I thought this was one of the better moments during President Obama's town hall with CNBC's John Harwood. He gets asked by hedge-fund manager Anthony Scaramucci what we can do about the anti-Wall Street sentiment out there and what to do about health-care costs and taxation on businesses that are wanting to hire right now.
President Obama reminded him that most of the folks on Main Street would say that they're the ones who feel like they've been beaten up by Wall Street, and not the other way around. He also addressed the crying we've heard out of those on Wall Street who act like their tax rates going up a small amount is going to kill them.
After showing a quote from Newsweek where Blackstone CEO Steve Schwarzman had the nerve to say this:
"It's a war," Schwarzman said on the struggle with the administration over increasing taxes on private-equity firms. "It's like when Hitler invaded Poland in 1939."
Well I don't know where that comes from. That's my point... I guess. It is a two way street. If you're making a billion dollars a year after a very bad financial crisis where 8 million people lost their jobs and small businesses can't get loans, then I think that you shouldn't be feeling put upon. The question should be how can we work with you to continue to grow the economy.
A big source of frustration, this quote that you just said, this was me acting like Hitler going into Poland had to do with a proposal to change a rule called carried interest which basically allows hedge fund managers to get taxed at 15% on their income.
Now everybody else is getting taxed at... you know, a lot more. The secretary at the hedge fund is probably being taxed at twenty five, twenty eight, right? And these folks are making... getting taxed at fifteen. Now there are complicated economic arguments as to why this isn't really income, this is more like capital gains and so forth, which is a fair argument to have. I have no problem having that argument with hedge fund managers, many of whom I know and went to school with and I respect their business acumen, but the notion that somehow me saying maybe you should be taxed more like your secretary when you're pulling home a billion dollars or a hundred million dollars a year, I don't think is me being extremist or being anti-business.