And, in particular, American billionaires.
Surrounded by friends in the luxurious dining room at Mar-a-Lago on Friday, President Trump offered his neighbors some good news.
“You all just got a lot richer,” Trump said, as reported by CBS News. Why were his dining companions suddenly richer? Because that morning Trump had signed into law the Republican tax bill, a bill that slashed the tax rate for businesses and gave out much of the benefit of its tax cuts to the richest people in America.
In 2019, the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation estimated that half of the benefit of the tax cuts would be go to those earning between $100,000 and $500,000 annually, and just shy of another quarter would benefit those earning $500,000 or more. That’s in large part because the Joint Committee estimated that 26 percent of the benefit of the business tax cuts would benefit those earning $1 million or more each year. Those corporate tax cuts were sold as being for the benefit of the middle class, in the form of higher wages and more jobs. The Joint Committee found that only 10 percent of the benefit of the business tax changes would reduce the tax burden for those making $75,000 or less.
When Trump was selling the plan — albeit well before most of the details were hammered out — his description was not that it would make his friends at Mar-a-Lago richer.
“This is going to cost me a fortune, this thing — believe me. Believe me, this is not good for me,” he said to laughter during a November speech in Missouri. “I have some very wealthy friends — not so happy with me, but that’s okay. You know, I keep hearing Schumer, ‘This is for the wealthy.’ Well, if it is, my friends don’t know about it.”
The Washington Post’s Drew Harwell spoke to experts who estimated that Trump would himself personally save millions of dollars under the Republican proposal. “Tax experts said real estate, rental and leasing businesses will benefit more than any other industry,” Harwell wrote last week, shortly before Trump signed the bill into law.
He isn’t alone. Those making $1 million or more a year will save an average of a bit over $64,400 in 2019 and $13,505 by 2027 — just shy of the $14,000 annual fee required to join Mar-a-Lago. Those making $50,000 to $75,000 will save $841 in 2019, and pay about $140 more a year in 2027. (That $841 will allow anyone who wishes to buy a guest ticket to the Mar-a-Lago New Year’s Eve party, and still have $90 for drinks.)
Trump’s friends at Mar-a-Lago also got richer over the course of the year thanks to the continued expansion of the stock market over 2017. While other presidents have seen bigger first-year market gains, the increase in the Dow Jones industrial average since Jan. 20 has nonetheless been significant.
The benefit of those gains is again heavily weighted to the wealthiest Americans. Our Chris Ingraham reported this month that 40 percent of stock in the United States is owned by the wealthiest 1 percent of the country. More than 70 percent of stock is owned by the top 5 percent.
Surging stock prices meant that the richest people in the world, those worth $1 billion or more, added about $1 trillion to their fortunes since Jan. 1, according to Bloomberg. Bloomberg’s analysis indicates that 159 American billionaires (including Post owner Jeffrey P. Bezos) added $315 billion to their fortunes during 2017. In total, those 159 people are worth $2 trillion dollars — up from about $1.7 trillion one year ago.
“We’re also going to eliminate tax breaks and complex loopholes taken advantage of by the wealthy. Who are they? I don’t know. I think my accountants are going crazy right now. It’s all right. Hey, look, I’m president. I don’t care. I don’t care anymore. I don’t care,” Trump said during that speech in St. Charles, Mo., in November. “Some of my wealthy friends care. Me, I don’t care. This is a higher calling. Do we agree?”
Trump signed the tax bill on Friday morning in the executive mansion before flying on Air Force One to his resort in Palm Beach. Since arriving there, his public schedule included offering Christmas greetings to two groups besides his Mar-a-Lago friends: a Dec. 24 call with members of the military and participating in NORAD’s annual calls from children tracking Santa Claus that evening. Since Friday, Trump has also played four rounds of golf at a course owned by his private business.