- Lloyd Blankfein blasted Sen. Bernie Sanders’ planned wealth tax and warned he was as divisive as President Trump in a Financial Times interview.
- “I think I might find it harder to vote for Bernie than for Trump,” the former Goldman Sachs CEO said.
- The billionaire said he doesn’t see himself as rich, only “well-to-do.”
- Blankfein also compared Wall Street bankers to antelope and samurai, arguing they were scapegoats for the 2008 financial crisis.
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Billionaire and former Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein said he might struggle to vote for Sen. Bernie Sanders over President Donald Trump, doesn’t see himself as rich, and that Wall Street bankers are like helpless antelope and unappreciated samurai in a Financial Times interview published Friday.
“I think I might find it harder to vote for Bernie than for Trump,” Blankfein told Edward Luce, the newspaper’s US national editor, in a “Lunch with the FT” interview.
“The Democrats would be working very hard to find someone who is as divisive as Trump,” he continued. “But with Bernie they would have succeeded.”
The retired bank executive — who grew up in public housing in Brooklyn, New York — told Luce he was a lifelong Democrat and donated to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in 2016. However, he bristled at the mention of Sanders’ plan to levy an annual wealth tax on the richest 0.1% of Americans.
“I don’t like that at all,” he said. “I don’t like assassination by categorization. I think it’s un-American.”
“I find that just as subversive of the American character as someone like Trump who denigrates groups of people who he has never met,” he continued. “At least Trump cares about the economy.”
Luce asked Blankfein whether he shared Democrats’ concerns about Trump’s authoritarian streak, pointing to the president’s recent retaliation against people who testified against him in the House impeachment hearing. Blankfein responded by underscoring Trump’s achievements in office.
“Look, it’s crazy not to acknowledge the economy has expanded under Trump,” he said. “The cheapest stimulus is getting rid of dopey regulations” including those on Wall Street, he added.
“All I’m saying is that Democrats would have a far stronger case if they conceded what was good.”
Antelope and samurai
Blankfein downplayed Wall Street’s responsibility for the financial crisis of 2008, suggesting some of the media backlash against bankers was misleading and disproportionate.
“I watch videos of tigers eating antelopes,” he said. “I don’t hate the tiger. I feel sorry for the antelope.”
The former Goldman chief also suggested bankers receive too much criticism and not enough credit.
“You are like the samurai and you walk the streets and then you have a war and the samurai lose,” he said. “We drive the risk, people lavish praise on us, then it blows up on your watch.”
“I can’t even say ‘rich'”
Blankfein, who was worth an estimated $1.1 billion in 2015, told Luce he considers himself to be “well-to-do” rather than rich.
“I can’t even say ‘rich,'” he said. “I don’t feel that way. I don’t behave that way.”
“If I bought a Ferrari, I’d be worried about it getting scratched,” he joked.
Blankfein also praised former New York City mayor and fellow billionaire Mike Bloomberg’s late entry into the Democratic presidential race. “I like him and admire him. We are lucky Mike is paying the personal price of running.”
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