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Hannity

Focus Group Presses Sen. Kyl on Economy

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," June 17, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: And welcome to a special edition of "Hannity." Our own pollster Frank Luntz is the author of the book, "Win", and he's the man we turn to, to find out what the American people really want from our elected leaders.

Now for the next hour, he is going to be bringing voters and American leaders together, face-to-face for an incredibly lively debate and letting us see how Americans react to in real time to what their representatives have to say. Frank, take it over.

FRANK LUNTZ, POLLSTER: Tonight, six of the most powerful Americans face some of the toughest questions from the most important audience, you the American people. Now, you've seen this before. We are going to use these patented Luntz global dials. The higher that they turn their dial, the more favorable the reaction. But if they dial it down, that's negative. We are going to find out which of our elected officials, senators, congressmen, and one of the most powerful business leaders in America, whose got the words that work and whose got the answers that the American people are looking for?

And we begin with Arizona senator, the Republican whip, and a member of the commission that is trying to find a way to reach agreement with Barack Obama.

Senator Kyl, Republican, conservative. I want you to react to him. Grab your dials. Set the stage for us. Can we reach an agreement? And why should we trust the Republican approach to the budget?

SEN. JON KYL, R-ARIZ.: We've got a big problem. A lot of politicians are not being straight with the American people. Our government is broke. We've to a $14 trillion debt. We have to borrow 42 cents of every dollar that the federal government spends, from somebody. Unemployment is now over nine percent again. House values have gone down more than they did during the Great Depression. You know that gas is almost four bucks a gallon. The economy is in the tank.

There are some people who believe that we need to borrow and tax and spend even more money that the first big stimulus bill did not spend enough. I disagree with that. I think the way to prosperity is to stop wasteful Washington spending. We can't afford any more of this borrowing. And even if we could, it is not government that is going to put the American people back to work. Private businesses create the jobs. And the more money that government takes in taxes and borrowing, the less there is for private businesses to hire and invest.

LUNTZ: Chris, what is your reaction?

CHRIS A., FOCUS GROUP MEMBER: Well, I think what he is saying is right on. I mean, it's true that you're granted if you are a corporation or if you are contributing to the revenue of the country, but there's just so much spending. I mean, it is ridiculous all the different things, you said 42 cents needs to be borrowed on every dollar we spend. There's way too much money that is going out. That's unnecessary.

LUNTZ: Stephen, what's your reaction?

STEPHEN T., FOCUS GROUP MEMBER: I think you just have to flat out cut, cut, cut, cut.

LUNTZ: David, what's your reaction?

DAVID B., FOCUS GROUP MEMBER: I think you have to cut, but I also think it is important to understand where tax revenues really go up. And that's when we keep the money in the people's hands who earn it. Government doesn't create wealth. It is the people.

LUNTZ: One more. Evelyn?

EVELYN K., FOCUS GROUP MEMBER: I think all night tonight -- we get it. We know what the problem is. The thing that still is not clear to me is what is the strategy? We keep talking about what we have to do. But we haven't addressed the fact that we have no means of accomplishing that goal with no strategy in place.

LUNTZ: That's the purpose of this. Everybody go to 50. She has asked a legitimate question. Senator, what is the strategy? Everybody react.

KYL: Two things. First of all, the economy has to get better, people, families, businesses have to grow. That will not only make us all better but will actually produce more wealth for the federal government. Because even at the same tax rates, if you have more income, then the federal government collects more in taxes. So, we need to work together to help our economy recover, so that we can all do better and ironically, the government will do better than too. So, it will have more money then to spend on the things that we want.

TAMAS, FOCUS GROUP MEMBER: Why are Republicans always the ones that have to work together. It's obvious, Democrats had two years and they screwed everything up. It's like leaving the kids home alone with all the booze. Now, hopefully, the grown-ups are home. Why are we always compromising? Why do we always have to start from that point. The Americans had a statement --

(CROSSTALK)

MICHOEL M., FOCUS GROUP MEMBER: Bush had eight years. I really get frustrated with that, when Bush had eight years to deal with the economy and the Republicans spent, spent, spent, spent, spent. And now all of a sudden the Democrats --

(CROSSTALK)

KATHY C., FOCUS GROUP MEMBER: I'm so tired of hearing they did this, they did that. Stop! Stop the they did this. Let's fix it. Let's get together and say, OK, who cares who did it, let's fix it. I'm tired of this.

JOSHUA, FOCUS GROUP MEMBER: On the topic of solutions, senator you mentioned joblessness, and I really appreciate that. May I ask you a question? This is probably an area where we have a philosophical disagreement. But I'd love to get your opinion. If we want people to have jobs, why don't we give them jobs like we did during the Great Depression? Let's stop giving tax cuts to big companies. They're just keeping the money for themselves. Corporations just increase their profit margin and build jobs overseas. If you want people to have jobs in the United States, let's give them jobs for preparing our infrastructures.

KYL: One of my points is, the government, our government, your government needs to listen more to you. This is very interesting to me. I mean, I'll try to answer your question here. But I think the first thing the government has to do is listen to the people. Now, we are not always going to agree. And when I say we have to work together. The fact is, we have a Republican House, a Democratic Senate and a Democratic president. If one of us just go to our corner and say we are not going to work together, we know what we want going to do, nothing will get done. That's why we are in the room trying to work out solutions to these problems.

LUNTZ: So, by the way, you are dialing incredibly high. And I don't mean to cut you off, but I'm running out of time. Do you think that you will get to that point where there will be an agreement?

Notice the pause.

KYL: Hey, I'm an optimist by nature. And I think we've got to find a solution. But the reason I paused the way I did is, that first of all we have to get it all of our systems. We have to make our case, we have to say we're right and you're wrong, that's the process we've been in so far. There comes a point, in any kind of, whether it's in your family discussions or business or whatever, where you finally have to get over the making of the points and now let's see if we can find common ground. We are in the process now of trying to find that common ground.

LUNTZ: I want to thank you Senator Kyl for your willingness to speak to the American people. Take their questions and their challenges. I recognize the frustration. And I recognize the frustration. When we come back, you are going to hear the Democratic perspective. And let's see if we get those same kinds of sighs out of them.

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