'Useful idiots': NYT's Krugman blasts shortsighted billionaires who tolerate Trump's racism for the tax cuts
Paul Krugman

On Monday, Nobel Prize-winning economist and political commentator Paul Krugman relased a New York Times column blasting billionaire executives like Stephen Ross, who claim to not support President Donald Trump in everything he does, but support him enough to hold six-figure private fundraisers at their mansions.

"Most reporting on the Ross event has focused on the possible adverse effects on his business empire: The young, educated, urban fitness fanatics who go to his gyms don’t like the idea that their money is supporting Donald Trump. But the foolishness of Ross’s Trump support goes well beyond the potential damage to his bottom line," said Krugman. "I mean, if you’re a billionaire who also happens to be a racist, supporting Trump makes perfect sense: You know what you’re buying. But if you’re supporting Trump not because of his racism but despite it, because you expect him to keep your taxes low, you’re being, well, an idiot."

Krugman pointed out that tax cuts don't actually help billionaires in any meaningful sense. "People who’ve studied the extremely rich argue that money, for them, is largely not about being able to buy things but is instead a way of keeping score; their satisfaction comes not from more consumption but from overtaking their perceived peers," said Krugman. "And tax cuts don’t help on that dimension, since your peers get the same tax breaks you do."

"More to the point, Trumpism is about much more than tax cuts: It’s an attempt to end the rule of law and impose an authoritarian, white nationalist regime," said Krugman. "And even billionaires should be terrified about what their lives will be like if that attempt succeeds. This is especially true if you’re a member of a minority, even if your skin happens to be white. Ross is Jewish — and anyone Jewish has to be completely ignorant of history not to know that when bigotry runs free, we’re always next in line for persecution."

Most billionaires, Krugman argued, don't really want to live in a country that embraces fascism and persecutes ethnic minorities.

"So what are they thinking raising money for a would-be authoritarian?" Krugman wrote. "The answer, of course, is that they aren’t thinking. Instead of considering what a consolidation of Trumpist power would mean, they’re reacting mindlessly out of a combination of greed and ego."

"By the way, the greed part is obvious. But it has also been clear since the Obama years that a fair number of the superrich aren’t satisfied with being immensely wealthy; they also want adulation. They expect to be praised as heroic job creators and are enraged at any suggestion that some of their number may have behaved badly, let alone that they may have benefited from a rigged system," added Krugman. "Hence the hatred for even reasonable, pro-market progressives like, say, Elizabeth Warren. It’s not just that these progressives might make billionaires a bit poorer, but that they make them feel small."

"But this is no time for such pettiness. Vast wealth brings many privileges, and it will continue to do so even if progressive Democrats win big next year," Krugman concluded. "What wealth doesn’t bring is the right to let self-indulgence turn you into a useful idiot, lending aid and comfort to a movement that’s trying to destroy America as we know it."