Democrats on Trump’s first 40 days: He’s not a populist but a fat cat

WASHINGTON — President Trump, in his first 40 days in office, has achieved little other than divisive executive orders on transgender bathrooms and immigration policy while breaking his central campaign promise to put the welfare of working-class Americans above the interests of Wall Street. That’s according to Democratic leaders in Congress who offered a prebuttal to Trump’s first […]

WASHINGTON — President Trump, in his first 40 days in office, has achieved little other than divisive executive orders on transgender bathrooms and immigration policy while breaking his central campaign promise to put the welfare of working-class Americans above the interests of Wall Street. That’s according to Democratic leaders in Congress who offered a prebuttal to Trump’s first joint address to Congress on Tuesday.

“The president hasn’t done very much, but what he has done is forsake his promises to the working class,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a news conference with his House counterpart, Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California. “The portions are small, the food is terrible,” said Schumer.

“President Trump engaged in a bait-and-switch agenda,” Pelosi said.

Speaking to reporters at the National Press Club in Washington, the Democrats gave an autopsy of Trump’s first month in office, an attempt to contrast what the New York businessman promised on the campaign trail to struggling working class Americans with what he’s actually done, repeatedly accusing him of governing from “the far, far right.”

Democrats control neither chamber of Congress, so they have limited ability to make policy. That increases the stakes for them to present a compelling response to Trump’s agenda. The news conference is a preview of what Democrats are likely to say in their official response to his speech before Congress on Tuesday night.

First there’s what Trump has already done, said Pelosi, citing a “cruel deportation dragnet”; handing his National Security council to a “white supremacist,” referring to chief strategist Stephen Bannon; and making “authoritarian choices” including calling the media “the enemy of the people.”

What policy he has made — via a series of executive orders — has benefited corporations over workers, they said. Trump has already taken aim at the so-called fiduciary rule that protects Americans saving for retirement from self-dealing financial advisers as well as one disregarding new overtime protections, a move that is estimated to cut the wages of an estimated 4.2 million workers who make less than $50,000 a year by $12 billion over 10 years, according a Center for American Progress report based on Department of Labor figures. Finally, an executive order aiming to roll back capital requirements for Wall Street could return more than $100 billion to wealthy investors.

Trump has boasted about thwarting the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a foreign trade deal that was already “dead in the water” when he took office, said Schumer.

“When the president talks about a mess, he’s talking about his own first 40 days in office,” Pelosi said. She noted that in contrast, in his first month in office, President Obama achieved an $831 billion stimulus bill and legislation including the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.

Then there’s the things Trump said he would do on his populist, economic platform: mainly an infrastructure bill and pro-worker trade policy. He’s taken action on neither, they said.

Jobs continue to leave the United States despite Trump’s boasts, said Schumer, citing “one-half of one Carrier plant” that was spared because Trump pressured its corporate executives. What’s more, Trump has gone back on his campaign promise to label China a currency manipulator.

On the big promises that could help working America,” said Schumer, “the Trump administration has not even presented a proposal to Congress.”

Finally, Trump will soon present his first annual budget to Congress; and he intends to propose a major increase in military spending that will be offset with spending cuts elsewhere, including at the State Department and Environmental Protection Agency.

The leaders said they were not sure Trump even understands the “ramifications of the cuts” that would be needed. According to Taxpayers for Common Sense, even if the entire EPA and State Department were eliminated it wouldn’t cover the cost of the estimated $54 billion military build-up.

If enacted, the cuts would mean Americans “breathe dirtier air and water,” and are less protected against financial agencies “that try to take advantage of them,” said Schumer.

“It’s hard to see what we could work with him on” because “he’s moved so far away from American values,” Schumer said.

 

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