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Leo W Gerard: Speak Loudly And Carry A Big Aluminum Bat

During this very month last year, aluminum smelters across the United States were closing, one after another. It was as if they produced something useless, not a commodity crucial to everything from beverage cans to fighter jets.

In January of 2016, Alcoa closed its Wenatchee Works in Washington State, costing 428 workers their jobs, sending 428 families into panic, slashing tax revenue counted on by the town of Wenatchee and the school district and devastating local businesses that no longer saw customers from the region’s highest-paying manufacturer.

That same month, Alcoa announced it would permanently close its Warrick Operations in Evansville, Ind., then the largest smelter in the country, employing 600 workers, within three months.

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Worker at Alcoa’s Warrick smelter in Evansville, Ind., before it closed in 2016. Photo by Steven Dietz, Sharp Image Studios, Pittsburgh.

Then, Noranda Aluminum fell. It laid off more than half of the 850 workers at its New Madrid, Mo., smelter in January, filed for bankruptcy in February and closed in March. The smelter was a family-supporting employer in a low-income region, and when it stopped operating, the New Madrid County School District didn’t get tax payments it was expecting.

This devastation to workers, families, communities and corporations occurred even after Ormet had shuttered a smelter in Ohio in 2013, destroying 700 jobs and Century closed its Hawesville, Ky., smelter, killing 600 jobs, in August of 2015.

It all happened as demand for aluminum in the United States increased.

That doesn’t make sense until China’s role in this disaster is explained.

That role is the reason the Obama administration filed a complaint against China with the World Trade Organization (WTO) last week. In this case, the president must ignore the old adage about speaking softly. To preserve a vital American manufacturing capability against predatory conduct by a foreign power, the administration must speak loudly and carry a big aluminum bat.

The bottom line is this: American corporations and American workers can compete with any counterpart in the world and win. But when the contest is with a country itself, defeat is virtually assured.

In the case of aluminum, U.S. companies and workers are up against the entire country of China. That is because China is providing its aluminum industry with cheap loans from state-controlled banks and artificially low prices for critical manufacturing components and materials such as electricity, coal and alumina.

By doing that, China is subsidizing its aluminum industry. And that is fine if China wants to use its revenues to support its aluminum manufacturing or sustain employment – as long as all of the aluminum is sold within China. When state-subsidized products are sold overseas, they distort free market pricing. And that’s why they’re banned.

China agreed not to subsidize exports in order to get access to the WTO. But it has routinely and unabashedly flouted the rules on products ranging from tires to paper to steel to aluminum that it dumps on the American market, resulting in closed U.S. factories, killed U.S. jobs and bleak U.S. communities.

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Worker at Alcoa’s Warrick Operations in Evansville, Ind., before the smelter closed in 2016. Photo by Steven Dietz, Sharp Image Studios, Pittsburgh.

In 2000, China produced about 11 percent of the aluminum on the global market. That figure is now 50 percent. A big part of the reason is that China quadrupled its capacity to produce aluminum from 2007 to 2015, and increased its production by 154 percent.

When China threw all of that extra, cheap, state-subsidized aluminum on the global market, it depressed prices. In that eight-year period, the price sank approximately 46 percent.

To compete, American smelters tried cutting costs and getting better deals on electricity. But even as U.S. demand increased, U.S. production declined 37 percent. And capacity decreased 46 percent.

What capacity decrease means is closed plants. The number of smelters dropped from 14 in 2011 to five last year, with only one operating at full volume.

Many of these manufacturing workers, thrown out of their jobs by what is clearly unfair trade, saw President-elect Donald Trump as a champion. Donald Trump said he would hold China to account on trade. He promised he would impose massive tariffs on goods imported from China. He said he would confront Beijing on currency manipulation, a practice that makes Chinese goods artificially cheap.

Many of those manufacturing workers voted for Donald Trump. Monroe County, Ohio, is a good example. That was the home of the Ormet smelter. The workers, who belonged to my union, the United Steelworkers, and the company asked Ohio Gov. John Kasich in 2012 and 2013 to intervene with the utility to get lower rates to help Ormet survive.

Kasich refused. The smelter closed. Monroe County’s unemployment rate now is the highest in Ohio at 9 percent, nearly twice the national rate.

Monroe County voters didn’t forget. Theirs was among the counties in Ohio that went for Donald Trump in the Republican primary. Though Trump didn’t win the Ohio primary, he got 35.9 percent in the crowded GOP field, and he took virtually all of the places in Ohio that, like Monroe, would say Kasich and other politicians turned their backs on them.

President-elect Trump carried 29 of Ohio’s Appalachian counties in the primary, those described as “geographically isolated and economically depressed.” These are counties that, like Monroe, lost family-supporting jobs in steel, manufacturing or mining. For the workers who haven’t left, the jobs that remain, in retail and fast food, don’t pay much, don’t provide benefits and aren’t secure.

When Donald Trump came to town talking tough about China, that sounded a hell of a lot better to those workers than their governor telling them he wouldn’t help with electrical rates – especially after they watched the governor in New York work a deal to save an Alcoa smelter and 600 jobs for 3 years in Massena.

And, of course, Donald Trump won Ohio in the General Election.

Workers across America, from Sebree, Ky., and Mt. Holly, S.C., where Century smelters are threatened to Wenatchee, Wash., where Alcoa has held out the possibility that the smelter could be restarted, were galvanized to support Donald Trump by his promises to confront China on its predatory trade practices.  If he fulfills those pledges, he will have the back of the blue-collar workers who had his.

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Worker at Alcoa’s Warrick smelter in Evansville, Ind., before it closed last year. Photo by Steven Dietz, Sharp Image Studios, Pittsburgh.

Leo W Gerard — Coming Soon: American Made Battle Of The Heavyweights

Screenshot from CNN Video

Screenshot from CNN Video

Virtually every time President-elect Donald Trump performs in cities across America on his thank you tour, he mentions, to grand applause, his preference for Made in America.

He describes his plan to create jobs with a federal infrastructure spending project – that is improvements to the likes of crumbling roads, bridges, waterlines and airports – and then says, “We will have two simple rules when it comes to this massive rebuilding effort. Buy American and hire American.”

That American-job-creating, buy-American thing is supported by 71 percent of the American public. But it is a smack in the face to GOP Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, who just made it clear in the Water Resources Development Act that he’s fine with creating slave-wage iron-and-steel-making jobs in China with U.S. tax dollars so long as a few fat-cat iron-and-steel importers make a profit on the deal.

So, clearly, there’s a battle brewing between the President-elect and the Speaker of the House. This is the President-elect who has repeatedly promised the working class men and women who elected him that he’d support Buy American provisions in federal law to create jobs for them. And it’s a GOP Speaker who wants to ship taxpayer-financed work overseas and let the working class wait a couple more decades to just possibly feel a tiny pinch of trickle down from the largess of filthy rich iron and steel importers. This, also, is a clash between a New York real estate titan who won the presidency and a Wisconsin lawmaker who lost the vice presidency.

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By advocating night after night for American Made, President-elect Trump essentially warned Ryan not to strip the Buy-American provisions out of the Water Resources Development Act. But Ryan did it anyway early in December when he got the act from the Senate.

The act contained strong, permanent Buy America language when the Senate sent it over. These provisions are significant because they use tax dollars to create 33 percent more U.S. factory jobs, something that is, again, important to voters, 68 percent of whom told The Mellman Group  & North Star Opinion Research in November in a national survey conducted for the Alliance for American Manufacturing that they were worried that the country had lost too many manufacturing jobs.

In addition, and President-elect Trump knows this from the response he gets at his rallies, Buy American policies are very popular. Seventy-four percent of voters say large infrastructure projects financed by taxpayer money should be constructed with American-made materials and American workers. And those who voted for President-elect Trump agree more strongly – 79 percent of them say American-made should be given preference over the lowest bidder.

This is a very big deal to iron and steel producers and workers in the United States. Far too many mills are closed or partially shuttered because of unfairly traded imports, and more than 16,000 steelworkers across this country have been laid off over the past year.

China is the main culprit, but there are others. China produces so much steel now that it has managed to inundate the world with more steel than anyone needs. It is dumping steel on the world market at such low prices that no one can compete. As a result, producers from places as far flung as Mexico, the U.S., Canada, India, the U.K. and Spain are shutting down and throwing workers out of their jobs.

China props up that excess steelmaking capacity with methods that are illegal under the terms of the agreements it entered into to gain access to the World Trade Organization and Permanent Normalized Trade Relations with the United States. If steel is sold domestically, a country can provide steel firms with subsidies like exemptions from utility payments and taxes, interest-free loans and free land.

But those free market-warping subsidies violate international trade agreements when the steel is exported. That’s what China is doing. And it’s killing American steel companies and American jobs.

When Ryan eliminated the permanent Buy American provision in the Water Bill, essentially saying it’s fine to import illegally subsidized Chinese iron and steel for taxpayer-financed water projects, he was also saying it is fine to bankrupt American steel companies and destroy American jobs.

If the United States is reduced to buying steel from China to build its military tanks and armor, that’s okay with Ryan, as long as he maintains a great relationship with the lobbyists for the foreign steelmakers. They pushed him hard to drop the Buy American provision through Squire Patton Boggs, a Washington, D.C. lobby and law firm employing Ryan’s predecessor Speaker John Boehner and numerous former top GOP aides.

He got hit with a Tweetstorm after he chose Chinese jobs over American jobs, though. Buy American supporters and members of the Congressional Steel Caucus began pointing out on Twitter just how good #BuyAmerica is for American jobs and the economy and cited @realDonaldTrump, the President-elect’s Twitter handle on every Tweet, which means his account was alerted.

This, for example, came from Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown:

“.@RealDonaldTrump: Tell @SpeakerRyan to put #BuyAmerica back in Water bill. American tax dollars for American jobs.”

And Steelworkers wrote protests on Ryan’s Facebook page and hundreds called Ryan and his anti-American-made Congressional crew.

Ryan responded. Sort of. He restored one-year Buy American language to the bill. Nothing like the permanent provisions achieved in other federal laws, but it does keep the jobs for 12 months and the issue alive until President-elect Trump can take on Ryan mano-a-mano on Buy American after the inauguration.

Ryan has made clear his anti-American preference, so this will be a royal rumble. But the Speaker should beware. The last time the President-elect stepped into the ring with a heavyweight, it was with the ring’s owner, World Wrestling Entertainment CEO Vince McMahon. And the former professional wrestler McMahon left bald and defeated.

Leo W Gerard: Fire Ants Killed The TPP

The defeat of the TPP is a tale of ants slaying a dragon.

It seemed a fearsome task, challenging the powerful behemoth that is Wall Street, Big Pharma, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Big Ag, Big Oil, all their lobbyists, and all the Congress critters they’d “campaign-financed” to support their money-grubbing 12-country trade scheme.

The battle was engaged, though, for the sake of workers’ rights, clean air and water, food safety, reasonably priced pharmaceuticals, national sovereignty, internet freedom, financial regulation, public control of public lands, the right of governments to pass laws for the public good without corporations suing for so-called lost profits in secret tribunals adjudicated by hand-picked corporate jurists, and the freedom of local governments to buy American-made products for taxpayer financed projects to create American jobs. And, frankly, so much more.  For a righteous, just and equitable society. That’s why there were so many ants.

Literally thousands of civil society groups coalesced to combat the TPP. These included labor unions, health care organizations, food safety advocates, environmentalists, churches, family farmers, social justice societies, indigenous rights organizations and allied groups in the 12 TPP partner countries. My union, the United Steelworkers, was among them. It was an overwhelming number of groups with an overwhelming number of members who conducted an overwhelming number of events over years to make it clear to lawmakers just how strongly citizens opposed the TPP.

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USW members at a 2016 anti-TPP rally in Washington, D.C. organized by the USW Rapid Response Department. Photo are by Steve Dietz of Sharper Image Studios

It began slowly with warnings about the secret negotiation process itself. Arthur Stamoulis, executive director of Citizens Trade Campaign, which was instrumental in organizing the collaborative action against the TPP, said groups started telling politicians early on that they weren’t going to tolerate another NAFTA. No one listened. As a result, he wrote:

“. . .first thousands, then tens of thousands, then hundreds of thousands and then literally millions of Americans signed letters and petitions urging the Obama administration and Congress to abandon TPP negotiations that gave corporate lobbyists a seat at the table, while keeping the public in the dark.”

Let me tell you about the fire ant. They mostly live in mounds. If an animal steps on the mound, the ants will attack. A few ants are irritating. A bunch are annoying. Half a million fierce fire ants with tiny venomous stingers working together can kill a 10-pound animal. That’s what happened to the TPP.

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USW members at a 2016 anti-TPP rally in Washington, D.C. organized by the USW Rapid Response Department. Photo by Steve Dietz of Sharper Image Studios

The anti-TPP forces conducted call-in days that resulted in hundreds of thousands of calls to Congressmen and women. When Congress was weighing whether to fast track the TPP, in other words to approve it without even bothering to amend it to fix it, the anti-TPP forces conducted an encampment on Capitol Hill for three weeks. This, and many other anti-TPP demonstrations, occurred a year before either party chose its presidential nominee.

The USW Rapid Response, Legislative and Political departments worked with USW members to send to Congress more than 350,000 postcards protesting the TPP. USW members met with their Senators and Congressmen 1,500 times this year to oppose the deal. They held rallies, demonstrations, town hall meetings and even rock concerts to inform their communities about the problems with the TPP. They conducted large rallies and other events in Washington, D.C. They built support with their state legislatures and local governments, persuading cities and towns across the country to pass resolutions officially opposing the TPP.

And that’s only what the USW did. The AFL-CIO was an important leader on this issue. And many other unions were just as active, and so were groups like the Sierra Club and the BlueGreen Alliance. The effort was relentless and concerted. And that’s why it was successful.

For the USW, this win was a long time coming. It began 22 years ago when the USW took on NAFTA. The union filed a federal lawsuit trying to overturn that scheme. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court refused to hear it, and the USW lost. Workers continue to suffer devastation from NAFTA today, as manufacturers close profit-making American factories and re-open them across the border in Mexico where greedy corporations can make even more profit by destroying the environment and paying slave wages then shipping the goods duty free back to the United States.

For example, Carrier announced in February that it would close two profit-making factories in Indiana and reopen them in Mexico. The result is 2,100 workers, members of the USW, will lose their good, family-supporting jobs.

That’s NAFTA. That’s a trade deal negotiated by corporations for corporations. After that came Permanent Normalized Trade Relations with China in 2000. The USW strongly protested that as well, because the union believed none of the hype about how China was a huge market, and the United States was going to do all of the selling there.

As it turns out, the USW was right. China has relentlessly dumped government-subsidized products on the American market, baldly defying the international trade laws it agreed to abide by when it signed that agreement in 2000. That has devastated companies that want to manufacture in America, including steel, aluminum, paper and tires producers. These manufacturers have repeatedly had to pay untold millions to file trade cases to obtain limited relief in the form of tariffs, and tens of thousands of workers have paid in the terrible form of lost jobs.

The USW has protested virtually every so-called free trade scheme proposed since NAFTA, most particularly those with Korea and Colombia. In the case of Colombia, where more trade unionists were murdered than in any other country in the world, we asked for a delay in approval of the deal at least until safety for collective bargaining could be assured. We were ignored. And more trade unionists have been murdered every year since the deal took effect.

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Image from the Rock Against the TPP concert in Pittsburgh and is by Chelsey Engel, writer, photographer, singer.

Photo are by Steve Dietz of Sharper Image Studios

Photo are by Steve Dietz of Sharper Image Studios

Then came the massive, hulking dragon of a TPP, the likes and size of which had never been seen before. This time, the corporatists really stepped in it. This time it wasn’t just a few angry trade unionists stinging their ankles. This time the self-dealing free traders had pissed off far too many civil society groups. And they were organized. And they weren’t going to take it anymore.

It’s not over, though. None of us oppose trade. We just want trade deals that, as economist Jared Bernstein and trade law expert Lori Wallach put it, are “written for all the cars on the road, not just the Lamborghinis.” For that to happen, all the groups that protested this deal must be at the table to negotiate the next deal – not just the corporations. The Lamborghinis are one interest group. We are many.

When I was a kid, Frank Sinatra sang a song called High Hopes, and the most famous verse was this:

“Just what makes that little old ant

Think he’ll move that rubber tree plant

Anyone knows an ant, can’t

Move a rubber tree plant.”

No ant can move a rubber tree plant. But let me tell you, a couple million ants just killed a TPP monster. There’s high hope in concerted action.

Leo W Gerard: Goon-Busters Prepare For Trump’s Poll Trolls

Republicans have conjured for Americans a monster more frightening than any Hollywood has ever produced for Halloween. It pales “The Shining.”

It is a two-headed beast Donald Trump calls voter fraud and rigged elections.  Like Hollywood creatures, though, this goblin is completely imaginary. It’s fake like the sasquatch and chupacabra. There’s no scientific evidence of its existence.

The GOP antidote for its imaginary monster is horribly real, however. It is voter suppression and intimidation. That is a tangible two-headed beast of appalling proportions. Fearing they could not win fair and square, Republicans took steps to prevent young, old, black and Hispanic people – people likely to vote Democratic – from reaching the polls. This GOP Frankenstein threatens democracy itself.

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Image by Ryan Merkley on Flickr

Two statistics are important to know when trying to detect which election monsters are real and which are not. Loyola Law School professor Justin Levitt, an expert on civil rights, has tracked allegations of in-person voter fraud for years. In-person fraud is the kind Republicans are talking about, someone pretending to be someone else, or a dead person, to vote.

Levitt, who is on leave from the law school to serve as deputy assistant attorney general in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, tracked down and validated 31 instances of that happening since 2000.

It’s probably 32 cases now, since police in Iowa charged a 55-year-old Des Moines woman Thursday with felony voter fraud. The Republican admitted casting two early votes for Donald Trump.

That is 32 cases out of more than 1 billion ballots cast. That’s fraud, but it’s not a real problem.

Republicans across the country insisted on “solving” this non-problem by forcing all voters to obtain very specific types of identification. In Texas, for example, the GOP said an open-carry gun permit would be fine, but a student ID card from a state university would not. That would help keep those pesky young people, who tended to vote Democrat, away from the polls.

In many states, civil liberties groups like the ACLU sued to overturn the voter ID laws, forcing the GOP to search for voter fraud cases to justify their legislation. In Pennsylvania, the state had to stipulate in court that none existed, and the law was overturned. Not surprisingly, the GOP failed to dig up cases in Wisconsin or Indiana either. Thirty-one in 1 billion is kind of few and far between.

The second statistic is this: if Pennsylvania’s voter ID law had taken effect, it could have prevented more than 1 million citizens from voting. That’s the number of registered voters in just one state who did not have the required ID. Again, that’s a state where Republicans could show not one single case of voter fraud.

While the ACLU and other civil liberties groups continue to try to overturn unnecessary voter ID laws, the Democratic National Committee asked a federal judge last week to prevent Republicans from intimidating voters, particularly at minority polling places, as Donald Trump has encouraged his supporters to do.

The Democrats requested an injunction, saying Trump’s threats violate a 1982 consent decree that Republicans entered into after they stationed pseudo-guards at minority polling places in New Jersey to intimidate voters. Some of the guards were off duty police officers, were armed and wore arm bands marked “Ballot Security Task Force.”

Trump has repeatedly contended the election is “rigged” against him and asked his supporters to wear red shirts and stand as sentinels at the polls to prevent dead people from voting. Speaking in Altoona, Pa., in August, he said he wanted uniformed officers like the GOP had in 1982: “We have to call up law enforcement. And we have to have the sheriffs and the police chiefs and everybody watching.”

He added, “We have a lot of law enforcement people working that day. . .We’re hiring a lot of people. We’re putting a lot of law enforcement — we’re going to watch Pennsylvania, go down to certain areas and watch and study, and make sure other people don’t come in and vote five times.”

“Trump said to watch your precincts. I’m going to go, for sure,” said Steve Webb, a 61-year-old carpenter from Fairfield, Ohio. “I’ll look for. . .well, it’s called racial profiling. Mexicans, Syrians. People who can’t speak American,” he said. “I’m going to go right up behind them, I’ll do everything legally. I want to see if they are accountable. I’m not going to do anything illegal. I’m going to make them a little bit nervous.”

Despite Webb’s assertion that he’s not going to do anything illegal, deliberately attempting to make racially profiled voters “a little bit nervous” while they are attempting to exercise their most basic right as citizens violates federal law as well as the terms of the consent decree.

In addition, the lawsuit notes that the Pennsylvania GOP has attempted to reverse a state election law requiring poll watchers to be registered voters in the county where they are monitoring balloting. That law makes it impossible for Trump’s rural white supporters to guard the polls in inner city Philadelphia and Pittsburgh to ensure that the undead from George Romero’s “Night of the Living Dead,” filmed near Pittsburgh, don’t vote repeatedly there.

There’s no reason to reverse this state law, the lawsuit says, except to license Trump supporters to intimidate and harass minority inner-city voters.

Republicans tried to wriggle out from under the constraints of the consent decree in 2009. But Federal Judge Dickinson R. Debevoise thwarted them. He wrote then: “It does not appear that the RNC’s incentive to suppress minority votes has changed since 1982. It appears that the RNC has been largely unsuccessful in its efforts to attract minority voters. Until it is able to do so, it will have an incentive to engage in the type of voter suppression that it allegedly committed in the actions that led to the enactment and modification of the consent decree.”

Judge Debevoise dismissed GOP arguments that voter fraud is a problem. By contrast, he said that suppression of minority voters is a serious issue.

That was seven years ago. But it was a point the DNC repeated in its arguments last week. It acknowledged that Trump keeps harping about a rigged election and dead people voting. And it provided lengthy proof that these are fears without basis in fact. They are boogeymen.

“On the other side of the ledger,” the DNC wrote, are the “constitutional rights of all Americans to cast their ballots without fear of intimidation or harassment . . .This is therefore a case of a real, impending harm balanced against an imaginary one.”

The DNC asked the court to extend the consent decree another eight years and to issue an injunction forbidding intimidation at the polls. Election Day is just a week away, however. Even if the court rules for the DNC, it’s not clear that every Trump supporter with a red shirt, a gun and ill-intent will hear about the decision before Nov. 8.

So civil liberties groups are preparing for the worst. If a red-shirted goon shows up at your polling place, call the ACLU at 866-OUR-VOTE or the Department of Justice Voting Rights Hotline at 800-253-3931. They have goon-buster teams nationwide. Don’t let anything frighten you from voting on Nov. 8.

[Leo W Gerard] Donald Trump: Valueless

Warren Buffett threw down the gauntlet to Donald Trump again last week. It happened after Trump lied about Buffett’s federal income tax payments on national TV.

During the second presidential debate on Oct. 9, Trump said Buffett “took a massive deduction,” suggesting it was the kind that the Republican nominee used for years to dodge income taxes.

The next morning, Buffett reported to the world that he paid federal taxes every year since 1944 when he was 13. He owed $7 then. Last year, he paid $1.8 million, about 16 percent of his $11.6 million income. He gave $2.858 billion to charity that year. Yes, that’s billion with a b.

By contrast, Trump’s “charitable” foundation is under investigation for self-dealing, and he is the first presidential candidate in 40 years to refuse to disclose any federal income tax information.

In August, Buffett, who is six times richer than Trump, challenged the Republican nominee to a tax throw down. The point of honor in that duel would be revealing their returns. Buffet pointed out that both men are under audit, so that would be no excuse to chicken out. Still, Trump begged off.

Image By DonkeyHotey on FLIKR

Image By DonkeyHotey on FLIKR

It’s not enough for a presidential candidate to boast before adoring crowds. It’s crucial that candidates both embody and demonstrate American values. Those standards don’t include lying or shirking taxes or bragging about sexual assault or creating a charity to pay a candidate’s own bills. Buffett demonstrates American values in both words and actions. Trump displays utter obliviousness to those values.

Trump claims he’s going to be the law-and-order president. But in the second presidential debate, he admitted he used a nearly $1 billion business loss to avoid paying federal income taxes for years.

That means he didn’t contribute to uniforms or cars or guns for FBI agents or offices for federal prosecutors or salaries for federal judges. He’s a $10 billionaire. But he didn’t participate. He didn’t help pay for law and order. Or for veterans’ hospitals or protective gear for military personnel, for that matter. Or border patrols. He’s all bluster, but no action when the dollars count.

Trump said “that’s smart,” when confronted with his tax shirking. To mill workers and waitresses and school teachers, whose federal taxes are deducted from every paycheck, it’s not smart. It’s cheating. It’s dishonorable. It’s unethical.

Like virtually all wealthy people, Warren Buffett paid less than half the highest marginal rate of 39.6 percent. His was lower because of deductions for charitable contributions and state income taxes.

Buffett has said repeatedly, however, that such a low rate for the wealthy is inappropriate. He thinks it should be 30 percent, no matter the deductions, for anyone earning more than $5 million. That’s called the Buffett Rule because he has so strongly espoused it.

By contrast, Trump wants to lower taxes on the wealthy.

Despite Buffett’s billions, he believes in a very basic American value, the meritocracy. He plans to give 99 percent of his $65 billion fortune to philanthropic causes during his lifetime. That means his three children will inherit precious little. He explained the philosophy behind that to Fortune magazine, saying he would give them, “enough money so that they would feel they could do anything but not so much that they could do nothing.”

Giving any child, as he put it, “a lifetime supply of food stamps just because they came out of the right womb” was harmful and an antisocial act. That is a man who opposes aristocracy.

By contrast, Trump would slash the current inheritance tax by more than half, an act that would sustain aristocracy in America, like the one Trump’s own fortune arose from.

Buffett started giving his money away in 2006. He pledged most of it to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Not long afterward, the three billionaires asked other wealthy Americans to pledge at least half of their fortunes to charity.

In a letter making that request, Buffett wrote, “The asset I most value, aside from health, is interesting, diverse, and long-standing friends.”

He said living in America, luck and compound interest had brought him wealth, and he and his family felt gratitude for that. If they were to spend more than 1 percent of their fortune on themselves, he said, their happiness and well-being would not be enhanced. “In contrast, that remaining 99 percent can have a huge effect on the health and welfare of others. That reality sets an obvious course for me and my family. Keep all we can conceivably need and distribute the rest to society, for its needs.”

That is an American value: help others pull themselves up by their bootstraps.

Donald Trump did not pledge 50 percent of his fortune to charity. In fact, his relationship with charity is truly suspect. His namesake foundation is under investigation. A new report by the New York Daily News raises doubts about whether Trump ever paid the $10,000 he pledged to 9/11 funds. And it took public badgering on Twitter late in May by Washington Post investigative reporter David A. Fahrenthold to get Trump to finally pay to veterans’ groups the $1 million Trump had promised at a Jan. 28 nationally televised fundraiser.

Fahrenthold also found that what appears on its face to be Trump’s charitable group, the Donald Trump Foundation, may not really be much of a charity. It gave money improperly to a political candidate, then lied about it on an IRS document. It may have violated laws against self-dealing by using $258,000 in foundation money to settle lawsuits against Trump and to purchase two massive portraits of Trump and a Tim Tebow football helmet. And Trump failed to properly register the foundation after he stopped giving his own money to it in 2008 and used other people’s money to fund it.

That’s not very charitable.

After Trump boasted during the campaign that he donated millions, the Washington Post made a concerted effort to track down those gifts. It couldn’t find millions. It discovered that between 2006 and May of 2016 Trump gave less than $800,000. That would be less than $80,000 a year. From a guy who claims to be a billionaire.

That does not appear to be much of an effort to help Americans who were born with no spoon in their mouths.

Buffett urged the wealthy to join him in giving to charity to aid those who drew short straws in life. Donald Trump urged the wealthy to give to his charity to aid his ability to buy portraits of himself.

America expects more in its presidents.

Steelworkers Blast Trump Over Use Of Cheap Chinese Steel

Union Launches Awareness and Education Campaign: Trump Betrayed USW Members, Families and Communities for Cheap Chinese Steel and Aluminum 

The United Steelworkers (USW) today launched an awareness campaign to educate union members after Kurt Eichenwald’s investigative report for Newsweek exposed Donald Trump’s use of Chinese steel and aluminum for several recent, high-profile construction projects.

In light of the report, which outlines how Trump purchased the steel and aluminum from China using shell companies in the British Virgin Islands to cover his tracks, USW International President Leo W. Gerard called the Republican candidate’s statements about foreign trade and the need to create and maintain jobs in America’s manufacturing sector “hypocritical” and “fundamentally dishonest.” 

“Trump desperately tries to appeal to Midwestern working class voters with promises to stand up for American workers and bring manufacturing jobs back to Ohio and Pennsylvania,” Gerard said, “but he sold out those very workers, their families and communities to save a few dollars on cheap building materials from Shanghai and Guang-Dong.”

“With 13,000 people laid off in the steel industry and another 6,000 out of work in Aluminum, Trump personally profited from his scheme to cheat American companies and workers out of hundreds of millions of dollars in sales that went to China instead,” Gerard said. “How can he make America great if he refuses to make anything in America?”

Hundreds of USW activists and volunteers are already spreading the message that Trump cannot be trusted to protect American jobs. The union also will continue to educate its members about the GOP candidate’s anti-union, anti-worker record – from supporting so-called “right-to-work” legislation to the way he’s refused to negotiate employees at his hotels and casinos.


The USW represents 850,000 men and women employed in metals, mining, pulp and paper, rubber, chemicals, glass, auto supply and the energy-producing industries, along with a growing number of workers in public sector and service occupations.

Leo W Gerard: Solidarity Against Trump

Donald Trump likes to say he has a very, very good relationship with unions.  “I have great relationships with unions,” he told Newsweek last year.

And the press is in love with saying blue-collar workers are in love with Trump. Real reporters and even fake news shows like Full Frontal with Samantha Bee have crisscrossed the rust belt interviewing blue-collar workers seeking the reason for Trump’s supposed allure.

The AFL-CIO has found, however, that only a small faction, fewer than a third, of its members are Trump supporters. That’s true in my union, the United Steelworkers (USW), as well. And the numbers are declining daily as members find out the truth about The Donald, including how he managed to lose a whopping $916 million in one year and his failure to pay federal income taxes.

Particularly important to my members is the issue of trade because we are a manufacturing union, with members making not just steel, but tires, glass, paper, cardboard, aluminum, auto parts and many other products. When Trump promises to arbitrarily slap 25 percent and 35 percent tariffs on unfairly traded commodities from China and Mexico, that sounds great.

That is, until the voter discovers a U.S. president can’t unilaterally impose tariffs. Also, until the voter discovers Trump manufactures virtually all his signature products, from suits to shirts, sweaters, belts, ties, tie pins, tie clips, and dozens of others, overseas. Not by American workers in America. Trump could have created American jobs. But he chose not to.

Here is what some members of my union had to say about the difference between The Don and Hillary Clinton:

Michael D. Snyder, 58 of Decatur, Ind., works for Bunge, which makes food oils. A union man for 39 years, he’s been president of USW Local 15173 for 21 years.

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“You need to look at the whole package and history of a candidate for president. Look at the whole package of Trump. I see someone who has done nothing but take from people in this country. There is a huge list of people who are suing him for taking from them, and that is disrespecting the American people.

“It is a power game. He has got all the money. He knows he can do all these terrible things. He knows he may have to pay, but not until he is forced to by court. And people have to wait years to get some portion of the money owed. That is just terrible and disrespecting every American. That kind of person should not be president. It is inconceivable to put that person in charge of this country.

“In our churches, we would pray for this person because they are totally lost. It is hard to understand how a Christian would say OK to this kind of behavior.”

Marlon S. Williamson, 45, of Warren, Ohio, works at ATEP Alcoa. He has been a Steelworker for 20 years.

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I got a job at what was once Republic Steel in Warren, Ohio, when I was 23 years old. It was a great union job. But, beginning in 2008, I was laid off for 17 months because of dumped [foreign] steel. Those were hard times. I returned to work, but then, just a few years later, in 2012, management informed us the mill would be scrapped. I was stunned. I was shocked. It was because of a mix of bad management and dumped steel.

“I can’t even drive down that street now. I had worked there 17 years. At the time you are searching for answers. Imports contributed to that, with all that illegal dumping of steel.

“A lot of prayers got me the job at the titanium plant. I was very fortunate. I was off for four months. Some of the guys I used to work with are still out of work.

It is devastating.

“I support Hillary Clinton because she supports the working man and woman. She says exactly how she is going to do that. If we get her in office, maybe someone will pass that Bring Jobs Home Act, that denies tax credits for sending jobs overseas and gives credits for bringing jobs back here.

“Also, I have a daughter. My youngest child is a daughter. I do not want her to see Donald Trump as our country’s leadership. He mocks a guy with a handicap. He degrades women. He picks on immigrants. That is totally the opposite of what her mother and I have taught her.”

Kristia O’Brien, 45, is a veteran who lives in Gadsden, Ala. She has been a member of USW Local 12 for 22 years. She is a tire builder at Goodyear in Gadsden.

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My mother lost her garment factory job that she had for 20 years as a result of NAFTA, and I almost lost my job because of trade. So Hillary Clinton’s opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and her statement that she would not support any more free trade deals that don’t work for working people is really important to me.

“My mom worked for H.D. Lee, the jeans company, in Guntersville, Ala. She sewed the inseams. She has rheumatoid arthritis now, but she made a good living because it was a union job. But she lost that job when the plant went to Mexico. And another garment factory about 15 miles away went to Mexico too a few years after NAFTA was passed.

“Later, my plant was threatened by a flood of imported Chinese tires. President Obama imposed three years of tariffs on those unfairly traded tries to prevent American factories from closing and American jobs from being lost. I have a job today because of that. I do trust Hillary to do the same kind of thing. She has stood for working families and unions her entire life. Her father came out of manufacturing and she understands the importance of manufacturing in America.”

James Morgan, 30, of Belleville, Mich., works for Chemetall Group. He has been a member of USW Local 2659 for five years.

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I am working to elect Hillary Clinton for my unborn child, to make sure when he or she comes into the world, it is a better place, not a Donald Trump place. I want this to be a country that is accepting, a country that provides plenty of opportunity. Hopefully when he or she comes into this world, we have free college tuition and things like that.

“I want this to be the land of the free where we accept everyone whether you are black, Asian, Mexican or Muslim. We have all contributed. And that is what made America what it is.  We can’t shun people.  It is not just an American value. Acceptance absolutely is a union value. If you have been to a union event, you see people from all walks of life, and they are people who accept people from all walks of life.

Heidi Puhl, 44, of South Range Wis., a member of USW Local 9460 for 10 years, works at Ecumen-Lakeshore, a short term rehab facility in Duluth, Minn.

2016-10-02-1475419675-8289336-Heidi.jpgMy father and grandfather worked on a railroad, the Duluth, Mesabi & Iron Range line. It hauled taconite pellets from the Mesabi Range to Lake Superior where they were shipped to steel mills. There was a railroad roundhouse in my hometown of Proctor, and in the harbor in the winter, typically dozen ships would arrive in winter to be overhauled.

“It’s all gone now. The railroad is shut down. Half the ships arrive to be overhauled these days. The town’s grocery store, pizza shop and ice cream parlor are all closed. And it’s because illegally traded steel flooded the U.S. market, shuttering American mills. And that eliminated the demand for taconite.

“Bad trade deals created pockets of nothing in our small towns. Hillary Clinton says she will put a stop to that. I believe she can. Donald Trump is all talk and no experience. I don’t believe he can do anything.

“I know people who support Trump. But is that how you want your daughter to be talked to? Is that how you want your son raised? Is that how you want your mother treated, your grandmother or grandfather treated? That is not our personal values. That is not the values of anybody in America. I do not think Trump has the right temperament or the right morals to be president.

“I am working to elect Hillary Clinton because I do not want my kids to be raised in a place where it is okay to make fun of someone because of their disability or the color of their skin or their religion.

“I like that Hillary worked for the Children’s Defense Fund. I like that she took a job that did not pay well to do public service. I think that says a lot about a person. I know someone who graduated with Hillary, and she says Hillary is the nicest and most sincere person. Hillary still goes to college reunions with her. That says a lot about her.”

Jerry August, 30, of San Bernardino, Calif., has been a member of USW Local 5632 for three years at GATX, where he rebuilds railcar valves to ensure they don’t leak and cause an explosion.

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My family is Hispanic. My grandparents came from Mexico. The way Donald Trump talks about undocumented immigrants is morally incorrect. It is not right. People should be given a chance to do what they can for themselves, to do better for themselves and their children and their future.

“To throw 11 million undocumented immigrants out of this country – why throw them out?  Why not get them documented and let them work? It is not morally right. They are not taking jobs. They are doing jobs no one else wants to do. The majority of people will not do the jobs they are doing. The jobs are there for everybody. These are hard labor jobs for pennies an hour.

“Trump harassed a judge of Mexican heritage whose father was a Steelworker. It is just ignorance. It is insulting. Ignorant people are just going to do ignorant things.”

“Coming from a Hispanic family, I still have family members who do not speak good English and who struggle to make good money, and I know Hillary Clinton will try to help us get to an even playing field. I feel that it is admirable that she has always tried to help the less fortunate.”

Terra Samuel, 43, of East Chicago, Ind., a member of USW Local 1010 for two years, works for ArcelorMittal.

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I don’t see a future if Trump is elected. With Hillary, there is a track record. We know she can produce.

“The change would be devastating if Trump were to win. He is so angry and his followers are so angry. He would turn back the hands of time. I am not sure the country is ready for that.”

“I have two children. My 10-year-old daughter asked me, ‘If Trump is going to send Mexican people back to Mexico, where is he going to send black people?’ Donald Trump is scaring children!

“Hillary has credibility for working with labor unions and looking out for young people. I love her ideas for investing in infrastructure. Because she will require American-made products, that will support American manufacturing and create American jobs. That shows she is looking out for the future.”

Sam D’Orazio, 46, of Bentleyville, Pa., has been a member of USW Local 3403, Unit 25, for a decade. He works for All-Clad, a cookware manufacturer.

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Donald Trump says people earn too much. Does he include himself in that or just me?

“Donald Trump does not speak for me. He does not treat people fairly and equitably. I accept diversity and Trump rejects that.

“Donald Trump’s promises are false and not fulfillable.  He is an illusionist.

“Hillary Clinton will make sure people have a decent chance to get ahead. She opposes right to work and has a loyalty to labor. She doesn’t turn her back on people.”

Leo W Gerard: Morning In America Delivered By Democrats

(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Nine years after the Great Recession began during the tax- and regulation-slashing Bush administration, some startlingly good economic news arrived from Washington, D.C., last week.

The incomes of typical Americans rose in 2015 by 5.2 percent, the first significant boost to middle-class pay since the end of the Great Recession, and the largest, in percentage terms, ever recorded by the Census Bureau. In addition, the poverty rate fell 1.2 percentage points, the steepest decline since 1968.  Also smaller were the numbers of Americans without health insurance and suffering food insecurity.

That sounds good, right? Especially after all it took to pull out of the Bush recession. During the month Bush left office, 818,000 Americans lost their jobs. Unemployment increased to 10 percent before President Obama’s stimulus programs started ratcheting it down to the current 4.9 percent. Now, wages are beginning to rise again. It seems like an event that Ronald Reagan might call morning in America. But not the current Republican nominee. Trump says, “This country is a hellhole, and we’re going down fast.”

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To hoist America up out of that bogus hellhole, Trump proposes the same tired-and-untrue tax- and regulation-cutting formula that Bush did. The one that actually did drop the country into a hellhole – the Wall Street collapse, massive foreclosures and high unemployment.

Trump offered yet another tax plan last week – the third of his campaign. This one, just like Bush’s, lavishes tax cuts on the rich. He would hack the 35 percent business tax rate to 15 percent. He would eliminate the estate tax paid only by the nation’s richest 0.2 percent. So, basically, Trump would cut taxes for himself – a 10 billionaire.

In Trump’s previous tax plan, low-income people, those in the lowest tax bracket, would have paid 10 percent, but now Trump makes them pay more. They’ll have to cough up 12 percent.

At the same time, Trump said, he’d eliminate all that pesky government regulation that’s getting in the way of business doing whatever it wants. So, for example, he’d abolish that annoying regulator, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. That’s the one that just fined Wells Fargo $100 million, part of a total of $185 million in penalties, for issuing credit cards and opening accounts without customers’ consent, sham accounts that customers learned about only after they started accumulating fees and damaging credit. Republicans like Trump have tried to kill the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau from the day Democrats created it.

By cutting taxes on the rich and letting businesses run roughshod over consumers, Trump claims he would create 25 million jobs over a decade. This is Reagan and Bush trickle-down economics. It worked great for the rich. They got richer and richer. It never worked for the rest. The rest always do better when there’s a Democrat in the White House, as there is now. The Census report issued last week showing progress on wages is testament to that. But there’s more. Far more.

Princeton economists Alan Blinder and Mark Watson found in 2013 that since World War II, the economy performed significantly better under Democratic presidents, regardless of the measurement used. For example, Democratic presidents average 4.35 percent Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth. Under Republicans, it was 2.54 percent.

Democratic presidents presided over higher stock market returns and corporate profits, greater compensation growth and productivity increases.

Economist Steven Stoft analyzed 72 years of jobs data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, during which Democrats controlled the White House for 36 years and Republicans for 36 years. He found that 58 million jobs were created under Democrats and 26 million under Republicans. That means Democratic presidents created more than twice as many jobs.

Significantly, because Trump is telling African-Americans how horrible their lives and their communities and their schools are, and how great he would be as a Republican president for them, a study published by the American Political Science Association found that that over 35 years of Republican presidents, black unemployment rose 13.7 percent. On the other hand, over 22 years of Democratic presidents, black unemployment fell 7.9 percent.

And here’s another noteworthy fact as Trump runs around claiming he’s going to bring manufacturing back, even though he manufactures his own signature suits and ties and shirts offshore in places like China and Mexico and Bangladesh: Democrats create manufacturing jobs; Republicans destroy them.

Bloomberg news service analyzed data from the past eight decades and found manufacturing jobs increased under each of the seven Democrats and decreased under the six Republican presidents.

Even as employment expanded, manufacturing jobs declined under Republican presidents. The largest losses occurred under Reagan and the two Bushes – an average of 9 percent.

Republicans are bad for jobs. They’re bad for manufacturing. They’re bad for the GDP in general. Trump’s 25 million job promise? Malarkey.

Moody’s Analytics looked at his tax, trade and immigration policies and projected they’d cause a recession and eliminate 3.5 million jobs. That was before he changed his mind on taxes again and released the third plan this week, but it’s virtually unchanged from the previous two, other than costing low-income people more.

Americans should reject Trump’s Republican trickle-down promises that have done nothing for workers in the past but swipe their cash and flood it up in torrents to billionaires like Trump.

Americans who want a job, a raise, improved GDP, more American manufacturing, better health insurance – just improved security in general – should look to the Democrats. They’ve got a long track record of actually delivering on those promises.

Leo W Gerard: Dishonest Don

Donald Trump likes to brag on the campaign trail that he’s the best at bribing politicians. He said, for example, “When you give, they do whatever the hell you want them to do.”  But then, when he got caught giving and getting exactly what the hell he wanted, he claimed that’s not what happened.

Not only that, Trump promises as president he would surround himself with the best advisers. The best! Just like he says he did as a businessman. And he claims he’s a great businessman. The greatest! Well, maybe he forgot about his four bankruptcies that left hundreds of small businessmen and craftsmen unpaid. And maybe he forgot about the fiasco surrounding his namesake foundation illegally giving a “donation” to an attorney general who then decided to drop a fraud investigation against him. The advisers in that case? Not exactly the best.

Much has been made lately about the Clinton Foundation. But Donny’s got one too. Unlike the Clinton Foundation, to which the Clintons gave $1 million last year, the Trump Foundation hasn’t seen a cent from Donny’s pocket since 2009.

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Image by DonkeyHotey on Flickr

Both foundations get lots of money from wealthy donors; the big difference is in how it’s spent. Among the Clinton Foundation focuses are providing access to HIV/AIDS, malaria and TB drugs in developing nations. Among the Trump Foundation programs are those providing gifts to Florida attorneys general considering whether to investigate allegations of fraud against Trump University.

Though the Trump Foundation gave this illegal “grant” back in 2013, the IRS was alerted to it only recently.

Like attorneys general in many states at that time, Florida’s Pam Bondi, a Republican, received numerous complaints that Trump University was a scam. Angry students who felt they got short shrift for their tens of thousands in “tuition” wanted Bondi to charge Trump and other university officials with fraud or at least help them get their money back.

Bondi’s spokesperson admitted to the Associated Press that Bondi personally asked Trump for a donation at the same time her office was deciding whether to join a lawsuit against Trump University proposed by New York’s Democratic attorney general.

Bondi got a $25,000 check. And isn’t it funny how quickly after that she decided against joining the lawsuit against Trump?

That left the individual Floridians who felt cheated to pursue reimbursement on their own. By contrast, in New York, the attorney general went ahead with the suit, representing students in his state that he believes were fleeced by Trump University in a bait-and-switch scheme.

When reporters questioned Trump about the $25,000 gift, he denied Bondi talked to him about a contribution. “I never spoke to her about it at all,” he claimed at first. But later, his spokeswoman admitted Bondi asked Trump for the money.

Trump didn’t take the $25,000 out of his own wallet. He took it from the foundation.

And see, here’s the problem. Non-profit foundations are prohibited by the IRS from making political contributions. And lying to the IRS about it is worse.

Here is how Allen Weisselberg, chief financial officer for the Trump Organization and treasurer for the Trump Foundation explained the bungling that led to the foundation paying a $2,500 fine to the IRS earlier this year.

First, Weisselberg claimed, a Trump clerk was asked to write a check for $25,000 to an organization called And Justice for All, which was Bondi’s political action committee.

Weisselberg swears that the clerk found a charity named And Justice for All in Utah, which helps people with disabilities, and wrote the check for And Justice for All intending it to go to a charity in Utah.

And then, he says, the check, somehow, he doesn’t know how, got sent to Bondi.

And that’s not all, folks!

Weisselberg blames the next blunder on Trump’s accounting firm. When the firm listed the foundation’s 2013 donations for the IRS, it didn’t list either And Justice for All from Utah or And Justice for All from Florida. Instead it listed an entirely different group, Justice for All from Kansas.

It was just a typo or something, Weisselberg claims.

So on the 2013 IRS form, first the Trump Foundation told the federal government that it had not spent money for political purposes, when, in fact, it had spent $25,000 for political purposes. Then it told the IRS it made a grant to a group it had not, in fact, given money to.

All this fumbling from what Donnie promises will be the very best advisers in the world. The greatest!

The IRS never would have discovered this on its own. Its staff has been decimated by Republican budget cutting. Republicans don’t want billionaires like Trump to get pinched for tax cheating. So they take care of that problem by eliminating the tax cops.

When they did, Donnie denied any of it was done on purpose. Now, don’t forget, Donnie’s the guy who keeps saying things like this on the campaign trail: “I’ve given to everybody because that is my job. I gotta give to them. Because when I want something, I get it. When I call, they kiss my ass.”

In Bondi’s case, though, Donnie denied she kissed his anything. He said they were just friends.

 “I’ve just known Pam Bondi for years,” he said. She was a great attorney general, so he sent her $25,000 when she asked for it while she was considering investigating his university and then he concealed the donation through his foundation and she dropped the investigation. Nothing to see here, folks!

Just like his tax returns. He keeps saying there’s nothing there. He claims he’s told Americans everything they need to know about his finances. But after this whole Bondi affair, it’s probably better to go with a new version of the old Reagan admonition when dealing with the Trump tax returns: distrust and verify by seeing the actual forms.

Leo W Gerard: Challenging The Stereotype Angry White Guy For Trump

Image by Lee Ruk CC Flikr

Image by Lee Ruk CC Flikr

As what the press has dubbed, “Hillary Clinton’s Blue Collar Bus Tour,” travels across Pennsylvania and Ohio, I want to tell you about two angry white men I met at the Democratic National Convention last week.

The press would have you believe that all of the angry white men are Trump supporters. This is the stereotype: They are high school educated, gun-totin’, flag-wavin’, bigots who love the bragging, swaggering bully in Trump.

But that’s an easy story. Those guys are easy to find. They fill Donald Trump’s stadiums. It’s true they’re out there. But what’s also true is that there’s a huge number of high school educated white men who don’t go to Trump rallies. They aren’t flag waving bigots. These are guys who only carry guns when they are hunting. They’re angry, all right. They’re angry at being associated with Trump.

Two of them were delegates to the Democratic National Convention last week. Both will be voting for Hillary Clinton and both will be urging their union brothers and sisters to do the same. They are Jim Savage, who is a member and past president of USW Local 10-1, where most members work at Philadelphia Energy Solutions, and Richard Ray, who is a retired member of the USW at Owens-Illinois Inc., having worked at plants in both North Carolina and Georgia.

For Ray, backing Trump would be antithetical to his life-long commitment to organized labor.

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Richard Ray

Ray joined the American Flint Glass Workers union when he got a job with the Owens-Illinois Glass Co. in Durham, N.C. when he was 20 years old.  Six months later, he was elected shop steward. He held elected union offices for the next 49 years, all the way up to president of the Georgia State AFL-CIO, always in the not-so-union-friendly South. He became a member of the USW when the glass workers and the steelworkers merged.

Ray devoted his life to helping the group, getting better wages, benefits and working conditions for his union brothers and sisters. The most vital value to union members, he explains, is “we.” The idea, he said, is that everybody helps improve life for everybody: “We are all in it together.”

“With Trump, though, it is always, me, me, me,” Ray said. What is most important to Donald Trump is Donald Trump.

It is true, Ray noted, that Donald Trump is very rich, that he has done very well for himself. For the “me.” But he has also gone bankrupt repeatedly. And when he did, he protected himself at the expense of working guys and small contractors. Trump paid pennies on the dollar to electricians and bricklayers and other skilled laborers. Lots of small contractors in New Jersey lost their family businesses because Trump didn’t pay what he owed them.

“He is the only one who came out smelling like a rose,” Ray told me. Trump wasn’t thinking of the other guy like a union brother or sister would. He was just thinking of Donald Trump.

The same is true with Trump’s signature products like suits and ties. Trump could have thought of the “we” and made a little bit less money for himself by manufacturing those products in America. But he didn’t. He makes them off shore with exploited foreign labor.

And right now Trump could be helping unemployed Americans, caring about the American “we,” but instead he is applying for 78 visas to bring in foreign nationals to work at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

Ray told me that, by contrast, when he listens to Hillary Clinton, he hears the opposite. Even her slogan is “stronger together.”

He noted that when Hillary Clinton left an Ivy League law school, she could have taken a high-paid job with a law firm and just made money for herself, the way Donald Trump did when he left the Ivy League Wharton School. But instead, Hillary Clinton began working for children with disabilities. And she has been laboring to help people ever since, including securing health insurance for low income children when she was First Lady.

“I don’t think it has ever been about ‘me’ for Hillary Clinton,” Ray told me. “It has always been about we.”

Ray is a no stereotype southern working class white man voting for Trump. He will be working hard over the next four months to make sure his union brothers and sisters, his neighbors, friends and acquaintances all see that stereotype is as repulsive as he does.

Savage is no stereotype rust belt working class white man voting for Trump. Vice president of the Philadelphia AFL-CIO, Savage came to the convention as a Bernie Sanders delegate because his mission is economic justice. He said he switched his allegiance to Hillary Clinton easily because she has supported organized labor her entire political life.

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Jim Savage

Savage told me that he has fought throughout his life as a labor leader for economic justice and thought that racial justice would just naturally come along with it. But it has not.

“Economic justice doesn’t mean shit if it is only for a certain sector,” he told me last week. This is personal for Savage because he has both white grandchildren and black grandchildren. He wants them all to have the same opportunities. And he wants them to be treated equally in all areas of society.

He is deeply offended by racist comments Donald Trump has made. And he is deeply offended that people assume that because he is a white working class man that he is a Trump supporter.

“We need economic justice for all people, for people’s wives and daughters and neighbors,” Savage said. And that is why he is a white, working-class man supporting Hillary Clinton.

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