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.”