David Weigel thinks it’s odd that no one in the media cares that Indiana governor Mitch Daniels has expressed an openness to tax hikes. In an interview with John Dickerson, Daniels placed himself apart from other Republicans on tax increases:
In the Republican debate held in Ames, Iowa, in August, candidates were asked to raise their hands if they would oppose a long-term budget deal that included a 10-to-1 ratio of spending cuts to tax increases. They all did (and Rick Perry, who wasn’t yet in the race, later affirmed that he would have joined them). In aninterview for CBS, I asked Daniels what he would have done. “I would not have raised my hand,” he said.
Weigel suggests that the radio silence on Daniels’s apostasy is a sign that the media, in its obsession with GOP horse-race politics, doesn’t care about a sitting governor who’s not in the race.
There’s certainly an element of tunnel vision at work in the political press corps. But it’s also worth considering whether this latest statement represents a change in Daniels’s views.
Although Daniels would have been a very strong presidential candidate, one of the conservative criticisms of him was that he would be willing to contemplate tax increases. Perhaps he never said it outright, but he signaled that he wouldn’t rule out tax hikes in bargaining with Democrats, by refusing to sign Grover Norquist’s anti-tax pledge and publicly mulling over a value-added tax, among other indications. Also, Daniels avoided apologizing for a record as governor that includes tax hikes and a 2005 proposed tax hike on high income-earners. Definitely, he would not have been the choice of Republicans prioritizing low tax rates above all else.
Which isn’t to say that Daniels would have been a pro-tax candidate. In fact, if you watch the interview with Dickersonin which he suggests he would be open to a “grand bargain” on deficits that included tax hikes, he makes it clear that he is more or less on the same page as the rest of the GOP: he would only consider increases in the context of a grand bargain that significantly cut the debt, and then only if he could be sure that the deal wasn’t a “bait-and-switch” in which the spending cuts never materialized but the tax hikes did.
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