Hard Truths—Trump’s first year
Donald Trump and his allies have crammed a decade’s worth of lies and “alternative facts” into the past year, but all that obfuscation and misdirection cannot hide this simple fact: the Trump White House has launched an all out attack on America’s working people.
This attack comes as Trump continues to make populist promise after promise to act on behalf of America’s “forgotten” families. In September 2016, he said, “Every policy decision we make must pass a simple test: Does it create more jobs and better wages for Americans?” In his State of the Union address, he talked about his policies that “protect American workers.”
But we can see that his words are worthless. The president has littered the political landscape with half-truths, outright lies, and acts of aggression towards workers. Here are some hard truths about Trump’s first year in office.
Job creation and wage growth lag
- Trump is riding the coattails of Obama-era expansion, and the economy is growing—although slower than Trump predicted. The 2.1 million jobs added in Trump’s first year is the weakest since 2011.
- Trump said that wages are finally rising after years of stagnation, but wage growth actually slowed during the first year of his presidency compared with the last year of Obama’s.
- Senator Bernie Sanders pointed out that over the last year, after adjusting for inflation, the average American worker in saw a pay rise of 4 cents an hour, or a little more than $1.60 a week.
A tax bill that cuts the middle class
- The highly regressive Republican tax law gives the vast majority of its benefits on millionaires and corporations.
- Middle-class households will see their tax bills drop by about $930, which will lift their after-tax incomes by 1.6 percent. In contrast the richest 1 percent save more than $51,000, a 3.4 percent boost to their after-tax income—more than twice as much as the middle class.
- To make matters worse, most middle-income families will see their tax cuts diminish if not completely disappear by the end of the decade, since individual tax cuts and other benefits would expire after 2025. Corporate tax breaks are permanent.
- Trump gives much fanfare to corporations handing out one-time bonuses as the result of his tax bill, but these claims are Trumped-up. Only 2 percent of working Americans report a tax bill bonus, and in the S&P 500, the pay out to workers could be less than 2 percent of their 2018 tax savings.
Worker and consumer protections rolled back
The Trump administration’s has taken a sledgehammer to many of the protections workers and consumers rely on to ensure a fair playing field. For example, it has:
- Backpedalled on the Obama administration’s regulation expanding overtime pay for millions of workers;
- Weakened or delayed workplace safety regulations including those that required companies to inform workers of hazards;
- Asked the Supreme Court to overrule a 40-year-old precedent that requires public workers to contribute to the union representation they receive, with its support of the Janus case;
- Delayed a rule that would require financial institutions to put hard-working people’s economic interests first when giving financial advice;
- Advocated in court that employers should be able to force workers to give up their right to file class-action lawsuits;
- Pushed for “right to work” laws that hamper unions’ ability to organize;
- Made anti-labor appointments to the Department of Labor, Department of Education, and the U.S. Supreme Court;
- Repealed the DACA program that ends protection from deportation for 800,000 Dreamers unless a immigration comprise is reached;
- Backed a rule that legalizes wage theft for waiters and waitresses.
Offshoring American more jobs
- New research by labor group Good Jobs Nation shows that 91,000 jobs left the country since Trump was elected, the highest rate of jobs lost to outsourcing in five years. This includes hundreds of jobs from the Carrier plant in Indiana that Trump promised to save.
- Trump promised to make trade—particularly NAFTA—work for working people, but AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said that an administration plan on NAFTA “leaves standing the worst and most oppressive parts of NAFTA” and provides little benefit for workers.
The American labor movement fought back—and is winning
Despite Trump’s best efforts, the American labor movement made gains last year. It grew by 260,000 new members—many of those young workers—and has emerged emboldened, enlivened and ready to keep standing up for working families in 2018 and the years to come.