CNBC Exclusive: CNBC Transcript: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Speaks with CNBC’s Brian Sullivan on “Last Call” Today

Breaking News from CNBC’s David Faber: Microsoft has offered to make small divestiture to meet objections of CMA – Sources

WHEN: Monday, August 14, 2023

WHERE: CNBC’s “Last Call”

Following is the unofficial transcript of a CNBC EXCLUSIVE interview with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and CNBC’s Brian Sullivan that aired during CNBC’s “Last Call” (M-F, 7PM-8PM ET) today, Monday, August 14th. Video will be available on

All references must be sourced to CNBC.


Governor Ron DeSantis: If you go back to when China was put in the WTO, and given most favored nation status, what was promised to the American people, they said it would lead to China becoming more democratic and peaceful. That has not happened. They said it would provide protections against theft of intellectual property. That obviously has not happened. They said that we would manufacture things and then export those goods to China, but we wouldn’t lose massive manufacturing. Obviously, that didn’t happen. So, what was promised in terms of this relationship with China has not been delivered. And so, what’s happened? The United States has been the number one source of Chinese wealth and what have they done with that wealth? They have built up their military, they are the top threat to this country. Now their military may not be at our level yet, but they’re going there. Their leader President Xi is the most ideological leader that China’s had since Chairman Mao, his ambitions are very significant. They want to overtake the United States. So, what I would say is when we have a situation – and you guys cover this with these business leaders, they say something maybe a little off color about China, what do they have to do like the next day? They have to come out and bend the knee. They have to apologize for saying that. Someone in the NBA says something critical about human rights, and then a ton of bricks comes down on them. So, they wield a lot of power over our society –

Brian Sullivan: But Governor, what do we do about that? Do we just stop buying shoes, Nike shoes that are made in China? Stop buying iPhones that are made in China? How do we counterbalance that?

Gov. DeSantis: Well, we’re going to do strategic decoupling. So, if you look like in Covid, I mean, you guys covered. Almost everything that we needed to respond to Covid was made in China. So many things that are vital to our national survival, we rely on China to be able to get some of those materials. You also have policies now with the Biden administration trying to force electric vehicles. All that stuff is created initially in China, so it makes us more dependent on it. So, we want to identify those industries that are really significant, and we don’t want to rely on China. Onshore, Friendshore, a combination of both, but we’ve put ourselves in a vulnerable situation.

Sullivan: Well we have, but here’s the issue. Your constituents here in North Florida – all across Florida, all across America, right? We’ve become accustomed – almost addicted – to inexpensive goods, right. Cheap items, socks, whatever it is. Made in China. We want to manufacturer here, but the reality is those products may be more expensive. How do you tell the American consumer China may be a threat, we need you to buy American, but it’s going to cost you a little bit more? That’s a hard economic message.

Gov. DeSantis: Well, here’s the thing, though. I mean, I think we – our focus is going to be less maybe on like a typical consumer good, then it would be on things that are more significant in terms of our defense, in terms of pharmaceuticals, in terms of things that you really, really would need, and I think it’s going to be a combination. I think we’re gonna have to provide better regulatory and tax incentives for this to be viable. I mean, I understand the economics of this. I mean, there’s a reason why stuff has been outsourced to China, because it can be done cheaper, and people can make more money on that. I get that. But at the same time, we just have to understand we’re in a predicament here, and if we continue going in this direction – on this current course, China is likely going to overtake us in terms of economic strength, and why is that important? We’ve never had a peer competitor in our lifetime – the Axis powers during World War II or the Soviet Union, who was on our level economically – and the Soviet Union wasn’t even close. It was basically a Potemkin village. Ronald Reagan understood that, he basically spent them into the dustbin of history. China, if they are overtaking us economically, that is going to change the world. It will change the daily lives of American families if the Chinese are dominating the world. So, I think this decade is the decisive decade. I don’t think it’s only economic, but I do think it’s primarily economic. And you guys have covered you know, you are seeing less interest in China marginally now, because I think a lot of companies understand there’s risks associated with investing in China, given all the geopolitical realities we face.

Sullivan: Their economy right now is slowing down dramatically. It’s in fact some people might say the property sector is in shambles. That aside, getting a little bit too much into the weeds in China there. But let’s just say first off, do you think they would take military action against Taiwan? I’m going to ask you that as a former naval officer, and if so, what’s our proper response economically? Because to your point, they do manufacture most of our pharmaceuticals, the critical minerals that we need for electric car batteries, personal protective equipment to your point, Governor.

Gov. DeSantis: So, would they do it? Xi would do it if he thinks they could get away with it. And so what do we need to do? Our policy needs to be one that will deny their ability to do that and deter them from wanting to do it. If he thinks that they are going to end up buying more problems than they’re solving by – they will not do it. Right now, we don’t have an adequate defense posture in the Indo-Pacific to be able to deter it. I think if you look at the Biden administration, you listen to people like Janet Yellen, they’re living in a different reality than I think where most people are on this. They are not –

Sullivan: Why? What’s that reality? What’s wrong with it?

Gov. DeSantis: Well, I think they think that China’s just like, you know that this is kind of like a healthy competition. And that’s not how I would view it. I would view them as an adversary. And I think it’s – that doesn’t mean you don’t deal with them. Of course, you got to deal with a lot of people. But that is not the direction we need to go. And so if you look at our defense posture, we really still are stuck in Europe being the primary theater of our concern, and that was understandable after World War II because you had the Cold War and all that, of course. But now the Indo-Pacific really needs to be our top concern because the China threat is so much more significant than I think any other threat that we face. And that’s going to require more hard power. Yes, more naval power, we have like 280 ships right now in our Navy. Ronald Reagan, in the 80s, he had it almost up to 600 ships. So, we need to do more in terms of a naval build up all with an eye to projecting power in the Indo-Pacific. I think you can deter China. I think time is running out to do it, but I think we can do it.

Sullivan: I think I just heard defense budgets might stay the same under a DeSantis presidency, especially on the naval side. Switch to the economy if we can. You have a plan 3% growth. You want to do that in part by cutting bureaucracy. What bureaucracy would you cut?

Gov. DeSantis: Well, first of all, we’re going to take all the executive orders and the regulations that Biden has done, and we’re going to rip them out. If you look at a lot of what’s been done, they’re putting a lot of weight on the economy with these administrative rules. And these are things that are not appropriate. And you see that in every agency from the EPA, SEC, all these different agencies. So you’re going to have a huge amount of freedom from these rules and regulations. We’re going to rip them out. We’re going to let the economy function again. We are going to – our goal is going to be to reduce the footprint of all agencies in DC by 50% and some of that –

Sullivan: How much?

Gov. DeSantis: By 50%.

Sullivan: 5-0.

Gov. DeSantis: Yeah, and some of that will be reduction through attrition as people retire, some of that will be transferring to other parts of the country, getting them out of DC. Some of it will involve layoffs and using Article 2 power to do it. But the agencies in our government have grown 50% since 2019 if you look at how – their funding levels. I don’t think there’s any American that thinks they’re 50% better off for those agencies having grown by 50%. But there’s also a larger issue at stake here. A lot of the most significant issues that affect our economy, our daily life. What kind of energy you can use, what kind of car you can drive, heck, they even talk about things like gas stoves. We, by the way in Florida, we made gas stoves tax free. We want people to be able to make that decision. But these are being done by nameless, faceless bureaucrats. They’re not being done by our elected representatives. And that creates a problem with constitutional government. Because if you do something in your – if you’re in Congress, you vote for something people don’t like, your constituents can hold you accountable. Congress has given so much power to the bureaucracy, and it exercises this power over us. I think it’s bad for the economy for sure. But it is bad for self government. I mean, we want power to be accountable and too much of it is not right now.

Sullivan: But again, connect the dots sir, how does cutting headcount in DC by 50% boost GDP?

Gov. DeSantis: Because you’re gonna have less bureaucratic interference with the economy, particularly small and medium sized businesses. When you go talk to people – you know, I’ll talk to folks in Iowa, New Hampshire as I’m going around – usually we think like oh, the government’s taxing. And look, we’re gonna have low taxes. It’s by far the regulatory burden that they complain about the most. And what it ends up doing is big regulatory burden gives an advantage to the biggest, most entrenched companies at the expense of the smaller companies and the upstart companies. And so, that’s going to be a big weight that you lift off. We are not going to be micromanaging from Washington. We’re gonna give people a breather from that.

Sullivan: You said we’re gonna have low taxes. Let’s talk about that. Because we’re headed toward $1 trillion in interest payments on the national debt alone. Deficits are still over a trillion dollars, the CBO says they’re gonna go up. Does debt matter? And if it does, what do we do to bring down national debt? Because that would involve a lot of cutting, not just to your point, the bureaucracy in DC – that’s not going to do anything. How do we really get to the debt if indeed, we have to?

Gov. DeSantis: Well, I’ve been saying that our country is in a state of decline now – cultural, military, but also economic. And I think this debt picture is a great example of that. I mean, we’ve added like 12 trillion to the debt in like the last five or six years –

Sullivan: Both parties by the way.

Gov. DeSantis: 100%, I mean, this idea that it’s all the Democrats, I tell Republican audiences, both parties have done it. Both parties have been involved. And actually, Republicans are very tough when they’re out of power, but when they get in power, you know, they basically go on a spending binge too, and I think you’ve seen it over the last five or six years. So, 100% it’s a bipartisan thing. But how do we end up 32 trillion in debt? And a lot of it was how they handled the response to Covid. I mean, they did trillions and trillions of dollars, very little to show for it. The response was poor, but what the Congress has done, they’ve basically locked in that level of spending. Once government increases spending, that kind of becomes the new baseline. You can’t govern like that. In Florida, we basically do zero-based budgeting. So, you could head an agency in Florida, maybe you got a billion dollars last year. You’re not entitled to get more than a billion next year. You have to justify what you’re going to do. We don’t do that in Washington. So, debt does matter. The interest is gobbling up more and more percent. I mean, I think that percentage of GDP that’s dedicated to interest payments has doubled in the last five or six years. That is not healthy. Clearly, we gotta get inflation under control. Part of that is Congress should stop spending so much money. Part of that is grow the economy. Part of it is increased productivity. But part of it is energy independence and unleashing our domestic energy production. Biden’s made a decision to go with the Green New Deal and pursue that agenda. That is not an agenda that is going to help us reduce inflation. It’s not an agenda that’s going to be good for the average American family. It’s not an agenda that’s going to be good for maximum economic growth. We have an opportunity to have a huge competitive advantage with our energy resources here in the United States. But when you say don’t do that, focus more on EV, that’s emboldening Russia, Iran, Venezuela and China. So geopolitically it makes a lot of sense for us to be energy independent.

Sullivan: Going back to debts, okay. We hear about we need to raise taxes on the wealthy. We need to raise taxes on corporations. If elected, would you keep personal and or corporate tax rates where they are? What’s your tax plan?

Gov. DeSantis: Yeah, I think we need to – the current rates that are due to expire, we want to keep those rates in place.

Sullivan: You’re going to keep those cuts –

Gov. DeSantis: Yeah, but we don’t want to see increases in taxes. We definitely want to see things like permanent bonus depreciation, making sure you have full expensing. I think that that’s a really smart thing to do. That’s kind of been eroded over the last few years, but we gotta – we should do that. But here’s the thing. We are taking in as high a percentage of our GDP in taxes, as we have in any time since World War II, even when we had higher tax rates in like the 40s or 50s. And so, I don’t know how much more meat there is on the bone in terms of taxes. And so, I think we’re better off –

Sullivan: Where’s the money going? It’s going to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid –

Gov. DeSantis: Well, some of it. I mean, I think if you look at the last five or six years, most of that was the Congress deficit spending. I don’t think that that was because of Social Security. I mean, they did 2.2 trillion March of 2020. Another 2.2 trillion December of 2020, under Republicans. And then Biden did almost 2 trillion in March with the American Rescue Plan he did his infrastructure. So those were decisions to make to spend all that money. And so sometimes when people say, oh, it’s entitlements that are causing that, we didn’t go from 21 to 32 trillion because of entitlements. Largely it was because of discretionary decisions that the Congress has made.

Sullivan: Would you consider cuts to entitlement though? Would you consider raising retirement ages? Would you consider things like means testing for Social Security?

Gov. DeSantis: So, everybody who is getting the Social Security, Medicare – those promises have been made, those promises are going to be kept. I don’t think this idea that people say the Republicans want to take away people’s – that’s not going to happen. It’s important. I mean –

Sullivan: You’re guaranteeing it’s not going to happen? Guaranteeing on camera for CNBC –

Gov. DeSantis: Yeah, for the elderly or people near retirement you know, we’re gonna meet those obligations. You know, I mean, my grandmother lived till 91. That was all – that was her sole source of income was Social Security. And if you look now, there’s millions and millions of seniors out there where that’s their sole source. In an inflationary era, that’s really problematic because they do get a COLA, but the COLA is not enough to keep up –

Sullivan: The cost of living adjustment.

Gov. DeSantis: Yeah, the cost of living adjustment. So, that’s just that. And then of course in Florida, we have a lot of seniors. Now here’s the thing with the retirement age, you know, when it was created in the 30s, life expectancy was a lot different. But what’s happened in the last five or six years is life expectancy in the United States has gone down. And it’s gone down –

Sullivan: A lot of that was because of Covid reaction.

Gov. DeSantis: Some of it, but I think some of it was, I think it started before Covid and I think it’s continued even here afterwards. I think it’s more than just Covid. I mean, I think that there’s deaths of despair. I think you have drugs –

Sullivan: We have seen over 100,000 drug overdoses.

Gov. DeSantis: Yes. So, I think it’s hard to say you know, raise the age when the age – that when the average life expectancy is going down. We used to think that life expectancy was just going to keep going up and that’s just not been the case.

Sullivan: Would entitlement cuts be on the table?

Gov. DeSantis: I think what it would be is promise made, promise kept. I think, looking forward in terms of future generations, people of our generation, you got to sit down, you got to work in a bipartisan way with the other party. You cannot do this with one party. I mean, when Reagan sat with Tip O’Neill, they were able to preserve Social Security for many more decades. And so, you gotta be able to sit down work across the aisle and develop a solution for the long term.


Gov. DeSantis: I have not, but –

Sullivan: Would you?

Gov. DeSantis: Yeah, yeah. No, I would. I mean, I think at the end of the day, you know, this is just an issue about the kids. We’re gonna stand up for our kids and, you know, I think they made a big mistake by getting involved in this. But as a parent of a six, five and a three-year-old I understand, and parents understand, kids should be able to go to school, watch cartoons, just be kids without having an agenda shoved down their throat. And when you start talking about telling a first grader that they can switch their gender and all that –

Sullivan: What did Disney have to do with it?

Gov. DeSantis: Well Disney –

Sullivan: I know they – what was – at this point I’m having trouble remembering what the original beef was.

Gov. DeSantis: So, we had a bill that basically said in elementary school, we’re not going to have any of the sexualized curriculum. We’re going to focus on math, reading all that. Basically, doing school the way it had been done all of American history until like, what two weeks ago. So they came in and opposed the bill, tried to tank it, which is their right to do, that’s fine. I signed the bill and then they put out a statement saying that they were going to devote their company’s resources to seeing the parents’ rights repealed, or seeing it overturned in court. And it’s like, okay, first of all, I don’t think that’s consistent with their fiduciary duty to have taken that position. They did, but then we’re in a situation where it’s, okay, you know, they have been given this special arrangement by Florida many decades ago. So that’s like subsidies – they’re being subsidized. So, then they’re going to turn those subsidies against our state policy?

Sullivan: But I think – but you can understand. You’re the Governor of Florida so you’re – you know, Florida’s – I believe they’re the biggest employer in the state of Florida if not –

Gov. DeSantis: No, they’re not. But they’re –

Sullivan: They’ve got to be close, okay. They bring in a lot of money to your state.

Gov. DeSantis: Oh and by the way –

Sullivan: They bring in a lot of money to your state.

Gov. DeSantis: Oh and by the way, no one has made Disney more money recently than me because during Covid, they were open in Florida. They were locked shut in California. We said we want you guys to operate because we understood how important it was that their cast members in Central Florida had the ability to make ends meet and in fact, when Disney closed their parks, I didn’t tell them to close. They did it voluntarily. We got all their employees’ information, we ran them through unemployment, we helped them stay afloat until they could open again.

Sullivan: Why not – you’ve got a beautiful desk back over there – want to pick up the phone today, give Bob Iger a call and if so, what would you say to him?

Gov. DeSantis: Well, here’s the deal –

Sullivan: Because he wasn’t even CEO when this happened.

Gov. DeSantis: No, I know.

Sullivan: That other guy got booted. Bob Chapek.

Gov. DeSantis: No, no, I know. But here here’s the deal. I would just say two things. Apart from Florida, Disney’s had a lot of problems. And I think that the skirmish they got in with these young kids. I think that’s a symptom of why they’re not doing as well, because I think parents have lost some confidence that this is a company that’s really speaking to what they want, the way it had been traditionally. So I would just say just as a parent, look, my wife and I, we got married at Walt Disney World, okay, so it’s not like we’re opposed. I mean, we’ve appreciated working with them over the years. But I would just say go back to what you did well. I think it’s going to be the right business decision and all that. But where we are today, you know, we’ve basically moved on. They’re suing the state of Florida, they’re gonna lose that lawsuit. So, what I would say is drop the lawsuit, you know, you have the state that even CNBC ranks as number one of all 50 states for economy, we lead the nation in new business formations, unemployment is incredibly low, great fiscal posture, people are bringing capital into Florida. This is a great place to do business. Your competitors all do very well here, Universal, Sea World, they have not had the same special privileges as you have. So, all we want to do is treat everybody the same and let’s move forward. I’m totally fine with that. But I’m not fine with giving extraordinary privileges, you know, to one special company at the exclusion of everybody else.

Sullivan: You know, the economy. You guys reopened quicker and some people criticize you for that whatever it may be. You have more – I think you surpassed pre-Covid jobs in October of 2021.

Gov. DeSantis: Yeah.

Sullivan: There’s some states that still have not gotten back there. But how would you – Florida, Illinois, or something or Ohio, for example, you’ve got different climates, different economies, different taxes, different regulation. Is this model, given the weather and travel, tourism – is it replicable to an Illinois, to an Ohio, to Nebraska?

Gov. DeSantis: Well, let’s just look at Covid I mean, so we made the decision to buck Fauci, to buck the administration, the media attacked us. And then now where we are, obviously, economically, we’ve done much better than all those states. But in terms of our excess mortality, we have the lowest excess mortality in all the Sunbelt, including less than California in New York. And so, I think we handled it in a way where we understood yes, this one virus is important, but that can’t be the exclusion of everything else. It’s not even to the exclusion of other health concerns. Because what you had is you had people not going in for cancer screenings all this. So, we wanted to make sure people you know lived a whole life and could make their own decisions. So, I think some of these areas that did otherwise, still have not recovered. I mean, I’ve been to San Francisco recently. You see a lot of the businesses boarded up

Sullivan: And that’s what people care about, you know, and again, I think people would might – and by the way, your comment a lot of people – there’s a lot of misconception about Florida. I think your Covid numbers are pretty much kind of smack dab in the middle. People can go verify that for themselves.

Gov. DeSantis: We are – on an age adjusted basis, we’re 31st. So, there’s 30 states that had higher per capita mortality than we did.

Sullivan: And it’s you know, it’s obviously a controversial subject, but the data is out there. People can go do that. But I think a lot – I think it was a New York Times – whatever you might think of polls – there was a recent New York Times Siena poll said that over half of GOP primary voters, so GOP primary voters are more concerned about like law and order than they are about anti ESG.

Gov. DeSantis: Well, I think honestly, I think all this is kind of one in the same because like you’re right the law and order. We can’t be successful as a country if every urban core in our country is a disaster zone. In some of these places –

Sullivan: Well, it’s not. I mean, not every –

Gov. DeSantis: I mean, look. If you look at okay, so let’s look at San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Baltimore, Washington, DC –

Sullivan: Three cities I’ve been to in the last three months.

Gov. DeSantis: – New York City. They’ve all declined significantly over in the – and the number one reason is because of lack of law and order. So that’s something we take very seriously in Florida. Our crime rate is at a 50-year low. I think the federal government has a role in helping maintain law and order in the cities. For example, with these prosecutors, you will have prosecutors elected that are “progressives” and they say we’re not going to pursue charges in all these different crimes. That is not their decision to make.

Sullivan: Well it is because – I’m sure you’re a – we are a Federalist Republic. The states can make those decisions –

Gov. DeSantis: Right, but –

Sullivan: Economic decisions –

Gov. DeSantis: They can but they’re not following the state’s policy. So, the state has said shoplifting is a crime, mugging someone’s a crime. If a prosecutor comes in and says we’re just not going to pursue charges, blanket or even in most instances, they are nullifying the law that the people have enacted. And so, what that has done that has led basically the inmates running the asylum. And you know, we have a lot of migration into Florida. These people tell me why they do. You can talk to realtors, yes, freedom from Covid. Yes, low taxes. A lot of that. But they will say public safety is one of the top reasons why they’re moving from San Francisco or Chicago or New York City to Florida because they haven’t taken it seriously. You’ve got to get that right. But here’s the thing. It’s connected to ESG and some of this other stuff because it’s ideology. They’re putting ideology ahead of tried and true principles. New York figured out how to keep the streets safe. If you look under Giuliani and Bloomberg, it was the safest big city in the world, probably because they took policing seriously, they held criminals accountable. A lot of these liberal jurisdictions have turned their back on it. But I would say it’s the same thing that motivates ESG. It’s ideology that’s motivating ESG. ESG is taking businesses, taking shareholder assets and trying to repurpose those for ideological things –

Sullivan: I feel like it’s a bit of an esoteric topic for the majority of the voting base in the United States.

Gov. DeSantis: Well, but, but I think they do understand who governs in society. And I think we govern through the medium of elections under our Constitution. If you have a situation where asset managers can shoehorn companies into taking positions that change society or potentially change policy, you know, that’s an issue about okay, now we’re being governed by people in some of these big asset firms or in some of these big companies. They do get that. They don’t want that.

Sullivan: The E in ESG is environmental. What are your thoughts on the Inflation Reduction Act, which is celebrating a one-year anniversary. Because I’ll say this, I know you might be critical of all or part of it. The biggest renewable energy generator in America is NextEra Energy, the old Florida Power and Light. I’m sure they love it.

Gov. DeSantis: Yeah, but what they’ve done – they’ve been doing solar for a long time now, especially when natural gas started spiking, the solar became economical for them. There’s nothing wrong with that. I mean, that wasn’t – state wasn’t subsidizing it. It was just that’s what they were doing.

Sullivan: Well, it is the Sunshine State.

Gov. DeSantis: Exactly. But I think this. It is going to be way more expensive. I mean, I think Goldman Sachs and some of these other people have done the analysis. It’s going to be not just a few 100 billions, it’s going to be like $1.3 trillion –

Sullivan: That is the golden the number about the ultimate cost of the tax credits because they are still riding them –

Gov. DeSantis: Yeah, exactly. And so that is not something that is in the best interests of this country, especially with what we’re doing with that. I also think they are intent on forcing a transition that is just not ready to be forced. We’re going to need fossil fuels for the rest of our lifetimes. And in Florida, we’ve had a big reduction in emissions over the last 10 years, but a lot of that is going from coal to natural gas. There have been some solar but to try to take some of these options off the table, I think it’s a huge mistake. I think Germany has suffered from doing it. Some of the states in our own country like California, you know, they have blackouts and stuff. They literally – two days after they announced the electric vehicle mandate, all new cars had to be electric by I think in five years.

Sullivan: By 2035.

Gov. DeSantis: Two days later, they put out an advisory don’t plug in your electric car right now, because they didn’t have enough –

Sullivan: But you admit the grid – our power grid in large parts of the country is a disaster.

Gov. DeSantis: It is. No, for sure.

Sullivan: It’s 75 – and by the way, it causes fires.

Gov. DeSantis: Yeah.

Sullivan: Right. It’s actually become a deadly problem.

Gov. DeSantis: And that’s the thing if you’re going to put these mandates in place without having the power grid be able to accept what needs to accept, we’re going to run into a lot of problems. And so, that will go a much different direction. We are going to have reliable energy in this country. It is very important. Honestly, it can be the lifeblood of an economic renaissance here. And I’m all for technology and people innovating and I do think you’re gonna see a lot of innovation in energy. But to put our thumb on the scale and force going in one direction, I’ll tell you, a lot of these – working class, middle class people that have soured on Biden, that’s one of the reasons because they see what’s happening. They’re having to pay more because he’s pursuing that agenda.

Sullivan: I know a lot of people in this state and by the way, California – for some reason you and California, I don’t know. I have no idea why this is the case. You and California are always wrapped together. A lot of homeowners can’t get insurance policies in California or in Florida. I think insurance rates are up something like 42%. Obviously, climate change, you’ve got bad storms, Hurricane Ian, a 2017 State Supreme Court decision. How do you assure potential voters and by the way, assure your current constituents in Florida, that the insurance market will be fixed? Because there’s something wrong with the homeowner’s insurance market.

Gov. DeSantis: Well, I mean, a couple things. Obviously, we’ve had really significant inflation that’s affected insurance nationwide, too. We had one of the costliest storms in modern history with Hurricane Ian last September. That was not good for the market. And then three, Florida had long had the most litigation costs associated with our insurance market. 8% of the claims in Florida almost 80% of the litigation cost. Guess who’s paying those costs? Premium – those are higher premiums for policyholders. So, we did a major reform in December, where we’ve basically now mimicked other states who have a much more rational approach to this, not incentivizing litigation. What happened is the reinsurance market – they thought it was going to be a 50% increase, it was only up 25%. And we think that reformat had a lot. We’ve also done this My Safe Florida Home program. Floridians can get grants, they can upgrade protection on their home, and then they’re entitled to lower rates –

Sullivan: But you’re working on it because it’s a major problem.

Gov. DeSantis: Oh yeah. Yeah.

Sullivan: By the way, housing is such a huge part of your economy.

Gov. DeSantis: Oh, yeah.

Sullivan: If you don’t fix it here or California, or wherever it might be –

Gov. DeSantis: Well, we’ve done for many years

Sullivan: Housing matters.

Gov. DeSantis: Yeah, yeah. So, we’ve done ’21, ’22, ’23. We’ve done different measures. The big enchilada was more recently, we do have the grant program, but you are seeing more companies now want to get into our market. And that’s the thing. At the end of the day, consumers benefit when businesses compete for their business. If you only have one option, well, then they’re going to jack up the rates. So, we’re trying to get more capital into the market.


Sullivan: Would you renominate Jay Powell as the Federal Reserve Chair, if elected?

Gov. DeSantis: No.

Sullivan: Why not?

Gov. DeSantis: Well, I don’t think he’s done a good job. I mean, I think from Covid on, they put too much money into the economy, that drove the inflation. But then they said it was going to be transitory, that we had to unlearn Milton Friedman. No. When you start doing something like that, it’s about 18 to 20 months, you are going to see inflation. And so, they were behind the ball on that. And then they’ve hiked so much now, it’s caused a lot of problems in the economy and could end up driving us into a recession.

Sullivan: You get a lot of questions about immigration, particularly at the border. I know you’ve covered that extensively in an interview recently my colleague Dasha Burns at MSNBC. So, I’ll ask about H-1B visas. Would you support allowing more H-1B visa immigration to the United States? I’m sure there’s a lot of counties say in like rural Florida, who would love to have a qualified doctor no matter where that doctor is from.

Gov. DeSantis: Yeah, but the problem is the way that has been implemented. They will bring in people in technology from other countries who work for lower rates than what Americans work for. And so, I don’t support undercutting American wages and the H-1B program has been used to do that. I used to kind of when people would say hey, why not just have people that are credentialed – and I was like, yeah, yeah, why not? But the way it’s operated, I think has lowered wages for Americans and that’s what you don’t want. If it’s an addition for the economy that benefits the American people, that’s one thing. But if it’s displacing an American worker, that’s not good.

Sullivan: Would you ban TikTok?

Gov. DeSantis: I think so. I mean –

Sullivan: Or try.

Gov. DeSantis: I don’t like the bill that was done this DISCLOSE Act. I think that was way too heavy handed. I think it would invade people’s privacy. But the amount of stuff going in with TikTok, I do think represents a threat to our country, given China’s ownership of it.

Sullivan: Last question. One that I hear about all the time from my loyal and lovely CNBC audience. Would you ban congressional stock trading? I don’t mean owning long stock – stocks long term. Would you ban Congress from trading stocks?

Gov. DeSantis: I would. I mean, when I was a congressman for three terms, I sold all my stock before I went in because I used to do day trading – not that I had a lot of money, but I would do it. I just stopped doing it because the thing is, is if I traded something, someone will then say maybe some vote was there. And I didn’t even want the appearance of impropriety. And you look at how some of these people making windfalls – look, maybe it’s all on the level. But I think the average citizen looks at that and they say, you know what these guys play by their own set of rules. So, I’d get rid of that. I would eliminate congressional pensions for members of Congress. They should – they have a 401k. They don’t need both. And then I would impose term limits on members of Congress.

Sullivan: Governor Ron DeSantis, thank you so much for having CNBC in your home. Best you and your family. And thank you again for the interview.

Gov. DeSantis: Yeah, thanks for coming.

Sullivan: Yes, sir. Thank you very much.

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