Mitch Daniels…Really Does Announce His Candidacy for President?

Normally I go with the “Person X Announces His Candidacy for President” as a joke and a cheap way to get people on the Twitter to click the link to my blog, but this time it’s at least slightly truthful. Only slightly.

While Mitt Romney is still the perennial favourite for the nomination, some conservatives are looking for a dark horse candidate to support and Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels seems to be at the top of most lists, most notably at Redstate.com (where anytime they tell me to check out a candidate I usually do), and now even the more mainstream sites like Politico and The Fix are starting to take a Daniels candidacy more seriously.

So who is he? Besides winning re-election last year with 58% of the vote (a year that Obama won Indiana before the Democrat Party’s return to becoming a regional party that ignores the heartland), he’s a return to the type of leader we need where he mixes conservative policies with a more moderate temperament than we’ve grown used to. He also does this odd thing where he actually governs as a conservative. From a recent Barron’s interview…

Daniels is a man of deep thought and bold action. His state has one of the strongest balance sheets in the country, largely because of his stewardship. Most states have huge deficits; Indiana has none. Daniels eradicated a $1 billion shortfall, beginning in 2005 and built up an even bigger rainy-day fund — $1.3 billion. He pared government spending, sold a toll road to private investors at an enormous profit, and attracted new business to the state. Revenues are off steeply, so he will use $300 million of the surplus in fiscal 2010 so that taxes won’t rise in a recession. Revenues, which are below 2007 levels, aren’t expected to recover soon. The rainy-day fund will last through June 30, 2011. The economy should be growing by then…

The administration and Congress immediately should cancel the TARP program aiding troubled financial institutions and return both this money and the unexpended portion of last year’s $787 billion fiscal stimulus to the Treasury, “as a demonstration that we as a country are serious about deficit reduction,” he says. This will help to keep interest rates low. Then the administration should reform the Social Security system. This would be “the single, best, first step” towards achieving higher rates of long-term growth, Daniels says. “We need a new compact that preserves all of the old promises, but makes a newer, affordable compact with younger citizens,” he says…

Daniels says that curbing entitlement spending by Congress is a pipe dream. One solution would be for Congress to restore the power of impoundment to the President, a power Daniels has in Indiana. Simply put, the chief executive isn’t required to authorize the Treasury to transfer every cent appropriated to various agencies by the legislature. Had Daniels not applied impoundment in his current budget, increased spending would have eaten the state’s reserves by the end of this fiscal year. Congress scrapped impoundment in the wake of the Watergate scandal, angry that Nixon had used it to block $12 billion in spending.

I’m still a big Romney guy, and cats like Sarah Palin and Newt Grigrich draw more attention. Still, I wouldn’t sleep on Mitch Daniels. I think he has the potential to shock a lot of people.

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