Transcript of CBS News' GOP Town Hall

On Monday, June 13, CBS News conducted a special town hall on the economy with Republican leaders hosted by CBS News' FACE THE NATION Anchor Bob Schieffer and THE EARLY SHOW Co-Anchor Erica Hill. L-R Senator Tom Coburn, Governor Nikki Haley, Representatives Allen West and Paul Ryan, Erica Hill and Bob Schieffer
Chris Usher/CBS News

CBS News' "The Early Show"

The following is a transcript of "TOWN HALL WITH REPUBLICAN LEADERS," which took place Monday, June 13, 2011 at the Newseum in Washington D.C.

Participating were: South Carolina's Governor Nikki Haley, Florida Congressman Alan West, Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan, architect of the House budget plan, and Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn

The event was hosted by "Face the Nation" anchor Bob Schieffer and "Early Show" co-anchor Erica Hill, with CBS News business and economics correspondent Rebecca Jarvis.


Hello and welcome to this special hour of the Early Show coming to you from the Newseum in Washington, D.C. Our focus this morning, the economy. A town hall with Republican leaders. Here to answer your questions, just as premi-- President Obama did in a similar event last month. I'm Erica Hill, along with CBS News chief Washington correspondent and host of Face the Nation, Bob Schieffer.


Hi, everybody. Well, we're here to talk with key Republican leaders this time about the economy. According to a recent CBS News poll, 79 percent of Americans believe the economy is bad. More than half of us are concerned about ourselves or someone in our household losing their job.


And unemployment, of course, is back above nine percent. Gas prices still around $4 a gallon in many areas. And across the country, there are signs of a double dip in the housing market. Major economic issues affecting millions of Americans. So, today, we've invited a cross-section of folks to ask Republican leaders what they can do to alleviate some of that pain. Folks have submitted their questions about the issues they find most important. And we'll also be hearing from viewers who sent their questions in on line.


So, basically, we know what the questions is, they don't. (LAUGH) But joining us are four distinguished Republican officials. Beginning with Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. He, of course, is chairman of the House Budget Committee and the author of the Republican budget plan.


Also with us, Florida Congressman Allen West and South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, who were both elected in the Republican wave from the 2010 Midterm Elections.


And finally, Oklahoma Senator, Tom Colburn, who served with Congressman Ryan on the president's-- deficit commission. We want to say welcome to all four of you.


Thank you. Thank you for having us. (APPLAUSE)


Okay. So, let's get the-- let's get right to it. Our first question is from Trey Lewis. And this is for all four of you on the panel here. So, Trey?


Good morning, everyone. There are many ways that people as though President Obama isn't using to stimulate and make the economy more robust. If you were in the position to do so, what would be the one thing you would do to stimulate and grow the economy that President Obama isn't doing?


Start Congressman?


One thing? (LAUGH)


Well, 30 to 45 seconds each. You can each have time to answer.


First of all, I-- I'd go in the opposite direction on spending, on taxes, on debt and deficits. Get rid of all the uncertainty in the economy. He's promising huge tax increases on successful small businesses. I wouldn't do that. Keep taxes low and get spending under control so we don't have a debt crisis. If we have a debt crisis and we have a huge interest rate increase. We have an inflation problem. That's causing uncertainty in the economy. It's making it harder for businesses to create jobs. So, I would go in a different direction than he has gone on fiscal policy. And that's exactly what we've done in the house. Is offered a different direction on fiscal policy. Keep taxes and spending low, not high.


I think the exact same thing we Paul is talking about is creating the economic and fiscal policies that create confidence in the American consumer and also our small business owners. What I see down in my district is the-- small businesses are the economic engine that drive this country. But yet-- when you look at some of the regulations that are coming in and that's restricting the access to capital for them to grow. And you look at some of the tax policies which are gonna preclude them from hiring more Americans. When you drive by in South Florida on U.S. Federal Highway 1, you see all

those closed storefronts. You just have to think about maybe there were six to eight Americans that once occupied those storefronts.




You know what I would like to see this president do is really lead and asked for a balanced budget, which he has yet to do. And I think that's incredibly important. But from a governor's perspective, everything I've tried to do to govern in South Carolina has been stopped by President Obama. Whether it's how we're gonna deal with the health care crisis. He's mandating more on our states and we can't afford it. Whether it's creating jobs. He's actually got the National Labor Relations Board suing a great American company for creating jobs in South Carolina.

Or when it comes to illegal immigration, he's stopping my labor director from allowing her to enforce the laws that are in place. So, you know, the key is let the states have the flexibility and the freedom they need to have. In order for us to govern, which at the end of the day is really down to the states. The federal government needs to get out of the way. We need-- a president that really understands, let the state understand what the Tenth Amendment's all about. Let them have states rights and let them handle their states in the way they need to.




I-- I-- I think what needs to happen is we need to identify the real problem. And the real problem is America's anxious. It doesn't have confidence about where we're goin'. And that's, I think, a leadership deficit on behalf of my friend, President Obama. I think we need to talk (UNINTEL) and honestly to the American public about the depth of our problems. They're not unsolvable, but they're unsolvable until we address them and identify 'em.