Daniels defends budget work under Bush
January 5th, 2011
06:19 PM ET
12 years ago

Daniels defends budget work under Bush

Washington (CNN) - Appearing on CNN Wednesday, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels was reluctant to blame himself or fellow Republicans for allowing the federal budget deficit to double during the eight years of the Bush administration.

Daniels, who served as Bush's budget director from 2001 to 2003, said instead that "the nation went into a deficit then because the bubble burst and we had a recession."

"It wouldn't have mattered what policies you tried to implement, that we were going to have a great big reversal," Daniels said in an interview with Wolf Blitzer on CNN's "The Situation Room." "You know, beyond that, I would just say that in every fight I ever had on the president's behalf with Congress - and there were a lot of them - there was never one where I was suggesting spend more and they were suggesting spend less. It was always the other way."

The governor, a possible contender for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012, was responding to a recent New York Times column suggesting that the tax cuts implemented by Bush and written into the budget by Daniels blew a hole in the federal budget, which was in the black when Bush assumed office.

Daniels said "there's plenty of blame to go around" for deficits created during the Bush administration, and said that some of his "biggest fights" were with Republicans in Congress.

"We could spend the next couple of years trying to apportion it and assign it between Republicans and Democrats and the economy, in which two bubbles popped and led to a plunge in revenues," he added.

The budget hole left by President Bush was "dramatic," Daniels said, but "we'd love to be back at that level today."

The federal budget deficit stands at $1.3 trillion.

"I will just say that the choices that were made in those years were not all accurate, not all good ones. But far better than what we've been doing the last two years," he said. "And the numbers show it."

Daniels has said he will not make a decision about running for president until after the Indiana legislative session wraps in April. He remained coy about his intentions.

"I'm not saying that I won't under any circumstances, only that for the moment I'm not," he said when asked if he's running.

Daniels hinted that the late start to the presidential horserace gives him some breathing room to mull it over.

"All I can tell you, Wolf, is that when people first started bringing this idea to me over a year ago, at that time, they said it's already late, you've got to get going and that turned out not to be true," he said. "I think in an act of mercy, somehow we're going to have a shorter election this year. I think we all can be glad for that unless possibly political reporters."

Filed under: 2012 • Mitch Daniels
soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. Alistair

    Forget it Mitch! You along with with W Bush destroyed this American economy.

    January 5, 2011 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  2. Don Beal

    Right, Governor Daniels. You gave a tax cut for political purposes then got two expensive wars started and tried to keep them off the books. Look where that got us.

    January 5, 2011 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  3. Frank in Valparaiso Indiana

    I live in Indiana. Its never this clowns fault. Its always somebody else. Or he just plain out lies. Either he is really stupid, or he things people will buy his lies. Works in Indiana and its his last term. He'll have to look for another public trough to slop at. He is worse than the Missouri politicians who went from job to job thanks to term limits.

    If you think he's presidential material, he'll destroy education, jobs, and the environment. Here we have a dump that kills a few thousand a year. State EPA does nothing. But hey, they cut taxes for the people who own the dump. Ain't Indiana great?? Or what....

    January 5, 2011 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  4. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    I don't ever recall Bush ever mentioning the Nations economy during his 8 years in office nor did anyone in his administration, so of course they won't take responsibility for their failures because they never made any promises to Americans. Yet we put the same bunch of Republicans back in control to take credit for everything President Obama has done to clean up the mess they created in 8 years. This is an ugly picture of America and it ain't about the economy.

    January 5, 2011 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  5. martin

    "We could spend the next couple of years trying to apportion it and assign it between Republicans and Democrats"

    Or we could just blame it on Obama and free up a lot of time to screw the middle class.

    January 5, 2011 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  6. DN

    Our country was in a surplus when President Clinton left office. President Bush decided to give everyone money, and this destroyed the surplus (remember those little checks we got in the mail? Surplus or a little check of our own.) Then, of course, President Bush started two wars but continued to cut taxes during the wars, which our country has never done before in our his (how else do you pay for a war??!) He must've thought, as long as we don't have to pay for the wars, we will support them. Finally, President Bush submitted TWO budgets annually, one official and one for the wars.

    So, while the Tea Partyers cry out about the deficit, it was a Republican President that put our county in this situation.

    January 5, 2011 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  7. john

    Oh so when the bubble burst and the deficit went up under Bush , it was ok... but the last two years when the country was in shambles from the Bush administrations mess ( forget resession ..how bout crash).. thats not ok ... sounding a bit partisan don't you think ...

    January 5, 2011 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  8. David, CA

    So much for the buck stops here. Who's fault was it? Hello Kitty?

    January 5, 2011 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  9. DrewL

    Funny how Republicans tend to talk a good game about taking responsibility but then they don't follow through, themselves. Their poo just doesn't stink, apparently. The fact is that Republicans gain power, cut taxes, and the federal deficits swell. It happened under Reagan and Bush I, after which Clinton was able to get it turned around, then Bush II went and cut taxes and grew the deficit...again! It never fails. And they refuse to take responsibility for it and, apparently, the American people refuse to hold them accountable. I just don't get it!

    January 5, 2011 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  10. Former Republican - Now Independent

    It was a Republican Deficit AND a Republican Recession.

    No amount of denial or smoke and mirrors is going to change that fact.

    January 5, 2011 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  11. Joe Canada

    It's the republican way to give huge tax breaks to the rich while bleeding the country dry. Republicans are true patriots.

    January 5, 2011 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  12. Kara

    The numbers show it? the job losses began to slow down as soon as they left!
    I don't know how CNN's journalists can live with themselves when they let these people get away with these lies.

    January 5, 2011 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  13. Mykey

    "the nation went into a deficit then because the bubble burst and we had a recession."

    I guess two wars funded by a major tax cut had nothing to do with it.

    Deficits seem to only be a problem when there's a Democrat in the White House.

    January 5, 2011 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  14. Ricky L

    Yeah....two off-budget wars and huge taxcuts (BRIBERY) supposedly based on 10-year projections didn't blow the deficits sky-high all by themselves???

    In my opinion, the reliance on economic projections a decade into the future do NOT represent a conservative fiscal approach with respect to management of the nation's resources, nor does the refusal to accept responsibility for those reckless actions give me any confidence in Daniel's moral character.

    And finally, the clumsy attempt to shift the blame onto the Obama administration for the manner in which it dealt with an economic catastrophe of historical proportions, as well as the resulting effect it had on the national deficit, surely disqualifies Daniels from even the slightest consideration for any office above that of a small town parking meter attendant.

    January 5, 2011 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  15. annie s

    I would find it laughable that the former Budge Director of the Bush Administration is considering a run for then Presidency if it wasn't so completely pathetic. Are all Republicans this delusional?

    January 5, 2011 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  16. Thomas

    Oh please! Why do we have to learn the same dang thing every time? You can't fund two major wars abroad (money down a drain) and expect to maintain a balanced budget at home. Let's just get the H out of Iraq and Afghanistan and spend our money here, where it really needs to be spent on things we really need.

    January 5, 2011 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  17. Katie

    Of course Gov. Daniels isn't going to accept ANY responsibiity for his negligence and failure – he is, after all, a republican. Even worse, he's a republican that served in the GW Bush admin – none will ever admit or accept any responsibility for the mess they made of this country.

    I would never vote for a "Bush" or anyone that served in his administration (I'm from TX and proudly proclaim that I've never voted for any of the Bush's). They've done deep damage to this country and don't deserve a second look much less a second chance.

    Hey Mr. Issa – you need a clear definition of "corrupt" – just look to the bush admin, they're the living definition of corruption.

    January 5, 2011 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  18. IPredictARiot

    So you manage to run up a deficit during a moderately strong economic period, and it's ok because it was a bubble (which your ideology created).

    But Obama gets a deficit thanks mostly to a massively crashed economy (which your deregulatory ideology caused as well), and you have the guts (or stupid ignorance) to claim he has a spending problem?

    Do Republicans seriously think we're all this stupid? It may fly with the Tea Partiers, but the rest of us are smart enough to see how pathetic this is.

    January 5, 2011 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  19. Gil

    Anything that happened during the bush term in office is and should be suspect. The man was leading our country and was and is an idiot!

    January 5, 2011 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  20. D-NICE

    It wouldn't have mattered what policies you tried to implement, that we were going to have a great big reversal," Daniels said

    Why were we even paying this guy?

    January 5, 2011 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  21. Julie C

    Yes, the GOP always shakes off any form of accountability; that's their MO. It's always the other party's fault. Any fool who believes the GOP to the point of voting for them, deserves what they get....no help for the middle class at all. In fact, you get backwards thinking and destructive economics.

    January 5, 2011 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  22. js007

    An appalling lack of regulation (to this day no banker has gone to prison for fraud) caused the financial collapse, and Bush and his croneys made the decision to rob the titanic – enrich his rich friends and the military industrial complex by borrowing money from future generations. Obama doesn't have the spine to lead us back out of insanity, so soon we may have 15-20% interest rates and a complete economic meltdown...again.

    January 5, 2011 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  23. Harold

    "the nation went into a deficit then because the bubble burst and we had a recession." Ok, so it did that under Bush's watch and its not his fault.. but when that is handed to Obama, it is now Obama's fault? How does that work?

    January 5, 2011 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  24. Mark

    Is he serious? It's like he woke up one morning and the surplus had been squandered! Oh my! What happened? Who am I? What a doofuss-just like the rest of the Bush/Repub/conservafools! I've just had it with these dishonest jerks! Crawl back under the rock from which you came !!!! All of you !!!!

    January 5, 2011 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  25. Squigman

    Just another day of Earnest T. Bass, throwing rocks at peoples houses, like the character on the old Andy Griffith show. He even looks like the Character. The whole period from 200, to 2009 needs to be forgotten.

    January 5, 2011 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
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