Tim Pawlenty unveiled his budget proposal today and as MSNBC's Cenk Uygur pointed out here, "it's got a lot of rainbows and unicorns" and is little more than already discredited Voodoo economics and more tax cuts for giant corporations.
The Washington Monthly's Steve Benen was just as critical -- The ignominy of Pawlenty's paltry pitch:
Republican presidential hopeful Tim Pawlenty realizes the economy is the most pressing issue on the minds of voters, so today the Minnesotan presented his economic vision at the University of Chicago. Pawlenty is calling it his “Better Deal.”
If the goal was to position Pawlenty as a serious, credible candidate who knows something about economic policy, the speech was an ignominious failure.
Pawlenty’s pitch was so weak, it’s startling his campaign staff and speechwriters even let him deliver it. As the former governor (and former moderate) sees it, he can usher in an era of 5% growth through “a breathtaking series of tax cuts,” including a massive reduction in the corporate tax rate and the total elimination of taxes on capital gains, dividends, and estates.
How would Pawlenty pay for all of this? By capping federal spending at 18% of GDP — a target that makes the right-wing House Republican budget plan look fairly moderate by comparison.
Don’t worry, Pawlenty says. His enormous tax breaks for the wealthy and corporations will be so great, they’ll produce enormous wealth that will make all of our problems go away. To help prove his point, Pawlenty points to the economic successes of the 1980s and 1990s — apparently unaware of the fact that he was citing years that followed tax increases.
After scrutinizing some of Pawlenty’s more outlandish projections, Ezra Klein concluded:
This plan isn’t optimistic. It isn’t a bit vague. It’s a joke. And I don’t know which is worse: The thought that Pawlenty knows that and went forward with this pandering, fantasy-based proposal anyway, or the thought that he doesn’t know it, and he really thinks this could work.
And as Steve pointed out, Pawlenty is supposedly one of the "grown ups" or the candidates we're supposed to take seriously as having an actual chance of winning the GOP nomination.
Think Progress also has more on Pawlenty's claim that a 5 percent growth rate sustained over a ten year period has been “done before" -- Fuzzy Math: Blasting Obama, Pawlenty Falsely Claims A Decade Of 5% Growth Has Been ‘Done Before’.
Transcript of Cenk below the fold.
UYGUR: In our Con-Job of the day we have Tim Pawlenty's comical new budget proposal. Pawlenty unveiled his economic plan for America today and it's got a lot of rainbows and unicorns.
PAWLENTY: Let's grow the economy by 5% instead of the anemic 2% currently envisioned.
UYGUR: Wow, 5% growth sounds great. I wish we could get that. And even better Pawlenty's calling for this level of growth over a ten year period. Fantastic! Can I get a pony with that? But why in the world would you think this is remotely doable Tim?
PAWLENTY: We've done it before and with the right policies, we can do it again. Between 1983 and 1987, the Reagan recovery grew at 4.9%. And between 1996 and 1999 under President Bill Clinton and a Republican Congress, the economy grew at more than 4.7%.
UYGUR: So let's get this right. You're saying that because during two of the fastest growth periods in modern history, the economy grew at a rate of less than 5% for a few years, it's possible to grow the economy at a higher rate, for an entire decade. Well that sounds absurd, but hey, I'm willing to listen. How would you do it?
PAWLENTY: We should start by overhauling the tax code. […] We should cut the business tax rate by more than half. I propose reducing the current rate from 35% to 15%.
UYGUR: Of course! […] Of course it's giant tax cuts for corporate America. That's always the Republican answer. Look, we just showed you in the last segment how huge tax cuts have totally hurt our economy, not helped.
Besides which, taxes are lower now than they were at any time under Clinton or Reagan. So if low taxes were the magic answer, why aren't they creating such great economic growth now? None of this comes close to adding up. In fact Ezra Klein from the Washington Post who wrote a great analysis of this plan today called Pawlenty's plan a “joke.”
And you shouldn't be surprised. Pawlenty loves to brag about how he balanced the budget in Minnesota when he was governor, but his short term fixes left the state with what is now the fourth largest deficit in the country.
Pawlenty may try to sell himself as the great fiscal “truth teller” but what he's really selling is tired old, Voodoo economics and that's our Con-Job of the day.