Tuesday, 21 February 2017
Last updated 6 min ago
Oct 3 2012 | 12:28pm ET
Omega Advisors' Leon Cooperman is throwing some more gasoline on the fire of the hedge fund's industry's hatred of President Barack Obama.
The billionaire, who is Jewish, compared Obama to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler in a New Yorker interview. And he told the magazine that it's not the first time he's made the comparison.
"You know, the largest and greatest country in the free world put a 47-year-old guy that never worked a day in his life and made him in charge of the free world," Cooperman told the New Yorker. "Not totally different from taking Adolf Hitler in Germany and making him in charge of Germany because people were economically dissatisfied."
Cooperman quickly backtracked, saying, "Now, Obama's not Hitler. I don't even mean to say anything like that. But it is a question that the dissatisfaction of the populace was so great that they were willing to take a chance on an untested individual."
Cooperman backed Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) against Obama four years ago, but didn't become a vocal opponent of the president until an Obama advertisement calling on the rich to pay their fair share of taxes. The Omega chief also admits that he may have been particularly peeved at Obama because he said the president failed to send him a thank-you note after Cooperman sent the president a copy of a book of poetry written by his 14-year-old granddaughter.
But Cooperman is not alone among his peers in using such inflammatory language against the president. The Blackstone Group's Stephen Schwarzman said two years ago, after Obama sought to eliminate the carried-interest loophole, "It's war. It's like when Hitler invaded Poland in 1939."
The carried-interest loophole allows hedge fund and private equity managers to pay 15% on most of their income, rather than the top rate of 35%. Germany's invasion of Poland, alongside the Soviet Union, wiped that country from the map and led to the deaths of more than 5 million Poles.
And at a 2011 hedge fund dinner, at which Cooperman gave former Vice President Al Gore an open letter to Obama accusing the president of class warfare, SkyBridge Capital's Anthony Scaramucci said that the letter was the "activation" of a "sleeper cell" against Obama.
The inflammatory attacks do have at least one critic close to their authors. Cooperman told the New Yorker that his wife called him a "schmuck" for earlier comparisons of Obama to Hitler.