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Tim Pawlenty on Budget & Economy

Republican MN Governor


I'll offer a prize to anyone who can find Obama's plan

Q: You say your economic plan with tax cuts and spending caps would grow the economy by an average rate of 5% a year for 10 years. With the last two quarters averaging less than 1% growth--is your proposal just pie in the sky?

A: Well, the US needs a growth target, and it needs to be an aggressive and bold growth target. I don't want the US' growth target to be anemic or lag like Barack Obama's. So, is the bar high? Yes. But do we need that growth to get out of this hole? You bet. But, there's anothe question here. Where is Barack Obama on these issues? You can't find his plans on some of the most pressing financial issues of our country. For example, where is Obama's plan on Social Security reform, Medicare reform, Medicaid reform? In fact, I'll offer a prize tonight to anybody in this auditorium or anyone watching on television: if you can find Obama's specific plan on any of those items, I will come to your house and cook you dinner. Or, if you prefer, I'll come to your house and mow your lawn

Source: Iowa Straw Poll 2011 GOP debate in Ames Iowa , Aug 11, 2011

Obama is a declinist; I optimistically propose 5% growth

Q: [To Santorum]: Gov. Pawlenty laid out an economic plan in which he said you could grow the economy 5% a year. Is that too optimistic?

SANTORUM: I think we need a president who's optimistic, who has a pro-growth agenda. I'm not going to comment on 5% or 4%. What we need is an economy that's unshackled.

Q: [to Pawlenty]: Where's the proof that just cutting taxes will create jobs & grow the economy at 5%?

PAWLENTY: My plan involves a whole plan, not just cutting taxes. We're proposing to cut taxes, reduce regulation, speed up this pace of government, and to make sure that we have a pro-growth agenda. This president is a declinist. He views America as one of equals around the world. We're not the same as Portugal; we're not the same as Argentina. And this idea that we can't have 5% growth in America is hogwash. It's a defeatist attitude. If China can have 5% growth and Brazil can have 5% growth, then the US can have 5% growth. I don't accept this notion that we're going to be average or anemic.

Source: 2011 GOP primary debate in Manchester NH , Jun 13, 2011

I left MN with a balanced budget, not a $6B deficit

Q: You like to say in Minnesota you balanced the budget without raising taxes. The National Conference of State Legislatures say that you used a lot of one-time fixes, such as taking $2 billion from the Obama stimulus plan, and borrowing billions from local school districts. The bottom line is you left your state with a projected deficit of $6 billion.

A: Every budget during my time as governor was balanced. So, this idea that I left a deficit in Minnesota is not accurate. This two-year budget cycle ends in the black this summer. The two years after that is a projection, based on preposterous assumptions.

Q: But people talk about a projected deficit is because of $4 billion in borrowing you took from local school districts, which the state has to pay back.

A: Actually the deferral of those payments to schools was something I wanted to make permanent, but the legislature refused. They chose to do it one time. In this session, it looks like they are going to make them permanent.

Source: 2011 GOP primary debate in South Carolina , May 5, 2011

Refused to raise taxes to force fiscal responsibility

Minnesota budget forecasts are put together twice a year--in February and November. The February forecast had predicted a $2 billion deficit. [By November] the projected deficit had ballooned to nearly $4.6 billion. The entire Minnesota state budget back then was around $28 billion. We were overextended by about 17%.

[I felt] frustration, but leadership takes optimism. Not blind optimism. Informed optimism. I quickly began a whole new train of thought. "This isn't disaster; it's an opportunity, becaus it's going to force change. Positive change. Change that will finally--finally!--force state government to accept some fiscal responsibility".

Forcing fiscal responsibility on a government that had been overspending for forty years wouldn't be easy, of course, even in the face of financial disaster. I knew I had a powerful weapon in my arsenal. I had a platform that I had just successfully stood upon to win the election. A key plank in that platform was that I absolutely refused to raise taxes.

Source: Courage to Stand, by Gov. Tim Pawlenty, p. 6-9 , Jan 11, 2011

Bottom gets handout; top gets bailout; rest get wallet out

The President ceaselessly--and gracelessly--blames George W. Bush for running the country into a ditch, but he himself is now driving it off a cliff. Unfortunately for all of us, the current administration and Democrat-controlled Congress have led us further down the road of the socialist, liberal agenda than at any time in the history of this country. Listening to the debate in Washington, a pattern seems to be emerging: folks at the bottom of our economy get a handout, folds at the top get a bailout, and the rest of us get our wallets out. The average person is being squeezed from every direction, and the liberals in Washington appear out of answers. Probably because they never had them to begin with.
Source: Courage to Stand, by Gov. Tim Pawlenty, p.268 , Jan 11, 2011

Vetoed 123 spending bills as governor

Contrary to liberal rhetoric, spending cuts are not impossible. Take Minnesota, for example. From 1960 to 2002, state spending increased by an average of 21% every two years. I lowered the average growth of annual spending, and balanced the budget withou raising taxes. In 2009, we cut state spending in real terms for the first time in 150 years. It wasn't easy; in fact, I used my veto pen 123 times to cut spending and limit government growth and waste. When the legislature sent me a bill in 2009 calling for $1 billion in tax increases to balance the budget, I vetoed it and made $2.7 billion of spending unallotments instead. It can be done. In reality, my administration just did what any family would do. We determined what we could NOT cut, then cut just about everything else. Washington must do the same. We cannot sacrifice our national security, and we must keep the promises we have made to our veterans & seniors. But nearly everything else must be on the table.
Source: Courage to Stand, by Gov. Tim Pawlenty, p.272 , Jan 11, 2011

Simply wrong for government to spend large surpluses

[The Federal government had a budget surplus in 2000 when Pawlenty wrote]: "The debate regarding tax cuts is a proxy for the role of government in people's lives. Cutting taxes is perhaps the best way to gain control over a federal government that has become a behemoth. It is simply wrong for governments to collect & spend large surpluses when we are already seriously overtaxed & when the rate of government spending growth has been frightening." Pawlenty called for a sweeping, 10% cut in income taxes.
Source: Sam's Club Republican, by J.A. McClure, p. 17-18 , May 10, 2010

Nationalizing banking, health, & autos is wrong direction

Pawlenty criticized President Obama in January 2009 for his "runaway spending": "It's unsustainable, it's irresponsible, it's reckless. It has to be reined in federally like we've done in Minnesota." He also criticized the Bush-Obama administrations for further extending government into the private sector: "We are watching the total or partial nationalization of mortgage, banking, autos, soon to be health and energy. That is the absolute wrong direction for the country. It's not going to work."
Source: Sam's Club Republican, by J.A. McClure, p. 55 , May 10, 2010

Post 9-11-01: we face a "big honkin' budget deficit"

Only a week after the race began, the political landscape was dramatically changed by the attacks of September 11. Pawlenty cancelled events for weeks afterward, as any politicking would have appeared in poor taste. "People's sense of what's important has changed. Most of what was interesting or noteworthy in August is off the list," he said. The attacks also meant Minnesota suddenly faced a very different budget from the one Pawlenty had enjoyed while in the House. The economy slowed, and the state faced a $2 billion deficit--as Pawlenty termed it, a "big honkin' budget deficit." Nonetheless, he refused to move from his anti-tax stance. When Governor Ventura proposed a series of taxes to adjust for the deficit, Pawlenty attacked the "Jesse taxes" as harming "Jane and Joe Six Pack."
Source: Sam's Club Republican, by J.A. McClure, p. 24-25 , May 10, 2010

Expand statewide foreclosure counseling workshops

Governor Tim Pawlenty today announced additional tools to provide Minnesota homeowners with help to prevent foreclosure “With additional help, the American dream of home ownership can be kept alive for more families facing foreclosure,” Governor Pawlenty said. “Foreclosures continue to hit families and our state’s economy hard. We are hopeful that connecting more homeowners with counselors and providing a neutral third-party in some cases will help keep more homeowners in their homes, without negatively impacting the availability of credit in Minnesota.“ Actions announced by Governor Pawlenty today include:
Source: Press release, “Assist Homeowners Facing Foreclosure” , Apr 14, 2008

Other candidates on Budget & Economy: Tim Pawlenty on other issues:
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Page last updated: Feb 23, 2012