Leo W. Gerard

President’s Perspective

Leo W. Gerard USW International President

Really, Really Rich Trump Is No Workers’ Champion

Presumptive Republican Presidential Nominee Donald  “I am really, really rich” Trump is, according to Forbes, the 121st richest person in America. So, yes, he is really, really rich.

He loves the perks of being really, really rich, like flying to campaign events in one of his own private jets, which means he blithely skips those annoying airport security lines that non-billionaires must endure. He enjoys kicking back in one of his five houses, including the 58-bedroom Mar-A-Lago mansion, where the $600,000 annual property taxes are three times the entire cost of an average American home. And, of course, Trump relishes the power he has to tell workers, “You’re fired.”

Born into wealth, Trump attended private schools and inherited $40 million when he was just 28 years old. He didn’t spend summers volunteering for Habitat for Humanity in Appalachia. He didn’t take a gap year to put that fancy private school education to use tutoring inner city kids. So, frankly, it’s easy to understand why he opposes raising the minimum wage. This guy who was born with a really, really silver spoon in his mouth doesn’t have a clue what living on $7.25 an hour means. 

More ...

Big Report, Little Finding: The ITC evaluates the economic impact of the TPP

Jared Bernstein

Jared Bernstein Senior Fellow, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

The International Trade Commission (ITC) just released its 792-page monster of a report on the “likely impact” of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) on the US economy. The findings are largely positive on net but tiny, which confirms two of my priors. First, I see no rational way your support or opposition to the TPP can be informed by these findings, and second, trade agreements, as opposed to trade, have little to do with US growth and jobs.

That is not, btw, meant to be a critique of the report. The fact that it shows tiny results, which I’ll get to in a moment, comports (as I said above) with my expectations of the economic impact of a trade agreement with a bunch of countries, 6 with whom we already have trade deals.

But as I’ve stressed before, it is beyond our capacity to plausibly model the impact of a complex, 6,000 page, 12-country trade deal 15 years out! Remember, we’re severely challenged trying to accurately predict GDP or jobs out one quarter or one month. And while the ITC report fails to provide confidence intervals around its estimates, they’d likely cross zero (i.e., be statistically indistinguishable from no change at all).

More ...

What’s Killing the American Middle Class?

Richard Eskow

Richard Eskow Writer, Host, "The Breakdown;" Senior Fellow, Campaign for America's Future

What’s Killing the American Middle Class?

A new study by the Pew Research Center spurred a rash of headlines last week about “the dying middle class.” But the word “dying” might be more appropriate if we were watching the regrettable but inevitable effects of natural forces at work. We’re not. We’re seeing the fruits of deliberate action – and sometimes of deliberate inaction – at the highest levels of power.

The great American middle was never large enough, even at its height. It always excluded too many people – sometimes, shamefully, merely for their skin color. And now, instead of growing and becoming more inclusive, it’s fading away instead.

It’s true that the middle class is dying, but not from natural causes. It’s being killed. What – and, for that matter, who – is responsible for its slow death?

Code Blue

It’s important to understand just how dramatic this decline has been. The Pew study found that the size of the middle class fell in virtually all parts of the country between 2000 and 2014. Nine out of ten metropolitan areas showed a decline in middle-class households.

More ...

ITC study shows minimal benefits and downplays potentially high costs of Trans-Pacific Partnership

Robert E. Scott

Robert E. Scott Economic Policy Institute

Yesterday, the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) released a long-awaited report on the projected economic impacts of the TPP agreement. The report is remarkable for its frank estimates of the costs of the agreement, and the minimal benefits it identifies. Overall, the ITC projects that by 2027, the TPP will increase U.S. exports to the world by $27.2 billion (1.0 percent, as shown in Table 2.2) and U.S. imports from the world by $48.9 billion (1.1 percent), increasing the U.S. global trade deficit by $21.7 billion. All else equal, this rise in the trade deficit would put downward pressure on U.S. GDP. Nonetheless, the report concludes that over the next 16 years, the agreement will increase U.S. national income by $57.3 billion, 0.23 percent. This GDP gain stems largely from the ITC’s adoption of the standard full-employment assumption in modeling the TPP’s effects. There may have once been a time where such an assumption was warranted, but it seems highly inappropriate to apply to an economy that has been operating beneath full employment for at least 8 years and counting.

Dean Baker notes that even if the too-rosy GDP estimate were correct, it means that, “as a result of the TPP, the country will be as wealthy on January 1, 2032 as it would otherwise be on February 15 2032.” Worse yet, the ITC has a terrible record of forecasting the actual impacts of trade and investment deals, both overall and at the industry level. There is little reason to believe that this study will yield better results than past ITC efforts if the agreement is approved and implemented. In practice, whatever the ITC forecasts, U.S. trade and investment deals been near-inevitably followed by growing trade deficits and downward pressure on the wages of U.S. workers. There is every reason to expect that the TPP agreement will reinforce these trends.

More ...

Candidate of the People? HA!

Candidate of the People? HA!

Union Matters

Workers Make, Executives Take

Chief executive officers at S&P 500 companies made on average a whopping 335 times more than ordinary rank-and-file workers in 2015, according to a new AFL-CIO report.

The AFL-CIO, the largest federation of labor unions in the United States, found that while working people continued to see stagnating wages averaging just $36,900 per year, CEOs thrived to the tune of tens of millions of dollars. 

Outsourcing has only made the gaping pay disparity between the people who do the work and the people who reap the benefits even worse. 

More ...