Pawlenty talks policy plans at Harris School

Republican presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty discussed his economic policy and criticized Barack Obama’s as settling for a “second-rate economy” Tuesday morning.

By Sam Levine

Republican presidential hopeful Tim Pawlenty unveiled his economic proposal Tuesday morning at a talk at the Harris School of Public Policy.The former Minnesota Governor called for deep federal spending cuts and reform of the federal income tax code.

During his speech to about 100 people, Pawlenty attacked Obama’s economic policies, calling the President a “champion practitioner of class warfare.” Pawlenty pointed to high gas prices and the unemployment rate as evidence of how Obama has failed to effectively bring the economy out of recession.

Pawlenty said that if elected president he would set a goal of growing the economy by 5 percent over 10 years.

“The President is satisfied with a second-rate economy, produced by his third-rate policies. I’m not,” Pawlenty said.

Under Pawlenty’s tax plan, individuals making $50,000 or less would be taxed at 10 percent, while any individual income above that threshold would be taxed at 25 percent. While Pawlenty said that he would depend on domestic economic growth to generate revenue, he did not provide specific details as to how he would pay for his proposed tax cuts.

Pawlenty also said that the federal government could use what he dubbed the “Google Test” to decide what services they could afford to cut.

“If you can find a good or service on the Internet, then the federal government probably doesn't need to offer the same good or service,” Pawlenty said, citing the U.S. Postal Service and Amtrak as government services that were built for a different era.

Pawlenty’s address, the first major policy speech of his campaign, was quick to draw fire from Democrats.

“Tim Pawlenty's plan to extend and expand the Bush tax cuts, deeply slashing taxes paid by the wealthiest Americans and corporate America and sending our deficit soaring even higher, is not an economic plan—it's a prescription for economic disaster that would fall squarely on the backs of seniors and working families,” Chair of the Democratic National Committee Debbie Wasserman Schultz wrote in a June 7 press release.

Because of the University’s policy of maintaining political neutrality, Harris School administrators did not label the speech as a campaign event. Audience members, who were required to RSVP to the speech beforehand, received an e-mail from Harris School Dean of Students Ellen Cohen, stating that any campaign-related activities would result in dismissal from the lecture. The University also did not permit Pawlenty to answer any questions from reporters while on University property.

“The University of Chicago does not endorse any candidate or campaign,” Cohen said before Pawlenty was introduced to the audience, adding that all presidential candidates would be invited to give a speech at the Harris School before the 2012 election.