What will Trump’s first term mean for ordinary people?
For black and Latino people, women and LGBT+ people, the prospect of a Trump presidency is terrifying.
He and his Christian fundamentalist vice president Mick Pence hope to roll back all the gains that were won through struggle in the late 20th century.
As governor of Indiana Pence introduced a law which forced women to bury unborn foetuses. Trump has called Mexicans “rapists”. Attorney general Jeff Sessions used to support the Ku Klux Klan. These are tastes of the things to come.
During his election campaign Trump used racism to tap into the misery of ordinary people’s lives. He talked of jobs going abroad or being “stolen” by “illegal” migrants.
A recent study showed that the average wage for the poorest half of US adults—117 million people—stands at £13,170 a year before tax.
Yet Trump’s tax policies will increase the already huge gulf between the rich and everyone else.
His income tax cuts will hand the richest 0.1 percent a 19 percent tax cut while the poorest 1 percent will get just 7 percent.
And it’s estimated that the proposed tax cuts will add over £9 trillion to public debt over the next decade. That could be an excuse to gut services such as public education and welfare which the poorest rely on.
Trump also wants to scrap Obamacare. This is a crooked and flawed health policy, yet it gave 20 million people in the US access to healthcare.
But hundreds of thousands of people, if not millions, have already protested against his presidency. More demonstrations are planned for the weekend of his inauguration. Trump is nasty—but he’s unlikely to get an easy ride.
Is there anything corrupt about Trump’s new cabinet?
Trump announced last week that he will leave his empire in the hands of his two sons, Donald Jr. and Eric, as well as company CEO Allen Weisselberg.
He is desperate to deflect criticism of his conflicts of interest.
It is fanciful to think that Trump will not retain an interest in his former businesses while in office, particularly if they are run by his sons.
In total, his cabinet has a combined wealth of at least £10.7 billion (see right). It’s more than the wealth of the 70 poorest countries in the world combined. The idea that his government will defend the interests of ordinary people is laughable.
Who are his rivals at the top?
In the primary stages of the election process Trump faced opposition from the majority of the Republican party establishment.
Those hostilities remain.
Trump’s bitter rival Paul Ryan used allegations concerning Trump’s ties with Russia to attack him last week. He said that Trump “will learn to appreciate” the intelligence community after the president-elect accused the FBI and CIA of leaking documents.
Ryan also poured cold water on Trump’s plans for a deportation force, saying that there will be no one “knocking on your door this year”.
Allegations about Trump’s personal life and connections to Russia emerged on Wednesday of last week. That would have been an ideal time for Republican opponents to make a move, but most of the party in congress issued statements backing Trump.
Yet tensions emerged again the next day when Trump’s choice for secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, faced hostile questioning at a senate hearing into his nomination.
Mark Rubio, who challenged Trump at the primary stages of the election, grilled Tillerson about his ties to Russian president Vladimir Putin.
Trump’s position is far from unassailable. Militant protests and working class action can make his position untenable.
Will millions be deported?
Trump wants to launch a disgusting campaign of mass deportations of “illegal” migrants.
Previously he planned to deport as many as 11 million. Now he says he will target “gang members” and “drug dealers”.
“We have a lot of these people, probably two million—it could be even three million,” he said. “We are getting them out of the country or we are going to incarcerate.”
This is a recipe for even more hate crimes, which the FBI secret police says have spiked since Trump’s election.
But Trump’s racist immigration policies are a continuation of Barack Obama’s deportation programme.
Anthony Enriquez from the Immigrant Defence Project pointed out, “The infrastructure to carry out his announced plans already exists. The idea of mass deportation has already been normalised.”
He said Trump is likely to widen the definition of an “illegal” immigrant in order to meet his targets.
According to the Department of Homeland Security there were 1.9 million “removable alien criminals” in the US in 2013.
If Trump’s plans go ahead, the number of migrants in detention could rise from 45,000 people a day to three million.
Some states, such as California, have speculated about refusing to cooperate. But it will take a mass movement to pressure states into defying federal law.
What does ‘protectionism’ mean—and can it save jobs?
Trump’s rhetorical solution to the poverty of ordinary people has been to slam firms for taking jobs to other countries—in particular Mexico.
His response is to hand out perks to businesses—a tactic used by Democrats and Republicans for decades.
When the firm Carrier/United Technologies announced it would be taking a plant, and 800 jobs, from Indianapolis to Mexico, Trump intervened. It cost nearly £6 million in tax credits from the state of Indiana.
A 2012 investigation found that state, town and city governments were giving away over £65 billion a year in perks to firms to stop them from moving. And in states that don’t hand out incentives, corporate tax is often low or non-existent.
Some of Trump’s proposals could cause him problems. For instance, he has threatened to increase import tariffs to 35 percent for some companies. But if he does other countries could follow suit, trashing Trump’s plan to turn the US into an export-driven economy.
And international ruling classes will oppose Trump’s economic policies if they hit the movement of capital worldwide.
Trump has said he will pull the US out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and opposes the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta).
These trade deals haven’t benefited workers in the US or elsewhere—which is why many unions rightly oppose them.
But there is a danger of unions being sucked into supporting Trump. The United Steelworkers went so far as to endorse Wilbur Ross, the billionaire set to become commerce secretary (see above).
Now the United Autoworkers union has said it wants to work with Trump to defeat Nafta.
Union membership has plummeted from 20 percent of workers in 1992 to just 12 percent today.
That has led to right wingers holding onto power through deals with bosses.
Looking to protectionism and Trump to defend workers is a disaster. Working class people have to put forward their own vision of society—one which isn’t tied to a fictional “national interest.”