TRUMPERNOMICS: "The collection of billionaires, bankers, CEOs, generals and social arch-reactionaries that will comprise his cabinet and White House inner circle is pledged to remove all constraints on the ability of the rich to plunder American society for their own personal gain and profit."
Fast-food mogul Andrew Puzder withdraws as Trump labor nominee
By a reporter 16 February 2017
Multimillionaire fast-food boss Andrew Puzder withdrew his nomination to head the Department of Labor Wednesday, in another sign of the deepening political crisis of the Trump administration. He is the first one of Trump’s 16 cabinet picks to fail to win confirmation.
Puzder withdrew after four Republican senators on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee announced they would vote against him, enough to block the nomination in committee, since every Democrat was opposed. Another dozen Republicans had refused to commit themselves to vote for Puzder in a vote on the Senate floor, the first time a Trump nomination has attracted significant Republican opposition.
In the end, the split in the Republicans is what torpedoed the nomination, since the Senate has confirmed a series of Trump nominees by near party-line votes, including Steven Mnuchin for Treasury secretary, by 53-47, and Betsy DeVos to head the Department of Education, by 52-48.
The Democrats had staged their usual for-the-
record opposition, citing Puzder’s opposition
to increasing the minimum wage and his role
as a typically vicious exploiter of workers, for
which the fast-food industry is notorious.
What undermined his support among Republicans however, were two aspects of his personal life: allegations of domestic violence by his first wife, and his hiring of an undocumented woman as a housekeeper, while concealing his payment of wages. He did not pay the back taxes for her employment until nominated to become head of the Department of Labor.
Puzder’s first wife ultimately retracted the domestic violence charge as part of her divorce settlement, but last week a 29-year-old television tape from the Oprah Winfrey Show, in which she detailed the abuse while wearing a disguise, was sent to the US Senate for review. It was widely circulated on Capitol Hill.
Even more significant in the shift among the
Republicans were suggestions from right-wing
groups that Puzder’s hiring of an
undocumented housekeeper was part of a
larger pattern, and that he was insufficiently
militant in his hostility to immigrant workers.
On that basis, the ultra-right
magazine National Review called Wednesday
for the Senate to reject his nomination.
There was also some hostility to Puzder’s nomination among Christian fundamentalist groups over sexually provocative television ads for his hamburger chains. These groups, however, endorsed Trump’s presidential campaign, making it difficult for them to exercise a veto based on such moralizing.
Puzder had the full support of industry groups, including the US Chamber of Commerce, the International Franchise Association, the National Restaurant Association and the National Retail Federation, as well as such Republican Party bigwigs as former presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
US stocks hit new highs following Senate testimony by Fed chief
By Barry Grey 15 February 2017
Wall Street liked what it heard from Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen, who testified Tuesday before the Senate Banking Committee. All of the major US stock indexes, spearheaded by bank shares, closed at new highs, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average gaining 92 points to end the day at 20,504, the Standard & Poor’s 500 index notching a nine point increase to close at 2,337 and the Nasdaq picking up 18 points to finish at 5,782.
The S&P 500 financial index rose 2.8 percent, with shares of Goldman Sachs gaining 1.29 percent and Bank of America rising by 2.82 percent.
Yellen’s appearance, her first before Congress since the inauguration of Donald Trump, was officially for the purpose of introducing the Fed’s semi-annual Monetary Report to Congress, as mandated by the 1978 Humphrey-Hawkins law. The twice-yearly event, hailed when the law was passed as a means of promoting full employment, was long ago reduced to a hollow ritual. On Wednesday, Yellen will complete the process by testifying before the House Financial Services Committee.
In her opening remarks and her responses to questions from committee members, Yellen reaffirmed the US central bank’s intention of gradually raising interest rates while keeping them at historically low levels. In terms of monetary policy, this suits the major Wall Street institutions, which stand to extend their record profits even further under conditions where credit is still cheap but higher rates guarantee better returns on loans.
The banks were also pleased by Yellen’s stated support for Trump’s executive order mandating his treasury secretary, the former Goldman trader Steven Mnuchin, and his top economic adviser, former Goldman President Gary Cohn, to work with the Fed and other government bank overseers to roll back bank regulations. Trump issued the order two weeks ago as part of his stated policy of dismantling the 2010 Dodd-Frank bank act, which imposed minor restraints on the banks following the Wall Street crash of 2008.
While Yellen, urged on by Democrats on the Senate committee, defended Dodd-Frank, she repeatedly stated her support for “mitigating” the regulatory “burden” on financial firms and declared her support for the “core principles” laid down in Trump’s order.
There was considerable discussion during the hearing on the impending resignation, announced last Friday, of Daniel Tarullo, the Fed Board of Governors member who served during the Obama administration as the central bank’s point man in enforcing the Dodd-Frank regulations. Tarullo’s resignation brings to three the number of vacancies on the seven-person Board of Governors, giving Trump an opportunity to significantly shift the balance at the Fed even more strongly in favor of Wall Street.
In her opening remarks, Yellen painted a generally rosy picture of the US economy while acknowledging that the gross domestic product rose by only 1.9 percent in 2016, the same as 2015. This is by far the slowest rate of economic growth for any period designated by the government as an economic “recovery” since World War II. The main negative feature to which she pointed was chronically low productivity growth.
What she did not explain is that low productivity growth is linked to a low level of productive investment. This, in turn, reflects the degree to which the so-called “recovery” from the Great Recession is centered on the stock market and the speculative and parasitical activities of banks and hedge funds, rather than the real economy.
Yellen also hinted at the potentially negative impact on the economy of uncertainty over fiscal and “other” policies of the Trump administration. She warned indirectly of a surge of debt as a result of Trump’s plans to slash corporate taxes, dramatically increase military spending and provide a financial windfall for corporations awarded infrastructure contracts.
“I would also hope,” she said, “that fiscal policy changes will be consistent with putting US fiscal accounts on a sustainable trajectory.”
There was little discussion, either in Yellen’s remarks or in the ensuing question-and-answer period, of the “America First” protectionist trade and monetary policies of the new administration. This is under conditions where attacks by Trump officials on Germany and the euro, China and the renminbi, and multi-lateral trade agreements in general have provoked sharp rejoinders from nominal US allies.
Last week, European Central Bank Chief Mario Draghi denied Trump’s charges of a deliberately undervalued euro, and the Financial Times editorialized: “If it continues this course, the Trump administration is a clear and present danger to the global trading and monetary system. Other countries must stand ready to resist bullying, and not to let the US drive wedges between them.”
In the question period of Tuesday’s hearing, Republican senators generally attacked Dodd-Frank as an intolerable burden on the banks and impediment to economic growth. They echoed Trump, who has called the law a “disaster,” and his advisor Gary Cohn, who claims the law “shackles” the banks.
For their part, the Democrats
characterized the law as a major
reform of the banking system and
defended the regulatory status quo. In
reality, Dodd-Frank is a toothless
reform that was passed as part of the
series of measures by which the
Obama administration rescued the
banks and the financial aristocracy at a
cost of trillions of dollars.
It was enacted in large measure to provide political cover for the bank bailout and the “quantitative easing” monetary policies that pumped trillions of dollars of virtually free money into the financial markets, fueling a three-fold-plus rise in the Dow and a further transfer of wealth from the bottom to the top. It has done virtually nothing to rein in the banks, which have recorded record profits even as the real economy has stagnated and tens of millions of working people have grown poorer.
The most absurd and brazen defense of Dodd-Frank was offered by the representative of the supposed left wing of the Democratic Party and ostensible scourge of Wall Street, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren. In her round of questioning, she prompted Yellen to debunk Republican claims that Dodd-Frank was hamstringing US banks, preventing them from lending, and weakening them in relation to foreign banks.
She defended Dodd-Frank essentially on the grounds that it was a boon to Wall Street, declaring that “our banks” are making “record profits,” that “commercial and consumer lending is robust,” and that “our banks are blowing away our competitors.”
She held up an issue of the Wall Street Journal with the headline “US Banks Report Record Profit in Third Quarter” and urged that it be entered into the record of the hearing.
NAFTA, the BUSH, CLINTON(S), and
OBAMA DEVICE TO DESTROY THE AMERICAN MIDDLE-CLASS…. Is it working? “This nation no longer is a democratic
republic...rather it has become a tool of the super-rich members of the above
mentioned elite who preselect our presidents based on their cooperation and
complicity with the elite’s ultimate goals. Obama has, in their opinion done
superbly carrying out the plans well laid out for him by his backers.”
Confirmation vote as farce: Senate approves billionaire enemy of public schools as secretary of education
By Niles Niemuth
8 February 2017
Billionaire Betsy DeVos was confirmed as secretary of education by vote of 51 to 50 in the Senate Tuesday with Vice
President Mike Pence casting the tie-breaking vote, marking the first time in US history that such a vote was necessary to confirm a cabinet secretary.
Tuesday’s vote was the culmination of four days
of stage-managed and increasingly farcical play-acting, in which Senate Democrats pretended to be putting up a ferocious battle against DeVos, while Senate Republicans pretended to be manning the barricades on her behalf.
In reality, the outcome was determined well in advance. The two Republicans who “broke” with their party to oppose DeVos undoubtedly cleared their actions in advance with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who can afford exactly two defections given the 52-48 Republican
majority, and gave them permission.
The Democrats seized on the prospective 50-50 tie to conduct a 24-hour, round-the-clock “debate” highlighted by liberal
Senator Elizabeth Warren’s plea for “just one more Republican” to defeat the nomination. Throughout this exercise in empty demagogy, in which the Democrats
claimed to be the defenders of public education and oppose its destruction, every Democrat who spoke was aware that DeVos would be confirmed by virtue of Vice President Pence’s tie-breaking vote.
Moreover, the previous Democratic administration, with Barack Obama in the White House and his Chicago crony Arne Duncan as head of the Department of Education, was an unmitigated disaster for public education. More than 300,000 teachers and other school workers lost their jobs under the Obama administration, which through programs like Race to the Top encouraged the growth of charter schools and other efforts to privatize and weaken public school systems.
For all the Democratic chest-thumping about opposing Donald Trump, DeVos is the first of Trump’s cabinet nominees to be confirmed without any Democratic support. Some Democrats have voted for every one of previous six cabinet nominees to be confirmed, and in many cases the
votes have been overwhelming. Fourteen of the 48 Democrats had voted for the first five Trump nominees, only defecting in the confirmation of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and now DeVos.
Trump’s pick to head the Department of Defense, recently retired General James “Mad Dog” Mattis, was overwhelming approved last
month by a vote 98 to 1, receiving the support of nearly every Democrat in the Senate, including so-called “progressives” Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
An ideological opponent of public education, DeVos has donated millions of dollars to politicians and lobbying groups that support the funneling of tax dollars to private and religious schools through voucher programs and removing oversight of education spending through the establishment
of charter schools.
DeVos is associated with some of the furthest right-wing conservative figures and groups in the US.
Her father-in-law Richard DeVos, founder of the Amway pyramid scheme, played leadership roles in a variety of right-wing groups including Focus on the Family, the American Enterprise Institute and the FreedomWorks Foundation. Her brother Erik Prince is the founder of the notorious military contractor and mercenary firm once known as Blackwater.
In 2000, DeVos and her husband, Richard DeVos,
former CEO and heir of the Amway corporation fortune, spent $5.6 million on a ballot initiative that would have amended the Michigan state constitution to create a voucher program. The initiative was overwhelmingly rejected by voters.
DeVos has also spent her money founding a variety of organizations that buy politicians’ support for the privatization of public education including All Children Matter, the Alliance for School Choice and the American Federation for Children. From 1995 to 2005, DeVos funded and sat on the Board of Directors of the Action Institute, a right-wing outfit that has advocated for the elimination of compulsory education and child labor laws.
After decades of pushing for the complete destruction of public education, DeVos will now direct the agency responsible for providing federal funding to public schools, collecting pertinent data, and enforcing privacy and civil rights laws regarding education.
During Senate committee confirmation hearings, DeVos exhibited her complete ignorance regarding federal education laws and made clear her fundamental conflicts of interest.
With no experience in public education, DeVos earned her nomination from President Donald Trump to head of the Department of Education as a result of her ideological hostility to public education; she joins a host of Trump appointees who have expressed opposition to the missions
of their respective departments.
Additionally, DeVos was able to attain her position through the massive amounts of money she and her family have funneled into the coffers of the Republican Party and the campaigns of a host of Republicans candidates. She admitted during Senate committee hearings that she and her family had donated $200 million to Republican candidates over the last few decades.
In the last election cycle, DeVos and her family donated $2.25 million to the Senate Leadership Fund and $900,000 to the
National Republican Senatorial Committee. She personally donated a total of $1 million to 21 of the Republican senators who voted for her confirmation.
As a supplement to the backwardness represented
by DeVos, it was announced at the end of last month that Trump had appointed religious obscurantist Jerry Falwell, Jr., son of the televangelist huckster and founder of Moral Majority, to lead a special panel tasked with eliminating
and curbing federal regulations on education.
Falwell is the president of Liberty University, a private Christian university based in Lynchburg, Virginia, which teaches creationism and maintains a code of conduct that forbids pre-marital sex and homosexual relationships among its student population. Students can be fined for attending a dance, visiting alone with a member of the opposite sex off
campus, or engaging in “inappropriate personal contact.”
The Christian fundamentalist was Trump’s first pick to lead the Department of Education but he turned down the position. He will now essentially join the Trump administration without facing a Senate confirmation vote.
Speaking to the Chronicle of Higher Education, Falwell made clear that he would use his task force to play a leading role in shaping federal education policy. “The task force will
be a big help to [DeVos]. It will do some of the work for her,” he said.
The new reports show that in addition to
“traditional” coping strategies of skipping meals and eating cheap food, these
teens and pre-teens are increasingly forced into shoplifting, stealing, selling
drugs, joining a gang, or selling their bodies for money in a struggle to eat
Trump met last week with pharmaceutical industry lobbyists and executives at the White House where he announced his plans to drastically reduce the regulatory power of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) while slashing taxes on the pharmaceutical industry.
Participants at Tuesday’s meeting included
Stephen Ubl, head of the drug industry trade
group PhRMA, and the CEOs of Novartis,
Merck, Eli Lilly, and Johnson & Johnson.
Trump has demagogically postured as a critic of the pharmaceutical industry, including calling for rule changes to allow the federal government to use the bulk purchasing power of Medicare to negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies.
“Pharma has a lot of lobbies, a lot of lobbyists and a lot power,” Trump said at his first press conference as president-elect on January 11. He said that it was necessary to “create new bidding procedures for the drug industry, because they’re getting away with murder.”
Trump has now abandoned any pretense of opposition.
“We’re going to be changing a lot of the rules,” Trump proclaimed prior to the meeting.
“I’ll oppose anything that makes it harder for smaller, younger companies to take the risk of bringing their product to a vibrantly competitive market. That includes price-fixing by the biggest dog in the market, Medicare, which is what’s happening,” Trump told reporters after the meeting, reversing his previous position on allowing Medicare to negotiate prices and falsely stating that the program currently does so.
“We’re going to be lowering taxes, we’re going to be getting rid of regulations that are unnecessary,” said Trump. He said that he wants to get rid of 75 or 80 percent of FDA regulations.
Biotech and Pharmaceutical stock shares rallied following the meeting, and Trump’s plan was met with approval by the industry lobbyists and CEOs gathered at the meeting.
“Tax, deregulation—those are things that could really help us expand operations,” commented Eli Lilly CEO Dave Ricks, according to Reuters.
“These changes are going to be great for the country,” Celgene Chairman Robert Hugin told the Washington Post.
The deregulation of the FDA and the streamlining of the drug approval process will result in less knowledge about the safety and efficacy of the drugs approved by the FDA.
“Streamlining drug approvals sounds good, but the agency has already weakened approval standards and patients are paying the price—hugely expensive drugs that don’t even work,” Diana Zuckerman, president of the National Center for Health Research, told the New York Times.
Dr. Michael Carome, the director of Public Citizen’s health research group, noted in a statement that Trump’s proposal would “destroy the ability of the agency to protect patients and consumers from unsafe or ineffective medications and medical devices, hazardous foods and dietary supplements, and dangerous tobacco products.”
“The end result would be countless preventable deaths, injuries and illnesses across the US,” he said.
These risks have already been heightened by the bipartisan legislation passed late last year, the 21st Century Cures Act. The Act significantly rolls back the regulatory authority of the FDA, lowers the standards that must be met before a drug is approved, and expands expedited approvals.
The FDA will be further hindered by Trump’s executive orders instituting a hiring freeze and the rule that two regulations must be removed for every new one.
“That will cripple the FDA’s ability to do anything other than regulate by non-binding guidance documents,” David Vladeck, a professor at Georgetown University Law Center, told the Washington Post.
“To hollow out the agency’s authority by forbidding it from dealing with emerging issues through new regulations, and perhaps even giving guidance will jeopardize consumers and threaten the reputation of the agency around the world,” Vladeck said.
Trump tied his criticism of high drug prices to his “America First” rhetoric of economic nationalism, attacking “global freeloading” through “foreign price controls.”
“Our trade policy will prioritize that foreign countries pay their fair share for U.S.-manufactured drug, so our drug companies have greater financial resources to accelerate development of new cures, and I think that’s so important,” Trump said.
Instead of allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices, which Trump referred to as “price fixing,” he claimed that competition spurred by deregulation and tax cuts would bring down drug prices.
This approach will do nothing to address skyrocketing drug prices in the United States, which have doubled since 2011 and are up to ten times higher in the US than in other countries.
The pharmaceutical industry, which continues to consolidate through mergers and acquisitions, is notorious for dodging competition when it threatens the bottom line. For example, drug companies will often raise prices almost simultaneously with their competitors, a practice known as “shadow pricing.” When a drug is about to go off patent, companies will often pay potential generic competitors to hold off on introducing generic versions in “pay-for-delay” deals.
Moreover, there is little evidence that high drug prices are due to the costs associated with researching and developing drugs. According to an article published in August of last year in the Journal of the American Medical Association, large pharmaceutical companies invest only 10 to 20 percent of their revenue in R&D. The authors cite an analysis that looked at 26 products or product classes over the past 25 years and found that more than half originated in publicly funded research centers.
The authors of the article conclude that “there is little evidence of an association between research and development costs and drug prices; rather, prescription drugs are priced in the United States primarily on the basis of what the market will bear.”
In response to Trump’s meeting, Democrats continued to perpetuate illusions in the president’s demagogic attacks on the pharmaceutical industry, with Senator Bernie Sanders and Maryland representative Elijah Cummings issuing a joint statement saying they “hope” Trump “really” takes on the industry.
“I look forward to working with President Trump on this issue if he is serious about standing up to the pharmaceutical industry and reducing drug prices,” Sanders said after Trump’s meeting.
The Trump administration has not yet named its nominee for FDA commissioner, who would be charged with “streamlining” the agency. Four possible nominees have been mentioned, all of whom favor weakening FDA regulations.
Jim O’Neill, an associate of Trump transition adviser and Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel, is a managing director at Thiel’s Mithril Capital Management. He has called for changing FDA regulations to allow pharmaceutical companies to begin marketing drugs before they have been shown to be effective.
“We should reform FDA so it is approving drugs after their sponsors have demonstrated safety, and let people start using them at their own risk, but not much risk, of safety,” O’Neill said in a 2014 speech.
Balaji Srinivasan, another Thiel associate, is the CEO and co-founder of 21 Inc., which develops software and hardware for bitcoin micropayments, and was a co-founder and chief technical officer at Counsyl, a company that developed a prenatal genetic test for chromosome-related birth defects.
“Drug development shows that modern regimen is not necessary for safe innovation,” Srinivasan said in a tweet in December.
Scott Gottlieb is a former FDA deputy commissioner and venture capitalist who has worked with numerous drug companies. He is currently a resident fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute.
Finally, the Trump transition team has spoken with Dr. Joseph Gulfo about possibly heading the FDA. Gulfo, a former CEO of drug and medical device companies, has criticized the FDA for delaying approvals by requiring clinical trials demonstrating that a drug is effective, and has called on the FDA to rely more on “biomarkers” rather than actual clinical outcomes. He says that any attempts to impose price controls on drugs would be “punishing” the pharmaceutical industry.
The positions of the potential nominees are at odds with a report released by the FDA last month showing that reducing drug approval standards would pose greater financial and health risks for patients.
The report highlighted 22 case studies of drugs, vaccines and medical devices tested since 1999 where promising data from smaller and shorter phase 2 clinical trials, which often rely on biomarkers instead of clinical outcomes, diverged from the larger phase 3 randomized controlled trials. The phase 3 studies failed to confirm phase 2 findings on effectiveness (14 cases), safety (1 case), or both (7 cases).
“As a result of the Phase III studies discussed in this paper, patients outside of clinical trials were not subjected to drugs that would not benefit them or to the risk of unnecessary serious toxicities, and did not suffer unnecessary financial expenditures. Where effective alternative therapies existed, they were not diverted from proven treatments; where an implanted medical device was at issue, patients were spared unnecessary surgical procedures,” the report concludes.
“Under Obama, not a single leading banker was prosecuted for the
criminal activities that led to the biggest financial disaster and deepest
slump since the 1930s, destroying the jobs, life savings and living standards
of tens of millions of workers in the US and around the world.”
Draft White House orders
would accelerate deportation of low-income immigrants
By Eric London
2 February 2017
According to aWashington Postreport Tuesday, the White House is
preparing two executive orders that dramatically expand the Trump
administration’s attack on immigrant workers, targeting especially those immigrants,
with or without papers, who make use of public services such as food stamps,
Medicaid or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.
The newspaper published copies of the two draft
executive orders, as well as accompanying memoranda urging Trump to sign the
One draft order pledges to “[i]dentify and
remove, as expeditiously as possible, any alien who has become a public charge
and is subject to removal.” The order would expand on Trump’s threat to
prioritize for deportation those undocumented workers who have criminal
convictions or have merely been accused of a crime. In effect, receiving
federal benefits to which they were legally entitled would be treated as a
semi-criminal act, moving recipients up the priority list for deportation.
The memorandum accompanying this draft order,
written by White House staffer Andrew Bremberg, argues, “The immigration laws
must ensure the United States does not welcome individuals who are likely to
become or have become a burden on taxpayers.”
The language of the order suggests that the
Trump administration intends to expand the attack on immigrants receiving
federal benefits to include those holding legal visas and work permits, or even
green cards. It mandates the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security
to draft new rules—subject to public comment and review before enactment—under
which “any alien” would be “subject to removal” if they have “become a public
The order goes on to claim that “households
headed by aliens are much more likely than those headed by citizens to use
Federal means-tested public benefits,” and it requires various federal
departments to collect and publish statistics to prove this charge.
The first draft order would also eliminate the
Child Tax Credit for those immigrants without Social Security numbers who still
pay taxes, and would also allow the government to “seek reimbursement from all
sponsors of immigrants for the costs of Federal means-tested public benefits
provided to sponsored immigrants.” In other words, the husbands, wives,
children, parents, and employers of immigrants who sponsor an immigrant’s
petition would be forced to pay for any benefits their relative or employee
The proposed draft sheds light on what the
content of the term “extreme vetting” means for those attempting to enter the
US. The order also instructs the agencies to “deny admission to any alien who
is likely to become a public charge.” Under current immigration law, immigrants
must already prove that they have relatives who can house them and ensure they
will not become dependent on government programs. While the Obama
administration treated this as one factor in whether an immigrant was
admissible, the proposed new order would require denial of admission.
A second draft order is aimed at closing
employment opportunities for legal immigrants. It calls for a review of all
work-related visas and a tightening of employment options for those without
work authorization: those who enter the United States on student or tourist
It is already difficult for undocumented workers
to acquire work permits. Usually this can be done once an immigrant has filed a
petition to adjust their immigration status, to apply for asylum, or to gain
immigrant benefits through a spouse or employer, but otherwise such migrants
must work in the shadows.
This draft order contains language aimed at
presenting the persecution of immigrants as an effort to help American-born
workers, and particularly minorities: “The unlawful employment of aliens has
had a devastating impact on the wages and jobs of American workers, especially
low-skilled, teenage, and African-American and Hispanic workers.” This is a particularly
cynical lie, given Trump’s adamant opposition to increasing the minimum wage
and fund programs to assist these more oppressed layers of the working class.
The second order instructs the government to
begin “publishing data in a format easy for the public to understand regarding
immigration patterns to the United States and a detailed description of the
effect of immigration on wages and employment of US workers since FY 2000.”
There are detailed instructions for the kinds of statistics to be collected,
strongly suggesting that the new administration intends to launch a propaganda
campaign scapegoating immigrant workers for the further driving down of living
standards as a result of the decline of American capitalism.
The Trump administration hopes to pit workers
against one another along racial and national lines. Trump is cynically
attempting to convince black workers that their enemy is immigrant workers when
he claims that undocumented workers have “a devastating impact” on the wages of
“African-American” workers. The same applies to Trump’s appeals to “teenage”
workers and “disadvantaged youth.”
By claiming that workers’ benefits and social
programs are threatened by immigrants, Trump hopes to channel workers’ anger
away from the true source of the attacks on living standards: the corporations
and banks that dominate Trump’s cabinet and will dictate the policies of his
Far from generating funds that would be used to
help working people, the crackdown on immigrants will come at the expense of
the entire working class. A recent report from the American Action Forum found
that deporting all undocumented workers would cost between $400 and $600
billion. Since Trump also proposes slashing taxes on the wealthy and on
corporations, there is no question the working class will foot the bill.
This vast sum will be used to hire an army of
lawyers, ICE officers, and to build a network of internment camps to imprison
the over 11 million deportees. At a press conference Tuesday of officials of
the Department of Homeland Security, the interim head of Immigration and
Customs Enforcement confirmed, in response to one reporter’s question, that ICE
was looking to greatly expand its detention facilities.
The attacks on access to benefits for immigrants
are a warning that the government plans to limit access to social programs for
all workers. Efforts to kick migrants off of social programs are a sign that
the administration’s top priority is cutting spending on public benefits, while
drastically expanding government spending on war and police-state surveillance.
The release of the two drafts indicates that the
Trump administration is planning to intensify its attacks on immigrants. In so
doing, Trump has the support of his newly-appointed Department of Homeland
Security Secretary John Kelly, who pledged his full support for the already
enacted executive orders during Tuesday’s press conference.
“This analysis is long overdue and strongly
supported by the department’s career intelligence officials,” the ex-Marine
general said. Repeating the lies used to justify every attack on democratic
rights over the last 15 years, he said: “We cannot gamble with American lives.
I will not gamble with American lives. These orders are a matter of national
These words make the Democratic Party
politically responsible for every element of the Trump attack on immigration.
The overwhelming majority of Democratic senators voted to confirm Kelly last
week, including Bernie Sanders, Tim Kaine, Charles Schumer and Al Franken. This
exposes the fraud of the Democrats’ proclamations of support for immigrants. It
was Democratic President Barack Obama who deported 2.5 million immigrants and
who bombed or imposed sanctions on each of the seven countries listed in
Trump’s Muslim ban.
The Democratic Party is responsible for passing
the laws cited in Trump’s executive orders. The Democrats provided the
necessary votes for the passage of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant
Responsibility Act of 1996, which was signed by President Bill Clinton, and for
the Secure Fence Act of 2006, which was supported by then-senators Barack
Obama, Hillary Clinton, Joseph Biden and Charles Schumer. The opposition to
Trump must be built on the basis of a turn to the working class, the class which
produces all of society’s wealth and shares common interests across national
The unstated conclusion is that the Democrats are concerned about a political movement from below, sparked by both the attacks of the Trump administration and the spineless capitulation of the Democratic Party, that threatens all the institutions of American capitalism.