Gov. Jan Brewer: 'Government Is a Necessary Evil'

PHOTO Four governors joined in round-table discussion with ABC News Jake Tapper on "This Week"
Gov. Jan Brewer: Government Is a Necessary Evil
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Facing an oncoming federal budget crisis, Republican governors Nikki Haley of South Carolina and Jan Brewer of Arizona both said a government shutdown would not be productive for the country.

"I think government is a necessary evil," Brewer said. "But it's necessary to provide services, and they should be able to come to some solution. We need to trim the budget and move on."

"We appreciate our public employees but our job as governor is to look after our taxpayers," Haley added.

Four governors joined in round-table discussion with ABC News' Jake Tapper on "This Week" -- Haley, Brewer, and Democrats Deval Patrick of Massachusetts and John Hickenlooper of Colorado -- to discuss the possible government shutdown, the labor protests in Wisconsin and the potential presidential landscape of 2012.

A longtime friend and supporter of President Obama, Patrick said the fiscal crisis was a "real opportunity" for to learn how Americans want government to function.

"All of us are dealing with these kinds of challenges, and trying to get our budget gaps closed," he said. "There's another way, it's about turning towards each other instead of against each other."

Haley, at 39 years old the youngest governor ever elected, praised the GOP's proposed plan for $50 million in spending cuts, but said she felt it was Obama's responsibility to listen to Republican legislators instead of forcing Republicans to listen to his plan.

"[The Republicans] are just doing what the people are asking of them," she said.

Both Haley and Brewer also condemned the 14 Democratic state senators in Wisconsin who staged a walk-out of the state house in Madison last week in the wake of the labor protests, calling their actions "shameful."

"I think it's despicable that they would leave their jobs," Brewer said. "No one should walk out. They're doing exactly what we told our employees not to do and that's to strike. They need to get back to Wisconsin and they need to vote...I can't imagine any of them will get re-elected."

The effort to slash the federal budget could cause difficulties for Brewer and Arizona, because one of the proposed cuts would mean 685 fewer border patrol agents. The Republican governor acknowledged that fewer border patrol agents could be a problem for all the states that share a border with Mexico.

"I believe we need as much resources as necessary to get our borders secured," she said. "I hope that will be reinstated. We all know that Arizona is the gateway for illegal immigration, and the drug smuggling and the drug cartel. ... We're going to continue fighting the battle on our border."

Patrick repeatedly touted how Massachusetts was able to "close huge budget gaps" successfully, including in education spending, and Hickenlooper defended his proposed $300 million in spending cuts for Colorado.

"We have to balance the budget and get back on the fiscal track," he said. "For one year, we're going to have to retrench with less money."

As the conversation turned towards the approaching 2012 presidential race, Patrick praised his Republican predecessor, Gov. Mitt Romney, a possible presidential contender, for his handling of the state's health care reform.

"I think one of the best things he did was to be the co-author of our health care reform," Patrick said. "We did the same thing Congress did, which was take on access first. ... I think we can crack the code on health care, I think [Romney] deserves a lot of credit."

However, Haley, who was a Tea Party favorite and heavily endorsed by Sarah Palin as one of her "Mama Grizzles," said she was not planning to endorse anyone in the upcoming election.

"There is no one I think I owe at this time," she said.

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