The January 16th Fox News Channel & Wall Street Journal Debate, held at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center in South Carolina, featured a number of questions and answers regarding issues related to poverty.The debate was hosted by Fox News’ Brett Baier and Juan Williams, Wall Street Journal’s Kelly Evans, and Washington bureau chief Jerry Seib. Questions were also received from viewers at home via Twitter.
The following candidates were all either asked about poverty or referred to it in responses:
-Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich
- Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney
- Former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania
- Representative Ron Paul of Texas
Click here to see video clips of the debate. Click here to read a full transcription.
Here’s a rundown of what candidates were asked, and what they said:
FOX NEWS ANCHOR BRETT BAIER: This campaign has been filled with challenge and controversy. The challenges are large. Here in South Carolina, the unemploymentrate is near 10 percent, well above the national average. And on this MLK Day,unemployment in African-American communities is near 16 percent.
But the controversy on the campaign trail in recent days has been about Governor Romney's record. We are going to talk extensively about jobs, federaldebt, world hotspots, and social issues, but, first, let's clear the air.
Speaker Gingrich, on a debate stage in September, you vowed to, quote,"repudiate every effort of the news media to get Republicans to fight eachother to protect Barack Obama, who deserves to be defeated," close quote.And yet in recent days, you and your campaign have cited numerous outlets, fromthe New York Times to Salon.com, to attack Governor Romney's business record, the exact line of attack the Obama campaign is using. Why?
FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER NEWT GINGRICH (R-GA): Well, first of all, I think that the staying positive through Iowa, through $3.5 million of negative attacks, proved you either have to unilaterally disarm and leave the race or you have to at least bring up your competitor's record.
Second,I think it's very important for us to look at job creation. As a young member of Congress, I worked with President Ronald Reagan. We passed an economic growth package. We created 16 million jobs. The American people within a framework that Reagan had established created 16 million jobs.
As speaker I came back -- working with President Bill Clinton, we passed a very Reagan-like program, less regulation, lower taxes. Unemployment dropped to 4.2percent. We created 11 million jobs. Now, those are real numbers that people can verify out in the open.
GINGRICH: Governor Romney as governor raised taxes and Massachusetts was 47th in job creation, fourth from the bottom. That's a public record difference.
The second part of his campaign is citing his experience in business, which is perfectly legitimate, but if that's a part of your campaign, then questioning it has to be equally legitimate.
And it struck me raising those questions, giving me an opportunity to answer them is exactly what campaigns ought to be about. And we need to satisfy the country that whoever we nominate has a record that can stand up to Barack Obama in a very effective way.
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BAIER: Speaker Gingrich, Senator Santorum just mentioned it, the surge in unemployment has created these so-called 99′ers, people who collect benefits for the maximum 99 weeks offered now. What is the maximum length anyone should be able to collect unemployment checks?
GINGRICH: Well, you know Brett, I think there's a better way to -- to think about this. All unemployment compensation should be tied to a job training requirement. If somebody can't find a job and they show up, and they say, "You know, Ineed help," the help we ought to give them is to get them connected to a business-run training program to acquire the skills to be employable. Now the fact is, 99 weeks is an associate degree.
It -- it tells you -- I think it tells you everything. I -- I hope my four colleagues would agree here. It tells you everything you need to know about the difference between Barack Obama and the five of us, that we actually think workis good.
We actually -- we actually think saying to somebody, "I'll help you if you're willing to help yourself," is good.
And we think unconditional efforts by the best food stamp president in American history to maximize dependency is terrible for the future of this country.
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FOX NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST JUAN WILLIAMS: Speaker Gingrich, you recently said black Americans should demand jobs, not food stamps. You also said poor kids lack astrong work ethic and proposed having them work as janitors in their schools. Can't you see that this is viewed, at a minimum, as insulting to all Americans,but particularly to black Americans?
GINGRICH: No. I don't see that.
You know, my daughter, Jackie, who's sitting back there, Jackie Cushman, reminded me that her first job was at First Baptist Church in Carrollton, Georgia, doing janitorial work at 13. And she liked earning the money. She liked learning that if you worked, you got paid. She liked being in charge ofher own money, and she thought it was a good start.
I had a young man in New Hampshire who walked up to me. I've written two newsletters now about this topic. I've had over 50 people write me about the jobs they got at 11, 12, 13 years of age. Ran into a young man who started a doughnut company at 11. He's now 16. He has several restaurants that take his doughnuts. His father is thrilled that he's 16 because he can now deliver his own doughnuts.
What I tried to say -- and I think it's fascinating, because Joe Klein reminded me that this started with an article he wrote 20 years ago. New York City paystheir janitors an absurd amount of money because of the union. You could take one janitor and hire 30-some kids to work in the school for the price of one janitor, and those 30 kids would be a lot less likely to drop out. They wouldactually have money in their pocket. They'd learn to show up for work. They could do light janitorial duty. They could work in the cafeteria. They could work in the front office. They could work in the library. They'd be getting money, which is a good thing if you're poor. Only the elites despise earning money.
WILLIAMS: Well…The suggestion that he made was about a lack of work ethic. And I've got to tell you, my e-mail account, my Twitter account has been inundated with people of all races who are asking if your comments are not intended to belittle the poor and racial minorities.
You saw some of this reaction during your visit to a black church in South Carolina. You saw some of this during your visit to a black church in SouthCarolina, where a woman asked you why you refer to President Obama as "the food stamp president." It sounds as if you are seeking to belittle people.
GINGRICH: Well, first of all, Juan, the fact is that more people have been put on food stamps by Barack Obama than any president in American history.
Now, I know among the politically correct, you're not supposed to use facts that are uncomfortable.
Second, you're the one who earlier raised a key point. There's -- the area that ought to be I-73 was called by Barack Obama a corridor of shame because of unemployment. Has it improved in three years? No. They haven't built the road.They haven't helped the people. They haven't done anything. So.
BAIER: Finish your thought, Mr. Speaker.
GINGRICH: One last thing.
BAIER: Yes, sir.
GINGRICH: So. So here's my point. I believe every American of every background has been endowed by their creator with the right to pursue happiness. And ifthat makes liberals unhappy, I'm going to continue to find ways to help poor people learn how to get a job, learn how to get a better job and learn some day to own the job.
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BAIER: Senator Santorum, Senator Santorum, in your jobs program you propose to eliminate the corporate income tax for manufacturers, but not for other businesses. Isn't that picking winners and losers in the same way the Obama administration did when it gave grants to one solar energy company, Solyndra, and it went bankrupt?
FORMER SENATOR RICK SANTORUM (R-PA): No, it's not. What we do is cut corporate taxes for everybody. We cut it from 35 percent to 17.5 percent, make it a --basically a net profits tax. And then we take the area of the economy that's under competition from overseas for our jobs. The rest of the economy is notbeing shipped off like the mills here in South Carolina were to other countries around the world because of foreign competition.
Why? The foreign competition that we are dealing with right now is much cheaper to do business, excluding labor costs than we are, about 20 percent more, and that 20 percent differential is government. It's government regulation and it'salso government taxation.
So part of what we are trying to do is to have a government system that can compete with who our competitor is. The competitor at the local drugstore is not China. The competitor is other people.
And as long as that is level and everybody's paying, the big corporations and the little ones -- and that's why we have a flat 171/2 percent -- so we keep the little guys paying the same rate as the big guys who have -- right now,with this very complex code, a lot of folks in there trying to reduce rates by using the tax code to shrink their tax liability.
So we've leveled the playing field for the guys here in this country and we've created a competitive environment for the manufacturer. I want to make a pointabout Newt and his plans because they are not bold. And they're not -- in the case of Governor Romney.
SANTORUM: And they are -- and they're irresponsible. And I say that against Newt because there's nobody for the last 15 years that's been more in favor ofpersonal savings accounts than I have for Social Security. But we were doingthat when we had a surplus in Social Security. We are now running a deficit in Social Security. We are now running a huge deficit in this country.
Under Congressman Gingrich's proposals, if he's right, that 95 percent of younger workers taken, there will be hundreds of billions of dollars in increased debt,hundreds of billions of more debt being put on the books, which we can't simply-- we're going to be borrowing money from China to fund these accounts, which is wrong. I'm for those accounts, but first we have to get our fiscal house inorder, balance this budget and then create the opportunity that Newt wants. But the idea of doing that now, is fiscal insanity.
BAIER: Speaker Gingrich?
SANTORUM: And Mitt Romney's plan is simply not bold. We have a deficit now in Social Security. We have deficits now in Medicare. And he wants to say, well we're not going to touch anybody now. There's 60,000 people in this country whoare earning over $1 million a year as a senior and he's saying, no let's nottouch them. I'm saying, yes. We should absolutely do something about people who don't need Social Security when we're borrowing money from China to pay those millionaires.
BAIER: Okay, first Speaker Gingrich, your response?
GINGRICH: Well if you actually look at the plan at newt.org, you'll see that one of the ways we pay for it is we take 185 different federal bureaucracies that deal with low income Americans. Think about this, there are 185 separate bureaucracies with separate regulations, all dealing with low income Americans.We can consolidate them into a single block grant. We send it back to thestates and we take the billions of dollars in federal overhead that saves and put that into Social Security in order to make up the difference.
So in fact Rick, it is a very sound plan and I say this as somebody who helped balance the budget four times in a row.
BAIER: Speaker Gingrich, on a debate stage in September, you vowed to, quote, "repudiate every effort of the news media to get Republicans to fight each other to protect Barack Obama, who deserves tobe defeated," close quote. And yet in recent days, you and your campaign have cited numerous outlets, from the New York Times to Salon.com, to attack Governor Romney's business record, the exact line of attack the Obama campaignis using. Why?
GINGRICH: Well, first of all, I think that the staying positive through Iowa, through$3.5 million of negative attacks, proved you either have to unilaterally disarmand leave the race or you have to at least bring up your competitor's record.
Second, I think it's very important for us to look at job creation. As a young member of Congress, I worked with President Ronald Reagan. We passed aneconomic growth package. We created 16 million jobs. The American people withina framework that Reagan had established created 16 million jobs.
As speaker I came back -- working with President Bill Clinton, we passed a veryReagan-like program, less regulation, lower taxes. Unemployment dropped to 4.2percent. We created 11 million jobs. Now, those are real numbers that peoplecan verify out in the open.
GINGRICH: Governor Romney as governor raised taxes and Massachusetts was 47th in jobcreation, fourth from the bottom. That's a public record difference.
The second part of his campaign is citing his experience in business, which isperfectly legitimate, but if that's a part of your campaign, then questioningit has to be equally legitimate.
And it struck me raising those questions, giving me an opportunity to answerthem is exactly what campaigns ought to be about. And we need to satisfy thecountry that whoever we nominate has a record that can stand up to Barack Obamain a very effective way.
BAIER: Governor Romney, I will give you time to respond in just a minute.Speaker Gingrich, the Wall Street Journal editorial page calls your attackscrude and damaging caricatures of modern business and capitalism. And theywrite that you are embarrassing yourself by taking the Obama line.
How do you respond to that?
GINGRICH: Well, first of all, I don't think raising questions is a prerogativeonly of Barack Obama and I don't think Republicans should allow themselves toautomatically be intimidated because every time you raise a question somebody yells you are doing something the Democrats will do.
I raise questions that I think are legitimate questions. The questions, some ofwhich came straight out of Wall Street Journal articles. The governor has every opportunity to answer those questions to give us facts and data and I thinkthat's part of his responsibility as a candidate and I think that's part ofwhat a campaign is about, is to raise question and see whether or not whetheror not your competitor can answer them effectively before you get to a general election where you know those questions are going to be asked.
BAIER: One more time. You said last week if somebody comes in and takes all the moneyout of your company and leaves you bankrupt while they go off with millions, that's not traditional capitalism. That doesn't sound like a question.
GINGRICH: I think if you look at the record, part of which is published in the Wall Street Journal, remember its very limited public record because he was in a very private company. But there was a pattern in some companies, a handful of them, of leaving them with enormous debt and then within a year or two or three having them go broke. I think that is something he ought to answer.
BAIER:Governor Romney, your response.
FORMER GOVERNOR MITT ROMNEY (R-MA): Well, I appreciate the chance to talk about my record and the private sector and also the governmental sector. And I appreciate the speaker's work working in the Reagan years and in the Clinton years. We did see good growth in this country. I want to see that come back again.
My experience in the private sector took me, one to be head of a consulting firm that got in trouble and work to create jobs there and hold on to jobs. We were in tough times. And then I got the chance to start a business of my own.
And four of the companies that we invested in, they weren't businesses I ran, but we invested in, ended up today having some 120,000 jobs. Some of the business we invested weren't successful and lost jobs. And I'm very proud ofthe fact that we learned from the experience.
We invested in well over 100 different businesses. And the people have looked at the places that have added jobs and lost jobs and that record is pretty much available for people to take a close look at.
But my record as the governor of Massachusetts and as the person that led the Olympics flowed from the fact that I had experience turning around tough situations, that I worked in the private sector, demonstrated a record of success. By virtue of that I was asked to come out and organize the Olympic Games in Salt Lake City.
And then was asked after the success of that experience to come back to Massachusetts by a number of people there, encouraged me to come back, run for governor. I did. We were fortunate to have an unemployment rate by the time I left office of 4.7 percent. Sounds pretty good today.
And I was also proud of the fact that we balanced the budget every year I was in office. We reduced taxes 19 times, put in place a rainy day fund of over $2 billion by the time I left.
And so my record is out there, proud of it, and I think if team want to have someone who understand how the economy works, having worked in the real economy, that I'm the guy that can best post up against Barack Obama.
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BAIER: Welcome back to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and the Republican presidential debate.
We are getting questions from Twitter. Governor Romney -- Governor Huntsman endorsed you today. But in New Hampshire he called you a, quote, "perfectly lubricated weather vein on the important issues of theday." And just last week, Governor Huntsman charged that it's hard to findyour core. Which leads to our first Twitter question.
From Missin Dixie (ph), quote, "I want to support Mitt Romney, but considering his changing views, convince me you won't change again."
ROMNEY:You know, the issue where I change my mind, which obviously draws a lot of attention was that when I was running for governor, I said I would leave the law in place as it related to abortion. And I thought I could go in that narrow path between my personal belief and letting government stay out of the issue.
Then a piece of legislation came to my desk and it said we would begin to create embryos for the purpose of destroying those embryos, and I said I simplycouldn't sign something like that. And I penned an op-ed in the Boston Globeand said I'm pro-life, described my view and served as a pro-life governor.
The Massachusetts Citizens for Life have just written a letter last weekdescribing my record and saying this is a solid record of a very pro-life governor. I'm proud of that record.
My view on other social issues such as gay marriage, I've always opposed gay marriage. I believe that we should provide equal rights to people regardless oftheir sexual orientation but I do not believe that marriage should be between two people of the same gender.
My care by getting in this race is about my belief in America and my concern that what we're seeing with this president is a change in course for America to be become something we wouldn't recognize. I think he is drawing us into becoming more like a European social welfare state. I think he wants us to become an entitlement society where people in this country feel they're entitled to something from government and where government takes from some to give to others.
I'm running to make sure that we don't transform America into something we don't recognize, but instead we restore the principles that made America the hope of the Earth.
ROMNEY: I believe in free enterprise, I believe in freedom, I believe in liberty, Ibelieve in an opportunity society. And everything I do will be designed to strengthen the values of this country, to strengthen the families of this country, to strengthen our economy and to keep a military that is second to none in the world.
* * *
WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF JERRY SEIB: Governor Romney, in the book you wrote just before this campaign began, you said you were surprised that the press in the last campaign didn't press for more specifics on how to fix Social Security and Medicare, so let's fix that tonight. Let me ask you specifically: Would you reduce the cost of these programs by raising the retirement age for Social Security, by raising the eligibility age for Medicare, or by reducing benefits for seniors with higher incomes?
ROMNEY: Let me lay it out. First of all, for the people who are already retired or 55 years of age and older, nothing changes. It's very important, because I know the Democrats are going to be showing videos of, you know, old people beingthrown off cliffs and so forth. But don't forget...Don't forget who it was thatcut Medicare by $500 billion, and that was President Obama to pay for Obamacare. So let's not forget that.
What -- what I would do with Social Security is that I would lower -- if youwill, the 2.0, the version for the next generations coming up, I'd lower therate of inflation growth in the benefits received by higher-income recipientsand keep the rate as it is now pretty high for lower income recipients. And I'd also add a year or two to the retirement age under Social Security. That balances Social Security.
ROMNEY: With regards to Medicare, I would lay out the plan that -- well, I actually did a couple of months ago that said, again, for higher-income recipients, lower benefit, a premium support program which allows people to buy either current standard Medicare or a private plan.
And this is the proposal which Congressman Paul Ryan has adopted. It's aproposal which I believe is absolutely right on. We have a premium support program. Give people choice. Let competition exist in our Medicare program by virtue of the two things that I've described: higher benefits for lower-income people, lower benefits for higher-income people and making a premium support program in Medicare and in -- and Social Security a slightly higher retirement age. You balance those two programs.
By the way, the third major entitlement, Medicaid, you send back to the states. And the fourth new entitlement, ObamaCare, you repeal that one and finally getour balance sheet right.
BAIER: Senator Santorum, we talked about thehigh unemployment rate here in South Carolina, almost 10 percent, well above the national average. We've talked about the skyrocketing national debt. In December, Congress authorized an additional 20 weeks of jobless benefits. Benefits being paid by the federal government in many cases because states can't afford them. Do you support extending these benefits when they expire atthe end of the month? Why or why not?
FORMER SENATOR RICK SANTORUM (R-PA): Well, I think we have to look at having a reasonable time forpeople to be able to come back, get a job and then turn their lives around. But, what we've seen in -- in the past under this administration, is extending benefits up to 99 weeks. I don't support that. I think if you have people whoare out of work that -- that long a period of time, it's -- it's without question it makes it harder to find work when you come back. When you're that farlong away from a job, then you lose certain skills. You lose -- you lose a lot of things when you're out of work.
And that's -- there's a lot of research that show that to be the case. And so what I believe is, just like I did with welfare reform when we reformed welfare, we sent it back to the states. And we gave the states the flexibility to design these programs. Just as I would do here with unemployment insurance. It should go back to the states. Let the states design it. If South Carolina because of a unique situation, wants tohave a longer unemployment period of time because of a unique situation here,fine. But to have a federal program that roughly and crudely tries to assess the problem of unemployment from state to state and area to area, is the wrong approach.
What we should do, is have it just like welfare. Give it to the states, put a time limit. In the case of welfare, it was 40 weeks. Give flexibility to the states to -- to -- to operate those programs and even in unemployment, I mean, you can-- you can have as we did on welfare, have some sort of either work requirementof job training required as a condition. We're not doing people any favors by keeping them on unemployment insurance for a long period of time.
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WILLIAMS: Senator Santorum, the Obama administration has not specifically addressed high levels of joblessness and a 25 percent poverty rate in black America. They say they want to fix the economy for all, but given the crisis situation among agroup of historically disadvantaged Americans, do you feel the time has come to take special steps to deal with the extraordinary level of poverty afflicting one race of America?
SANTORUM: It's very interesting, if you look at a study that was done by the BrookingsInstitute back in 2009, they determined that if Americans do three things, theycan avoid poverty. Three things. Work, graduate from high school, and getmarried before you have children. Those three things...Those three things, ifyou do, according to Brookings, results in only 2 percent of people who do all those things ending up in poverty, and 77 percent above the national average inincome. It's a huge, huge opportunity for us.
But what is the Obama administration doing? Elaine Bennett runs a program called Best Friends, the wife of Bill Bennett. And she told me through Bill that the Obama administration now has a policy, and this program is a program targeted at at-risk youth, specifically in many case necessary the African-American community, who are at-risk young girls. The Obama administration now has regulations that tells them that they can no longerpromote marriage to these young girls. They can no longer promote marriage as away of avoiding poverty and bad choices that they make in their life. They canno longer even teach abstinence education. They have to be neutral with respect to how people behave.
The problem is neutrality ends in poverty, neutrality ends in choices that hurtpeople's lives. This administration is deliberately telling organizations thatare there to help young girls make good choices, not to tell them what the good choice is. That is absolutely unconscionable.
SEIB: Congressman Paul, South Carolina has seven major military bases, and thousandsof people employed in the defense industry. But you want to make major cuts in defense spending, several hundred billion dollars in the coming years, that inevitably would cost South Carolina jobs. What do you say to people in this state who worry that your military plans would hurt the national security and cost South Carolina jobs?
PAUL: I would say your -- your question suggests you're very confused about my position.
I want to cut money, overseas money. That's what I want to do. I want to cut military money. I don't want to cut defense money. I want to bring the troops home. I'd probably have more bases here at home. We were closing them down inthe 1990s and building them overseas. That's how we got into trouble.
PAUL: So we would save a lot more money and have a stronger national defense,and that's what we should do. But to say that we would be weaker is absolutely wrong, because -- and -- and -- and another important thing you should consideris the fact that the military is behind me more than the others. I get twice as much money from the...from the active military duties than all the other candidates put together. So they're saying that I'm on the right track. They're sick and tired of those wars. They're sick and tired of the nation- building and the policing activity.
But to say that we would have less money for defense, we'd actually have more money. And if I may, I'd like to go back to the international financial thing.
SEIB: Congressman, just to be clear, your plan calls for freezing defense spending at 2006 levels, which is well below where we are today.
REPRESENTATIVE RON PAUL (R-TX): No, see, I -- you still don't understand.
BAIER: What is he missing, Congressman?
PAUL: You don't understand there's a difference between military spending and defense spending. Just because you spend a billion dollars on an embassy in Baghdad, bigger than the Vatican, you consider that defense spending. I consider that waste.
PAUL: So if you want to -- a little while ago we were talking about funding the unemployed -- and of course that should be privatized and I don't support it --but I don't support cutting it off like that. I would cut some of this militaryspending like Eisenhower advises, watch out for the military industrial complex. Defend this country. We have to have a strong national defense, but we don't get strength by diluting ourselves in 900 bases in 130 countries. That is where the problem is.
But you need to understand that there is a difference between just military spending and defense spending, just to spend money. We understand this domestically. If you spend more money domestically, we know it's wrong, but weare supposed to spend more money and that's conservative. I've never quite understood this. We are supposed to be conservatives. Spend less money.