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Will T-Paw's Radical Tax Plan Become The GOP Gold Standard?

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It's radical vision and rosy assumptions have earned it derision from leading conservative commenters and policy experts.

No doubt the leading conservatives on stage Monday evening -- Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), Herman Cain, etc. -- will try to match or surpass Pawlenty's mark. The question is whether, as time goes on, the entire field will have to genuflect to the Pawlenty plan. If so, this will turn into a defining issue during the general election campaign -- and, if Obama is defeated, well beyond then.

There's recent precedent for this dynamic. Early in the 2008 Democratic presidential primary, John Edwards laid down policy markers early, and thus drove the debate among the leading candidates, particularly on health care reform. Universal health care became a major litmus test for all the top contenders, and eons later, the basic framework they all adopted turned into "ObamaCare."

This stuff has staying power. So watch tonight to see if Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, and the rest all bless the Pawlenty plan.

About The Author

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Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at brian@talkingpointsmemo.com