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Huntsman bemoans a broken U.S. political system

Published May 31, 2012 7:34 pm

Ex-governor of Utah says 2 main presidential candidates walk their parties' lines too closely.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman said he views the U.S. government as more divided and dysfunctional than at any point in the country's history and that America deserves better.

"I'm downright embarrassed with where we are as a nation and what we're about to pass on to the next generation," Huntsman said Wednesday. "So we have a choice as citizens and public elected officials to stand on the sidelines and watch it play out or step up and do something about it."

The former governor's comments came during a conference call with more than 63,000 participants, hosted by the group No Labels, a reform group founded by Republican and Democratic campaign veterans seeking to mobilize centrist voters and bipartisan solutions to the nation's problems.

Huntsman said the country is facing three deficits — a fiscal deficit that Congress has failed to address, a deficit of trust in government, and a deficit of confidence — challenges, he said, that "are mostly all internal and, I have to say, it starts with a fact that we're divided as Americans."

Huntsman proposed a series of reforms to solve the problems, including passing the bipartisan budget model formulated by former Sen. Alan Simpson and former White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles.

He also offered systemic reforms to solve the problem, including term limits, campaign finance reforms and changes to the way congressional districts are drawn that he said fuels partisan divides.

Neither President Barack Obama, nor Republican candidate Mitt Romney, have shown much of a willingness to break with their respective parties and work for solutions, said Huntsman, who was a candidate for the GOP nomination and has endorsed Romney.

Asked by Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Scott Howell about his views on corporate taxes, Huntsman said eliminating loopholes and credits — as the governor did with income taxes in Utah — would be a good step.

And the former governor voiced frustration with media coverage that focuses on sensationalism instead of enlightening and informing consumers. He specifically pointed to the controversy over Obama's birthplace as "one of the most nonsensical issues in politics."

gehrke@sltrib.com

Twitter: @RobertGehrke