Club for Growth on Pawlenty and Romney

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The Club for Growth has released a white paper on Romney’s positions in the past in relation to the Club for Growth’s positions. They have previously released a paper on Pawlenty. All I can say is, you have to read them both rather than focus on one or the other.

I will quote the conclusions, and link to the whitepapers. You cannot say you know the candidates until you have read these whitepapers. I learned a lot more about Romney, past and present, by doing so.

Mitt Romney:

Because of his long tenure in public life, especially his presidential run in 2008, Mitt Romney is considered a well-vetted candidate by now.  Perhaps to his consternation, he has developed an unshakeable reputation as a flip-flopper. He has changed his position on several economic issues, including taxes, education, political free speech, and climate change.  And yet the one issue that he doesn’t flip on – RomneyCare – is the one that is causing him the most problems with conservative voters.  Nevertheless, he labels himself as a pro-growth fiscal conservative, and we have no doubt that Romney would move the country in a pro-growth direction.  He would promote the unwinding of Obama’s bad economic policies, but we also think that Romney is somewhat of a technocrat. After a career in business, quickly finding a “solution” seems to be his goal, even if it means more government intrusion as a means to an end. To this day, Romney supports big government solutions to health care and opposes pro-growth tax code reform – positions that are simply opposite to those supported by true economic conservatives.  How much Romney’s philosophy of governance will affect his policy goals if elected, we leave for the voters to decide.

Tim Pawlenty:

It’s clear that Governor Pawlenty is, for the most part, hard to pin down on his exact ideological moorings.  Minnesota is not a conservative state by any means, and Governor Pawlenty did veto tax hikes passed by the liberal legislature and made a relatively strong push to keep a lid on taxes.  Pawlenty deserves tremendous praise for keeping Minnesota’s spending growth remarkably low.  For this, and for his consistent stances on school choice, tort reform, and political free speech, he deserves credit – while his record on health care and entitlement spending is mixed. However, Pawlenty has some simply inexcusable tax hikes in his record, and he made a mistake by taking no clear position on the 2008 Legacy Amendment. His tacit support for bailouts, more job-choking regulations, and various tariffs make it difficult for us to identify his core ideological identity. His support of things like mandatory vegetable oil in gasoline, cap and trade, and a statewide smoking ban make him sound overly eager to support big government proposals to address policy fads of the day.

Given all of this, we struggle to identify the real Tim Pawlenty.  We agree with those who say that Governor Pawlenty did the best he could in a state as liberal as Minnesota. And we believe he would be a stronger pro-growth executive in a more conservative climate, but his “clunkers” as he himself describes them are difficult to ignore.  A President Pawlenty, we suspect, would fight for pro-growth policies, but would be susceptible to adopting “pragmatic” policies that grow government.

My two cents: It appears that Romney is the “lesser of two evils” here. While Romney stands behind what he did in relation to the Massachusetts health care (which I can hardly call RomneyCare since Romney vetoed much of it), Pawlenty has earned himself a reputation as tax and spender when he can get away with it. Romney’s other bad position, climate change and ethanol, hardly compares to the craziness in Pawlenty’s history.

The fact that the Club for Growth, of all groups, can’t nail Pawlenty down, means that the real flip-flopper isn’t Romney, who has a tendency to take a position carefully and stand behind it even after the political winds have shifted.

And frankly, what we need today is a technocrat, someone who can navigate both sides of the aisles and work out victory in the details. We don’t have the broad support that Reagan enjoyed, and I doubt we ever will.

Because of his long tenure in public life, especially his presidential run in 2008, Mitt Romney is considered a well-vetted candidate by now.  Perhaps to his consternation, he has developed an unshakeable reputation as a flip-flopper. He has changed his position on several economic issues, including taxes, education, political free speech, and climate change.  And yet the one issue that he doesn’t flip on – RomneyCare – is the one that is causing him the most problems with conservative voters.  Nevertheless, he labels himself as a pro-growth fiscal conservative, and we have no doubt that Romney would move the country in a pro-growth direction.  He would promote the unwinding of Obama’s bad economic policies, but we also think that Romney is somewhat of a technocrat. After a career in business, quickly finding a “solution” seems to be his goal, even if it means more government intrusion as a means to an end. To this day, Romney supports big government solutions to health care and opposes pro-growth tax code reform – positions that are simply opposite to those supported by true economic conservatives.  How much Romney’s philosophy of governance will affect his policy goals if elected, we leave for the voters to decide.

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