This is a rush transcript from "Your World With Neil Cavuto," August 26, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Do you know we are still getting e-mails by the hundreds on Ken Langone, the feisty billionaire co-founder of Home Depot, bluntly speaking up about what is going down in Washington, more government, more regulation, more taxes.
But, in case you think Ken thinks any of this big government quashes big entrepreneurial spirit, think again.
KEN LANGONE, CO-FOUNDER, HOME DEPOT: I don't think I have ever thought about the tax consequences of making an investment in one of the companies I helped start.
CAVUTO: Whether they were high or low?
LANGONE: I'm looking at the opportunity. I'm saying, is there a market? Do they have a better mousetrap? Are they doing something different that gives it a better chance of success?
CAVUTO: Well, a lot of your CEO colleagues, your big-business colleagues, are saying that this approach disincentivizes what you did.
You seem to be saying no.
LANGONE: Look, in terms of what I do, investing in start-up companies, all I can say is, I have never said to myself, well, if I put a million bucks or $50,000 or whatever it is, I have got to pay the government 40 percent or 38 percent.
You don't look at it that way.
CAVUTO: Right. Right.
LANGONE: If somebody shows up in my office with a cure for cancer, guess what? The last think I'm going to keep about is, how much am I going to keep? So — so...
CAVUTO: Well, I want to get back on the charity thing, because you have made that a very big cause. A lot of people don't know this about you. You give a ton to charity.
And the argument has been among people maybe not quite as wealthy as you, Ken, that we're going to see less of that.
CAVUTO: And a lot of charities are worried that we're going to see less of that. If you limit their deductions, if you raise their taxes, what is the fallout, do you think, for — for charitable enterprises?
LANGONE: I think, in my life, I'm being disincentivized to give away money, because there is a limit. So, if I give it away, I have got a five-year period that I have got to use it against income, or I lose the write-off.
Well, I know a lot of people in that situation, and they still give the money away. So, it is not about the taxes. I think it is unfair, I think they ought to figure ways out to let give away more in my life, because, don't forget, when I give away when I die, it is tax-free. It all goes to the charity, no inheritance tax, no nothing.
CAVUTO: Are the kids getting anything?
LANGONE: My sons — my sons and my family, we — we are very lucky. We have done OK.
CAVUTO: You didn't answer my question. Are they — are they OK with dad giving the fortune away?
LANGONE: Absolutely. Oh, my children, my gosh.
CAVUTO: Come on. There had to be a Thanksgiving dinner where they said, dad, about giving everything away...
LANGONE: Hold it. Hold it. I didn't say everything.
LANGONE: I said what I give away.
LANGONE: I am proud of my sons.
My sons, you know, they have got their own interests, thank God. And I'm proud of what they do and how they do it. But the issue is back to taxes, Neil. The question is, are we going to create a system — bear in mind, hospitals, colleges, museums, opera houses, they are essentially built by people who are wealthy.
People who give $25 million to the Philharmonic, he don't have a charity benefit for — benefit for. You might honor them at a charity...
LANGONE: ... but you don't have one for them.
This notion of — of vilifying people for being successful is just flat wrong. So, that is what I am opposed to.
In terms of tax rates, we have to do what we have to do. In World War II, we had to spend as much as we had to spend to beat an evil enemy. And we did.
CAVUTO: And we had surtaxes on the wealthy. We had a war tax. We had...
LANGONE: No problem. But when we take the money in, as government, and we waste it...
LANGONE: That is a different issue.
CAVUTO: Could I bring up a final point with you...
CAVUTO: ... that got you angry enough to call me?
LANGONE: Which was?
CAVUTO: When they had the beer summit at the White House, and the first table that they were considering using, I referred to — not knowing it was likely a Home Depot table — as a cheesy table.
CAVUTO: And you took great offense to that.
LANGONE: Absolutely. Home Depot...
CAVUTO: Now, you might note, Ken, that as soon as I referred to it as a cheesy table, the White House opted for a different, round model, not the aforementioned cheesy model.
LANGONE: Which was square, which takes us back...
CAVUTO: Right. Rectangular.
LANGONE: ... which takes us back to the Chinese and Americans arguing over the shape of the table.
CAVUTO: But you took great offense, because you thought I was criticizing Home Depot.
LANGONE: So — so, what you're telling me is, you think the White House agreed with you that...
CAVUTO: Yes, I do.
LANGONE: ... it was cheesy.
LANGONE: Well, if they said that, I...
CAVUTO: They used a different table.
LANGONE: Home Depot sells nothing cheesy.
LANGONE: We sell value.
CAVUTO: You still swear by that?
LANGONE: We sell value.
CAVUTO: But Home Depot is doing better again, right?
CAVUTO: Yes, 20 percent last couple of months.
LANGONE: Frank Blake — Frank Blake and his team is doing a spectacular job.
And I'm glad called you, because I thought I was listening to O'Reilly or somebody else.
CAVUTO: It was not a cheesy table at all.
CAVUTO: It was very, very nice.
CAVUTO: The table they had...
LANGONE: It was great value.
CAVUTO: Yes, great value. Ken Langone, thank you very, very much.
LANGONE: Thanks for having me.
CAVUTO: That's what you call a great guest.
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