Entries Tagged as 'Pawlenty'

Pawlenty Spins His Fundraising Numbers

July 2nd, 2011 at 9:28 am 6 Comments

Today, Governor Tim Pawlenty’s spokesman, Alex Conant, released this statement:

“Gov. Pawlenty will report that his campaign has raised about $4.2 million, and begins the third quarter with more available cash-on-hand than the Republicans who won the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary had in July 2007.”

That’s very impressive, considering Mike Huckabee and John McCain won those primaries back in 2007.  Huckabee went on to become a major contender for the nomination, and still has name recognition today.  McCain, as everyone knows, went on to win the GOP nomination.  The only problem is that this is a ridiculously misleading statement.

Huckabee had hardly any name recognition at this point in 2007, and there is a reason McCain was called “The Comeback Kid.”  Comparing himself to two candidates who were considered underdogs at this point in their campaigns is rarely a good sign.

Such a spin denotes trouble in the Pawlenty campaign.  If he is compared to his current rivals in the primaries, Pawlenty is in sore shape.  Jon Huntsman (who many say is faking his campaign so he can make a better run in 2016) seems to be the only major player with less funds: $4.1 million — half of that being his own cash.  Tea Party movement godfather, Ron Paul, has raised over $4.5 million this week alone. And Mitt Romney is estimated to have three or four times as much cash on hand as Pawlenty just reported.  The fact that they are being forced to spin this kind of report to the press doesn’t bode well for Team T-Paw.

Why Pawlenty Doubled Down on Ethanol

David Frum May 23rd, 2011 at 4:48 pm 33 Comments

It’s courageous, principled, and right for Tim Pawlenty to travel to Iowa to denounce ethanol and other farm subsidies. But I’m also left wondering: is this also a very good way to manage expectations if he comes second or third or worse in Iowa, where Pawlenty is currently polling in single digits?

Real Clear Politics’ average of polls ranks Romney first, Gingrich second, Palin third, and Pawlenty sixth, behind Ron Paul and Michelle Bachmann.

Palin may not run, Gingrich may be imploding, but a Pawlenty finish behind Bachmann would be a staggering disaster for the Minnesota governor. A win is a win, but a good excuse can keep a campaign alive to fight another day in New Hampshire.

Bonus skill-testing question: since 1976, how many non-incumbent Republicans have won the Iowa caucuses and proceeded to win the party nomination? Answer: only one, George W. Bush.

So maybe it’s smart to blow them off and score integrity points for later.


Pawlenty: GOP Nominee by Default?

David Frum March 8th, 2011 at 11:08 am 62 Comments

Jonathan Chait reasons his way to Pawlenty as the most plausible GOP nominee for 2012.

Chait is applying the Sherlock Holmes methods: “Eliminate the impossible, and whatever remains, however implausible, must be the truth.”

I’ve reasoned the same way about Pawlenty, as recently as over dinner last night with a group of close political watchers. And yet … predicting Pawlenty feels like reaching the wrong answer on a math exam. You do the calculation and you arrive at the answer, Pawlenty. You think: that can’t be right. You check the formulas. Yes, you have written them down correctly. You repeat the calculation. Same answer. And it still does not feel right.

Pawlenty was a fine governor, and I’m sure he would be a fine president. Yet I have never met anybody who is enthusiastic about him, and I’ve met quite a few of the people who work for him. (I’ve never met Mrs Pawlenty, but I assume she’s enthusiastic about the governor. Certainly the governor is enthusiastic about Mrs. Pawlenty.)

Can you reach the presidency with all around you saying, “He’s fine, he’ll do”?

I suppose you could say that a similar line of argument worked for John Kerry in 2004. But that’s not exactly an inspiring precedent.


America’s Secret Trillion Dollar Debt

David Frum February 24th, 2011 at 10:28 am 53 Comments

A PS to my recent column about the huge mind-crunching pension liabilities of state governments: $1 trillion in total, according to the Pew Center for the States.

First, here’s a way to think about how much $1 trillion is:

All the states combined collected a little under $2 trillion in revenues before the onset of the recession. For the states to pay an additional $1 trillion would require full economic recovery plus then a 50% increase in all state taxes.

Second, the $1 trillion shortfall casts a disturbing light on those famous CATO rankings of the “fiscal conservatism” of state governors.

See, it turns out that one way to keep current expenditures down is to omit contributions to your state’s pension fund.

The latest CATO ranking of the governors awards “A”s to four state executives:

Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal
West Virginia’s Joe Manchin
Minnesota’s Tim Pawlenty
South Carolina’s Mark Sanford.

All four men get credit for boldly cutting taxes and resisting tax increases. (Indiana’s Mitch Daniels received only a “B” in large part because – in Cato’s words “he has not pushed for permanent state tax cuts.”)

Now let’s see how these four “A” governors do by Pew’s scheme. (All numbers below are from 2007 and 2008, ie before the recession hit.)

Pew estimates Louisiana’s total retirement liability at $12.54 billion. How much of that is unfunded? Virtually all of it – $12.54 billion of state commitments left to be paid by future taxpayers. To fund those obligations would cost Louisiana a $1.2 billion annual contribution. Louisiana actually contributed $270 million.

West Virginia’s liability is estimated at $6.4 billion. Of that liability, $6.1 billion is unfunded. To give credit, West Virginia has stepped up its contributions to its plan. Of the $175 million in estimated required contributions, West Virginia did pay $144 million. However, unlike Louisiana, which has negotiated reductions in future benefits with its employees, West Virginia has made no structural reforms.

Minnesota’s obligations are happily more modest – but still no better funded.  $1.011 billion in obligations. $1.011 of that obligation unfunded. $110 million in annual contributions required. $46 million actually paid. No steps toward pension reform taken.

South Carolina looks much more alarming. $8.8 billion in obligations. $8.6 billion unfunded. $762 million due each year. $241 million actually paid.

(Indiana has good news and bad news in this regard. At $442 million, its retirement obligation is blessedly light. But none of that obligation is funded, all will have to be paid out of future current revenues.)

All of which is a reminder that measuring current tax rates alone is a very, very flawed way to measure the burden of government.


Thune’s Out. Who Gains?

David Frum February 22nd, 2011 at 3:09 pm 27 Comments

If you work on the assumption that the 2012 GOP nomination contest is a battle between Romney and not-Romney, John Thune’s departure helps Romney by removing a plausible candidate who is not Romney.

If you think Romney is already terminally wounded, then Thune’s departure helps the best organized of the not-Romney alternatives: Tim Pawlenty.

If you think that Republican primary voters are struggling to find a candidate who is 100% conservative but also free from the baggage carried by Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich, that mission just got a lot harder.