BET Founder on Obama's Tax Plans

This is a rush transcript from "Your World With Neil Cavuto," August 28, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: All right, just a little shindig, with 75,000, maybe 80,000, of your closest friends, largely middle-class friends, because it will be a middle-class pitch that Barack Obama will be leading tonight, because the message for the very wealthy is, well, you are going to get very taxed, and we would love to have you on board, but we are not counting on it.

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That has not stopped a certain billionaire fan of Barack Obama's being close to front and center tonight for the big event. I am talking about the billionaire founder of BET and so many other enterprises.

I got have to tell you, Bob Johnson, I know you were a big Hillary Clinton. I know you're a big Barack Obama supporter. But I know, under either plan, you would have faced higher taxes. So, you are OK?


The Democratic Party is a big tent. So, it's a big tent for middle-class individuals. It's a big tent for wealthy individuals, because we recognize that our common cause of supporting the kind of change that Senator Obama is going to bring is critical to the economic growth of the country.

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You can't have half of the country doing well off, and another half of the country suffering. So, as a businessperson, it's in our best interests to see that we all move ahead all together.

CAVUTO: But here's what I hear from a lot folks, Bob. And it's no slap against you. In fact, it's a compliment. You are a billionaire. The $200,000, $250,000-a-year guy says, I am not. I'm not him. And don't lump me in with him and call me a fat cat who can easily afford these high taxes.

JOHNSON: No. I think the question is, how do you moderate where the tax level should come into play?


CAVUTO: Well, what do you think of that level?

JOHNSON: Well, I think Barack Obama has looked at this country and said, what do we need to do to have the maximum impact on the most people? And, so, you have got to raise revenue to deal with health care, to deal with education, to deal with the investment in infrastructure.

You need to do all those things. So, somewhere along the line, you have got to ask people to make a small sacrifice.

CAVUTO: But would you raise the cost of your product in a slowdown?


CAVUTO: You are effectively raising the cost to carry the government for a large set of people in a slowdown.

JOHNSON: No, not at all.

What he is saying is that, in order for us to get the country moving again, you have got to have a tax base that is progressive, a tax base that is focused on those who can afford to pay, and then the money is invested in a very smart and prudent way to help those who are in need.

You know, a tax that has mismanagement, inefficiency is a waste.


JOHNSON: It's a waste of...


CAVUTO: Democrat or Republican, right. And you have said that before.

But, if we get up to 40 percent again, cap gains goes up, dividend taxes go up, Medicare, Social Security taxes go up. That is a lot of taxes going up.

JOHNSON: It's a lot of taxes going up, but the taxes are going to be progressively based.

I mean, people like myself, who can afford to pay more, we are willing to pay more if we know we're getting good management of that investment.

CAVUTO: You're taking a leap of faith, right?

JOHNSON: I think Barack Obama has demonstrated that he is willing to bring into his — his administration economists and advisers in the business community who will....

CAVUTO: How about you? Is he going to bring you in?

JOHNSON: I certainly have offered to help him. I met with Penny Pritzker and said I'm willing to do whatever...


CAVUTO: What if he wanted to make you commerce secretary?

JOHNSON: I wouldn't take it.

CAVUTO: Treasury secretary?

JOHNSON: Wouldn't take it.

CAVUTO: Chairman of the Federal Reserve?

JOHNSON: I would love to advise...


CAVUTO: Part-time economist?


JOHNSON: I would love — I will talk to him like...


JOHNSON: I will talk to him like Karl Rove talked to George Bush any day of the week, but I don't want a job.

CAVUTO: All right. Bob Johnson, very good seeing you.

JOHNSON: Thank you, Neil.

CAVUTO: Best of luck tonight putting up with all that. JOHNSON: All right.

CAVUTO: All right.


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