The billionaire founder of Home Depot got into a heated debate with Elizabeth Warren over Social Security payouts, and wound up getting a civics lesson from the Democratic senator.
An indignant Ken Langone, 85, demanded to know why he received $3,000 each month from the government despite being worth $5.8 billion.
“How do you rationalize giving me $3,000 a month check every month with all my wealth?” Mr Langone asked the senator on CNBC’s Squawk Box on Wednesday morning.
“Why don’t you people have the courage to address entitlements as to what should no longer be an entitlement? I shouldn’t get Social Security.”
Ms Warren, long a thorn in the side of big business for her tax reform crusade, explained to Mr Langone that he had earned the monthly dividend from the federal government for payroll tax contributions over his long business career.
“Social Security is … structured as an insurance policy,” Ms Warren told the longtime Republican Party donor.
“And you paid in year after year after year. It’s not somebody’s welfare. It’s not somebody’s charity.
“Surely, you wouldn’t want to be the person who would go on national TV and say: After a contract has been negotiated, and someone has paid into it for 40 years, that the federal government should turn around and say, ‘Oops, we changed our mind. We’re not going to give you the payout that you earned by making those payments all those years.’”
Mr Langone went on to ask why corporations hadn’t yet been forced to pay a minimum tax rate.
Ms Warren countered that, in fact she had proposed exactly that under her Real Corporate Profits Tax.
The plan would see corporations pay seven per cent tax for every dollar of profit they earn over $100 million.
“That means Amazon would pay $698 million in taxes instead of paying zero,” according to Ms Warren’s website.
She went on to say she was determined to see the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share of tax.
“It shouldn’t make a difference whether you have real estate, or whether you have cash or whether you have a bazillion shares of Amazon. Yes, Jeff Bezos, I’m looking at you,” Ms Warren said.