Obama budget prompts Pawlenty criticism — then more harsh words

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The president’s budget was unveiled this morning to the sound of, well, reading. It’s 2,450 pages of technical language, charts, graphs, tables and sums – a ten-pound behemoth that takes most congressional offices days to finish reading.

Strictly speaking, Minnesota’s role in formally crafting the Fiscal 2011 budget will be somewhat limited. Of the eight representatives and two senators, just one — Rep. Betty McCollum — sits on an appropriations committee.

But anyone expecting lawmakers from ours or any state to sit quietly during debate on the furthest-reaching bill Congress will consider this year, well, they have another thing coming.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty was first out of the gate this morning, with an op-ed in POLITICO charging that the federal government “is running the largest Ponzi scheme our country has ever seen” because it “continues to spend and promise far more than can ever be paid for by current and future revenues.”

“We need to admit our addiction to the illusion of government ‘free stuff’ and demand that spending be cut in almost all areas,” Pawlenty wrote, echoing his earlier calls to cut federal discretionary spending not related to defense, public safety or veterans.
Pawlenty called for a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget that exempts just war, natural disasters and other emergencies. He would also give the president line-item veto powers, an action that also would likely require a constitutional amendment, given that the Supreme Court ruled the federal line-item veto unconstitutional in 1998.

Forbes.com columnist Bruce Bartlett had harsh words for Pawlenty’s prescription, writing on the well-read blog CapitalGainsandGames that Minnesota’s governor had penned “a grossly ill-informed article in which he rants about the deficit without proposing any spending cuts and insisting on still more tax cuts.

“It’s doubtful that Mr. Pawlenty has any clue as to the composition of federal spending,” Bartlett wrote. “In FY 2009 we would have had to abolish every discretionary spending program, including national defense, to balance the budget and that still wouldn’t have been enough without a penny of higher revenues, as he insists. We would have had to cut more than $300 billion out of Medicare and Social Security as well. Good luck with that.”

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Comments (3)

  1. Submitted by Tommy Johnson on 02/01/2010 - 10:48 am.

    We would have had to cut more than $300 billion out of Medicare and Social Security as well. Good luck with that.”

    Well, based on this comment by Pawlenty way back when, it’s easy to imagine that’s EXACTLY what Pawlenty would try to do:

    “Children who are victims of failed personal responsibility are not my problem, nor are they the problem for our government.” — Majority Leader Tim Pawlenty, April 2001 – as quoted in the Aitkin Independent Newspaper

  2. Submitted by Dean Carlson on 02/01/2010 - 01:56 pm.

    I’m shocked, shocked that Governor Pawlenty would present budget ideas that are full of gimmicks and more aimed toward gaining headlines than solving actual budget problems.

    Tommy Johnson: Medicare and Social Security means $$$ for Seniors. I agree with Bartlett, good luck with that.

  3. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 02/01/2010 - 07:44 pm.

    Every time Tim Pawlenty speaks from now on, writers like Mr. Bartlett will take note and will inform the public of the terrible damage someone like him could do at the federal level. We’ve seen in Minnesota what his over-reaching use of unallotment can do to people. Just imagine him taking that (ill-gotten/mis-used) power to Washington.

    Thanks, Mr. Bartlett.

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