Calls mount to make nation's debt mess key debate issue

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," October 3, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST OF "YOUR WORLD": And, indeed, we are here for the big debate, looking at all sides of it on a day we are told that the economy will be front and center and also on a day we got two extreme sets of numbers on the economy, one painting a pretty good picture or promising picture, the other not so at all.

But a constant throughout all of this and an issue that we are told Mitt Romney wants to be bringing front and center tonight is the debt, how much we as a country owe. At $16 trillion-plus, remember, it was Republicans who made that debt clock a big deal. They want to make a big deal of it tonight, saying it strangles America's very ability to get a handle on their finances and their very future.

Polls confirming that a lot of parents in this country, for example, are less optimistic for their kids attaining anything approaching the success that they have. If that is true it would be a generational first and something you will no doubt hear spun in the spin room in which we are broadcasting.

This is one of the fascinating developments about a debate. This is the place where both ahead of the debate and after of the debate each side tries to sell their story, Democrats that things are looking better and their guy is going to try to make a pitch to show how things are looking better, even though he hasn't debated in four years, so withhold your expectations, the other side saying the economy is not doing better and their guy will try to outline how he will make it better, but hold off on the grand expectations because this is Mitt Romney and he doesn't nearly have the flare and the elegance of one Barack Obama.

Ahead of things they keep expectations down. After things, they raise the bar.

To the debt and how they sell this or not, Allen West, the Republican congressman from the fine state of Florida.

We are told, Congressman, this debt will be a big issue. And even though there is great risk to that, a lot of folks say that it makes people's eyes glaze over, that there is actually a good strategy to that. What do you make of it?

REP. ALLEN WEST, R-FLA.: Well, good afternoon, Neil. It is a pleasure to with you.

I think it has to be a huge issue. This debt that we have is not only threatening to our economic security. It is threatening our national security. When you understand that here, in less than four years, we have gone from $10.6 trillion in debt to over $16 trillion in debt that the debt per person in the United States of America has gone from $34,000 to close to $51,000.

But I think also we need to bring it down home and look at some things such as the gasoline prices, which on Inauguration Day for President Obama was $1.84. And now we are close to $4. But think about the tens of thousands that have been spent for families to keep up with those gas prices, the high commodity prices we see in the grocery stores that are continuing to cause us trouble, and the fact that we have an incredible unemployment situation in the United States of America.

And 8.1 percent does not reflect it when you look at that U6 computation. We have got to have the right type of tax and regulatory policies to get the American people back to work, get our small businesses functioning, make sure that we are saying that we are open for business and we can get production and manufacturing back here.

And I think that is important to talk about, especially where saw a revision of our GDP, second quarter GDP numbers down to 1.3 percent. That is below anemic. And this quantitative easing 3.5 is just another indicator that we are not out of the fiscal woods yet.

CAVUTO: We talk about economic numbers. And you referred to the GDP data that we saw.

Just today, Congressman, we had surprisingly strong growth in private sector numbers that came out. They might or might not mirror what happens in the employment report on Friday, a gain of 162,000, but all of this on the same day a number of companies are warning things do not look good and there could be an earnings recession.

What do you think is the real state of the economy right now and what Mitt Romney has to position tonight?

WEST: Well, the most important thing is Mitt Romney needs to show that the president and his previous budget that he has proposed with trillions of dollars in new taxes only does in it one thing: It grows the debt.

It doesn't do anything for the deficits that we have had. And you give a bigger growth to the federal government. We have to have policies that provide the certainty to the private sector, and we have to have the policies that enable them to grow.

And once again, this is not saying we don't need any regulations, but we need to have smart regulations. In calendar year 2011, the federal government produced over 71,000 pages of new regulations. You talk to people in the coal industry, and look at what is happening with them when we could not get cap and trade through the legislative process; they are getting decimated through executive order fiat in the regulatory process.

We have to have a vision that kind of like what Ronald Reagan said, its morning in America. We have to talk about a new dawn for this American economy.

CAVUTO: Congressman, you are among those who were ushered in, in that Republican avalanche that brought in 83 Republicans and that tipped the House of Representatives to the Republicans and made John Boehner speaker.

You are in a race of your life right now. You have got this ad that everyone is talking about here. But the fact of the matter is Republicans seem to not have quite that same wind behind their back. They might get it and polls, as you often remind me, are fleeting, but are you concerned that the passion that brought you into office is not there as much?

WEST: No, I am not concerned about that.

What I really do see on the ground is you do not see the hats and the T-shirts and the hope and change and change we can believe in and yes we can rhetoric of 2008. The American people know that something is not right. It is just very important as we go into these debating series that we start to articulate what is not right. What is happening in Washington, D.C.? What are the failing policies? And how do we bring that home to the American people and make it personal to them to understand that we can turn this around and get headed in a different direction?

When you look at what we have been able to accomplish in the House of Representatives, we have passed budgets and we have passed appropriations bills. But the one thing that we are mandated constitutionally to do, the Senate is not doing. We have not had a budget passed. So, therefore, how do we know what we are supposed to do as far as our budgeting priorities?

CAVUTO: Do you think Americans distinguish, though, Congressman? They just seem to give Congress lower approval ratings than the president. And I know it's more amorphous because there are so many of you guys, but that the American people are looking at this and just saying the heck with all you guys?

WEST: Well, that is the responsibility that each and every one of us should have, going back and getting to our constituencies and explaining to them the situation, explaining to them what we do.

That is why I do a weekly report every week to give people a legislative update. They know the schedule and what I have done as far as meetings and hearings. So, they become part of the experience.

CAVUTO: Congressman, thank you very much. It's always good seeing you.

WEST: Thanks, Neil. Yes, sir.

CAVUTO: We did reach out to the congressman's opponent, Patrick Murphy, by the way, but we have as yet to hear back. But hope springs eternal. Always trying to be fair and balanced here.

Thank you, Congressman.

WEST: Thanks, Neil.

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