Leo W. Gerard

President’s Perspective

Leo W. Gerard USW International President

Stop China’s Stealth Invasion

Stop China’s Stealth Invasion

A country claiming the greatest military on earth can’t be without some things. Steel is an obvious one.

In the age of drones, aluminum is another. Aluminum is essential for flying machines like the F-35 joint strike fighter and Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet, for armor plating on army vehicles and naval vessels and for countless infrastructure projects including bridges and roads.

Obviously, then, for the United States to retain top ranking, it must protect its aluminum industry. That industry, though, is under a two-pronged stealth attack from China. For more than a decade, the Chinese have ramped up their own aluminum production and dumped the excess on the world market, depressing prices and bankrupting Western producers. Now, a corrupt Chinese company that is under investigation by three U.S. agencies is trying to buy an American aluminum firm. To ensure national security, that must be stopped. America can’t be beholden to China for aluminum.

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Days after administration promised not to touch food stamps, Trump budget reportedly will cut them

Alan Pyke

Alan Pyke Deputy Economic Policy Editor, Think Progress

“As far as I’m concerned we have no proposed changes” to the food stamps program, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue told congressmen last Wednesday. “You don’t try to fix things that aren’t broken.”

Perdue’s comments, delivering during a Wednesday House Agriculture Committee hearing, seemed to signal that President Donald Trump would not seek to shrink America’s efforts to help low-income families feed themselves.

Yet just five days later, a leaked budget document seems to show the White House is going back on Perdue’s commitment — contemplating some combination of policy changes and outright budget cuts for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, also known as food stamps) and other key food supports for the poor.

The leaked spreadsheet lists proposed budget requests for thousands of different government line items, without any of the accompanying policy information that would explain the changes underlying shifts in spending. Without those details, observers can only speculate about what is driving Trump’s proposed changes to federal spending. But the document shows clear and substantial cuts from 2017 budget levels.

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Trump’s Regulatory Accountability Act Is a License to Kill

Sam Berger Senior Policy Advisor, Center for American Progress

Don’t let the innocuous name fool you: The Regulatory Accountability Act recently introduced in the Senate is nothing less than President Donald Trump’s License to Kill Bill. Described as the means of realizing Steve Bannon’s dream to deconstruct the government, this bill is part of Trump’s two-step strategy to first strip people of important health, safety, and consumer protections and then prevent agencies from ever protecting people from these harms again. By hamstringing the dedicated public servants charged with ensuring everything from safe infant formula to clean drinking water to a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work, this bill would put corporate profits before people’s lives and livelihoods.

More than 100 days into the administration, the nation has a good understanding of what “regulatory accountability” means to Trump. The president and Congress have already used the obscure Congressional Review Act to repeal 13 regulations, including protections against toxic pollutants in drinking water, exploitative and illegal labor practices by federal contractors, and the sale of your browser history by internet service providers without your consent. The end result: more than $700 million in annual giveaways to corporations, at the cost of millions of dollars in reduced wages, a net loss of jobs, and the elimination of a wide range of important consumer protections.

And Trump has been clear that these repeals are just the beginning. He’s begun efforts to undermine a rule that keeps financial advisors from cheating clients, which would cost people $17 billion a year in retirement savings. He’s also holding up new overtime protections for millions of Americans, which could reduce wages by $12 billion over the next 10 years. And his head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reversed the agency’s earlier decision to ban a common agricultural pesticide that the agency’s scientists, after an extensive risk assessment, had concluded can damage the neurological development of children. Moreover, because of its wide-ranging scope, the bill would even hamstring the ability of financial regulators, including the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, to put in place regulations that rein in Wall Street and prevent financial crises. Given that the last major financial crisis stuck the United States with a price tag of 8.7 million lost jobs, 10 percent unemployment, and $19 trillion in lost wealth, these are regulations the nation needs to have in place.

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North Carolina Bill Would Kick 133,000 People off of Food Stamps

Alan Pyke

Alan Pyke Deputy Economic Policy Editor, Think Progress

For most people, the food stamps program is about fighting hunger.

For North Carolina state Sen. Ralph Hise (R), however, it seems to be about fighting the concept of unfairness — even if it means booting 133,000 human beings off of the food assistance rolls.

Hise defended the Republican senate leadership’s decision to rescind a 2010 expansion of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or food stamps) eligibility by arguing that the current system, under which more people are less hungry, isn’t fair.

The 2010 rules make anyone who qualifies for another North Carolina poverty assistance program eligible for food stamps as well, for households with incomes up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level. It’s a common policy known as broad-based or categorical eligibility, which streamlines the administrative process for poverty programs whose benefits come from federal dollars, not state budgets.

But to Hise, local NBC affiliate WRAL reports, that program creates a pernicious “double standard” for food assistance.

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America’s Biggest Employers Leave Their Hourly Workers out of Paid Family Leave

Bryce Covert

Bryce Covert Economic Policy Editor, Think Progress

Niko Walker has given Starbucks seven years of his hard work, moving up the ranks from barista to shift supervisor. As a transgender man, he was drawn to a company that promises good benefits and has telegraphed an acceptance of diverse employees. The company’s health insurance has even paid for medical expenses stemming from his transition thus far.

“Starbucks became important to me at a very early stage,” he said. “They’ve always been very supportive of me and who I am… That really drew me to the company.”

But if and when Walker decides to start a family, he’s worried the acceptance of who he is and what he needs could evaporate.

If Niko were a white collar employee working in Starbucks’s corporate headquarters, he would be able to take 12 weeks of fully paid time off for the arrival of his baby. As a male retail employee who may adopt, however, he won’t be offered any paid time off at all.

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Union Matters

The Truth About Medicaid

The Truth About Medicaid