Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Governor Tim Pawlenty

Marty Siegel, a childhood friend who now lives in Minnesota, mentioned Governor Tim Pawlenty (R-MN) as a presidential possibility.  I did my one second barometer test for GOP candidates (did he support the bailout) and he passed. He apparently did not support the bailout.  Esquire ran an interview with Pawlenty on February 12 in which he states:

"Whether the threats or doomsday scenarios that were painted were real or partially real or not real at all. We won't know the answer to that, but we do know that some very bright people said that we faced doomsday, and there were other very bright people who said that, at the very least, the danger was overstated, and this notion that they were too big to fail was untested or untrue."

This does not amount to a strong position on the gold standard or elimination of the Fed, but it is the closest I've seen in the GOP among the major candidates except for Ron Paul.

Sarah Palin supported the bailout and so she is off my list.  Mitt Romney, whom I've never trusted (his support for the health plan in Massachusetts and his background as a consultant to the military industrial complex make me uncomfortable) is slippery about his position in a Glenn Beck interview in September 2008.  First, Beck says that he (Beck) opposes the bailout (a point on which I've had to correct myself) then Romney makes this vague reply:

"Well, there's no question no one has any interest in bailing out the guys on Wall Street who caused this problem. In many respects the term 'Bailout' is a misnomer. The people who caused this problem ought to lose jobs, ought to lose wealth and are going to face some hard times by virtue of their mistakes but what we want to make sure is that the people on Main Street and the homes all over America, that these folks aren't the ones who are suffering and if we had a meltdown of our financial system where banks and financial institutions couldn't make loans, where your life insurance policy was suddenly worthless, where awful these kind of dramatic changes occurred, you'd hurt a lot of people. A lot of people would lose jobs. You could even throw the country into, well, a very severe recession or even the D word which I don't want to use, but it's that which the treasury secretary and the Federal Reserve are worried about and that's why they are taking such extraordinary action."

Romney does not get clearer as he proceeds, which leads me to conclude that he was a de facto bailout supporter. There were plenty of ways to avoid a depression besides throwing trillions at the New York financial institutions.  His opposition at that time might have mattered psychologically but it would not have changed the Paulson-Bush-McCain-Obama position.  Nevertheless, his waffling is over political fear that he might be blamed for supporting subsidies to Wall Street, which was the de facto effect of his position.

Thus, compared to Palin or Romney, Pawlenty is closer to the libertarian one. He is certainly not a libertarian. The Moderate Voice blog describes him:
"Tim Pawlenty is a mainstream conservative governor in a traditionally liberal state. When I use the term 'mainstream,' I mean simply that he is in the mainstream of Minnesota conservatism – decidedly less conservative than the heart of Republicanism in the south, but conservative enough for most of the rest of the GOP. This alone gives him a decent shot as an alternative to either Palin or Romney in the 2012 primaries."

Pawlenty's website gives some useful information:

"As Governor, he has balanced Minnesota's budget three times without raising taxes, despite facing record budget deficits. Governor Pawlenty's most notable accomplishments include proposing and signing into law significant new benefits for veterans and members of the military; enacting a property tax cap, eliminating the marriage penalty and cutting taxes; toughening the state's education standards; reforming the way teachers are paid through a nation-leading performance pay plan; instituting free-market health care reforms that increase accountability and provide tax credits to encourage the use of health savings accounts; and implementing a plan to Americanize our energy sources by generating 25% of the state's electricity from renewable sources by 2025."

As mainstream Republicans go, Pawlenty seems like a good choice.  Unless you think that the GOP is going to abolish the Fed tomorrow (ha, ha) the best strategy is to work with a minimax candidate (minimize the maximum possible loss). Pawlenty seems to fall into this category.  

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