Pawlenty Can’t Afford His Foreign Policy

July 2nd, 2011 at 12:39 am | 26 Comments |

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GOP presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty recently called for $2 trillion in tax cuts for individuals and businesses in the next decade, as well as two to three times less federal spending – cutting a total of $8 trillion.

But on Tuesday, Pawlenty expressed his foreign policy plans to remain involved in the Middle East – to “seize” the opportunity “amid the turmoil of the Arab Spring” and to “help promote freedom and democracy.”

The GOP candidate said America should stop “leading from behind” and be more active in regions like Libya, Egypt and even Saudi Arabia.

However, the cost of the U.S. campaign in Libya is expected to exceed the $750 million Pentagon estimate set out in March. Taxpayers are spending $2 million a day to support the African nation – and all this while “leading from behind.” At the current expenditure, the U.S. will spend almost $1 billion on its Libya mission.

Pawlenty’s campaign spokesperson refused to comment on how the candidate plans to fund even more overseas missions while also cutting government spending.

Economics columnist Bruce Bartlett said his foreign policy corresponding to his economic policy is “possible – but it’s also possible that pigs will grow wings.”

A president has limited power in controlling the budget. Pawlenty would require Congressional approval to make such drastic cuts in both taxation and spending, which Bartlett said is “absurdly unrealistic.”

Taking stands that separate him from other candidates may appeal to some portion of the Republican electorate, which could give him the much-needed popularity he is lacking – even if it’s from Tea Partiers, Bartlett said.

However, Peter Feaver, a former National Security Council advisor to Clinton and Bush, said that ignoring problems abroad will just bring them home, so Pawlenty has the right idea by addressing the importance of U.S. involvement in the Middle East.

“I wouldn’t say that he is focusing so much on the Middle East as the Middle East is focusing on us,” said Feaver, who is now a professor at Duke University. “I would say in the long run the Republicans are not going to win in the general election by running on the left of Obama on foreign policy.”

Feaver said he did not know enough about economics to analyze if Pawlenty’s plan is feasible, but he did say “a crucial part ofPawlenty’s stance is that you have to rebuild the economy and get it growing again and his plans and ambition on the foreign policy side is predicated on [that].”

Feaver said the perceived mood of the Republican party is war-weariness and a desire to retreat from the Middle East, but even though “being strong on national security doesn’t capture the way the mood seems to be recorded,” the last century of history shows that few international problems have been solved without help from the United States.

“The lesson since World War II is that American leadership is important,” he told FrumForum, “There are few problems that got better with America ignoring them, and few that got solved by others stepping up and letting America ‘lead from behind.’”

But looking at the numbers, Pawlenty’s foreign and economic policies do not seem compatible.

Federal Budget Analyst Andrew Fieldhouse said that Pawlenty’s tax plan does not compute with his spending plan because the GOP candidate has endorsed a federal balance budget amendment towards capital expenditures of 18 percent GDP. Currently, federal spending is close to 24 percent. His revenue plan would lose 7.6 trillion dollars of revenue. According to his plan, revenue would only be 14 percent of GDP, and after subtracting the three percent interest rate, there would only be 11 percent of GDP for actual government spending.

“At that point you could theoretically continue large military presence overseas and his extensive foreign policy, but it would crowd out huge areas of the federal budget,” said Fieldhouse.

The government would have to reduce the Congressional budget, eliminate Social Security, federal retirement, foreign subsidies, federal health expenditure, non-interest government spending and 10 percent of the economy over the next decade.

“It doesn’t seem feasible to me,” he told FrumForum. “He has a delusional approach to budgeting. I don’t think he’s thought any of this through.”

Budgeting 18 percent of the economy (which the Ryan plan proposes) is always difficult, but possible. However, budgeting 11 percent of the economy for federal spending, while having a large military presence overseas – is near impossible, said Fieldhouse.

A recent Gallup poll shows that Pawlenty’s name recognition among Republicans has risen to 57 percent, but his Positive Intensity Score is 8 – his lowest to date. To prevent his popularity from decreasing, he needs to increase his appeal to voters.

When asked if he thinks Pawlenty is using his foreign policy stance to stand out from other candidates, Feaver said that Tuesday’s speech truly reflects his views.

“I think this doesn’t reflect a tactical positioning of himself to appeal to the primary voters so much as this is what he actually believes is good for American national interests,” he said. “And that’s an important distinction – some candidates will take a stand because they’re trying to triangulate some primary voting blocker.”

“Since the [Tea Partiers] make no demands on their ideological leaders to be logically consistent or have numbers that add up, he doesn’t feel like he has to conform to that requirement either – so he just says whatever he thinks will be popular,” said Bartlett.

Recent Posts by Nicole Glass



26 Comments so far ↓

  • Bunker555

    Well written piece in The Atlantic
    “Doesn’t it follow, Mr. Pawlenty and other hawks who agree with him, that your rhetoric fails on its own terms?”
    http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2011/06/tim-pawlentys-foreign-policy-speech-refutes-itself/241180/

  • Rob_654

    Just looking at the fiscal disaster that Pawlenty left Minnesota shows everyone all they need to know about T-Paw’s ability to handle a balance sheet.

  • valkayec

    Simply put, Foreign Policy Magazine laughed him out of the room. Why does he GOP continue to encourage mental midgets this season?

  • mickster99

    In this piece there is an allusion to the Bush stupidism: “if we don’t fight them there we’ll have to fight them here”. It’s just as stupid and groundless now as it was then as W. searched around in vain for a good reason for the dumbass war in Irag.

    Needless to say, there is not much intelligent content here at the Frum Forum.

    • He Loved Big Brother

      Thanks, Mickster for pointing this out. These witless and unstabstantiated (unsubstantiatable) statements “if we don’t fight them there we’ll have to fight them here”. are an absolute neocon curse on America. Who could under any circumstances imaging a scenario where lack of involvement in Lybia would result in some sort of US-based repercussions….

      The quicker we get out of all of these crazy wars, the better, but as long as people such as this knucklehead Feaver. His other doozy is ““There are few problems that got better with America ignoring them” We have a still toxic legacy in S. America and Africa that would no doubt be much better if America had never engaged in any way, and the entire Iraq/Afghan situation will haunt US foreign policy for many many many years. If this guys represents intellectual acuity and academic thinking then no wonder US foreign policy is such a shambles…..

  • balconesfault

    lol – the GOP hasn’t been able to afford their foreign policy since Reagan. Why should Pawlenty be any different?

  • TerryF98

    3.7 Trillion dollars and counting for Bush’s wars. How did we ever afford that? Oh wait we didn’t.

    • JimBob

      Bush has been out of office 2.5 years. These wars are Husseins. He ran as the anti war candidate and started two more.

      • directeddemocracy

        So, in your world, if Obama loses or the national debt continues beyond his term(s), the GOP candidate running against the debt will then be fully responsible for it? That’s a neat trick.

        • TerryF98

          Jim Bob’s world is a strange and dark place. Full of idiocy, lies and paranoia. It’s a fact free universe.

  • armstp

    What is amazing is that people are holding these candidates responsible for their statements or analyzing their statement like never before on the Internet. Hopefully, the MSM will pick-up this level of scrutiny of all candidates.

  • Graychin

    No problem. TP would fund his foreign policy the same way that Bush funded his.

    We only worry about deficits when a Democrat is in the White house. Deficit spending is just fine for Republicans.

  • tom78212

    I was going to ask my friends in Minnesota for their comments but their lights just went out thanks to T-Paw (actually that’s not what they’re calling him in St Paul but I can’t write that here without a lot of xx%%$$##s)

    • Churl

      “I was going to ask my friends in Minnesota for their comments but their lights just went out thanks to T-Paw….”

      A couple of corrections.
      (1) The Minnesota government may be shut down (whatever that means exactly) but electricity there is produced by private utilities and these are still in operation. I expect that your friends can turn on their lights and that their telephones and computers operate as well. You should be able to contact them and report to us their comments.

      (2) Tim Pawlenty is no longer governor; that post is now held by one Mark Dayton a rather liberal Democrat.

      • Nanotek

        like Bush/gopers scurrying out the door like rats off a sinking ship, they handed Obama the economic disaster from 8 years of their rule … Pawlenty handed Dayton an economic disaster

        nice try …

      • armstp

        churl,

        T-Paw was Governor for the last 8 years. Any problem the GOP in MN have with the deficit and debt was caused by T-Paw. The current Democratic Governor has only been in office 5 months.

        • tom78212

          Thanks armstp… I forgot that the Churls of the world are unable to understand sarcasm and nuance. :-)

        • PracticalGirl

          The Churls of the world exist in a place where Big Bill cleans up the deficit mess of one Bush and leaves a surplus, only to have another Bush turn it back into a huge deficit…And the blame, to the Churls of the world, lies with a Party and a President who came after The Second Ruin- I mean Reign. Honestly? I wish I could live there, too. Life would be so much less complicated.

  • Bunker555

    Bye-bye T-Paw–>foreign policy, economic policy, social policy,…., all kaput:
    “All the other possibilities have been eclipsed, the GOP pros say. Pawlenty, the former governor of Minnesota who was once seen as a strong candidate, has lost ground by appearing uncertain about his own economic policies and how tough he wanted to be in his critique of Romney.”

    McManus: For the GOP, it’s Romney, Bachmann and, maybe, Perry
    Republican political professionals says the GOP race has suddenly settled into a contest among Mitt Romney, Michele Bachmann and, potentially, Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
    http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-mcmanus-column-bachmann-republi20110630,0,6610923.column

  • Hunter01

    Let’s waste no more time with T-Paw.

  • Holmes

    Looks like it’s Mitt’s race to lose. If he gets the nomination, it will be funny to watch evangelicals turn their withering disgust for the man into fevered excitement for his candidacy.

    • Bunker555

      Wouldn’t count Perry out yet. He’s busy getting committments from major donors, and if the numbers don’t add, he’ll throw his support for the Queen of the Tea Jihadists.

  • Frumplestiltskin

    “There are few problems that got better with America ignoring them, and few that got solved by others stepping up and letting America ‘lead from behind.’” What sheer idiocy. Vietnam is certainly a hell of a lot better off then they were when we were bombing them (oh wait, saving them). China woke up to their own nightmare after Mao died with no help from us. Most of Latin America is also a lot better off since we decided to stop meddling with everyone, picking their leaders at every chance.
    Recently in the Ivory Coast they resolved their own crisis with the aid of the UN and France, the US was nowhere to be seen.
    The Indian economy is moving in the right direction. I don’t detect the mechanizations of the Feaverites there either.
    Lord save us from these arrogant aholes who think they have every damn answer for every country.
    The successful wars we have had post war were ones where we were in a co-alition that had meaningful support, like in Bosnia, Kuwait, Kosovo. Bush screwed up in Afghanistan, ignoring whatever support we would have had world wide in his quixotic attempt to turn Iraq into Texas.

  • Churl

    PracticalGirl // Jul 2, 2011 at 1:51 pm informs us, “The Churls of the world exist in a place where Big Bill cleans up the deficit mess of one Bush and leaves a surplus….”

    Of course in doing so, Big Bill had the help of a Republican Congress, thanks to his bright idea of having Mrs. Bill mess up the health care system. Perhaps that slipped your mind, or I’m sure you would have mentioned it.

    The Churls of the world also exist in a place where the current guy in charge is responsible for solving problems and this is never done by blaming somebody else. Mark Dayton is governor and is apparently in a deadlock with the state legislature. That makes him half of the problem or, if you will, half of the solution. Tim Pawlenty, as I’m sure you are astute enough to notice, is off somewhere messing up a campaign for the Presidency. Dayton is the guy on the spot; squawk at him.

    Also, in the World of Churl, one remembers the Parable of the Three Envelopes.

  • Bunker555

    Great Article by Nate Silver on the GOP field.
    “Regular readers of this blog will know that I’ve been of mixed minds on the electoral prospects of former Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota. I’ve gone from initial skepticism about his chances to defending him as a “top-tier” candidate while some other analysts downgraded his status.”

    http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/07/02/how-tim-pawlenty-is-like-rc-cola/?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

    By no means do I think that Mr. Pawlenty has become an unrealistic nominee: at worst, he has fallen a little bit behind Mr. Perry and Ms. Bachmann (and a ways behind Mr. Romney). But the question is whether he needs to rebrand himself, taking more of the posture of the underdog.”

  • Political Rants » First by Inflation, Then by Deflation

    [...] “GOP presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty recently called for $2 trillion in tax cuts for individuals and businesses in the next decade, as well as two to three times less federal spending – cutting a total of $8 trillion. But on Tuesday, Pawlenty expressed his foreign policy plans to remain involved in the Middle East – to “seize” the opportunity “amid the turmoil of the Arab Spring” and to “help promote freedom and democracy.” The GOP candidate said America should stop “leading from behind” and be more active in regions like Libya, Egypt and even Saudi Arabia.” –Nicole Glass, FrumForum.com [...]