Trump Promises Billionaires: I'll Keep Your Taxes Low

Trump Promises Billionaires: I'll Keep Your Taxes Low

Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

Former President Donald Trump reportedly told wealthy donors to his 2024 campaign that he’ll keep their taxes low and extend his 2017 tax cuts, many of which are set to expire after 2025.

Trump’s campaign said he had raised a record $50.5 million at a Saturday night fundraising dinner held at the Palm Beach, Florida, home of billionaire hedge fund investor John Paulson. The event was private and the Trump campaign reportedly declined to release a transcript of the former president’s roughly 45-minute presentation to more than 100 guests seated under a giant tent — though we can tell you that the gathered donors, including several billionaires, reportedly “dined on endive and frisee salad, filet au poivre, and pavlova with fresh berries,” according to NBC News.

A Trump campaign official told NBC that the former president “spoke on the need to win back the White House so we can turn our country around, focusing on key issues including unleashing energy production, securing our southern border, reducing inflation, extending the Trump Tax Cuts, eliminating Joe Biden’s insane [electric vehicle] mandate, protecting Israel, and avoiding global war.” The New York Times reported that Trump also “lamented that people were not immigrating to the United States from ‘nice’ countries ‘like Denmark’ and suggested that his well-heeled dinner companions were temporarily safe from undocumented immigrants nearby, according to an attendee.”

In comments made outside the fundraiser, Trump said people wanted to contribute to the cause of making America great again. "People are just wanting change. Rich people want it, poor people want it, everybody wants change," Trump said.

Reuters also noted that Paulson “has been floated by Trump as a potential Treasury secretary, according to two sources,” as has investor Scott Bessent, reportedly a co-host of the fundraiser. Others attending the event reportedly included hedge fund manager Robert Mercer, oil executive Harold Hamm, hotel entrepreneur Robert Bigelow and casino mogul Steve Wynn.

Biden camp quick to draw a contrast: The Biden campaign slammed Trump for the event, posting a video describing what it called the “scammers, racists, and extremists at Trump’s billionaire fundraiser.”

In a video posted on social media, President Biden said Trump was “raising money from a bunch of hedge fund billionaires who want him to cut Social Security and Medicare and their taxes.” Biden highlighted his own grassroots fundraising totals and called the presidential race one of nurses, teachers, firefighters and cops against Trump “and a couple of billionaires looking for a tax cut.” And a Biden spokesperson, Ammar Moussa, posted on X: “The ultra-wealthy are really mad at Joe Biden for making them pay their fair share.”

A new joint fundraising effort by Trump and the Republican National Committee reportedly asked donors to contribute up to $814,600 per person or $250,000 per person. “In an unusual arrangement, the fundraising agreement directs donations to first pay the maximum allowed under law to his campaign and Save America [a political action committee that pays the bulk of Trump’s legal bills,] before the RNC or state parties get a cut,” the Associated Press said.

Billionaires come back to Trump: Some of Trump’s big-money donors had previously expressed regret for backing him in the past and had supported other candidates — until the former president again emerged as the GOP’s presumptive nominee.

Los Angeles Times Senior Editor David Lauter said over the weekend that the shift highlights the issues at the heart of the 2024 campaign, beyond Trump’s legal troubles and questions about Biden’s age.

The coming fight over the expiring 2017 tax provisions is one major issue, and Trump’s wealthy donors know what they have at stake: “Their taxes could go up by millions of dollars if President Biden wins reelection and can enact key elements of his second-term agenda,” Lauter wrote. “If Congress decides that some or all the cost of renewed a tax cut needs to be offset, which party has the majority and whether the White House is occupied by Trump or Biden will have an enormous impact.”

And those concerns about taxes — and perhaps a self-interested desire to stay on Trump’s good side in case he wins again — can dwarf other considerations. “Rich people who disagree with Trump on policy but support him anyway may be especially common in California,” Lauter suggested. “His opposition to abortion and immigration, for example, is unpopular in Silicon Valley, but for many tech executives, concern about high taxes outweighs everything else.”