Trump’s War on the Poor, Working-Class and …

President Trump at a Cabinet Meeting 2017When explaining why his cabinet is filled with billionaires, President Donald Trump uttered what might just earn him Class Action’s 2017 Most Classist Comment of the Year Award.

Mr. Trump said, “Somebody said why did you appoint a rich person to be in charge of the economy? No, it’s true. And … I said: ‘Because that’s the kind of thinking we want.’

“And I love all people, rich or poor. But in those particular positions, I just don’t want a poor person. Does that make sense?”

This makes perfect sense – if you assign value to people based on their social class – the textbook definition of classism. And that attitude is translating into Trump Administration policies that further improve the lives of the most class-privileged Americans and further erode educational, wage, home-ownership and other quality of life opportunities for those with limited class-advantage.

Don’t Believe the Hype

Executive Orders

For example, just look at the president’s executive orders (EO). On President Trump’s first day in office, he signed an executive order halting a planned reduction in Federal Housing Administration (FHA) fees, increasing the cost of mortgages for anyone using FHA insurance to buy a home. On average, 750,000 homeowners will pay $500 more per year for just  the life of their mortgage – that adds up to $15,000 more on a 30 year mortgage.

In another EO signed in January, President Trump required that for every federal regulation issued, two other regulations had to be repealed, a boon to business but a policy that can harm the health, wages and assets of regular working people. The executive order denying funds to NGOs that offer or even utter the word abortion forces health care providers to cut services for mostly poor and working-class women. It could also increase fees and close clinics.

A later EO instructed Attorney General Jeff Sessions to create a task force that would propose new legislation to reduce crime, highlighting drug trafficking, illegal immigration and violent crime. Most observers see this as a thinly veiled policy to increase jail time vs. offering treatment programs for poor and immigrant inner city dwellers with low-level drug offenses.

Another EO directs agencies to review any regulations that could “potentially burden the development or use” of oil, natural gas, coal and nuclear energy resources – not surprising given the financial interests in these areas of the president, his Cabinet members and campaign donors. Of course, the order could slow further development of cheaper renewable energy.

Mr. Trump said“Somebody said why did you appoint a rich person to be in charge of the economy? No, it’s true. And … I said: ‘Because that’s the kind of thinking we want.”

According to gay rights advocates, the Revocation of Federal Contracting Executive Orders revokes key components of the Obama Administration′s previous executive order banning federal contractors from discriminating against employees on the basis of sexual orientation or identity. And LGBTQ Americans are more likely to be poor than heterosexuals, with African-Americans and women particularly vulnerable.

And, of course, in perhaps the most infamous EO, American taxpayers, not Mexico, will foot the bill for the wall along the U.S.-Mexican border. Billions of dollars are needed for this project, dollars that could go to education, health and other ways to improve the lives of working people.

And this is just a handful of President Trump’s executive orders that manifest as bias towards people with more class privilege.

Policies and Legislation

Major pieces of legislation like the health care bill, tax cuts and withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord are well-known and will line the pockets of owning-class people and corporations. But a number of laws have been passed or are being considered that are against the interest of working people.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency approved a deal that allows a wealthy hedge fund to use taxpayer money to buy and sell foreclosed homes. The hedge fund’s bulk buying power undercuts working people hoping to buy one of these homes as it drives up rents and gentrifies neighborhoods.

The President signed H.J. Res. 41, which reverses a rule requiring companies involved in oil, gas or mineral extraction registered in the United States to report any payments they make to foreign governments over $100,000. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops opposed this roll back, raising concerns that it deepens poverty.

President Trump also has signed legislation that rolls back workplace safety or wage protections/enhancements for workers. For example, federal contracts can now be awarded to contractors who have violated federal labor or safety laws, while OSHA has rolled back regulation limiting worker exposure to silica. Another piece of legislation ends a program that gives states the authority to create workplace savings plans for private sector employees who don’t have access to one.

Fighting big business abuses will be harder for working people with a series of laws that give well-funded defendants another tool to slow down legal actions against them. And the Department of Education has decided not to go after private predatory colleges that bilked working people out of their life savings and burdened them for years to come with loans – for a substandard education.

And the president supports the Financial Choice Act, House legislation which would undo or scale back much of Dodd-Frank – put into place after the Great Recession. The current proposed legislation would see the return of financial practices that led to the worldwide economic crisis – one from which many poor and working-class have yet to recover.

Just the Short List

This is just the short list of Trump administration policies that come from the belief that owning-class people know and deserve better. Even children are not spared, as regulations to improve public school lunch nutrition are being quietly loosened. Owning-class kids rarely attend public school.

My grandmother always told me that actions speak louder than words. Nuf said!

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