At this point in his term, President Donald Trump — a phrase that still feels like a sick joke when I type it out — has caused an unimaginable amount of suffering for the millions of people over whom he unfortunately wields power. It’s nearly impossible to pinpoint any positive impacts that his tenure in office has had on anyone who isn’t already extremely wealthy, and yet, a core component of the messaging for his reelection campaign centers around what he’s allegedly done for the American worker. It is no secret that Trump holds the poor and working class in utter contempt and has cheated hundreds of those who have worked on his own projects out of their hard-earned wages.
The man who styles himself a “blue-collar billionaire” is a spoiled grifter who was bankrolled and bailed out by his wealthy father, and — as a bombshell New York Times report recently revealed — has barely paid a dime in income taxes. He lavishes praise on police unions while siphoning power away from the actual labor movement; is actively working to suppress voter turnout among marginalized populations; and is a generally unpleasant, thoroughly wretched excuse for a leader who has never worked an honest day in his life.
Yet as the 2020 presidential election nears, he continues to court the working class vote via nativist, exclusionary policies like his neo-fascist “America First” platform, which tokenizes U.S.-born workers at the expense of immigrants and migrant workers. His bumbling trade wars with foreign countries like China have been a disaster and hurt U.S. businesses. Trump’s obsession with the conservative white male working class belies the fact that people of color will soon compose the lion’s share of the working class in this country. (And happen to be demographics who generally aren’t exactly thrilled with Trump’s authoritarian agenda). Joe Biden may be a pale facsimile of a union man, but Trump is nothing but a rotten scab.
Don’t just take my word for it, though. The Economic Policy Institute, a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank focused on (duh) economic policy, recently released a report outlining 50 ways that the Trump administration has been bad for workers. It’s a grim survey of the dozens of dirty tricks that Trump has pulled on organized labor, marginalized workers, and the U.S. working class in general in favor of corporate vampires and right-wing ghouls, all while insisting that he’s actually “fighting” for his own idealized version of the American worker.
To the Trump regime, one of the key words there is “American.” Trump’s entire campaign and administration has been built upon the mission of demonizing, disenfranchising, imprisoning, and otherwise harming immigrants. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of 2019, immigrant workers make up over 17% of the workforce, and are overrepresented in low-paid, high-risk industries like material moving and construction. Yet these full-time wage and salary workers still make only 85% of what their native-born counterparts take home. Immigration and immigrants’ rights are crucial labor issues, and unsurprisingly, Trump has failed to deliver anything but vitriol.
In June 2020, he suspended the issuance of permanent immigrant visas, or green cards. According to the report, his administration has lobbied to lower wages for agricultural workers, to slash safety regulations at slaughterhouses, and put meatpacking plant workers’ safety at risk during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Immigrants are disproportionately represented among the plants’ workforce, which have seen some of the highest levels of COVID-19 transmission in the country. He’s been working overtime to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and while thus far the courts have resisted his whims, if he actually succeeds, it will have a massive negative impact on the workforce. As the EPI writes, “DACA has been one of the most successful immigrant integration programs ever, allowing recipients to have labor rights that have translated into massive wage gains and that make it more difficult for employers to exploit immigrant workers and the U.S.-born workers who work alongside them.”