President Donald Trump loves to take credit for things he hasn’t actually done like repealing the Affordable Care Act. (Only Trump would be gleeful at the prospect of taking health insurance from millions of Americans in need.) That’s why it came as no surprise when Trump took credit for AT&T’s recent announcement that it was awarding bonuses of $1,000 to 200,000 employees. Trump, with the national media watching, bragged last week: “This just came out. … AT&T plans to increase U.S. capital spending $1 billion and provide $1,000 special bonus to more than 200,000 U.S. employees, and that’s because of what we did.” Trump then added, “That’s pretty good. That’s pretty good.”
Of course, these bonuses were actually being negotiated with union representatives well before the GOP tax plan. Although it does appear that the number of AT&T employees who may receive a bonus was extended in response to the GOP corporate tax cut.
But when we learned a short time later that AT&T was laying off nearly 1,000 workers, we didn’t hear a peep from Trump. The usual Twitter-happy Trump didn’t comment on AT&T’s announcement Thursday that 300 employees in Dallas were being laid off because of corporate “restructuring.”
And while Trump was quick to attack the FBI on Twitter over the last few days, Trump was silent about AT&T’s decision to layoff an estimated 600 employees in Illinois, Wisconsin, Missouri, Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio. The frustration of these employees losing their job while AT&T was announcing $1,000 bonuses was clearly palpable in the words of Joseph Blanco, president of Local 6360 Communication Workers of America Union: “How can you lay people off and then give them $1,000 and say that there’s going to be more jobs available? I wish someone could tell me how that’s possible because I have to explain that to my members, and right now at this time of year, this is a difficult pill to swallow.
You would think Trump would at least publicly pressure AT&T to keep the employees after all Trump just championed a 40 percent tax cut for corporations-as opposed to only a three-percentage-point tax cut for the middle class. Think about that for a second: Trump and the GOP cut corporate taxes almost in half yet a major corporation is announcing layoffs days after the tax cut passed and Trump is silent. Perhaps Trump’s pressure would’ve caused AT&T to rescind these layoffs? We will never know because Trump was more focused on attacking the brave men and women who serve in the FBI as opposed to fighting for the middle class.
Of course, AT&T laying off employees is nothing new despite its record earnings and paying an effective tax rate well below the new 21 percent corporate rate. According to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, between 2008 and 2015 AT&T paid a real tax rate in the neighborhood of 8 percent a year—I’m betting everyone reading this paid a higher tax rate than that!
How did AT&T accomplish paying such a low tax rate? By using loopholes and tax breaks, of course. The result has seen AT&T enjoy record earnings.
Well, Trump and the GOP, while trying to get Americans to support their corporate giveaway, promised us that when corporations are making more in profits they will hire more employees. If that were true then AT&T should’ve gone on a hiring spree with its record earnings, right? But it didn’t. What did the company do? Between 2008 and 2016, AT&T “reduced its total workforce by nearly 80,000 jobs.” And with those savings AT&T engaged in stock buybacks to raise stock prices and gave its shareholders increased dividends. That’s what companies typically do when they are raking in the money and Trump absolutely knows that.
It’s clear Trump is planning to take credit for any good news we see in the corporate world going forward, claiming it’s all due to him and his tax cut. Well, with that logic, then Trump is equally responsible for every piece of bad news we see in the corporate world going forward. And right now nearly 1,000 AT&T employees are being laid off but Trump is MIA.
The real question is will middle-class America really get the “miracle” Trump has promised? While economists are skeptical on that front, we can be certain of one thing: With a 40 percent tax cut for corporations, corporate executives and their big shareholders will be seeing more than a “miracle”—they will be seeing a lot more money in their bank accounts while the rest of us continue to struggle all thanks to Trump and his GOP.
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.