Getting a deal done to resolve the "fiscal cliff" is a matter of "eighth-grade math, " former Minnesota Gov. Timothy Pawlenty told CNBC on Thursday.
"We're going to need spending reform that will have to include entitlement reform and we're also going to need tax reform and a pro-growth, pro-investment, pro-entrepreneurial direction, " the onetime Republican presidential candidate said.
He told "Squawk Box, " that those two things together are the cornerstones how the fiscal cliff — when a host of automatic tax increases and spending cuts kick in at the end of the year —gets resolved.
"It's a matter of eighth-grade math, " he added.
But while the broad contours of what needs to be done may be evident, agreement on the details remains elusive.
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It will take consensus, crisis, gifted leadership or a combination of the three to solve the country's debt and deficit problems, Pawlenty said.
Without consensus, whoever wins the presidential election will need to provide the leadership to solve the problem, said Pawlenty, who recently stepped down as a top campaign aide to Mitt Romney to head the bank lobbying group Financial Services Roundtable.
Pawlenty added that he hopes it doesn't take a "market implosion" to get politicians to act.