By Steve Goldstein
There aren’t many billionaires around to ask questions, so CNN International’s Richard Quest seized on the opportunity at the Future Investment Initiative Institute gathering in Saudi Arabia.
With an all-star panel including Bridgewater Associates Co-Chairman and Co-CIO Ray Dalio, Blackstone /zigman2/quotes/203156858/composite BX -2.86% Chairman and CEO Stephen Schwarzman and BlackRock /zigman2/quotes/207946232/composite BLK +0.32% CEO Larry Fink, Quest asked, “do you support, and will you support, paying greater taxes as a result of the latest proposals that would target yourself?”
The White House is looking at spending $1.75 trillion on climate change and social spending initiatives, in part to be paid on a tax on the unrealized gains of billionaires, according to reports.
The answer was classic — yes in theory, no in reality.
Dalio, with a net worth of $20 billion according to Forbes, epitomized that stance.
“Yes, I would support anything into that is going to have the effect of being spent on increasing creating equal opportunity and greater productivity,” he said.
Here comes the but. “We can’t just talk about the raising of money, we have to talk about the usage of money and how that’s employed. So that’s part of that picture. But yes, if it’s if it accomplishes those things, I would support it. And I’m not sure that it does,” he said.
Goldman Sachs /zigman2/quotes/209237603/composite GS -0.70% CEO David Solomon, a relative pauper with a net worth of some $40 million, agreed. “You can’t answer the question in a black-and-white way. It depends on what you’re spending it on,” he said.
Fink said where he lives in New York, he pays about 55% of what he makes in taxes. “I would agree with everybody if we could find solutions where the money can be directed in a proper way. I have more to give,” said Fink, who according to Forbes has a net worth of $1.1 billion.