Tea Party favorite and former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain has all but announced an official 2012 presidential bid – he’s told several news media he’s seriously considering it but has not yet made it official. Many Tea Partiers know his back-story of having survived cancer after having led a successful corporate life. He also hosts a radio show in Georgia and though he has never held political office, he ran an unsuccessful campaign for Senate in Georgia in 2004.
What some Tea Partiers don’t know about Cain, a superstar within the Tea Party movement, is where he stands on some of the most important domestic and foreign policy challenges facing the country. So, The Daily Caller asked him his views in what could be considered a “presidential vetting interview.”
Like most figures in the Tea Party movement, Cain is not the biggest fan of “establishment” politicians. He calls himself a “problem-solver” and someone who will follow through with coming up with solutions to the nation’s problems.
“Take a simple example: Social Security,” Cain told TheDC in a phone interview. “To George Bush’s credit, he tried to get personal retirement accounts, not privatization. He tried to get that system passed, which was going to put the Social Security system on a road to solvency. He could not generate enough political will to do that. The Democrats hated the idea, and many of the Republicans didn’t back him as strongly as they could have and they should have and, as a result, Social Security is still where it was eight years ago.”
Cain said he’d push for a personal retirement accounts and can’t believe Republicans in Washington aren’t pushing for that type of program.
“As soon as a Republican raises the idea of personal retirement accounts, they get attacked,” Cain said. “Even President [Barack] Obama has attacked the Republicans [for personalized retirement accounts]. They [Democrats] are already attacking it before it becomes an actual proposal. It can’t become a proposal until Republicans take control of Congress.”
As for Obama and the current congressional leadership asking for more time for their economic policies to work, Cain told TheDC they’ve had enough time and that he thinks Obama’s policies have “failed.”
“Spending all this money is absolutely insane,” Cain said. “All of this spending, over trillions of dollars, all of the debt that’s been added to the national debt is not working and they want two more years for failed spending policies to work – the only thing that it has done is made government bigger.”
Cain told TheDC that if he became president after George W. Bush, instead of Obama, he would have suspended taxes on repatriated profits, which he said would encourage foreign companies to create jobs in the United States. Also, he said he would never have passed the Healthcare Reform bill, often referred to as Obamacare, and he would have lowered the capital gains tax rate to zero.
“That would encourage people to invest and take risks,” Cain said. “When people invest and take risks, they create jobs.”
Cain also said, if he was president, he’d make the current tax rates permanent, in an attempt to provide certainty for businesses.
“We now have no idea what our taxes are going to be January 1, 2011,” Cain told TheDC. “That’s not only bad policy, it’s irresponsible. The business community, the people who create jobs, they want some certainty. All of the policies of this administration have created more uncertainty.”
NEXT: Cain on what to do about Afghanistan and Iran
Cain said Obama’s economic team was flawed because it was mostly made up of idealist academics.
“I’m sure you have followed the fact that, one by one, they have all left or are leaving,” Cain said. “One school of thought is that his economic advisers were intellectuals, that they were economic purists and that they didn’t have any practical experience and they didn’t. So, they’d come up with these cockamamie ideas based on intellectual thought or economic theory but couldn’t translate it into real, practical things that would truly cause this economy to grow.”
As for what’s going on in the Middle East right now, Cain said the president has to listen to military experts – adding that the situation in Iraq is stable, but Afghanistan is “still a mess” because of internal conflicts within the Afghan government.
“Politics have had too big a part to play in how we handled working in Afghanistan. General [David] Petraeus and the other generals should decide on the rules of engagement, not politicians and that has been part of the problem,” Cain said. “He [President Obama] is not qualified to write a military strategy. That’s not leadership. Listen to the military experts. That’s my approach to handling war and international conflict.”
In Iran, Cain supports pushing a diplomatic approach for nuclear disarmament, but said the United States should be weary of the Iranian regime. Cain said the U.S. and the UN should continue with strict sanctions and follow through on them, but should be ready to react in the case Iran does anything out of line.
“I don’t have enough confidential inside information to know how close they [Iran] are to building a nuclear weapon and, from the information [President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad has put out there in the press, I don’t think they’re that close,” Cain said. “Where they are a threat is in Israel, the fact that they have flat-out threatened to wipe Israel off the face of the earth.”
Cain said any threat to Israel should be taken seriously and considered as a threat to the United States.
“Israel is an ally and friend of the United States of America,” Cain said. “I whole-heartedly believe in helping Israel defend itself, whatever that takes. I can’t tell you what that would take because I’m not privy to all the things that it would take. Secondly, if they’re going to make such a threat to Israel, what country is going to be next? Probably the United States of America.”
NEXT: Cain on America’s immigration challenges
In terms of handling immigration issues, Cain said he would, first and foremost, secure the U.S. border with Mexico.
“I don’t buy this malarkey that we can’t secure the border,” Cain told TheDC. “I don’t buy this malarkey that we don’t want to offend our southern neighbors. Neither this administration nor the previous administration got serious about securing the border. I don’t know why the previous administration didn’t get serious about securing the border but they didn’t.”
Secondly, Cain said he’d enforce the laws on the books and provide the resources Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials need to secure the border.
“Enforce the laws that are already on the books,” Cain said. “That means providing the resources to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, although I think it’s misnamed – they don’t do a lot of enforcement. Give them the resources they need to do their jobs.”
Cain said he thinks the term “comprehensive immigration reform” is an “oxymoron,” and wouldn’t push for changing the immigration process.
“For those people that want to become legal citizens in this country, promote the current citizenship process,” Cain said. “It’s not that difficult. It’s democratic, it’s cumbersome, it might be confusing to some people, but if you go look it up, you’ll see: the steps are not that complicated. What makes it complicated is the bureaucracy that we have surrounding it.”