Entries Tagged as 'Tim Pawlenty'

The Real Pawlenty Never Campaigned

August 15th, 2011 at 12:45 pm 12 Comments

The tritest cliché in American English is the injunction to “be yourself.”  Despite this, remedy an entire industry of political consultants devotes itself to teaching candidates how to be anyone other than themselves.   Such is the unhappy fate of Tim Pawlenty.

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Who Do I Support with Pawlenty Gone?

August 15th, 2011 at 1:00 am 49 Comments

I have been supporting Tim Pawlenty for president this go round.  Now it appears I have to find a new candidate.

My reasons for supporting him were that he was from a Democrat leading Midwestern state and had run a generally conservative administration. He seemed like a serious man with a nice family and solid accomplishments.

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The Straw Poll Scam

August 14th, 2011 at 12:10 pm 74 Comments

Why doesn’t the national Republican Party discourage the presidential hopefuls from participating in the Ames Straw Poll? While the benefits of this event to the Iowa GOP are perfectly clear, I don’t see any benefits to the party as a whole, and there may even be some harm.

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Pawlenty Can’t Afford His Foreign Policy

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

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

But on Tuesday, illness 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.

Will Pawlenty Be Pressed On Economic Plan?

David Frum June 16th, 2011 at 1:19 pm 16 Comments

The day after the New Hampshire Republican debate, Tim Pawlenty made the rounds of the morning talk shows to answer questions about his debate performance.

Much of the questioning focused on Pawlenty’s decision to back off his criticisms of Mitt Romney’s Massachusetts healthcare plan.

Less attention has been paid to a question that probed even deeper into the heart of the Pawlenty presidential campaign: doubts about the realism of Pawlenty’s economic plan: massive tax cuts to produce five percent growth.

Here was Pawlenty’s answer to that question on Fox & Friends:

Pawlenty: I say it’s not only achievable but it’s needed. It’s backed up by Larry Kudlow, John Taylor, the economist at Stanford, and Steve Forbes and others. We have to get this country moving again. We have a country stuck in neutral or reverse and we have to put it in drive or overdrive. President Obama is someone who accepts an anemic level of growth. He doesn’t even have a plan. You can’t find him on what he’s going to do about government spending reform and he doesn’t have a plan to get the economy moving. The plan that he did try failed, and now we have to try something different. What I’m proposing is to grow the economy by shrinking government.

Pawlenty offered a fuller statement on CNN.

And respected economists like John Taylor at Stanford, by the way, Steve Forbes wrote yesterday that my plan actually would work and five percent growth is achievable but it starts with this premise — what we’re doing now isn’t working. President Obama’s got the country on the wrong track. Millions of Americans are hurting and are underemployed or unemployed. And we need to try something positive and optimistic about job growth in this country. My plan lays it out. I’m the only one in the race with a plan, and I presented that last night. But it includes massive tax cuts to try to stimulate the economy, it includes reducing spending, but also regulatory reform, permitting reform energy reform, health care reform, and if you do those things and shrink government we will grow the private economy and grow jobs in this country. Reporter: The question was asked but I will ask you again, I know there were six other people on the stage with you last night, why didn’t that work in the Bush era then? With the massive, massive tax cuts that obviously didn’t lead to job growth or we wouldn’t’ be at 9.1% unemployment right now. Pawlenty: If you look back at the history of tax cuts under John Kennedy, under Reagan, under President Bush, the second, you just isolate on the effects of those tax cuts, they do grow government revenues and they do stimulate the economy. But you’ve got to also look at what else happened during those eras. We’re not proposing to also raise government spending. We want to reduce government spending and reform government in a more pro jobs, pro growth direction. And if you do that you’ll have a better result. And the folks who have looked at my plan, like I said John Taylor, Steve Forbes, these are credible, seasoned people, said not only is it going to work, but it’s necessary to get the country out of the doldrums that President Obama has us in.

Pawlenty here relies heavily on the argument from authority: Kudlow, Forbes and Taylor. Of these three, it is John Taylor who has had the most sway. But notice : Taylor did not in fact say that five percent growth for 10 years was achievable. He said on his blog that five percent for 10 years was a worthy target to aspire to — rather different.

I think the goal makes a great deal of sense. It would focus policymakers like a laser beam on the great benefits that come from higher growth and on the pro-growth policies needed to achieve it. As with any goal, if you take it seriously, you’ll choose policies that work toward that goal and reject those that don’t.

And who would disagree with that?

T-Paw: Don’t Ask Me About Pawlentycare

June 14th, 2011 at 5:59 pm 9 Comments

Tim Pawlenty has been on the offensive about Mitt Romney’s healthcare record.  But even as he derides “Obamneycare,” Pawlenty continues to delay the release of a plan to replace Obama’s healthcare reform and has said little about his own record on the issue.

The reason for this is simple: it’s not very good, especially next to Romney’s.

T-Paw and Romney both assumed office in 2003, at which point 7.4 percent of Massachusetts residents and 7.2 percent of Minnesotans lacked health insurance. Both rates were well below the national average.

By the end of 2008, the proportion of uninsured residents in Massachusetts had dropped to 2.6 percent and has since fallen to 1.9 percent. Granted, Romney left office in January 2007, but almost all of the drop can be attributed to his healthcare reform. Minnesota is a different story: in 2009, 9.1 percent of the population was uninsured, a substantial increase.

Now, T-Paw does have slight edge in ideological purity, as a smaller proportion of Minnesota residents are enrolled in some form of public healthcare and there is no individual mandate.  In 2009, 30.3 percent of the insured in Massachusetts were covered by a public plan, including Medicare, whereas the same proportion was 28.7 percent in Minnesota. However, Minnesota is more directly involved in the administration of healthcare than Massachusetts.  Minnesota owns 29 percent of all hospitals in the state, while Massachusetts owns just three percent.

The most important differences between the two former governors’ healthcare records lie in their states’ reactions to the recession.  As unemployment skyrocketed in 2008 and 2009, unemployed Minnesotans simply flooded the public healthcare rolls.  In Massachusetts, where the jobless rate reached an even higher peak (9.1 percent to 8.9 percent), employers actually covered an increasing proportion of the insured (66 percent-67 percent).  Romney’s system actually deflected some of the costs of covering the newly insured away from the government while continuing to extend coverage.

What did Pawlenty do in Minnesota? Well, as more Minnesotans lost their jobs and the associated employer-provided healthcare, they became a burden on the state budget. So T-Paw simply ended a low-income healthcare support program.  After a prolonged battle with the state legislature, Pawlenty eventually signed a bill reinstating a stripped-down version of the program, but this approach revealed his overall healthcare strategy.

Romney is right to worry about his reform being linked to Obamacare, but he should not be bashful about his record on coverage and cost-control. Romney enacted a system that allowed unemployment-stricken Massachusetts to maintain near-universal coverage without busting the state budget. T-Paw allowed a wasteful status quo to persist until it eventually reached unsustainable costs and he was forced to cut instead of reform.

If Republican voters want a President with a credible replacement for Obamacare, they would be wise to vote for record, not rhetoric.

T-Paw Needs More Than Google to Cut Deficit

June 8th, 2011 at 8:09 am 9 Comments

I like Tim Pawlenty’s economic plan a little better than David Frum. Although they aren’t revolutionary, pharm I’m happy to cheer for most of his ideas on the revenue front including lower corporate taxes (although it would be better to eliminate them entirely), illness a zero capital gains tax, and the adaptation of a nearly flat tax on personal incomes.  That said, T-Paw’s ideas for true cutbacks in government are awfully vague. One that’s been singled out for a lot of criticism is his proposal for a so-called “Google test.” The test, essentially, is the idea the government shouldn’t provide any service that can be found through Google. And it was a target of leftwing blogs from the moment he proposed it.  In fact, however, what Pawlenty calls the “Google test” is a good, sensible idea although hardly a panacea for government spending.

Let’s start with some history: What the former Minnesota governor calls the Google test actually began as a “Yellow Pages Test” proposed in the early 1990s by then-Indianapolis mayor Stephen Goldsmith. The idea of the test—which proved quite successful in Indianapolis—was that the government shouldn’t have to compete with the private sector for any service where multiple private sector firms were listed in the Yellow Pages.

Indianapolis’ government didn’t shed many services altogether but it did contract out everything from laying concrete to picking up litter. Government workers weren’t immediately laid off but, instead, had to compete with private sector contractors to keep their jobs. (Goldsmith called this “marketizing” services.) Because of competition, many services improved although a few, like sewage treatment, did run into trouble. Big tax cuts didn’t follow either. The city mostly used the accumulated savings for efforts to improve its infrastructure and subsidize corporations to bring more jobs into the city.

Although the results haven’t been as dramatic as they were in Indianapolis, Goldsmith has used his post-elected-office years to remake city services in the District of Columbia (where he became close to Mayor Anthony Williams) and now, as New York City’s Deputy Mayor for Operations. The federal government would do well to take another dose of the “marketization/yellow pages test/google test” medicine. There are any number of services that might, in theory, be done better by private contractors. That said, the idea is hardly revolutionary: the federal government already does a lot of contracting out, the savings likely won’t be large, and some efforts at “marketizing” that improve services tend not to save money.

To begin with, the federal government has long made very heavy use of contractors to do just about everything. Even with the enormous growth of government under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, the federal government employs fewer people than it did in the late 1960s. Although there are plenty of overweight behemoths in the federal bureaucracy, some very important entities like the Social Security Administration are actually very efficient at administering programs in part because they contract out so much. (This doesn’t of course mean, that the programs themselves are efficient.) And incredibly sophisticated tasks ranging from operating the Space Shuttle to running the Transportation Security Agency’s back office have been handed over to private contractors.

Second, large savings aren’t possible from simply marketizing federal services.  The Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid programs (the later two almost entirely administered and delivered in the private sector) can all be cut but simply changing the way they are delivered likely won’t save a penny.  While some more military and foreign affairs functions might be contracted out, furthermore, operating the armed forces is clearly a job that should remain in the hands of professional military and foreign service officers accountable to civilians.  In the end, the only areas even appropriate for “marketization” are in the field of domestic discretionary spending and, however, one counts it, that’s less than 20 percent of the federal budget.

Not all efforts will save money either. The United Kingdom, for example, has dramatically improved the quality and frequency of rail service by handing the operation of almost all rails off to the private sector.  But, at the same time, public spending on rail service has actually increased.  The Department of Veterans Affairs Hospital system, likewise, consistently delivers care less expensively than the private sector. Everything that’s known indicates that privatizing it without changing the benefits it provides would dramatically expand federal spending.

In short, Tim Pawlenty’s “google test” is a pretty good idea. But it’s not likely to save lots of taxpayer money or significantly cut the size and scope of government.

Pawlenty’s Blue-Collar Blues

David Frum June 8th, 2011 at 7:48 am 51 Comments

Tim Pawlenty supporters cite their man’s blue-collar origins as reason to hope that he can reach voters unreachable by say Mitt Romney or Jon Huntsman.

On the evidence of Pawlenty’s big economic speech at the University of Chicago, those hopes are unlikely to be realized.

The problem is not merely the Pawlenty economic plan itself, although it does not help.

The deeper problem is the fundamental view of the economy – of human society really – revealed by this answer to a Chicago student’s question, as recorded by FF‘s Noah Kristula-Green:

There’s about 5% of this country who are our entrepreneurial class … if that 5% becomes 6%, 7%, 8% or 9% then we have a bright future, and if that 5% becomes 4% 3% or 1%, we’re in deep doo doo, we’re in deep crap.

If you imagine that entrepreneurs form a small elite “class” – and that 95% or thereabouts of the human species merely ride along on the wealth created by others – well you may get an “A” in your seminar at the Objectivist Institute. On the other hand, you also probably disqualify yourself from winning much respect or affection (or even much of a hearing) from the voters you dismiss as unthinking order-takers.

Such a view puts the proponent on the wrong side of Adam Smith: “The propensity to truck, barter and exchange one thing for another is common to all men ….”

But maybe more relevantly and urgently, Tim Pawlenty has aligned himself on the wrong side of the first and greatest of Republicans, Abraham Lincoln, who in his 1859 address to the Wisconsin State Agricultural Society delivered a withering retort to those who advance the kind of argument that Tim Pawlenty yesterday advanced:

By some it is assumed that labor is available only in connection with capital – that nobody labors, unless somebody else owning capital, somehow, by the use of it, induces him to do it…. Having proceeded so far, they naturally conclude that all laborers are naturally either hired laborers or slaves. They further assume that whoever is once a hired laborer, is fatally fixed in that condition for life; and thence again, that his condition is as bad as, or worse than, that of a slave. This is the “mud-sill” theory. But another class of reasoners hold the opinion that there is no such relation between capital and labor as assumed; that there is no such thing as a free man being fatally fixed for life in the condition of a hired laborer; that both these assumptions are false, and all inferences from them groundless.

Pawlenty’s Tax Cuts Won’t Boost Jobs

June 7th, 2011 at 4:27 pm 25 Comments

During the Q&A session of Pawlenty’s economic policy speech Tuesday in Chicago, he was asked a simple question: why do we need even more tax cuts? The questioner noted that Pawlenty’s tax proposal would be the third generous tax cut towards the wealthy in recent history, and added: “if there’s a tax war going on, who’s winning that war?”

Pawlenty’s answer was not inspiring. Pawlenty seems to be trapped: he wants his economic policy to generate jobs, and he can articulate what is holding back job creation. However, it’s simply not clear how retaining tax cuts on high income earners solves the problems that Pawlenty identifies.

The crux of Pawlenty’s argument is that there is a small class of entrepreneurs who need to be given the right tax incentives to provide these jobs:

There’s about 5% of this country who are our entrepreneurial class … if that 5% becomes 6%, 7%, 8% or 9% then we have a bright future, and if that 5% becomes 4% 3% or 1%, we’re in deep doo doo, we’re in deep crap.

And what does this entrepreneurial class need to grow and hire people? It seems that Pawlenty has a good list:

it’s about what are those things we need to do make it more likely that businesses are going to start, grow, add employees, buy capital equipment, build buildings, conduct research, and do all the things it takes to keep a private economy going.

And what’s holding them back? Sometimes it’s taxes, other times it’s regulations:

Some of them talk about taxes, some of them talk about regulation, some of them talk about the slowness of permits, some of them talk about energy costs.

This is all very specific stuff, but this goes back to the original question Pawlenty was asked, why will lower taxes on upper-income earners help create jobs? What does that have to do with higher energy costs or slow permits?

Pawlenty rejected the argument that this debate is about income as opposed to job creation: ”I reject the premise that is about nominal measures of who gets wealthy.” If so, then he needs to figure out how his policy proposals deal with job creation.

Does Pawlenty Have a Jobs Plan?

June 6th, 2011 at 2:11 pm 10 Comments

On Tuesday, health Tim Pawlenty will deliver his big economic policy speech in Chicago, discount promising a “specific plan for boosting the economy and creating jobs.” Despite unemployment currently being at 9.1%, it’s unlikely his speech will include actual policies for immediate job growth. So far Pawlenty’s messaging has focused on long-term debt concerns.

This preference is clear in his new YouTube video where Pawlenty opens up with his face right next to the National Debt Clock:

Pawlenty’s message: It’s going to be painful to bring down the debt but at least I’ll be honest with you about it. He promises to phase out ethanol subsidies, reform entitlements, reduce public employee benefits, and adds that there will be no more bailouts.

While these are laudable goals, they don’t speak to the problems of a weak economy right now; they all are about long term spending imbalances. The video doesn’t even acknowledge the unemployment rate or weak economic climate.

It will only be disappointing if Pawlenty’s speech tomorrow has nothing to say about the current economic pain. It will be worse if discredited fringe ideas are included in his speech as well, such as his ill-advised attack on “fiat money”.