Every time we think we’ve reached the bottom with Trump — how awful can one human being be? — we discover further depths to plumb.
No surprise that Trump’s denying he said any such thing. But few believe him, and not simply because there are a number of (unnamed) witnesses, or because we know he’s said similar things in the past. Remember John McCain?
The upcoming Labor Day holiday — our fourth in Trump’s America — reminds me that Trump’s insults to the ultimate sacrifice by working military can also be viewed as yet another example of his pattern of displaying utter and complete contempt for any people performing almost any form of work.
His administration has all but taken a sledgehammer to workplace safety, both physical and financial. One of the actions his Occupational Safety and Health Administration took during his first year in office? It removed the names of people who had died in workplace accidents from the agency’s website. His Interior Department rolled back safety protections for oil rig workers, and the Department of Labor’s mine safety agency did the same for the coal industry.
An Obama-era initiative to make millions more workers eligible for overtime pay was trimmed back significantly, cutting in half the number of workers eligible. At the same time, the Trump administration has taken repeated actions to make it harder for employees to unionize.
Trump has routinely boasted about stock market gains helping people with 401(k)s — seemingly unaware that only about half of workers at firms employing less than 50 people enjoy access to any form of workplace retirement account. Meanwhile, he’s attempting to knock the financial underpinnings out of Social Security, claiming he would like to completely do away with the payroll tax that funds the program — which would effectively destroy the best chance many Americans workers have for a dignified and not penurious retirement.
This contempt for almost all workers has become all too clear during the novel coronavirus pandemic. Trump has shown almost zero concern for the lives of so-called “essential” workers, people who are putting their lives at risk by reporting to jobs on a daily basis. Here’s one example: The Trump administration all but twiddled their thumbs as hospitals and nursing homes reported shortages of personal protective equipment, setting off a “Hunger Games”-like competition among states frantically attempting to get hold of needed supplies.
Nor is Trump showing much concern over the fate of the people who are getting financially pummeled by the economic carnage caused by covid-19. When the $600-a-week federal unemployment supplement expired, Larry Kudlow, his chief economic adviser, joined Republicans in claiming the sum was so generous, it was keeping people from returning to the workforce.
Instead, Trump offered up a $300 supplement, which would come from limited government funds that will run out within a matter of weeks. At the same time, millions of small-business owners are facing the prospect of closing their doors permanently despite the fact that the majority work significantly more than 40 hours a week — and there isn’t, as of now, any further federal aid on deck. Trump, an avowed champion of small-business owners, is demonstrating next to no concern.
What links all of this: the insults to our fallen military, the constant attacks on worker rights and protections, and the carelessness of Trump’s handling of economic and workplace fallout from the covid-19 pandemic? In Trump’s America, there is only room for one winner, and that’s Donald Trump. The rest of us? Whether serving our nation in the military, or on the job, or simply living our day-to-day lives — when things go wrong, we’re on our own. We are, to borrow Trump’s word, losers.
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