This is a rush transcript from "Your World with Neil Cavuto," January 31, 2007, that may be update:
NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: This is a FOX News Alert: the Dow soaring to a new all-time high, in and out of it, as the president becomes the first chief executive to visit the floor of the New York Stock Exchange since Ronald Reagan.
Now, it all happened on the very same day that the Federal Reserve kept interest rates unchanged. And, amid all of this scare in Boston going on, the president talks exclusively to me about this very, very hot economy.
CAVUTO: Good news on the economy, very good news.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, today, the fourth-quarter growth last year was at — in the fourth quarter of last year was 3.5 percent. Growth overall for the economy was — in the last year, was 3.4 percent, which is better than 2005. And, so, it is good news.
It's good news for workers. It's good news for entrepreneurs. It's good news for the budget. I'm pleased.
CAVUTO: But you don't get much press for that.
BUSH: Well, I understand. You know, we're in a — we're in changing times. We have got a war that we're fighting against extremists and radicals who would do us harm. We're in a major battle in that war in Iraq.
And it's unsettling times when you're at war. War's hard. War's difficult. It's negative.
And, so, I'm not surprised that some of the good economic news is overshadowed by the — the difficult news out of Iraq.
CAVUTO: But your father seemed to hint that, with all the bad press you get, when he said he would throw things at the TV, hearing it...
CAVUTO: ... that, even allowing for the war — take it out of the equation — you would still get bad press.
BUSH: Oh, I don't think so.
Look, I'm not — I'm a — I'm the kind of guy who just does my job as best I can. And I — what I'm more concerned about than anything is whether or not people are putting more money in their pocket — personal income was up by about 5 percent last quarter — you know, whether people are finding jobs, and — but, equally importantly, whether or not the policies we're working with Congress on will make this economy good, you know, in the future.
You know, I really don't worry about what people are saying about me.
CAVUTO: Even a little bit? When you hear stuff like "middle-class squeeze," "war on the middle class," "broken government."
BUSH: Well, I know the facts are what they are.
And it's the job of a dad and a mom to worry about the son. It's the job of the son to worry about the country and the people in this country.
CAVUTO: All right. Let's talk a little bit about where you are today.
You're in what they call "the land of the fat cats," the middle of Wall Street.
CAVUTO: Salaries among the top five brokerage chairmen, Mr. President, were, combined, close to $300 million.
CAVUTO: There is an effort on Capitol Hill, as you know, to rein that in and to maybe even partly legislate it.
What do you think of that?
BUSH: Oh, I don't think the government should be deciding salaries of CEOs, or anybody else that works for corporate America.
I do believe the role of the government is to promote transparency, so that shareholders will know the compensation packages of the executives that have been hired. And I strongly believe that the role of the CEO ought to be to enhance shareholder value. And that's what packages ought to be based upon.
CAVUTO: But, increasingly, these days, Democrats claim that they're not. And they point to Bob Nardelli, the former head of Home Depot, who leaves with a $200 million-plus exit package.
Is that fair?
BUSH: Oh I think — to me, it's up to the board of directors of American companies to regulate and to make decisions on behalf of the shareholders. That's — that's why boards of directors exist.
It'd be a — it's a big mistake if Congress ever gets in the business of deciding the salary level or the compensation levels of executives, corporate executives. What — but there is a role for the federal government, and that is to promote transparency. And, when somebody opens up an annual report, the description of the compensation package ought to be clear and easy to understand.
CAVUTO: But what happens — Democrats, like Barney Frank, for example, in the House, says: All right, either make the boards forcibly more accountable, and, if they don't do the job, make Congress make them more accountable.
BUSH: Well, one of the benefits of having an — a capitalist system, where there are shareholders, is that the shareholders should have responsibility and take responsibility seriously about holding their boards to account.
Corporate governance, it's — in order for the system to function well, there needs to be good, sound corporate governance. And, I believe, once Congress decides they're in the business of corporate governance, it will make — it will make it harder for us to grow our economy.
CAVUTO: Well, with all those eye-popping salaries, Mr. President, a number Democrats have said: Well, they can afford to pay more. The rich can afford to pay more.