Will Pawlenty Be Pressed On Economic Plan?

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

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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?

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16 Comments so far ↓

  • Watusie

    Pawlenty puts out a nonsense economic plan based on fantasy and unicorns. Paul Ryan puts out a nonsense economic plan based on fantasy and unicorns. Neither one of them get the derision they deserve, because in the modern Republican party, a nonsense economic plan based on fantasy and unicorns is a feature, not a bug.

    • Smargalicious

      BHO enacts a massive welfare spendathon plan (stimulus) to include Obamacare, and now we have a $14T+ debt, housing double dip, stagflation, and high unemployment.

      Please, you look like a fool with your statement. You need to think before you hit the submit button next time, okay? Sheesh.

      • Rob_654

        How much of that deficit was already in place the day Bush left office – and how much of it was already in the pipeline that Bush left?

        I am certain you want to be fair and point out both sides of this fiscal mess – because being simply partisan is one of the major reasons we are in this mess – people blaming “the other side” and not complaining when their sides screws it up.

    • Hunter01

      From S, more words without meaning.

  • Saladdin

    Sure he will, but from his right, not from the center.

  • Hunter01

    The race seems to be boiling down to Romney and Bachmann, with some contingent interest in Huntsman. Pawlenty had his shot and blew it. The details of his economic fantasy are no longer of passing interest, let alone serious consideration.

  • Slide

    The way the media responds to Democratic and Republican plans is truly amazing. All we heard through the health care debate was death panels, socialized medicine, government takeover of helath care, the high cost (it actually reduces the deficit according to the CBO) and the media reports and reports and reports on those falsehoods until they are firmly planted in every voter’s head. But the Republicans put ridiculously absurd proposals that just don’t add up and are called Brave for doing so. That damn liberal media.

  • CentristNYer

    Larry Kudlow? Steve Forbes? These are the bright lights that Pawlenty is prepared to trot out to endorse his plan? Sheesh — why not call in Dick Fuld while you’re at it?

  • Slide

    S, don’t you get tired of the silly trolling. Really? Makes me try to wonder what kind of person you truly are and why you would spend so much time writing stuff that no one, and I mean NO one, takes seriously. Rather painful to watch actually. Why don’t you paint your basement walls or re-arrange your sock drawer or something with all your free time?

  • Rob_654

    Given that huge fiscal disaster he left the state of Minnesota with when he left office, I don’t think this is the guy to trust with a checkbook let alone a large scale budget.

  • NRA Liberal

    Who takes this appeal to Kudlow and Forbes as authorities seriously?

    People with substantial investments.

    If you’re not one of those people, there’s not much reason to buy into this.

    • valkayec

      I agree with you and CentristNYer. Kudlow is the premier promoter of supply side economics and Steve Forbes promotes any and every proposition that cuts his and his club’s expenses, from flat taxes to school vouchers. Not even my Libertarian son-in-law can stand these two.

      Also, while the MSM isn’t saying much about Pawlenty’s economic plan, the progressive blogs are. They’ve ripped it shreds with data: http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2011/06/15/246141/pawlenty-richest-four-times-bush-tax-cut/

      Note the chart in the middle of blog post.

      • LFC

        One only needs to trot out Kudlow’s record on the “Bush Boom” (one of his favorite terms) and his total failure to recognize a real estate bubble (despite C-S being 50% higher than the last bubble) to realize what a useless tool he is when it comes to discussions on the economy.

        He’s proof that being Republican not only means never saying you’re sorry, but never even needing to be correct! Just like the Bush administration, they all now build their own realities.

  • Frumplestiltskin

    Pawlenty thinks because he casts a very small shadow he better jump up and down and wave his arms about just so he will be noticed, he doesn’t realize he looks ridiculous. I actually prefered him for VP under McCain, now I think he is just a little turd of a man.

    Total Government spending is contracting nationwide, we have 500,000 less government workers, cutbacks in programs everywhere, so why aren’t we seeing an explosion of growth? Businesses themselves are sitting on a ton of cash since more and more money is being made internationally, yet we don’t see a huge increase in hiring. Slashing government programs will only make Americans less likely to spend since there will be no safety net. China has the worlds second largest economy but has a pretty low level Consumer based society because Chinese have to save a huge portion of their salary because there is no safety net.

    Pawlenty is a dangerous fool. After Gingrich I will be most happy to see him crash and burn.

    • Bunker555

      ^+1 Frumple
      BTW, that’s the right order, but I would insert Cain after Gingrich and before Pawlenty.

      “Pawlenty is a dangerous fool. After Gingrich I will be most happy to see him crash and burn.”

  • ottovbvs

    He’s been blasted out of the water by everyone from the FT to Krugman. But this is what passes for serious economic policy making in todays GOP.