Inching closer to entering the GOP presidential candidate roster, former New York Governor George Pataki said that he’s “considering” getting into the race and that he would make his decision within “a very short horizon” of time. He said, “I believe we can be very competitive, more than competitive.” He is closely following the events of this week, not just the market reaction to the S&P downgrade of the U.S. long-term debt, but also the GOP candidates’ debate this coming Thursday night followed by the Iowa Straw Poll on Saturday.
“I’m certainly considering [a run],” he said. “And the failures of this administration, even after repeated examples of the terrible consequences of their wrong policies – and the fact that we don’t see yet a Republican candidate with a pro-growth, pro-jobs agenda who also shows how that person would control government spending and entitlements – certainly is making me lean towards making that decision.”
In his strongest criticism yet of President Obama and the Obama administration, Pataki, founder and chairman of the non-profit organization, No American Debt, told The Fiscal Times in an exclusive interview Tuesday, “This country is spending itself off a cliff. We’re in the midst of a debt crisis, a fiscal crisis, and this president has failed to provide leadership when it comes to reining in spending and curtailing entitlements appropriately.”
Pataki, who served three consecutive terms as New York governor, from 1995 to 2006, said, “The president is putting his political future ahead of the country’s economic future. He’s again proposing to raise taxes on the rich. Look at it from the standpoint of what we need to do to rein in spending, grow the economy to create jobs and restore people’s confidence that they’re actually going to actually have a job. [Obama] is proposing the exact opposite. He’s had exactly the wrong economic policies. We don’t just have a spending and a debt problem – we have a growth problem. We had a pathetic GDP increase in the first half of this year.”
Pataki’s remarks came just ahead of the results of the Federal Reserve’s meeting on Tuesday, in which the Fed pledged for the first time to keep its benchmark interest rate at a record low through mid-2013 in an effort to revive the flagging recovery.
Too Late to Make a Run?
Pataki acknowledged that time is running out on declaring his candidacy – practically, financially, and politically. “Yes, it is,” acknowledged Pataki “Time is running out for our country. I understand that both from a political standpoint and also from the standpoint of this country, decisions have to be made quickly.”
Asked if he thought there was a winning candidate among already declared GOP declared candidates, Pataki said, “I think they could all be winning candidates, given this president’s abject failure from a policy standpoint. But I don’t think we should nominate someone simply based on the failure of the other side. We have to have our own proactive positive agenda as to how we will balance the budget, grow the economy, and move forward with confidence. And I have not seen that from one of our candidates yet. I am still looking.”
In his strong attack on Obama, Pataki said that the president “always first starts out by blaming somebody else, and then says, ‘But of course we have to work together.’ Then he engages in class warfare. This is not leadership. This is not policy that is going to help us move in the right direction. This is all about politics, and it’s not what the country needs at this point.”
Asked if the S&P downgrade of the U.S. long term debt was fair, Pataki replied, “What is fair is to point out that this country is spending itself off a cliff. When you’re borrowing 42 or 43 cents of every dollar that you spend, ultimately, whether it’s today, next year, or a decade from now, you are broke. It’s that simple. And whether it’s fair or not fair, what [Standard & Poor’s] has done is point out what everyone knows: That this country is in the midst of a debt crisis, a fiscal crisis, because of out-of-control spending, out-of-control entitlement growth, and an unwillingness on the part of the president and what had been the controllers of Congress since 2006 to do anything serious to rein in unsustainable spending and borrowing.”
Pataki expressed dismay and disappointment that the president “ignored” the recommendations of his own bipartisan fiscal commission on reducing deficit spending in the coming decade. He had an “excellent report by his own commission – the Simpson Bowles commission –, which proposed $4 trillion in deficit reduction… It was a pro-growth agenda, because it lowered the marginal rate on individuals for income, and it lowered the corporate tax rate, both of which are essential if we’re going to see the growth that will generate the revenue that will help us to deal with this crisis. So this president has not just been absent in his leadership. His leadership has been flawed, it has been wrong, and it has compounded the problem in dramatic and important ways.”
Pataki on the Attack:
- “Obamacare has been a nightmare for the economy. It has imposed enormous new costs and regulations and uncertainty on those small and large businesses, and has been so politically driven. We need to repeal it. We didn’t need Obamacare.”
- “We didn’t need to drive banking jobs offshore, overstepping the boundaries with Dodd Frank. We didn’t need a trillion-dollar so-called fake stimulus program that just added to the debt and didn’t in any way, in my view, significantly impact economic growth. This president needs to stop looking at the polls as to what might be popular in the short term, and needs to look at what might work for the people of this country.”
- “We’ve seen that we are hurting tremendously because of a failure of policy in Washington. So much as Washington seems like an alien planet, to me and to the vast majority of Americans today, unfortunately the policy dictates coming out of there affect every one of our lives.”
- “I think we are just seeing a failure of leadership here. There are people of good will, people of reasonable views, in both houses and both parties, but when you call one side ‘hostage takers,’ or when you call one side ‘people who hold a gun to your head,’ and then, by the way, follow that up with a national address about how we have to work in a bipartisan manner, you are poisoning the territory that needs to be harvested to bring people together.”