Monday, November 24th, 2014

Fact-checking Tim Pawlenty

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Feb. 19, 2010.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Feb. 19, 2010.

Tim Pawlenty is a lame duck as governor of Minnesota. But he's considered a rising Republican star on the national stage -- someone thought to be a strong possibility to run for president in the 2012 primaries. And for that reason, his record is being scrutinized like never before.

We recently completed two fact-checks involving Pawlenty.

One concerns a comment he made to Washington reporters on July 26, 2010. Asked what his reaction would be if a presidential commission on the national debt were to recommend a mix of spending cuts and tax increases, Pawlenty said, "Not good. I don't think the argument can be credibly made that the United States of America is undertaxed compared to our competitors."

Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus ran the numbers and found his statement inaccurate. We checked her work and spoke to a range of tax policy experts, and concluded that Pawlenty's claim was indeed False.

The other concerns an ad aired by Mark Dayton, a former U.S. Senator who is now running in the Democratic primary to succeed Pawlenty as governor. In an effort to tap voter frustrations with the status quo in the state, Dayton's ad attacks Pawlenty's record on education.

In the ad's most provocative claim, Dayton asserted that "Pawlenty cut funding by $1,300 a student." We check the math and find that funding increased, but inflation and population growth complicate the situation. We give Dayton's ad a Half True.