Hedge fund heavyweight Leon Cooperman was all over the business news today with his "scathing" open letter to President Obama. In this ridiculous piece of myopic pedantry, Cooperman eviscerates the president, blaming him and him alone for the divisiveness and incivility that he believes is destroying capitalism and the precious America that enabled his own ascent to billionaire-dom.
Surprisingly, Cooperman makes no mention of the GOP. He makes no mention of his fellow New York "billionaire" Donald Trump essentially calling the president an illegal alien who has orchestrated the greatest con in history. He makes no mention of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's proud declaration that his top priority is to defeat President Obama. He makes no mention of the GOP's unprecedented use of the filibuster to stymie all progress. No mention of House Speaker John Boehner holding the credit rating of the USA hostage and then thumbing his nose at a big fiscal deal during the debt ceiling disaster.
Cooperman instead insists that it is the president and the president's "minions" who are entirely responsible for the rancor and demagoguery plaguing our political system and crippling the magical "wheels of commerce and
progress." Then he regurgitates the GOP's beloved phrase "class warfare." He suggests that it is the wealthy like him who can help the downtrodden and they therefore should not be targeted or nitpicked in any way. He demands that the president become "a transcendent leader" and eschew any sort of "guerrilla campaign" that he learned as a "community organizer in Chicago." (He did not, however, call the president a Mau Mau. It must be the holiday season.)
Interviewed on CNBC as the financial world's sage of the day, Cooperman seemed particularly offended by the president's assault on the aircraft industry--I suppose he means the president's rather amusing disdain for the private jet tax loophole--which, Cooperman speciously argued, is an assault on union workers. He then went on to endorse for president fellow Wall Streeter and legendary best buddy of union workers, Mitt Romney.
Even more hilariously, Cooperman told CNBC that he had joked on a conference call with his investors that perhaps he should run for president himself. He assured the TV anchor that it was just a joke. But he then laid out his 9-point platform for his mythical presidential run. (At least it wasn't a 999-point platform). This economic checklist included--to his credit--an end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, free college education for all returning soldiers, a large WPA-styled infrastructure jobs initiative, a 10 percent tax surcharge on all incomes over $500,000 and a 5% VAT tax on everyone. Cooperman also threw in a few squishy-GOP faves like expanded domestic energy production and raising the social security retirement age to 70.
But look at that list: Cooperman is for a new G.I. Bill, hugely higher taxes on the rich and a massive government stimulus infrastructure build. And he is voting GOP. Good luck with that.
Instead of tearing President Obama a new one, it actually sounds like Cooperman should be billionaire muscling the GOP Congress to pass the president's American Jobs Act.
Reading between the lines, it seems mostly that Cooperman's wittle feelings are hurt. How dare anyone--anyone from the Occupy Wall Street protesters to President Obama--ever say a bad thing about billionaires, hardworking billionaires who only want to help the poor by creating jobs for them and "fill[ing] store shelves at Christmas." A private jet tax loophole is a small price to pay for that kind of humanitarian instinct, isn't it?
The good news is that only 9 percent of Americans approve of this current Congress led by Speaker John Boehner (R-OH). In other words, 91 percent of Americans are apparently smarter than benevolent billionaire Leon Cooperman.
If you have a strong stomach, you can read Cooperman's absurd condescending screed for yourself here.
And you really ought to read the open letter rebuttal of Cooperman by Jill Klausen of @jillwklausen twitter fame. She says it all far better than me.