Billionaire Class Trumps Democrats and Republicans
2017 - Anticipated Attacks on Retirees and the Working Class could bring Historic Change Across the Country
It appears we should be busier than ever this year. Just about everything we support will soon be under attack. President Trump has selected the most anti-union group of cabinet members in many years. Privatization of Social Security and Medicare, elimination of minimum wage and overtime rules, are all on the table as the Republican Congress finally has control of both the Senate and the House of Representatives as well as the Presidency. Washington is in the best position it has ever been in to accomplish their goals and most of their goals are not good for us, both active members and retirees.
Brief Summary of a few things to watch out for in 2016
On Social Security— according to a Forbes article written on December 14, 2016, proposed by Republican Representative Sam Johnson from Texas called the “ Social Security Reform Act of 2016”, would change Social Security as we know it. Workers making around $50,000 would see checks shrink between 11and 35%. Every income bracket would see a reduction, save the very bottom. Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA) would be cut entirely for retirees earning above $85,000. Young people would be hit the hardest. If they have 14 years of work experience by 2016, they would see their benefits cut in half. Representative Richard Neal stated that, “ Instead of honoring the promises made to seniors, the Republican plan would amount to a massive cut to Social Security benefits through cuts to the COLA, raising the retirement age to 69 and cuts to the benefit-computation formula. Ultimately this translates to a 30% cut to middle class retirees. Republicans in Congress have supported these types of cuts to Social Security for a long time and are finally in a position do it.
On Medicare—Representative Paul Ryan will be introducing a bill to phase out Medicare as we know it. The plan replace Medicare Insurance with a voucher system to be given out to seniors to find Health Insurance in the private market and raise the age of eligibility to 67. According to the Washington Post, Ryan that one of his most immediate priorities is to begin the phaseout of Medicare that he has championed for a very long time.
On President Trump’s Labor Secretary pick—Andrew Puzder, a fast food executive who is opposed to a minimum wage and new overtime rules that allow would allow salaried retail and clerical workers overtime pay for up to $47000 (currently salaried employees in these industries can only collect overtime for over 40 hours per week if they make under 23000) is President Trump’s pick for Labor Secretary. This pick is a slap in the face to the millions of working class voters who voted for Trump. Puzder is opposed to all of the labor board and Fair Labor Standards act regulations he is is supposed to oversee. In fact, according to news reports in the Guardian and the New York Times, as CEO OF CKE Restaurants, the parent company of chains including Carl’s Jr and Hardee’s. Puzzler has been forced to settle a number of multi-million dollar lawsuits brought on by employees in relation to pay and working conditions. Researchers also found that over a third of 564 employees surveyed had experienced some form of wage theft, failed overtime payments, inadequate work breaks and 79% of respondents reported serving or preparing food while they were sick.
On Trade, Democrats and Republicans - With the New Year should come a new strategy by organized labor for what may be a make or break year for all unions. After many years of steady decline in Union density in this country, especially in the private sector our new government looks like it is planning to put the final nail in the coffin.
There is no doubt and it is a fact that the Republicans have taken control of the Presidency, the house and senate. They also control the majority of state houses and governorships in the country. The voters have spoken and we are hoping for the best but we must also prepare for the worst.
The Democrats have failed to provide an economic message for years and it has finally caught up with them losing enough votes from union members to swing this election. Donald Trump has stepped in to fill the vacuum left by the many Democrats who have taken organized labor for granted . The Democrats were the natural party to be speaking out about unfair trade agreements, but with few exceptions most either paid lip service or outright sided with the Republican majority in favor of every trade agreement since NAFTA. These trade agreements are the biggest reason working class people can not get a decent paying job. Most working people understand this, most politicians don’t. The billionaire class has trampled over both parties and have won.
We need to stand firm in our core beliefs in equality for all regardless of race, ethnicity and gender. We are also expanding our current activist bases we can do our part to help effectively counter the upcoming attacks on organized labor and build our agenda. The TPP vote was effectively dragged out for a long time by us. We should be proud of the work we did. Nobody could have predicted how the TPP was finally killed once and for all, but we are glad it is a dead issue.
President Elect Trump has come out against NAFTA and the TPP, has vowed to protect Social Security and Medicare and in his own words be the best friend of the working class that God ever created. His cabinet appointment nominees suggest otherwise and his consistency in flip-flopping on every issue (sometimes within days) is not very re-assuring. As was stated earlier, we will be hoping for the best and preparing for the worst.
Next Month Issue - Where We Will Go From Here