GOP presidential hopeful Herman Cain believes the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdown in Japan have combined to create the worst disaster since the end of World War II.
“It’s going to take decades for Japan to recover from this disaster,” Cain told Newsmax. “Yes, it’s going to impact us, because Japan is a major trading partner of ours, and Japan is a major player in the global marketplace.”
Cain responded to questions from Newsmax and other reporters on Tuesday at the Heritage Foundation.
Cain made his political debut in the 2012 presidential sweepstakes in a well-received speech last month at the Conservative Political Action Committee’s annual conference in Washington.
The former chairman of Godfather's Pizza said, if elected, he would pursue energy independence, entitlement and regulatory reform, and strengthening our national security.
Top on his list, however, was ending Obamacare.
“If I were president, I’d work just as hard to repeal Obamacare as he did to pass it, because it is an economic threat to this nation,” Cain said. He noted that the Obama administration has already issued more than 1,000 waivers to businesses from the requirements of Obamacare. “What part of this is not going to work do people not understand?” he asked.
Cain said he favored repealing the legislation entirely and replacing it with HR 3400, the Republican alternative.
Cain has lived out the American dream and is proud of it. His father was a chauffeur, rising to become “the best driver” in the country, working for the CEO of Coca Cola. Cain himself was the first member of his family to attend college, graduating from Morehouse University in 1967.
Cain says he worries that Americans growing up today will not be able to climb the corporate ladder as he did. “This nation has been losing ground in terms of its economic freedom,” he warned. “We’re losing the ability for our children to achieve their American dream . . . due primarily to the encroachment of bureaucracy and government on businesses and individuals.”
Cain twice moved to the top at major U.S. corporations, before striking out on his own as CEO of the Godfather's Pizza chain, which he restored to profitability from near bankruptcy. He went on to get elected president of the National Restaurant Association, and in the 1990s, was named to the board of the Federal Reserve Bank in Kansas City, Mo., eventually becoming its chairman.
Fed chairman Ben Bernanke has become too cozy with the Obama administration, Cain believes. “I’m disappointed by the appearance of back scratching between the Fed and the Treasury,” he said.
The Fed’s decision to designate $600 billion to buy Treasury notes from the U.S. Treasury, a move known as quantitative easing, was “not sound fiscal policy,” he argued. “The reason the Fed did that, to prop up the Treasury, was because the economy is not recovering . . . To prop up the Treasury because the fiscal and economic polices have failed is not the role of the Federal Reserve,” he said. "The Fed should focus on monetary policy,” Cain argued.
Nevertheless, he warned those who are urging Congress to abolish the Fed entirely to be careful what they wish for. “My question is, What do you replace it with? Let’s fix the Fed, not end the Fed.”
Cain came across as a rock-solid conservative, who has the common sense to convince those with less firm convictions of the correctness of his cause.
He argued, for example, in favor of personal retirement accounts as a way of fixing the long-term health of social security, and for block-granting funds to the states so they could devise their own solutions for Medicare and Medicaid. “No more federal unfunded mandates, including Medicare,” he said. “We have 50 laboratories out there. Let’s use them.”
President George W. Bush used the political capital he earned in the 2004 elections to make a similar push in favor of personal retirement accounts, and failed miserably. Newsmax asked Cain why he thought he could succeed where Bush failed?
“President Bush in my opinion pitched social security, personal retirement accounts, incorrectly,” Cain said. “Namely, he did not engage his party’s support in Congress to communicate and explain the idea to the American people. And I don’t believe he was aggressive and proactive enough in promoting the message to the American people.”
Cain said he would launch a “conscious marketing and promotional effort around the word personalization, and not allow it to be co-opted” by the media or his political opponents.
Cain reserved some of his most impassioned rhetoric to defend causes dear to social conservatives. Asked about defunding Planned Parenthood, he reminded reporters about the origins of the group. “When Margaret Sanger started Planned Parenthood, the objective was to put these centers in primarily black communities so they could kill black babies before they came into the world. You don’t see that talked about very much,” he said. “It’s not Planned Parenthood: it’s planned genocide.”
He also vowed to “push back” against the left whenever it attacked the core values of America’s Founding Fathers. “Not everybody believes in Judeo-Christian principles,” he said. “But 85 percent of us do.”
Cain vowed extensive reform of a system of government regulation that “is strangling us.” Financial regulatory reform had to include better oversight of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Excluding them from the current efforts, promoted by Congressional Democrats, was “an insult to the American people.”
Next, he said he would ask oil companies how to drill responsibly in the outer continental shelf, and coal companies how to bring more clean coal to market: “We have more coal here in the United States than in the rest of the world. So how much sense does it make for us to shut down the coal industry and put them out of business, especially with all the clean coal technology out there."
Newsmax asked Cain how he planned to pull off a long-shot bid to win the GOP nomination. “It’s all in the ground game,” he said, resorting to a football metaphor. He said he planned to travel around the country, speaking to local groups and giving interviews, to get his message out and win support.
“The mainstream media is going to have to start covering me, because there’s going to be such a groundswell. That’s how we’re going to win it,” he said.
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