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Who is really on the side of the workers?

2024-03-02T04:56:59.912Z

Highlights: Biden has pursued a program to benefit American employees, says Julian Zelizer. But Trump is pure fantasies of personal aggrandizement, he says. Zelizer: Trump's greatest legislative achievement was a tax cut that was a gift to high-income Americans. He says Biden has delivered on infrastructure, and wage increases for blue-collar workers have stayed above inflation, faster than pre-Covid-19 trend. But he says there is a reason the United Automobile Workers supported Biden, even though many of its members will vote for Trump anyway.


Trump is a fake. Biden, on the other hand, has pursued a program to benefit American employees


Much speculation was made ahead of Tuesday's presidential primary in Michigan, but the actual results did not clarify the two most important questions: How many "unengaged" voters, angered by President Joe Biden's approach to the war on Gaza Strip, will they abstain in November, even though Donald Trump would surely support Benjamin Netanyahu much more than Biden?

And how many workers will support Trump in the false belief that he is on their side?

But at least we can say with certainty that Trump is not and has never been pro-worker, while Biden is.

Naturally, that's not how Trump tells the story.

In September, during an auto workers strike, Trump, addressing employees at a

non-union

auto parts factory in Michigan, declared that he had saved an auto industry that was “prostrate, breathing its last” when he took office. The charge.

Biden, on the other hand, had joined the picket line of unionized workers the day before.

However, Trump is pure fantasies of personal aggrandizement.

By the time he entered the White House, the auto industry had already regained most of the ground lost during the Great Recession.

This recovery was possible because in 2009 the Obama-Biden Government intervened to rescue the main companies in the sector.

At the time, many Republicans vehemently opposed that bailout.

And Trump personally?

He first supported the bailout and years later sided with right-wing Republicans who denounced it, stating: “They could have let [the auto industry] go bankrupt and rebuild itself.”

He once floated the idea of ​​automakers moving production out of Michigan to lower-wage locations and then returning over time “because those guys are going to want their jobs back, even if there are fewer of them.”

If you don't understand what he means, he was actually hinting at breaking up the auto unions so that workers would be forced to take pay cuts.

Populism!

Once in office, Trump, who campaigned as a different kind of Republican, governed primarily as a conventional conservative.

His promises to rebuild America's infrastructure – which were rejected by Republicans in Congress – became a running joke.

His greatest legislative achievement was a tax cut that was a huge gift to businesses and high-income Americans.

His attempted healthcare “reform” would have destroyed

Obamacare

without any viable replacement, causing millions of Americans to lose their health insurance coverage.

Trump did depart from Republican Party orthodoxy by imposing significant tariffs on imports, with the supposed goal of restoring the manufacturing sector.

But by imposing tariffs on industrial inputs like steel and aluminum, raising their price, Trump made American factories – and specifically auto factories – less competitive, and likely destroyed net jobs.

Essentially, there is nothing to indicate that Trump and those around him learned anything from that experience.

In particular, the Trump team appears to continue to believe that the tariffs are paid by foreigners, when in reality their burden falls on American workers and consumers.

Everything suggests that a second Trump term would be characterized by an increase in tariffs, as ill-conceived as those of the first.

Despite everything, our economy was operating near full employment on the eve of the Covid-19 pandemic.

But this mainly reflected the fact that Republicans in Congress, who delayed recovery from the 2008 financial crisis by restricting government spending, suddenly loosened the purse strings once Trump took office.

How does Biden's balance compare?

It's true that there was a burst of inflation during his tenure, but the same thing happened to leaders in other advanced economies, making it abundantly clear that pandemic-related disruptions, not politics, were to blame. .

And inflation has been subsiding, despite some bumps along the way, without the high unemployment that some economists claimed would be necessary.

When it comes to politics, Biden has clearly broken with Trump's golf course conservatism.

He has delivered on infrastructure.

He has signed two major bills into law to boost manufacturing, one in the field of semiconductors and another focused on green energy.

Factory employment has fully recovered from the Covid crisis;

Investment in the sector has skyrocketed.

I don't know how many Americans have even heard about these policy initiatives.

Or how many realize that the Biden era has been really good for blue-collar wages.

Overall, wage increases have stayed above inflation, and have been faster for the lowest-paid workers.

As a result, most workers' inflation-adjusted wages are higher than pre-Covid and are actually above the pre-pandemic trend.

In short, there is a reason the United Automobile Workers union supported Biden, even though many of its members will vote for Trump anyway, imagining that he is on their side.

But Trump is not a populist.

He is a fake.

When he did real politics instead of speeches, he basically governed like Mitch McConnell, but with tariffs.

Biden, by contrast, has actually pursued a program to benefit workers – more, arguably, than any president since Franklin D. Roosevelt – and has led a significant reduction in inequality.

How many of us will vote based on this reality?

I guess we'll find out.

Paul Krugman is a Nobel Prize winner in Economics.


© The New York Times, 2024


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Source: elparis

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