Companies Are Handing Out Bonuses Thanks to the Tax Law. Is It a Publicity Stunt? (January 2018)
After Nabbing Billions In Tax Breaks, AT&T's Promised Job Growth Magically Evaporates (September 2018)
... Telecom monopolies have a pretty good racket going. They'll consistently demand all manner of tax cuts, subsidies, and other government perks in exchange for broadband networks they only half or partially deploy--or jobs that never materialize. The nation's telcos in particular have received countless billions in taxpayer subsidies to expand their broadband networks, yet time and time again we've shown how they've wiggled out of these obligations, leaving huge swaths of America left outside of the reach of fast, inexpensive, competitive broadband (that's particularly true if you're poor).
It doesn't matter how many times we go through this little stage play, it's a cycle that just never ends. AT&T's lobbying and policy folks are exceptionally good at routinely promising state and federal governments that a cornocopia of new jobs and amazing broadband investment is just around the corner, but only if AT&T gets what it wants: be that the death of net neutrality, a lower tax rate, more subsidies, or any number of protectionist or otherwise terrible laws designed largely to protect AT&T's non-competitive geographical fiefdoms. It's a cycle, and a level of institutional gullibility, that's pretty staggering in scope and repetition.
Yet somehow we never wise up. We never audit investment promises. And we certainly never hold giant telecom monopolies accountable. For example, AT&T spent most of last year promising all manner of incredible broadband investment, new jobs, and new innovations if the Trump administration was willing to give it a massive new tax cut. These cuts would, we were repeatedly told, result in a huge boon for broadband investment and "really good jobs"...
The Trump administration was happy to oblige, doling out cuts worth upwards of $20 billion for AT&T. But this theater ignored the fact that AT&T (and countless other companies like it) have long engaged in all manner of financial bookkeeping magic to ensure they already pay a relative pittance in taxes (especially true in telecom where complex mergers and gamesmanship like Reverse Morris Trusts can be used to endlessly dodge tax obligations). And it also ignored how many times AT&T has made these empty promises then failed to follow through.
And it's happening again. Despite its $20 billion in tax savings and record profits, AT&T continues to lay off thousands of employees in the wake of the Trump tax cuts...