Restaurant servers, hotel workers, car-wash employees, and other tipped workers just won a big victory. As part of the $1.3 trillion spending package that President Trump signed on March 23, he backed down from a proposed federal rule letting bosses pocket workers’ tips.
Public Overwhelming Opposes “Tip-Stealing Rule.” While Trump’s Labor Department said the rule would let restaurants share servers’ tips with untipped workers, it would have let employers take the tips themselves.
- As the Economic Policy Institute estimated, the rule would have cost servers and other tipped workers $5.6 billion, with women losing $4.6 billion.
- Fighting back, workers and their allies submitted more than 200,000 public comments opposing the rule.
Trump Allies Buried the Bad News. The Labor Department’s economists found that workers “could lose out on billions of dollars in gratuities.”
- Seeking to suppress these findings, Trump appointees at the White House and the Labor Department tried to change the research methods. When the study still showed workers losing, they tried to bury the study altogether.
- At a hearing on March 6, Democratic Congresswomen Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut and Katherine Clark of Massachusetts grilled Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta about the suppressed study.
- Stung by the public criticism, Acosta reached an agreement with Democratic Senator Patty Murray of Washington to scrap the rule.
Compromise Spotlights Need for “One Fair Wage.” Under the agreement, any restaurant setting up a tip pool must pay all its tipped workers the full federal minimum wage—$7.25 an hour.
- That’s a big increase from the federal subminimum wage for tipped workers—only $2.13-an-hour.
- This highlights the need for “one fair wage” for all workers. Seven states have eliminated the sub-minimum wage. Michigan and Washington, DC, will vote on the issue this year, while New York is considering the idea.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA), which helped some 20 million Americans obtain health insurance, turns eight tomorrow (Friday, March 23). Millions of our fellow Americans feel more secure, and three-quarters of the country wants Trump and his administration to make the law work.
But the president and congressional Republicans have other plans in mind, instead continuing their efforts to repeal the ACA and to cut longstanding, proven programs that generations of working families and retirees have relied on for their healthcare.
Average Americans Would Lose Health Coverage. Millions of Americans from working families would lose their health coverage because his budget repeals the ACA. It also rolls back Medicaid expansion, which insured millions more.
Cutting Medicare and Medicaid. Candidate Trump pledged not to make cuts in Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. But now, his proposed budget cuts these programs by $675 billion over 10 years.
- Trump proposes cuts of more than $550 billion from Medicare, which helps older Americans to afford medical exams, hospitalization, prescription drugs, and other health services.
- His budget also cuts at least $306 billion from Medicaid, which pays for nursing-home care and helps veterans, Americans with disabilities, and people struggling with substance misuse.
Making Middle-Class Consumers Pay More. Republican policies could make you pay anywhere from 12 to 32 percent more next year for your healthcare coverage That’s because:
- The Republican tax bill eliminated the requirement that most Americans carry coverage.
- The Trump administration shortened sign-up times and cut back marketing for the plans.
From health care to public education, the Trump administration is slashing services for working families. But that hasn’t kept the president’s cabinet from living lavishly—and sticking the hard-working taxpayers with their bills.
The $300 Million Man. With an estimated net worth of $300 million, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin can afford his own vacations.
- But he took his wife, Louise Linton, on a military jet trip to Fort Knox, Kentucky, to watch the solar eclipse last August. The cost to the taxpayers: $33,000.
- That was one of Mnuchin’s eight trips on military aircraft last spring and fall, at a total cost of almost $1 million.
“Cone of Silence” at EPA. Environmental Protection Administrator Scott Pruitt spent $43,000 of the taxpayers’ money to build himself a cone of silence—a soundproof phone booth in his office.
- Maybe he needs secrecy because he’s meeting with fossil fuel executives who want to weaken anti-pollution rules, while he’s laying the groundwork for future campaigns in his home state, Oklahoma.
- And he’s also spent more than $107,000 of the taxpayers’ money on first-class air travel.
Office Doors, Not National Parks. Suggesting that veterans and the disabled shouldn’t get in for free, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke wants to increase the entrance fees at 17 national parks.
- But the Interior Department is spending almost $139,000 to replace Zinke’s office doors.
- And, he charged the taxpayers for a chartered flight from Las Vegas to his home state, Montana.
Evicting Low-Income Tenants, Feathering His Own Nest. Trump’s budget will evict low-income families from public housing. But Housing Secretary Ben Carson is spending $31,000 in federal funds for a custom mahogany dining room set for his office.
Remember when Donald Trump promised to keep companies from shipping American jobs overseas? That promise may need to be re-visited, as the Republican tax law encourages companies to avoid American taxes and export American jobs.
The Trump-Republican Tax Law: More Incentives to Outsource Jobs. The tax-cut plan effectively halves corporations’ tax rate on offshore profits. It also essentially eliminates their taxes on profits, new factories, and equipment overseas, thus encouraging them to invest in jobs outside the U.S.
How to Keep American Jobs in America. Two Democratic legislators—U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett of Texas and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island—have introduced the “No Tax Breaks for Outsourcing Act” to counter what Trump and the Republicans have done. This bill will save American jobs by:
- Getting rid of the two different tax rates—21 percent rate on domestic profits and 10.5 percent on offshore profits—which encourage companies to move plants and jobs overseas, and instead setting the same rates for both.
- Repealing the 10% tax exemption on profits earned from offshore investments.
- Cracking down on corporation “inversions,” where companies move their headquarters to lower-tax countries to avoid paying taxes at U.S. rates.
Why Tax Fairness Matters. With these commonsense principles, American workers, small businesses, and patriotic corporations will be able to compete with U.S.-based multinationals on a more even playing field.
The Republican tax scam doesn’t fool Bryan Barkalow, a lumberyard worker in Dayton, Ohio. President Trump is “pulling out jazz hands [razzle-dazzle] and shiny stuff up front and will screw us on the back end,” he warns. Dan Marker, a worker at a machining and welding shop, says, “Probably my biggest concern here is that, if Washington cuts taxes, fine, what services are they going to do without?”
Tax Scam Support Stalls. Barkalow and Marker are among two dozen workers in the Dayton area who expressed growing doubts about the GOP tax plan.
- Recent national polls show support for the law stagnating, in spite of multi-million-dollar advertising campaigns promoting it, including a blitz bankrolled by the billionaire Koch brothers.
- The latest Quinnipiac University survey shows 50 percent opposed and only 36 percent in favor.
- Only 24 percent of working Americans say their paychecks have increased because of the tax plan.
Social Security, Medicare, & Education on the Chopping Block. Working Americans understand they’re being stuck with the bill for $1 trillion in tax cuts for large corporations and the super-rich. The Trump administration’s budget cuts Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, public education, and college aid from working families.
Benefits Go to Shareholders, Not Workers. More than 70 percent of the corporate tax cuts are enriching shareholders without raising wages or creating jobs.
- Companies are on track to buy back a record $800 billion of their own shares, artificially boosting stock prices.
- The other perks for Wall Street—increased dividends and costly corporate mergers—aren’t promoting economic growth, new jobs, or pay raises.
After more than a year of delays, the Trump administration is taking action against the tidal wave of imports that is overwhelming the U.S. steel and aluminum industries, destroying high-wage jobs, devastating communities, and damaging our national security.
U.S. Industries Imperiled: U.S. steel jobs have fallen by 35 percent since 2000, and only three surviving companies operate 13 blast furnaces running continuously.
- In the aluminum industry, 58 percent of U.S. jobs were wiped out between 2013 and 2016, and only five smelters remain.
- Steel and aluminum are essential for modern industry and infrastructure. Aluminum is indispensable for civilian and military aircraft. As these U.S. industries decline, we are at the mercy of other economic and military powers—particularly, China.
U.S. Didn’t Start “Trade War”: The U.S. steel industry is among the most efficient and least polluting in the world. With investment in infrastructure on the way, domestic demand is increasing—and the industry should be prospering.
- Instead, China enjoys unfair advantages because its government subsidizes its steel industry, provides underpriced or free raw materials, and “dumps” these products on global markets at artificially low prices.
- As the Economic Policy Institute explains, the administration’s response—tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum—isn’t unprecedented. These steps can spur international action and protect American producers until comprehensive answers are developed.
Clumsiness…and Cronyism. More than one year of delay has been costly, with imports increasing at least 19 percent over 2016.
- Trump billionaire supporter and friend, Carl Icahn, dumped $31 million of shares in an steel import-dependent company days before the tariff announcement, making millions for himself and raising questions about “insider trading.”
- At least 25 percent of the Keystone Pipeline’s pipes are being supplied by a steel company largely owned by a Russian oligarch.
President Trump drinks 12 cans of Diet Coke a day.
But, when he thinks about the soft drink giant taking the fizz out of his promises, maybe he’ll have a Coke…and a frown.
Hiking Dividends, Not Paychecks. Together, with many major corporations, Coca-Cola may have given Trump the caffeine jitters last fall. After he promised that his tax cuts would raise wages and create jobs, Coca-Cola joined Cisco, Pfizer, and other companies in announcing it would boost shareholders’ dividends, not workers’ paychecks. And Coke kept its word, rewarding its investors, not its employees.
More Layoffs. After wiping out 1,200 jobs in 2017, Coke is continuing its layoffs this year. The company is pink-slipping 350 employees in its home base of Atlanta, while closing its manufacturing plant in Okmulgee, Oklahoma, and cutting back its bottling facility in Oklahoma City, costing a total of 246 jobs. All these layoffs will save Coke $800 million this year.
Pocketing Tax Breaks. Coke finished last year with solid growth, and, thanks to Trump’s tax law, its tax rate will fall from 26 to 21 percent. Moreover, it’s bringing foreign earnings home at reduced rates.
Yes, Coke is still a “classic” money-maker. But, in spite of its corporate tax cuts, the company that broadcasts TV spots with picnics and parties isn’t inviting its employees to the festivities.