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Pawlenty: The next Hoover?

Gov. Tim Pawlenty, barely coy about his 2012 presidential aspirations, penned a Politico op-ed yesterday ("Cut up the credit card") advocating a federal balanced budget amendment.

I sort of glossed over the piece when I read it, figuring it was just another reflexive tick on a GOP hopeful's policy checklist.

But this morning, Steve Benen at Washington Monthly ripped the guv a new one, calling Pawlenty's handiwork "blisteringly stupid," "an insane policy prescription" and "right up there among the most ridiculous pieces I've seen in a long while." And oh yeah; TPaw "has a child-like understanding of economic basics."

Insults aside, here's the nub of Benen's argument:

Trying to balance the budget in the midst of a financial crisis is the exact opposite of what every sane person realizes we need — a government stimulus to help spur the economy. Why would Pawlenty recommend slashing hundreds of billions of dollars in government spending right now? ... This piece suggests Pawlenty looked back at the Great Depression, and became convinced that Hoover was right.

To quote any more would deny Benen some clicks, which I don't want to do. But there's also a tasty section mocking Pawlenty's likening of government budgets to family budgets.

To be fair, Pawlenty's budget-balancing proposal allows "a limited exemption if supported by a supermajority vote by Congress." Which makes me wonder: Minnesota's Constitution requires balanced budgets but has no supermajority exception; would Pawlenty support giving us one here?

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Comments (5)

The Governor may find being on the short list of Beltway pundents' "rising new stars of the GOP" list has its drawbacks.

I couple of years ago, no one in Washington would care what Pawlenty thought of the economy.

More than just a few budget analysts (see Gregg Easterbrook) have pointed out that the Federal budget WOULD be balanced if it didn't have all the transfers to the states, and State budgets would be way out of balance if they didn't have all that federal money. Its convenient for governors to complain about the Washington money machine, but that's what keeps them afloat.

Who paid for that nice high-bid bridge, after all?

"...it was just another reflexive tick on a GOP hopeful's policy checklist."

You mean like making a trade mission to Israel at taxpayers' expense when the State's in the middle of a budget catastrophe?

And the federal budget would be balanced if George Bush hadn't cut taxes for the wealthy and therefore created annual revenue shortfalls approximately equal to each year's budget deficit.

Add the billions (trillions by the time we're done?) spent on an unnecessary war of choice and the destruction to our manufacturing base created by making it so VERY profitable for companies to move their operations to other countries without worker or environmental protection laws.

Add the billions spent on contractors in Iraq and at home instead of hiring government employees at significantly lower costs.

Add the billions lost to the administration's deregulators and financial giants who built and lost false fortunes by taking advantage of the opportunity to operate without oversight.

The far right so ably represented by Pawlenty has absolutely no idea what "fiscal responsibility" means. Or "the common good" for that matter.

Never underestimate the power of personality on the voter. T-Paw has a charm that can't be denied; that he lacks the basics of knowledge and the necessary concern for "the little guy" means little to those who "vote for the person" regardless of his/her knowledge or compassion. How do you think such a weak person -- in capacity to govern wisely -- got this far?