Interviews

Help Wanted: Rick Santorum Talks Taxes

Presidential candidate on economy, GOP field

 

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST OF “YOUR WORLD”: All right, the unemployment rate rising, now Americans want Washington to get moving. In a new poll, 51 percent say the government should be doing more to meet the needs of people; 46 percent say the government’s doing too much.

Could that spell trouble or even confusion for the conservative message?

Next up in our "Help Wanted" series, Republican presidential candidate, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum.

Senator, good to have you.

RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, thank you, Neil. Good to be back with you.

CAVUTO: Are you worried by this finding? Because, if it’s to be taken at face value, maybe not as many people as you think are against spending more to get us out of this pickle.

SANTORUM: Well, look, you have a Democratic president who’s going out there saying, as your previous guest, there is no problem with the debt. All we need to do is just spend a little bit more money. We haven’t spent enough, that we just need to stimulate the economy some more.

And, look, that obviously has not worked. But there are people out there who support the president who have that point of view. And I think they’re showing up in the polls. You have got to get 51 percent, Neil.

And with 51 percent and then leadership, then you can change the country and show what real effective conservative governance is all about.

CAVUTO: With all the job losses of late, I’ve been talking to a lot of Tea Party candidates and supporters and just big movers in the movement, who’ve been saying they are disappointed in Republicans, because they doubt their resolve.

And when I spoke of the present crop of Republican presidential candidates, they expressed similar frustration. What do you make of that? Is that a reflection on you, them, what?

SANTORUM: Well, I don’t know. I’m not necessarily the most high- profile of the candidates out there. And I think the more people look at what I’ve been saying; I think we begin to pick up a little bit. People...

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: Where are you picking up? I know these polls are very all over the map, but you’re not even on one. Does that trouble you?

SANTORUM: Well, no. Actually, there was a poll out today that had me in fourth place at 9 percent, which is...

CAVUTO: Where? What poll was this?

SANTORUM: NBC/Wall Street Journal.

And, look, we’re doing great here in New Hampshire. We’re doing great in Iowa. That’s where we’re focused. We’re not really focused on national polls. I was actually pleased to see that, surprised to see it, to be honest with you, because our...

CAVUTO: So, this was a national sampling.

SANTORUM: Right.

CAVUTO: Do you think -- I had Herman Cain here the other day, Senator. And he was of the opinion, for all you guys, those who have a well-known background, those like himself who do not, it’s going to be the early states that will decide momentum.

SANTORUM: Sure.

CAVUTO: So, how you’re doing in Iowa, how you’re doing in New Hampshire, these national polls notwithstanding, that will decide it.

SANTORUM: Right.

CAVUTO: Do you agree with that?

SANTORUM: Yes, absolutely.

That’s why I said I was sort of surprised to see the -- a national poll that had our numbers as good as they are, because we’ve really just focused our attention – I’m here in New Hampshire today. This is my 20th visit to New Hampshire. I have been -- I was in Iowa yesterday. It was my 17th or 18th visit to Iowa.

We’re working. I’m going to be in South Carolina next week. We’re working these states hard, because that is who -- look that is who going to determine who the field is going to be. And that’s who going to determine...

CAVUTO: And what do they say when you meet them, Senator?

You hear all the talk that they say, cut, cut, cut. Don’t forget to cut. But we also hear, don’t cut my stuff. Leave my Medicare alone. Paul Ryan went too far.

How do you respond to that?

SANTORUM: Well, I talk about the fact that we are borrowing 40 cents out of every dollar that we spend.

I talk about that we have a debt situation that is worse than -- and if you look at it in its totality, worse than Greece. And if we weren’t the strongest economy in the world, and we didn’t have the reserve currency, and we weren’t the strongest military, we’d probably be in as bad shape.

We have got a serious problem now. And we have to have politicians who are willing to stand up. I support the Ryan plan. And I also said it’s a good first step. But it’s not the only step we need to take. I’ve been one of the few in this race that have said so. I’ve put forward specific changes that we would -- in Medicare that would even go beyond the Ryan plan.

I’ve done the same in Medicaid. I’ve also done the same with Social Security. Neil, you know. I was in the Senate. I was the guy out there leading the charge on Social Security reform for 15 years, so -- when I was in the House and Senate.

So, I’ve not been shy about this. This problem is not something that’s new. We knew it. Demographically, it was coming. We knew it would be exacerbated if we had a president that came in and put a drug that stopped the heart of America’s economy, which is what this president’s done with his policies. And we need someone in there to get us going again.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: ... that the patient was already on life support with the prior president, right?

(CROSSTALK)

SANTORUM: Look, I was against a lot of what the president did, particularly at the end of his term.

CAVUTO: You were. And to be fair, you were very much so in that regard.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: But I do want to ask you this, Senator. Is there a sense you get that Republicans risk tripping over themselves on who offers the biggest tax cut?

Governor Pawlenty of Minnesota, the former governor there, saying a 25 percent top rate. Others have said that they could go even lower.

Do you risk, for whatever reasons, maybe for more stimulus, more oomph, just killing the economy by killing the revenues for it?

SANTORUM: Well, as you know, Neil, the best way to make up this deficit is to have a strong economy, revenues go up, and entitlement spending goes down.

But you have to have enough tax rates to -- so you can raise that money.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: So, is there a threshold, Senator, which you will not go below? In other words, if it’s 25 percent as a top rate from 35 percent now, is that too low?

SANTORUM: Yes, I’m not going to propose a rate reduction of that magnitude.

I’m going to focus a lot more. And one of the things I think that...

CAVUTO: Why not? Why not?

SANTORUM: Well, because I think we need to focus in on where the problem is.

And I think one of the problems that we have in this country is that we’re losing far too many jobs in the manufacturing sector. We have a lot of innovation going on in this country. And then the manufactured products tend to migrate offshore, and we don’t see the trickle-down effect of innovation. We don’t see the trickle-down effect of technology and the manufacturing that should be coming with it.

And, so, my focus is going to be -- and I’m going to put forth an economic plan here in the next several weeks that’s going to try to turbo- charge that sector of the economy, which I believe is the key to the great middle of America doing well and doing better.

CAVUTO: But would that include more tax cuts than we’ve seen out of Governor Pawlenty? I mean, you guys are going fast-forward with a lot of these economic plans. And it just seems to me that, the bigger the tax cuts, the bigger the notoriety.

SANTORUM: Well, I will – there’ll be some -- I think some eye- opening tax cuts, but they will be done in a way that makes sure that we still get the revenue that’s necessary to fund the government.

Remember, we’re trying to -- you try to target revenues around 17 percent, 18 percent of GDP, maybe as high as 19 percent if things are really cooking. And that’s -- that’s something that we’ll need, because we are talking about getting spending down to that level with some of the suggestions I’ve made on the entitlement side.

So, you can’t go out and say, well, we need to get entitlement spending and other types of spending down to 18 percent, 19 percent of GDP, which are historic norms, and then come in with revenues at 15 percent. That doesn’t make any sense. I mean, we need to come in with revenue numbers that make sense to get us a balanced budget.

CAVUTO: Senator, it’s always a pleasure. Thank you, sir.

SANTORUM: My pleasure. Thank you.

CAVUTO: Senator Santorum. All right.

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