Interviews

CKE Restaurants CEO: President is in over his head

Andy Puzder on 'Buffet Rule' vote, GSA spending

 

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," April 16, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. DARRELL ISSA, R-CALIF. OVERSIGHT AND GOVERNMENT REFORM COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Mr. Neely, what is your title at GSA?

JEFF NEELY, REGIONAL COMMISSIONER, GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION: Mr. Chairman, on the advice of counsel, I respectfully decline to answer based upon my Fifth Amendment constitutional privilege.

ISSA: Mr. Neely did you attend the 2010 Western Regional Conference in Las Vegas?

NEELY: Mr. Chairman on the advice of my counsel, I respectfully decline to answer based upon my Fifth Amendment constitutional privilege.

ISSA: Mr. Neely, did you approve the funding for the 2010 Western Regional Conference?

NEELY: Mr. Chairman, on the advice of my counsel, I respectfully decline to answer based on my Fifth Amendment constitutional privilege.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STUART VARNEY, GUEST HOST: All right, spending up. Now the guy at the center of the storm clamming up? Taking the Fifth when asked about that lavish $823,000 Las Vegas party.

At the same time, the Senate now just moments away from voting on the Buffett rule, the president’s plan to hike taxes on the rich. But today, taxpayers are asking, will any money raised by this fund more of this?

Welcome, everyone. I'm Stuart Varney, in for Neil Cavuto. This is "Your World."

Tax day one day away, and for those who owe, paying Uncle Sam seems even more painful this year because of where the tax dollars are going. Lavish parties in Las Vegas. Trips to Hawaii. And today a congressional hearing into how your tax dollars are being spent.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS, D-MD.: Mr. Neely invited personal friends to the conference, writing, and I quote -- and this is simply incredible, -- quote -- "We’ll get you guys a room near us and we’ll pick up the room tab. Could be a blast."

It is not your money. It’s the taxpayers’ money.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VARNEY: So, given all those questions about spending, is this any time to be hiking taxes?

Andy Puzder is no fan of the so-called Buffett rule. He is the CEO of CKE Restaurants and an economic adviser to the Romney campaign.

Andy, not a time to raise taxes especially when we are spending our tax money like this?

ANDREW PUZDER, PRESIDENT & CEO, CKE RESTAURANTS: No, Stuart, it is not at all.

And, in fact, this is, really, just a subterfuge to try and raise capital gains taxes, which there was a great article in The Wall Street Journal last week, Historical, when capital gains rates go up, revenue goes down. When capital gains rates go down, capital gains tax revenue goes up. So, the whole thing it really is a subterfuge to try and avoid talking bigger issues like the economy, like unemployment, like the debt and like the deficit that we are strapping our children with.

So, it is a political -- it is political. This is not a way to raise revenues, and it’s income redistribution at best and political at worst.

VARNEY: Well, is it a political winner? Can you tell me that in America today taxing the rich is a political winning strategy?

PUZDER: Well, I hope that it is not.

There was a show that showed there’s a lot of support for this. But I think people number one really didn’t understand it doesn’t raise any revenue. It is really meaningless from a revenue perspective, because the president went out and said this could really stabilize our debt and deficit for a decade and I think that is almost a quote.

Well, it turns out the numbers are that it will not do that. So what you really end up with is this -- and being from England I am sure you are familiar with this, the European socialist attempt to try and redistribute wealth or look to consents of fairness, instead of looking to accomplishment, achievement and free enterprise and all the things that Governor Romney is emphasizing.

It really does draw a very distinct difference between President Obama, big government, European socialism and higher taxes and big debts and big deficits, no economic growth, and what would be a President Romney, now Governor Romney, which is limited government, we based things on success, accomplishment, and opportunity. We don’t take takes up, we take them down, because we want to increase tax revenues, not increase tax fairness or redistribution.

So, it really sets these two candidates apart I think very distinctly and in a very meaningful way.

VARNEY: I just want to show you a Fox News poll. The question asked was, is your tax money spent more or less carefully today than it was five years ago? An increasing population of those who responded said, look, 53 percent say it is being spent less carefully.

If that is the backdrop, we are not spending our tax money wisely, it seems like bad timing at the very least to ask for more tax money from anyone at this point. The timing is bad. Isn’t it?

PUZDER: Timing is terrible.

You have Solyndra. You have the GSA testimony today. You have the government trying to pick winners and losers and you have got going for political purposes, as opposed to economic growth purposes. And it is a very, very bad situation and I think it really indicates -- and I don’t think -- I know a lot of people think President Obama is a bad guy.

I don’t think he is a bad guy. I think he is just over his head on the economic issues. I think his statement about how this would solve, stabilize the debt and the deficit is a great example of that. He just has a problem understanding these issues because it is not his background, unlike Governor Romney, who does have this background.

VARNEY: Let me just play you a quick sound bite from David Axelrod, quoted over the weekend, talking on the state of the economy. Go.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS WALLACE, HOST OF "FOX NEWS SUNDAY": I take it then he’s not going to contribute money to the Treasury to help with the deficit.

DAVID AXELROD, SENIOR OBAMA CAMPAIGN STRATEGIST: Listen, that’s not the way we operate our tax system, OK? We don’t run bake sales. It’s not about volunteerism. We all kick in according to the system. And the system allows that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VARNEY: So there you have it. The president is not going to kick in more money of his own to help pay down the deficit. He will not write a check as Warren Buffett wants other people to write checks.

Last word from you.

PUZDER: I would encourage him not to write the check.

I think the reason he had lower taxes was because he made a lot of charitable deductions. Mitt Romney has lower taxes because he made a lot of investments. I think that is the kind of conduct the tax code encourages. I think it has good results. I think the president by abiding by the tax laws, doing the things that the tax laws incentivize them to do, complied with the law and he shouldn't have to do that.

But he should stop asking other people to do it and get back to fixing the economy, getting growth going and getting unemployment down and getting the debt down, reducing the deficit. We need to do these things if we’re going to succeed as a nation.

VARNEY: All right, Andy Puzder, thank you for joining us. We appreciate it.

PUZDER: Thank you, Stuart. Take care.

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