A: I'm not interested in bailing out individual institutions that have wealthy people that want to make sure that their shares are worth something. I am interested in making sure that we preserve our financial system.
Q: So would you not be open to another Wall Street bailout?
A: Well, no one likes the idea of a Wall Street bailout. I certainly don't.
Q: But you said in 2008 that it prevented financial collapse.
A: There's no question but that Bush's action was designed to keep the entire currency worth something and to make sure we didn't all lose our jobs. My experience tells me that we were on the precipice. Was it perfect? No. Was it well-implemented? No, not particularly. Should they have used the funds to bail out GM and Chrysler? No. But this approach of saying, look, we're going to have to preserve our currency and maintain America and our financial system is essential.
ROMNEY: Well, my background is quite different than you describe. In the business I was in, we didn't take things apart and cut them off and sell them off. We instead helped start businesses. We started Staples, we started the Sports Authority, we started Bright Horizons children centers. We began businesses. Sometimes we acquired businesses and tried to turn them around--typically effectively--and net-net created tens of thousands of new jobs. And I'm proud of the fact that we were able to do that. That's a big part of the American system. People are not going to be looking for someone who's not successful. They want someone who has been successful and who knows how fundamentally the economy works.
ROMNEY: What's happened in this country, [is] the absolute wrong time to have the absolute wrong people put together a financial regulatory bill was right now and Barney Frank and Chris Dodd. They were the wrong guys at the wrong time. Because what they did with this new bill is usher in what will be thousands of pages of new regulations. The big banks, the big money center banks in Wall Street, they can deal with that. They have hundreds of lawyers working on that legislation. For community banks that provide loans to business like yours, they can't possibly deal with a regulatory burden like that. Small community banks across this country are starving and struggling because of inspectors that are making their job impossible. It's a killer for the small banks. And those small banks loaning to small businesses and entrepreneurs are what have typically gotten our economy out of recession.
Q: [to Huntsman]: You were ambassador to China, and you say that this would risk a trade war. But if China is indeed keeping its currency low, that means tha everything they sell in this country is artificially cheap and everything that our companies try to sell in China is artificially expensive. So what do you say to people who ask, aren't we already in a trade war with China?
HUNTSMAN: I don't subscribe to the Mitt Romney school of international trade. I don't want to find ourselves in a trade war. With respect to China, if you start slapping penalties on them based on countervailing duties, you're going to get the same thing in return
A: They have been played like a fiddle by the Chinese. And the Chinese are smiling all the way to the bank, taking our currency and taking our jobs and taking a lot of our future. And I'm not willing to let that happen. We've got to call cheating for what it is.
Q: Isn't that risking a trade war?
A: Well, now, think about that. We buy this much stuff from China; they buy that much stuff from us. You think they want to have a trade war? This is a time when we're being hollowed out by China that is artificially holding down their prices. On day one, I will issue an executive order identifying China as a currency manipulator. We'll bring an action against them in front of the WTO for manipulating their currency. If you're not willing to stand up to China, you'll get run over by China. And that's what's happened for 20 years.
ROMNEY: Rick, you're absolutely right. On day one, granting a waiver to all 50 states doesn't stop in its tracks entirely ObamaCare. That's why I also say we have to repeal ObamaCare, and I will do that on day two with a reconciliation bill, because, as you know, it was passed by reconciliation, 51 votes. We can get rid of it with 51 votes. We have to get rid of ObamaCare and return to the states the responsibility [for healthcare]. We all agree about repeal and replace. I put together a plan that says what I'm going to replace it with: to solve the problem of health care, to get it to work like a market.
ROMNEY: Well, my choice is not to cut defense. I think it's a terrible idea to cut defense. I think it's a terrible idea to raise taxes. Particularly at a time when the economy's struggling, the idea of raising taxes, taking more money away from the American people, so government can spend it, and can spend it--right now the president has a jobs bill. How'd his last jobs bill work out for us?
Q: But what about the automatic cuts?
ROMNEY: No, I do not want the automatic cuts. I want to see that supercommittee take responsibility for getting the economy going again by reining in the scale of the federal government and saying we're going to pull back on some of the programs we have.
And what we have to do is to have the leadership in this country, like the men and women at this table, who believe in America. My experience will help us get our values strong, get our economy strong, and make sure that our military is second to none in the world.
I am absolutely devoted to making America the strongest nation on Earth. And if you don't want that as your objective, don't vote for me--we already have a president that doesn't make that his first objective.
A: No one likes to see tax increases, but the right course for America is not to keep spending money on stimulus bills, but instead to make permanent changes t the tax code. If you give a temporary change to the payroll tax and you say, "we're going to extend this for a year or two," employers don't hire people for a year or two. They make an investment in a person that goes over a long period of time. If you want to get this economy going again, you have to have people who understand how employers think, what it takes to create jobs. It takes more than just a temporary shift in a tax stimulus. It needs instead fundamental restructuring of our economy to make sure that we are the most attractive place in the world for investment.
Q: So you would be OK with seeing the payroll tax cuts gone?
A: I don't like little Band-Aids. I want to fundamentally restructure America's foundation economically.
ROMNEY: Well, the reason for giving a tax break to middle-income Americans is that middle-income Americans have been the people who have been most hurt by the Obama economy. People are having a hard time making ends meet. And so if I'm going to use precious dollars to reduce taxes, I want to focus it on where the people are hurting the most, and that's the middle class. I'm not worried about rich people; they're doing just fine. The very poor have a safety net; they're taken care of. But the people in the middle, the hard-working Americans, are the people who need a break, and that's why I focus my tax cut right there.
The above quotations are from 2011 GOP debate at Spaulding Auditorium on the campus of Dartmouth College, in Hanover, New Hampshire.
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