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August 15, 2016


Richard Nixon is best known as a Watergate conspirator and earlier as a Red-baiter. What is not recalled about his administration(s) is that he had some rather liberal domestic ideas. For instance, he proposed a so-called GAW (guaranteed annual wage) in order to finally rid the nation of our welfare system. It was turned down out of hand by the Congress, of course, but the fact that he seriously proposed it shows that he (like FDR) had an adventuresome state of mind when it came to solving or trying to solve the nation’s economic problems. Parenthetically, I thought and still think something on the order of a GAW remains a good idea, depending on just how it is structured, poverty levels are determined etc.

It was with this open mind that I and millions of other Americans waited to hear the long-trumpeted economic “proposals” of Donald Trump which he delivered recently. I had hoped (even given his otherwise bizarre conduct or perhaps because of it) that he might come up with something new and exciting, like Nixon’s GAW or LBJ’s Great Society or FDR’s New Deal ideas designed to mitigate or solve some of the problems of our nation and our people.

I should have known better; there is nothing new in his proposals that will cure and/or mitigate our problems, problems such as wage inequality, our crumbling infrastructure etc. It is clear that he has no economic policy to offer other than the same ol’-same ol’ Republican economic “policy” under the pretense that some of the proposals were new and different. They weren’t. The emperor wore no clothes and the wizard behind the curtain turns out to be just a fumbling old man with no Oz in sight.

Trump’s “economic plan” merely recycles all the Republican failures of the past 40 years such as trickle down economics and massive tax cuts for the rich and corporations, policies which have proven to be catastrophic for working families because nothing trickles down and tax savings are not invested in new plant and jobs here but rather in offshore facilities where labor is cheaper and tax games can be played with income derived from such overseas investment (thanks to the fine print written into the tax code by lawyers for the rich and corporate class).  Working Americans are left with chronic wage stagnation (since the 1970s) and levels of wage inequality that have caused lack of aggregate demand that has in turn given us an underperforming economy. Trump proposes more of the same and even more of it.

Totally missing in Trump’s “economic plan” is any consideration of policies on the labor front having to do with minimum wages, wage theft, overtime protection, employee misclassification and restoration of the right to collective bargaining. Nothing is mentioned about curtailing the growth of the one percent even while millions of Americans are being dumped from the middle class into poverty. Apparently the role of working Americans is to work ever harder to make more money for the rich, whose lobbyists and lawyers make sure their clients get the lion’s share of the economy’s income, with a correspondingly less share of such income going to corporate workers, a result known as wage inequality.

Millions of Americans (if employed) are one paycheck or one divorce or one cancer away from bankruptcy, while corporations who (technically) take bankruptcy under Chapter 11 (written by corporate lawyers) can come out of bankruptcy intact with voided labor contracts and stiffed creditors (assuming they avoid corporate vultures who pick their bones, vultures like the one Romney, though retired, still gets millions from each year and pays minimum taxes on such retirement income). Employees who come out of Chapter 7 bankruptcy have no such protections as individuals. They are picked clean.

Individuals must also pay their taxes during and shortly after their tax years’ end while corporations such as GE and Pfizer keep billions in profits made overseas legally out of the reach of the IRS for years while their lawyers negotiate with the IRS on the rate to be paid if their clients choose to repatriate all or some of their trove to our shores. If you and I as individuals ask our local IRS agent for the same consideration, expect a blank stare. Meanwhile, our government, deprived of such billions of unpatriated funds, struggles to fund education, infrastructure projects etc.

I had hoped that Trump would defy his party and propose changes in the tax and bankruptcy codes to treat individuals as fairly as we treat corporations. Vain hope. He proposes to make an already bad situation worse. There are many good reasons not to vote for Trump, and I have added his so-called “economic plan” to such a lengthy list. How about you?       GERALD       E



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