Tim Pawlenty: Neo-Hooverite

Potential 2012 Presidential candidate, and Governor of Minnesota, Tim Pawlenty wants to cut government spending and balance the budget in response to the recession. This is of course nonsense that even most right of center economists have accepted is the wrong way to address downturns for approximately 60 years now, but what do those silly, elitist, effete economists know anyway?

I joke, but that’s basically the crux of Neo:Hooverite posturing. Pawlenty undoubtedly has people who took advanced economics classes around him, and I imagine that he knows what he’s saying is the absolute wrong way to respond to a recession. But the point here isn’t to do what’s best for the economy, it’s to get elected. And the party out of power (yes, Democrats were guilty of this too) generally does that by appealing to populist sensibilities. So with that in mind, you’re going to see a lot of Republican contenders, as well as elite media voices who think they’re speaking for “the regular guy,” peddling lines to the effect of “if you have to tighten your belt, then why shouldn’t the government?” Of course, the answer is that the government doesn’t tighten its belt because doing so would further dent aggregate demand and deepen the recession, and because borrowing in times like these is beneficial because interest rates are lowest. But the average person doesn’t understand these concepts, and so the populist government-as-Joe SixPack stuff can gain some traction if Democrats don’t push back on it.

But we really should understand this as a cynical political ploy much more than a serious ideological belief from the right.

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