STEPHANIE CUTTER: Governor Perry, the first question to you. You know, in your ads, you say, "Think Texas." So I want to think about a couple of statistics from your state. You have the highest number of uninsured, the highest number of minimum-wage workers, one of the highest poverty rates, and none of that appears in your ads. And I'm curious why. Those are things that I think businesses would want to know.
GOV. RICK PERRY (R-TEXAS): Yes, I think it's really interesting that you want to cherry- pick some numbers that are out there. You know, we never thought in the state of Texas that you judge success by the number of people that are on public assistance. And so we made the decision in the state of Texas that we don't want to force people to have to buy insurance. They have access to some of the finest health care in the world, when you have the Texas Medical Center there, one of the largest medical establishments in the country.
So the idea that we're going to make people buy insurance to be a part of Texas. We're about giving people freedom, freedom to make decisions.
When you see places -- or companies like Facebook, eBay, some of the -- Apple, which is soon to be one of the largest employers in the city of Austin, Caterpillar, every engine manufacturer in the United States is now in the state of Texas.
When you see Toyota decided to build every pick-up truck in America...
PERRY: ... in the state of Texas, they didn't come there if they were worried about whether or not there was not going to be a skilled workforce...
CUTTER: But most of those jobs are minimum-wage jobs.
PERRY: ... and the people were going to have health care. Ninety- five percent of all the wages in Texas are above minimum wage, 95 percent.
CUTTER: One out of ten minimum wage workers in the country live in Texas.
PERRY: Nine -- nine, well...
CUTTER: And when you talk about...
PERRY: I think the issue is this.
CUTTER: I also want to talk about opportunity. So for the uninsured -- one out of four Texans are uninsured -- where is their opportunity to be able to afford health insurance if you're not providing them the opportunity to get health insurance?
PERRY: Well, I think the real issue is here give people the freedom of whether or not they want to have the -- a good job to be able to take care of their family first. If you don't have that first, then their only alternative is some government assistance program.
CUTTER: But those people on minimum wage can't afford health insurance.
And the other piece of the argument...
PERRY: Again, I don't have to -- I can't believe when you focus on...
CUTTER: ... if you don't have insurance, you can't afford insurance, the only way you can get health care is to show up at the emergency room, which increases premiums for people like us, who have insurance. So what about the freedom of people who are paying their premiums every month? They're paying for the uncompensated care to people showing up at emergency rooms.
PERRY: I want to go back to this issue about the minimum-wage jobs that you all talk about and you want to focus on. And it sounds to me like you'd rather have no job than a minimum-wage job.
CUTTER: No, definitely not.
PERRY: Well, so let's talk about the number of jobs that are created in the state of Texas. Thirty percent of all the jobs created in America were created in the state of Texas in the last ten years. Some of those were minimum-wage jobs.
But if you know the statistics, 40 percent of individuals that have minimum wage jobs are out of it and moving up in the first year, 80 percent of them after the second year.
So you have to have these minimum-wage jobs to get people in the workforce, and then they work their way up. That's how it works.
NEWT GINGRICH: There's a difference.
PERRY: We also have the number of highest paid jobs that were created in America in that same period of time.
GINGRICH: Let me ask Governor O'Malley for a second: You wrote a very interesting piece the other day...
GOV. MARTIN O'MALLEY (D-MD): Thank you.
GINGRICH: ... sort of responding -- It was a very interesting dialogue, I think. But one of the challenges that I think that I'd like to have you comment on is, one of the things which gives your economy a unique position in the country is that you have places like Montgomery County, where you have federal employees who are getting -- who are averaging $95,000, because federal workers in the Washington area are among the highest paid workers in the country.
Doesn't that put you in a very different kind of box than any other state because of the sheer number of federal workers who are being paid by the whole country but who are able to live in three or four of your key counties?
O'MALLEY: Well, we certainly have competitive strengths, and we have competitive advantages and we build on those. But 90 percent of our new job creation in Maryland has actually come from the private sector jobs. Albeit, there are sectors like biotech, life science, that want to be near NIH. They are I.T. and cyber that want to be near places like Ft. Mead. And I'm very proud of those federal employees who do those jobs in science and security, and they are certainly people that are well- trained.
See, the debate here is really -- and I think that the governor has it half right. I mean, I think job creation is critically important, and there is no progress without a job. But we have to be about building an economy from the middle out, an economy that creates middle-class opportunities. An economy where we're actually strengthening that talent pipeline, improving our skills of our people and able to actually create more and higher jobs.
One of the key differences between our two states, Newt, is that our state was ranked among the top three in upward economic mobility. Texas was ranked among the worst states in terms of downward economic mobility.
GINGRICH: Let me ask -- let me ask you this. As an objective fact, in the five years you've been governor, Texas has gained 440,000 people. According to the U.S. Census, Maryland has lost 20,000.
Now, if we're having all this upward trajectory, why is Texas doing 22 times better in population migration over the last five years than Maryland?
O'MALLEY: Actually, you need to check your facts. We've actually added 230,000 people. And we've actually grown by 4 percent. But that fact is dubiously put out by some blogs...
GINGRICH: This is the U.S. Census.
CUTTER: And I think the other issue is that the number of people coming to Texas, those are lot of low-wage workers looking for jobs, and that's where they're finding them, in Texas.
PERRY: Again, you're absolutely incorrect on that. Look, how do you -- how do you justify, how do you stand there and say that you've got all these low-wage workers that are coming to Texas when Facebook, eBay, all of the technology companies, Apple -- you've got, again, Caterpillar, Toyota -- major manufacturers that are coming into the state of Texas?
Martin's state lost 4,700 jobs in July. That's the fact. You lost 4,700 jobs in July. Texas created 18,200. So this idea that, I mean, there's some real...
O'MALLEY: And in August, we created 9,700.
PERRY: There's some real disconnect here about the story that's gone on that we're hearing at this table and what the facts are.
Everybody in this country understands that there's something really fascinating going on in the state of Texas, and it's been going on for some time.
How in the world would you -- I mean, what's the reasoning that you would give, if the story that you're painting, Stephanie, is even close to true, why would Facebook, eBay, those major technology companies move to the state of Texas if it was such a dark and ominous place...
GINGRICH: I think -- I think Governor O'Malley wants to answer.
O'MALLEY: Governor, it's great that you have those companies in Texas. We have great companies -- Lockheed Martin, Under Armour, Marriott and others -- in Maryland. And they're great companies.
O'MALLEY: Well, and you're welcome to try.
PERRY: We are.
O'MALLEY: I know you are.
PERRY: I'm here, and I've made progress.
O'MALLEY: But the fact of the matter is we have the No. 1 median income in the country. You have the 25th median income. Your state is tied for last place, along with Mississippi now, in the percentage of your people who work in minimum or less than minimum-wage jobs. That's not an economy that is actually lifting up the middle class and expanding economic opportunity.
We made college more affordable. You made college more expensive...
PERRY: Your colleges were more expensive than the state of Texas tuition and costs. That's just the facts.
O'MALLEY: We've made our schools the No. 1 in America for five years in a row. You've had the greatest number of uninsured citizens.
PERRY: You're trying to -- trying to say that Texas and Maryland are the same are talking a lot like apples...
O'MALLEY: Oh, no, they're very different.
PERRY: They very -- they truly are very different. You led the nation in the creation of government jobs in 2008 to 2012.
O'MALLEY: Not true.
PERRY: Yes, you did. That's factual. Next door to Washington, D.C. is a pretty good draw.
But at some point in time, this issue is really about who has the best idea about how to grow America, how to put Americans to work. And it's the private sector.
O'MALLEY: I agree. And 90 percent of our jobs have come from the private sector since the Bush recession happened. That's 90 percent are private sector.
PERRY: But your job growth has been abysmal compared to states like Texas.
O'MALLEY: Actually, last year we led the region in rate of jobs.
PERRY: We're talking about America here.
GINGRICH: We had this dialogue earlier about low-paying jobs. And I want to ask from that perspective, the city of Baltimore, one out of every four people is in poverty. Wouldn't they actually be better off to have a job, even if it was a minimum-wage job?
O'MALLEY: Oh, absolutely. There's dignity in all work. And every job is important. And this year, we moved more of our citizens from welfare into work than at any time in the history of the welfare-to- work program. So that's very important.
But what I'm trying to underscore here, Newt, is that it's -- there's a mix that's required. You not only have to be willing to cut your budget, you not only have to be willing to be fiscally responsible. We have a triple-A bond rating. You also have to be willing to make the smart investments that actually improve the levels of education for your people, improve their skills.
We have the third best talent pipeline of any state in America. That's not according to me; that's according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. And we rank No. 1 in innovation and entrepreneurship, again according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. And we rank the fourth best state for new -- new business start-ups, according to "Fast Company" magazine.
So we believe that you need to educate, you need to innovate, you need to rebuild and need to give to your next generation the opportunity to move up the ladders of success, not simply to see their wages decline, which is what's been happening in our country...
PERRY: Absolutely not correct. That is not correct if you're pointing to Texas with that. When you look and see what we've done in our public schools in the state of Texas, particularly over the last decade, we have seen the national assessment of educational progress. That's kind of the gold standard, I think you'll agree, when you talk about how kids are doing in school. Eighth-grade African-American and eighth-grade Hispanic kids in the state of Texas scored the second highest in America.
That's the type of progress you're looking for, particularly in the areas that people care about, which is those stem courses and where you're moving them into college. We've had almost a half a million young Hispanics access higher education in the state of Texas from 2000 to 2011.
O'MALLEY: And the second worst -- and the second to worst dropout rate in your high schools.
PERRY: Our graduation rates are 86 percent in the state of Texas. You know what yours are in Maryland?
O'MALLEY: They're improving. Eighty-three percent. PERRY: That's less than 86, Governor.
CUTTER: Look, I think that we're throwing a lot of statistics around. I want to change course a little bit.
Today the Chamber of Commerce put out a letter asking House Republicans to stop playing games with the debt limit. You've previously told them, told House Republicans not to raise the debt limit. Is that still your position?
PERRY: It is. I think it's not in the country's interest to -- to raise the debt limit. They need to address the spending issue. Americans realize that one of the great problems that we have in this country is this massive debt that's been created. Multi generations...
CUTTER: The business community versus Republican politics, that's where you're coming down?
PERRY: I'm coming down with the people of the United States.
CUTTER: Even though you've increased your debt by 300 percent?
PERRY: The bottom line is we've been growing at a state. And we've got a bond rate as high as...
CUTTER: And your debt.
PERRY: The debt in the state of Texas is one of the -- per capita -- our debt in the state of Texas is one of the fourth lowest in the country. So the idea that we've increased debt versus our ability to be able to pay it off -- and what we're doing in the state of Texas, again, you're Apples and oranges on your...