OTR Interviews

Rick Santorum Unveils His Jobs Plan: 'America's Might Is Tied to Our Economic Might'

GOP presidential hopeful reveals how he would create jobs and fix the ailing economy

 

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," August 30, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: In case you didn't notice, we're desperate! We need -- we do need jobs, and President Obama is promising to make that happen. He not only needs to make it happen for us, but for his own political survival. He will be out the door if he doesn't turn things around. He has now 14 months to turn the economy around before facing voters on election day 2012.

Joining us is Republican presidential contender and former senator, Rick Santorum. Senator, good evening. Nice to see you. And I know that you have a very different plan or idea than the president. But is 14 months -- just out of curiosity, is that a window -- is that so short that even if you almost have a magic wand, you can't turn things around?

RICK SANTORUM, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CONTENDER: Well, if your plan is more of the same of government programs and big spending on long-term projects that are not going to get this economy going right way, the answer is of course 14 months isn't enough. But the plan that I've put forward and that's getting a lot of support as I talk about it across America is something that would turn around this country immediately.

You know, the big problem in this country is that we're losing those good-paying jobs that made up the middle of America. When I was growing up as a kid in a steel town of western Pennsylvania, 21 percent of the country was involved in manufacturing. Now it's 9. We've lost -- we haven't lost the innovation, we've just lost the...

VAN SUSTEREN: But isn't -- but hasn't there been a transformation of our economy, for better or for worse? We used to be more of a manufacturing, now we're more of a service economy. I mean, there has been some evolution in terms of what our economy is.

SANTORUM: Well, that's right, but in that evolution, we have lost a lot of good-paying jobs that supported families that allowed for upward mobility. I think that's one of the things that -- that people are saying. You know, look at Governor Perry, and he talks about his unemployment rate, but a lot of those jobs were, you know, dead-end jobs that were not -- were not resulting in a growing economy in the middle.

And that's where manufacturing comes in. And we need to make things in America. You know, I'm here in Pennsylvania, and we make things here. We're very proud of that, and we have a stronger economy as a result of that.

And what I've proposed is to take the corporate tax, which is 35 percent on manufacturers, and cut that to zero. Eliminate the corporate tax if you manufacture and process here in this country. That will bring a lot of those jobs back. Combine that with a plan that says if you are a manufacturer that actually did export jobs and created things and built things overseas and you made profits, you don't -- most companies have not brought those profits back because you get hit with a 35 percent additional tax when you bring them back. Let's cut that from 35 percent to 5...

VAN SUSTEREN: But that's ...

SANTORUM: ... to 5, bring that money back and invest that in America!

VAN SUSTEREN: Let me ask you this. I mean, to what extent -- I know free trade's very popular, but to what extent has free trade really contributed to this problem because you can now get cheaper labor in other countries? And other countries, if they feel like it, they can devalue their currency so that we want to buy their products instead of buying them here in the United States. We can get them cheaper. I mean, to what extent has free trade been a contributor to this problem?

SANTORUM: I think most of the free trade agreements we've entered into have not contributed greatly to the problem. I was not someone who supported NAFTA, as an example, because I thought that Mexico was, frankly, not going to be a particularly trustworthy trading partner at the time, and I think that proved out to be the case. NAFTA has been, at best, in my opinion, a wash.

But I think a lot of the free trade agreements have both economic and national security benefits, and that's -- you don't do free trade agreements just because of economics, you also do it to build relationships that are important from a national security point of view.

But I would say the bigger issue is that countries went out and competed for those jobs. They've cut taxes. They cut regulation. They did the things to attract businesses over there, as well as having lower wage rates. I can tell you, I talk to lots of manufacturers in this country. None of them want to send their jobs overseas. We need to create a tax environment, an energy environment and a regulatory environment...

VAN SUSTEREN: You know what?

SANTORUM: ... that allows them to be competitive here.

VAN SUSTEREN: You bring up the regulatory. And I've looked at the regulations, and it's a little bit -- it's nutty. It's hard to follow, it's so complicated. I don't know how anybody exists with them.

SANTORUM: Right.

VAN SUSTEREN: Let me ask you a question sort of along the time -- along the same sort of conversation I was having with Ambassador Bolton. To what extent is our failing economy here in the United States having an impact on our standing in the world and our political muscle and how we can try to make things better in the world as we seek to make things better in the world so it's safer at home?

SANTORUM: Well, no question that America's might is related to our economic might. And then when we suffer economically -- and we're now looking at whether America going to remain the largest economy in the world -- that has an impact on America's influence on the world. And you know, it's not just our military might and it's not just our economic might. It's also our -- you know, the culture that we have.

You know, all the components of America matter to the standing we have, to the respect to that we have in the international community. People want to come to America not just because of our economic might but because of our freedom, because of vibrancy of our culture and our religion. I mean, all of these things are very, very important. So just to focus on the military is frankly wrong. It's important. It's essential. But the whole -- all of is important in projecting that -- that American exceptionalism.

VAN SUSTEREN: I didn't just mean money it of the military, but even in terms of our products, and you know, the fact if we're sort of scrambling and trying to make ends meet and our politicians at each other's throats and we've got China, we owe China -- I mean, it begins at some point to have a little bit of an odor that (INAUDIBLE) I think we perhaps might have some reflection on our standing in the world is that we can't even handle our own internal affairs.

SANTORUM: Well, obviously, we have to get our economy up and going, most importantly to make sure that those people who are out of work and that those who want better jobs can have them. But it does -- I think you're clearly right. If it looks like America is drifting along, that's not a positive sign to our allies and it certainly is an encouragement to our enemies.

So getting our economy up and going is first important for here at home, but it's also important for America's prestige and power around the world. I think you're right on that.

VAN SUSTEREN: And of course, that then has a bearing, I think, somewhat on our national security. But anyway, Senator, thank you. By the way, where are you tonight?

SANTORUM: I'm in State College. I'm here at the studios of Accuweather. So I can give you the latest forecast, if you want one here.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, that -- maybe next time. (INAUDIBLE) giving me the hurricane report. Thank you, Senator.

SANTORUM: Thank you.