Pawlenty Announcing: ‘We May Lose Our Country'

By Terence P. Jeffrey | May 23, 2011 | 5:50 PM EDT

Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota (AP photo)

( - After being introduced by his wife, Mary, to a crowd in Des Moines, Iowa, today, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty announced that he is seeking the Republican presidential nomination in 2012 and said that if political leaders were not honest about the financial problems facing the nation “we my lose our country.”

“Politicians are often afraid that if they're too honest, they might lose an election,” said Pawlenty. “I'm afraid that in 2012, if we're not honest enough, we may lose our country.

Pawlenty cited President Barack Obama as the prime example of a politician who Pawlenty believes will not tell the truth about the nation’s financial problems.

“Three years into his term, we're no longer just running out of money.  We're running out of time,” said Pawlenty. 

“President Obama's policies have failed,” he said. “But more than that, he won't even tell us the truth about what it's really going to take to get out of the mess we're in.”

Pawlenty outlined his own hard-hitting agenda for dealing with the nation’s debt and economic crisis. Yet at the same time, in his prepared remarks, he did not discuss national security issues, immigration, or social and cultural issues, such as marriage and abortion. He did say, however, that he had appointed conservative justices to the state Supreme Court in Iowa.

After his prepared remarks he conducted a "townhall" meeting with the crowd, answering questions. The first two questions were about judicial nominations and immigration. Pawlenty said that he would appoint justices in the mold of Antonin Scalia to the Supreme Court, and that America is a nation of laws and needed to enforce its immigration laws and secure its borders.

"The first is, we've got to enforce the border, both from an immigration and a security perspective" said Pawlenty. 

In his prepared speech, he took a shot at Wall Street and big business for relying on big government, saying there would be no more bailouts for government-favored industries.

“That's why later this week, I'm going to New York City, to tell Wall Street that if I'm elected, the era of bailouts, handouts, and carve outs will be over,” said Pawlenty. “No more subsidies, no more special treatment. No more Fannie and Freddie, no more TARP, and no more ‘too big to fail.’”

Pawlenty indicated he supported sweeping reforms in entitlement programs, including means-testing the annual Social Security cost-of-living adjustment and converting Medicaid into a block-grant program run by states—a provision in House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan’s Path to Prosperity budget plan.

As with his vow to go to Wall Street and decry subsidies for business, Pawlenty said he would go to Florida to call for entitlement reform. 

“Tomorrow, I'm going to Florida to tell both young people and seniors the truth that our entitlement programs are on an unsustainable path and that inaction is no longer an option,” said Palwently.

“I'll also tell the truth to wealthy seniors that we will means test Social Security's annual cost-of-living adjustment,” he said.         

“Medicare must be also be reformed with ‘pay for performance’ incentives that reward good doctors and wise consumers,” said Pawlenty. “And, we need to block grant Medicaid to the states. There, innovative reformers closest to the patients can solve problems and save money.”

He also called for freezing the salaries of federal workers.

“The truth is, people getting paid by the taxpayers shouldn't get a better deal than the taxpayers themselves,” said Pawlenty.

“That means freezing federal salaries, transitioning federal employee benefits, and downsizing the federal workforce as it retires,” he said. “It means paying public employees for results, not just seniority--from the Capitol to the classroom, and everywhere in between.”

Speaking in Iowa, a large corn-producing state, he called for phasing out federal subsidies for ethanol.

“The truth about federal energy subsidies, including federal subsidies for ethanol, is that they have to be phased out,” said Pawlenty. “We need to do it gradually.  We need to do it fairly.  But we need to do it.”