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Republican Candidate Pawlenty Says 5% Growth Is a ‘Stretch Goal’

Republican presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty said his plan for stoking the U.S. economy to grow at 5 percent a year is an “aspiration” that goes hand-in-hand with his proposals to slash taxes and cut government spending.

Pawlenty, 50, told “Fox News Sunday” he would “dramatically reduce spending” on federal programs to pay for tax cuts that may lower revenue by as much as $11.6 trillion over a decade. Achieving 5 percent growth each year is a “stretch goal,” the former Minnesota governor said yesterday.

“This is an aspiration. It’s a big goal,” Pawlenty said of his growth target. Taken together, the tax reductions and cuts to mandatory and discretionary government programs would “unleash economic growth,” he said.

President Barack Obama is “leading from behind” when it comes to addressing the economy, Pawlenty said on the Fox program. “He has run out of ideas,” Pawlenty said. “We have tried it his way, and it doesn’t work.”

Pawlenty last week unveiled a plan to cut individual and corporate taxes, reduce loopholes and cut spending, in a move that he said would help the economy reach his growth target. The economy hasn’t grown at that rate for a full year since 1984.

His tax plan would reduce revenue going into the U.S. Treasury by $11.6 trillion over 10 years compared with current law, according to an analysis by the Tax Policy Center, a joint venture of the Washington-based Urban Institute and Brookings Institution.

25% Top Rate

In his June 7 speech at the University of Chicago, Pawlenty called for cutting the top individual tax rate to 25 percent from 35 percent and reducing the top corporate rate to 15 percent from 25 percent. He proposed eliminating taxes on capital gains, dividends, interest and estates and allowing “small businesses” that currently pay taxes at individual rates to pay at the corporate rate.

Pawlenty’s plan would eliminate corporate tax breaks and retain all individual tax breaks. It would expand the 10 percent income tax bracket to cover the first $50,000 of income for individuals and the first $100,000 for married couples.

U.S. Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, chairwoman the Democratic National Committee, said in a statement after the speech that Pawlenty’s proposal is “a prescription for economic disaster that would fall squarely on the backs of seniors and working families.” It would cut taxes for 63.6 percent of households and save top 0.1 percent of U.S. taxpayers an average of $1.4 million a year, according to the Tax Policy Center.

The proposed tax cuts in Pawlenty’s plan are much larger than those proposed by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp of Michigan, both Republicans.

Strong Showing

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney’s decision to skip an August straw poll in the early voting state of Iowa could create an opening for Pawlenty, who is focusing heavily on the state and aims to make a strong showing there to boost his chances of winning the Republican nomination.

“If you’re going to be a leading candidate for President of the United States, you’ve got to compete in these early states,” Pawlenty said yesterday. A New Hampshire debate among the Republican candidates is scheduled for today.

Republicans seeking the nomination to challenge President Barack Obama include Pawlenty, Romney, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Representative Ron Paul of Texas and former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania.

Herman Cain, former chief executive officer of Omaha, Nebraska-based Godfather’s Pizza Inc., and former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson also declared their candidacies.

Other potential candidates include Minnesota Representative Michele Bachmann, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and former U.S. ambassador to China and Utah governor Jon Huntsman.

To contact the reporters on this story: Jeffrey Young in Washington at jyoung89@bloomberg.net; Bob Willis in Washington at bwillis@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at msilva34@bloomberg.net

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