Stock Buybacks and Bank Profits Soar Under Trump Tax Cut. Wages? Not so much

As America's largest corporations continue their unprecedented stock buyback spree in the wake of President Donald Trump's $1.5 trillion tax cut, new government data published on Tuesday showed that U.S. banks are also smashing records thanks to the GOP tax law, raking in $56 billion in net profits during the first quarter of 2018—an all-time high.

The new data, released by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), comes as the House of Representatives is gearing up to pass a bipartisan deregulatory measure that would reward massive Wall Street banks like JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup while dramatically increasing the risk of another financial crisis.

As Common Dreams reported, the Senate easily passed the bill in March with the help of 16 Democrats.

The banking industry's record-shattering profits fit with an entirely predictable pattern that has emerged following the passage of the GOP tax bill last December: America's most profitable corporations are posting obscene profits and using that cash to reward wealthy shareholders through stock buybacks while investing little to nothing in workers, despite their lofty promises.

According to a CNN analysis published on Sunday, "S&P 500 companies showered Wall Street with at least $178 billion of stock buybacks during the first three months of 2018." As Common Dreams reported earlier this month, major corporations are on track to send $1 trillion to rich investors through buybacks and dividend increases by the end of the year.

Most Americans, meanwhile, have said they are seeing very few noticeable benefits from the massive tax cuts and—according to a new study by United Way—nearly half of the U.S. population is still struggling to afford basic necessities like food, housing, and healthcare.

"The Trump/Republican tax plan has been nothing but a giant gift to corporations so that executives and shareholders can get richer," Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) wrote in a Facebook post on Tuesday. "We've got to repeal the outrageous corporate welfare of this tax plan and pass real tax reform that actually helps working families—not the one percent."

Instead of addressing the deep-seated financial struggles much of the American public is facing even as the stock market continues to soar and as Trump boasts of an economic boom, Congress is preparing to provide an even greater windfall to wealthy bankers on Tuesday by gutting crucial post-crisis regulations and putting taxpayers on the hook for yet another bailout.

"For years, armies of bank lobbyists and executives have groaned about how financial rules are hurting them. But there's a big problem with their story—banks are making record profits," Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) concluded in a tweet on Tuesday. "Congress has done enough favors for big banks—the House should reject the Bank Lobbyist Act."

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