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CNN "State of the Union with Candy Crowley" - Transcript

Interview

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ROMNEY: I can absolutely make the case that now is the time for something dramatic. And it is not the time to grow government. It's the time to create the incentives and the opportunities for entrepreneurs and businesses big and small to hire more people. And that's going to happen. You're going to see that happen in this country, but not under this president. His answer is always can't we grow government some more?

And the problem with growing government, among other things, is that it stays long after these little stimulus years, and people have to be paid, and their retirement benefits, and it becomes a burden on the real job creators, which are small businesses in this country. The burdens on small business in America are just crushing small business. We're at a 30-year low in business startups in this country. We need to get people back into business, starting various employers and putting people to work.

BORGER: So you say that you're going to add 12 million jobs...

ROMNEY: Yeah.

BORGER: ... in your first four years. Why should voters think that that's realistic? I mean, that's 250,000 jobs a month.

ROMNEY: Yeah, yeah.

BORGER: That's a -- that's a lot of jobs.

ROMNEY: That's what happens in a normal process. When you come out of a kind of recession we've had, you should see this kind of job creation. We should be seeing 2,000, 3,000, 4,000 jobs per month to regain much of what's been lost. That's what normally happens after a recession.

But under this president, we have not seen that kind of pattern. We've been just, sort of, bumping along with barely enough jobs just to hold the unemployment rate about the same, above 8 percent, 42 months like that.

The idea of just giving more money to government will not get our economy going. You have to have the Steve Jobses of the world beginning businesses, making products that want to be purchased around the world. That gets Americans back to work. It allows us to create more and more jobs. More jobs creates demand for workers. That raises wages. Good things happen when you have a private sector that's thriving.

BORGER: Well, polls show that a majority of the public believes right now that you not -- that you should not allow for the extension of the tax cuts for the wealthy. And today's Wall Street Journal said that not extending the tax cuts for the wealthy would be reckless. in this economy, that -- and they say that the economy is in a desperate state so therefore you cannot take away the tax cuts for people at the top end of the scale.

Do you agree with the characterization that it would be reckless to remove those tax cuts?

ROMNEY: The great majority of small businesses pay taxes at the individual rate. So as he raises these taxes, quote, "on the wealthy," he's raising taxes on small business. That kills jobs. If your priority in this country is to punish success, vote for President Obama. If your priority is to create more success and more jobs, vote for me.

Look, I know the very wealthy are going to do just fine, whoever is elected. The middle class is the people -- that's the group of people that I'm most concerned about. They need our help -- and the poor. They need our help. They need our help with good jobs. That's going to only come if we encourage this economy by keeping the burdens on small business down.

BORGER: Well, but the president said, if the Republicans in Congress had gone along and passed his jobs bill, that there would be more jobs in the pipeline right now than there are. How do you respond to that?

ROMNEY: Well, the Republicans in Congress watched the Democrats in Congress, four years ago, pass the president's jobs bill, his stimulus bill, $787 billion of new borrowing. And they saw the results. They were told unemployment would stay below 8 percent. It's not been below 8 percent since.

His approach of just spending money on government programs did not create the jobs that America was looking for. So the idea of doing the same thing again and expecting a different result is, famously said, the definition of insanity.

(LAUGHTER)

BORGER: Should -- should the Fed intervene at some point?

ROMNEY: Well, I think the Fed's first action, in quantitative easing, was effective to a certain degree. But I believe that the QE2, the second round of easing -- I don't think it had the impact that they were hoping for. And I'm sure the Fed is watching, will try and encourage the economy. But I don't think a massive new QE3 is going to help this economy.

I've laid out what my course is. There are five things you have to do to get this economy going. Take advantage of our energy resources, fix our schools and training programs, make sure we open up trade with foreign nations and Latin America and crack down on China when they cheat. Number four, finally get ourselves on track to have a balanced budget.

And finally, champion small business. We've got to help small business keep their taxes competitive, get regulators to encourage them, keep health care costs from driving them out of business.

BORGER: OK, Governor, I know you're not going to tell me who your running mate is. But can you tell me if you've decided or not?

(LAUGHTER)

ROMNEY: I have nothing for you on the vice presidential front. I give... BORGER: Nothing?

ROMNEY: I give you nothing on that.

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