Private equity exec on philanthropy and U.S. deficit
(CBS News) David Rubenstein, co-founder of The Carlyle Group, oversees one of the largest private equity firms in the world. The Carlyle Group has investments in a wide range of over 200 companies, from Hertz to Mrs. Fields Cookies and Rubenstein's own net worth is estimated to be approximately $2 billion. Already a well-known philanthropist, he has recently joined the call by fellow billionaires, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffett, to pledge to give away more than half of his personal wealth.
On Monday, he joined the table on "CBS This Morning" to talk about the giving pledge, the U.S. tax code, and how he came upon his success.
"The idea is to encourage more philanthropy -- I and about 85 other Americans have signed that," he said, touching on the idea behind the giving pledge. Recently, Rubenstein has given over $4.5 million to the pandas living in the U.S. a unique cause that Rubenstein says he was drawn to as a regent of the Smithsonian.
"My real concern was to help get people to come to the zoo more. The pandas are very popular. I thought the pandas are the most popular species on the face of the Earth," he said, touching on his motivation for focusing on pandas.
Turning to politics and finance, Rubenstein touched on the criticism of former Gov. Mitt Romney's time at the private equity firm, Bain Capital, throughout much of his presidential campaign.
He allowed that in politics, everything is subject to being criticized," but stressed that "the most important thing to remember is that private equity has helped revolutionize American business around the world. It is designed to make companies more efficient and it does so...very often we save jobs...we make good returns that often go to public pension funds."
When pressed on the issue of carried interest, which allows private equity firms to avoid the ordinary income tax rate and instead pay a capital gains tax rate, Rubenstein stopped short of addressing whether or not it should be on the congressional chopping block.
"We have to recognize that we have a $1 trillion annual deficit...so carried interest shouldn't be singled out...carried interest isn't going to solve the problem," he said before adding, "Carried interest will produce about a billion dollars, or one-tenth of 1 percent of the deficit."
Rubenstein, the son of a postal worker, spoke about his upbringing and early career, saying that money "wasn't important" in considering his professional interests and reiterating that he tried several different tracks throughout his twenties -- he worked in politics and practiced law -- before starting his own company at 38 years old.
He said, "I started a company and it took off and I did get fortunate to make more money than I probably can spend, and therefore, I'm committed to giving away the bulk of it."
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