Politics
Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty talks with reporters prior to a fundraising dinner Wednesday, May 18, 2011 in Minneapolis. Several hundred people gave up to $2,500 per person to attend what aides were calling his biggest fundraising event of the financial quarter. (AP Photo/Jim Mone) Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty talks with reporters prior to a fundraising dinner Wednesday, May 18, 2011 in Minneapolis. Several hundred people gave up to $2,500 per person to attend what aides were calling his biggest fundraising event of the financial quarter. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)  

Pawlenty econ plan gets praise from business community

Photo of Alexis Levinson
Alexis Levinson
Political Reporter

Pawlenty has received a steady flow of praise from the business community since releasing his economic plan, a “Better Deal” on Tuesday.

The latest to tip his hat to the former Minnesota governor is Jack Welch, the former CEO of GE.  Welch told Piers Morgan Wednesday evening that he was a fan of Pawlenty.

“If you asked me that a month ago, I would have said, well, Mitt Romney might be best guy, et cetera — the most obvious guy. But everything I see Tim Pawlenty say in the last month appeals to me,” he said.

“Now, he’s not the jazziest guy in town. He’s not the most exciting. But if you look at what he says and his vision for America and that plan he put out in the last 48 hours, every time I see him, whether it would be your show or somebody else, the guy makes sense.”

“This guy’s starting to intrigue the hell out of me,” Welch continued, and said he’s not the only one.

“I talked to some guy,” Welch said. “He said, I’m going to have to throw a fundraiser for him. I almost dropped dead. This guy would never support Tim Pawlenty in his life. He’s a Democrat. He’s going to have a fundraiser for him.”

“He likes what he says,” Welch explained. “There’s some buyer’s remorse on the Wall Street crowd over the Obama selection, whether you want to buy that or not. There is some buyer’s remorse.”

In an opinion column in the Wall Street Journal, Daniel Henninger also lauded Pawlenty’s speech, saying that it looked like “the real beginning of Tim Pawlenty’s candidacy,” and noting that it couldn’t have come at a more politically expedient time, in the wake of the May jobs report and just before Austan Goolsbee’s resignation.

“No wonder Tim Pawlenty is smiling,” Henninger wrote. “Amid a news cycle whose message is “nothing’s working,” Mr. Pawlenty delivered a major speech on economic policy whose title could have been: All the Things Barack Obama Has Not Tried to Do to Lift the Economy and Never Will.”

Henninger did not give blanket praise to Pawlenty’s policies, but said that politically, it was a successful speech.

“Whether Gov. Pawlenty’s prescriptions … are provable as solutions is politically beside the point at this moment. As substantive brand differentiation, the Pawlenty speech was a success,” Henninger wrote.

Economist Larry Kudlow also weighed in on Pawlenty’s plan in an interview with the former Minnesota governor. He called Pawlenty’s goal of “five percent growth a laudable, notable target,” and told the governor “You’ve got what I would call a blockbuster tax cutting growth plan.”

Kudlow questioned Pawlenty in depth about the lack of detail on the spending side of his plan, and asked him to respond to the fact that while he was a successful governor, he does not have any business experience. But he concluded by complimenting Pawlenty, telling him, “great speech today. Great stuff; powerful stuff.”

A Wall Street Journal editorial gave similar praise, saying that he has proposed “the most ambitious reform agenda so far” and that his economic program continues that trend.

The editorial board called his speech, which set a goal of 5 percent economic growth, “notable for its optimism, avoiding the austerity temptation that traps many Republicans.” Though they took Pawlenty to task for suggesting a balanced budget amendment, and acknowledge that he faces the challenge of placing his economic proposals “into a larger economic narrative,” they also said that Pawlenty had laid down the gauntlet for other Republican competitors.

“Now that Mr. Pawlenty has laid down his marker, what do his competitors have to offer?” the editorial concluded.

However, the WSJ editorial board did point out that the goal of 5 percent growth was perhaps a little more of a reach than Pawlenty would admit. In his speech, Pawlenty said that five percent growth was “not some pie in the sky number,” and a spokesman for Pawlenty told the Wall Street Journal that the goal was “realistic and attainable.” Though the editorial board acknowledged that he had his facts right about similar booms in the past, they wrote, “such long booms are rare in developed economies and we can’t recall one that lasted ten years.”

Nonetheless, they said, “The goal is still worthy as an aspiration.”

Pawlenty appears to have dialed back his rhetoric since then, as Reuters pointed out, calling 5 percent growth an “aspirational goal” in his interview with Kudlow on Thursday.

Not everyone has been so complimentary of Pawlenty’s program. Former deputy press secretary Bill Burton had less than kind comments for his economic plan.

“Tim Pawlenty who wants to double down on the economic policies that got us into this mess in the first place,” he said. “Tim Pawlenty’s economic plan, which can be boiled down to ‘let’s grow the economy at 5%.’ You think Goolsbee and Sperling are sitting around the White House like ‘oh, why didn’t we think of that.’ I mean it’s not pie in the sky, it’s a whole floating bakery. There’s no plan that goes with the idea that you can actually do that.”

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney indirectly attacked Pawlenty’s plan, saying, “with regards to 5 percent growth, we couldn’t agree more; that would be very beneficial to the economy. We think providing expansive tax cuts to the wealthy — which we did in the last term and added tremendously to our debt and resulted in this President inheriting a massive deficit and debt in 2009 — probably not the best approach.”

Pawlenty’s team responded in a statement that Obama’s team was lashing out, but not providing any solution.

“Obama’s economic team doesn’t have a plan, so their spokespeople attack ours. The idea that they don’t believe in the American people enough to say that we can grow the economy at 5% GDP really says everything. You have to wonder if in fact Obama’s grand plan is that we don’t grow at all — and if so — he and the central planners are doing a great job of that.”

  • rockon53

    Here we go again the Bush tax cuts didn’t do anything but help jobs in China and India please show me the jobs that have been created by the Bush tax cuts. How many times do we have to hear the same old story. When Reagan became president the top tax rate was 50% now it’s around 36% some cuts are going to be made some tax increases are going to be made and some reforms are going to have to be done. But the last thing we need is another tax cut story that only puts us further in debt and benefits a very few Americans.

  • LosingLiberty

    Pawlenty, why not propose a 10% GDP growth rate, hell the Chinese are doing it! Pawlenty has no plan, just hopes and rhetoric

    • krjohnson

      Yes, he does have a plan. See my post below. It’s Obama who does not have a plan. Literally. No plan. And he’s the President!

      • PhotoPro

        Actually, obamama does have a plan, the same tired “plan” he kept pushing for his presidential run, “HOPE AND CHANGE.” Note that he never said what he was hoping for, nor what he proposed to change. He has however rung in a lot of change, pushing the US closer to bankruptcy and socialism. He has also alienated much of the ME with his “foreign policy, which isn’t. We are about to be overrun with illegal aliens while the government sits on it’s thumbs except when the states try to remedy the situation and then the gov sues. The change I want to see now is a new president and I have high hopes of that taking place!

  • krjohnson

    Pawlenty’s economic plan is pretty good. Definitely worthy of consideration. There are two things that need to happen to get the economy on track: Targeted tax cuts, and significant spending cuts.

    Regarding tax cuts:

    He wants to scrap the income tax code and institute a three tiered system:
    -No tax on those who currently don’t pay taxes
    -10% tax on the first $50,000 for individuals or $100,000 for couples
    -25% tax on any income over that

    He would lower the corporate income tax rate from 35% (the highest in the world) to 15%.

    He would completely do away with the capital gains tax.

    I can’t find any fault with his tax cut plan. I don’t even know if it would result in a very large decline in revenue, since many of those reforms will spur growth to an unprecedented rate.

    On the equally, if not more important spending side:

    Pawlenty wants to completely eliminate the post office, the government printing office, Amtrak, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. He wants to phase out ethanol subsidies.

    He would cap and block grant all of medicaid to the states.

    He would raise the retirement age for Social Security, and perhaps use some kind of means testing.

    He would try to “slow” growth in defense spending.

    The only question I have is about Medicare. He claims he would change it from the current fee-for-service model to a “pay-for-performance” model. I have no idea what that means, or whether it will actually save us any money. Considering Medicare alone will bankrupt the country inside a decade or two, this is not a trivial question. Until that question is answered I cannot be sure that Pawlenty is serious about cutting spending.

    I have a lot of issues with Pawlenty on his social agenda and his foreign policy agenda, but his economics are right where they should be. Hopefully this gets a dialogue going. I’d love to see Romney and the other candidates put out detailed plan as well.

  • Bumpersticker

    I am a resident of Minnesota. I had a serious problem two years ago, so, out of desperation, I wrote to Governor Pawlenty asking for his aid in getting an investigation started.

    Tim Pawlenty saved the State 44 cents but not wasting a stamp to reply to me.
    If he doesn’t care about his citizens, he is no better than Obama. I would never waste my vote on Tim Pawlenty and I intend to tell anyone that will listen what I think about him.

    • onecitizen

      You failed because you expected government to help you.

      Stop expecting help from unreliable and distance sources.

  • loudog

    What happened to the mythical growth from the Bush tax cuts? Where’s the growth from the Bush tax cut extension for millionaires?
    Pawlenty’s answer for the debt and deficit = cut taxes more = Insanity.

    • benhad

      Well, loudog, they need to be permanent cuts so small business can have some confidence in future investment into their business, like hiring. “Temporary” just don’t get it.

      JFK didn’t have a problem with tax cuts and if I remember correctly, after he recommended permanent tax cuts, that were signed into law by Johnson in 1964, the economy boomed.

      “Lower rates of taxation will stimulate economic activity and so raise the levels of personal and corporate income as to yield within a few years an increased – not a reduced – flow of revenues to the federal government.”
      – John F. Kennedy, Jan. 17, 1963, annual budget message to the Congress, fiscal year 1964

      “In today’s economy, fiscal prudence and responsibility call for tax reduction even if it temporarily enlarges the federal deficit – why reducing taxes is the best way open to us to increase revenues.”
      – John F. Kennedy, Jan. 21, 1963, annual message to the Congress: “The Economic Report Of The President”

      “Our tax system still siphons out of the private economy too large a share of personal and business purchasing power and reduces the incentive for risk, investment and effort – thereby aborting our recoveries and stifling our national growth rate.”
      – John F. Kennedy, Jan. 24, 1963, message to Congress on tax reduction and reform, House Doc. 43, 88th Congress, 1st Session.

      • LosingLiberty

        Ah yes the Laffer curve… Funny how for Republicans we never seem to reach a level of taxation so low we that start to loose net revenue again. Apparently the Laffer curve doesnt apply to the Germans either who have significantly higher tax burdens and a higher growth rate. hmmm mysterious…

        • onecitizen

          So, why do you think higher taxes equal more prosperity? I see this argument made all the time, and it is completely BS. It’s made by angry people who are angry that somebody has more than them, and they want to taken it for their own.

  • GeniousIQ

    You can propose a 0% tax rate, but it doesn’t mean that that’s possible in reality.