ThinkProgress filed this report from the Tea Party Patriots Policy Summit in Phoenix, AZ.
As the threat of a government shutdown looms over the nation, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) have repeatedly and forcefully denied that rank-and-file Republicans are calling for a closure. (ThinkProgress has documented at least 10 House GOPers who have defied the leadership’s wishes and come out in support of a potential closure.)
Now, despite Boehner and Cantor’s insistence that no Republicans want a government shutdown to be on the table, prospective GOP presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty is pitching his tent in the shutdown camp. ThinkProgress caught up with Pawlenty following his speech this weekend at the Tea Party Patriots Policy Summit in Phoenix, Arizona. Pawlenty declared that shutting down the federal government is “an option I think Republicans have to consider.”
The former Minnesota governor went further in the interview with ThinkProgress, declaring that the current shutdown showdown was a “line-in-the-sand moment,” the likes of which “are what we need.” Pawlenty called for a shutdown lasting a month or longer — “a dramatic month,” as he termed it — in order to force Congress to make tough decisions:
KEYES: Governor, you said one of your biggest regrets as governor was not allowing the shutdown in Minnesota to last longer. Would you have that same advice for Republicans in Congress as they face a potential shutdown?
PAWLENTY: I know these shutdowns always seem like they loom large, but in Minnesota, six months after, a year after, people looked back on it and could say, “it really didn’t have that big of a traumatic or dramatic negative impact on the state.”
KEYES: And that’s how you think it would be at a federal level?
PAWLENTY: These are hard to predict so we don’t know for sure, but a week-long or month-long or whatever it would turn out to be disruption isn’t the main point. The main point is we have a country that’s in deep trouble. We’ve got to get back to certain principles and responsibilities and starting with getting the budget balanced and if it takes a dramatic moment or a dramatic week or a dramatic month, those kinds of line-in-the-sand moments are what we need to get politicians back up against the wall and have them make the tough decisions. They all talk about making the tough decisions and never do.
KEYES: So you would support a shutdown if it comes down to it?
PAWLENTY: If it came down to it and it was between that and not getting the budget headed in the right direction, that’s an option I think Republicans have to consider.
A “dramatic month” with a federal government shutdown would include (but not be limited to) dramatic cuts to veterans services, law enforcement, and Social Security claims processing, according to CNN.