Obama was speaking yesterday at a town hall meeting broadcast live on CNBC. Early in the video, Anthony Scaramucci, a managing partner with SkyBridge, a New York hedge fund, complained that Obama was treating Wall Street like a piñata. Later, CNBC correspondent John Harwood specifically asked Obama about the Forbes magazine cover story that accuses the president of adopting “the cause of anti-colonialism” of his Kenyan father. Harwood then mentioned the infamous Nazi comments from Schwarzman.
Schwarzman, Blackstone Group’s chairman and CEO, in August compared the Obama administration’s proposed tax changes to Adolf Hitler’s invasion of Poland.
“I don’t know where that comes from,” Obama said during the town hall. “It’s a two way street. If you are making $1 billion a year after a very bad financial crisis where eight million people lost their jobs and small businesses can’t get loans, you shouldn’t be feeling put upon.”
“The question should be: how can we work with you to continue to grow the economy?” Obama said.
The Blackstone CEO has since apologized. But the PE industry is fighting to keep taxes on carried interest at the capital gains rate.
Obama said he was frustrated by Schwarzman’s quote, which was addressing the proposed changes. A hedge fund manager is currently getting taxed at 15% of their income while the secretary of the same hedge fund is taxed at 25% to 28%, Obama said. “The notion that somehow me saying maybe you should be taxed more like your secretary, when you are pulling home $1 billion or a $100 million a year, I don’t think is me being extremist or being anti-business,” he said.