The Corner


Tim Pawlenty coins a new term on Fox News Sunday this morning:

UPDATE: Tim Pawlenty compared 2012 rival Mitt Romney’s Massachussets health care plan to President Obama’s health care plan today.

“President Obama said that he designed Obamacare after Romneycare, and basically made it Obamneycare,” Pawlenty said on Fox News Sunday. “We now have essentially the same features.  The President’s own words is that he patterned in large measure Obamacare after what happened in Massachusetts.”

“What I don’t understand is they both continue to defend it,” Pawlenty added.

Talking about his economic plan, which aims to jumpstart economic growth to 5 percent of GDP annually through a series of tax and spending cuts, Pawlenty emphasized how it can bring about an employment surge. “It would unleash economic growth and job growth in this country,” he said, adding that aimed to boost the “private economy” instead of the “government economy.”

Pawlenty also defended his 5 percent growth goal as realistic, saying it was “hogwash” that the U.S. couldn’t achieve that in the near future. He pointed to the near 5 percent growth during the Clinton administration, and economic growth that exceeded 5 percent during the Reagan administration.

Talking about the impact of his plan on the deficit, Pawlenty twice noted that he was proposing tax and spending cuts – not, as in the past, tax cuts paired with spending hikes. He said that if economic growth was at 4 percent or more, his plan would balance the budget over a decade.

Asked by Chris Wallace what kind of spending cuts he would make to offset the estimated $1 trillion loss in revenues his tax cuts would achieve, Pawlenty cited reforming entitlement programs. He advocated doling out Medicaid funds in block grants to the states and keeping Medicaid spending “as flat as possible going forward.” He called for raising the retirement age for Social Security eligibility, and denying wealthier Social Security recipients the cost-of-living increases.  On Medicare, he discussed savings by outcome-based provider payments, instead of per-procedure payments, and defended cuts in the program by pointing to the $500 billion Medicare cuts in Obamacare.

Pawlenty expressed confidence in his current position in the 2012 race, despite the fact that Herman Cain, who was also largely unknown at the beginning of the year, has shot ahead of him in the polls nationally and in Iowa.

“There’s going to be a lot of bouncing around in these polls,” Pawlenty said, noting that Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani had topped polls in 2007. “We like our momentum.”

When Wallace aired a clip of Bill O’Reilly dismissing Pawlenty as too “vanilla,” Pawlenty tried to laugh the accusation off.

“Is he playing the race card on me?” he asked of O’Reilly’s comment.

Pawlenty then said he wasn’t running for “comedian-in-chief or entertainer-in-chief.”

Katrina Trinko — Katrina Trinko is a political reporter for National Review. Trinko is also a member of USA TODAY’S Board of Contributors, and her work has been published in various media outlets ...

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