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Heaven Help The Little Guy In This Administration

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Heaven Help The Little Guy In This Administration


With Andrew Puzder’s decision to withdraw from consideration as secretary of labor, advocates for America’s working men and women are doing a little victory dance. Progressive senators, labor unions, and other allies of the working class believe they have managed an important win against an administration of robber barons.

Speaking to low-wage workers rallying near the Capitol on Thursday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., said, “Our voices have been heard. That man will not be secretary of labor.”

Unfortunately, the celebratory dance is premature. Just weeks into his tenure, President Trump has already stuck a sharp stick in the eye of his working-class supporters, and he won’t stop just because one nominee was upended. Puzder’s departure changes nothing.

The nascent Trump administration has generated so much controversy, so much chaos, and so much scandal in its first month or so that it’s hard to keep up with all the damage being done to democratic norms and to basic decency. In a normal administration, the new president would already be undone by his administration’s clearly inappropriate (and quite possibly treasonous) dealings with a foreign rival, Russia.

But this is no normal administration, and these are no normal times. In this hyper-partisan era, when the president and his henchmen dismiss clear and obvious facts, Republican officeholders and their constituents are standing by Trump’s perfidy.

It doesn’t seem to matter that he has already betrayed the promises he made to the white working class, whose economic anxiety is credited with vaulting him into the Oval Office.

Just take a look at the number of hands Trump has hired from Wall Street. He blasted Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton throughout the campaign for her ties to the nation’s wealthy bankers, claiming she would be “totally controlled by Wall Street and all the people that gave her millions.”

But in a stunning display of cynicism, even by political standards, Trump named a wealthy former Goldman Sachs partner, Steven Mnuchin, as secretary of the treasury. He has named Goldman Sachs’ chief operating officer as the head of his Council of Economic Advisers. Indeed, Trump will have one of the wealthiest Cabinets in recent history, having named a lineup of billionaires and millionaires to fill out his team.

And what is that administration doing, with the aid of a Republican Congress? Why, they are busy rolling back the regulations that President Obama put in place to prevent another financial crisis of the sort that struck in 2008.

The financial meltdown was brought to you by Wall Street greed, but its misery was visited on ordinary Americans, who lost their jobs, their homes and their life savings. Trump’s allies couldn’t wait for the chance to reclaim the freewheeling environment that allowed them to make that mess.

And that’s just the beginning. Speaker Paul Ryan and a coterie of ultraconservative Republicans in Congress have long wanted to take an ax to the government programs that aid the poor, including food stamps, housing assistance, and school lunch programs. Never mind that those programs have lifted more white Americans out of poverty than black or brown ones, according to a new study by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a left-leaning think tank. Trump may block Ryan’s efforts to trim Social Security, but he is likely to allow him to diminish other parts of the social safety net.

When all is said and done, then, Puzder’s departure will matter little. Yes, his record showed a corporate leader whose rhetoric was uniquely reprehensible. He once said he preferred robots to human workers because “they’re always polite, they always upsell, they never take a vacation, they never show up late, there’s never a slip-and-fall, or an age, sex, or race discrimination case.”

But Puzder’s confirmation was not thwarted because of his egregious record on labor. He ran into trouble because he supports a generous policy on immigration and also hired an undocumented immigrant as a housekeeper, and several Republican senators objected to that.

Puzder’s replacement, Alexander Acosta, hails from an immigrant background (his parents came from Cuba), and he is a former U.S. attorney. But there is no reason to expect him to have any great compassion or concern for the little guy. Trump’s white working-class supporters are in for nothing but disappointment.

Cynthia Tucker won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 2007. She can be reached at cynthia@cynthiatucker.com.

IMAGE: U.S. President-elect Donald Trump and Vice-President Elect Mike Pence tour a Carrier factory in Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S., December 1, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar

Cynthia Tucker Haynes

Cynthia Tucker Haynes, a veteran newspaper journalist and Pulitzer Prize winner, is a Visiting Professor of Journalism and Charlayne Hunter-Gault Distinguished Writer-in-Residence at the University of Georgia. She is also a highly-regarded commentator on TV and radio news shows.

Haynes was editorial page editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper for 17 years, where she led the development of opinion policy. More recently, she was that newspaper’s Washington-based political columnist. She maintains a syndicated column through Universal Press Syndicate, which is published in dozens of newspapers around the country. Besides winning the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 2007, Haynes has also received numerous other awards, including Journalist of the Year from the National Association of Black Journalists.

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  1. Lynda Groom February 17, 2017

    The ‘little guy’ forgotten by so many and promised so much by the few. Anyone who still believes that this incoming administration is on the side of the ‘little guy’ and small business needs a long vacation or an intervention.

    1. Terrymweikel February 18, 2017

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    2. dpaano February 22, 2017

      And they keep saying “give him a chance,” “give him time,” etc. How long will they need before they suddenly see the light! He’s not going to give anyone in the Rust Belt their jobs back…..those jobs are no longer out there! He’s not going to give them better healthcare for less money….it’s impossible! What’s going to happen is that he’s going to put this country back into a major recession…..if not a depression…..and he won’t even know what happened because he’s so naïve and uninformed that he can’t see it himself! He thinks that if he panders to his so-called followers, it’ll bolster his huge ego, but it’s going to be his downfall! I just hope his followers see the light before we go completely down the tubes!

  2. Aaron_of_Portsmouth February 17, 2017

    To all those who are so enthralled with the personality of Trump, his “straight talk”, his “Tell it like it is style”, thrilled that he’s a billionaire while his most ardent admirers are regarded merely as cannon-fodder, and being “an outsider”—We hope the wool over your eyes is slowly lifting so you can see daylight.
    With all the ballyhoo about draining the swamp, “Make America Great”, “America First and Only”, “JOBS ANYONE? I’ve got Jobs here. Step right up and be the next chump”, the light of day should be apparent to the gullible laddies and lasses old and young who’ve been had.

    Once the all-star Billionaire Club and assorted toadies in the Administration get through operating and dismembering American society and its environment, the landscape in “The Lorax” will look like a verdant landscape relatively speaking. At least with the book(which I’m certain Donald has never read), you can close it whenever you want, and reopen it to page 1—but with a devastated and wrecked society, it’s not so simple.

  3. Joan February 18, 2017

    There was abundant evidence that Trump’s identity as a “blue collar millionaire” was just as fake as his hair, skin color and “reality show”. Trump did not really fool his supporters, they fooled themselves.
    Now they will be complacent in their own demise. They cling to the black and white surety of white wing talk radio, where every thing can be incapsulated in a sound bite. They are embodied by the belief that all their trouble, even the alternative fact ones, are the fault of some “other” – black, brown, Muslim, Jew, LBGT, women, socialist. The same people who are usually the scapegoats.

    1. dpaano February 22, 2017

      And, unfortunately, because of 45’s constant blathering about “false news” and belittling the journalists out there….they actually don’t believe anything that is printed unless it’s put out by FAUX NEWS or Breitbart News…..both of which are notorious for putting out “false news.” No wonder they don’t know what’s going on and how it’s affecting them….they won’t get any of that info from their media sources!

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  5. FireBaron February 19, 2017

    Well, all those “poorly educated” and “low information” voters will now reap what they have sown. They forgot how this guy made what he alleges is his “fortune”, by convincing people to buy into projects he plans on letting fail so he can take the money and run. We have elected a narcissistic brat with the patience of a three-year-old reaching for candy to the most important elected position in the free world.

    The Koch brothers never anticipated this when they started bankrolling the movement that Sarah Palin still believes she started. They wanted Washington shaken up, but instead of getting a Conservative with “stature” (yes, they actually do exist once you get past the bombastic blowhards claiming the title), they got this buffoon. Teflon Donnie keeps promising to back the opponents of anyone who opposes him – let’s see Charles and David, and Shel Addleson put their monies where their interests are and eliminate this entire circus train from the performance circuit. That way, instead of having a reality-tv-personality-and-twitter-in-chief, we will actually have a functional presidency.


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