Strong words from Tim Pawlenty (campaigning in New Hampshire) regarding his debt reduction plans:
First of all, I applaud Congressman Ryan for his courage and his leadership in putting his plan forward. At least he has a plan. President Obama doesn’t have a plan. The Democrats don’t have a plan. And I really applaud his leadership and his courage in putting a plan on the table. Number two, we will have our own plan; it will have many similarities to Congressman Ryan’s plan, but it will have some differences, one of which will be we’ll address Social Security. He chose not to; we are addressing Social Security. And the Medicare part of our plan will have some differences, too. It will have some similarities also. So we’ll have our own plan. But if I can’t have my own plan – as president, I’ll have my own plan – if I can’t have that, and the bill came to my desk and I had to choose between signing or not Congressman Ryan’s plan, of course I would sign it. [Emphasis added.]
By signalling his support for the House 2012 budget, Pawlenty is staking out a position that no candidate will be able to attack from the right. It’s also a position that would prove a real risk in the general election, should Pawlenty get there.
It also puts significant pressure on Pawlenty’s team to come up with a plausible and marketable plan for debt reduction. Having approved of the goals of the House budget, Pawlenty will need a plan at least as thought-out and detailed. If anything, now that the Ryan plan has been exposed to withering criticism, the bar has been raised. Pawlenty’s plan could easily improve on it, in both substance and presentation.