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Why ‘Billionaires Against Trump’ Does More Harm Than Good

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Why ‘Billionaires Against Trump’ Does More Harm Than Good

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Singer, founder, CEO, and co-chief investment officer for Elliott Management Corporation, attends the Skybridge Alternatives Conference in Las Vegas

This past weekend, a few millionaires and more billionaires — leading tech CEOs, GOP fundraisers, political heavyweights — converged on a remote private island off the coast of Georgia for the American Enterprise Institute’s annual World Forum.

Attendees included leading figures in the tech world such as Apple CEO Tim Cook, Google’s Larry Page, and Tesla Motors and SpaceX’s Elon Musk. Prominent members from the GOP included Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, strategist Karl Rove, and House Speaker Paul Ryan, among others.

They were brought together by the candidacy of Donald J. Trump. Or rather, by the question of how to stop it.

In an email from the conference, founder and editor of The Weekly Standard Bill Kristol wrote that “A specter was haunting the World Forum — the specter of Donald Trump … There was much unhappiness about his emergence, a good deal of talk, some of it insightful and thoughtful, about why he’s done so well, and many expressions of hope that he would be defeated.”

Sure, Democrats and moderate Republicans despise Donald Trump and his insurgent takeover of the Republican Party. (Well, a few irresponsible Democrats are cheering him on.)

But the GOP’s network of high-dollar donors may hold him in even lower esteem than anyone. And they’re on a mission to stop him, whatever the cost.

But if there’s any lesson of this campaign season, it’s that Donald Trump is appealing because other billionaires hate him. The efforts to spend billions against him — most notably through ad buys in Florida and Ohio — has the potential to make Trump even stronger, ratcheting up the fervor in his base and making him appear all the more authentic.

Let’s take a step back and examine the range of organizations that have trained their spending arsenal on the prospect of stopping Trump.

Conservative Solutions, a super PAC supporting Marco Rubio, has raised about $20 million recently to spend on campaign ads targeting Donald Trump, according to Politico. The group also says the cash will power a full-frontal assault on Trump, focusing specifically on delegate-rich states voting in March. Though Conservative Solutions’ stated interest is electing Marco Rubio, they’re just as interested in stopping Trump, especially as their own candidate has rapidly lost steam these past few weeks.

One major donor is hedge fund billionaire Paul Singer, a free market enthusiast and conservative financier for the GOP who Fortune described as “a passionate defender of the 1 percent.”

Our Principles PAC, founded to stop Trump’s rise, has spent spent millions to air ads across the country highlighting Trump’s role in the almost-certainly-fraudulent Trump University.

According to Katie Packer, the Republican operative guiding the PAC, “This guy isn’t a conservative. He probably isn’t even a Republican. He is a con man who is incredibly vulnerable in the general election once Democrats get their hands on him.” The PAC was initially funded with $3 million from Marlene Ricketts, a major Republican donor and the wife of TD Ameritrade founder Joe Ricketts. Trump’s populism takes square aim at these people — the .01 percent of millionaires and billionaires who have “bought up” party mechanisms and tried to mold the GOP base into some kind of unanimity on the sanctity of free trade and low corporate taxes, among other things.

Even Mitt Romney, whose net worth stands at around $250 million, gave a speech recently during which he told his audience that that Trump’s “proposed 35 percent tariff-like penalties would instigate a trade war and that would raise prices for consumers, kill our export jobs and lead entrepreneurs and businesses of all stripes to flee America.”

He even called on Republicans to engage in strategic voting, and perhaps strategic fundraising by stating “If the other candidates can find some common ground, I believe we can nominate a person who can win the general election and who will represent the values and policies of conservatism. Given the current delegate selection process, that means that I’d vote for Marco Rubio in Florida and for John Kasich in Ohio and for Ted Cruz or whichever one of the other two contenders has the best chance of beating Mr. Trump in a given state.”

Because if anything works to persuade voters to turn against a demagogue, it’s telling them that they’re too stupid to know how to stop him on their own.

One notable exception to these groups is the Koch brothers-backed group Americans for Prosperity, which has chosen not to use their extensive funds to block Trump’s path to the nomination.

If there is one campaign trick that the GOP’s billionaires have watched work again and again, it’s buying enough TV time and running enough attack ads to drill their message down to the base.

Unfortunately, this plays right into some of the strongest appeals of the Trump campaign. In many ways, Trump can and does spin these efforts as paid for by the same people responsible for the state of economic vulnerability in the U.S., who he says are taking aim at him because he won’t let them continue to profit at his voters’ expense.

The actions of the GOP establishment only reinforce Trump as an anti-establishment candidate and speaker for the “silent majority”.

So it’s worth asking: Does all the spending against Trump only make him stronger? And if so, when will the GOP’s billionaires realize that they are the problem, not the solution?

Photo: Paul Singer, founder, CEO, and co-chief investment officer for Elliott Management Corporation, attends the Skybridge Alternatives (SALT) Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada May 9, 2012. REUTERS/Steve Marcus 

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13 Comments

  1. Insinnergy March 9, 2016

    “A passionate defender of the 1%”…
    Well that’s just super.
    Well done for exemplifying everything wrong with the country.
    Go f*** yourself, Paul Singer.

    Reply
    1. Independent1 March 9, 2016

      Singer and Romney were part of the group that were pushing so hard for Obama to let the auto industry go bankrupt. They wanted to buy up GM and Chrysler and ship all the union jobs overseas. Fortunately, they only succeeded in doing that to the industry’s largest small parts maker Delphi (was Delco).

      But their actions go to show just how un-American these lovers of the 1% are – when they were willing to destroy just one more company while killing 25,000 American jobs in the process at the height of the Great Depression when so many millions of Americans were struggling just to have a job and America was already loosing 800,000 jobs a month. (Of course companies like Romney’s Bain Capital were also playing a big part at the time in helping to destroy a lot of those 800,000 lost jobs/month. When Americans look at how our business sector has been devastated over the past few decades – they have to realize it wasn’t all about Free Trade Deals – a great bit of that destruction was caused by Mitt Romney and his cohorts.)

  2. Otto T. Goat March 9, 2016

    The main reason so many billionaires have lined up against Trump is they want more immigration.

    Reply
    1. The lucky one March 10, 2016

      Or maybe they have just met him personally and have seen first hand what a world-class a$$hole he is. There is a similar situation with Cruz and his fellow senators. they dislike him so much because they have first hand experience with him.

      1. Otto T. Goat March 10, 2016

        I’m sure it’s a just a coincidence all these billionaires are spending millions of dollars pushing open borders.

    2. jmprint March 10, 2016

      Otto you are a fool, Trump loves to use immigrants and will continue. And he will double the work visas that exploit our high paying jobs.

  3. 1standlastword March 9, 2016

    I’m LMAO at these pukes because they made this a money game and now they see it takes more than money to win!
    I enjoy seeing these pricks swirl the drain!!!!

    Reply
    1. jmprint March 10, 2016

      Me too. And will be worse when they have to side with Trump, against their will. I love karma.

  4. Leftout March 10, 2016

    These POS , elitist , cunning linguists were unable to select anyone from their pool of 17 + candidates to continue their disregard of the American voters. These supporters of the establishment Democratic and Repiblican olde guard have had plenty of warning that a change was a Cum’in, with the intersession elections starting in 1994 giving both houses control to the Republicans The congress betrayed the voters and Congress than became immediately corrupted except for a few . This was a slap In the face to the voters . This is not a pro Trump movement, 90% of all voters are against the CURRENT REPUBLICANS. They had their chance to place anyone on the roster but they blew it , Romneys presence only solidified The hatred that the voters have for the olde guard Republicans. It is the people’s turn to pick the leader. Bernie or Trump are proving the point.

    Reply
  5. The lucky one March 10, 2016

    “This guy isn’t a conservative. He probably isn’t even a Republican. He is a con man who is incredibly vulnerable in the general election once Democrats get their hands on him.” If true then why aren’t the repubs exploiting his vulnerability? Is it because they are Trump-lite and know their attacks on him can easily be used against themselves.

    Reply
  6. plc97477 March 10, 2016

    Wow! romney complaining about something sending jobs over seas. Irony is strong in this one.

    Reply
  7. itsfun March 10, 2016

    Tough road. Carly and others say Trump is the establishment and for the rich. The billionaires and millionaires in the establishment say the opposite. Seems like the only people that want Trump are the common, ordinary citizens. There is so much anger among the citizens (voters) that one wonders if anybody can be an effective President. Both Hillary and Donald have so many people against them, that we may see even more division between the parties. Out of all the people running for President, the Governor of Ohio may be the only person capable of bring people together.

    Reply
  8. 788eddie March 10, 2016

    Just another way in which the very wealthy feel that they can throw around their dollars to influence our democracy.

    One person; one vote has become one dollar; one vote.

    Reply

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