Republican presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty said Tuesday, "The President is satisfied with a second-rate American economy produced by his third-rate policies. I'm not."
Pawlenty then launched into his vision of federal government and the economy. He did this in President Obama's hometown of Chicago, and at the University of Chicago, where the president taught law classes.
Pawlenty's plan offers deep cuts in taxes, spending and regulation. Income taxes would be pared down to three lower brackets 0 percent, 10 percent and 25 percent. The federal business tax would be slashed from 35 percent to 15 percent. Regulations imposed on businesses would be phased-out unless Congress votes specifically to restore them.
And Pawlenty says he'd ask Congress for emergency budget authority to freeze spending and hold back 5 percent of the budget. How long would that last?
"Until such time as the budget is balanced."
It's ambitious...and early.
Pawlenty is the first declared candidate to lay-out his economic vision, and there are still eight long months until the first voting in the Republican primary contests. There is potential for risk and reward in the move.
Pawlenty's team acknowledges he is still not among the best known of the GOP presidential candidates. Being first gets the attention of party members who will decide the nomination. Timing helps, too.
The American economy by many practical measures is not good. Gas prices remain high. Unemployment has crept back above 9 percent nationally. And an ABC News/Washington Post poll suggests three of every five Americans disapprove of President Obama's handling of the economy.
So, going after the President on the economy when it's on the forefront of the news cycle and the minds of many Americans makes sense.
But...going first, revealing early detailed ideas of how a candidate specifically would govern has its political risks as well.
David Axelrod, senior adviser to the Obama re-election campaign was ready for Pawlenty. Exiting a charity breakfast, Axelrod offered this response to the former Minnesota governor's visit and economic plan roll-out:
"He left his own state with a $5 billion deficit, and now he's counseling the rest of the country on how to handle finances. I think he would have been well served to take care of the finances in his own state."
By early afternoon, the DNC sent out to reporters a critique of the Pawlenty proposal by the Washington Post's Ezra Klein punctuated with, "It's a joke."
And later the DNC posted its unflattering Pawlenty talking points to its website, encouraging fans of the president to forward them along.
Again, being first, even on a favorable issue is potentially risk and reward. Why do it?
"I think it's important to show leadership and to be at the front of the parade," said Pawlenty, "If you want to be a leader, you gotta be out front."
Steve Brown is an author, radio broadcaster and seminary professor at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida.