Earlier this morning, Squawk on the Street had a little interview with Blackstone chief Stephen Schwarzman, live from Waldorf Astoria, where the Yale CEO Summit is taking place. The chat was conducted by Tyler Mathisen, with his colleagues patched in from the mothership in Englewood Cliffs. Everyone was very excited to have Steve-o on and things started off friendly enough. David Faber had a question about Dynegy. Erin Burnett wanted to know about investing opportunities abroad. And Mathisen and Schwarzman, whose firm owns the Waldorf, had a cute little repartee going about Steve delivering towels to Tyler’s room and leaving a mint on his pillow (given how game Schwarzman was to play along, and the diversity of the The ‘Stone’s companies, now might be a good time to nominate a certain someone as the next guest on Undercover Boss).
Then Mark Haines had something to say.
Haines: “Mr. Schwarzman. You’ve said you think the tax compromise will boost economic activity from one half to one percent. How do you figure that’s going to happen?”
Schwarzman: “I think you’re going to have more people with more money. Without taxes going up you’re going to have a variety of different incentives with cutting payroll taxes and there are other incentives in this package. And I think the economy will respond positively to that.”
Haines [internally smirking at how Schwarz had played right into his hand]: “Huh. Cuz the Congressional Budget Office it will increase employment by no more than 1/10t of one percent. And we are asking Americans to take on $850 billion more in debt so RICH PEOPLE…[you] can continue to pay less in taxes.”
[This was when someone at CNBC should’ve had the foresight to cut away to the reaction shots on Mathisen, Faber and Burnett’s faces, and a producer considered screaming “cut his mic!”]
Schwarzman: “Well, you know, this is one of those situations where there is no perfect answer. You have now very large amount of fiscal stimulus. Nobody likes the debt. You can take either side of that argument; I don’t really want more debt but the faster the economy grows, the more taxes people will ultimately paying because everyone’s earnings will be higher. Over time–”
Haines: “A year from now- oh, sorry, didn’t mean to interrupt I thought you were done with that sentence. So, a year from now, if the economy isn’t growing, will you admit you were wrong?”
Schwarzman: “I’m always comfortable admitting I’m wrong, I don’t have a problem with that.”
Haines: “Me too. Out of necessity.”
Moment at which we stopped watching and started picturing the look on Haines’ face when he finds out he’s no longer welcome at Blackstone-owned Michaels craft store, Legoland, Jurassic Park, or Madame Tussauds (the last of which is really gonna chafe).