About this series
Throughout the presidential campaign, Donald Trump was long on populist rhetoric — positioning himself as the pro-worker candidate — but in reality embraced the tried-and-failed Chamber of Commerce playbook of tax cuts for corporations and the rich, deregulation, and rolling back worker protections and union rights.
In the wake of the election, the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) has developed a critical Five Point Plan outlining “A real agenda for working people” to return prosperity to working-class Americans.
The Labor Tribune presents this plan in a five-part series for our readers’ consideration. It proposes policies to restore full employment, strengthen rules that support wages and work, and protect and strengthen the right to collective bargaining, as well as reorienting trade policy to support working people and raising top tax rates to fund necessary public investment and reduce the economic power of the top 1%.
This will give readers a benchmark to judge the policies yet to be enunciated by the incoming Trump administration.
Despite his campaign rhetoric about siding with working Americans against economic elites, President-elect Trump’s actual agenda includes policies that would do nothing to reverse near-stagnant wage growth and rising inequality:
- Tax cuts for the rich and corporations.
- Deregulation of finance and worker protections.
- Assaults on unions.
These all clearly undercut working Americans’ economic clout, not increase it.
Together these tried and failed policies would just increase the growing share of income that goes to those at the top. Trump’s failure to speak out against the denial of overtime protections to roughly five million middle-wage workers is a leading indicator of what to expect.
We are also alarmed by the Trump campaign’s unmistakable stain of bigotry. We cannot participate in an ordinary debate over policy direction without highlighting our opposition to demonizing people on the basis of their religion, race, or country of origin.
Commentators are wrong to characterize Trump’s win as a simple call for an economy that is fairer for low-and middle-income families.
A real agenda for a fair economy recognizes that the factory worker and the nursing aide are both losing hope and dignity in an economy that increasingly works great for those at the top but produces growing economic insecurity for the rest.
The blame for the working American’s plight should be placed squarely where it is due: not on workers of another race or ethnicity or gender, but on the corporate owners, top managers, and Wall Street financiers — and the policymakers in their sway.
These are the economic elites who for decades have used government policy to shift economic leverage and bargaining power away from low- and middle-wage workers. They have:
- Eviscerated labor laws and the value of the minimum wage.
- Used trade agreements to further hold down wages already suppressed by globalization.
- Unleashed the financial sector to do what was profitable in the short run rather than what was safe and efficient in the long run, and the result was an upward flow of income and a financial crisis.
Rather than a path back into the failed past, this “Real agenda for working people” provides a path forward that strengthens workers’ rights and raises the wages of all workers.
– Economic Policy Institute