Pawlenty supports Christie pension reform

Alexis Levinson Political Reporter
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Tim Pawlenty came out in support of Gov. Chris Christie’s pension reform plan that passed today, saying that public employee unions get a better deal than the taxpayers, and suggested that as a result, this issue now had bipartisan support.

“My hat is off to my good friend, Governor Christie,” Pawlenty said. “He has done a remarkable job and this is the right direction for this issue, and this state.”

Pawlenty said he had first hand knowledge of the way unions work, which gave him a better understanding of the politics.

“I have unique credibility in this area, coming from a union family, with Reagan Democrats. My dad was a teamster truck driver, and I was in a union for six or seven years. So I know the issues, and I have lived them personally and grew up in a meat-packing town,” Pawlenty said.

“And they are out of control. They are part of the reason we are going overboard … The truth is the unions are getting a better deal than the taxpayers, and they are part of the reason why government is going bankrupt, and we have to fix them and that takes strength, courage and truth. And I delivered it in Minnesota and I am glad Governor Christie is delivering it in New Jersey.

Pawlenty said that pushing through this type of legislation didn’t spell political death for anyone who voted for it. (Pawlenty attacked by activists with glittery confetti in San Francisco)

“I had a government shut down – the first in 150 years in my state – over tax-and-spending issues in 2005, and many in the pundit class said, ‘Pawlenty is done, his career is over.’ And the next year I was reelected in 2006 in the most difficult environments for Republicans in the modern history of the country, in a very blue state, and more liberal than New Jersey and perhaps one of the most liberal states in the country. So the declaration that the unions or liberal interests take out the Republicans, why buy that because the public is on our side now on the issues.”

Pawlenty also noted that there was a difference between public employee unions and private unions. He noted that most public employee union members are Democrats, in part at least because “they have had a sweetheart deal for a long time.”

“We will never win over the public employee unions, but those private sector employees, the unions that do not get a good deal, who are unemployed, who see their brothers and sisters in the public sector get a better deal – many are open to Republican arguments and we did not have to do better overnight but over time we have a good chance to demonstrate our case and why a growing economy is good for them,” Pawlenty added.