Tim Pawlenty: More than just a ‘nice’ candidate

For a man who can pile up the adjectives, Republican presidential contender Tim Pawlenty has gotten stuck with a single descriptor: “Nice.”

So economic growth under President Barack Obama — Pawlenty told me this week during a fund-raising stop in Atlanta — has been “laggard, anemic, below-average, pathetic.” Medicaid must be changed from a “one-size-fits-all, top-down, government-centric” program. And next year’s election will be “historic and impactful and transformative.”

But Pawlenty? To many voters, he’s just “nice.” Or “Minnesota nice,” if they feel chatty.

Despite being one of the earliest announced candidates and a frequent guest on TV talk shows, plus a two-term governor of a not-inconsequential state, Pawlenty only recently broke the 50 percent mark in name recognition among GOP voters in Gallup’s tracking poll. And nearly one in five Republicans surveyed by Gallup still shrugged their shoulders when asked for their opinion of him.

Having spent half an hour with the man Tuesday, however, I don’t know how conservatives can listen to Pawlenty for long and not put him at or near the top of their list.

For one, Pawlenty’s economic and moral arguments for reforming federal taxes blend supply-side theory with the tea party’s anti-bailouts populism.

“It’s not just [about] reforming the tax code because we want to make the tax code flatter, simpler, fairer,” Pawlenty said of his pledge to eliminate tax subsidies and loopholes, which he likens to earmarks. “It also reduces cronyism.

“It’s also a type of government reform … the tax code is also littered with these special credits, exemptions, deductions, that can be manipulated to a certain extent by politicians to give a special deal to a special group.

“And pretty soon, the premium for companies is not to connect to consumers but to connect to their member of Congress, which is not a fair, transparent market approach.”

For another, Pawlenty manages to praise U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, the Wisconsin Republican who authored the House GOP’s long-term budget and entitlement-reform plan, while staking out somewhat different ground on Medicare and Social Security. And all without denigrating the plan (cough, cough, Newt Gingrich) as “right-wing social engineering.”

“We’ve got a country that’s in crisis, it is careening towards the cliff, and [Obama] refuses to do anything about it,” Pawlenty said. “He’s either unwilling, unable, doesn’t know what to do or lacks the courage to do it.

“So into the breach steps Congressman Ryan … and I applaud his effort. I did say that if my choice was to have the Obama plan, which is nothing, or the Ryan plan, I’d sign the Ryan plan. Now, that being said, we’re also going to have our own plan, which is going to have some differences … on entitlements.”

Among them: slowly raising the Social Security eligibility age for today’s younger Americans and eliminating cost-of-living adjustments for wealthy retirees as one of the “least bad choices” available. Details on age and income cutoffs TBA.

And, maybe the most important departure from the Ryan plan, on Medicare: The existing program would remain in place for all Americans, but it would have to compete with private plans on price and quality. Under Ryan’s plan, seniors would receive money to help them buy their own insurance.

Like all politicians — even proclaimed Washington outsiders — Pawlenty must avoid adopting a Beltway mentality. For example, he calls slowing the growth of Social Security payments a “benefit cut.”

But if you want someone who can beat Obama — and govern — on substance rather than style, you might find Pawlenty is more than “Mr. Nice Guy.”

NOTE: Check out the transcript of my entire interview with Pawlenty.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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46 comments Add your comment

Lil' Barry Bailout

June 30th, 2011
6:07 am

It would be refreshing to have a President who actually DOES THINGS to improve the economy and begin to repair our dangerous, unsustainable fiscal sitation, especially the Idiot Messiah’s annual $1.5 trillion deficits.

Joel Edge

June 30th, 2011
6:14 am

It’s going to difficult for Mr. Pawlenty to retain the nice if he becomes a frontrunner. So far he’s in my top three.

Tyler Durden

June 30th, 2011
6:19 am

Maybe Pawlenty is a “compassionate conservative”. You know, just like the lying sack of GOP who got us into the worst fiscal crisis in generations. The one who no one remembers because they’re too busy pretending Obama did all of this to the country.

Have a GREAT day!!!! :-)

ByteMe

June 30th, 2011
6:32 am

blend supply-side theory with the tea party’s anti-bailouts populism

Wow, supporting two things that are wrong in one phrase. Supply-side theory has already been debunked by history. And the bailouts — as badly administered as they were under Hank Paulson — appear to have worked better than tea party’s proposed alternative. Yep, I’m sure he’s just the right guy for the folks who ignore inconvenient facts.

Churchill's MOM.....Ron Paul for President

June 30th, 2011
6:34 am

“Little Timmy” Pawlenty is a coward, he talks tough behind Romney’s back but runs when forced to talk face to face on National TV. The last thing the GOP needs to face Obamna is a COWARD like “Little Timmy”

NoWay

June 30th, 2011
6:46 am

Until he manages to support equal rights for all Americans I will never support him. Yes, I am speaking about my right as a citizen to marry the person whom I have chosen to spend my life with.

Jack

June 30th, 2011
6:55 am

The contrast between sucessful business executive such as Pawlenty, Romney and Huntsman and “flakes” like Bachmann and Palin could not be more stark.

While these businessmen offer concrete business solutions focusing on spending and employment, what do Bachmann and Palin offer?

Bachmann thinks that eliminating cars for bureaucrats will do the trick. Palin? She is focused on why movie stars are so mean to her!!!

If you are looking for a candidate that can turn a clever, funny anti-Obama sound bite and is obsessed with social issues and is wildly popular with the very narrow radical base of the republican primary, then your candidate is Bachmann and Palin.

If you are looking for an experienced, successful business executive, then your candidate is Huntsman, Romney or Palwenty.

Of course, if you are looking for both a “flake” and a sucessfull businessman, vote Herman Cain!!

Ayn Rant

June 30th, 2011
6:55 am

Another Republican deploring the state of everything but having a solution to nothing. How would he improve economic growth? What changes would he make to Medicaid? Whose taxes would he reform?

“Flatter” tax is a tired Republican euphemism for lower taxes for the rich and the mega-corporations.

When will politicians and their electorate learn the difference between goals, action plans, and achievements?

Lib in Cobb

June 30th, 2011
7:02 am

Pawlenty visited GA, because he learned of a new surgical procedure being performed at Emory, a personality transplant.

@Lil Larry: Pawlenty left MN with a $5 billion deficit.

DeborahinAthens

June 30th, 2011
7:09 am

All the Republicans are under the spell of the Tea Party, manipulated by the large corporations that benefit mightily from our present tax code, and repeat over and over and over in their trance like voices,”notaxesnotaxesnotaxesnotaxes”. Any intelligent person can go to the Department of Labor website, look at job creation/job loss on a year by year basis. It is clear that Reagan VooDoo economics does not work. And certainly the job loss during Dubya reign is staggering. He cut taxes to the bone. Clinton raised taxes to the optimal tax rates, and guess what? The economy bloomed. Jobs in telecom, technology, biotech exploded because a lot of R&D was (gasp!!!) subsidized by the government. So now, we can keep doing the stupid thing over and over, or we can get the job done. Repugs, look at the FACTS–your way does not work. Dems need to bend on things–raise the normal retirement age for those born after 1970 to seventy. This cohort will live to age 95, so they will live a lifetime in retirement. That is a BIG problem that has to be addressed. Stop the SS tax withholding cap. Right now it it $106,000. Just take SS out of every collar earned. I don’t even notice when they stop taking SS out, and I imagine millionaires and billionaires will notice it even less. Repugs, stop the stupid no tax crap! The top five hedge fund managers earned over fifteen BILLION dollars in 2010 and most paid, at most, 15% capital gains tax. I am in the 33% tax bracket. Do you really think these guys “create jobs”? That is bul$#**!!! If Repugs believe in a “free market” stop subsidizing corporate farms that earn billions in profits. Stop subsidizing tobacco farming. Stop subsidiizing sugar. These things are killing us. So stop the hypocrisy! Stop listening to dingbats like Michele Bachmann. These nuts have a social agenda and will tell you idiots anything to get elected. The sad thing is, you listen. Pawlenty is a joke–he’s a little weak man that cannot do anything but spout the mantra.

pgs

June 30th, 2011
7:36 am

Kyle – nice piece, but from a fact checking perspective – did Pawlenty leave Minnesota with a $6B deficit? I am having trouble finding the facts around this claim.

twerpfield, k.

June 30th, 2011
7:38 am

twerp-n-chief…..

brad

June 30th, 2011
7:43 am

“Details TBA” = another bullsh*tter

Churchill's MOM.....Ron Paul for President

June 30th, 2011
7:52 am

Little Timmy did leave a $6,000.000,000+ deficit in Minn using smoke & mirrors. Here are the facts

“Minnesota’s budget is created on a biennium calendar, with Pawlenty’s last budget – which he signed in May 2010 (eight months before leaving office) – extending through June 2012.

Last December, Minnesota Public Radio reported that Pawlenty and the then-DFL-controlled legislature used federal stimulus money and delayed payments of nearly $2 billion to school districts to fill a deficit hole, resulting in a $399 million surplus. Now the projected budget deficit facing Minnesotans has gone up from $5.8 billion to $6.2 billion.

Taking office in January, Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton said he inherited a “horrendous fiscal mess” and poorly managed state agencies.

He and the GOP leaders of the legislature are currently in talks to avoid a government shutdown.

Pawlenty’s predecessor as governor, Arne Carlson – who has accused Pawlenty of dismantling the state government’s budgetary reform structure, including the very department whose report is cited as a means to get state spending under control – told the Minnesota Post that Pawlenty’s fiscal management practices amount to “shifts and gimmicks.”

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2011/06/14/earlyshow/main20070987.shtml

Churchill's MOM.....Ron Paul for President

June 30th, 2011
8:06 am

Here’s a bunch of facts about Little Timmy’s $6 Billion deficit from Media Matters. Wingboy looks like you have picked a real loser in “TPAW”

http://politicalcorrection.org/factcheck/201104270005

tiredofIT

June 30th, 2011
8:07 am

Why do the republicans have so many candidates when they all just parrots for the right-wing talking points? Why would the average working person support a party that is only concerned with the top 2% and multinational corporations? Where were all you fiscal Conservative’s when Bush’s spending was out of control? Who was it that increased the size of government which the Dept of Homeland Security ( thought you guys believed in small government ). “Homeland Security Is the Largest Federal Expansion in 50 Years” Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) November 26, 2002

BULLSEYE

June 30th, 2011
8:37 am

What would Rush do?

@@

June 30th, 2011
8:55 am

And nearly one in five Republicans surveyed by Gallup still shrugged their shoulders when asked for their opinion of him.

But how did/will independents respond?

Were I looking for a worthless celebrity, I’da voted for Obama.

Bart Abel

June 30th, 2011
9:06 am

RE: “So into the breach steps Congressman Ryan … and I applaud his effort. I did say that if my choice was to have the Obama plan, which is nothing,”

This is another example of Republicans creating their own reality. It’s one thing not to like Obama’s plan. It’s another to pretend it doesn’t exist.

Of course, Obama proposed a plan in his State of the Union, proposed a budget this year (as the president does every year) and proposed a long-term plan in a speech in which Republican whined that Obama had hurt their feelings.

Pawlenty goes on to say that we have a country in crisis that is careening off a cliff. That’s not even remotely true, unless of course, his Party decides not to raise the debt limit. In that case, yes, our country will be careening off a cliff.

Two more things. On social security, there’s no need to raise the retirement age or means test. Simply remove the payroll tax on social security taxes, and a trust fund that is already fully funded for a couple of decades becomes a trust fund that is funded for many more decades to come. Pawlenty’s idea that private insurance companies should be able to compete with Medicare might be a good one if private companies wanted to compete with Medicare. They don’t. Health insurance companies don’t want to cover old people…at least not at a price that most can afford…hence the need for Medicare.

ByteMe

June 30th, 2011
9:07 am

“We’ve got a country that’s in crisis, it is careening towards the cliff, and [Obama] refuses to do anything about it,” Pawlenty said. “He’s either unwilling, unable, doesn’t know what to do or lacks the courage to do it.

Only people I hear “refusing to do anything about it” are Republicans… unless it’s more tax cuts for those who don’t need it and service cuts to those who can least afford it.

Speaking of “courage to do it”, how about that Romney moment, Little Timmy?

[...] more here: Tim Pawlenty: More than just a ‘nice’ candidate – Atlanta Journal Constitution (bl… [...]

Bart Abel

June 30th, 2011
9:18 am

I don’t mean to goad Kyle here, but if the 6th District Court of Appeals had decided that the health care law was unconstitutional yesterday, I’m confident that he would instantly have reported and blogged about it. But when a CONSERVATIVE appeals court upheld the constitutionality of the law, the first appeals court to render a decision, we get silence. It’s as if it didn’t happen

Like this decision or not, this decision is news. And it seems to me that if one has been blogging about this issue consistently, then one should keep his readers up to date (especially after joking about being anxious to get a decision from the 11th Circuit yesterday)

It’s not just Kyle though. The media has buried the story. The public doesn’t follow the details of these developments, and Americans find important what the media tells them is important. So the public is left with the impression that the health care law is legally dubious and struggling badly in the courts because that’s what news organizations have told them to believe, despite the facts.

Name

June 30th, 2011
9:21 am

LBB, I’d just be happy to vote for someone who won’t get us into pointless, expensive wars and act like we’re the World Police like the last 7 or 8 idiots at 1600 Pennsylvania.

John

June 30th, 2011
9:45 am

Before embracing him, Kyle, you probably should do some research. Instead of listening to the talk, check out his walk. Minnesota state government is about to go into shutdown mode. From motherjones.com…”Although Tim Pawlenty talks a lot about fiscal responsibility, critics in Minnesota—including Arne Carlson, another former two-term Republican governor there—are framing the looming shutdown as the ultimate legacy of his governorship, which drew to a close in January. They accuse his administration of fuzzy accounting that gave the illusion of austerity while setting the state up for disaster.”

http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/06/tim-pawlenty-minnesota-budget-shutdown

Dearie

June 30th, 2011
9:52 am

Tyler Durden
6:19 am
“…just like the lying sack of GOP who got us into the worst fiscal crisis in generations. The one who no one remembers because they’re too busy pretending Obama did all of this to the country.”
Even if someone wanted to pretend that Obama’s predecessor did not contribute to the current fiscal problems, how could they when blaming him is hands down “the most popular sound bite of the last three years”. Share the blame President Obama, neither one of you can claim innocence.

Kyle Wingfield

June 30th, 2011
9:55 am

ByteMe: Supply-side theory has been around for a couple of hundred years. It can hardly be described as “debunked.”

brad: It’s summer 2011. If he hasn’t unveiled the details by the first primary/caucus, that might be a fair criticism.

Bart @ 9:06: You’re almost right — Obama had a plan in his SOTU…which he dropped for his 2012 budget plan…which got zero votes in the Senate after he gave his Paul Ryan-bashing speech…which the CBO says it can’t score because it doesn’t score speeches. So, it would be correct to say that Obama *talks* a lot about plans, but that doesn’t mean he has presented one with anything like the detail of the Ryan plan (or even that of the progressive caucus, which is DOA but of which I know you are fond).

And speaking of “creating your own reality”…there’s your 9:18. The fact is that AJC.com, like all the news websites I checked yesterday, had a story about that ruling near the top of the homepage pretty much all afternoon and into the evening; there’s still a link, a little further down, on the AJC.com homepage as I type this. But the other fact that’s relevant here is that an appeals court upholding a lower court’s ruling in a particular case that’s going to be overshadowed by others (the Virginia and Florida, et al. cases) when the issue winds up at the Supreme Court is just not an enormous story.

John

June 30th, 2011
10:10 am

“But the other fact that’s relevant here is that an appeals court upholding a lower court’s ruling in a particular case that’s going to be overshadowed by others (the Virginia and Florida, et al. cases) when the issue winds up at the Supreme Court is just not an enormous story.”

Funny Kyle, strange how is was enormous enough to make headline news for some time when states stated the challenge, that’s all Fox News or other right wing radio and bloggers carried. You yourself blogged about it several times. Same thing happened when the lower courts, especially in the Florida case, ruled it unconstitutional. Now the first appeals court ruled it constitutional, the media, especially on the right has been pretty quiet. Especially considering the fact that up to this point the judges who ruled it constitutional were appointed by Democrat presidents and those ruling against it were appointed by Republican presidents and now a judge appointed by a Republican president ruled in favor of the law.

Churchill's MOM.....Ron Paul for President

June 30th, 2011
10:20 am

Here’s some data from a link on the ABH that makes the Ryan budget look pretty bad, what do you think?

http://crooksandliars.com/jon-perr/10-inconvenient-truths-about-debt-ceiling

Kyle Wingfield

June 30th, 2011
10:30 am

As usual, John, in your hurry to criticize me, you missed the point and a few facts.

1. A ruling overturning a law is almost always bigger news than a ruling upholding a law. Ditto for an appellate court overturning versus upholding a lower court’s ruling. (Change vs. status quo)

2. When there are multiple challenges to a law, invariably some of them will be more important than other ones. The most important challenges to the health reform are, as I said, the Virginia and Florida, et al. cases. The case in the 6th Circuit was not one of the state challenges, contrary to your apparent assertion. I have written about those other cases, but again, contrary to your assertion, I’ve never written about this one.

3. Of course more was written when the challenges themselves were filed than now — the filing of the challenges was the beginning of the legal fight. Unless there is something novel in the rulings between then and the cases’ eventual resolution by the Supreme Court, there’s not a whole lot to say about them. The district court rulings had some novelty because they started to flesh out which legal arguments might succeed and which ones might not. But, by all accounts, there wasn’t anything novel in this ruling — which is exactly what one would expect when an appellate court upholds a lower court’s ruling (getting back to point No. 1).

Kyle Wingfield

June 30th, 2011
10:30 am

Now, back to Tim Pawlenty…

Mark Vitali

June 30th, 2011
10:56 am

@Kyle: Having a theory (supply-side economics) around for a couple hundred years doesn’t mean it hasn’t been debunked; in this case it means that there are people still intractable enough to believe in it despite its horrible record over those same years. Nice try, though.

Check these stats

June 30th, 2011
11:06 am

And after record tax breaks, how was economic growth under W? This tax cuts minus any regulations mantra is ridiculous!

yuzeyurbrane

June 30th, 2011
11:27 am

ByteMe

June 30th, 2011
11:29 am

Kyle,

Tuberculosis has been around for hundreds of years as well. Doesn’t make it a good thing. I put “supply-side economics” in the same “faith-based” arguments as “creationism”. It sounds really good, but doesn’t hold up in reality.

[...] my blog post based on this [...]

GTPHISH

June 30th, 2011
11:41 am

For a fat girl, NEWT does’nt sweat much…

On the other hand, that TPAW sure is a dork.

John

June 30th, 2011
12:28 pm

@Kyle Wingfield

“Now, back to Tim Pawlenty…”

My first post was about Pawlenty. I mentioned that maybe you should not just listen to his talk but look at his record. As I and others pointed out, Minnesota had a budget deficit of $5.8 billion when he became Governor and when he left is was $6.2 billion. Even another 2 term Republican ex-governor criticized his economic policy. Minnesota is about to shut down their government. Of course, you haven’t addressed his record…only the conversation you had with him. Get past his words and look at his record, then maybe you’ll see “how conservatives can listen to Pawlenty for long and not put him at or near the top of their list.”

MrLiberty

June 30th, 2011
12:45 pm

He’s anything BUT nice. Just another war-mongering neocon hell-bent on waging war against the planet to the benefit of the military industrial complex and his twisted view of humanity and the world.

fair and imbalanced

June 30th, 2011
12:49 pm

The proud party of David Dukes!

Rafe Hollister

June 30th, 2011
1:17 pm

Pawlenty would be a great president if the comparison was to our current commander in chief, Barry. However, it continues to amaze me how low his poll numbers are. He is running in Rick Santorium’s range, 2-3% in the last polls I saw. He and Rick should save their money and get out now, there is no way they can turn this around, as there are too many above them.

pete

June 30th, 2011
1:50 pm

Pawlenty is worlds better that Bachman, Palin, Santorum, and Gingrich. However, he may not be crazy enough to have a chance at the nomination with the right wing fringe now calling the shots in the GOP.

Realist

June 30th, 2011
2:04 pm

DeborahinAthens *

June 30th, 2011
7:09 am

*See “Hack”.

Realist

June 30th, 2011
2:05 pm

fair and imbalanced

June 30th, 2011
12:49 pm

The proud party of Robert KKK Byrd.

Mr. Dithers

June 30th, 2011
3:26 pm

In case you missed it, the Minnesota state government is in financial crisis as we speak (write? blog?) and is in danger of closing its doors tomorrow. They are unable to close the $5B budget shortfall. What say ye to that, K. Wingfield? This is Tim Pawlenty’s legacy to his home state. Well, Mr. Not Just a Nice Candidate.

Mr. Dithers

June 30th, 2011
3:31 pm

Last line should have been Well done,… sorry.

[...] to be director of the CIA, would be on his short list for a running mate. Pawlenty (who was in Atlanta this week for a fund raiser) responded, “Well, he’d be on the short list for a lot of [...]