It has only been about 24 hours since Republicans in Congress passed their $1.5 trillion tax bill, and major corporations have already launched what critics are calling "shameless" PR campaigns aimed at winning President Donald Trump's favor and convincing the public that the massive windfall they're about to receive will end up in the pockets of workers.
Some major media outlets were quick to buy into the hype, despite the fact that corporate CEOs have stated publicly that extra profits will go toward further enriching shareholders, not helping workers.
In a story on Wednesday, USA Today declared that "some of the cash windfall from corporate tax cuts is already trickling down to Main Street workers," even though Trump has yet to sign the bill into law.
Trump, for his part, took to Twitter Thursday to triumphantly claim that major companies "are already making big payments to workers" thanks to the Republican tax plan, which reduces the corporate rate from 35 percent to 21 percent.
Analysts were quick to call these pronouncements into question.
Vox's Matt Yglesias pointed out that Wells Fargo—one of the first companies to claim it will boost wages because of the tax bill—had already detailed plans to raise worker pay in September, before the tax bill was even close to passage.
It’s weird that the raise Wells Fargo announced today because of the tax cut was also announced back in September. https://t.co/6oQggjwtpD— Subscribe to My Newsletter (@mattyglesias) December 21, 2017
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AT&T—which is currently battling the Trump Justice Department over its proposed merger with Time Warner—was the first company to tout its plan to "pay a special $1,000 bonus to more than 200,000" non-management workers following the tax bill's passage on Wednesday. The problem with AT&T's announcement, as Katie McDonough of Splinter News notes, is that it appears the raise will come as a result of union negotiations, not Wednesday's tax vote.
"It sure looks like AT&T is spinning a union victory into a Trump talking point," McDonough writes.
And there's another possible reason AT&T is lavishing praise on the GOP tax bill. The company "may believe that flattering the child-brained president—and publicly playing up the success of his single legislative accomplishment—will help dispel objections to their merger," McDonough writes. An AT&T spokesperson has denied that the merger dispute was a factor in the company's decision.
The massive corporate flood of announcements that kicked off Wednesday "is just the start of PR campaigns applying already-announced or determined actions to the tax bill," notes journalist David Dayen.
Highlighting the fact that the announce wage hikes amount to "pennies in a tip jar" compared to the tens of billions in stock buybacks companies are planning as a result of the GOP's tax cuts, Dayen noted that the pay increases "shows these companies had the cash all along."
"The bonuses aren't coming out of tax savings that don't hit until next year," Dayen concluded. "They never had to cut labor to the bone."