President Donald Trump was in Burnsville Monday, here to boast of his massive tax cuts and economic genius. “We promised that these tax cuts would be rocket fuel to the economy, and we were right,” he told the adoring crowd.
The Republicans' “middle-class tax cut” bill is now through its first year, and Trump does have reason to crow. Though one-third of the country witnessed their taxes increase, the rest saw reductions.
The problem: They were too small to notice. At least for regular people.
As former House Speaker Paul Ryan famously tweeted, a school secretary in Pennsylvania saw her paycheck rise by $1.50 a week. And the IRS says the average rebate is only running $20 ahead of last year.
The savings have been so minimal that a whopping 83 percent of Americans don’t believe they actually happened, according to an NBC-Wall Street Journal poll. It seems a fitting bit of karma for a party whose mantra has been, "Don't believe the news."
But they did happen. They were just dumped in bulk on the nation’s largest corporations.
Think of the cuts as a giant buffet thrown by our heroes in Washington. While CEOs gorged on lobster and steak, all you got was the leftover salad after the invited guests went home.
You were also stuck with the cleanup bill -- or more likely, your children and grandchildren will be forced to cover the tab. The reduced revenue, coupled with an unabated rise in spending, has blown a gaping hole in the federal deficit, which has bloated by 77 percent in the first four months of this year alone.
The Institute of Taxation and Economic Policy studied the returns of more than 500 of the country’s largest publicly traded companies. Each year, about 30 major companies pay no federal taxes, courtesy of the pounds of deductions accorded only to the mighty.
But after the GOP tax cuts, the number doubled to 60. And in the case of all but three, they're not only skating on taxes, but you'll actually be subsidizing them with $4.3 billion in refunds.
It’s not that these firms lost money. Together, they earned a mountainous $79 billion (yes, that's billion) in pretax income.
Take Amazon, the welfariest of welfare queens.
When we last left the shopping goliath, it was on its Mooching Across America Tour, drumming up billions in welfare for the privilege of hosting its second headquarters. While Amazon may have earned $10.8 billion dollars in income last year, it paid zero in federal taxes. In fact, we will be sending them a $129 million rebate for the taxes they never paid.
The roster of deadbeats is like a who’s who of corporate America: John Deere, Delta Air Lines, General Motors, Halliburton, Goodyear, Honeywell, and Avis (see the complete list).
Every time you log onto Netflix, know that it paid no federal taxes on $856 million in income, but you were nonetheless kind enough to send them a $22 million refund.
And while Eli Lilly has more than doubled the price of insulin, we’re rewarding them with a $54 million rebate check. Think of it as a small gesture of sympathy for only earning $598 million last year.
Even Xcel Energy got in on the game. Though it pocketed 1.4 billion, it’s still getting a $34 million rebate.
In Minnesota, we can thank Congressmen Tom Emmer, Jason Lewis, and Erik Paulsen, who all voted for the bill.
Thankfully, Paulsen and Lewis have since been deposed. Not so thankfully, Republican Jim Hagedorn was elected to replace Gov. Tim Walz in representing southern Minnesota. During his campaign, he praised the tax cuts as helping “families, farmers, and Main Street businesses keep more of their hard-earned money.”
At the VFW in Blue Earth tonight, be assured those people will holding a meat raffle for IBM. The company may not have contributed to the greater good by paying zero federal taxes this year, but we still owe them a $342 million check.