Over the past several days, I have read several articles touting conservatives from Indiana as the future of the chastened Republican party. In the latest, Mitch Daniels, Indiana’s governor, is lauded as a strong fiscal conservative who could lead the party back to its small government roots.
The question for the rest of us, then, is whether we are ignoring what is going on in Indiana as a source for the future of American conservatism.
What makes Indiana’s conservatives superior? I agree with the linked article’s author that those conservatives are simply pragmatic. Ideals are all well and good, and we should strive for them, but there is also the plain fact that some things just need to be done. We can dream, but our actions are dominated by the moment, and it seems that Indiana’s leading conservatives seem to take that ideal to heart.
What America needs now is a heavy dose of reality. There is no way for us to rescue our economy if the government spends $1.5 trillion on stimulus and $3.1 on budget in the next twelve months. Just like so many of the rest of us, the government is overextended and running out of options.
One of the options that remains is budget cuts. Real budget cuts. I am talking about 1 percent or even 3 percent of the current budget getting wacked. I am talking about cuts in every agency not currently directly involved in combat, intelligence, or homeland secrity operations.
I believe such a cut would send reverberations through the entire economy. Suddenly, billions of dollars formerly consumed by the federal government would be available to individuals and businesses alike to reinvest into the economy. Such a cut could conceivably stop the growth of the deficit and thaw credit markets overnight.
Sure, many, probably worthy programs will suffer cuts, but the long term effect would be a growing economy better able to fund those programs. With no cuts, the problem just grows until it collapses in top of those deserving programs.
Do you doubt this could work? It did in Indiana. Mitch Daniels cut the Indiana budget to keep the state in the black. Now, unlike the federal government and my state Ohio, Indiana is weathering the current crisis without crushing deficits that will take decades to repay.
So, is the solution to the modern conservative dilema in Indiana? At least when it comes to fiscal concers, it seems like it might be.