Posts Tagged ‘Pawlenty’

Pawlenty’s content-free campaign

So far, the campaign for the Republican Presidential nomination has been hilarious to watch. You have Donald Trump shooting for the stars, and then plummeting back to Earth. You have Newt bumbling all over the place, with enough personal baggage to give cost a small fortune when boarding a commercial airplane. You have Rick Santorum trying to run while haunted by the ghost of Google. Michelle Bachmann is around to apparently stage a real campaign, much to the delight of Democrats and the media alike. Then you have Tim Pawlenty, losing to Herman Cain (who must be an anti-speed reader) in the South Carolina debate. Nevertheless, TPaw seems to keep on running.

If Minnesotans have had their fill of Pawlenty, and we have, why does he think the rest of the country will want what he’s selling? Who knows? But he seems to be running under the assumption that the best way to win the Republican nomination is to appear “saner” than the rest of the candidates, all while running a completely content-free campaign, full of slogans and absurd assumptions, but quite short on facts. His ridiculous economic plan, to grow at 5% a year for a decade (which hasn’t happened since the Great Depression, even under his hero Ronald Reagan), has been panned by all rational economists, even Republicans. His just-as-laughable “Google test” for government services has been mock just as much (as many commenters have pointed out, since Pawlenty himself exists on Google, doesn’t that mean we don’t need him in government?). His tax plan would balloon the deficit by cutting taxes lower than they are now, even though federal taxes are already at historical lows. But still he clings to these ideas like a bit of flotsam in a storm, hoping that his competitors will drown before him.

It would be nice if he were challenged on some of these things. Why can’t somebody in the media put this graphic (courtesy of Paul Krugman) in front of him and ask him what it means for health care and what he will do about it if President:

Pawlenty had eight years as governor of Minnesota to do something about health care. He didn’t. No bending the cost curve, no successful pilot programs, no real effort to provide health insurance to under-served populations other than what was already in effect. Health care spending rising out of control is one of those serious issues that demands reality-based solutions. Even saying, “I don’t care that people can’t afford health insurance and I will not have the government step into the health care market” would be more honest that some of his current campaign proposals.

I used to think TPaw was Minnesota’s Don Quixote, tilting at windmills without a chance of getting the nomination. Given the terrible field for the Republicans so far, however, it’s not as impossible as I once thought, and that’s a bit frightening. I’ve lived through eight years of Pawlenty in Minnesota, kicking the can down the road, raising taxes without admitting it, and doing little to grow jobs or improve the human and physical capital of the state. I would prefer not to see that happen to the rest of the country. But he’ll try, sloganeering and flip-flopping his way towards a hoped-for nomination.

Where the money goes

So Governor Pawlenty is going to have to cut the budget himself to balance it. The question is how? He’s asked for public input at budgetideas@state.mn.us, and a lot of people have been sending him suggestions. We have little idea what those suggestions are because they haven’t been released in their entirety, but the ones that have been released, such as liquor sales on Sunday (which I support) and racino (which I do not), aren’t real solutions because the governor has to cut the budget; he can’t unilaterally change the law to increase revenue. Asking the public what to cut is a lot more difficult (if I was asked, I’d first suggest the governor stop being a stubborn, short-sighted, mean-spirited jerk; then I might suggest cutting IT costs by moving to open-source software like Linux and Open Office). Why is it more difficult to get answers from the public as to what to cut? One reason is that many people don’t know where the budget goes.

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Taking it for granted

A couple weeks ago I went to the dentist, and although I didn’t have any pain or other issues, my dentist found the beginnings of a small cavity. I went in a week later to have it filled; less than an hour later I was on my way. A short time later, I got my bill for $150 (which, when I thought about it, seems like a really good deal). My insurance paid for the majority, I paid the rest, and that was it.

All in all, it’s a pretty mundane story. Hardly worth even mentioning, you’d think. But taking a closer look at the pieces, it’s not unremarkable at all. I’m very fortunate that I can engage in such a transaction so easily at so little cost to me; for countless people, that just can’t happen, and the distance between my situation and theirs is not as great as one would think.

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