GOP Candidates: Fix U.S. Economy or Fail Like Europe

By: Kasie Hunt, Associated Press
By: Kasie Hunt, Associated Press
United in agreement for once, Republican presidential rivals warned forcefully Wednesday night the United States could be doomed to the same sort of financial crisis that is afflicting Europe.

Republican presidential candidates businessman Herman Cain and Texas Gov. Rick Perry talk before a Republican presidential debate at Oakland University in Auburn Hills, Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2011. (Credit: AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Rochester, Michigan (AP) - United in agreement for once, Republican presidential rivals warned forcefully Wednesday night the United States could be doomed to the same sort of financial crisis that is afflicting Europe unless federal deficits are drastically cut and the economy somehow revived.

Though sexual harassment allegations facing Herman Cain have dominated the GOP campaign for more than a week, the debate in economically ailing Michigan focused almost entirely on financial worries and proposed solutions in the U.S.

The candidates generally stuck to practiced speech lines - with a late exception. In the middle of one answer, Texas Gov. Rick Perry found himself unable to recall the names of all three of the Cabinet-level agencies he wants to eliminate, even leaning over to Rep. Ron Paul for help at one point.

"The third agency of government I would do away with - the education, the commerce. And let's see. I can't. The third one I can't. Oops," he said, forgetting for a moment that he wants to abolish the Department of Energy.

On one specific issue that Congress must address soon, the candidates generally backed an extension of the Social Security payroll tax cut scheduled to expire at the end of the year. That was a rare moment of accord with President Barack Obama and many congressional Democrats, who have been warning that consumers could be hurt if the reduction is not renewed.

"I'm not prepared to raise taxes on working Americans in the middle of a recession that's this bad," said former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a sentiment quickly seconded by former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

But Rep. Michelle Bachmann of Minnesota said she opposed the one-year reduction when it was approved late last year. She said it had so far "blown a hole of $100 billion in the Social Security trust fund."

Asked about Europe's financial troubles, the candidates seemed to speak with one voice in saying Italy and other European countries should rise or fall on their own without any American bailout. And several of the White House hopefuls warned that unless U.S. deficits are cut and the economy invigorated, America is headed for the same type of downward spiral.

"Europe is able to take care of their own problems. We don't want to step in and bail out their banks and their economies," former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said as he and GOP rivals met for the first time in three weeks in campaign debate.

Even so, he said the United States should continue contributing to organizations like the International Monetary Fund that are working to prevent a meltdown in troubled economies overseas.,

Paul was more emphatic about the debt. "You have to let it liquidate. We took 40 years to build up this worldwide debt," he added.

Cain said there wasn't much the United States could do to directly to help Italy at present because the economy there is in such difficult shape. "We need to focus on the economy or we will fail," he said, referring to the U.S. and calling for spending cuts, a strong dollar and measures to stimulate growth.

The Cain accusations did come up, though briefly.

"The American people deserve better than someone being tried in the court of public opinion due to unfounded accusations," he said when the question came up early in the debate. "I value my character and my integrity more than anything else. And for every one person that comes forward with an unfair accusation there are probably, there are thousands who come forward and say none of that ever happened with Herman Cain."

Romney, a former venture capitalist, was asked if he would keep Cain on the job as a CEO given the accusations. He responded, "Herman Cain is the person to respond to these questions. He just did."

The announced topic for the evening was the economy, a subject that produced few if any early sparks among rivals who often spar energetically.

Perry, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia, Minnesota Rep. Bachmann and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum joined Romney, Cain, Paul and Huntsman on stage at Oakland University in Michigan, a state where unemployment is 11.1 percent and well above the national 9 percent jobless rate.

The debate took place less than two months before Iowa's kickoff caucuses, as the pace of campaign activity accelerates and public opinion polls suggest the race remains quite fluid. Romney and Cain currently share co-front-runner status in most surveys, with Perry and Gingrich roughly tied for third, within striking distance.

Not surprisingly, none of the contenders found much to like in Obama's economic stewardship.

Perry said the next president should systematically judge all of the government regulations enacted since Obama took office on a standard of whether they created jobs. Any that failed should be repealed, he said.

Bachmann sharply criticized Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. She said the latter had recently given multimillion-dollar bonuses to executives even though it was seeking a new federal bailout.

Gingrich, who last held public office more than a decade ago, bristled when asked what advice his company had given Freddie Mac for a $300,000 fee. "Advice on precisely what they didn't do," he shot back - stop backing mortgages to applicants who aren't credit-worthy.

The government rescued mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in September 2008 to cover their losses on soured mortgage loans. Since then, a federal regulator has controlled their financial decisions.

The cost to taxpayers so far has been about $169 billion, the most expensive bailout of the financial crisis.

There was only scant mention of the Michigan auto industry, which benefited in 2008 and 2009 from a federal bailout that both President George W. Bush and Obama backed.

All eight Republicans on the debate stage say they wouldn't have offered government assistance.

Not so Obama, who stood outside a factory not far from the debate site recently and said government bailouts of General Motors and Chrysler were a success that saved thousands of American jobs.


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  • by Reagan Republican on Nov 13, 2011 at 12:37 PM
    @ Gerry The Government is not soley responsible for how much a single individual does or does not acquire in wealth. Why do you hold the Govt. accountable for someone being rich or poor or inbetween? Your thought process is not reality.
  • by Gerry Location: Tallahassee on Nov 12, 2011 at 10:11 PM
    From 1932 until 1980, the Prez was a Dem 67% of the 48 years and both chambers of Congress essentially were always Dem. From 1980 until 2012, the Prez has been a Republican for 20 years, a Dem for 12 and Republicans have had a House majority for 14 years and a Senate majority for 16 years. In other words, for the last 32 years the Prez has been a Republican 62% of the time and Republicans have had control of a chamber of Congress 15 times. Now there is income and wealth inequality that rivals that of the Gilded Age in the 19th century. Coincidence?
  • by Reagan Republican on Nov 12, 2011 at 09:53 PM
    @ Gerry The $100,000 figure is either individual or total household income for Federal income tax brackets. This top 20% of Americans owns over 80% of the wealth in America. This top 20% of Americans earned almost 50% of the nation's income. Household income is largely affected by the number of income earners, so, due to the decrease of marriages these percentages could be higher. Two income earners who are experienced police officers, firefighters, teachers, nurses, etc. could easily be in the top 20% category. Now do you understand the importance of the Federal income tax code and the 53% who pay these taxes?
  • by Reagan Republican on Nov 12, 2011 at 11:13 AM
    @ Gerry You are correcting me...LOL. I used the spelling "mute" meaning unable to speak or characterized by the absence of speech and that was my intention to communicate to you. The Government collecting more or less in taxes is NOT the reason a person earns money. Do you actually believe that money flows from the Govt. to the people not towards the Govt. from the people? Do some more research and you will discover the the tax code changes during the Bush administration on a percentage of population basis went towards lower taxes for the MIDDLE CLASS and POOR. Are you a business person or work for a business? If so, you really do advocate the demise of that establishment. What percentage of taxes collected by the Federal Govt. income tax code would satisfy your "class warfare" drum beat of demands to punish the producers in society during difficult economic times?
    • reply
      by Gerry on Nov 12, 2011 at 12:42 PM in reply to Reagan Republican
      Rich and wealthy mean "has more." They do not mean "produces more." Producers generally have more, but not everybody who has more produces more. Do you also deny that wealth has been redistributed upwards, not downwards, since the time of St. Reagan? Bush cut taxes and increased spending. Bush started wars and blithely neglected paying for them. Who is better off than they were when Bush took office in 2001? Would the middle and lower classes be the answer to that question? Is everybody worse off than when Bush took office?
      • reply
        by Reagan Republican on Nov 12, 2011 at 08:31 PM in reply to Gerry
        @ Gerry Your complete focus is on the RICH. Since you will not define rich, I am to assume by your comments it is anyone who "has more" than someone else. This will always be true in a capitalistic society and a free society. According to the Center for Defense Information, the estimated cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghan. will reach $1.29 Trillion by the end of fiscal year 2011. Pres. Obama's presidency has run Trillion dollar fy deficits EVERY year he has been in office. Who is better of than they were $4 Trillion deficit dollars and counting since Pres. Obama has been in office? The income gap is a definite concern, therefore, higher education, job skills, work ethic, money management decisions, etc. are imperative towards a goal of getting into the top 20% by making $100,000 a year. What are your suggestions to improve the income gap in America?
  • by Kevin aka Reality Location: Monticello on Nov 11, 2011 at 05:05 PM
    Fixing the Economy is putting people here back to work at decent jobs so they CAN pay taxes and support themselves , not forcing them onto the Unemployment rolls in favor of Cheap Labor , allowing Companies and Executives to Outsource and undercut the American worker. Fixing the Economy is Making the Banks re negotiate rates on upside down notes to fit the CURRENT value of homes so the payments keep coming in ... not speeding up the forclosure process and having 100000000 homes sit empty , or up for grabs by the well off. And fixing the Economy is spending improvement funds here at home ... not sending them abroad to Governments that dont like us anyway. Pakistan , Somalia , India and the like. Im by no means a Lefty , but making America a society like Mexico where the top 10 percent owns EVERYTHING and the 90 percent stands at soup kitchens IS NOT THE ANSWER. Rethink that one.
  • by Gerry Location: Tallahassee on Nov 10, 2011 at 05:48 PM
    If you think multimillionaires should pay $7,000 more in taxes on each million dollars after their first, does that make you a socialist? Please don't answer if you have or earn more than $1 million.
    • reply
      by Reagan Republican on Nov 10, 2011 at 08:49 PM in reply to Gerry
      @ Gerry In the future, if extra income tax revenue is raised from the Federal Government from the 53% of Americans who pay Federal Income taxes, it should go ONLY towards paying down the deficits NOT towards more spending. Also, all Americans should pay Federal Income tax to the Government. Does that make me a socialist?
      • reply
        by Gerry on Nov 11, 2011 at 11:58 AM in reply to Reagan Republican
        You have indicated, on numerous occasions, that you think federal spending is the problem. In your mind federal spending, the deficit, and the debt are all more important than addressing 9% unemployment. All Americans? Children? Unemployed? Retired living entirely on Social Security?
        • reply
          by REagan Republican on Nov 11, 2011 at 04:00 PM in reply to Gerry
          @ Gerry, Yes, spending IS the problem and the deficit and the debt are a consequence of the spending. Legislation can help address the 9% unemployment tragedy of today. Obviously if you have $0 earned income from employment, then, you will not pay Federal Income tax.
        • reply
          by Gerry on Nov 11, 2011 at 07:21 PM in reply to Gerry
          @RR Of course you say spending is the problem. Maybe fighting 2 wars without increasing taxes is the problem. Maybe Bush's tax cuts for the rich is the problem. St. Reagan proved deficits don't matter. We should cut out all spending except defense, because the Chinese or the terrorists are planning to reduce Tallahassee to rubble.
        • reply
          by Reagan Republican on Nov 12, 2011 at 07:46 AM in reply to Gerry
          @ Gerry, "Bush tax cuts for the rich" is NOT a factual statement. In the tax code legislation passed during Bush's presidency, is lower income tax rates for all, increased tax credits for children, mortgage interest deductions, elimination of the marriage penalty tax, tax credit for student loans, etc. Taxes on the MIDDLE CLASS will increase if the Bush tax legislation expires!! For example, a family of four with two wage earners making total of approximately $100,000 will pay MORE in Federal income taxes. Do some research instead of banging the "class warfare" drum disguised as income tax increases for the 53%. I did not say we should cut out all Government spending and you always take things to the extremes to make a mute point. The problem is high unemployment due to the financial crisis from the mortgage lending fiasco that has decreased liquidity and consumer confidence.
        • reply
          by Gerry on Nov 12, 2011 at 08:20 AM in reply to Gerry
          @RR The word is "moot," not "mute." Try to learn this. Of course the Bush tax cuts had some benefits for everybody. Their purpose and their effect were primarily to cut taxes on the rich. Next, you'll tell me that the redistribution of wealth upwards which began during St. Reagan's administration is an unintentional effect.
    • reply
      by mc on Nov 11, 2011 at 04:25 AM in reply to Gerry
      Gerry trying to sound like a psuedointellectual puts a lot off words out there but still doesn't answer the question.. Do you believe in wealth redistribution? you talk around the issue but won't have the courage of your convictions to at least be honest with every one. And yes if you think that the more that a person has the more percentage they should pay you are subscribing to the ideals of Karl Marx. Everyone should pay the same percentage wether earning $10,000 or $10,000,000 .About 50 % pay little or no taxes and have "No skin in the game" Be proud of who you are stand up for all to see. I'm proud to be a conservative, because covservatism teaches how to be successful with hard work instead of whining about others having more than you and doing nothing about and wanting others to pay your way { like the occupy crowd}
      • reply
        by Gerry on Nov 11, 2011 at 11:42 AM in reply to mc
        Is the high school graduate Glenn Beck the most profound thinker you know? It's obvious to even the dimmest among us that almost everybody pays taxes. FICA taxes, sales taxes, excise taxes on gasoline, for instance, are all taxes. Are you proud to be an ignoramus? Ignoramus is as ignoramus does. How about the 9% unemployed? Should they pay the same percentage as a millionaire? When and where did Karl Marx say that the higher your income, the higher percentage of it you should pay in taxes? Are you saying that socialists implemented the progressive income tax in the US? Are socialist, progressive, Democrat, and liberal interchangeable? Is Obama a socialist? Was FDR a socialist? JFK? HST? Bill Clinton? Woodrow Wilson?
        • reply
          by Anonymous on Nov 11, 2011 at 02:19 PM in reply to Gerry
          No. Ad hominem much? Yes. In 1875 in his "Critique of the Gotha Program". Yes. Depends. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.
        • reply
          by Gerry on Nov 11, 2011 at 04:08 PM in reply to Gerry
          @Anonymous Why don't you get a name? With no name you can make an unlimited number of stupid remarks without consequences. I believe you have already discovered this truth. I'm not sure you are entirely even-handed. The remark I replied to said I trying to sound like a pseudo intellectual. Could that be ad hominem? In which part of the "Critique of the Gotha Program" does Marx use those words?
        • reply
          by mc on Nov 14, 2011 at 03:07 AM in reply to Gerry
          Socialist,progressive 'liberal and democrat are all interchange able. They all want to redistribute the wealth from thoise who earn it to those who did not earn it. wealth does not redistribut upwards ,no one is forcing anyone to shop at any store or are holding up the poor with guns. The only forced redistribution is from govt. taking from those who have and giving it to those who don't which Marx alluded to in his statement I quoted to you. Obama= socialist, FDR=socialist,Clinton =socialist=Woodrow wilson= socialist Gerry = socialist, no matter what you call yourselves you still want to take from those who earn and give it to thoses who didn't all in the name of equality.
      • reply
        by Gerry on Nov 11, 2011 at 11:53 AM in reply to mc
        If Democrat, socialist, progressive, and liberal are not interchangeable, what are the differences among the terms? In your own words. Or Glenn Beck's. Do you think it was the government that held you back in life, that kept you from being a millionaire?
        • reply
          by mc on Nov 14, 2011 at 03:10 AM in reply to Gerry
          Gerry the only reason we are not millionaires is that we have not worked hard enough. The govt. does hold all of people back by punishing success through higher taxation and fees. It is the fear of said taxes that is causing companies not to expand under the current administration.
  • by Pro Business Conservative Location: Tallahassee on Nov 10, 2011 at 11:21 AM
    The main way to fix the economy is to elect a Republican. Then, lower or eliminate taxes for the job-creating class, (upper income). Let us use OUR money to create jobs and help bring America back. We also need to make the poor start paying taxes as they pay nothing and are a drain on society. Cut programs like the E.P.A., D.O.E., Social Security, Medicare, and other welfare and job killing programs. We could sell the national parks to pay the debt. They are good real estate tracts ripe for new quality communities.
  • by Anonymous on Nov 10, 2011 at 11:13 AM
    If Herman Cain gets elected president then he'll be too busy groping the White House staff and won't have time to attempt to fix the economy from what Bush gave us.
  • by Outrage on Nov 10, 2011 at 08:42 AM
    The U.S. is nothing like Europe and never will be, but since that is the biggest boogeyman that conservatives can find they will use it against the legions of uneducated and under-educated citizens that they created for their own ends. Nothing gets em to the polls faster than fear, and no one stokes those fires better than conservatives.
    • reply
      by mc on Nov 10, 2011 at 09:24 AM in reply to Outrage
      We conservatives get fired up and vote when our freedoms and rights are threatened. Liberals get fired up when their free handouts and programs are threatened. The difference is we conservatives are the ones paying the bills of the liberals.
      • reply
        by Hammer on Nov 10, 2011 at 11:08 AM in reply to mc
        Sounds like the Liberals are getting a better deal.
        • reply
          by mc on Nov 11, 2011 at 04:27 AM in reply to Hammer
          Liberals do seem to have it made all it costs them is pride and self worth, the desire to have better lives and to just settle for the scraps that fall from the producers table.
    • reply
      by Dee on Nov 10, 2011 at 01:21 PM in reply to Outrage
      But don't you remember your hero promised to "fundamentally change America". Some of us like her just the was she was meant to be - the land of OPPORTUNITY. No one said you can sit on your posterior and be supported by people willing to work!
  • by Grace Location: Tallahassee on Nov 10, 2011 at 08:00 AM
    So ALL of the GOP candidates "get it" - too bad the guy in the WH doesn't.
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