Republicans calling for smaller government are misguided and the United States needs a fiscal intervention, an adviser to 2016 presidential candidate Donald Trump, said at the recent Reuters Global Investment Outlook Summit in New York.
Carl Icahn, the billionaire activist investor, who said he talks to Trump once every week or two, said rather than shrink the government as Republican candidates have pledged to do, the next president should focus on economic growth.
"I hate it when they say we should have limited government," he said. "The government could get involved to incentivize businesses."
Icahn said the U.S.'s number one priority should be to get American corporations to repatriate their cash and pay an 8 percent or 10 percent tax. That revenue could be used to help fix some of the country's crumbling infrastructure.
"Forget comprehensive tax reform," he said. "It'll never pass."
Icahn's comments suggested a new distance between himself and Trump, the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination. Trump refers to Icahn frequently on the campaign trail as one of the "best people" he would bring into government if elected. He has said he would nominate Icahn for Treasury secretary.
"I am not going to be secretary of the Treasury under any condition," Icahn said. "I'm no great expert on exactly what the Treasury secretary can do."
In September, Icahn released a video titled "Danger Ahead," in which he endorsed Trump for president and criticized the Federal Reserve for creating a new bubble in the corporate bond market. He said the rich paid too little in taxes and called for an end to the loophole that allows hedge fund managers to pay low tax rates on their investments by classifying them as "carried interest."
But on Wednesday, Icahn said he felt little affiliation with Democrats or Republicans and was put off by the extreme wings of both parties. "I'm sort of in-between right now," he said. He declined to say if he planned to vote for Trump in the primary elections next spring.
Icahn said he thought politicians should listen more to experts from Wall Street and that he calls members of Congress from both parties to offer his views on the state of U.S. financial markets.
"With Donald, I'm happy to give him advice if he wants to talk to me," Icahn said. "I would hope that if he did get elected that he would call me."
Trump's spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment.
© 2022 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.