2007 economy ok for the rich; but working class struggled
An Oct. 2007 GOP debate focused on the economy. One question was, "How do you think the economy is doing?" One after another, my Republican colleagues praised the "unprecedented growth of the GDP."
While it might be true that our macroeconomic outlook
appeared to be doing well, at least if you used economic indicators as a guide, our microeconomic position was turning sour for working-class Americans, and the signs of things improving were not good. I said that while things were fine in the corner
office, they weren't going so "swimmingly swell" down on the freight docks where people were lifting heavy things. The CEO might see a bonus this year, but the people from the middle on down were probably struggling to pay the rent.
I had challenged
the orthodox Republican doctrine that if the folks at the top were smiling, everyone else out to be smiling as well. I knew that it wasn't true. The people I met every day weren't getting ahead. In fact, they were slipping behind.
Infrastructure projects: start immediately, for stimulus
Q: Romney is going after you, saying your proposal for economic stimulus, basically to strengthen the infrastructure of the country, build new highways from Bangor to Miami, is really unrealistic. Romney said: “An economic stimulus plan has to put money
in the hands of consumers and businesses and homeowners now. Building a road project, you have to get designs, eminent domain; you get the engineers to approve it. It takes years and years and years to get a road project. So it’s a wonderful idea,
but it’s not related to short-term economic stimulus.“ Could you respond?
A: Maybe Mitt Romney’s highway department didn’t do what the other highway departments across America do, and that is, they have these projects already ready.
The engineering is done. The eminent domain is already done. Environmental impact studies have been done. The only thing that we lack--you ask any governor--is funding. If we had the funding, we’ve got projects we’re ready to pull the trigger on tomorrow
We’re worse off than in 2000, due to Congress’ over-spending
Q: Are we better off than we were eight years ago?
A: I don’t think we are. And the real issue, though, let’s not blame President Bush for all of this. We’ve got a Congress who sat around on their hands and done nothing but spend a lot of money and
they’re spending, leaving us $9 trillion in debt that we’re passing on to our grandchildren. I don’t blame the president solely for that. But are we better off? Well, new home starts are down 40%. That’s going to have a cascading impact on everybody who
is in the building trades. And all over our economy, with unemployment up to 5% across the nation, that means there are a lot of families today that don’t have a paycheck. And I think what Americans are looking for is somebody to be straight with them
and tell them that, no, it’s not better and it’s not going to get better unless we have some serious leadership in Washington that says that we’re going to have policies that touch the people not just at the top, but the people at the bottom.
Rebates of $150 billion help China; widening I-95 helps US
Q: Bush and some of your opponents on the stage here believe that giving income tax rebates is the best way to stimulate the economy. You’ve disagreed and suggested that spending federal highway money to widen I-95 from Bangor to Miami would do more to
help the nation’s economy. How is that idea different from the big-government projects that we usually associate with Democrats?
A: Well, if we end up with the rebates, we’re going to borrow the $150 billion from China. When we turn it into rebates,
most people are going to go out and buy some consumables like a pair of shoes that they probably don’t even need, but they’re going to buy them, and they’re most likely an import from China. My point is, whose economy are we stimulating when we do that?
The Heritage Foundation did a pretty interesting study on past rebates & found it does not really stimulate the economy in the way that we hope it will. If you really want an economic stimulus package, look at what infrastructure investment does.
I steered AR from $200M deficit to an $850M surplus
Q: Gov. Romney says that with the economy now the top issue in voters’ minds, that he’s the most qualified to fix it because of his long career in business, but I understand that you are not quite so impressed by his record in the private sector.
Well, not only not as impressed with the record in the private sector, but also think that it’s more important to be able to run the public sector to run a government, which I did longer than anyone running for president, Democrat or Republican. And
I steered a state through good times and bad times. We went through a recession. I saw our state go from a $200 million deficit to an $850 million surplus. I also presided over the largest job creation in the history of my state as well as a per capita
income increase of 50 percent during my tenure. That’s the kind of record people want you to be able to bring to the table when you’re president. So I would contend that I’ve got probably the best preparation to lead this country during a time like this.
Recessions “trickle-up”--working class hit first & hardest
When other Republicans [in late 2007] were talking about how great the economy was--I was jeered for being the one who said, “Well, it may not be that great.” I said, “You’re talking only to the people who are at the top of the economy. If you’ll talk t
people who are driving the trucks, if you talk to the people handling the bags and serving the food, they’ll tell you a different story of the economy.”
We often hear about trickle-down economics. Well, there’s a sense in which there is a trickle-up
effect of a recession. It starts and hits hardest at the people who are just making it from paycheck to paycheck. It takes a while for it to get to Wall Street, but it hits Main Street pretty hard, and it hits them early.
I was understanding that,
seeing it, & predicting it. People were laughing at me then. Now they have to admit I was right. And I think that that’s the kind of president we need, is someone who’s in touch with all sectors of the American public, not just the people at the top.
I appreciate the fact that the president and this Congress are taking action with an economic stimulus package. But I hope that we will be looking at some long-term ways to stimulate American economy and do something that provides lasting treasure and
value, and that is infrastructure.
We’re neglecting our infrastructure. If you look at what’s happening to--the fact that our sewer systems, water systems, roads, they were built 50, 60, sometimes 80 and
100 years ago, and they simply are not able to keep up with the growth.
And as a result, we’re not just having trouble today, but look at the problems that we’re passing on to the next generation on top of a $9 trillion national debt.
Now we’re going to give them an infrastructure that is falling apart and the cost of rebuilding that and fixing it is four times the money we’re putting into it to actually keep up with it.
Stimulus plan is $150B from China, to spend on Chinese goods
Q: What do you think of the president’s economic stimulus plan to send out 116 million checks to American homes?
A: In talking about the stimulus package, one of the concerns that I have is that we’ll probably end up borrowing this $150 billion from th
Chinese. And when we get those rebate checks, most people are going to go out and buy stuff that’s been imported from China. I have to wonder whose economy is going to be stimulated the most by the package. And I’m grateful that something is being done.
Source: 2008 GOP debate in Boca Raton Florida
, Jan 24, 2008
Fuel prices & subprime mortgages possibly cause recession
I hope we’re not headed toward recession, but if we are, there’s four factors that will be the reason.
Fuel prices: Everything costs more because it took more money to transport it. With our dependency upon foreign oil, if we don’t begin to revers
that and become energy independent, we well could continue this enslavement to foreign oil, and ultimately wreck our economy.
Subprime mortgages: Two million people today in America risk losing their homes. Now, there’s culpability on both lender, as
well as a lot of borrowers who bought more home than they could.
Health care costs
Education costs. All those factors together.
And a lot of people are working harder this year than a year ago, and yet they’re not getting ahead. Even if they
make more money, they’re not making enough money to make up. So the first thing is not raise taxes, cut the marginal tax rates, if anything, and eventually go to a fair tax which really does stop the penalties on people’s productivity.
Do things differently so people need not sacrifice
Q: What sacrifices would you ask Americans to make to lower the country’s debt?
A: Sometimes it’s not so much doing things so that people sacrifice; it’s doing them differently. Let me give you an example.
A lot of the federal budget goes to health care. We need to do what most American companies are finding works in reducing health care cost. That’s moving from the intervention-based health care model to a prevention-based.
Our current model is upside-down. We wait until people are catastrophically ill and then we spend the most expensive ways of trying to cure incurable diseases. If we would put the focus on prevention, we would find, like
American business is finding, that there really is savings if you kill the snake rather than just treat the snakebites, which is the way our current system is built.
Q: What are the top three federal programs you would reduce in size in order to decrease spending?
A: The first thing that I would get rid of would be the Internal Revenue Service.
Secondly, I agree we need to revamp [the Department of] Homeland Security. It’s a mess, and we have a real problem with the way that it’s currently structured.
Source: 2007 GOP YouTube debate in St. Petersburg, Florida
, Nov 28, 2007
Rein in out-of-control spending and balance the budget
Q: In 2006, the US government spent $406 billion dollars just on interest payments for the national debt--which is now $8.8 trillion. Will you rein in this out-of-control spending and balance the budget?
COX: The career politicians in Washington who have spent your money to get elected year after year continue to pile debt onto our children, and it can’t continue at this rate.
Created state surplus in AR; cut spending to do same for US
As Governor of Arkansas, I pushed through the Arkansas Legislature the first major, broad-based tax cuts in state history--a $90 million tax relief package for Arkansas families. In total, I cut taxes and fees nearly 100 times during my ten-and-a-half
years as Governor, saving the people of Arkansas almost $380 million.
When I left office in early 2007, Arkansas had nearly $850 million in state surplus, which I urged should go back to the people in the form of either a tax rebate or tax cut.
I believe that our massive deficit is not due to Americans’ being under-taxed, but due to the federal government’s over-spending. Achieving and maintaining a balanced federal budget is an important and worthy
goal necessary to our long-term economic well-being. To achieve a balanced federal budget, I believe the President should have the line-item veto.
Huckabee adopted the National Governors Association policy:
The Governors are particularly concerned that bankruptcy reform legislation address the following issues:
Prevent Chapter 7 Use by Those with the Ability to Pay: Present bankruptcy law does not prevent use of Chapter 7 by those with ability to repay, nor does it require that debtors use Chapter 13, which would require them to repay creditors what the debtor can afford. The Governors strongly support federal efforts to prevent debtors from using Chapter 7 when they are financially able to pay some or all of their unsecured debts.
Encourage Payment of Domestic Support Obligations: Bankruptcy interferes significantly with states’ ability to assist citizens owed domestic support and to collect unpaid domestic support owed them. The Governors strongly encourage Congress to ensure that any federal bankruptcy reform requires that domestic support obligations have the highest possible repayment priority, that all domestic support obligations be nondischargeable,
and that commencement of bankruptcy not prevent the continued collection of child and other support obligations.
Give State Claims Parity with Federal Claims in Bankruptcy: Today, bankruptcy rightly gives certain preferences in payment to federal claims against the bankruptcy estate, but similar treatment is not always accorded state claims. The Governors strongly support congressional efforts to reform the treatment of state claims in bankruptcy to provide parity of treatment with federal claims.
Protect the State Role: The Governors oppose efforts to preempt state authority to determine exemptions under state bankruptcy law. Currently, debtors have a right to choose between federal and state exemptions. The Governors support efforts to shape bankruptcy reform policy that protects the rights of states to determine their own standards instead of having uniform federal regulations imposed without regard for individual state needs.
Source: NGA Economic Development Policy EDC-21: Bankruptcy Reform 01-NGA2 on Feb 15, 2001
Uphold commitments to states before other spending.
Huckabee adopted the National Governors Association position paper:
The major budget issue will be over the surplus and how big of a surplus there will be. How much will be dedicated to paying down the national debt, how much to tax cuts, how much to increase defense spending, what to do about key discretionary spending programs, and whether and how to change key entitlement programs, such as Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security? How these decisions are made could have significant impacts on the federal-state partnership, especially as they affect vital health and human services programs. What will happen to funding for priority state domestic discretionary programs for the federal fiscal year? When will Congress act?
Before considering new spending initiatives or tax cuts, the federal government must first uphold its current commitments to the states.
Source: National Governors Association "Issues / Positions" 01-NGA8 on Sep 14, 2001
Protect local milk supplies with Southern Dairy Compact.
Huckabee signed the Southern Governors' Association resolution:
Whereas, the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia have all enacted the Southern Dairy Compact as state legislation; and,
Whereas, these states adopted the Southern Dairy Compact in response to the hemorrhaging loss of the region’s milk supply, whereby every state must now import milk from outside the region to supply at least part of its beverage milk needs, with Alabama and South Carolina supplying less than half their fluid needs; and,
Whereas, establishment of this form of interstate compact is the formal, constitutionally authorized means for a region to address interstate issues of common concern in the public interest; and,
Whereas, these states each adopted the Southern Dairy Compact because the Compact strikes the appropriate balance among all the
interests involved in the regional dairy marketplace, including those of consumers, processors, retailers and farmers alike; and,
Whereas, the Northeast Interstate Dairy Compact has operated successfully as a pilot project in the six New England states since 1996, stabilizing that region’s dairy industry in the manner anticipated for the south under the Southern Dairy Compact; and,
Whereas, southern dairy farmers are experiencing particularly dislocating farm price swings and depressed overall pay prices which are expected to continue throughout 2000 and which will certainly result in an even greater loss of the region’s milk supply without response under the Southern Dairy Compact; now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That the Southern Governors’ Association formally petitions Congress to approve the Southern Dairy Compact.
Source: Resolution of Southern Governor's Assn. on Milk Subsidies 01-SGA8 on Sep 9, 2001