Billionaire Carl Icahn backs Trump and talks up middle class frustration

Why Carl Icahn is backing Donald Trump
Why Carl Icahn is backing Donald Trump

Billionaire investor Carl Icahn, throwing his support to Republican frontrunner Donald Trump, says he is looking out for the little guy.

Icahn briefly summed up how he sees middle class frustration in a video released Tuesday.

"The middle class guy who's making $50,000 a year realize, 'I'm being taken advantage of,'" Icahn said. "He can read. He can understand. Ya know, in czarist Russia, they had to have a revolution. And then the czars would bring out the machine guns and mow them down. All these guys have to do is vote."

Icahn said that while he doesn't agree with Trump on all the issues, the country needs someone to "wake it up."

"We need a president that can move Congress, and I think Donald Trump could do it," Icahn said.

Trump can be brash, Icahn allowed, but of all the presidential candidates, "he's willing to say what he believes and willing to say, 'Hey, this is complete bulls**t.'"

On Wall Street: Icahn said one problem facing the country is the carried interest loophole, which allows earnings of hedge fund managers and other private equity firms to be taxed at a lower rate than normal income. Trump said he wants to eliminate the tax break.

"People on Wall Street, they're good friends of mine," Icahn said. "I like them. But not having to pay full taxes on money that you're earning is an absurdity."

Donald Trump: No income tax for some
Donald Trump: No income tax for some

On Corporate America: Icahn also vented frustrations about Corporate America, and indicated that it used the same kind of short-term thinking occurring in government.

"The irony of lower interest rates is that companies today, instead of taking the money they could borrow, and really investing in a lot of capital, new machinery, new equipment, in their workers to make them more productive, what they do with the money is almost perverse," Icahn said. "They just go in and buy another company to show their analysts on Wall Street their earnings are going up so their stock will go up, and it's financial engineering at it's height."

He said stocks go up when earnings go up, so many CEOs focus too much on quarterly increases in earnings.

On Endorsing Trump: Trump had previously said he would want Icahn in his administration, suggesting the activist investor would take the lead in negotiating trade with China and Japan or would be a potential Treasury Secretary. After seeing Trump's performance during the first Republican debate, Icahn tweeted that he would accept the offer.

Is Icahn now offering a full endorsement of Trump?

"I would say it's an endorsement. I think at this moment in time, he's the only candidate that speaks out about the country's problems," Icahn told Bloomberg on Tuesday. "I'm behind Trump."

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