MILFORD, N.H. (AP) — Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty said Thursday for the first time that he supports House Republicans’ budget outline that calls for cuts to the federal deficit as well as federal programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.

Pawlenty told reporters that if he were president he would endorse the House lawmakers’ plan. He has been dogged in recent days about the plan, which Democrats’ say would privatize sacrosanct federal programs. The endorsement now links the White House contender with House lawmakers’ potentially toxic proposals that were likely to be unpopular with seniors.

“As president, I’ll have my own plan. (But) if I can’t have that, and the bill came to my desk and I had to choose between signing or not Congressman Ryan’s plan, of course I would sign it,” Pawlenty said.

Pawlenty has faced yes-or-no questions about the plan, designed by Rep. Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, but has refused to give a direct answer. The GOP has embraced the budget and those who haven’t have faced harsh criticism; one voter in Iowa called former House Speaker Newt Gingrich an embarrassment for his criticism of the budget.

For his part, Pawlenty has tried to straddle the issues, promising his own budget plan to announce in the coming weeks. It appeared to be his tactic as he visited an electronics manufacturing plant during his first campaign stop in New Hampshire as a presidential candidate.

“I think Paul (Ryan) should be applauded,” Pawlenty toward reporters. “I really like his courage and leadership in getting a plan out there. I like the general direction of his plan.”

He added, “As to the Medicare part of it, we’ll have our own plan and it will have some differences, but if his plan came to my desk, and I wasn’t able to pass my own, I would sign it.”

Republican lawmakers in Washington are pushing an ambitious spending agenda that has allowed Democrats to paint the GOP as a party willing to make deep cuts to programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. Criticism of the budget outline helped Democrats win a special election in New York on Tuesday and could provide a blueprint for Democrats to roll back Republican gains in 2010.

Democrats and their allies were quick to note Pawlenty’s endorsement.

“Despite a few throw-away caveats, Tim Pawlenty just said that he would agree to sign a plan that would end Medicare by turning it into a privatized voucher system,” said Eddie Vale, a spokesman for Protect Your Care, a group tasked with defending Democrats’ health care overhaul. “It is unconscionable to throw seniors into the private market while doubling their out-of-pocket costs.”

The GOP-controlled House passed the plan earlier this year; the Democratic-controlled Senate rejected it on Wednesday.

The field of likely 2012 presidential candidates has worked hard to keep themselves away from the budget document.

On Wednesday, after a speech on budget priorities to a Washington think tank, Pawlenty refused to answer a yes-or-no question whether he would back the House’s plan. He said Ryan’s budget was a starting point.

The Ryan proposal for the budget year that begins Oct. 1 calls for cutting spending by $5.8 trillion over 10 years. Ryan would reduce tax rates for corporations and the wealthy, and eliminate various tax loopholes.

The blueprint aims to convert Medicare, the health insurance program for older people, into a subsidy or voucher program for future beneficiaries — those now under age 55. Many probably would pay more for medical services.

Medicaid, which helps the poor and disabled, would become a state-run block grant program, a shift that would reduce federal spending by billions of dollars.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (33)
  1. Tom says:

    Imagine That!

    I do remember that Iowa voter scolding Gingrich about not endorsing the Ryan plan. But if I was that Iowa voter (which i’m not thank goodness) I would think twice before scolding someone again for doing the samething because of that GOP candidate losing too the Dem because she endorsed Ryans plan.

    1. Truth seekers says:

      Just remember that Pawlenty signed a blood oath with the Minnesota taxpayers league that he would never raise taxes on the wealthy. He had to do this go get the GOP support. Without signing this oath none of these clods would have won their elections. I hope that Dayton continues to stand his ground and that the national media will listen to DAyton tell the real story behind this budget stalemate. I hope the national media will learn what how Pawenty is nothing more than a incompetent puppet for the well to do.

  2. pawlenty for dog catcher. says:

    What a suprise. A moron agreeing with morons.

    1. Trace says:

      Why would you insult dogs

      1. pawlenty for dog catcher says:

        good one

    2. Chris says:

      Wait a minute!

      Don’t you have any respect for anyone?

      Would you b so bold if you were not hiding behind a fake name?

      Please, grow up and save the comments unless you can actually add something.

      You should be embarrassed to be making statements like that at all…

      Even if you do not agree with someone, especially an elected official, you can show some civility, otherwise any statement that you make will go without merit.

      1. Richard says:

        Chris, I am embassased by your statements.

  3. Zed says:

    Take from Americans give to corporations and the ultra rich…Of course this tin plated phony is all for it….Just think, America could have potholes coast to coast if this little goof ball gets elected…..not that he has a snowballs chance in Halifax…

    1. Slim says:

      Tin plated phony… I think not!

      Skid-Mark Dayton is the real phony = the biggest hypocrite we have ever seen!!!

      1. JD Rockefeller says:

        A hypocrite? Are You kidding?

        A rich guy who cares more about regular folks than the caviar crowd.

        You are delusional, Slim.

  4. Amanda says:

    And this is important, because?

    1. Chuck says:

      Didn’t you hear, he is running for Pres… What do you think the article is about?

      Get used to another 18 months of this…. covering every move they make and every breath they take = crazy!

  5. N3Wschool(DOT)com says:

    @pawlenty for dog catcher…thank you for contributing so much to the local blog. It really shows your intelligence.

    The Ryan Plan however is extremely flawed. Its just another long term strategy based on fantasyland assumptions, missing key overhaul measures such as social security & defense spending, and has no choice of building the bipartisanship necessary to ever be executed on.

    The Ryan Plan is an attempt at gaining more national exposure for his 2016 Presidential aspirations. And by no surprise a die hard (no matter what the cost) GOP’er (Tim Pawlenty) supports this bill to show he is in line with the extreme right, which is what it takes to get the Republican party nomination. If he wins the nomination you will see him take a more “centered” stance on the bill, if it is even around in 2012.

    1. Jennifer says:

      I think you have something here, it is an obvious trend. And I appreciate your civil and thought provoking (as opposed to emotion provoking) post.

  6. tom hasbrouck says:

    Tim Pawlenty will support anything if he thinks it helps him get the lunatic right wing vote. This guy left his state in complete shambles.

    1. Chris says:

      Yeah, right!

      Please see Charlie’s note below… you are not seeing the whole picture.

      1. Richard says:

        Chris, I am embarrased by this statement also.

    2. Wayne says:

      DO you live in his state? If not, don’t make comments on things you know nothing about, please.

      1. Jennifer says:

        I live in the state. I can think of a few shambles that he left. I’m certainly not a fan and will not consider him in any elections in the future.

  7. Paul says:

    Well I am not a lunatic. But I am a conservative independent. And I would not vote for this AH. No taxes but plenty of fee’s If he is nominated I will vote for Obama

    1. Charlie says:

      Rest assured, Paul, he probably will not get elected…

      and I honestly do not understand why he would want the job!

      Regardless, the Feds are another whole ballgame…

      His hands were tied here and the whole legislature is just as responsible.

      1. WHAT????? says:

        I agree with most of what you post here. The only thing that I would like to comment about is the line “His hands were tied here”, they were not tied tight enough to stop him from having a record number of veto’s that he put through so it is not like he was powerless as your post kind of makes it seem.

        1. Walker says:

          @ what????? He had power he did not use. 8 years of running the administrative portion of government. Did he make it more efficient or streamline it? Did he cut waste in the upper management of programs? Nothing but squawk “No new taxes”, take trade mission trips that produced nothing but sightseeing opportunities
          for him and his wife at taxpayer expense. Visit the national guard and more sightseeing at taxpayer expense.

          1. WHAT????? says:

            Was I the one with the comment, or was I the one that said I agree with some of what you said? Then why would your comment be aimed at me? Just had to have someone to yell at huh?

  8. FreddieBaby says:

    Who cares what Pawlenty thinks? He is a washed-up politician without a job and slim chances for another public position in the future.

  9. Paul says:

    like thats a surprise tpuke endorses the rebublican budget bill ! yes privitize eveything and see how fast we all lose our SS,medicare,medicaid and our retirement themn there will only be to classees of people the ultra-rich and the poor

  10. Joe says:

    Who is it that keeps pushing this idiot on us, day in and day out? Someone in the media wants this guy on the ballot. I wonder who.

  11. sw says:

    Regardless of party affiliation, there is one reason, and one reason alone I would never vote for Pawlenty for President; the 35 W bridge collapse. I will never forget the TV coverage right after the bridge collapsed. The look in his eyes was fear and confusion. He didn’t inspire any confidence in me as a leader because he seemed completely shocked and lost. Then, Mayor Rybeck stepped forward and took control; thankfully. I stood in my living room and said, “This guy is more qualified than Pawlenty.” Never looked back since then. Either you can lead in times of crises or you can’t. You may agree with his politics, but this guy simply isn’t a leader.

  12. LoveItOrLeaveIt says:

    Joe, I was wondering, too, who wants him to run. But for me, it’s more like — who has told him he should? Does he have political connections we’re not aware of?

    I hope he’s prepared to answer the questions about his leaving Minnesota inn shambles. His opponents for the nomination will drag THAT issue out, and nail him to the wall with it, I hope. I’m guessing either Michelle or Sarah would use a 10 pound hammer for that job. LOL

    Seriously, I’ve watched him a few times on a few of the networks (including Fox), and he just doesn’t come off as “commanding” or “presidential”. He comes off more like a guy who sells suits in a high end department store who acts like he knows what he’s doing, but doesn’t exude one bit of confidence in himself. When he states his position on something, he’s equivocal about it, too. Just like his response here: “He said Ryan’s budget was a starting point.” Well, ANYONE’s budget is a starting point! What a stupid comment!

  13. Bill says:

    He can pick Michelle Bachman for vice president, Our world will crumble for sure!

    1. Fred says:

      Is one of them suddly going to be a resident of Wyoming?

      1. grizzley man says:

        Bachman is a no-go. If she runs she will not have a chance to win unless all the other candidates suddenly die simultaneously. She is too far right to ever make a real serious bid for the White House.

  14. grizzley man says:

    Pawlenty was being preened for a presidential run during his whole term as governor of MN. I am a a bit of a fiscal conservative myself, and was never impressed or pleased with how he ran the state. Sure, no more taxes, but every other fee went up dramatically along with county real estate taxes. We paid way more money but he could claim he didn’t raise taxes. Personally, I would not vote for him in a presidential election.

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