Leon Cooperman may be a brilliant investor, but his hearing needs some work. So does his anger management.
“I don’t need anybody crapping all over what I do for a living,” Leon Cooperman, the billionaire founder of the Omega Advisors hedge fund, told CNN on Monday, adding that she “hangs out with all these people in Martha’s Vineyard and in the Hamptons and then the very first thing she has to say is to criticize hedge funds.”
Cooperman says he and other maligned hedge fund managers have given millions of dollars back to society in the form of donations to universities, charitable organizations, and cultural institutions.
“I have nothing to apologize for. I’ve made a lot of money. I’m giving it all back to society,” he said.
This defensive diatribe (and Leon, we’ll be HAPPY to debate the social and economic utility of hedge funds whenever you’d like) was the result of a theme coming from Clinton in which she does not criticize hedge fund managers but she does talk about tax code fairness…
“There’s something wrong when hedge fund managers pay lower tax rates than nurses or the truckers that I saw on I-80 as I was driving here over the last two days,” Clinton declared in mid-April as she campaigned in Iowa.
“People aren’t getting a fair shake. Something is wrong when CEOs earn more than 300 times than what the typical American worker earns and when hedge fund managers pay a lower tax rate than truck drivers or nurses,” she repeated a month later when she returned to the state.
Note that there’s no critique of hedge funds, just a comment about tax fairness. Clearly, Leon has a reading and listening comprehension problem.
Of course, the WaPo and Politifact both rated Clinton’s statement as false in absolute dollar terms and false in terms of rates, which is obviously what she meant (see the second quote). They are both wrong since their analysis doesn’t take into account total tax burden vs. income, which for the average American is about 30% and for the average billionaire (like our friend Leon) is around 22% or less.
I think we can all agree that putting progressivity back into the tax code is a must as Secretary Clinton has been pointing out. I think it’s a shame that Cooperman, who first gained the attention of the general public by whining about how President Obama is ‘antagonistic to the wealthy’, is still whining about this shit.
And, for the record, while Clinton and the other candidates may not want to criticize the existence of hedge funds, I sure as hell will… I think they’re a big part of what is wrong with American capitalism and provide no social or economic benefit… in fact, the often are quite harmful. To wit.