OTR Interviews

GOP 2012 Hopeful Huntsman: We've Got to Cut Out the 'Cancer' of the Debt, Obama Has Failed to Lead

GOP 2012 hopeful tells Greta how he would handle the debt debate deadlock and more

 

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," July 28, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: First, he was pull of praise, calling President Obama "remarkable." Now, he says the president is reckless. That is a switch. What happened? Candidate for president, former Utah governor, and former U.S. ambassador to China, Jon Huntsman.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JON HUNTSMAN, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think the Boehner plan is the only act in town and it is sound given any other alternative. It cuts and allows us to meet our obligations. And most importantly it begins to meet our budget. I think it would be terribly important for this country.

And it also envisions looking at a competitive tax code longer term and that is terribly important for the overall competitiveness in the country. The Boehner plan gets us short term to be where we need to be and gets the issues queued up to begin discussing them seriously.

Also, I have to say, Greta, that discussing the extent of the cuts and where we need to be during the 2012 election is a very important thing that the country should be doing.

VAN SUSTEREN: The Boehner bill is a two-part process. Now, the spending cuts dollar for dollar and then down the road start looking at other expenses which is where the fight will be over entitlements. I think, a lot of the Tea Party think we need to start now and this is a Band-Aid, not a solution.

HUNTSMAN: This is what people hate about Washington. The fact that something this important to our well-being and overall economic competitiveness [is] delayed until the 11th hour. The president has shown no leadership and doesn't have a plan on the table. My opponents in the race haven't even come up with what they support.

VAN SUSTEREN: Governor Romney, you made a comment about him.

HUNTSMAN: It's true. You've got to stand up. Time when leadership matters and stand up and voice where you are. We are kind of at the 11th hour. This is crunch time and this isn't academics or theory. This is the real world. We need to meet our obligations as 25 percent of the worlds I worlds if GDP and leading financial center in the world. That is important number one.

Number two, getting cuts. We've got to get on with this cancer that has taken over this country. We need to cut it out and radiate it and excise it. This cancer has taken over the country and we need to do something about it. And the Boehner at least begins that process of cutting that I think is terribly important. And these larger issues that we all need to get serious about, competitive tax code and budget reform. Get them in the queue so they can be discussed during the election year. That is to our advantage.

VAN SUSTEREN: You talk about the president's leadership and may have tweeted at one time [that] talking about the debt ceiling referred to I think the with word "reckless." How do you reconcile, in 2009, you wrote a letter to him saying he was remarkable. What happened did you lose faith in him?

HUNTSMAN: He was starting his administration. I was raised to be a gracious person. I thought it was remarkable that he put a Republican in his administration.

VAN SUSTEREN: They all do.

HUNTSMAN: Not in a position U.S. ambassador to China. I thought this was remarkable.

VAN SUSTEREN: President Clinton put in Cohen at secretary of defense.

HUNTSMAN: He puts in a Republican. High hopes and high tax expectations. Sadly today we don't have the leadership.

VAN SUSTEREN: It's a big extreme going from remarkable to reckless.

HUNTSMAN: It is where we are in the economy. He failed to deliver on the most important issue of our time and that is the economy and the creation of jobs. We are flat-footed and in neutral. And we have more confidence in where it company is going. Nobody it putting capital expenditures in their business because they can't see around the bend and what healthcare reform and financial services reform is going to cost them. We need to get the regulatory monkey off our back and get on with things like energy independence.

VAN SUSTEREN: When you were governor you had to deal with a balanced budget amendment in your state?

HUNTSMAN: We not only had that but we had the most significant tax cut in the history of our state.

VAN SUSTEREN: Would you like to see a balanced budget amendment on the federal level?

HUNTSMAN: I think it is the most important thing we could do. I think having that safeguard and that standard at the federal level is a very, very important thing for this country. When you build a budget as governor you do so with the idea in mind you are presenting it to your legislature in balanced form and for this nation that would be a similarly wise thing to do.

VAN SUSTEREN: That is not in the Boehner bill. That's going to be a separate stand alone. A lot of people are critical of the fact it is not in the Boehner bill and instead the Boehner bill has caps and people are cynical when it comes to caps because caps this Congress and then two Congress escaped down the road, what caps?

HUNTSMAN: Everybody has the expectation we will move towards a balanced budget amendment. This is a no-brainer and must be done. People are fed up with where we are financially, $14.3 trillion in debt. This cancer has got to be cut out. And one of the most important and powerful tools getting us there is a balanced budget amendment.

VAN SUSTEREN: Should we be worried about the August 2 deadline or is that politicians scaring us? And secondly, even with the Boehner will sounds like we will be downgraded anyway. So does that factor into your thinking.

HUNTSMAN: The market is going to react as we do. The markets are going to react as they will. But listen, it is important to maintain our triple-a rating in this country. We have done so for almost 100 years.

VAN SUSTEREN: But the very people who gave the triple rating to the toxic CDOs, and so it's peculiar that the AAA rating we are trying to keep are from the very people that kind of put it us in this mess.

HUNTSMAN: I understand, but that is separate. We are talking about maintaining a AAA rating. We are one of the few states that maintained our tripping a rating. This affects every family in this country. We had to work hard to maintain our triple a status.

VAN SUSTEREN: But we're making our AAA standing with an organization that frankly has failed us so poorly before that it is sort of hard for me to think that they are the ones that I should care about. I realize the whole world economy looks to them, but there is something wrong with this picture.

HUNTSMAN: There is something wrong with this picture, but it is the way it works right now and it is what is going to give the seal of approval and stamp of approval on where we are financially and that has an impact o on the overall cost of capital. To the extent that affects every family in this country it becomes an issue. August 2 is a deadline and we need to take that deadline seriously.

(END VIDEOTAPE)