Democrats in Congress may be on the verge of imposing a monumental wealth tax on billionaires, which could cost some of America’s richest people billions of dollars each. Yet with the exception of Elon Musk, few billionaires have weighed in publicly on the idea. We found one who would.
Leon Cooperman is a legendary investor and hedge fund manager with a net worth of about $2.5 billion, according to Forbes. He is also someone who has sent me angry emails in the past, which I respect. So I emailed him to ask what he thought of the Democrats’ tax proposal.
“Ridiculous and probably unconstitutional,” he said.
It is widely expected that such a tax on billionaires would be challenged in court. Legal experts are divided on what the outcome of a Supreme Court case would be, though it would rest on political interpretations as much as technical legal ones.
Prodded for more, Cooperman added: “You and I have a different view and I don’t have the time or interest in educating you to my view. I have repeatedly said I believe in the progressive income tax structure and that rich people should pay more. I have also said I am willing to work 6 months a year for the government and 6 months for myself. What is your fair share of what someone else has worked for?”
Cooperman is upholding a long personal tradition of speaking out against what he perceives as the persecution of hardworking Americans like himself. In 2011, he sent a letter to President Obama bemoaning “class warfare” against the rich. In 2019, when a wealth tax was a hot topic in the Democratic primary, he wrote an op-ed once decrying the idea. That op-ed was largely recycled from his letter to Obama, which caused me to call him a “dumbass.” So I appreciate that he still answers my emails.
I also asked billionaire Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban what he thought of the proposed tax. He said “I don’t know the details and have not seen any models.” Call your accountant, man!
Any other billionaires who would like to weigh in on the idea of a tax on billionaires, please email me. Otherwise we will assume that you support it.
Hamilton Nolan is a labor writer for In These Times. He has spent the past decade writing about labor and politics for Gawker, Splinter, The Guardian, and elsewhere. You can reach him at Hamilton@InTheseTimes.com.