Interviews

Jack Welch: 80% chance we get tax reform done by end of 2017

On 'Your World,' the former GE CEO says President Trump got elected on jobs, not on healthcare

 

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," March 30, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: All right, we told you about the seven out of 10 Americans who want tax cuts like yesterday.

We also told you separately a few days ago on Fox Business, which, if you don't get, you should demand, that it's virtually nine out of 10 in the investment community, and, among the CEO crowd, about eight out of 10.

Suffice to say, with these various and different groups, they want action on something like that matters, and will matter to the recovery, and will matter to their bottom line, and for average folks, well, more money in their wallet.

To former CEO of General Electric, executive chairman of Jack Welch Management Institute, Jack Welch.

Good to see you, my friend.

JACK WELCH, FORMER CHAIRMAN & CEO, GENERAL ELECTRIC: Hi, Neil. How are you?

CAVUTO: I'm OK.

I don't know about these tax cuts, though, about health care rework. What do you make of it?

WELCH: Well, they did a hell of a lousy job on the health care thing. They didn't communicate it. And...

CAVUTO: Who didn't?

WELCH: They handed the president a package that was the speaker's dream.

CAVUTO: Right.

WELCH: And they transformed at last into a package deal to go follow them along.

And he played ball. He did his part. But they didn't do their part. And they didn't deliver.

CAVUTO: Would you have done the health care thing off the top?

WELCH: No, I would have -- look, he won on jobs. He didn't win on health care.

CAVUTO: Right. But now the argument -- and, again, this gets back into the process here.

WELCH: Reconciliation. Don't give me that in one, two, three.

CAVUTO: You would have gone right ahead with tax cuts. But now they're back to trying to health care thing.

WELCH: Well, they better get up their reforms in place. Now, he's done the regulation thing. He's moved on the ISIS front. So, he's moving on a number of fronts.

I had -- in the last three days, I have had nine CEOs in for our private equity reviews, five in consumer, four in industrial, every one of them positive, positive. There's a vibration out there.

CAVUTO: Positive about the president?

WELCH: The economy and where it...

CAVUTO: OK.

WELCH: We don't talk much politics.

CAVUTO: Oh, I don't believe that at all.

WELCH: No, we don't.

CAVUTO: Really?

WELCH: And these are reviews, now.

CAVUTO: OK.

WELCH: But then, last night, I went out in New York with four of your media types. And that...

CAVUTO: You said that very disdainfully.

WELCH: No, I just raised the hand.

CAVUTO: OK.

WELCH: And we had dinner.

And the first question to me, because they know how I feel, what is the over and under on Trump in months?

CAVUTO: Really?

WELCH: Yes. These are your friends. These guys all...

CAVUTO: I don't have any friends.

WELCH: You know them. You know them.

CAVUTO: Well, in a few months, that he is a basket case at that point, he's -- or what?

WELCH: He will quit or something.

CAVUTO: Really?

WELCH: You don't hear this around here? Come on, Neil. Shape up.

(LAUGHTER)

WELCH: But it's crazy stuff. It's crazy, because the country, many -- as far as the consumer confidence level, rate count has doubled in the last three months.

So, there's so many positive signs, if he would get off this stuff, the temperament stuff, the angry tweets, this morning's Freedom Caucus -- crazy.

CAVUTO: But what do you do about a Freedom Caucus that is not budging much?

WELCH: You don't go back and rub their nose in it. You talk to them about the next plan you're coming with, and you get 216 votes.

CAVUTO: Because he's told them as well, it's this way or the highway here. And I want everyone on board.

WELCH: No, the highway will be him if they don't do it.

CAVUTO: I see.

Now, meanwhile, the media and the back and forth is on the Russian role in the election and all that.

WELCH: Russia.

CAVUTO: Is that -- whatever you think of that subject, do you think it's going to be enough of distraction to delay any of this?

WELCH: I think there's an 80-plus percent chance we get tax reform done by the end of the year.

CAVUTO: Really?

WELCH: Yes.

CAVUTO: Even with all of this?

WELCH: All this.

CAVUTO: Do you know why I wonder about that? When I hear they want to revisit health care. And it seems like...

WELCH: That's a bottomless pit.

CAVUTO: Yes.

WELCH: Look what they did there.

CAVUTO: So, I don't understand the fixation with giving it another go.

WELCH: No, I'm not into that. I don't know those dynamics.

But we had a president who breaks glass. And they put him in a straitjacket and had him play by the rules, reconciliation.

CAVUTO: So, what does he do? That's how remiss, crazy world they get legislation passed.

WELCH: It didn't bother Harry Reid. It didn't bother Harry Reid when he was there. It seems to bother Republicans more than Democrats.

CAVUTO: So, use your simply majority, whatever it is, pound whatever you want through?

WELCH: Well, try.

CAVUTO: Try.

WELCH: Try to be bipartisan, if you can, ideally, ideally. But you don't start out being bipartisan by calling Chuck Schumer a clown, you know?

CAVUTO: Now, he did have Chuck Schumer at the White House.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: And other Democrats.

WELCH: That was very nice.

CAVUTO: Yes.

WELCH: And that's more than we ever saw Barack Obama do.

CAVUTO: How did you deal with them?

You took over GE. You were like 19 years old, right? So, when you took over, you had to deal with a lot people who were not keen on this new young guy who came in.

WELCH: Right.

CAVUTO: So, how did you deal with them? Did you -- did they take a little ride somewhere? Or what did you do?

WELCH: Well, we had a chat.

CAVUTO: Oh, really?

WELCH: And they decided that...

CAVUTO: What was the chat?

WELCH: See, Neil, the difference is that my job is so much easier than this job where you get -- they console and cajole and bring it along.

CAVUTO: Right.

WELCH: We just act. The CEO is a lucky guy. If he gets it right...

CAVUTO: And that's Trump's experience. Right? The president's experience is coming from that world. It's a big adjustment, right?

WELCH: Well, his reaction. But he played ball by the rules in health care.

CAVUTO: He did. He most certainly did.

WELCH: And he worked hard. And he got into the details.

But, look, I'm a semi-junkie. And they lay out -- they didn't lay out for the mass population, here's what you get currently. Here's what will happen to most of you. Here's what will happen to some of you. And here's what's going to happen.

They let the CBO totally take control of it, 24 million people will lose their health care.

CAVUTO: Right.

WELCH: Holy Christ. What do I do now? I'm going to lose my health care.
They should have...

CAVUTO: So, they stole the agenda.

But, now, he's sort of that bull in the china shop. Like you said, he's a glass breaker. So, tell him now what he should do.

WELCH: She should focus, focus, focus. Keep the regulations going. Think about jobs.

Get this country working. Get -- the idea is, you win with a rising tide, taking all boats to better prosperity. Think of that in this tax reform bill. Make sure the corporate tax is fair, durably.

Make sure the middle class gets the bulk of the tax cuts going forward.

CAVUTO: But what if it's -- all they can muster is a corporate tax cut?

WELCH: That's a good start. Take it.

CAVUTO: Take it. Take it anything you can get. You need the W., right? You need the win.

WELCH: You need a win. And you need an economy. He's hitting regulations every day.

CAVUTO: Yes.

Wall Street still seems to think we're going to get this. Is Wall Street getting a little ahead of itself?

WELCH: No, because the feeling out there is that we're on fire.

If you look at 10 years, the housing is at its highest. Consumer confidence has been its highest...

CAVUTO: That gets no reporting in the press, you know?

WELCH: Yes, but look at it.

CAVUTO: Yes. No, I agree. I agree. It's very strong.

WELCH: The numbers are staggering. Europe is on fire now, on fire. It's a tinder, but...

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: Right, right, right.

WELCH: Japan is going. Canada is going.

CAVUTO: No, I would be remiss if I didn't mention your successor at GE took the president on, on climate change, saying that his view is hurting.

What do you think?

WELCH: Well, I retired 17 years ago, Neil.

CAVUTO: You -- how do you feel on climate change? Who is right, Jeff Immelt or the president of the United States?

WELCH: I don't think it's one way or the other. I think we should have an energy policy like he's proposing, all of the above, and I think we got to keep testing the hypothesis. I'm not a -- it's not proven to me yet.

CAVUTO: So, that's kind of a mealy-mouthed...

WELCH: Yes, typical of me.

CAVUTO: Yes, OK.

(LAUGHTER)

CAVUTO: Jack Welch, always great. Thank you, my friend, very much.

WELCH: Hey.

CAVUTO: All right.

So, President Trump, I don't know if you're watching or listening.

I don't know if he does.

But you just heard some great words of wisdom there. Your call.

END

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