"Face the Nation" transcript: September 18, 2011
Below is a rush transcript of "Face the Nation" on September 18, 2011, hosted by CBS News chief Washington correspondent Bob Schieffer. The guests are former President Bill Clinton and former Vice President Dick Cheney.
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BOB SCHIEFFER: Former President Bill Clinton is joining us today from his home in Chappaqua, New York. Mr. President, welcome to the broadcast. I want to ask you about your Global Initiative, but I have to begin with a news question. Wwe have confirmed reports that President Obama proposed a new tax on millionaires. This tax would ensure that they have to pay at least the same percentage of their income as middle income tax payers do. Do you think that's a good idea?
PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: I do. I don't know when it's supposed to take effect. You know, my position has been that we need a long term deficit reduction plan along the lines that the Simpson-Bowles commission and all these other bipartisan groups have proposed. They all contain both spending reductions below what everybody thinks we'll spend now and revenue increases. And if you look at the group that has had the biggest income increases and the benefit of most of the tax cuts of the previous 8 years before the Obama administration took office, those of us in that income group, we're in the best position to make a contribution to changing the debt structure of the country right now.
And I think the president is doing the right thing to put out a budget plan. I don't know when the timing kicks in for these things. But I think that we need to focus right now on putting the country back to work. And I'd like to see the economic plan that he talked about in his address to Congress enacted first; then when the economy starts growing again in a year or two, then I'd like to put hammer down on this deficit problem.
SCHIEFFER: Your Clinton Global Initiative kicks off its seventh year this year, and you're going to be focusing on creating jobs with business people, with CEOs, with smart people from all around the world. I can guarantee the Obama White House is going to be listening. What do you think is the secret? What do they need to do to start getting people back to work here?
CLINTON: Well, first of all it is a problem nationwide, I mean worldwide. There are hundreds and hundreds of millions of people looking for jobs all over the world who don't have them. One of the most successful things I've been able to do in Haiti, for example, is help the arts and crafts people be stronger than they were before the earthquake.
This is a problem worldwide. I think that what we try to do is to deal with the world as it is. So for example, if banks aren't loaning money to things that I think will create jobs, we look for other ways to do it. The pension funds of the labor unions and the public employees have a lot of money that isn't earning a lot in the stock market now. So under the leadership of the AFL-CIO president, they actually want to create jobs for a lot of small businesses by investing in building retrofits. And I think you'll see more announcements on that.
I think that this idea of on-shoring jobs that is creating jobs in rural America and areas of high unemployment that used to be sent somewhere overseas is going to get a lot of attention here.
There are lots of very specific things that when you add them all up can really make a difference. I don't believe America can return to the full employment days of the '90s until we clear this bank debt over the mortgage crisis. And I hope that will be done. Meanwhile, I think a combination of payroll tax changes that Obama recommended, setting up an investment bank and doing more in infrastructure and then looking at areas of specific opportunities to put people to work can really create millions of jobs and get us out of the worst of this doldrums and that's what I'd like to see America focus on.
SCHIEFFER: Do I take it from your first answer though that you're saying 'Let's get the jobs programs going, get the economy moving and then talk about raising taxes?' Is that basically what you were saying?
CLINTON: Well, I don't have any objection to talking about it now. I think what the president wants to do is to tell the American people is commendable - whether it's good politics or not, it's an honest thing to do. 'We've got a long term debt problem, we've got to deal with this: Here's my long term plan for dealing with it.'
But right now we've got an economic problem. And the truth is that we're never going to balance budget again - as we did when I was president - without a combination of three things: spending restraint, new revenues, and more economic growth. If you don't have all three, we can't get a hold of the debt problem. And you have to do them in order.
So the first and most important thing is to restore economic growth. I think that is the president's position. What he's saying about taxing upper income people is what he's always said. I don't think that's such a draconian thing. He basically is asking us to return to the tax rates of the '90s for the wealthiest Americans who have been the big beneficiaries of this last decade, which has been very tough on the middle class and low income people
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