Three major business groups alone—the US Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Realtors, and the Business Roundtable—spent $56 million in the last three months of 2017 lobbying Congress to give them a massive tax cut. According to Public Citizen, 6,243 lobbyists—more than half of the total number of active lobbyists in DC—worked on the bill, which works out to 11 for each and every lawmaker in Congress.
For their effort, they got massive, permanent cuts to the corporate-tax rate. Republicans had talked about closing loopholes so that their cuts wouldn’t blow up the deficit, but that fell by the wayside, and in the end we’ll mostly be financing this huge giveaway through public debt.
Now many of the corporations that lobbied for the bill are trying to make what began as a historically unpopular law more palatable with a series of high-profile announcements crediting the tax cuts for investments that they’d already planned to make or touting one-time bonuses for workers.
Exxon Mobil CEO Darren Woods penned a blog post crediting the tax bill for playing a major role in the company’s plans to invest $50 billion in the United States over the next five years. This generated a slew of headlines along the lines of the one that appeared in Reuters: “Exxon plans major U.S. investments due to tax reform: CEO.” But according to an analysis of the company’s financial statements by Americans for Tax Fairness, that’s actually $2.7 billion less than the company invested in the United States between 2012 and 2016. And Bloomberg reports that the company’s investments dipped in the last couple of years after oil prices crashed, and the capital-investment plan represents nothing more than “a return to the oil giant’s spending habits before crude suffered its worst price rout in a generation.” (The company’s “fourth-quarter profit nearly quintupled after President Trump’s tax cuts gave the oil giant a big lift,” according to USA Today.)
Disney made headlines when it announced that it would give 125,000 theme-park workers a $1,000 bonus as a result of the cuts, but now the company is threatening to withhold those payouts from its unionized workers if they don’t accept an offer for a new contract with a 50-cent hourly wage increase—an offer the union rejected in December. The unions representing them are now accusing the media giant of illegal labor practices for holding the bonuses hostage.