CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012
Mitt Romney, Herman Cain, and Gov. Rick Perry of Texas at the Republican presidential debate on Wednesday. More Photos »
POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES
CNBC’s “Your Money, Your Vote: The Republican Presidential Debate” Live from Oakland University in Rochester, MI …
CNBC ‘Your Money, Your Vote’ Republican Presidential Debate
The following is a transcript of the CNBC “Your Money, Your Vote” Republican presidential debate at Oakland University in Auburn Hills, Mich, as provided by Federal News Service.
Speakers: Representative Michele Bachmann (R-MINN.)
Businessman and Columnist Herman Cain
Former Speaker of the House of Representatives Newt Gingrich (R-GA.)
Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman (R)
Representative Ron Paul (R-TEXAS)
Governor Rick Perry (R-TEXAS)
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney (R)
Former Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA.)
Moderators: Maria Bartiromo and John Harwood
MARIA BARTIROMO: Throughout the evening tonight, we’ll be joinedby an all-star line-up of the smartest people on CNBC. First uptonight: Jim Cramer, the host of “Mad Money.” Jim, welcome.(Cheers, applause.)
JIM CRAMER: Thank you, Maria.
JOHN HARWOOD: And we also want to hear your voice. Go to ourwebsite, debate.cnbc.com, and tweet us at hashtag CNBCdebate. All
night we’ll be showing your tweets on the bottom of the screen, so allthe candidates will have even more of a motive to impress.
MS. BARTIROMO: In the interest of time, the candidates haveagreed to forgo opening and closing statements tonight. So let’s getstarted.
And we begin with you, Mr. Cain. I want to begin with what wesaw today, another rough day for our money, for our 401(k)s. Onceagain we were all impacted by the news that the Dow Jones IndustrialAverage dropped 400 points today. The reason: Italy is on the brinkof financial disaster. It is the world’s seventh-largest economy. Aspresident, what will you do to make sure their problems do not takedown the U.S. financial system?
HERMAN CAIN: Let’s start with two things. First, we must growthis economy. We are the biggest economy in the world, and as long aswe are stagnant in terms of growth in GDP, we impact the rest of theworld. We must do that.
But we’re not going to be able to do that until we put some fuelin the engine that drives economic growth, which is the businesssector. This administration has done nothing but put stuff in thecaboose, and it’s not moving this economy. We must grow this economy,number one.
Number two, we must assure that our currency is sound. Just like — a dollar must be a dollar when we wake up in the morning. Justlike 60 minutes is in an hour, a dollar must be a dollar.
If we are growing this economy the way it has the ability to do, andat the same time we are cutting spending seriously, we will havethings moving in the right direction in order to be able to survivethese kind of (ripple effects ?)
MS. BARTIROMO: So to be clear: Focus on the domestic economy;allow Italy to fail?
MR. CAIN: Focus on the domestic economy, or we will fail. So,yes, focus on the domestic economy first. There’s not a lot that theUnited States can directly do for Italy right now because they have — they’re really way beyond the point of return that we — we as theUnited States can save them.
MS. BARTIROMO: Governor Romney, should we allow Italy to fail?Should we have a stake in what’s going on in the eurozone right now?
MITT ROMNEY: Well, Europe is able to take care of their ownproblems. We don’t want to step in and try and bail out their banksand bail out their governments. They have the capacity to deal withthat themselves. They’re a very large economy. And there will be,I’m sure, cries if Italy does default, if Italy does get in trouble,and we don’t know that’ll happen. But if they get to a point wherethey’re in crisis and banks throughout Europe could hold a lot ofItaly debt, we’ll — we’ll then face crisis. And there’ll have to besome kind of effort to try and uphold their financial system.
There will be some who say here that banks in the U.S. that haveItalian debt — that we ought to help those as well. My view is, no,no, no. We do not need to step in to bail out banks either in Europeor banks here in the U.S. that may have Italian debt. The rightanswer is for us — (applause) —
MS. BARTIROMO: But the U.S. does contribute to the InternationalMonetary Fund, and the IMF has given $150 billion to the eurozone.Are you saying the U.S. should stop contributing to the IMF?
MR. ROMNEY: I’m happy to continue to participate in worldefforts like the World Bank and the IMF. But I’m not happy to havethe United States government put in place a TARP-like program to tryand save U.S. banks that have Italian debt, foreign banks doingbusiness in the U.S. that have Italian debt, or European debt — we’rejust — of banks there.
There’s going to be an effort to try and draw us in and talkabout how we need to help — help Italy and help Europe. Europe isable to help Europe. We have to focus on getting our own economy inorder and making sure we never reach the kind of problem Italy ishaving.
If we stay on the course we’re on, with the level of borrowingthis administration is carrying out, if we don’t get serious aboutcutting and capping our spending and balancing our budget, you’regoing to find America in the same position Italy is in four or fiveyears from now, and that is unacceptable. We got to fix our — ourdeficit here. (Applause.)
JIM CRAMER: Congressman Paul. (Inaudible) — to say. You know,I really get that. But I’m on the front lines of the stock market.We were down 400 points today. We’re not going to be done going downif this keeps going up, if Italy keeps — the rate keeps going up.Surely you must recognize that this is a moment-to-moment situationfor people who have 401(k)s and IRAs and the like, and you wouldn’tjust let it fail, just go away and take our banking system with it.
REPRESENTATIVE RON PAUL (R-TX): No, you don’t. You have to letit — you have to let it liquidate. We’ve had — we took 40 years tobuild up this worldwide debt. We’re in a debt crisis never seenbefore in our history. The sovereign debt of this world is equal tothe GDP, as ours is in this country. If you prop it up, you’ll doexactly what we did in the Depression, prolong the agony. If you do — if you prop it up, you do what Japan has done for 20 years.
So, yes, you want to liquidate the debt. The debt isunsustainable. And this bubble was predictable because 40 years ago,we had no restraints whatsoever on the monetary authorities and wepiled debt on debt, we pyramided debt, we had no restraints on thespending. And if you keep bailing people out and prop it up, you justprolong the agony, as we’re doing in the housing bubble.
Right now Fannie May and Freddie Mac are demanding more moneybecause we don’t allow the market to determine what these mortgagesare worth. If you don’t liquidate this and clear the market, believeme, you’re going to perpetuate this for a decade or two more, and thatis very, very dangerous. (Applause.)
MR. CRAMER: Governor Huntsman. (Inaudible.) Italy’s too big tofail. It’s great. I would love it if we were independent. It wouldbe terrific (to say it’s your fault ?), it’s your fault and it’s yourproblem.
But if this goes, the world banking system could shut down. Doesn’tthat involve our banks, too?
JON HUNTSMAN: So we wake up this morning, and we find that theyield curve with respect to Italy is up and prices are down. So ifyou want a window into what this country is going to look like in thefuture if we don’t get on top of our debt, you’re seeing it playingout in Europe right now. You’re seeing the metastasy effect of thebanking sector.
And what does it mean here? What am I most concerned about, Jim?I’m concerned that it impacts us in a way that moves into our bankingsector, where we’ve got a huge problem called “too big to fail” inthis country. We have six banks in this country that, combined, haveassets worth 66 percent of our nation’s GDP, $9.4 trillion. Theseinstitutions get hit, they have an implied bailout by the taxpayers inthis country. And that means we’re setting ourselves up for disasteragain.
Jim, as long as we have banks that are too big to fail in thiscountry, we’re going to catch the contagion, and it’s going to hurtus. We’ve got to get back to a day and age where we have properly-sized banks and financial institutions.
JOHN HARWOOD: Thank you, Governor. (Applause.)
Governor Romney, I want to switch to the bailout drama that we’velived through in this country, and no state understands it better thanthe state of Michigan. I’m going to talk a little bit about yourrecord on that. Four years ago when you were running for theRepublican nomination and the auto industry was suffering, you said,where’s Washington? After the election, when the Bush administrationwas considering financial assistance for the automakers, you said no,let Detroit go bankrupt. Now that the companies are profitable againafter a bailout supported by your Republican governor here inMichigan, you said, well, actually, President Obama implemented myplan all along, or he gravitated to my plan. With a record like thatof seeming to be on all sides of the issue, why should Republicans beconfident in the steadiness of your economic leadership?
MR. ROMNEY: John, I care about about this state and about theauto industry like — I’d guess like no one else on this stage, havingbeen born and raised here, watched my parents make their life here. Iwas here in the 1950s and 1960s when Detroit and Michigan was thepride of the nation. I’ve seen this industry and I’ve seen this statego through tough times.
And my view some years ago was that the federal government, byputting in place CAFE requirements that helped foreign automobilesgain market share in the U.S., was hurting Detroit. And so I said,where is — where is Washington? They’re not doing the job they oughtto be doing.
My view with regards to the bailout was that whether it was byPresident Bush or by President Obama, it was the wrong way to go. Isaid from the very beginning they should go through a managedbankruptcy process, a private bankruptcy process. We have capitalmarkets and bankruptcy. It works in the U.S. The idea of billions ofdollars being wasted initially — then finally they adopted themanaged bankruptcy. I was among others that said we ought to do that.
And then after that, they gave the company to the UAW, they gaveGeneral Motors to the UAW, and they gave Chrysler to Fiat. My plan,we would have had a private sector bailout with the right — privatesector restructuring and bankruptcy with the private sector guidingthe — the direction, as opposed to what we had with the governmentplaying its heavy hand.
MR. HARWOOD: Governor, let me follow up, because — (applause) — the auto bailout is part of a larger issue facing your candidacy,as you know. Your opponents have said you’ve switched positions onmany issues. It’s an issue of character — not personal, butpolitical. You seemed to encapsulate it in what — the last debatewhen you said: I’m running for office, for Pete’s sake.
What can you say to Republicans to persuade them the things yousay in the campaign are rooted in something deeper than the fact thatyou’re running for office?
MR. ROMNEY: I think — John, I think people know me pretty well,particularly in this state, in the state of Massachusetts, NewHampshire that’s close by, Utah where I (served in ?) the Olympics. Ithink people understand that I’m a man of steadiness and constancy.
I don’t think you’re going to find somebody who has more of thoseattributes than I do.
I’ve been married to the same woman for 25 — excuse me — (chuckles) I get in trouble — for 42 years. (Laughter.) I’ve — I’ve been in the same church my entire life. I worked at one company,Bain, for 25 years, and I left that to go up and — off and help savethe Olympic Games.
I think it’s outrageous the Obama campaign continues to push thisidea when you have in the Obama administration the most politicalpresidency we’ve seen in modern history. They’re actually decidingwhen to pull out of Afghanistan based on politics.
Let me tell you this. If I’m president of the United States, Iwill be true to my family, to my faith and to our country, and I willnever apologize for the United States of America. That’s my belief.(Cheers, applause.)
MR. HARWOOD: Now, Governor Perry, I want to ask you about this,because you’ve raised this issue yourself about Governor Romney, andyou’re running as a politician with strong convictions. From the flipside, Ronald Reagan raised taxes when the deficit got too big. GeorgeW. Bush supported TARP and the auto bailout when he thought we mightface a Great Depression — second Great Depression. Does that,examples like that, tell you that good, effective leaders need to showthe kind of flexibility that Governor Romney has showed on someissues?
GOVERNOR RICK PERRY (R-TX): The next president of the UnitedStates needs to send a powerful message not just to the people of thiscountry but around the world that America is going to be Americaagain; that we are not going to pick winners and losers fromWashington, D.C.; that we’re going to trust the capital markets andthe private sector to make the decisions and let the consumers pickwinners and losers.
And it doesn’t make any difference whether it’s Wall Street orwhether it’s some corporate entity or whether it’s some Europeancountry. If you are too big to fail, you are too big. (Applause.)
MS. BARTIROMO: Speaker Gingrich, Federal Reserve Chairman BenBernanke has called the unemployment in this country a national crisisdue to the amount of days people are out — months that people are outof work and the number of people out of work. Many of you have comeup with tax reform plans. Why is tax reform the path to job creation?And if it’s not the only path, what else can you implement to getpeople back to work?
NEWT GINGRICH: Well, first of all, I think Ben Bernanke is alarge part of the problem and ought to be fired as rapidly aspossible. (Cheers, applause.) I think the Federal Reserve ought tobe audited, and we should have all the decision documents for 2008, ‘9and ’10 so we can understand who he bailed out, why he bailed themout, who he did not bail out and why he did not bail them out.(Cheers, applause.) So I’m — I’m glad that Ben Bernanke recognizessome of the wreckage his policies have led to.
I’ve — the reason we follow — I think most of us are for taxpolicies that lead to jobs is because we’ve had two cycles in mylifetime, Ronald Reagan and the Contract with America, both of whichhad the same policies: lower taxes, less regulation, more Americanenergy, and have faith in the American job creator, as distinct from aSaul Alinsky radicalism of higher taxes, bigger bureaucracy with moreregulations, no American energy — as the president announced againtoday in his decision on offshore — and finally, class warfare. So Iwould say that all of us on this stage represent a dramaticallygreater likelihood of getting to a paycheck and leaving behind foodstamps than does Barack Obama. (Cheers, applause.)
MS. BARTIROMO: Congressman Bachmann, same question to you. Howcan you create jobs as quickly as possible?
REPRESENTATIVE MICHELE BACHMANN (R-MN): Well, I think one thingthat we know is that taxes lead to jobs leaving the country. All youneed to know is that we have the second-highest corporate tax rate inthe world. And if you go back to 1981 and you look around the world,we had a lot of high corporate tax countries.
It was 47 percent, on average, on a lot of countries across the world.But if you look today in the United States, we have an effective rate,if you average in state taxes with federal taxes, of about 40 percent;but the world took a — took a clue. Because capital is mobile, andcapital went to places where corporate tax rates went to 25 percentand falling. We’re still stuck in a 1986 era of about a 40-percenttax rate.
We have to lower the tax rate, because of the cost of doingbusiness, but we have to do so much more than that. We — our biggestproblem right now is our regulatory burden. The biggest regulatoryproblem we have is “Obamacare” and Dodd-Frank. I will repeal thosebills. I’ve written those bills to repeal those bills. They gottago. But beyond that — (cheers, applause) — but beyond that, we haveto legalize American energy.
And here’s something else that we have to do that will help theeconomy. We have to build the fence on America’s southern border andget a grip on dealing with our immigration problem. (Applause.)
MS. BARTIROMO: OK.
MR. HARWOOD: Senator Santorum, you’ve proposed a zero tax onmanufacturing businesses.
RICK SANTORUM: I have.
MR. HARWOOD: All right. I understand the sentiment behind that,and the state of Michigan’s lost hundreds of thousands ofmanufacturing jobs over the last few decades. Isn’t that the kind ofdistortion in the tax code that people want to get away from in orderto get rates down — flatter, simpler, fairer?
MR. SANTORUM: I think getting the rate down to zero is down — is pretty far down. That’s good. It’s down to zero — (inaudible) —
MR. HARWOOD: But it’s down for the manufacturing industry, asopposed to people doing other things. Isn’t that picking winners andlosers?
MR. SANTORUM: It’s down for a sector of the economy, not pickingan individual winner or loser. It’s down for an entire sector of theeconomy, that we’re getting our hat handed to us by losing jobs. I — we see that here in Michigan; we see it across this country. And the
reason is government has made us uncompetitive. We need to compete ontaxes. We need to compete on regulations.
We need to repeal “Obamacare.” I’ve said I’m going to repeal everysingle Obama-era regulation that costs business over a hundred milliondollars. Repeal them all. We’ll save — we’ll send a very clearmessage out to manufacturers in this country and all over the worldthat America will compete.
Some have suggested we need to go into a trade war with China andhave tariffs. That just taxes you. I don’t want to tax you. I wantto create an atmosphere where businesses and manufacturers can beprofitable. Lower taxes, repatriating funds, zero percent tax if yourepatriate those funds and invest them in plant and equipment.
And then of course an energy policy that everyone on this stageis going to agree with, that says we are going to produce energy inthis country. I’m different than many of them, that — I’m going tocut all the subsidies out and let the market work, as opposed tocreating incentives for different forms of energy that the governmentsupports. (Applause.)
MS. BARTIROMO: You have all said that you will repeal thepresident’s health care legislation. We will get into that because wewant to know, then what? What is the plan once you repeal”Obamacare?”
But first, Mr. Cain, the American people want jobs but they alsowant leadership. They want character in a president. In recent days,we have learned that four different women have accused you ofinappropriate behavior. Here we’re focusing on character and onjudgement. (Boos.)
You’ve been a CEO. (Boos.) You know that shareholders arereluctant to hire a CEO where there are character issues. Why shouldthe American people hire a president if they feel there are characterissues?
MR. CAIN: The American people deserve better than someone beingtried in the court of public opinion based on unfounded accusations.(Cheers, applause.)
And I value my character and my integrity more than anythingelse. And for every one person that comes forward with a falseaccusation, there are probably — there are thousands who would saynone of that sort of activity ever came from Herman Cain.
You’re right, this country’s looking for leadership. And this is whya lot of people, despite what has happened over the last nine days,are still very enthusiastic behind my candidacy.
Over the last nine days — (applause) — over the last nine days,the voters have voted with their dollars, and they’re saying theydon’t care about the character assassination, they care aboutleadership and getting this economy growing and all of the otherproblems we face. (Applause.)
MR. HARWOOD: Governor Romney, when you were at Bain Capital, youpurchased a lot of companies. You could fire the CEO and themanagement team or you could keep them. Would you keep a CEO — areyou persuaded by what Mr. Cain has said? Would you keep him on if youhad bought his company? (Boos.)
MR. ROMNEY: I’m — look. Look, Herman Cain is the person torespond to these questions. He just did. The people in this room andacross the country can make their own assessment. I’m not going to — (applause) — inaudible). (Extended cheers and applause.)
MR. HARWOOD: Governor Huntsman, let me switch back to theeconomy. (Cheers, applause.)
Many Republicans have criticized the Occupy Wall Street movement.Well, we have have an NBC News/Wall Street poll this week that showeda large proportion of the American people, 76 percent, said theybelieve there’s something wrong with our economy that tilts toward thewealthy at the expense of others.
Do you consider something wrong with the structure of our economyand the income inequality that it produces? Is that somethinggovernment should do something about?
And if so, what?
JON HUNTSMAN: Let me just say that I want to be the president ofthe 99 percent. I also want to be the president of the 1 percent.This nation is divided, and it’s painful, and it is unnatural for themost optimistic blue-sky people this world has ever known. We areproblem solvers.
When I hear out the people who are part of the Wall Streetprotests, I (say ?) thank goodness we have the ability to speak out.I might not agree with everything they say. I don’t like the anti-capitalism messages. But I do agree that this country is never againgoing to bail out corporations.
I do agree — (applause) — thank you. I do agree that we haveblown through trillions and trillions of dollars with nothing to showon the balance sheet but debt and no uplift in our ability to competeand no addressing our level of unemployment.
And I do agree that we have institutions, banks, that are too bigto fail in this country, and until we address that problem — we canfix taxes, we can fix the regulatory environment, we can move towardenergy independence; so long as we have instant banks that are too bigto fail, we are setting ourselves up for long-term disaster andfailure.
MR. HARWOOD: So, Governor, you agree with Governor Romney thatthe bailout that Governor Snyder supports in Michigan was a mistake?
MR. HUNTSMAN: The bailout here in the auto sector, $68 billionworth — we’re going to end up footing a bill — Governor Snyder knowsthat — of probably $15 billion when all is said and done. I don’tthink that’s a good use of taxpayer money. Instead there ought to besome way of taking the auto sector through some sort ofreorganization, get them back on their feet. The people in thiscountry are sick and tired of seeing taxpayer dollars go towardbailouts and we’re not going to have it anymore in this country.(Applause.)
MR. CRAMER: Governor Romney, do you believe public companieshave any social responsibility to create jobs?
Or do you believe, as Nobel laureate Milton Friedman, the mostimportant, most influential conservative economist of the 20th centuryheld, that corporations should exist solely to create maximum profitfor their shareholders?
MR. ROMNEY: This is a wonderful philosophical debate, but youknow what? We — we don’t have to decide between the two because theygo together. Our Democratic friends think that when a corporation isprofitable, that’s a bad thing. I remember asking some, where do youthink — where do you think profits go? When you hear that a companyis profitable, where do you think it goes? And they said, well, topay the executives their big bonuses. I said no, actually, none of itgoes to pay the executives. Profit is what’s left over after they’veall been paid. What happens with profit is that you can grow thebusiness. You can expand it. You add working capital, and you hirepeople.
The right thing for America is to have profitable enterprisesthat can hire people. I want to make American businesses successfuland thrive. What we have in Washington today is a president and anadministration that doesn’t like business, that somehow thinks theywant jobs, but they don’t like businesses. Look, I want to see ourbusinesses thrive and grow and expand and be profitable. (Cheers,applause.) I want to see — (inaudible) — I want a (job ?) —
MR. CRAMER: Governor Perry, 30 seconds to you. Do you thinkthat companies can both be profitable and be able to create jobs? Doyou think it’s a dichotomy, or do you think they can do it?
GOV. PERRY: They better be. They better be, and that’s thereason the tax plan that I laid out, a 20 percent flat tax on thepersonal side and a 20 percent corporate tax rate — that will getpeople working in this country. (Applause.) We need to go out thereand stick a big old flag in the middle of America that says, “Open forbusiness again.” (Cheers, applause.)
MR. CRAMER: Mr. Speaker, how about to you? Can corporations doboth?
MR. GINGRICH: Look, obviously, corporations can and should doboth. And what is amazing to me is the inability of much of ouracademic world and much of our news media and most of the people onOccupy Wall Street to have a clue about history.
In this town, Henry Ford started as an Edison Electric supervisorwho went home at night and built his first car in the garage. Now,was he in the 99 percent, or the 1 percent? Bill Gates drops out ofcollege to found Microsoft. Is he in the 1 percent, or the 99percent?
Historically, this is the richest country in the history of theworld because corporations succeed in creating both profits and jobs.And it’s sad that the news media doesn’t report accurately how theeconomy works. (Cheers, applause.)
MS. BARTIROMO: (Inaudible) — I’d like to know what the — Mr.Speaker, I’m sorry, but what is the media — what is the mediareporting inaccurately about the economy?
MR. GINGRICH: What? (Laughter.)
MS. BARTIROMO: What is the media reporting inaccurately aboutthe economy?
MR. GINGRICH: (I love humor disguised as a question ?). That’sterrific. (Laughter.)
I have yet to hear a single reporter ask a single Occupy WallStreet person a single rational question about the economy that wouldlead them to say, for example: Who’s going to pay for the park you’reoccupying if there are no businesses making a profit? (Cheers,applause.)
MR. CRAMER: Senator Santorum, I want to talk about a high-quality problem our country has. I just came back from North Dakota.We have made the largest oil discovery in a generation there. Notonly is it a — defined a big step toward creating energyindependence, it stands to create as many as 300,000 jobs. But whatthe guys tell me up there is that they can’t handle the rush withoutfederal help. Would you favor incentives — incentives to get workersand businesses to where the jobs are — to support this boom?
MR. SANTORUM: No, because we’ve done it in Pennsylvania.Pennsylvania has Marcellus shale. It took a while for us to ramp up,but we’re drilling 3(,000) to 4,000 wells. The price of natural gas,because of Marcellus shale — which is the second largest natural gas
find in the world — has gone from $12 to $3.65. And we let themarketplace work.
So no, we didn’t have the federal government come in and bail us out.
I want to make the point about manufacturing jobs again, becauseif you’re — if you’re talking about creating jobs that trickle down,I agree with Newt. We have folks who have (sic) innovators. But healways — he talked about innovators that created jobs for blue-collarworkers. The unemployment rate among non-college-educated is wellinto the double digits in America. It’s 4 or 5 percent for people whohave college degrees.
The reason I put forth this manufacturing point is not just so wecan say “made here in America.” That we can create opportunities foreveryone in America, including those that don’t have that collegeskill set. People who built this country, like my grandfather who wasa coal miner.
So that is a very important part that Republicans, unfortunately,are not talking about. We need to talk about income mobility. Weneed to talk about people at the bottom of the — of the income scalebeing able to get necessary skills and rise so they can supportthemselves and a family. And that’s what manufacturing does, andthat’s why I’m laser-beam focused on it. (Applause.)
MS. BARTIROMO: Let’s get back to tax reform.
Mr. Cain, let’s talk fairness in taxation. Ever since thiscountry started taxing income a hundred years ago, our system chargesthose people who make more money a higher rate than those people whomake less money. Governor Perry has said he doesn’t believe in thatapproach, and your 9-9-9 plan suggests you don’t either.
Why now, when the higher-income group is doing better than therest of America, is the time to switch to the same rate for all of us?
MR. CAIN: My proposal is the only one that solves the problem bythrowing out the current tax code, which has been a mess for decades — (applause) — and we need to put in something different that I’veproposed: 9-9-9. It satisfies five simple criteria.
It is simple. The complexity costs us $430 billion a year.
It is transparent. People know what it is. There are thousandsof hidden “sneak attaxes” in the current tax code. That’s why I wantto throw it out.
It is fair. The reason it’s fair is because of the definition inWebster, which says everybody gets treated the same, all businessesget treated the same, not having Washington, D.C., pick winners andlosers. This is why I have proposed a bold plan of 9-9-9: 9 percentbusiness flat tax, 9 percent tax on personal income, a 9-percentnational sales tax. It treats everybody the same. And it will boostthis economy.
MS. BARTIROMO: How do you ensure that when the government needsmore revenue, that the sales tax doesn’t go up and that plan doesn’tturn into 19-19-19?
MR. CAIN: Tax codes do not raise taxes, politicians do.(Cheers, applause.) And as long as it’s visible, the people will holdthe politicians’ feet to the fire. It’s not the code that raisestaxes, it’s the politicians. Because the code — because the approach9-9-9 will be very visible, the American people are going to hold therates at 9.
MR. HARWOOD: Governor Romney, Mr. Cain’s got a flat tax, RickPerry’s got a flat tax, Congresswoman Bachmann is talking about a flattax. You don’t have a flat tax. You’re proposing to preserve theBush era tax rates. What is wrong with the idea that we should go toone rate? Why do you believe in a progressive tax system?
MR. ROMNEY: Well, I would like to see our tax rates flatter.I’d like to see our code simpler. I’d like to see the special breaksthat we have in the code taken out. That’s one of the reasons why I’dtake the corporate rate from 35 down to 25, is to take out some of thespecial deals that are there.
With regards to our tax code, what I want to do is to take ourprecious dollars as a nation and focus them on the people in thiscountry that have been hurt the most, and that’s the middle class.
The Obama economy has really crushed middle-income Americans. Thispresident has failed us so badly. We have 26 million people out ofwork or in part-time jobs, that need full-time work or have stoppedlooking for work altogether.
Median incomes have dropped 10 percent in the last three years.At the same time, gasoline prices are up, food prices are up, healthcare costs are up. And so what I want to do is help the people who’vebeen hurt the most. And that’s the middle class. And so what I do isfocus a substantial tax break on middle-income Americans.
Ultimately, I’d love to see if — see us come up with a plan thatsimplifies the code and lowers rates for everybody. But right now,let’s get the job done first that has to be done immediately. Let’slower the tax rates on middle-income Americans.
MR. HARWOOD: Congresswoman Bachmann, Governor Romney isaccepting — (applause) — the premises of the Democratic argumentthat you have to have a fair approach to taxation that preservesdifferent rates for different people.
Why is he wrong?
REP. BACHMANN: Well, I would say President Obama is the onethat’s wrong, because President Obama’s plan for job creation hasabsolutely nothing to do with the true people who know how to createjobs. He should really be going to job creators if he wants to knowhow to create jobs.
Instead, he continues to go to General Axelrod in Chicago to lookfor his orders to figure out how to deal with the economy. That won’twork.
We know what needs to be done. We have a real problem. When youhave 53 percent of Americans paying federal income taxes, but you have47 percent of Americans who pay no federal income taxes, you have areal problem.
And that’s why in my tax plan, I have everyone paying something,because everyone benefits by this magnificent country. So even if itmeans paying the price of two Happy Meals a year, like $10, everyonecan afford to pay at least that. And what it does is create amentality in the United States that says that freedom is free. Butfreedom isn’t free.
We all benefit. We all need to sacrifice. Everybody has to be a partof this tax code. (Applause.)
MS. BARTIROMO: Congressman Ron Paul, you have said you want toclose down agencies. Tell us about your tax plan, as well as closingagencies, federal agencies. Where do those jobs go?
REP. PAUL: Well, eventually they go into the private sector.They don’t all leave immediately when the plan goes into effect.(Scattered applause.)
But what my plan does is, it addresses taxes in a littledifferent way. We’re talking about the tax code, but that’s theconsequence, that’s the symptoms. The disease is spending. Everytime you spend — (scattered applause) — spending is a tax. We taxthe people, we borrow, and then we print the money, and then theprices go up, and that is a tax. So you have to address the subjectof spending. That is the tax.
That is the reason I go after the spending. I propose in thefirst year cut $1 trillion out of the budget — (cheers, applause) — in five departments.
Now the — the other thing is — that you must do if you want toget the economy going and growing again is you have to get rid ofprice fixing. And the most significant price fixing that goes on, thatgave us the bubble, destroyed the economy and is preventing this fromcoming out is the price fixing of the Federal Reserve manipulatinginterest rates way below market rates. (Applause.) You have to havethe market determine interest rates if you want a healthy, viableeconomy.
MS. BARTIROMO: So you think the economy would be stronger ifinterest rates were higher right now?
REP. PAUL: You would have — you would have more incentive. Youwould take care of the elderly. They get cheated. They get nothingfor their CDs. Why — why cheat them and give the banks loans at 0percent? Then they loan it back to the government at 3 percent.They’re ripping us off at the expense of those on fixed incomes andthen retirees.
MS. BARTIROMO: Even though higher interest rates would make itmuch more expensive to borrow mortgages, borrow —
REP. PAUL: But what you want is the market to determine this.Whoever thought that one person, the Federal Reserve Board chairman,knows what the money supply should be? Just in the past six months,M1 has gone up at the rate of 30 percent.
That spells inflation. That spells lower standard of living andhigher prices. And watch out, they’re coming. (Applause.)
MS. BARTIROMO: We are just getting started tonight. When wereturn, how will the candidates breathe new life into the lifelesshousing market?
MR. HARWOOD: Plus, the view of the economy from the corneroffice.
MR. : I think that we’re in serious trouble. Businesspeopleare struggling.
MR. : The problems of the economy didn’t arrive in 20minutes, and they won’t be resolved in 20 minutes.
MR. : The most important economic issue of concern to me islack of leadership in government and the lack of any focus on buildingconfidence both with consumers and the business community.
MR. HARWOOD: So how are the candidates going to turn thingsaround? CNBC’s Republican presidential debate will be right back.Stay with us. (Applause.)
MS. BARTIROMO: Welcome back to CNBC’s Republican presidentialdebate. With us for this portion of the program, CNBC’s senioreconomics reporter, Steve Liesman.
Welcome, Steve. (Applause.)
STEVE LIESMAN (CNBC senior economics reporter): It’s great to behere, Maria. Thank you.
MS. BARTIROMO: Most economists agree that there can be noeconomic recovery without a recovery in housing. American familieshave lost some $7 trillion in home value in the last five years.Right now 4 million people are behind on their mortgage or inforeclosure. Twenty-five percent of homeowners owe more to the banksthan their house is actually worth.
Governor Romney has said that the government should let theforeclosure process play out so that the housing market can recoverand the free markets can work.
Speaker Gingrich, is Governor Romney right?
MR. GINGRICH: Well, he’s certainly right in the sense that youwant to get through to the real value of the houses as fast as youcan, because they’re not going to rise in value as long as you staytrapped, as Japan has done now for 20 years. But I think there aretwo specific steps you got to understand in terms of housing.
To pick up on something Congresswoman Bachmann said, if theRepublican House next week would repeal Dodd-Frank and allow us to putpressure on the Senate to repeal Dodd-Frank, you’d see the housingmarket start to improve overnight. Dodd-Frank kills small banks; itkills small business. The federal regulators are anti-housing loan.And it has maximized the pain level.
You could also change some of the rules so that it would beeasier to do a short sale, where the house is worth less than themortgage, than it is to do a foreclosure. Today the banks areactually profiting more by foreclosing than by encouraging shortsales.
But in the long run, you want the housing market to come back?the economy has to come back. When you’re at 4-percent unemployment,you suddenly have a dramatic increase in demand for housing. Whenyou’re at 9- percent-plus unemployment, it’s hard to get the housingmarket to come back.
MS. BARTIROMO: Governor Romney, respond in 30 seconds. Not oneof your 59 points in your economic plan mentions or addresses housing.Can you tell us why?
MR. ROMNEY: Yeah, because it’s not a housing plan, it’s a jobsplan. And the right way to get — (cheers, applause.)
The best — the best thing you can do for housing is to get theeconomy going, get have people working again, seeing incomes, insteadof going down, incomes coming up so people can afford to buy homes.The things the speaker just indicated are excellent ideas as well.You have to let the market work and get people in homes again, and thebest way for that to happen is to — is to allow this economy toreboot.
What we know won’t work is what this president has done, which isto try and hold off the foreclosure process, the normal marketprocess, to — to put money into a stimulus that failed and to put inplace a whole series of policies from “Obamacare” to Dodd-Frank thathave made it harder for this economy to get going. You want to getAmerica’s economy going, we know how to do it. It’s do almost theexact opposite of what President Obama has done. (Cheers, applause.)
MR. LIESMAN: Governor Romney, we’ve created 2.7 million jobssince February 2010. Over that period of time, the housing market hascontinued to decline. We’re at 2003 price levels now. If we keepgoing the way we’re going, in four or five years we’ll be at 1999price levels. The $7 trillion figure that Maria mentioned couldalmost double. Are you willing to let that happen in America?
MR. ROMNEY: And exactly what you — what would you do instead?Would you decide to have —
MR. LIESMAN: I’m asking you.
MR. ROMNEY: — have — to have the federal government go out andbuy all the homes in America? That — that’s not going to happen inthis country. Markets work. When you have government play its heavyhand, markets blow up, and people get hurt.
And the reason we have the housing crisis we have is that thefederal government played too heavy a role in our markets. Thefederal government came in with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — (cheers,applause) — and Barney Frank and Chris Dodd told banks they have togive loans to people who couldn’t afford to pay them back. And so — and so our friends — our friends in Washington today, they say, oh,if we’ve got a problem in the housing, let’s let government play abigger role.
That’s the wrong way to go. Let markets work. Help people getback to work. Let them buy homes. You’ll see home prices come backup if we allow this market to work.
MR. LIESMAN: But Governor Perry, every quarter I get the report,the GDP figures, and it’s a negative number for housing. And we’velost some 2 million construction jobs. Housing creates jobs as well;doesn’t it?
GOV. PERRY: Not a negative number in Texas, and one of thereasons is because we have put policies into place that follow my planto get America back working again.
MR. LIESMAN: OK, so translate that plan to America, please.
GOV. PERRY: When you look at what I’ve laid out, whether it’sthe energy side and getting the energy industry going — and RickSantorum is absolutely correct on that, is let’s get our energyindustry freed up, federal lands, federal waters — pull back all ofthose regulations. Everybody on this stage understands, it’s theregulatory world that is killing America. (Applause.)
The tax side of it, yeah, have a flat tax. Have a corporate flattax in there, as well. But the real issue facing America areregulations. It doesn’t make any difference whether it’s the EPA orwhether it’s the federal banking, the Dodd-Frank or “Obamacare,”that’s what’s killing America. And the next president of the UnitedStates has to have the courage to go forward, pull back everyregulation since 2008, audit them for one thing: Is it creating jobs,or is it killing jobs? And if that regulation is killing jobs, doaway with it. (Applause.)
MR. HARWOOD: Well, Congresswoman Bachmann, in one of the lastdebates you were asked what you would do about foreclosures, and youtold moms to hang on. But your advice, as your colleagues havementioned, was: Let the economy recover. So you agree with GovernorRomney that the way to fix the housing market is to let theforeclosure process proceed more rapidly?
REP. BACHMANN: Well, what I agree with is that we have got tostop what we’re doing now. When we had the financial meltdown, 50percent of the homes were being financed by Fannie and Freddie; today,it’s 90 percent of the homes. In other words, the government is thebacker of the homes.
Well, let’s take a look and an analysis of what a great,brilliant job Freddie and Fannie are doing. They just applied thisweek for another $7 billion bailout because they’re failing. Theother one applied for a $6 billion bailout because they’re failing.
But what did they do? They just gave bonuses of almost $13million to 10 top executives. This is the epicenter of capital crony — crony capitalism. That’s what’s wrong with Washington, D.C. Forthese geniuses to give 10 of their top executives bonuses at $12million, and then have the guts to come to the American people andsay, give us another 13 billion (dollars) to bail us out just for thequarter? That’s lunacy. We need to put them back into bankruptcy — (applause) — and get them out of business. They’re destroying thehousing market.
MR. HARWOOD: Since you mentioned Fannie and Freddie, SpeakerGingrich, 30 seconds to you. Your firm was paid $300,000 by FreddieMac in 2006. What did you do for that money?
MR. GINGRICH: You — were you asking me?
MR. HARWOOD: Yes.
MR. GINGRICH: I offered them advice on precisely what theydidn’t do. (Laughter, applause.)
Look, look, this is not — this is —
MR. HARWOOD: Were you not trying to help Freddie Mac fend offthe effort by the Bush administration —
MR. GINGRICH: No. No, I do no — I have never done that.
MR. HARWOOD: — to curb Freddie Mac?
MR. GINGRICH: I have never done — I assume I get a secondquestion. I have never done any lobbying, every contract that waswritten during the period when I was out of the office specificallysaid I would do no lobbying, and I offered advice. And my advice as ahistorian, when they walked in and said to me, we are now making loansto people who have no credit history and have no record of paying backanything, but that’s what the government wants us to do, is I said — I said to them at the time: This is a bubble. This insane. This isimpossible.
It turned out, unfortunately, I was right and the people who weredoing exactly what Congresswoman Bachmann talked about were wrong.And I think it’s a good case for breaking up Fannie Mae and FreddieMac and getting much smaller institutions back into the private sectorto be competitive and to be responsible for their behavior.(Applause.)
MR. LIESMAN: Mr. Cain, government-sponsored entities Fannie Maeand Freddie Mac, as Congresswoman Bachmann said, now underwrite orguarantee 90 percent of the home financing in this country. Whatwould you do with these — with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac? Would youshut them down even though it could mean higher interest rates forAmericans and make it even harder than it is right now for Americansto get home loans?
MR. CAIN: You don’t start there. You start with fixing the realproblem, which is growing this economy, which is why I have put a boldsolution on the table, 9-9-9.
Secondly, then you get the regulators off of the backs of thebanks, like someone mentioned, get the regulars out of the way, suchthat the small banks and the medium-sized banks aren’t being forcedout of the business. They would then be in a better position, andthey might develop a desire in order to help homeowners reset theirmortgages if they were able to see, number three, some certainty.Uncertainty is what’s killing this economy, and until we throw out thetax code and put in something bold, get government out the way byreducing the regulatory environment, we are going to still have thehousing problem.
MR. LIESMAN: I’m sorry, Mr. Cain, but you would come into officeand Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac would be there, and the question was,what would you do with them?
MR. CAIN: OK, after I did those three things that I outlined,then deal with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
MR. LIESMAN: Right.
MR. CAIN: You don’t start solving a problem right in the middleof it, so we got to do that first.
I would also turn those GSEs into private entities. Thegovernment does not need to be in that business. I would find a wayto unwind Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac such that the marketplace candetermine the future of the housing market. (Applause.)
MR. HARWOOD: Governor Huntsman, I want to go back to the issuethat you raised before about “too big to fail.” If anything, thatproblem has gotten worse since the financial crisis than before. The10 biggest bank holding companies in this country now hold nearly 90percent of all the assets in the banking system, up from 75 percent in2006. So what would you do? Would you break up the banks to removethe risk or diminish the risk for American taxpayers?
MR. HUNTSMAN: Let me just say on the housing discussion here,lost in all of this debate is the fact that there are people tuning intonight who are upside-down in terms of the financing of their homes,who are feeling real pain, people who probably heard today that theylost a job. These issues are very real. They’re complicated. For usto say that there’s an easy solution to housing, that’s just notright. And that’s not fair. The economy does have to recover inorder for the housing market to pick up its slack and for us to getonto housing starts, which ought to be 15 percent of our nation’s GDP,and today it’s 2 percent.
With respect to the banks that are too big to fail, you know,today we’ve got, as I mentioned earlier, six institutions that areequal to 60 (percent), 65 percent of our GDP, $9.4 trillion. Theyhave an implied guarantee by the taxpayers that they’ll be protected.That’s not fair. That’s not right for the taxpayers.
MR. HARWOOD: So you break them up?
MR. HUNTSMAN: I say we need to — we need to right-size them. Isay in the 1990s you had Goldman Sachs, for example, that was 1.1 — that was — that was $200 billion in size. By 2008 it had grown to$1.1 trillion in size. Was that good for the people of this country?Or were — were we assuming — (inaudible) — process.
MR. HARWOOD: Well, how would you accomplish that? How would youright-size?
MR. HUNTSMAN: I think we ought to set up some sort of fund.Well, I think we ought to charge some sort of fee from the banks thatmitigates the risk that, otherwise, the taxpayers are carrying.There’s got to be something that takes the risk from the taxpayers offthe table so that these institutions don’t go forward with thisimplied assumption that we’re going to bail them out at the end of theday.
That’s not right, and it’s not fair for the taxpayers of this country.(Applause.)
MS. BARTIROMO: Let’s stay on regulation for a moment. You haveall said that you will repeal President Obama’s health carelegislation. Down the line, 30 seconds: If you repeal “Obamacare,”what’s the answer?
MR. HUNTSMAN: I would sit down and I would meet with the 50governors of this country. And I’d say: I did health care reform inmy state. Took us three years to get it done. We delivered aninsurance connector that was not a costly mandate.
You can sit down with the 50 governors and you can address costcontainment. This is a $3 trillion industry, half of which any expertwill tell you is totally nonsense and superfluous spending. How doyou get cost out of the system? How do you empower patients to betterunderstand what they’re getting when they go into the doctor’s office?
Number two, we need to do a better job in harmonizing medicalrecords so that we can pull up on a consistent basis the mostefficacious course of treatment for patients.
And third, we need to close the gap on the uninsured without acostly mandate, letting the free market work in bringing peopletogether with truly affordable insurance.
MS. BARTIROMO: That’s time. We want to get each of yourcomments on what the plan is.
REP. PAUL: We need to get the government out of the business.And we do need to have the right to opt out of “Obamacare,” but weought to have the right to opt out of everything. And the answer toit is turn it back over to the patient and the doctor relationshipwith medical savings accounts.
So I would say that we’ve had too much government. I’ve been inmedicine. It’s gone downhill. Quality has gone down. Prices haveskyrocketed because of the inflation. So you need to get a marketforce in there. But medical savings accounts.
But this mess has been created — it’s a bipartisan mess, so it’sbeen there for a while. But what we need is the doctor-patientrelationship and medical savings accounts where you can deduct it fromyour taxes and get a major medical policy. Prices then would comedown.
MS. BARTIROMO: Thirty seconds. Governor Perry.
GOV. PERRY: Obviously, on the Medicare side you have to have aninsurance type of a program where people have options, which givesthem a menu of options of which they can choose from.
I think you have to have the doctors and the hospitals and the otherhealth care providers being given incentives on health care ratherthan sick care.
And then on Medicaid, it’s really pretty simple, just like Jonand Mitt both know. You send it back to the states and let the statesfigure out how to make Medicaid work — (applause) — because I’llguarantee you, we will do it safely, we will do it appropriately andwe will save a ton of money.
MS. BARTIROMO: Mr. Cain.
MR. CAIN: The legislation has already been written: H.R. 3000.In the previous Congress, it was H.R. 3400. And what that does — it’s already been written. We didn’t hear about it in the previous — the previous Congress, because “Princess Nancy” sent it to committeeand it stayed there — (laughter) — it never came out. H.R. 30 — H.R. 3000 allows the decisions to be with the doctors and thepatients, not with the bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. Thelegislation has already been written. (Applause.)
MS. BARTIROMO: Governor Romney?
MR. ROMNEY: Health care in 30 seconds — it’s a little tough,but let me try. (Laughter.)
Number one, you return to the states the responsibility forcaring for their own uninsured, and you send the Medicaid money backto the states so they can craft their own programs. That’s numberone.
Number two, you let individuals purchase their own insurance — not just getting it through their company, but buy it on their own ifthey want to — and no longer discriminate against individuals whowant to buy their insurance.
Number three, you do exactly what Ron Paul said. I don’t alwayssay that, but I’m going to say it right now. (Laughter.) And thatis, you have to get health care to start working more like a market.And for that to happen, people have to have a stake in what the cost,and the quality as well, is of their health care. And so a healthsavings account or something called co-insurance, that’s the way tohelp that and make that happen.
And finally, our malpractice system in this country is nuts.We’ve got to take that over and make sure we don’t burden our systemwith that. (Applause.)
MS. BARTIROMO: Mr. Speaker.
MR. GINGRICH: Well, I just want to point out, my colleagues havedone a terrific job of answering an absurd question. (Laughter.)
To say, in 30 seconds —
MS. BARTIROMO: You have said you want to repeal “Obamacare,”correct?
MR. GINGRICH: I’d like to — let me just finish, if I may — (inaudible, applause) — to say in 30 seconds what you would do with18 percent of the economy, life and death for the American people, atopic I’ve worked on since 1974, about which I wrote a book called”Saving Lives and Saving Money” in 2002, and for which I founded theCenter for Health Transformation, is the perfect case of why I’m goingto challenge the president to seven Lincoln-Douglas style three-hourdebates with a timekeeper and no moderator, at least two of whichought to be on health care, so you could have a serious discussionover a several-hour period that affects the lives of every person inthis country. (Cheers, applause.)
MS. BARTIROMO: Would you like to try to explain — would youlike to — (cheers, applause) — would you like to try to explain, insimple speak, to the American people, what you would do after yourepeal the president’s health care legislation?
MR. GINGRICH: In 30 seconds? (Laughter.)
MS. BARTIROMO: Take the time you need, sir. Take the time youneed.
MR. GINGRICH: I can’t take what I need; these guys’ll all gangup on me.
MS. BARTIROMO: You want to answer the question tonight on healthcare, or no, Speaker?
MR. GINGRICH: (Inaudible) — something like — (inaudible).
MS. BARTIROMO: You want to try to answer the question tonight,Speaker?
MR. GINGRICH: No, let me — let me just say it very straight.One, you go back to a doctor-patient relationship and you involve thefamily in those periods where the patient by themselves can’t make keydecisions. But you relocalize it.
Two, as several people said, including Governor Perry, you putMedicaid back at the state level and allow the states to reallyexperiment, because it’s clear we don’t know what we’re doingnationally.
Three, you focus very intensely on a brand-new program on brainscience, because the fact is, the largest single (out-year ?) set ofcosts we’re faced with are Alzheimer’s, autism, Parkinson’s, mentalhealth and things which come directly from the brain. And I am forfixing our health rather than fixing our health bureaucracy, becausethe iron lung is the perfect model of saving people so you don’t needto pay for a federal program of iron lung centers because the poliovaccine eliminated the problem.
That’s a very short pracis. (Cheers, applause.)
MS. BARTIROMO: Congresswoman.
REP. BACHMANN: The main problem with health care in the UnitedStates today is the issue of cost. It’s just too expensive. AndPresident Obama said that’s what he would solve in “Obamacare.” We’dall save $2,500 a year in our premiums. Well, we have “Obamacare,”but we didn’t have the savings. So what I would do to replace it isto allow every American to buy any health insurance policy they wantanywhere in the United States without any federal minimum mandate.Today there is an insurance monopoly in every state in the country. Iwould end that monopoly and let any American go anywhere they want.That’s the free market.
Number two, I would allow every American to pay for thatinsurance policy, their deductibles, their copay, theirpharmaceuticals, whatever it is that’s medical-related with their owntax-free money. And then finally, I’d have true medical malpracticeliability reform. If you do that, it’s very simple. People own theirown insurance policies, and you drive the cost down, because what wehave to get rid of is government bureaucracy in health care. That’sall we bought in “Obamacare” was a huge bureaucracy. That has to goaway. (Applause.)
MS. BARTIROMO: Senator.
MR. SANTORUM: This is, I think, the difference between me and alot of the candidates. I heard a lot of responses, but I hadn’t — Ihaven’t seen a lot of consistency in some of the — some of thoseresponses on the last few questions.
When it comes to health care, back in 1992 I introduced the firsthealth savings account bill that everybody up here said was the basisfor consumer-driven health care. I was leading on that before anyoneelse was even talking about it. Secondly, I was someone who proposeda block grant for Medicaid way back in 1998 with Phil Gramm, againleading on this issue. Same thing reforming the Medicare program backin the 1990s. Again, I led on these issues. I was always for havingthe government out of the health care business and for a bottom-up,consumer-driven health care, which is different than Governor Romneyand some of the other people on this panel.
Number two — and — and I didn’t get a chance to answer the — any of the housing questions. I was on the bank and the housingcommittee when — in — in the United States Senate. I was one of 24people who wrote a letter to Harry Reid saying: Please let us bringup this housing legislation, which I voted for in the committee, thatwould have put curbs on Fannie and Freddie. I — I — I was out therebefore this bubble burst, saying this was a problem.
I — I was in Scranton, Pennsylvania, the other day and I had oneof a — a home builder. He was the head of the association, came upto me and said: Rick, I’m here to apologize. We came here to pushyou so you would oppose, you know, putting caps on Fannie and Freddie.You were right. We were wrong.
Time and time again, Wall Street — the Wall Street bailout — five of the eight people on this panel supported the Wall Streetbailout. I didn’t. I know that we solve problems best from thebottom up, not the top down and government intervention in themarketplace.
MS. BARTIROMO: Governor Romney, you have 30 seconds to respond.(Applause.)
MR. ROMNEY: That’s — that’s fine. I very — believe verydeeply in the functioning of markets. The work I’ve done on healthcare — I actually worked in — as a consultant to the health careindustry, to hospitals and various health institutions. I had theoccasion of actually acquiring and trying to build health carebusinesses. I know something about it, and I believe markets work.
And what’s wrong with our health care system in America is thatgovernment is playing too heavy a role. We need to get our markets towork by having the consumer, the patient, have a stake in what thecost and quality is of health care, give them the transparency theyneed to know where the opportunities are for lower cost and betterquality, to make sure that the providers offer them the broadest arrayof options that they could have. And once we have that happening,you’ll see us — we — 18 percent of our GDP is spent on health care.The next highest nation in the world is 12 percent. It’s a hugedifference.
MS. BARTIROMO: Time —
MR. ROMNEY: We have to get the market to work to make sure thatwe get the kind of quality and value that America deserves.
MR. HARWOOD: But Governor, let me ask you about health care,because Congressman Paul said put it back to the doctor and thepatient.
You said a few moments ago that you thought that states should havethe responsibility for insuring the uninsured. Of course, inMassachusetts you enacted an individual mandate and subsidies to havepeople who didn’t have insurance get it. So you think there’s apretty large role for government in this area.
MR. ROMNEY: Well, I think the people have a responsibility toreceive their own care. Doctor-patient relationship is, of course —
MR. HARWOOD: The government (has ?) responsibility to force it.
MR. ROMNEY: I didn’t know whether Ron Paul was saying he’s goingto get rid of Medicaid. I would not get rid of Medicaid. It’s ahealth program for the poor. What I said was I would take theMedicaid dollars that are currently spent by the federal government,return them to the states so that states can craft their own programsto care for their own poor rather than having the federal governmentmandate a one-size-fits-all plan in the entire nation.
“Obamacare” is wrong. I’ll repeal it. I’ll get it done.(Applause.)
REP. PAUL: John.
MR. HARWOOD: Congressman.
REP. PAUL: My plan of cutting the budget by a trillion dollarsdoes deal with Medicaid, and that is that it preserves it and there isa transition period, with the goal that eventually we would hope tomove that back into the economy. But right now it would be too muchto do it in one year. You know, finding a trillion dollars was a joband a half, and — (inaudible) — department.
So, yes, my budget takes into consideration health care for theelderly, health care on Medicaid, as well as child health care. Atthe same time, we deal with the bailouts, the banks and all thebenefits that they get from the financial system.
Because what we’re facing today is a crisis — on this housingcrisis, if I could just have one second on that. We face the housingcrisis once again because it’s price fixing. They’re fixing theprices of these mortgages too high, and this is why nobody will buythem. This is why you have to get rid of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac,sell all of that into the marketplace.
And the reason they do this is to prop up the banks, because thebanks have invested in Europe, they’ve invested in Fannie Mae andFreddie Mac and these credit default swaps.
They’re in big trouble, and that is why they’re getting bailed out,and that’s why they’re not allowing these mortgages to go down. Andthat is why we will most likely bail out Europe, which will be a realtragedy. (Applause.)
MR. HARWOOD: Congressman, it’s — thank you for that. It’s timefor a quick break —
MR. LIESMAN: Hold it. John, I wanted to give them 15 secondseach to solve the deficit problem.
MS. BARTIROMO: (Laughs.) We’ll come back to the deficit.
MR. HARWOOD: When we return, balancing the budget and cuttingthe deficit, making the college education more affordable.
MS. BARTIROMO: Plus, a little lesson on Social Security.
You’re watching CNBC’s “Your Money, Your Vote” Republicanpresidential debate. (Applause.)
MR. HARWOOD: And welcome back. Joining us for this portion ofthe debate, Rick Santelli, CNBC’s on-air editor — (cheers, applause) — and Sharon Epperson, our personal finance correspondent.
Now, we’ll get to them in a moment, but first, Senator Santorum,you were known as a tough partisan fighter in the Senate. But lookwhere partisan fighting got us this summer: gridlock and a debtrating downgrade. The American people don’t much like it, and neitherdoes Doug Oberhelman, the CEO of Caterpillar. Let’s take a listen.
DOUGLAS OBERHELMAN (CEO, Caterpillar Inc.): (From video.) Mostpeople think our politicians are not helping the country get back onits feet. The last two presidents made promises to work across partylines, and both failed.
How will you put our country ahead of your political party andsolve the issues that are so critical for Americans? Be specific,please — these are promises.
MR. HARWOOD: And Senator, let me ask you about — to set up thatquestion. If everyone on this stage rules out any tax increases, evenat a 10-to-1 ration of spending cuts, as you have done, what could youpossibly offer Democrats to get them to go along and compromise withyou on the things that Republicans want?
MR. SANTORUM: You create a — you create a platform that theycan buy into, because they see the advantages of your — of your plan.
For example, one of the reasons that I — I put forward thismanufacturing plan is because folks here in Michigan, Democrats andRepublicans, will vote for it. I was at the New Hampshire House ofRepresentatives the other day and spoke to a bipartisan group, talkedabout the tax plan — not just the manufacturing, but the broad-basedplan that I have.
And I had two Democratic house members go over to my chairman,Dan Tamburello, and said, hey, I want him to come to my district andtalk about this. We can support it.
So when you put together a plan — look, if the RepublicanParty’s just about keeping the top rate, you know, lower or cuttingtaxes, we’re not going to be reaching people. We’ve got to look atplans that bring people together. That’s why I’ve focused on thissector. I understand, John, that the Wall Street Journal won’t likethat I’m picking one sector over another. I don’t care.
What I need to do is bring America together, find a plan that canwork, that we — can be implemented right away. It may not be theboldest plan in the world, but it’s one that will work. It’ll putpeople back to work. It’ll give the ability to people to rise in oursociety. It’ll help with the jobs out in rural America where themanufacturing loss has been the greatest and the employment (sic) rateis the highest.
You put a plan like that together, you’ll get Democrats andRepublicans, and we’ll create jobs in this country. We’ll get thingsdone.
MR. HARWOOD: Governor Romney, you’ve shown that you can workwith Democrats. When you were governor, of course, you collaboratedwith Ted Kennedy on the health care plan that you enacted.
You raised fees to balance the budget and you used that as an argumentto get the credit rating of your state upgraded. Independent votersmight like that. Should Republican primary voters be nervous aboutit?
MR. ROMNEY: Thanks for reminding everybody. (Laughter.)
What I’ve found is, in a state like mine where there are a fewDemocrats in the legislature — 85 percent of my legislature wasDemocrat. To get anything done, I was always in an “away” game, ifyou will. And to get something done, I had to see if there wereDemocrats who cared more about the state than they cared about theirreelection or their party. And there were.
And right now, America faces a crisis. I think people on bothsides of the aisle recognize that this is no longer a time just forworrying about the next election. This is a time to worry aboutAmerica.
We see what’s happening in Italy, what’s happening in Greece.That’s where we’re headed if we don’t change our course. And thereare enough good Democrats and good Republicans willing to put asidepartisanship and do what’s right for the country, in my view, ifthey’re led by someone who cares more about the country, cares moreabout the future of America, cares about our kids and our grandkids,and is willing to step forward and lead.
What we have now is a president who, unfortunately, is driven byone thing: his reelection. It’s unbelievable that we have the crisisgoing on in America that we have — (applause) — and we have apresident who is focused on trying to get himself reelected. This isa — this is a crisis in America.
MR. HARWOOD: Time, Governor.
Governor Perry, you play only home games in Texas. Do you givehim points for winning on the road?
GOV. PERRY: Listen, there is a reason that Caterpillar movedtheir hydraulics manufacturing and their engine manufacturing to thestate of Texas. It didn’t have anything to do with Republican versusDemocrat. It had everything to do with creating a climate in ourstate where the job creators knew that they were going to have theopportunity to keep more of what they work for.
MR. HARWOOD: He’s said he did.
GOV. PERRY: And that’s what Americans are looking for.(Scattered applause.) They’re looking for a tax plan that basicallysays you’re going to be able to keep more of what you work for.They’re looking for a regulatory climate that doesn’t strangle thelife out of their businesses when they want to put those dollars outthere to create the wealth.
That’s what Americans are looking for.
I think we’re getting all tangled up around an issue here aboutcan you work with Democrats or can you work with Republicans. Yeah,we can all do that. But the fact of the matter is, we better have aplan in place that Americans can get their hands around, and that’sthe reason my flat tax is the only one of all the folks — these goodfolks on the stage. It balances the budget in 2020. It does thethings for the regulatory climate that has to happen.
And I will tell you, it’s three agencies of government, when Iget there, that are gone: Commerce, Education and the — what’s thethird one there — let’s see. (Laughter.)
REP. PAUL: You need five.
GOV. PERRY: Oh, five. OK.
REP. PAUL: Make it five.
GOV. PERRY: OK. So Commerce, Education and — the — (pause) —
MR. ROMNEY: EPA?
GOV. PERRY: EPA. There you go. (Laughter.) (Applause.)
MS. BARTIROMO: Let’s go —
MR: HARWOOD: Seriously? Is EPA the one you were talking about?
GOV. PERRY: No, sir. No, sir. We were talking about theagencies of government — EPA needs to be rebuilt. There’s no doubtabout that.
MR. HARWOOD: But you can’t — but you can’t name the third one?
GOV. PERRY: The third agency of government.
MR. HARWOOD: Yes.
GOV. PERRY: I would do away with the Education, the Commerce and — let’s see — I can’t. The third one, I can’t. Sorry. Oops.
MS. BARTIROMO: What about the EPA and the new rules coming outof the EPA? Mr. Cain, right now there is a situation with the EPA
getting aggressive, the National Labor Relations Board gettingaggressive, wanting to shut down a plant in South Carolina. Whatwould you tell Boeing to do?
MR. CAIN: What about —
MS. BARTIROMO: Should they shut down that plant in SouthCarolina unless they make it union?
MR. CAIN: Absolutely not. (Cheers, applause.) That’s what’swrong with government (tampering ?). Absolutely not. (Applause.)The government has no business trying to pick winners and losers, aswe have said, whether it’s through the front door with legislation orthe back door through regulation.
Now, if I may go back —
MR. HARWOOD: What about manufacturing? Zero tax rate for onesector of the economy.
MR. CAIN: Well, this is why my 9-9-9 plan — (cheers, applause) — makes every sector grow. How about helping everybody, not just onesector? And that’s the power of my 9-9-9 plan. Number one, it’sbold. And yes, I’m the only one that’s put a bold plan on the tableand not afraid to go out and defend it.
Now, as far as getting both sides of the aisle to work together — if I may; I don’t see that little yellow light yet — (laughter) — in terms of getting both sides to work together, it’s called provide acompelling solution, and the American people, if they understand it,they will demand it. That’s how you get both sides of the aisle towork together. (Applause.)
MS. BARTIROMO: Rick Santelli.
RICK SANTELLI (On-air editor, CNBC): Speaker Gingrich, for thefirst time in its 75-year history, Social Security is going to be inthe red. According to the Washington Post on October 29th, 105billion (dollars) this year. The reason: Political parties — bothsides — at the end of last year agreed that they wanted a tax cut.And the area they cut were payroll taxes, the main funding for SocialSecurity. If we continue that — and there seems to be some agreementon both sides of the aisle to extend that tax cut — for 2011 and2012, the cumulative amount will be closer to 260 billion (dollars).Are all tax cuts created equal? Is this a tax cut that you wouldback?
MR. GINGRICH: Well, I’m not prepared to raise taxes on workingAmericans in the middle of a recession that’s this bad. (Applause.)But let — but let me put Social Security in context. In 1968, inorder to fake a balanced budget, Lyndon Johnson brought SocialSecurity in the general budget. And ever since, politicians have hidbehind Social Security. Now it’s going to become a disadvantage to doso.
I think the first step is you take Social Security off thefederal budget. You don’t try to solve the budget deficit problem onthe back of working Americans and retirees.
You deal with Social Security as a free-standing issue. And the factis, if you allow younger Americans to have the choice to go to aGalveston or — or Chilean-style personal Social Security savingsaccount, the long-term effect on Social Security is scored by theSocial Security actuary as absolutely stabilizing the system andtaking care of it.
The key is, there’s 2 trillion (dollars), 400 billion dollars inSocial Security which — be — which should be off-budget, and nopresident of the United States should ever again say, because of somepolitical fight in Washington, I may not be able to send you yourcheck. That money is sitting there. That money’s available. And thecountry ought to pay the debt it owes the people who put the money inthere. (Applause.)
MR. HARWOOD: Governor Romney, if I could follow up, SpeakerGingrich just said he’s not prepared to raise taxes on the Americanpeople in the middle of a slow economy like this. That’s what wouldhappen if the payroll tax cut is not extended. Does — do you agreewith him? And would you also support, when it comes down to it, anextension of the payroll tax cut?
MR. ROMNEY: I want to — I don’t want to — I don’t want toraise taxes on people in the middle of a recession. Of course not.
MR. HARWOOD: So you’re for it.
MR. ROMNEY: That’s — and that’s one of the reasons why — whywe fought so hard to make sure the Bush tax cuts weren’t taken away by — by President Obama.
But look, this issue of deficits and spending — it’s not aboutjust dollars and cents. This is a moral issue. It’s a moralimperative. We can’t continue to pass on massive debts to the nextgeneration. We can’t continue to put at risk the — the greatestnation in the history of the earth because of the profligate spendingthat’s going on in Washington, D.C. And —
MR. HARWOOD: But to clarify, you agree with President Obama thepayroll tax cut should be extended?
MR. ROMNEY: I want to — I want to keep our taxes down. I don’twant to raise any taxes anywhere. Let me — I’m not looking to raisetaxes.
What I’m looking to do is to cut spending. And that’s why thislast week I put out a plan that dramatically cuts spending inWashington, that gets us to a 20 percent cap and makes sure that wehave a balanced budget thereafter. And how do I do it? I have threemajor steps.
Number one, cut programs. Get rid of programs we don’t have tohave, like “Obamacare.” Take a lot of programs that we have at thestate level, number two — excuse me, at the federal level — and sendthem back to the states where they can be better run with less fraudand abuse. And number three, finally, bring some productivity andmanagement expertise to the federal government. I would cut theworkforce by 10 percent —
MR. : Good.
MR. ROMNEY: — and I want to say one more, and that is this. Iwant to make sure we link the compensation of our federal bureaucratsto that which exists in the private sector. People who are publicservants shouldn’t get more money than the taxpayers that they’reserving. (Cheers, applause.)
MR. HARWOOD: Does any candidate on this stage disagree — doesany candidate disagree and oppose extension of the payroll tax cut?
REP. BACHMANN: Say that again.
MR. HARWOOD: Does any candidate disagree with the speaker andGovernor Romney, and oppose the extension of the payroll tax cut?
MR. : Yeah.
MR. LIESMAN: Go ahead.
MR. HARWOOD: You oppose it?
REP. BACHMANN: I do. I opposed it when it was first proposed,because I knew that it would blow a hole of $111 billion in the SocialSecurity trust fund. President Obama clearly did this for politicalreasons. That’s why he did it. And so I had made that warning then,because we actually have already run Social Security in the red. Wearen’t just about to; we already have — six years ahead of time.
Now, consider the context. We have Baby Boomers in their peakearning years. This is when money should be flooding into the SocialSecurity trust fund. Instead, we’re already in the red. When we talkthis evening about how much trouble we’re in with spending, we’re in atremendous amount of trouble with spending. Just consider, we pay alot of taxes in this country: 2.2 trillion (dollars) is what we sendin to Washington. The problem is, we spent at the government level3.7 trillion (dollars). You started out trying to cut —
MR. HARWOOD: Well — out of time, Congresswoman.
MR. SANTELLI: Governor Huntsman, our federal government —
MR. HUNTSMAN: Thank you. It was getting a little lonely overhere. (Laughter.)
MR. SANTELLI: Our federal government still owns 500 millionshares of GM stock; guarantees trillions — trillions with a “T” — dollars of mortgages.
They are basically the lender doing 90 percent of all the mortgageorigination right now.
And you consider the Federal Reserve. The Federal Reserve haspurchased 2.62 trillion (dollars) — again with a T — of Treasurysecurities, agency securities and mortgage securities.
If you were president, how would your administration and wouldyour administration reverse these obligations?
MR. HUNTSMAN: I would clean up the balance sheet. And let metell you what I worry about as much as anything else. We talk aboutfailed leadership; we certainly have failed leadership. PresidentObama had three years to get this economy going and to move us towardan environment that speaks to job growth, and he’s failed miserably.
But along with that, we have a real trust crisis in this countrybetween the American people and our institutions of power: Congress,the executive branch, Wall Street as well. There’s no trust. We’rerunning on empty.
And when a democracy begins to run on empty because of governmentholdings and bailouts and being involved in ways that are absolutelyinappropriate based on constitutional government and where we shouldbe, that results in a diminution of trust by the American people.We’ve got to raise that trust.
So let me just tell you what I think needs to be done in terms ofbringing our economy up. We’ve heard about all these great tax plans.I think I’m the only one on this stage who’s actually delivered a flattax. And I did that as governor of my state. I put forward aproposal that I think is right for this country in getting it back onits feet. The Wall Street Journal has come out — the most respectededitorial page economically maybe in the entire world — has come outand endorsed my plan, said it’s the very best of the bunch.
And it very simply calls out, just as I did as governor — so I’mnot sitting here talking about academic theory. I stand here as apractitioner; I’ve done it before.
I want to phase out the loopholes and the deductions on the individualside, phase out corporate welfare and subsidies on the corporate side —
MS. BARTIROMO: Sharon Epperson.
MR. HUNTSMAN: — and lower the rates, make us more competitive.That’s the kind of work that is realistic. It can get done inCongress and fire the engines of growth that are so desperately neededto boost trust in this country. (Applause.)
MS. BARTIROMO: Sharon Epperson.
SHARON EPPERSON (personal finance correspondent, CNBC): I wantto turn the attention to why we’re here on this campus and what manystudents are very interested in, and that is the fact that,Congressman Paul, right now we are looking at student loan debt thatis near $1 trillion. Americans owe more on student loans right nowthan credit cards, and the average debt for a college senior right nowis over $25,000. It’s obviously a very hot topic right here on thiscampus and with students across the country. Just listen to what theyhave to say.
MR. : Tuition rates have increased roughly three times thatof inflation over the last three decades.
MS. : More students have to take out loans or forgo college.
MS. : My generation is graduating with student debt levels atan unprecedented level.
MS. EPPERSON: So Congressman Paul, you’ve already talked aboutthe fact that you want to get rid of the Department of Education.You’ve said that you want to get rid of federal student loans. So howwould you make college more accessible, more affordable for thesestudents and students around the country?
REP. PAUL: Well, I think you’ve proved that the policy ofstudent loans is a total failure. (Chuckles.) I mean, a trilliondollars of debt? (Cheers, applause.) And it’s going to be dumped on
the taxpayer? And what have they gotten? A poorer education andcosts that have skyrocketed because of inflation. And they don’t havejobs. There’s nothing more dramatically failing than — than thatprogram.
So no, there is no authority in the Constitution for the federalgovernment to be dealing with education. We should get rid of theloan programs. We should get rid of the Department of Education andgive tax credits, if you have to, to help people. But the inflationis the big problem. It’s three times the rate that the governmentadmits that inflation is, and that is natural and normal.
When governments inflate the currency, it goes in the areas that thegovernment gets involved in. Housing, high — (inaudible). Stockmarket, skyrocketing prices. Medical care, skyrocketing. Education —
MS. EPPERSON: But how will they pay for it? How do they now payfor college if they’re not —
REP. PAUL: The way you pay for cell phones and computers.(Cheers, applause.) You have the marketplace there. There’scompetition. Quality goes up; the price goes down. Can you imaginewhat it would have been like if the Department of Homeland securitywas in charge of finding one person — or one company to make the cellphones? I mean, it would have been a total disaster.
So when the government gets involved in the delivery of anyservice, whether it’s education, medical care or housing, they causehigher prices, lower quality, create bubbles, and they get us thismess that we’re in. That’s why we have to eventually get — we haveto wise up and look at where the bubbles come from. It’s from theFederal Reserve. And we should start by auditing the Fed, and then weshould end the Fed. (Cheers, applause.)
MS. EPPERSON: Thank you, Congressman.
Speaker Gingrich, Congressman Paul just talked about a bubble.And there are many that are concerned that unlike other types of debt,student loan debt does not have the same type of consumer protections.It cannot be wiped out in bankruptcy, by law. There’s really littleway to refinance it. Are you worried about student loan debt becomingthe next government bailout?
MR. GINGRICH: You know, this is a good place to talk about thescale of change we’re about to live through. We’re at the end of thewelfare-state era of dependency, debt, distortion and dishonesty. Thestudent loan program began — when Lyndon Johnson announced it, Ithink it was a $15 million program. It’s an absurdity.
What does it do? It expands the ability of students to stay incollege longer because they don’t see the cost. It actually meansthey take fewer hours per semester, on average; it takes longer forthem to get through school; it allows them to tolerate tuitions goingup absurdly. By 2014, there will be one administrator for everyteacher on college campuses in the United States.
Now let me give you a contrast that’s very startling. TheCollege in (sic) the Ozarks is a work-study college. You cannot applyto it unless you need student aid, and they have no student aid. Youhave to work 20 hours a week during the year to pay tuition and books.You work 40 hours a week during the summer to pay for room and board.Ninety-two percent of the students graduate owing no debt. The 8percent who owe debt owe $5,000 because they bought a car.
Now, that is a model so different it will be culture shock forthe students of America to learn we actually expect them to go toclass, study, get out quickly, charge as little as possible, andemerge debt-free by doing the right things for four years. (Cheers,applause.)
MS. BARTIROMO: Governor Perry — Governor Perry, name the topprograms that you would cut in terms of long-term deficit reduction.Include Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and defense spending inthe order you see fit.
GOV. PERRY: Well, every one of those — and by the way, that wasthe Department of Energy I was reaching for a while ago. So — (laughter, cheers, applause).
Here’s what we have to look at as Americans, and it’s theentitlement programs that are eating up this huge amount of moneythat’s out there. And it’s also the spending, Congressman Paul. Andthose — when you look at Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, andthose unfunded liabilities I think are over $115 trillion just inthose three programs. Those are the places where you go where youhave to make the really hard decisions in this country. Those are the —
MS. BARTIROMO: So what is your order? And you didn’t mentiondefense spending.
GOV. PERRY: Well, obviously Social Security is one of thosewhere we either can go to a blended type of a program where we blendprice and wages and come up with a program and can save billions ofdollars there. But the people who are on Social Security, they needto understand something today.
It’s going to be there for them. Those that are working their waytowards Social Security, we’ve made a pledge to them that thoseindividuals are going to have those dollars there for them.
But the young people out there — who’s going to stand up for theyoung people in this country, those that are at the workforce today,and stand up and say: We’re going to transform this program so it’sgoing to be there for you?
MR. HARWOOD: Well, Governor —
GOV. PERRY: I will do that. I will stand up for the youngpeople in this country and put a program into place that will be therefor them. (Applause.)
MR. HARWOOD: Speaking of young people, quick answer: Do youagree with Congressman Paul that we should kill the federal studentloan program?
GOV. PERRY: I happen to think there are a substantial number ofways — matter of fact, I’ve called for a $10,000 (graduate ?) program —
MR. HARWOOD: But would you kill the federal student loanprogram?
GOV. PERRY: I don’t think the federal government should be inthe business of paying for programs and building up huge debt outthere. I think we need to look at how do you force these universities —
MR. HARWOOD: So get rid of them.
GOV. PERRY: — how do force these universities to be efficient?And one of the ways is that the governors who appoint the — the — the trustees — they step in and they basically say: Listen, you aregoing to have graduation rates that are moving upwards. You’re goingto have tuition that is moving down. You have to have control overthose boards of regents, if that’s how you do it, or the legislaturehas to have control.
But the bottom line is, we have to put powerful economic forcesinto place. And one of those is using our technology.
MR. HARWOOD: Thank you, Governor.
GOV. PERRY: We have to let our kids have the opportunity to getan education — through long-distance learning, for instance.
MS. BARTIROMO: That’s time.
MR. HARWOOD: Thank you, Governor.
MS. BARTIROMO: We’re going to take one more quick break. Whenwe return: final questions to the candidates.
MR. HARWOOD: Our CNBC Republican presidential debate will beright back. (Applause.)
MS. BARTIROMO: Welcome back to CNBC’s Republican presidentialdebate.
MR. HARWOOD: Mr. Cain, I want to ask you a question. Under aRepublican governor, the state of California hired a company in Chinato build major portions of the new San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge;created thousands of jobs in China. And California did that becauseit was cheaper. Is that smart purchasing by government in a globaleconomy, or is there something wrong with that?
MR. CAIN: There’s something wrong with that, which is why I haveproposed a bold plan — (laughter) — 9-9-9 — and allow me to explainhow, under 9-9-9, that that company would be more inclined to keep thebusiness here.
On the first nine, you take sales minus purchases, net exportsand capital. It levels the playing field between goods produced herein the United States and the rest of the world. It makes the UnitedStates much more competitive, and businesses won’t be tempted to buildoverseas, send jobs overseas.
The tax code is what sends jobs overseas. The tax code is whatcaused them to buy those articles from the Chinese. It starts withreplacing the tax code.
MR. HARWOOD: Governor Romney, was it a mistake for GovernorSchwarzenegger to hire the firm in China to build portions of thatbridge?
MR. ROMNEY: Well, that’s a — a long answer to that because what — what China is doing is not playing fairly by the — the rules thatexist in our — in the WTO and in the world. China is, on almostevery dimension, cheating. And we got to recognize that. (Applause.)It is good for America — it — it is good for America to have freetrade. It is good for us to be able to send our goods and servicesaround the world and vice versa.
MR. HARWOOD: So a good decision to build the bridge over the —
MR. ROMNEY: That — that is — that is normally a good thing.But China is playing by different rules. One, they’re stealingintellectual property. Number two, they’re hacking into our computersystems, both government and corporate, and they’re stealing by virtueof that as well from us. And finally, they’re manipulating theircurrency and, by doing so, holding down the price of Chinese goods andmaking sure their products are artificially lowly — low-priced. It’spredatory pricing. It’s killing jobs in America. If I’m president ofthe United States, I’m making it very clear: I love free trade; Iwant to open markets to free trade, but I will crack down on cheaterslike China. They simply cannot continue to steal our jobs. (Cheers,applause.)
MS. BARTIROMO: How do you crack down? How do you crack down,Governor? Are you — are you talking about new tariffs? How are youcracking down?
MR. ROMNEY: I’m sorry? Pardon?
MS. BARTIROMO: How would you crack down on China?
MR. ROMNEY: Well, number one, I would do something thispresident should have done a long time ago, which is to label China acurrency manipulator. And then I’d bring an action at the WTO levelcharging them with being a — a currency manipulator. Number three,where they have stolen intellectual property, where they have hackedinto computers and where their artificial pricing is causing theirgoods to have predatory levels of pricing, I would apply, ifnecessary, tariffs to make sure that they understand we’re willing toplay on a level playing field. We want — we have to have free trade.That’s essential for the — the — the functioning of a strongeconomy. But we cannot allow one nation to continue to flaunt therules and kill our jobs by allowing them to continue as they have.(Applause.)
MS. BARTIROMO: Speaker, in addition to that, so many companies — multinational companies want to try to get a foothold in China andsell to the billion and a half people there. They can only do jointventures. They are not getting a fair shake in terms of selling tothat 1 1/2 billion-person population.
How would you move the needle?
MR. GINGRICH: There are two things here, and let me say inadvance that I would yield in part to Governor Huntsman because hespeaks fluent Chinese, he’s worked in China, and he’s been theambassador. And I’d be curious to get his reaction.
But there are two different parts here. The problem withbuilding the bridge is simple. What is it about American regulations,American taxation, American labor costs and attitudes that makes itcheaper to go to China than to go to the United States? (Applause.)
Now we do it — (see ?), first of all, you’ve got to decide, howare we going to be more competitive and how are we going to be thelowest cost? And there’s a — there’s a new Boston consulting studythat says by 2015 South Carolina and Alabama will be cheaper than theChinese coastal provinces to manufacture in.
Second, in terms of dealing with China strategically, I thinkwe’re going to have to find ways to dramatically raise the pain levelfor the Chinese cheating, both in the hacking side but also on thestealing and intellectual property side. And I don’t think anybodytoday has a particularly good strategy for doing that.
MS. BARTIROMO: Time — 30 seconds. Jon Huntsman, you were theambassador to China. 30 seconds to respond.
MR. HUNTSMAN: Thirty seconds! For heaven’s sake. (Laughter.)Let me just say that we’ve had a 40-year relationship with China.It’s a — it’s a troublesome and problematic relationship; very, verycomplicated. But the bottom line is — I mean, you can give applauselines and you can kind of pander here and there. You start a tradewar if you start slapping tariffs randomly on Chinese products basedupon currency manipulation. I — that’s not a good idea.
But longer term, we’re just going to have to do business the waywe’ve always done. You sit down, you find solutions to the problems,and you move forward. It isn’t easy, it isn’t glamorous. It’sgrinding it out the way we’ve done it for 40 years. And for 40 moreyears, we’re going to have to do it the same way.
MR. HARWOOD: Are you saying Governor Romney’s pandering?
MR. HUNTSMAN: I’m saying that you can throw out applause linesand you can say that you’re going to slap on tariffs. You know, thatdoesn’t work — (inaudible) —
MR. HARWOOD: But you’re suggesting it. He’s standing righthere.
Would you say that he’s pandering on this issue?
MR. HUNTSMAN: Well, I’ve said it before; I think that thatpolicy is one of simply pandering, just throwing a tariff on for thesake of an artificially valued currency, which is, in fact, the case.
But here’s what they do in response. They say: You have anartificially valued currency too, with those quantitative easingprograms, you too are manipulating your currency, and we’re going toslap something on your products. And before long, you have a tradewar. (Applause.)
But let me tell you —
MR. HARWOOD: Governor Romney, are you pandering?
MR. ROMNEY: Look, I’ve been in business all my life, 25 years.I consulted to businesses around the world. I’ve been in businesswhere we competed around the world. I understand free trade. I likefree trade. I know that America can compete with anyone in the world.Newt is right about our capacity to manufacture and compete heads-onversus the Chinese.
But I’ve also seen predatory pricing. I’ve seen people pricetheir goods at an artificial level for an extended period of time suchthat they can drive other people out of business. And then when theother people are out of business, they can raise their prices. That’swhat China’s doing by holding down the value of their currency.
Let the currencies float. If the U.S. currency, for instance, isbeing inflated, let it float. Let us float. Let us have a marketmechanism determine the value of our respective currencies, as opposedto the Chinese government continuing to put an advantage there fortheir producers. This is no longer a time for us just to sit back andsay we’re going to let them steal our jobs.
MS. BARTIROMO: Congresswoman Bachmann, weigh in here. How doyou open the markets in China for American companies?
REP. BACHMANN: Well, the Chinese have been bad actors. Recentlywe’ve found out that they’ve dumped counterfeit computer chips here inthe United States. We’re using some of those counterfeit computerchips in the Pentagon in some of our weapon systems. This hasnational security implications.
We also found out that the Chinese just finished building 3,000miles of underground tunnels where they’re housing some nuclearweapons. There’s some very real consequences to the United Statesoverspending to such an extent that we’re in hock to them over atrillion dollars.
We’ve sent so much interest money over to the Chinese to pay our debtsoff that we effectively built their aircraft carrier. And by 2015, wewill be sending so much interest money over, we will be paying for theentire People’s Liberation Army of China, the number-one employer ofthe — of the world.
What we need to do is stop enriching China with our money. Andwe do that by stop borrowing from them, by stop spending money that wedon’t have. (Applause.)
MR. CRAMER: Mr. Cain, I want to go to you with this question.This does not lend itself to 9-9-9 or any other number, OK?
MR. CAIN: I’m sorry, I didn’t hear the first part.
MR. CRAMER: This question does not lend itself to 9-9-9 or anyother (thing ?). This is our final word, OK? And it comes from ourviewers. And it is all about restoring trust and faith in our marketsand in our way of life.
I’m going to be quoting Joanne Kornbleat (ph). She emails us;she says: Our stock market has turned into a casino, with high-frequency computerized trading comprising 70 percent of alltransactions, and hedge-fund speculation resulting in volatile marketswings. Before privatizing Social Security, how would you make thestock market safer for individual investors?
And Mr. Cain — just simple — how do we restore faith in themarkets for the little guy?
MR. CAIN: The first thing we do is restore faith in business byproviding certainty so businesses can grow. A lot of the volatilityis being driven by uncertainty. Businesses are uncertain about whatthe health care rules are going to be. They don’t know what the taxrules are going to be. All of the uncertainty has this economystagnated. So the way you restore that: Grow this economy.
That’s job one. Many of the things we talked about up here todaystarts with growing the economy. And that’s why we’ve got to use abold plan — I won’t mention it — (laughter) — in order to grow theeconomy. (Laughter, applause.)
MR. CRAMER: But when the economy was growing great, sir, therewas no trust. You know, when the economy going great, people weregetting ripped off, and there was insider trading. When the economywas going great, people were getting hurt in the stock market.
Forget the economy.
MR. CAIN: Jim —
MR. CRAMER: Talk about the way the market’s regulated.
MR. CAIN: Jim, Jim, Jim, I — I feel your pain. Look, here’swhat I’m saying. Here’s —
MR. CRAMER: It (isn’t a feeling ?). (How about ?) the 90million people who’ve got money in the market — (inaudible)?
MR. CAIN: No, Jim, you got to provide certainty in the — you — in this environment, so businesses will grow. They have been in amode of survive. They need to be in a mode of grow. That’s what wegot to do first.
And I agree with some of the others who said we got to repealDodd-Frank. There’s three big things wrong with Dodd-Frank, which iswhy it needs to be a top priority to repeal. Number one, it doesn’tprovide oversight for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and we all agreedthat that was the catalyst for the meltdown in 2008.
The two other biggest problems with Dodd-Frank: Dodd and Frank.(Laughter, cheers, applause.)
MS. BARTIROMO: Governor Perry, Governor Perry, same question toyou — same question to you and Congressman Ron Paul: How do yourestore faith in the public markets?
GOV. PERRY: Well, we have the regulations in place and we hadthe regulations in place well before the meltdowns occurred. We havea culture in Washington, D.C., where these corporate lobbyists havethese cozy relationships with the people that they’re regulating. And
— and we have to have leadership in this country that not onlyrecognizes that but demands that those individuals who are working forus are in those agencies, whether it’s in the stock market or whetherit’s at — at Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, and when there areindividuals who are breaking the laws, who are pushing the bounds,that there are clear efforts that are made to take those people eitherout of those jobs or prosecute them for criminality, one of the two.
That has to happen. And then — and you can pass legislation, likeyou said, until the world looks level. But you’ve got to have men andwomen who are committed to the laws of this country and a presidentthat will push his administration to make sure that they’re done.(Applause.)
MR. HARWOOD: Congressman Paul, Governor Perry was just talkingabout the culture of Washington. His critics in the state of Texas — you’re a congressman from Texas — say crony capitalism is what he’spracticed as governor. Are they right?
REP. PAUL: I haven’t analyzed it well enough to call him a cronyor not. So no, I — I — I — I don’t know the details of that. Butthere is a lot of crony capitalism going on in this country. And thathas to be distinguished from real capitalism because that’s — thisoccupation stuff on Wall Street — if you’re — if you’re going aftercrony capitalism, I’m all for it. And those are the people whobenefit from contracts from government, benefits from the FederalReserve, benefits from all the bailouts. They don’t deservecompassion. They deserve taxation, or they don’t — they deserve tohave all their benefits removed.
But crony capitalism isn’t when somebody makes money and theyproduce a product. That is very important. We have to distinguishthe two. And unfortunately, I think some people mix that. But this,to me, is so vital that we recognize what crony — what capitalism isversus crony capitalism. And believe me, when you have aninflationary environment and all this speculation and all thatbailouts do to the monetary system, believe me, you’d get a majorityof them (to ?) crony capitalism. And that’s why we’re facing thiscrisis today. (Applause.)
MS. BARTIROMO: We want to thank all of you tonight. That is allthe time we have for CNBC’s Republican presidential debate. We thankall of the candidates for being here tonight and spending the time andputting their plans forward. We hope you now have a betterunderstanding of where each of them stand on the economy, jobs andyour money.
MR. HARWOOD: We’d also like to thank our partners, the Michigan Republican Party, and all of the Grizzlies of Oakland University. (Cheers, applause.)