Monday, February 1, 2010

Pawlenty? Paw-lease!

Ridiculous op-ed by Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty in Politico this morning. Entitled "Ponzi Scheme on the Potomac," Pawlenty spends an inordinate amount of time railing against the Democrats for raising the debt ceiling another $1.9 trillion. So what are his solutions to the problem? I'll give you one hint: he's a Republican.

Yeah, you got it! More tax cuts! No changes to health care except cross-state competition (already in both the House and Senate versions, by the way):
[I]n a report comparing the health care bills passed by House and Senate Democrats, the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service wrote: “Both bills would allow states to form compacts to facilitate the sale and purchase of health plans across state lines.”

He also proposes an amendment to the Constitution to balance the federal budget except in times of war, natural disaster or other emergency. Well, Bruce Bartlett has a field day with this proposal:
Pawlenty says not a word about how a balanced budget amendment would be enforced. Perhaps he assumes that public opinion will be sufficient, but the reality is that for such an amendment to be operational and not just a meaningless expression of intent then there has to be a point in the budgetary process where the federal courts can enjoin spending or force tax increases. This is obviously a very bad idea in principle, but it’s also impractical. For example, as a legal matter we would have no way of knowing that the budget was in fact unbalanced until the fiscal year had ended, but even a federal court can’t make people give back federal funds that have already been paid out for interest on the debt, Social Security and Medicare benefits, wages and salaries, payments for goods and services etc. Thus a balanced budget amendment of the sort Pawlenty proposes is effectively unenforceable.

Bartlett concludes, as does anyone on either side of the aisle with a thinking brain, that Pawlenty is not a serious contender for anything (other than a Fox News commentator, which takes no effort at all).

Until he can come up with something really workable as a solution and not just impractical, illogical, and ill-conceived talking points like this, Pawlenty will languish on the Republican scrap heap along with Bobby Jindal, John McCain, and Sarah Palin.

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