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Why Some Billionaires Will Back Trump

Donald Trump’s campaign is reportedly strapped for cash. Small-dollar donations are running far behind their 2020 pace. Big Trump rallies aren’t yielding his biggest cash hauls. Some large-dollar donors are hesitant, in part because they worry (with good reason) that their money will be used not for the campaign but to pay his legal bills. So he has been wooing right-wing billionaires.

I have no idea how successful he’ll be, but it seems highly likely that at least some billionaires will provide substantial sums to a man who tried to overturn the last election and has been open about his authoritarian intentions — using the Justice Department to go after his political opponents, rounding up millions of undocumented immigrants and putting them into detention camps and more.

Which raises the question: Why would billionaires support such a person?

After all, it’s not as if they’ve been suffering under President Biden. Economists, myself included, often remind people that the stock market is not the economy. Low unemployment and rising real wages — both of which, by the way, the Biden economy has delivered, even if many people don’t believe it — have much more relevance to most people’s lives.

But stock prices are probably a much better indicator of how the very wealthy, who hold a lot of financial assets, are doing. And although in 2020 Trump predicted a stock crash if Biden won, the market has, in fact, been hitting record highs under the current administration.

Why, then, back a candidate who more or less promises to unleash social and political chaos?

One straightforward answer is that the wealthy will almost certainly pay lower taxes — and corporations will be less regulated — if Trump wins than if Biden stays in office.

If you believe, like some leftists, that Republicans and Democrats are basically the same — that both serve the interests of corporations and the elite — you’re wrong. The modern Democratic Party isn’t, despite what prominent Republicans say, Marxist or socialist. It does, however, have a track record of raising taxes on the wealthy to pay for social programs. Notably, the Affordable Care Act used new taxes on high-income individuals to pay for health care subsidies.

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