When: Today, Friday, Nov. 30, 2012
Where: CNBC's "Closing Bell"
Following is the unofficial transcript of a CNBC interview with Marriott International CEO Arne Sorenson today, Friday, November 20th on CNBC's "Closing Bell." Here is a link to embeddable video of the interview: http://video.cnbc.com/gallery/?video=3000132643.
All references must be sourced to CNBC.
MARIA BARTIROMO: MEANWHILE, MARRIOTT CEO ARNE SORENSON WAS ONE OF THE CEOs IN THE ROOM WITH PRESIDENT OBAMA THIS WEEK IN THOSE FISCAL CLIFF MEETINGS. MANY OF THE EXECUTIVES SAYING THAT THE WHITE HOUSE SOUNDED RESOUNDINGLY REASONABLE WHEN DESCRIBING PLANS TO ADDRESS THE DEBT AND DEFICIT INTO THE FISCAL CLIFF NEGOTIATIONS.
BILL GRIFFETH: SO WAS THIS PROPOSAL THE WHITE HOUSE MADE YESTERDAY WITH MORE SPENDING AND VERY FEW SPENDING CUTS, WAS THAT WHAT MR. SORENSON WAS EXPECTING OUT OF THE GATE? HE JOINS US ON THE TELEPHONE WITH HIS THOUGHTS. GOOD TO HAVE YOU WITH US, ARNE. THANKS FOR BEING WITH US TODAY.
ARNE SORENSON: GLAD TO BE WITH YOU.
GRIFFETH: FROM WHAT YOU HEARD, WHEN YOU WERE WITH THE OTHER CEOs AT THE WHITE HOUSE, DOES IT JIVE WITH WHAT WE'RE HEARING ABOUT THAT MADE MITCH McCONNELL LAUGH YESTERDAY? ARE THOSE TWO PLANS ONE IN THE SAME?
SORENSON: WELL, I'M HOPEFUL THAT WHAT'S HAPPENING IN THE MEDIA IS POSTURING BY BOTH PARTIES AND DOESN'T REFLECT WHERE EITHER PARTY THINKS A DEAL WILL END UP. I THINK WHAT THE PRESIDENT TALKED WITH US ABOUT ON WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON WAS MUCH MORE A SENSE OF WHERE THINGS OUGHT TO END UP, AND THAT WAS, I THINK, SOMEWHAT DIFFERENT THAN WHAT IT SOUNDS LIKE WAS PROPOSED TO McCONNELL YESTERDAY.
GRIFFETH: SO YOU DIDN'T HEAR ABOUT THE TAX INCREASE FOR THE WEALTHIEST, THE SPENDING INCREASES THAT MADE MITCH McCONNELL LAUGH. I MEAN, THOSE SPECIFICS YOU DIDN'T GET INTO WITH THE PRESIDENT ON WEDNESDAY, IS THAT WHAT YOU'RE SAYING?
SORENSON: WELL, WE CERTAINLY TALKED WITH THE PRESIDENT AND HEARD FROM THE PRESIDENT ABOUT THE EXPECTATION THAT THERE NEEDED TO BE REVENUE INCREASES. HE WAS QUITE BLUNT IN SAYING THAT HE THOUGHT IN ORDER TO GET THE REVENUE INCREASES, IT HAD TO INCLUDE SOME INCREASE IN THE MARGINAL RATES FOR THE HIGHEST EARNERS. THAT WAS THE SAME SORT OF-- SPECIFICALLY, HE SAID I THINK IT WOULD BE USEFUL IF YOU ALL COULD BE HELPFUL IN SAYING THAT COULD OR NEEDS TO BE A PIECE OF THE SOLUTION. BUT I THINK HE WAS ALSO SAYING THAT HE HAD BEEN CONSISTENT ON THE CAMPAIGN IN SAYING THAT THERE WOULD BE $2 OF SPENDING CUTS FOR EACH DOLLAR OF REVENUE INCREASES. HE WASN'T BACKING AWAY FROM THAT.
BARTIROMO: BUT DURING THE CAMPAIGN, ARNE, HE SAID THAT HE—INITIALLY DURING THE CAMPAIGN HE WAS TALKING ABOUT $800 BILLION IN REVENUE. BUT NOW THE PRESIDENT, OF COURSE, HIS PROPOSAL IS $1.6 TRILLION SO HE'S TALKING ABOUT DOUBLE THE AMOUNT OF REVENUE. DID HE DISCUSS $1.6 TRILLION IN THAT MEETING?
SORENSON: HE TALKED ABOUT 1.2 TO 1.5. YOU KNOW, HOPEFULLY THERE'S A DEAL HERE IN THE TRILLION TO TRILLION AND A QUARTER RANGE IN REVENUES. BUT I THINK FOR IT TO BE BALANCED, AND IT'S ESSENTIAL IT IS BALANCED, LET'S GET THE REPUBLICANS ON BOARD, BUT I THINK ALSO TO DEAL WITH THE REALITY OF THE FISCAL ISSUES. I THINK THERE NEEDS TO BE AT LEAST AS MUCH IN SPENDING, WHETHER IT'S ENTITLEMENT OR OTHER SPENDING SAVINGS.
BARTIROMO: SO WHAT DID HE SAY ABOUT SPENDING CUTS? DID HE TALK ABOUT REALLY PUTTING THE KNIFE TO MEDICARE AND SOME OF THESE ENTITLEMENTS, OR WAS IT ALL DEFENSE OR WHAT? WHERE DO THE CUTS COME FROM IN SPENDING?
SORENSON: IT WAS NOT TERRIBLY SPECIFIC ON SPENDING, BUT I THINK WHAT HE SAID CERTAINLY WOULD SUGGEST THAT IT COMPREHENDS ENTITLEMENT REFORM. NOT JUST OTHER CATEGORIES OF SPENDING. IN FACT, AS EVERYBODY'S NOTED, IT'S HARD TO FIND THE DOLLARS WITHOUT GOING AFTER ENTITLEMENTS. I THINK THERE'S A SENSE IN THE WHITE HOUSE IN THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY, IT WOULDN'T BE SURPRISING, THAT IT'S REALLY IMPORTANT BOTH PARTY'S FINGERPRINTS ARE ON ENTITLEMENT REFORM SO THE OTHER DOESN'T HAVE THE ABILITY TO TAKE CHEAP SHOTS AND SAY WE HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH THAT. I'M HOPEFUL, BUT AGAIN I'M NOT A POLITICIAN, AND I'M NOT IN THESE ROOMS. BUT I'M HOPEFUL THAT WE'VE GOT A SORT OF KABUKI DANCE WHICH IS PLAYING OUT IN PUBLIC AND IN PRIVATE WE HAVE FOLKS NEGOTIATING AT SOMETHING MUCH MORE BALANCED AND THAT DOES INCLUDE ENTITLEMENT REFORM AND THAT BOTH PARTIES WILL HAVE THEIR FINGERPRINTS ON IT.
GRIFFETH: WE SURE HOPE YOU ARE RIGHT ON THAT. YOU WROTE IN "THE HUFFINGTON POST" IN YOUR OP-ED PIECE THAT YOU SAID POLITICS ASIDE, YOU FELT THERE COULD BE A RESOLUTION ON ALL THIS. BUT CAN WE GET PAST THE POLITICS RIGHT NOW, DO YOU THINK?
SORENSON: WELL, I THINK THAT REQUIRES THESE FOLKS TO ACT LIKE ADULTS AND TO BE IN A ROOM TOGETHER. I REALLY DON'T THINK IT'S THAT HARD. I PUT IT IN THE OP-ED PIECE. I THINK, MOST OF THIS STUFF HAS BEEN COSTED OUT. I THINK, IN MANY RESPECTS THEY'VE ALREADY GOT LANGUAGE PROBABLY DRAFTED. WE HAVE LOTS OF BILLS. AND SO IF YOU GO BACK TO NEGOTIATIONS FROM DECEMBER OF '11 OR TO SIMPSON/BOWLES, ITSELF OR TO THE NEGOTIATIONS WHICH ARE HAPPENING TODAY, THE THING I PUSH MOST IS DON'T DO TOO LITTLE IN DECEMBER. DON'T LET US GO THROUGH 2013 WITH THIS HANGING OVER OUR HEAD AGAIN.
BARTIROMO: ARNE, THANKS SO MUCH.
SORENSON: YOU BET. HAVE A GOOD WEEKEND.
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