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Tim Pawlenty

Oh my: Pawlenty calls for Medicare and Social Security reform — in Florida

From Hot Air:

First he goes after ethanol in Iowa, now this. What’s next? Telling Texans it’s time to wean themselves off of barbecue? Good lord. This isn’t a campaign, it’s an intervention.

Alternate headline: “Tim Pawlenty now unelectable in not one but two early primary states.”

A day after telling Iowans their beloved ethanol subsidies will have to go, Republican presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty used a stop in senior-heavy Florida to call for reining in Social Security and Medicare benefits for future retirees…

It’s part of a tough-medicine tour, designed to highlight Pawlenty’s willingness to tell “hard truths.” He’s also planning to visit Washington to call for less-generous pay and benefits for public sector employees and to New York to call for an end to Wall Street bailouts…

Pawlenty said Social Security’s retirement age must “gradually” increase for people who are not yet in the system. He also called for ending cost-of-living increases for wealthy retirees. He said he’ll release details soon and said the changes would not affect current retirees.

That’s from today’s Facebook town hall, where he also took a question that seemed geared towards winning a certain fiscal-con icon’s constituency:

“In the state of Indiana, our governor has been really hard on teachers,” asked one girl. “What is your view of education?”

Pawlenty voiced a position on education similar to the reforms passed by Daniels in the last Indiana legislative session: school choice and vouchers, support for charter schools, and saying that education policy should be geared to help children and should “put their needs first, rather than the interests of adults in public employee union movement.”

The choice of the question seemed deliberate, as a way to position Pawlenty as the natural alternative for Daniels’ supporters.

The straight talk on entitlements, I think, is mainly geared towards giving him cover with the base for when he starts inching away from Ryan’s Medicare plan. He praised Ryan’s budget when speaking to reporters after the Facebook town hall today but reminded them that he’ll be introducing his own plan in the coming months. With good reason: The more Senate Republicans bail on Ryan — Olympia Snowe is the latest — the closer we get to the sort of tipping point imagined by Nate Silver. It’s easier for the GOP to deflect concerns about Ryan’s Medicare reforms if they’re voting party-line, less easy when the RINO contingent of Snowe, Collins, and Brown defects and thereby implicitly signals to centrists that Ryan’s budget is “extreme.” T-Paw’s trying to massage both sides here (much as he did in Iowa), hinting without saying that he thinks Ryan’s plan is extreme too but not so much that entitlement reform should be avoided. Exit quotation: “What I know is this: There just can’t be any more sacred cows.”

Pawlenty vs. Ethanol Subsidies

From National Review:

An interesting passage to put in an announcement speech in Iowa:

I’m here today to tell Iowans the truth, too.

America is facing a crushing debt crisis the likes of which we’ve never seen before.  We need to cut spending, and we need to cut it…big time. The hard truth is that there are no longer any sacred programs.

The truth about federal energy subsidies, including federal subsidies for ethanol, is that they have to be phased out.  We need to do it gradually.  We need to do it fairly.  But we need to do it.

Now, I’m not some out-of-touch politician.  I served two terms as Governor of an ag state.  I fully understand and respect the critical role farming plays in our economy and our society.  I’ve strongly supported ethanol in various ways over the years, and I still believe in the promise of renewable fuels – both for our economy and our national security.

But even in Minnesota, when faced with fiscal challenges, we reduced ethanol subsidies.  That’s where we are now in Washington, but on a much, much larger scale.

It’s not only ethanol.  We need to change our approach to subsidies in all industries.

It can’t be done overnight.  The industry has made large investments, and it wouldn’t be fair to pull the rug out from under it immediately.  But we must face the truth that if we want to invite more competition, more investment, and more innovation into an industry – we need to get government out.  We also need the government out of the business of handing out favors and special deals.  The free market, not freebies from politicians, should decide a company’s success.  So, as part of a larger reform, we need to phase out subsidies across all sources of energy and all industries, including ethanol.  We simply can’t afford them anymore.

 

God Bless America

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