Fact-Checked: Tim Pawlenty’s Economic Plan

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/marcn/2146444491/sizes/m/in/photostream/">marcn</a>/Flickr

Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.


On Tuesday, Republican presidential hopeful Tim Pawlenty delivered the first major economic speech of his campaign, a plan to slash taxes, create jobs, and rev up America’s economic engine. He dubbed it “A Better Deal.” Too bad, as the Washington Post‘s Glenn Kessler points out, Pawlenty’s plan had more holes in it than a slice of Swiss cheese.

In his “Fact Checker” column, Kessler picks apart some of Pawlenty‘s more sweeping statements. Like this one: “Our health care system, thanks to ObamaCare, is more expensive and less efficient.” It doesn’t take an expert to know that President Obama’s health care reform bill doesn’t fully go into effect until 2014, so how can Pawlenty lay the blame on Obama for today’s problems? (Answer: He can’t, at least not truthfully.) What’s more, Pawlenty’s own campaign cited a PricewaterhouseCoopers report (PDF) to support this claim. But as Kessler notes, that same PwC report says, “The law will have minimal effect on the cost trend in 2012.” In other words, Pawlenty’s own evidence directly contradicts his claim.

Then Kessler takes apart this Pawlenty claim:

“Five percent economic growth over 10 years would generate $3.8 trillion in new tax revenues. With that, we would reduce projected deficits by 40 percent. All before we made a single budget cut.”

Earlier in the speech, Pawlenty said that Ronald Reagan in the 1980s and Bill Clinton in the 1990s enjoyed near-five percent economic growth. So why, Pawlenty’s thinking goes, can’t he do the same?

Well, as Kessler points out, the average GDP growth enjoyed by both Reagan and Clinton was actually 3.5 percent, a more modest target. What’s more, in Clinton’s case, the booming ’90s came after Clinton raised taxes on the wealthy. Pawlenty advocated the exact opposite in his “Better Deal” plan, calling for massive tax cuts. Kessler writes:

The last president to achieve consistent growth above 5 percent was John F. Kennedy a half-century ago, when the baby-boom generation was on the verge of entering the workforce. Now, that generation is heading into retirement, leaving fewer workers to carry the burden.

Simply on the basis of economics, Dole had what seems like a reasonable objective—and Pawlenty is close to not passing a laugh test, especially if he also proposes to slash the federal budget and taxes.

Another bogus Pawlenty claim: “The fact is federal regulations will cost our economy $1.75 trillion this year alone. It’s a hidden tax on every American consumer.” In an earlier column, Kessler gave this statement two “Pinocchios” out of four possible, a disingenuous statement.

In the end, Kessler awarded Pawlenty’s speech two Pinocchios, saying the Minnesota governor “pushed the envelope to make eliminating the budget deficit and boosting the economy sound much too easy, while relying on some dubious facts and assertions.” That doesn’t bode well for a candidate  who’s campaigning on the message “A Time for Truth.”

REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

payment methods

REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate