Posts from Robert Borosage

Trump Betrays Workers – Again and Again and Again

Robert Borosage

Robert Borosage Co-Director, Campaign for America's Future

“Promises made, Promises Kept” will be Donald Trump’s slogan as he campaigns “six or seven days a week” for Republicans this fall. During the 2016 election, Trump promised workers “more jobs and better wages,” that he would bring jobs back from abroad.

“Every policy decision we make must pass a simple test,” he said, “Does it create more jobs and better wages for Americans?”

Trump not only hasn’t delivered for workers; he’s joined the other side. It’s not an accident that workers in America have suffered stagnant wages and reduced benefits. It is the result of a systematic corporate campaign to crush unions, rig trading rules to benefit investors and undermine workers, and roll back public regulations and investments that benefit working people. Trump’s administration and the Republican Congress are doubling down on that assault.

Workers get a better share of the profits they help to produce when they can organize and bargain collectively. Union workers still enjoy better wages and benefits than non-union workers. When unions are strong, even non-union workers benefit. But under a decades-long relentless corporate assault, unions now represent only 11 percent of all workers and less than 7 percent of those in the private sector.

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The Real Deal on Trump’s Trade Tantrums

Robert Borosage

Robert Borosage Co-Director, Campaign for America's Future

“Trade wars are good, and easy to win,” tweeted Donald Trump when he threatened to slap tariffs on China and other nations he accused of “assaulting our country” last month.

Stock traders were spooked as China promised to retaliate. Commentators across the political spectrum warned of job losses, price increases, economic peril, and trade wars.

Progressives like Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown and Elizabeth Warren showed more sense, praising Trump for challenging China’s mercantilist policies, as did Conor Lamb, the surprise Democratic victor in the House special election in Pennsylvania.

Just because Trump denounces our “lousy trade deals” doesn’t mean Democrats have to defend them.

In fact, a majority of House Democrats has led the opposition to our corporate trade policies. Democrats torpedoed Obama’s Trans Pacific Partnership, long before Trump became president. They’ve demanded the renegotiation of NAFTA, and the Korean Free Trade Accord.

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The Real Reason Workers Can’t Get A Raise

Robert Borosage

Robert Borosage Co-Director, Campaign for America's Future

Wages have been stagnant through two official “recoveries” in this century, under both Democratic and Republican presidents. This week, beneath the stock-market gyrations, the mechanics that shackle the average worker’s wages were exposed once more—not in Donald Trump’s White House or Paul Ryan’s Congress but in the supposedly apolitical operations of the Federal Reserve.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell. Photo credit: White House / Andrea Hanks

In today’s economy, with weak unions and large, multinational corporations, wages begin to stir only when the economy nears full employment. When labor is in demand, workers can push for better wages and benefits. Companies find themselves under pressure to raise pay in order to avoid losing good workers to competitors.

Yet the mere hint of rising wages creates warning flags at the Federal Reserve, America’s central bank. Corporations could pass on rising wages to consumers by raising prices, and rising prices could feed inflation. The Federal Reserve has the dual mandate of fostering the highest levels of employment and stable prices. The Fed governors have decided—arbitrarily—that steady 2 percent inflation is the target that they hope to sustain. They maintain, despite little evidence, that once inflation starts it can spiral out of control, so they assume that they must act preemptively to slow the economy by raising interest rates. In turn, the economy slows, workers lose jobs, their ability to demand wage hikes is reduced, and inflation is slowed.

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Democrats Will Need More Than Resistance to Govern

Robert Borosage

Robert Borosage Co-Director, Campaign for America's Future

Sweeping victories in last Tuesday’s elections provided a bracing tonic for Democrats. “In case there was any doubt,” tweeted former Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau, “the Resistance is real.” Tuesday’s victories should buoy Democrats but not mislead them. The reaction to Trump is fierce, but not sufficient to consolidate a new ruling coalition that can make the changes we need.

Turnout in Virginia, which featured the marquee gubernatorial matchup on Election Day, was at presidential year levels. Democrats, people of color, and self-described liberals came out in large numbers. Women voted Democratic by large margins. The Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Ralph Northam—a charismatically challenged, eminently decent, experienced, establishment figure—didn’t light that fire. Middle class voters in the Virginia suburbs braved a driving rainstorm to deliver a stunning rebuke to Trump, and to the vile “Trumpism without Trump” campaign run by former Republican lobbyist Ed Gillespie.

Democrats won big down ballot as well, capturing fifteen seats in the House of Delegates and coming close to erasing the previous 32-seat Republican advantage in the state House completely. This represents the most sweeping shift in control of the state legislature since the Watergate era. Insurgents also won, including Democratic Socialist Lee Carter, who took out the Republican majority whip, and Danica Roem, the first transgender candidate to win a state legislative seat in the country.

Virginia was not alone. Democrats also took back the statehouse in New Jersey, won full control in Washington State, elected the first Democratic mayor of Manchester, New Hampshire, and Charlotte, North Carolina elected its first African American female mayor. In Maine, voters overwhelmingly voted to extend Medicaid under Obamacare.

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To Pass Tax Reform, the GOP Will Need to Divide and Conquer

Robert Borosage

Robert Borosage Co-Director, Campaign for America's Future

Having failed to repeal Obamacare, Republicans are turning to their true passion: cutting taxes and starving government of funds.

But, given the narrow margins and internal divisions of the Republican’s congressional majorities, particularly in the Senate, Democratic votes may well determine what, if anything, gets passed.

Democrats, their spines stiffened by a ferocious grass-roots mobilization, have demonstrated uncharacteristic unity in the early months of the Trump administration. But tax cuts — and the deep-pocketed lobbyists that push for them — are always hard for politicians to resist. Could this be the issue that divides the left?

Indeed, the three Democratic senators who dined with President Donald Trump this summer suggested just such a crack in party unity is possible.

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) released a letter in August signed by all but three Democratic senators laying out principles for bipartisan cooperation: no tax breaks for the richest 1 percent; no increased burden on the middle class; tax reform passed by “regular order,” meaning through bipartisan Senate support; and the reforms must not sap the revenue needed to fund the government adequately.

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The Republican Plan to Rob America

Robert Borosage

Robert Borosage Co-Director, Campaign for America's Future

The Republican tax plan is a lie. It’s being sold with the promise that the tax cut will create jobs and growth. In fact, the Republican tax cuts, if passed, will become the major obstacle to the very investments vital to generating good jobs and future economic growth.

Contrary to Donald Trump’s claims, the rich and big corporations will pocket the vast bulk of the tax cuts, not working people. The tax cuts won’t pay for themselves. They will increase the deficit. By 2027, one in four taxpayers will end up paying more. And for 80 percent of Americans, the tax cut they do get would be so small that it will go virtually unnoticed in most households. For example, the Tax Policy Center estimatesthat in 2027, the 27 million households with children and incomes under $75,000 will receive an average tax cut of all of $20 when the provisions are in full effect.

Americans get this. Fewer than one-third think they will end up paying less under the Republican plan, according to a new Politico/Morning Consult poll; about the same number think they’ll end up paying more. By a 41-28 margin, Americans know the rich will end up paying less, rather than more. Yet a plurality, 44 percent, thinks the tax cuts will have a “positive impact on the US economy,” while only 24 percent think the tax cuts will have a negative impact. The big lie still works.President Donald Trump argued that “our country and our economy cannot take off” without the tax cuts. Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, a true chickenhawk on deficits, now argues that the tax cuts are vital, even with greater deficits, because “we need to have the growth.” Yet there is simply no reason to believe the tax cuts will generate greater growth or more jobs.

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When the Parades Are Over, Who Stands With Unions?

Robert Borosage

Robert Borosage Co-Director, Campaign for America's Future

When the Parades Are Over, Who Stands With Unions?
First U.S. Labor Day Parade, September 5, 1882 in New York

The Labor Day parades are over. The bands have packed up. The muscular speeches celebrating workers are finished. The trash is getting collected from parks across the country. And now conservative politicians from Trump on down will revive their systematic efforts to weaken unions and undermine workers.

Trump – despite all the populist bunting that decorates his speeches – sustains the deeply entrenched Republican antipathy to organized workers. Their attack is relentless.

Trump’s budget calls for deep cuts in the Labor Department, eviscerating job training programs and cutting – by 40 percent – the agency that does research on workplace safety. It would eliminate the program that funds education of workers on how to avoid workplace hazards. It even savages money for mine safety enforcement for the miners Trump claims to love.

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Democrats Need to Find Their Voice on Tax Reform

Robert Borosage

Robert Borosage Co-Director, Campaign for America's Future

After crashing and burning in their quest to repeal Obamacare, Republicans have turned to their perennial passion: corporate and personal tax cuts. President Donald Trump has promised “the biggest tax cut in history,” and the GOP is ready to help him deliver.

According to early outlines of various Republican plans, the party will push for—wait for it—tax cuts skewed to the very rich along with deep cuts in corporate taxes. Trump wants the corporate tax rate to go from a nominal rate of 35 percent to 15 percent.

The Republican sales pitch invokes notions of magical tax-cut created growth, competitiveness, and other fantasies that will supposedly “cover” the cost of the tax cuts—or not.

The Trump administration has at times floated plans that would simply enact deficit-financed tax cuts for 10 or even 20 years, which would in turn put tremendous pressure on safety-net programs.

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Democrats Are Finally Waking Up

Robert Borosage

Robert Borosage Co-Director, Campaign for America's Future

Congressional Democrats rolled out an economic agenda for the 2018 elections this week, and despite its bland title, “A Better Deal: Better Jobs, Better Wages, Better Future,” the overview document and agenda reflect the growing strength and influence of the populist movement in the Democratic Party.

At the same time, Our Revolution, the group growing out of the Bernie Sanders 2016 presidential campaign, the National Nurses Union, Fight for 15, People’s Action and others launched the “Summer of Progress,” an activist push to get at least half of the Democratic House members to endorse the “People’s Platform.” The contrast between the two documents reveals why the activist push is needed.

Both the People’s Platform and the Better Deal agenda are designed to offer a small number of bold, clear reforms to put before voters. The Better Deal agenda is focused on the economy; the People’s Platform includes broader issues.

Both documents are grounded in the populist analysis of Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.  The Better Deal argues that Americans “believe the rules of the economy are rigged against them” by “special interests, lobbyists and large corporations In the last two elections. Both argue that Democrats must be clearer about what they are for.

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Donald Trump Is Waging a War on Workers

Robert Borosage

Robert Borosage Co-Director, Campaign for America's Future

Donald Trump has ginned up a continuous din in his first four months as president, with each outrage or grotesquerie immediately followed by another.

Amid the furors, it is easy to lose track of the key standard by which Trump will be judged by his key voters: his oft-repeated campaign pledge that “the American worker will finally have a president who will protect them and fight for them.” 

These pledges have continued since Trump became president. He told the Conservative Political Action Conference that “the forgotten men and women of America will be forgotten no longer.”

In the flood of reviews of Trump’s first 100 days, which focused heavily on his scandals and gaffes, few noted that he failed on this measure.

The working people who were crucial to Trump’s victory may not be impressed by more evidence that he’s a scoundrel. Most of them considered him a scoundrel when they voted for him. Their hope was that he might be their scoundrel, in contrast to the “corrupted politicians” and “failed political elite” that he railed against.

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Union Matters

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: National Association of Letter Carriers

From the AFL-CIO

Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the National Association of Letter Carriers.

Name of Union: National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC)

Mission: To unite fraternally all city letter carriers employed by the U.S. Postal Service for their mutual benefit; to obtain and secure rights as employees of the USPS and to strive at all times to promote the safety and the welfare of every member; to strive for the constant improvement of the Postal Service; and for other purposes. NALC is a single-craft union and is the sole collective-bargaining agent for city letter carriers.

Current Leadership of Union: Fredric V. Rolando serves as president of NALC, after being sworn in as the union's 18th president in 2009. Rolando began his career as a letter carrier in 1978 in South Miami before moving to Sarasota in 1984. He was elected president of Branch 2148 in 1988 and served in that role until 1999. In the ensuing years, he worked in various roles for NALC before winning his election as a national officer in 2002, when he was elected director of city delivery. In 2006, he won election as executive vice president. Rolando was re-elected as NALC president in 2010, 2014 and 2018.

Brian Renfroe serves as executive vice president, Lew Drass as vice president, Nicole Rhine as secretary-treasurer, Paul Barner as assistant secretary-treasurer, Christopher Jackson as director of city delivery, Manuel L. Peralta Jr. as director of safety and health, Dan Toth as director of retired members, Stephanie Stewart as director of the Health Benefit Plan and James W. “Jim” Yates as director of life insurance.

Number of Members: 291,000 active and retired letter carriers.

Members Work As: City letter carriers.

Industries Represented: The United States Postal Service.

History: In 1794, the first letter carriers were appointed by Congress as the implementation of the new U.S. Constitution was being put into effect. By the time of the Civil War, free delivery of city mail was established and letter carriers successfully concluded a campaign for the eight-hour workday in 1888. The next year, letter carriers came together in Milwaukee and the National Association of Letter Carriers was formed.

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work