Interviews

Walker: We said we'd stand up for the hard-working taxpayer

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," February 3, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST:  All right, you certainly can't miss this jet when it arrives, Air Force One arriving in Palm Beach, Florida.  Of course, that's getting now to be a familiar locale for this president, his so-called summer White House, a lot of people have likened it.

Last president to use Palm Beach in that sort of designation was John F. Kennedy.  This is Donald Trump.  He will have a working weekend, we're told, a couple of charity events and fund-raisers, but also ironing out plans for next week, an introduction of details of a plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, and more on those tax cuts that were promised today and boosted the markets today.  

Separately, the president has a plan to address what this guy is doing in the state of Wisconsin, because, against all odds, what Scott Walker has done on reining in public union costs and addressing public worker rights is something that the president took note of and wants to take national, even, to federal workers.  

The governor joins me now.  I'm happy to have him.

Governor, thank you.  

GOV. SCOTT WALKER, R-WISCONSIN:  Thank you for having me on.  Good to be with you.  

CAVUTO:  So, what is he saying, Governor, that whatever you were able to do here on collective bargaining and all the rest, that it would be very, very beneficial for us to try out nationally?  Is that gist of it?

WALKER:  Well, part of this goes back to even during the campaign.

Newt Gingrich, who obviously played a big role in the president's campaign and has been very engaged since -- in fact, I saw him last weekend at the White House -- is very interested on the reforms we put in place, not only Act 10, but some the civil service reforms that we did.  

Of course, federal employees don't have collective bargaining for things like wages and benefits.  

CAVUTO:  Right.  

WALKER:  Those are things we did at the state and the local level.  

But in terms of work roles, some things are just as important.  In Wisconsin, we no longer have a requirement by law to have seniority or tenure.  So, we can hire based on merit.  We can pay based on performance. That means we can put the best and the brightest in our positions.  

And I think that's exactly what the American people would love to have at their federal level.  They would love to have people who are more effective, more efficient, more accountable to the American taxpayer.  

CAVUTO:  What is remarkable is that private worker unions are down considerably from the oomph and influence they once enjoyed.  It picked up a little bit under President Obama.  But, again, the overall percentage of union workers in private industry has continued declining.  

Public workers and public unions, more to the point, are a little bit stronger and a little bit more resistant to the kind of changes that you orchestrated in Wisconsin.  And, hence, they're gearing up for a fight nationally, saying that if this guy, Scott Walker, is going to be in charge of doing this, we better do something.  

What are they so fearful of?  Is it they think that you're out to kill them?  What do you say to them?  

WALKER:  Well, what we did in Wisconsin is, we took the power of the big government special interests, the big government union bosses, and put them firmly into the heads of the hardworking taxpayers.  They didn't like that.  

In the six years alone, we have saved close to $5 billion at the state and local level.  That's why property in income taxes are lower today and will be even lower two years from now than they were before we started.  

And yet our services, our schools, other things, we still have some of the top schools in the nation.  Our ACT scores are some of the top for states that test all the students.  Our graduation rates are some of the highest.  

We have shown, because of the reforms that weren't just about budgetary savings, but about how we actually operate our government -- those are the sorts of things I think people want not only in our federal government, but people like Matt Bevin, my friend in Kentucky, not only got elected two years ago.  We helped him get a new legislative body.

And just a few weeks ago, they passed right-to-work, giving people the freedom to choose whether they want to be in a labor union or not.  In Missouri, they just passed that.  And our friend the new governor there, Eric Greitens, is in the process of making that into law.  

I think you are going to see increasingly not just in Washington, but talking statehouses all across the country, because it's pro-taxpayer. And, in the end, it's really pro-worker.  They get to decide.  They get to be the ones.  They can't be forced to be in it.  And that's why historically public employee unions, the big government union bosses have been in charge, because they have made deals with the very people they're supposed to be working with, the government officials, the elected officials.  

Now in state after state, we have said, no, we're going to stand up for the hardworking taxpayer.  And that's what they fear the most.  

CAVUTO:  I know this is a little bit apples and oranges, but if you will indulge me, one of the things I have noticed is one of the most applauding groups that have met with President Trump in these first two weeks of his administration have been union leaders, Teamsters, the AFL-CIO officials and the like, buoyed by his talk of opening up energy pipelines and the rest, and saying, these are jobs, these are our jobs.  

And yet this is the same president who is looking to rein in the type of stuff that you addressing and continued to address in Wisconsin and inspired nationally.  How does he reconcile that, or should he?  

WALKER:  Oh, I think it all works out.  

People forget -- you were in town during the middle of the recalls.  You saw the protests.  

CAVUTO:  I remember well.

WALKER:  But a lot of people don't remember that not only did we win more of a vote in the recall than we did in the original election.  We actually got, according to exit polls, nearly 40 percent of the self-identified union households.  

Why?  Because our policies, our reforms actually put more people to work. We saw wages go up.  Particularly when it comes to big government unions, they don't want that, because they're paying property taxes, they're paying higher bills that foot the bill of the public employee union bosses.  

So, they would like to see things leveled off as well.  And as long as you have got, whether it's this president or Congress or what we have done and other states have done, you have good policies that help grow your economy, that help put the American people back to work.  

If you're a smart private sector union leader, you want those things.  You want to see more energy supplies.  You want to see more infrastructure. You want so see things that grow the economy.  You just don't want it dictated by big government union bosses.  

Oftentimes, they're at odds.  We saw that in Wisconsin.  And I think you're going to see it across the nation.  

CAVUTO:  Well, you survived all of that, and again not only in that recall election, but in reelection.  

But Republicans always fear, if they go too far here, whatever progress or inroads they have made with unions could be jeopardized.  Any advice for the president going forward or for the Republicans who are anxious about torpedoing this newfound relationship, how to move it forward?  

WALKER:  I think the best thing to do is do what you promised the voters to do.  

It's why not only did I win three times in Wisconsin, which historically has been a battleground state, even leaning more blue than red, although we won it for the president and we won it for Ron Johnson.  

But we have won at the state level in our legislative races.  We won the majority in '10.  We won more seats in '12.  We won more seats in '14.  We won more seats last November in '16.  Why?  Because we actually did what we said we were going to do, commonsense conservative reforms.

And they worked.  And I think the more we show we're looking out for the best interests of the hardworking people of our states and of our country, whether it's at the state level or with the president and the Congress, the better off they are going to be.  

Our policies work.  They help improve wages. They help create jobs.  They help the people of this state and of this country prosper.  And as long as the president and the Congress focus in on that and getting the job done, the job that they promised they would do on the campaign trail, they are going to be fine.  

It's when we act like liberals and do one thing when you're campaigning and something different when you're in office that you run into trouble.  

CAVUTO:  Lastly, while I still have you, Governor, and as President Trump gets off Air Force One and heads to West Palm Beach, what is your sense of these first two weeks, how things are going?  

WALKER:  Well, I think his Supreme Court nominee the other day is spectacular.  

I think he's exactly the kind of person I would want on the bench, someone who has got -- a person of integrity, who is well-respected by Republicans and Democrats alike who have appeared before him, who is well-respected by his colleagues, who has got, ironically -- for all the liberals who have run out to say they're going to vote against him, he has got exactly -- almost exactly the same experience as Judge Garland.  

They went to the same law school.  And they were both clerks at the U.S. Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court.  They were both in private practice and the Justice Department.  Of course, they're both members of the U.S. Court of Appeals in different jurisdictions.  

This guy is well-prepared, well-trained.  And it's ironic.  In my own state, state Senator Tammy Baldwin, who a year ago, called on her Republican colleagues to meet and at least give a chance to hear from the president's nominee, this week alone came out on Tuesday and said she would meet with him and yesterday said, no, no, no, she's going to vote against him.  

I guess the liberal special interest groups got to her, as they have to some of the other senators out there.  But I hope there's enough with an open mind to say this is going to be a great member of the United States Supreme Court.  

And I think you look at the president's Cabinet, again, spectacular picks, starting with his original pick of Mike Pence, who is one of my favorites, who I think is going to help lead this country go forward.  

CAVUTO:  I lied.  It's not my last question.  

But as he's there getting ready to go in the car en route to Mar-a-Lago, much has been made of friction with other Republicans.  Friction might be too strong a word, but that they're not quite on the same page with how they go about repealing and ultimately replacing the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, and how they go about paying for tax cuts.  

On the tax cut thing, do you think that they should be paid for?  There's been some concern the president has with a border tax idea that some have cooked up that could go a long way toward paying for the tax cuts.  But the weird thing that some conservatives argue is, why are we paying for a tax cut with a tax hike?  

What do you think of that?  

WALKER:  I don't think it should be taxed -- raising any taxes.  

In our state, like other successful states around the country, particularly where there have been Republican governors in leadership positions over the last few years, we have seen revenues go up precisely because our tax burden went down.  

In total in our state, it's been close to $5 billion since we took office. It's why yet again we got another positive budget outlook, because when you lower taxes, as Ronald Reagan showed us early in the 1980s, revenues actually go up.  They used to call it the Laffer curve.  

CAVUTO:  Right.

WALKER:  I call it the Kohl's curve, because it's kind of like buying clothing and items at Kohl's, one of our great department stores in Wisconsin.  

But if you do more to lower the tax burden, I'm convinced, particularly if we have a competitive tax burden for our employers here in this nation, companies like Harley-Davidson, who was just there other day, we are going to see more jobs come back to America.  

CAVUTO:  All right, sir, very good seeing you again.  My best to your family.  

WALKER:  Good to be with you, Neil.  

And happy Go Red Day.  

CAVUTO:  All right, indeed go red.  I do empathize with that.

END

Content and Programming Copyright 2017 Fox News Network, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Copyright 2017 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.