Hours before Tim Pawlenty takes the stage at the first major GOP debate in New Hampshire, his campaign co-chairman fought back against criticism of the former Minnesota governor's economic plan.
"It's a proposal for a macro-economic strategy," former Minnesota congressman Vin Weber said on MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell Reports. "It's not a budget submission."
Weber said the Republican presidential candidate's plan is not an endpoint. "Gov. Pawlenty has said if this isn't the way to get to higher levels of growth," he said, "let's hear what other people are suggesting."
The former Republican congressman said any plan is better than the Obama administration's attempt to improve the economy. "$800 billion of stimulus and quantitative easing by the fed [has] left us with a listless economy, unemployment and underemployment and stagnant wages," Weber said.
Tim Pawlenty is "talking about spending cuts and ways of getting to the balanced budget. He's also talking about changes in the tax code that would boost employment and incomes," Weber said.
The former Minnesota congressman was referring to Pawlenty's plan to simplify the individual tax code by creating only two rates: 10 percent and 25 percent. According to the former governor's plan, "Those who currently pay no income tax would stay at a zero rate. After that, the first $50,000 of income -- or $100,000 for married couples -- would be taxed at 10 percent. Everything above that would be taxed at 25 percent."
When asked to respond to Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom's Tweet that the former Massachusetts governor "left behind $2.3 billion IN CASH for his successor," an apparent dig at Pawlenty, who left office with a $5 billion deficit, Weber said, "The budget was balanced every year that Gov. Pawlenty was in office, and he made proposals, which would have helped balance the budget going forward. They were always rejected by the Democratic legislature in Minnesota...as long as Gov. Pawlenty refused to raise taxes they would not make long-term reforms in spending."
Weber also addressed Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann's response of, "I really don't want to comment," when asked by The Wall Street Journal if Pawlenty was a "good governor."
"I wish she hadn't said this," Weber said. "He was a good governor. He was the most conservative governor in my lifetime. I think the overwhelming majority of Republicans in Minnesota would agree with that."