Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels (R) is having a bit of an on-again, off-again relationship with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (the stimulus) and the more recent attempt by Congress to aid states by providing them with $26 billion for Medicaid and education. To review, Daniels requested — then publicly opposed — the additional aid package, but ultimately decided to accept his state’s share. Yesterday, he appeared on Fox Business to try and straighten out those who might see hypocrisy in that stance, explaining that he simply doesn’t want to subsidize irresponsible states:
They poured almost all this money into government in various forms, on the theory that some demand would fall out the bottom and maybe somebody’d go to the Walmart and they’d hire a new greeter. Complete failure, as we can all see. I very consistently said that more spending stimulus was not going to be a good idea, especially done that way. The question is, does the check arrive, do we cash it? Sure. This stimulus thing they just did amounts to states that have been responsible, as ours has, are in the black, subsidizing those that have been less careful with their spending. We send the check back, maybe there’d be some emotional satisfaction for a day, but it only makes that subsidy worse.
“He’s balancing the budget with stimulus money, and then blaming folks giving him the money for doing the stimulus, and then taking credit for balancing the budget and saving the economy in Indiana,” said state Rep. Russ Stilwell (D). “I want to make sure that the people of Indiana realize that this budget survives thanks to support from the federal stimulus package that has often been attacked by the governor,” added state House Speaker Patrick Bauer (D).
Daniels also saw fit to lecture other states about accepting what he calls subsidies, even though Indiana receives $1.05 in federal funding for every dollar it pays in taxes. Many other states receive far less than they pay into the system, including New Jersey, which receives 61 cents for every dollar, or Daniels’ neighbor Illinois, which receives 75 cents.
Of course, Daniels is far from the only GOP governor and conservative movement darling to tout his budget mastery while neglecting to mention the extent to which it depends on the stimulus. Gov. Bob McDonnell (R-VA) said last month that “I hope Richmond would be a model for Washington,” even though his budget relies on $2.5 billion in stimulus money.