Topline: In the latest salvo in her war on the ultrarich and public feud with longtime investor Leon Cooperman, 2020 hopeful Elizabeth Warren released a new TV ad that takes aim at a group of billionaires who have criticized her proposed wealth tax.
- Set to air on CNBC on Thursday, the ad calls for a wealth tax and targets Cooperman as well as other billionaires, including former TD Ameritrade CEO Joe Ricketts, former Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein and Silicon Valley investor Peter Thiel.
- The clips featuring Cooperman, in particular, criticize the hedge fund pioneer for his past run-in with insider trading allegations (Cooperman paid a $5 million settlement to the SEC in 2017), according to CNBC.
- Cooperman didn’t hold back when responding to the ad in a later interview, in which he again blasted Warren for her attacks on billionaires: “In my opinion she represents the worst in politicians as she’s trying to demonize wealthy people because there are more poor people then wealthy people,” he told CNBC.
- “As far as the accusations of insider trading, I won the case. She’s disgraceful. She doesn’t know who the f—- she’s tweeting. I gave away more in the year than she has in her whole f——ing lifetime,” he said.
- The new TV ad—and Cooperman’s fiery response—yet again escalates the already very tense public feud between Warren and the billionaire investor.
- Cooperman wasn’t the only billionaire to respond: Former Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein said on Thursday he was “surprised to be featured” in the ad given that he and Warren “align on so many issues,” also adding, “maybe tribalism is just in her DNA.”
Key background: Numerous other business leaders and billionaires, including JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, Shark Tank investor Mark Cuban and Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates, have criticized Warren for her attacks on the wealthy. With the 2020 election growing ever closer, many on Wall Street are becoming increasingly critical of Warren, whom they perceive as a threat to big business. It all started with the public spat between Warren and Cooperman, which has now come to exemplify the backlash that has emerged since the Democratic senator announced her 6% wealth tax on billionaires to finance her ambitious “Medicare For All” plan.
Tangent: Cooperman has said that he is a “huge fan” of Michael Bloomberg, and will “unequivocal[ly] support” the former New York mayor if he runs for president in 2020. Bloomberg is yet another billionaire who has criticized Warren’s anti-corporate rhetoric, describing her wealth tax as potentially unconstitutional and comparing it to socialism: “It’s called Venezuela,” he said earlier this year.
Crucial quote: “A wealth tax makes no sense,” Cooperman reiterated to CNBC on Thursday. “It would lead to unnatural acts, be near impossible to police, and is probably unconstitutional.”
Further reading: Watch Elizabeth Warren’s new ad against billionaires here.