Now that Mitch Daniels has blocked access to basic health care for 20,000 people in Indiana on orders from a powerful constituency within the GOP, he’s heading out to launch his national career.
While he’s doing that, I’d like to go back to Indiana for a moment and look at some uncomfortable facts that contradict the national narrative this campaign trip is intended to create.
Specifically, I’d like to look at one instance of his alleged competence and responsible stewardship of taxpayer money.
Daniels is currently, right now, embroiled in a lawsuit related to his failed privatization of the administrative services end of food stamp and Medicaid programs. Daniels outsourced the work to IBM. It was abundantly clear the privatization plan was a disaster right from the start for the people who receive food stamps and Medicaid, but Daniels waited two years to stop the statewide roll-out, because the conservative ideology behind the plan was pure and infallible.
IBM sued on the contract Daniels had negotiated and signed on behalf of the people of Indiana, when Daniels (eventually) fired them. That all by itself is amusing, because Daniels stripped middle class public employees of their bargaining rights with a stroke of his mighty executive pen shortly after assuming office. Sadly, Mitch found out IBM doesn’t go down as easy as teachers or firefighters do. They hauled his ass right into court, rather than having their lawyers march on the statehouse and sing solidarity songs.
You have to love the giant corporation versus the conservative governor who hired the giant corporation angle of this whole thing. Nary a union thug in sight, yet here we are bickering over terms of a contract to deliver public services. Why aren’t there any calls for IBM to be reasonable and preemptively surrender all contract rights? That’s what conservatives and media are insisting public employees do. The math demands it! Well, only if you’re a teacher, apparently.
In any event, Daniels won a round this week. He is refusing to be deposed by IBM on his personal involvement in this scheme. An Indiana court said that was okay by them.
Here’s an interesting crony capitalism sideshow to the bigger story:
Indiana’s human services agency has a $5.25 million contract with a private law firm, including the brother of a key aide to Gov. Mitch Daniels, to represent the state in its fight over a canceled IBM Corp. welfare outsourcing deal.
Barnes & Thornburg of Indianapolis was hired despite several conflicts of interest arising from the fact that it also represents former IBM partners involved in the welfare deal, according to a copy of the law firm’s contract obtained by The Associated Press. Bryan Corbin, a spokesman for the state attorney general’s office, said in an e-mail to the AP that “hiring this firm was a specific request of the Governor’s Office.”
Indiana House Speaker Patrick Bauer, however, called it foolish for the agency to hire outside counsel when the Indiana attorney general’s office could represent it for no cost in attorneys’ fees.”To spend another $5 million is bad money after bad money, and the taxpayers are the losers,” said Bauer, a Democrat from South Bend.
Daniels, a Republican, fired Armonk, N.Y.-based IBM last October from a 10-year, $1.37 billion contract to introduce call centers, document imaging and other automation to the process of applying for food stamps, Medicaid and other benefits. IBM and Indiana sued each other in state court last May.