Home Depot founder Ken Langone is one of 40 wealthy businessmen behind a full-page advertisement in USA Today chiding President Barack Obama for the way his administration negatively characterizes those who have been successful in business.
In an interview with The Daily Caller on Monday, Steven Einhorn of the Omega Advisors hedge fund said the letter was drafted because “the class warfare” being practiced by the Obama administration is “wrong and inappropriate.”
In the “An Open Letter to the American Public” ad published Monday, the investors accuse Obama of increasing “regulations on virtually every sector of the economy while the president maligns business achievement in his campaign stump speeches.”
The political action committee A Critical Choice for America PAC paid for the letter. Langone, Einhorn and Lee Cooperman of Omega Advisors wrote much of the content.
“It was an attempt on our part to indicate that the approach being taken by the administration with respect to the private sector was the wrong approach, that an attack approach was inappropriate and incorrect policy,” Einhorn told TheDC.
Einhorn said A Critical Choice for America PAC was “created principally to create the advertisement” that ran in USA Today on Monday.
“American free enterprise is not the problem,” the authors write in the letter. “Free enterprise is the essence of opportunity. It employs tens of millions, generates tax revenue, and pays healthcare benefits for millions of families. It is the engine that drives new industries, products, services, and innovation.”
Nearly 40 people in the business community — including former General Electric CEO Jack Welch — signed the letter.
“In a campaign season marked by new lows in polarizing rhetoric, some of the most divisive has originated from the president and his allies — and has been aimed at successful people in the business sector,” the letter reads.
Speaking by phone, Einhorn said those who signed the letter are not against paying their “fair share” of taxes.
“We all are in support of a progressive tax structure,” he said. “We are all in support of paying a fair share. We are all in support of a proper safety net for those that need it.”
What they dislike, he said, is how the president speaks about those who’ve been successful in the private sector. “The way he was going about characterizing the 1 percent is divisive and not designed to make things work better,” Einhorn said.
“We don’t attribute bad things to the president,” he continued. “He’s a good man. He’s, I’m sure, dedicated to the country and wants the best for the country. We just differ on the means on getting there. I don’t think any of us believe splitting the country between haves and have-nots is the proper way to do it.”
In the Monday letter, the authors argue Obama’s “attacks” on those who have been successful in the private sector are “political tricks to distract from the president’s own policy failures.” Obama, they write, “seems oblivious to the fact that dynamic, productive job growth comes not from government spending, but from the private sector.”
“So when the president and his aides pit Americans against one another, it is not only misguided, it is irresponsible,” they write. “Americans deserve solutions, not political ploys.”
This isn’t the first time Cooperman, the billionaire who founded Omega Advisors, has gotten attention for criticizing Obama for his attitude towards the business community.
In his November 2011 “Open Letter to the President of the United States of America,” Cooperman blamed Obama and his “minions” for “setting the tenor of the rancorous debate now roiling us that smacks of what so many have characterized as ‘class warfare.'”
“With due respect, Mr. President, it’s time for you to throttle-down the partisan rhetoric and appeal to people’s better instincts, not their worst,” Cooperman wrote to Obama then. “Rather than assume that the wealthy are a monolithic, selfish and unfeeling lot who must be subjugated by the force of the state, set a tone that encourages people of good will to meet in the middle.”