It's not the fair tax or flat tax that most conservatives dream of, but presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty's tax plan shows that he's serious about tax reform.
He couples tax reform and spending restraints as the keys to renewed American prosperity.
"I'm willing to tell Americans the hard truth," says Pawlenty. "And I believe Americans are ready to hear it. But the truth about our economy isn't hard at all. Markets work. Barack Obama's central planning doesn't.... It's not the American way."
Pawlenty says that he likes to draw lines-in-the-sand on tough issues.
But when he opened up a major policy speech at the University of Chicago on Tuesday, calling for spending restraints and tax cuts, he didn't just draw a line for the GOP against which the Democrats will have a hard time crossing, he built a berm that can be manned by millions of conservative activists.
In contrast to the micromanaged economy of Obama and his advisors that's grasping for breath, Pawlenty addressed big picture economic issues with specific proposals that would encourage free markets to work again and put America back to work.
The would-be GOP nominee and former governor of Minnesota advocated for three tax rates for individuals: Zero for those already not paying taxes; ten percent for incomes up to $50,000 ($100,000 for married couples) and twenty-five percent for incomes over $100,000.
Pawlenty also proposed to make investment income tax-free and abolish inheritance taxes, while calling for a real balanced budget.
"A balanced federal budget shouldn't be a political sound bite. It should be the law of the land," said Pawlenty according to the WSJ.
"As one of 49 governors operating with a balanced budget requirement, I balanced 4 biennial budgets in my two terms as governor of Minnesota. And I know the only reason our legislature ever gave me a balanced budget was because — under our constitution — they had to.'
Pawlenty's not a guy who skirts controversy either to accomplish his goals. When he says he wants spending reductions, his track record shows he means it.
In 2005, as governor, he forced the shutdown of Minnesota's government for a month over a budget impasse. And he's taken a no-compromise stand on Washington's current debt ceiling and budget issues.
"The main point is we have a country that's in deep trouble," he told the Progressive blog ThinkProgress in February while encouraging the GOP to consider shutting down the federal government.
"We've got to get back to certain principles and responsibilities and starting with getting the budget balanced and if it takes a dramatic moment or a dramatic week or a dramatic month, those kinds of line-in-the-sand moments are what we need to get politicians back up against the wall and have them make the tough decisions."
On the presidential campaign trail, he's taken on special interests, often getting all mavericky to defend his vision of free markets and better government.
"He went to Florida to promise an overhaul of Social Security and Medicare, programs sacrosanct to the state's seniors," reports the Boston Herald. "In New York, he told Wall Street [that] a Pawlenty presidency would not bail out investors. And in Iowa he promised to phase out subsidies to corn-based ethanol, a deal breaker for many in a state that relies on those federal dollars for a way of life."
He's not afraid of standing up for the right choices, even against those whose suppport he seeks.
Pawlenty says that the US is still the most dynamic and innovative country in the world, but that top-down economic policies have stifled innovation. The economy is ready to compete and create jobs, but people are wary.
"They've been discouraged and weighed down," he says.
To get the economy moving the government has to remove artificial restraints and let citizens go back to doing what they do best.
"The recession may have changed our economy," says Pawlenty. "But it didn't change our character."
Imagine getting back to a government that recognizes the worth of individual character where the bailout out everyone gets is an equal chance.
Tim Pawlenty already has.