On the morning of Friday, Dec. 22, 2017, Donald Trump signed the regressive Republican tax plan into law. That afternoon, the president climbed aboard Air Force One and headed to his private resort in south Florida.That evening, Trump spent some time with his Mar-a-Lago customers, telling them, “You all just got a lot richer.”
“The globalist Koch Brothers, who have become a total joke in real Republican circles, are against Strong Borders and Powerful Trade. I never sought their support because I don’t need their money or bad ideas. They love my Tax & Regulation Cuts, Judicial picks & more.
“I made them richer. Their network is highly overrated, I have beaten them at every turn. They want to protect their companies outside the U.S. from being taxed, I’m for America First & the American Worker - a puppet for no one. Two nice guys with bad ideas. Make America Great Again!”
Most of this is unimportant. Whether or not Trump knows what a “globalist” is supposed to be is uninteresting, as is the president’s opinion of the Koch brothers’ reputation, finances, agenda, and political network.
What stood out for me, however, was the boast Trump felt compelled to add: he made the billionaire Koch brothers “richer.”
As far as the politics are concerned, it’s not necessarily smart for a president to brag about making two of the nation’s most prominent billionaires even richer than they already were. So why do it?
If I had to guess, I’d say Trump thinks he bought the loyalty of those he enriched. He made Charles and David Koch, two of the nation’s wealthiest people even richer, so they should therefore like him, endorse him, and support him.
That there’s some friction between their wishes and the White House agenda seems to annoy the president – not just because of some ideological disagreement, but also because Trump thinks the Kochs owe him.
It reminds me of the president’s recent tantrum over Harley-Davidson: Trump insisted he’s “been very good to” to the company, telling the motorcycle manufacturer, “I’ve done so much for you.” When it had to make a business decision that was at odds with the White House’s preferences, Trump seemed to take it personally.
It’s all intended to be reciprocal: the president does something that benefits you, and he therefore expects you to do something that benefits him. Evidently, the Kochs don’t quite see it that way.