Terry McLaughlin: Regardless of Pelosi, it’s more than just ‘crumbs’ | TheUnion.com

Terry McLaughlin: Regardless of Pelosi, it’s more than just ‘crumbs’

Terry McLaughlin
Columnist

According to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, "Tax breaks don't lead to job creation – they lead to big CEO salaries and money for the very, very wealthy … The biggest corporations make out like bandits while the middle class get crumbs."

More than two million working Americans have received bonuses and/or wage increases from those same corporations and CEOs since the GOP tax reform bill was signed into law in December. If you haven't been paying attention, here is a very short list of some of the immediate results of this tax overhaul:

AT&T — $1,000 bonus to more than 200,000 U.S. employees; $1 billion increase in U.S. capital spending.

COMCAST — $1,000 bonus to hundreds of thousands of employees; $50 billion invested in jobs and infrastructure.

ALASKA AIRLINES — $1,000 bonus to 22,000 employees.

AMERICAN AIRLINES — $1,000 bonus to all employees, except officers — for a total of $130 million.

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AMARILLO NATIONAL BANK — $1,000 salary increase for over 300 employees — the highest salary and wage increase in the bank's history.

AMERICAN SAVINGS BANK — $1,000 bonus to 1,150 employees; base wage increase from $12.21 to $15.25 per hour.

BALTIMORE GAS & ELECTRIC — $82 million in tax savings passed on to customers in the form of lower utility bills.

BANK OF AMERICA — $1,000 bonus to 145,000 U.S. employees.

CAPITAL ONE — Minimum wage raised to $15 per hour for all U.S. employees.

CITIZENS FINANCIAL GROUP — $1,000 bonus to 12,500 employees; $10 million in charitable donations.

COMERICA BANK — $1,000 bonus to 4,500 non-officer employees; base wage increase to $15 per hour.

FIAT CHRYSLER — $2,000 bonus to 60,000 employees; $1 billion investment in a plant in Warren, Michigan, which will result in 2,500 new jobs.

FIFTH THIRD BANCORP — $1,000 bonus to more than 13,500 employees; increased minimum wage for all employees to $15 per hour.

JETBLUE — $1,000 bonus for all 21,000 employees.

JORDAN WINERY — in Sonoma, $1,000 bonus for all 85 employees.

NATIONWIDE INSURANCE — $1,000 bonus for 29,000 employees; increased 401(k) matching contributions for 33,000 employees.

PNC FINANCIAL SERVICES GROUP — $1,000 bonus to 47,500 employees; $1,500 contribution to employee pension accounts; base wage hike to $15 per hour; $200 million in charitable contributions.

SOUTHWEST AIRLINES — $1,000 bonus to all 55,000 employees; $5 million in charitable contributions.

STIFEL FINANCIAL CORPORATION — $1,500 bonus to 7,000 employees.

THE TRAVELER'S COMPANIES — $1,000 bonus to 14,000 employees; base wage increase to $15 per hour.

US BANCORP — $1,000 bonus to 60,000 employees; base wage increase to $15 per hour; $150 million in charitable donations.

WALMART — Bonuses up to $1,000 for all employees; base wage increase to $11 per hour; expanded maternity and parental leave; $5,000 to assist with adoption expenses.

WASTE MANAGEMENT — $2,000 bonus to approximately 34,000 employees.

WELLS FARGO — Base wage increase from $13.50 to $15 per hour; $400 million in charitable donations in 2018; $100 million toward increased capital investments over the next three years.

Apple just announced plans to bring $245 billion back to the U.S., building a new corporate campus that will employ 20,000 U.S. workers, and paying a whopping $38 billion in taxes.

The above list represents just a tiny handful of the companies that have voluntarily delivered bonuses and salary and benefit increases to their employees, philanthropic donations to their communities, and announced investment and expansion plans which will result in increased employment. Almost daily, this list continues to grow, and the vast majority of these companies have publicly credited the tax reform bill for these actions.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi dismissed bonuses as "pathetic" and just "crumbs," saying it was "obnoxious" that workers are grateful for the extra money in their pocket. According to the L.A. Times, Mrs. Pelosi is the fifteenth wealthiest member of Congress, with a net worth of just under $30 million.

A thousand dollars may represent "crumbs" to Mrs. Pelosi, but what might $1,000 mean to you? Family groceries for the next three months? Preschool for your three year old? Repairs for your automobile? Dental work you've been waiting on? Paying off a credit card? Rent? A donation to an effort you feel passionately about? It would take no effort to list one thousand ways in which $1,000 could significantly help the average American worker. Does anyone reading this consider $1,000 to be an insignificant "crumb"?

Congresswoman Pelosi's and Senator Schumer's narrative grinds against everything they claim to be fighting for — increased wages, support for working families, and middle class prosperity. Just as we have seen the stock market soar to unheard of heights over the past year, I am cautiously optimistic that the actions we've seen taken by employers and corporations in the previous months may be an indicator that the economy will continue to grow more robust, with increased manufacturing, greater infrastructure investments, higher wages and more jobs.

Just for a moment, put aside partisan politics, and look for results. A $1,000 bonus is good, but a raise in wages is even better, and base wages have been voluntarily increased for the long term by many of the employers listed above, as well as a great number of those not mentioned, in addition to these generous bonuses and benefits.

I don't know about you, but I'm rooting for my neighbors and all Americans to enjoy increased economic prosperity and security, regardless of who gets the credit.

Terry McLaughlin, who lives in Nevada City, writes a twice monthly column for The Union. Write to her at terrymclaughlin2016@gmail.com.

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