On today's BradCast: If there's anything the Trump Administration excels at, it's their reverse Robin Hood penchant of taking from the poor to give to the rich. But their new wage theft plan for workers in the restaurant industry may bring that penchant to new heights --- or depths, as the case may be. [Audio link to show follows below.]
But first up, and very much related, Trump's new $4.4 trillion budget proposal, released on Monday, calls for moving still more money from the poor to the rich --- on the heels of last year's unpaid-for $1.5 trillion tax scam --- with cuts to domestic programs, more obscene increases to our national war budget, and trillion dollar deficit spending as far as the eye can see. And all of that is separate from his Department of Labor's plan to steal tips off the tables of waiters and waitresses. Yes, literally!
We break down Trump's dead-on-arrival proposal for his 2019 budget, which doubles the deficit spending called for by his dead-on-arrival 2018 budget. The scheme, described Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) as "morally bankrupt", also includes what he and corporate media (inaccurately) have been referring to as a $1.5 trillion Infrastructure Plan to rebuild the nation's roads, bridges, airports and much more. That scheme would actually invest just $200 billion in federal money, with the rest being paid for, in theory, by cash-strapped states and wealthy private corporations --- even as the $200 billion in proposed federal spending actually comes by way of cuts to the Dept. of Transportation and EPA. In other words, as we detail today, his $1.5 trillion infrastructure program, is really a $0 infrastructure program, in which we sell off our national assets to private companies. Other than that, it sounds great!
Then, speaking of Trump scams, we're joined by President Obama's former chief economist at the Department of Labor, HEIDI SHIERHOLZ, now Senior Economist and Director of Policy at the Economic Policy Institute, to discuss the Trump Dept. of Labor's new plan to steal tips earned by service professionals and give it to restaurant owners instead. No, really.
"There is long-standing practice by the DOL that interpreted tips as belonging to the workers who earned them. That was codified in a 2011 rule, that just said very clearly, 'Employers, you can't take tips, they belong to the workers who earned them." What this proposed rule does is it just rescinds those regulations --- it says employers can do whatever they want with worker's tips, as long as they pay workers minimum wage," Shierholz tells me. "This has been a dream of the National Restaurant Association, which is the big industry group for restaurants forever. [Trump's DoL] cared so much about giving a big gift to the National Restaurant Association, that they were willing to propose a rule that would literally shift billions of dollars from workers to employers."
And, as if that's not outrageous enough, as Bloomberg Law revealed earlier this month, it turns out the DoL, when asking for Public Comment on this new rule, withheld their own agency's analysis, finding the new scheme would transfer billions of dollars from wait staff to the restaurant owners themselves, who'd get to keep anything earned above the federal hourly minimum wage of $7.35 hour! Shierholz details how the Department is hoping to scam the public by not including their own analysis of the cost of this new rule, even as her own organization's analysis estimates that the new regulation, allowing owners to keep tip money, could transfer nearly $6 billion annually await from wait staff, and potentially as much as $13 billion each year.
"But this is the key: there are rules that they have to follow as a part of the rule-making process, and it includes, very clearly, that they have to do a very comprehensive cost-benefit analysis. They have to estimate the impacts of the rule on workers. We now know that they did do that. But it looked really bad, and so they tried to bury it."
Yup. Prepare yourself to pay up once again to defend still more lawsuits filed against this lawless Administration.
We also discuss how this rule, if finalized, will adversely affect women in particular, who stand to lose $4.6 billion of the $5.8 taken from tipped workers each year. "The fact they are forging ahead with this, despite knowing how bad it is for workers, really is primarily about their far greater interest in supporting corporate interests over those of workers. The fact that it's massively, disproportionately going to affect women may be sort of a bonus," Shierholz quips.
Finally, with the unthinkable possibility of peace between North and South Korea breaking out over the weekend during the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang --- despite the Trump Administration's determined hopes for a new, potentially nuclear war on the Korean Peninsula --- deadly new military skirmishes broke out between Israel, Iran and Syria over the weekend. So, just in case you're worried that all of Trump's new U.S. military spending would go for naught, don't worry! We'll always find new wars on which to spend it...while your kids can't pay for college, you can't afford medical care and the Trump Administration is stealing tips off the table.
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)