Tim Pawlenty has a new ad up in Iowa, boasting of his performance in a 2005 Minnesota government shutdown — just as his state finds itself in the middle of a new government shutdown.
“Minnesota, gripped by one of the longest transit strikes in history,” The announcer says. “Why? Because Governor Tim Pawlenty refused to cave in to government unions. Result? Pawlenty won. Minnesota government shut down. Why? Because Tim Pawlenty would not accept Democrats’ massive tax-and-spending demands. Result? Pawlenty won. Tim Pawlenty — results, not rhetoric.”
Minnesota is now trying to find its way out of budget gridlock, due to disagreements between Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton and the Republican-led legislature over how to fix the deficit they inherited from the previous mirror-image administration of GOP Gov. Pawlenty and a Dem-led legislature.
Pawlenty has recently cheered on the government shutdown in Minnesota, telling reporters that GOPers in his state should stand their ground: “There’s going to be a variety of near-term impacts, but the longer-term goal is what is most important here.”
Back in January, soon after he left office, Pawlenty declared: “One of the things I wonder is whether I should have let the shutdown run longer to get more of my agenda through.”
As the Star Tribune has pointed out, there was in fact some give-and-take in the ultimate end to the Minnesota shutdown, including a “health impact fee” that most people simply referred to as a cigarette tax, at 75 cents per pack.
After the shutdown, Pawlenty took a conciliatory line in an interview with the Star Tribune, saying that in a divided government (at the time, there was a narrowly Republican-majority House and narrowly Democratic-majority Senate, with the GOPer Pawlenty as governor) each side would have to give a little:
Q. What have you learned about dealing with a divided Legislature that might assure Minnesotans that they won’t again witness gridlock and a government shutdown on your watch?
A. It can’t happen again. The state went into uncharted territory with this partial government shutdown. It should not have happened, and should never happen again.
We tried hard this year to reach out to both sides of the aisle, but in a polarized environment, you have to adjust your expectations to reflect the reality of who’s there and how far they can go in compromising. We set the bar really high on some things, and frankly, the Democrats did the same thing. We take our share of the blame for that.
We have 101 Democrats and 100 Republicans in a highly polarized political environment. Until that gets nudged one way or another, it’s unrealistic for either side to think they are going to have world-changing reform.
Also, the Pawlenty campaign has dialed down its declarations of how long the 2004 transit strike was. When in 2010 he called it the “the longest transit strike in the history of the United States of America,” Minnesota Public Radio fact-checked the claim and found it to be false — that other transit strikes have outlasted the Minnesota strike’s 44 days. Pawlenty’s camp then declared it to be “only the longest in the modern history, and there have been some that were longer.” And in this ad, it became “one of the longest transit strikes in history.”