WASHINGTON – Chautauqua County’s representative in Congress says the Federal Tax cuts that were approved at the end of last year are paying dividends for rank and file workers, and he used a recent visit to the Jamestown Home Depot to make that point.
But as Congressman Tom Reed (R-Corning) was making the case that the tax cuts are helping everyday Americans at one department store chain, his counterparts on the other side of the aisle are demanding that another major retailer show evidence that the tax cuts are helping its employees.
This week’s Reed’s office sent out a media release stating that during a recent tour of the Home Depot, he heard the impact tax cuts from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 have had on its employees. As part of the release, Reed’s office also said that businesses such as Home Depot and many others have given pay raises and bonuses thanks to the tax reform.
“Visiting places like Home Depot and talking with the employees is one of the best parts of the job,” Reed said. “Tax cuts have helped people, like the ones I met during my visit, keep real money in their paychecks and helped good-paying jobs to grow. This why we care about making these tax cuts permanent and feel it is the fair thing to do after hearing from people across our community.”
Making the tax cuts permanent is the foundation of the “Tax Cuts 2.0” proposal that was rolled out by House Republicans earlier this month, which would make the 2017 tax cuts for individuals permanent. The proposal is viewed as an effort to highlight their signature economic policy achievement ahead of the November elections.
According to Reed, “Tax Cuts 2.0” will create an estimated 1.5 million new jobs, increase wages by 0.9 percent and boost the GDP an additional 2.2 percent. He said the proposal would also help local business provide retirement plans for employees, help workers participate in those retirement plans, and allow families to access their own retirement plans on a penalty-free basis when welcoming a new child – either by birth or adoption.
Still, with little chance of Senate Republicans taking up the measure, the effort is largely viewed as a way to promote political talking points.
13 HOUSE DEMOCRATS CALL ON WALMART TO SHOW HOW TAX CUTS BENEFIT WORKERS
Meanwhile, as Reed praised the GOP Tax Reform effort from a year ago, Democrats (including Brian Higgins who represented Chautauqua County until redistricting went into effect in 2012) are singing a different tune.
In a Sept. 13 letter sent to CEO Doug McMillon, 13 different house members pointed out that Walmart – the nations largest department store chain – authorized $20 billion in stock buybacks while many of its workers still make poverty wages.
The letter further calls attention to the 1,188-to-1 ratio between McMillon’s 2017 compensation and the average Walmart worker’s, stating “it is not clear how your corporation is using your expected $2.2 billion in annual tax cuts to help your more than 1.4 million workers in the U.S.”
The members are asking McMillon to respond to the letter and corresponding questions by no later than September 28, 2018.
The letter (posted in its entirety below) was signed by Higgins along with Reps. Jan Shakowsky (D-IL), Mark Pocan (D-WI), Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), Rosa L. DeLauro (D-CT), Gene Green (D-TX), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Bobby L. Rush (D-IL), Tim Ryan (D-OH), and Mark Takano (D-CA).
“Republicans spent their day trying to pass the #TaxScam2 through the Ways And Means committee,” tweeted Rep. Jan Shakowsky (D-IL) on Sept. 13. “Meanwhile, I, Rep. Mark Pocan, Rep. Raul Grijalva and several of our colleagues sent a letter to Walmart asking why their savings from the first #GOPTaxScam aren’t increasing wages.”
Prior to the letter’s submission, a group known as Making Change at Walmart (MCAW) provided members of congress with hundreds of testimonies from Walmart workers whose wages fall far below the company’s average claim of $13.75 an hour.
MCAW also provided testimony on wage stagnation at Walmart, as well as the negative impacts of Walmart’s inadequate benefits, irregular scheduling, and elimination of holiday pay.
“Almost immediately after the Trump tax cuts were approved, Walmart’s board sought to stuff the pockets of its shareholders by authorizing up to $20 billion in stock buybacks,” says MCAW communications director Amy Ritter. “Meanwhile, the company still has no long-term solutions to address the fact that many of their employees are struggling in poverty.”
LETTER FROM 13 MEMBERS OF CONGRESS TO WALMART CEO DOUG MCMILLON