The trade wars are about to take a toll on ordinary workers. Trump’s steel tariffs have cost Ford about $1 billion so far, for example, forcing the automaker to plan mass layoffs.
What about economic growth? Data from the Commerce Department shows the economy at full speed, with 4.2 percent growth for the second quarter.
Trump slashed taxes on the wealthy and promised everyone else a $4,000 wage boost. But the boost never happened. That’s a big reason why Republicans aren’t campaigning on their tax cut, which is just about their only legislative accomplishment.
Trump and congressional Republicans refuse to raise the federal minimum wage, which is stuck at $7.25 an hour. Trump’s Labor Department is also repealing a rule that increased the number of workers entitled to time and a half for overtime.
Yes, unemployment is down to 3.7 percent. But jobs are less secure than ever. Contract workers — who aren’t eligible for family or medical leave, unemployment insurance, the minimum wage or worker’s compensation — are now doing one out of every five jobs in America.
Health-care costs continue to rise faster than the rate of inflation. Trump’s response? Undermine the Affordable Care Act. Over the past two years, some 4 million people have lost health-care coverage, according to a survey by the Commonwealth Fund.
The cost of college continues to soar. Trump’s response? Make it easier for for-profit colleges to defraud students. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is eliminating regulations that had required for-profit colleges to prove they provide gainful employment to the students they enroll.
Climate change is undermining the standard of living of ordinary Americans, as more are hit with floods, mudslides, tornados, droughts and wildfires. Even those who have so far avoided direct hits will be paying more for insurance — or will have a harder time getting it. People living on floodplains, or in trailers, or without home insurance, are paying the highest price.
Trump’s response? Allow more carbon into the atmosphere and make climate change even worse.
Too often, discussions about “the economy” focus on overall statistics about growth, the stock market and unemployment.
But most Americans don’t live in that economy. They live in a personal economy that has more to do with wages, job security, commutes to and from work, and the costs of housing, health care, drugs, education and home insurance.
These are the things that hit closest home. They comprise the typical American’s standard of living.
Instead of an “economic boom,” most Americans are experiencing declines in all these dimensions of their lives.
Trump isn’t solely responsible. Some of these trends predated his presidency. But he hasn’t done anything to reverse them.
If anything, he’s made them far worse.
Writes for the Tribune Content Agency.