Pawlenty applauds Boehner for demanding cuts in the trillions

Likely GOP presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty on Tuesday applauded House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) for demanding trillions of dollars in spending cuts in exchange for raising the debt ceiling.

At a speech in New York City on Monday, Boehner said that spending cuts should exceed the amount of new debt authority the government is given, which could mean trillions of dollars. Pawlenty's praise comes after he split with Boehner over a spending deal to avoid a government shutdown, a move that appeared to frustrate the House GOP.

"While President Obama continues to offer America a false choice between more debt or default, I applaud Speaker Boehner’s comments yesterday," Pawlenty, the former governor of Minnesota, said in a statement. "Speaker Boehner is right that we must offset any increase in the debt ceiling with trillions of dollars of real spending cuts."

Pawlenty's statement could smooth over any hard feelings among House Republicans over his split on the spending deal and might bolster Boehner's position in talks with Obama and congressional Democrats.

The ex-governor has displayed an independent streak from his GOP colleagues in Washington since forming his presidential exploratory committee in March.

In addition to his position on the spending deal, he announced he would release his own budget proposal that differs from Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) in major areas such as entitlement reform and has pressured Republicans to dig in their heels on raising the nation's $14.3 trillion debt ceiling.

Pawlenty, who has said it is important not to "scare" people when proposing entitlement reforms, also doled out praise to freshman Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) for releasing his plan to balance the budget within a decade. Toomey's plan largely steers clear of entitlement reform.

"This is a common-sense budget — the federal government cannot continue to spend more money than it takes in," Pawlenty said. "We can balance the budget in the next decade, but it requires the sort of smart choices and leadership being offered by Senator Toomey and several other Senate Republicans."

Pawlenty, however, has said he wants to reform Medicare through implementing "payment reforms" and tackle Social Security reform. He also voiced support for a balanced budget amendment or spending caps "to ensure that we never get into this debt mess again."

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