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CNN "John King, USA" - Transcript

Interview

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Joining me, Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley, who is chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, and Vin Weber, a former member of Congress, economic policy adviser now for Mitt Romney who worked for the Bush and the McCain campaigns as well.

Governor O'Malley, I want to start with you.

The president is out in Ohio today. He's trying to convince the American people, give me more time, give me four more years and I will bring the economy back. It is a pretty steep challenge if you look at the jobs report over the last three months, 69,000 jobs in May, 115,000 in April, 120,000 in March, and just today, Governor, we learned that weekly claims for unemployment have spiked again, which tells you June is probably another tepid month.

What can the president say to convince people give me four more years and I will turn that around?

GOV. MARTIN O'MALLEY (D), MARYLAND: Look, there are two competing economic plans here.

What the president is laying out in Ohio is that plan that actually expands opportunity. And what Mitt Romney would like us to return back to is a plan that concentrates wealth. And, oh, by the way, the side effects of concentrating wealth, especially through our tax code, is that you fuel deficits, you let your infrastructure crumble, and America for the first time ever educates less of our children in lesser ways, rather than actually expanding opportunity and doing the things that grow our economy in every generation. And that's the stark choice.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: Come on that point, Vin, and answer the governor's -- what the governor is essentially saying, elect Mitt Romney and you go back to George W. Bush. You give the rich tax cuts, you don't create jobs, and you hurt the little guy.

VIN WEBER, FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: The governor has a policy direction that changes considerably from what we're doing right now.

We start by freezing regulation, and beginning to roll back the regulatory avalanche that's crushing business under this administration, and then we do start moving to tax reform that actually brings rates down and broadens the base, and closes loopholes, which everybody agrees would be a more efficient tax code, including the president's own deficit reduction commission.

So, we're not talking about giving anything away here. We're talking about going to policies that promise to revive a private economy that's doing badly.

KING: Do the circumstances of the moment, gentlemen, change what either of these candidates -- one happens to be the incumbent president -- should do? Remember back heading into the 2008 campaign Governor Bush -- President Bush -- excuse me -- called both candidates off the road because we were in that cliff then.

Right now, there are a lot of people who there's a risk, a risk of another recession because of what's happening in Europe, because of the slowdown here in the states.

Vin Weber, to you first.

Would Governor Romney change anything in his plan today? Would he say we have to maybe tinker with this because we are on the edge of a cliff?

WEBER: I don't think he needs to change anything. There's more urgency to doing the kinds of things he wants to do, some of which are very simple, like approving the Keystone pipeline, which would create 20,000 jobs and help us get a little bit closer to energy independence. Others will take more time. KING: Your candidate is the incumbent, Governor O'Malley. One thing some people say is Republicans want to extend Bush tax cuts, that maybe the president should extend them for another year in exchange that for infrastructure spending you talk about, in exchange for maybe aid to the states to keep the police and the firefighters and the teachers.

Would that be a deal worth cutting before the election, if he could?

O'MALLEY: I think the president is open to anything that actually accelerates this recovery.

Unfortunately, we have Republicans who are opposed to anything that accelerates the recovery. So, right now, we may very well be going through a rough patch, but the direction is forward. We need to restore the balance that was lost during the disastrous decisions of the Bush presidency and we need to keep moving our country forward, expanding jobs and creating opportunity.

KING: So, Vin Weber, if the president I will extend all of the Bush tax cuts for one year because we're in this precarious situation right now, let's take away some of the uncertainty out there, but in return you have got to give me the construction spending, keep you have got to give me some money so I can help governors and mayors keep the police, the firefighters and the teachers on the payroll, is that a deal Governor Romney would support and maybe nudge the Republicans in Congress to go along with or is that a bad idea?

WEBER: I think the governor thinks that spending is a problem right now, not a solution.

Certainly extending the tax cuts, the Bush-Obama tax cuts, because President Obama already signed them into an extension once, would be the right thing to do. But coupling that with a big increase in spending is not necessarily the right thing to do.

KING: Governor O'Malley, both of you gentlemen have been incumbent politicians. And sometimes life in politics isn't fair. When you look at the president's predicament, some would go back and draw the comparison to 1992 to President George H.W. Bush.

The economy was starting to come back, but then it goes back, two steps forward, one step back. When you look at it historically, how steep is the hill for the president? Forget that he is a Democrat, but how steep is the hill for the president? He is the incumbent at a tough time.

O'MALLEY: This is a just tough part in America's history, but I think the president rises to that occasion and we all need to rise to that occasion as well.

Look, he has been responsible for the smallest spending growth rates in federal spending of any president since Eisenhower. That's a fact. What some of the Romney camp would like to create is this alternative universe where you can eat cake, and lose weight, and that's not the way the world works.

KING: When President Obama says you're just getting George W. Bush again, give me one or two specific examples, policy examples, where, no, Governor Romney is different from President Bush in a way that you think helps the economy and would create jobs.

WEBER: The governor has a tax proposal that would apply to only people making less than $200,000 a year to encourage them to invest. We need to get small investors back into the marketplace. We need to get the average person to have renewed confidence in our free enterprise system. That's not something that President Bush ever proposed.

KING: Congressman Weber, Governor O'Malley, appreciate your time today. Thank you.

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