Former Utah Governor and now Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman was interviewed by PBS News Hour’s Jeffrey Brown on Wednesday. Mr. Huntsman answered questions about his views on where the Republican party is politically right now as well as his platform on taxes among other issues. The Utah Republican explained in vague terms to PBS’s Brown how he believes Americans of higher incomes should have to share the sacrifice to handle the high costs of Social Security and Medicare: (transcript below - emphasis is mine)
JEFFREY BROWN: Another on the tax issue - the investor and philanthropist Warren Buffett has written recently of how those at the very, very high end can and should pay more in taxes. Is he right?
JON HUNTSMAN: Well, I would say that there’s going to have to be a shared sacrifice in this country. And I think that people at all levels are going to have to step up, whether it’s recognizing that Medicare is going to be done a little differently; Social Security is going to be done a little differently. And as president, I wouldn’t hesitate to call on sacrifice from all of our people, even those at the very highest end of the income spectrum. I think there’s -
JEFFREY BROWN: Higher taxes for those at the highest -
JON HUNTSMAN: There’s - there is - well, I’m not saying - (chuckles) - higher taxes. I’m saying that there are contributions that they can make, too. And as president, when you look at the full spectrum of options at where this country is and what we need to deliver - a truly competitive economy for our people - we’re going to have to ask for sacrifice. And I’m not going to hesitate to do that.
JEFFREY BROWN: What does that mean, though, specifically?
JON HUNTSMAN: (Chuckles) Over time, we’re going to figure that out. But I’m not going to give a one-size-fits-all scenario there. I know that there are people who can give, perhaps, more than others maybe as it relates to the means testing around Social Security and Medicare - people who don’t need these programs. And I think we need to look realistically at where we are, where our vulnerable spots are, where our vulnerable populations are, recognize that for what it is and recognize those populations that don’t need these programs, and make some choices around that.
Huntsman is using some interesting language here and it is difficult to see how the words “shared sacrifice” will bring out a friendly response from any GOP primary base. President Barack Obama uses the “shared sacrifice” phrase often and it never goes over well with Republican voters. The real question for Huntsman right now is what is his real end game here in the Republican primary?