On President Trump’s Joint Address to Congress

Following is a statement from Christine Owens, Executive Director, National Employment Law Project:

“Forget lofty rhetoric about putting America’s workers first.  The proposals outlined tonight by the president will hurt, not help, America’s working people.

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“The cuts to domestic programs he contemplates to finance enormous military spending increases will undermine programs like Head Start, worker training, and many more crucial initiatives.  These programs help low-income working men and women—the kinds of people who are working two or more jobs just to put food on the table for their children, who look to work as a way to climb out of poverty but yet are stuck at the bottom.  The plans he outlined tonight provide nothing of substance for struggling workers like these.

“President Trump’s scapegoating of immigrants, on clear display tonight, is deplorable and immoral; his demonizing of immigrants is already creating tremendous fear and panic in immigrant communities across the nation and giving rise to formerly unthinkable violence—and all for no good reason.

“The president’s proposed tax reforms are nothing more than a big giveaway to Wall Street, corporations, and wealthy CEOs, at the expense of working people and families.  And his and Congress’s actions to undo important regulations (such as Congress’s move this week to repeal an OSHA rule requiring large employers to keep accurate records of serious work-related injuries and illnesses) eliminates safeguards that workers should be able to rely on to enjoy the rights and protections they’ve been promised and to hold corporations accountable.

“His calls for more infrastructure spending and paid family leave were among the few potential areas of agreement in an otherwise bleak agenda, but even there, the devil is in the details—and what President Trump says versus what he does is the crucial difference.

“Tonight’s speech was more measured than any we have previously heard from Mr. Trump.  But actions speak louder than words, and a single speech cannot assuage the chaos and fear that a month of drastic actions by the president has sown.  Nor do platitudes and hyperbole put workers at the top of the agenda.  The jury is out, and working people will reserve judgment until the proof is in that the president will genuinely embrace and advance policies benefitting them.

“We’ve a long way to go.  The president made a lot of promises tonight.  Now it’s up to all of us to ensure that this president and his administration are held accountable.”

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