Republican presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty on Monday sought to distinguish his fiscal policies from those of President George W. Bush after Democrats accused the two of being one in the same.
Pawlenty told an audience at a Derry, N.H., town-hall meeting that his plan calls for tax cuts accompanied by significant spending reductions, whereas Bush enacted tax cuts and spending hikes.
"That's not what we're proposing. We're not proposing to cut taxes and raise spending," added the former Minnesota governor. "We're proposing to cut taxes and cut spending, and if you do that we're going to grow jobs by shrinking government. We're going to grow the private sector by shrinking government."
Pawlenty is looking to push back on the Democratic claims that he wants to continue the Bush-era policies that contributed to the gaping budget deficit and flagging economy.
Following Pawlenty's speech in Chicago last week where he laid out his economic plan, Democratic National Committee Chairman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said the candidate'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."
The ex-governor's comments could also earn him points with deficit hawks and Tea Party activists, who view Bush's economic policies skeptically. Pawlenty's budget plan will also like go under the microscope on Monday night, when he'll participate in a GOP primary debate in the Granite State.
Pawlenty said his plan could help spur a 5 percent gross domestic product growth rate, which would bring in greater tax revenues despite his rate cuts. Critics have said that's an unrealistic target and that lower rates won't necessarily generate higher revenues.
"When Ronald Reagan cut taxes in a significant way ... revenues actually increased by almost 100 percent during his eight years as president," Pawlenty said. "So this idea that significant, big tax cuts necessarily result in lower revenues: history does not [bear] that out."