Gov. Mike Pence to President Barack Obama: Yes, We Hoosiers Built That Economy

Washington, DC

Indiana has succeeded despite President Barack Obama’s policies, not because of them, says Indiana Governor Mike Pence.

Obama visited Elkhart, Indiana, on June 1, to claim credit for the economic recovery in Indiana, as well as the sorta-recovery across the nation. When Obama first visited this mid-sized city in north-central Indiana in 2009, it was experiencing almost 20 percent unemployment from the 2008 recession.

“The people of Elkhart and my fellow Hoosiers have brought our economy back in spite of the burdens that higher taxes, mandates and increasing regulations from Washington, D.C. have placed on them,” Pence wrote in an op-ed published by the Elkhart Truth, early in the morning before Obama’s Elkhart speech. “I hope you will join me in giving credit where credit is due, to the people of Elkhart and north central Indiana,” Pence told Obama in the op-ed.

In his speech later that day, Obama was willing to share some token credit with Hoosiers, but insisted he gets the most credit.

It’s thanks to you — to the hard work you put in and the sacrifices you made for your families, and the way that you looked out for each other.  But we also wouldn’t have come this far — Elkhart would not have come this far — if we hadn’t made a series of smart decisions, my administration, a cooperative Congress — decisions we made together early on in my administration.

We decided to help the auto industry restructure, and we helped families refinance their homes.

We decided to invest in job training so that folks who lost their jobs could retool.  We decided to invest in things like high-tech manufacturing and clean energy and infrastructure, so that entrepreneurs wouldn’t just bring back the jobs that we had lost, but create new and better jobs, and folks who had lost work from the construction industry because the housing market had collapsed could go back to work rebuilding America …  And the results prove that our [White House] focus has paid off.  Elkhart proves it.

Obama’s claim for government credit echoes his repeated claim that business owners owe their success to government.

In the 2012 campaign for example, Obama insisted that:

If you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own… I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something – there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there…. If you’ve got a business – you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.

Pence’s op-ed offers a very different explanation for Elkhart’s regained prosperity.

Pence touted the benefits of limited government, having balanced multiple budgets, passed the largest income tax cut in the state’s history, and abolished the inheritance tax.

“We have also made education for our current workforce and the next generation the top priority, with record investments in education while making career and technical education a priority in every high school in Indiana again,” Pence wrote. As a consequence, “the high school graduation rate has reached nearly 88 percent, seventh best in the nation and for the first time in Indiana’s history, we invested in early learning programs for disadvantaged kids and have one of the largest school voucher programs in America,” he added.

Chief Executive magazine rates Indiana #5 in the nation for business-friendly laws and regulations, and the #1 state for business in the Midwest, rankings that have climbed during Pence’s governorship.

Pence suggested that the very policies Obama credited with saving Indiana were instead an impediment to even greater economic growth and prosperity.

Media reports suggested that Obama’s grab for credit did not go over well with the locals. “Folks here don’t wish the president ill. They wish him out of their lives,” Fox News Channel’s Leland Vittert summarized his interviews with Hoosiers.

Indiana’s motto is “the Crossroads of America.” With Pence up for reelection, an open U.S. Senate seat up for grabs, and the state having gone both ways over the past two presidential elections, national analysts are increasingly focusing on Indiana as a state to watch this cycle.

November’s election may settle whether Hoosiers agree more with Pence or with Obama regarding government’s ideal role in the economy.

Ken Klukowski is legal editor for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @kenklukowski.