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Corporate tax reaction: Is it real or a ploy?

In today's polarized political landscape, it's sometimes difficult to decipher what, exactly, is happening when a newsworthy event hits the wires.

So with that in mind, here are left/right views of what at first glance appears to be good news regarding the Republican-based tax reform bill. President Trump signed the $1.5 trillion measure Dec. 22 and, by many accounts, it will affect nearly every family and business in the United States.

Corporations will see big tax cuts, from 35 percent down to 21 percent. Republicans say American taxpayers will see cuts of varying degrees. The idea behind the plan is a rekindling of Reaganesque trickle-down economics; for example, Republicans say rank-and-file workers will benefit by way of savings accrued by the businesses for which they work.

Polls — cited by Democrats — show the bill is unpopular, but Republicans hope Americans will change their mind if and when they see results in their take-home pay.

Some companies already have begun making moves to benefit their workers. AT&T announced it will invest $1 billion in U.S. networks and offer its employees a one-time bonus. Comcast announced it will give its employees $1,000 bonuses. Boeing announced it will make $300 million in new investments. Wells Fargo announced it will increase its minimum wage to $15 per hour.

Republicans trumpeted these announcements as proof that trickle-down economics actually works and the tax bill will indeed be a nationwide benefit. At least that's the right-side version of occurring events.

But the left side says it's all theatrics. Some Democrats say the companies were probably already planning these efforts, and that it's all part of a plan to get the president's attention and curry favors from the Oval Office.

"It reinforces (the president's) signature legislative success, and it probably gets them some good points inside the White House," Scott Reed, a political strategist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, told the Washington Post.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said AT&T's announcement in particular is an effort to "pin a rose on this tax bill."

"That bonus was mandated by a union agreement with the Communications Workers of America as part of a raise in their recent ... agreement," she said during a news conference last week. "So all of a sudden, they're advertising this as something they did because of the tax bill."

So are these immediate and impactful bonuses and investments real, honest-to-goodness benefits? Or are these businesses just crowing about the president's accomplishment in hopes of gaining his attention?

And here's a twist: Handelsblatt Global, a German website, recently reported economists in that country worry the new tax structure will mean jobs will shift from Europe to the U.S., along with significant amounts of investment. German economists have no reason to slant a report to please our president.

At first blush, these announcements seem like good news. As with all news these days, we suppose it just depends upon the point of view.

This editorial appeared in the Grand Forks Herald, a Forum Communication Company newspaper, and was written by that newspaper's editorial board.

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