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American workers will see through Trump's con

E.J. Dionne Jr. on

BOSTON -- On a holiday weekend set aside to honor the American working class, it is hard to escape the sense that American workers find themselves exploited by our politics -- and particularly by our president.

If wage earners could turn all the warm words they have heard into dollars, they would be rich. But they never receive the rights or benefits that are supposed to come their way.

Decade after decade, we engage in more or less the same arguments about economic justice, yet over the last 15 years or so, the condition of laboring men and women has, by many measures, gotten worse.

In his campaign, President Trump promised the world to American workers, including a better and more generous health care system. Having broken his health care pledges, he now claims that he will live up to his vows on jobs and wages by -- cutting corporate taxes.

Remember all those stories in 2016 about Trump being a different sort of Republican? It turns out he's the same old trickle-down conservative, only meaner: He also preys upon racial feelings and anti-immigrant sentiment, which is often cast as part of his "populism."

There is absolutely nothing new about Trump's insistence that what's good for corporations will be good for American workers.

 

Here's what he said last week in a speech in Missouri: "We must reduce the tax rate on American businesses so they keep jobs in America, create jobs in America, and compete for workers right here in America -- the America we love."

Now if Trump hadn't pretended to be some kind of populist hero in 2016, his recitation of old Republican boilerplate would not be particularly interesting or troublesome. But it is maddening to see this man described as some great innovator when it comes to the interests of the left-out and forgotten.

If you want to know how old Trump's talking points are, consider a debate broadcast by CBS Radio on April 11, 1948, between Sen. Robert A. Taft, lovingly known as "Mr. Republican" among conservatives of his day, and Walter Reuther, the legendary leader of the United Auto Workers union. (And by the way, wouldn't it be great if the media still broadcast debates of this sort?)

"Prosperity here depends upon a large percentage of the proceeds of our wealth being invested in new tools, new investments," Taft insisted. "It takes about six or seven thousand dollars to create one new job at good wages today." Those "job creators" have been central to the GOP's ideology for a long time.

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