On FOX News Sunday today, Gov. Pawlenty opposed raising the debt limit, and proposed authorizing the federal government to sequence thepaying of its bills, so we don't default on our debt obligations.
Watch that portion of the interview: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WzJetYzwYDA
Pawlenty Argues Against Raising Debt Ceiling
By Jonathan Weisman, Wall Street Journal, January 16, 2011 1:17 pm ET
WASHINGTON—Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a likely GOP White House hopeful, called on congressional Republicans to block an increase in the limit on federal borrowing, and he proposed legislation that he saidwould prevent a U.S. default on its loans.
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal Sunday and in an appearance on "Fox News Sunday," Mr. Pawlenty challenged even leaders in his own party, who have said Congress must increase the federal debt ceiling rather than risk a default that could send interest rates skyrocketing and the economy back into recession.
Mr. Pawlenty said Congress should pass legislation that would put interest and debt payments ahead of other federal spending and allow the federal government to pay its creditors as tax revenue flows in. With the surge of tax payments that come in between April and June, that would at least buy time to try to cut spending dramatically, he said.
"This debate about how we're going to restructure spending is inevitable. My view is, let's have it now," Mr. Pawlenty said in the Journal interview. "Let's call their bluff."
White House economists have said it would court economic disaster to use the debt ceiling, which is likely to be reached this spring, as a negotiating tool. Long-term interest rates remain at historically low levels, indicating no urgent need for dramatic austerity measures, they say, addingthat such cuts in the short run would jeopardize the economic recovery.
Lawrence Summers, President Barack Obama's former National Economic Council director, said Sunday the government needed more spending right now in key areas like infrastructure, not cuts.
"If at a time when we have unemployment approaching 20% in construction, and a 10-year-bond rate in the neighborhood of 3%, if that's not a time to invest in repairing our infrastructure, I can't imagine when there would be a better time," Mr. Summers said on CNN.
But Republicans seeking a national profile are challenging the administration more aggressively. On "Fox News Sunday," both Mr. Pawlenty and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie called on Congress to reject the debt ceiling increase.
"You cannot defy the laws of gravity, and this issue of Obama's approach versus the austerity approach is a very important debate," Mr. Pawlenty said in the Journal interview. "President Obama is just wrong."
Mr. Pawlenty also challenged Mr. Obama to explain why as a senator he opposed and voted against a debt-ceiling increase under President George W. Bush but now says that such a stand by Republicans is reckless.
In 2006, then-Sen. Obama said on the Senate floor: "The fact that we're here today to debate raising America's debt is a sign of leadership failure. Leadership means the buck stops here. Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better. I therefore intend to oppose the effort to increase America's debt limit."
His positions then and now are "wildly inconsistent and reflect hypocrisy," said Mr. Pawlenty.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs has said Mr. Obama took his stand when the outcome of the debt-ceiling debate wasn't in doubt and a U.S. debt default wasn't at risk.
Also on Sunday, lawmakers discussed the political tone in Washington in the wake of the shootings in Tucson, Ariz., that gravely injured Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
On NBC's "Meet the Press," Sen. Charles Schumer (D., N.Y.), considered one of his party's fiercest partisans, said he would be sitting next to one of the Senate's most conservative members, Republican Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, at Mr. Obama's State of the Union speech Jan. 25. The rising number of lawmakers pledging to cross the aisle could change the appearance of the annual address, when by tradition, the parties sat apart and the party of the president cheered while the opposite party stared glumly.
"What we can't question is our president's love for his country," Mr. Coburn said.
Mr. Schumer also approached the issue of gun control gingerly following the Arizona shooting. He said he had written the Obama administration, asking that the military notify the Federal Bureau of Investigation when its recruiters reject an applicant for excessive drug use, as they did with Jared Lee Loughner, the accused Arizona shooter.
Such notification would then go into the computerized records that surface during an instant background check carried out when someone purchases a firearm.
Mr. Schumer expressed some hope that Congress could act on legislation to reinstate a limit on the size of gun magazines—sometimes known as clips—to limit the ability of a shooter to fire off as many rounds as the Arizona gunman did. But he said he wasn't optimistic. "Let's be honest. There hasn't been the votes in Congress for gun control," he said.
Mr. Coburn said the shooting of Ms. Giffords pointed to the need for better mental health care, not gun control.
"Let's fix the real problem," Mr. Coburn said. "Here's a mentally deranged person that had access to a gun who shouldn't have had access to a gun. How do we stop that?"