CHRIS COTTER, GUEST HOST: Now to the Sunday showdown and I’m not talking about the NFL, unfortunately. Did today’s job numbers just give Republicans more ammo to fight off tax hikes when they meet with the president for those debt limit talks?
Former GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee joins me right now.
Mike, all right, I’m sure that all depends on who you ask, right?
MIKE HUCKABEE (R), FORMER ARKANSAS GOVERNOR: Well, I think so.
First of all, let me say I wish Craig Smith would run for United States Senate or for Congress.
HUCKABEE: You know what? The people out there in business, they understand. And they get it. And, unfortunately, this administration doesn’t get it.
And I think even as we’re looking at this debt limit the Republicans have got to communicate very clearly that the world doesn’t come to an end if they, in fact, just say we’re not vote for the debt limit. I know people are acting like everything will shut down, like cars won’t run and somehow the postage...
COTTER: Well, you hear dire predictions from some people that are, look, admittedly very smart, whether it’s a Tim Geithner. And you might say, hey, there are political...
(CROSSTALK) HUCKABEE: He’s not smart enough to do his own taxes, Chris. I’m not going to put him in the real smart category. I’m sorry.
COTTER: Have you seen the tax code?
COTTER: I don’t know anybody who’s smart enough to do their own taxes.
HUCKABEE: Well, he ought to be smart enough to change it, if he’s that smart.
That’s the problem. Tim Geithner and all these guys are playing games with the American people. This is the same Barack Obama who, four years ago, five years ago thought it was perfectly fine to not raise the debt ceiling, in fact urged and begged that it not be, and said it was a sign that we lacked leadership if we did raise the debt ceiling.
COTTER: I think there are politicians on both sides who are playing this game of chicken. And you say it’s not that dangerous of a game because we will get to August 2 and the sun will come up and we’re going to continue and we’re going to find a way to make this work.
HUCKABEE: It doesn’t mean that we immediately default on everything. The Treasury still has the opportunity, the ability and the right and authority to pay for the actual debts.
It doesn’t mean that every Social Security check quits being sent. Now, if the Obama administration wants to play that kind of game and create a bigger crisis than will be created, they have the right to do it, but Republicans need to hold their feet to the fire and say it doesn’t have to be the end of the world.
COTTER: Well, now we have 9.2 percent unemployment. And I know that’s just -- the unemployment rate is just one of a series of numbers that are important about this jobs report, but it isn’t good. You can’t slice it any way to make it look good.
(CROSSTALK) HUCKABEE: No.
COTTER: What does this mean politically now as we head toward 2012? The president is saying, look, job creation is job number one for me. I’ve even heard some talk today about another stimulus program to throw out there for more shovel-ready that weren’t exactly shovel-ready jobs to begin with.
HUCKABEE: Throw the shovels away. Quit talking.
COTTER: Today’s report seems to open up new windows and doors.
HUCKABEE: Well, I hope it does. But I hope the window it opens is freshen up the air in the White House.
If you take a lit match and put it in a can of gasoline and it keeps blowing up, you need to get rid of either the match or the gasoline. At some point the president is going to have to accept the fact that his economic policies are failing. They’re failing.
And what I hear when I hear a competent CEO like you just had on in Craig Smith from Swiss America, who says, look, it’s not that we don’t want to hire, but we can’t hire people when we don’t know what it’s gonna cost us a year from now with the taxes, and don’t fail to also add the regulatory costs.
If EPA suddenly declares every time we exhale breath, we will have to pay a tax on that because we’re creating carbon dioxide, we got problems.
COTTER: Yes. Was this jobs reports the death knell for tax raises, because -- in connection with the debt ceiling or not, or does that possibility still sit on the table, and will that be the death knell for the hopes of a GOP candidate who allows that to happen?
HUCKABEE: Well, I hope it’s the death knell. But you know with the Democrats, they always believe that a little more tax is always a great thing.
But let’s keep the debate framed always this way. A tax increase is an admission that government is not big enough yet, because when you raise taxes, you’re raising taxes to give the government more money so it can get bigger
Now, what the Republicans need to do is go up and down the streets of America and say is there anybody in this country who thinks that government is just not big enough, that we’ve got to grow this sucker because it is so small and so infantile, that if we can put some more milk in its mouth, that it will just get bigger and stronger?
Is there anybody, I mean anybody in America who honest-to-God believes that our government is too small? Anybody?
COTTER: Our government is shrinking, though. When you look at the jobs numbers, the number of people that are employed, the government is really taking the hit the most. And I know that state and local governments because their budgets are shrinking like crazy.
HUCKABEE: But not at the federal level.
COTTER: But these government employees, even if it’s at the state and local level, they are being put on the unemployment lines right now and the private sector isn’t growing enough to pick up that slack and to hire those people.
HUCKABEE: But we are talking about a federal tax increase, not a state tax increase.
COTTER: I understand.
HUCKABEE: So, yes, local employees are losing their jobs, state employees are losing their jobs. And the federal government keeps growing.
But the talk is that it would be the federal tax that will be increased, not the state and local taxes, so, federal taxes do not rehire state and local workers, whether they’re picking up trash or tending to parks or patrolling streets as police officers.
COTTER: What is your thought on what comes out of this weekend? Will we have a deal that changes the tax code, net zero sum gain in terms of revenue, no additional revenue, but changes the tax code and we have a significant reduction in spending to where both sides will give the nod?
HUCKABEE: Well, I hope that what we do get out of is exactly that, a change in the tax code, not a tax increase. But I think that everybody would welcome the idea let’s lower the rates, but let’s make everybody have to put some skin in the game.
HUCKABEE: A tax reform is a much better option than a tax increase.
COTTER: All right, remember to catch the governor on "Huckabee." That is Saturdays at 8:00 Eastern time right here on Fox.
I know you have a great show. I’m looking forward to seeing it.
HUCKABEE: Thanks, Chris.
COTTER: Good seeing you. All right.
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