The Republican Party's Take on Corporations and Workers Rights

What a Vote for Trump Really Means

An elephant painted in the colors of the American flag symbolizes the Republican party. Learn about the 2016 Republican Party Platform here.
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Most Americans agree that there's a lot at stake in the 2016 presidential election. Polling suggests that the interested voters are nearly evenly split in the choice between Clinton and Trump, and interestingly, surveys also show that most voters have chosen one candidate more due to distaste for the other rather than a genuine affinity for the candidate of their choice.

But what's really at stake in this election? In an age in which many don't read beyond the headline of a social media post and soundbites dominate political discourse, it's hard for many to know what a candidate actually stands for.

Fortunately, we've got official party platforms to examine, and in this post, we'll take a look at two of the economic aspects of the 2016 Republican Party Platform and consider, using the sociological perspective, what these positions would mean for society and the average person if they were put into practice.

Lower the Corporate Tax Rate

Core to the Platform is the roll-back of corporate taxes and laws regulating the actions of corporations and the financial sector. It features promises to lower the corporate tax rate to less than or equal to that of other industrial nations and eliminate the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

The Platform frames the roll-back of corporate taxes as necessary from a competitive standpoint, because on paper, the U.S. has the third highest corporate tax rate in the world—35 percent. But in actuality, the effective tax rate—what corporations actually pay—is already on par with or lower than other industrial nations, and between 2008 and 2012 the average effective tax rate paid by Fortune 500 companies was less than 20 percent. Further, multinational corporations pay only about 12 percent on their total global income (like Apple, for example). Through the use of shell companies and offshore tax havens, global corporations are already avoiding the payment of more than $110 billion in taxes each year.

Any further cuts would have a deeply negative impact on the federal budget and the government's ability to provide services, liked education, for example, and programs for its citizens. The percentage of federal tax revenue paid by corporations has already shrunk from 32 percent in 1952 to just 10 percent today, and during that period of time American companies shipped production jobs overseas and lobbied against minimum and living wage laws.

It's clear from this history that cutting taxes for corporations does not create jobs for the middle and working classes, but the practice does generate extreme wealth accumulation for the executives and shareholders of these companies. Meanwhile, record numbers of Americans are in poverty and schools around the country are struggling to effectively educate students with ever-shrinking budgets.

Support "Right-to-Work" Laws 

The Republican Party Platform calls for support for Right-to-Work laws at the state level. These laws make it illegal for unions to collect fees from non-members within a unionized workplace. They are called "Right-to-Work" laws because those who support them believe that people should have the right to work in a job without being compelled to support the union of that workplace. On paper that sounds good, but there are some downsides to these laws.

Workers within a unionized workplace benefit from union activities regardless of whether or not they are paying members of that union, because unions fight for the rights and wages of all members of the workplace. So from the union standpoint, these laws weaken their ability to effectively resolve workplace grievances and collectively bargain for contract terms that benefit workers because they discourage membership and hurt the union budget.

And data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that Right-to-Work laws are actually bad for workers too. Workers in such states earn 12 percent less per year than workers in states without these laws, which represents a loss of nearly $6,000 in annual income.

While Right-to-Work laws are framed as beneficial to workers, to date there is no evidence to suggest that is the case.