Jon Huntsman flashed his economic credentials today in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that espoused Republican talking points and increased the former Utah governor's visibility as he mulls running for president.

Huntsman deploys the obligatory Ronald Reagan reference early, noting that this year is the centennial of Reagan's birth. He warns of America's exploding debt and says that a needed increase in the debt ceiling must come with an array of spending cuts. Congressional Republicans have also made a vote to increase the debt limit contingent on cuts.

Huntsman also targets entitlement spending, warning that unless we make hard decisions now, in less than a decade every dollar of federal revenue will go to covering the costs of Medicare, Social Security and interest payments on our debt. He praises Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-WI) budget proposal, which has drawn criticism for its plan to drastically scale back Medicare. Some Republicans have distanced themselves from the politically risky plan, fearing a backlash from elderly voters, but Huntsman lauds Ryan's honesty and challenges detractors to offer alternate solutions.

Those who disagree with [Ryan's] approach incur a moral responsibility to propose reforms that would ensure Medicare's ability to meet its responsibilities to retirees without imposing an unaffordable tax burden on future generations of Americans, Huntsman writes.

Emphasizing an imperative to promote productivity, competitiveness and job creation, Huntsman proposes knocking down trade barriers and rewriting the American corporate tax code to attract foreign investment with lower and more consistent tax rates.

As the Republican field slowly begins to take shape, Huntsman's intentions have been closely scrutinized. He has spent time in New Hampshire and last night dined with Texas governor Rick Perry.