Tag: tim pawlenty

Fisking Pawlenty

Having fisked Newt Gingrich’s and John Goodman’s “best” health care reform ideas, I probably should do the same for Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s similar oped in the Washington Post.  Pawlenty makes five recommendations:

  1. “Incentivize patients to be smart consumers.” Setting aside his use of the grating word incentivize (down with suffix creep!), Pawlenty is on the right track.  But he’s so vague as to leave (himself?) room for mischief.  “Make quality and costs more transparent”?  “Incentivize smarter health-care decisions”?  A pol could claim to be doing those things while falling far short of what he should be doing: letting Americans – rather than employers or government – control their health care dollars and choose their own health plan.  If that’s what Pawlenty means, heck, say it.
  2. “Congress should pass reforms that allow people to stop paying for procedures and start paying for results.” Pawlenty appears to think government should find the “right” payment system, rather than allow for competition between different ways of paying health care providers – between fee-for-service, capitation, and everything in between.  Such competition promotes all dimensions of quality.  Government isn’t equipped to define and pay for performance, and bad things happen when it tries.
  3. “Liability reform.” To recap: federal limits on med mal liability unconstitutional; Republicans unprincipled.
  4. “Interstate health-care insurance.” Pawlenty doesn’t seem to get that the point of letting individuals and employers purchase health insurance across state lines is to force regulators to compete.  His “interstate purchasing pool with strict standards” idea makes it sound like he doesn’t get it.
  5. “Modernize health insurance.” Again, with the vagueness.  If Pawlenty means he wants to let individuals control their health care dollars and choose their own health insurance – see here for how – then terrific.  But when he recommends that we should “make health insurance transferable so employees can keep their coverage if they switch jobs” and “prohibit insurance companies from discriminating against individuals whose preexisting conditions were covered under insurance they lost through no fault of their own,” it sounds like he thinks regulation is the solution.

Who Wants to Make Sarah Palin the Leader of the Republican Party?

Could it be the Washington Post? Bannered across the top of the Post’s op-ed page today is a piece titled “Copenhagen’s political science,” titularly authored by Sarah Palin. I’m delighted to see the Post publishing an op-ed critical of the questionable science behind the Copenhagen conference and the demands for massive regulations to deal with “climate change.”

But Sarah Palin? Of all the experts and political leaders a great newspaper might call on for a critical look at the science behind global warming, Sarah Palin?

What’s even more interesting is that the Post also ran an op-ed by Palin in July. But during this entire year, the Post has not run any op-eds by such credible and accomplished Republicans as Gov. Mitch Daniels; former governors Mitt Romney or Gary Johnson; Sen. John Thune; or indeed former governor Mike Huckabee, who might be Palin’s chief rival for the social-conservative vote. You might almost think the Post wanted Palin to be seen as a leader of Republicans.

I should note that during the past year the Post has run one op-ed each from John McCain, Bobby Jindal, Newt Gingrich, and Tim Pawlenty. (And for people who don’t read well, I should note that when I call the people above “credible and accomplished,” that’s not an endorsement for any political office.) Still, it’s the rare political leader who gets two Post op-eds in six months, and rarer still the Post op-eds by ex-governors who can’t name a newspaper that they read.


I am very fearful that the Republicans will nominate another Bush-style candidate for 2012. With the government running trillion-dollar deficits, the country needs a hard-line budget-cutter as the next president.

Politico reports: “Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty has been quietly assembling the blueprint of a presidential campaign and will announce Thursday the support of a group of high-level political strategists and donors, complemented by a handful of top new media consultants.”

I gave Pawlenty a “B” in my fiscal report card on the governors last year. Here’s what I said about him:

Tim Pawlenty pledged not to raise taxes when he ran for governor, but his tax record in office is more mixed than that. He backed a $200 million tax increase on cigarette consumers in 2005 and a $109 million corporate tax increase in 2008. He has also supported substantial increases in fees and charges. Pawlenty has provided some targeted tax relief and imposed temporary limits on local property tax increases, but he has not focused on pro-growth tax rate reductions. Nonetheless, Pawlenty’s veto record is impressive, including rejecting a gasoline tax increase, a hike in the top personal income tax rate, and various bloated spending bills. Pawlenty has delivered fairly restrained budgets over the years and kept spending growth to modest increases.

This year, Pawlenty has proposed spending restraint and he has vetoed tax increases. He has also called for cutting the state corporate income tax rate. Still, I’m uneasy about him, so I sure hope the party’s fiscal conservatives thoroughly vet the fellow before he advances too far.