This video from the USA says about itself:
18 March 2017
On Thursday, the Trump administration released a preliminary 2018 budget proposal, which details many of the changes the president wants to make to the federal government’s spending. The proposal covers only discretionary, not mandatory, spending.
From daily The Morning Star in Britain:
United States: Trump cuts federal agency funding but boosts military
Friday 17th March 2017
US PRESIDENT Donald Trump unveiled a $1.15 trillion (£1.2trn) budget yesterday, confirming his commitment to cut federal agency spending while boosting the military and making a down payment on his southern border wall obsession.
“A budget that puts America first must make the safety of our people its number one priority, because without safety there can be no prosperity,” he intoned.
His “America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again” includes a $54 billion (£44bn) boost for the military — the largest increase since Ronald Reagan’s Pentagon build-up in the 1980s.
Mr Trump promised immediate money for troop readiness … and procurement of new ships, fighter jets and other weapons.
The 10 per cent boost to the Pentagon budget is financed by $54bn in cuts to foreign aid and domestic agencies that were previously protected by Mr Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama.
The budget goes after the frequent targets of the Republican Party’s most rabid conservatives, eliminating the National Endowment for the Arts, legal aid for the poor, low-income heating assistance and the AmeriCorps national service programme established by former president Bill Clinton.
The widely condemned border wall project will receive an immediate $1.4bn (£1.1bn) infusion in the ongoing fiscal year, with another $2.6bn (£2.1bn) planned for the 2018 budget year starting on October 1.
Mr Trump repeatedly claimed during the campaign that Mexico would pay for the wall when, in fact, US taxpayers will foot the bill.
Twelve of the government’s 15 cabinet agencies would absorb cuts under the president’s proposal, with defence, homeland security and veterans affairs being the only winners.
More than 3,000 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) workers would lose their jobs and programmes such as the Clean Power Plan, which aims to tighten regulations on emissions from power plants, would be eliminated.
Popular EPA grants for state and local drinking and wastewater projects would be preserved, however, even as research into climate change would be eliminated.
Mr Trump’s proposal covers barely a quarter of the $4trn (£3.2trn) federal budget, the discretionary portion that Congress passes each year.
It doesn’t address taxes, social security, Medicare and Medicaid or make predictions about deficits and the economy.
Those big-picture details are due in mid-May.
The budget proposes to increase spending on the military and homeland security by nearly $60 billion, while slashing spending on the environment and social programs: here.
As the Trump administration charts a course toward war in the Asia-Pacific, there is no discussion within the American media or political establishment of the catastrophic consequences: here.
President Donald Trump’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2018 includes some big cuts for science: here.
Trump’s budget cuts likely to have dire impact on US transit projects: here.
Friday 17th March 2017
posted by Morning Star in Features
While millions find Donald Trump’s policies an abomination, SOLOMON HUGHES discovers the big British businesses benefitting from his deregulation
US PRESIDENT Donald Trump has started handing out favours to British and US corporations. Trump’s favours to business shows that his rule is partly based on traditional, billionaire-loving, corporation-stroking Republicanism.
Trump has spiced up standard US Republicanism with a dash of alt-right and a gallon of his own personal maverick “populism,” including promises to help “the millions upon millions of American workers left behind” — mostly by bashing migrants.
Trump has been quick to hurt migrants but those “American workers” are going to have to wait a long time for help because corporations are ahead in the queue —Trump has very quickly started a wave of deregulation to help them.
The New York Times published a list of a dozen Trump deregulation initiatives at the start of March. The rule changes closely followed corporate lobbying.
I want to focus on two that also help British multinationals, who backed the lobbying.
The first is about oil royalties. Britain’s BP and Anglo-Dutch Shell are among the big energy firms that pump oil and gas out of United States soil.
In the US oil and gas firms must pay royalties to the federal government or to individual states for oil or gas extracted from federal or state land.
The federal royalty system is very ready for reform. The federal government charges just 12.5 per cent royalties, a rate set 95 years ago, when it was harder to get the oil out of the ground. Local states have set more recent rates reflecting how modern technology means oil companies can make easier profits — Texas charges 25 per cent, other states charge around 17 per cent.
Former president Barack Obama announced he was going to reform the federal rate in 2015 because the low royalty means the US government is losing around $730 million a year to oil firms. They include BP and Shell.
The Office of Natural Resources Revenue, part of the US Department of the Interior, collects the royalties from energy firms active on federal land. On the existing low rates the Office collects about $4 billion from the big oil firms. BP and Shell both pay about $500m each per year in these royalties.
Both BP and Shell have a history of cheating these regulators.
In 2007, BP had to pay a $20.5m fine to settle allegations that it had underpaid the royalties it owed the US government — a whistleblower said BP systematically underestimated how much it pumped on both federal and Native American lands, cheating to keep the payment low.
In 2012 BP had to pay another fine of $5m for “submitting false, inaccurate or misleading reports” to the Office of National Resources Revenue, underplaying how much gas the company pumped — this time on Native American lands.
Shell paid a $2m fine in 2011 over underpayment on federal leases. Then in 2012, it had to pay $25m for unpaid royalties on US federal leases.
Shell also had an over-familiar relationship with the officials supposedly collecting the revenues.
In 2010 the inspector general of the US Department of the Interior found Shell staff were giving drinks, dinners, gifts and golf and ski holidays to US civil servants. Shell staff also slept with women from the US Department of the Interior in Shell-owned lodges after Shell-sponsored parties. 7
The inspector general was shocked by the “culture of ethical failure” among his staff who “socialised with and received a wide array of gifts and gratuities from oil and gas companies.”
The inspector could see his staff were far too close to the people they were supposed to be charging royalties.
All told, BP and Shell are paying too low royalties — and trying to avoid even the ones they owe. Shell staff also had an unhealthy relationship with the civil servants.
So Obama’s announcement that he was going to up the rates was a nobrainer. However, the American Petroleum Institute — the oil lobby group backed by Shell and BP — wrote to Trump’s government this February asking that the rate rise, which was finally about to happen, to be scrapped.
Trump’s government promptly scrapped it. What BP and Shell want, so does Trump.
The second Trump deregulation relates to drugs.
In the US, drug firms are allowed to advertise medicines much more than in Britain. If you’ve spent any time in the US, you’ll be used to the weird and frequent straight-to-consumer pharmaceutical advertisements on the telly, which often end with a rushed warning about adverse reactions and side effects “that may be fatal.”
Corporations often advertise medicines as treatments for conditions that haven’t been approved by regulators. It’s called “off label use.”
The pharma firms decide their pills might help treat a whole range of diseases that haven’t been checked by the Food and Drug Administration.
In 2012 British drug firm GlaxoSmithKline had to pay a $3bn fine for years of promoting their anti-depression drugs for all kinds of unapproved conditions — the company marketed drugs not tested on under-18s to youngsters. It claimed their drugs could help with things like weight loss or sexual dysfunction without official approval.
In 2017 the Food and Drug Administration announced it was tightening up the rules — it had seen bad behaviour by firms like GlaxoSmithKline on “off-label” marketing.
It now proposed to consider the “totality of evidence” about their drug marketing.
The regulators would consider more than just the advertising and labels to see if pharmaceutical firms were trying to increase use of their drugs in unapproved areas. So “big pharma” fought back.
The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) lobbied hard against the broader investigation of their advertising. PhRMA is the powerful voice of big pharma and GlaxoSmithKline is one of its leading members. PhRMA shouted, Trump heard. The new marketing rule has been abandoned.
The deregulation for big — including British — corporations show that Trump is in part a continuation of corporate-loving US Republicanism.
While his unconventional ultra-right stances are causing widespread alarm, even with “moderate” or “centrist” commentators, I suspect that if he does enough favours to big business, some of his “centrist,” pro-business opponents might be more reconciled to the tangerine demagogue.
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> These Are What the Brutal Consequences of Trump’s Proposed Budget Slash for the Labor Dept. Would Look Like
> The Trump administration’s “budget blueprint ” would devastate worker safety, job training programs and legal services essential to low-income workers. Its cuts include a 21 percent, or $2.5 billion, reduction in the Department of Labor’s budget.
> The budget would reduce funding for or eliminate programs that provide job training to low-income workers, unemployed seniors, disadvantaged youth and for state-based job training grants. It eliminates the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) training grants as well as the independent Chemical Safety Board . Also targeted for elimination is the Legal Services Corporation , which provides legal assistance to low-income Americans.
> “Cutting these programs is cutting the safety net for the most vulnerable workers, those striving for the middle class,” said Matt Shudtz, executive director at the Center for Progressive Reform . “This budget would eliminate training programs for them, the kind of things people need to move up in the world. It is very anti-worker and anti- the most vulnerable workers.”
> Judy Conti, National Employment Law Project (NELP) federal advocacy coordinator, didn’t mince words.
> “This budget will mean more illness, injury and death on the job,” she said Thursday, the day the proposed budget was released.
> Targeting programs that prevent injury and illness
> The White House budget proposal justifies its enormous cuts to the Department of Labor by saying it focuses on the agency’s “highest priority functions and disinvests in activities that are duplicative, unnecessary, unproven or ineffective.”
> The budget would close Job Corps centers that serve “disadvantaged youth,” eliminate the Senior Community Service Employment Program, decrease federal funding for state and local job training grants—shifting more financial responsibility to employers and state and local governments. The budget would also eliminate certain grants to the Office of Disability Employment Policy, which helps people with disabilities stay in the job market.
> Also slated for elimination are OSHA’s Susan Harwood training grants that have provided more than 2.1 million workers, especially underserved and low-literacy workers in high-hazard industries, with health and safety training since 1978. These trainings are designed to multiply their effects by “training trainers” so that both workers and employers learn how to prevent and respond to workplace hazards . They’ve trained healthcare workers on pandemic hazards, helped construction workers avoid devastating accidents, and workers in food processing and landscaping prevent ergonomic injuries. The program also helps workers for whom English is not their first language obtain essential safety training.
> “The cuts to OSHA training grants will hurt workers and small employers,” said David Michaels , former assistant secretary of labor for OSHA. “Training is a proven, and in fact necessary method to prevent worker injuries and illnesses. OSHA’s training grants are very cost effective, reaching large numbers of workers and small employers who would otherwise not be trained in injury and illness prevention.”
> “Everyone, labor and management, believes that a workforce educated in safety and health is essential to saving lives and preventing occupational disease. That is the purpose of the Harwood grants,” said Michael Wright, director of health, safety and environment at United Steelworkers.
> The White House says eliminating these grants will save $11 million, a miniscule fraction of the $639 billion the Trump administration is requesting for the Department of Defense.
> “No words to describe how cruel it is”
> Eliminating the Chemical Safety Board (CSB) would mean no independent federal agency dedicated to investing devastating industrial accidents such as the Deepwater Horizon disaster, the West Fertilizer plant explosion, Freedom Industries chemical release in Charleston, West Virginia, and the Chevron refinery fire in Richmond, California. Those are among the hundreds of cases CSB has investigated over the past 20 years or so.
> “Our recommendations have resulted in banned natural gas blows in Connecticut, an improved fire code in New York City, and increased public safety at oil and gas sites across the State of Mississippi. The CSB has been able to accomplish all of this with a small and limited budget. The American public are safer today as a result of the work of the dedicated and professional staff of the CSB,” said CSB chairperson Vanessa Allen Sutherland in a statement.
> “The cost of even one such accident would be more than the CSB’s budget over its entire history. And that calculation is only economic. The human cost of a catastrophic accident would be enormous,” said Wright. “The CSB’s work has saved the lives of workers in chemical plants and oil refineries, residents who could be caught in a toxic cloud, even students in high school chemistry labs.”
> The budget proposal also jeopardizes essential legal support for low-wage workers. While not dedicated to employment issues, the Legal Services Corporation provides vital services to low-wage workers, including on issues related to workers’ compensation and other job benefits.
> “Gutting the Legal Services Corporation,” said NELP’s Conti, “there are no words to describe how cruel it is, especially considering grossly underfunded the agency is.”
> “The government should be investing in workers, their families, and communities, but instead this budget drastically cuts the programs meant to uplift them,” said Emily Gardner, worker health and safety advocate at Public Citizen.
> The White House calls the budget proposal a “Budget Blueprint to make American Great Again.” On a call with reporters, Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget , “this is the ‘America First’ budget” and said it was written “using the president’s own words” to turn “those policies into numbers.”
> “This is not so much a budget as an ideological statement,” said David Golston, government affairs director at the Natural Resources Defense Council.
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Tuesday, 21 March 2017
Trump’s 2018 budget slashes workforce training: AFL-CIO
THE AFL-CIO US trade union federation has produced an analysis of President Donald Trump’s 2018 Budget.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka made the following statement regarding Trump’s proposed budget: ‘Working people in states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin didn’t vote for a budget that slashes workforce training and fails to invest in our nation’s infrastructure.
‘President Trump’s proposed budget attempts to balance the budget on the backs of working families. The $54 billion cut to programmes that benefit working families is dangerous and destructive.
‘Huge cuts to the departments of Labour, Education and Transportation will make workplaces less safe, put more children at risk and make improving our failing infrastructure much more difficult. The administration can and should do better.’
The budget abandons the future – slashing investments in workers, communities, young people, protecting our environment and building democracy. There are major cuts in job training, education, health programmes, the environment, the arts and foreign aid. Research programmes in science and medicine are slashed. Sixty-two government programmes/agencies are slated for elimination.
Here are some key highlights:
• Department of Labour: Overall cut $2.5 billion (-20.7%)
The budget makes it harder for workers to get the training they need in order to advance in their industry and to compete globally.
• Department of Health and Human Services: Overall cut $12.6 billion (-16.2%)
People suffering from terminal diseases will be affected by lack of new medicines, and low-income workers will not receive assistance to heat their homes during the cold months of winter.
• Cuts National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding by 18.3% (-$5.8 billion)
• Eliminates the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Programme (LIHEAP), which provides assistance to help low-income people heat and cool their homes
• Eliminates $403 million in health professions and nursing training programmes
• Restructures the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and directs money to states through block grants
• Increases funding for opioid prevention and treatment services by $500 million
• Department of Education: Overall cut $9.2 billion (-13.5%)
This budget would destroy public schools and eliminate much-needed training for teachers. It also makes it harder for young people to go to college.
• Increases funding for school choice by $1.4 billion
• Redirects $418 million to private/charter schools
• Eliminates $2.4 billion for Supporting Effective Instruction state grants
• Reduces or eliminates funding for teacher-preparation programmes (State Teacher Quality/Supporting Effective Instruction grants)
• Eliminates federal funding for before- and after-school and summer-school programmes
• Eliminates the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant programme, which provides grants for students with the greatest need
The Department of State is Overall cut by $10.9 billion (-28.7%)
The budget would harm workers around the world who are standing up to multinational corporations and repressive governments that restrict workers’ rights and lower wages.
It cuts funding for UN programmes and reorganises and consolidates US Agency for International Development (USAID) programmes
There is a Department of Treasury: Overall cut of $0.5 billion (-4.4%) These cuts allow the super-wealthy and corporations to get away with not paying taxes and allow big banks to crush small community banks.
The budget cuts IRS by $239 million. It eliminates funding for the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund. The Department of Transportation is overall cut by $2.4 billion (-12.7%) This will mean less investment in railroads and airlines at a time when our nation has an infrastructure deficit of over $4 trillion.
Air traffic control is privatised while it restructures and cuts federal subsidies for Amtrak. and cuts funding for the Federal Transit Administration’s Capital Investment Grant Programme. There are to be more resources to enforce our nation’s trade laws. Our current trade policy has put corporations ahead of workers – resulting in jobs shipped overseas and lower wages.
The Environmental Protection Agency is Overall cut by $2.6 billion (-31.4%) These cuts will make our drinking water less safe and our air more toxic.
Meanwhile, controversial Iowa Rep. Steve King is once again in hot water for espousing racist, white nationalist views, tweeting that ‘we can’t restore our civilisation with somebody else’s babies.’ He doubled down on his bigoted words over the weekend, telling CNN that ‘I meant exactly what I said.’
King’s latest racist remarks drew praise from Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, who tweeted ‘GOD BLESS STEVE KING,’ and sharp rebukes from just about everyone else, including fellow Republicans in Congress and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, just to name a few.
While this story is making headlines, there’s been scant attention paid to how King’s policy agenda reflects his white nationalist views. King is the author of the federal bill that would impose a right to work scheme nationally, which would be devastating to our country’s economy and would hit workers, especially people of colour, square in the pocketbook.
Backed by an array of wealthy corporations and secret deep-pocketed donors, these laws have proliferated in Republican-controlled states across the country, leading to lower wages and fewer benefits for not just union workers, but all workers in those states.
People of colour – particularly women of colour – are hit hardest by these laws, which fuel income inequality and put their American Dream further out of reach. According to the Economic Policy Institute, wages in right to work states are 3.2% lower than in non-right to work states.
Health insurance and retirement security are scarcer. So why would any policy maker push legislation that lowers wages? One obvious reason is that big corporations love these laws, because they undercut the ability of working people to stand together in a union to demand fair wages and decent benefits for a hard day’s work. But if you look at the history of these laws, there’s an even more sinister reason behind them: racism.
Many attacks on labour unions have roots in white supremacism. University of Arkansas Associate Prof. Michael Pierce explained: ‘Right to work laws originated as means to maintain Jim Crow labour relations and to beat back what was seen as a Jewish cabal to foment a revolution.
‘No one was more important in placing right to work on the conservatives’ political agenda than Vance Muse of the Christian American Association, a larger-than-life Texan whose own grandson described him as “a white supremacist, an anti-Semite and a Communist-baiter, a man who beat on labour unions not on behalf of working people, as he said, but because he was paid to do so.”
‘Which brings us back to King. It’s no coincidence that the most racist member of Congress is also the staunchest supporter of a national right to work scheme. In the view of King and many other extremists, labour unions must be destroyed, because immigrants and people of colour have a better shot at the American Dream when they are able to organise and join unions.
‘Lower wages for everyone, including blue-collar whites, is just collateral damage in King’s view. Supporters of these laws will never admit to the racist origins of right to work. And they certainly won’t cop to the widening inequality gap these laws create. But make no mistake; racism is central to the hidden agenda. Supporting national right to work is tantamount to supporting King’s racist world view. That’s a message every member of Congress needs to hear.’
• Even as the Labour Department awaits confirmation of a new secretary, officials say enforcement actions are moving forward against companies accused of violating workplace safety rules.
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