RICH JAMES: Unfortunately for Pence, Daniels is his yardstick

2013-04-17T00:00:00Z RICH JAMES: Unfortunately for Pence, Daniels is his yardstickBy Rich James nwitimes.com
April 17, 2013 12:00 am  • 

I can’t help but keep thinking about Gov. Mike Pence’s obsession with cutting the state’s income tax by 10 percent.

And if I were former Gov. Mitch Daniels, I think I would be a bit upset.

Since being elected governor in November, Pence has said several times that he has to get Indiana going again and that the means to that end is an income tax reduction.

Just recently, Pence reiterated, “As we move forward, we are going to continue to advocate strongly for what we think is going to get this economy moving again, get Hoosiers back to work.”

That pretty much tells me Daniels left Indiana in one heck of a mess when he moved out of the Statehouse in January.

Is Pence talking about the same Daniels I remember?

Isn’t Daniels the guy who became the darling of Republicans across the country because of the state’s economic strength?

And because he had been such a wonderful governor in the eyes of the GOP, isn’t Daniels the guy Republicans courted to be their presidential candidate last year?

Yeah, Daniels was the greatest thing since someone had the genius to put pop tops on beer cans.

To some Republicans, My Man Mitch was almost a deity.

All I can conclude from Pence’s less than laudatory comments about Indiana’s economic stature is that he either believes that or that economics isn’t his strong suit.

Even House Speaker Brian Bosma, who is about as Republican as they come, said he doesn’t see how Pence’s tax cut will spur the economy.

Bosma and Senate President David Long said someone earning $50,000 a year would pay about $170 less in taxes. That’s less than it would cost a family of four to attend a Major League baseball game or spend an hour at a blackjack table.

And they said someone making $1 million would pay $5,400 less, which clearly isn’t enough money to add folks to the payroll.

Rather than cut $800 million in taxes over the next two years, there are a number of things the state can do to spur economic development.

One of those projects is rebuilding Cline Avenue as a freeway, not a toll road, as planned.

I suspect – as do many others – that Pence thinks cutting taxes in Indiana will make him presidential timber in 2016.

I also suspect he left Congress after 12 years because he needed a better platform to get noticed as a presidential candidate.

Unfortunately for Pence, he likely will be measured against his predecessor, the man who made Indiana the idol of national Republicans. And he didn’t have to play games with the income tax to be put on a pedestal.

Rich James has been writing about state and local government and politics for more than 30 years. Email him at rjames@219.com. The opinions are the writer’s.

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