December 08. 2011 9:37PM

Huntsman, at NH town hall meeting: Leaders must rebuild trust

By NANCY BEAN FOSTER
Union Leader Correspondent


Gov. Jon Huntsman receives an endorsement from State Rep. Dick Driscoll during a town hall meeting in Milford on Thursday night. 
MILFORD — Tired of the Washington establishment serving its own interests at the cost of America’s greatness, Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman said it’s time for the citizens of the United States to take back their government.

“The people have been screwed,” the former Utah governor told a crowd of nearly 150 at a town hall meeting at Milford High School on Thursday night.

Between the economic deficit the country faces, and the more important “deficit of trust” between the American people and their leaders, Huntsman said the country is “in a funk.” If changes aren’t made from Wall Street to Pennsylvania Avenue, this generation will be the first to hand the next generation a country that’s worse off than when they were given it, Huntsman said.

“We’ve got some work to do, folks,” he said.

Fixing the economy is going to depend on phasing out corporate loopholes and personal deductions, lowering the tax rate, broadening the tax base and simplifying tax codes.

“We need to level the playing field for everyone in this country,” Huntsman said.

And America is poised to enter a new era of industry, “a manufacturing renaissance,” Huntsman called it, but unless policies are in place to welcome this rebirth, the renaissance could pass the country by.

But he said even more important than the economic situation for the long term is the lack of trust that exists between the citizenry and their leaders.

“There’s no trust between the people of this nation and its institutions of power,” said Huntsman.

From the Wall Street bailouts to the flawed health care reform legislation to the crony capitalism that exists in the halls of Congress, Huntsman said it’s time for a change. He said he’d put forward a plan that would call for term limits to keep politicians from becoming lifelong residents of Capitol Hill, and would close the “revolving door” that allows Congressmen to leave public service and immediately come back as lobbyists, relying on relationships and “insider information” to shape policies that impact the entire country.

Huntsman also said he’d work to repeal the health care reform law critics call “Obamacare,” because it fails to do anything substantive to reduce the cost of health care in America.

“We have a $3 trillion industry … and half of that is nonsense, needless, superfluous spending,” he said.

With the country facing some of the biggest problems it’s encountered since the 1930s, Huntsman said businesses need to find a cause to be optimistic again and need to have the weight of government regulation lifted and access to credit available to move into the next phase of economic growth.

And, he said, “we have a president who cannot lead at a time when our nation desperately, desperately needs it.”