WASHINGTON — Tim Pawlenty today told Republicans in Congress to reject a spending deal for the rest of Fiscal 2011, due to be voted on Thursday, saying it doesn’t go nearly far enough to cut spending.
“The more we learn about the budget deal the worse it looks,” the presidential aspirant said. “When you consider that the federal deficit in February alone was over $222 billion, to have actual cuts less than the $38 billion originally advertised is just not serious.
“The fact that billions of dollars advertised as cuts were not scheduled to be spent in any case makes this budget wholly unacceptable. It’s no surprise that President Obama and Senator Reid forced this budget, but it should be rejected. America deserves better.”
Pawlenty’s position is well to the right of House Republican leaders, who hailed the measure after negotiations finished. In fact, on this point he has allied with Michele Bachmann (who opposes it because it doesn’t strip out health reform implementation funding) over Speaker John Boehner, whose deal Pawlenty blasted.
GOP leaders on the Hill pushed back, with Majority Leader Eric Cantor telling reporters that “Pawlenty and others are entitled to their opinion” but Republicans got the best deal they could. Republican leaders have said they don’t want to shut the government down, which is almost certainly what would happen in Republicans in Congress followed Pawlenty’s advice.
Asked to respond to Pawlenty, Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said “The Speaker has always honored President Reagan’s ‘11th commandment.’” That oft-quoted rule says basically that thou shalt not speak ill of thy fellow Republican.
A senior Republican staffer, responding to the substance of Pawlenty’s claims, said there’s actually $312 billion in spending cuts over the next 10 years. “While it’s true some of the cuts were previously proposed in the president’s budget, many of them were used there to offset new spending elsewhere. They aren’t used that way in the bill. They come straight off the baseline. They’re real cuts.”
Interestingly, in taking this hard line on cuts in the Fiscal 2011 budget, Pawlenty also breaks from the two representatives who have openly backed his presidential run, John Kline and Erik Paulsen. Both have supported the deal, and in fact earlier today Kline’s Education and the Workforce Committee sent out a memo listing six bullet points on how the “American people win” under the deal.
“The agreement is not only a victory for taxpayers concerned about the nation’s unsustainable spending and debt, it is a victory for all Americans who join us in the fight to repeal the government takeover of health care,” the memo read.
Pawlenty also blasted Obama’s speech on the deficit today, saying his address calling for tax increases for the rich alongside further cuts amounted to “nothing more than window dressing.”
“President Obama’s lack of seriousness on deficit reduction is crystal clear when you look at the budget deal he insisted on to avoid a government shutdown,” Pawlenty concluded.