Immigration, Deficits, Planned Parenthood: GOP Pack at Their First Big Forum

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, one of the Republican presidential hopefuls, said there are chunks of the federal government that should be passed on to the states as a way to reduce the federal budget and restore accountability.

“I think a big part of reform is taking major portions of the federal government, being it Medicaid, transportation, education, natural resources and others and take them from Washington and send them back to the states,” he said at the Voters First Forum in New Hampshire with 13 other Republican presidential candidates.

“Governors of both parties are much better in being more effective and more efficient and more accountable in managing those programs,” he added.

Pointing to his record as governor, Ohio Gov. John Kasich said cutting taxes and balancing the budget drives economic growth.

“We need a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution,” he said. “I spent 10 years of my life balancing the budget, not because of numbers, but because of values – when people have to balance their budgets, so should the government. In addition to that, we don’t have the right to live high on the hog and put the bills on our children – that is immoral.”

Kasich addressed the issue of immigration reform, saying there should be an expanded guest worker program so immigrants can legally move in and out of the U.S. and support their families.

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry touted his state’s effort to secure the border. Perry said there was a 74 percent decrease in apprehensions at the Texas-Mexico border during his time as governor.

“Last summer I looked the president in the eye when he came to Dallas, Texas, and said, ‘Mr. President, if you don’t secure the border, Texas will’ and that’s exactly what we did,” he said.

Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, said the federal government has known the border is not secure for 30 years but the issue is not resolved.

“We talk a lot at election time but somehow we never solve these festering problems. It’s because the status quo is in charge. Leaders challenge the status quo,” she said.

Fiorina took Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton head on, saying she lied about the terrorist attack in Benghazi as well as her private emails.

“She went to the American people and talked some fiction about a video tape. She stood over the bodies of the fallen,” Fiorina said. “She has as well lied about her servers and the kinds of information she had on her server…these go to the core of her character.”

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum said he does not think the Obama administration is serious about border security. He called for a 20 percent reduction in the unskilled workers coming into the U.S.

“Wages for those workers I have been talking about have been flat-lined for 20 years,” he said. “We’ve never seen such decrepit wage growth, and who are the 90 percent of people coming in legally and illegally? Almost all unskilled workers to compete against our hardworking men and women who want a chance to succeed and we’re not giving it to them.”

Santorum also said he plans to make American manufacturing more competitive.

“We’re going to put out a flat tax that will have a transition period for manufacturing, we will start out at a zero rate – we’ll go back to everybody else’s rate,” he said. “I have an income tax, a corporate tax, all 20 percent.”

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said fixing the nation’s immigration system is not going to happen in one piece of legislation.

“We have to prove to the American people that illegal immigration is under control. It’s not good enough to just say we’re going to pass a law to bring it under control. People want to see it,” he said.

Rubio called for the U.S. to “modernize” its legal immigration system.

“In the 21st century, legal immigration must be based on merit – on what you can contribute economically,” he said.

After the system is reformed, Rubio said there is a “reasonable” way to deal with the illegal immigrants living in the U.S.

“They will have to pass a background check, they will have to pay a fine, they will have to start paying taxes, they will have to learn English and in exchange for that they will get a work permit that allows them to legally work in the United States and travel and that is all they will have for an extended period of time,” he said.