GOP billionaire Ken Langone: 'We've been patsies' on trade, but Trump will level the playing field
President Donald Trump's new approach to trade will fix the mistakes of past leaders and even out U.S. trade deficits, Republican billionaire Ken Langone told CNBC on Wednesday.
"The president made a good point last week when he said, it isn't the people that are running these other countries, it was our leaders who kept giving them what they wanted and no pushback," Langone told "Power Lunch."
"For too long we've been patsies, and now it's time to level the playing field," he added.
The Trump administration is expected to move forward with another round of tariffs on Chinese goods this week, and China is expected to respond in kind. As of Thursday, a total of $50 billion of goods on each side will be taxed. It's the second round of tariffs imposed by the two countries this year, and there could be more to come on as much as $200 billion in Chinese goods.
Meanwhile, the U.S. and Mexico are nearing an informal deal to revise the North American Free Trade Agreement, although Mexican officials have said Canada will also have to be present before any accord is struck.
Langone, who co-founded Home Depot, praised Trump's efforts to rectify what he says is a situation perpetuated by past leaders.
"We have been at a disadvantage with our trading partners for a number of years and it's been allowed to slide. Wait till next year, wait till next year, wait till next year — nothing ever happened," he said.
"I am thrilled that we are addressing the issue in a positive way, that we're not going to continue to let it slide," he added.
Langone also applauded Trump's negotiations with Mexico, Canada and Germany, saying he thinks once a bilateral deal with Mexico goes through, Canada will come to the table "and all of a sudden we are back to NAFTA." He also said he thinks China is beginning to feel the pressure.
As for Trump's negotiating tactics, Langone said he would not challenge them, although he admitted his own approach might be a little different.
"If this tactic becomes a strategy, then I'll worry. But I don't think we've given this thing enough time to play out," Langone said. "And I think eventually good sense will reign. Free trade is good for everybody — us and our trading partners both."
Meanwhile, New York University announced earlier this month that it will offer free tuition for every student attending its medical school. Langone, who is chair of the board of trustees of the NYU Langone Medical Center, and his wife, donated $100 million to help fund the tuition.