Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump tried to change the conversation yesterday away from his campaign's self-inflicted wounds of the last two weeks with a major speech on the economy. After attacking the Khans, Gold Star parents who spoke at the Democratic National Convention, and comparing running a business to the sacrifice military families make when they lose a loved one, Trump continued his habit of boldly telling lies and offering nothing but coded America First rhetoric instead of serious proposals that could make a positive impact on the lives of working people -- of all backgrounds, races and ethnicities. In fact-check after fact-check, experts agreed that Trump plays fast and loose with the truth.
In its fact check story, The Associated Press reported, "Donald Trump changed some of his facts to fit his agenda Monday, pitching shades of truth and misconceptions in what was billed as a major economic policy speech." Whether on Hillary Clinton's record as senator from New York, or President Barack Obama's economic record, or on taxes, trade, regulations, infrastructure, the auto industry and jobs, Trump created his own reality show where he calls the shots and packages himself as some savior of workers.
Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, the nation's largest union federation, unmasked the New York real estate mogul's speech as "deceitful" and "offensive."
Trumka said, "Donald Trump will say he speaks for all Americans, but his all white, all male, Wall Street banker economic team proves his intentions. Trump has chosen to get his real advice from people just like him - people who have made millions off the backs of hardworking families."
After he "has spent his life getting rich by hurting working people. Now he returns to Michigan for an economic speech almost one year to the day after he suggested automakers move production from Michigan to states with lower wages. It's ironic, deceitful, and simply offensive," Trumka said in his Aug. 8 statement.
Trumka was referring to an interview Trump gave to the Detroit News last year, which "notoriously revealed his ideas for assaulting the wages of supposedly overpaid autoworkers by closing and re-locating plants: 'You can go to different parts of the United States and then ultimately you'd do full-circle-you'll come back to Michigan because those guys are going to want their jobs back even if it is less. We can do rotation in the United States-it doesn't have to be in Mexico,'" wrote Tim Libretti in his Feb. 2 story Union workers ... for Trump?.
In his speech yesterday, Trump never mentioned raising the minimum wage or the crucial role of unions and collective bargaining in winning higher wages for America's working people. Instead Trump wrapped Republican establishment economic policies of tax breaks for the wealthy and corporations, as well as deregulation giveaways to auto, Big Oil and Wall Street into his coded-coated divisive brand of populism. Like all good pickpockets, he distracts with fabricated arguments while pinching your wallet.
"Trade has big benefits, and I am in favor of trade. But I want great trade deals for our country that create more jobs and higher wages for American workers. Isolation is not an option, only great and well-crafted trade deals are," he said.
"Even as he rails against the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Trump's own behavior undermines U.S. workers by exploiting cheaper labor abroad.
Trump apparently believes that working people cannot spot a con when they see one. On taxes, he figures by inserting the word "workers" or "jobs" that people will be fooled. He promised to repeal the so-called "death tax."
"American workers have paid taxes their whole lives, and they should not be taxed again at death and it's just plain wrong and most people agree with that. We will repeal it," he said.
In reality, the "death tax" is called the "estate tax" because it affects millionaires and billionaires, and in general, workers do not fall into that category of taxpayers.
The New York Times fact check on Trump's speech said, "Only a very few American workers are subject to estate taxes, and those subject to the tax are usually not termed "workers." Under current law, a married couple can shield up to $10.9 million of their estate from any federal taxation."
In an obvious play for working women's attention, Trump also announced a tax deduction for child care costs. The slight of hand here is a tax deduction is not the same as a tax credit and therefore will not be of use for most working families.
"On surface, this sounds like a good idea. Since the cost of daycare can be a huge cost for many families, the plan has the potential to help many Americans. But Trump is proposing a tax deduction, not a tax credit-and that's a problem. A deduction subtracts from a person's taxable income while a credit reduces the amount of taxes a person owes. These tax expenditures, as they are known, are the same as spending but they happen through the tax code. Congress has grown very fond of spending through the tax code; in the last fiscal year, tax expenditures totaled around $1 trillion," writes Politico's Danny Vinik.
Clinton responded to Trump's speech in real time. "His tax plans will give super big tax breaks to large corporations and the really wealthy, just like him and the guys who wrote the speech, right?" she said. "He wants to roll back regulations on Wall Street. He wants to eliminate the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which has saved billions of dollars for Americans. He wants to basically just repackage trickle down economics."
Clinton will unveil her own economic program Thursday, also in Detroit, but is expected to emphasize progressive policies based on the Democratic program, including infrastructure investment, debt free college education, $15 an hour minimum wage, union and worker rights and trade deals that create jobs, raise wages and protect the environment.
Photo: Even Trump didn't seem too happy with his speech at the Detroit Economic Club as he left the podium. | Evan Vucci/AP
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