AN OPEN LETTER TO TIM PAWLENTY

Dear Governor – and future President! – Pawlenty,

Your Monday op-ed on Politico.com ("Ponzi Scheme on the Potomac") was an intellectual, political, and personal revelation for me. I am a changed man. You offer a rare combination of political acumen, wordsmithery, and an almost preternatural understanding of economics. Washington needs you. We need you. More importantly, we need the Balanced Budget Amendment (BBA) you've proposed here. Most Republicans harp on "cutting spending" without offering specific proposals for doing so. But you have a very specific proposal – pass a balanced budget amendment. Visionary!

I have just a few questions. Forgive me the pedantic exercise of numbering them.

1. Have you ever looked at the process of proposing, passing, and ratifying an Amendment? After getting a two-thirds vote in both Jesus H. Tap Dancing Christ houses of Congress – and what could be hard about getting 67 Senators to agree to give up the right to fund pet projects in their states? – it must then be ratified by 38 state legislatures. We can assume they will be only too happy to give up the billions in grants they receive from Congress annually.

2. The GOP, home of Tim Pawlenty and fiscal conservatism, resoundingly rejected "PAYGO" (Balanced Budget Act of 1997) in 2002 when they controlled Congress. It got in the way of the Medicare expansion they were using to buy elderly votes. Maybe the problem is that it wasn't appealing as mere legislation. It will be much more popular as an amendment, right?

3. The only way (more on that in a second) to balance the budget under the current circumstances will be a series of draconian tax increases. Yet your proposal clearly states "the Bush tax cuts should be made permanent and tax burdens on individuals and businesses should be further reduced." Please explain this potential discrepancy. More accurately, please clarify what I am no doubt inaccurately perceiving as a discrepancy.

4. Under a BBA, the elimination of all discretionary and military spending from the current budget would leave us $300 billion in the hole. From where would you cut this additional $300 billion – after having eliminated all discretionary spending and the entire military budget – Social Security or Medicare? Alternatively we could save a quarter-trillion by defaulting on our debt, but that would still leave us a little short. And when "the tax burdens on individuals and businesses (are) further reduced", from where will these additional billions be cut?

4a. Which will be easiest to cut: Social Security, Medicare, or the entire fucking military budget? I can't see any problems, but a liberal naysayer might try to slow the process down.

5. When the BBA is passed with stadium-sized loopholes for "wars, natural disasters, and other emergencies":

  • a. Will the terribly well-defined War on Terror, the end of which is in clear sight, be sufficient to justify exceptions?
  • b. Are we to assume that "emergencies" refers to the well-defined, commonly accepted definition of emergencies?
  • 6. Like all intelligent people, you and I realize that when spending increases and deficits grow, the only way to trim the deficit is to reduce spending. I recently doubled my calorie intake and gained a lot of weight. Should I assume that cutting my calorie intake is the only way I can lose weight?

    Any guidance you can offer – aside, of course, from the Jedi-like guidance you have already provided – will be greatly appreciated. Please help me help you to help me further.



    With kind regards,
    Ed

    15 thoughts on “AN OPEN LETTER TO TIM PAWLENTY”

    • A bridge fell on this guy's watch, a multiple lane highway bridge in a major metropolitan area fell down (boom) on this asshat's watch.

      He can cut the entire federal highway budget too. That might not be very big, I have no idea.

    • Easy for him to say. Most if not all state governments are required to pass balanced budgets. But one thing is true; our deficits present a real danger and need to be addressed.

    • They loves to call for an amendment knowing full well it'll never pass. What happened to the Flag Burning Amendment??(like there was such an epidemic of flag burning???) Weren't there a couple of others in recent years?? Makes for a good sound bite, but it is nothing but hot air!!

      Ed, you called BULLSHIT on this in a civilized way.

    • A pleasure to read, but ultimately unsatisfying; like boxing a tree: you may well win on points, but the tree doesn't notice.

    • Wouldn't we just be better off by eliminating the federal government all together?

      I mean the states (especially Minnesota) and local units of government have done an awesome job of protecting vulnerable citizens from crime, poverty and assualts on civil liberties while truly enhancing public education, providing for police, fire and ambulance services and keeping a strong military all while keeping taxes low.

      Just ask the mayors, county executives, city council members, county board supervisors and the folks who run your state government – they will all tell you that we don't need the federal government…

      (But only those who don't represent the inner cities and rural areas.)

    • Wouldn't a BBA need a slush fund for the Too Big To Fail crowd? After we have implemented BK's plan, we could 'assess' the states for our TBTF account.

    • T-Paw is a mess waiting to happen. Here in MN, he resolutely will not raise taxes. So he stopped paying his bills. Cash-strapped cities laid off cops, property taxes have gone up, and up, and up. But, hey! We Do Not Raise Taxes!! Of course, he gets his advice from some nut-job economist who thinks we should ditch public transit and just have _everyone_ drive a car. Because our out of date road system can really handle more traffic.

      The frosting on this scam is his attempt to make a new state park- by buying undeveloped forest land at $6,000 and acre from United Steel. Oddly, my friend had his property appraised, with a house on it, at $1500/acre when the state wanted to widen the road.

      Ahh, him and Michelle Bachman make my brain hurt!

    • This, especially the stories in the comments, is a lot clearer in the context with the article that follows it.

    • Kulkuri: the Flag-Burning Amendment would have passed (at least going to the States) a few years ago if MITCH FUCKIN' MCCONNELL, of all people, hadn't voted against it. If memory serves, he stopped it once before then with some parliamentary maneuver, too.

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