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Tags: pawlenty | debt | increase | gop | tea | party | boehner

Pawlenty to GOP: Don’t Back Down on Debt Increase

By    |   Monday, 17 January 2011 01:09 PM EST

WASHINGTON—Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty tells Newsmax that his fellow Republicans must not give in to an increase in the limit on federal borrowing – a position that puts him firmly in the ranks of staunch tea party legislators who are rejecting any increase in the federal budget.

In an exclusive interview with Newsmax, Pawlenty challenged leaders in his own party who have said Congress must increase the federal debt ceiling rather than risk a default that could send interest rates skyrocketing and the economy back into recession.

He also encouraged the new conservative Congress to keep speaking out about the perilous debt problems facing the country.

See video below.

Asked if the GOP-led House should refuse to increase the national debt ceiling this spring, Pawlenty recalled that during his two terms as governor in Minnesota he set a record for vetoes, and temporarily allowed the government to be shut down. But he also managed to eliminate billion-dollar deficits and balance the budget.

“Our great nation is facing a crisis in part because the government’s out of control, and it’s particularly out of control with its spending,” he said. “It’s going to take us into a deep hole even further than we already are.

“…And I hope we can get consensus on that. But our team, the ones who just got elected the majority of the Congress, and all the other conservatives and Republicans, said: ‘Look if you elect us this time we’re actually going to do this stuff.’ Well, now we’ve got to do it.

“And I hope that we can be done constructively. But sometimes it can require some very tough decision-making, and some very tough political battles,” he said.

Pawlenty stressed these points again in an interview Sunday with both The Wall Street Journal and "Fox News Sunday."

Congress should pass legislation that would put interest and debt payments ahead of other federal spending and allow the federal government to pay its creditors as tax revenue flows in, he said. With the surge of tax payments that come in between April and June, that would at least buy time to try to cut spending dramatically, he said.

"This debate about how we're going to restructure spending is inevitable. My view is, let's have it now," Pawlenty said in the Journal interview. "Let's call their bluff."

But the Journal pointed out that White House economists have said it would court economic disaster to use the debt ceiling, which is likely to be reached this spring, as a negotiating tool. Long-term interest rates remain at historically low levels, indicating no urgent need for dramatic austerity measures, they say, adding that such cuts in the short run would jeopardize the economic recovery.

Lawrence Summers, President Barack Obama's former National Economic Council director, said Sunday the government needed more spending right now in key areas like infrastructure, not cuts.

"If at a time when we have unemployment approaching 20% in construction, and a 10-year-bond rate in the neighborhood of 3%, if that's not a time to invest in repairing our infrastructure, I can't imagine when there would be a better time," Summers said on CNN.

But like Pawlenty, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie are calling on Congress to reject the debt ceiling increase.

"You cannot defy the laws of gravity, and this issue of Obama's approach versus the austerity approach is a very important debate," Pawlenty told the Journal. "President Obama is just wrong."

He also challenged the president to explain why as a senator he opposed and voted against a debt-ceiling increase under President George W. Bush but now says that such a stand by Republicans is reckless.

In 2006, then-Sen. Obama said on the Senate floor: "America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better. I therefore intend to oppose the effort to increase America's debt limit.

Also in the Newsmax interview, Pawlenty the defense of embattled former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, saying she was “falsely accused” of somehow fomenting a deranged shooter’s deadly rampage long before anyone knew the Tucson killer’s actual motive.

“People should not use these kinds of tragedies for political purposes, particularly when the facts are inaccurate,” Pawlenty told Newsmax.TV in an exclusive interview Friday. “And you had in the opening minutes of this tragedy, and the opening hours afterward, people assigning blame, political blame, to certain individuals or certain media outlets. And it turned out to be inaccurate.”

Those remarks were something of a departure from Pawlenty’s earlier statements on the tragedy.

In a Tuesday appearance on ABC’s Good Morning America, Pawlenty referred to a controversial map posted on Palin’s Facebook page in March, and said: “It wouldn't have been my style to put the crosshairs on there, but there's no reason to believe it had anything to do with this mentally unstable person's rage."

The Hill.com interpreted that remark as a “subtle dig” at Palin, a GOP front-runner who could represent a formidable obstacle for Pawlenty if he announces his candidacy for the 2012 GOP nomination as widely expected.

Pawlenty spoke with Newsmax.TV during an appearance at the Hispanic Leadership Network Conference in Coral Gables, Fla. He is touring the country promoting his new book, “Courage to Stand: An American Story.”

“Sarah Palin was falsely accused here,” Pawlenty told Newsmax. “There are people who intimated, or came right out and alleged, that she was to blame in whole or in part for this terrible tragedy.”

Pawlenty said the grim tragedy was the work of one mentally deranged individual. The rush to judge and accuse others was unfair, he said.

“And that’s why in leadership,” he added, “people who are in positions, whether it’s president, governor, legislator, business or community leaders, they need to make sure the lead with a sense in a crisis of calm and stability. “We can’t have good outcomes unless we have good information and good decision making. And you can’t do that if people are spreading false stuff. And that’s what happened here.”

Pawlenty offered an impassioned defense of First Amendment freedoms, and insisted the Tucson rampage should not be used as a pretext to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine that was used to regulate media content prior to its elimination during the Reagan administration.

“I think this is a country that our fundamental tenets include free speech. So people should be free to say what they want to say with passion and conviction,” said Pawlenty. “But just because you have a right doesn’t mean you have to take it to a level of inaccuracy or unfairness. So this is extremely important that this issue not now become a reason to try to deter or chill or intimidate others…. But it’s up to each person as to how they do that, not the government or some authority or Fairness Doctrine,” he added.

© 2022 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

WASHINGTON Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty tells Newsmax that his fellow Republicans must not give in to an increase in the limit on federal borrowing a position that puts him firmly in the ranks of staunch tea party legislators who are rejecting any increase in the...
Monday, 17 January 2011 01:09 PM
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