Forget Personalities and ‘Likeability’ – Who Will Lead and Who is Best on the Issues Critical to American Working Families?
Presidential political campaigns in the age of the 24/7 news cycle can be quite distracting. The media often supplies saturation coverage on inconsequential stories unrelated to the issues that directly affect our families such as fair trade, wealth inequality, the right to organize, and affordable higher education. Complex, but nonetheless critically important issues, just can’t seem to get traction in this environment.
In this issue of Solidarity, we look at where each presidential contender stands on key issues that affect UAW families and retirees. The UAW has endorsed Hillary Clinton for president, but it is important to note the endorsement springs from the positions that she takes on the issues. Who will set policies that grow jobs, help raise our wages, protect our health care and pensions, and support us as we try to afford college for our children? Who will fight for our jobs and against bad trade deals? Who has specific, detailed positions on the issues? Who can we trust to fight for those positions if he or she wins the election? This election isn’t about likeability or which candidate can make best use of a Twitter account. It’s about what she or he will do once in office and how that will improve — or harm — our future.
Here is a brief rundown of how the two major party candidates stand on some issues that are of critical importance to UAW members, active and retired:
Hillary Clinton has made a commitment that she will renegotiate NAFTA. She has been consistent in this position. As far back as 2000, she has said that she is open to renegotiating trade deals in order to help American workers. She has also committed that she will oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and any similar trade agreements that do not meet the UAW’s high standard for creating living wages, enhancing labor rights and protecting human rights.
“I oppose it now,” she told an audience in Warren, Michigan, that included many UAW members. “I’ll oppose it after the election and I’ll oppose it as president.” (Detroit Free Press, Aug.16, 2016)>
The TPP’s Rules of Origin (ROO) govern how much of a product can be sourced from a nation and still be classified as being made in that country. The TPP has many loopholes that would allow TPP nations to build vehicles or components in a non-TPP nation and then export them to the U.S., undercutting the wages of UAW members. TPP also doesn’t adequately address currency manipulation, which makes the imports from other nations such as Japan less expensive and U.S. exports more expensive. Hillary Clinton said this about the ROO provisions in the TPP at a March 12 rally in Youngstown, Ohio, in March:
“We cannot let rules of origin allow China — or anyone else, but principally China — to go around trade agreements.” she said. “It’s one of the reasons why I oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership because when I saw what was in it, it was clear to me there were too many loopholes, too many opportunities for folks to be taken advantage of.” (Politico.com, March 14, 2016).
Donald Trump said he opposes the TPP, and he’s exploited popular opposition to the proposed trade deal to his benefit. But can Trump be trusted to follow through on his commitment to oppose TPP? His history of being on two different sides of an issue so many times clearly demonstrates that he cannot be trusted. And we know what Trump said about shipping UAW jobs to nonunion plants in the South so that UAW members would agree to lower wages to get their jobs back. “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,” Trump said. After UAW workers in Michigan lose “a couple of plants — all of sudden you’ll make good deals in your own area.” (Detroit News, Aug. 12, 2015).
Hillary Clinton is the far superior candidate on workers’ rights because she has committed to investing in American workers. She will fight to restore bargaining rights for unions, and appoint fair-minded people to the National Labor Relations Board who will keep workers’ interests in mind when handing down decisions.
Donald Trump has fought unions vigorously at his own properties, hired foreign workers to come into this country to do jobs Americans should be hired to do, and outsourced his clothing line and other Trump-branded products to low-wage countries.
Hillary Clinton will work to continue the momentum on raising the minimum wage that progressive groups and unions have started. She will strengthen weak overtime rules that allow companies to rob low-paid employees of the overtime that they should be paid.
She will make investments in high-quality training, apprenticeship programs, and skill-building programs that help our workers compete in the global marketplace.
Trump’s position on workers’ rights is frightening for anyone who believes that workers should have a voice in their workplace. He’s fought unions vigorously at his own properties, hired foreign workers to come into this country to do jobs Americans should be hired to do, and outsourced his clothing line and other Trump-branded products to low-wage countries. He’s in favor of right-to-work laws and has stiffed workers on wages they were owed. He’s no friend to working Americans.
Paid family leave, earned sick days, fair schedules and quality, affordable child care are critical needs for American workers in today’s economy. Hillary Clinton understands how these issues are important to making sure American workers can take necessary time off when needed and be there for their families. Her proposal would fund 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave to care for a new child or a seriously ill family member, and up to 12 weeks of medical leave to recover from a serious illness or injury of their own. The plan, which would pay two thirds of wages and cover new fathers, would be funded through tax reforms that will make the wealthy pay their fair share and would not raise taxes on individuals or small businesses.
Trump has a plan for six weeks of paid maternity leave for mothers who do not already receive such a benefit from their employers. But it would be paid through the Unemployment Insurance (UI) system, which puts the unemployment benefits of jobless Americans at stake and would provide a much lower benefit than Clinton’s plan. New fathers are not included and states would be allowed to opt out of it. (The Nation, Sept. 15, 2016).
Trump’s plan to help Americans pay for child care through tax cuts is heavily slanted toward benefitting the wealthy. (U.S. News, Sept. 14, 2016).
Equal pay for equal work is not only a matter of fairness for women workers, but a family issue because disparity in pay has a terrible impact on families, particularly those headed by single mothers. Hillary Clinton has long been a supporter of equal pay. Donald Trump has no plans to address the disparity in pay between men and women.
Hillary Clinton believes that corporations and the wealthy must pay their fair share of the tax burden and will close loopholes in the tax code. American companies have moved their profits overseas, placing them out of reach of the U.S. tax system. This unfairness has led to the middle and working class paying a disproportionate share of the tax burden. Clinton will crack down on companies that move profits overseas to escape their responsibility to pay their fair share. Companies that export jobs would be required to pay back any tax breaks they have received from U.S. taxpayers. Clinton’s closing of tax loopholes would raise $250 billion for infrastructure investment, part of a $275 billion infrastructure plan that would create millions of new, good-paying jobs.
Trump supports significant business tax cuts, reducing the number of income tax brackets, and cutting taxes at all income levels. But the largest beneficiary of these tax cuts go to the highest-income households. Trump’s tax policies would increase the national debt by nearly 80 percent of the gross domestic product by 2036, unless the tax cuts are accompanied by very large spending cuts. (Tax Policy Center analysis, December 2015).
Affordable Higher Education
Hillary Clinton has a five-year plan to address the college affordability crisis. Students from families with a combined income of $125,000 or less would be able to attend in-state public colleges without paying tuition. For families earning less than $85,000, the plan would be effective immediately. “Higher education shouldn’t be a privilege for those able to afford it. It should be an opportunity widely available for anybody with the talent, determination and ambition,” she has said.
Trump has no concrete plan designed to help students afford the ever-increasing costs of higher education other than to threaten to cut federal funding to colleges that don’t “make good faith efforts” to deal with the high cost of tuition and student debt. (Christian Science Monitor, July 28, 2016).
It isn’t hard to see why our union has endorsed Hillary Clinton. Her positions are detailed and are supportive of working families. We know where she stands on issues of great importance to millions of hard-working American families, families like ours that struggle to put food on the table, put children through college, maintain decent healthcare and have something saved for their golden years. There are a lot of reasons to vote against Donald Trump that have nothing to do with the issues that we’ve outlined above. But when you get down to the real issues that affect a majority of working Americans, his positions either lack specifics or they track the conservative viewpoint that has been so devastating to working families in the last decade. We’ve come a long way since the near collapse of the domestic auto industry and our entire U.S. economy in 2008- 10. We were fortunate to have a president who understood the gravity of the issues facing Americans — in particular our members — during those dark days. We cannot afford to go back to a time when our economy and the future of our families was peering off a cliff. On the issues alone, Hillary Clinton is the far superior candidate for UAW members and all hardworking Americans. Counting in her vast experience in politics and in public service, her proven track record, her temperament and her toughness that has been tested time and time again by her opponents, it’s clear that she’s ready to lead this nation and improve the standing of working Americans everywhere.
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