Interviews

Obama, Romney camps shift focus back to economy

Business Roundtable president John Engler weighs in

 

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," September 17, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST OF "YOUR WORLD": A look at the president right now, as he is hammering his plans for the economy today.

Governor Romney hammering his in these new ads.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My plan is to help the middle class. Trade has to work for America. That means crack down on cheaters like China. It means open up the new markets. Next, got to balance the budget. You've got to cut the deficit. You've got to stop spending more money than we take in.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAVUTO: But as both campaigns focus on what they are planning to do, Business Roundtable president John Engler has some fixes starting right now.

Governor, what would you like to see, whoever wins, do?

JOHN ENGLER, PRESIDENT, BUSINESS ROUNDTABLE: Well, I think we need to get back to the growth in this country.

That's certainly been the missing element these last few years. We are just growing way too slow -- 2 percent GDP vs. 4 percent's a big difference. That means job creation. That means economic activity. It makes that deficit problem easier.

There are specific things to do. Duke University just asked, along with a group of CFOs, a nationwide survey, and they said the QE3 isn't going to do it. We need growth. We need the economic activity. We need sales. We need certainty. We need policy stability in Washington, predictability.

We would add tax reform has to be in there. We've got the highest corporate tax rates in the world today. Sweden of all places just announced they are cutting their corporate tax rate to 22 percent after lowering it to 26 percent. Why?

CAVUTO: We have France raising the top rate to 75 percent. So they're not all marching to the same drummer.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: I guess the difference between both candidates right now is Barack Obama's saying pretty much what I have given you, and I want to give you more of this, because I think the trend is my friend. The government initiatives, infrastructure investments, whatever you want to call it, are paying off.

Mitt Romney says just the opposite. I will cut your taxes, and that is the best way to create a boom and off we go.

Does the Roundtable have any -- any position on this?

ENGLER: Well, we don't -- we don't endorse candidates. We do not even do evaluation of congressional voting records.

But I'll tell you, what we do, do, is we do talk about what it takes to get America moving. And we don't think that, now, 45 months or so of 8 percent-plus unemployment, trillion dollar deficits, that's the way to do it.

We've never reelected president with these kinds of numbers, so the debate is going to be very interesting that you were just referencing.

CAVUTO: Well, are you surprised, governor, that this president's polling is as well as it is, and particularly in the battleground states such as yours, despite all of that?

ENGLER: Well, yes. But you look at those Carter-Reagan numbers...

CAVUTO: Absolutely.

ENGLER: ... and I just think it's early.

I think it is still 50 days. And despite the polls, I think the American people understand they get to make the decision. Ultimately they get to cast the ballots. And they've never voted in an election and reelected someone with these kind of numbers. So the president's got a challenge, but Governor Romney has a challenge.

He's got to say, this is what I'm going to do that is different. And that ad you showed is helpful, but the debates are really going to flesh this out, Neil. He'll have to do well.

CAVUTO: Now, a lot of your business guys are very good at marketing and they say that Mitt Romney has not marketed himself well or presented the right image now, and this latest ad campaign, while impressive to some, is a little late. What do you say?

ENGLER: Well, I don't think it's late.

I won three elections in Michigan, but the first one back in 1990 a long time ago, the polls said on the weekend before the election we were going to lose 54 to 40 percent. A lot of these polls do not know who will vote. I certainly don't think they are capturing the economic discomfort that so many families – it's touched every family in America.

Everybody's got a family member. Everyone knows someone that has been hurt in this economy. The wealth of America is down something like 40 percent in the last few years. We have got the lowest participation in the labor market. That is why the unemployment rate is only just a little bit above 8 percent.

So we have got work to do. At the Roundtable, we have laid out an agenda of we call the CEO plan for jobs and economic growth. We got 100 CEOs coming into town this week. And once again, we will say, you have got to stop dawdling, get to work.

We're even going to leave the Russian trade agreement undone, when that's just a little step that would be helpful. We can't seem to get anything moving in this town. And that's a question of leadership.

CAVUTO: We will watch closely.

ENGLER: Thank you.

CAVUTO: Governor, thank you very much.

ENGLER: Thank you.

CAVUTO: Good seeing you again.

ENGLER: You're very welcome. Thank you, Neil.

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