The black eye stock buybacks have received in the halls of Congress lately has not stopped companies from stepping up their announced share repurchases in the first quarter.
In fact, by one count buybacks are on their way to another record this year, potentially topping the just over $1 trillion seen in 2018.
The trend comes amid a clamor in Washington by lawmakers looking to make it harder for companies to buy their own stock and instead direct the money to investments in workers and equipment. Both Democrats and Republicans have been bashing buybacks, saying corporate America is getting an unfair advantage in the tax code that rewards selfish behavior.
New York Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer was on the offensive again this week, posting a new essay on Medium that said companies should find a better use for their cash. Schumer and independent Sen. Bernie Sanders recently outlined a proposal that would force companies engaging in buybacks to provide a living wage and health benefits to all workers. Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida has promised his own proposal to stem the trend.
"To me, this poor income distribution and the ensuing and uncharacteristic lack of hope it creates in the American working class is — along with climate change — the greatest problem America faces," Schumer wrote. "We need solutions, not glib answers."