Ivanka Trump has learned well from her father's cons
WASHINGTON -- Ivanka Trump is for working women the way her father is for the working class: In both cases, the Trumps really just want their money.
President Trump's daughter built her brand around women's "empowerment," by which I mean monetizing the anxieties and insecurities of stressed-out moms.
From the beginning, her stated goal was to help professional women dig deep down inside their souls and tap their inner purchasing power. She launched her jewelry line because the "concept of a self-purchasing female was lost among the traditional jewelers," her website explains without apparent irony.
The company eventually expanded "into a solution-oriented lifestyle brand, dedicated to the mission of inspiring and empowering women to create the lives they want to lead."
Pseudo-feminism became crucial to selling Ivanka Trump-branded books, handbags and heels. Hey, $135 leopard-print pumps can't be frivolous if they help the sisterhood.
So what are Trump's feminist bona fides, other than her throwaway #WomenWhoWork hashtaggery?
She publicly advocates paid family leave, even though she contracted out the designs of her clothing line to a firm that offered zero weeks of paid maternity leave.
She claims to champion equal pay for equal work. At last year's Republican convention, for example, she spoke of the need to close the gender pay gap -- perhaps in part so her fans would have the cash necessary to shop her convention look (which she immediately urged them to do, via Twitter).
And on Equal Pay Day this year, she posted on Instagram that "it is the responsibility of all Americans to come together in pursuit of equal pay."
Last week, however, she publicly endorsed a White House decision to trample a modest equal-pay enforcement initiative.
For years, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has required large companies to report data on the race/ethnicity, gender and job category of their workers. Last fall, the Obama administration said that this annual reporting requirement should also include anonymized information on compensation, with the goal of increasing pay transparency.
With little fanfare, the Trump administration just indefinitely halted this rule, which was slated to take effect next March. And rather than the usual "anonymous source" leaks about how Ivanka Trump really, truly didn't want such a dreadful thing to happen, she released a statement offering her blessing.
"Ultimately, while I believe the intention was good and agree that pay transparency is important, the proposed policy would not yield the intended results," her statement said. "We look forward to continuing to work with EEOC, [the Office of Management and Budget], Congress and all relevant stakeholders on robust policies aimed at eliminating the gender wage gap."
She offered no "robust" substitute policies. But she did offer moms a discount for massage services.
That's right: On the same day the Trump administration quashed the EEOC rule, Trump International Hotel in Washington tweeted out a special coupon for any parents buying services at The Spa by IVANKA TRUMP.
At best these about-faces on "women's issues" are hollow marketing, at worst a con. The game is to say whatever needs to be said to part a mark from her money, and then move on.
It's a trick Ivanka Trump learned well from her father.
Papa Trump, after all, ran on a platform of helping the fabled Forgotten Man through promises to plump his paycheck, revive his obsoleted jobs, discount his health care and otherwise return him to his former economic and cultural glory.
None of this is happening, of course. It was all a scheme to take the Forgotten Man's money.
I don't just mean through the usual chintzy merchandizing route, by selling a spot on a brass plaque in Trump Tower for a $49 donation or hawking the $40 USA hats he wore during his recent Texas photo ops.
I mean the big money: the Forgotten Man's entitlements.
Trump is hellbent on passing a massive tax cut for the rich. Right now the tax cut looks to be unfunded. Just because it isn't being paid for now, though, doesn't mean it will go unpaid-for forever.
Rosy scenario notwithstanding, at some point the U.S. government will have to make good on its accumulating debts, through some combination of future tax hikes and spending cuts. Already congressional Republicans are licking their chops at the prospect of using entitlement and other social-safety-net cuts to pay for lower tax rates for the wealthy, just as they attempted multiple times in (failed) Obamacare repeal bills.
In other words, a Trump is advertising empowerment but delivering its opposite. Like father, like daughter, as they say.
Catherine Rampell's email address is email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter, @crampell.
(c) 2017, Washington Post Writers Group