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MSNBC "Hardball with Chris Matthews" - Transcript

Interview

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Rick Santorum, who was part of that debate tonight. Senator, good to have you with us tonight. I appreciate your time.

I must say, 15 years ago, as a former conservative, I think I know where you`re coming from on a number of these issues. One of the things --

RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you, Ed.

SCHULTZ: One of the things that seems there`s just a big disconnect in this country about how we value workers and what workers` rights are. Could you speak to that tonight? Can you say as a Republican candidate that you could stand up for the middle class, that you could stand up for organized labor? I know in your state of Pennsylvania, organized labor is very strong. What about that?

SANTORUM: Yeah. Well actually, Ed, one of the things I talk about in all of the debates -- you know, I put my economic policy together. And I put it in mind growing up in Pennsylvania. I grew up in a steel town,
Butler, Pennsylvania. And you know, all of my friends, you know, their dads worked at the mills.

And when I was growing up, 21 percent of the people in this country were employed in manufacturing. It`s down to nine. You want to know where the middle of America went? It went with the jobs going overseas.

The plan I put in place is a pro-manufacturing jobs plan, which cuts the corporate tax for all manufacturers from 35 percent to zero. The reason those jobs went off shore -- you know, Ed, people say it`s labor
costs. Well, that was part of it. The reason they went offshore is they couldn`t be profitable here. Labor was only one component of that.

It was tax. It was regulations. It was a whole host of things. We need to create an environment here where we can go to those manufacturers - - I`ve talked to a lot of them. They don`t want to send their jobs
overseas,. They`d rather have them in their hometowns.

Let`s give them the tax incentives. Let`s give them the regulatory incentives. Let`s give them the energy incentives, by developing our energy resources, so manufacturing can succeed.

You want to be pro-worker, you get those manufacturing jobs back, you will see workers be able to go from the bottom rungs of the earnings quintiles all the way up toward the middle and even beyond.

SCHULTZ: Senator, I couldn`t agree with you more. We have lost our manufacturing base in this country. But a lot of it is because of labor costs. You know, it`s a race to the bottom line. I mean, the overseas
labor is a hell of a lot cheaper. Their work standards are a lot cheaper. Their environmental conditions, their standards are a lot less. Our trade agreements are terrible.

SANTORUM: My point is, Ed, we have to compensate for that. We want the higher paying jobs here. We have to create a situation with our tax code, with our regulatory code and with our energy prices, which is very, very important for -- number one, not just for energy prices, but for jobs, because those energy jobs create jobs.

You do those three things, labor is only one component. As you know, Ed, you were growing up when I was growing up. Labor was a big part of the manufacturing bill. It isn`t as much anymore. Why? Because it`s a lot of automated -- I was saying it`s not as much now because of automation.

So we can get both the manufacturing jobs here and the higher skilled work, and get that middle income America back, which is really what I`m all about.

SCHULTZ: Senator, I appreciate you coming on the program tonight. I want you to come back because I show a graph -- I show a graph on this show about where CEO pay has gone in this country and where the middle class pay has gone in the last 30 years. I`m just not convinced the Republican party has an answer for that. I want to give you that opportunity on our program to talk about that.

We`ll hopefully do it again. I appreciate your time tonight. Thank you.

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