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Government Executive Editor in Chief Tom Shoop, along with other editors and staff correspondents, look at the federal bureaucracy from the outside in.

President Daniels?


Remember Mitch Daniels? As head of OMB in the George W. Bush administration, he led the effort to put hundreds of thousands of federal jobs up for competition with the private sector. (It didn't go exactly as planned, but hey.)

Daniels went on to become governor of Indiana, and now he's being talked about as a potential contender for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012. Now, in an Independence Day interview about five books he recommends, Daniels revealed, in case you hadn't already guessed it, that he'd bring a very different sensibility to running the country than that of the current president.

In extolling E.A. Hayek's Road to Serfdom, Daniels says it "convincingly demonstrated what was already intuitive: namely, the utter futility, the illusion of government planning as a mechanism for uplifting those less fortunate. I read it together with dozens of other books, but the way he dissected and depicted the inexorable tendencies in statism to self-perpetuation of bureaucracies, matched what I thought was the evidence I saw around me."

But lest you think Daniels would enter office on a revolutionary crusade to cut back government, Daniels also says he's learned "humility and caution." On his first day on the job as governor, Daniels says:

We did a ton of things, we wanted to emphasise that a lot of change was afoot. But I went over to see our biggest regulatory agency - we had hundreds of people in the room or on the phone. It was an environmental management agency and I told them then, and I've told them since, that we did not intend to weaken or moderate a single rule that I knew of, in terms of environmental standards.

The bottom line for Daniels? "Our attitude here, I've expressed it a thousand times, is we believe in limited government, but within that sphere of things that government does, we believe government should do them as well as possible."

(Hat tip: Andrew Sullivan)


Tom Shoop is vice president and editor in chief at Government Executive Media Group, where he oversees both print and online editorial operations. He started as associate editor of Government Executive magazine in 1989; launched the company’s flagship website, GovExec.com, in 1996; and was named editor in chief in 2007.

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