You have to admit Mitch Daniels had a lot of nerve to blame President Obama for the nation’s budget woes. The Indiana governor appeared on TV last night to give the official Republican response to the president’s State of the Union address, and I figured he must be living in an alternate universe.
Did he remember that he was George W. Bush’s budget director? Did he recall that they presided over the worst economic disaster since Herbert Hoover?
Daniels and Bush inherited a $236 billion budget surplus – with a projected 10-year surplus of $5.6 trillion – from Bill Clinton. They squandered it and left the country with a $1.3 trillion deficit – and projected shortfalls of $8 trillion for the next decade.
By the time Daniels and his boss handed over the reins to the Obama administration, the American economy was in free fall.
Yet Daniels acted as if Obama was responsible for America’s problems. He could not deny that he and Bush left the country in a deep economic hole. But he declared that:
(Obama) was elected on a promise to fix (the problems), and he cannot claim that the last three years have made things anything but worse: the percentage of Americans with a job is at the lowest in decades.
It takes a lot of brass to ruin a country’s economy and then blast your successors for not fixing it fast enough. And it takes even more nerve to suggest that the way to turn things around is to reinstate the policies that created the crisis.
And, of course, Daniels was just plain lying when he said Obama has made things worse. If you listened to the president’s speech, you know the facts show he has made a lot of progress despite horrendous odds. But lying is what Republicans do best. Daniels didn’t mind saying that President Obama is anti-business, for example.
Obviously, he hadn’t listened to the State of the Union speech that I heard. What I heard from the president was a pro-business agenda that offered a slew of concessions to corporations and even compromises on the environment to encourage domestic energy development. I heard the president sometimes risk turning off his base to extend an olive branch to conservatives.
But I also heard the president refuse to sacrifice the old, the weak and the sick to corporate greed.
So you can imagine my surprise when Daniels unblinkingly depicted the Republican Party as the champion of the downtrodden American middle class. He even promised such improbable policies as ending Social Security payouts and Medicare protection for the rich. I bet that was news to his fellow-Republicans. Can you imagine telling some millionaire who has been paying into Social Security all his life that he can’t get the benefits he earned because the government figures he doesn’t need it?
That will be the day!
But, obviously, Daniels was just blowing smoke, as Republicans so often do.
For example, he accused the president of stoking class warfare by attempting to remove tax loopholes while committing the Republicans to doing the very same thing.
He insisted the president is trying to divide Americans – after Obama repeatedly called on Democrats and Republicans in Congress to work together for the good of the country!
In short, listening to the official Republican response, I was left wondering what speech they were responding to. The arguments Daniels conjured up had nothing to do with reality.