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A Closer Look At Those Corporate "Bonus" Announcements

Category: Economy
Posted: 01/28/18 09:12

by Dave Mindeman

Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform is keeping a running list of American companies who are adding employee benefits "because" of Trump's tax plan.

So far they list 270 companies - affecting 3 million Americans.

Let's put that in a little more perspective.

1) The American workers getting these benefits is less than 1% of the population.

2) Of the 270 companies listed - 101 of them are banks. The banking industry has had a particularly good year and generally would be giving out bonuses anyway, as is the custom. But tying it to the Trump tax plan makes for good PR and political clout as Trump continues to pursue deregulation in the industry.

3) 167 of the 270 companies will be giving one time bonuses of $1,000 or less. Which in the big scheme of things is a lot of money in the aggregate but pales in comparison to the ongoing company savings.

4) 12 companies gave larger bonuses of up to $2,000.

5) 49 companies increased their minimum wage to $15 per hour. Now that may seem generous also, but consider that minimum wages are rising across the country and the $15 standard is a basic goal. These companies just decided to give Trump the credit for the inevitable.

6) 9 companies increased their 401(K) contribution which is a more significant long term benefit.

7) Every public utility company in the list noted (with press releases) that all savings from the tax plan will be passed on to their customers - which, ironically, they would have to do anyway as a public non-profit.

In this list of 270 companies (which again is a very small microcosm of corporate America) there were other oddities.

A company called Jones Auto and Towing was included in the list with a press release that stated: "Thanks to President Trump we will be hiring 2 new full time employees! #MAGA".

The College of the Ozarks announced a $204 bonus for employees. (Why $204????)

Minnesota's Ecolab announced an additional $25 million in charitable contributions - which would make tax sense because beginning with the new tax law, charitable contributions will have less benefit.

So, these 270 companies, for the most part, are just doing some pro-Trump public relations. Granted, the employees ARE getting a needed benefit, but when you consider that the tax cut is permanent while personal tax cuts are temporary - this one time largesse doesn't quite stack up as the big giveaway it is promoted to be.

There is one notable exception to all of this:

APPLE.

"$2,500 employee bonuses in the form of restricted stock units; $30 billion in additional capital expenditures over five years; 20,000 new employees will be hired; increased support of coding education and science, technology, engineering, arts, and math; increased support for U.S. manufacturing."

Apple is one of the few major companies that is doing what the tax plan intended. They are bringing money back from overseas and actually investing it in a notable expansion plan. They also plan to upgrade our education system where they can.... and they are building a second major plant. It was impossible to find another company in the entire list of 270 which even comes close to this type of investment.

Which proves that Trump's master plan is just another dud. There will be short term benefits which I am sure he will be happy to extol, but this short term gain could end up being another heavy downturn later when the glow of tax reform sifts into reality.

All of these corporate announcements, a small list of companies that it is, are just a distraction from the massive corporate giveaway that excretes from this legislation. It is another explosion of income disparity.

82% of benefits of this tax plan go to the richest 1%.

Trump is pro-business alright - but more precisely, he is pro wealth.
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