Blackstone (BX) Group’s founder Steve Schwarzman has some bold policy ideas on how to solve income inequality in the United States. After speaking about how his private equity firm was undervalued, and looking to adapt a more corporate structure, the billionaire offered his take on how to construct a “Marshall Plan for the Middle Class.”
“I look at this as a systemic problem. Half of our society is severely disadvantaged. We cannot allow this to continue. We need policy solutions,” Schwarzman told CNBC’s Squawk Box on Thursday morning.
One solution the Blackstone founder recommended, which is already being promoted by many Democratic 2020 candidates, involved raising the minimum wage. Another was to invest heavier in technical training for people who don’t go to college, in which “each state could get some allocation from the federal budget.”
“We’ve moved from number one in primary education… to number 30 or 35 in the world,” said Schwarzman. “Our graduates simply aren’t competitive on a global economy.”
When asked how the U.S. could afford this policy prescription, and whether it would be accomplished simply by raising taxes, Schwarzman avoided a direct answer, while giving the hosts another suggestion to mull over.
“Everyone has different ideas,” continued the billionaire. “One thing we should do is make teacher’s pay no taxes. Teaches are where the key is… We also have to make teachers a special class in our society.”
Although Schwarzman warned about the dangers of income inequality, one international organization has accused his firm of playing a part in it. Last month, the United Nations issued a report detailing how Blackstone and other risk management firms are fueling a global housing crisis by undertaking “aggressive evictions,” inflating rent and shrinking the pool of affordable housing in regions where their subsidiaries have real estate developments. In a letter to Schwarzman obtained by The Guardian, Blackstone said the report contained “numerous false claims, significant factual errors and inaccurate conclusions.”