Former Minnesota governor and GOP presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty is trying to deflect criticism of his role in Minnesota’s current government shutdown by touting is role in a previous one.
Pawlenty’s out with a new TV ad that claims he “won” a 2005 shutdown that closed the state government for eight days, at an estimated cost to taxpayers of $4.68 million per day. Pawlenty’s choice to brag about the shutdown and claim victory is interesting. Pawlenty’s beef with Democratic legislators was that they wanted to raise taxes on the wealthy in order to keep the state’s health services intact – Pawlenty and Republicans in the legislature wanted to cut 27,000 people off the state's health care plan. In the end, the two sides agreed to raise the state’s cigarette taxes in order to preserve essential social services and prevent the wealthy from paying more income taxes. This is the fight that Pawlenty claims he “won.”
The ad is part of a large effort by the Pawlenty campaign to whitewash his fiscal record as governor. While Pawlenty likes to claim that he left the state with a budget surplus, that surplus was largely just on paper. As the Wall Street Journal has reported, Pawlenty’s deferred payments and fuzzy math helped to make the state’s budget situation look a lot better than it was…laying the groundwork for the current deficit.
Watch the new ad: