Herman Cain is the man of the hour in American politics. In the latest Zogby poll, out yesterday, he leads former Governor of Massachusetts Mitt Romney by 20 points, in the race for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.
Enthusiasm for Mr. Cain, a successful businessman and former chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, who has never held elected office, is palpable. It is, in part, a sign of voter discontent with Washington and a system which, at best, can only be termed as dysfunctional.
Herman Cain might win the Republican nomination and go on to become, as he terms himself, the first American Black Conservative to become President of the United States. If he does not take the nomination, it seems likely he will be considered for the vice presidential spot on the ticket. Cain, however, does not seem to be angling for second place. His rise in the polls is strong and his delivery on the stump is powerful.
Mr. Cain continues to successfully introduce himself to the American people. With a straw poll win in Florida, good showings in other polls and a new book out this week, titled This is Herman Cain: My Journey to the White House, it is all systems go in the former CEO’s efforts to capture the presidency.
With all that said, Herman Cain joins featured columnist Jay Bildstein and myself for an extraordinary interview covering a variety of topics, including the economic policies he would implement as president.
As followers of CYInterview know, Jay Bildstein has put forward what he terms The 50 Percent Solution to Bring America Back to Prosperity. The solution is elegant in its simplicity. Get America’s political leaders – the Congress, the president and the vice president – to accept a 50% pay cut demonstrating, no matter what side of the aisle they are on, that they are willing to lead by example.
The solution starts the process of shared sacrifice at its logical beginning, with America’s leaders. After all, real change takes hold in a society when leaders embrace change for themselves first.
Jay believes, and I agree, that if our leaders led by example, people in the United States would be far more confident about the future of the country. Unfortunately, when politicians talk about all the things that will have to be cut during these tough times, their own salaries are rarely if ever mentioned. This reinforces the feeling that they are out of touch with the economic realities of today or worse yet, that they are simply in politics for their own benefit.
Spending cuts will have to be adopted to put the United States on a path of fiscal sobriety and economic sustainability. But this will not happen, in any substantial way, if our leaders abdicate their responsibility to lead by example. They must adopt cuts and apply them to themselves first. Now is a time for leading by action, not stale words and empty rhetoric.
Jay Bildstein has been on an ongoing search to find a political figure who will endorse this 50%-pay-cut-lead-by-example solution. We at CYInterview have spoken, on the record, to members of Congress and other people in the political realm about the concept. Up until now, no elected official has been as enthusiastic about the idea as we are. Perhaps, that is changing.
As you will hear in this CYInterview with Herman Cain, Jay Bildstein has found an individual of experience, stature and media prominence who agrees with his plan in principle. Listen or read, for yourself, to find out exactly what Mr. Cain has to say about the solution. To give you some idea, he believes in leading by example:
Listen to the entire Herman Cain CYInterview:
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Chris Yandek: This is Chris Yandek, featured columnist Jay Bildstein is on this call with me. We welcome Republican Presidential Candidate Herman Cain who has been taking all the headlines this week. His new book is titled This is Herman Cain, currently in the top 20 on Amazon. Mr. Cain thank you so much for joining us today, we greatly appreciate it before we begin.
Herman Cain: “It is my pleasure to be with you. Thanks for having me on and I wouldn’t say I took all the headlines, maybe I took some of the headlines.”
CY: I think you took a lot of them this week.
CY: But anyways, let’s get into it. I think the big message you want people to walk away with from your book is no matter what challenges you face including possibly encountering racism, prejudice or any other difficulties, you can achieve whatever you want in America and there is no excuse and there is no reason to play a victim for example. Is that what your big message to the American public has been is that that’s the thing you’ve been trying to explain recently?
HC: “Yes it is. That’s exactly the message that I’ve been trying to explain to some people and get that message across because as you have probably noticed in reviewing my book, all of the major accomplishments that I have made in my career have been in many instances against the odds. But you don’t allow the odds against you to deter you from figuring out a way. One of my guiding principles that I’ve used all my life as I talk with people is that they’re three kinds of people in the world.
There are people who make things happen. There are people who watch things happen and then there are people who ask well, what in the heck happened? Leaders make things happen. Leaders will take a situation and try and figure out what is it that we’re trying to do, what is the problem, what kind of priorities and resources do we need, what kind of people do I need to bring to bear on this problem, what kind of plans do we need to succeed. So that is the message that I get across to people.
This is why I don’t have a lot of patience for these demonstrations going on, on Wall Street. First of all, they’re directing their frustrations at the wrong place. The frustrations should be directed at the White House. Wall Street does not set economic policy. The White House sets economic policy. Wall Street wasn’t the one that developed the failed economic policies that have kept unemployment high that has stagnated this economy. It is the policies of the Obama Administration that has led to a stagnated economy as well as high unemployment, as well as many of the other issues that we face and so you are right. That attitude should be what can they do in order to improve their economic lot in life.”
HC: “Sorry to give you such a long answer but it was related.”
Jay Bildstein: You know Mr. Cain, you said something tremendous. You brought up the concept of leaders and in tough times, change takes place when leaders set examples through their actions. Now, getting America financially healthy means shared sacrifice. Asking a federal worker to take a 10 percent pay cut won’t go down easy if the perception is that the Congress and the president are living the good life while they’re sacrificing.
Here’s my solution. Congress, the president and the vice president must take a 50 percent pay cut. That’s leading by example. A good general leads his troops from the front. In the corporate world, salespeople prosper when they do well. They suffer when they don’t. As president, will you take a 50 percent pay cut, ask your vice president to take the same and most importantly, introduce to Congress a bill so that its members take a 50 percent pay cut to put the lead back into leadership?
HC: “I would have no problem leading in that manner. What I don’t know is whether 50 percent is the right number, but I do believe that there is a number that would be substantive enough to basically say we are going to lead.”
JB: We’re almost borrowing 50 percent of our money to function right now. Why not say to Congress, listen, if we gotta borrow half the money to live, hey, take half.
HC: “Go back to one of my guiding principles, I gotta make sure we’re working on the right problem. You are absolutely right. That is part of the problem. But what I’m saying is that’s not the total problem. What I was gonna say is, I would go even further. I don’t know the extent to which the contracts with federal workers allows me to ask them or to basically dictate to them that they do the same thing while private sector jobs have been contained because of the pressures that have been put on private businesses, public sector job salaries have just skyrocketed, which is why we have on average a 25 percent differential between private sector and public sector jobs. This is another place that I want to look. They should not be immune to the pains and pressures of this stagnating economy.”
JB: But you would go to Congress, though, with a bill or at least you’d get up in front of the American public and you’d say to Congress, now look, we need collective sacrifice, but that can’t be collective sacrifice just saying, we gotta cut here, cut there, cut every place else, but we’re not gonna cut ourselves. A leader would take the action on himself first. I believe you’d take the action on yourself as president.
JB: Would you confront Congress and would you say to Congress, ‘Now look, if we’re gonna make a 10 percent cut across the board, we gotta do better on ourselves and we’ve gotta take a cut first.’ Would you do that yes or no?
HC: “Yes I would. I would absolutely do that.”
CY: Thank you very much Mr. Cain, now here’s my question following up on that and just help me with this because I think that a lot of people have overlooked this. With the 9-9-9 plan and cutting 10 percent across the board, which you have mentioned in your book, noting put everything on the table, would we still be running a deficit at that point?
HC: “Well, there’s one more piece that I would do. I would do the 10 percent across the board, but I would find another 10 percent by doing a deep dive on every government agency. Net net, I believe that in that first fiscal year budget that I would oversee, that we need to find at least 20 percent reduction vs. the previous year. So with that 20 percent reduction and with the 9-9-9 plan stimulating growth and putting people back to work, we’ll have revenues going up because the 9-9-9 plan is gonna provide certainty and we’re gonna be containing the costs. Yes, I believe that. We have to have costs go down and revenues going up. That’s why a combination of the cuts and the bold plan that I put on the table will get us to not adding to the national debt.”
CY: So 20 percent with a 9-9-9 plan equals a surplus? Getting to a surplus?
HC: “It will probably equal a balanced fiscal year budget for the first fiscal year that I would preside over. So I can’t guarantee a surplus in that first year because of some other factors that will have to be taken into consideration.”
CY: But we would be moving towards that?
HC: “We would be moving towards that. My goal would be for that first fiscal year to be expended spending equals revenue and the way we’re gonna get there is do the deep 20 percent cut across and down and ten across, ten down and then stimulate the economy and 9-9-9 is gonna stimulate economic growth because the corporations are gonna love the fact that they only have to pay a nine percent flat tax on their income minus purchases and capital investment. It’s going to inspire them to think growth again rather than survival.”
CY: Ok three more very quick ones for you, as president are you willing to bring the troops home as soon as possible from Iraq and Afghanistan, but on top of that, are you willing to consider shutting down many of the bases across the country [sic] [world] where we have American troops? We have bases in over 100 countries. Don’t you think it’s time to bring those troops home and have them spend money in America?
HC: “I can answer the second one a lot quicker. Yes. I absolutely agree with you. We have too many bases scattered around the world that I can’t believe that we need to be in all of these locations and so I would definitely want to take a look at that. Secondly, I would want to bring home the troops in Afghanistan and Iraq and Libya and all of the other places, but I want to do it the right way. Not based upon some political promise and the right way is for me to talk to the commanders on the ground, assess can we win.
Secondly, if we can’t, how do we get out of there. Secondly, if we can, how long do we need to stay. I don’t think it’s real clear in that situation. The other thing that I would do is that when I did make a decision about when we’re going to bring the troops home and yes, my goal would be to bring them home as fast as possible. I’m not gonna tell the enemy when I’m gonna do it or how I’m gonna do it.
Iran has already made a statement and told its insurgents in Iraq stop fighting, stop shooting, stop killing Americans. Let’s just wait till they get most of the troops out and then we’re gonna back and take over the country. That’s not how you run a war and so that’s one of the fallacies with this president in terms of trying to live up to a political promise and he’s putting our men and women in jeopardy by letting them know what the time tables are gonna be. I believe in bringing them home as fast and as quick as possible, but I want to do it the right way.”
CY: Ok two more very quick ones.
JB: Chris, I’ve got one quick question. Do you believe Mr. Cain that Barack Obama, in getting us involved in Libya, do you believe that he committed an impeachable offense?
HC: “If he did not consult Congress the right way and there’s some debate about that because of you know the fuzziness.”
JB: But as it’s been reported to us right now, from what we know from the general media right now?
HC: “I’m not gonna go out on that limb because I don’t know all the reports that have been made relative to how he went about doing that. I know that there are some questions, but I am not looking at all the information in front of me at this point to be able to say that for certainty.”
JB: Did you believe George Bush deceived the country when he took us to Iraq?
HC: “I do not believe George Bush deceived the country when he took us to Iraq because we went to Iraq for a number of reasons and the biggest problem with the Bush Administration was they had it all focused on one thing when in fact there were a number of reasons and so I do not believe he deceived the country in terms of Iraq. You gotta ask your other last question real quick.”
CY: Thank you very much. Mr. Cain, if you do end up on the Republican ticket as the president or vice president, in general, what can people expect from you and what would it mean to be the first African American as a vice president or presidential candidate on the Republican ticket.
HC: “First, I refer to myself as an American Black Conservative.”
HC: “But I’m not offended if you call me an African American. I prefer a black American.”
HC: American Black Conservative. Here’s what they can expect from Herman Cain, the truth. Secondly, you will also expect from Herman Cain for him to be clear in terms of where he stands on positions. Some people may not agree with me, that’s their prerogative, but you would know clearly where Herman Cain stands on all of the issues, but more importantly where he stands on what we need to do in order to be able to get this nation moving in the direction we need to be moving.
Under this administration, this country has become weaker economically. It has become weaker militarily. It has become weaker in terms of being an United States of America. I wanna reverse that with my actions as President of the United States by getting back to those values and getting back to a robust growing economy because if we do not boost this economy, our debate over a lot of these other issues won’t matter. We’ve got to, boosting this economy has got to be our highest domestic priority and our other highest priority has got to be national security.”
CY: Mr. Cain thank you so much for joining us.
JB: Thank you Mr. Cain and when you’re on the debate, please, please if you could make a statement and say, ‘You know what? Leading means just that, by example.’ And that you would see to it that this elite that’s in control, they take some of the pain before they ask everybody else to. I think we’d be a lot more confident as citizens if Congress would take a pay cut and lead by example. I think you’re a man who could get that message out there.
HC: “You know, I might surprise you in the next couple of debates and you may hear that statement.”
JB: I’m gonna be listening because there’s no way to lead without leading. There’s just not. I think you have proven that you just don’t talk, you walk it, but Congress has gotta walk it too.
HC: “Great speaking to you guys.”
CY: And you can reference that you didn’t butcher the last name of Chris Yandek as well. Thank you so much.
JB: Thank you very much Mr. Cain.
HC: “Thanks guys.”
CY: Have a good day.
JB: Good luck to you. Buh bye.
HC: “Buh bye”
Editors note: Mr. Cain pronounced my last name right when he called me for this interview. Rarely does someone not butcher my last name when they first try to pronounce it.
You can find more information and purchase a copy of Herman Cain’s book This is Herman Cain: My Journey to the White House Clicking Here
Herman Cain’s official website is at http://www.hermancain.com
You can email Chris Yandek at ChrisYandek@CYInterview.com