November 30, 2011WHITEFIELD — "We're in a funk and dispirited," said former two-term Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, describing America to area voters at a campaign appearance at noon on Sunday. "We need to get out of that hole."
He and his wife, Mary Kaye Huntsman, had spent the previous night at the Grand Resort and met with members of the press in the morning before speaking before a standing-room-only crowd in the Dodge Parlor.
Huntsman said that the current state of affairs is "totally unacceptable" in a country that until recent years has always been optimistic. It is time, he said, to rally around to face and solve the big challenges and put divisiveness aside.
"Fifteen million fellow citizens don't have the dignity of having jobs," he said. "There's a deficit of trust; the American people no longer trust the empty rhetoric and unfulfilled promises coming from their elected leaders and institutions of power."
He pointed the finger of blame on a president who hasn't led and banks too big to fail. If the country doesn't get back on course, "we will shipwreck our next generation," Huntsman warned.
Correcting the country's competitive environment, led the former Ambassador to China's list of must-dos. "We have our work cut out for us," he said. "We must fix our dilapidated tax code." Huntsman criticized President Obama for not embracing the proposed Simpson-Bowles reform package. "We need to lower rates, broaden the base, and simplify the structure," he said, noting that under his leadership Utah had effectively adopted a flat tax.
On the corporate side, he called for phasing out "corporate welfare" totaling $90 billion. "We can no longer afford it," Huntsman said. And he also urged that corporations be allowed to bring some $1.2 trillion in overseas profits into the U.S.
"We're on the cusp of a manufacturing renaissance," he said. China, which has enjoyed 8,9, or 10 percent growth in the last 30 years, is facing inflation and rising costs in its southern economic zone, bringing growth down to between 5 and 7 percent a year. Unemployment will rise, Huntsman predicted, bringing associated pressure in China's large cities, accompanied by dismay in the country's Internet generation.
"Those with dollars to invest will be looking for an alternative, and this is an opportunity to win some industries back," he said, adding that U. S. health care costs and the regulatory environment will play a key role as global corporations make investment decisions. "Capital is a coward; it looks for safe havens," he said. "ObamaCare has been a disaster," he said.
Huntsman also called for moving towards energy independence, including natural gas, a fossil fuel, and other alternative fuels. Today's monopolistic fuel distribution system favors gasoline, he said.
It is time to get troops out of Afghanistan where much has been achieved: routed the Taliban, dismantled Al Qaeda, and facilitated democratic elections. "We've achieved mighty important objectives, and it's time to move on," Huntsman said.
The country needs to fix "its own broken core — our economy," he said. It needs to rethink the strategic importance of maintaining troops in Germany in the second decade of the 21st century.
"The Russians aren't coming any more," Huntsman added.
He also called for Congressional reform and term limits.
The nation has many assets: it operates under the rule of law and private property rights; still has the finest colleges and universities; is home to innovative, creative entrepreneurs, and has brave, courageous armed forces.
"I have confidence that I can do the job, and I want your vote, whether you are a Republican, Independent or Democrat," Huntsman said. "I'm running on my record, and not away from my record."
The 2012 election cycle is a potential opening — a window — for various needed reforms and changes, as long as a focused and prepared candidate wins the White House. Huntsman said, "Whoever wins will have two years to get something done."
Asked to comment on the proposed $1.1 billion Northern Pass project to bring HydroQuebec power on towers up to 130 feet in height into New Hampshire and onto the New England grid, Huntsman replied that he cannot stomach violations of private property rights. He suggested that the sponsoring utility companies to come up with the projected costs of putting the HVDC lines underground rework the numbers. "Your voice matters," Huntsman said.
Canada is our neighbor, however, he pointed out, making using power generated north of the border highly desirable. Environmental regulations have gone overboard, covering areas not related to health and safety but that nonetheless deterred growth by halting new power and manufacturing plants. Huntsman said, "There are tradeoffs; it's a balancing act."
Those on hand seemed impressed with the familiarity that Huntsman displayed on both domestic and foreign affairs. Dave Govatski said, "Gov Huntsman impressed me as an articulate, intelligent and positive leader. He stands out from many of the other candidates with sensible ideas on how to improve things like education, the economy and government. His moderate social views are a refreshing change. He is a fluent Mandarin Chinese speaker who was our Ambassador to China, and this successful experience impresses me. He does not sign pledges from special interest groups, and I also like that. He is a strong proponent of energy independence, starting with efficiency and conservation to alternative energy sources."