By Jordan Fabian - 06/08/11 10:00 AM EDT
President Obama is a “champion practitioner of class warfare,” GOP presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty said Tuesday.
In an address on his economic policy in Obama’s home town of Chicago, the former Minnesota governor laid out the specifics of his plan to slash spending and simplify the nation’s tax code by drastically cutting rates.
“The president is satisfied with a second-rate American economy produced by his third-rate policies. I’m not,” Pawlenty said.
If Obama’s economic policies are kept in place, Pawlenty said, “We are in deep doo-doo. We are in deep crap.”
His speech came the same day as a new poll showing he would trail Obama by 11 points if the election were held today. In the new ABC News/Washington Post survey, Pawlenty received 40 percent to Obama’s 51.
But Tuesday’s remarks were designed to address the leading concern among voters: the economy.
Instead of the “New Deal,” Pawlenty dubbed his economic plan a “Better Deal” that differs from former President Franklin Roosevelt’s plan to lift the country out of the Great Depression.
Pawlenty’s proposals to boost the economy and cut the deficit also deviate from the House GOP budget authored by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).
While Pawlenty provided no new details on what entitlement reforms he would support, he offered a tax plan that would reduce the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 15. Ryan’s budget would reduce the top corporate and individual rates to 25 percent, a plan the Tax Policy Center estimates would cost $2.9 trillion in offsets over 10 years.
Pawlenty also called for the elimination of existing loopholes, subsidies and tax credits for businesses, which he said would offset some of the revenue lost from cutting tax rates.
“American businesses today pay the second-highest tax rates in the world. That’s a recipe for failure, not adding jobs and economic growth,” he said.
Democrats attempted to tie Pawlenty’s proposal to Ryan’s, which they have decried for its drastic spending cuts and changes to entitlement programs.
Former White House spokesman Bill Burton, who co-founded the Democratic outside spending group Priorities USA Action, compared the Pawlenty and Ryan plans to “kissing cousins” during an appearance on MSNBC.
And Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Democratic congresswoman from Florida, characterized the plan in a statement: “Mr. Pawlenty would take the Republican policies of the last decade, which exploded our deficit and debt and nearly sank our economy into a second Great Depression, and inject them with steroids.”
Pawlenty also proposes wiping out the existing individual tax code and replacing it with two rates, 10 percent for the first $50,000 earned in income ($100,000 for families) and 25 percent for anything earned above that.
The ex-governor would get rid of taxes on capital gains, interest income, dividends and the estate tax.
Pawlenty said his plan would not blow a hole in the already massive budget deficit, arguing it would instead increase tax revenue by spurring economic growth, which he set a goal of increasing to 5 percent annually.
“Five percent economic growth over 10 years would generate $3.8 trillion in new tax revenues,” he said. “With that, we would reduce projected deficits by 40 percent. All before we made a single budget cut.”
During the question-and-answer session, Pawlenty defended his tax plan against charges that it simply benefits the wealthy.
“You can’t be pro-job and anti-business,” he said. That’s like “being pro-egg and anti-chicken.”
In order to reduce federal spending, Pawlenty said, he will call on Congress to grant the president the authority to implement a spending freeze and impound 5 percent of federal spending until the budget is balanced. He called for the privatization of the United States Postal Service, Amtrak, the government printing office and embattled mortgage lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
“We can start by applying what I call ‘The Google Test.’ If you can find a good or service on the Internet, then the federal government probably doesn’t need to be doing it,” he said.
Pawlenty reiterated his support for a balanced-budget amendment, which he said should also include a spending cap that should limit government outlays to around 18 percent annually.
Pawlenty said he wants to eliminate all federal regulations unless Congress votes to keep them in place, a move intended to target Obama’s healthcare law, the Wall Street reform bill and the Environmental Protection Agency’s push to regulate carbon emissions.
“It is no longer enough for government to go on a diet. Government needs to hit the gym, and hit it hard,” he said.
He also called for the streamlining of federal agencies, including the CIA and the Pentagon, and said that the Federal Reserve should end its dual mandate.
“No more quantitative easing. No more monetizing debt. No more printing money with reckless abandon,” he said.
Pawlenty said his proposal matches his promise to tell the hard truths about what’s needed to fix the country’s problems.”
“It’s going to be the Jack Nicholson election,” Pawlenty said, quoting the actor’s famous line from “A Few Good Men”: “You can’t handle the truth.”
This time, Pawlenty argues, “The American people can handle the truth.”