The Complete Romney Interview Transcript

Peter Hapak for TIME
Peter Hapak for TIME

Halperin: So Governor, the economy is the big issue in this campaign.  I want to talk about a range of things, as much as we can fit in in the time, but, obviously, jobs is the biggest issue.  You’ve started to tell people what you believe in, but you could be President in eight months, so it’s very real.  You’ve got a new ad out that tells people some of the things you do, but I want to go broadly on jobs and then drill down in some of the other areas that relate to the economy, about what you’d do as President.  So, Americans would like to know what you’d be like as President, and I know you want them to know.  So let me start broadly saying: what would the United States look like at the end of 2013 in terms of jobs, unemployment, and economic growth, if you were President?

Romney: Well you’d see a very dramatic change in the perspective of small businesses, entrepreneurs, middle-size businesses, and perhaps even some large multinationals.  They’d say, you know what, America looks like a good place to invest again, a good place to take risk, a good place to hire again.  That the policies – from energy to labor policies, trade policies, government policies relating to debt and deficits are all aligning in such a way that America, far from being one of the places people are running from, is a place people are going to come to and add jobs.  This is all about creating good jobs for middle income Americans, and it’s a place where the President, frankly, has failed.  His effort to put in place a series of liberal proposals he thought were historic kept his eye off the ball of getting the economy going again.  It is the economy, and the American people aren’t stupid.  They want someone who can get this economy going again.

(VIDEO: Watch Mark Halperin’s Interview with Romney)

Halperin: Would you like to be more specific about what the unemployment rate would be like at the end of your first year?

Romney: I can’t possibly predict precisely what the unemployment rate will be at the end of one year.  I can tell you that over a period of four years, by virtue of the policies that we’d put in place, we’d get the unemployment rate down to 6%, and perhaps a little lower.  It depends in part upon the rate of growth of the globe, as well as what we’re seeing here in the United States, but we’d get the rate down quite substantially, and frankly, the key is we’re going to show such job growth that there will be competition for employees again.  And wages – we’ll see the end of this decline we’re having.  The median income in America is down 10% in just the last four years.  That’s got to stop.  We’ve got to start seeing rising wages and job growth.

Halperin: The President says that your experience at Bain Capital will be central in this election.  He says it does not qualify you to be a job creator as President.  I know you think that working in the private sector in and of itself gives you insight into how the economy works, but what specific skills or policies did you learn at Bain that would help you create an environment where jobs would be created?

Romney: Well that’s a bit of a question like saying, what have you learned in life that would help you lead?  My whole life has been learning to lead, from my parents, to my education, to the experience I had in the private sector, to helping run the Olympics, and then of course helping guide a state.  Those experiences in totality have given me an understanding of how America works and how the economy works.  Twenty five years in business, including business with other nations, competing with companies across the world, has given me an understanding of what it is that makes America a good place to grow and add jobs, and why jobs leave America – why businesses decide to locate here, and why they decide to locate somewhere else.  What outsourcing causes – what it’s caused by, rather.  I understand, for instance, how to read a balance sheet.  I happen to believe that having been in the private sector for twenty-five years gives me a perspective on how jobs are created – that someone who’s never spent a day in the private sector, like President Obama, simply doesn’t understand.

Halperin: I want to ask you to be just a little bit more specific about that, because again, he said this is like the central way he’s going to run this campaign, to focus on your business career.  You said you know how to read a balance sheet.  There are a lot of people in America who know how to do that.  What would make you qualify to be President – again, specific things you’ve learned, things you know, policies that grow out of your experience at Bain Capital that would lead toward job creation.

Romney: Well, Mark, let’s be a little more specific as to the area you’d like to suggest.  Trade policies?  Labor policies?  Energy policies?  Let’s take energy, for instance.  I understand that in some industries, the input cost of energy is a major factor in whether an industry is going to locate in the United States or go elsewhere.  So, when, at Bain Capital, we started a new steel company called Steel Dynamics in Indiana, the cost of energy was a very important factor to the success of that enterprise.  When the President is making it harder to mine coal, to use coal, to take advantage of our gas resources, to make it harder to get our oil resources – all those things combine to make our cost of energy higher than it needs to be, and it drives away enterprises from this country.  It sends it to places that have lower-cost energy.  I understand the impact of those kinds of factors on job creation.  I will have a very different policy.  My policy on energy is to take advantage of coal, oil, natural gas, as well as our renewables, and nuclear – make America the largest energy producer in the world.  I think we can get there, in 10 or 15 years.  That will bring back manufacturing of certain high-energy intensive industries.  It’ll bring back jobs.  It’ll create a surprising economic revitalization of this country.

Halperin: So when the President says he wants to focus a lot of the election and debate on your career at Bain Capital, do you welcome that?

Romney: Well, of course, I’d like to also focus on his record.  What is it that he’s done as the President of the United States over the last four years?  And the American people are interested in, not so much in the history of where I was at Bain Capital, or that I have understanding of the private sector, but instead, has the President made things better for the American people?  Are they better off than they were four years ago?  Has he established the revitalization he promised he would bring to us?  Did he hold unemployment below 8%?  It’s been, what, 39 months now.  That hasn’t happened.  He promised it would happen by virtue of his stimulus.  Gasoline prices – are people happy with those?  Home prices – are they happy with the home prices, the level of foreclosures?  Do they think someone can do better?  I think the American people want someone who understands the economy, who has a vision for getting America working again.  This is a President who spends his time blaming other people for the fact that he has been unsuccessful in turning around this economy.  And I think the reason you’re seeing across the country, people saying they’d like to try someone new, is because they believe this President, while he may be a nice guy, is simply not up to the task of helping guide an economy.

Halperin: But you welcome scrutiny of your business record, is that right?

Romney: Mark, what I can tell you is this.  The fact is that I spent twenty-five years in the private sector.  And that obviously teaches you something that you don’t learn if you haven’t spent any time in the private sector.  If you were to say to me, tell me what you learned from your schooling that would help you be a President, it’s like, well, how do I begin going through a list like that?  You learn through life’s experience.  The President’s experience has been exclusively in politics and as a community organizer.  Both of those are fine areas of endeavor. But right now we have an economy in trouble, and someone who spent their career in the economy is more suited to help fix the economy than someone who spent his life in politics and as a community organizer.

Halperin: One more question generally about jobs.  For people out there, for voters who want to know what you’re about in terms of job creation, is there some new idea, some original idea, that hasn’t been part of the debate in American politics before, that you have that you think would lead to a lot of new jobs?

Romney: Well the wonderful thing about the economy is that there’s not just one element that somehow makes the whole economy turn around, or everybody in the world would have figured that out and said there’s just one little thing we have to do – you know, Greece is settled, and France and Italy are all back and well again.  No, it’s a whole series of things.  It’s a system of factors that come together to make an economy work. What is it that makes America’s economy the strongest in the world, the most robust, over a century?  It’s a whole series of things – everything from our financial service sector, to the cost of our inputs, our natural resources, to the productivity of our workforce, to our labor and management rules and how they work together, to our appreciation for fair trade and free trade around the world, and negotiating trade arrangements that are favorable to us.  It is a whole passel of elements that come together to create a strong economy, and for someone who spent their life in the economy, they understand how that works.  And it’s very clear, by virtue of the President’s record, that he does not, and he is struggling.  Look at him right now.  He just doesn’t have a clue what to do to get this economy going.  I do.  I laid out a 59-step plan that encompasses a whole series of efforts that will together get this economy going and put people back to work.

Halperin: I know you’ve got a lot of ideas, but again, for voters who don’t pay close attention or who aren’t maybe going to read the whole plan, is there something within those 59, or something else you’ve developed, that you consider to be innovative and new, that you think people could really attach themselves to and say, there’s one idea that Mitt Romney has that’s new and innovative about how to create jobs.

Romney: Mark I tell you, that you’re gonna have to look at them one by one – I’ve got 59 there, you’re going to have to decide which one is the most innovative and new.  There are some that are new; there are some that are straightforward, such as how to balance the budget. There are different ways that people think about doing that.  I actually lay out a plan to get us to a balanced budget within eight years.  My energy strategy – we haven’t had an energy strategy in this country in a long time.  I have an energy strategy.  The interesting thing about leadership is not coming up with an idea that no one has ever had before – it is instead being able to implement the ideas that actually make a difference.  In this case, it’s a whole series of things.  It’s one, energy policy – taking advantage of our low cost energy.  Two, labor policies, which encourage enterprises to hire.  Right now we have just the opposite going on.  Three, trade policies that open up new markets for American goods.  A crackdown on China for cheating – no one’s talking about the impact of China cheating in this country.  Let me mention a couple others.  We’ve got to get rid of ObamaCare.  It is scaring small businesses away from hiring.  I’ll mention one more, and that’s the level of regulation on community banks.  Community banks are getting hurt by Dodd-Frank and other regulations, making it harder for them to make loans to small businesses.  All these things come together.

Halperin: I want to get to a lot of those, and let’s go to spending, which is a big thing for you, one of the bases of comparison – you say you’d cut spending a lot more than the President has.  And like most governors I know, you can get down in the detail.  A lot of people don’t know that about you; you can really get your arms around a policy issue and go deep, so let’s talk about spending.  You have a plan, as you said, over a number of years, to reduce spending dramatically.  Why not in the first year, if you’re elected — why not in 2013, go all the way and propose the kind of budget with spending restraints, that you’d like to see after four years in office?  Why not do it more quickly?

Romney: Well because, if you take a trillion dollars for instance, out of the first year of the federal budget, that would shrink GDP over 5%.  That is by definition throwing us into recession or depression.  So I’m not going to do that, of course.  What you do is you make adjustments on a basis that show, in the first year, actions that over time get you to a balanced budget.  So I’m not saying I’m going to come up with ideas five or ten years from now that get us to a balanced budget.  Instead I’m going to take action immediately by eliminating programs like Obamacare, which become more and more expensive down the road – by eliminating them, we get to a balanced budget.  And I’d do it in a way that does not have a huge reduction in the first year, but instead has an increasing reduction as time goes on, and given the growth of the economy, you don’t have a reduction in the overall scale of the GDP.  I don’t want to have us go into a recession in order to balance the budget.  I’d like to have us have high rates of growth at the same time we bring down federal spending, on, if you will, a ramp that’s affordable, but that does not cause us to enter into a economic decline.

Halperin: You’ve talked about some programs you’d like to cut: Amtrak, some programs related to foreign aid, attrition of federal employees.  But obviously the programs you’ve listed aren’t enough to get to the kind of cuts you say we’d need to help bring the budget back into balance.  You were overheard talking about maybe eliminating the Department of Housing and Urban Development at a fundraiser – some reporters overheard you. You’ve not been willing to say publicly what you’d do about Housing and Urban Development, necessarily, and other programs – you’ve said you want to wait until you are in office.  Again, just in terms of voters getting to know you and understanding, doesn’t that set voters up for maybe a surprise – when you get into office you’re cutting programs or proposing cutting programs hat they care about?

Romney: Remember, that was what was asked of Chris Christie.  It’s like come on Chris, why won’t you tell us all the things you’re going to change?  He’s said, you know what, I’m going to cut back on spending.  We’re going to work together with the legislature to find ways that Republicans and Democrats can come together and find ways to reduce spending.  And the media kept saying to Chris, come on, give us the details, give us the details, we want to hang you with them.  And he said look, my plan is to reduce spending and to get us to a balanced budget. He’s done that, and he’s reduced taxes as well.  And I had that experience in the state of Massachusetts.  Interestingly, as I got in and was actually becoming the Governor and was able to go line by line through the budget, we found places we would have never imagined would be opportunities for reducing cost.  So I know they will be there.  I know some that stare you in the face – when there are 49 job training programs, I know we could do a better job, taking those job training dollars, sending them back to states for them to run on a more economic basis.  I know Medicaid, for instance – it can be better run by taking the Medicaid dollars, block granting it to the states, and then having the states know that in the future, those dollars will grow at inflation plus one percent.  Of course, there will be an adjustment for changes in poverty level, and population, and so forth, but basically knowing that they have to live within those parameters.  Those kinds of changes save about $100 billion a year.  Just taking federal programs, sending them to the states, and growing them at inflation, or inflation plus one percent, you add these together, you get about $500 billion in savings.

Halperin: But you’d still need more than you’ve been specific about; you just made that quite clear.  Again I’ll just say…

Romney: There will be a long list of things.

Halperin: But should voters be aware that if they elect Mitt Romney as President, that some programs that they now rely on, that they now like, are going to be cut, and you won’t specify them before the election.  They’ll only learn what those are after you’re elected.

Romney: Well, I don’t think we know all the things that the President is planning on spending on.  He told President Medvedev that he has a little bit more flexibility on missile defense after the election.  That’s very different than what I have.  I’ve laid out something he hasn’t done.  I’ve laid out, for instance, what I’ll do to preserve Medicare and Social Security.  These are two enormous programs…

Halperin: But I just want to focus on you…

Romney: Let’s talk about Medicare and Social Security.  That’s focusing on me…

Halperin: But in terms of discretionary spending cuts…

Romney: Why are we only talking about discretionary spending cuts?

Halperin: Well, because, we’re going to talk about Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security, if we have time to get to them, but that is a big part of the budget that you would need to cut from to reach your deficit reduction goals on spending, right?

Romney: Mark, I’ve laid out a whole series of areas that I will reduce spending.  And I’m going to eliminate some programs that I think are duplicative and unnecessary.  I’ve talked about Amtrak subsidies, subsidies to PBS, subsidies to the endowment for the arts, to the endowment for the humanities.  I’ve laid out eliminating Obamacare, which by far and away is the largest – it’s $100 billion a year.  And then another $100 billion by taking certain programs and having them run at a state level.  I’ve talked about $50 billion by reducing the federal payroll, linking pay to government, government workers. So those are the great – that’s the overwhelming majority of the $500 billion.

Halperin: But again…

Romney: Are there going to be any other things we haven’t thought of yet?  That we’ll have to look at down the road?  Yes.

Halperin: And you don’t plan to lay those out before the election.

Romney: Well, I don’t have all of them in line at this stage.  As we get inside government and look item by item, we can find places where there is waste and inefficiency.  The government, the GAO, has taken a look at various programs – I think they said there were some 34 programs that were ineffective, duplicative.  We’ll look at those.  It will be some programs that are, as the GAO indicated, not highly effective – we’ll take a close look at those.  Some of those, we’ll decide to eliminate.

Halperin: But there will be programs, won’t there, that you think have merit to them — law enforcement, food and drug administration, national parks — where in this time of austerity, there will need to be cuts in areas like that, even though they’re not necessarily involving waste, fraud, or undesirable programs.  Is that correct?

Romney: I think there will be things that we think are nice programs, and we’ll say to ourselves, is this program so critical it’s worth borrowing money from China to pay for it?  And in some cases we’ll say, we like – for instance, I like PBS.  I’d like my grandkids to be able to watch PBS.  But I’m not willing to borrow money from China, and make my kids have to pay the interest on that, and my grandkids, over generations, as opposed to saying to PBS, look, you’re going to have to raise more money from charitable contributions or from advertising.  But we just can’t afford to borrow money from other nations to do this, and that will happen with other elements, and by the way, governors across the nation have found that they’re able to balance the budget. Every year, virtually every governor balances the budget.  It’s at the federal level that we have the people on the Democratic party get all animated that somehow if we balance the budget, well that’s just not fair. And frankly it’s unfair and in my view immoral for us to continue to spend massively more than we take in, knowing my generation will never pay it back and it’s all being placed on the backs of college kids today and young kids coming along. I think it’s wrong, so I will look for ways to reduce spending. You know I think we’ve laid out about $350 or $400 billion of the $500 billion. We’ll keep working and find other places. Some we’ll find after we get into office, where we can economize, be more effective, just like I did when I was a governor. But my proposal takes us to a balanced budget, and I believe that happens to be not just the right thing economically but the right thing morally.

Halperin: Want to ask you about tax reform, also a very big part of your economic agenda to lower rates and eliminate or scale back some deductions for some people in order to offset the loss of revenue and static analysis, at least from the lower rate. So, some of your Republican colleagues, people you respect like Paul Ryan and Rob Portman, have started to lay out what they think at least the outlines would be of what those limits on deductions, scaling back deductions, would be. You’ve talked about specifically what the lower rates would be. Are you ready, or will you be ready before the election, to say things like the home mortgage deduction for some Americans, upper-income Americans, or the charitable deduction or state-level tax deduction. Are you going to be prepared before the election to spell those out a little bit more specifically or more specifically than you have?

Romney: Time will tell. You know I look at Simpson-Bowles for instance, and they laid out a plan that shows that you could lower rates just like I suggested and you can do so by limiting certain deductions and exemptions. For me the ground rules of these, that we want to bring our rates down, that we want to keep the progressivity of the code. I’m not looking to lower the tax burden paid by the highest-income Americans. That’s a fundamental principle. I’m looking, if there’s any break at all, the break will go to middle-income Americans that have been most hurt by the Obama economy. What that means is that the place where you’ll see deductions and exemptions most significantly reduced will be at the high-income level. And which of those will be specifically reduced will be something we’ll work out with Congress. But does the math work? Simpson-Bowles proves the math works. You can get there. But the decision as to which is the area that will be limited and by how much? That’s something we’ll work with Congress to determine.

Halperin: Some things you’re very specific about, like how you would change health care, which we’ll get to in a moment. In this area you say, as you did with spending cuts, this is something we’re going to wait and work out with Congress. Shouldn’t Americans know where you are at on that important issue of which deductions would be limited, or lowered, or eliminated?

Romney: I think it’s very clear what my posture with regards to taxation. I’m perfectly pleased to have people understand the principles of my tax proposal, lowering the rates, keeping the highest-income people paying the same share the pay now, providing a break if possible to middle-income folks, and limiting deductions and exemptions for high-income Americans.

Halperin: So understand tax reform generally we talk about winners and losers, somebody would pay less, somebody would pay more. Who would the winners and losers be under your tax reform?

Romney: I’m not looking for any winners or losers. What I’m looking to do is to provide a lower marginally tax rate across the board for Americans so that we can encourage small business that pays taxes at the individual rate to hire more people. This for me is about getting growth in our economy, putting people back to work, having competition between employers for employees and therefore driving up wages. It’s all about getting growth for the American family in their incomes with better jobs, with kids coming out of high school and college being able to get a job. Now, simplifying the tax code will probably be a good thing as well and reduce the burden for a lot of Americans, high income and low income and middle income.

Halperin: Would it increase the tax burden for anybody?

Romney: Well, it’s impossible to probably have a change in the tax code that doesn’t have adjustments person by person, but in terms of groups of folks—highest income, middle income, lowest income—there will not be a change in the weighting of who pays how much tax. If there’s one place that I want to see a reduction, some relief, it will be for middle-income taxpayers.

Halperin: So healthcare — big issue. We could talk about that for two hours. Let’s just try to hit some highlights. You’ve made clear: repeal the President’s health care law. Medicare would not change for people currently who are retired, but you want changes in the Medicare problem, changes in Medicaid, and some changes in the market for people who aren’t in either of those two government programs. Let me start with that. You want tax code changes that would make it more easier for people who get their own insurance, not get as many Americans do through their employers. Some conservatives would like to see those changes lead to a real fundamental change in the system where the employee-based system, which grew up in this country kind of by accident, would not be as prevalent, that more people would get their health insurance elsewhere. Is that something you aspire to? Would you like to see fewer people, far fewer people, get their health insurance through their employer?

Romney: I’d love to see people have a choice, and I think the great majority of Americans would prefer getting their health insurance through their employer. And they feel that the employer is able to negotiate a better deal than they can negotiate themselves, and the great majority of Americans will continue to get their insurance in that way. There will be others, particularly sole proprietors, and folks perhaps out of work, folks coming out of college that will like the fact that they’re able to get insurance at a relatively moderate rate without having to be employed by a big company that’s providing that insurance purchase for them. And, so, in that case, the idea of letting individuals be able to buy health insurance on the same tax advantage basis that corporations can buy it for them is something that levels the playing field. What do I think will happen over time? Kind of hard to predict. But I think over time you’ll find that folks decide they like to own their own policy as opposed to have to wonder whether their employer might change the deal on them or if they change jobs that they might lose their insurance. And so I think that people will gravitate towards purchasing insurance on their own, but that’s only a guess. It may be that instead, no, the insurance companies are more effective in marketing through companies and people get their insurance through companies.

Halperin: And would individuals buying on their own, not through getting through their employers, would they have the same kind of protections? For instance if you get it through your employer, generally you can’t be denied for yourself or your family, care for preexisting conditions. They can’t charge you more based on your age or any other factor. Would those guarantees, would those protections exist for people if they bought it on their own under your plan?

Romney: Well you know what? I like the idea of having a competition and having people be able to purchase what is most attractive to them. And I do believe that one of the issues — I think I describe both of those issues in the plan that I put out—for instance, the idea of preexisting conditions. If people have been continuously insured, and then they decide to change jobs or change locations, they should not be denied coverage if they go to a new place or have to get a new policy. So people continuously insured should be able to get new insurance. Therefore, those that have developed a condition while they were insured and then change jobs, lose jobs, go to a new place, apply for new insurance would be guaranteed issue in that new entity so that you don’t have to have people worried about a preexisting condition preventing them from becoming insured.

Halperin: So, if you’re elected, you’ll be in office in eight months. There’s the so-called fiscal cliff coming. Has a lot of things that I’m pretty sure you’re opposed to: major defense cuts, you’d actually like to see an increase in defense spending. The kind of sharp drop in spending, in other areas and automatic cuts, as well as tax increases in a lot of ways that would be a real drag on the economy. Everybody agrees that — CBO said yesterday would send the country into recession. So, again, in the real world people understand what President Romney would be like. Election comes in November, you win. Would you like to see the incumbent President and Congress deal with these issues during the lame-duck session?

Romney: Of course not.

Halperin: You’d like them to defer to you?

Romney: Absolutely. I would like to be able to deal with these issues on a structural basis, on a permanent basis as opposed to a stopgap effort that would require unraveling and reevaluation. My hope is to be able to come into office with people on both sides of the aisle who are cognizant of the critical nature of what America faces fiscally, what the people of America are facing employment wise, the failure in our economy that’s hurting so many people and that we’ll see Republicans and Democrats say, OK, what kind of tax proposals will encourage economic growth? What kind of regulatory reform will encourage economic growth? Energy polices, educations policies and the like. I think we can do that, but my preference would be to have the opportunity to do that after the election as opposed to have the President in a lame-duck session try and create a solution that may not be in keeping with the new administration.

Halperin: So a lot of these changes though, the tax and spending changes, kick in January 1. You wouldn’t take office until January 20. Does that worry you about what that might do to the economy in terms of confidence, in terms of perception?

Romney: Well actually if I’m lucky enough to be elected the consumers and the small-business people in this country will realize that they have a friend in the White House, who is actively going to encourage economic growth, and there will be a resurgence in confidence in this country and a willingness to take risks, to invest, to add employees. I think it will be very positive news to the American economy. Will I be able to get done between January 1 and January 20 the things that I’d like to do? Of course not, I’m not in office. But I believe that we will be able to have a grace period, which allows us to tackle these issues one by one and put in place a structure, which is very much designed to get America working again.

Halperin: Now you said one by one. Some people, including Speaker Boehner, have talked about a grand bargain, where that they only way to address all of these issues — and again, that fiscal cliff has scores of changes — the debt limit needs to be raised, the spending cuts that come in, all the tax changes that would raise people’s taxes and business taxes. Do you think that you’d most effectively deal with that in a big deal, maybe including tax reform, all at once? Or do you think you’d have time to do it piecemeal?

Romney: Well I think we’ll wait and see what the process is down the road. Depends in part upon the makeup of the House and the Senate, the agendas of the various people who are in leadership in both of those branches. If you will, reform can occur in a grand bargain or can occur piece by piece, but there will be, without question, a recognition that we can do better. This President has failed the American people with policies that have not put America back to work, and I think the America people recognize not only is he responsible for a tepid recovery, he is responsible for putting America on a track, which does not lead to a stronger, more robust economy long-term either.  And they want to take a different course. And I intend to take that different course. But I can’t tell you whether it’s going to be done on day ten or day 20, or day 50, but I can say a lot of things are going to happen on day one, and then over the coming weeks, working together with good Democrats and good Republicans, we’ll get the country going again.

Halperin: So even though it’s a fiscal cliff, you think you’ll have time because just your election will allow people to sort of take a breath and wait and see these things dealt with potentially over time rather than right away?

Romney: Well, there are different options, as you understand. One is to wait and deal with these one by one or deal with them in a grand bargain. The other is to have some kind of continuing resolution to say let’s leave things as they are as opposed to the cliff, leave it for 30 days or 90 days as we work out these other programs. It’s something that the Congress and I, if I’m fortunate enough to be President, would work out and hopefully reach a measure that had no disruptive effect on the economy.

Halperin: OK. I’d like to ask you just one more question and then send you over for your photo, cause we didn’t cover a whole bunch of areas related to the economy, but China is an area where you spoke out a lot early in the campaign. Talked about it somewhat less lately, but in terms of contrast for the country, they’ve seen three and a half years of what President Obama’s done on China. What would Mitt Romney do about China, regarding people’s job situations and how it impacts people’s abilities to get jobs and good wages in this country?

Romney: Well, let me step back first and say I like trade. I like free trade. It is good for a highly productive nation like ours to be able to trade freely with other nations. I would like to see China and other nations join us in even freer trade than we have today. That being said, nations like China have to abide by the agreements that they’ve entered into and have to play on a fair basis. And when China on a long-term basis artificially holds down the value of their currency relative to ours, it puts our products at a competitive disadvantage, and that’s something they understand. They are slowly allowing that to correct. I’d like to see that played out to its conclusion. In addition, they are allowing the theft of intellectual property from American enterprises that cost American jobs. I know they are trying to address that issue as well but they need to be more aggressive in doing so if they want to have full and open trade, free trade, with America. Finally, hacking into computers, commercial computers, government computers, is simply unacceptable by a nation, which is a friendly nation and collaborating on the trade and playing field. And as a result, if I’m President of the United States, on day one, I will designate China as a currency manipulator and be free to take any action with regards to tariffs that would be necessary to protect American enterprise and industry from intellectual property theft, hacking, or the like.

Halperin: But to connect to an ordinary American’s fear of job loss, would your policies lead to some number of additional jobs in the United States?

Romney: There’s no question, but the trade, fair trade practices and free trade practices encourage growth of the economy, put more people to work and increase wages. Trade between nations has the effect of increasing wages, and that’s why, whether it was President Clinton to President Bush, Republican and Democrat favor trade with other nations, but that trade has to be done on a basis where people are following the same rules. And when we have people who negotiate trade agreements that don’t understand how other people might abuse those rules or might not follow them, why that can come to our disadvantage.

Related Topics: Mark Halperin, Mitt Romney, 2012 Elections, News, Republican Party, The Page

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