Last Saturday, President Donald Trump returned to his hometown of New York City for a day of fund-raisers. His last stop was at the home of Stephen Schwarzman on Park Avenue, where many of Trump’s old friends and real estate colleagues were in attendance.
The private equity Blackstone Group’s founder Schwarzman, along with many of the other people in the crowd have been pushing for Trump to alter the Republican tax package that is now making its way through Congress. One point in particular that New Yorkers are really up in arms about is the ability to deduct state and local taxes from federal returns, which this tax bill wants to do away with.
Trump’s longtime friend and developer Richard LeFrak is among the lobbyers, and asked Trump directly what changes he’d like to see done to the bill.
Trump mocked in response, “LeFrak always has a question.”
The rest of Trump’s answer was very vague, it gave some the impression that he would hear their concerns and others felt the opposite. Trump concluded with a joking remark about the complaints of his wealthy supporters. He said, “You guys seem to be doing O.K.”
According to the New York Times, “While Mr. Trump has tried to sell the tax package as a giant tax break for all Americans, a different story is unfolding in New York and other high-tax, mostly Democratic states. The mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio, has estimated that there could be tax increases for as many as 700,000 residents if the legislation is approved. Nearly half of households in surrounding suburban counties itemize their deductions — and stand to lose valuable write-offs of state and local taxes on their federal returns. Some of Mr. Trump’s New York friends and colleagues are seeking changes, as are some of the Republican Party’s most generous donors. They have called the White House, the Treasury Department and Congress in a furious push to soften the economic blow. Many fear their concerns are falling on deaf ears.”
Billionaire Republican John Catsimatidis, who attended another Trump fund-raiser at the Pierre Hotel in Manhattan this month, said, “Everybody in New York is groaning, and all of us have zero influence.”
Princeton history professor and presidential historian Julian Zelizer told The Times, “It’s hard to think of a president whose signature legislation will fall, in a very negative way, on people in his home state. Usually you bring back the pork.”
It is very unusual for a president to pass a tax package that hurts his hometown. Although Trump is culturally a New Yorker, he has never held a political position in the state, and has a much more complicated relationship with New York, than say President Bush had with Texas.
By Charles Bernstein