For a two-term governor of a decent-size state who’s been running for president all but officially for about a year now, Tim Pawlenty has made surprisingly little noise in the GOP race so far.
That might be about to change.
In a speech Monday making his candidacy official, Pawlenty made clear that his early theme of “truth telling” applies to everyone — including the Iowa audience to whom he was speaking. From RadioIowa (which offers audio of the speech at the link):
Pawlenty called for “big time” cuts in federal spending, including an end to federal subsidies for corn-based ethanol fuel.
“The hard truth is there are no longer any sacred programs,” Pawlenty said. “The truth about federal energy subsidies — including federal subsidies for ethanol — is that they need to be phased out. We need to do it gradually. We need to do it fairly, but we need to do it.”
Pawlenty, as governor of Minnesota, reduced state subsidies for ethanol. According to Pawlenty, it’s time to do the same on the national level “on a much, much larger scale.”
“It can’t be done overnight. The industry has made large investments and it wouldn’t be fair to pull the rug out from under them immediately, but we must face the truth that if we want to invite more competition, more investment and more innovation in the industry, need to get the government out,” Pawlenty said, to applause.
Iowa produces nearly a third of the ethanol in the U.S. converting over a billion bushels of corn into more than 3.6 billion gallons of ethanol each year. Pawlenty presented his proposal to end ethanol subsidies as an example of his commitment to avoid making “fluffy promises of hope and change” and his pledge to outline a “new approach” to governing.
Telling the voters in the nation’s first 2012 primary state that he’d end their most fiercely guarded subsidies? That’s a kind of boldness that contrasts sharply with Newt Gingrich, to name one other GOP aspirant. Pawlenty framed his ethanol approach as part of a pledge to “tell the truth” to everyone:
That’s why later this week I’m going to New York City to tell Wall Street that if I’m elected, the era of bailouts, handouts and carve-outs will be over. No more subsidies, no more special treatment. No more Fannie and Freddie, no more TARP, and no more “too big to fail.”
Tomorrow, I’m going to Florida to tell both young people and seniors the truth — that our entitlement programs are on an unsustainable path and that inaction is no longer an option.
Our national debt, combined with Obamacare, have placed Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid in real peril. I’ll tell young people the truth that over time and for them only, we’re going to gradually raise their Social Security retirement age.
And I’ll also tell the truth to wealthy seniors that we will means-test Social Security’s annual cost-of-living adjustment.
This week I’ll also be in Washington, D.C., to remind the federal bureaucracy that government exists to serve its citizens, not its employees….
That means freezing federal salaries, transitioning federal employee benefits and downsizing the federal workforce as it retires. It means paying public employees for results, not just seniority — from the Capitol to the classroom and everywhere in between.
(via Jennifer Rubin at the Washington Post)
For months, I’ve heard members of Congress and other elected officials and politicos talk about how the American people are “ahead of us” in terms of being realistic about the nation’s finances and prepared to deal with it. That’s hard to say: On one hand, you have President Barack Obama, in particular, preaching a notion of “shared sacrifice” that always sounds crafted to make his audience believe someone else will bear a bit bigger share of the burden. On the other hand, you have a host of opinion polls suggesting many Americans believe the problem really does stem from what someone else is doing or getting or not having to pay. And no wonder: Politicians of both parties have been communicating that message, in one form or another, for years.
Pawlenty seems to be betting his candidacy on the idea that voters truly will buy into the idea of shared sacrifice — if it’s presented warts and all, without favoritism.
That’s what it’ll take to fix the problem. In about eight months, we’ll find out whether he’s just in time or ahead of his time.
– By Kyle Wingfield