Bailout Baby

Millionaire who supports higher taxes invested in companies that received billions in taxpayer money

Obama speaks Wednesday on the Buffett Rule surrounded by millionaires, including Whitney Tilson / AP Images
• April 13, 2012 10:46 am


An ultra-wealthy hedge-fund manager who is supporting President Obama’s effort to raise taxes on 4,000 millionaires is heavily invested in companies that benefited from taxpayer-funded bailouts.

Whitney Tilson’s T2 Partners hedge fund, which oversees more than $262 million, holds sizeable positions in the big banks that were bailed out with taxpayer funds in 2008 under the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP).

According to the most recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Tilson’s fund owns a combined $42.8 million worth of stock in Bank of America, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, and Wells Fargo, all of which received tens of billions in taxpayer dollars through TARP.

Tilson is a member of "Patriotic Millionaires," a group of wealthy people that appeared in a recent photo-op with the president as part of his effort to promote the so-called "Buffett Rule."

Named after Nebraska billionaire Warren Buffett, the new rule would alter the existing tax code by increasing rates on a select group of wealthy individuals and raising about $4.7 billion per year in additional revenue, or enough to cover about 0.4 percent of the projected budget deficit in 2012.

The amount of new revenue the "Buffett Rule" would raise over the next decade would be roughly equivalent to Bank of America’s share of the TARP funds.

In a recent appearance on CNBC, Tilson acknowledged that the new revenue was "not even a meaningful small amount."

But Tilson scoffed at the suggestion that he and others concerned millionaires should "just write a check."

"I'm not interested in paying any more taxes in a vacuum," he said. "Taxes are going to have to go up, and they're going to have to go up on tens of millions of people, but somebody's got to go first."

The Democratic-led Senate will vote on "Buffett Rule" legislation when it returns from recess next week. It is expected to fail.