As A Candidate, Trump Lauded American Workers. Now He Ignores Them.

One of the ways Donald Trump secured the Republican nomination for president, and ultimately the White House in 2016, was his opposition to other GOP contenders on MedicareSocial Securityhealthcare, and the Iraq war.

While the other Republicans–Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, John Kasich, et al.–proudly stood on their desire to slash and ultimately eliminate these “Socialist” programs, Donald Trump puffed out his chest and took traditionally Democratic positions on their preservation and expansion.

These are the same stances that rocketed Sen. Bernie Sanders to popularity.

The difference is, Sen. Sanders has for decades argued for Medicare-for-all and an expansion to Social Security. Donald Trump, on the other hand, contradicted the other Republicans because of social welfare programs’ popularity with the majority of the American people, Republican and Democrat alike.

We now know this was all classic Trump opportunism.

If he ever had any sincere intention to expand Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security, Trump quickly reversed course upon taking the oath of office.

But another issue that factored significantly with the American people regarded trade.

Republicans own the “free trade” deals like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), and Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) with China that have decimated the American manufacturing base.

The majority of Democrats have, by and large, opposed them.

Trump came in promising to “re-negotiate” these deals instead of lying about how they’ve strengthened the economy.

Sincere or not, Trump was at least correct about the damage these trade deals have done.

But everything Trump touches breaks.

Two years ago, Trump signed into law the Republican “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,” a tax bill that handed $1.5 trillion in permanent tax breaks to corporations and the wealthy like Trump and his ilk.

It was supposed to stimulate an economy that didn’t need stimulating, put more money into everyone’s pockets (especially those who don’t need it), and create jobs.

Instead, it slashed the corporate tax rate and encouraged businesses to use their additional capital to pay off shareholders–not employees–to the tune of more than $700 billion.

An Economic Policy Institute and the Center for Popular Democracy report describes how the tax overhaul, predicted to add $1.5 trillion to the national debt over 10 years, “delivered big benefits to the rich and corporations but nearly none for working families.”

CEOs admitted they will not increase employee pay and are working to “reduce their work forces further.”

At the very end of last year–just in time for the holidays–news broke about telecommunication giant AT&T using its over $20 billion in tax cuts to ink deals with giant overseas companies, requiring thousands of its employees to train cheaper foreign replacements.

The Communications Workers of America, the collective bargaining union representing AT&T workers, reported the company lost 28,000 jobs after the tax bill passed.

More losses are predicted to follow.

One worker told Axios:

“Folks aren’t going on vacation; they’re cutting back on their Christmas shopping. If you know that you’re going to be losing your job, you don’t want to spend the money.”

Another stated:

“The sad reality is you’ve just been terminated without your severance. You’re at the mercy of a company that doesn’t really want you.”

Florida attorney Sara Blackwell, who specializes in representing workers who are victims of corporate replacement, expressed her clients’ frustrations with Donald Trump’s inability to follow through a signature campaign promise to punish companies that ship jobs overseas.

She said:

“American workers are tired of waiting for President Trump to do something on this issue. They’ve gone from great hope in President Trump’s administration, to great discouragement.”

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) said last year:

“President Trump promised the American people he’d end the march of jobs and profits overseas. Instead, he’s doled out massive new tax breaks that reward offshoring.”

Many unions are concerned the recent US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) will only exacerbate the hemorrhage of jobs.

The United Autoworkers said in a statement:

“Much more work remains to fight against the offshoring of jobs and the economic inequality that has plagued our country for so long. While trade deals are important, they alone will not cure all our ills. We need our elected leaders to do much more.

“The administration and Congress should start by ending bad tax laws that reward companies for moving jobs abroad and finally fix our labor laws by passing the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO Act), and other measures, to ensure all workers have a right to have voice on the job.”

Vt. Senator and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders called on Trump to stand with workers:

“Trump promised he would substantially reduce the trade deficit, stop the outsourcing of American jobs, and rip up NAFTA. He lied about all three. Since Trump has been in office, our trade deficit in goods has shot up to a record-breaking $891 billion. He has given out $50 billion in government contracts to companies that are shipping jobs overseas. He passed tax cuts that reward companies for offshoring even more jobs. And now more than 185,000 American jobs have been shipped overseas under his watch. We need a president who will actually fight for American workers, keep their promises, and stand up to the giant corporations who close down plants to send jobs overseas.”

This comes at a time when, according to a Bloomberg analysis, by the close of 2019, the 500 richest people in the world gained a total $1.2 trillion in wealth.

Image credit:

Ted Millar is writer and teacher. His work has been featured in myriad literary journals, including Better Than Starbucks, The Broke Bohemian, Straight Forward Poetry, Caesura, Circle Show, Cactus Heart, Third Wednesday, and The Voices Project. He is also a contributor to The Left Place blog on Substack, and Medium.