Pawlenty will release own budget plan, including changes to Medicare, Social Security

WASHINGTON — Tim Pawlenty will release his own budget plan, and will include changes to entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare, he told Nevada reporter Jon Ralston in a very lengthy TV interview released today.

For those at work or without much time, here are the highlights. A link to the whole interview, which is worth watching in its entirety, is at the bottom of this post.

  • Ralston asked Pawlenty if he’d back Paul Ryan’s budget plan, which includes changing the Medicare program into more of a voucher system. “I’m going to have my own plan that will have some differences than what he had,” Pawlenty responded, noting that Ryan’s plan didn’t touch Social Security and his would. Pawlenty has said he’d support means-testing for cost of living increases in Social Security, as a way to bring down the costs of that program. 
  • On Medicare, Pawlenty said he’d support adding measures of quality care to the Medicare funding formula. A quality care provision was part of the health reform law, and Pawlenty hasn’t yet said how his plan would differ from that. I’ve asked his camp for clarification on that point, and so far haven’t heard back.
  • Pawlenty and Ralston had a contentious back-and-forth on Minnesota’s budget deficit. The former governor told the Nevada journo that all of his years were in the black, and that if government spending were held to the single digits, there would be no deficit looming. Ralston also challenged Pawlenty on taking federal stimulus money to help balance Minnesota’s budget despite opposing the stimulus.
  • Despite calling for widespread cuts to discretionary spending, Pawlenty said he wouldn’t touch the Defense budget. 
  • Pawlenty has previously backed a plan to store nuclear waste at a Nevada site called Yucca Mountain, a third-rail issue in that state. Pawlenty said he’s now willing to “review” the idea and his support for it.

The full interview can be seen here.

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