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Howard Dean: ‘Tired’ of Anti-Tax Rhetoric

Thursday, 14 Jun 2012 | 10:15 PM ET
President Barack Obama in the Oval Office
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President Barack Obama in the Oval Office

Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean blasted anti-tax rhetoric Thursday, arguing that Americans owed something back to the nation that created the world’s most successful economy.

In an appearance with Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus on CNBC’s “The Kudlow Report,” Dean took a shot at the businessman’s stance.

“You made a lot of money because you live in the United States of America,” he said. “We owe something to the government to grow up in this great country. I’m tired of hearing people in the private sector talk like they don’t owe the government anything. We do. This is a great country because we all pay into it. It’s about time we all pay into it.”

Dean also brought former President Bill Clintonrecently praised for having lowered federal spending as a percentage of GDP, even amid higher tax rates — into the mix.

“If we paid the same amount of taxes we paid when Bill Clinton was president, I would be a happy guy, and the budget would be closer to balanced,” he said. “You cannot give away money, whether you give it to rich or poor people. That’s what George Bush did — excuse me, trillions of dollars. You can’t do that.”

Dean also ripped into presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

“Why turn the economy over to a guy who invests in the Cayman Islands, has a Swiss bank account and who’s advocating doing the same things which wrecked the economy in the first place, which is giving the Wall Street guys free rein to do whatever they want,” he said. “That makes no sense at all. I think the idea that Mitt Romney will be the next president — given the record of Wall Street and creating this mess — is laughable.”

Taking the opposing view, Marcus bashed President Obama with a backhanded compliment based on his speech to undecided voters in Ohio.

Romney, Obama Running Even in Ohio
CNBC's John Harwood discusses President Obama and Mitt Romney's dueling visions. Howard Dean, (D) former Vermont governor, and Bernie Marcus, Home Depot co-founder, discuss President Obama's campaign for re-election.

“I will tell you that Barack Obama is one of the great orators I have heard. He can make something out of nothing, which is exactly what happened here. He talked about nothing,” Marcus said. “If I didn’t know better, I would think he’s running for office and has not been the president for years.

“He never brings up the fact that he had a Congress that was made up of Democrats, both the House and Senate. He could have passed legislation. He could have done all the things he wanted to do. He never did it.”

Marcus also criticized Obama’s inability to have a budget passed, not just in the Republican-led House of Representatives, but in the Democratic-majority Senate.

“I don’t know what he thinks he’s doing. I don’t know if he thinks that the American people don’t have a clue what’s going on,” he said.

But Marcus didn’t stop there, levying his comments to include the rest of the Obama administration.

“I think the problem is that he’s surrounded by people that know less than he does. I don’t expect more of the president. He never worked in the real world. He doesn’t understand how a business survives or how a business runs. He’s surrounded himself with people who know less than he does,” he said.

“The billion dollars he spent did nothing for the economy, and he wants to spend more money, and where is the balance of the budget? I don’t understand how you can be balancing the budget while spending a trillion dollars more. If somebody can explain that to me, I’m only a business guy. I don’t know anything. Maybe the economists, maybe the politicians understand this. I don’t get it. I don’t really understand it.”

Tune in:

"The Kudlow Report" airs weeknights at 7 p.m. ET.

Questions? Comments, send your emails to: lkudlow@kudlow.com

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  • Lawrence Kudlow is a CNBC senior contributor. Previously, Kudlow was anchor of CNBC's prime-time program "The Kudlow Report"