Last year, when the GOP passed their $1.5 trillion tax bill, they announced it would put $4,000 back in the average American’s paycheck. If this were true, this Tax Day, which is 15 weeks into the year, the average American should have an extra $1,153.85 of the $4,000. Do you?
If your answer is an emphatic no, you’re not alone. Across the country, there has been discontent among the working class, despite Republican efforts to broadcast a very limited number of rosy approvals of their legislation. Unfortunately, the thousands of Oklahoma teachers that have been striking for better wages and education funding know all too well the long term effect of legislation like the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. In their case, tax cuts for the wealthy clearly caused their dire financial straits. According to Vox, in the mid-2000s, as well as after the 2008 economic crisis, Oklahoma state legislators cut taxes that chiefly helped the rich. The result of these tax cuts has been the habitual underfunding of Sooner State schools, as well as stalled pay raises for educators.
Oklahoma serves as an example of the impending result of the federal tax cuts, but in a microcosm. Similar to the federal tax cuts, the Oklahoma tax cuts gave the bottom 80% of earners the same amount of savings as the top 1%. So, if you haven’t gotten roughly a quarter of your $4,000 yet, someone who needs it much less has.
Individual tax rates aside, if the GOP tax bill worked as its supporters said it would, workers would see higher wages, as well as less federal withholding. While there have been wage increases and one-time bonuses announced in the immediate aftermath of the tax bill, the amount of money committed to these efforts pales in comparison to that being given back to shareholders. Approximately $157 billion in stock buybacks has been announced since last December, while only around $5 billion in one-time bonuses and $1.5 billion in annual wage increases were propagated in order to grab headlines. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act continues the 40 year trend of corporations getting a bigger slice of the pie, while workers wages get the smaller share.
This Tax Day, whether you are grateful for the few dollars a week you are retaining, or the refund check that makes a major difference in your family budget, it’s important to remember that had Trump’s administration really wanted to improve your financial situation, they could have done so more effectively, and without giving a boondoggle to their donors. Anything from a bump in the minimum wage to increased education or infrastructure spending would have made a major, tangible difference in the lives of working and middle class Americans. Instead, the president and Congress chose to enrich people like me, who’s savings come Tax Day will not change our lifestyles one bit.