Economy & Business

Life under the Trump-GOP Tax Cuts

Outside an AT&T store in Times Square in 2015. (Reuters photo: Brendan McDermid)
It’s is like working overtime for Satan.

‘Armageddon,” House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California called the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), the $1.5 trillion tax-reform measure passed by the Republican Congress and signed by President Donald J. Trump on December 22. She dubbed this measure “the worst bill in the history of the United States Congress” and “monumental, brazen theft from the American middle class and from every person who aspires to reach it.”

“No justice,” she added about “this destruction” and “this terrible bill.” She also predicted that it would “install a permanent plutocracy in our nation.”

“The GOP’s tax bill is a cynical one-two gut punch to the middle class,” moaned Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York. “Raise their taxes to pay for corporate tax cuts & then decimate their earned benefits as a kicker.”

Governor Jerry Brown (D., Calif.) called this bill “evil in the extreme.”

Citing an Obama adviser and President Clinton’s Treasury secretary, The Hill ran a terrifying headline last month, “Economist Larry Summers: 10,000 people will die annually from GOP tax bill.”

America died tonight,” Newsweek’s Kurt Eichenwald wrote, as the House approved TCJA. “USA is over. We killed it.”

Well, the early results are in: TCJA’s consequences lie somewhere between the Bataan Death March and a dungeon in Hell.

The human toll of Republican tax relief is nearly incalculable. However, Americans for Tax Reform has tried to measure the carnage. Based on news accounts, press releases, and other information, ATR is keeping a list of the companies that have used the 40 percent reduction in the corporate tax — from 35 percent to 21— to offer higher employee compensation, launch investments, and boost charitable donations.

“Just five days into 2018, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act has changed the nation for the better,” ATR president Grover Norquist said on Friday. “American companies are raising wages, paying bonuses, expanding operations, and increasing 401(k) contributions. This growing list will be updated daily at www.atr.org/list.”

To peer more deeply into the Dante’s Inferno into which the GOP has plunged America, I analyzed several of TCJA’s effects, as of January 5. So far, at least 117 companies have announced plans to share their corporate tax cuts beyond Mahogany Row. These firms range from six-person-strong Charlie Bravo Aviation in Georgetown, Texas, to the 200,000 workers at Dallas-based AT&T.

‐ A minimum of 974,072 employees will receive post-tax-cut bonuses or other increased compensation — a veritable Bonus Army. Most of these are one-time $1,000 bonuses. While some are just $150 — at Delaware Supermarkets — they run as high as $3,000, at IAT Insurance Group in Raleigh, N.C. Rather than lavish these sums on those who inhabit corner offices, many of these companies have limited these bonuses to non-executives or those earning less than $75,000.

‐ These worker-income supplements total at least $962,537,000 — damn near one billion dollars.

‐ New training and personnel-development plans equal $100,150,000.

‐ Among these firms, post-TCJA charitable donations total $1.085 billion to date. These include $5 million from Southwest Airlines, $100 million each from BB&T Bank and Boeing, and $400 million from Wells Fargo.

‐ New business investments and capital spending clock in at $51.55 billion. AFLAC will pump $250 million back into the company. AT&T will do the same with $1 billion. Comcast will plow a whopping $50 billion into new equipment and facilities.

Pelosi has promised that if Democrats regain control of the U.S. House, “in the first 100 hours, we will pass a $15 minimum wage.”

“Millions of Americans are working for totally inadequate wages,” Senator Bernie Sanders (Socialist, Vt.) has complained. “The current federal minimum wage is starvation pay and must become a living wage. We must increase it to $15 an hour over the next several years.”

Rather than wait for Washington to force them to do this, many of these devilish CEOs have taken this step themselves.

Rather than wait for Washington to force them to do this, many of these devilish CEOs have taken this step themselves. Indeed, 22 of these companies are using their corporate-tax savings to raise base pay to at least $15 per hour. Hawaii’s Territorial Bank augmented its starting hourly wage by 33 percent, from $11.25 to $15. Even more impressive, Associated Bank of Wisconsin raised its corresponding pay from $10 to $15, a 50 percent improvement.

Yes, this really is like getting 500 lashes from Satan.

(For further details, please see my Trump Tax-cut Bonus Tally here.)

Why this sudden burst of corporate generosity? Some have dismissed this commercial beneficence, such as American Airlines’ devoting $130 million to bonuses, as a parade of publicity stunts intended only to score positive headlines. American Airlines could have dropped $13 million on junkets for journos, generated favorable ink, and then lavished the other $117 million on top executives or poured that cash into a demonic stock-buyback scheme. And yet, somehow, American Airlines gave this money to the workers.

Those who made these decisions offer the same reason for opening their purse strings: The Trump/GOP tax cuts.

“The tax reform law creates an opportunity to reward our employees who are working hard each day to serve our customers, build strong relationships in our communities and create long-term value for our shareholders,” said William S. Demchak, CEO of PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. in Pittsburgh, Pa. PNC gave each of its 47,500 employees a $1,000 bonus and a $1,500 pension-account deposit, lifted its base wage to $15, and donated $200 million to charity.

“We are giving $1,000 bonuses as a direct result of tax reform becoming law. These employees would not normally get a bonus like this,” said Larry Wexler, CEO of Kentucky-based Turning Point Brands, Inc., invoking his 107 staffers. “We can attest that this tax package is directly benefiting working people, just as our national leaders promised when they started this effort.”

“You’ve got a choice — we could’ve kept it and stuffed it in the company bank account or coffers, or we can share it with the people,” Rush Enterprises’ CFO Steven Keller explained. “We chose to share it with the people because it’s the right thing to do.” The Texas trucking company thus earmarked $6.6 million for a $1,000 bonus to each of its 6,600 employees.

In yet another unintended consequence of TCJA, Baltimore Gas & Electric Co. will let its customers partake in the company’s $82 million in corporate-tax savings. Those with gas and power bills should expect to spend $51.24, or up to 5.2 percent, less annually to heat their homes and charge their devices.

Compared with President Trump’s tax cuts, the end of the world is like a weekend in San Francisco.

“For us it was real simple,” BGE CEO Calvin G. Butler Jr. told the Baltimore Sun. “We wanted to share those benefits with consumers.”

Two other electric companies that fuel Delaware, Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Virginia also plan to cut costs for their 770,000 clients.

“The tax law will result in lower bills for our customers and lower taxes for Pepco and Delmarva Power,” said Dave Velazquez, president and CEO of Pepco Holdings, Pepco and Delmarva’s parent company. “We are pleased to provide these savings to our customers, while at the same time ensuring we are making prudent investments in the local power grid.”

No wonder each and every single, solitary Democrat in Congress voted “Hell No!” on this mayhem.

Nancy Pelosi is right: Compared with President Trump’s tax cuts, the end of the world is like a weekend in San Francisco.

READ MORE:

The GOP’s Tax Wager Is Worth the Gamble

Tax Reform: A Mixed Bag

Overheated Rhetoric on Tax Reform

Deroy Murdock — Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor and a contributing editor of National Review Online.

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