Progressive tax group to target GOP senators over weak buyback restrictions in coronavirus legislation

The 2017 tax bill, which Republicans said would help workers, funded record stock buybacks by many of the same corporations poised to receive billions in bailout funds.
Image: *** BESTPIX *** Congressional Democrats Speak At Rally Protesting GOP Tax Bill On Capitol Hill
Demonstrators join a rally against the proposed Republican tax reform legislation outside of the Capitol on Nov. 15, 2017.Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images file

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By Adam Edelman

A progressive group is launching a $1.2-million ad campaign targeting Republican senators in four battleground states for their votes supporting the 2017 tax bill that included billions in tax relief to many of the same large corporations now poised to receive billions more in bailout money from proposed coronavirus legislation.

The group, Tax March — whose goal is to push for the closing of tax loopholes for large corporations — will run radio, television and digital ads in Georgia, Maine, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, starting later this week.

Ads targeting Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., will begin running in Atlanta-area markets on radio stations and on Pandora later this week.

Television and digital ads in Pennsylvania, Maine and Wisconsin will begin running before April 1. In Maine, the ads will target Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who is up for re-election this fall. In Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, the ads will target Sens. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., and Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., who are not up for re-election this year. The ads in those two battleground states, Tax March officials told NBC News, are designed to hold those senators “accountable” for their votes.

President Donald Trump’s 2017 tax bill, which Republicans said would help raise wages and spur hiring, actually ended up funding record stock buybacks by corporations. In stock buybacks, corporations use extra cash to buy back their own stock, which boosts the value of shares held by investors and overwhelmingly benefits company executives over workers.

Buybacks reduce the number of shares on the market, immediately increasing the value of the shares that investors and executives already hold.

And now, amid the sudden global economic downturn prompted by the coronavirus pandemic, many of those same large corporations are poised to receive billions of dollars in bailout cash from the federal government’s stimulus package.

Progressive groups, as well as several Democrats in Congress, say they oppose the current stimulus package because the language allows for corporations to keep bailout money while still firing workers — and because there are very weak stock buyback restrictions in the current proposal. Trump, nevertheless, said at a press conference Friday that he would support restrictions on corporate stock buybacks as a part of the stimulus package.

Dana Bye, the campaign manager for Tax March, said that “as the nation faces a global pandemic forcing us to confront the economic realities and uncertainties facing our country, the American people are seeing more clearly than ever that this tax law was a scam, and one that ultimately weakened our economy.”