Leon Cooperman Won’t Attend Elizabeth Warren’s Tax Hearing, But Will Watch It

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Leon Cooperman declined an invitation from Senator Elizabeth Warren to testify at a tax hearing.

The billionaire investor called the invitation “self-serving and disingenuous” and declared that the hearing will be “conducted in a showboating atmosphere not conducive to serious debate.”

“I am not interested in being pilloried by her while she uses me as a foil to promote her far-left manifesto,” he said in a statement.

Leon Cooperman Won’t Attend Elizabeth Warren’s Tax Hearing, But Will Watch It

It’s the latest shot in a long-brewing rivalry between Cooperman and Warren, who chairs the Senate Finance Committee’s Subcommittee on Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Growth and is one of Wall Street’s most vocal critics in Congress.

Warren soon responded via social media that “we should have a public discussion on our rigged tax system. I’ll still use the hearing to do that.”

The April 27 hearing will focus on “creating opportunity through a fairer tax system,” as authorities around the world consider new proposals for levies on millionaires and billionaires. In the U.S., the top 1% saw their net worth rise by about $4 trillion in 2020, capturing more than a third of all new wealth, according to data from the Federal Reserve. Meanwhile, the net worth of the poorest half of American households rose $471 billion, just 4% of last year’s overall gain.

Wealth Tax

Warren, in her invitation to Cooperman, had said she was “particularly interested in providing you with an opportunity to discuss my Ultra-Millionaire Tax Act, which would level the economic playing field and narrow the racial wealth gap.” The 100 richest Americans would hand over more than $78 billion of their personal fortunes under a wealth tax proposed last month by Warren and other progressive lawmakers.

Cooperman, 77, famously wrote to Warren in October 2019 when she was in the midst of a failed run for the White House, arguing that the Democratic lawmaker ignored all the ways that the wealthy benefit society, particularly through charitable giving.

The investor, in his statement, reiterated his belief that the wealthy should pay higher tax rates than the middle class, saying he’s happy to work six months of the year “for the government.” But he argued that wealthy residents of some high-tax cities and states already face a combined rate of more than 50%.

Leon Cooperman Won’t Attend Elizabeth Warren’s Tax Hearing, But Will Watch It

Cooperman, who’s worth $2.1 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, said he opposes a wealth tax, and instead advocates for eliminating loopholes such as prohibiting the wealthy to pass along appreciated assets tax-free and eliminating the carried interest tax break for private equity. He also suggests enacting some form of the Buffett Rule, which means a surtax on residents making over $1 million a year.

He says Congress should start examining how to fund programs through “revenue-neutral proposals that would cull bureaucratic waste.”

CNBC earlier reported the news of Cooperman declining Warren’s invitation.

While he won’t show up to the hearing, he said, he “will, however, be sure to tune in for the show.”

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