In many ways I like Tim Pawlenty.
Pawlenty does have ideas. He is not a chronic whiner that has complaint after complaint but is never one to put specific ideas on the table.
I have some small concerns about his ability to operate a calculator. Arithmetic he does well with. Short-term funds manipulation, too. I have serious concerns about his long-term mathematical calculations.
In the past I’ve called Pawlenty a hero for pushing through a balanced budget and doing what it took to move beyond impasse.
In praising Pawlenty I wrote: “Governor Pawlenty’s move will cause pain but it should also be lauded for tough love leadership.”
My problem with that tough love leadership is that he eventually followed the dogmatic path on taxes. His cuts to funding sources has left Minnesota with a gargantuan deficit of some $18+ billion … whereas before he fixed his state’s budget the deficit was only $1.2 billion.
A fact: Pawlenty did leave office as governor with a surplus of $668 million in the bank — but much of that is from hacking and slashing state services and just plain not spending collected taxes while pushing spending into the future.
Minnesota has a two year budget cycle. The 2012 budget is Pawlenty’s budget, even though he is not now governor.
Minnesota’s 2012 budget has soared to the #4 spot as the most red ink among all state budgets.
As the Wall Street Journal notes below, Pawlenty has a bit of a cloud over his head when he talks about fiscal responsibility and how his plan can cut taxes yet grow the economy at so fast a pace that money magically appears in the treasury coffers. It didn’t happen in Minnesota. It is doubtful that it would happen across the USA.
The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), an extremely friendly news outlet for Pawlenty, writes:
“… the red ink may prove problematic for a former governor running as a fiscal conservative willing to level with Americans about the tough choices needed to bring the federal deficit under control.”
How much red ink? Last year he had a $1.2 billion deficit before he pushed through some major changes. Some of the changes were to play shellgames by moving expenses into the future for repayment even though they were ‘due now’. How much red ink? $18.8 billion dollars is the result of Pawlentian economics. Voodoo economics.
Pawlenty does have ideas — yet the bogey for his plans coming to fruition requires that the economy grow at 5% per year for almost 10 years. Has never happened.
Again, the otherwise friendly Wall Street Journal writes: “… the economy grew 4.9% on average between 1983 and 1987, and nearly 4.7% between 1996 and 1999. Yet such long booms are rare in developed economies and we can’t recall one that lasted 10 years.”
There are not even two years of 5% growth in our nation’s history.
Here is how Pawlenty plans to push through this dramatic change — just like in Minnesota:
“So I propose that Congress grant the President the temporary and emergency authority to freeze spending at current levels, and impound up to 5% of Federal spending until such time as the budget is balanced. If they won’t do it…I will. As an example, cutting even 1% of overall federal spending for six consecutive years would balance the federal budget by 2017.”
— from his June 7th speech outlining his Economic Plan
For now, let’s just say I’m intrigued by the many specific items outlined in his speech but believe that he is playing to the wishful thinking crowd that dominate the Republican Party today.
But could Pawlenty be worse that what we’ve got now with Obama and inherited from Bush 43?