|The News Line: Feature
Tuesday, 21 March 2017
Trump’s 2018 budget slashes workforce training AFL-CIO
THE AFL-CIO US trade union federation has produced an analysis of President Donald Trump’s 2018 Budget.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka made the following statement regarding Trump’s proposed budget: ‘Working people in states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin didn’t vote for a budget that slashes workforce training and fails to invest in our nation’s infrastructure.
‘President Trump’s proposed budget attempts to balance the budget on the backs of working families. The $54 billion cut to programmes that benefit working families is dangerous and destructive.
‘Huge cuts to the departments of Labour, Education and Transportation will make workplaces less safe, put more children at risk and make improving our failing infrastructure much more difficult. The administration can and should do better.’
The budget abandons the future – slashing investments in workers, communities, young people, protecting our environment and building democracy. There are major cuts in job training, education, health programmes, the environment, the arts and foreign aid. Research programmes in science and medicine are slashed. Sixty-two government programmes/agencies are slated for elimination.
Here are some key highlights:
• Department of Labour: Overall cut $2.5 billion (-20.7%)
The budget makes it harder for workers to get the training they need in order to advance in their industry and to compete globally.
• Department of Health and Human Services: Overall cut $12.6 billion (-16.2%)
People suffering from terminal diseases will be affected by lack of new medicines, and low-income workers will not receive assistance to heat their homes during the cold months of winter.
• Cuts National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding by 18.3% (-$5.8 billion)
• Eliminates the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Programme (LIHEAP), which provides assistance to help low-income people heat and cool their homes
• Eliminates $403 million in health professions and nursing training programmes
• Restructures the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and directs money to states through block grants
• Increases funding for opioid prevention and treatment services by $500 million
• Department of Education: Overall cut $9.2 billion (-13.5%)
This budget would destroy public schools and eliminate much-needed training for teachers. It also makes it harder for young people to go to college.
• Increases funding for school choice by $1.4 billion
• Redirects $418 million to private/charter schools
• Eliminates $2.4 billion for Supporting Effective Instruction state grants
• Reduces or eliminates funding for teacher-preparation programmes (State Teacher Quality/Supporting Effective Instruction grants)
• Eliminates federal funding for before- and after-school and summer-school programmes
• Eliminates the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant programme, which provides grants for students with the greatest need
The Department of State is Overall cut by $10.9 billion (-28.7%)
The budget would harm workers around the world who are standing up to multinational corporations and repressive governments that restrict workers’ rights and lower wages.
It cuts funding for UN programmes and reorganises and consolidates US Agency for International Development (USAID) programmes
There is a Department of Treasury: Overall cut of $0.5 billion (-4.4%) These cuts allow the super-wealthy and corporations to get away with not paying taxes and allow big banks to crush small community banks.
The budget cuts IRS by $239 million. It eliminates funding for the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund. The Department of Transportation is overall cut by $2.4 billion (-12.7%) This will mean less investment in railroads and airlines at a time when our nation has an infrastructure deficit of over $4 trillion.
Air traffic control is privatised while it restructures and cuts federal subsidies for Amtrak. and cuts funding for the Federal Transit Administration’s Capital Investment Grant Programme. There are to be more resources to enforce our nation’s trade laws. Our current trade policy has put corporations ahead of workers – resulting in jobs shipped overseas and lower wages.
The Environmental Protection Agency is Overall cut by $2.6 billion (-31.4%) These cuts will make our drinking water less safe and our air more toxic.
Meanwhile, controversial Iowa Rep. Steve King is once again in hot water for espousing racist, white nationalist views, tweeting that ‘we can’t restore our civilisation with somebody else’s babies.’ He doubled down on his bigoted words over the weekend, telling CNN that ‘I meant exactly what I said.’
King’s latest racist remarks drew praise from Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, who tweeted ‘GOD BLESS STEVE KING,’ and sharp rebukes from just about everyone else, including fellow Republicans in Congress and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, just to name a few.
While this story is making headlines, there’s been scant attention paid to how King’s policy agenda reflects his white nationalist views. King is the author of the federal bill that would impose a right to work scheme nationally, which would be devastating to our country’s economy and would hit workers, especially people of colour, square in the pocketbook.
Backed by an array of wealthy corporations and secret deep-pocketed donors, these laws have proliferated in Republican-controlled states across the country, leading to lower wages and fewer benefits for not just union workers, but all workers in those states.
People of colour – particularly women of colour – are hit hardest by these laws, which fuel income inequality and put their American Dream further out of reach. According to the Economic Policy Institute, wages in right to work states are 3.2% lower than in non-right to work states.
Health insurance and retirement security are scarcer. So why would any policy maker push legislation that lowers wages? One obvious reason is that big corporations love these laws, because they undercut the ability of working people to stand together in a union to demand fair wages and decent benefits for a hard day’s work. But if you look at the history of these laws, there’s an even more sinister reason behind them: racism.
Many attacks on labour unions have roots in white supremacism. University of Arkansas Associate Prof. Michael Pierce explained: ‘Right to work laws originated as means to maintain Jim Crow labour relations and to beat back what was seen as a Jewish cabal to foment a revolution.
‘No one was more important in placing right to work on the conservatives’ political agenda than Vance Muse of the Christian American Association, a larger-than-life Texan whose own grandson described him as “a white supremacist, an anti-Semite and a Communist-baiter, a man who beat on labour unions not on behalf of working people, as he said, but because he was paid to do so.”
‘Which brings us back to King. It’s no coincidence that the most racist member of Congress is also the staunchest supporter of a national right to work scheme. In the view of King and many other extremists, labour unions must be destroyed, because immigrants and people of colour have a better shot at the American Dream when they are able to organise and join unions.
‘Lower wages for everyone, including blue-collar whites, is just collateral damage in King’s view. Supporters of these laws will never admit to the racist origins of right to work. And they certainly won’t cop to the widening inequality gap these laws create. But make no mistake; racism is central to the hidden agenda. Supporting national right to work is tantamount to supporting King’s racist world view. That’s a message every member of Congress needs to hear.’
• Even as the Labour Department awaits confirmation of a new secretary, officials say enforcement actions are moving forward against companies accused of violating workplace safety rules.
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