Tuesday, January 24, 2012

State of the Union Rebuttal: Mitch Daniels, Take Two

by Sunnyjane

Since 1966, it has been traditional for the opposition party to select one of its own to respond to the sitting president’s State of the Union Address.  Regardless of which party’s turn it is to take part in this little ritual, it is a rehash of party pap presented by someone their respective leadership has determined worthy of the task – and an opportunity for that individual to get a little face-time with their fellow Americans, of course. 

Beginning in 2009, when the Obama administration reached the White House, we have been blessed with three GOP spokespersons in the appropriate category of “deemed worthy” to present this annual rebuttal.  Bobby Jindal, the governor of Louisiana, was so bad in 2009 that there are seven pages of videos featuring commentary and parodies on YouTube; only three videos are of the actual speech.

In 2010, the GOP trotted out newly inaugurated Gov. Bob McDonnell of Virginia.   Having learned a hard lesson with Jindal, it is easy to assume that McDonnell was told to keep it dull, which he certainly accomplished.    

Americans were subjected to the economic astuteness of House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin in 2011, he who penned the controversial GOP budget which would, among other anti-middle-American  actions, reform entitlements that include transforming Medicare into a premium-support system; read: privatize this government program.   Of course, by this time, the Tea Party had commandeered the House of Representatives, and their caucus decided to put forth the Chairperson of that group to rebut on their behalf.  And it came to pass that Michele Bachmann, at the vexation of the GOP leadership but armed with full color chart-and-graph enthusiasm, directed her response to her home planet somewhere out in deep space.   (It’s been rumored that her people speak through their eyeballs, but that’s never been verified.)

So here we are in 2012, and the Tea Part has, in all its wisdom, invited Herman Cain, who has returned from his unfulfilled expedition to find Ubeki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan, to give their response.  (Lord, don't let him sing Imagine There's No Pizza or mention his 999 Tax Plan more than five times, OK?)

But the Republican who will deliver the official GOP rebuttal will be Mitch Daniels, governor of Indiana.

Why this ‘Obscure Midwestern Governor’?

In early 2011, Mitch was being touted publicly, and pursued privately by GOP insiders, by as a potential candidate for president in 2012. But in May, he dashed the hopes of supporters by sending them a heads-up email that read, in part, The counsel and encouragement I received from important citizens like you caused me to think very deeply about becoming a national candidate. In the end, I was able to resolve every competing consideration but one, that the interests and wishes of my family is the most important consideration of all. If I have disappointed you, I will always be sorry.  In so doing, he ended all speculation that he would make a run for the White House.
Mitch’s reluctance to put his family – and their private issues – through the rigors of a harsh campaign does not mean that he has been idle. On the contrary, the governor has been busy carrying out the ruthless policies of the current cut-and-slash Republican leadership.   

It was not mere rhetoric when John Boehner said, in a statement announcing the “chosen one” this year, Mitch Daniels is a fierce advocate for smaller, less costly, and more accountable government, and has the record to prove it.  As governor, he has turned deficits into surplus, reformed government from top to bottom, and created a better environment for private-sector job creation.  

And ain't THAT the truth! 

Support of Labor Unions Betrayal

In 2006, Gov. Daniels opposed making Indiana a right-to-work state.  In a speech to the Teamsters 135 Union Stewards Dinner that year, he stated,  We cannot afford to have civil wars over issues that might divide us and divert us from that path. I have said over and over, I'll say it again tonight: I'm a supporter of the labor laws we have in the state of Indiana.  I'm not interested in changing any of it. Not the prevailing wage laws, and certainly not the right to work law. We can succeed in Indiana with the laws we have, respecting the rights of labor, and fair and free competition for everybody.

Like every other governor in the Midwest who last year received "the memo" from the Koch Brothers on how to run their states, Daniels decided that things were so bad in Indiana that one action that would solve the problems was to  slash union rights.   So intense has been the reaction from right-to-work advocates and opposing union leaders that the legislature has been in a state of turmoil for more than a year. 
The issue is so divisive that Republican union leaders are fighting back.  Just last week, a group calling itself Lunch Pail Republicans PAC has sent a letter to all Indiana House Republicans promising to support them in their fight against the bill to slash union rights:  Though the Lunch Pail Republicans PAC was formed to run candidates against incumbents who vote for overreaching legislation like ‘right to work’, we are prepared to use our resources to protect incumbents who are attacked for voting against this bill.  I implore you to vote based on the merits of this bill, and I assure you that you will not be alone if you vote against it. 

Planned Parenthood Defunded 

Back when Mitch saw himself only as a governor, he called for a "truce" on all social issues during the 2012 election cycle.  However, as soon as he was considering a run for the presidency, he signed a bill defunding Indiana Planned Parenthood, the first state to do so.  This horrendous bill against the rights of women cuts off federal money allocated through the state to Planned Parenthood. It also requires physicians to show a fetal ultrasound to the pregnant woman, unless the woman requests in writing not to view it. It increases the mandatory wait-period for a woman seeking an abortion, requires a physician to tell a woman that receiving an abortion carries health risks and requires a physician to inform a woman wanting an abortion that the fetus is able to feel pain at or before 20 weeks.

A Cozy-Up to Big Business

In another follow-the-Koch's-playbook move, in May 2011 Daniels reduced Indiana's corporate income tax rate from 8.5 percent to 6.5 percent, a decrease of nearly 25 percent.  

Just how corporate friendly can one state be, huh? 

End Note 

When you see the mild-mannered Mitch Daniels doing his thing tonight after the President's address, remember what he's really like -- just another puppet of the Koch-run GOP.
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