Corporations, not workers, are receiving the greatest benefits from GOP tax bill

Rebekah Entralgo

Rebekah Entralgo Reporter, ThinkProgress

Four months after Republicans in Congress passed the largest tax code overhaul in three decades, American corporations have gotten a huge tax cut.

New analysis from Americans for Tax Fairness, however, suggests these corporations aren’t using their recently freed up cash to help middle class workers like the administration said it would — more than 84 times.

The organization analyzed corporate data from primarily Fortune 500 companies, whose revenues are two-thirds of the entire gross domestic product (GDP), in addition to news reports and independent analyses of top U.S. companies. What they found was that these powerful corporations have spent a total of roughly $238,244,348,330 in stock buybacks since December 20, 2017 when the tax bill passed.

Working class Americans won’t see a penny of that.

Stock buybacks help those who own corporate stock, which typically means the already-rich. The wealthiest 10 percent of American households own 84 percent of all shares, while the top 1 percent own 40 percen. Roughly one-half of American households don’t own stock at all.

According to the data, few corporations have decided to use the savings from the tax bill to benefit their workers directly. Out of the over 1,500 companies from which Americans for Tax Fairness collected data, just 359 of them actually promised to increase wages for their employees. Of those that have, the majority only offered a bump of $15 an hour in entry-level pay — which, by all accounts, should already be what companies pay entry-level employees in a tightening labor market.

And those one-time tax bill bonuses corporations gave out to employees? Those represent just a just small fraction of what the $1.4 trillion dollar tax bill costs. A ThinkProgress analysis of the bonuses, originally compiled by Americans for Tax Reform, found that they total roughly $981 million — only .09 percent of the total cost of the corporate tax cut.

Overall, only 2 percent of Americans have reported getting a raise or bonus as a result of the tax bill.

In hindsight, this kind of data isn’t surprising, given that CEOs were openly admitting to journalists that they planned to spend their tax windfall on everything but their workers.

“Is it our goal to increase return to our shareholders and do we have an excess amount of capital? The answer to both is, yes,” Wells Fargo CEO Tim Sloan told CNN Money on December 18, one day prior to the tax bill’s passage. “So our expectation should be that we will continue to increase our dividend and our share buybacks next year and the year after that and the year after that.”

White House chief economic adviser Gary Cohn also attended a Wall Street Journal event in November, where CEOs were asked whether their companies planned to invest more in their workforce if the tax reform bill passed. Very few hands went up.

Corporations and the ultra-wealthy are not the only ones who will be seeing huge returns as a result of the GOP tax bill: according to a new report from the Center For American Progress Action Fund (ThinkProgress is an editorially independent news site housed at CAPAF), 15 Republicans from tax writing committees in Congress will also receive an average tax windfall of $314,000 from the legislation they helped craft.

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Reposted from Think Progress

Posted In: Allied Approaches

Union Matters

Federal Minimum Wage Reaches Disappointing Milestone

By Kathleen Mackey
USW Intern

A disgraceful milestone occurred last Sunday, June 16.

That date officially marked the longest period that the United States has gone without increasing federal the minimum wage.

That means Congress has denied raises for a decade to 1.8 million American workers, that is, those workers who earn $7.25 an hour or less. These 1.8 million Americans have watched in frustration as Congress not only denied them wages increases, but used their tax dollars to raise Congressional pay. They continued to watch in disappointment as the Trump administration failed to keep its promise that the 2017 tax cut law would increase every worker’s pay by $4,000 per year.

More than 12 years ago, in May 2007, Congress passed legislation to raise the minimum wage to $7.25 per hour. It took effect two years later. Congress has failed to act since then, so it has, in effect, now imposed a decade-long wage freeze on the nation’s lowest income workers.

To combat this unjust situation, minimum wage workers could rally and call their lawmakers to demand action, but they’re typically working more than one job just to get by, so few have the energy or patience.

The Economic Policy Institute points out in a recent report on the federal minimum wage that as the cost of living rose over the past 10 years, Congress’ inaction cut the take-home pay of working families.  

At the current dismal rate, full-time workers receiving minimum wage earn $15,080 a year. It was virtually impossible to scrape by on $15,080 a decade ago, let alone support a family. But with the cost of living having risen 18% over that time, the situation now is far worse for the working poor. The current federal minimum wage is not a living wage. And no full-time worker should live in poverty.

While ignoring the needs of low-income workers, members of Congress, who taxpayers pay at least $174,000 a year, are scheduled to receive an automatic $4,500 cost-of-living raise this year. Congress increased its own pay from $169,300 to $174,000 in 2009, in the middle of the Great Recession when low income people across the country were out of work and losing their homes. While Congress has frozen its own pay since then, that’s little consolation to minimum wage workers who take home less than a tenth of Congressional salaries.

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