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Up And Out: The Oppressed Billionaire Dissidents Of Obama's America

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Venture capitalist Tom Perkins fired a warning shot last month in the pages of the Wall Street Journal.

"Writing from the epicenter of progressive thought, San Francisco, I would call attention to the parallels of fascist Nazi Germany to its war on its 'one percent,' namely its Jews, to the progressive war on the American one percent, namely the 'rich,'" the billionaire Silicon Valley pioneer wrote.

Real estate investor Sam Zell echoed his fellow one percenter's lament earlier this week.

"The one percent are getting pummeled because it's politically convenient to do so," Zell said, adding that the one percent simply "work harder" than everyone else.

President Obama isn't the only oppressor of the super rich. Ken Langone, the billionaire founder of Home Depot, expressed concern late last year that Pope Francis' criticism of capitalism made the wealthiest Americans feel alienated.

Of course, these dissidents have been swatting away at Obama's iron fist for years. Langone himself accused Obama in 2011 of attempting "to divide us and make us look at each other with skepticism, with suspicion."

But Langone wasn't even the first Home Depot executive to speak out against Obama's culture of intimidation. Bernie Marcus, who helped found the home improvement retailer, said in 2011 that many CEOs opted against criticizing Obama out of fear of retribution.

"They are frightened to death — frightened that they will have the IRS or SEC on them," Marcus said. "In my 50 years in business, I have never seen executives of major companies who were more intimidated by an administration."

Las Vegas casino mogul Steve Wynn likewise sounded off on these fears in a rant during a 2011 conference call with investors. Although he described himself as a "Democratic businessman," Wynn said "those of us who have business opportunities and the capital to do it are going to sit in fear" of Obama.

"Well, this is Obama’s deal. And it is Obama that is responsible for this fear in America," Wynn said.

"The guy keeps making speeches about redistribution and maybe we ought to do something to businesses that don’t invest, they are holding too much money," he added. "You know, we haven’t heard that kind of talk except from pure socialists. Everybody is afraid of the government and there is no need soft-pedaling it. It is the truth. It is the truth."

Meanwhile, Wall Street finished 2013 with the biggest annual gains since the 1990s.

About The Author

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Tom Kludt is a News Writer for Talking Points Memo based in New York City. A former research intern and polling fellow for TPM, Tom served as assistant polling editor for TPM Media's PollTracker during the 2012 campaign. Before joining TPM, he worked on political campaigns and wrote for various publications in Minnesota and his native South Dakota. Tom graduated summa cum laude from the University of South Dakota in May of 2010 with a B.A. in Political Science and History. He can be reached at tom@talkingpointsmemo.com.

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