Morgan Artyukhina All materialsWrite to the authorUS President Joe Biden has elected to spend his Thanksgiving holiday at the home of David Rubenstein, a billionaire and co-founder of the private equity firm Carlyle Group. Earlier this week, Biden nominated a former Carlyle partner, Jerome Powell, for a second term chairing the Federal Reserve, the US central bank.The president and his wife, first lady Jill Biden, arrived at Rubenstein’s sprawling coastal estate on Massachusetts’ Nantucket Island on Tuesday night, where they’ll be joined by their extended family members ahead of the Thursday feast day. It’s a trip the family has made every year since 1975, except for 2015, when their son Beau died, and 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic interfered.However, Rubenstein himself apparently won’t be there, according to Forbes, as he’s traveling in Europe. His estimated wealth is $4.5 billion.According to his official biography, Rubenstein started the Carlyle Group with William Conway Jr. and Daniel D’Aniello in 1987. Today it’s the world’s second-largest private equity firm by capital raised over the previous five years, according to the PEI 300 index, boasting $293 billion in assets, and Forbes estimates Rubenstein’s net worth at $4.5 billion.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki defended Biden’s trip when asked by reporters about what kind of message it sent, casting the visit as no different than any other American family’s Thanksgiving plans.“I hope everybody in here is spending time with their families,” she said to the White House press corps. “This is a time to put politics aside, spend time with your loved ones and talk about what you’re grateful for,” she said, adding that he has the ability to continue working from the Nantucket mansion and is traveling with his staff.
Biden’s trip came just a day after he nominated Powell to serve a second four-year term as chairman of the Federal Reserve, the US central bank that sets the country’s monetary policy and ensures private banks and investors don’t crash the economy with risky loans.Powell was a partner at Carlyle for eight years, from 1997 until 2005, where he founded and led the industrial arm of the firm’s buyout fund used to acquire other companies using investors’ money.Powell was appointed to lead the Fed by then-US President Donald Trump in 2017, although the two often butted heads as Trump pressured Powell to keep interest rates low and boost stock market values, which the real estate mogul used as proof of his administration’s success.
However, his policies have also been heavily criticized by progressive Democrats like Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who accused him of weakening the US financial system and doing little to ensure there won’t be a repeat of the 2008 financial collapse.Incidentally, Rubenstein has also criticized Warren, telling CNBC in 2019 that Warren’s proposed tax on household net worth as part of her failed presidential bid wouldn’t “solve all of our society’s problems, if one could ever actually be implemented.”“If you tax the upper income people, there aren’t enough of those people to really make a wealth distribution effect that’s going to be significant. There just aren’t enough highly wealthy people,” he added.Biden, who ran successfully against Warren as a moderate Democrat, had supported ending tax breaks for the wealthy but not a wealth tax.
“I don’t want to punish anyone’s success; I’m a capitalist,” Biden said last month when discussing some of the proposed income tax increases that would be used to pay for the Build Back Better Act. “All I’m asking is, pay your fair share.”Making the Nantucket trip all the more awkward is the fact that a former Carlyle executive, Glenn Youngkin, just won the governor’s race in Virginia as a Republican candidate. Youngkin’s victory has been widely interpreted as a referendum on Biden’s political agenda and reflective of his flagging popularity.