Two Years Ago Trump Slashed Corporate Taxes. He Just Did It Again.

Donald Trump has not been a complete failure as president.

Rollbacks of environmental regulations and gains achieved under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare); shout-outs to white supremacists; rewards to supporters with cabinet positions; cuts to education and social safety nets; separations of refugee families at our Southern border and detention of thousands of their children in cages; prominence to Christian evangelicals and anti-women’s reproductive choice hardliners; seats on federal benches to a record number of judges, praise for authoritarian dictators; theft of congressionally appropriated money for military families to pay for his wall; et cetera, are handing the ultra-right exactly what it has always craved.

One group particularly pleased with Trump’s now-impeached presidency is the billionaire class.

The two years ago, Donald Trump signed into law the Republican “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,” a tax bill that handed $1.5 trillion in permanent tax breaks to corporations and the wealthy like Trump and his ilk.

It was supposed to stimulate an economy that didn’t need stimulating, put more money into everyone’s pockets (especially those who don’t need it), and create jobs.

Instead, it slashed the corporate tax rate and encouraged businesses to use their additional capital to pay off shareholders–not employees–to the tune of more than $700 billion.

CEOs admitted they will not increase employee pay and are working to “reduce their work forces further.”

An Economic Policy Institute and the Center for Popular Democracy report describes how the tax overhaul, predicted to add $1.5 trillion to the national debt over 10 years, “delivered big benefits to the rich and corporations but nearly none for working families.”

That wasn’t enough, though.

According to a Monday New York Times piece, corporations like Anheuser-Busch, Credit Suisse, General Electric, United Technologies, Barclays, Coca-Cola, Bank of America, UBS, IBM, Kraft Heinz, Kimberly-Clark, News Corporation, Chubb, ConocoPhillips, HSBC, and the American International Group, lobbied Treasury Secretary, former Goldman Sachs banker, Steven Mnuchin, to eliminate two provisions in the tax law–base erosion and anti-abuse tax (BEAT) and global intangible low-taxed income (GILTI).

They got them.

The Times reported:

“The corporate lobbying campaign was a resounding success. Through a series of obscure regulations, the Treasury carved out exceptions to the law that mean many leading American and foreign companies will owe little or nothing in new taxes on offshore profits…Companies were effectively let off the hook for tens if not hundreds of billions of taxes that they would have been required to pay.”

It added:

“The Organization for International Investment—a powerful trade group for foreign multinationals like the Swiss food company Nestlé and the Dutch chemical maker LyondellBasell—objected to a Treasury proposal that would have prevented companies from using a complex currency-accounting maneuver to avoid the BEAT…This month, the Treasury issued the final version of some of the BEAT regulations. The Organization for International Investment got what it wanted.

“The lobbying surrounding the GILTI was equally intense—and, once again, large companies won valuable concessions…News Corporation, Liberty Mutual, Anheuser-Busch, Comcast and P.&G. wrote letters or dispatched lobbyists to argue for the high-tax exception. After months of meetings with lobbyists, the Treasury announced in June 2019 that it was creating a version of the exception that the companies had sought.”

Times financial editor, David Enrich, considers the tens-of-billions-of-dollars estimate “conservative,” tweeting:

Hunter Blair from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) stated:

“The $4,000 annual boost to average incomes that the White House Council of Economic Advisers promised to working families because of the [Tax Cuts and Jobs Act] did not—and will not—happen.

“While it’s been worse-than-advertised for working families, the TCJA has been an even bigger boon to large corporations and rich households.”

The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy released a recent report confirming more than 90 U.S. Fortune 500 corporations did not pay any federal income taxes last year.

Image credit: www.progressive-charlestown.com

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