Interviews

Help Wanted: Tim Pawlenty Talks Job Creation

2012 presidential candidate on his plan to get America working again

 

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST OF “YOUR WORLD”: Part one of our very special series ‘Help Wanted," where we sit down and talk with all the presidential candidates about how they plan to get jobs.

We kick things off today with former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, his plan to create jobs in a moment -- first, what the governor makes of this Boeing fight and whether they can even get those jobs.

Governor, good to have you.

What do you make of what’s going on in South Carolina, where they might be cutting ribbons, but the NLRB wants to cut it down to size?

TIM PAWLENTY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, Professor Cavuto, it’s good to be back with you.

The NLRB decision and what they’re saying to an American economy as to where and how they can do business is outrageous. This is not the Soviet Union circa 1970s or 1960s or ‘50s. The idea that we have a federal agency telling an American business in a supposedly free market that it can’t grow a business or start a business in another state is one of the most outrageous things I’ve seen.

And it’s a measure of the times in which we live. The business leaders all across this country say the same thing to me every day everywhere: If you want me to provide jobs, get the government off my back.

And that’s why we announced this big pro-growth proposal the other day in Chicago, Neil.

CAVUTO: I do want to get into that proposal a little bit, Governor, and there’s a lot to get in with you.

It’s getting a lot of attention and focus, and, indeed, criticism, that it’s too simplistic, Democrats saying that, while they admire the idea that you want to simplify the tax code that you are going too far, with two simple tax rates. They say you are going to ultimately look at a whole lot less revenue coming to Washington, and debt that is already bad now getting worse.

What do you say?

PAWLENTY: Well, I don’t adopt President Obama’s declinist view of America or his declinist view of the future of this country.

We are the greatest nation in the world. And we should have a leader who says we can have big goals, big stretch goals, and we can reach them, and here is how we’re going to do it.

So, I have put a big goal out there, 5 percent growth. And if Barack Obama can stand before the American people and say, hey, he’s going to heal the planet and stem the tide of a rising ocean; the least we can do is increase the GDP by a few points and put Americans back to work.

And this plan, the response was predictable. The conservatives love it. The liberals hate it. But we know what works. This country, the way forward may not be easy, but it’s not complex. We know that, if you want to grow the private economy, you’ve got make the load from government lighter, not heavier, you’ve got to encourage, not discourage, the entrepreneurs and the people who want to start and grow businesses and provide jobs in this country.

And President Obama doesn’t understand this basic reality: You can’t be pro-jobs and anti-business. That’s like being pro-egg and anti-chicken. Neil, it doesn’t work.

CAVUTO: All right. But by having two tax rates, Governor, one at 10 percent for individuals up to $50,000, couples I guess up to $100,000, and a 25 percent rate after that, it’s not just Democrats who are saying that this might not add up for you, that -- that there are a number of other groups that say that your assumption of 5 percent growth, which has happened in some periods in American history for three- or four-year stretches, in the ‘80s and again in ‘90s, for 10 years, very unrealistic.

And they think that the savings just won’t materialize, the American Tax Policy Institute and others saying as much. How do you answer that?

PAWLENTY: Well, I answer that by saying this.

I don’t think we should have a minimalist view or an average view of America. I want to have an extraordinary view of America. It’s a big goal, no question about it. It’s aggressive, but that’s the kind of change that we are going to need to get the country moving again.

And the numbers we have show that, if you cut the taxes like we have suggested, and the growth occurs even anything approaching what I’ve suggested, and -- and this is important "and" -- cut spending like we’ve suggested, this not only pays for itself; you will have an -- extra money at the end of it.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: But what if it doesn’t, Governor? And I know that’s your goal and hope springs eternal -- and a lot of people say that this is a country about ambitious goals, so have it -- but if it doesn’t materialize, in other words, the growth doesn’t measure to 5 percent for the number of years you hope, then what do you do? Do you scale back those tax cuts? Do you cut deeper into spending because those materialized savings don’t appear?

PAWLENTY: Well, you’ve got to do both.

Again, I’m not proposing what happened in the past, which is to cut taxes and raise spending. I’m proposing to cut taxes and cut spending. And we’ve built in a margin, a significant cushion, in that regard in our proposal, Neil. And so the other question to the liberals is where’s your plan President Obama? And how is the current plan working, with $4-a-gallon gas, crushing levels of unemployment, a federal government that is out of control?

So, if you don’t like my plan, Mr. President, where the heck is your plan? And quit hiding on the key issues of the day, on entitlement reform, Medicare reform, Social Security reform. And he comes out and says the other day now he might be thinking of a payroll tax cut.

Well, he should have done that two years ago, three years ago, instead of that stupid stimulus bill that was mostly a waste of money.

CAVUTO: But they say they have looked at your plan, Governor. David Axelrod, I guess, in an interview with The Huffington Post, in referring to your fondness to look at eradicating those programs that the government utilizes if the same are available on the Internet, I think, your so-called Google point, David Axelrod has said, "What he should Google is job growth in the last decade. What he should Google is what happened to income for the last decade, when, in many ways, the policies that he prescribed were the governing theory."

I think he’s referring back to the Bush tax cuts, sir, and their argument that they didn’t produce dramatic results. What do you say?

PAWLENTY: Well, keep in mind, whether it be the Bush tax cuts or the Reagan tax cuts or other tax cuts, they always produce an increase in revenue. There’s no dispute about that.

But we do something different. We cut spending also, not increase it. That’s very different than what has happened. And, of course, when they say you can’t get to 5 percent growth, under both President Clinton and a Republican Congress, and President Reagan, there was nearly 5 percent growth twice, once in the ‘80s, once in the ‘90s.

CAVUTO: No, you’re right about that.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: That might be your goal as president, Governor. And I know you try to mean what you say and say what you mean, but you’re dealing with Congress, you’re dealing with your party, the other party.

And in both parties’ case and history, they don’t follow up on those spending cuts. Ronald Reagan couldn’t when he got all that extra revenue from his big tax cuts, and they just dug a bigger hole. George Bush found the same conundrum. I mean, in other words, how do you stop that?

(CROSSTALK)

PAWLENTY: Well, we address that. First of all, you are talking to a governor, a conservative Republican governor who governed in Minnesota, perhaps -- I love my state, but one of the most liberal states in the country. And we had big fights over these very issues. And I won most of them because I was willing to draw lines in the sand and enforce them.

But part of our proposal also, it gets right to the heart of what you have just asked, which is politicians, most of them, are like running water downhill. They’ll go to the point of least resistance. And that’s why we called for a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution to enforce these, including spending limited as a percent of GDP, so they have to make the tough choices going forward.

And we’ve also put specific proposals on the table on spending. I went to Iowa and said we’ve got to phase out ethanol subsidies. I have been talking specifically about what the next generation’s going to have to do to get Social Security back in...

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: I wondered about that, Governor, because you have made a couple of gutsy calls, like that call on ethanol in Iowa, maybe politically not the shrewdest decision to talk about that in that state, where it could hurt you in that state, also in Florida, talking about raising the retirement age.

I imagine for those concerned about Social Security, it doesn’t make you the instant belle of the ball there. So, you do take some gutsy position. And I admire that. But I’m wondering what else you’re going to need?

Now, this Newt Gingrich implosion within his campaign, you picked up former Governor of Georgia Sonny Perdue, his former campaign co-chair to have a top role with you. You’ve also got Joe Wilson, the South Carolina congressman more famous for yelling at the president in the well of the House. And you’re picking up others.

But do you need more? Do you need more people to gravitate to you? And, right now, they seem to be gravitating to Mitt Romney, or they’re waiting for Rick Perry of Texas. Do you feel like you’re like the odd man out?

PAWLENTY: No, we don’t. We’re getting good momentum. I’m not very well-known even now, Neil. But as we get known, we’re getting good support, particularly in the early states.

So, when you look at these polls, first of all, they’re not very good predictors of the final outcome.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: No, you are right about it. We’re going to show you the national polls to which you refer, sir.

You’re quite right. Nationally -- and this is the case historically, that it doesn’t take into account how you might fare in a state like Iowa, New Hampshire. But, nationally, you’re kind of down at the bottom of the pack. You’re not worried?

PAWLENTY: I’m not worried at all, because if those polls were any indicator of what’s going to happen, we would have President Giuliani or President Hillary Clinton. They’re almost meaningless at this early stage.

And you look what they look like, particularly in the early states in six months, and they will tell a different story, or eight months.

CAVUTO: But are you worried that, if you’re proposing what you are on ethanol in Iowa, and you’re proposing what you are on Social Security and Medicare reforms, as you are in Florida, both relatively early states in the process, you might be shooting yourself in the foot before you even get out the gate?

PAWLENTY: Well, and we went to New York, where you are, and told Wall Street to get their snout out of the trough, and no more carve-outs, bailouts, handouts, or the like.

I also went to Washington, D.C., and told the federal employee unions to get their hands out of the cookie jar, and not be expected to pay more or get better benefits than the private sector.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: By the way, some of those same critics are the ones handling your lighting right now, Governor. We hope -- I apologize.

PAWLENTY: Yes, I see that light just came up pretty bright. I don’t know what happened there.

CAVUTO: We hope to address that. That is from the Obama lighting company.

But I’m kidding. I’m kidding. I’m kidding.

PAWLENTY: Yes, I don’t know what is going on.

CAVUTO: And if you can bear with that, I apologize.

But I do want to step back. And you have talked about a double dip and the potential of a recession. If we are entering into something like that again, and you know that tax cuts, at least in your plan, will bear fruit, there is a gap in the interim between which point that revenues lost if you knock capital gains down to effectively nothing, as you would, where that revenues missing, and the deficits get worse.

Now, in time, that makes up, and the revenues come in, and you have got to watch Congress from spending all that money. But are you ready, and are you ready to tell the American people -- boy, this lighting gets bad to worse for you...

(LAUGHTER)

CAVUTO: ... that we are going to have more and worse deficits and debt before it gets better?

PAWLENTY: Again, we don’t have to guess as to what will happen with revenues if you do bold tax cuts. And mine are amongst the boldest in the modern history of the country.

We saw that the revenues increased dramatically because of President Reagan’s tax cuts, same with Kennedy, same to, a significant extent, under President Bush II. So, it’s not a question of whether revenues are going to go up. They will.

The question is what can you do to control spending at the same time? And that’s where this plan is different. And, Neil, as to the -- to telling the truth and taking the courage to do this, if the president won’t lead, I will. And that’s what I will do as president.

But I’m running because this country is sinking. And we don’t have 10 or 15 years. I have got the leadership and the skill and the record and the results to fix it. I know I can do it. But if we’re not willing to say the truth and we’re not willing to outline specific proposals, and we’re not willing to have the fortitude to actually do it, then we’re all just wasting our time. This is just a debating society, and anybody can go to Washington.

CAVUTO: But do you get annoyed, Governor, when Michele Bachmann, a fine congresswoman from your great state, seems to get more buzz and notoriety and attention, and she’s not even in the race, she might never enter the race, and here you are a former governor, who’s not?

PAWLENTY: Look, I’m not speaking about Michele Bachmann here, but I’m not running for comedian in chief or entertainer in chief. If people want to have that be the main consideration, then they should go to a Broadway show or go to show in Las...

CAVUTO: Do you think she’s a comedian?

PAWLENTY: No, I don’t. I’m not talking about her specifically.

CAVUTO: All right.

PAWLENTY: But the question is always, what about this entertainment value within politics?

We’ve got a country that is drowning. We’ve got a country that is sinking. We need serious leaders with serious ideas and serious experience, who have the fortitude to get the country back on track.

CAVUTO: All right.

PAWLENTY: And we don’t have 20 years. We have got five or six.

So, it’s not time for more Obama-like empty speeches. It’s time for seasoned, serious leaders to get the job done for the people of this country. And I will.

CAVUTO: Governor, great having you kick-off our series. We appreciate it. Be well.

PAWLENTY: All right, Neil thanks for having me.

CAVUTO: All right.

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