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Updated: May 11, 2013 6:05AM
Daniels’ irresponsibility dates back to Iraq war
In recent commentaries marking the 10th anniversary of the beginning of the war in Iraq I’ve seen no mention of the role played at the outset by our former governor and current Purdue president, Mitch Daniels. At the time, Daniels was President George Bush’s budget director, and confidently assured a skeptical Congress the war would be “a very affordable endeavor.” It would cost no more than $65 billion. Ten years later, we now know how massively inept Daniels’ prediction was. Recent estimates place the direct and indirect costs of the war at around $3 trillion — almost 50 times what Daniels estimated. Daniels not only has never been held accountable for this act of economic malfeasance, he has been one of the most strident of the Republican voices blaming President Obama for increases in our national debt and “out of control spending.” In an act of unbelievable hypocrisy, Daniels in effect blames Obama for paying down debts largely incurred because of his own financial incompetence.
Nevertheless, for the past decade, Daniels has unashamedly proceeded to sell himself to the people of Indiana as some kind of fiscal genius, racking up budget surpluses while devastating Indiana infrastructure and education. The money from lease of the toll road is now gone with very little to show for it. Along with his treasurer, Richard Mourdock, Daniels managed to “lose” more than $300 million, while simultaneously cutting state support for local schools by about the same amount and reducing state funding of public higher education by 18 percent. As the practically self-appointed president of Purdue, Daniels touted as one of his qualifications that he “didn’t even know what he didn’t know” about being a university president. Undeterred by what any honorable person would find embarrassing, Daniels apparently found that he knows enough to freeze tuition and pay for the freeze by cutting salaries of lower echelon staff least able to afford it. You can be sure that perks for the Daniels-appointed board of directors and other wealthy patrons of the university will not be diminished.
Court wrong to allow state’s school voucher program
The Indiana Supreme Court harmed public schools by upholding the state’s voucher program. Vouchers turn our attention away from the task of bettering our public school system and providing equal access for all students. Instead, they hand taxpayer money over to private schools, many of which are religiously affiliated and have restrictive admissions. Routing tax dollar funds directly to church-owned operations like this also runs afoul the First Amendment guarantee against government establishment of religion. As Indiana superintendent of public instruction Glenda Ritz best put it, “Public dollars should go to public schools.”
Roy Speckhardt, Executive Director, American Humanist Association