June 16th, 2019 by Steve Hanley on Clean Technica
You may recall the enormous tax cut Republicans jammed through Congress in 2017. It was going to be a big win for the people. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan even enthused on Twitter about how one of his constituents was pocketing enough extra cash each week to pay her $70 a year membership at Costco.
Do the math, people. That’s $1.35 a week. Hosanna! Praise Trump and the Republican party. Nuthin’ says “we care” quite as much as $1.35 a week. Kinda makes you proud to be an American, doesn’t it? Is this a great country or what?
Of course, the tax cuts for corporate America are permanent. Those for individuals are temporary and will last only long enough for the people who voted for them to get out of town.
In the run-up to the vote, corporate leaders promised a veritable garden of delights for American workers if it passed and was signed into law. Randall Stephenson, CEO of AT&T, made a big show of saying his company would invest $1 billion in America and create 7,000 new jobs if the tax cut passed, according to The Guardian.
Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors, added her voice to the chorus, saying the tax cut was “beneficial to the US economy, beneficial to US manufacturing, and creates jobs.” Wells Fargo, the fourth largest bank in the US by assets, promised to pay all of its workers at least $15 an hour if the tax cut package passed, and pledged increased investments in its workers.
Theory Vs. Reality
Many opponents of the tax cuts suggested corporations would keep all or most of the money for themselves and use most of it to repurchase their own shares, a move that boosts the compensation of senior executives. So what has happened? Exactly what the naysayers said would happen.
AT&T got a one-time tax windfall of $21 billion. It will also get an estimated $3 billion benefit each year. Since the tax bill passed, it has cut 23,328 jobs, according to the Communications Workers of America, and reduced its capital investments by $1.4 billion. Was Randall Stephenson, whose total compensation package is just south of $30 million annually, lying through his teeth or just confused? You decide.
A spokesperson for AT&T tells The Guardian, “We continue to hire in areas where we’re seeing increasing demand for products and services, but technology is changing rapidly and that affects hiring and employment. There are fewer jobs in parts of the business that are declining and facing technology shifts.”
Yes, there are. About 23,328 jobs so far and counting. How could a chief executive making nearly $30 million a year be expected to know what business conditions might be 18 months down the road? Do we think corporate executives have a crystal ball or something?
One year after the tax cut passed, General Motors closed 5 factories in North America and laid off more than 14,000 workers. How could it have known in 2017 that business would be so bad 12 months later it would need to trim that many workers and close so many assembly plants? But nothing stopped GM from spending $10 billion on stock repurchase plans since 2015. The plant closings and layoffs are expected to save $6 billion, but the company has shoveled $25 billion in financial benefits to Wall Street investors, according to the United Auto Workers.
And what of Wells Fargo? Well, in order to make $15 an hour, you first must have a job. The tax bill will put $3.7 billion into the company’s coffers every year — 47 times more than the cost of its minimum wage increases. It has spent $22 billion to buy back shares, and increased the compensation of its CEO by 35% to $18.4 million. Oh, it has also announced plans to eliminate at least 26,000 jobs in the US over the next three years. Many of those jobs are being sent overseas.
So, there you have it, folks. As Frank Clemente, executive director of Americans for Tax Fairness, puts it, “The evidence continues to mount that the Trump-GOP tax cuts were a scam, a giant bait-and-switch that promised workers big pay raises, a lot more jobs and new investments, but they largely enriched CEOs and the already wealthy.”
He adds that only 4% of US workers saw any sort of pay increase or bonus from the tax cuts. Meanwhile, data collected by his organization shows corporations have cut thousands of jobs since the tax cuts were passed and used tax windfalls to buy back $1 trillion of their own stock for the benefit of corporate executives and wealthy investors.
Gee, isn’t that exactly what opponents of the tax cuts said would happen? Well, yes, as a matter of fact, it is. Surprise, surprise. Yet instead of reacting with fury, Republican voters continue to approve of the way the career con man with #FakeHair and his acolytes in Congress are running (or is that ruining?) the country. Apparently, a large segment of Americans really enjoy a good old-fashioned soap suds enema, as long as a fellow Republican is in charge of the process. Go figure.
Socialism For Oligarchs, No Socialism For You
There is socialism in the air this election season. To listen to Republicans, socialism and communism are one and the same thing — soul-destroying dogmas that eat people’s brains and leave them helpless. Here’s another perspective from Hubert Humphrey: “Compassion is not weakness and concern for the unfortunate is not socialism.” Some suggest Jesus of Nazareth was a socialist, but it would be hard to tell from the actions of many of His followers.
The way Congress works today, corporate lobbyists write the bills, then corporations bribe enough legislators to get them passed. We have no money for public education, child care, health care, social security, Medicare, Medicaid, hot lunches at school, or any other programs that would benefit real people. Yet we always have unlimited funds for wars.
If you don’t realize the 2017 tax bill was a giant gift to corporations and wealthy people paid for by ordinary Americans, you simply aren’t paying attention. Making a country great means investing in its people, something Republicans think is gigantic waste of money — money that would be better off in the pockets of their campaign contributors.
America today has the best government money can buy. And as long as voters continue sending despicable people like Mitch McConnell to Washington, it will remain one of the largest criminal conspiracies in history. You can do something about, but it means going to the polls each and every chance you get and voting for people, not giant-corporate profits for the super rich. That’s one way to make America great again. In fact, it may be the only way.