Pawlenty Treads Carefully Around Ryan Budget, Says He'll Unveil His Own Plan

ABC News’ Matthew Jaffe ( @JaffeMatt) reports:

Tim Pawlenty today said he would unveil his own budget proposal, but he treaded carefully around questions about how Rep. Paul Ryan’s controversial plan to overhaul Medicare may have helped Democrats win last night’s special election in NY-26.

“I’ll let the pundits and the analysts hash through that, but special elections sometimes are not the best barometer of the overall sentiment, but clearly there are some concerns about how those issues were presented, you know, in New York,” Pawlenty told reporters after a speech at Washington’s Cato Institute.

While Pawlenty during his Cato remarks praised Ryan for his “leadership and courage” in unveiling his budget proposal, the former Minnesota governor noted that his own plan will have key differences in its handling of Medicare.

“Our proposal is going to have similarities overall to the Ryan roadmap, but our Medicare plan will be somewhat different and you’ll see those differences when we unveil it,” Pawlenty said.

“Our plan will include a series of options that people can choose from, one of which will be to stay in the current program, but we’re going to have some other attractive options that I think are going to make a big difference,” he added.

Pawlenty, in the nation’s capital as part of a whirlwind week-long tour that kicked off in Des Moines Monday, emphasized the need to slash federal spending.

“The spirit of this is that there are no sacred cows and we’re going to have to make everybody make a contribution in the sense that we’re a team and we can’t solve a $14 trillion problem unless we have 300 million people working on it, so that’s what we’re going to do,” he said.

However at the same time Pawlenty – who has emphasized the need to tell “hard truths” in his campaign – indicated that military spending should not be cut.

“As an overall amount of spending – after you set aside as a supplemental the Iraq and Afghanistan money – the base budget of the United States military in my view shouldn’t shrink,” he said. “The rate of growth can be slowed down, but it shouldn’t shrink in absolute terms.”

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