As the ongoing GameStop saga sparked renewed calls for a financial transactions tax and other commonsense redistributive measures to tackle soaring inequality and Wall Street abuses, billionaire investor Leon Cooperman took to the airwaves Thursday to fume that the idea of compelling the mega-rich to pay their fair share is a “bullshit concept” and merely “a way of attacking wealthy people.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a longtime proponent of raising taxes on billionaires like Cooperman, was not impressed.
“Yes. We will make Wall Street billionaires pay their fair share of taxes and create an economy that works for all of us.”
—Sen. Bernie Sanders
“Oh look, another billionaire is mad that he might have to pay more taxes while children in America go hungry and veterans sleep on the street. Cry me a river,” the Vermont senator tweeted late Thursday. “Yes. We will make Wall Street billionaires pay their fair share of taxes and create an economy that works for all of us.”
A hedge fund manager who was charged with insider trading by the Securities and Exchange Commission in 2016, Cooperman is one of several industry big-wigs who has appeared on financial networks like CNBC in recent days to complain about the retail investors who banded together to send GameStop shares into the stratosphere, blowing up a ploy by short-selling hedge funds to cash in on the company’s seemingly imminent demise.
Cooperman, whose net worth is estimated to be around $3 billion, sniffed that “the reason the market is doing what it’s doing is, people are sitting at home, getting their checks from the government, basically trading for no commissions and no interest rates.”
“I’m not damning them. I’m just saying from my experience, this will end in tears,” Cooperman said as the investing app Robinhood abruptly restricted trading on GameStock and other shares, prompting members of Congress such as Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) to demand hearings and an investigation.
During the 2020 presidential campaign, Sanders proposed a Wall Street transaction tax aimed at both curbing reckless financial speculation and raising revenue that could be used to fund progressive agenda items, including tuition-free public colleges and universities.
Warren Gunnels, Sanders’ staff director, noted in a tweet Thursday that Sanders’ transaction tax would raise $2.4 trillion over the next decade—”enough to make public colleges tuition free and cancel student debt.”
“If the working class could bail out Wall Street,” Gunnels said, “Wall Street can bail out working families in America during a damn pandemic.”
HuffPost‘s Zach Carter argued Wednesday that a financial transactions tax would be the “simplest solution” to an untenable status quo in which Wall Street titans are handsomely rewarded for engaging in “what is a mostly economically wasteful activity.”
“We have plenty of roads and bridges to repair and a vastly outdated transportation system,” Carter wrote. “Redistributing money from hedge funders in the Hamptons to a high-speed rail network or a national public housing program would do more for growth and productivity than all the shorts and put options in New York.”