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Pawlenty touts fiscal bona fides in Iowa visit
URBANDALE, Iowa — Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty had one question for the audience at Iowa Taxpayers’ Day: “Have you had enough?”
Nearly 550 people turned out Saturday afternoon to listen to Pawlenty and five gubernatorial candidates speak at the annual event organized by Muscatine-based Iowans for Tax Relief.
Pawlenty, who many believe is gearing up for a run at the GOP nomination for president in 2012, spent 40 minutes blasting President Barack Obama and lawmakers in Washington for out of control spending and reaching too far into the management of American businesses and the lives of American citizens.
“We have to understand now that we have a United States federal government that has a debt that is too big to pay off, has state-sponsored companies that they describe as too big to fail; we have a situation where our federal government is too big to succeed, and we have leaders who are too small to do anything about it,” Pawlenty said.
He criticized Obama and Congress for spending $1.5 trillion more than they earned last year and for raising the debt ceiling to $14 trillion dollars. Pawlenty argued that adding up all unfunded long-term liabilities that the government doesn’t fully count in the reported national debt would amount to a total unfunded liability of more than $70 trillion.
“If they were a bank and applied the same rules to themselves as they do to a bank, they would have to shut themsevles down,” he said.
Pawlenty proposed several changes that he said should be implemented to alter Congress’s spending abilities, including requiring a super-majority to raise taxes or raise the debt ceiling.
He also called for an economic bill of rights that would require Congress to balance the federal budget and provide the president the power of the line-item veto.
“As the governor who holds the single-season record for vetoes in the state of Minnesota, I have have a particular appreciation for the power of the line-item veto,” Pawlenty said.
The power would allow the president to veto certain parts of legislation without having to veto entire bills or have another vote by Congress. Many governors hold such authority at the state level, and former President Bill Clinton held it briefly before the U.S. Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional at the federal level.
Pawlenty also chastised President Obama for his handling of health care legislation, saying that Obama broke his promise to Americans by failing to seek bipartisan support of the bill.
“He stood here in Iowa the night of the Iowa Caucuses and said he was going to reform health care and promised that he was going to do it on a bipartisan basis with Democrats and Republicans,” Pawlenty said. “And he then went back to Washington, D.C., and crammed down our throats one of the worst pieces of legislation in the modern history of our country on a completely partisan basis.”
Pawlenty discussed taxes at the federal level and in Minnesota. He said that after 30 years of trying, he was the first governor to get Minnesota out of the top 10 states for high taxes. He also argued that in order to help create new jobs, tax cuts issued under President George W. Bush, which are set to expire soon, must be renewed.
“We should not be adding burdens to the economy, we should be reducing them,” Pawlenty said.
Throughout the speech, Pawlenty emphasized the importance of electing Republicans to office in November.
“A couple of years ago, people said the sun was setting on the conservative movement,” he said. “People wrote us off… but now the sun is rising again. It won’t be easy, that’s for sure, but it never is.”
He said he’s confident about the health of the Republican Party, saying the party is first and foremost conservative.
“It always has been and it will be even more so in the future,” Pawlenty said.
Linda Svovoda of Ankeny said she is a long way off from choosing a candidate to support in the 2012 presidential election, but she knows it will be a Republican. She shared several of the same concerns Pawlenty highlighted in his speech.
“I’m very concerned about the health care issue and how it will impact individuals and insurance companies,” Svovoda said. “Jobs is a big concern. We’re in a state that has high unemployment.”
Pawlenty is currently serving his second term as Minnesota governor. His term ends in 2011, and he has announced he will not be seeking reelection. He is currently raising money with his Freedom First PAC. In the first quarter of 2010, the PAC raised $566,000.
In addition to Pawlenty’s keynote address, those attending the event also heard from five gubernatorial candidates: Republicans Bob VanderPlaats, Terry Branstad and Rod Roberts, Libertarian Eric Cooper and independent Jonathan Narcisse.