Matt Lewis: Gov. Tim Pawlenty Gets an 'A' Grade From The Cato Institute

Gov. Tim Pawlenty Gets an 'A' Grade From The Cato Institute
By Matt Lewis
September 30, 2010
The libertarian Cato Institute is out with their report card today, and it could provide a major boost for the presidential prospects of Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty.
According to their website, Cato is "dedicated to the principles of individual liberty, limited government, free markets and peace."
Just four governors received an on Cato's report card Mark Sanford (R-S.C.), Bobby Jindal, (R-La.), Tim Pawlenty (R-Minn.), and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).
The report goes on to note that,

"Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota has proposed pro-growth reforms, opposed tax increases, and been a relatively frugal budgeter. He has proposed cutting the state's high and uncompetitive corporate franchise tax, and he has repeatedly vetoed giant tax-hike packages passed by the legislature, including increases to gasoline taxes, beer taxes, wine taxes, and income taxes. Under Pawlenty, state general fund spending rose modestly between FY03 and FY08 and has decreased substantially since then. The governor has also proposed a state constitutional amendment to limit general fund spending."

Pawlenty received similar praise from The Wall Street Journal, which writes,

One Governor who deserves particular credit is Republican Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, who vetoed four separate income and other tax hikes that Democrats in the legislature sent him during the financial panic and recession.

Governor's who seek the presidency always attempt to utilize their gubernatorial experience as a rationale for the presidency, and Pawlenty can argue that he has executive experience -- and that as governor of a blue state, he insisted on fiscal responsibility. That message could be highly potent.
In this political environment, where government spending is an issue of great importance, one can't help but imagine this grade will bolster Governor Pawlenty, as he attempts to win-over conservative support for the 2012 GOP presidential primary.
It will also be interesting to see how this plays out in the U.S. Senate race in West Virginia, where Governor Manchin (who also received an 'A') is facing a tough challenge from Republican John Raese.