If This is the Art of the Deal, We’re in Trouble

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch Digital Media Director, Alliance for American Manufacturing

Hey, remember this?

That Donald Trump clip has a little bit of everything: Trump Tower, the George Washington Bridge, Tom Brady, and even ISIS. It's from Trump's 2016 speech launching his presidential campaign, and set the course for his campaign and eventual presidency.

As you might recall, the entire speech is, um, very Trumpian. In the clip above, Trump makes the argument that China is hurting the United States because of unfair trade, and it's time for new leadership (guess who!) to make a better deal. Here's Trump:

We have all the cards, but we don’t know how to use them. We don’t even know that we have the cards, because our leaders don’t understand the game. We could turn off that spigot by charging them tax until they behave properly. 

Which brings us to this past weekend.

Trump administration officials and Chinese leaders held a series of meetings in Beijing and Washington over the past several weeks to talk trade issues. The talks stemmed from Trump's decision to issue tariffs on select Chinese products in response to China's years of unchecked theft of intellectual property. China, you'll recall, responded with its own set of tariffs on American products.

On Saturday, following the conclusions of the talks, the U.S. and China issued a joint statement. But as many already pointed out, there's not a lot actually here.

China made no tangible, enforceable commitments to finally begin to address its intellectual property theft, which costs the American economy hundreds of billions of dollars every year. China also didn't agree to any measurable reform of its many unfair trade practices (state-led capitalism, industrial overcapacity, piracy, currency cheating, etc.) that cost 3.4 million American jobs between 2001 and 2015 alone.

Instead, U.S. officials agreed to suspend the use of tariffs on Chinese products, which was the biggest playing card it had. Now China has no pressure to actually make good on its promises of reform. Without any pressure, China is highly unlikely to make good on those promises. 

If this is indeed a trade war, China is winning.

Presidential candidate Donald Trump talked a big game when it comes to China. President Trump seems to have less of an appetite for actually playing it.

In his presidential announcement speech in 2016, Trump compared China's leadership to Tom Brady. If that's the case, Trump is looking less like Eli Manning and more like Jake Delhomme.

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Reposted from AAM

Posted In: Allied Approaches

Union Matters

Federal Minimum Wage Reaches Disappointing Milestone

By Kathleen Mackey
USW Intern

A disgraceful milestone occurred last Sunday, June 16.

That date officially marked the longest period that the United States has gone without increasing federal the minimum wage.

That means Congress has denied raises for a decade to 1.8 million American workers, that is, those workers who earn $7.25 an hour or less. These 1.8 million Americans have watched in frustration as Congress not only denied them wages increases, but used their tax dollars to raise Congressional pay. They continued to watch in disappointment as the Trump administration failed to keep its promise that the 2017 tax cut law would increase every worker’s pay by $4,000 per year.

More than 12 years ago, in May 2007, Congress passed legislation to raise the minimum wage to $7.25 per hour. It took effect two years later. Congress has failed to act since then, so it has, in effect, now imposed a decade-long wage freeze on the nation’s lowest income workers.

To combat this unjust situation, minimum wage workers could rally and call their lawmakers to demand action, but they’re typically working more than one job just to get by, so few have the energy or patience.

The Economic Policy Institute points out in a recent report on the federal minimum wage that as the cost of living rose over the past 10 years, Congress’ inaction cut the take-home pay of working families.  

At the current dismal rate, full-time workers receiving minimum wage earn $15,080 a year. It was virtually impossible to scrape by on $15,080 a decade ago, let alone support a family. But with the cost of living having risen 18% over that time, the situation now is far worse for the working poor. The current federal minimum wage is not a living wage. And no full-time worker should live in poverty.

While ignoring the needs of low-income workers, members of Congress, who taxpayers pay at least $174,000 a year, are scheduled to receive an automatic $4,500 cost-of-living raise this year. Congress increased its own pay from $169,300 to $174,000 in 2009, in the middle of the Great Recession when low income people across the country were out of work and losing their homes. While Congress has frozen its own pay since then, that’s little consolation to minimum wage workers who take home less than a tenth of Congressional salaries.

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