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CNN "The Situation Room" - Transcript


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Let's dig a little deeper right now with a high profile supporter of Governor Rick Perry's presidential campaign, the Republican governor of Louisiana, Bobby Jindal. Governor, first of all, congratulations on your reelection to a second term as the governor of Louisiana. I suppose you're very happy about that.


We had a great election night on Saturday. We set a record, getting 66 percent of the vote, the highest percentage a candidate has received since we've adopted the open primary system here in Louisiana. The people of Louisiana have given me four more years.

And we've outperformed the national and southern economies by cutting spending, by cutting taxes. Our top priority in the second terms is to continue to improve our public schools, continue to improve education right here in Louisiana.

BLITZER: All right, let's get this out of the way. You're a major supporter of Governor Perry. Do you believe the president of the United States was born in Hawaii?

JINDAL: Oh, absolutely. Wolf, I've said for the last many years, I've always believed he was born here. I have no questions about where he's from. I've got more questions about where he's going, where he's trying to take our country. And look, I think all that is a distraction.

The reality is the president was born here. He is the president of the United States. The real debate about whether he deserves a second term is his handling of the economy.

The reality is, the only way we're going to grow the economy is to cut government spending, to shrink government spending. We've had three years we've tried the opposite. The results have been a disaster.

You've got a debt that's up to $15 trillion. You've got unemployment over 9 percent. Government spending has increased, and yet private sector jobs have not recovered. The real debate is about where he's trying to take us, not where he's from.

BLITZER: So why does your candidate, Governor Perry, refuse to say what you just said, and instead, he told this to CNBC? It aired this morning on this whole birther issue. Listen to this.


GOV. RICK PERRY (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's a good issue to keep alive. I'm really not worried about the president's birth certificate. It's fun to poke at him a little bit and say, hey, let's see your grades and your birth certificate.


BLITZER: Why does he do that? Why doesn't he just say what you said, Governor?

JINDAL: Wolf, you'll have to ask him. The bottom line though is this election is about a difference in two approaches.

President Obama has increased the size and cost and role of government, including with Obamacare. Under Perry, he has cut taxes 65 times in Texas, $14 billion. They've added a million jobs in Texas. Under President Obama, we've lost two million jobs. And under Governor Perry, they've actually reformed their torte laws.

He understands -- Governor Perry understands we need to shrink the size of government. He unveiled a very aggressive plan today.

You know, for too many years, our tax code in America has punished, not rewarded success. You compare us to other OECD countries, and when you look at combined federal/state tax burdens, second highest corporate tax burden. By 2015, the cost of tax compliance will cost over $480 billion.

You think about that money that's being taken out of our economy. Instead of the American taxpayers wasting all those hours, collecting all those receipts, wasting all that money on tax preparers and accountants, why not have a simpler, fairer tax system where everybody pays?

BLITZER: It's not as simple as Steve Forbes proposed it back in 1996, when he was running for the Republican presidential nomination. He said across the board, a flat tax, 17 percent. Now Governor Perry says 20 percent, but he also goes one step further, as you know, and he says, you know what? If you like the current system, you can keep that, you don't have to go to the flat tax, you can do exactly what you're doing right now, which means for a lot of people out there, Governor, you, me, others, you know what we're going to have to do? We're going to have to have our accountant see what we would have to pay the federal government under the current system, then we would see what we'd have to pay the federal government under the flat tax system.

So there's a lot of work that has to be done, maybe double the work, in order to determine what's best for you or me.

JINDAL: Well, I think over time, I think the vast majority of people will move over to the flat tax system. I think Rick's simply trying to say if people make long-term investment or spending decisions based on promises made to them, you shouldn't change the rules on them overnight. But simply and fundamentally, you look at the overall plan, not only is it a flat tax that preserves the deductions for charitable giving and mortgage and standard deductions for those making $500,000 or less, he's also proposed a moratorium, a timeout, if you will, on regulations.

The SBA estimates the cost of federal regulations as a trillion dollars, $10,000 for every manufacturing job. He also proposed specific reforms for Medicare and Social Security.

For almost three years now, the president keeps saying he knows we've got to reform our entitlement programs to save them, but he hasn't presented a specific proposal. Governor Perry is showing he understands we have got to shrink government.

And Wolf, in this country, we've got to stop punishing success. If you want less of something in this country, tax it.

For too many years, we've taxed success. And as a result, we've got fewer jobs, we've got less success. Governor Perry understands that. Let's get government out of the way.

So, today's proposal, not just a flat tax, also specifics on a moratorium on regulations, a timeout to study their true costs and benefits, as well as specific ideas on Social Security and Medicare. I think when people look at the details, they'll be very impressed.

He's showing, just as he's done in Texas, he understands we need to cut government, shrink the size of government to grow the private sector economy, and the voters will get to decide. Wolf, for three years, we've grown government spending, 18 to 24 percent of GDP, $15 trillion debt. This is a clear contrast.

President Obama stands for more spending, more taxes, more borrowing. Governor Perry understands with a flat tax, with a balanced budget amendment, he understands it's about balancing the federal deficit, balancing the budget, and it's about cutting government spending.

BLITZER: Maybe you can explain this part of the proposal, his flat tax proposal to me. He says 20 percent, federal income tax, no matter what your income is, but he also says you can keep your deductions for charitable contributions, for your mortgage payments, state and local taxes, unless you make more than $500,000 a year.

Now, Republicans always say when President Obama and the Democrats make those kinds of statements about millionaires and billionaires, that's class warfare. Is Governor Perry engaging in class warfare by saying if you make more than $500,000 a year, you don't get those deductions?

JINDAL: Absolutely not. Look, he is cutting people's tax rates. Certainly, I think people that are successful in this country would be very pleased with a 20 percent tax rate. And if they have to give up their deductions in favor of a lower marginal tax rate, right now we actually punish success. The more successful you are, the higher your marginal rates are.

By doing this -- what he's doing is two things. One, he is saying yes, you're going to pay your fair share, but he is also getting rid of all those loopholes.

Look, the president himself has talked about the fact that he thinks it's wrong that Warren Buffett pays a lower rate than the people working for him. I don't think the president said this, but many people have said it's wrong that successful companies like GE aren't paying taxes.

What Governor Perry is saying is, let's get rid of all the special treatment, the loopholes, the tax code expenditures. Let's get rid of all of those hidden loopholes and those costs. And let's stop the wealthy from hiring these accountants and other tax preparers to help them avoid paying taxes. Make everybody pay a fair, flat share, and that way you know everybody is paying their fair amount.

BLITZER: Governor, we're almost out of time. So, if you're making $499,000 a year, you can have all those deductions, but if you're making $501,000 a year, you don't get those deductions. Is that fair?

JINDAL: Well, look, compared to the current tax code system, absolutely. Instead of paying what you've got do now and wasting all that money on accountants -- the only people that should be against this plan, by the way, are the people making a fortune helping people avoiding pay their taxes. They're the only people that should be against this.

Look, anybody making that kind of money in America shouldn't be complaining. They'll do better under this tax code system, and hopefully they'll be able to use those savings to create more jobs for other Americans.

BLITZER: In this new poll, this CBS/"New York Times" poll, back in mid-September, he was leading the pack with 23 percent among Republican primary voters. He's now down to six percent. He's fifth. Herman Cain went from five percent to 25 percent.

What happened? How come he's collapsed like that? JINDAL: Look, polls will go up and down, and I know the pundits will analyze those, but what I think is important, he's offered a specific, credible plan today. President Obama's been there for nearly three years. We've yet to hear his plan.

We keep hearing -- during the budget negotiations over the summer we kept hearing he had a plan to save Social Security, he was going to present a plan on the entitlements. We never saw that plan.

Today, Governor Perry is saying here's my plan with premium support to help Medicare, with personal accounts to help save Social Security, with granting the states more flexibility to generate savings in Medicaid. There is no specific, alternative, credible plan.

I think what Governor Perry is showing is that he is willing to offer a different vision for America that involves more robust private sector economic growth, that doesn't involve us sending more and more of our tax dollars to Washington, D.C., doesn't involve our federal government borrowing over a trillion dollars from the Chinese to sustain a level of spending we have not had historically and that our children and grandchildren cannot afford to sustain. Right now, if we do nothing, the Social Security trust fund will be gone by the time I'm ready to retire, Wolf. And last year, for the first time, Social Security, in a long time, since the early '80s, paid out more than it was going to take in, and the reality is that situation is not going to change in the foreseeable future.

We need a candidate, we need a president who's willing to tell us specifically the hard truth it's going to take to grow our economy again. Governor Perry is doing that.

BLITZER: He's lucky that he has you as a supporter, Governor Jindal.

Thanks very much for coming in.

JINDAL: Well, thank you, Wolf. And you've got an open invitation. Come back to Louisiana.


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