This is a rush transcript from "Your World," December 6, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
NEIL CAVUTO, HOST OF "YOUR WORLD": Now to the president of the United States trying to echo a former president, Teddy Roosevelt, in Kansas making his case for a one-year payroll tax cut and what he calls economic fairness. But is a 10-year tax hike to pay for it really fair?
That’s something that GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney is wondering about. He joins me now from Paradise Valley, Arizona, where he just picked up the endorsement the former Vice President of the United States Dan Quayle.
Governor, very good to have you. Congratulations on that endorsement.
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you so much, Neil. Good to be with you today.
CAVUTO: What do you make of the president echoing Teddy Roosevelt that he would want to see something like this; he would want to see a payroll tax cut extension? And it looks like that is hanging on the vine right now.
ROMNEY: Well, with this president comparing himself with Teddy Roosevelt, I am reminded that Teddy Roosevelt formed the Bull Moose Party. One of those words applies here when the president is talking about what he would do to this economy.
Look, the right course for America is not to raise taxes on people. This -- this payroll tax cut extension, it’s probably not good to raise taxes on folks that would have a tax increase if this extension were eliminated, but at the same time, recognize this extension isn’t going to get our economy going. We have to have a fundamental restructuring of America’s competitiveness.
And this president has failed to do that. He is spending too much money. He has not taken the actions that will allow people who invest in this country, who start new businesses, who expand businesses to make the decision to grow in America. And it’s his fault.
CAVUTO: Well, would you be for extending that payroll tax cut?
ROMNEY: I would extend it because this is not the right time to raise taxes, but I would not pay for it by raising taxes on other people. That’s the wrong way to go.
What I would do to pay for it is to finally put in place a reform of our long-term entitlement programs to make sure that we can make them sustainable.
CAVUTO: The reason why I ask you is because a few weeks ago, sir, you had said this whole idea of a payroll tax cut extension was like little Band-Aids that offered only a temporary fix.
ROMNEY: Yes. That’s right. That’s right.
CAVUTO: But do you argue that it still is better than nothing? Is that it, or what?
ROMNEY: Well, I just don’t want to raise taxes on anybody right now. I am not in favor of raising taxes.
But I recognize extending the payroll tax cut is going to mean a little more money in the pockets of some middle-class folks that are having a hard time right now. That is a good idea. But it’s not going to reignite this economy. It’s not going to put millions of Americans back to work, 25 million, 26 million Americans that are out of work or have stopped looking for work, back into the work force.
So, that is going to take a more fundamental reform that this president, remarkably, has not been willing to put forward. I mean, we have a president three years into his first term who has not laid out an economic plan to put Americans to work and to rekindle our economy and to make us globally competitive.
I find it extraordinary that this president has no vision for our economy. And, sure, extending the payroll tax that is fine. It’s a nice thing to do for people that need a little extra money, but it is not fixing this economy.
CAVUTO: Do you think it should be paid for? Because Republicans were not so eager to pay for extending the Bush tax rates for the well-to-do, for example, but, on this, they are.
ROMNEY: Well, I think we have to look and make sure that we put America on a track to cap how much government spends.
Right now, government is spending about 25 percent of the entire economy. That’s too much. We have got to get that down to at least 20 percent. I have put out a plan to do that. I cut about $500 billion annually from federal spending.
The president has got to come up with something of his own vision that cuts the extraordinary expense of this government and stops the unnecessary borrowing. That is step one. And if we do it as part of this payroll tax extension, great. Let’s begin to see the president talk about how he is going to cut spending and, by the way, talk also about what he is going to do to reform entitlements.
He himself has indicated that Social Security and Medicare need to be reformed long-term, and yet has offered no ideas as to what he would do to make those economically sustainable long-term.
CAVUTO: Governor, on the whitehouse.gov Web site, there is a clock, a countdown clock to when the payroll tax cut expires, but no such clock on the debt or anything like that. What do you think of that?
ROMNEY: Yes, that’s very interesting.
I have fashioned -- or my team has -- a big clock that shows what is happening to the national debt. And the number is just extraordinary. As you know, this president is on track to accumulate as much national debt as all the prior presidents combined.
It is an extraordinary and disheartening record. And I think the American people recognize he is changing the nature of America. He is building such massive debt that he is creating a nation of entitlements, a nation of debt, a nation with a government heavy hand. And the American people want to go back to a nation that is a nation of opportunity, where hard work and education and risk-taking can build a better future for them and for their kids.
That -- that is the fundamental choice that is going to be faced by the American people. Do we want a government-based entitlement society, or do we want an opportunity- and freedom-based society? And I represent the latter.
CAVUTO: Governor, I guess Donald Trump is still waiting for an answer from you, whether you are going to participate in his debate. Of course, this is a week ahead of the big Fox debate. I will be there. I’m sure -- Bret Baier, and Megyn Kelly, Chris Wallace, we’re all excited about it.
But as to this Donald Trump-hosted debate, yes or no on that?
ROMNEY: No, I am not participating in that. We have two debates in December that I have agreed to participate in. The rest of the month is going to be spent campaigning, doing the political work you have got to do to get the support of people in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Florida.
So, we will be hitting the trail. I spoke with Donald Trump earlier today, indicated that we just can’t make this debate. We are going to focus on the other two we have got and on some campaigning.
CAVUTO: And what did he say?
ROMNEY: He understood my perspective and wished me well.
CAVUTO: That was it? It wasn’t more colorful than that?
ROMNEY: No, it was not colorful. We had a nice chat. And I just told him that, at this late date, and with the other debates we have already scheduled, and with the number of requests -- by the way, I think there are several other -- five or 10 other debate requests we have had for December and January. We just can’t do them all.