Corporate Elves Give Away Goodies To Sweeten Tax Heist's Sting
December 21, 2017

The Trump/Ryan/McConnell tax plan is now getting a publicity boost from corporate America, or at least from a few big companies. AT&T just announced this:

Once tax reform is signed into law, AT&T plans to invest an additional $1 billion in the United States in 2018 and pay a special $1,000 bonus to more than 200,000 AT&T U.S. employees — all union-represented, non-management and front-line managers. If the President signs the bill before Christmas, employees will receive the bonus over the holidays.

As Vox's Emily Stewart notes, AT&T think that promised $1 billion investment is so nice it's announced it twice:

While the bonus announcement was new, the planned additional investment wasn’t — AT&T announced on November 8 that it would step up US investment by $1 billion if a tax bill passed.

And as Kevin Drum notes:

Here is AT&T on the Republican tax plan:

June 2017: “AT&T is on pace to invest around $22 billion in the United States this year, CEO Randall Stephenson told CNBC on Thursday....Ahead of the tech meeting, Stephenson told “Squawk Box” the company will increase its capital investments if Trump delivers on tax reform by the end of the year.” ...

In the most recent quarter, American companies increased their investments in equipment by 6.3 percent. AT&T appears to be planning an increase of 4.5 percent. I am unimpressed.

Who else is handing out goodies?

Fifth Third Bancorp will pay more than 13,500 employees a bonus and raise the minimum wage of its workforce to $15 an hour after the passage of the Republican tax plan that will cut the bank's corporate tax rate....

Wells Fargo, meanwhile, also said it would be boosting its minimum wage for employees to $15 an hour, which was prompted by the tax plan.

Regarding Wells Fargo, Nathan Newman notes this:

There are also handouts from Comcast and Boeing.

Charlie Pierce thinks a lot of these folks have good reasons to want to suck up to the president:

But do you think this is going to turn public opinion around? Trump certainly thinks so. The companies know this is what he wants. But whydoes he want it?

What I mean is: Why does Trump think a few examples of corporate largesse are going to have a long-term impact on how Americans perceive this tax bill? First of all, there are more than 120 millionAmericans who either have full-time work or are looking for it. If a couple hundred thousand get bonuses, why should that make the millions who don't get bonuses feel better about the bill?

Will companies just keep handing out bonuses between now and -- to pick a not exactly arbritrary date -- November 2018? I don't think so. I think CEO Santas are going to put the goodie bags away very soon. This pleases Trump -- he wants the flattery and the dopamine rush now -- but in a month or so, everyone's going to forget that this happened except the usual Trump cultists, the same Facebook friends you have who are still crowing about how Trump saved all those jobs at Carrier long after it became obvious to the rest of us that the Carrier story was all smoke and mirrors.

Beyond that, Trump and the CEOs are daring the press to write sad stories about the bonus-receiving workers. This will be the structure of those stories: Last December, Mary Jones, a Wells Fargo teller, cheered when she learned that she'd be receiving a $1000 bonus and a boost in her base wage. Six months later, the joy has faded as Jones, a single mother, struggles to cope with medical bills for her two children -- a concern since the expiration of the CHIP program at the end of 2017....

We'll hear about other workers whose Obamacare premiums have skyrocketed, or who fear deep cuts as Republicans in Congress take aim at Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Those won't be happy stories.

Trump thinks this a great moment for him. But that's what it is -- a moment. It will turn sour very soon.

Crossposted at No More Mr. Nice Blog

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