Interviews

Steve Wynn: Political dialogue is off-track in America

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," October 18, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: I want to go right now to Steve Wynn.

Again, just to put Steve Wynn in perspective in this town and how big a deal he is, keep in mind that he has overseen construction of or operations for all the biggest-name brands you see behind me in this shot. I was just reviewing it here.

But they include the Golden Nugget, Golden Nugget in Atlantic City, the Mirage, Treasure Island, the Bellagio. I could go on and on, the Wynn Resort and now very big in Macau, all over the world.

And he joins me now.

Steve Wynn, very good to have you.

STEVE WYNN, CEO, WYNN RESORTS:  Go on and on. I was -- hi, Neil.

(LAUGHTER)

CAVUTO: Yes, right, keep it going, keep it going.

(LAUGHTER)

CAVUTO: Steve, it's good to have you.

It wasn't too long ago you were commenting on the dysfunctional circus campaign season. I guess it hasn't eased up with three weeks to go and no signs that that's going to change. What do you make of the whole race?

WYNN: I was reading something by Buckley, and it's rubbed off on me.

And I can only say that, having experienced the -- both candidates' political inspirations, and struck by their profusion, I am now ready to believe that the Earth is flat.

CAVUTO: That's not too bad.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: Yes.

WYNN: The thing is, I think the conversation is all wrong.

I don't think that the dialogue has shown the proper respect for the process itself. What's going on in America is complicated, important, and worth serious, serious public discussion. We take in $3.1 trillion. We spent $3.7 trillion. That leaves a gap of $500 billion or $600 billion.

That's $50 billion a month in new money being printed, which is increasing the money supply and directly impacting and destroying the quality of every paycheck in America and therefore the living standard of all the people in America.

That conversation is relevant, not to mention a serious discussion about globalization, trade, immigration. But, instead, Neil, I feel that the exchanges have devolved. I think the conversation is all wrong, and, consequently, I don't feel I can be part of it intelligently.

CAVUTO: Do you have a candidate you prefer? I mean, do one of the candidates' descriptions address what you talked about more than the other?

WYNN: Well, I know both people.

And it would be fair to say that they're both intelligent. I tend to respect anybody who's willing to throw their hat into the public arena these days and put up with all of the contingent events that go along with public service and public campaigns.

When you asked me if I have a preference, I'm so -- as I mentioned a moment ago, I'm so focused on the fact that the conversation doesn't address any of the things that I think are important. I think our political dialogue in America is distorted and completely off-track.

So, I can know the candidates, and I have enjoyed private time with Donald and certainly with Bill and Hillary Clinton. Melania Trump is an elegant, lovely woman. And Trump has done a fabulous job with his children, which you and I both know is an achievement all by itself.

CAVUTO: Absolutely.

WYNN: So, these people all have something, something to recommend them.

I don't tend to pay as much -- it seems to me that on the subject of the presidential sexual contact, behavior, that being oversexed seems to be a qualification for a president the past two generations. But what I'm looking for...

CAVUTO: So, with all the charges that have come up against Donald Trump in that regard, you don't think they're worth getting into, that it's just a waste of time?

WYNN: Look, this discussion of the sex lives of our politicians is a distraction.

I played golf with Chris Dodd several years ago in the midst of the Clinton controversies while the president was in his second term and the Monica Lewinsky issues were floating around. And on the 18th green, I said to Chris Dodd, who was a senator, of course, at the time and a very important one...

CAVUTO: Right.

WYNN: "We ought to stop talking about sex with our politicians. People always lie about sex"

And then Chris Dodd looked up at me, Neil, and said, "Steve, some people lie during sex."

(LAUGHTER)

WYNN: I thought that was pretty cool.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: And that was then.

But I guess what -- but you're right. It has become part of the subject here, as the exploration of Hillary Clinton's emails, and Donald Trump has come out to say, you know, I'm getting a raw deal, this is a rigged process, a disproportionate number of stories on me, none on her that are controversial, even going so far as to question whether the voting is going to be rigged in this country.

How do you feel about that?

WYNN: Well, if, in fact, there was serious voter fraud in America, I don't think there's a person in this country that wouldn't be really up in arms about it, including myself.

We have known for many, many years that there's mischief afoot in some of the urban precincts, going back to the Kennedy election in '60, which I covered as the news director at the radio station at the University of Pennsylvania, where I went.

But to suggest that this has now reached epidemic proportions is a troubling assertion, and I hope it's not true. And the idea that it might be true is frightening.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: You know, Steve, the president commented on -- the president commented on Donald Trump's musings in that regard, saying he ought to quit whining and state his case to the American people.

What did you think of that?

WYNN: I think that President Obama is very facile on all issues that are political.

I wish that he was as direct and as prompt in his responses to the major issues that face the country as he is on issues that bear political relevance. That's how I feel about that.

CAVUTO: Yes, that's pretty direct there.

Let me get your sense of Donald Trump and his tax situation. And you're a very successful casino operator, hotel operator overall, and much has been made of this reported $900-plus million loss back in 1995.

Hillary Clinton says it's proof that he's a horrible businessman.

WYNN: Yes.

CAVUTO: What do you think of that?

WYNN: OK, that's a very interesting question.

And as it's been discussed in the public forum, this point has not been made. People who make money in business pay tax as a percentage of the profits quite appropriately. When people lose money in business, then those losses tend to reduce overall the profitability of the business.

So, adjusting losses against profits to get the real profit of a business is a perfectly sound approach for tax policy. Now, the fact that we have highlighted or we seem to have allegedly highlighted the fact that Donald Trump's -- one of his investments went very badly and he lost $900 million, I guess at his scale, you can make 900 or lose 900.

But the notion that a $900 million loss should be taken against $900 million profits is perfectly logical. It's what we do in our private lives with every taxpayer.

What we see in this particular subject, rather than a focused, perspective discussion of the concept of business losses against business profits, instead, it's become a political tool, another arsenal in this disgraceful exchange of fire that is really off the point. And that's the reason, as I said before, that I don't -- I think the dialogue is all wrong. The conversation is misdirected.

CAVUTO: You know, one other issue that's come up in this back and forth about taxes is the rich should pay their fair share, and that that fair share would go all the way up to 65 percent on guys like you with their estates when they leave this fine world.

WYNN: Yes, well, we do pay that much now.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: Well, maybe, but what do you think of that? What is a fair share to you?

WYNN: Well, it's a perfectly intelligent question. So, how do we define fair share?

Seventy percent of the tax revenues paid to the United States government in income tax come from 5 percent of the citizens. Now, that would suggest that something unfair is going on.

So, when you hear a politician say fair share, you're talking about hypocritical political propaganda. You are not talking about an intelligent discussion of who is paying what and who isn't paying taxes.  It's a simple subject.

But this is one of those perfect examples of the distortion in conversation. I don't say that defensively because I'm a high-earning person. I have paid a couple hundred million dollars in taxes since 2000.  And I have been very lucky to be able to pay those taxes. It's a privilege to have earned the money to be able to pay those taxes.

But the fact of the matter is, the minute someone talks about fair share, you're probably talking to a thief. Seventy percent of the tax revenues on personal income tax in America are paid by 5 percent of the people.

CAVUTO: So, would you be more open to what Donald Trump is espousing, where you cut the taxes across the board for everybody?

WYNN: Well, first of all, I think his big tax cut was on corporate tax, if I'm not mistaken, Neil.

CAVUTO: Right.

WYNN: It's hard to sort out the policies when you just have the TV stuff at your disposal.

The corporate tax rate is one that should be addressed. For example, in business, in life, in the raising of our children or the running of a business, what do we do fundamentally? The big idea is that we encourage the behavior, we reinforce behavior that we wish to encourage.

Now, with all that money offshore, because the taxes in America are excessively high for businesses, what is wrong with saying, hey, you bring back that $2 trillion or $3 trillion, and if you can show me that 20 cents on every dollar is going to go directly to creating a job, that's your tax.  Create the job, bring the money back, Uncle Sam won't collect a dime.

CAVUTO: Interesting. Interesting.

WYNN: Go create jobs. Create more taxpayers. People that create jobs create taxpayers, which benefits society as a whole.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: That's a very good point. So, it sounds like your philosophy -- no, no, but your philosophy seems more in line with Donald Trump than Hillary Clinton. Am I right? Am I wrong?

WYNN: Not necessarily.

Well, I thought you were going to say it's more in line with Trump than Clinton. I would be very anxious to have a private conversation with Hilly. That's what Bill calls his wife.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: Well, that's what I meant. So, I thought more in Donald Trump -- more in keeping with Donald Trump, that his policies, his economy views are more your own?

WYNN: But that's the point.

I haven't had this conversation with Hillary Clinton, and I think it would be fascinating to have the conversation with her, because I wouldn't be a bit surprised if Hillary Clinton didn't agree.

But the God lives in the details. What do you do with the money that you bring back tax-free from abroad? If you can prove that it's going directly to the creation of jobs, or a great portion of it is, then that benefits society at least as much as any tax might.

CAVUTO: Very good point.

WYNN: So, there's a discussion here. But we're not having it, are we, Neil? We're not having it.

CAVUTO: Very good point. No, we're not. We started it, something here.

But, Steve Wynn, I want to thank you very, very much.

The issues that Steve Wynn raise of Wynn Resorts, do you think they will bring that up in the debate tomorrow? Let's hope so.
  
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