Transcript: Read the Full Text of the Fourth Republican Debate in Milwaukee

Nov 11, 2015

Eight candidates for the Republican nomination faced off in Milwaukee Tuesday night for a primetime debate on Fox Business Network, moderated by hosts Neil Cavuto, Maria Bartiromo, and Gerard Baker, the editor-in-chief of the Wall Street Journal.

Here's a complete transcript of the event


BARTIROMO:

Tonight we're partnering with the Wall Street Journal to ask questions on the economy that voters want answered. We're also working with Facebook, who tells us that since the first Republican debate, more than 58 million people have joined the political conversation online.

More than 9 million are talking specifically about the economy.


BAKER:

The candidates on stage tonight were selected based on their standing in an average of four national polls. Those standings determining their position on the stage. And here they are. At center stage, businessman Donald Trump.

(APPLAUSE)


BAKER:

Neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson.

(APPLAUSE)


CAVUTO:

Florida Senator Marco Rubio.

(APPLAUSE)


CAVUTO:

Texas Senator Ted Cruz.

(APPLAUSE)


CAVUTO:

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush.

(APPLAUSE)


BARTIROMO:

Businesswoman Carly Fiorina.

(APPLAUSE)


BARTIROMO:

Ohio Governor John Kasich.

(APPLAUSE)


BARTIROMO:

And Kentucky Senator Rand Paul.

(APPLAUSE)


BAKER:

Tonight's rules are simple. Up to 90 second for each answer. One minute for each follow-up response. And if a candidate goes over their allotted time, you'll here this.


CAVUTO:

It sounds like a game show but it's not.

Now I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the elephant in the room, and I'm not talking about your party's fine symbol. I'm talking about the purpose of tonight's debate.

The economy and what each of you would do to improve it. No more, no less. We are focused on those issues, and what you have said on those issues in your words and what your opponents have said in their words about your words. That is the agenda tonight. How each of you plans to make America better tomorrow.

And so we begin. Candidates, as we gather tonight in this very august theater, just outside and across the country, picketers are gathering as well. They're demanding an immediate hike in the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Just a few hours ago, near Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed doing the same for all state workers, the first governor to do so.

Mr. Trump, as the leading presidential candidate on this stage and one whose tax plan exempts couples making up to $50,000 a year from paying any federal income taxes at all, are you sympathetic to the protesters cause since a $15 wage works out to about $31,000 a year?


TRUMP:

I can't be Neil. And the and the reason I can't be is that we are a country that is being beaten on every front economically, militarily. There is nothing that we do now to win. We don't win anymore. Our taxes are too high. I've come up with a tax plan that many, many people like very much. It's going to be a tremendous plan. I think it'll make our country and our economy very dynamic.

But, taxes too high, wages too high, we're not going to be able to compete against the world. I hate to say it, but we have to leave it the way it is. People have to go out, they have to work really hard and have to get into that upper stratum. But we can not do this if we are going to compete with the rest of the world. We just can't do it.


CAVUTO:

So do not raise the minimum wage?


TRUMP:

I would not do it.

(APPLAUSE)


CAVUTO:

Dr. Carson, you have long bemoaned this lackluster recovery. And this Facebook map show Americans share your concern. The green represents how the jobs issue is resonating all across the nation, especially here in the state of Wisconsin.

You suggested one minimum wage does not fit all, and that perhaps we should offer a lower or starter wage for young people. Those protesters outside are looking for $15 and nothing less. Where are you?

CARSON:

Well, first of all, delighted to be here. My family's here, and my little granddaughter, who's three years old, said she wanted to come to the debate. So this is very cool.

As far as the minimum wage is concerned, people need to be educated on the minimum wage. Every time we raise the minimum wage, the number of jobless people increases.

It's particularly a problem in the black community. Only 19.8 percent of black teenagers have a job, who are looking for one. You know, that -- and that's because of those high wages. If you lower those wages, that comes down.

You know, I can remember, as a youngster -- you know, my first job working in a laboratory as a lab assistant, and multiple other jobs. But I would not have gotten those jobs if someone had to pay me a large amount of money.

But what I did gain from those jobs is a tremendous amount of experience, and how to operate in the world and how to relate to different people, and how to become a responsible individual. And that's what gave me what I needed to ascend the ladder of opportunity in this country.

That's what we need to be thinking about. How do we allow people to ascend the ladder of opportunity, rather than how do we give them everything and keep them dependent?

(APPLAUSE)


CAVUTO:

So, sir, just to be clear, you would not raise it?


CARSON:

I would not raise it. I would not raise it, specifically because I'm interested in making sure that people are able to enter the job market and take advantage of opportunities.

(APPLAUSE)


CAVUTO:

Senator Rubio, you called the recent Democratic debate in Las Vegas a night of giveaways, including free health care, free college and a host of other government-paid benefits. Since you aren't a fan of all they're giving away, tell us tonight what you would take back.


RUBIO:

Well, let me begin by answering both the first question and this one, because they're related.

As I've said many times before, my parents were never rich people. My father was a bartender. My mother was a maid. They worked for a living. But they were successful people, because, despite the fact that they weren't well educated and had those jobs, they made enough money to buy a home in a safe and stable neighborhood, retire with dignity, leave all four of their children better off than themselves.

RUBIO:

We call that the American dream, but in fact, it's a universal dream of a better life that people have all over the world. It is a reminder that every country in the world has rich people.

What makes America special is that we have millions and millions of people that are not rich, that through hard work and perseverance are able to be successful.

The problem is that today people are not successful working as hard as ever because the economy is not providing jobs that pay enough. If I thought that raising the minimum wage was the best way to help people increase their pay, I would be all for it, but it isn't. In the 20th century, it's a disaster.

If you raise the minimum wage, you're going to make people more expensive than a machine. And that means all this automation that's replacing jobs and people right now is only going to be accelerated.

Here's the best way to raise wages. Make America the best place in the world to start a business or expand an existing business, tax reform and regulatory reform, bring our debt under control, fully utilize our energy resources so we can reinvigorate manufacturing, repeal and replace Obamacare, and make higher education faster and easier to access, especially vocational training. For the life of me, I don't know why we have stigmatized vocational education. Welders make more money than philosophers. We need more welders and less philosophers.

(APPLAUSE)

If we do that -- and if we do this -- if we do this, we will be able to increase wages for millions of Americans and we will be able to leave everyone better off without making anyone worse off.


CAVUTO:

Thank you, Senator Rubio.

(APPLAUSE)


BARTIROMO:

We've asked people on Facebook to submit their questions for the candidates. Seth Bell wrote, "We are approaching $20 trillion in national debt. Specifically, what plans do you have to cut federal spending?" Governor Kasich, you have spoken much about your success in balancing the budget under President Clinton. Today the national debt is at record highs and growing unsustainably. Interest will be the fastest-growing part of the federal budget, tripling over the next 10 years. Social Security, the lifeline of millions of American seniors, is rushing toward insolvency. With all of the tax plans presented tonight, estimated to cost anywhere between $2 trillion and $12 trillion over a decade, what specific steps will you take to balance the budget?


KASICH:

First of all, let me just say that, in the state of Ohio -- and I'm the only acting executive on -- on this stage today -- we do have a moderate increase in the minimum wage. And I got to tell you, my father carried mail on his back. His father was a coal miner. He died of black lung. He was losing his eyesight. My mother's mother lived with us. She could barely speak English. I come from a town where if the wind blew the wrong way, people found themselves out of work. An economic theory is fine, but you know what? People need help.

Now, I have a plan that, in fact, would cut taxes, but not $11 trillion or $12 trillion that would put my children further in debt. I have a plan that would not only cut taxes, lower the income tax rate for individuals, lower the tax for businesses so businesses will compete here and not move operations overseas, and also a plan -- the only plan of anybody standing on this stage to get us to a balanced budget by the end of a second term.

And, you know, the simple fact of the matter is, we hear a lot of promises in this debate, a lot of promises about these tax cuts or tax schemes sometimes that I call them. Hillary and the Democrats promise everything on the spending side. We've got to be responsible about what we propose on the tax side.

Yes, lower taxes, lower spending. My website, JohnKasich.com, will show you exactly how we balance the budget. I balanced the budget in Washington as a chief architect, and I have balanced it in Ohio for one reason. When you balance the budget and you cut taxes, people get work.

And our most important moral purpose as leaders in the political system is to make sure we create an environment for job creation so people can live their dreams and realize their God-given potential. That's why it's so important.

And for those at the bottom, we've got to do what we can to train them so they can move up. But to just look the other way is not acceptable, because, you know what, as the governor of Ohio I have to deal with real challenges, and we've gotten it done in our state, and I will do it for America.

(APPLAUSE)


BARTIROMO:

Did you want to name any specific steps, sir?


KASICH:

Sure. We would move the Medicare system from a 7 percent growth down to about a 5 percent growth. And I have a whole series of ways to do that. In Ohio, we reduced Medicaid funding for the poor from 10 percent to 2.5 percent, didn't cut one benefit or didn't take anybody off the rolls. Why? Because we're innovators. I've been an innovator my entire career.

And I really don't care what special interests or lobbyists have to say. I have a job to do when I take over a public office. Now, we freeze non-defense discretionary for eight years. We also put an increase in defense spending. Our tax cuts balance out. And at the end of the day, we will get to a balanced budget.

And I want everybody here to know, when I was Budget Committee chairman in Washington, I stepped on every toe in that town, and we got to a balanced budget, and we had enormous job growth. And as governor of Ohio, we went from 350,000 lost jobs to a gain of 347,000 jobs.


BARTIROMO:

Thank you, sir.


KASICH:

I'll do it in Washington. I've done it twice; I'll do it thrice for the United States of America.


BARTIROMO:

Senator Cruz, the International Monetary Fund recently cut its expectations for economic growth. Many economists expect a recession to hit the U.S. within the next year due to the weakening of manufacturing. The next president will have to deal with it. You say tax reform is a powerful lever to spur economic expansion. You're calling for a 10 percent income tax and a 16 percent business tax. What other elements do you need in this plan to actually create jobs?


CRUZ:

Well, Maria, it's great to be with you. It's great to be here in Milwaukee. You know, the question you asked really I think is the most important question any of us can have -- face, which is, how do we get the economy growing? How do we bring back economic growth?

Because economic growth, it's foundational to every other challenge we have. As you rightly noted, from 2008 to today, our economy has grown 1.2 percent a year on average. The Obama economy is a disaster, and the IMF is telling us this is a new normal. It doesn't have to be.

If you look at the history of America, there are three levers that government has had to facilitate economic growth. The first is tax reform. And as you noted, I have rolled out a bold and simple flat tax: 10 percent for every American that would produce booming growth and 4.9 million new jobs within a decade.

The second element is regulatory reform, pulling back the armies of regulators that have descended like locusts on small businesses.

And the third element is sound money. Every time we've pursued all three of those -- whether in the 1920s with Calvin Coolidge or the 1960s with JFK or the 1980s with Ronald Reagan -- the result has been incredible economic growth. We have done it before, and with leadership, we can do it again.

(APPLAUSE)


BARTIROMO:

Thank you, sir.


KASICH:

Excuse me.


BARTIROMO:

Governor Bush...


KASICH:

Yeah, I would like to make a comment.


BUSH:

You've already made two comments, John. It's my turn.


BARTIROMO:

We have more questions for you, Governor Kasich, coming up. We have more questions for you, Governor Kasich.


BUSH:

I got about four minutes in the last debate. I'm going to get my question right now.


KASICH:

I appreciate it, Jeb. I'm all of you. But I want at some point to talk about a value-added tax and $11 trillion, $12 trillion tax cuts that will put our kids way deeper in the hole than they have been at this point. So I would like to talk about it at some point, because that's what leadership is.


BARTIROMO:

We will -- we will certainly get to that. Governor Bush?


BUSH:

Yes.


BARTIROMO:

Almost 40 percent of Americans are without a job and are not looking. Many have given up. That's what the participation rate tells us. You've said your policies will drive the economy back to 4 percent growth, which we haven't seen since the year 2000. What specific regulations would you change? And how will that lead to jobs and growth?


BUSH:

First of all, we could get to 4 percent growth. The new normal of 2 percent puts huge demands on government. The reason why we have structural deficits is that more and more people are relying on government and the growth that we don't have makes -- makes the deficit grow.

A 4 percent growth strategy starts with tax reform. And the proposal that I've laid out is the one the Wall Street Journal editorial board has said is the most pro-growth of all the proposals out there. We cut the -- we eliminate a lot of deductions and cut the rates down. A corporate rate of 20 percent, which puts us 5 percent above -- below that of China, and allows us full expensing of investing. It would create an explosion of investment back into this country, creating higher-wage jobs, and so that's part of it.

On the regulatory side I think we need to repeal every rule that Barack Obama has in terms of work in progress, every one of them.

(APPLAUSE)

And start over. For those that are already in existence, the regulation of the Internet, we have to start over, but we ought to do that.

The clean power act, we ought to repeal that and -- and start over on that. The waters of the United States act, which is going to be devastating for agriculture and many industries, we should repeal that. We should repeal the rules because the economic costs of this far exceed the social benefit.

BUSH:

And if we're serious about being serious about high growth, then we have to recognize that small businesses right now, more of them are closing than -- than are -- than are being set up.

Hillary Clinton has said that Barack Obama's policies get an A. Really? One in 10 people right now aren't working or have given up altogether, as you said. That's not an A. One in seven people are living in poverty. That's not an A. One in five children are on food stamps. That is not an A. It may be the best that Hillary Clinton can do, but it's not the best America can do.

(APPLAUSE)


BARTIROMO:

Thank you, sir.


BAKER:

Ms. Fiorina, while you've all pointed out how weak the current recovery has been and how disappointing by any historical standards, in the general election, the Democrats will inevitably ask you and voters to compare the recent president's jobs performance.

Now, in seven years under President Obama, the U.S. has added an average of 107,000 jobs a month. Under President Clinton, the economy added about 240,000 jobs a month. Under George W. Bush, it was only 13,000 a month. If you win the nomination, you'll probably be facing a Democrat named Clinton. How are you going to respond to the claim that Democratic presidents are better at creating jobs than Republicans?


FIORINA:

Well, first of all, I must say as I think about that question, I think about a woman I met the other day. I would guess she was 40 years old. She had several children. And she said to me, you know, Carly, I go to bed every night afraid for my children's future. And that really struck me. This is America. A mother is going to bed afraid for her children's future.

And the reason she's afraid for her children's future is because we've had problems for a long time. Yes, problems have gotten much worse under Democrats. But the truth is, this government has been growing bigger and bigger, more corrupt, less effective, crushing the engine of economic growth for a very long time. This isn't about just replacing a Democrat with a Republican now. It's about actually challenging the status quo of big government.

Big government has created a big business called politics. And there are lots of people invested in the status quo of that big business called politics.

Specifically, we need actually to do five things to really get this economy going again. We need to go to zero-based budgeting so we know where every dollar is being spent, we can challenge any dollar, cut any dollar, move any dollar.

(APPLAUSE)

We need to actually reform the tax code. Go to a three-page tax code. Yes, there are plans that would reform our tax code to three pages. In addition to rolling back what President Obama has done, we need to do a top-to-bottom review of every single regulation on the books. That hasn't been done in 50 years. We need to pass the REINS Act so Congress is in charge of regulation, not nameless, faceless bureaucrats accountable to no one. We've become a nation of rules, not a nation of laws.

And finally we actually, yes, have to hold government officials accountable for their performance. All this has to be done, and the citizens of this nation must help a President Fiorina get it done. We must take our government back.

(APPLAUSE)


BAKER:

Thank you. Thank you. Senator Paul, income inequality has been rising in the United States. Fifty years ago, for example, the average CEO of a big corporation in this country earned 20 times the average salary of one of his or her workers. Today, that CEO earns about 300 times the average salary of a worker. Does it matter at all that the gap between the rich and everyone else is widening?


PAUL:

Absolutely. And I think that we ought to look where income inequality seems to be the worst. It seems to be worst in cities run by Democrats, governors of...

(APPLAUSE)

States run by Democrats and countries currently run by Democrats. So the thing is, let's look for root causes.

But I would also say -- lay some blame at the -- the feet of the Federal Reserve. I think the Federal Reserve has made this problem worse. By artificially keeping interest rates below the market rate, average ordinary citizens have a tough time earning interest, have a tough time making money. They're actually talking now about negative interest.

The money as it's created through quantitative easing or other means tends to start out in the big banks in New York. And because we're now paying interest for them to keep the money there, much of that money has not filtered out into the economy. So what we're finding is there is increasing income disparity and income inequality.

We also find that as the Federal Reserve destroys the value of the currency, what you're finding is that, if you're poor, if you make $20,000 a year and you have three or four kids, and you're trying to get by, as your prices rise or as the value of the dollar shrinks, these are the people that are hurt the worst.

So really we need to reexamine whether we not -- we want a Federal Reserve that's involved so much in determining interest rates. We also need to look at root causes as to what caused the housing boom and the housing collapse.

But the bottom line is, if you want less income inequality, move to a city with a Republican mayor or a state with a Republican governor.

(APPLAUSE)


BAKER:

Thank you, Senator.


CAVUTO:

All right. We're only just getting started. Coming up, your taxes. Stick around. You're watching FOX Business

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)


CAVUTO:

Welcome back to the Milwaukee Theater and the Republican presidential debate. Let's get right back to our questions.

Dr. Carson, to you. You recently railed against the double- standard in the media, sir, that seems obsessed with inconsistencies and potential exaggerations in your life story, but looked the other way when it came to then-Senator Barack Obama's. Still, as a candidate whose brand has always been trust, are you worried your campaign -- which you've always said, sir, is bigger than you -- is now being hurt by you?


CARSON:

Well, first of all, thank you not asking me what I said in the 10th grade. I appreciate that.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)


CAVUTO:

I'll just forget that follow-up there.

(LAUGHTER)


CARSON:

The fact of the matter is, you know, what -- we should vet all candidates.

CARSON:

I have no problem with being vetted. What I do have a problem with is being lied about and then putting that out there as truth.

(APPLAUSE)

And I don't even mind that so much, if they do it about -- with everybody, like people on the other side. But, you know, when I look at somebody like Hillary Clinton, who sits there and tells her daughter and a government official that no, this was a terrorist attack, and then tells everybody else that it was a video.

Where I came from, they call that a lie. And...

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

I think that's very different from, you know, somebody misinterpreting, when I said that I was offered a scholarship to West Point, that is the words that they used. But, I've had many people come and say the same thing to me.

That is what people do in those situations. We have to start treating people the same, and finding out what people really think and what they're made of. People who know me know that I'm an honest person.

(APPLAUSE)


CAVUTO:

Thank you, Dr. Carson.


BARTIROMO:

Mr. Trump, a federal appeals court just dealt a blow to the Obama administration's plan to prevent the deportation of 5 million people living in this country illegally. The White House is appealing to the Supreme Court.

At the heart of this issue is the effect that illegal immigrants are having on our economy, what will you do about it?


TRUMP:

I was so happy yesterday when I saw that decision come down. That was an unbelievable decision.

(APPLAUSE)

And we don't have enough of those decisions coming down. He of the executive order, because nobody wants to listen to him, including the Democrats, so he just goes around signing executive orders.

That was a great day. And, frankly, we have to stop illegal immigration. It's hurting us economically. It's hurting us from every standpoint. It's causing tremendous difficulty with respect to drugs and what that does to many of our inner cities in particular.

And it really is -- was such an unbelievable moment because the courts have not been ruling in our favor. And it was a 2-1 decision. And it was a terrific thing that happened.

And I will tell you, we are a country of laws. We need borders. We will have a wall. The wall will be built. The wall will be successful. And if you think walls don't work, all you have to do is ask Israel. The wall works, believe me. Properly done. Believe me.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)


BARTIROMO:

Can we just send 5 million people back with no effect on economy?


TRUMP:

You are going to have to bring people -- you are going to have to send people out. Look, we're a country...


BARTIROMO:

So what will you do?


TRUMP:

Maria, we're a country of laws. We either have a country or we don't have a country. We are a country of laws. Going to have to go out and they will come back but they are going to have to go out and hopefully they get back.

But we have no choice if we're going to run our country properly and if we're going to be a country.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)


BARTIROMO:

Thank you, sir.


KASICH:

Maria, can we comment on that?


BAKER:

Senator Rubio...


KASICH:

Can we comment on that?


BAKER:

Yes, one quick comment, yes.


KASICH:

Well, look, in 1986 Ronald Reagan basically said the people who were here, if they were law-abiding, could stay. But, what didn't happen is we didn't build the walls effectively and we didn't control the border. We need to. We need to control our border just like people have to control who goes in and out of their house.

But if people think that we are going to ship 11 million people who are law-abiding, who are in this country, and somehow pick them up at their house and ship them out of Mexico -- to Mexico, think about the families. Think about the children.

So, you know what the answer really is? If they have been law- abiding, they pay a penalty. They get to stay. We protect the wall. Anybody else comes over, they go back.

But for the 11 million people, come on, folks. We all know you can't pick them up and ship them across, back across the border. It's a silly argument. It is not an adult argument. It makes no sense.

(APPLAUSE)


TRUMP:

All I can say is, you're lucky in Ohio that you struck oil. That is for one thing.

(LAUGHTER)

Let me just tell you that Dwight Eisenhower, good president, great president, people liked him. "I like Ike," right? The expression. "I like Ike." Moved a 1.5 million illegal immigrants out of this country, moved them just beyond the border. They came back.

TRUMP:

Moved them again beyond the border, they came back. Didn't like it. Moved them way south. They never came back.

(LAUGHTER)

Dwight Eisenhower. You don't get nicer. You don't get friendlier. They moved a 1.5 million out. We have no choice. We have no choice.

(CROSSTALK)


BAKER:

Governor Bush...


KASICH:

Jerry, Gerald, it was an attack.

(CROSSTALK)


(UNKNOWN)

If you're not going to have my back, I'm going to have my back.


(UNKNOWN)

A couple things here. First of all...


BAKER:

Governor -- Governor, you...


BAKER:

You should let Jeb speak.


(UNKNOWN)

We have grown -- we have grown...


TRUMP:

No, it's unfair.

(CROSSTALK)


KASICH:

In the state of Ohio, the state of Ohio, we have grown 347,000 jobs. Our unemployment is half of what it was. Our fracking industry, energy industry may have contributed 20,000, but if Mr. Trump understood that the real jobs come in the downstream, not in the upstream, but in the downstream. And that's where we're going to get our jobs.

But Ohio is diversified. And little false little things, sir, they don't really work when it comes to the truth. So the fact is, all I'm suggesting, we can't ship 11 million people out of this country. Children would be terrified, and it will not work.

(CROSSTALK)


TRUMP:

... built an unbelievable company worth billions and billions of dollars. I don't have to hear from this man, believe me. I don't have to hear from him.


BAKER:

Mr. Trump, Mr. Trump, you yourself -- you yourself said let Governor Bush speak. Governor Bush?


BUSH:

Thank you, Donald, for allowing me to speak at the debate. That's really nice of you. Really appreciate that.

(APPLAUSE)

What a generous man you are. Twelve million illegal immigrants, to send them back, 500,000 a month, is just not -- not possible. And it's not embracing American values. And it would tear communities apart. And it would send a signal that we're not the kind of country that I know America is.

And even having this conversation sends a powerful signal -- they're doing high-fives in the Clinton campaign right now when they hear this. That's the problem with this. We have to win the presidency. And the way you win the presidency is to have practical plans. Lay them out there. What we need to do is allow people to earn legal status where they pay a fine, where they work, where they don't commit crimes, where they learn English, and over an extended period of time, they earn legal status. That's the path -- a proper path...

(APPLAUSE)

(CROSSTALK)


BAKER:

Senator Rubio? Senator...


TRUMP:

We have millions of people right now on line trying to come into this country. Very, very unfair to the people that want to come into our country legally. They've gone through the process. They're on line. They're waiting. Very, very unfair to them. That I can tell you.

(APPLAUSE)


BAKER:

Senator Rubio, Senator Rubio, let me -- let me take you to a question that I think gets to the root of a lot of the anxiety that people have in this country. The economy is undergoing a transformation through information technology. Americans are anxious that the new economy isn't producing higher-paying jobs. Many are concerned that the new wealth seems to be going mainly to innovators and investors.

Meanwhile, with factories run by robots and shopping done increasingly on smartphones, many traditional jobs are just going away. How do you reassure American workers that their jobs are not being steadily replaced by machines?


RUBIO:

Well, you know, that's an excellent question, because what we are going through in this country is not simply an economic downturn. We are living through a massive economic transformation. I mean, this economy is nothing like what it was like five years ago, not to mention 15 or 20 years ago.

And it isn't just a different economy. It's changing faster than ever. You know, it took the telephone 75 years to reach 100 million users. It took Candy Crush one year to reach some 100 million users.

(LAUGHTER)

So the world is changing faster than ever, and it is disruptive. Number one, we are in a global competition now, and several of the candidates have said that. There are now dozens of developed economies on this planet that we have to compete with. And we lose that competition because we have the highest business tax rate in the industrialized world, because we have regulations that continue to grow by the billions every single week, because we have a crazy health care law that discourages companies from hiring people, but because we're not fully utilizing our energy resources, that if we did, it would bring back all kinds of growth, especially in manufacturing, and because we have an outdated higher education system.

Our higher education system is completely outdated. It is too expensive, too hard to access, and it doesn't teach 21st century skills. If we do what needs to be done -- tax reform, regulatory reform, fully utilize our energy resources, repeal and replace Obamacare, and modernize higher education, then we can grasp the potential and the promise of this new economy. And we won't just save the American dream. We will expand it to reach more people and change more lives than ever before. And then truly this new century can be a new American century.

(APPLAUSE)


BAKER:

Thank you. Senator Cruz -- Senator Cruz, entitlements. You've argued for raising the retirement age and reducing benefits for future retirees, but reducing any sort of benefits for the elderly has always been notoriously hard to do politically. When Speaker Paul Ryan proposed replacing traditional Medicare with federally funded private plans a few years ago, a liberal group...

(AUDIO GAP)


BAKER:

...reducing benefits for future retirees, but reducing any sort of benefits for the elderly has always been notoriously hard to do politically. When Speaker Paul Ryan proposed replacing traditional Medicare with federally funded private plans a few years ago, a liberal group responded with a commercial that featured a granny being pushed off a cliff.

What's going to be different this time?


CRUZ:

Well, my Mom is here, so I don't think we should be pushing any grannies off cliffs.

(LAUGHTER)

And, you miss-stated what I've said on entitlement reform. What I've said is for seniors we should make no changes whatsoever, for younger workers we should gradually raise the retirement age, we should have benefits grow more slowly, and we should allow them to keep a portion of their taxes in a personal account that they control, and can pass on to their kids...

(APPLAUSE)


BAKER:

...I said for future retirees was your statement...

(APPLAUSE)


CRUZ:

I want to go back to the discussion we had a minute ago because, you know, what was said was right. The democrats are laughing -- because if republicans join democrats as the party of amnesty, we will lose.

(APPLAUSE)

And, you know, I understand that when the mainstream media covers immigration, it doesn't often see it as an economic issue. But, I can tell you for millions -- of Americans at home watching this, it is a very personal economic issue. And, I will say the politics of it will be very, very different if a bunch of lawyers or bankers were crossing the Rio Grande.

(AUDIENCE REACTION)

Or if a bunch of people with journalism degrees were coming over and driving down the wages in the press.

(AUDIENCE REACTION)

(APPLAUSE) (CHEERING)

Then, we would see stories about the economic calamity that is befalling our nation. And, I will say for those of us who believe people 'ought to come to this country legally, and we should enforce the law, we're tired of being told it's anti-immigrant. It's offensive.

(APPLAUSE)

I am the son of an immigrant who came legally from Cuba...

(BELL RINGING)

...to seek the American dream. And, we can embrace legal immigration while believing in the rule of law -- and I would note, try going illegally to another country. Try going to China, or Japan. Try going to Mexico. See what they do. Every sovereign nation secures its borders, and it is not compassionate to say we're not going to enforce the laws...

(BELL RINGING)

...And we're going to drive down the wages for millions of hardworking men and women. That is abandoning the working...

(APPLAUSE)


BARTIROMO:

We go back to Facebook. Dewayne Wesley Cato asks on Facebook, how do we get rid of regulations choking our businesses? Ms. Fiorina?

Specifically, under the president's Affordable Care Act, employers with 50 or more employees are required to offer health insurance, or be fined. Many are opting to pay the fine. Others are cutting back employee hours to duck the law altogether. What specific ways will you alleviate the pressure on small business?


FIORINA:

Well, first Obamacare has to be repealed because it's failing...

(APPLAUSE)

...it's failing the very people it was intended to help, but, also, it is croney-capitalism at its worst. Who helped write this bill? Drug companies, insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, every single one of those kinds of companies are bulking up to deal with big government. See, that's what happens. As government gets bigger, and bigger -- and it has been for 50 years under republicans and democrats alike -- and business have to bulk up to deal with big government.

So, we have to repeal it. It's tens of thousands of pages long, no one can possible understand it except the big companies, the lawyers, the accountants, the lobbyists that they hire to protect their interests. Then, we have to give back to states the responsibility to manage a high risk pool. We need to try the one thing in health insurance we've never tried. Health insurance has always been a cozy, little game between regulators and health insurance companies.

We need to try the free market. The free market. Where people actually have to compete.

(APPLAUSE)

And, we 'ought to have the government ensure that you must -- and I don't use that term often, that government 'ought to do something, but every healthcare provider 'ought to publish its costs, its prices, its outcomes, because as patients we don't know what we're buying.

(APPLAUSE)

Now, let me just say -- let me just say, I know more about innovation and entrepreneurship than anyone on this panel because I have led innovative businesses in the most highly competitive industry in the world for decades. The truth is the secret sauce of America is innovation, and entrepreneurship, it is why we must cut our government down to size, and hold it accountable. It's why we have to take our government back, because innovation and entrepreneurship is crushed by the crushing load of a 73,000 page tax code. It is crushed...

(BELL RINGING)

...by regulatory thicket that is so vast we don't even know what's in it anymore. It is crushed as well by government bureaucrats who don't do their jobs very well, and who are not held accountable, which is why I've said we got to take our government back, and to do that, we have to know where every dollar being spent, and be able to move any dollar. We have to hack through this regulatory thicket, repeal so much, but, also, know what's in that regulatory thicket -- we don't even know what regulations have been passed.

Third, we need to build a meritocracy -- Scott Walker, by the way, is trying now to do in Wisconsin...

(BELL RINGING)

...Finally, we need to get to a three page tax code, and, yes, that plan exists.


BARTIROMO:

Just to be clear, you want to repeal Obamacare...

(APPLAUSE)


BARTIROMO:

...but, what's the alternative?


FIORINA:

Sorry, I can't hear you.


BARTIROMO:

Just to be clear, you say you would repeal Obamacare...


FIORINA:

...Absolutely...


BARTIROMO:

...But, what is the alternative...


FIORINA:

...You need to give...


BARTIROMO:

...and how does that help small business...


FIORINA:

The alternative is to allow states to manage high risk pools for those who really need help. Look, I'm a cancer survivor, OK? I understand that you cannot have someone who's battled cancer just become known as a pre-existing condition. I understand that you cannot allow families to go bankrupt if they truly need help. But, I also understand that Obamacare isn't helping anyone.

We're throwing more, and more people into Medicaid, and fewer, and fewer doctors are taking those payments.

FIORINA:

The point is Obamacare is crushing small businesses, it is not helping the families it was intended to help. So, let us allow states to manage high risk pools. Let us try the one thing in health insurance we've never tried, the free market. Let us ensure that as patients, and customers...


BARTIROMO:

...Thank you...


FIORINA:

...that we have information to shop wisely for our health care.


CAVUTO:

Alright, thank you. We're going to take a break here. Coming up, a big issue many Americans are facing, taxes. The Republican Presidential Debate continues now, live, from Milwaukee.

(MUSIC)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)


CAVUTO:

Welcome back to the Republican presidential debate live from Milwaukee. Let's get back to the questions. And we want to touch on obviously one of the biggest of this issue in this year, taxes. And this will go to several of you.

One of the biggest economic concerns of course in the country are taxes. Facebook data certainly backs that up. Once again the green on this map that we're going to see here shows how the conversation around taxes is resonating across the nation, especially here in Wisconsin.

First off, Dr. Carson, to you. You say you are in favor of a tax system, I guess akin to tithing, sir, with a flat tax rate of up to 15 percent because you said, if everybody pays this, I think God is a pretty fair guy, so tithing is a pretty fair process.

But Donald Trump says that is not fair. That wealthier taxpayers should pay a higher rate because it's a fair thing to do. So whose plan would God endorse then, Doctor?

(LAUGHTER)

Yours or Mr. Trump's?


CARSON:

Well, you know, when I say tithing, I'm talking about the concept of proportionality.


CAVUTO:

Right.


CARSON:

Everybody should pay the same proportion of what they make. You make $10 billion, you pay a billion. You make $10, you pay one. You get same rights and privileges.

I don't see how anything gets a whole lot fairer than that. But you also have to get rid of all the deductions and all the loopholes because that is the thing that tilts it in one direction or another. And you have to set the rate at an appropriate level.

Now I will say that, there are a lot of people who say, if you get rid of the deductions, you ruin the American dream because, you know, home mortgage deduction. But the fact of the matter is, people had homes before 1913 when we introduced the federal income tax, and later after that started deductions.

And they say there will be no more charitable giving. We had churches before that and charitable organizations before that. The fact of the matter is, I believe if you put more money in people's pockets that they will actually be more generous rather than less generous. And it's...

(APPLAUSE)

... the money that they earned.

And, the other thing is, I do care about the poor people. And in the system that we're putting together, there will be a rebate for people at the poverty level. But I also want to emphasize the fact that as we get the economy moving, and I hope I get a question about how do we get the economy moving, there will be a lot more opportunities for poor people not to be poor people because this is America.

This is the land of dreams. And our policies should be aimed at allowing people to realize that dream.

(APPLAUSE)


CAVUTO:

Thank you very much.

Senator Paul, you said you want to blow up the tax code and start over with an across-the-board 14.5 percent fair and flat tax. You happily offered that it is not revenue neutral and that's the idea. You want to choke off the amount of money coming into Washington.

But don't you risk, sir, creating a near-term budget crisis just as your presidency would be beginning?


PAUL:

Well, it's a great question, Neil, and thanks for including me in the tax debate.

I think what's important about the tax debate is, is that we have to ask the question, where is money best spent, in the private sector or in the government sector? I want a government really, really small, so small you can barely see it. So I want lower taxes and much more money in the private sector.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

My tax plan, however, is the only tax plan among any of the candidates on the stage that is part of a balanced budget plan. I put forward three plans that actually balance the budget over a five-year period.

Each of these plans have details on exactly where we would cut. The question came up earlier, where would you cut? Nobody likes to say where they would cut. I've put pencil to paper and done three budgets that actually balance.

I'm also in favor of a plan called the penny plan where we'd just cut 1 percent across the board and the budget actually balances in less than five years. So I think what is extraordinary about my tax plan is it is in the context of balancing the budget.

PAUL:

What is also extraordinary about my tax plan is it gets rid of the payroll tax. Democrats demagogue this issue to death, and when they do they say, oh, a millionaire would get a bigger tax cut than someone making $10,000.

That's proportionality, as Ben is trying to explain to folks. But the thing is, is if we get rid of the payroll tax, everybody is going to get a tax cut. And this is something that I think the public at large will support and could win an election.

(APPLAUSE)


CAVUTO:

There are no deductions on your -- under your plan?


PAUL:

Ours is 14.5 percent for corporations, 14.5 percent for individuals. No payroll tax for the employee. The business tax pays for social security, and there would be two remaining deductions -- home mortgage and charity.


CAVUTO:

Thank you, Senator.


PAUL:

Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)


BARTIROMO:

Senator Cruz, there isn't anyone in this audience or watching at home tonight who would not like to pay less in taxes. Most people just want a fair shake, and they don't want their money to be wasted.

But explain how your plan works. How can you cut taxes as much as you propose without running up debt and deficits?


CRUZ:

Well, sure, you put your finger on what the problem is. The current system isn't fair. Washington is fundamentally corrupt. There are more words in the IRS code than there are in the Bible -- and -- and not a one of them is as good.

(LAUGHTER)

Every one of them reflects a carve-out or a subsidy, and it's all about empowering the Washington cartel. My simple Flat Tax says that, for a family of four, for the first $36,000 you earn, you pay no taxes whatsoever. No income taxes, no payroll taxes, no nothing.

Above that, every American pays 10 percent across the board -- a flat, fair tax. Which means that no longer do you have hedge-fund billionaires paying a lower tax rate than their secretaries.

On the business side, I've got a business flat tax of 16 percent -- again, that applies across the board. Right now, with our corporate income tax, giant corporations with armies of accountants regularly are paying little to no taxes while small businesses are getting hammered.