Trump’s Budget The Most Significant Betrayal Yet Of Working People


US PRESIDENT Trump’s Budget betrays working people, says a statement by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka on Trump’s Financial Year 2018 budget proposal.

The US union federation leader said on Tuesday: ‘President Donald Trump’s budget is the most significant betrayal yet of the working people he claims to support. This budget is a blueprint for how to rig the rules of the economy to favour the wealthy and corporations, while taking away our freedoms and protections at work.

‘The proposals presented in this budget defund core programmes that are vital to working families.

‘Breaking Trump’s promise from the campaign trail, this budget slashes $1.5 trillion from Medicaid, $59 billion from Medicare and up to $64 billion from Social Security.

‘It strips funding for workplace safety research by 40% and totally wipes out health and safety training and investigations of chemical accidents, putting more working people at higher risk of dying on the job.

‘It starves our children of the education they deserve by cutting $10.6 billion in education and $143 billion in student loan funds that help students afford college. And it forces a 6% pay cut on the people who make our government work. The ultimate insult of this budget is that all of these sacrifices are levied on working families in order to justify massive tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations.’

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) union said: ‘President Donald Trump’s proposed budget for next year would be horrible for anyone who isn’t wealthy or a corporate titan. The White House’s plan, released last night, would provide huge tax cuts to rich people like Trump and corporations and slash funding for many of the programmes that millions of lower- and middle-class Americans depend on every day.

‘The plan, which Congress must act on, includes an $800 billion cut to Medicaid as well as steep reductions in spending on education, health care, meal-assistance programmes for children and senior citizens, infrastructure, transportation, housing and Social Security. In case you forgot, candidate Trump vowed not to touch Medicaid or Social Security.’

AFSCME President Lee Saunders called the budget ‘a moral and economic disaster’. In a statement, Saunders said: ‘The cuts proposed in this plan will not only hurt children and the elderly, but also diminish the quality of life for millions of families nationwide, all to give massive tax breaks to corporations and the wealthy.’

He added: ‘President Trump campaigned on a promise to lift up the forgotten man and woman.

‘But his budget does nothing to support job-creating investments to help working people who are struggling to get by.’

The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) stressed that federal and state funding is vitally important for our public schools to help children. It added: ‘In Van Wert, Ohio, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos saw examples of great public schools in this rural area that voted big-time for Donald Trump.’

The AFT said: ‘She saw the importance of early childhood education, observed hands-on learning in robotics classes, and learned about after-school programmes, including a senior project that helps provide backpacks filled with food for the weekend to kids who receive free and reduced-price lunch.

‘Just look at what the DeVos budget proposes:

• While Trump and DeVos chose private schools for their kids, with small class sizes, they want to eliminate the federal funding that helps America’s public schools lower class sizes.

• While Trump and DeVos can afford whatever their children and grandchildren need or want, and while Ivanka Trump got $19 billion for her parental leave project, the budget completely zeros out all current federal programmes that keep millions of poor kids safe and well-fed in after-school and summer programmes.

• Trump says there is nothing more important than being a teacher, but he eliminates the loan forgiveness programme that helps students pursue teaching careers, eliminates funding for teacher preparation and educator support, and guts most other programmes that alleviate student debt or make college more affordable.

• Trump says vocational education is the way of the future yet slashes career and technical education funding.

• DeVos promised not to hurt children with special needs, but the budget cuts one-quarter of the Medicaid funding that now pays for essential school-based services like physical therapists, feeding tubes and other medical equipment, and health screenings. Tell Betsy DeVos that our kids deserve better. She must stop her crusade for private, religious schools and failed voucher programs and fully fund public education.’

De Vos on Monday night had accused critics of hindering innovation. She claimed that Trump’s budget, which would cut education 13 per cent, a ‘historic investment’ in students. DeVos gave a speech praising President Donald Trump’s plans for the ‘most ambitious expansion of education choice in our nation’s history’ a day before his administration released a budget proposal that would slash Education Department funding by more than $9 billion.

‘The time has expired for “reform”. We need a transformation – a transformation that will open up America’s closed and antiquated education system,’ DeVos said at the American Federation for Children’s annual National Policy Summit in Indianapolis. Defenders of our current system have been regularly resistant to any meaningful change. In resisting, these “flat-earthers” have chilled creativity and stopped American kids from competing at the highest levels.’

DeVos has made significant donations to a Michigan private school that taught creationism alongside evolution in science classes and has served on its board. A billionaire who has long been involved in education advocacy, DeVos has pushed for school choice and reforms that would benefit parochial and private schools.

School choice policies include expanding charter schools and voucher programmes that let students use the public dollars allocated for their schooling to enroll in different districts or in charter or private schools. Critics see school choice as destroying public education, particularly poorer school districts and their students. Trump’s 2018 budget, released on Tuesday, calls for a 13 per cent decrease in funding for the Education Department and major changes to student loan programmes.

For K-12 education, it would actually increase funding for school choice initiatives, adding $1 billion in grants for school districts, $167 million for a charter school programme and $250 million for a programme that gives low-income families scholarships for private and parochial schools. The cuts will hit various programmes that enjoy broad bipartisan support, including state grants for career and technical education and the federal work-study programme.

A $2.3 billion programme that supports professional development and class-size reduction would be eliminated, as would $1.2 billion in grants for after-school and summer school programmes used by nearly 2 million students.

• Protesting at United Airlines’ annual shareholder meeting, dozens of airline food workers called out the embattled airline for its role in perpetuating indignities against both airline passengers and airline catering workers.

They announced that they will be keeping up the pressure in June with a multi-city tour of the East Coast. Inside the shareholder meeting, Bharat Patel, a dishwasher in the airline catering kitchen servicing United Airlines flights at O’Hare, asked United’s executives: ‘Do you think I should be paid less than the Chicago minimum wage?’

Shortly after the City of Chicago increased its airport minimum wage and its city minimum wage, United Airlines chose to switch airline catering companies, to one in the suburbs. Patel and many of his coworkers make less than the Chicago minimum wage, and some more than $3 below the $13.15 hourly wage required for some O’Hare airport workers.

Chicago food workers serving United are not alone. In several cities, other airline food workers are paid less than airport minimum wages required of other employers. Meanwhile, the airline industry is booming, with 2016 profits reaching a record $35 billion for US carriers.

Workers earning as little as $7.90 an hour say that it’s clear these record profits have translated into neither record customer service for airline passengers nor to dignified wages and working conditions for thousands of airline catering food workers.

At the rally outside the United meeting, workers announced that beginning June 10 they will embark on the ‘Fed Up!’ tour – a caravan of 13 airline food workers from across the United States and allies – who will travel through Charlotte, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia on their way to New York City and American Airlines’ annual shareholder meeting. They invited disgruntled passengers to join them.

‘My co-workers are dependable, long-term employees,’ said Dharon Golding, an airline food worker serving Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. ‘We go the extra mile to make sure that flights are able to take off on time, and that’s helped make the airlines a lot of money. But workers like me struggle to pay for basics like day care. We deserve our fair share of this industry, and this Fed Up Tour is just one way we’ll be making our voices heard.’