No one likes paying taxes, but everyone appreciates paying less of them. That’s true of families as well as employers. Sending less money to Uncle Sam means there’s more cash in the wallet to save, invest or pay off a debt.
In December, Congress passed, and the president signed, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the first major overhaul of our nation’s tax code in more than 30 years. In Texas, I’m proud to say that the initial effects were immediate. They were significant. And they’ve started to make life easier for Texans who are financially strapped.
Thanks to a new, more competitive tax system, Fort Worth-based companies such as American Airlines paid large bonuses to employees. AT&T, also headquartered in the DFW Metroplex, paid $1,000 to more than 200,000 men and women across the country. Just as important, it also announced $1 billion in capital investments, which should create more than 7,000 new jobs.
The effects of tax reforms are more than just one-time-only. Waste Management, based in Houston, already paid bonuses to drivers and landfill workers, but its CEO emphasized in an interview that the company will “continue to spend money on its people” beyond 2018. Exxon Mobil will expand oil production in West Texas. Oncor, the largest utility in the state, will issue future refunds to customers. And Walmart, the largest employer in Texas, increased starting wages, expanded parental leave and offered financial assistance to employees who choose to adopt children.
Small businesses are doing the same. In Corpus Christi, I recently met with the owner of Groomer’s Seafood, who plans to expand distribution facilities serving thousands of restaurants statewide. American Bank in Corpus is projecting that it could lend an additional $120 million as a result of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Meanwhile, in other spots across the state, it’s not even wildflower season yet, but the economic landscape is clearly in bloom. In San Antonio, Cox Manufacturing will move up construction of a new 8,000-square-foot plant. In Amarillo, Happy State Bank made news to go with its name: higher hourly pay. And in Lumberton, the women running an engineering company called Leak Sealers paid tax savings forward to employees, calling on other businesses to do the same.
As is so often the case, what’s keenly felt in Texas ripples across the country, and across the world. Since the president signed tax reform, more than 400 U.S. companies have announced higher wages, bonuses or increased contributions to their employees’ retirement-savings accounts. They’ve increased charitable contributions, invested in employee training, and set aside money to meet pension obligations for years into the future. The White House estimates more than 4 million Americans have benefitted already. Internationally, estimates are that American businesses who compete globally will bring around $2 trillion in foreign profits back home.
Democrats in Washington voted against the tax cuts, but once the law was passed and good news started rolling in, they’ve kept mum. Based on the examples outlined above, it’s not hard to see why. Some have said, well, the tax cuts we passed “just” help job creators, giving crumbs to others. But that’s untrue — individuals will benefit from lower rates across the board. They’ll see an increase in the standard deduction and the child tax credit, too. And one overlooked part of the law will help bring investment and jobs to distressed communities — creating “opportunity zones” in every state.
No legislation requiring many votes and having to overcome many obstacles is ever perfect. But this new law’s transformative effects are undeniable. As Texans fill out their tax returns over the next couple of months, the normal groans won’t go away. But many can breathe easier having extra money in their pocket.
American families need more take-home pay. They need the higher wages. They need greater job opportunities. And they need a competitive economy and the benefits that brings. American families should not have to settle for anything less, and this law makes sure they don’t.
Republican John Cornyn is senior U.S. senator from Texas. Besides serving on the Senate Finance, Intelligence and Judiciary committees, he serves as the majority whip, the second-highest ranking position in the Senate Republican Conference. A San Antonio native, Cornyn has served the people of Texas for the last three decades as a district judge, a member of the Texas Supreme Court and Texas attorney general.