By Scott Tibbs, May 16, 2011
Rush Limbaugh has been on a tear about Mitch Daniels lately, reacting to a Washington Post columnist who suggested that Daniels would be Barack Obama's strongest challenger. Limbaugh's reaction to the endorsement was logical: do we really believe that either Obama or the "state controlled media" wants to see the most credible Republican as the nominee in 2012?
The problem is that Limbaugh seems to believe Mitch Daniels is not a true conservative. Some of this Daniels has brought on himself with ill-considered comments about a "truce" on social issues, something I criticized last summer. But Daniels is not suggesting we throw social conservatives overboard as Limbaugh suggested. Daniels' argument is that our fiscal crisis is so pressing that we have to put all of our efforts toward solving it. But while I may disagree on strategy, I do not doubt Daniels' commitment to social conservatism.
First and most importantly, Daniels signed legislation defunding Planned Parenthood, making Indiana the first state in the nation to defund the nation's most prominent abortion provider. This is a critical victory for the pro-life movement and a major step toward de-funding the Left's pet cause. This is not someone who wants to toss pro-lifers aside.
Let's examine some of Daniels' other accomplishments.
We have seen major battles regarding the rights of public-sector workers to unionize, a battle that has boiled over in Wisconsin and became a cause that rallied conservatives around the country. On his very first day in office in 2005, Mitch Daniels took away collective bargaining rights for state employees. This is something Limbaugh has pounding the table about for months, so shouldn't Limbaugh be praising Daniels for this? Or does Limbaugh simply not know about it?
At a time when other states and the federal government are piling up debt on top of debt, the state of Indiana is running in the black because of wise fiscal choices made by Daniels. Keep in mind that he did this with the Democrats controlling the Indiana House of Representatives. Not everyone is happy with all of the choices Daniels has made but there is no doubt he takes the need for fiscal responsibility seriously - something that cannot be said about Barack Obama.
Mitch Daniels pushed education reform through the legislature, including private school vouchers - something conservatives have long advocated. While I disagree with Daniels on vouchers, I recognize it was a significant accomplishment in the face of almost hysterical opposition from Democrats and unions.
Upon taking office, Daniels began pushing for Major Moves, including the controversial lease of the Indiana Toll Road. He did not shy from controversy and moved quickly with a plan to fund improvements in Indiana's infrastructure. After decades of dithering by state government, we are finally starting to build the much-needed Interstate 69. Does anyone think that I-69 would be under construction if Joe Kernan or Jill Long Thompson was governor?
Daniels also implemented Daylight Savings Time. Some people agree with DST and some people despise it, but this is another example of Daniels getting something accomplished after a parade of leaders attempted unsuccessfully to implement it over decades.
Finally, Daniels implemented significant reforms for Indiana's property tax system. Indiana homeowners will now pay no more than 1% of the assessed value of their home in property taxes. If local government feels it needs more, voters can choose to support additional taxes in a referendum. Furthermore, some capital projects also require a referendum, providing further protection for taxpayers.
The reality is that Mitch Daniels has a strong record of fiscal and social conservatism. His statements about a "truce" may confuse some people and create worry about his commitment, but those worries should immediately vanish upon an honest examination of his record as governor. Limbaugh needs to educate himself on Daniels' record.