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Opinion Sorry, Donald Trump. American workers won’t fall for your scam.

What Donald Trump is doing on the campaign trail

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U.S. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks at a campaign event at Trump Doral golf course in Miami, Florida, U.S. July 27, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri (Carlo Allegri/Reuters)

THE MORNING PLUM:

In a report that will alarm some Democrats, the Post today quotes union leaders and representatives saying that they are worried that the rank and file may be getting sucked in by Donald Trump’s bluster about trade and China, and his attacks on Hillary Clinton for supposedly supporting trade deals that have hammered American workers. Trump’s rhetoric has the Democratic candidate for Senate in Pennsylvania, among others, claiming that the Donald has “recognized a couple of truths.”

So perhaps it’s worth noting another tangentially relevant truth: Hillary Clinton is offering actual policies that would benefit workers facing the very problems that Trump identifies, and Trump isn’t offering them squat. Indeed, Trump’s agenda would hurt workers, not help them.

The Post story quotes one union rep this way: “When he talks about trade, it resonates with a lot of workers.” But other union leaders, while recognizing the potency of this message, believe that in the end, the contrast in policy agendas between Trump and Clinton will ultimately carry the day. As one puts it: “Who’s going to be for collective bargaining? It’s pretty clearly Hillary is. Who’s better for paid family leave? Hillary is.”

At a campaign rally in Pennsylvania, Donald Trump outlines seven steps he would pursue as president "to bring back our jobs" (Video: Reuters)

But it goes a lot farther than this. Jonathan Cohn has a must-read look at Trump’s overall policy agenda, concluding that it would hurt American workers in multiple far-reaching ways. As Cohn notes, Trump has identified something important — trade deals may have indeed harmed a lot of people — but his threatened tariffs would likely start trade wars that would not reverse the damage in hard-hit communities, and instead would drive up prices and slow growth. What’s more, Cohn points out, Trump’s tax plan, which would deliver a windfall to top earners and cut corporate taxes, would cost up to $10 trillion in revenues over the next decade, which would likely hurt working people further:

The quick addition of so much new debt, combined with the contractionary effect of Trump’s new tariffs, could lead to a sudden and serious recession, as a recent report from Moody’s Analytics suggested. And for working-class people, the real cost of the tax cut might come over the longer term, since the loss of so much revenue would almost certainly require massive spending cuts — first to discretionary programs like education, infrastructure maintenance or biomedical research; and later to entitlements, including Medicare and Social Security, even though Trump has pledged to protect those programs….
Throw in Trump’s vow to repeal the Affordable Care Act and musings that he might lower the federal minimum wage standard, and the likely end result of Trump’s economic agenda would be an economy providing even fewer well-paying jobs — and a government in an even weaker position to help those struggling to find work.

This gets at a crucial point: Unlike Trump, Clinton supports spending federal money and regulating the economy in ways designed to help workers who are dislocated by trade, facing joblessness or suffering from flat wages. Clinton would push for more spending on worker retraining, infrastructure, child care, and boosting domestic manufacturing. She supports raising the minimum wage and higher mandated overtime pay. And she is pushing proposals for family and medical leave and plans to boost the countervailing power of labor and incentivize corporate profit sharing. There is simply no meaningful indication that Trump would do anything like this.

Yes, Trump has vowed to spend on infrastructure and defend social insurance for the elderly. But his enormous tax cuts reveal his actual priorities. Trump likes to claim his tax plan would produce runaway growth. But if anything, this is additionally revealing of the shortcomings in his approach. All Trump really means is that, by manhandling other countries in trade deals and unshackling the private sector, he will magically make us all so rich again that we won’t have to bother figuring out how to pay for sustaining entitlements (since revenues will be rolling in) or what to do about workers’ wages (since business will be booming). When Trump says he wants wages to be higher, this is what he is really saying, not that he would support government action to raise them, as Clinton would in a variety of ways.

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In fact, Trump gave away the whole game when, in his big speech on trade, he claimed a core problem we face is that businesses are over-regulated and overtaxed. As liberal economist Lawrence Mishel explains, this shows that Trump is sending key signals in support of the corporate agenda, not a pro-worker one. What workers really need, Cohn notes, is “stronger unions, spending on public works, more financial assistance with child care and other necessities — as well as better support for people who lose their jobs.”

Trump’s con game is simple. He is trying to win over working class whites with anti-China, anti-free-trade bluster and a vow to crush the dark hordes who make them feel threatened culturally and economically, while simultaneously retaining just enough good will (via his other proposals) from GOP-aligned elites to remain the nominee and be competitive. This is not ideological heterodoxy. It’s a smorgasbord of policy ignorance and indifference, opportunism, making-it-up-on-the-fly, and of course, good old fashioned flim-flammery.

Now, to be sure, Trump probably will win a sizable victory among working class whites. But it is also likely that he won’t be able to win among them by a large enough margin to offset countervailing demographic realities. Which brings us to our next item.

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 * CLINTON TRIES TO SCRAMBLE DEMOGRAPHICS: For all the talk about Trump’s prowess with working class whites, Bloomberg has an important report explaining the flip side of this equation:

For decades, white voters with at least a bachelor’s degree have favored the Republican nominee over the Democrat in U.S. presidential elections, although not by as much as working-class whites. The 2016 presidential election is turning that dynamic on its head. Polling shows that while…Trump is the clear choice among white voters without a college education, whites who’ve completed college prefer Clinton. It’s a trend analysts say is especially apparent among women, and may become more pronounced between now and November.

Trump might need truly enormous swings among Rust Belt working class whites to offset this, as demographer Ruy Teixeira has also concluded. Also recall that Obama did better among working class whites in that part of the country than nationally, and that’s where Trump hopes to make his inroads.

* CLINTON TOPS TRUMP IN NEW POLL: A new USA Today/Suffolk University poll finds Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump by 46-40 among likely voters nationwide. Note this:

Trump leads by nine points among whites, 47%-38%, while Clinton leads among Hispanics by more than 2-1 and among African Americans by 10-1.

Trump’s brilliant white nationalist strategy has him only up single digits among whites? Not good enough.

* TRUMP SUPPORTERS ARE WARY OF MUSLIMS: More interesting nuggets from the new USA Today/Suffolk poll: Two thirds of Trump voters support a ban on Muslims, while Trump supporters say by 42-31 that Muslim Americans need to be subjected to special scrutiny because of the terror threat from their communities, a position rejected by 54 percent of voters overall.

Gosh, it is just such a mystery what is driving Trump’s supporters, isn’t it?

* CLINTON TOPS TRUMP IN ANOTHER POLL: This week’s NBC tracking poll puts Clinton up over Trump by 48-43, a slight narrowing. This poll, and the above USA Today survey, are in sync with the averages, which put Clinton up six points.

* OBAMA TO STUMP FOR CLINTON: The President makes his campaign trail debut on behalf of Hillary today, and CNN previews it:

Clinton’s campaign aides expect…Obama to tell the story of his rival-to-friend relationship with Hillary Clinton on Tuesday in North Carolina, offering Americans a validating voice on the former secretary of state’s character, fitness and qualifications. He’s also likely to point to his own successes as president — a record that very much depends his Oval Office replacement to maintain.

Look for Obama to work to unite Democrats, too. Note that Obama’s approval rating has been hovering just over 50 percent in Gallup for some time now.

* DEMS PUSH FOR GUN VOTES: This week, the House will vote on a GOP measure that would notify the FBI whenever someone from a terror watch list tries to buy a gun, but Democrats are pushing for more:

The section of the [GOP] legislation that would prevent a gun sale to a suspected terrorist requires the government to prove to a judge, in three business days, that there is probable cause that the would-be buyer has links to terrorism….House Democrats want a vote on a more expansive measure to deny firearms to suspected terrorists appearing on government watch lists, as well as a vote on a measure to expand background checks.

The Dem proposal to block gun sales to suspected terrorists remains problematic, but a vote on expanded background checks would be good to see, though Paul Ryan may not allow it.

* AND HERE COMES AN IMMIGRATION REFORM REVIVAL? Politico reports that the bipartisan group who helped push immigration reform through the Senate in 2013 see another chance at making it happen in 2017:

Several influential lawmakers see another opening for immigration reform in 2017, especially if Hillary Clinton wins and the GOP takes another hit among Latinos. Mitt Romney was hammered for his “self-deportation” rhetoric four years ago. But that pales in comparison to Donald Trump’s vow to remove 11 million immigrants here illegally and calling Mexicans who cross the border illegally “rapists” and “murderers.”

Reform might be a good way to try to expunge the Trump stench quickly. If so, the recent Supreme Court deadlock blocking action on deportations might not end up mattering much.

These GOP heavyweights endorse Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump

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(FILES) This file photo taken on October 17, 2016 shows former US Secretary of State Colin Powell waving before arrival of President Barack Obama at Benjamin Banneker Academic High School in Washington,DC on October 17, 2016. Republican ex-secretary of state Colin Powell announced Tuesday he will vote for Democrat Hillary Clinton in the November 8 presidential election. The announcement by Powell, a retired four-star US Army general who served in George W. Bush's administration, is the latest from a long line of Republican former and current officials and politicians who have announced they are not voting for their party's nominee Donald Trump. "General Powell said at a meeting of the Long Island Association that he would be voting for Hillary Clinton," his assistant Peggy Cifrino told AFP October 25, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / YURI GRIPASYURI GRIPAS/AFP/Getty Images (Yuri Gripas/AFP/Getty Images)
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