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A Little Pawlenty Is Plenty

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If you’re one of the millions who doesn’t have a clue about Republican Presidential hopeful Tim Pawlenty, and you want to change that, watch this. It’s a video from a Sunday news show recorded earlier this month featuring an interview of the former Minnesota governor. In it, Pawlenty bobs and weaves his way through defending his questionable “Better Deal” plan for fixing our deep national debt problems. He also repeatedly ducks pointed questions about his alleged fiscal failings when he was at Minnesota’s helm, preferring, instead, to expound on Obama’s shortcomings. All in all, the Republican candidate comes across as a smarmy politician. Heaven knows we have enough of them already.

But, does Pawlenty’s performance in a single TV interview accurately portray the candidate?  Or, is he even worse than he seems? Of course, smarmy is enough to cost him the nomination as outward appearances have outsized importance in our 24 x 7 video world. Digging for substance is simply too much work. In Pawlenty’s case, digging won’t make a difference because what you see isn’t as bad as what you get.

Let’s start with Pawlenty’s self-laudatory autobiography, Courage To Stand, published just in time for his presidential campaign. In it, and in speeches since, he takes credit for steering a liberal Minnesota down a conservative fiscal path. His biggest claimed accomplishment is balancing budgets through spending cuts rather than tax increases.

Unfortunately for TPaw, both Republicans and Democrats in the Gopher State dispute his claims and the disputes ring truer than the claims. Budget balancing was done, in part, with $2.7 billion in cuts later invalidated by the Minnesota Supreme Court including its Chief Justice, a Pawlenty appointment. Meanwhile, there were fewer costs to fund at the state level, but property taxes were hiked by $2.5 billion to cover the shortfall locally.

Later, necessary revenue increases were financed by upping cigarette taxes which Pawlenty called ‘fees’. He was also helped by $2 billion in federal stimulus money. Today, only months after his departure, Minnesota is facing a $5 billion deficit. So, yes, the numbers on the sheet did balance. But, it was done with smoke and mirrors and federal funds rather than hard choices.

Then there is Pawlenty’s Google gaffe in his Better Deal spiel. In order to make up for reduced revenue from his proposed tax cuts, Pawlenty would eliminate any government service also provided by private industry. He would find those competitive private services through Google. No wonder Pawlenty remains at the bottom of candidate polls. Substituting the world’s most popular Internet search engine for deliberative strategic decision–making is for losers.

These days, Pawlenty believes his road to success is paved with the carcasses of his opponents. At the beginning of his campaign, just a little while ago, he refused to criticize Romney and others. He believed his autobiography and Better Deal plan were all he needed to capture the lead. Now, he’s ripping into other Republicans like a greedy kid with his Christmas presents.

While criticizing the opposition is, of course, standard campaign fare, Pawlenty’s shots at Romney should backfire big time. He is busy filleting the former Massachusetts governor for RomneyCare, the precursor to the hated ObamaCare. And Romney is very vulnerable on that score. But, Pawlenty is similarly susceptible to attack. In his gubernatorial days, he was a huge environmental activist.

In 2007, he signed cap and trade legislation, calling global warming one of the most important issues of our time. Later, he appeared in an ad with Janet Napolitano, urging congress to pass similar legislation. Now, as a national candidate, he’s confessing the error of his ways. To distance himself from his activist days, Pawlenty claims he was never that enamored with going green, characterizing his ardor as a mere ‘flirtation’. But signing cap and trade into law sure seems like going all the way.

Pawlenty’s spine is so weak he can’t help but flip-flop. Since the GOP’s current frontrunner is an expert at the triple backflip himself, the Party doesn’t need another flailing aerialist.

See you on the left-side.

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About Sidney and Riley

  • Baronius

    Pawlenty is a terrible communicator, just ghastly. The Google thing is a gimmick, probably designed to appeal to the Tea Party crowd. But the substance of his economic plan is straightforward supply-side economics. Larry Kudlow is swooning over it.

  • Pawlenty’s longer-term forecasts, like Paul Ryan’s, use a 4% or 5% annual growth rate in GDP. This will, of course, be magically achieved through tax cuts. It is pure wishful thinking.

    Plug in a more historically feasible rate of 3%, and the necessity for rejoining the real world becomes clear: You have to cut some spending, raise other [stimulative] spending, cut some taxes and raise other taxes, not to achieve ‘revenue neutral’ but to reorder incentives toward growth and budget sanity.

    This is what Germany has done so successfully the last several years.

  • Baronius

    Not wishful thinking – an economic theory that you don’t agree with.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Baronius –

    Pawlenty said under his plan we’d have 5% growth for ten years. Can you point to any time that we’ve EVER had 5% growth for ten years?

    What Pawlenty has isn’t an economic theory – it’s an economic fantasy.

  • zingzing

    “Not wishful thinking – an economic theory that you don’t agree with.”

    it’s a dangerously stupid economic theory completely premised upon political gain by playing to voter fantasy. “we’ll right this economy. how you say? by lowering your taxes! that’s right. more of your hard-earned american dollars in your pocket. vote for me!”

  • Here are some Republicans who don’t drink the ‘tax cuts pay for themselves’ Kool-Aid:

    Bruce Bartlett
    Hank Paulson
    Alan Greenspan
    Edward Lazear

    And of course Pawlenty and Ryan go way beyond this basic nonsense and promise unparallelled growth.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Handy –

    Greenspan DID drink that kool-aid for a long time. He was a personal friend of economic sociopath Ayn Rand and was a member of her inner circle.

  • Leroy

    Greenspan being so powerful and under the influence of the Rand maniac goes a long way to explaining our decline in those years. My question is, why did so many people trust him? Was it just his dour demeanor?

  • Pawlenty has nothing to lose since winning is not an option.

    In small towns across the country, lawyers run for public office. They know that they have no chance of being elected. Still, they campaign, hire campaign firms, go through the motions and get some name recognition. The exercise is a firm builder for them.

    Republicans know they have no chance to win the 2012 presidential campaign against the Democrat incumbent. They are obliged to go through the motions and put on a show. The GOP has starters, not finishers. Pawlenty will prove that point.


  • Baronius

    Handyzing – We’ve gone over this before. I cite the tax cuts in the 1920’s, 1960’s, and 1980’s and the growth that followed; you point to other explanations for the growth, and other periods of growth without tax cuts. We walk away without changing each others’ minds. My only point is that a legitimate agrument can be made, with supporting data, for supply-side economics. Call Pawlenty’s plan bad if you want to, but don’t call it fantastic.

  • My only point is that a legitimate agrument can be made, with supporting data, for supply-side economics.

    except that it’s not a legitimate argument, because to prove that the cuts caused the growth, you’d have to have growth numbers for the same time period without the cuts. it cant’ be done.

  • Tax cuts can have a stimulative effect, but they do [almost always] cause a net loss in revenue. So tax cuts alone as a deficit reduction solution: nonsensical.

    Because we’re in a stubbornly slow-growing economy right now, the only thing that makes sense is to do stimulative things short-term combined with tax increases and spending cuts long-term.

  • Leroy

    Supply side economics is confounded by our current economic situation since we don’t have any shortage of capital or business credit. Business itself is sitting on $2trillion in frozen capital and banks are sitting on another $2trillion, so any supply-side strategy is ineffectual: it’s like pushing a rope. Cutting taxes just results in freezing more assets, while at the same time depriving the government of funds that could increase Demand and work to ameliorate our demand drought. So, supply side remedies are counter-productive.

  • Baronius

    Mark – You can’t prove anything in the social sciences, at least in the test group / control group way. What you can do is look for patterns, or at least notice when something fails repeatedly. If a position has theory behind it and evidence for it, it has a legitimate seat at the table.

    For example, supply-side economists were predicting that the stimulus bills of 08-09 were going to have no economic effect other than to increase the deficit. Keynesians were saying that stimulus bills would trigger economic growth. Now, the supply-siders look back on the past few years and say that their theory predicted the outcome correctly. The Keynesians look back and say that there would have been a depression without the stimulus bills. I can’t say for certain if either side is correct, but I have to note that the economy has been limping. The Keynesians can point to their theory to say that they prevented a depression, but it’s hard to support that claim.

    Does any of that prove supply-side economics? Not “prove”, no.

  • troll

    …there’re supply-siders and then there’re supply-siders I guess

    thus Feldstein states: “Experience shows that the most cost-effective form of temporary fiscal stimulus is direct government spending” and – now that it’s safe too assume that no significant democrat package will be passed – complains that the stimulus was too small as well as misdirected

  • Should be coming out today, Mark.

  • troll

    …lookin’ forward to it

  • Clavos

    Republicans know they have no chance to win the 2012 presidential campaign against the Democrat incumbent.

    Oh, please, Tommy. Obama’s numbers are on a greased rail as long as the economy keeps on tanking, which looks to be a certainty for at least another 18 months.

  • Baronius

    “…there’re supply-siders and then there’re supply-siders I guess”

    Well, yeah, I’m sure there are. There’s an old line that if you ask four economists a question, you’ll get five answers.

    I’m not saying that Pawlenty’s numbers work out right. I have no idea. All I’m saying is that you can’t dismiss someone’s theory on the basis of your own differing theory.

    I remember reading an analysis of the Atkins diet a few years back. The author said that eating whatever percentage of protiens was too high, because you shouldn’t eat that high a percentage of protiens. The percentage of carbs on the Atkins diet was too low, because you shouldn’t eat that low an amount of carbs. The author didn’t provide any evidence for what he was saying; he just applied his theory to dismiss another theory.

    That’s ideology. It doesn’t prove anything.

  • Leroy

    Supply-side economics depends on increasing investment capital to alleviate producer financial bottlenecks, which is usually done by cutting producer taxes or subdsidizing producers directly with government money. But there is NO producer bottleneck and producers are unable even to use 0% loans. The money goes dormant.

    Supply side econ is bankrupt. Totally ineffectual.

    And the impotence of supply-side econ is not even benign because it was accompanied by the malevolent effect of transfering money from government accounts to private accounts. It? not just a coincidence that the $4trillion frozen in producer accounts is balanced by $4trillion shortfall in federal accounts.

    With supply-side econ theories bankrupt and impotent there is nothing left to recommend them.

    Besides that they were instrumental in a huge theft from the US treasury, a huge ¨wealth redistribution¨ from the taxpayers to private parties, banks and companies.