David Rubenstein

David Rubenstein, Co-Founder and Co-Executive Chairman of The Carlyle Group, is not only a finance and investment guru but also a leading philanthropist, as well as a caretaker of American History and iconography.

As a student of American History and a leader himself in the investing world, Rubenstein gives his thoughts on what makes a great leader and names some historical figures that he believes are models of great leadership. One qualification Rubenstein mentions as the trait of a great leader is the power of persuasion — verbally, in writing, and/or by example.

When discussion the Great Recession with Aaron, Rubinstein posits how the Board of the Federal Reserve System was effective in bailing out the Economy. The money expended by the Bank actually has come back with a profit and not a loss. Rubenstein then points out how the Trump tax cuts did not pay for themselves and, instead, actually are adding trillions of dollars to our National Debt.

In the liveliest segments of the program, Aaron and Rubenstein debate different ways to save our failing Social Security system. Rubinstein initially argues the only way to save Social Security is by increasing the base Social Security tax rate, cutting benefits, and/or raising the Retirement Age at which benefits can be paid. Aaron suggests none of these options are good or necessary and makes the case for means-testing (meaning that individuals with a large amount of personal wealth would not receive as much or any money from Social Security, thus allowing the funds to go to people truly in need), taxing benefits for higher income recipients, and, most importantly, lifting (i.e., eliminating) the current cap on annual income subject to employment taxes.

Rubinstein also addresses the perils associated with global Climate Change and explains that the reason it is difficult to address this crisis is because people are reticent to change their conduct because they don’t see or feel Climate Change immediately affecting them, personally.

He believes we need to stay in and even toughen the standards of the Paris Accord, from which President Trump has begun to withdraw. Rubinstein has serious concerns about our education system with what he believes may be a focus on STEM learning which is at the expense of learning in other areas — most importantly, critical thinking. He suggests our efforts to catch up with the Chinese and other countries focused on technology may be somewhat misplaced if that essentially is our sole focus.

He also notes that the number of U.S. History majors is at a low right now and, as a result, people don’t know as much as they should about history — especially American history and civics. Rubenstein cites shocking statistics about natural-born American citizens’ illiteracy regarding our own country’s history. He reveals that native-born American citizens consistently failed the U.S. naturalization exam when compared to the immigrants who take the test. He notes that 75% (3 out of every 4) American citizens cannot even name the three branches of government.

David Rubenstein

The Carlyle Group