Pawlenty to blast Obama “class warfare”

By David Morgan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Republican presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty will unveil an ambitious plan on Tuesday to ignite the economy while accusing President Barack Obama of championing “class warfare.”

In excerpts of a speech he is to give in Chicago later in the day, Pawlenty said he would slash taxes for businesses and individuals, cut government spending and eliminate burdensome regulations.

The former Minnesota governor is viewed by political insiders as a potential front-runner in the Republican race to challenge Obama in 2012 despite his underdog status in the polls.

The economy, job growth and the federal deficit are expected to be the prime domestic issues of next year’s presidential campaign.

Obama is particularly vulnerable on economic growth. A new Washington Post/ABC News poll shows public disapproval of his performance on the economy at a new high of 59 percent.

“Let’s start with a big positive goal,” Pawlenty was to say in the speech. “Let’s grow the economy by 5 percent instead of the anemic 2 percent envisioned currently.”

He blamed Obama for weighing Americans down with “big government and heavy-handed regulations.”

“Regrettably, President Obama is a champion practitioner of class warfare. Elected with a call for unity and hope, he has spent three years dividing our nation, fanning the flames of class envy and resentment to deflect attention from his own failures and the economic hardship they have visited on America,” Pawlenty said.

Pawlenty, 50, a popular two-term governor from a Democratic-leaning swing state, attracted national attention by balancing the Minnesota budget without raising taxes.

On Tuesday, he pledged to tackle America’s economic and fiscal woes by cutting the business tax rate by more than half and setting individuals rates at 10 percent for married couples earning up to $100,000 and 25 percent for higher wage earners.

Congress should grant the president emergency authority to freeze spending and withhold up to 5 percent of spending until the budget is balanced, Pawlenty said.

He called for a “Google test” for identifying spending cuts, saying that if a person can conduct a Google search and find and buy goods or service from a private company, then the government does not need to be involved in that sector. He mentioned the Postal Service, Amtrak, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as such government services.

Pawlenty also called for elimination of “all federal regulations” that Congress does not vote specifically to retain.