Wrongheaded Thinking About Working Americans

Image: (Getty Images/Archive Photos/Stringer, http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/blueprintforliving/dinner-party-horror/7471328)

After a lot of bait and switch and late night votes, Congress sent its nightmare tax bill to the President. He rushed to sign it and didn’t miss a beat telling his friends and customers at his Mar-a-Lago resort: “you all just got a lot richer.” They will and so will he, at the cost of taxing graduate students and raising the deficit anywhere from $1.5 to 2.2 Trillion.

All that while continuing to withhold funding for CHIP, the program nine million children rely on for health care.

Republicans bombarded us with their delusions of trickle-down economics. Cut taxes for corporations, they say, and those corporations will raise wages for workers. Shifting income to the wealthy, somehow, is going to boost the less economically advantaged.

But when it comes to how wealthy corporations will use their tax breaks, the writing is already on the wall. Investing in workers is not a top concern.

A recent Bank of America survey of large corporations found they’d be most likely to use their tax savings on foreign earnings to pay down debts; share buybacks, mergers and acquisitions and increasing dividends followed closely on that list. Companies including Cisco Systems Inc., Pfizer Inc. and Coca-Cola Co. each told Bloomberg they’d turn over most gains from corporate tax cuts to their shareholders. That’s why the stock market has gone up. The companies underlying it haven’t gotten better, they are waiting for dump trucks of money from the tax cuts.

Sure, AT&T announced it would use its windfall to provide a one-time, $1K bonuses to 200,000 employees. It’s a nice gesture, but a permanent wage hike would be far more significant (end of year bonuses are nothing new and it turns out those bonuses could save AT&T $28 million).

Yet in all the talk around cutting taxes on high earners, economists’ calls to raise the minimum wage have been met with silence. Not only would a raise benefit “their families and their communities,” economists say, “This injection of wages would modestly stimulate consumer demand, business activity, and job growth.”

Instead, the GOP continues to make it harder and harder for working Americans who rely on programs like CHIP, Medicaid and other programs to meet even their most basic needs.

Earlier this month, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker announced plans to drug test able-bodied adults who apply for food stamps.

In Washington, the Trump administration has suggested implementing a work requirement for Medicaid recipients, even though a recent University of Michigan study found most Medicaid enrollees in their state were either already working or unable to work.

His colleague from Iowa, Chuck Grassley argued recently that eliminating the estate tax would help investors, “as opposed to those that are just spending every darn penny they have, whether it’s on booze or women or movies.”

Why is it the GOP assumes the worst of working Americans — suggesting they’re abusing the system or lazy — while presuming corporations and the rich are noble and well-intentioned?

There is certainly a lot of evidence to the contrary.

As we start 2018, millions of parents across the U.S. are wondering if their children’s medical bills will be covered next year, let alone have any money left over to put presents under the tree. Meanwhile, corporate executives are looking forward to their new tax breaks to reward their already-wealthy shareholders.

At the Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council last month, an editor asked for a show of hands of attendees who planned to increase their investments in capital if the GOP tax bill passed.

“Why aren’t other hands up?” asked White House Economic Council director Gary Cohn in a video of the exchange, apparently confused by the quiet response.

He shouldn’t have been so surprised. Had he asked a room full of working parents who would spend a raise on food, bills, clothing, rent, health care, and, maybe, savings all hands would have gone up. Time for leadership in the Republican party to check their assumptions. They’ve got it all wrong.

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