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Pawlenty: The next Hoover?

Washington Monthly writer says the guv’s balanced budget proposal indicates “a child-like understanding of economic basics.”
By David Brauer

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:

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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?