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Rod Watson: That $4,000 raise from GOP tax overhaul? Let’s show a little more thanks

So much to be thankful for.

So little thanks.

You’d think that with a $4,000 – or more! – annual pay hike right around the corner, Western New Yorkers would be giddy with gratitude and already spending the money.

The promised windfall will come from the GOP’s tax reform effort, which will lower the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent, thereby spurring so much productivity that workers will be showered with money in their paychecks

But while there are some who drank the Kool-Aid – it apparently goes good with turkey – there also is a good deal of skepticism.

"I’ll believe it when I see it. You can’t believe anything those politicians say," said a downtown lawyer who didn’t want to be identified. "There’s always some hidden agenda in everything that passes. We’re just very suspicious of these guys in general."

He’s not the only one looking the gift horse in the mouth, despite the fervent assurances of Reps. Tom Reed and Chris Collins that wages will rise. In fact, the White House Council of Economic Advisers concludes the corporate tax cut would "boost average U.S. household income annually ... by at least $4,000, conservatively." Under the council’s more optimistic estimates, the "wage boosts are over $9,000."

"That’s what they’re saying. It’s a numbers game," said Joe Pettys, an elevator industry project manager from Batavia who would welcome such a boost to his middle-class income. "It’s not that I don’t believe them. I want to believe them."

Bernie Kiedyk isn’t ready to start spending his windfall, either.

"Not close," said the state worker from Buffalo, laughing.

"I don’t believe it at all. I think it’s a pipe dream," he said.

Even among Donald Trump supporters, there is a baffling reluctance to start spending the money yet, which, frankly, I don’t get. It’s almost as if this president’s promises are not something you can take to the bank.

"I believe there will be a little something to it," said Jeremy O’Brien, who operates The Grove juice and food stand in the Ellicott Square as well as a food truck. He thinks Trump is trying to encourage small-business growth, but even he’s not ready to start spending the $4,000 yet. "I withhold my enthusiasm because I’m just very skeptical."

To back up its promise that cutting taxes will boost wages and salaries, the Council of Economic Advisers noted that between 2012 and 2016, the 10 developed countries with the lowest corporate tax rates had "dramatically higher" wage growth than the 10 nations with the highest tax rates.

But other economists dismiss the council’s study as everything from "dishonest, incompetent and absurd" to "not well-justified." And even if you believe the administration’s numbers, there’s no guarantee the newfound revenue will go to workers instead of for stock buy-backs, higher executive pay or bigger dividends. After all, the stock market has risen to record levels, but workers have seen very little of that extra money.

Still, this is a holiday to count our blessings, not nitpick a tax cut that will make America great again.

So what am I going to do with my $4,000 raise? (Actually, I’m counting on the $9,000, because Republicans would never lie.)

I’m going to split it in half and donate it equally to the Reed and Collins campaign funds. Our congressmen will be ecstatically thankful because I’m sure that, deep down inside, they’re just as confident about this money as I am.


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