As Backlash Against Ending Medicare Spreads, Pawlenty Refuses To Back GOP Plan

ThinkProgress filed this report from the AFP Presidential Summit in Manchester, NH.

Last month, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) introduced his plan to end Medicare and extend tax breaks for the wealthy. The measure was quickly voted on, and House Republicans approved it in near lockstep — 235 to 4.

However, in the past two weeks, as congressmen went back to hold town halls in their districts, a major constituent backlash ensued.

Seeing the writing on the wall, Republican presidential hopeful Tim Pawlenty is refusing to endorse the Ryan plan. During an interview with ThinkProgress, Pawlenty repeatedly refused to say whether he would sign the Ryan budget as president, saying instead that he will soon have his own plan. When reminded that Congress passes legislation and presidents only sign or veto them, Pawlenty only repeated that “you’ll be able to compare them when you see our plan”:

PAWLENTY: I’ll have my own plan and it’ll have many of the same elements to it. And I certainly appreciate Congressman Ryan’s courage and leadership that he’s exhibited in contract with President Obama, who until recently was ducking the issue. But as to the details of Cognressman Ryan’s plan, I will soon have my own plan which will have many similarities…

KEYES: But Congress passes the bills obviously. They come to your desk. If his bill were to come to your desk?

PAWLENTY: Yeah, I just, we’ll have our own plan and you’ll be able to compare them when we reveal that.

KEYES: But if it does come to your desk?

PAWLENTY: You’ll be able to compare them when you see our plan and you can make your judgment.

Watch it:

It’s understandable why Pawlenty would hesitate to endorse Ryan’s budget. Polls show that more than 8 in 10 Americans oppose Ryan’s plan to dismantle Medicare, including 73 percent of Republicans. In addition, an overwhelming majority of Americans support increasing taxes on the wealthy.

Still, as a presidential hopeful, Pawlenty is making a habit of ducking tough questions. Thus far in 2012, the former Minnesota governor has avoided taking stances on Paul Ryan’s Medicare cuts, if homosexuality is a health risk, and whether or not even closeted gays should be allowed to serve in the military.

For a party that routinely criticizes Obama for supposedly “voting present,” one of their own leading presidential contenders is quickly earning a reputation for avoiding tough questions.