Whitman: 'Let's Get the Economy Moving Again'

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST OF “YOUR WORLD”: Well, there was so much in the president’s presser today that we were following. He had another message for job-creators.

This one--Quit whining.


PRESIDENT OBAMA: The business community is always complaining about regulations. When unemployment’s at 3 percent and they’re making record profits, they’re going to still complain about regulations because, frankly, they want to be able to do whatever they think is going to maximize their profits.


CAVUTO: Let’s say that’s true. Let’s make the leap that it’s true. Is it any way or any incentive to get those businesses hiring?

Meg Whitman knows what it takes to create jobs. When she started eBay -- think of this -- the company had about 30 workers and less than $5 million in revenues. When she left 10 years later, try 15,000 workers, almost $8 billion in revenue.

Who better to talk about how to get jobs going and how to get this economy going than the former CEO of eBay, the former Republican gubernatorial candidate in the fine state of California?

Meg, good to have you.

MEG WHITMAN, FORMER CEO, EBAY: Nice to see you, Neil.

CAVUTO: If you were still -- well, indirectly, you are, with your work now -- but hiring, would this and the remarks you heard from the president today propel you and compel you to hire?

WHITMAN: No, it would give me great concern, because there’s tremendous uncertainty. Are taxes going up? Are we going to be able to balance the budget deficit? What’s happening internationally with our trade agreements?

Businesspeople can deal with almost anything. Uncertainty is not good. And, boy, it seemed to me that there was also a bit of demonization of free enterprise today. And free enterprise is what’s going to put people back to work. So it wouldn’t have given me great confidence, I have to say.

CAVUTO: Meg, I think he called you -- and that is -- I’m making a collective you here -- whiners about regulations, about needless government oversight. What do -- what did you make of that?

WHITMAN: You know he’s just wrong about that. Most businesspeople I know, whether they’re running a big company or a small business, they don’t want no regulation. They just want fair regulations that give them a chance to start a business, get the real estate, hire people.

And, gosh, in almost every state in the country, including California, it’s harder, not easier, to start a business and hire people. And that’s not going to get Americans back to work. And if we want sustainable revenue growth, sustainable GDP growth, the only way to do that is to put people back to work.

CAVUTO: There was so much in the press conference, since it was almost entirely about the economy -- questions about Afghanistan obviously came up -- but it really was economic-centered. He started referring to those who keep this budget process going on and on and on -- I assume he’s yapping about Republicans -- that they’re selfish.

I want you to listen to this and get your reaction to this.

OK. Maybe we don’t have it.

But what he essentially is saying is, look, bottom line, you’re against this and you’re selfish being against it. Is that enough to foster the debate and get it moving forward?

WHITMAN: Listen, this president ran on the platform of bringing people together, meeting in the middle. And it has not worked out that way at all.

And that’s why I think there is a big hunger for new leadership. In the end, what makes change is great leadership. And he has not been a good leader on the economy or many other things. And I don’t think it makes sense to call people names. I don’t think it makes sense to call people whiners.

Let’s solve the problems. The times when the president has been popular is when he’s met in the middle and he has brought people together. He needs to do more of that. And the number-one issue that people care about is their job, their house, their payments on their car.

Let’s get this economy moving again. And I don’t think it makes any sense to be demonizing the other side.

CAVUTO: Now, what he has been saying again and again today -- he certainly pounded this theme again today -- is that he does want to move forward. He looks at the congressional schedule -- now there’s late word that the Senate might skip its July 4 recess to hammer out a budget accord.

Be that as it may, he’s saying that they are needlessly dragging this on and he is doing everything he can to avoid it. But someone has to give some ground here. Republicans say they’re not going to on the tax hike issue. Democrats say they’ve got to give some ground on that issue. How do you think it ultimately works out?

WHITMAN: Well, I understand why the Republicans are saying, you know, no higher taxes. This is not the time to be raising taxes.

Listen, here’s what I would do, I think, if I was trying to solve this problem. Listen, what we need to do is, first, let’s streamline taxes and close all the loopholes. Loopholes aren’t fair. It doesn’t make sense that some big corporations can pay no taxes. So, let’s lower the corporate tax rates.

CAVUTO: Would you make the loophole part of the deal right now, Meg?

WHITMAN: I would.

CAVUTO: Because they would come back -- a lot of the purists come back and say, well, you know, you close these loopholes, we’re paying more.

WHITMAN: You know what?

CAVUTO: But you would be on board? That would be OK?

WHITMAN: You know what? That would be OK with me. Fair is fair.


WHITMAN: And so I’d lower the corporate tax rate. I would close all the loopholes. I’d make the tax rates simpler.

CAVUTO: Wait a minute. I’m sorry to jump on you again.


CAVUTO: If they don’t want to lower the tax rate, but they DO want to simplify it, so that the loopholes are gone and, thereby they’re paying more taxes...

WHITMAN: I would be -- yes, I would be in favor of that as well.

I mean, you know what? We have got to -- fair is fair. We can’t have companies with thousands of people in the tax department. I think let’s just be -- close the loopholes, be simple, and let’s move forward.

CAVUTO: But Republicans are objecting to that. They do not want to sign on to that, because purists or whatever they want to call them, they think that would send a bad message, particularly to the Tea Party folks. What do you think?

WHITMAN: You know, I think you’ve got to move this ship down the road here. Everyone’s going to have to give a little. And that seems like a fair thing.

And then I think you have got to simplify the regulations, give business and free enterprise certainty. That will help a lot. And then we’ve got to work on the entitlements. I think Paul Ryan is headed in the right direction on Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. It’s not easy. But doing nothing is not an option.

So I think he’s got some good ideas. We can tweak those ideas. But I think if we do not balance this budget -- it was interesting. David Cameron in the U.K. said something interesting. He said, without a balanced budget, there is no confidence. Without (AUDIO GAP) there is no growth.

And I think he is exactly right. We have got to get our own financial house in order. And everyone’s going to have to give a little.

CAVUTO: You know you -- you lost a disappointing one in California, but methinks in a way you might have won in this respect, that the budget that has been agreed to, no tax hikes.


CAVUTO: And something that you had said had to be done, and, by Governor Jerry Brown, now appears to have been done, what do you make of that?

WHITMAN: So, the good news is the people of California are going to avoid a big tax increase. And their taxes starting on Friday are going to be lower. And that is really good news for the people of California.

Unfortunately, it is a political budget without a road map to real reform, like we know California really needs. So, it relies on about $11 billion of what they call unanticipated revenue.

Where I come from, unanticipated revenue often means that revenue won’t actually materialize. So the budget’s predicated on a very optimistic view of economic activity bringing in more revenue. I don’t know that that is going to happen. And then about $3.5 billion of gimmicks.

And then here’s the really tragic part of it. Its $10 billion of cuts, but the cruelest kind of cuts, in my view, some of which were necessary, but we didn’t go after pension reform. We didn’t go after the size of government. Here we are cutting the University of California and California State University, and public employee pensions are untouched and the size of government is untouched in terms of the number of people working at the state -- at the state level.

CAVUTO: Today in New Jersey, the state Assembly voted, through a Democrat Assembly, another shot at this millionaires tax, a surtax for those earning more than $1 million in the Garden State.

The governor, Chris Christie, is almost sure to veto that, as he did last year, but they keep bringing this up year in, year out. Do you think there should be a graduated tax for the rich in this case, whether the cutoff is $1 million and up, that it’s a graduated rate?

WHITMAN: Well, there is already a very significant millionaire’s tax in California. I think it’s another 1 percent for people who make over; I think its $1 million a year.

Here’s the problem. In California, we are driving out innovation. We’re driving out businesses. We’re driving out manufacturers because it’s a high-cost place to do business, a high tax rate, and the regulations are stifling business.

And I know often people say, that’s not true, people are not leaving California. Actually, it is true. Expansions. If -- take a Google or any of the Silicon Valley companies. When they add, they don’t usually add people in California. They add them in Texas or Virginia or other states, or they add overseas.

And that’s because it’s difficult to do business here.


WHITMAN: And we’re going to have to compete for manufacturing jobs. We have gutted manufacturing in this country. It is the path to -- for the middle class.


WHITMAN: And this country was built on manufacturing. And my belief is we’ve got to fight for every single manufacturing job. And it is not a lost cause.

CAVUTO: Meg Whitman, always fun. Thank you very, very much -- Meg Whitman.

WHITMAN: Nice to see you, Neil. Take care.

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