November 27, 2005
Indiana's Book Of Daniels
INDIANAPOLIS -- Indiana
likes having the nation's highest portion of workers -- 20 percent
-- in manufacturing, so five days before Delphi, the Michigan-based
automobile parts manufacturer, entered bankruptcy, Gov. Mitch
Daniels, a Republican who believes that ``conservatism can be
active,'' called Delphi. He praised Indiana as a paradise for
even more Delphi operations than are already there.
governor, Jennifer Granholm, responded to Delphi's travails differently,
denouncing Delphi's executives, Washington and globalization.
In the game of entrepreneurial federalism -- states competing
to lure businesses -- score one for the Hoosier State, which in
the four years before Daniels became governor had a net job loss.
In the division between
social conservatives, who emphasize nurturing virtue, and libertarian
conservatives, who emphasize expanding liberty by limiting government,
Daniels is with the latter. For example, regarding immigration,
an issue that dramatizes this division, many social conservatives
are restrictionists, but Daniels, whose state's population is,
he says, ``getting older and not growing,'' welcomes immigrants
who usually are ``young people with dreams -- a good development.''
from Princeton and Georgetown law school, Daniels came home to
this city to work for its then-mayor, Richard Lugar. After 8 years
as chief of Lugar's U.S. Senate staff, and two years as director
of political operations in President Reagan's White House, Daniels
came home again, to work in business and for a think tank for
In 2001, he returned
to Washington as President Bush's first director of the Office
of Management and Budget. As the government's designated grinch,
he said Congress' motto apparently is ``Don't just stand there,
spend something.'' Sen. Ted Stevens was not amused. The Alaska
Republican, who then chaired the Appropriations Committee and
has cornered the market on curmudgeonliness, urged Daniels to
``go home to Indiana.'' Daniels did, not to soothe Stevens but
to run for governor.
Hoosiers seem suspicious
of metropolitans but in 2004 Daniels became the state's first
governor from this city. Knowing that the devil is in budget details,
``the blade,'' as Daniels was known at OMB, set about:
Ending bottled water
for employees of the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (annual savings,
$35,000). Ending notification of drivers that their licenses are
expiring; letting them be responsible for noticing (saving $200,000).
Buying rather than renting floor mats for BMV offices (saving
$267,000 this year). Initiating the sale of 2,096 surplus state
vehicles (so far, $1.95 million in revenue from 1,514 sales).
Changing the state lottery's newsletter from semimonthly and in
color to a monthly and black-and-white (annual savings, $21,670).
And so on, and on, agency by agency.
Such matters might
be dismissed by liberals who think government spending is an index
of government ``caring,'' and perhaps by a new sect called ``national
greatness conservatives'' who regard Daniels' kind of parsimony
as a small-minded, cheeseparing exercise unworthy of government's
great and stately missions. But it seems to be an Indiana approach.
it about Indiana? In this annus horribilis for conservatives,
one of their few reasons for rejoicing has been the ascent to
influence in the U.S. House of Representatives of the Republican
Study Committee, more than 100 parsimonious members under the
leadership of Mike Pence, a third-term Hoosier from a few miles
east of here. The RSC's doctrine, a response to a one-third increase
in federal spending during the current president's first four
years, might be called Danielsism, which is: There is more to
limited government than limiting its spending, but there will
be nothing limited about government unless its spending is strenuously
This tenet of traditional
conservatism, although more frequently affirmed than acted on,
is producing fresh plans for action. A 24-page RSC proposal calls
for rescinding $25 billion in pork spending from the transportation
bill, saving $30.8 billion by delaying for one year the start
of the Medicare prescription drug entitlement, and much more.
that Danielsism, far from being an exercise in small-mindedness,
actually serves a large vision. He subscribes to a distinction
made by Virginia Postrel in her book ``The Future and Its Enemies''
-- the distinction between advocates of stasis and advocates of
dynamism. The former believe in managing the unfolding of the
future. The latter believe in minimal management of that unfolding;
hence they believe in minimizing government, which has a metabolic
urge to manage, and a stake in preserving, the status quo that
government's bureaucracies are comfortable serving.
So, what is it about
Indiana? As the home of Danielsism, and of Penceism, it -- with
its bought, not rented BMV floor mats -- is the wave of the future.
2005, Washington Post Writers Group