Interviews

New search for middle ground as nation nears fiscal cliff

Obama fundraiser R. Donahue Peebles weighs in

 

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," October 17, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST OF "YOUR WORLD": Well, what do you get when you have one of the president's biggest backers saying this?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAVUTO: How did we get to a point in this country where 47 percent pay no income taxes, federal income taxes? Isn't that the problem?

ROBERT WOLF, FORMER CHAIRMAN, UBS: There's no question we have to broaden the base. I could never have an argument to say to you we should not be broadening the base.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAVUTO: And then one of Governor Romney's bigger backers saying this:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHARLES SCHWAB, FOUNDER, CHAIRMAN & CEO, CHARLES SCHWAB: I think the more successful people of our society will probably pay slightly more in the way of taxes. I think it's just fine.

CAVUTO: So you, Charles Schwab, will end up paying more under Romney?

SCHWAB: I probably would.

CAVUTO: And you are OK with that?

SCHWAB: I perfectly fine with it, if we can get this country turned around.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAVUTO: All right, so I think I'm closer to striking a deal for the nation. That is my sideline here to try to bridge the divide in this country.

Does Don Peebles agree, not that I'm up to that, but whether there is a bridge in here? And both of these guys might have said it in a different way. Simplify the tax code; they might live with paying more.

R. DONAHUE PEEBLES, CHAIRMAN AND CEO, PEEBLES CORPORATION: I think what we are hearing is simplify the tax code, but also let the economy rise. A rising tide carries all on board.

None of us will have a problem paying a higher tax rate or more taxes if we are making more money and if the economy is moving along. I think the frustrating part certainly from where I sit is having a discussion about raising taxes at all at a time of economic insecurity and economic turmoil.

So, right now would be the wrong time to raise taxes. I do think a more simplified tax code would be more effective in terms of stimulating business activity, because I can't even figure out when we look at real estate deals what the various tax benefits or tax consequences are on a transaction.

CAVUTO: And that is your business, real estate.

PEEBLES: And that is my business.

CAVUTO: Right.

Is it the sense that we are all coming back to what the debt commission recommended in the first place? Simplify the tax code, get rid of special allowances, breaks, et cetera, and we are well on our way. And now you heard from two different guys, albeit different vantage points, who seem to be hinting at that.

PEEBLES: Yes. I think that that is where we are headed. I think that that is a -- in terms of business people, I think it is almost bipartisan. I don't think business people on the Democratic side...

CAVUTO: Well, business people do not flip over your guy because they say that he doesn't get them.

You obviously backed, strongly, the president, even with your reservations about hiking taxes on the well-to-do. You argue now is not the time. But with all of that, with all of that, Don, you still support him. Why?

PEEBLES: Well, the president has been a champion of small businesses. To the degree that he has been able to adjust taxes, he has reduced taxes 18 times for small businesses.

CAVUTO: You know, I talk to small businesses all the time. They never know where the hell he gets the 18 times figure. They don't see it.

PEEBLES: It's there.

CAVUTO: Where?

PEEBLES: It is there in terms of...

CAVUTO: They say is he throwing a credit that I don't take advantage of? Is that a tax cut?

PEEBLES: And, by the way, yes, they are.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: Because they are mystified, they are mystified.

PEEBLES: But that is the argument for simplifying the tax code, because they should know that their taxes have gone down 18 times.

CAVUTO: Well, why is he so unpopular with them as a group?

PEEBLES: I think there's a -- I don't think he is that unpopular with small business owners.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: Oh, trust me, he is.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: Actually, I'm just saying, when I have them on and the small business surveys are done, they are not fans. That might change, but they are not fans.

PEEBLES: Well, the discussion on taxes, and I think the health care reform, I think those two elements there put a heavy burden on businesses.

And also, businesses do not understand what the rules are. How can businesses go out here and compete and get jobs? The reality is, I was talking to -- we had one of our staff meetings the other day and we were joking around about politics.

And I said what do you all think will happen in here if our taxes go up, if my taxes go up a million dollars? Because I pay -- even at the scale of our company, I still pay at the individual level, because almost all of our income is from LLCs and Subchapter-S corporations. So, I asked them, what do you think is going to happen if we drop a million dollars? They are starting pointing at each and saying, oh, Daniel is going to lose his job, or, no, so and so is going to lose his job or Baron is going to his job, or so and so is going to lose their job, but they got it.

They understood that the company still is going to have to have the capital to invest.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: But they will have less capital.

PEEBLES: We will have less capital.

CAVUTO: But they will have less capital.

PEEBLES: Right. But to make up for it, we will have to cut jobs so that we can continue our investments.

CAVUTO: You make so much sense in a minute. Why can't you just meet with the president and say, here is my thoughts, boom, boom, boom? Here is why I think that is damaging. Here is why I think it is creating ill will.

You make perfect sense. You seem like a bright, cerebral fellow. Just let him know.

PEEBLES: I have let the president's advisers know some of my positions.

CAVUTO: They're not hearing you, Don.

PEEBLES: Well, actually, I saw the president last night and I thought the rhetoric and the issue about attack -- taxing the wealthy and burdening the wealthy was...

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: But he still does it.

PEEBLES: He talks about it, but not as aggressively.

CAVUTO: Do you think he's going to -- if he were reelected, he would cool it?

PEEBLES: I think that he would -- I don't think that there would be a Congress that would get elected that would raise taxes.

CAVUTO: No, no, I am not asking that. That he would personally cool it, that he doesn't really mean it?

PEEBLES: I think he means it, but I think he's going to govern. There is a difference between running for office and governing, isn't it?

CAVUTO: So you think he might drop the whole thing if he gets elected? I think he would double down on it.

(CROSSTALK)

PEEBLES: No, I don't think he will double down. I think he will try to do what he says he's going to do.

CAVUTO: Don Peebles, always a pleasure, sir. Thank you very, very much.

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