Lest we forget the innocent days of the pre-pandemic Democratic primary, former president Donald Trump wasn’t all that nice to former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, making fun of his height by crouching behind a podium at the Conservative Political Action Conference.
But if Trump went the bully’s route on the stage, his tax cuts were much nicer to his rival billionaire. According to a ProPublica report on Wednesday detailing the confidential IRS records of some of the nation’s most prominent plutocrats, Bloomberg saved $68 million in 2018 thanks to new tax provisions in the first year that Trump’s signature piece of legislation went into effect.
Bloomberg was not alone: As ProPublica reports, Trump’s tax cuts allowed 82 ultrarich households to save $1 billion in 2018. Many of the biggest winners were involved in what are called pass-through firms, in which profits slide directly to the owner. Lauded during negotiations as tax relief for “small businesses,” big benefits for pass-throughs allowed Bloomberg and other billionaires to avoid major hits come tax time. Meanwhile — and contrary to the GOP’s promise of a trickle-down boon — the cuts are expected to increase the deficit by a total of $1.9 trillion and have failed to deliver for the rest of us, as a Congressional Research Service study summarized by Intelligencer noted in 2019:
The Congressional Research Service, a kind of in-house think tank for Congress, has a new paper analyzing the effects of the Trump tax cuts. It finds that none of those secondary effects have materialized. Growth has not increased above the pre-tax-cut trend. Neither have wages. After a brief and much smaller than expected bump, repatriated corporate cash from abroad has leveled off.
It’s unclear what Bloomberg, the 20th richest person alive, did with the $68 million from the Trump cuts. (The billionaire, who declined via a spokesperson to comment to ProPublica, vowed to reform Trump’s tax reform on the campaign trail.) Perhaps he used it to help fund his failed ad blitz to win Florida for Biden. Maybe it went into his $1 billion primary campaign, which netted him just 59 delegates — a couple thousand short of the nomination. It certainly didn’t pay for the salaries of his campaign staffers, who claimed they were promised jobs until the election regardless of his primary performance only to be fired just after the pandemic hit.