Staples Founder: President's policies don't create jobs

Tom Stemberg on why he's backing Mitt Romney


This is a rush transcript from "Your World," February 22, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST OF “YOUR WORLD”: Well, is the president’s business tax plan cutting it with corporations?

Staples, the world’s largest office products company -- it’s in 26 countries, $25 billion a year in sales -- so something tells me Staples founder Tom Stemberg was paying extra close attention to the president’s proposal today.

What did you make of it, Tom?

TOM STEMBERG, FOUNDER, STAPLES: Well, honestly, I am here to talk about Mitt Romney’s pro-growth plan.

When you have been president for better than three years, you shouldn’t talk about plans. You should be talking about accomplishments. And quite frankly, on the economic front, he has not had many.

What Mitt Romney proposed today, in cutting marginal tax rates by 20 percent, finally fixing our crazy system where we try taxing worldwide income at a crazy high rate, which is a disincentive for companies to invest in America, it forces companies to leave their cash abroad, tens of billions of it, as opposed to bringing it back here to create growth, and frankly makes American companies uncompetitive.

CAVUTO: Well, stop yourself right there, Tom. Stop yourself right there, Tom, because the president and his plan is going to charge a surtax to companies that keep that money abroad, and if they do keep it abroad it will be a surtax on top of a tax, in other words, to penalize them for doing that.

What do make of that?

STEMBERG: By the way, and there is already a penalty, because you are already paying double taxes if you bring income back to the United States.

If we want to create jobs here, we have got to make America competitive. We have to make American companies competitive. And frankly we have got to create a credibility, Neil, that this company is not going to be greased in 30 or 40 years, which means we have to balance our budget, and that means cutting spending on programs like Obamacare and just vetoing that and getting that out of the way.

That means fixing entitlements. Quite frankly, Neil, I don’t think I should be getting totally free health care when I am 65. I don’t think that is right. There should be a means testing, as Governor Romney has suggested. Frankly, as Governor Romney has said, we have to address Social Security, not for the people today who are 50 years or older, but for people who are young to look forward and to gradually change the retirement age going forward.

These are necessary reforms to make us solvent.


CAVUTO: I’m sorry, Tom. And again I’m saying to people you are a big Mitt Romney backer, so you obviously support at lot of his economic plans. For all I know, you helped craft them.

But having said that, do you get a sense that the president’s lowering the top corporate rate to 28 percent -- Mitt Romney I believe has it at around 25 percent -- is his effort that is the president’s effort, to neutralize that argument, to gain sort of a chit vs. Romney and score some points with independents?

STEMBERG: Well, again, with the president -- and this is very a sad fact, because the president came to Washington, D.C., saying he was going to be the guy who was going to bring people together from both sides of the aisle to get things done.

The sad fact of the matter, he has been there more than three years and not much positive has happened. Instead, what we have gotten is a lot of political rhetoric, and it is more of fight the rich, and you know, take it away from the rich, tax them some more and everything will be good.

And the truth is, as you pointed in your earlier segment, it just doesn’t work.

CAVUTO: So, when you hear Richard Trumka of the AFL-CIO, Tom, come out supporting the president’s plan, and that it is a goal of reducing tax incentives for shipping U.S. jobs overseas, says it’s surely the right one, as it the focus on encouraging investment and production in the U.S. manufacturing sector, the president obviously has got the unions behind him.

What do you make of that?

STEMBERG: Well, again, I don’t think the president goes to the bathroom without checking with the unions and the trial lawyers. But the fact of the matter is our country shouldn’t be run by the unions and the trial lawyers. It should be run at the benefit of its 300 million-odd on citizens. And unfortunately it is not getting run that way today, which is why we need President Romney in office.

CAVUTO: So, Tom, when you hear Mitt Romney ahead of tonight’s big debate and ahead of the big contests next Tuesday in Michigan and Arizona, two states in which, depending on the poll, he is having some tough sledding, does he need to do something big?

Is this marginal tax rate announcement to cut them by 20 percent his sort of opening salvo to try to reverse what has been a disturbing trend for him?

STEMBERG: The fact is the governor has always said this will be a long slog, there’s lots of strong candidates, but at end of the day, come fall, he will be the candidate.

I still believe that. And the fact of the matter is, things like the governor’s comprehensive 59-point economic plan are not the things that lend themselves very much to sound bites. But they are the kind of well- thought-out, well-crafted policies that he time and time again has shown he can execute in turning around the Olympics, in turning around the disaster he inherited in the state of Massachusetts, and I think he is up to the challenge of turning around Washington.

CAVUTO: Tom, it’s always good seeing you. Thank you very, very much.

Tom Stemberg, the man who helped found Staples. Now, remember, Bain Capital was a big player in that as well.

Tom, good seeing you.

STEMBERG: Thank you, Neil. Thanks for having me.

CAVUTO: All right.

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