Republicans are definitely not going to be running on that big tax cut they passed at the end of last year, not with headlines like this one blaring: “‘Eye-popping’ payouts for CEOs follow Trump’s tax cuts.” The windfall from the corporate tax cuts is ending up in executives’ pockets, and the numbers really are astounding. The corporations have been plowing tax cuts into buying back record amounts of their own stocks, boosting the value of existing share for shareholders and giving corporate CEOs a chance to get obscenely wealthy by selling their own stock.
For example, Oracle Corp. CEO Safra Catz sold $250 million worth of stock this year and product development head Thomas Kurian sold $85 million, both selling after the company announced it would be buying back $12 billion (yes, billion with a “b”). Mastercard CEO Ajay Banga sold $44.4 million. Eastman Chemical CEO Mark Costa sold 55,000 shares for $5.4 million. Politico found these examples from data disclosed in SEC filings, and spoke to Wall Street analysts who “expect buyback activity to accelerate in the coming weeks.” One, Pat McGurn at a shareholder advisory firm called Institutional Shareholder Services, says we’ll be seeing “a parade of eye-popping numbers.”
What we wont be seeing are eye-popping new salaries for workers. In fact, it’s pretty much the opposite. “Workers are shouldering a rising share of federal revenue, while tax payments by businesses are plunging toward record lows,” Yahoo News reports. “Treasury Department data for the first half of 2018 show individual income tax receipts rose 8.1%, to $915 billion. Corporate income tax receipts fell 32.4%, to $100 billion.”
Workers are sending more in taxes to the federal government, and their wages are not growing when inflation is taken into account. Of course they’re not! Corporations aren’t spending their tax windfall on the people who make their businesses run, their workers. They’re spending it on themselves and their shareholders.
It’s awfully hard to craft a winning political message out of that, and it seems Republicans aren’t even trying to.