Trump Signs An Executive Order on Mineral Production

Good news for people who like bad news: The U.S. of A. is entirely reliant on China for specific minerals used to power everything from wind turbines to smartphones!

That’s one of the findings of an updated report from the U.S. Geological Survey, headed by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. That came out on Tuesday, and Wednesday President Trump – while Congressional Republicans were passing a tax cut for him to enact – has signed an executive order “instructing his deputies to devise ‘a strategy to reduce the Nation’s reliance on critical minerals’ that are largely imported.”

I’m less interested in the Trump administration’s plan to sell new mining rights on federal parkland than I am in how this executive order fits into the national security strategy announced by the president earlier this week.

That strategy labeled China (and Russia) as the competition – and this report and accompanying order are part of Trump’s new effort to counter aggressive Chinese trade policy.

Will it work?

China has basically cornered the market on rare earths – it identified them as important early and invested billions into developing an industry around them (with little in the way of labor and environmental standards to slow it down) – and was willing to restrict access to them when beef started cooking with another country. This prompted a WTO trade complaint by the Obama administration a few years back, which it won. Heck, 60 Minutes even did a segment on it.

This is a big deal. Rare-earth elements go into a lot of military applications (there’s that “national security strategy” angle) and it’s unwise to allow a critical material (and its production) to be completely offshore. It’s basically a chokepoint.

Plus: No matter how you cut it, expanding domestic production is a much better idea than backing a plan – presented by the Education secretary’s brother – to privatize American military operations in Afghanistan and loot that country’s mineral wealth.

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Reposed from the AAM

Posted In: Allied Approaches, From Alliance for American Manufacturing

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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A Friendly Reminder

A Friendly Reminder