[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/07/24/art.pawlenty.gi.jpg caption="Pawlenty is wading into the national health care debate."](CNN) - One day after assuming a leadership post in the Republican Governor's Association, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty is staking his opposition to the congressional Democrats' health care reform plan while taking an indirect swipe at a potential future presidential rival.
In a letter to the entire Minnesota congressional delegation, Pawlenty urges the three Republicans and seven Democrats to vote against the measure in its current form, saying the plan won't contain health care costs or improve quality of care.
"Focusing only on access while neglecting cost and quality would be a dramatic mistake," Pawlenty said in the three-page letter. He added that the legislation "levies a huge new tax structure on an economy that is already struggling with the worst recession since World War II."
"The proposed tax increases do not come close to paying for the proposal, and assertions that the remaining costs will be covered by unspecified 'reductions in waste, fraud, and abuse' are simply not reliable," the Minnesota Republican also wrote.
Pawlenty, widely believed to be considering a run for president in 2012, also sharply criticized the health care plan enacted in Massachusetts three years ago under then-Gov. Mitt Romney, also widely considered a future White House hopeful.
Equating the congressional Democrats' plan to the Massachusetts program, Pawlenty said the latter has succeeded in expanding the ranks of the insured but has raked up much higher than expected costs in the process and resulted in higher taxes and fees.
"That state's experience should caution Congress against this approach," Pawlenty wrote.
Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom disputed Pawlenty's contention. "The Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation recently reported that the cost to taxpayers of achieving near-universal coverage has been relatively modest and well within initial projections of how much the state would have to spend," he said in an e-mail.
Last month, Pawlenty raised speculation he is considering a presidential bid when he announced he would not seek a third gubernatorial term in 2010. The 2012 talk has only increased as other potential GOP candidates have been sidelined by scandals or embarrassing missteps.
The Minnesota Republican is also set to address GOP leaders and activists at the party's summer meeting in San Diego later this week.