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How little Trump cares for workers — and how much he values corporate swamp monsters — is now on full display

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David Cay Johnston
David Cay Johnston

How little Donald Trump cares about workers, and how much more he values corporations, is shown by his economic stimulus plan to address the pandemic.

The Trump plan, shown first to Senate Republicans today, proposes spending more than $800 billion, but it will do little good for workers, especially those laid off.

The biggest part of the plan is a payroll tax holiday that will reduce Social Security and Medicare taxes by $500 billion. That’s worth exactly nothing to the millions of people sent home as bars, casinos, movie theaters, restaurants, golf resorts, hotels, malls, big box stores and airlines slash their workforce or furlough everyone.

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And unless other taxes are used to finance Social Security and Medicare it sets up the two biggest social safety nets, already tattered, to completely fall apart.

Then there’s $50 billion in Small Business Administration relief for small business. Problem is, big companies can legally qualify for small business benefits through subsidiaries, a trick long employed by, among others the Kochs. We have yet to see what safeguards, if any, would prevent such exploitation.

Airlines would get $58 billion in welfare.

And jobless workers? A separate package would provide $100 billion.

Workers would get maybe $100 billion, which sounds like a big number until you consider the scope of the job loss problem.

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American workers gross about $150 billion per week, IRS Table 1.4 shows.

Distribute $100 billion equally to the 168 million or so people who earn from $1 to more than $100 million in annual wages and it’s not enough to replace a week’s wages.

Restricting help to the bottom half of workers, who all made less than $33,000 in 2018, wouldn’t be much better. Trump’s plan would replace just four weeks of pay to the more than 83 million low-paid workers, most of whom life paycheck to paycheck with little or no savings.

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Trump said Monday that he expected the pandemic to continue into July and August. That would be 24 weeks, not four.

We’ve already seen the Federal Reserve jump in with help for Wall Street, where the large spoons with which bankers used to sup welfare have been replaced with gluttonous buckets.

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The Fed slashed bank borrowing rates to as little as zero while offering to trade as much as $700 billion in cash for other securities to ensure financial firms can cover their obligations. Heaven forbid the bankers set aside enough reserves to cover a rainy day or a pandemic.

Bankers first, American workers last is not a Trump era creation. But it is promoted with gusto. And it contradicts the core promise on which Trump beguiled almost 63 million people into casting ballots for him.

Both as a candidate and in his inaugural address, Trump was all about “the forgotten men and women” of America,

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In accepting the Republican nomination for president in July 2016 Trump declared, “The forgotten men and women of our country — people who work hard but no longer have a voice: I am your voice.”

But Trump & Co, forgot the forgotten men and women when they came up with their plan, which summarizes as a banquet for the swamp monsters Trump promised to slay and starvation wage replacement for their prey.

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