Friday, December 30, 2016

“If I become president, we’re all going to be saying ‘Merry Christmas’ again.”

Happy Holidays, my friends.

There goes #244 into the Box of Broken Promises. Granted, Trump has yet to become president, which means we'll have to reassess next year. I'm curious as to his proposed enforcement mechanism, but not too curious, because government-instituted religious persecution isn't exactly new.

Trump's promises fall into three categories -- Broken Until Kept (see above), Kept Until Broken (#22 Avoid participating in bicycle races), and On a Deadline (#155 Immediately ask the generals to present a plan within 30 days to defeat and destroy the Islamic State).

Today, we continue playing catch-up with deadlines that have already come to pass.

7. Call the executives at the parent company of Carrier, an air-conditioning manufacturer that is closing a plant in Indiana and moving to Mexico, and threaten to impose a 35 percent tariff on air conditioners imported into the United States. Trump predicts the company will say: “Sir, we’ve decided to stay in the United States.”
Yes, Trump made a deal with Carrier. No, it won't save a fraction of the jobs he promised it would, now or in the long run. In exchange for $7 million in tax breaks from Indiana to be paid out over 10 years, Carrier agreed to keep this particular manufacturing plant in Indianapolis.
However, only 800 of the 2,100 initially-threatened jobs will be saved, and 300 of those "saved" jobs are white collar positions that weren't even at risk to begin with.
Deals like the one Trump made can't bring back lost jobs, and in the end, they do nothing to address automation, which is a far greater threat than outsourcing to low skill jobs and the high school diploma'd middle class.
Said economist Michael Hicks of Ball State University: "Eight out of every 10 manufacturing jobs lost were due to robotics, computerization on the work floor, more advanced machinery, artificial intelligence... All of those things work together."
11. Require employers to recruit “from the unemployment office — not the immigration office.”
89. Continue to allow lowly paid foreign workers to come to the United States on temporary work visas to pick grapes and work in seasonal resorts.
Self-contradicting -- and explicitly broken by the hiring practices of Trump Vineyard Estates. In an unexpected twist, I'm going to turn this over to Fox News.
Earlier this month, Trump Winery, also known as Trump Vineyard Estates, "applied for six H-2A visas for temporary jobs valid from Jan. 31 through June 30 of this year. According to the New York Post, the winery’s petition said the workers would be required to lift up to 80 pounds, would be exposed to “extreme” temperatures while the job would also involve “extensive walking” and “frequent stooping.”"
The Hill, Politifact, and The New York Times have also all covered the Trump Organization's extensive use of H-2A visas at the Mar-a-Lago luxury resort in Palm Beach, FL.
12. Leave the federal minimum wage at $7.25 per hour, which is already too high.
13. Raise the federal minimum wage to $10 per hour, as $7.25 is too low and “the minimum wage has to go up.”
14. Allow states to set their own minimum wage.
Already at least 2/3 Broken, by nature of the flip-flop.
I understand the poor guy's confusion! The minimum wage debate is economically complex, its parameters shift based on industry and geography, and it's emotionally-charged, which means that changing your position at opportune times is a great way to win votes. 
According to the UC Davis Center for Poverty Research, citing data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 9.5 million Americans (6.3% of the labor force) who work at least 27 weeks or more a year have incomes below the poverty level. "Whether employment status reflects supply or demand factors remains a question. Poverty is substantially higher in states where wages at the bottom of the distribution are lowest. Poverty rates are nearly five percentage points higher in the lowest-wage states compared to states with wages in the middle."
At the same time, the Congressional Budget Office estimates the cost of a $10.10 federal minimum wage would be 500,000 jobs, and a 2007 joint literature review out of UC Irvine and the Federal Reserve Board of Governors agreed.
I have to go to my day job now, but if you're interested in digging further into the minimum wage debate, I recommend:
Will the Minimum Wage Debate Ever Be Settled? (The Atlantic)
Fact-checking a $15 minimum wage (Politifact)
Poverty, Prosperity, and the Minimum Wage (The New York Times)
Read together: The Case for a Higher Minimum Wage (The New York Times) and A $15 minimum wage is a terrible idea (The Washington Post)
Until next year!

Friday, December 23, 2016

"I worked very hard with Bill Ford to keep the Lincoln plant in Kentucky."

Promising on Thursday to start a political blog on Friday is unwise. Yes, I see the irony and potential hypocrisy; at 2:15 a.m. they shine like beacons through the fog of an impending all-nighter.

Let's not waste any time.

Today marks the beginning of the one-month countdown to Trump's star-studded inauguration, and several of his campaign promises have already approached (or even passed) their reckoning with reality.

5. Tell Ford’s president that unless he cancels plans to build a massive plant in Mexico, the auto company will face a 35 percent tax on cars imported into the United States. Trump is confident he can get this done before taking office.
Mission accomplished, kind of, but not by Trump. He just found a way to take credit... likely not for the last time.
Production of the (relatively unpopular) Lincoln MKC, which Ford had been planning to relocate to Mexico, remains at the Louisville Assembly Plant. However, the company planned all along to compensate for its relocation by increasing Louisville's production of (better-selling) Escapes. There was no intention to close the Louisville Assembly Plant or send Kentuckian jobs to Mexico. 
On December 4th, Trump tweeted: "There will be a tax on our soon to be strong border of 35 percent for these companies" that outsource production of goods sold in the US. This threat doesn't seem to bother Ford, which still plans to move production of the Focus from Michigan to Mexico. (No US jobs will be lost; Ford plans to replace the Focus in Michigan with two new products.)
That being said, Ford expressed its confidence in Trump's economic plans -- especially those to strengthen currency-manipulation rules, weaken fuel-economy standards, cut corporate tax rates and broadly deregulate the automotive industry -- which could encourage the company and its peers to work with him on keeping operations at home. 
Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of these so-called negotiations is these companies' willingness to put up with Trump's taking credit for saving jobs that were never on the chopping block, because they're so enthusiastic about his plans to deregulate the auto industry -- i.e. cripple the EPA under Myron Ebell -- and court environmental catastrophe. 
Not to be dramatic about it, or anything.
What can we do?
Be proactive in your support of environmental advocacy organizations in the US. If you have money to spare, consider donating to the League of Conservation Voters, the Sierra Club, the National Resources Defense CouncilEarthjustice, and/or the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund. If giving time is more your style, there are great calls to action from SafecastNextGen Climate Action, and Earthjustice, among others.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

282 Promises

On the ninth of November, 2016, I didn't want to get out of bed.

Maybe I never did. I'm sitting in bed now, writing this blog and texting my mysterious, similarly bedridden 400-lb. co-conspirator who might or might not have hacked the DNC. Perhaps I've been here the whole time.

Last month, Jenna Johnson of the Washington Post compiled a list of 282 of Trump's campaign promises -- some outlandish, many surprisingly molded by the GOP line, several self-contradictory, most outright horrifying, and some a bit amusing, if you're in the mood for amusement these days.

Today, and every Friday until the Reign of Trump comes crashing down around us, I will be tracking those promises -- claims of their fulfillment, fact-based evidence favoring or defying these claims, whatever I can offer in terms of analysis, and action items for defending country, humanity, and sanity from their impact. The most Herculean task will be keeping it readable. Prepare for gifs.

Why today? Why not January 27th? President-elect Trump's inauguration is four weeks off, but anyone who can stomach current events knows that Promises 5, 7, 16, 17, 18, 25, 26, 133, 147, 189, 203, 243, 244 (Happy Holidays!), 263, 266, and 267 have already come due. More on that tomorrow.

(Given the festive season and the intriguing deliciousness of Peppermint Oreos, I have a feeling #4 is also up for grabs.)

Good night, and good luck.

I still remember waking up on November 9th. I remember cleaning up the bottle of wine and bag of popcorn left in the living room from the ...