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For Yesterday at Least, Trickle-Down Economics Worked

Sometimes you’re wrong. And that’s certainly true today for anyone who said the Trump tax plan would have no immediate positive effect for the average working man.

You know — guys like me.

The Republican Party’s tax proposal — which includes a drastic cut to the corporate tax rate, from 35 to 22 percent — is all but a done deal after its final version passed both the House and Senate on Wednesday. Now it just awaits President Trump’s signature.

But several corporations didn’t even wait for the bill’s official coronation before announcing they’ll be passing some of the future tax savings onto their employees. For instance, AT&T said on Wednesday that it plans to give a one-time, $1,000 bonus to 200,000 employees ($200 million worth of bonuses) once the tax bill goes into effect.

Comcast, one of AT&T’s direct competitors, quickly followed suit, pledging a $1,000 raise for 100,000 of its employees.

In the financial sector, Fifth Third Bancorp celebrated the bill by raising its minimum wage for employees to $15 and giving out $1,000 bonuses to more than 13,500 employees.

Shortly thereafter, Wells Fargo promised that it, too, will raise wages for hourly workers to $15 an hour, and donate an additional $400 million to charitable organizations next year in honor of the tax savings.

Boeing, meanwhile, announced $300 million in charitable donations and job training because of the tax cut.

People will scoff at this and say that these are just cynical ploys to drum up good PR and thank their cronies in the Republican Party for finally lifting their tax burden — or in the cases of AT&T and Comcast, for lifting net-neutrality regulations.

But no matter what you think of conservatism, Trump or the long-term ramifications of the tax bill, there’s no denying that there are hundreds of millions of dollars going directly to labor (in the form of bonuses) and the less fortunate (in the form of donations).

I think we can all agree, too, that a thing can be both good and a self-interested attempt to engender public goodwill.

That said, a $1,000 bonus is still only a quarter of the $4,000 raise the Trump administration promised workers. But cash of any kind from the tax plan defies the predictions of the many CEOs and tax experts who said it would take years for the savings to trickle down to the average American worker (if at all).

And in the case of raising the minimum wage, it’s a sustainable increase in income as opposed to a one-off payment. The irony is that many actual working-class people oppose the increase — $15 is an arbitrary number, and they believe that setting it that high will incentivize corporations to invest more in automation and cut workers.

Those fears aren’t unfounded, either. A University of Washington study published earlier this year found that Seattle incrementally increasing its minimum wage to $15 per hour had a net negative effect on minimum wage earners, costing them about $125 a month because their hours got docked. (Full disclosure: The study is highly contested.)

But companies crediting the tax plan for allowing them to pay workers more is a strong argument for the merits of fiscal conservatism. Lord knows Trump and the Republicans will make the case, and for the moment at least, it’s hard to argue with them.