In today’s Wall Street Journal, Ricochet’s own Mitch Daniels, governor of Indiana, provides a list of emergency economic measures for Republicans to consider after election day. The Governor’s measures include a holiday on payroll taxes and a freeze on federal hiring and pay increases. “[T]o have a prayer of avoiding fiscal ruin, we need to go to economic general quarters immediately.”
One of the Governor’s proposals in particular caught my eye:
Impoundment power. Presidents once had the authority to spend less than Congress made available through appropriation. On reflection, nothing else makes sense. Plowing ahead with spending when revenues plummet is something only government would do. In Indiana, we are still solvent, with no new taxes, money in reserve, and a AAA credit rating only because our legislature gave me the power to adjust spending to new realities. I promise you that a president who wanted to could put the kibosh on enormous amounts of spending that a Congress might never vote to eliminate, but the average citizen would never miss.
That’s Mitch Daniels through and through. He displays deep historical knowledge—presidents possessed impoundment power right up until 1974, when a Democratic Congress, still motivated by spite for the disgraced Richard Nixon, made the practice illegal—and then he provides a trenchant budgetary analysis. And then? Well, then Mitch Daniels writes about giving impoundment power back to the president almost as if—and this is part I really love—he’s been thinking about what he’d do with the presidency himself.