Huntsman: We Need to Debate Jobs, Economy

2012 hopeful on upcoming GOP debate, economic crisis


This is a rush transcript from "Your World," October 10, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

ERIC BOLLING, GUEST HOST: Immigration, religion, vaccines, just some of the issues dominating the fight for the GOP presidential nomination. But will the focus turn to jobs at tomorrow’s debate?

To Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman.

Sir, thanks for joining us.

So, I am waiting, I am waiting for the jobs discussion to jump back up on the debate. Do you expect jobs, the economy, unemployment, do you expect to hear some of the questions in that world tomorrow?

JON HUNTSMAN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Eric, we have no choice. This is exactly where the debate needs to go.

So, you sit here in New Hampshire and to have a conversation with Sheriff Hardy, my good friend from Hillsborough County, and when he begins to tell you things like his deputies are beginning to hand out foreclosure notices to the middle class, they have never done that before, they have never seen that before, because of a dire jobs situation, families that are facing unprecedented problems, substance abuse, spousal abuse -- suicide rates are climbing because people lack the dignity of a job and the ability to take care of themselves.

So, this fundamentally, Eric is a jobs-focused election cycle. At least it should be.

BOLLING: It should be, sir.


HUNTSMAN: So the sooner we can get around to discussing how we’re going to fix it...

BOLLING: And that is why I’m asking you. It seems like the GOP has taken their eye off the ball the last couple of weeks, if not months, where things like immigration, yes, they are important, the vaccine issue with Texas.



BOLLING: The issues are important, yet the most pressing issue to Americans right now is, where are all the jobs?

HUNTSMAN: Well, if the debate started -- and maybe we will see tomorrow night something play out a little differently -- but if the debate started with a question or a discussion on something that wasn’t focused on vaccines, not focused on he said/she said about what was said in a book with respect to Social Security, if you could get the drama and the short- term thinking out of at least the desire to get sound bites out of these debates during the first 30 minutes, maybe that would stimulate some good discussion and some good thinking and some follow-on chatter, which would be extremely important with respect to job creation.

All I can tell you, Eric, is we put forward a very strong and aggressive economic reform package...

BOLLING: Yes, you did.

HUNTSMAN: ... that speaks to job creation.

The Wall Street Journal has come out and endorsed it...

BOLLING: Yes, it did.

HUNTSMAN: ... both the tax reform piece and the regulatory reform piece and the energy independence piece.

This is the bottom line for us. This whole election cycle is pretty simple. It’s about how you fire the engines of growth in this economy. You expand the economy, you create jobs, and you get more taxpayers, so we can begin paying the bills going forward.

BOLLING: Yes, sir. In fact, The Wall Street Journal scored your plan of the highest, if not the highest, of all the candidates.

I think, if I were asked tomorrow about, I don’t know, Mormonism or, you know, immigration, I would turn it right around and say, oh, you want to talk about jobs, do you, and then go ahead and explain some of your plan.



BOLLING: But may I stay on this Mormonism issue just for a second here?

Pastor Robert Jeffress over the weekend, on Saturday, made a comment that seemed to really light some fire and it created some buzz. Sir, please weigh in on his comment that he, at some point during the weekend, called Mormonism or related Mormonism to a cult.

HUNTSMAN: I think it is really unfortunate when people have to stand up -- and, you know, Thomas Jefferson talked over 200 years ago about having no litmus test, religious litmus test in politics.

And here we are, over two centuries later, having silly discussions like this. And if it comes up in the debate, as you mentioned, Eric, you know, nobody should have time or the willingness to take this in any direction. We ought to get right to the bottom-line focus of job creation and how we fire the engines of growth in this economy, or do what I did today, which was a speech on foreign policy.

And that is recognizing our position, now the second decade in the 21st century, what America is going to have to do to compete with the likes of China, Singapore, Taiwan, Korea and others who are reforming their economies, who are reforming their educational systems.

BOLLING: Well, what should we do, sir?

HUNTSMAN: These are the issues that really do matter.

BOLLING: What do we do?


BOLLING: First of all, so what do we do? How do we compete with China? Everyone -- you watch enough TV and you read enough newspaper, you realize that people are deathly afraid of China overtaking the U.S. How do we compete in a global economy in 2020 and ‘30 and on?

HUNTSMAN: There is always the fear factor with China. And some candidates are only too happy to exploit that.

But there are two things, Eric that we have to remember in this country that will always serve us well when it comes to economic competitiveness and job creation. In fact, it is the thing that other countries are trying to replicate. Number one is how do you maintain freedom, innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship in your economy? We do it in America like no one else has ever done in history. And we have got to hold on to that ability to innovate and create new ideas, new thinking, new products, and new approaches.

Number two is, we have got to have a competitive marketplace.


BOLLING: Allow me to stop you there.


BOLLING: How do we hold on to that ability?

HUNTSMAN: We hold on to it by ensuring that regulations are not such that we are creating so many disincentives for entrepreneurs where they are no longer willing to take a risk.

The minute you make risk-taking impossible in this country, like Dodd- Frank does to some extent because of the ratio requirements and the coverage requirements, you can’t get a loan from a bank these days if you’re a small business person.

I come from a family business. It never could have gotten off the ground, I do believe, in today’s Dodd-Frank environment. So we have got to make sure that we have an environment that speaks to creativity, that accepts risk, that allows a small business person and entrepreneur to succeed, bottom line.

BOLLING: Sir, before I let you go -- we only have about a half-a- minute or so -- tell us about your plan for taxes.

HUNTSMAN: Tax reform endorsed by The Wall Street Journal, as you say, phase out on the individual side all the loopholes and all the deductions.

Lower the rate to 8 percent and 14 percent and 23 percent, depending upon income. On the corporate side, take it from 35 percent, lower it to 25 percent. You can do it in a revenue-neutral fashion by phasing out corporate welfare and subsidies puts, because we can’t afford that any longer.

BOLLING: Very good.

HUNTSMAN: And beyond that, we want to create a level playing field and 21st century competitive tax policy.

BOLLING: Very good. Governor Jon Huntsman, always good to talk to you, sir.

HUNTSMAN: Thanks, Eric. It’s a pleasure. Thank you.

BOLLING: All right.

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