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Mitch Daniels Thinks Criticism of His Performance as Bush Budget Director is “Lame”

Pictured: Mitch Daniels is proud of his work with the Bush administration, and thinks you should be, too.

To the Village, Mitch Daniels (R-IN) is a Very Serious “Grown-Up” Republican — but he sure sounded like a WATB on NPR this morning.

INSKEEP: Some Democrats, in fact, many people may ask if you bear some responsibility for the scale of the deficits. You’re laughing — you know what the question is. Let me just lay it out. You were part of the Bush administration — the budget director — when the Bush tax cuts were passed. And there were not corresponding spending cuts. The deficit got larger. In fact it was a surplus.

DANIELS: Yeah, I think it’s about the lamest of all. There’s a whole lot of reasons, you know, folks…

INSKEEP: It’s not the only reason, but it’s…

DANIELS: No, no, no. I say, I think this is a very lame criticism. So there was a surplus for a short time. Which budget director under President Clinton should get 100% of the credit for that? The fact is, nobody even knows who they were. Right?

INSKEEP: (laughing)

DANIELS: It was the President, and a Republican Congress and the Reagan peace dividend, and a bubble economy, we later learned, that produced that surplus…

INSKEEP: The Clinton administration, Clinton tax increases, budget cuts of the Republican congress…

DANIELS: Put in any answer you want.

I love how Daniels credits Ronald Reagan with the Clinton surplus.

But look, the Bush administration’s economic record is one of the worst in history, certainly the worst in modern history, and Daniels played a key role in it. I mean, this is a guy who predicted that the Iraq War would cost $60B. Why should he be taken seriously about anything, ever again?

INSKEEP: Uh, is the [deficit] problem grave enough that those [Bush] tax cuts should be allowed to expire? They’ve now been extended through 2012.

DANIELS: I think it’d be a catastrophic mistake. You know, we will never get out. Even if I were – if my hopes were realized about aggressive action on the entitlement programs and on the rest of the government spending, we will never get out of the corner we’re in without a long period of really strong economic growth. This is something again that people from left to right should agree on. I say sometimes to my Big Government friends that nobody has a bigger stake than you do in getting business roaring, because otherwise you’ll never have close to the money you want to do the things you want to do. Um, so no, I think raising taxes right now in a very fragile economy, still, would be a real mistake.

It’s been ten years now, so I think we can safely conclude the Bush tax cuts have been a gigantic freaking failure at producing “really strong economic growth.”

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Blue Texan

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