Chris Wallace Schools Pawlenty: 5 Percent Growth Came After Tax Increases

Republican presidential contender and former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty may have been expecting a friendly reception when he sat down for an interview this morning with Fox News’ Chris Wallace. But he didn’t get one. The Fox host hammered Pawlenty on his recently released — and fantastically unrealistic — economic plan, which slashes taxes for corporations and millionaires while assuming unrealistic growth estimates.

Pawlenty’s plan would cost $7.8 trillion, or triple the size of the Bush tax cuts, and explode the deficit. Furthermore, his plan’s incredulously assumes 5 percent growth for 10 years in a row while eliminating revenue. As Wallace pointed out, there have only been two times in recent history when the U.S. has achieved 5 percent growth — and they both came after tax increases. Pawlenty seemed stumped by how to respond to this ugly truth about his so-called “pro-growth” plan:

PAWLENTY: We have achieved 5 percent growth twice in the recent history of this country. Once under Reagan, once under Clinton. Now was it sustained for 10 years in those circumstances? […]

WALLACE: But governor, is it declinist to doubt the 5 percent number or is it just a realist to doubt the 5 percent number? You talk about the fact that for a few years in the 80s and a few years in the 90s that we did have average 5 percent growth – or close to it, it was 4 point something. But the fact is, the difference is, in both of those occasions that was coming directly out of a recession, not after a year, a year into a weak recovery. And actually, in both of those cases, it came after a tax increase, not a tax cut.

PAWLENTY: But Chris, as I said — this is an aspirational goal.

Watch it:

The former governor kept hedging by admitting his plan is “aspirational.” “Unrealistic” would be the more accurate qualifier. As Ezra Klein noted at the Washington Post, “This plan isn’t optimistic. It isn’t a bit vague. It’s a joke.” And as Wallace pointed out, it’s not just liberals and moderates who are dismissing this plan as a pipe dream – Pawlenty’s fellow conservatives think it’s foolhardy too. Conservative blogger Jennifer Rubin wrote, “I love tax cuts as much as the next conservative, but…[this plan] is not a very serious budget policy.” Just this morning, conservative columnist George Will added his voice to the chorus of dissent, saying sustained 5% growth “will not happen.”