Pawlenty’s Wishful Thinking

The usual right-wingers like Larry Kudlow and the Wall Street Journal’s editorial page are falling all over themselves to praise Tim Pawlenty for his “plan” to double the real rate of economic growth from its historical level of about 2.5% per year to 5% for 10 years. I don’t want to waste much time on such an idiotic idea — as I told a reporter, if he could actually do this he deserves not only the presidency, but the Nobel Prize in economics. The truth is that there is no substance whatsoever to Pawlenty’s plan except to essentially abolish taxation for the wealthy. And doubling the growth rate is just childish wishful thinking. If there were any policies that could bring this about, every country everywhere would already be doing it.

Two points I haven’t seen mentioned elsewhere: (1) According to the OECD, no county in its database has ever achieved 10 continuous years of +5% growth except Korea; a few had compounded growth rates above 5% annually for 10 year periods, but none have done so for many years and the U.S. has never done so in its history. (2) The U.S. has only once in its history gone 10 years without a recession — the George H.W. Bush/Bill Clinton expansion that ran exactly 10 years from March 1991 to March 2001; the average postwar expansion only lasted 5 years.

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About Bruce Bartlett 76 Articles

Affiliation: Forbes

Bruce Bartlett is a columnist for, the online side of Forbes, the nation’s premier financial magazine.

He served for many years in prominent governmental positions including executive director of the Joint Economic Committee of Congress, Deputy Assistant Secretary for economic policy at the U.S. Treasury Department during the George H.W. Bush Administration, and as a senior policy analyst in the White House for Ronald Reagan.

Bruce is the author of seven books, including the New York Times best-selling Impostor: How George W. Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy, and thousands of articles in national publications including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post, New Republic, Fortune and many others. He appears frequently on CNN, CNBC, C-SPAN and Fox News, and has been a guest on both the Daily Show with Jon Stewart and the Colbert Report.

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