washingtonpost.com  > Print Edition > Inside the A Section

The Party Line Veers a Bit

By Brian Faler
Saturday, January 22, 2005; Page A06

They're out of the choir and singing, it seems, a little different tune.

Mitchell E. Daniels Jr., the Bush administration's former budget chief who is now governor of Indiana, asked this week for a tax increase on his state's wealthiest citizens. In his first State of the State address since taking office earlier this month, Daniels said he wants to raise income taxes for one year on Hoosiers earning more than $100,000 annually.

Simon Rosenberg wants to lead the Democratic Party.

"With this money, we will achieve a balanced budget . . . and bring our savings account to a level near the minimum standard of prudence," Daniels told the state's Republican-controlled legislature. "Let's each agree to do a thing or two we'd rather not do, temporarily, so that the state we all love might get back on its fiscal feet."

As director of President Bush's Office of Management and Budget, Daniels championed Bush's tax cuts -- and eschewed any talk of tax increases. Like the federal government, the state of Indiana is facing a sizable deficit. But unlike the administration in Washington, the one in Indianapolis is required by law to balance its budget.

Meanwhile, another Bush alumnus -- Ari Fleischer, the president's former spokesman -- took a dim view Thursday of the president's chances of realizing his long-standing goal of uniting the country behind his leadership.

"Unless, God forbid, there's another attack on our country, I'm afraid that President Bush will never become a uniter, because the times we live in are simply too divided," Fleischer said on CNN. "It is not in the cards for the future."

Bragging on Bloggers

It's not uncommon for political candidates to trumpet their endorsements from fellow politicians, civic leaders and celebrities. But bloggers?

Simon Rosenberg, one of half a dozen candidates running for chairman of the Democratic National Committee, issued a news release yesterday touting his support from a number of the online pundits. "Dozens of influential bloggers endorse Rosenberg one day before DNC Western caucus in Sacramento," it said, referring to a party meeting today in California.

"We want to show that, in the running of this campaign, we are competently managing the new kind of [technological] tools we'll need to get our values and ideas out to the American people," Rosenberg said.

Experts said that as blogs -- which are, essentially, online journals -- grow in popularity, the individual bloggers' endorsements have become increasingly valuable. Their support not only lends candidates a certain amount of buzz, credibility and name recognition, it can also prove a gold mine. Some bloggers have been able to raise big money for candidates on their sites, which often attract the parties' most die-hard supporters. Conversely, some candidates have been able to raise significant sums by advertising on politically oriented blogs.

One of Howard Dean's former Internet advisers set off a furious online debate last week when she wrote on her personal Web site that Dean's presidential campaign hired two prominent bloggers because, she said, it wanted them to write flattering things about the former Vermont governor on their sites. A Dean spokeswoman, along with both bloggers, denied Zephyr Teachout's allegations, saying they were hired to provide technical assistance -- not to write.

A Rosenberg aide said none of the bloggers mentioned in his release is on the payroll, except for one the statement says was hired as an Internet strategist.


"This is one of the most intellectually gifted presidents we've had."

-- Karl Rove, senior adviser to President Bush, on MSNBC.

© 2005 The Washington Post Company