Hampton, New Hampshire (CNN) – Presidential candidate Jon Huntsman introduced a plan Wednesday to dramatically scale back the scope of the federal government and simplify the tax code, in part by including eliminating deductions and credits.
The former Utah governor said his plan would encourage small business growth and induce American corporations to expand their work forces in the U.S. instead of overseas. The plan also lays out a path forward on energy independence and free trade.
"There is no more urgent priority at this point in our nation's history than creating jobs and strengthening our economic core; everything else revolves around it," Huntsman said, speaking at a podium framed by two hulking metal presses at Gilchrist Metal Fabricating in Hudson, New Hampshire. "My plan may be challenged by the special interests, on the left and the right. But it represents a serious path forward – toward fiscal discipline and economic growth."
Addressing the media after the event, Huntsman was asked about potential blow-back on his plan to eliminate popular tax credits and deductions, such as the home mortgage deduction. The candidate said his plan represented "a going-in position" and would be negotiated by both parties if he were to become president.
"Right now we are polarized. We've got the extremes, and no one kind of moving the agenda forward. A president needs to move the agenda forward and get things done," he said. "What I have laid out today really represents our going-in position. This is what I'd like to see done, but there's the reality of the two-party system, there's the reality of the negotiations going forward. I'd like to stick as closely to this as possible."
The plan would eliminate tax deductions and credits, including the popular home mortgage deduction, in favor of a simplified three-bracket tax rate of eight, 14 or 23 percent. The corporate tax rate would drop from 35 percent to 25 percent.
He would also eliminate the alternative minimum tax as well as taxes on capital gains and dividends.
On the regulatory front, Huntsman would repeal the "$1 trillion bomb" he called "Obamacare," in addition to repealing the Dodd-Frank financial regulatory reform act and the Sarbanes-Oxley financial reform measure passed during the Bush administration in response to the Enron accounting scandal. He would also streamline the approval processes at the Food and Drug Agency and the Environmental Protection Agency, including for the controversial fracking method of extracting natural gas.
Huntsman also said he would move to block the National Labor Relations Board from prosecuting Boeing over a high profile union case, and "if they fail to do so, I will replace them."
The former governor's jobs announcement comes a week before former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama lay out their plans to tackle unemployment. Huntsman reminded his audience he was the only Republican candidate to stamp his approval on the debt ceiling deal, and faulted Obama for his leadership on the controversy that consumed Washington for three weeks this summer.
"Meeting our challenges will require serious solutions, but above all, it will require serious leadership – a quality in high demand in our nation's capital, and among my opponents on the campaign trail," Huntsman said. "President Obama never even offered a plan of his own, and all of my opponents supported default, even as far as attempting to undermine the deal at the 11th hour. That simply doesn't cut it – especially in these trying times."
Huntsman also pledged to pursue new trade opportunities with Japan, India and Taiwan, and approve pending deals with South Korea, Colombia and Panama.
"We have no choice; we must unite and look beyond politics for solutions," he said. "I believe with a new administration we can do just that."
After his speech, the former ambassador to China was given an opportunity to share a personal story when an audience member asked him about the East-Asian country's one-child policy of restricting birth rates for some families. Huntsman said he hated the policy, and added his 12-year old daughter Gracie Mei was given up for adoption by her parents because of the policy.
Huntsman will discuss his plan Wednesday night on CNN's "John King, USA" at 7 p.m. ET.