Monday, May 25, 2009
WATCH OUT FOR THIS GUY!
This is Tim Pawlenty, current Minnesota Republican Governor and a man who is being touted in some circles as a possible GOP candidate for President in 2012. Whether he chooses to run for President, or even for Senator that year, he is a Republican to look out for. In the best Norm Coleman style of Republicanism, he is a very smooth, double-talking and ambitious politician. He practiced law for a time after college and also served as Vice President of a software services company before being elected to the Minnesota House in 1992. After serving as Minnesota House Majority Leader beginning in 1998, he initially planned to run for the US Senate in 2002, until Dick Cheney talked him out of it. Cheney urged him to instead throw his support behind Norm Coleman and run for Governor. He dutifully followed Cheney's wishes. And, just like Coleman, Pawlenty portrays himself as a moderate with new ideas, but in reality always votes along and supports the same old tired George W. Bush social and economic conservative line. He is apparently the only Republican Governor who will appear on liberal Rachel Maddow's MSNBC-TV show, so she seems to get little goosebumps every time he agrees to be on it. I would advise her to not get too excited, though. For while Pawlenty isn't as bombastic or unpleasant as Rush Limbaugh, his political outlook doesn't differ greatly from the big blowhard. Just his demeanor.
Conservative columnist Robert Novak (one who would definitely know) referred to Pawlenty as the most conservative Minnesota Governor since the 1920s. Pawlenty has been a consistent supporter of Clinton and Bush-era free trade policies. In fact, he took the largest state trade delegation to China in U.S. history in 2005. I haven't noticed any great upswing in jobs, wages, or quality of life here in Minnesota since, though. Like John McCain, he favors market-driven approaches to our horrific health care problem and is a supporter of Medical Savings Accounts as one method of enabling people to pay for health care. Of course, this approach does nothing to guarantee universal coverage, put pressure on insurance companies to keep costs down, or hold back that industry's rising power and influence concerning the type of care and treatment patients receive.
Like nearly all Republicans, Tim Pawlenty strongly supported George W. Bush's ridiculous tax cuts for the wealthy put forth in 2001 and 2003. The Governor has even advocated that they be made permanent, though they did not create millions of high paying jobs here as was promised, and also added tremendously to our federal deficit. Former Republican Minnesota Governors Arne Carlson, Elmer Anderson, and Al Quie, none of which were flaming liberals, have all criticized Pawlenty's pledge of using no new taxes to balance the state budget as a move too far to the right. It is interesting to note how conservative Republicans like Pawlenty see nothing wrong with giving billions in deductions and refunds to the wealthy and corporations, but can't stand the idea of spending tax dollars on the very needy. Just this past May 14, for example, the Governor vetoed a bill for General Assistance Medical Care which will cut off funding for health care for 34,000 very needy Minnesotans, 70% of them mentally ill or chemically dependent or both, and all with annual incomes less than $7,800. That's what a supposedly fiscally-responsible Governor must do when facing a budget crisis caused partially by his cutting corporate and wealthy taxes, I guess. In fact, it would seem that Pawlenty is quite clueless as to the needs of poor or average, middle income people. He and his wife, a conservative former district judge, have lived quite comfortably for many years and could hardly be termed "wanting" or "struggling." In fact, on the June 22, 2008 CNN show "Late Edition", Pawlenty was quoted as saying, "...but now that they're [Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy] are going to expire, I think they should continue. And keep in mind, when you talk about tax cuts for the wealthy, that involves those reductions in corporate taxes, or increasing the AMT, or the exemptions I had talked about. And when you look at it as a basket, it's the kind of thing we need to do to grow jobs, expand the economy...we can't tax our way out of this. We're going to have to grow our way, in part, out of it." During that same interview he voiced his opposition to an increase in the Social Security tax cap, currently at $97,000 annually, saying, "When you look at $97,000 of income, I think that's people who are clearly middle income or upper middle income..." I guess that's what you get for thinking, Gov. Pawlenty. $97,000 in annual income is far above median income in this country, and it shows how miserably out of touch he is with average Americans! On the question of our energy problem, Pawlenty also endorses the conservative Republican cry of "drill, baby, drill." His view on how to solve the problem is the same as Sarah Palin's and the rest of the GOP: increasing supply of oil will solve all problems, so let's drill in the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge and take care of our immediate pressing needs. He has yet to express strong support for raising mileage standards or developing alternate green energy sources for the future.
So in the months and years ahead, do not be fooled by Tim Pawlenty's kinder, gentler, friendlier Republican approach. It is a facade for the same old conservative economic theory which has greatly enabled cororate America and the rich while hurting everyone else and all but destroying our economy. And beware claims of his reaching across the aisle or having a broad base of support. We in Minnesota have now had Paw-lenty of Pawlenty! The man has never enjoyed overwhelming support here. His highest vote total in his two races for Governor was only 46.7%. In fact, a Fox-Rasmussen Poll released May 19 asked this question: "Generally speaking, do you think things in Minnesota are going in the right direction, or have they gotten off on the wrong track?" Right direction received a meager 19% response. Wrong track came in at a resounding 62%, and Undecided was 19%. Hardly an enthusiastic endorsement of the way Pawlenty has run this state! Still, his smooth talk may fool some down the line. That's why I'm warning you all now to watch out for this guy!