Greg Sargent wrote a good article yesterday, When Will We See Donald Trump”s Big “Pro-Worker” Agenda? He mentioned that Stephen Bannon is still pushing the narrative, “It’s everything related to jobs.” But as Chief of Staff Reince Priebus acknowledged recently, even Trump’s vaunted infrastructure bill will be on hold as they concentrate on killing Obamacare and “reforming” taxes. So much for the American worker.
Let us take a moment to bask in the glow of why so many people voted for Trump. As Sarah Kliff reported in Vox, “The Kentucky voters I spoke with constantly mentioned ‘change’ as a reason they supported Trump.” As Kathy Oller, whose job is signing people up for Obamacare, said, “It was Russian roulette, but I felt that we needed change.” Change. Where is that change, people? The Trump presidency is shaping up to be exactly like that of any other Republican — just more vulgar and ostentatiously hateful.
People Voted for “Change”
People voted for Trump because of his populist and nationalist rhetoric. He was going to bring the jobs back. And he was going to get rid of those dirty Mexicans. But what is he actually doing? He’s killing the best program the federal government has created for the middle class in almost five decades. And he is lowering taxes on the rich. Those things go together. As Kliff has also reported, Obamacare repeal means a $197,000 tax cut for the 0.1 percent.
Now I understand that the base of Trump’s support was from bigots. And they will be getting the change they want: a white man back in the White House. But these were not nearly enough people to allow him to win. People like Oller had a very vague notion of what “change” was. But they showed an amazing amount of naïveté in voting for Trump. In fact, throughout Kliff’s article on Kansas are statements from people that Trump wasn’t serious about doing any of the things that they didn’t want. He was only to be believed when it came to what they did want.
People Just Got a Typical Republican
So okay! They got themselves a good ol’ Republican instead — one who doesn’t give a damn about helping them. But it’s important to remember that inside the twisted mind of a Republican, cutting safety net programs and lavishing the rich with tax cuts and deregulation is helping the working class. It’s the biggest economic con of the last four decades: supply side economics.
Just to remind everyone, it goes as follows. Give the rich more money and more “freedom” (to pollute, etc) and they will create more jobs and make everyone richer. Now we have decades of evidence that exactly the opposite happens. Giving the rich more money and cutting safety net programs does exactly what common sense tells you it would: it makes the working class poorer and the rich even richer. It’s also showed that it’s bad for the economy overall because economic growth just gets slower as inequality rises.
It turns out that giving money to the poor helps everyone. I wrote about this years ago, I Was a Middle Class Food Stamp Kid. Give food stamps to the poor and they spent them at my parents’ 7-11. My parents then bought a car. And so on: the money works its way through the economy very efficiently. It doesn’t work the other way around because the rich don’t need the extra money. Yes, they can invest it. But in what? The lower classes don’t have the money to buy the stuff that new businesses would make. So you end up with what we’ve seen a lot of recently: the rich just sitting on piles of cash.
What Republicans Mean by a “Pro-Worker” Agenda
So the answer to Greg Sargent’s question “When will we see Donald Trump’s big ‘pro-worker’ agenda?” is that we are already seeing it. It is just that when Republicans say “pro-worker” what they mean is “pro-capitalist.” And shame on the roughly one-quarter of the voters who still think that the Republicans — even one as noxious as Trump — mean anything else.
I understand that Obama offered “change” too. And we didn’t get that. But I have to give the man credit: he tried. I think he was an idiot to think that he could transcend partisanship. But no reasonable person can question that he was fully invested in it and that it was the Republicans who blocked him. (I realize the Alex Jones and Fox News crowd are convinced otherwise, but historians will bear me out.) Trump is making no such effort. From the standpoint of American workers, this is yet another bait-and-switch from the Republicans.
But from the Republicans themselves, they are quite innocent. This is what they always meant by “helping the working the man” with their “pro-worker” agenda. And shame on the voters for thinking that they meant anything else.