Billionaires Who Once Disavowed Trump Are Coming Crawling Back (Which Might Have Something to Do With Biden Vowing to Raise Their Taxes)

Bess Levin / Vanity Fair
Billionaires Who Once Disavowed Trump Are Coming Crawling Back (Which Might Have Something to Do With Biden Vowing to Raise Their Taxes) Trump enters Erie Insurance Arean for a political rally on July, 29, 2023. (photo: Jeff Swensen/Getty)

Once upon a time, some überwealthy individuals who’d previously supported Donald Trump declared that they were done with the 45th president of the United States. After January 6, 2021, billionaire GOP donor Nelson Peltz called the insurrection a “stain on America” and publicly apologized for voting for Trump in 2020. Real estate and aerospace mogul Robert Bigelow said Trump “lost me as a supporter” and showed, during the attack on the Capitol, that “he was no commander.” Billionaire donor Howard Hamm told Trump point-blank not to run for office again, saying the Republican Party needed a chaos-free candidate, and gave money to his competitors instead.

So it may or may not surprise you that those exact people, and others whose net worths include roughly nine zeros, are now singing an extremely different tune. Which, and we don’t want to shock anyone, might have something to do with Joe Biden pledging to raise their taxes. As The Washington Post reports, Peltz hosted Trump for breakfast this month at his Palm Beach mansion, later telling the Financial Times he will “probably” vote for him in November. Bigelow told Reuters in January he donated $1 million to help cover Trump’s legal fees and promised to give $20 million more to a Trump-aligned super PAC. According to the Post, Hamm is headlining a fundraiser next month—hosted by fellow billionaire John Paulson—for which the maximum contribution is $814,600.

And, of course, they’re not the only billionaires coming back around for Trump. Per The Washington Post:

As hopes of a Republican alternative have crumbled, elite donors who once balked at Trump’s fueling of the Capitol insurrection, worried about his legal problems, and decried what they saw as his chaotic presidency are rediscovering their affinity for the former president—even as he praises and vows to free January 6 defendants, promises mass deportations, and faces 88 felony charges. The shift reflects many conservative billionaires’ fears of President Biden’s tax agenda, which if approved would drastically reduce their fortunes. In some cases, it also points to their discomfort with the Biden administration’s foreign and domestic policy decisions. Some of these billionaires have been assiduously courted by Trump and his advisers in recent months.

Democrats argue that these billionaires are making their personal fortunes their top priority. Biden has promised to raise many taxes on the rich, including the capital gains rate paid on investment income, and a new 25% tax specifically on billionaires. These efforts were stymied in his first administration, but the president would try again.

“The billionaire class is really threatened by Biden: These guys are about creating a dynasty of wealth for themselves, and hoarding it for their posterity, at the expense of everyone else in society,” Steve Rosenthal, senior fellow at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, told the Post. “That’s the striking story at the moment.” Other wildly wealthy people who are reportedly attending next month’s fundraiser include sugar magnate Jose “Pepe” Fanjul, businessman Howard Lutnick, GOP megadonors Rebekah and Bob Mercer, business executives Todd Ricketts and Warren Stephens, and real estate tycoon Steve Witkoff. Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwarzman, who said in 2022 that he wouldn‘t support Trump in the 2024 primaries, is now said to be “considering backing the former president.” (A spokesman for Schwarzman didn’t return the Post’s request for comment.) Oracle’s Larry Ellison—who backed Tim Scott and Nikki Haley in the primaries—is reportedly “in discussions about writing a large check in support of Trump.” (Representatives for Schwarzman and Ellison declined to comment or did not respond to a request for comment from the Post.)

Perhaps one of the most absurd about-faces, or potential about-faces, is that of Gary Cohn, the former Goldman Sachs executive and now IBM vice chairman, who famously quit the Trump administration in 2018 after challenging Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. This month, he told CBS News, of the 2024 election: “I think the business community at this point is still open-minded...the business community really wants to hear the policies.”

Nobody forces out Ronna McDaniel but the RNC, ya hear?

TFW warning people “we’re not gonna have a country anymore” if they don’t vote for you is considered a “somber tone”

Tough but fair

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