By Soren Dayton, ago