By Robert Reich
Donald Trump campaigned as an insurgent outside of the political establishment who would restore the long-neglected working class. That was a lie. As president, he’s turned his back on working people, governing instead as a lackey for billionaires, CEOs, and corporations. Even during a public health and economic crisis, Trump has left working people in the dust.
Consider his signature tax law, sold as a benefit to working people. More than 60 percent of its benefits have gone to people in the top 20 percent of the income ladder. In 2018, for the first time in American history, billionaires paid a lower tax rate than the working class.
Trump said every worker would get a $4,000 raise, but nothing trickled down. Instead, corporations spent their tax savings buying back shares of their own stock, boosting executive bonuses and doing nothing for workers. To make matters worse, some of the richest corporations are paying nothing in federal income taxes, despite making billions in profits.
Meanwhile, Trump’s corporate lobbyists and industry shills have systematically dismantled worker protections – rolling back child labor protections, undoing worker safeguards from exposure to cancerous radiation, gutting measures that shield workers from wage theft, and eliminating overtime for 8 million workers.
Trump has even asked the Supreme Court to take away the health insurance of 23 million American workers by invalidating the Affordable Care Act – in the middle of a global health crisis, no less! If Trump gets his way, protections for people with pre-existing conditions will be eliminated.
Oh, and remember his promise to rein in drug prices so working people can afford the meds they need? Well, forget it. Remdesivir, a drug to reduce the severity of COVID-19, from pharma giant Gilead, was developed with $70 million of taxpayer funding, yet Trump is letting the company charge $3,000 per treatment. And he is omitting pricing protections from federal contracts to develop drugs for Covid-19 – making it likely that life-saving treatments and vaccines will be out of reach for people in need.
Donald Trump doesn’t give a fig for working-class Americans. He even wants to end the extra unemployment benefits that countless Americans are depending on to get through this crisis.
So whose side is Trump really on?
Well, here’s a clue: Tucked away on page 203 of the COVID stimulus package backed by Trump, is an obscure provision that delivers a whopping $135 billion in tax breaks to millionaire real estate developers and hedge fund managers. One real estate tycoon who stands to profit handsomely from the provision is none other than the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner.
In total, the cash secretly spent on tax cuts for millionaires in the COVID-19 package is more than three times as much money as was included for emergency housing and food relief.
Kushner isn’t the only Trump insider getting paid off during the pandemic. Forty lobbyists with ties to Donald Trump have helped clients secure more than $10 billion in federal COVID aid. And if Trump succeeds in getting the Supreme Court to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the richest 0.1 percent of Americans will get an average additional tax cut of $198,000 each per year.
Donald Trump is no working-class champion. He’s a corporate con man – the culmination of a rigged-for-the-rich system that’s shafting working Americans at every turn.