Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels has announced that he won’t be running for President.
This is good news, as far as I’m concerned. As I wrote last October, I see no evidence that Gov. Daniels would shrink the burden of government. Indeed, I think he would have moved policy in the wrong direction. The three things that worried me most were:
1. He was Budget Director for President Bush, which should be a disqualifying factor for any libertarian or small-government conservative.
2. Has has expressed support for a value-added tax, which would be akin to unfurling the white flag in the battle against big government.
3. He tried to raise Indiana’s top income tax rate when he first become Governor, showing a disturbing weakness on tax policy.
Some libertarian-leaning people are inexplicably drawn to Daniels because he called for a “truce” on social issues, but that doesn’t mean anything. Indeed, if all I know about a political contest is that one candidate is a social conservative and one is not, I don’t hesitate in choosing the social conservative.
Simply stated, the odds are fairly good that a social conservative will also be an economic conservative. Jim DeMint is a typical example. Very few non-social conservatives, however, can be called economic conservatives. Instead, you get people like Arlen Specter
I’m also not impressed that Mitch Daniels sometimes claims to be libertarian and has Rise and Decline of Nations and The Future and Its Enemies on his list of favorite books. Ilya Somin thought that was a very good indicator that Daniels would be an acceptable candidate. Ilya is a solid guy and I like 99 percent of what he writes, but I think he erred by focusing on that list of books and not paying enough attention to what Daniels actually would do if he ever got power.