Pawlenty says raising of debt ceiling a 'false choice'by Nancy Lebens, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty says he would sign Rep. Paul Ryan's Medicare plan if it were the only choice to change the health care program, but offered his own take on how to resolve the government health care plan's financial problems.
Speaking on ABC's "This Week" on Sunday, Pawlenty said his ideas to reform Medicare differ from Ryan's proposal to create a voucher system for future beneficiaries. Pawlenty said his plan gives people options.
"We're also going to offer them a series of other choices so they can pick what's best for them and their families, and they'll have the opportunity to be in the driver's seat," Pawlenty said. "We'll also have incentives to make wise choices when it comes to cost and quality of health care."
Pawlenty said under his Medicare proposal, hospitals and clinics will be put on a performance pay system and not paid based on the number of cases.
Pawlenty also talked about the federal debt ceiling and said that it should not be raised. He said President Obama's insistence that not raising the debt ceiling would be devastating to the economy sets up a "false choice".
"At least for a while you can take away that false choice by ordering the Treasury to pay the outside obligations to creditors first. There's enough cash flow to do that for quite some time," he said.
Pawlenty said as president he would not cut defense spending.
Pawlenty spent the latter part of the nine-minute interview talking about his St. Paul upbringing, saying he was able to attend college when his siblings could not because of the cost.
Pawlenty emphasized the need for vouchers for low-income public school students. He said parents should be able to decide where to send their kids.
"We shouldn't have a country where the government says, unless you're rich you're condemned to go to a crappy school and your future hinges on whether some stupid lottery ball comes out and you might be able to go to another one," he said.
Pawlenty will spend Memorial Day campaigning in Iowa.
(MPR reporter Mark Zdechlik contributed to this report.)
Nancy Lebens is an editor for MPR News.