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Mitt Romney In Florida On Taxes, Defense, & Battling The Unions

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Mitt Romney

My Townhall.com column this morning looks at the DNCs Big Labor’s attempt to take Mitt Romney off the board in Florida. We used to call such things “dirty tricks,” but these days the attempt to manipulate the other side’s nominee is acceptable to MSM. What would Ed Muskie say.

I asked Mitt Romney about the unions campaign against him (and thus for Newt Gingrich) in the course of an interview on Wednesday’s program:

HH: We begin now with Governor Romney. Welcome back, good to talk to you.

MR: Thanks, Hugh, good to be with you this evening.

HH: You know, Governor, a lot of my callers raise the passion question. They want to know if Mitt Romney will passionately take it to President Obama. I want to frame it this way. Yesterday, SEAL Team 2 brought off this amazing rescue, but it’s only because they’ve got this amazing Department of Defense behind them. And the President wants to cut that dramatically. Will you passionately fight for the military if you’re the nominee?

MR: I will not only passionately fight, but I will succeed in protecting our military. I do not want to cut our military base budget for the current, about 4% of the GDP that it is. Look, our Navy is smaller than at any time since 1917, our Air Force is older and smaller than any time since it was founded. We’ve got too few active duty personnel. We’re not doing the right job for our veterans. We really can’t afford, and we should not shrink our military commitment. And unlike this president, I will not cut our military budget. I will preserve it, and maintain our military might.

HH: Second question in this regard, right now, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees are spending a million bucks against you. SEIU, the most radical of the unions, almost as much against you. It’s astonishing. The Democrats are trying to take you off the board. In ’72, they called this dirty tricks when Nixon did it against Muskie. But will you, Governor Romney, be battling these public employee unions in the way that people want to see fire and passion?

MR: Well, there’s no question but that these unions do not want to see me as the next president. They don’t want to see me as the nominee, because they know I can beat President Obama. So here in Florida, which is the next contest state, you’re right. They’re spending about a million dollars in negative ads against me. And they’re not doing that against Speaker Gingrich. They’re doing it against me. And the reason they’re doing that, of course, is as I just described, and also the fact that I have a record of taking on these unions. In my state, I said look, you guys, we’re not going to grow your compensation in the unions at a level that’s above what the state can afford. And we held, as I recall, we held the compensations at 2% per year. I’ll go after these guys. We have, in my view, a real problem with unions having put in place these massive pensions and health benefits that we cannot possibly sustain. I salute Governor Walker of Wisconsin, Governor Kasich of Ohio, I’m trying to think of all the names, of course, Chris Christie in New Jersey. These guys have been heroic. Governor Rick Snyder in Michigan, these guys are out there battling. We’re going to have to rein in the excesses of these unions, or they will completely drown our states in red ink.

HH: And Governor, last question, John Hood and others, John Hood at National Review, said when your taxes came out, there was an opportunity to point out to people this nonsense about effective rates, that all that money that you’re paying taxes on at the investment rate had been taxed before. Did you miss an opportunity to teach people about how we tax and tax and tax again?

MR: Well actually, each interview I’ve had, I have said that exact point. I was on last night with Brian Williams on NBC, and he said gee, your tax rate’s only 15%. And I said no, actually, you realize that there are two levels of taxation on capital. One is at the corporate level, where it’s taxed at 35%, and the other’s at the individual level in dividends, where it’s taxed at 15%. So the combined rate is 45-50%. And I’ve said the same thing with Sean Hannity a little earlier on Fox. So every occasion I get, I remind people of that fact. It’s going to be a constant battle, of course, because the Democrats, and interestingly, my own Republican opponents, Speaker Gingrich, they go after me for paying a low tax rate. It’s like guys, don’t you understand it’s being taxed once at the corporate level first? So I’ll keep on handling that and battling that, Hugh.

HH: Governor Romney, thanks for joining us. We’ll talk to you after the debate next week, and good luck, we’ll talk to you then.

End of interview.

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