Despite the fact that Donald Trump wooed disgruntled working-class Americans with promises to protect and even create well-paying jobs, it’s not hard to see that these promises were empty and that he’s been no advocate for the American worker.
The Trump tax cut provided corporations such as AT&T, General Motors, and Wells Fargo with huge tax windfalls with the rationale that these bounties would trickle down to workers in the form of higher wages and protected, if not new, jobs. Each of these companies still laid off workers. In the case of Wells Fargo, while workers saw some wage increases, the company also raised their healthcare contributions.
And it’s not news to point out that the wealthy and corporations benefited far more from Trump’s tax cuts than the average American who saw little impact.
So we know the American worker does not have Trump’s ear, but is it fair to say that corporate America does when it comes to Trump’s policies and governing behaviors?
Evidence suggests not, prompting the question of which voices and which interests are guiding the policies and practices of the Trump administration.
Consider the following:
*Recently Walmart’s Chief Executive Officer Doug McMillon called for Congress to pass legislation raising the minimum wage, including provisions for periodic increases tied to increases in the cost of living. The call for increasing the minimum wage from corporate leaders is not new; many others, including Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, have urged this legislation for some time. Walmart, however, has long been resistant to such legislation and often singled out for its poor worker treatment and low wages. So for McMillon to urge not just a legislated increase but legislation that builds in ongoing increases is no small development and sends a strong signal from corporate America about how necessary addressing workers’ wages is.
Trump, to date, has not listened.
*Recently over 600 companies and industrial trade associations penned a letter to Trump urging him to end the tariffs on China and cease the ongoing trade war, underscoring the how the tariffs damage the economy, lead to job losses, and harm consumers. Retailers, manufacturers, and tech companies alike weighed in, highlighting the severe and negative effects of the tariffs on farmers, businesses, and families.
Trump, to date, has not listened.
*A recent survey indicates that fully sixty percent of millionaires support the millionaire tax proposed by Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren. The tax would cost millionaires 2 cents on every dollar they earn over fifty million and 3 cents on every dollar over one billion.
Trump, to date, has not listened. In fact, he continues to label Warren and other democrats “socialists” for such proposals that involve increasing taxes on the wealthiest Americans.
He does not listen to the leaders and winners in U.S. capitalism.
So to whom is Trump listening? Or, whose interests is he serving?
Well, according to global experts, the ongoing trade war with China has been encouraging an alliance between China and Russia which poses a significant threat to the U.S. on the global political and economic stage.
As Jonathan Hill has reported for Global Risk Insights, “As sanctions continue, Sino-Russian relations – in many ways a pragmatic response to Western reproach – have been steadily developing. Russia’s eastward leaning strategy, or its ‘pivot to Asia,’ is largely coming in the form of energy relations and military cooperation with China.”
And Andrea Kendall-Taylor and David Shullman have reported in Foreign Affairs, “Russia and China have long shared a common complaint: since the end of the Cold War, both powers have been uneasy with the United States and the international order it dominates, which they feel disadvantages them. But although Russia and China may have initially banded together in discontent, their repeated interactions are fostering a deeper and enduring partnership.”
Trump’s trade war only fuels this partnership, and corporate and economic leaders suggest the trade war only hurts the U.S. economy, businesses, and workers.
And Trump continues to cozy up to Putin, who certainly has no interest in a powerful America with a successful economy, stable political system, and unified nation.
Let’s also remember our recent history of Trump policies that seem influenced by foreign powers and designed to further foreign interests:
*Let’s not forget that the Republicans were complicit with Trump in altering the Republican platform at the 2016 GOP convention to weaken support for Ukraine, thus making the Ukraine more vulnerable to Russian aggression. Putin could not have penned the platform any more favorably for Russia.
And the Republican-led Senate voted not to block the White House’s plan to relax sanctions against a Russian aluminum corporation owned in large part by Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, whose name is rampantly attached to one-time Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
Again, could Putin and the other oligarchs have written a better policy?
Let’s not forget that Trump earlier had been spouting Russian talking points rewriting the history of Russia’s invasion of Afghanistan and that his order to withdraw troops from Syria was widely celebrated in Russia as a victory for Putin and understood as motivated by a call from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The Mueller report, obviously, sought to unearth the extent of the Russian interference and to determine to whom Trump was listening.
We can also play Sherlock Holmes and use our deductive reason to detect that his policies and overall governing behaviors do not seem to serve the interests of U.S. corporations or workers, and they are not solidifying the nation’s footing and influence in global affairs (Trump’s disdain for NATO serves Russia).
So, let’s be clear that Trump is not in any way simply serving the wealthy. His policies raise the serious prospect that he’s serving foreign interests and lining his own pockets at the expense of American workers and businesses and, above all, the nation’s security.
Tim Libretti is a professor of U.S. literature and culture at a state university in Chicago. A long-time progressive voice, he has published many academic and journalistic articles on culture, class, race, gender, and politics, for which he has received awards from the Working Class Studies Association, the International Labor Communications Association, the National Federation of Press Women, and the Illinois Woman’s Press Association.