Pawlenty’s dreadful idea

PAWLENTY’S DREADFUL IDEA…. One year ago, as the global economy teetered on the brink of collapse, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) said he knew exactly what the United States should do to address the crisis and prevent a depression: approve a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. Seriously.

As Pawlenty saw it in December 2008, the economic crisis was the result of excessive debt. Right off the bat, that didn’t make any sense. Nevertheless, the governor proceeded to argue that balancing the budget in the midst of a financial crisis represented “common sense, kitchen table logic.”

The argument may have helped Pawlenty in his bid to become the poster child of Neo-Hooverism, but fortunately, his truly insane recommendation was ignored by those with actual responsibilities.

A year later, and with his unannounced presidential campaign already in gear, Pawlenty is still at it.

Mr. Pawlenty has proposed an amendment to the Minnesota constitution that would limit spending during any two-year budget period to the amount of revenue collected during the previous budget cycle. At a Republican fund-raiser in New Hampshire on Dec. 16, the governor also pushed the idea of an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would force Congress to pass, and the president to sign, a balanced budget.

You’ll remember that this little gimmick was popular with the Gingrich crowd 15 years ago, before sane people realized it didn’t make any sense — sometimes, the government should run deficits to address crises, such as wars and deep recessions. You know, like the stuff Obama inherited.

It’s hard to know whether Pawlenty seriously believes his own nonsense (in which case he’s a fool), or if he’s just spouting this to score cheap points with the Republican base, which he assumes doesn’t know better (in which case he’s a hack). Either way, this kind of talk should, in a reasonable political world, effectively end Pawlenty’s efforts to become a credible national figure.