More irresponsible talk out of one of our likely Republican presidential candidates.
Former Governor and likely GOP 2012 presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty (MN), however, readily prescribed this economic kamikaze mission to the GOP today on Fox News Sunday. Pawlenty, whose failure to sign a state budget in 2005 forced 9,000 state employees to stop pubic services for nine days, told host Chris Wallace that GOP lawmakers “should not raise the debt ceiling” and should “take it one step further” by somehow “sequencing the pain of the bill” to prevent default [...]
While Pawlenty heralds his 2005 shutdown as a way to force reduced spending, Wallace pointed out that he only ended the shutdown because he “blinked” by raising taxes, specifically a tax on cigarette packs which Pawlenty preferred to call “a health impact fee.” Admitting to the tax hike, Pawlenty said his tenure was still “transformational” in reforming spending and believes he “should’ve let the shutdown run longer” to secure more of his agenda. An agenda, Wallace notes, that will leave the state’s deficit even further in the hole.
Despite the devastating effect Pawlenty’s advice would have, at least 11 Republican lawmakers are signing on to freeze the debt limit and at least seven are prepared to shutdown the government to do so. Still, a slew of others are readily threatening to vote against the debt ceiling unless specific, often regressive cuts are made. Joining Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Graham, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) reiterated that stance today on NBC’s Meet The Press. Insisting that the U.S. credit rating is threatened more by debt than by default, Coburn said he will not vote to raise the debt ceiling unless spending cuts are made.
Transcript via Lexis Nexis below the fold.
WALLACE: Joining us now to discuss his political future is the former Republican governor of Minnesota, likely presidential candidate, and author of a new book, "Courage to Stand." Tim Pawlenty. And Governor, welcome back to Fox News Sunday.
PAWLENTY: Great to be with you, Chris.
WALLACE: Back in 2005, you allowed the government of Minnesota to shut down for nine days because of a disagreement with the Democratic legislature about taxes and spending.
WALLACE: Should congressional Republicans take the same tough stance when it comes to raising the debt limit and federal spending?
PAWLENTY: Well, what I've learned, Chris, after eight years of doing in a very liberal place -- I love my state, but it's liberal in terms of spending and government -- is you've got to draw some lines in the sands.
Chris Christie was just talking about it here a minute ago. It doesn't mean you always have to go do -- you know, have ultimate battle, but you've got to be willing to stand up to a culture, to a history, to a pattern -- in this case, 21 percent spending in my state for 40 years -- and say we're not doing that anymore. And I'm glad we had that showdown in Minnesota.
And as to the federal government, they should not raise the debt ceiling. I believe they should pass legislation, allow them to sequence the spending as the revenues come in to make sure they don't default, and then have the debate about what other spending can be reduced.
WALLACE: But you would say to the Republicans up in that building behind me do not raise the debt limit?
PAWLENTY: That's right. And, in fact, to avoid the default, I would take it one step further, send the president a piece of legislation that authorizes the federal government to sequence the pain of its bills so that we don't default on the debt obligation and then have the debate about how we reduce the other spending.
WALLACE: OK. I want to go back to 2005, though, because this is your -- your time in the crucible, if you will. Back then, you ended the shutdown by agreeing to a 75-cent per pack cigarette tax. You called it a -- a health impact fee. Governor, didn't you blink?
PAWLENTY: Well, if you look at what I've done in Minnesota, all this stuff that the country's talking about, that the Republican --
WALLACE: No, but I'm asking you about that specific stuff.
PAWLENTY: Well, we had a compromise, and I picked the one that -- one thing that was least harmful to economic growth of the options that we had in front of with us a Democrat legislature. You know, I never had a Republican legislature in my state.
And so, yes, we had a 75 percent -- a 75-cent pack increase on cigarette fees. But you look at my record overall, it was transformational in terms of reducing spending, reducing taxes, performance pay for teachers, not just talking about the other cuts for example and pension reform but actually doing it, the leading example in the country on the reforming public employee pensions and much more.
WALLACE: Well, let me -- let me pick up on that because the fact is, you -- I mean, I've looked at your record. You were a budget hawk. As governor, you reduced the annual increase in spending from 21 percent a year to two percent a year. You issued 299 vetoes.
But, as you left office this year, your successor as governor of Minnesota faced a $6 billion deficit, which is a third more than you inherited.
PAWLENTY: Well, a couple of things. Forty-eight or 49 of the 50 states have an upcoming deficit, so this is not unique to Minnesota. And, number two, that deficit, projected for the upcoming two years, Chris, assumes a 27 percent increase in state spending. That is preposterous. It is irresponsible. It is reckless.
And so, I don't buy the notion, the premise underneath that that spending should or can go up 27 percent.
WALLACE: But -- but, I mean, is it -- what does it say about it, that you were -- went all out to try to cut spending, issued the vetoes and the deficit -- I mean, you can talk about the projections, but it certainly hasn't gone down, and may go up.
PAWLENTY: Well, what it does say is in Minnesota and many other states, you got to have a budgeting process that doesn't have spending on autopilot. So that's why we have the deficit in our state, there's a bunch of spending that's on autopilot. That autopilot feature has to be shut off, and the idea that they're going to have a 27 percent increase in state spending, I would say, is a flawed premise to begin with. And that's why we called for budgeting reform in our state as well.
But I want to leave you with this point, or make this point. All of the things that the country is facing that -- that you talk about on this show and many others, on spending, on taxes, on pensions, on school reform, we did in Minnesota.
There's only four governors in the country that got an "A" from the tough grading Cato Institute, and I'm one of them. I'm the only one in the north half of the country, by the way.