A Few Observations from Gov. Mitch Daniels

Gov. Mitch Daniels of Indiana was at the American Enterprise Institute on Tuesday, June 15, for a day long conference, “Health Care Reform: An Initial Checkup,” where he gave the keynote address. Excerpt from his remarks:

I wish honestly that national health care policy had headed in some direction more like this [Indiana’s model of consumerism in health care]. When people sometimes ask me what we ought to do or what my reaction to this whole bill is, I sometimes start by saying that “in a dead end, full speed ahead is the worst option.” That’s what I think we did. My own view is that we could hardly have built a health care system more guaranteed to produce excessive costs. . . . Whatever else you think or say about it, don’t call this reform. It didn’t reform anything. It took the form we had and blew it up to poster size. And I’m afraid by perpetuating the drivers of higher costs, it’s setting us up for more disappointments in the future.

Daniels, a Republican, was also interviewed by AEI’s Nick Schulz, editor of American.com. Video segments of the interview are available here. Since there appears to be a renewed push for some form of government carbon-tax-regulation-control scheme, this exchange is timely:

Schulz: The cap-and-trade legislation and carbon regulation are much in the news again, and there’s activity here in Washington on that front. You’ve described the current legislative push for cap and trade as a way to regulate carbon as a kind of imperialism. Sounds like strong stuff, but I want to give you a chance to explain what did you mean by that exactly? If you’re not in favor of cap and trade, are you in favor of, say, carbon taxes or some other way to deal with carbon regulation?

Daniels: The reference to imperialism was a reference to the differential way that at least some of the initial schemes would have fallen on our state – massive cross-subsidy, raise the costs of utility bills, maybe double them in a state like Indiana, raise the cost of doing business, driving jobs out of our state, probably off shore, while leaving untouched or even subsidized places like, well, California or elsewhere. So it was massively unfair, and I tried to raise dissent on behalf of the workers and the ratepayers of our state.

You know, the whole notion here of carbon dioxide regulation seems to me requires a huge burden of proof be carried before we do this. It is going to cost jobs. It is going to impose enormous costs on an economy that’s staggering now. And we need to have irrefutable proof, not only that the problem is real, which not everybody buys, but that this mechanism would work. And I don’t even reach the question of the science – I don’t know, I read everything on both sides. I don’t have to reach that question, because what I do know is that the cap and trade mechanism, on its own computer models, won’t move the world thermometer. So to punish, I think perhaps fatally, the American economy for no good upside just doesn’t make any sense.

Today Schulz joins the speculation about whether Daniels will run for President, concluding, “probably not.”

You know what Daniels would be really good as? Director of the Office of Management and Budget. We hear there’s going to be an opening.

(Disclosure: In 2005, I was a contract lobbyist for the Office of Indiana Governor in Washington.)

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