Republican presidential candidates John Kasich, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina and Rand Paul take the stage before the Republican presidential debate at the Milwaukee Theatre Nov. 10 in Milwaukee.

Republican presidential candidates John Kasich, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina and Rand Paul take the stage before the Republican presidential debate at the Milwaukee Theatre Nov. 10 in Milwaukee. Jeffrey Phelps/

Here’s Everything Feds Need to Know About Tuesday’s GOP Debate

From cutting agencies to repealing regulations, the presidential contenders want to shake up the bureaucracy.

The eight Republican presidential candidates leading in the polls took the stage during prime time on Tuesday evening for their fourth debate focused on the U.S. economy, hosted by the Fox Business Network and the Wall Street Journal. The candidates touched on a range of topics affecting federal employees, including regulatory reform, federal spending and holding government workers accountable for their job performance. Below is a summary of their remarks most relevant to federal workers.

Ben Carson:  Asked whether voters can trust him, after reports of potential exaggerations in his personal story, Carson said he believes he is being treated differently than other candidates, including Hillary Clinton. He accused Clinton of knowing the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S embassy in Benghazi was the work of terrorists, but telling “everybody” it was the result of a protest to an anti-Muslim video. ”Where I come from they call that a lie,” Carson said. In answer to a separate question on foreign policy, Carson said he supports President Obama’s decision to put 50 special operations troops on the ground in Syria, because doing so is better than not putting them there. But the response to the situation in Syria so far has been ineffective and we have to look on a global scale for a solution. Like many of the other candidates, Carson advocated streamlining regulations, saying over-regulation is hurting the poor.

Gov. John Kasich: The Ohio governor promised a “CEO mentality.” He vowed to get to a balanced budget by the end of his second term. To do that, he would freeze nondefense discretionary spending for eight years, while increasing defense spending. His plan would also involve tax cuts. He noted that as the former House Budget Committee chairman in Washington, “I stepped on every toe in that town” and got to a balanced budget. “I’ve done it twice and I’ll do it in Washington” if elected, he said. On immigration, he said he does not think a plan to ship 11 million people back across the border is viable. Instead, he would allow those who are law abiding to stay, and have them pay a penalty. Then he would focus on controlling the border to prevent future influxes of illegal immigrants.

Sen. Marco Rubio: Toward the beginning of the debate, the Florida senator pushed tax reform and regulatory reform to create new jobs in a changing economy. Asked later about bailing out banks, he said the government made the banks big and over-regulation in the 2010  Dodd-Frank financial reform law created a category of banks that is “too big to fail.” Separately, Rubio defended the need for more defense spending against an attack from Rand Paul that you can’t be conservative and boost Defense spending. “We can’t even have an economy if we’re not safe,” Rubio said. Asked about Democratic contender Hillary Clinton’s resume, Rubio said the election is “about the future” and despite all her experience, Clinton has no idea about the future. All the Democrats’ ideas are about “more government, more spending,” he said.

Sen. Ted Cruz: The Texas senator pushed for regulatory reform, to “pull back the armies of regulators that have descended like locusts on small businesses.” Saying “there are more words in the IRS code than there are in the Bible,” he would institute a flat tax and eliminate “the payroll tax, the death tax, corporate income tax.” Cruz also said he would eliminate five agencies, although he named only four: IRS and the Commerce, Energy and Housing and Urban Development departments.

Carly Fiorina: The former Hewlett-Packard executive promotes zero-based budgeting, so “we know where every dollar is being spent” and wants to see a top to bottom review of every regulation on the books. “That hasn’t been done in 50 years,” she said. Innovation and entrepreneurship “are crushed by government bureaucrats who don’t do their jobs very well and are not accountable. We’ve got to take our government back.” In addition, she wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act “because it’s failing the very people it was intended to help. It’s crony capitalism at its worst.” Instead, “we need to try the one thing we’ve never really tried [in health care] -- the free market, where people actually have to compete.” The role for the government in that would be to ensure health care providers publish costs so consumers can make more informed choices.  

Donald Trump: The real estate mogul promoted his immigration plan without providing specifics outside of touting border wall again. Trump promised “The wall will be successful,” and said “If you don't think walls don't work, all you have to do is ask Israel.” When pressed by moderators on his plan to deport millions of immigrants here illegally, Trump said “They're going to have to go out and they'll come back.” Later, he cited Dwight Eisenhower’s deportation of millions in the 1950s as a model for his plan. While talking about taxes, Trump slammed government rules, saying he wants to “get rid of bureaucratic roadblocks” for businesses.

Jeb Bush: The former Florida governor attacked government regulation during the debate, saying “I think we need to repeal every rule” enacted by the Obama administration “and start over.” Bush also opposed Trump on immigration, highlighting his plan that would allow undocumented immigrants to “earn legal status” over time. In his closing statement, Bush said he  -- without detail -- would bring deserving respect to veterans by fixing the Veterans Affairs department.

Sen. Rand Paul:  The Kentucky senator called for smaller government in general, saying he wants a government “so small you can barely see it.” Paul said he would repeal environmental regulations, including the clean power act. Paul cited his tax plans that would balance the budget, including through military drawdowns.