Daily Revolt

December 30, 2007

Transcript: Obama, Huckabee on Meet The Press

Huckabee on raising taxes:
MR. RUSSERT: But you raised taxes, and the Cato Institute, a conservative think tank, gave you a D and an F for your tenureship as governor. So there have been some legitimate criticisms of you as a Republican for raising taxes and for spending money.

GOV. HUCKABEE: Well, I don't think they're legitimate criticisms when you improve education for the children of your state or when you build highways that give you economic incentives and capacities that, frankly, created the lowest unemployment numbers that our state had over had over a sustained period of time. We saw more new jobs created. That's what being a governor is about. It's about creating opportunities for the people of your state.

MR. RUSSERT: Even if it means raising taxes?

GOV. HUCKABEE: Well, in some cases, you know, I cut 94 taxes. People forget what we did do on a positive nature: eliminated the marriage penalty, indexed the income tax for inflation so low-income people weren't paying high tax rates. So what we tried to do in tax policy by doubling the child care tax credit and by raising the threshold at which people paid, we untaxed a lot of the poor people and gave them a shot at actually making it up the economic ladder.

Now, when we raised taxes, it was one of two things, either to meet an educational demand--our schools were deemed by the courts to be unconstitutional. In Arkansas, we've been down the road of a governor defying the courts and saying, `I'm not going to follow the court order.' Didn't turn out real well. I wasn't going to be the second Arkansas governor to do that. In fact, I'm proud of the fact that we raised teacher pay, proud of the fact that, in every year we tested kids, we saw vast improvements in their test scores, things were--got better, not worse. And education was my ticket out of the, out of the bottom of the economic spectrum. Education is a key for every child. And I want to make sure that if we're going to spend more money--and the court said we have to--then the next thing is, let's make sure we spend it well and we spend it wisely.

On Pakistan, it's up to the dictator to decide whether democratic elections should take place:
MR. RUSSERT: Let me turn to foreign policy, specifically Pakistan. Do you believe that the government of Pakistan should postpone the elections in light of the assassination of Benazir Bhutto?

GOV. HUCKABEE: I think that's their decision to make. Clearly, January 8th coming so soon and--after the assassination, it may be problematic for President Musharraf to, to carry out the elections. Sharif has said that he's going to boycott the elections, so there is some question how much meaning and significance they will have. But I don't think it would be appropriate for me to try to weigh in on whether or not they ought to have the elections in their own country.

Strange response on the Pakistanis sneaking into the country comment:
RUSSERT: After the assassination, you made several comments about Pakistan, used some inartful words, you got your geography wrong. The Washington Post wrote this editorial. "The assassination of Benzair Bhutto presented U.S. presidential candidates with a test: Could they respond cogently and clearly to a sudden foreign policy crisis? Republican Mike Huckabee, flunked abysmally.

"His first statement seemed really uninformed: He appeared not to know that Mr. Musharraf had ended `martial law' two weeks ago. That was better than his next effort, when he said an appropriate U.S. response would include `very clear monitoring of our borders to make sure if there's any unusual activity of Pakistanis coming into our country.' The cynicism of this attempt to connect Pakistan's crisis with anti-immigrant sentiment was compounded by its astonishing senselessness."

Clearly, some of your words were in...

GOV. HUCKABEE: What do they really think, Tim? What did they really think in the editorial?

MR. RUSSERT: Pretty specific. But let me ask you about it...

GOV. HUCKABEE: Yeah.

MR. RUSSERT: ...because people your...

GOV. HUCKABEE: I do want to respond to the specifics of that.

[...]GOV. HUCKABEE: But my point wasn't lost. My point is that if you don't control your borders, then it's not about people coming across from Mexico to pluck chickens and pick lettuce. We're talking about the potential of a person who can come across this border with a dirty bomb in his suitcase, somebody who can come across our borders who might be bringing a shoulder-fired missile. And if we don't have better control of our borders, it does affect the people in Iowa and the rest of America.

Immigration in general:
MR. RUSSERT: Let me ask you about immigration because it is your consistency on that issue, I think, that is going to be talked about. The debate in November, you were active--talked about shipping, sending illegal immigrants home, and you made this impassioned plea. Let's watch.

(Videotape)

GOV. HUCKABEE: In all due respect, we're a better country than to punish children for what their parents did. We're a better country than that.

(End videotape)

MR. RUSSERT: "We're a better country than punishing children for what their"...

GOV. HUCKABEE: Mm-hmm.

MR. RUSSERT: ..."parents did."

GOV. HUCKABEE: I still believe that, yeah.

MR. RUSSERT: But a week later, after that comment, you came out with this: "The Secure America Plan."

GOV. HUCKABEE: Mm-hmm.

MR. RUSSERT: "Propose to provide all illegal immigrants a 120-day window to register with the Bureau of Citizenship" "Immigration Services and leave the country. Those who register" "return to their home country will face no penalty if they later apply," "those who do not return home will be, when caught, barred from future re-entry for a period of 10 years." Children born here are American citizens.

GOV. HUCKABEE: Mm-hmm.

MR. RUSSERT: And you were saying that.

GOV. HUCKABEE: Mm-hmm.

MR. RUSSERT: "Don't punish those kids." A week later, you said, "No, no, no, send the parents home," and what happens to the kids?

GOV. HUCKABEE: They go with their parents. I mean, I can't imagine a parent not taking their children...

MR. RUSSERT: But they're American citizens. Why do they have to leave the country?

GOV. HUCKABEE: Because they're--first, before they're American citizens, they're the children of their parents.

MR. RUSSERT: But aren't we a "better country," to quote someone, than that?

GOV. HUCKABEE: Let me be very clear. I stand beside my statement, but here's what we have to do to fix the immigration problem. We've got to seal our border, something our government has been dysfunctional and failed to do. It's also very clear the American people are not going to tolerate people who have gotten here illegally to get in the front of the line. The only way they can get into the back of the line is to go back to the point of origin, to get behind that line, and then modernize that line so it shouldn't take eight years to process a piece of paper to get people the necessary paperwork to be able to do that.

Obama on healthcare:
MR. RUSSERT: In terms of candor, you're running a political ad in Iowa and elsewhere about healthcare. And this is what the ad says. Here's the Obama ad. Let's watch.

(Videotape)

SEN. OBAMA: I've got a plan to cut costs and cover everyone.

(End videotape)

MR. RUSSERT: "Cover everyone." Every analysis of your healthcare plan says there are 15 million Americans who would not be automatically covered because you don't call for a mandate.

SEN. OBAMA: But, but, Tim...

MR. RUSSERT: Let me just give you a chance to respond. Ron Brownstein, who's objective on this, wrote this for the National Journal, and then we'll come back and talk about it. He says this: "Obama faces his own contortions. He commendably calls for building a broad healthcare consensus that includes the insurance industry. But in the states, the individual mandate has been critical in persuading insurers to accept reform, including the requirement" "they no longer reject applicants with pre-existing health problems. If such a requirement isn't tied to a mandate, insurers correctly note, the uninsured can wait until they are sick to buy coverage, which" would "inflate costs for everyone else. By seeking guaranteed access without an individual mandate, Obama is virtually ensuring war with the insurance companies that he's pledged to engage."

SEN. OBAMA: Well, Tim, here's the philosophical debate that's going on. First of all, every objective observer says Edwards, Clinton, myself, we basically have the same plan. We do have a philosophical difference. They both believe the problem is the government is not forcing adults to get healthcare. My belief is that the real problem is people can't afford healthcare, and that if we could make it affordable, they will purchase it. Now, they assert that there're going to be all these people left out who are avoiding buying healthcare. My attitude is, we are going to make sure that we reduce costs for families who don't have health care, but also people who do have healthcare and are desperately needing some price relief. And we are going to reduce costs by about $2500 per family.

If it turns out that there are still people left over who are not purchasing healthcare, one way of avoiding them waiting till they get sick is to charge a penalty if they try to sign up later so that they have an incentive to sign up immediately.

MR. RUSSERT: Which is a quasi-mandate.

SEN. OBAMA: But--well, no, it's not a quasi-mandate because what happens then is we are not going around trying to fine people who can't afford healthcare, and that's what's happening in Massachusetts right now. They've already had to exempt 20 percent of the uninsured, and you're reading stories about people who didn't have healthcare, still can't afford the premiums on the subsidized healthcare, but now are also paying a fine. That I don't think is providing a relief to the American people. We need to make health care affordable. That's what my plan does. And The Washington Post itself said, for the Clinton campaign to try to find an individual who wanted healthcare and could not get it under the Obama administration would be very difficult because that person probably does not exist. If you want healthcare under my plan, you will be able to get it, it will be affordable, and it will be of the high quality.

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