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On the November 1 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto, Charles Payne, CEO of Wall Street Strategies, a stock market research company, claimed that this year has been "so awful for [President Bush] and the Republicans" that the United States is becoming vulnerable to an "anti-capitalistic, pro-communist" movement, warning, "We better be careful." Payne's remarks came at the end of a segment discussing government regulations on the oil and pharmaceutical industries.
To introduce the segment, host Neil Cavuto asked, "Will we soon be replacing pictures of President Bush with Karl Marx?" and "So, red [communist] we [United States] go huh?" To which Payne replied, "It's looking that way." As evidence for his assertion, Payne cited a "movement" that has "really [started to] steamroll": "taking profits from a company because you think they're too profitable." Payne appeared to be referring to a proposal by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) to create a temporary windfall profit tax on the oil industry to help pay for Hurricane Katrina relief.
Payne defended oil giant ExxonMobil Corp.'s recent surge in profits with a falsehood, "There are a whole lot of businesses that are a lot more profitable." In fact, last quarter, ExxonMobil posted a profit of $9.9 billion, the largest quarterly profit ever posted by a publicly traded corporation, coming during a time when hurricanes reduced the company's U.S. production capabilities by at least 5 percent. The record profits sparked Senate hearings into high energy costs, requests for investigations into price gouging, and renewed efforts for a windfall profit tax on oil companies' profits that are not used for exploration and development. But when Cavuto asked if Payne's concern was that such inquiries and proposals were "destroying what made this country great," Payne responded, "Exactly. What I'm really nervous about is that this is becoming a populist view."
From the November 1 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto:
CAVUTO: Will we soon be replacing pictures of President Bush with Karl Marx? Well, my next guest is seeing red. He says that the clamor for oil companies to give back profits, for pharmaceutical companies to give away valuable flu drugs, and the antics we see probably on the Hill today -- communism, pure and simple. Joining me now is Charles Payne. He's the CEO of Wall Street Strategies. So, red we go, huh?
PAYNE: Well, it's looking that way. It really is alarming though, Neil. When you talk about taking -- in a capitalistic society -- taking profits from a company because you think they're too profitable and, you know, making them pay a price for that, it's a little scary. Now, we had examples of this right after the Iraq war. One of the movements that began was this excessive profit-taking tax, where any company that benefited off Iraq - the War or the rebuilding -- should give back those profits. And now we're starting to see that type of thinking really steamroll. You know, it's --
CAVUTO: Even the Republicans, right? [Sen.] Judd Gregg [R-NH], he was supposed to be on this show today, but he's caught up on this whole sort of soap opera on Capital Hill. But, his argument has been, you know, that the oil companies are different because they provide a valuable national, almost emergency, service.
PAYNE: Yeah, well, by the same token though, we learned from the 1970s that we can change our behavior as consumers. Also, we live in an environment of supply and demand. Obviously, if the prices were too high, we would stop using it. I mean, obvious. Yeah, we need to get to work, and we need to go to schools, but there's a lot of wasteful usage of oil. The bottom line, though -- take ExxonMobil for example. Yeah, they made $110 billion in sales, but they only brought 10 percent of that down to the bottom line. There are a whole lot of businesses that are a lot more profitable, so if you start talking about targeting a specific business, where does it stop?
CAVUTO: Yeah. So, your concern is that with the best of intentions Capitol Hill, now with Republicans in concert, is destroying what made the country great.
PAYNE: Exactly. What I'm really nervous about is that this is becoming a populist view. If you go on the street and poll the average man or woman, they do view the oil companies as some sort of villains. They do believe that the pharmaceutical companies should give away their patents. You know, not knowing that it takes innovation to create these sorts of patents, that you must protect that innovation. Not knowing, that it takes a lot of money to drill --
CAVUTO: But what about when you have international emergencies? Let's say there is this pandemic bird flu thing, which I'm not quite sure that there is. But, nevertheless, the fear is out there -- that you have an obligation as a company to share that technology?
PAYNE: I would submit that there may be some times when you have to do that, but I think we're putting the cart so far in front of the horse right now. And again, we're talking --
CAVUTO: So, we're all becoming a nation of communists?
PAYNE: It's scary, it really is scary. I think what helped this out is that President Bush -- this year is so awful for him and the Republicans that he's become vulnerable, and it's sort of added fire to this movement. But, definitely anti-capitalistic, pro-communist, and we've got to be careful.
CAVUTO: All right, Charles Payne. Thank you very much.