GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney is beating the president to the punch! Just hours ago, Governor Romney, who wants the president's job, laid out his jobs plan, two days, of course, ahead of the president's speech. That's his big speech is Thursday night. So how is he planning to put Americans back to work? We asked the governor. Republican presidential contender and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney went "On the Record.'
VAN SUSTEREN: Governor, nice to see you, sir.
MITT ROMNEY, R-MASS., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thanks, Greta. Good to be with you.
VAN SUSTEREN: Governor, everyone's horrified at our unemployment rate of about 9.1 percent, which is about 14 million people who are unemployed. But that's only part of it. As you know, you've got over 8 million underemployed and you've got more than 2 million people who have just given up, so that it's more than 25 million people who really are in a hopeless situation.
So going to your economic plan, let me take first the idea to cut the corporate income tax. If you cut the corporate tax, how soon can you get those people to work?
ROMNEY: Well, I'm not going to be president for at least a year, so it's going to take a little while before those changes get put in place. But if I'm president, on day one, I've got five bills to put in place within 30 days and I've got five new executive orders that'll get this economy working again.
And I'm also, Greta -- I'm not just looking at the immediate -- what happens in the next 30 days but rather what happens over the next 30 years. I want America to lead the world in innovation, in new jobs, in the highest income for middle-income Americans. Middle-income Americans have really had a tough time in this Obama economy. We got to do our best to get these folks back to work, get them incomes rising and to make sure the squeeze they're feeling ends and that it's good to be in the middle class again.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, I think -- I mean, I have the luxury. I have a job. I can look at the big picture and look out 30 years and enjoy sort of the economic discussion about it. But the 25 million people who are desperate, they need a job right away. And I think that the -- the house is burning down. And I think that whatever program any president suggests has got to have some focus on a sense of urgency, how to move it as quickly as possible.
I just want the American people to understand, like, you know, what's realistic? I'm not asking you to exaggerate or, you know, say something that isn't possible, but how fast can we start getting jobs?
ROMNEY: Well, the plan that I put together -- we've gone through an analyzed what impact it'll have. And it's 59 different action steps. It's not just one or two silver bullets. It's 59 steps. The plan I put in place will create growth in the economy of 4 percent per year over the next four years and it will create 11.5 million jobs. So that's putting Americans back to work right away.
It's going to do a terrific job at improving our incomes, getting America energy-independent and making sure that we remain the nation that is the number one job creator in the world. That's what we've got to do. And help people -- middle-income Americans that are really struggling right now, those that are out of work in particular, but those that have work, as well, are facing really tough times. So we got to do a better job helping out, and that's what my 59-step plan does.
VAN SUSTEREN: It's been a little while since I studied economics, but as I recall, that one of the reasons for the -- one of the problems with the corporate tax is that corporations would want to get rid of all their money at the end of the -- at the end of their year so they wouldn't have to pay taxes on it. Doesn't the corporate tax have the opposite effect of wanting corporations to get rid of their money, put their money into investments and sort of rev up the economy, rather than, you know, hoard money?
ROMNEY: Well, corporations are taxed when they earn a profit. Whether or not they spend the cash or not, they're going to earn -- they're going to earn a profit, they're going to get taxed upon it. Right now, the average tax rate for developed nations for their employers is approximately 25 percent. And our rate is 35 percent.
And what that means is that employers that are looking about decisions about where to start a new business or to build a new facility look favorably on other nations. If we want to create jobs here, we have to be competitive with other nations. And so that's exactly what I do.
I also change, of course, the regulatory structure that this president has put in place. I change dramatically our energy policies, our trade policies. We've got to open up markets for American goods. And we got to clamp down on China that cheats on our trade agreements.
Look, we're going to have to get serious about the challenges we face and not just play at the edges. This president really has a -- I call it a "pay phone strategy for a smartphone world." He's locked in the technology of the past and the economy of the past. He's trying to stuff quarters into a pay phone. That pay phone isn't connected anymore. We got smartphones. We have to have an economic strategy which is modern, updated, structured for the new economy.
VAN SUSTEREN: And I don't mean to suggest that you don't have a program that's broad-based and hits a number of different areas. I'm just focusing on them because we have a limited amount of time, so I've just picked a couple things to ask you about.
Let me ask you about the tax code. And again, things don't get changed overnight. The Simpson-Bowles commission wanted to get rid of the 3,300 earmarks, as they called it. Some people want a "fair tax." What do you envision for the individual? What kind of tax code do you envision?
ROMNEY: Well, over time, I think we have to have a tax code which is broader-based and which brings down the rates that Americans have to pay. But immediately upon getting into office, there are a couple things I want to do just right out of the box.
And one of those is this. You know, of course, Greta, who has been most hurt by the Obama economy. And it's people in middle incomes. And so what I want to do is lower taxes for middle-income Americans. And so I will remove, for middle-income Americans, people earning under $200,000 a year, any tax on interest, dividends or capital gains. Let people save their money and use their money as they feel best with education, with their future, planning for retirement. Look, we've got to reduce the burden on middle-income Americans. They're just -- they're just struggling right now.
VAN SUSTEREN: Governor Huntsman has a new web ad out in which he says that when he was governor, he was number one at job creating and says that when you were Massachusetts governor, you were number 47. First of all, is that true? And then secondly, how is the United States economy different from the Massachusetts economy so that you couldn't get the job growth there?
ROMNEY: You know, my job record is pretty substantial over the years. I've been in business some 25 years, helped to create tens of thousands of jobs. I know how the economy works. I worked in the real economy creating real jobs, not just watching jobs be created by others but actually creating them.
When I came into Massachusetts, we were losing jobs every single month. We were able to turn that around, balance the budget every year. Our unemployment rate was below the national average for three of the four years I was governor. Not all the states are the same. We can learn from one another. But I'm pretty proud of the fact that we were able to come together, get our state back on the right track. And the unemployment rate when I left office was a heck of a lot lower than the unemployment rate when I came into office.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, I know there's a lot of playing around with numbers. You can always play with statistics. We do it even in our own business, regrettably. But are you saying that your job creation as governor of Massachusetts was equal to or about or better than Governor Huntsman? I realize the two states have different economies, different considerations, but I'm trying to understand, you know, whether or not there was job creation in Massachusetts or not and how it relates to the national economy.
ROMNEY: Well, I've just given you the numbers, Greta, which is that our unemployment rate went down during my administration, going from a state that was losing jobs every month, we turned into a state that started adding jobs every month. And our unemployment rate was lower than the national average three of the four years I was governor. So we were able to make progress.
And of course, are there differences between states? Yes, of course there are. Some states start off a little better than others, and the state that I was in, we needed a turnaround. And I'm proud of the fact that I came into a state that was in tough times and carried out a turnaround.
There are other states that I -- and I can't speak for Utah. I wasn't there. But there are other states that are on a glide path. They're doing very, very well, don't need a turnaround. Ours needed that turnaround. I was happy to be there and help that occur.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, now, you've also said you were going to clamp down on cheaters, China being the best example. It's devaluated its currency so that everyone wants to buy the cheap products of China. Clamping down -- how would you clamp down? And do we have the added sort of problem of sort of the foot on our throat because we owe them so much money? So what's sort of the mechanics of your clamping down on China?
ROMNEY: Well, first of all is to designate China as a currency manipulator, which allows us to apply tariffs to goods where we think their manipulation is having the greatest impact, and particularly in places where they're stealing our intellectual property. And you know, that means our patents, our designs, our know-how, where they are stealing, where they're hacking into our computer systems or where they're doing -- as we saw the other day, selling out of stores, Apple stores, apparently, Apple goods, and they weren't really legitimate Apple stores or legitimate Apple goods.
Look, when that sort of thing is happening, we have to take corrective action. You can't just sit there and take that year after year. America has to say that if you're going to enter into an agreement with this country that we expect you to live by it. And right now, they're selling to America a multiple of what we sell to them, and that's not something that can go on forever. It's clearly the result of currency manipulation. That's got to end. And tariff and currency manipulator status is one way to do that.
VAN SUSTEREN: Now, I understand tomorrow night's going to be a big night, a debate. But I'm curious that -- right now, Governor Perry is leading you in the polls. And polls are a snapshot of what's going on right now. A lot can change. But what's your theory as to why he has -- at least, you were the front-runner, and now he's the front-runner. What's your theory on that?
ROMNEY: No particular theory. It's a very fluid race. They're going to get to know us very well. I'm pretty well known by a lot of folks. Governor Perry will be, and other candidates, as well.
And after they get a chance to hear us all and evaluate our respective experience, they'll make the decision. If people want somebody who knows how to turn things around and get things headed on the right track, you know, I'm the guy who's done that. I did that in business. I did that at the Olympics. I did that in the state of Massachusetts. I want to use that experience to get America's economy going again for the American people. And if that's what people want, I'll be elected. And if not, someone else will be.
VAN SUSTEREN: Governor, nice to see you. Thank you, sir. Hope you'll come back often. It's going to be -- it's going to be a fascinating race.
ROMNEY: Thanks, Greta. Good to be with you.