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Financial Planning > Tax Planning > Tax Reform

Carl Icahn Warns America: ‘Danger Ahead’

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Billionaire investor Carl Icahn has detailed a number of issues that concern him in a self-produced video titled “Danger Ahead” released Tuesday.

The video – which features Icahn speaking to a camera interspersed with old clips of himself speaking on news outlets and clips of John Oliver, Donald Trump, whom he has endorsed for president, and even “Goodfellas” – has a somber, patriotic and documentary feel to it.

On why he made the video, Icahn said: “I want to speak out now because – I know this may sound corny but I grew up on the streets of Queens – I love this country and I feel so strongly about the dysfunction that is going on both in Washington and the boardrooms of corporate America.”

The video is full of memorable Icahn quotes. Here are a few highlights.

On the next president

“Just look at our record: 30 years, no tax reform; 30 years, no immigration,” he said. “As a result, you have this movement toward a guy like Donald Trump. Because you want somebody that’s not beholden to an establishment. We need a president that can move Congress, and I think Donald Trump could do it. I disagree with him on certain issues … but this is what this country needs: somebody to wake it up.”

On the carried interest tax loophole

“One problem our government should have fixed a long time ago is the carried interest tax loophole,” Icahn said. “People on Wall Street, they’re good friends of mine, I like ‘em, but not having to pay full taxes on money you’re earning is an absurdity.”

On Teddy Roosevelt vs. Donald Trump

“Teddy Roosevelt was great; he stood up to J.P. Morgan. Where do we get a guy like that? Donald – of all of them – maybe he’s brash but he’s willing to say what he believes. He’s willing to say, ‘Hey this is complete bull—-.’”

On the right to vote

“The middle-class guy who’s making $50,000 a year realizes ‘I’m being taken advantage of.’ He can read. He can understand. You know, czarist Russia, they had to have a revolution and the czar would bring out the machine guns and mow them down. All these guys have to do is vote.”

On “repatriation”

“There is $2.2 trillion in profits that American companies have earned in Asia, South America and Europe. Companies that have domiciled in this country but make goods in another country – produce them and sell them there, nothing to do with the United States. That money is sitting there and the companies would bring it back, but it is completely and totally unfair, the companies say – and rightly so – that they have to pay a double tax,” Icahn said. He added, “Our country is shooting itself in the foot. Because these companies say, ‘Well, we’re not going to bring it back then.’ So who are they punishing? They’re punishing the little guy again, because if that money came back it would make for jobs. That money doesn’t go to the mattress; that money is given to somebody who then will invest it somewhere else in this country and help to create more jobs. As opposed to taking the money over in Europe and invest it in Ireland or somewhere like that.”

On keeping interest rates lower for longer

“It’s like giving somebody medicine, and this medicine is being given and given and given and we don’t know what’s going to happen,” he said. “You don’t know how bad the end of this is going to be. You do know, though, that when you did it a few years ago it caused a catastrophe; it caused ’08. Where do you draw the line here?”

On junk bonds

“High yields really stand for junk bonds. People are buying these and not really understanding what they’re buying,” he said, adding, “Wall Street does what Wall Street does best: It sells securities. I used to laugh with some of these guys that sell these bonds. I used to say, ‘The mafia has a better code of ethics than you guys.’ You know you’re selling this crap and you keep selling it. And in fact you’re shorting some of this and that’s what is really going on. If and when there is a problem with the economy, there is going to be a rush for the exits, like in a movie theater. And people want to sell those bonds and think they can sell them, there is no market for them.”

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