Although the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 did precious little to reduce the tax burden of middle-class Americans, it has been great for millionaires. And according to Peter Cary of the Center for Public Integrity, that includes many of the Republican senators and House members who rammed it through Congress.
Discussing the Center’s analysis of the 2017 law in an article for Vox this week, Cary explains: “Cutting tax rates for companies like Apple and hundreds of other stocks they own was one of many ways Republican lawmakers enriched themselves after they passed the tax law…. Democrats also stood to gain from the tax bill, though not one voted for it. All but 12 Republicans voted for the tax bill.”
After the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was passed, Cary explains, stock shares increased in price. Dividends were raised — and many of the Republicans in Congress who voted for the law just happened to own stock in the companies that paid higher dividends.
“When the price of Apple stock hit a then-record high in October 2018,” Cary observes, “among the shareholders counting their gains were 43 Republicans in Congress, who collectively owned as much as $1.5 million worth of the tech giant’s shares.”
One of the Republicans who has benefited from owning Apple shares is Sen. David Purdue of Georgia.
Cary notes, “Perdue is one of the wealthiest senators, with a net worth of $15.8 million — $14 million of which is in stocks, according to Roll Call. In 2018, with his wife, Perdue owned $100,000 to $250,000 in Apple stock, he reported. The couple sold some of it and received annual dividends and capital gains that year between $15,000 and $50,000.”
Cary goes on to explain that “net corporate dividends reached a new high in 2018 of more than $1.3 trillion, nearly 6% more than the previous year…. Bigger dividends put even more money in the pockets of stockholders.”
Liberal economists like Paul Krugman (a long-time New York Times columnist) and Robert Reich (who served as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton) have been highly critical of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, arguing that it ignored the needs of the American middle class. Cary, similarly, stresses that the “benefits” of the law — which reduced the corporate tax rate in the U.S. from 35% to 21% — “mainly went to the rich, as the wealthiest 10% of Americans own 84% of all stocks.
“The ten richest Republicans in Congress in 2017 who voted for the tax bill held more than $731 million in assets — almost two-thirds of which were in stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and other instruments, according to Roll Call’s semiannual assessment of Congress’ wealth,” Cary reports.
Cary wraps up his article with a quote from Craig Holman of the watchdog group Public Citizen. Holman said of millionaires in Congress, “They are passing tax laws and legislation that disproportionately favors the wealthy class, and that means they personally benefit from this type of legislation. And from what we’ve seen — especially from the Tax Cuts And Jobs Act of 2017 — that tax bill clearly favored the very wealthy over the rest of Americans, and that means it favored Congress over the rest of America.”