Martha Stewart on Hiking Taxes to Pay for Health Care Reform

This is a rush transcript from "Your World With Neil Cavuto," July 29, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: All right, you might have heard earlier today the president, in so many of his forums, was talking about, not only health care, but the fact that he thinks things are looking up, that we are coming out of this recession, a bit slowly, but we are coming out.

Who better to know this than the — the woman who keeps track of what we're doing, or buying, or — or decorating, or cooking, or not decorating, or not cooking? I'm talking about, of course, the legendary Martha Stewart, Martha Stewart Living, so much.

Good to see you.


Video: Watch Cavuto's interview

And I — I'm happy the president is talking to us on a regular basis, and trying to make us feel a little better about what is going on. And I think it...

CAVUTO: You think he talks too much, though?


CAVUTO: Really?

STEWART: No, I don't. I miss him when he doesn't talk, because then I worry that maybe something is not happening.


CAVUTO: But you know what? You pick and choose your media appearances. You don't overdo them. And — and I think that means you're — it carries more weight when you do come on. Like, when you come here, it's a big deal.

STEWART: Yes, well...

CAVUTO: This is not every day.

CAVUTO: And — and...

STEWART: But he is the president. And we — we need to know — I think — I think to be filled in pretty regularly on what's — what he is thinking and what — what his advisers are telling him, too. And I — I think....


STEWART: ... good.

CAVUTO: Well, his advisers were telling him today, Mr. President, we — we — we got a victory in the House on health care.

And it could be closer to getting health care. What do you think of that?

STEWART: Well, I think it is very, very important for to us have some sort of health care program in this country. And I have been working very closely — I don't know if you know this — with Mount Sinai Hospital on...

CAVUTO: Right.

STEWART: ... on elder care and — and — and a wonderful center, the Martha Stewart Center for Living, that has to do with taking care of the aging population.

And — and so many of them are in tragic situations, with not enough health care. They're being told that they're living too long.


STEWART: I mean, it's — it's kind of...


CAVUTO: I always wonder, though, with that — I knew your involvement in this, and I know it's your passion — if we had national health care or government-run health care, wouldn't the elderly be under a — a bigger gun?

STEWART: Well, I — I have been reading that maybe they would be.

So, I think we have to, again, weigh every single aspect of this complex problem, and — and make sure they are not told, well, you have lived long enough.


STEWART: And they're perfectly healthy and still very productive.

And I think that — I think we have — and I think the president is taking into consideration a lot...


STEWART: ... of that. And his — his program is complicated.

CAVUTO: It is. Man, oh, man, it's complicated.

STEWART: And look — look how — I wouldn't want to sit in...

CAVUTO: He doesn't even know what is in it.


STEWART: I wouldn't want to sit in on those debates for one minute.

CAVUTO: Sure, you would.

STEWART: No, they're too complicated.


CAVUTO: You would handle those debates.

But you — you know, you — I was saying before, and I notice it's odd you always bring product with you.


CAVUTO: But — I'm — I'm kidding — but you know, first-hand, and some signs certainly in your company, earnings out today — I know you can't get into particulars...

STEWART: Oh, yes.

CAVUTO: ... but Internet advertising picking up. We saw that in Time Warner, advertising picking up. Some argue that is a precursor to better times ahead, people buying your stuff, better precursor to better days. Do you buy that?

STEWART: Well, they're buying books. They're buying information. They are certainly looking at more product on the Internet. I don't know if they're buying it from the Internet, as much as — as — as, you know, people who sell on the Internet...


CAVUTO: Your stuff, they need to touch, hold and feel, though, right?

STEWART: Much of it, but not all of it, not all of it.

CAVUTO: Yes, books and — is one thing, right?

STEWART: We are — we have — we have seen, you know, a little softness in our products at Macy's, but not much. We're selling housewares. That is our strongest, strongest product area.

CAVUTO: What is that?

STEWART: Oh, this is a great thing. This is right now for summertime a lemon and lime squeezer, you know, no power needed. You just — a little bit...


CAVUTO: Actually, that's apropos for squeezing taxpayers.

STEWART: A little — that's right. A little bit of...


STEWART: Yes, I can think of a few people to squeeze.


STEWART: But — but things like that, innovative products, are selling very nicely.

CAVUTO: But where people — you and I have chatted about this before. In fact, I remember when you were nice enough to invite me on your wonderful show.


CAVUTO: You were talking about this phenomenon of, for want of a better word, cocooning.


CAVUTO: And — and people are kind of in their homes, and they're enjoying their homes, and they want to be cozy, and — and tucked away in their homes.

STEWART: Well, saying enjoying their homes, I think that they are struggling with the fact that they really are not free to move. It is very hard to move...


CAVUTO: Right.

STEWART: ... to tell, to buy.

So they are — they want to make their living place a better place. And, so, they are...

CAVUTO: But, at times, ipso facto, if things turn around, are they less inclined to do that?

STEWART: No, I don't think so. I don't think so.

CAVUTO: Really?

STEWART: Because, then, if they do move, they are going to need a lot of new things also.

CAVUTO: Right.

STEWART: So, both ways it is good for the — the home industry.

And I think that people have learned to live without some things in this downturn. I'm sure...

CAVUTO: That must kill you...


CAVUTO: ... because, if they do that with this lemon thing, and they can go merrily on...

STEWART: No, no, but they — they need this.


STEWART: But they don't — they don't necessarily need the new rug.

CAVUTO: Gotcha.

STEWART: They don't need the new sofa. They can put off getting the new sofa. The big, expensive items, they're still really thinking about.

CAVUTO: So — and you have lines for all price points, right?

STEWART: Oh, yes. Oh, yes.

CAVUTO: So, the furnishings might sell for a tad, but the...


STEWART: Right. But they are crafting, let me tell you.


STEWART: They are crafting. They are buying things, like, oh, our newest little patent pending corner punch. This goes around the corners of paper.

CAVUTO: What does it punch? What does it...

STEWART: Oh, it punches beautiful paper. Look.


CAVUTO: Oh. Oh, I see. That's beautiful.

STEWART: You can make — you can make decorations like this. It's great for scrapbookers, great for invitations.

No, this is — this is very innovative. Don't laugh. I heard somebody laugh.

CAVUTO: They're jealous. They're jealous.

STEWART: They are.

CAVUTO: They're jealous.

STEWART: But — but it's a — but it is a new and interesting product.

People are looking for the new. They're looking for the different. They're looking for the unique.


STEWART: And they do really try to find it.

CAVUTO: Let me ask you, last time you were here, you caused a ruckus when — when I said, well, you know, the rich have to pay more in taxes, and you said, well, they are going to have to suck it up.

And I have heard from a lot of rich people who aren't quite as rich as you who would also be in that target tax rate that would go up, and say, easy for her to say.

STEWART: Why? Why is it easy for me? It's not any...


CAVUTO: Because you're — you're very rich. And some of them who...

STEWART: I'm — I was richer.


CAVUTO: ... the administration defines as — as rich are going to feel it a lot more than you will.

STEWART: No. I think that — I think that we just have to understand what the country needs right now. I'm very liberal this way, as you can tell.

CAVUTO: I know. I know.

STEWART: And I think we have to figure out what the country needs, how we're going to get it, who's going to have to help pay for it, and — and — and...

CAVUTO: But were you ready, Martha? I know you had said, I'm ready to...


STEWART: When good times come again, we're ready to rock and roll.

CAVUTO: Right. I know you had said when you were last here, Neil, I'm ready for the top tax rate to go back up to 40 percent.

But are you ready for it to go to 45 percent? Are you ready for a combined tax rate to be 55 percent, 60 percent, as it will likely be in 39 out of 50 states?

STEWART: I — I hope the tax man is not listening, but the tax man has been pretty bad to me.


CAVUTO: That was not a deliberate slight.


CAVUTO: But you know what I mean, that, all of sudden, yes, the — the rich might have obligation, but man, oh, man?


STEWART: The rich — rich always have obligation. We all have obligations to — we live in America. We have — we have to do what we have to do.

CAVUTO: But is there a statute of limitations on how much you take out from the rich?

STEWART: A statute of limitations?.


CAVUTO: No, you know what I mean? Like, all right, if it's not...


STEWART: Are you worried?

How about — how about the not-so-rich? They're still paying taxes, too. So, you're not asking me about them.

CAVUTO: Well, actually, 40 percent of tax — of — of people in this country are not paying any taxes. That is interesting.

So, guys like you are paying 40 percent of the taxes. Isn't that interesting?


CAVUTO: You don't mind?

STEWART: No. It's — it's the way it is.

CAVUTO: But you are very good businesswoman.

STEWART: I'm not moving from America.

CAVUTO: I know, but, Martha, you're a brilliant businesswoman. And - - and you expect, if you're going to pay for something, you damn well better see something for that. And I would imagine...

STEWART: Well...

CAVUTO: ... you're the type who would read 1, 000-page bill.


STEWART: A withdrawal from war would be good. That would save a lot of money. And...

CAVUTO: Fine. Fine.

STEWART: And maybe we wouldn't need so many...


CAVUTO: But you're going to want to see details on health. You are going to want to see details on stimulus. You are going to want to see...


STEWART: Yes. And we look at that. We...


STEWART: ... that.

CAVUTO: So, when someone like you sees a lot of this waste, I mean...

STEWART: I don't see — I am not seeing so much waste now, as much as — as things that we shouldn't be spending on.

And — and, again, I would like our country to defend itself, but not certainly the way it's been doing it.

CAVUTO: Have you talked, met, discussed much with the president, Michelle?

STEWART: I have not met the president. And, someday, I hope to.

And — and I think he's — you know, everybody is talking now, is he doing a good job? I think we have to give him a little bit more time. It is not — not — not too — not too long since he took office. And he had a big mess to contend with. So...

CAVUTO: Right. Because you were not a big fan of his predecessor?




CAVUTO: Martha Stewart, thank you.


STEWART: Boy, this turned out to be a political discussion.


CAVUTO: Don't — don't give me an attitude.

STEWART: Glitter. Glitter. Our bestselling...

CAVUTO: What is that?

STEWART: Our bestselling product at Michaels and at Wal-Mart, glitter. People like shine and glitter and...

CAVUTO: What do you put it on?

STEWART: Oh, on paper — on...


CAVUTO: Oh, so they could put this on the health care package, at least make it more attractive-looking?

STEWART: Maybe. Maybe.


CAVUTO: I'm kidding. I'm kidding.

Martha Stewart...

STEWART: Always fun to talk to you, Neil.

CAVUTO: It is — you don't mean that, but I...


STEWART: I do. I do.

CAVUTO: But it's great...

STEWART: You finish off the day very nicely.


CAVUTO: There you go.

Martha Stewart, it is always, always a pleasure — back big time, Martha Stewart.

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