Pawlenty says 5 percent growth is "aspirational"

WASHINGTON Wed Jun 8, 2011 10:36am EDT

Republican presidential contender Tim Pawlenty makes remarks to the Cato Institute in Washington, May 25, 2011. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Republican presidential contender Tim Pawlenty makes remarks to the Cato Institute in Washington, May 25, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - White House candidate Tim Pawlenty on Wednesday appeared to soften his call for achieving economic growth of 5 percent a year, calling it an "aspirational" goal.

A day after unveiling his economic policies in a speech at the University of Chicago, the former Minnesota governor told CNBC the United States needs an ambitious growth target, bolstered by tax cuts and deregulation, to free the economy from expectations of a decade of slow growth.

"We're not going to accept anemic growth. We're not going to accept standing still. We're going to have a big aspirational goal. So that's going to be 5 percent GDP. It's a goal," Pawlenty said.

That contrasts with his remarks in Chicago, where he described 5 percent growth in gross domestic product as a realistic objective and "not some pie-in-the-sky number."

Pawlenty, who trails several other Republican presidential contenders in opinion polls, hopes to raise his national profile among rank-and-file Republican voters with his upbeat, tax-and-deficit cutting, deregulating message.

"This is what they believe in their hearts, in their heads and in their guts," said William Galston, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution think-tank and a former adviser to Democratic President Bill Clinton.

"So why shouldn't Pawlenty get out there aggressively with a program that tells people that, as president, he will do exactly what they believe ought to be done?"

Pawlenty's growth target was greeted by doubts among economists. Most put U.S. long-term growth potential in the 2-3 percent range and say a 5 percent growth rate is associated more with emerging markets.

The Wall Street Journal, a leading conservative voice in U.S. politics, gave its overall approval to Pawlenty's policies on Wednesday but questioned whether 5 percent was achievable.

"It's true that the economy grew 4.9 percent on average between 1983 and 1987, and nearly 4.7 percent between 1996 and 1999. Yet such long booms are rare in developed economies and we can't recall one that's lasted 10 years," the newspaper said in an editorial.

(Editing by John O'Callaghan)

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Comments (6)
rokid wrote:
I’m really getting tired of these “serious” republicans.

Jun 08, 2011 10:57am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Growth of 5% or more would be a boom. That’s only one half of the boom and bust cycle our economy perpetuates. 2-3% growth is sustainable, and that’s more important than short term gains.

I really wish more politicians would just be honest with their areas of expertise and leave more complicated matters to the experts.

Jun 08, 2011 12:17pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
DBenjamin wrote:
More of the same tired supply side economic fantasies. You can see by the trail of economic destruction (read $5 billion deficit) that he left his state with. If you want to check out a candidate with a successful record of governing you need to check out Gary Johnson.

Jun 08, 2011 12:28pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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