Unions: Workers will remember Trump tax deal in November
"We're going to repeal and replace Paul Ryan," says Ironworker Randy Bryce who is running against Ryan in Wisconsin. Randy Bryce | Video screenshot

Union leaders blasted the new $1.5 trillion 10-year tax cut for the rich and corporations that the GOP-run Congress approved on party-line votes and GOP President Donald Trump – an active, enthusiastic backer – signed just before Christmas. All vowed to ensure voters remember the tax cut for the rich and the increase for everyone else, in November.

Polls show the law, which gives more than 80 percent of its benefits to the rich and businesses, and more than 60 percent to the top 1 percent of the country, is wildly unpopular.

But the ruling Republicans, except for 12 GOP U.S. House members mostly from New York and New Jersey, ignored the protests and voted down the line for the measure. Every Democrat opposed it, saying it clobbered the poor – whose tax rates rise – and middle class.

The New York and New Jersey Republicans said eliminating the century-old federal tax deduction for state and local taxes would disproportionately hurt their constituents. That elimination specifically targets taxpayers in high-service pro-Democratic “blue” states, led by New York, New Jersey, California, Massachusetts, Maryland and Illinois, along with those in deeply Republican “red” state Texas and “purple” swing state Pennsylvania.

The union leaders blasted the overall unfairness of the law, adding it would throw an estimated 13 million people off health insurance by 2025, and raise premiums by 10 percent yearly for everyone else, due to a key provision yanking money from the Affordable Care Act.

“Trump and the GOP are hustling for a tax plan that would change American life in terrible ways by cutting services, killing American manufacturing, outsourcing jobs, weakening our economy and undermining our future. Instead of giving a gigantic tax cut to the rich, Congress should focus on funding our domestic priorities, not just defense,” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said before lawmakers passed the measure. Trumka and Teamsters President Jim Hoffa did not explicitly mention potential retribution in November.

“This outrageous and immoral tax legislation has been sold on the basis of a brazen lie it will automatically create job and wage growth,” said Amalgamated Transit Union President Larry Hanley. “Yet corporations and the wealthy will simply pocket the money they don’t need so they can buy more private jets and vacation homes while the rest of working and middle-class bus drivers, nurses, teachers and their families continue to struggle.”

“America was the victim of a heist. The culprits were the world’s richest people and corporate America, and behind the wheel of the getaway car sat the Republican Congress. Rest assured they will be held accountable for their grand larceny come election day in November 2018.”

“At a time when big business is already pocketing sky-high profits and the top one percent of earners are seeing their incomes significantly grow, it is confounding why Congress would focus on increasing their wealth at the expense of the country’s workers,” the Teamsters’ Hoffa said. “Working Americans would see much-needed deductions for medical costs ended under this legislation. The bill would also cap deductions on local and state taxes as well as home mortgages, deductions that middle-class families rely on.

“This is a tax increase plan for millions of middle-income Americans. Even with the deductions that Republicans have been shamed into restoring, taxes could go up for 87 million middle-class families, including 67 million making less than $100,000 annually,” said Teachers President Randi Weingarten. “It will strip 13 million Americans of health insurance” and raise premiums for everyone else by “an average of $2,000 per year.”

“Given the rushed, dark-of-night process the GOP has used, we are still discovering new ways the bill will harm working families…Most Republican lawmakers sided with donors and turned their backs on their constituents.” She concluded by warning the “reprehensible rewarding of the rich at the expense of everyone else” and “GOP lawmakers’ hypocrisy and contempt for people who work hard for a living will not go unnoticed — now or in November.”

Washington State Labor Council President Jeff Johnson had a similar reaction, and The Stand, the council’s online paper, published the names and photos of all area Republican lawmakers who voted for the tax cut for the rich. They were in a half-page ad, quoting GOP leaders, and warning “Next, they’re coming for your Social Security and Medicare.”

“This bill is about further redistributing wealth in America away from the working class,” said Johnson. “It shovels more money into the pockets of the wealthy —- the people who need it the least —- at the expense of workers’ earned benefits and our children’s future. Given an economy already way out of balance, the tax bill further rigs the rules on behalf of powerful corporations and billionaires. It is an absolute disgrace and will not be forgotten,” he said.

So did California AFL-CIO Executive Secretary-Treasurer Art Pulaski. He published the names of all 12 California Republicans who voted for the tax cut. They backed it though Californians would suffer huge damage from elimination of the state and local tax deduction.

“Californians have a long memory,” Pulaski warned. “We won’t forget this betrayal at the hands of GOP congress members who sold us out for the most cynical of political reasons. The California labor movement is 100 percent committed to holding every California GOP member of Congress accountable for this vote. We’ll be talking to voters every day to ensure that Election Day 2018 is a day of reckoning for the politicians who chose to give their wealthy donors a huge gift at the expense of the hard-working families in their districts.”

Service Employees President Mary Kay Henry said the tax cut insults workers and families, whose taxes will rise while taxes on the rich drop. She too, said voters would remember in November.

“SEIU members and our communities are not fooled by Trump and Republicans who claim working families will benefit, when independent studies clearly show the opposite. Although members of Congress chose to ignore the voices of their constituents who called, wrote letters and participated in civil disobedience in protest of this bill, they will not be able to ignore the votes cast against them next year,” Henry added.

“No political party should be able to pass a bill this awful, this unpopular, and this corrupt and still keep their majority. It’s up to us to make sure they don’t,” Working Families Party Communications Director Joe Dinkin said.

“That’s why we’re going all-out to repeal and replace” GOP House Speaker “Paul Ryan — one of the Republican millionaires who stands to benefit personally from this bill — by backing Wisconsin WFP member and Ironworker Randy Bryce. That’s why we’ll be supporting candidates across the country next year in red and blue districts alike who will stand with working people.”

“The tax legislation is a huge giveaway to corporations and the wealthiest Americans at the expense of working families and young people who will be stuck paying the bill for decades. The American people know a bad deal when they see it. That’s why the percentage of Americans who oppose the plan, now 55 percent, continues to grow,” added Communications Workers President Chris Shelton.

“Those voices will grow even louder come Election Day 2018. We’ll keep exposing this Republican tax plan as a corporate money grab that results in working and middle-income families paying more, but getting less. We’ll keep reminding working people about the $4,000 raise that President Trump and the Republican leadership promised them.

“The Tax Policy Center concluded that, by 2027, 83 percent of the benefits from this disastrous tax bill will flow to the richest one-percent of Americans and big corporations,” said Andy Pallotta, president of the New York State United Teachers, the joint AFT-NEA affiliate in the Empire State.

“Rubbing salt in the wound is the targeting’ of ‘blue’ States like New York that invest heavily in public education and services that help the middle class” by elimination of the state and local tax deduction, he added.

That “will have a crippling effect on Teachers, Fire Fighters, Nurses and other middle-class New Yorkers who are likely to see their taxes go up over the next few years, while at the same time triggering unacceptable federal cuts to Medicaid, Social Security and education.

“I promise you those Republican members of New York’s House delegation who voted ‘yes’ will be haunted by their decision come November.”

Western New York Labor Today and The Stand, the online newspaper of the Washington State Labor Council, contributed material for this story.


Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of Press Associates Inc. (PAI), a union news service in Washington, D.C. that he has headed since 1999. Previously, he worked as Washington correspondent for the Ottaway News Service, as Port Jervis bureau chief for the Middletown, NY Times Herald Record, and as a researcher and writer for Congressional Quarterly. Mark obtained his BA in public policy from the University of Chicago and worked as the University of Chicago correspondent for the Chicago Daily News.