Donald Trump, his father, and the government

“The Art of The Donald in 10 Easy Steps” is a WSJ column with a crony capitalism angle:

Mr. Trump’s father, Fred C. Trump, built a real-estate empire after World War II and in 1999 left an estimated $250 million estate. One of his success secrets was taking advantage of Federal Housing Administration financing to build cheap houses in Brooklyn and Queens. The golden government apple didn’t fall far from the tree.

In the 1980s Donald Trump bankrolled people campaigning for seats on the New York City Board of Estimate. Surprise: The board decided land-use matters. Mr. Trump is one of the top political donors in New York state, according to the New York Public Interest Research Group, and Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who received $64,000, is one happy recipient. Mr. Trump said in a July interview that “when you give, they do whatever the hell you want them to do. As a businessman, I need that.”

Mr. Trump’s first big real-estate win in the 1970s was converting New York’s old Commodore Hotel into a Grand Hyatt. His dad’s friend Mayor Beame kindly extended a 40-year tax abatement worth $60 million in its first decade. In 2011 Mr. Trump told the Los Angeles Times that someone had once asked him how he had finagled a 40-year abatement, and Mr. Trump said he replied: “Because I didn’t ask for 50.”


  1. Tom

    September 15, 2015 @ 2:43 pm


    Well, he’s in real estate, and presumably not unique.

    I’m shocked that these sort of things are going on in Democratic stronghold New York City though. Shouldn’t NYC be showing the rest of us how Big Government is sparkly and has a lemony smell? Just sayin.

  2. DonG

    September 15, 2015 @ 4:37 pm


    The dirty secret of real estate development – in every city, in every state, in every country – is that it’s mostly controlled by corrupt local politicians. If you want to build, then you have to pay.

    Part of Trumps charm is that he is pragmatic rather than dogmatic. He figured out the rules, then played them to win rather than going all Don Qixote.

  3. Anderson

    September 15, 2015 @ 9:19 pm


    What chance do you give Trump of getting the Republican nomination?

  4. philg

    September 16, 2015 @ 12:16 am


    Anderson: I am not tracking the Republicans because I believe that they have zero chance of winning (unless they start promising Americans lots of free money and government services). So I don’t have an informed answer to your question. But let me try….

    There is a skill to being a politician (e.g., telling the maximum number of voters what they want to hear) and I don’t think a beginner such as Trump has any chance against the experienced politicians whom he will face in primary elections. So I would give Trump a 0.0001% chance of winning the nomination and then whichever Republican is nominated maybe a 10% chance of winning the election (where all of that 10% would be due to Hillary Clinton imploding for some reason).

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