Controversial TED speaker: Stop giving rich people credit for creating jobs

Updated

A TED speaker at the center of a controversial talk is drawing a line in the sand: Stop giving rich people the credit for creating jobs.

Venture capitalist Nick Hanauer told msnbc’s Lawrence O’Donnell Thursday the notion America’s wealthiest stimulate the economy by generating jobs is false, and that cutting their taxes hurts the middle class.

“Only consumer demand can animate hiring,” said Hanauer. “The economy is an eco-system. This trickle-down orthodoxy is a complete and bogus lie.”

He talked to O’Donnell about the notion of a “divine reason” to argue the rich are “job creators” to make lowering their taxes acceptable.

“When a capitalist like me claims to be a ‘job creator,’ it sounds like we’re describing how the economy works, but what we’re doing is something far more interesting. What we’re doing is making a claim on status and privilege. Look, there’s a small leap from ‘job creator’ to ‘The Creator’ – someone at the center of the economic universe…

It’s how, in a democracy, you can come up with an astounding 233 percent differential between the tax rates I pay… and the rate the ordinary Americans that work pay.

“You can’t get there unless you deify capitalists,” he added.

His argument comes as multimillionaire and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney runs on a record that he created thousands and thousands of jobs. 

Hanauer, who is one of the first non-family investors in Amazon.com, made the argument at the TED conference in March. His speech, deemed by some to be “too political,”  was not released until Thursday. (You can view the video here and see the slides and transcript here.)

The multimillionaire pointed out that hiring a new employee is the last resort for someone running a business. “The measure of the quality of a business, how profitable it is, is largely the difference of how few workers we hire per unit of sales vs. our competitors.”

“Calling us job creators isn’t just inaccurate, it’s somewhat disingenuous.”

Mitt Romney

Controversial TED speaker: Stop giving rich people credit for creating jobs

Updated