Topline: A week after accusing Senator Elizabeth Warren of “tribalism,” former Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein again blasted the Democratic 2020 candidate for her war on billionaires, denouncing politicians like her for moving away from “populism” toward “a kind of demagoguery.”
The 65-year-old former chief executive, who was at the helm of Goldman Sachs from 2006 until the end of 2018, spoke out against Warren in an interview with CNBC on Tuesday, criticizing her wealth tax and ongoing battle with billionaires yet again.
“I used to be kind of a moderate Democrat and now, without having moved anything, I’ve become like a, in their eyes, kind of a right-winger because I don’t want to blow up the financial system,” Blankfein said, also referring to Warren’s fellow progressive candidate Bernie Sanders.
Blankfein described that while he’s “used to Wall Street getting pelted” and he understands why there is public support for a wealth tax, he dismissed the policy as “completely unworkable.”
In the interview, Blankfein also defended CEOs’ high salaries—another issue Warren has discussed, saying that he doesn’t think “anybody should apologize” for how their pay is determined.
His remarks follow up on comments made last week when he lashed out in response to being featured in Warren’s new anti-billionaires TV ad, in which she also targeted hedge-fund pioneer Leon Cooperman, Silicon Valley investor Peter Thiel and former TD Ameritrade CEO Joe Ricketts.
Blankfein said last week that he was “surprised to be featured” in the ad given that he and Warren “align on so many issues,” but he also took a veiled swipe at the senator’s claims of Native American ancestry: “maybe tribalism is just in her DNA.”
Key background: Numerous other business leaders and billionaires have criticized Warren for her attacks on the wealthy: JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, Shark Tank investor Mark Cuban and Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates, to name a few. Even Michael Bloomberg, who is reportedly mulling a 2020 presidential bid, has spoken out, comparing Warren’s wealth tax to socialism. Several hedge fund billionaires, including Paul Tudor Jones, Steve Cohen and Stanley Druckenmiller, have shared gloomy predictions of what a Warren presidency would mean for the stock market: a 10% to 25% drop.
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With the 2020 election growing ever closer, many on Wall Street have become 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 a 6% wealth tax on billionaires to finance her ambitious “Medicare For All” plan. Most recently, Cooperman also lashed out in response to Warren’s anti-billionaires TV ad, calling her “disgraceful” and her wealth tax “probably unconstitutional.”
Crucial quote: “Vilification of people as a member of a group may be good for her campaign, not the country,” Blankfein tweeted last week.