Billionaire investor Leon Cooperman said Thursday on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” that the coronavirus crisis will “likely” change capitalism forever and that taxes will need to be raised soon.

“When the government is called upon to protect you on the downside, they have every right to regulate you on the upside,” Cooperman said. “So capitalism is changed.”

The chairman and CEO of the Omega Family Office said the country is shifting to the left and that taxes will have to go up regardless of who wins the presidential election in November. 

“Quickly if Biden wins, slowly if Trump wins, but taxes have to go up. So things like carried interest, capital gains taxes, the ability to roll over real estate sales tax free, all that stuff is going to have to be eliminated. For the good, by the way,” Cooperman said. 

The billionaire said last week that the U.S. government should not let companies go bankrupt due to the economic destruction caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Some of the provisions in the CARES Act directed at major companies, including a program for airlines, included restrictions on stock buybacks and executive pay for those that accepted the money

Cooperman has previously said that he supported higher tax rates but strongly opposed the idea of a wealth tax, such as the plan proposed by Massachussetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren during the Democratic primary. 

Cooperman’s comments came after a fifth-straight report of historically high weekly jobless claims. Cooperman said that he was optimistic that the parts of the economy could begin to reopen in May but that he expected the overall recovery to be slow. 

“If you think of a sporting event or a concert, I can’t imagine they’ll come back until we have a vaccination,” Cooperman said. 

Cooperman said that stocks are currently fairly valued, with the S&P 500 near the 2,800 level.


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