On the 40th anniversary of the opening of Home Depot on Monday, Fox News’ Neil Cavuto interviewed two of the founders of Home Depot, Bernie Marcus and Ken Langone, and when Cavuto brought up Bernie Sanders, Marcus, whose own philanthropy has been massive, snapped, “Don’t bring up Bernie Sanders, because that’s a red flag in front of me. He is the enemy of every entrepreneur that’s ever going to be born in this country and has been born in the past.”
The interview started with Marcus recalling how the partners who started the business created it in the midst of the horrible economic climate under Jimmy Carter.
Marcus stated, “We couldn’t get a banker to get us a line of credit; we had no money. Kenny had raised two million dollars, but we’re opening four stores with two million dollars. Can’t be done. We had no money. And no bank, no bank in Atlanta would give us money. Kenny’s friends all over in Chicago, in fact, one member of the board, his father was the biggest banker in Dallas, and his father was an investor and wouldn’t give us a line of credit.”
Cavuto: What didn’t they like about it?
Langone: No credit. What are you talking about? We had an idea; that’s all we had.
Later, Marcus noted, “This Home Depot is probably the poster child for capitalism. When I hear Bernie Sanders talking about ‘socialize,’ this could never happen in a socialized system; never happen.”
Cavuto pointed out, “But it happened in a pretty difficult economic period.” He added, “If you were starting in an environment like we have today, much lower taxes, much more stable economic environment, what do you think?”
Marcus explained, “First of all, it would be very difficult today. The government is really working against you. You know, one of the things Kenny and I were talking about in the car coming up here; before we went public I made a commitment to people that I hired. I said, ‘Look, if we’re successful and we have a public offering, every single person working here is going to get stock in the company.’ And Arthur (Blank, another co-founder) and I limited our salaries; we took no options. We are the only company I know of, we never took an option. Ever, ever. I could be as rich as Warren Buffett today but I would rather have every assistant manager, every manager, secretaries …”
Cavuto noted approvingly that Marcus paid more than the minimum wage: “You never paid the minimum wage.”
Marcus agreed, “Never the minimum wage … Look, we had a great story today. A guy working for us 36 years, and he spoke to Craig Menear and said, ‘I’m retiring.’ And Craig said, ‘Why are you retiring,’ and he said, ‘The truth of the matter is, my dividends are worth more than my salary.’ He made more money on dividends than he did on his salary.”
Cavuto noted that some billionaires like George Soros and others have been pushing for higher taxes. Marcus answered, “They trust the government more than I do. I can’t tell you how much money we’ve given away. My foundation has actually given away more than 2 billion dollars. I would rather give it away than have some congressman give it away. We’ve built hospitals; we built the Georgia aquarium, which you happened to be at; we have cardiac units, stroke units … look, we do better with our money than the government’s going . Why would I want the government to have it. Anything they touch …”
Cavuto later pointed out, “Bernie Sanders is out today with a plan that will tax the Wall Street trades, pennies on the dollar, but it’s a start to pay for, among other things, college debt, and maybe free college down the road.”
Marcus replied, “Well, look, don’t bring up Bernie Sanders, because that’s a red flag in front of me. He is the enemy of every entrepreneur that’s ever going to be born in this country and has been born in the past.” He added, “Our kids today don’t learn Western civilization; they don’t learn history. History repeats itself. You see things happening over and over again.”