Trump’s Tax Cuts Trickle Across America, Bringing Happiness and Skepticism

Will Ortega, a 32-year-old supervisor at an infrastructure safety company, reviews budget paperwork in his office in San Antonio, Texas, U.S. February 6, 2018.  Photo taken February 6, 2018.   REUTERS/Lisa Maria Garza
Will Ortega, a 32-year-old supervisor at an infrastructure safety company, reviews budget paperwork in his office in San Antonio, Texas, U.S. February 6, 2018. Photo taken February 6, 2018. REUTERS/Lisa Maria Garza

President Donald Trump’s $1.5 trillion tax overhaul, touted as major tax relief for individuals and corporations, is showing up in bigger paychecks and bonuses awarded to workers by companies whose tax bills are being slashed.

More than 200 companies, including Home Depot Inc , American Airlines Group Inc and AT&T Inc , are giving bonuses to at least 3 million U.S. workers, according to the conservative Americans for Tax Reform group.

Reuters has interviewed people around the country on the benefits they have received so far. While they welcome the additional income, the cuts have largely not changed individuals’ longstanding views on Trump or the two major political parties.

Here are their views:

– TIM SMITH, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Working two jobs to make ends meet, 61-year-old Tim Smith was happy to get a $400 bonus as a part-time worker at Home Depot thanks to the U.S. tax overhaul, but his dislike for Trump and his policies remains.

“What can I do with that? Not a lot. Buy some groceries, maybe pay a bill or two. That’s it,” said Smith, as he deposited materials for recycling at the Home Depot where he works. He figured that after taxes, the bonus netted him $280.

Home Depot last month announced it would give its hourly workers a bonus of up to $1,000 as a result of Trump’s tax plan.

“I did benefit, yes, but, I believe, in seven years, anything we get is going to disappear,” said Smith, adding he believed the tax plan was a “rip-off” that would help the wealthy and add $1 trillion to the national debt.

Smith, who sports a long pony tail, lives with his wife in the Fort Lauderdale suburb of Oakland Park, where he owns a home. Their two children are off to college.

He says the middle-class will eventually pay for the tax breaks, in cuts to programs such as Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security.

“That money’s got to come from somewhere, and it’s going to wind up coming from the middle-class,” said Smith, who made about $55,000 in 2017 from the two jobs he works.

A graduate of the University of Rhode Island with a degree in history and political science, Smith said he moved to Florida in 1991 and took any job he could.

He has worked part time for Home Depot for 10 years, on top of working full-time at an aluminum processing company, which did not pay a tax-related bonus. Smith said he will probably work until he is 70.

Asked how he felt about Trump, Smith said: “To be honest, I can’t stand the man.”

– WILL ORTEGA, San Antonio, Texas

Trump supporter Will Ortega, 32, was happy to see trickle-down economics in action when he got a bigger paycheck due to the tax cuts.

A supervisor at an infrastructure safety company, which controls traffic during highway renovation projects in San Antonio, Ortega’s take-home bimonthly paycheck went up by $50, and he knew exactly what to do with it.

“Lunch money,” he said, sitting at his desk wearing his neon yellow work clothes. “I was real careful with how I spent my money on food. Now it’s like if I want to go out to eat an extra day or not wake up early to make lunch, I don’t have to worry about it.”

Ortega, who lives with his girlfriend and their 1-year-old daughter, makes about $50,000 a year.

“I’m a firm believer in the trickle-down economics of it, he said. “I’m real happy that my boss got a tax break, given he’s not a Fortune 500 CEO.”

Ortega said his boss was investing back into the company, which benefited all the workers.

“He’s making more money, and in turn, we just picked up two brand new trucks, so it’s a lot more comfortable for the guys to work in. We’re also able to hire more guys and take some of the workload off us,” he said.

When it comes to Trump, Ortega said he would vote for him again, despite his dislike of Trump’s social media presence.

“As a celebrity on social media, I think he’s worthless and I can’t stand him. As for the policies he’s put into effect and the progress he’s making, I couldn’t be happier,” he said.

– LIZ HAMMOND, Somerville, Massachusetts

An administrative assistant at a university outside Boston, Liz Hammond, 36, was skeptical the tax cuts passed by Congress in December would mean much for her financially. And then her paycheck rose by about $5 a week.

“I’ve seen a change. It’s tiny though,” Hammond said.

Hammond, who lives in Somerville with her boyfriend and cat, said she fears that the tax package will lead to cuts down the road in social spending programs.

SOURCE: Reuters