“Folks, this country is in a funk,” former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman said Tuesday, stressing a need for new leadership to revive a lagging economy and outdated foreign policy strategy.
The presidential contender spoke about the nation’s dimming presence in the international economy at the event hosted by the College Republicans.
“We are dispirited. This is not natural for the most creative, most optimistic, most problem-solving people on Earth,” Huntsman, the former ambassador to China and Singapore, said.
Huntsman, who described himself as the only “practitioner of foreign policy” among the 2012 GOP candidates, said his extensive experience overseas could bring the U.S. back to the forefront of the global economy.
The country, he said, has an “unprecedented opportunity to rebuild manufacturing muscle,” as nations like China slow from a 9 or 10 percent growth rate to a 5 or 6 percent growth rate, creating a void for investments.
“We have a rare opening in economic history,” Huntsman said.
Loopholes in the U.S. tax code, which has not been touched since 1986, prevents the U.S. from attracting capital, Huntsman said.
As president, Huntsman said he would create three tax brackets – 8 percent, 14 percent and 23 percent – to kick-start the nation’s economy, in addition to phasing out loopholes, subsidies and deductions for individuals and corporations.
“The tax system of yesterday is done,” Huntsman said.
Huntsman has served under four presidents, including President Barack Obama, and is also the former CEO of his family’s multibillion dollar corporation.
He criticized the Obama administration for bailing out banks seen as “too big to fail” and dismissed last year’s Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection bill that aimed to stem high-risk practices in the banking industry.
“That Dodd-Frank thing needs to go,” Huntsman said. “Capitalism without failure isn’t capitalism.”
In an interview with The Hatchet, Huntsman said it is too difficult for young entrepreneurs to access capital.
“We have young people full of ideas but unable to take the risks, because the hurdles are too high,” he said. “We’re problem-solving people. We confront a challenge, find solutions and make the world better.”
If elected, the two-term Utah governor said his first day as president would be spent tackling the “dilapidated” tax code, regulatory reform and the “heroin-like addiction” to imported oil.
Huntsman said he decided to run for president because, for the first time in our history, his generation will pass the country down to a generation that is “less productive, less competitive and more divided than the country we got.”
Lines wrapped around the building an hour before the event, but only about 250 students got seats in the Jack Morton Auditorium. University staff set up screens for several dozen students who stood outside the auditorium during the event.