CHAMPAIGN — Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels says every time government takes $5 from a person through taxes, that person becomes a little less free to pursue his dreams.
"When you take money away from people, you leave them a little less free," said Daniels.
Daniels was the keynote speaker Thursday night at the Champaign County Republican Party's Lincoln Day Dinner at the Hilton Garden Inn Conference Center in Champaign.
Audio of his speech is available at WDWS' website here.
Champaign County Republican Party Chairman Habeeb Habeeb said the estimated 450 people who turned out for the dinner was the event's largest crowd ever.
Daniels, a former executive at Eli Lilly and Company, said the key to turning around America's economy is to create a business climate that attracts better jobs.
"It leaves more disposable money in the pockets of those who earned it," he said. "When you approach the public mission that way, you maximize freedom."
When government increases spending and increases its debt, Daniels said, the middle class is hurt.
"For the first time in our history, people do not have the hope that has always been there in the darkest hour that my children will live better than I do," Daniels said. "We are seeing an eroding of the opportunity, and therefore the hope, for a vibrant, stable middle class in this country."
One way to improve the business climate, Daniels said, it to keep taxes as low as possible. The governor noted that Indiana corporate income taxes, worker's compensation, unemployment insurance and property taxes are all lower than those in Illinois.
"The lower our taxes are compared to the neighboring states, the more competitive we are," Daniels said.
Daniels said he isn't saying what he has done in Indiana is good for Illinois.
"If you are asking me if Illinois should pass a right to work law, please don't," Daniels said. "We're welcoming businesses every day and would hate to have that advantage neutralized."
Daniels said government must be careful to use the power of taxation prudently and use the money wisely.
Before becoming governor of Indiana, Daniels was an adviser to President Ronald Reagan and served as director of the Office of Management and Budget in President George W. Bush's administration.
"When we use the coercive power of the state to take money from people who need it, we need to be careful about it," Daniels said.
The Republican governor's appearance in Champaign came a little more than a year after more than 30 Indiana House Democrats walked out of the House chamber in Indianapolis and spent more than a month at the Comfort Suites in Urbana for a self-proclaimed "time out."
"Those folks over there don't think you can cut it," Daniels said, speaking of the Democrats. "They don't think you can possibly make your own decisions about your mortgage or health insurance or health care choices or the light bulbs that are best for you.
"We (Republicans) believe you are fully capable. You are a creature of dignity; not an object of therapy."
Daniels noted that President Barack Obama got elected with a slogan, "Change you can believe in."
"I asked myself, 'What the hell does that mean?'" Daniels said. "It doesn't mean anything, and that was its magic as a marketing device.
"I decided we as Republicans ought to twist that slogan into something that does have meaning. That would be 'Change that believes in you.'"