Republican presidential candidate Gov. Tim Pawlenty offered his economic plan in a speech at the University of Chicago Tuesday, calling for three flat income tax rates, cutting the corporate tax rate, and for programs like the Postal Service to be eliminated. Pawlenty, who notes his father's career as a truck driver in his campaign narrative, said President Obama is "a champion practitioner of class warfare. Elected with a call for unity and hope, he has spent three years dividing our nation, fanning the flames of class envy and resentment to deflect attention from his own failures and the economic hardship they have visited on America."
The former Minnesota governor said that people who currently don't pay income tax would still have a zero percent tax rate. People making $50,000 a year--or couples making $100,000--would pay a 10 percent tax; any money earned over that would be taxed at a 25 percent rate. Pawlenty said government programs should be subjected to "The Google Test"--meaning if you can find a service online, the federal government shouldn't provide it. Programs failing that test, in Pawlenty's estimation, is a program like the postal service, since UPS and Fed Ex offer the same services. First Read wonders, "Does Pawlenty realize that UPS and Fed Ex don't deliver to some rural parts of the country? How do you ensure mail for those folks? The real issue with the Postal Service is Congress' inability to allow it to make smart business decisions (like raising postage to a realistic level of say one whole dollar?!?!? Or shutting down some post offices)."
Pawlenty said cutting taxes would create a boom economy, and pointed to the economic recoveries that happened under the Reagan and Clinton administrations. But Slate's Dave Weigel notes that those expansions followed tax increases in 1982 and 1993. In fact, Pawlenty doesn't mention the 2000s, the decade when taxes were slashed and revenues fell.
Commentary's Jonathan S. Tobin says Pawlenty is trying to unite the Republican Party's many factions--Tea Partiers, social conservatives, etc--instead of appealing to a small slice of the primary vote. Tobin says Pawlenty "deserves credit for trying" to reassemble Reagan's coalition with "an optimistic pro-growth and anti-tax credo that should resonate with the Tea Party as well as with the Club for Growth crowd" without leaving conservative Christians out.