What Might A Tim Pawlenty Presidency Bring?

May 23, 2011

The day that Tim Pawlenty officially announced that he's entering the hunt for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, iseems as good a day as any to ask a Pawlenty presidency might look like?

In his announcement speech in Des Moines Monday, the former two-term Minnesota governor offered that he would confront tough issues with an honesty he alleges President Obama has failed to.

President Obama's policies have failed. But more than that, he won't even tell us the truth about what it's really going to take to get out of the mess we're in...

I am going to tell you the truth. The truth is, Washington's broken...

Leadership in a time of crisis isn't about telling people what you think they want to hear, it's about telling the truth.

The genial Republican, who has had trouble finding his footing in early preference polls, portrayed himself as an antidote to three years of "fancy speeches" - a truth-teller with a blue collar background and willingness to tackle the country's big problems.

But what would a Pawlenty presidency bring based on where he has stood on the issue over the years? We took a quick look at his past positions on issues ranging form the debt limit to same sex marriage.

Entitlement Reform and Spending

Pawlenty has called for linking increasing in the debt ceiling with "hard choices about discretionary spending." He has said that entitlement programs "need to be dramatically reformed," and are unsustainable in their present form.

He has championed means testing for Social Security's cost of living increases as well as raising the retirement age - "indexed for new entrants."

Means testing, he said, would mean smaller Social Security increases for the wealthy - a proposal he has characterized as "not ideal," but the best among a slew of bad choices.

Pawlenty has advocated "capping and block-granting" Medicaid payment to states, a proposal similar to that put forward by GOP Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, as well as "moving" Medicare to a pay-for-performance model.

Health Care Overhaul

Pawlenty has asserted that health care overhaul legislation passed by Congress last year "violates the U.S. Constitution." Like many opponents of the law, he argues that the requirement that individuals purchase health insurance coverage is a federal government "power grab."

He argued in a Washington Post opinion piece this year that federal reforms and cost containment should be based on patient incentive programs, pay for performance, liability reform, interstate health-care insurance and modernization of health insurance.

While governor, he rejected federal money for the implementation of the new health care overhaul, but accepted $263 million in federal Medicaid funding.

After forbidding state agencies from accepting health care grant money, he said that "to the fullest extent possible, we need to keep Obamacare out of Minnesota."

Social Issues

An evangelical Christian, Pawlenty opposes same-sex marriage, and as governor vetoed legislation that would have allowed local authorities to determine who could receive domestic partner benefits.

"I firmly believe that marriage is between a man and a women," he said recently.

He has endorsed mandated waiting periods for women seeking legal abortion, and has participated in March for Life rallies.

His first commissioner of education in Minnesota expressed support for teaching creationism, and Pawlenty punted in a recent debate when asked if he equated that theory with scientific theories of evolution. What and how to teach the subject, he insisted, should be left to local control.

In an interview this year with Christianity Today magazine, Pawlenty said he is "proud to be labeled a fiscal conservative and a social conservative."

"I've been pro-life my whole life," he said. "I've been in favor of traditional marriage."

Climate Change

Pawlenty has been dinged by conservatives for his past support of initiatives to reduce carbon emissions, as well as a regional cap-and-trade proposal.

He essentially apologized for those views at a recent candidates' debate in South Carolina, saying he made a mistake.

In a much-cited 2008 interview with Human Events, at a time Pawlenty was considered on Sen. John McCain's short-list for vice president, he cited his evangelical faith as a guidepost on the environment.

"I believe in the Bible, God instructs us to take good care and be good stewards of what He has given us," he said, "and that certainly includes our environment and natural resources."

But, by then, he was already saying he had determined that cap-and-trade is "the wrong approach."

The primary answer to reducing position, he said, "will revolve around breakthroughs in technology and innovation." Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.