Billionaire investor Leon Cooperman went after Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders this week, warning that the Vermont senator poses a “bigger threat” to the stock market than the coronavirus, which has killed 2,118 people, mostly in China.
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“I look at Bernie Sanders as a bigger threat [to the stock market] than the coronavirus,” Cooperman told CNBC on Tuesday. “I don’t have any insight into the coronavirus, but I assume, with all the great minds of the world focused on this problem, that in three or four months this will become resolved.”
The money manager criticized some of the policies put forward by Sanders, a self-avowed democratic socialist, which includes eliminating private insurance in favor of Medicare-for-all; imposing a tax on ultra-wealthy Americans and breaking up six of the nation’s largest banks.
Cooperman, who’s worth an estimated $3.2 billion, according to Forbes, would pay close to $192 million in taxes under Sanders’ proposal, which would impose a 6 percent levy on couples with a net worth between $2.5 billion and $5 billion.
"There are things that are very troubling to me. No. 1 is Bernie Sanders," he said. "He is not a socialist. He is, rather, a communist. I just hope the country isn't ready to elect a communist or a socialist. If we do, I think the market is in store for a big problem."
It’s not the first time that Cooperman has interjected in the election to warn about the possible presidency of a progressive 2020 hopeful.
In October, the Wall Street legend was tangled in a political battle with Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, attacking her wealth tax proposal and her criticism of America’s richest individuals. Cooperman, at the beginning of November, called Warren’s plan to tax wealth “idiocy,” and in a separate interview with CNBC, teared up discussing the 2020 election.
“I don’t need Elizabeth Warren telling me that I’m a deadbeat and that billionaires are deadbeats,” he said at the time. “The vilification of billionaires makes no sense to me.”
Under Warren’s wealth tax proposal, which would impose a 2 percent levy on individuals worth $50 million and a 6 percent fee on those worth more than $1 billion, Cooperman would pay $151 million, according to a wealth tax calculator released by her campaign.