Rush Limbaugh Speaks Out on 'Millionaires' Tax'

This is a rush transcript from "Your World With Neil Cavuto," April 8, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Now to that other furor that is building up, the anti-tax Rush, as in Rush Limbaugh.

He is so fed up with New York’s new millionaires’ tax, he is packing up and heading out, the New York governor all but telling him, don’t let the screen door hit you on the way out.

The governor isn’t speaking to us, but Rush is — radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh joining me now on the phone for this exclusive chat.

Well, Rush, they — they couldn’t have been more to the point. They are glad you’re leaving. What do you think of that?

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Well, if they are glad I am leaving, Neil, then I assume that the governor of New York, the unelected governor, has no interest in the tax revenue he collects from me, in which case, I would ask him to call off the audit dogs.

You know, one thing that hasn’t been reported in this — and I have mentioned it each time I have talked about stopping doing business in New York — is, I left New York, as a resident, in 1997. I moved down here to Florida.

And I have been audited every year. This is going on — ‘97 — this is 12 years that I have been audited, the most recent audits for the last three years. It has been going on since October.


CAVUTO: Audited by New York State?

LIMBAUGH: New York State. New York State.

CAVUTO: Interesting.

LIMBAUGH: But the city gets involved. And they’re all involved. Once they start auditing you, I mean, everybody wants their piece of you.

And it’s for — I am in New York working 15 to 20 days a year. And I have to — as part of this audit, I have to prove where I am every day of the year 14 different ways.

And the tax increase here was just — to me, it was the tipping point, because it is not worth it. And, furthermore, Neil, it is not going to work. You couple this — this millionaires’ tax that starts at $300,000 now, couple that with the desire of the Obama administration to limit executive pay and standard employee pay on Wall Street to a million bucks, half-a-million, they have no idea the shortfall of tax revenue that their own policies are going to be creating.

And it is not — it’s — you said it accurately on Monday afternoon. It is not that I can’t afford it, but why would I be stupid? What do I get for it? It’s — they have got their own separate welfare state that people like me are promoting in New York, and, yet, we are held out as the villains.

We are the ones that are considered to be the problems. We are the targets, the evil CEOs, the evil rich and so forth.

I think, in an economic climate like this, if they’re going to raise taxes on people, they ought to start wining and dining them. They need to be thanked. These people need to be praised and encouraged to keep working and earn money, so that New York can siphon it from them.

It’s just — this is just absurd, the whole thing. And I think, for the governor to start making jokes about, yes, well, I would have raised taxes sooner if I would have known that would have gotten rid of Limbaugh, fine. He doesn’t want my tax money, then he’s not going to get it.

CAVUTO: Yes, but what is interesting, too, is, he went on to say that a lot of them said that they’re going to stay here, talking about other rich individuals, not quite as rich as you, but that — that people forget that you need very little to qualify for this millionaires’ tax.

About $300,000 will do it for you, and even less in some instances. But this is part of a national trend here. I mentioned some of the states, Rush, that, as you have reported as well, are considering doing this.

Then, what happens? In New Jersey, they keep telling me, well, the rich didn’t leave. But, obviously, unemployment has been soaring there. So, someone is.

What — what do you make of that?

LIMBAUGH: Neil, I don’t — I don’t think it is a question if people going to leave. I think, in New York, there has been a steady exodus out of Long Island for a long time.

It is not just income taxes that are pressuring people there, property taxes. Even if the home values have declined, the property taxes have not. People have been fleeing the Northeast, including New York, and moving to the Southern states, many of them with no state income tax.

North Carolina is getting a lot of Yankees moving in.

CAVUTO: Right.

LIMBAUGH: Florida is, and so forth. I think it’s — I think it’s already happened.

But I’m not — I have joked and I have said, look, if — if he wants to drive people out of there, I will lead the way.

I am sure that there are people in New York who will stay and put up with this. I mean, liberals are liberals first. And they will be convinced that they’re doing the lord’s work here by having more taxes confiscated.

If there was some value for it that one could conceive — look at the — look at the out-of-control budgets this state has, the out-of-control spending, and these spending cuts are always mythical. They never — I have never seen a budget gets smaller at a state or federal government level.

You might have individual bureaucracies that get cut, but, overall, budgets never go down.

CAVUTO: So, by the same token, Rush, then this tax hike, which we are told is a three-year trial, you also question that, right?

LIMBAUGH: Well, that is a joke, too.


LIMBAUGH: Well, that is a joke, too, because, I mean, if you think any tax increase of this — if it does not work, which it won’t, Neil, they will be forced to raise taxes again.

It’s sort of like, you know, when the airlines have problems, what do they do? They lower fares. When the New York public transit problem — has problems, what they do? They raise fares. I mean, the government sector does everything the opposite of what the private sector does to compete. And they drive out their best customers.

Now, this is — this is, I think, ridiculous to assume that this is going to raise a lot of revenue and it’s going to be temporary. I know the bridge tolls in all these cities where they built bridges 50 years ago, the toll is just temporary until we pay for the bridge.

All of a sudden, there’s a new need for education that the lottery is not handling, or there’s a new need to cover this or that. They never do with less. They’re always telling us we should. We have a moral obligation to do with less. You have enough, they say.

It’s none of their damn business who has what. It’s none of their business to decide.

CAVUTO: But, are you troubled, are you troubled, Rush, that whether - - you have become the poster child for this, but it is clearly a class warfare going on?


CAVUTO: And now it has heated up. What do you make of that?

LIMBAUGH: Well, the only reason I am a poster child for it is because I am hated, envied, and despised by people that live there in the media and so forth. I am a convenient target, and this is another way for people to have fun.

I think it’s more serious than that. I left New York in ‘97 specifically to escape the onerous income taxes I was paying then. It is not a question, like I said, if I can afford it or it’s something that I don’t need. It is stupid. It is stupid to waste money. And taxes in a profligate, wasteful state like New York are wasted. They do not accomplish anything.

You know, really, Neil, if you look at the structure of New York City, with all the high-rise condominiums and apartments and co-ops, those streets ought to be paved with gold from just the property tax collected from one of the buildings.


CAVUTO: But, let me ask you, then, when you come to New York either to do your show or for special events, where are you going to stay?

LIMBAUGH: Well, I will check into a hotel.


LIMBAUGH: But I won’t come. I am not going to come, Neil. That’s the thing.

I will come on weekends if I want to see some friends or do whatever, if I want to go to play golf up in one of the golf courses. I’m not going to — I’m not going to work there. That’s how I’m taxed.

The first audit was for seven years.

CAVUTO: Right.

LIMBAUGH: And they — they claimed I owed them X number of millions.

They even wanted to come, Neil, to both of my residences, New York and Florida, see which one was really more lived-in, which one had all the pictures. I mean, the hassle of these audits has just reached a tipping point.


CAVUTO: But has a tipping point also been hit within the Republican Party? It wasn’t too long ago that there was this dustup with you and Michael Steele, the Republican chairman. You have since tried to step back and say, look, it is not as bad as it was portrayed in the media. But it is what it is.

And there are many Republicans who argue that you speak for this tax angst that is rampant in the party, this big-government angst that is rampant in the party. But no one has really stepped up to the plate to address it, either as articulately or as well as you.

And that is why they look to you. And it rattles others within the party. So, is this proof of a schism in the Republican Party?

LIMBAUGH: Well, there’s lot of schisms in the Republican Party.

I think you are right. It is proof. And I think there are schisms in the conservative movement, which, right now, is not to be confused with the Republican Party.

The conservative movement has people telling us that the era of Reagan is over, that we need to modify, moderate, and move forward. I never hear them say the era of FDR is over.

One of the three legs of the stool of Reaganism is tax cuts. It’s about individual freedom. It’s about liberty. It’s not about being tightwad. It is about individuals working in their own self-interests, hard or as lack of — not hard as they want, create what they want to create, but keeping what they earn, Neil.


CAVUTO: Who personifies that best for you of the up-and-coming Republicans now?

LIMBAUGH: Well, it is so early. I don’t know that there is any — I don’t want to leave anybody out by mentioning some names.

I — I like the kind of things I am hearing out of Governor Sanford from South Carolina. I have always admired Governor Palin. I don’t think people have any idea what it’s like to walk in her shoes, after what she has been through with the media coverage. But she doesn’t back down.

But too many elected Republicans right now are just in fear, Neil, of being criticized, of opposing the Obama administration. You know, it’s — it is a very special historical time. We’re not — we’re not really to go — to be too vocal about opposing this, which I don’t subscribe to at all.

I mean, liberalism is liberalism, and it is to be defeated and to be opposed every time it’s — it — it pops up. And, so I — I have — I’m the de — you know, if I am a leader, then it’s de facto, because the elected Republican leadership hasn’t yet decided to speak out.

I think the alternative budget that the Republicans in the House presented is good, in the — on the tax side, because it does not raise taxes. And it makes the Bush tax cuts permanent.

And they have got it good. They just have trouble getting coverage in the media. And, when they are covered, they are portrayed as a bunch of kooks and so forth.


LIMBAUGH: And they don’t want to be portrayed that way.

CAVUTO: Right.

LIMBAUGH: So, it’s — it’s — it’s — we are not even 100 days in. We’re going to have let some of this stuff happen...

CAVUTO: All right.

LIMBAUGH: .. let some of it fail, let some of it not work, and that will then inspire others to start speaking up.

CAVUTO: OK, Rush, thank you, my friend, very much.

LIMBAUGH: Thank you, Neil.

CAVUTO: Rush Limbaugh.

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