Tim Pawlenty

Does Tim Pawlenty Pass His Own "Google Test?"


Pawlenty of fish for all.

Tim Pawlenty wants the federal government to get Googling. Here's a passage from the speech the Republican presidential contender delivered yesterday:

We can start by applying what I call "The Google Test."

If you can find a good or service on the Internet, then the federal government probably doesn't need to be doing it.

The post office — the government printing office — Amtrak — Fannie and Freddie were all built for a different time in our country. When the private sector did not adequately provide those services. That's no longer the case.

By this standard, the government could conceivably skip out on just about every service it currently offers. That may sound swell around these parts, but does Tim Pawlenty really buy it?

It's not at all clear how many government services he'd really like to cut: Later in the speech, he estimates that, properly applied to all federal agencies, the Google test could save "up to 20 percent in many programs"—a carefully hedged figure ("many programs" could refer to the majority of the federal government's operations or just a few dozen departments and projects in a handful of agencies) that reveals very little about how much Pawlenty really wants to scale back federal operations.

Pawlenty's own record suggests he may have trouble applying the Google test. He's previously failed to follow it on at least one of the examples he explicitly mentioned in the speech—government-sponsored mortgage giants Fannie and Freddie. As NRO's Katrina Trinko reported, Pawlenty supported a government bailout of Fannie and Freddie in 2008, saying that "if you allow those entities to fail, the consequences are so severe for innocent bystanders, namely average Americans who rely on the markets, rely on those mortgages, you know, the consequences are too severe." 

What's more, Pawlenty is expected to release a Medicare plan that leaves traditional Medicare partially intact. It's true that he's said that, as president, he would sign Rep. Paul Ryan's plan to wholly shift Medicare from a government-run, single payer system to a premium support model in which seniors purchase health insurance from regulated private insurers. But he said he would only do so if there was no other choice. And he's also indicated that his own plan will propose to keep the existing single-payer Medicare system in place and merely offer Ryan-style premium support as an option.

Perhaps Pawlenty's previous support for bailing out Fannie and Freddie can be explained by the fact that he hadn't developed his "Google test" yet, or by a simple shift in views over time. But it's harder to square the test with his position on Medicare: Not only could private insurers easily replace our fully government-run Medicare system, but his own party has already put forth a plan to do so. Yet he says he'd only support that plan if there was no other choice available, and his preferred policy would only augment Medicare with an additional private insurance option while leaving the government-run, single-payer system alive and operational. 

NEXT: No Really: SWAT Team Raids House at 6 AM and Handcuffs Father of Three Young Kids to Execute a Dept. of Education Search Warrant for Estranged Wife's Defaulted Student Loans

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. What’s more, Pawlenty is expected to release a Medicare plan that leaves traditional Medicare partially intact.

    Well, he just failed the Libertarian let them fucking die test

    1. D- for creativity and topicality. You could at least have gotten Somalia and monocles in there or claimed that if it weren’t for government-run health care the Ronald McDonald House wouldn’t exist.

      1. See, the only reason for the Ronald McDonald House is get those tiny consumers healthy enough to buy crappy Happy Meals.
        So fuck ’em.

        1. How big a house does that fucking clown need?

          1. At least one bedroom, if he’s as conventional as his outfit.

          2. It’s always bothered me gthat they ask for donations. Their McDonald’s. They got money.

  2. Why not do the Constitution test?

    If it is not a specific enumerated power, then it is not the business of government.

    1. I just googled it–this “Constitution” you refer to does show up in the search results. Which means that it’s a government program we can eliminate.

      1. I think Congress has been working on that for the past 200 years.

        1. Huh. At last, we’ve found something that Congress is good at.

    2. Only the junior Senator from Kentucky seems to be aware of this “Constitution”, and I hear he’s kinda kooky.

      1. Must’ve been on his website.

    3. But, I’m a living document! Watch me breathe!

      1. For the love of God, euthanize it!

        1. leave us out. we’re happy to breathe fresh air into centuries-old words.

    4. “General welfare… regulate commerce… necessary and proper”

      Hmmm. I guess that authorizes just about anything one can imagine.

    5. “Why not do the Constitution test?

      If it is not a specific enumerated power, then it is not the business of government.”

      I prefer The Daughter Test, which is where I get to test all of the daughters out there.

  3. WTF is up with that fish? It looks like its about 2 weeks old. Do Minnesotans really have zombie fish swimming their navigable waterways?

    1. That would be a walleye. Butt-ugly, but top-notch eating.

    2. It’s a riff on the ’70s TIME magazine cover:


      1. I knew that fish was old and dead. And photoshopped.

  4. And he’s also indicated that his own plan will propose to keep the existing single-payer Medicare system in place and merely offer Ryan-style premium support as an option.

    Ah, the worst of both worlds, designed to maximize government outlays for healthcare. People will naturally gravitate to the option that gives them the most for the least. So, relatively low-cost Medicare beneficiaries will go with the private option and cash premium support checks, when having them stay in Medicare wouldn’t have cost Medicare much. High-cost beneficiaries will find the premium support insufficient given the premiums they would have to pay, so they will stay in Medicare. Adverse selection: how does it fucking work?

    1. It’s a floor wax and a dessert topping!

  5. we’ll just be trading party Pepsi for Party coke

  6. Well, it’s pretty clear that what’s happening here is Pawlenty is making fiscally conservative noises, but has absolutely no plans for follow through. His own record and willingness to contradict himself give it away.

    1. Exactly. “20%”? That’s all the bullshit you need to hear to know he’s hedging.

      1. My conservative friends loathe Pawlenty. My NeoCon co-workers/bosses like him though.

    2. What irritates me the most is that the circumstances are dire enough to get away with some major cuts, politically speaking. If we do it now, we’ll very likely recover. If we wait, it may be too late. And unlike Greece and Europe, there won’t be a U.S. around to bail us out.

  7. What’s that? You mean an “anti-government” Republican doesn’t walk the talk? I suppose next you’ll tell me that there’s gambling in Casablanca.

    1. shocking!

    2. How can anyone who has been elected to a government position be anti-government? It’s like the Baptist in the liquor store checkout line being anti-drinking.

      1. See, even as an anarchist I recognize the fallacy in this statement. One can certainly be for less government and be in government.
        A better example would be a Catholic priest (who thinks public drunkenness is bad) in the liquor store line.

        1. Our anarchist numbers increase! Now there are ten of us! When will this juggernaut end?

          1. I am working on others, outside your sphere of influence. Copies of Konkin will flow like the blood of tyrants.

        2. How do you keep the Baptists from drinking all your liquor? Invite a Catholic.

          1. open the curtains so the neighbors can see & the baptists will stop. catholics?…not so much

    3. That’s why I want a group of Censors. Originally, I thought “Fourth branch!”, but now I think “Constitutionally recognized but independent!” With full veto and removal powers. An anti-fucking-government.

      1. Just make it easier to repeal than pass laws. If 10% of the House or Senate (or state legislatures) sign up against a law, it’s repealed. Not a bill to repeal, just a petition that opens up as soon as a bill becomes law.

        1. I want easy law removal, but I also want easy politician removal.

          Actually, another power for the Censorial Anti-Government. The ability to force a re-enactment of a law. Maybe a retroactive veto, too, under some circumstances.

          1. I thought Heinlein’s tricameral legislative body with one part able to repeal laws with relative ease that he mentioned in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress wasn’t a bad idea at all.

  8. One can sometimes get elected playing the Grinch, but it’s usually necessary to play Santa Claus if you want to get reelected.

  9. Yeah okay. He can say whatever he wants.

    The last two presidents have proven that no matter what they say on the way into the WH, they won’t do anything like it once they’re in the door.

    So why does anyone pay any attention to what they say anymore?

    Politics is a spectator sport more than anything else.

      1. Oh sorry, I forgot the zero on the end. I need an editor.

  10. still beats hope and change

  11. Oh wow, OK thats kinda crazy when you think about it.


  12. To be fair, I think someone can think “the government shouldn’t do this”, while still not wanting the current government agency doing it to catastrophically fail without a private sector alternative in place. There’s something to be said for graceful transitions.

    1. The problem with graceful transitions is that they never happen. If you don’t end a government program abruptly, it lingers forever.

  13. You could just Google Ron Paul.

  14. Too bad Pawlenty doesn’t really believe in the Google test he proposed. EVERYTHING the government does can be done by private enterprises serving willing customers, so it should all be shut down.

  15. I think government should have three branches: one that doesn’t write laws, one that doesn’t enforce them, and one that doesn’t bother to interpret them. Oh wait, that’s what we have now.

  16. I recall a mayor from Indianapolis (I think) who talked about his yellow pages test. He said that if they could find three companies in the yellow pages that were doing something that the city was doing, they would put it out to bid. He said that they saved something like a third typically by doing that.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.